Program will help people find work

Daily Editorial Board

Across Minnesota, state and county leaders are developing a plan to better integrate people with disabilities into the workforce. Inspired by a successful Ohio program, Minnesota’s “Way to Work” initiative seeks to connect adults who have disabilities with social workers and career counselors.
Currently, many people with disabilities struggle to find work outside of “sheltered workshops,” whose employees often collect trash or perform other menial activities for as little as $2 per hour. These shops employ about 12,000 Minnesotans with disabilities, and the state currently has one of the lowest levels of integrated employment nationwide — just 13 percent of adults who receive state services work in the general community. 
In contrast, Ohio’s program boosted the state’s rate of integrated employment up to its current 24 percent.
While it is important to remember that sheltered workshops were originally developed in order to help people with disabilities, it should also be obvious that there are people who would rather not depend on or be limited by them.
Therefore, in the hope that these people will be able to make better lives for themselves, we support the “Way to Work” initiative, as its policies should be common sense. No one who is qualified for and capable of performing a job should face exclusion from applying for it. Moreover, because participating in the “Way to Work” program is strictly a voluntary decision, nobody will be required to apply for jobs they don’t want.