On May 3rd , our Development & Public Relations Director Jessica Penchard, traveled to the Harrisburg Capital to join hundreds of her colleagues to advocate for adults with intellectual disabilities and autism.  Prior to the pandemic the industry was experiencing staffing shortages, the pandemic has exacerbated the situation to alarming levels. PAR (Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability) conducted a survey following the pandemic with 130 providers representing over 30,000 persons served in Pennsylvania completing the survey.  The results indicate that 34% of service providers permanently closed programs with 88% of the closures due to staffing shortages, resulting in more than 12,000 people with disabilities waiting for services, and more than 4,000 losing current services. The truth is, we need your help. Please contact your legislators and let them know about this critical situation. PAR makes it easy for people to advocate by following the easy step-by-step guide in the PAR Action Center.  Thank you for standing up for the rights of people with disabilities and ensuring that they receive the supports they need to live active quality lives in our communities.

Bob Casey proposed Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act to phase out sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities.

Many adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be displaced from work if this bill is passed.  To be clear, Prospectus Berco fully supports the individual’s right to realize their full potential and to seek competitive employment. In fact, Prospectus Berco embraces the Employment First initiative and has an Employment program to assist individuals in obtaining and maintaining gainful employment in the community. However, it is unrealistic to assume that all individuals with disabilities are the same and need the same type of support; not everyone will be successful in obtaining competitive employment. 14C programs offer individuals an alternative for meaningful work in an environment that supports them.  It is our position that it should be the person’s right to choose the employment program that matches their ability and fosters an environment for growth and development. By eliminating 14C programs, people with disabilities will no longer have the right to choose a program that supports them in being employed.  Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities should have the right to choose a workplace that provides them with a safe environment and the accommodations they need to be successful.

Let’s unpack the myths of 14C programs; for example,  did you know that individuals can earn above minimum wage and work in community settings?

Information provided by Coalition for the Preservation of Employment Choice

Learn more about Senator Bob Casey’s TCIEA proposal here

“Coalition for the Preservation of Employment Choice”
June 5th Rally – Harrisburg Rotunda – 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

“Coalition for the Preservation of Employment Choice” is holding a Press Conference in Harrisburg in the Rotunda on June 5, 2023,  from 10:00a.m. – 11:00a.m.   For those who are not involved with the Coalition, we are a national non-profit that came together to educate federal lawmakers and decision makers on the unintended consequences of eliminating 14C’s.  We are the voice for those who do not have a voice and choose those services.

We need to educate our legislators on the deleterious effects these rates and the new proposed bill  by Senator Casey and others Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act, could have on vocational services that provide individuals the opportunity to learn and earn.

Employment First & Community Participation Supports

Prospectus Berco seeks to improve the quality of life for Berks County residents with disabilities by providing support services to help individuals achieve greater community engagement and more independence. As Community stake holders and volunteers you can make a big difference in the lives of our program participants by providing opportunities for them to be involved in their community, gain meaningful experiences that give purpose to their lives and possibly lead to gainful employment. Please consider how your business can help individuals gain on-the-job training for employment.

Vocational Program
  • The Vocational Program is looking to connect businesses with talent based on the unique needs of the company and the worker(s) with a disability. Our program provides reliable, effective, and timely services whereby Vocational staff train and support workers on-site at the job.
  • Requirements include:
  • Minimum wage paid of $7.25
  • Only 3 to 5 production workers at the site
  • We are also interested in training production workers to become an employee of an off-site business. We can provide the training but ultimately the individual would become an employee.
  • We will also consider volunteer opportunities for the production workers to get out in the community and for obtaining additional job skills.
Adult Training Program
  • We are looking for more outside connections to fulfill life skill opportunities which would need to be during the week from approximately 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and within ½ hour distance of our facility.
  • Opportunities are geared toward relationship building with community members and in giving back to the community. Program participants have been active with Meals on Wheels, shopping for senior citizens with Berks Encore, working on activities at local churches, visiting senior centers, stocking shelves at ReStore etc.

If you have any ideas to share, please contact Jessica Penchard, Development & Public Relations Director, at 610-372-4637, ext. 103, or jpenchard@prospectusberco.org

PAR (Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources
for Autism and Intellectual Disability)

PAR LOGO horizontal

PAR (Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability) proudly represents provider organizations whose mission is to serve and support Pennsylvania’s children and adults with autism or intellectual disability. 2020 will mark our 50th year as the only statewide provider association in the Commonwealth with this exclusive focus.

PAR Members provide the full range of supports and services for individuals with Autism and Intellectual Disability in Pennsylvania. With a workforce of over 50,000 Pennsylvanians supporting tens of thousands of individuals and their families, the association promotes the highest standards of service through advocacy, information, training and education, and the resources provided by our members.

You can help to increase awareness about the importance of this industry by contacting your legislature and government officials. Visit www.par.net  to stay current on issues and to provide you with the necessary talking points, tool kits and materials to be an advocate.

Currently, PAR has undergone a campaign to support legislation to increase wages for Direct Support Professionals (DSP) in order to attract better quality workers and to provide greater stability to the industry.

Pennsylvania is facing a DSP crisis and is in need of qualified caring individuals to provide 1:1 care for individuals with special needs. Because reimbursement rates to service providers are so low, many organizations are unable to offer competitive wages and full time status with benefits for DSP professionals.

Learn more at www.fixthedspcrisis.com