By Gina Macris
While Rhode Island has made progress in complying with a 2014 federal consent decree, the U.S. Department of Justice and a court monitor say some requirements have not been met, including target numbers for finding jobs for young adults with developmental disabilities.
Of 151 individuals who have left special education programs at age 21 since the 2013-2014 academic year, the state has found supported employment for only 29, according to the monitor, Charles Moseley.
This issue, among others, will get an airing before U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., Friday, Sept 16 at 2 p.m.
The state exceeded modest job placement goals for adults with developmental disabilities who had been in segregated day programs and sheltered workshops in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, Moseley said in remarks to McConnell submitted Sept. 15.
A total of 57 adults who formerly worked in sheltered workshops have found regular jobs in the community – with support – since the consent decree was signed April 8, 2014. That figure is 7 more than required by the consent decree at this point in the 10-year span of the agreement.
Among those who had spent their time in segregated day programs, 118 have been placed in jobs in the community, Moseley said. So far, the consent decree requires only 25 supported employment placements from the day program population.
The monitor said state officials have had trouble identifying the total number of young people coming out of high school who are eligible for adult developmental disability services.
Moseley said the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) provides adult services to 101 of 151 young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have been identified by the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) since the consent decree was signed.
RIDE’s figures on eligibility don’t tell the whole story, the monitor said.
RIDE’s statistics cover individuals with intellectual and developmental disability as a primary diagnosis, but Moseley said RIDE has not counted others who may also qualify.
Young adults with autism, for example, may be eligible if they have no intellectual disabilities but have developmental problems that prevent them from connecting with other people and communicating what they know and can learn.
Moseley recommended that RIDE have until Nov. 15 to work with BHDDH, the state Office of Rehabilitation Services, and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to identify all individuals leaving high school who are eligible for adult developmental disability services, saying the total is likely to increase.
He also said he wants RIDE, BHDDH, and ORS to work together to develop a strategy and timeline by Oct. 1 for ensuring employment supports for all young adults who are identified.
Besides dealing with issues particular to young adults, Friday’s hearing is expected to cover various initiatives related to supported employment for all those who come under the purview of the consent decree, according to joint remarks filed by lawyers for the state and the DOJ.