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Public Policy Update: Competitive Integrated Employment in North Carolina Enters New Era with Plan for Closure of “Sheltered Workshops”  

The state of North Carolina (NC DHHS) announced they have entered into a settlement agreement with Disability Rights North Carolina and the Center for Public Representation to ensure that over 1,000 individuals with disabilities currently working in segregated employment settings have the opportunity to seek out community-based integrated competitive employment

Segregated employment settings, often called sheltered workshops or Adult Developmental Vocational Programs (ADVP), typically separate workers with disabilities from non-disabled workers and pay the workers with disabilities below minimum wage. In 2019, NC’s Governor Cooper declared North Carolina an “Employment First” state with the goal of promoting meaningful and inclusive employment for people with disabilities at competitive wages

The legal settlement includes: 

  • All individuals in ADVPs get an employment assessment and those who want to transition to community employment get a personalized employment plan.   
  • Offering an array of services to those currently in ADVPs and similar segregated settings so they can access job readiness activities, supported employment, customized employment, education, transportation, assistive technology, and benefits counseling.  
  • Ending referrals to ADVPS by July 1 2022, working with participants to transition to other services and employment, and ending funding to ADVPs by June 30, 2026.  

 

NC DHHS has outlined a strategic plan to increase Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) for all individuals with disabilities including those in segregated settings.  

The Autism Society of North Carolina recognizes that many barriers exist for people with autism to find and maintain employment. Barriers include resources for short-term and long-term employment supports, skill-building support, customized employment options, and issues related to retaining needed health and income benefits, to name a few. We will track the many policy changes needed over the next four years to implement the settlement agreement and continue our advocacy work to make Employment First and employment opportunities that meet the needs and choices for all a reality in North Carolina

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