Policy & Advocacy Newsline ~ October 2022

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From Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment:
Meet Kyle Stumpf

Kyle Stumpf of Dubuque, Iowa is 32 years old. When he graduated from high school 14 years ago, his dad Bill says he did not really understand options for Kyle. Kyle started working at a subminimum wage. He seemed to enjoy his work, and Bill thought he was doing something that felt meaningful.

Bill started serving on the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council and began to learn about competitive integrated employment and started investigating the options. With support, Kyle was offered a job at Papa John’s Pizza in 2014. With the assistance of Vocational Rehabilitation and supported employment services funded through the Home and Community-Based Services Waiver, Kyle remains competitively employed in an integrated setting. Kyle’s dad goes on to say that he was a bit of a barrier to assisting Kyle in his transition to an integrated setting. “I was not knowledgeable about the options or how to start the process of transitioning to competitive integrated employment.”

Bill and Kyle have become advocates for competitive integrated employment. They share their experiences to help others make the transition from subminimum wage at a sheltered workshop to community-based employment. Kyle and his dad made a video where you can learn more about Kyle and his job: Kyle’s Employment Success Story.

NDSC supports the Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act which would phase out subminimum wages for people with disabilities.

Kyle Stumpf at Papa John’s


Advocacy Matters

This month’s Advocacy Matters features NDAC members and groups focusing on two timely topics: Voting and Local Group Advocacy Ideas

First Time Voter Rebecca Newlon

NDAC member Rebecca Newlon is voting for the first time in the 2022 mid-term election. Rebecca,19, lives in Bull Valley, Illinois. Rebecca is excited to vote because “politicians need to know my point of view.” Rebecca wants everyone to know it is okay to have support when you vote. “I need to discuss with someone what is on the ballot. I plan to use the mail-in ballot, and I need someone to help me fill it out and mail it.” She goes on to say, “It is important for people with Down syndrome to vote because I don’t want my rights as a human being to be removed.” Rebecca’s mom, Chris, says she tried to emphasize the importance of voting in general for all five of her children, and she has treated Rebecca the same way.

Rebecca has already filled out her ballot and her enthusiasm about voting for the first time is evident in these pictures where she is working on her ballot! Thank you, Rebecca, for setting a great example for all Americans by exercising your right to vote.

For more information on voting, check out this blog from the Social Security Administration.

A “Distributed Walk” for Down Syndrome Advocacy

During the height of the pandemic, the Down Syndrome Association of Maryland (DSAMD) launched the “Distributed Walk.” The distributed walk was an alternative to the large-scale annual walk they ordinarily hosted. Families were encouraged to host a party in their yard, neighborhood, or the local park. DSAMD has always had a strong policy and advocacy emphasis inviting local, state and federally elected officials to participate in their Down syndrome walk. For the distributed walk, the families invited elected officials to join their neighborhood walk celebrations. In 2020, they had nine elected officials join families for their walk and an additional 10 who submitted video greetings. The videos were posted on the organization’s social media leading up to walk day. In 2021, seven officials joined families in person and many others, who could not attend the celebrations, submitted videos. Check out the DSAMD video montage – 2021 Step Up Baltimore Elected Officials Show Their Support

The Step Up Baltimore event is back this year, but the idea was so successful that the group is doing the distributed walk again this year. Elected officials will be invited to participate in person at the walk, in person with a family of constituents on a day in the week before or after the main event, or virtually by submitting a video.

“Our walk planning committee has been determined to involve elected officials, but we’ve had to adapt the means to that end over the last few years,” says Liz Zogby, committee member. “This year, even though we are excited to gather as one community, we didn’t want to let go of the opportunity for officials to meet families in their neighborhoods or to read a script that embeds the issues and values that we are advocating for, so we are doing it all!”

Thanks to NDAC group member DSAMD for sharing this big idea!

The Down Syndrome Association of Maryland was formerly the Chesapeake Down Syndrome Parent Group.

Jacob’s Jam walk team and Maryland Delegate Brooke Lierman

Public Comment Requirements for State Alternate Assessment 1% Cap Waiver Requests  

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which requires states to assess all students in certain grades, put a 1% cap on the number of all students who can be placed in a state’s alternate assessment, instead of the general assessment. This 1% cap equals approximately 10% of students with disabilities.

Most states were exceeding the cap and have been given the opportunity to submit requests to waive the 1% cap while making plans to lower the percentage of students in the alternate assessment over time. NDSC and The Advocacy Institute discovered that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) was not asking states to publicly share and obtain stakeholder comments on requests to extend the waiver after the first year. The public posting and review of the waiver requests are important so advocates can see what the state is planning to do to lower the number of students taking the state alternate assessment.

NDSC and The Advocacy Institute (with legal help from the Center for Law and Education) sent a memo to ED about this issue and as a result, ED changed its requirements so now there will be a rebuttable presumption that the waiver is not in the public interest if public comments have not been requested, including for waiver extensions. For more information about the 1% cap see here.

TIES Center Grant Ending  

As of September 30, 2022, the TIES Center will no longer serve as the national technical assistance center for inclusive policies and practices for students with significant cognitive disabilities. The next 5-year grant was awarded to the SWIFT Center at the University of Kansas. We hope to continue our collaboration with TIES staff in the future and we hope NDSC can partner with the SWIFT Center moving forward.

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