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Massachusetts to Close Sheltered Workshops for People with Intellectual Disabilities

December 19, 2013

Massachusetts has issued a plan for moving people with intellectual disabilities out of segregated, sub-minimum-wage “sheltered workshops.” Under Massachusetts’ plan, entitled “Blueprint for Success: Employing Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities in Massachusetts,” the state’s administration on developmental disabilities will cease all new referrals to sheltered workshops beginning on January 1, 2014, and will close all existing sheltered workshops by June 30, 2015. Individuals currently working in sheltered workshops will, by June 30, 2015, transfer either to employment above minimum wage or to community-based day programs.

The plan comes, in part, as a response to new guidance from CMS restricting use of Medicaid funding for pre-vocational services offered in contexts such as sheltered workshops. Massachusetts plans to use federal Medicaid funding, via its Home and Community-Based Services waiver program, for many of the new services necessary to implement its plan, including supported employment and vocational coaching services. Federal Medicaid funding will cover approximately $13.35 million, or half, of the estimated $26.7 million necessary to implement the plan.

The full text of the plan is available at the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers web site, final%2011.6.13.pdf