Oregon’s Governor John Kitzhaber has appointed the deputy director of the State’s Office of Developmental Disabilities as Oregon’s first Statewide Employment Coordinator for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Mike Maley has spent a career working with the disabled and is charged with implementing Executive Order No. 13-04.
The 15 page order is in response to the Federal Government joining with a class- action lawsuit, naming the Governor, alleges that Oregon is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act accusing the state of illegally segregating disabled laborers into workshops rather than more mainstream employment opportunities. By July 1, 2015, Oregon’s Office of Developmental Disabilities will no longer fund the sheltered workshops they currently support. Kitzhaber is closing the door into these agencies by cutting their state funding and moving towards more individualized employment situations over the next ten years. The Justice Department charges that thousands of Oregonians are working in these workshops earning pennies on the dollar.
“Improving Oregon’s delivery of employment services, with the goal of achieving integrated employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, consistent with their abilities and choices, will benefit individuals with disabilities, their families, our communities, the economy and the State.” This newly redefined policy is designed to fulfill Oregon’s Employment First Policy, including a significant reduction over time of state support of sheltered work and an increased investment in employment services.
In a recent presentation in Salem to agency, school district, nonprofit and a diverse group of provider organizations, Mike Maley explained that these changes are directing “all state agencies to develop the future of special education in Oregon for the next ten years.” Thirty million dollars are dedicated to implementing these sweeping policies with $10 million in strategic investment in the Employment First Program.
Maley said, “This legislation must touch every person and every family in our system. Brokerages, residential and daytime providers, schools and communities; certainly the entire service delivery system will be affected with a fundamental shift in the definition of the value and philosophy of what work is and should be to all persons with I/DD.”
Maley went further to underscore that since these policies are “ordered and directed there are clearly defined expectations for collaborations and results. Person specific career development plans and evidence based practices will be the new normal as a comprehensive policy into the future.” “Creating a culture of employment, combined with training and technical assistance is vital and in order to accomplish this we must truly win the hearts and minds of all people throughout our system and all that we serve.”
The career development outlined in this legislation is mandated to prioritize employment in integrated settings over the more prevalent sheltered workshops, locally in Lane County like Pearl Buck, Goodwill Industries and the Lane Community College program SSS. Focusing on the individualized strengths, abilities and choices of those persons with I/DD. The primary purpose of all vocational assessments will be to determine an individual’s interests, strengths and abilities, in order to identify a suitable match between the person and an integrated employment setting.
Maley went on to say, “The outcomes and impact of life’s experiences that enrich the lives of those persons we serve must truly and demonstrably be seen through their eyes. To be successful in this, we need to value all of the options available and be prepared to work hard at the strategies we use in asking the important questions in our discovery process and offer ‘real and meaningful choices’ over time. We must move beyond antiquated data collection systems and remember that, at the beginning and end, Person Centered Planning is personal.”
Editor’s Note: What are your impressions, thoughts and opinions about this new legislation? How does this touch your life? your work ? you or your family circumstances?