Bark's Bytes: Blog of Merrick, Inc., Executive Director John Wayne Barker (JWB)

Bark’s Bytes #39 | Smoke & Fire

Published January 7, 2020

In late 2019, it came to my attention that Arc Minnesota was actively building a coalition of stakeholders to develop a 2020 legislative plan to phase out the commensurate wage regulation, known as 14(c), which permits a special minimum wage. After hearing strong opposition from many stakeholders this plan has been shelved for the time being. Still, there are several efforts at the federal level to eliminate the 14(c) regulation, and the Minnesota Disability Services Division (DSD) is moving forward with its plan to redesign Day Training & Habilitation (DT&H) services and impose a 36-month limit on prevocational services (with a possible 12-month extension) for anyone enrolled after 12/31/20.

It is my view that this DSD plan will eliminate the center-based work option for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) even if the 14(c) regulation is retained. To explain my reasoning I wrote a document entitled “Smoke & Fire” that is formatted in the style of a 2015 document entitled “Myths & Realities” written by the RTC on Community Living at the University of Minnesota. My hope is that a reader will better understand the issue if explained in a similar format and structure.

Both documents are attached as a pdf to this editorial and I suggest that the reader print both and read the same section of each before moving onto the next section. In this manner, the contrasting views may be clearer to the reader by the time they finish reading the documents.

At Merrick we have more than 200 clients that earned more than $750,000 last year through our 14(c) center-based work option who either can’t or don’t want to work in a competitive integrated work environment. It is my hope that others will strive to convince DHS to reconsider its DT&H redesign plan and proposed limit on prevocational services so that people with I/DD can make meaningful decisions about how to live, work, and interact with the community as promised in the Olmstead Plan.