The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette published an article in Sunday’s paper (May 13, 2018) regarding the current state of employment for people with disabilities.  The article explores the Arkansas Promise program, which helps students with disabilities in finding meaningful career paths, and the history of the sheltered workshop system in Arkansas. It explains the United States Department of Labor’s 14(c) certificate program, which allows certain people to be paid below minimum wage, the origins of this program, and the recent calls by several members of Congress for the Department of Labor to abolish the program.  The article then lays out the various viewpoints of people involved in this debate, from sheltered workshop staff who defend the paying of sub-minimum wages, to individuals and family members involved in the system, to the advocates at Disability Rights Arkansas, who issued a report earlier this year evaluating the sheltered workshop system and calling for increased efforts by the state to better utilize funding provided for services to place people with disabilities in integrated work settings.  The article is a very thorough and balanced report, and DRA would encourage everyone to read it.  See below for a link to DRA’s sheltered workshop report, and for the link to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article.

DRA’s report: Sheltered Workshops in Arkansas: Moving from Segregated Work to Integrated Employment

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article: Call for shift in law allowing sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities stirs fear in state