Ohio agencies who serve people with developmental and intellectual disabilities are in full implementation mode in order to adhere to rules that went into effect April 1st 2017. These rules mark the most consequential example of Ohio’s attempt to comply with its own plan of correction and adhere to guidance from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) regarding integration, person centeredness and community engagement.
As much as things have changed, many operational pieces are right where we left them. In fact, the most fundamental and important changes were known 4-5 years ago as DODD set out to educate and provide an Employment First policy that providers could understand. First, the right to pursue employment is not something we can take away from a person with a disability. We must support them at the point they are at today. Second, if a person is seeking employment, it must ultimately be in a non-segregated work place. All of our workshops, and VOC HAB “building” models, are now the vehicle and not the destination.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t pay attention to the vehicle and make sure the experience is a good one. The vehicle still has to choose what road to take and that can be limited depending on what you are offering. There will be upgrades an agency can consider before hitting the road, but first let’s see what the standard options are for all agencies.
Since everyone needs to have the same Standards in their vehicles while they are driving towards an individualized destination, it is important that agencies are clear about what upgrades their program models have in place to separate from the standard options. There are several “upgrades” that will separate agencies from each other.
- Paid Work At A Vocational Habilitation Setting
- Regular Community Engagement
- Paying Minimum Wage vs. Sub-Minimum Wages
- Community Job Leads
- Job Leads At Integrated Settings
- Job Coaching
- Small Group Engagement vs Large Group Engagement
- Variable Hours For Services and Supports
The state has not put any time tables on how long the ride might take for someone seeking employment in our communities. But what we understand now is that we are providing the vehicle not creating the destination. Make sure your vehicle has options and “upgrades”, that can handle all kinds of obstacles that might be in the way and prevent those we support from arriving at their true destination.