The Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into the first statewide settlement agreement with the state of Rhode Island on behalf of people who are “unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs.” DOJ found that the state’s day activity service system over-relied on segregated settings to the exclusion of integrated alternatives in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Under the settlement agreement, approximately 3,250 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) will have the opportunity to obtain integrated employment that pays at least minimum wage or participate in non-work activities in the community. The consent decree will require the state to provide supported employment services over the next 10 years to about 2,000 people, including 700 in sheltered workshops, 950 people in facility-based non-work programs, and about 300 leaving high school. Rhode Island also will provide transition services, such as trial work experiences, job site visits, and supported employment to 1,250 students between the ages of 14 and 21. After having experiences in competitive employment settings, individuals who choose to remain at sheltered workshops may do so.
DOJ estimates that about 450,000 individuals with I/DD are in sheltered workshops nationwide. The Rhode Island settlement provides a “road map” for other states to comply with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.