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September 23, 2011

Push for Integrated Employment

Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin wants government policy to shift toward integrated employment for people with physical/mental challenges rather than sheltered workshops.  Harkin’s remarks come two months after activists led senators to delay rules regulating sheltered workshops.  He believes integrated employment will signify a “new cutting edge.”

“In the past the default position for people with intellectual disabilities has been sheltered employment. I want to change that default to integrated, supported employment,” Harkin said at a hearing, which is one in a series he’s conducting this year to address physically/mentally employment topics.

Harkin doesn’t want to end sheltered workshops.  He wants to promote a new outlook in the workforce.  He hopes this idea will benefit people with physical/mentally challenges acquiring their first job.

Opponents of integrated employment state that it’s not right to limit people in sheltered workshops.  They believe that this idea gives employers a checklist to screen out employees.  This could cause unintentional growth in integrated employment.

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