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The infrastructure for employment supports in Colorado has been reduced to such an extent that increasingly fewer Colorado citizens with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) are able to hold jobs within community businesses. This has been largely due to Colorado funding cuts that occurred in 2006 when employment services funding was reduced by approximately 60%.

According to the Supported Employment Leadership Network (SELN), “the average cost of purchased services for the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation closures into integrated employment with supports was $3,067 in FY2010, compared to a national mean of $6,496. This difference has been relatively consistent over the past 6 years.” (Source: Colorado Findings and Observations Report, SELN, September, 2011). During this same time the number of Colorado citizens with I/DD in community jobs has decreased from 1,788 in 2005 to 1,345 in 2010 (Source: CO Division for Developmental Disabilities).

The infrastructure for employment supports in Colorado has been reduced to such an extent that increasingly fewer Colorado citizens with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) are able to hold jobs within community businesses. This has been largely due to Colorado funding cuts that occurred in 2006 when employment services funding was reduced by approximately 60%.

According to the Supported Employment Leadership Network (SELN), “the average cost of purchased services for the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation closures into integrated employment with supports was $3,067 in FY2010, compared to a national mean of $6,496. This difference has been relatively consistent over the past 6 years.” (Source: Colorado Findings and Observations Report, SELN, September, 2011). During this same time the number of Colorado citizens with I/DD in community jobs has decreased from 1,788 in 2005 to 1,345 in 2010 (Source: CO Division for Developmental Disabilities).

Instead of providing employment supports, Colorado provides increasing levels of funds for sheltered workshops and segregated day programs. This trend is clearly illegal. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) identified people who are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead ruling including “persons who are unnecessarily segregated, including individuals spending their days in sheltered workshops or segregated day programs.” (Source: US DOJ Statement of Interest in Lane vs. Kitzhaber).

Thus, Colorado has a very low level of funding for employment supports which ultimately results in illegal segregation of Colorado citizens with I/DD. Further, numerous studies have found that employment supports for this population are cost-beneficial for tax payers as compared to sheltered workshops (Source: Rob Cimera, Supported Employment in Business, 2001).

Call (720-641-5141) or e-mail Bob Lawhead rlawhead@communitylinkcolorado.org for more information.

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