Video courtesy of ASPIRO, Inc., Rehabilitation for Wisconsin in Action, and ACCSES.

Video courtesy of What Matters Most Campaign.


New York State Employment Transformation Plan


New York State wants to eliminate traditional Work Centers over the next 6 years.


This is New York State’s response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1999 Olmstead Decision and to new Medicaid Home and Community Based Services definitions; both of these provisions state that persons with a disability should live, work and receive services in the most integrated setting possible.

Problems With This Plan

  • There are limited private-sector employment opportunities.
  • Persons with a disability usually suffer the most when employment options are limited.
  • Part-time employment is unacceptable for those who require full-time supports.
  • Long periods of inactivity due to a lack of work will result in a deterioration of social, emotional and functional skills.

Other Challenges

  • People with disabilities should have more choices, not fewer choices; limiting options is counter-productive.
  • Continued non-Medicaid-based Work Center support and funding are required; integrated Work Centers MUST remain an option for all individuals with severe disabilities.

What is Ideal?

There is agreement among funders, advocates and providers that integrated employment at prevailing wage is ideal for everyone. The Supreme Court spoke in terms of “the most integrated setting appropriate to each individual” based on informed choice, self-determination, and an individual’s person-centered plan; the Supreme Court did not suggest eliminating Work Centers!


  • New York State has no strategies in place that focus on creating viable, competitive employment opportunities for workers with a disability. NYS wants to eliminate one of the few employment options for people with disabilities!
  • Ideal outcomes are often out of reach for many with developmental disabilities.
  • These ideal outcomes require leadership and innovation from policy makers and funders alike.
  • There will be emotional stress due to changes being made with no safety net; how to make the transition for those not capable of integrated employment.
  • Increased employment opportunities are needed; closing Work Centers will not accomplish this. With access to Work Centers eliminated, many people will enter Medicaid Waiver Day Services, if eligible, where there is no work option — and, therefore, no pay — or simply remain at home, with no services.
  • Without the necessary investments and supports, people with the most significant disabilities will be left without options for work.

New York State’s Actions to Date

  • Halted all new Work Center admissions effective July 2013. NYS wants to close all Work Centers within 6 years and transition 50% of those workers into integrated, competitive employment in the community.
  • Created “Pathway to Employment,” a time-limited (up to 12 months), pre-employment service to help with vocational discovery, skills assessment and assistance toward achieving competitive employment.
  • Announced plans to enhance the rate structure for supported employment.
  • Established tax credits for employers who hire people with disabilities.
  • Has provided no new funding.