Putting It In Perspective

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.

First workshop photo
In 2005, Ability Beyond successfully closed its sheltered workshop and transitioned over 200 individuals into community-based day and work opportunities.  
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.

Why is it important?

In accordance with legislation (Olmstead Decision, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) and The New York Employment First Initiative to Increase Employment of New Yorkers with Disabilities), it is imperative that individuals with disabilities are offered full access to employment that matches their skills and interests, and full community participation as they choose- outside of a sheltered workshop. Download Legislation Information

What is the goal for Closing a Sheltered Workshop?

The overall goal of closing a sheltered workshop is for individuals with disabilities to become fully integrated into the communities where they live and work.

What are the agency’s tasks for Closing a Sheltered Workshop?

As an agency, you should engage the people you serve and their families in the process and the philosophy of full inclusion.

You should develop a caring, well-trained and dedicated work force to serve people with disabilities in community settings. You should shift your agency’s resources to a “program without walls.” The transition will require changes in your agency’s use of its physical premises, increased staffing and staff training and the incorporation of new technology. You should secure job opportunities in community settings, internship and volunteer opportunities, for each person you serve who has the desire and the potential to work.

A wide array of recreational, cultural, educational and community service choice opportunities should be created so persons with disabilities will not be segregated into limited “disability clusters.” Programs that raise public awareness about the abilities of persons with disabilities should be developed.

All of this will help defeat negative stereotypes in order to promote familiarity and acceptance that will result in more employment and community inclusion.

Who is involved?

  • Each person’s Interdisciplinary Team should meet and information should be made available to the guardians and families of those individuals involved.
  • Guardian and family input is vital and valued to help realize individual consumer program goals and promote successful community integration for all people served.
  • All stakeholders must be involved in the planning and implementing process. No one can stand outside the process.
  • As a Board member, staff, family member, individuals served, or member of the community, their ideas, leadership and commitment are vital to achieving the goal of closing a sheltered workshop.

“This is a major organizational undertaking and requires long term commitment and buy in from all stakeholders. Frequent reminders of goals will be required to continue buy-in.”