RI To Become National Leader Getting Developmentally Disabled Into Jobs

Apr 8, 2014

Federal investigators said an agreement announced Tuesday will make Rhode Island a national leader in integrating disabled people into the workplace

Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Eve Hill and US Attorney Peter Neronha announce a plan to get developmentally disabled into jobs.
Credit Ian Donnis / RIPR

The 10-year pact grew out of an investigation last year that showed developmentally disabled were being sharply underpaid for their work.

The settlement between the state and the federal government involves a little more than 3,200 Rhode Islanders with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Acting Assistant US Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels said the pact will move 2,000 disabled people from segregated programs to real jobs at competitive wages.

Samuels said the remainder of the individuals will get services to help them transition to the workforce. “It’s the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act, to open the doors of the American workplace to people with disabilities and to abolish the low expectations that have kept people with disabilities shut out of their communities for decades,” said Samuels.

The settlement follows a finding that students at the Birch Vocational School in Providence were being paid a fraction of the minimum wage for manual labor. Gov. Lincoln Chafee said implementing the agreement will cost the state an initial $800,000 and that expense could rise over time.

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