Leading Edge Resources: Real Work

Between 1985 and 1996, Colorado saw a dramatic increase in the degree to which people with developmental disabilities were involved in integrated employment. Factors supporting this included training and technical assistance on the value of community inclusion and quality integrated employment; a state policy of no new funding for sheltered workshop placements; fiscal incentives to providers and businesses to encourage integrated employment; and collaboration among state and local organizations. By 1998, 83% of people enrolled in integrated employment programs had jobs in the community, and 41% of those in day programs had jobs in the community. As early as 1993, 72% of the people enrolled in integrated employment services were working half-time or more.

All of this changed in the late 1990s. The full-time position to promote community employment was eliminated by the State. In response to lobbying by sheltered workshop advocates, the moratorium on new funds to sheltered workshops was lifted. Training and technical assistance was scaled back.

By 2000, only 25% of the people enrolled in integrated employment services were working half-time or more.

In response to these changes, the state-level DDD administration and others have developed a strategic plan and coalition to rebuild the priority for integrated employment, ensuring equality of opportunity for all individuals to participate in paid community employment, and promote the use of natural supports in the workplace.

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