WASHINGTON – The U.S. Justice Department has reached a settlement agreement with the state of Rhode Island resolving violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and improving career opportunities for approximately 3,250 Rhode Islanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The 10-year agreement, which will help ensure that people with disabilities have adequate opportunity to pursue careers in the general community, is the nation’s first statewide settlement asserting the rights of disabled students and workers to receive state-funded employment and daytime services in the public community rather than in segregated, sheltered workshops and facility-based programs.
“Today’s agreement will make Rhode Island a national leader in the movement to bring people with disabilities out of segregated work settings and into typical jobs in the community at competitive pay,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. “As Rhode Island implements the agreement over the next 10 years, it will make a dramatic difference in the lives of people with disabilities, businesses and communities across the state.”
Samuels congratulated state officials for signing the agreement, and said the Justice Department expects Rhode Island will become a model for the nation with respect to integrated employment for people with disabilities.
Under the agreement, Rhode Island has agreed to provide:
- Supported employment placements that are individual, typical jobs in the community, that pay at least minimum wage, and that offer employment for the maximum number of hours consistent with the person’s abilities and preferences, amounting to an average of at least 20 hours per week across the target population.
- Supports for integrated non-work activities for times when people are not at work including mainstream educational, leisure or volunteer activities that use the same community centers, libraries, recreational, sports and educational facilities that are available to everyone.
- Transition services for students with I/DD, to start at age 14, and to include internships, job site visits and mentoring, enabling students to leave school prepared for jobs in the community at competitive wages.
- Significant funding sustained over a 10-year period that redirects funds currently used to support services in segregated settings to those that incentivize services in integrated settings.
In addition, Walgreen Co. and the U.S. Business Leadership Network coalition of Fortune 500 companies will co-host a regional business summit in Rhode Island in June 2014 to explore strengthening partnerships between the state and the business community to find competitive, integrated jobs for Rhode Islanders with disabilities.