Home > Uncategorized > DDS reports drop in integrated employment of clients in the state from 2019

DDS reports drop in integrated employment of clients in the state from 2019

A new Department of Developmental Services (DDS) “Progress Report” shows a drop in total “integrated employment” of DDS clients in Massachusetts from a high in October 2019.
The Fiscal ’21 Progress Report data show total integrated employment hitting a peak of 7,180 DDS clients in October 2019, and then declining to 7,090 as of October 2020. As of March of this year, only 6 additional clients had been placed in integrated employment from October 2020, five months previously.
The new data confirm a report in our blog post in March that there has been an employment drop. At the time, there was no comment from DDS about the matter.
Integrated Employment is defined by the U.S. Department of Labor as jobs held by people with disabilities in “typical workplace settings” where the majority of persons employed are not persons with disabilities.
In these jobs, the individuals with disabilities earn wages consistent with wages paid workers without disabilities performing the same or similar work. The individuals earn at least minimum wage, and they are paid directly by the employer. 
We have long maintained that the administration closed all remaining sheltered workshops in the state as of 2016 without any assurance that all or most of the participants would be able to find jobs in the mainstream workforce.
The new DDS Fiscal ’21 Progress Report largely blames the integrated employment slowdown on the COVID pandemic, even though numbers provided in March to us by DDS indicate the slowdown began before the pandemic began.
Based on the earlier figures provided by DDS to us, we calculated that the number of clients in integrated employment actually dropped by 53% between October 2019 and February of 2020, which was prior to the start of the pandemic.
The FY’21 Progress Report does not confirm a drop of that magnitude. But the report actually does not list any data for Calendar Year 2020 prior to October. Thus, there are no data in the Progress Report for February 2020, which was when the large drop in employment appeared to have occurred.
The Progress Report also shows that the number of clients being placed in day programs after the closure of the state’s remaining sheltered workshops has far outpaced the number entering integrated employment.

The Progress Report describes the past year as “incredibly challenging for day and employment providers and the individuals and families they serve.” The report notes that in March 2020, on-site day programs were shut down as a result of the pandemic, and were reopened in July under strict social distancing rules.

The DDS day program line item in the state budget is used, in part, to fund job skills training and other activities to help clients make the transition to the mainstream workforce.

The Progress Report states that mainstream workplaces also shut down or operated at reduced capacities during Fiscal ’20 and ’21, and stated that those shutdowns and reductions limited the number of individual and group-supported employment opportunities available.

Nevertheless, the Progress Report data indicate that after the day programs were reopened in July 2020, the numbers of clients entering integrated employment showed virtually no increase.

The report does not make specific projections regarding integrated employment in the coming fiscal year, but says that “it is expected that a similar number of adults will transition to these services in FY2022.”

Numbers entering day programs outpaced integrated employment

As noted, the Progress Report indicates that the numbers of clients being placed in day programs after the closure of the sheltered workshops has exceeded the numbers entering integrated employment.

While the numbers of clients placed in integrated employment rose by 20% from 2015 to October 2019, the number of clients in DDS day programs increased by 43% over that same period—a percentage more than twice as high—and those numbers continued to increase though March of this year. (See graph below)

Difficulty in finding jobs acknowledged

The Fiscal ’21 Progress Report acknowledges the state has experienced “difficulty obtaining job opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities who require customized work.” The report further notes:

  • Transportation challenges for people seeking or working at integrated jobs in the community, especially in geographic areas where there are limited public transportation and/or para-transit options.
  • Individual concerns with the impact on Social Security and other public benefits when individuals earn more income.

In addition, the report states that many day program providers are experiencing “workforce challenges … which result in higher vacancies and turn-over that have an impact on access to and continuity of services.”

Despite those problems, the governor and Legislature have so far proposed cuts in the Fiscal 2022 state budget for both DDS day program and transportation funding. We are continuing to advocate for a restoration of funding to the day and transportation accounts.

Equally importantly, we believe work activities are needed in the day programs to make up for the lost opportunities resulting from the closures of the sheltered workshops.

  1. Lynn Royal
    May 11, 2021 at 9:22 pm

    What is the ‘day program’ you note here? Years ago, my son was in a ‘day program’ but regressed terribly due to the fact that he is well below the ability to hold any kind of paid job other that that in the sheltered workshop, packaging Popsicle sticks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous
    May 12, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you for shedding light on this. Tim had a very part time job at a gas station. He lost it during the pandemic and has not returned. Presently he works one short day a week putting newspapers in a plastic sleeve. As a result he spends many hours in his group home and the constant changes in staff has contributed to behavioral changes and anxiety for Tim.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. May 14, 2021 at 4:57 am

    Good morning David Do you or does someone from COFAR read the comments? I can not figure out Massachusetts. While 170,000 other primarily intellectually disabled individuals WORK in Sheltered Workshops in some 40+ States because of Section 14 C the intellectually disabled in Mass RIGHT to WORK because of Section 14 C is not even pursued This makes no sense. Rosa (WI) works and Marks (Mass) sits home. Both are US Citizens and Section 14 C is Federal Law.

    Any enlightenment about why it is acceptable not to be in court or have lost a court case that can be referred to so others can learn from it.

    Why the DLC is not sued for not defending the RIGHTS of those whose Person Centered Service Plans include work as an integral part of their plan is a mystery.

    A new insight Workshops Day Services provide a physical structure that intellectually disabled individuals have no capacity to provide for themselves. Rosa when she goes to work KNOWS the structure of the day and so she can be relaxed because she is not responsible for what happens at Work This is a critical understanding that NDRN and Harvard Law and the rest of them have no clue about.

    Even if you do not respond give me a heads up that you read it Thanks Peace Tom

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 17, 2021 at 5:04 pm

      Sorry about the delay in responding, tmspell. We share your concerns and questions as to why Massachusetts shut all sheltered workshops and didn’t ensure work opportunities for the participants.

      Liked by 1 person

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