By Gina Macris
Rhode Island made relatively slight gains in helping adults with developmental disabilities find part-time jobs during the third quarter of 2017, according to an independent court monitor.
Of 3,418 individuals with developmental disabilities protected by a 2014 federal consent decree, the state is required to ultimately provide supported employment for 2,501, not including teenagers who are still in high school, according to Charles Moseley, the monitor. He said a total of 573 were employed at the end of September, 2017, more than double the 268 who had jobs a year earlier.
The 573 jobs reflect an increase of 305 placements in the 12 months following Sept. 30, 2016.
Moseley also said the state should get credit in meeting consent decree goals for another 16 job placements involving individuals who no longer receive developmental disability services or have passed away.
“Although these data are encouraging, it is important to note that the quarterly placement rate has dropped from 119 individuals for the quarter ending March 31, 2017 to 63 individuals for the quarter ending June 30, 2017, to 29 individuals during the current reporting period, the lowest quarterly increase over the past six quarters,” Moseley said.
Moseley oversees the implementation of the 2014 Olmstead consent decree, which is intended to correct Rhode Island's violations of the integration mandate of the Americans With Disabilities Act by Jan. 1, 2024.
The numbers show mixed progress when they are set against the rolling employment targets for three groups protected by the consent decree: young adults, sheltered workshop employees, and those who receive non-work services in a day center.
By Sept. 30, 2017, the state had exceeded the consent decree’s employment goal for the so-called “day” population nearly three times, with 285 placements against a benchmark of 100 for Jan. 1, 2018.
For the sheltered workshop group, there had been 132 placements, or 88 percent of the goal of 150 for Jan. 1.
Among the so-called “youth exit” group, the state had placed 172 individuals in jobs, or 39 percent of the benchmark, a total of 442 young people who left school between 2013 and 2016.
Moseley noted that total number of young adults protected by the consent decree has been fluctuating. The U.S. District Court had ordered the placement of all members of the “youth exit” group by July 1, 2016. At the time, the state had identified only 151 persons in that category. Moseley, with the backing of U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell Jr., required the state to make a more thorough search for young adults who fit the eligibility criteria for developmental disability services, and by June 30, 2017, the total had increased to 497, according to Moseley’s report.
With the state’s improved ability since June to identify individuals who do not receive services for any number of reasons, mostly by choice, the number in the young adult group has come down to 442, Moseley said.
The state has agreed to a plan to find jobs for 50 percent of the young adults by April 30 and for the remaining 50 percent by Sept. 30, according to Moseley. Anyone who chooses not to work will be identified through a variance to the state’s Employment First policy by Feb. 28.
Real-time information on the number of job placements, the fluctuating size of the overall consent decree population, and other data will have to wait until the state has launched its electronic case management records system for developmental disabilities, sometime in the next two to three years.
In his report, Moseley stuck to the numbers for third quarter of 2017 and did not get into any analysis or recommendations on how the state is trying to achieve its goals.
Moseley did say that the state Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) and the Office of Rehabilitation Services (ORS) are working together to analyze data from successful job placements to further improve their employment-related supports.
And he noted that since Jan. 1, DDD has adjusted a performance-based supported employment program to try to make it more attractive to private providers of job-related services.
The next U.S. District Court hearing on the status of the consent decree is scheduled for April 10.
To read the monitor's report, click here.