Talking Point # 1 - Ask Governor Walker to Appoint a Task Force on Wisconsin's Disability Employment Policies
On November 29, 2012, Governor Walker held an event at Lang Furniture Manufacturing in Marshfield as part of his "Talk With Walker" tour, gathering input on budget priorities. Lyle Lang, who is a board member of Opportunity Development Centers (ODC), invited Pam Ross, the President/CEO of ODC to attend the event. After the event, Julie Lang sent Pam a picture of the Governor holding up a brown bag lunch that was packed for him by the employees of Hidden Creek Kitchens, one of ODC’s prevocational services programs that helps people with significant disabilities develop job skills.
Because of messages received from several representatives of Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) in recent months, many of the Community Rehabilitation Programs that belong to RFW in Action now fear that the Department of Health Services’ Sustainability Plans for Employment Supports and Youth in Transition will result in the elimination of facility-based work/training programs as an employment option for individuals. This can be accomplished by the MCOs without getting input from stakeholders who value these services and those who derive great benefit from working in a center-based program. Some MCOs have discussed referring large numbers of people currently receiving prevocational services to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and by cutting their service authorizations. Others have said that volunteers can be recruited to help develop “natural supports” for people with disabilities to engage in community activities, instead of working in a center-based program. If this is the path that is taken by MCOs, with encouragement from DHS, it would run contrary to the agreement that was reached on November 20, 2009 between all the stakeholders in the long-term care system.
On behalf of RFW in Action, I contacted a member of the governor’s staff on December 7, 2012 to request a meeting between members of RFW in Action and the appropriate policy advisors on the governor’s staff to ask that a Task Force be appointed by Governor Walker. I asked that the governor charge the Task Force with the job of reaching consensus on the continuum of employment supports that are necessary to address the broad spectrum of needs in Wisconsin communities.
Please take the following action:
Contact the governor's office to request that Governor Walker appoint a Task Force on Wisconsin's Disability Employment Policies:
You can contact the governor’s office by taking any of these steps:
Be sure to tell your story! We are not sending you a form letter to fill in and send to the governor. We want him and his staff to understand how important the services provided by Community Rehabilitation Programs are to you, personally. So, if you call the governor’s office and you are connected with a member of the governor’s staff, be sure to tell him or her why these services are so important to you.
If you haven’t read The Capital Times OpEd that I wrote, yet, which describes the need to reach consensus on employment policies for people with disabilities, it can still be found here.
Talking Point # 2 - Ask Your Legislator to Support RFW in Action's Integrated Employment Proposal
The holiday season is a great time to reach out to your state legislators as they spend time in their local districts. Any time you have with them should be used to make a personal connection with them. If you have a chance to visit with your state representative or senator over the holidays, we ask that you also advocate for people keeping jobs that are developed by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR).
Please take the following action:
Ask your state legislator to support RFW in Action’s proposal that the legislature streamline state services by moving the long-term supported employment program under the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). By doing this, we can assure that there will be a statewide rate for long-term supported employment that is sufficient to maintain placements developed by DVR and that all employment-related supports will be managed by a single state agency.
RFW in Action has described this proposal in a paper, which can be found here.
A-Teams should begin preparing for an Advocacy Day at the Capitol. We will be picking a day in March 2013 for a rally and a visit to legislators in their Madison offices. There will be more to come on this, based on discussions I held last week with Lance Walter.
As Senator Kathleen Vinehout develops a bill to “reboot” long-term care in Wisconsin, which she calls “Family Care 2.0”, we will continue to provide her with input and will ask A-Teams and other CRP supporters to support the bill once it is introduced. When you get a chance, please check out the video of a speech she gave to RFW in Action members last week, which will be posted on the Wisconsin Family Care Reform Channel soon!