Feedback: JRC's Funding Cut For Hiring Disabled Workers

Tools

Notebooks, government tags, protective boot liners. 

The Jefferson Rehabilitation Center's manufacturing center, Production Unlimited, keeps 68 workers busy.

Most of them have disabilities, but they still like pulling in a paycheck.

Everybody likes to get paid, right?

"Right," said worker Linda Loomis.

But there's one big problem.

"The federal government doesn't perceive workshops as being a viable choice for people with disabilities," said Howard Ganter, JRC executive director.

Now the federal and state governments have cut off the funding for hiring any more disabled workers.

Instead, the JRC is being told to step up the pace in placing its clients in community settings. 

That might or might not involve employment.

"The only other option for them would be to be placed in a day program for adults," said Ganter.

So, will the government's approach to this lead to an end of production at Production Unlimited?"

"We believe there'll still be a need for a manufacturing facility. It may be under a different name," said David Moran, JRC director of vocational services and training.

The JRC has until October 1 to tell the state how it will provide a more integrated environment.

"Maybe with some more non-disabled workers to make it a more viable plant," said Sandy Petrillose, JRC coordinator of community-based employment.

JRC officials will hold a community meeting on August 21 to explain the changes to the public.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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