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COPAA Congratulates Congress on passage of WIOA in Senate and Cautions not to conflict with Olmstead

Wednesday, June 25, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Denise Marshall
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New employment law important step forward and must not conflict with momentum generated by new Olmstead actions


Today, as the Senate votes to update and reauthorize The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Denise Marshall, executive director of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) issued the following statement:


“We congratulate Congress as they have taken an important step forward by updating a critical law that directly impacts the employment of young adults and adults with disabilities. The new law should:


• Promote and increase access to competitive, integrated employment;

• Create checkpoints, if implemented properly, may constrain the number of referrals to jobs paying a subminimum wage; and,

• Strengthen transition planning for youth with disabilities as it relates to the other federal laws protecting and supporting school-age students.


If implemented as intended, there should be measurable progress for people with disabilities in seeking and accessing meaningful, competitive employment. We look forward to this positive outcome for all. Just as students with disabilities must have an opportunity equal to that of their peers without disabilities to become college or career-ready; once employed, all workers - including those with disabilities – must be paid fair wages for fair labor.


Our ongoing concern for the youth and young adults with disabilities -- who by virtue of the complexity and severity of their disability -- may be challenging to serve under the current law, is that many of them may still end up in subminimum wage jobs in sheltered work settings because WIOA cannot completely abolish this practice. Therefore, we ask the Congress, to speak directly to how the new WIOA can distinctly support and complement the work underway at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to aggressively pursue discrimination claims related to failure to provide services to individuals with disabilities in the least restrictive environment as interpreted by Olmstead v. L.C. by Zimring, 527 U.S. 581 (1999). Such support would help ensure that services, programs, and activities provided by public entities be delivered in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of persons with disabilities.


Even with the passage of the WIOA, Congressional leadership is still needed to reinforce that every federal law should work together to help every individual with a disability, regardless of perceived severity, to achieve an independent, self-directed, and community-centered quality life.”



COPAA is an independent, nonprofit organization of parents, attorneys, advocates, and related professionals. COPAA members nationwide work to protect and enforce the legal and civil rights and secure excellence in education on behalf of the 6.5 million children with disabilities in America. COPAA is grounded in the belief that every child deserves the right to a quality education that prepares him or her for meaningful employment, higher education and lifelong learning, as well as full participation in his or her community.



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