Establish Your Steering Committee

The first step is to create the leadership and monitoring team
that will provide cross organizational perspective and buy-in. The Steering Committee drives the project and keeps it on track.

Closing a sheltered workshop is a process by which an agency transforms their current day and work services/programs into integrated, community-based services by providing people with options based on their individual preferences and abilities.
The next step in closing an agency’s sheltered workshop is to define the project goals. The goals define your project outcomes and the steps required to achieve those outcomes. Sufficient time should be spent in this area in order to ensure a successful project completion.


The purpose of the Steering Committee is to set direction, establish goals, and make sure that the project implementation is happening and staying on target. The Steering Committee functions as the leadership team for this entire project. Each of the leads from your other committees report to the Steering Committee to inform the group of what their status is, and to report on accomplished work.


The composition of the Steering committee should include executive members of your leadership team (i.e., CEO, CFO, COO, Vice President of Program and Services, Vice President/Director of Communications), a Board member, and an individual receiving services. The Steering Committee will be responsible for the overall guidance and completion of the project and the individuals on it need to be those that are thought leaders and decision makers for the agency. They need to be able to make decisions and changes that will have a large impact on your agency, including financial, organizational, and staff related changes.

Functions (Roles and Responsibilities)

  • Identification and assignment of team leaders. The team leaders need to be able to develop their team membership with a cross section of employees. The team leaders should be positive and excited about the upcoming changes.
  • Determine the deliverables and timetable of deliverables for each project team.
  • Review and monitor each team’s process.
  • Review Team progress reports and compare to deliverable schedules.
  • Adjust Team’s priorities and direction when necessary.
  • Responsible for monitoring and making decisions that will impact overall financial impact to the agency (i.e., Allocation of resources for meeting deliverable requirements, space acquisition and use, staffing requests, needed ECR resources).
  • Work with the agency Quality team to ensure that standards are met, and review the identified key performance indicators (KPI).

Other Considerations

  • The Steering Committee also has their own deliverables and timeframes which typically are to keep the project on track and to ensure that the ultimate goal of closing the sheltered workshop is achieved.
  • The Steering Committee must also meet regularly and directly oversee a committee of the owners/leaders from each of the individual Project Teams. This will have a direct impact on achieving the functions mentioned above.

“To sustain a sheltered workshop essentially flies in the face of the mission of most organizations serving people with disabilities. There is no reason people with disabilities can’t be meaningfully engaged throughout their communities.

In my view, as organization leaders, the commitment must be closure, not “downsizing”. Make the commitment and then figure out how to do it. If it isn’t absolute, it simply won’t happen!”

– Tom Fanning, former CEO, Ability Beyond


The key to our success was having a senior member who could commit to the project and make it a #1 priority for the agency.