Providing employment choices and job opportunities for individuals with all levels of disability are central components to Job One’s mission. We are strong proponents of offering integrated community employment options and have an entire team dedicated to developing community job opportunities with our Job One Careers division. However, for many of the individuals we serve, community employment is not a viable – or safe – option because of their unique situation and disability. In these cases, our sheltered workshop can be a good solution for these individuals and their caregivers. The workshop provides a protected work environment with supervision from trained, caring management who have a deeper understanding of working alongside people with disabilities and the resources needed to respond to their unique needs. There are legislative efforts underway that could severely limit workshop job opportunities. To safeguard this option, it is critical that legislative decision makers must hear from employees, parents, caregivers and concerned community members that support sheltered workshop environments and protections for 14(c) legislation. If you are not familiar with 14(c), click here to learn more.
So, how can you help?
- Visit https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials to find your local, state and federal representatives.
- Send an email to your elected officials explaining why you support sheltered workshop options and 14(c) to protect job choices for people with disabilities.
- Follow @jobonekc and @dignity-has-a-voice to stay up to date on news and more opportunities to show your support.
Contacting your representative makes a difference! Below is one example of a letter that a Job One parent, Rosemary, recently wrote and sent to local, state and federal legislators to tell her story and voice her support. Her letter generated response with elected officials and gives great insight on the personal impact their decisions make for individuals.
I am a member along with my daughter, Kristen, of A-Team Missouri advocating for the existence of Sheltered Workshops as a choice in employment. I support 14c.
My daughter has learning disabilities and is one of 6 children in our family. She has a great sense of pride working at Shred One/Job One, making a difference, feeling important in her work and proud that she can have a job in a safe place. Her job has allowed her to take care of herself and have a little money to buy things she needs and buy gifts for her nieces and nephews at Christmas. Her job has helped her self-esteem tremendously providing socialization skills in a safe environment and feeling special like her siblings that work.
Sheltered workshops are very important to people of special needs. They want to feel useful to society but have a difficult time doing that in a safe environment outside a workshop. Many of them have limited skill sets and are very trusting and can easily be taken advantage. It isn’t about the money, it is about feeling like a contributing member of society. Many of the parents of children with special needs understand if there were no workshops, their children would be sitting around all day with nothing to do and regress in behavior, confidence, skills, and no friends or people to interact with daily.
The minimum wage should not be placed at a level that is not commensurate with a job level. The workshop provides the correct wage for the job being performed at the skillset level. There is no need to do away with this policy, or close workshops across Missouri or the entire United States. The staff in these workshops work hard finding jobs for the employees and train them to perform the jobs, caring about them as people.
The employees of a Sheltered workshop made the Choice to work there. Should they choose to seek outside employment they have the right to do so and the workshop often helps them with placement. Please do NOT take away this right of people with special needs. They should have the same rights as all people that choose to work where they want.
Your voice can help ensure our legislators understand the importance of job choice. Share your story of support today!