Skip to main content

Zoom Text:

The 1990s ended with a court decision that would lay a much firmer base for realizing the promise of supported employment. The Olmstead decision related primarily to institutional versus community supports. It led, however, to far reaching actions in many arenas, including vocational services and employment. A monumental change would be the redefinition of what a successful closure is in the vocational services system. With that redefinition, the federal government ended its support of the dual system of sheltered and community employment.

Individual working in the community
Photo courtesy Ann Marsden
Individual working in the community
Photo courtesy Ann Marsden
Individual working in the community
Photo courtesy Ann Marsden

Up until the end of the century, there were six different categories of successful closures in the vocational rehabilitation system. These were:

  • Competitive labor market,
  • Extended employment (formerly sheltered workshop),
  • Self employed,
  • Business enterprise program,
  • Homemaker,
  • Unpaid family worker.

Typically, the vast majority of successful closures are in competitive employment (85% in FY1998). The second largest, however, were extended (or sheltered) employment closures. The Olmstead decision of 1999 and changes in the Rehabilitation Act eliminated extended employment (sheltered workshop placement) as a successful closure.