June 28, 2013
Madison House Autism Foundation works to address the issues of autistic adults by enabling community collaborations in housing, education, financial planning, medical understanding, and employment opportunities. We recently took interest in NBC’s RockCenter segment about controversial business practices and would like to express our views about the Special Minimum Wage Certificate:
The Special Minimum Wage Certificate (SMWC) has complex implications. First and foremost, Madison House does not condone abuse or exploitation of individuals under any circumstances. For any and all employment options, we advocate for transparency, accountability, and choice of an individual. For people with intellectual/developmental disabilities and high support needs, the Special Minimum Wage Certificate may be the difference between staying at home in an isolated environment versus working. Benefits of working include developing skill sets, interacting with others in a work environment and providing a service or product for the greater community.
In the United States, supply and demand drive wages. However, many individuals with high support needs may not have skill sets that are suited to the competitive reality of the marketplace. These individuals may want to work, and without the option of programs using SMWC, would be subject to further limitations for potential job and experiential opportunities. In addition, other federal policies act as a disincentive to earning higher wages. Many individuals would likely forgo governmental benefits, such as Medicare/Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income if they earn too much.
Madison House endorses high quality employment options, including SMWC, for individuals with disabilities, high support needs and/or limited communication skills. Madison House recognizes the current economic landscape, especially in regards to limited access to employment and a severe lack of funding for those with intellectual/developmental disabilities. We recommend addressing abusive practices while striving to maintain these employment programs. Moreover, Madison House believes individuals should refrain from purchasing products or services from an organization until questionable business practices are changed.
We thank NBC for presenting this segment and generating conversation. There is a lack of awareness about autistic adults, including the grave shortage of housing with needed lifelong supports, trained staff and employment opportunities. Madison House will continue to work with researchers and educators, business and healthcare leaders, self-advocates, families and caring friends to advance model solutions, create supportive legislations and engage stakeholders in building awareness, understanding and acceptance for millions impacted by autism.
President and Co-Founder