[nfbmi-talk] mpas recent newsletter in text

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Sun Sep 14 14:05:29 UTC 2014

Summer Hard Exchange Newsletter

Inside this Issue:

Working with VR Services
Employment First Report Forthcoming
>From the Executive Director
WIOA Reauthorization
MPAS Celebrates Website Anniversary
Update on Special Education Reports
Restraint and Seclusion Room in Marquette

>From the Employment Team
Working with Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Michigan is a very unique state having two separate state agencies with vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs. The Department of Human Services provides
VR services through Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS), and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) provides VR services through
the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP).  Each program is designed to assist and work with individuals with disabilities to prepare for, and obtain,
competitive employment including possible self-employment or owning a small business.
The goal of both BSBP and MRS is to help find competitive employment, and to assist in this area there are many steps and services available to help an
individual reach their goal. These steps and services include:
1.  Applying for services - This is the process of completing an application for assistance with a goal of employment.
2.  Eligibility determination - This is the process to figure out if the individual's disability is preventing them from getting or keeping a job and if
VR services would be required to reach an employment goal.
3.  Development of an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) -The IPE is an outline of the individual's goals and the services they will receive.
4.  Execution of the IPE -The process and coordination of services developed in the IPE to reach the Individual's goal of employment.
5.  Employment - Case closure -The individual's case will remain open for at least 90 days after their employment goal has been reached.
Throughout each of these steps it is essential that both the individual and their VR counselor work effectively together to reach the goal of employment.
 Both parties have important duties and responsibilities to complete during each step and need to stay in contact throughout the process.
If someone encounters problems while applying for or receiving services from their VR program, they may request assistance from the Client Assistance Program
(CAP).  CAP is a federally mandated program that provides information and assistance to individuals seeking or receiving vocational rehabilitation services
under the Rehabilitation Act.  All discussions with CAP will be kept confidential.  Permission must be granted for CAP staff to discuss any situation with
VR personnel.  CAP can be reached by calling Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, Inc. (MPAS) at (800) 288-5923.
Finding a job is hard work. Along with the assistance of VR, individuals should spend a lot of their own time on their job search and explore as many avenues
as possible.  Researching organizations such as Michigan Works or a local college career center may help in finding out who is hiring.
To find the nearest BSBP, MRS or Michigan Works office visit www.michigan.gov
Employment Trends for People with Disabilities in Michigan

In Michigan, 81 percent of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are unemployed compared to 9 percent of individuals without disabilities.
This is despite individuals with disabilities having marketable skills and a true desire to work. In fact, the National Core Indicators Adult Consumer
Survey (NCI) shows that 60 percent of individuals with disabilities in Michigan want a job in their community; however, only 17 percent of them have one.

Many vocational rehabilitation service providers fail to provide adequate training that results in meaningful community-based employment.  As a result,
many Michiganders with disabilities who are “employed” are perpetually limited to work in sheltered workshops that segregate individuals with disabilities
from individuals without disabilities.  Moreover, the options of the type of employment are predominately limited to piece work and/or contract work, often
paying wages below the minimum and/or prevailing wage.  Currently, there are over 70 non-profit Community Rehabilitation Programs operating sheltered workshops
(located in 39 Michigan counties) paying their workers with disabilities significantly less than minimum wage.  These sheltered workshops account for over
8,000 individuals with disabilities being compensated an average wage of $2.75/hour.  This is a practice allowed through a 14(c) waiver to the Fair Labor
Standards Act (FLSA).

Individuals with disabilities are maintained in these positions for years without the proper supports and job matching techniques which would facilitate
advancement and community employment.  Therefore, many individuals with disabilities are working and earning far below their real potential in segregated

Please read our letter from the Executive Director in this Exchange to see what MPAS is doing to address these issues.

>From the Executive Director

Real Employment for Real Pay in Real Communities
For People with Disabilities, the Progress Will Not Stop

Along with our sister agencies, the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council and the University Center of Excellence  - Developmental Disabilities Institute
at Wayne State University, MPAS will soon issue a paper on integrated community employment for people with disabilities. Although many will find the paper
exciting and challenging - creating a pathway to a better economic future for people with disabilities, others will find it threatening.

Both reactions are intended.

In anticipation of new and promising definitions of honest integrated community employment opportunities for people with disabilities, the three disability
agencies conducted a study of the facts related to employment for people with disabilities across the country as well as here in Michigan. As the MPAS
Employment First report will show, the facts conclude that there are far too many people with disabilities who want to work but are either unemployed or
working in  Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP) (sometimes referred to as "sheltered workshops"). The report also shows that the people who are employed
earn wages either below the federal minimum wage or below the prevailing wage paid to people without disabilities.

Change is already here:
Employment First.
If you haven't already, you will soon hear the term "Employment First". It is a conceptual approach to full inclusion of people with disabilities in the
community workplace. Within this approach, community-based, integrated employment is the first priority and the preferred outcome for people with disabilities.
Integrated employment refers to a job held by an individual with a disability in a typical workplace setting where the majority of employees do not have
disabilities. These integrated employment options are paid directly by the employer at the minimum or prevailing wage, whichever is higher.

Employment First seeks to establish a clear and uncompromising definition of "integrated employment" which focuses on real jobs and real wages in real business

Managing change is always difficult and it is even more difficult when the advocates that had brought about change over the past 40 years to create jobs
for people with disabilities are now challenged to modernize their own 40 year old ideas of progress.

It is undeniable that with a series of recent litigation challenging segregated work placements, state legislation and gubernatorial Executive Orders to
promote Employment First, and increasingly restricted use of federal dollars to segregate people with disabilities in housing and employment, Community
Rehabilitation Programs, as we know them today, will not exist in the near future.

As I have mentioned to my friends within the community rehabilitation networks, federal funding (Specifically Medicaid and vocational rehabilitation) will
no longer be allowed to be used to segregate people because of their disability.

In addition, the use of a 14(c) waiver allowing employers to pay workers with disabilities a wage  below the minimum or prevailing wage, will be closely
scrutinized, and in many cases, restricted or outright prohibited.

It is time we get serious about working toward an outcome of real work, in real communities for real pay and there are some very promising and exciting
new approaches to assist people with disabilities to obtain and retain careers.

Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) in Detroit, in concert with Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) and SourceAmerica are moving aggressively in the direction
of matching an individual's skills, interests and talents with fully integrated community employment.

Their progress and ultimate success will be a game changer for generations to come.

We need to do more to support people with disabilities to be as productive as possible in careers they choose and we need to offer community employers the
valued, dependable and productive employees they seek. We need to calculate the long-term return on investment of promoting strategies that allow people
with disabilities to reduce their lifelong dependency on government subsidies.

Progress will not stop because it makes some people uncomfortable. Attempts to halt progress will always fail and we may not be satisfied with the outcomes
if we simply decide to sit by and watch progress unfold.

MPAS wants to help design the inevitable future. We want to be at the table to challenge even our own assumptions about what is possible and we want to
continue to work for a brighter economic future for all people with disabilities.

Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, Inc. (MPAS) Applauds Successful Reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

The bipartisan backed H.R. 803, better know as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), was signed into law by President Obama on July 22, 2014. 

"The president's signature on the reauthorization by Congress of WIOA is a momentous step forward in increasing employment opportunities for people with
disabilities in our country and in our state," said Elmer L. Cerano, Executive Director of MPAS. "In Michigan, a staggering 81 percent of persons with
disabilities are unemployed. As the designated organization in Michigan which protects the rights of people with disabilities, MPAS is well aware of the
unemployment and underemployment facing Michiganders with disabilities, despite their sincere desire to work."

Chiefly, the bill would prohibit individuals with disabilities age 24 and younger from working in jobs paying less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25
per hour unless they are first provided certain vocational rehabilitation services, among other requirements. There are exceptions, however, for those
already working for what’s known as subminimum wage and in cases where individuals are deemed ineligible for vocational rehabilitation. 

Beyond limiting who can work for less than minimum wage, the legislation also mandates that state vocational rehabilitation agencies work with schools to
provide “pre-employment transition services” to all students with disabilities. What’s more, the agencies must dedicate at least 15 percent of their federal
funding to help those with disabilities transition from school to meaningful work.

The WIOA reauthorization, previously known in the House as the SKILLS Act, will improve upon the original Act's purpose in the following key ways:
* To maximize opportunities for individuals with disabilities, including individuals with significant disabilities, for competitive integrated employment;
* To increase employment opportunities and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, including through encouraging meaningful input by employers
and vocational rehabilitation service providers on successful and prospective employment and placement strategies; and
* To ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that youth with disabilities and students with disabilities who are transitioning from receipt of special
education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et. seq.) and receipt of services under section 504 of this Act
are either continuing their education or employed in competitive integrated employment independently.

"This long-overdue reauthorization indicates that Congress is finally recognizing, and starting to sincerely appreciate, the valuable assets that people
with disabilities bring to the American workforce," continued Cerano. "WIOA reauthorization is a firm step in the right direction toward making sure that
people with disabilities are being provided the appropriate job training in an area of their interest, resulting in competitive integrated employment in
their community. MPAS will be an active participant in ensuring that the newly created provisions under this Act are implemented in Michigan."

MPAS Celebrates the One Year Anniversary of our New and Improved Website
In July of 2013, MPAS launched its new and improved website. As the world changes, more and more people with disabilities and their families are turning
to the internet for information, guidance, and assistance. Many of the more than 8,000 calls MPAS' Information, Referral and Education department receive
annually are calls that can now be more readily assisted through an updated and user-friendly MPAS website.
Our new website has received nearly 600 web-based inquiries for assistance and 23,000 unique visitors in the first year! We have had people visit our website
for information from every state in the U.S as well as from the United Kingdom and Canada. The majority of our website visitors come from urban areas in
the state with Lansing, Detroit, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids residents visiting our site the most.
While we continue to be excited about the performance of the new website and the ability of this new medium to help us assist more people with disabilities
and their families, we firmly recognize that there is still work to be done and improvements that can be made.  That being said, we want to know what you
think of our website and welcome any suggestions you may have on how to make it more user-friendly and/or more informative. Please visit our "contact MPAS"
page, select "website suggestions" under "I have a question about" and let us know what you think!
Updates to Special Education
Federal Regulators Use Outcome Data to Measure Educational Success
by Mark McWilliams, MPAS Director of Information, Referral and Education
 2014 may be viewed as a watershed year in the educational lives of children with disabilities. 2014 saw the release and, for the first time, use of comprehensive
public data describing the educational outcomes and the civil rights status of children with disabilities to evaluate states on how they meet federal mandates.
 In June 2014, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) introduced "Results-Driven Accountability," including for
the first time state performance on some of the results indicators in its reporting on state compliance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA). Reports are based on 2012 data. Under the new measure, OSEP assigned 50% of its rating of states to performance on compliance indicators
and 50% on selected results indicators from scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
 The outcomes reported were bracing, as most states that had been found in compliance with the procedural aspects of IDEA found themselves labeled as needing
some level of federal support. Michigan met 95% of its goals in the compliance indicators and 45% of its goals in the results indicators, earning a "needs
assistance" rating (the second highest rating) along with 23 other states. Eighteen states and territories were rated as meeting requirements.
 Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released the results of its Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The
CRDC is a self-report by nearly all schools in the nation on a variety of civil rights measurements, ranging from participation in school programs to discipline
to use of restraint and seclusion. Reports are based on 2009 data.
 Michigan schools reported over 15,000 students with IEPs subjected to one or more in-school suspension, over 13,000 students with one out of school suspension,
over 16,000 students with more than one out of school suspension, and over 600 students expelled.  Over 1,300 students with IEPs were referred to law enforcement.
Students with disabilities were more than twice as likely to receive out of school suspension (13%) than students without disabilities (6%). Students with
disabilities represented a quarter of students arrested and referred to law enforcement, even though they are only 12% of the student population. 58% of
students placed in seclusion and 75% of students physically restrained were students with disabilities.
 No doubt we will see more use of outcome measures to gauge educational success. For more information, please contact MPAS.

MPAS Against New Seclusion Room at a Marquette Middle School
The following is an editorial by Mark McWilliams, Director of Information, Referral and Education Services at Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, Inc.
It was originally published in the Mining Journal on June 22, 2014.
MPAS is disappointed to learn that the Marquette Public Schools is spending tax dollars to build a "seclusion room" in a middle school (Mining Journal,
May 21). Seclusion in schools is a dangerous and unregulated practice that puts children at risk of harm. We write in hopes of providing more information
to the community about seclusion in school and to help reduce and eliminate its use.
According to the Michigan Department of Education, seclusion is "the confinement of a student in a room or other space from which the student is physically
prevented from leaving and which provides for continuous adult observation of the student." (Voluntary "time out" as described in the article is not seclusion
and does not require a locking seclusion room such as the one proposed in Marquette.) The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR),
reported that, in 2009-10, that, although children with disabilities make up 12% of all students, they make up 58% of all children forced into seclusion
and 75% of all children who are physically restrained.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote in 2012 that "the use of restraint and seclusion can have very serious consequences, including, most tragically, death.
Furthermore, there continues to be no evidence that using restraint or seclusion is effective in reducing the occurrence of the problem behaviors that
frequently precipitate the use of such techniques." In fact, use of either seclusion or restraints in non-emergency situations poses significant physical
and psychological danger to students according to a February 2014 report by the U.S. Senate. Consider the following story of seclusion from the 2009 National
Disability Rights Network report, School is Not Supposed to Hurt:
During January 2011, a child who had been repeatedly placed in a seclusion room was not allowed to leave the seclusion room to use the restroom. The child
subsequently urinated on the floor. Upon his return to school the following day, the school secluded him again for having relieved himself in the room
on the previous day. The final incident occurred on January 20, 2011; reportedly, the child had been in seclusion for approximately four consecutive hours,
during which the child had been screaming and cursing for not being allowed out to use the bathroom. It is unclear what prompted staff to check on the
child, either the child’s sudden silence or the arrival of the child’s guardian. However, when the seclusion room was unlocked, staff discovered that the
child had attempted to hang himself.
Because of the risk of harm, seclusion is regulated in nearly every setting - except schools. Contrary to the information reported by the Mining Journal,
there are no federal laws regulating the use of seclusion in schools. The only Michigan law regulating use of seclusion in schools is the state corporal
punishment law, which allows school officials to use reasonable force "as necessary to maintain order and control in a school or school related setting
or for the purpose of providing an environment conducive to safety and learning." Courts have interpreted this standard to give school officials broad
discretion to use force.
The State Board of Education adopted voluntary guidelines regarding the use of seclusion in December 2006. Although they describe seclusion as "a last resort
emergency safety intervention" the guidelines are not binding on schools. Schools may choose to follow them or not.
Both Michigan and the federal government recognize that there are evidence-based alternatives to seclusion that support positive behavior in children. The
State Board of Education writes:
[E]ach school district in Michigan implements a system of school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS). ... PBIS is an example of an
effective, research-based system that addresses challenging behaviors in a collaborative, comprehensive, research-validated, and humane manner.
The U.S. Senate reported in 2014 that:
PBIS is an evidence-based, data-driven framework proven to reduce disciplinary incidents, increase a school’s sense of safety, and support improved academic
outcomes for all students. More than 19,000 of the approximately 100,000 U.S. public schools are implementing PBIS and saving countless instructional hours
otherwise lost to discipline.
Many teachers and school personnel do an outstanding job of educating students with behavioral challenges without resorting to seclusion. We urge Marquette
to reconsider its decision and take advantage of evidence-based alternatives to help support children with behavior challenges to learn and thrive safely.
If you or your child are being subjected to restraint and/or seclusion, MPAS would like to know. Please contact us at 1-800-288-5923 or by sending us a
message at www.mpas.org/contact-mpas.

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