The Linn County Board of Supervisors today unanimously accepted the recommendation of the Options Planning Task Force to close the Options pre-vocational (sheltered workshop) program by June 30, 2016 and to restructure the day habilitation program to comply with new federal requirements for community integration.
The recommendation came after a year-long, detailed review of changes in federal regulations and funding restrictions facing programs like Options that serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Options Planning Task Force, which included family members of Options consumers, service providers and Linn County staff, recommended restructuring the day habilitation program to comply with new federal requirements for community integration and to eliminate the sheltered workshop due to federal changes requiring community integration, increasing national pressure to abolish sub-minimum wage waivers (used by Options), and a growing funding gap between the cost of operating the program and a cap on the funding available to pay for it. Linn County case managers will work with Options’ consumers and family members to assist them during the transitional period.
“It’s important for families to know these changes will not take place overnight. We have time to work with Options consumers and their families to thoughtfully plan the next steps with them,” said Linn County Supervisor Ben Rogers, who was also a member of the task force.
The changes in service delivery for programs like Options are rooted in a national effort to promote community integration for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the least restrictive setting possible. Federal regulations view sheltered workshops as a restrictive environment that segregates the disabled from the community. The new model seeks integrated, competitive employment for people with disabilities as well as community integration for day habilitation programs.
Task force members formally presented the recommendation to family members of Options consumers on Dec. 2 and to the Linn County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 3, 2014.
About the Task Force
The Options Planning Task Force was created by the Linn County Board of Supervisors to examine the changes in federal regulations and funding restrictions that will impact the operation of Options of Linn County and to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors on the future of the program. The Task Force is comprised of family members of Option consumers, disability advocates, disability service providers, and Linn County staff.
More information about the Options Planning Task Force, its members, issues addressed, and the recommendation is available on the Linn County website at www.linncounty.org/Options.