The Arc of Whatcom County

The Arc of Whatcom County

Parent Coalition E-alert:

Supported Employment Program at Risk

April 2011

In This Issue

Quick Links



Know Your Legislators



Sen. Maria Cantwell



Sen. Patty Murray


2nd District

Rep. Rick Larsen


42nd District


Sen. Doug Ericksen



Rep. Vincent Buys



Rep. Jason Overstreet



40th District


Sen. Kevin Ranker



Rep. Kristine Lytton



Rep. Jeff Morris


Join Our List
Join Our Mailing List



We were alerted today about the house budget's proposal, which will redirect 44% of County Employment funds toward the creation of a new "DAY CARE" service for adults, as an alternative to either Employment Services or Community Access. Adult Day care is currently not a service available through DDD or the County. 

This measure may be aimed at reducing costs by creating a congregated, segregated service setting for adults. Such a policy shift undermines our state's significant investment in employment services as well as Special Education.





Below are several informative documents, including: 

  • Budget summary
  • 2011-13 Omnibus Operating Budget
  • Press release from legislators
  • Talking points from The Community Employment Alliance  


The vote on the House budget is THIS Friday, April 8, 2011. The Senate Budget is due out next week.  

  1. Please contact your legislators ASAP to educate them about the impacts of such a change. (See left sidebar for contact information.) 
  2. Share this e-alert with others. Families, friends, neighbors and co-workers can advocate along with you. 
  3. Need help? Not sure how to get started on contacting legislators? Please call The Parent Coalition (360)715-0170, ext.303.



Here is a direct link to the budget summary document. DSHS starts on page 101, DDD starts on pg. 106.


Proposed cuts in House budget wrongly target

employment programs for developmentally disabled


As the House majority operating budget is being publicly reviewed, Reps. Norma Smith and Maureen Walsh are deeply troubled with the proposed cuts to the developmentally disabled (DD) community. Money to fund a new adult daycare program is taken from the DD supported employment program. In the proposed House Democrat budget, there are $54 million in reductions to supported employment and a shift of $41 million of that money to daytime programs in lieu of work.


"This issue demands attention. The budget takes away supported employment just to fund a program to keep many of the same people in a daycare program. These individuals simply want the opportunity for independence, dignity and some real choices," said Smith, R-Clinton, ranking Republican on the House Community Development and Housing Committee. "We know that meaningful work and being able to contribute our talent and skills is vitally important to each one of us. And, if we can help encourage steady work, we may also be able to save subsidies from both the state and federal levels such as Medicaid, food stamps and social security disability.


For the entire release, click here. 



Department of Social and Health Services: Developmental Disabilities


14. Adult Working Policy Reform

 - The adult working policy for persons with a developmental disability will be reformed. Savings are achieved by allowing client choice in services and by reducing expenditure limits for employment and day services. Clients between the ages of 21-64 will be allowed to utilize employment services voluntarily. Individuals who do not choose employment services will have access to either a day program or community access. Clients may choose either an employment service, community access, or a day option, but may not utilize more than one of these services at any given time. Expenditure limits for employment services provided through the Basic Plus, CORE, and Community Protection (CP) waivers will be lowered. Currently, the allowable expenditures for employment services for clients on the Basic Plus waiver are almost $20,000 per year based on exceptions and there are no set limits on allowable expenditures for employment services within the CORE and CP waivers. After these modifications approximately $43 million in general fund-state, $83 million total funds remain in the base budget for employment programs and services.


15. Establish A Day Program

- Funding is provided to establish a day program for clients with developmental disabilities. Clients between the ages of 21-64 who do not wish to participate in employment services or community access programs may choose a day option. Clients that wish to continue with employment services are allowed to do so. The adult day health program will be offered through the long term care waiver and clients with developmental disabilities will have the option to move to a long term care waiver or, they may choose a day services option within the developmental disability waivered services. Funding is included for clients with developmental disabilities who previously received adult day health services.





Below is The Community Employment Alliance's response to the House proposal for reducing the Supported Employment Program:


The House proposal intends to "reform" the existing, nationally recognized Supported Employment Program by reducing funding by 44% and implementing an antiquated program called Alternatives to Employment. 

We believe that the House budget proposal presumes savings through this policy and budget shift but does not recognize the implications of a short term savings. The following bullets represent the inaccuracies in this budget assumption. 

  • Day programs are not integrated in the community, they are grouped services that isolate and segregate people with disabilities. 
  • Special education does not prepare students for congregate care it prepares the students for jobs. Therefore, the investment in special education is wasted. 
  • The equivalent of Alternatives to Employment (Day Programs) is returning people back into institutions; this budget will create mini-institutionalized settings in the community. 
  • Alternatives to Employment (Day Programs) will cost money to create. These programs do not exist currently in WA State. 
  • Employment is an investment that off sets costs for the long-term, congregate care has no return on investment. 
  • Increased interaction, self-determination, dignity, respect, learning and socialization occur in employment and not within congregate care settings. 
  • People are satisfied and are 'equal' members of society when they have a job, this does not happen when we isolate within congregate settings. 
  • Alternatives to Employment Programs will require large facilities, increased overhead and maintenance for running day time institutions. We would have to 'create' these programs from the ground up. 
  • Families will be forced to make a choice between segregated 'cottage' style service rather than contributing to the community. 
  • No stakeholder group is advocating for this to happen, we are advocating for the least restrictive, most progressive and efficient program. People want jobs not daycare. 
  • We would prefer 12 months of employment services per individual but, begrudgingly, if the House proposal passes as is, we could live with a decision point of 9 months within employment services prior to providing the choice of Community Access. 
  • Community Access is individualized and provides the opportunity for the individual to be a member of their community. This service is available now and could be expanded and supported within the existing menu of services. 
  • We encourage employment first and community access as a second choice. 
  • As an employment advocacy coalition, we will continue to assist and partner with DSHS to assure an efficient and effective path to employment. And we will continue partnering with schools to ensure an efficient transition from school to work that maximizes the return on the investment in special education. 

Supported Employment ensures independence and an ongoing practice of reducing dependence on government funding as the person grows in their job support hours decrease, funding is reduced and income is generated. Jobs are the ultimate equalizer for all of WA State's residents.


Parent Coalition




The Parent Coalition of The Arc of Whatcom County provides information and education to individuals with developmental disabilities, their caregivers, families and the community by responding to requests for assistance. We provide 1:1 support and serve as a resource to increase understanding of the developmental disability service system and special education system.

For information and assistance, contact Monica, Parent Coalition Co-Coordinator at (360)715-0170, x303,


This E-Alert is made possible by funding from the Whatcom County Division of Developmental Disabilities program.


2602 McLeod Road

Bellingham, WA 98225


Find us on Facebook