TO: Workers and Family Members
FROM: Scott Kulp, Director of Vocational Services
RE: Effort to Close Workshop Programs
DATE: September 29th, 2022
As I have done many times over the past few years, I am once again reaching out to let you know about a very important matter that will directly affect each and every one of you.
We learned earlier this week that Pennsylvania has received nearly $14 million dollars through the Department of Education to secure community employment for individuals who are currently attending a Workshop program and being paid less than minimum wage for the work they perform there.
This initiative is an effort to limit the choices individuals with an intellectual disability or autism have about their lives and what is important to them! If this effort is successful, what this means is folks like your family member will be expected to either get a job in the community or stay at home and possibly go on community outings. If they go on community outings, they will not be paid. In fact, some, if not all, of the community outings they may go on, will likely cost them money, such as going bowling, to the movies, out to eat, or shopping. If this effort is successful, it will also mean they will no longer be able to come to their Workshop program, work, and earn a paycheck.
The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) that oversees programs like ours strongly support and endorse this effort to close Workshops and have individuals with a disability only work in the community. They also endorse the principles of “Everyday Lives”, stating folks with a disability should determine how they want to live their lives. The effort to close Workshop programs, however, eliminates this ability to choose what services they want, and mandates they either work in the community or stay at home and go on community outings.
Your voice matters…now more than ever! If you truly believe Workshop programs like ours are important for you and your family member with a disability, then you must contact your state and federal legislators to let them know how you feel. Your stories must be heard by our legislators. Our legislators must know you want these programs to continue. You can make a difference by speaking up and speaking out about the importance of Workshop programs. I urge you to contact US Senator Robert P. Casey, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick and State Senator Steve Santarsiero.
Here is their contact information:
Senator Robert P. Casey: email@example.com
Brian Fitzpatrick: fitzpatrick.house.gov
Senator Steve Santarsiero: SenatorSantarsiero@pasenate.com
PLEASE MAKE YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!!! Tell Senators Casey and Santarsiero and Congressman Fitzpatrick how important our Workshop programs are to you and your family member with a disability. Let them know how much your family member enjoys coming to our program and how much they benefit from doing so.
The time to act is NOW! Please don’t wait…it may be too late to make a difference if you do.
Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions or need additional information.
I also encourage you to share this letter with other family members and friends; ask them to contact our legislators, as well, to urge them to save our Workshop programs!
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THANK YOU for making a difference!