Why Sheltered Workshops Need to End


Workers in a sheltered workshop

I started traveling after two decades living in high desert. When I hit Nebraska, the humidity was stifling. By the end of June, sweltering in Missouri, I was firmly reacquainted with mosquitoes, a pest I’d been blissfully separated from for years. I needed a way to open my van windows for ventilation without being attacked by biting and stinging insects.

I found a product that would be perfect for my needs — custom-sized pieces of tent screen with magnets along the edges to hold them to the outside of vehicles, covering the windows. A brilliant idea! An idea, it turns out, that I am now crafting on my own (which means mine will be rainbow colored hand crafted art, of course) but would have rather just purchased. In fact, I put a pair of them into my online shopping cart but before I could buy them, I noticed the words on the website declaring that the company was proud to be making these products in a sheltered workshop.

I will not support sheltered workshops. Not only did I not buy the screens, I emailed the company and opened a dialogue with the owner:

I was about to buy a pair of these – amazing product and exactly what I need – when I read this on your site: “Manufactured locally in partnership with a Missouri Sheltered Workshop.”

Does that mean the people who make these aren’t paid minimum wage for their work? I can’t buy these if the people making them are being exploited. What are the conditions in this sheltered workshop? Is it like the Salvation Army sheltered workshops where people work all day for just a few dollars?

I need to know what my money would be supporting if I bought a set of these. They are so awesome, but I can’t commit until I know.

The business owner got back to me quickly and, of course, defended the company’s choice of sheltered workshop labor:

We are very proud to be utilizing the services of a local Sheltered Workshop, which by definition means “a private non-profit, state, or local government institution that provides employment opportunities for individuals who are developmentally, physically, or mentally impaired, to prepare for gainful work in the general economy.” How effective these institutions are has been a long debate but one must look at it on a more personal level to see the value….what if I were mentally challenged, or my child, to where I could not hold a job in the ‘normal’ workplace? I know I would certainly appreciate the opportunity to be made to feel productive, earning a paycheck would be a bonus;)

It is a very nice facility located just outside of Springfield Missouri. They conduct work studies every year to reevaluate the time it takes them to do all the things required to manufacture our product, sewing, cutting fabric, counting magnets, processing orders and creating the labels for shipping, then we are invoiced according to the guidelines set by the Department of Labor. You can rest assured you will be helping a good cause whenever you buy [our product].

So I wrote back:

Thank you for your prompt and courteous reply.

I don’t have to imagine what it would be like to be disabled and unemployable. I am developmentally disabled and after years of struggle to try to keep a job and periods of homelessness due to being unable to support myself, I now live on social security disability. I am fortunate to be able to drive and I live in a minivan which I have made into a cozy home for myself and my cat. (Thus my interest in window screens.) It is the highest quality of living I have ever found on my fixed income.

Vocational rehabilitation was unable to assist me in employment and several times I have been pushed toward a sheltered workshop as my “only option,” sometimes with hints that I would lose my disability payments which I rely on to survive if I did not show that I was willing to try to work by taking one of these very low paying jobs. With proper supports, I am employable, but the existence of sheltered workshops meant there were not programs available to support me in employment that pays minimum wage or higher.

It is not about pride in feeling productive and the “bonus” of a very small paycheck (I could make more money selling my blood than working in a sheltered workshop and, for a time, I did sell my blood to make ends meet.) It is about government programs that bully people into working in places that are legally allowed to pay pennies for the labor — like the workshop that makes your products, I’m sure, based on the wording of your response. That cheap labor keeps your costs down and increases your profit margin so of course companies think sheltered workshops are a fine thing.

Although sheltered workshops are promoted as transitional work, studies have shown that moving disabled people straight into supported employment has better outcomes: more workers are able to achieve and maintain supported employment in the long run when moved straight into it than when sheltered workshops are used as a stepping stone. Supported employment costs the state less, workers have higher pay, and workers are more successfully integrated into the community rather than segregated. The main reason sheltered workshops have not already been abolished is that companies who benefit from employing workers paid sub minimum wages have lobbied to keep the workshops in place, arguing that they are needed because “no one else will employ these people” (despite studies showing otherwise.)

I can’t applaud American workers getting paid $1/hour. Disability activists have been lobbying to abolish sheltered workshops for years now and as much as I need window screens, I can’t abandon my strongly held political and ethical beliefs that the workers who make my screens be paid at least minimum wage for their time. I will continue to sleep with my windows rolled up while I look for something else to protect me from the mosquitoes up here in northwestern Missouri where I am currently camped.

Thank you for your time and honesty.

I wasn’t surprised that the business owner did not like my response. But she was very polite, much to her credit.
You obviously know from first hand experience what would be the ideal alternative then, other than what our government has designed. We actually were trying to use the services of “professional seamstresses” but the job was too mundane or repetitive, so we went through one after another, after another. We were thinking we might need to look at China for production, as much as we did NOT want to promote their welfare, when someone suggested we look into the Sheltered Workshops to see if they might be interested in the tasks needed to produce [our product.] We felt it was a win win, keeping the dollars here, keeping them in our own state, and helping the disabled. I wish you well in your travels and hope you find a solution that will work for your needs.

As I pointed out to her, our government does not always have the best ideas or our highest interests in mind. I had gleaned her political stance from the way her business page was worded, so I turned to a voice I discerned she would trust enough to listen to: Ronald Reagan. “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Once I reminded her that her own political stance is one that does not thoughtlessly trust the government but always looks toward the greater good, she seemed to be more receptive to my words. We ended the conversation on a high note, with her agreeing with my statement, which she called well-spoken: “If you want to help the disabled, support self-advocacy and integration in the community with supports. Don’t assume the government has the best interests of the most vulnerable members of the population at heart. It rarely does. The almighty dollar is king and justice is only served when it is expedient to commerce.”

The company still uses sheltered workshops, but hopefully I’ve given the owner something to think about. She was right: I do know the “ideal alternative” and it is expedient to commerce as well. What is holding us back from improving the labor situation for disabled people are misplaced emotions and feel-good legislation.

The ideal alternative to sheltered workshops is supported employment in the community. Supported employment costs the government less and has a net benefit for consumers. Supported employment is better for teaching work skills and endurance. Supported employment integrates disabled workers into the larger community rather than keeping them isolated away from the rest of society.

The business owner with whom I corresponded said that they offer people “the opportunity to be made to feel productive,” and that if she or her child were disabled, “earning a paycheck would be a bonus.”

The work I do — writing, presenting and also the craftwork I do, making jewelry and hats, the art I draw for t-shirts or book covers, the music I compose and record — is such satisfying work that I would still do it if no one else valued it enough to pay for it. In fact, it is work I did do without pay for several years before I began to see income from it. The fulfilling nature of the work and the joy of building my own business have sustained me through times of extremely sub-minimum wage income from it. But that has been my choice.

Vocational Rehabilitation has often been at a loss as to what to do with me. Or about me. Rarely for me. I have gotten the subtly threatening letters and phone calls that hope I will interpret them as commands rather than suggestions. I have experienced the efforts meant to herd me into a sheltered workshop, banking on me being so afraid of losing my disability benefits that I will hand my life over to someone else to do with as they will. I have faced the pressure to take an extremely low-paying job “cutting fabric and counting magnets” to mass-produce someone else’s design in a legal sweatshop. If I had a parent like the business owner with whom I communicated, I would have gotten pressure at home to yield to the coerced labor as well.

Think for a moment about the protests against companies like Nike. Sensitive, compassionate, progressive Americans decided it was unethical to purchase products made by people with so few options they were a captive workforce for the pennies per day wages they earned in the repetitive, mind-numbing work required to create designer shoe and clothes for people who paid thousands of times the labor cost in order to own elite brands.

But somehow all of that is okay when the people being exploited are disabled Americans instead of impoverished citizens of a developing nation. Worse, people in developing nations who work in sweatshops are often the wealthiest members of their society while disabled Americans who work in sheltered workshops are among the poorest in theirs. Even worse, sweatshop conditions at sheltered workshops are defended on the grounds that they are beneficial for the exploited workers, a sort of occupational therapy that will allegedly lead to higher self esteem and a sense of connection with a community one is not privileged to participate in beyond the exploitation one receives at its hands. How is this even still legal, let alone right?

This is not work that is so fulfilling one would continue to do it for free. This is not work that gives a sense of ownership. This is glorified minimum wage labor that is being paid at rates so far below minimum wage that undocumented migrant farm workers make more money per hour than many sheltered workshop participants. The thing I find most confusing about sheltered workshops is that there aren’t more people angry about how our system is treating some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

Supported work within the community teaches people how to get, keep, and flourish in jobs. Supported work within the community helps disabled people to be more active in and in touch with other people — all kinds of other people, not just other disabled people and the professionals employed to supervise them. And if the work is some of that boring, repetitive work that many of us do or have done but few people really enjoy, it’s okay because the worker is getting a fair wage (or as fair as wages ever get in America) and not being coerced into doing it for pennies because it is supposed to be good for them or a great place to learn.

And, by the way, sheltered workshops are not a great place to learn how work works. Over the last half decade or so, federal policy makers have been moving away from the sheltered workshop model (so why are there still so many sheltered workshops out there?!), largely for the simple reason that it does not work.

In a 2011 speech, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Samuel R. Bagenstos said, “when individuals with disabilities spend years— indeed, decades—in congregate programs doing so-called jobs like these, yet do not learn any real vocational skills, we should not lightly conclude that it is the disability that is the problem. Rather, the programs’ failure to teach any significant, job-market-relevant skills leaves their clients stuck. As a recent review of the literature concludes, ‘the ineffectiveness of sheltered workshops for helping individuals progress to competitive employment is well established.'”

Bagenstos works in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. He knows the score here. So why are so many communities and people still clinging to sheltered workshops? It’s time for a change.



41 responses to this post.

  1. It’s a similar story in the UK. An epileptic friend of mine who was best man at my wedding but sadly passed several years ago could only find so-called work at the equivalent of one of these sheltered workshops. Although by law in the UK disabled people are entitled to the same minimum wage as everyone else, the reality is that many of the jobs they actually get offered are “voluntary” which means that they are exempt from that legislation.

    All to often the picture presented is that a favor is being done to “these people” by providing them any employment at all: that they are “lucky to have” the crumbs they are offered. It’s disgusting that the disabled are seen as a source of cheap labor and I applaud your moral stance on the matter.

  2. Posted by autisticaplanet on January 31, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    In even our own country, there are “able” minded people who work in sweatshops. People get very mad about that and “fair trade” labels pop up on coffee packaging or other foods. Yet I don’t hear the same outrage when disabled people are put in a similar situation: being paid poorly for doing hard work like factory assembly line work. Disabled persons have to live in the real world and be able to earn a living wage. I think the trap comes when people can’t make it out in the regular workplace, so the sheltered workshop becomes a way of keeping people busy and be proud of contributing. I couldn’t even tolerate the noise of a sheltered workshop. I was, for a year, given the opportunity of doing work from home, which my mom picked up and dropped off at the social service agency that provided the workshop. I made a penny per completed assembly of a bike bottle lid or a washer placed on a screw. A box held 500, so that was 5$ per box. I did about 10 boxes per month, so that was about less than $50. I think they estimated I put in about 8 hours per month and paid me that way.
    I live in Illinois, which is cutting social service programs after years of wasteful spending. I don’t think anything will change anytime soon here.

    • When people can’t do any sort of job at all, not even a “sheltered” one, I don’t think the answer is to underpay. Yes, pride in contributing is an important thing, but “keeping busy” should be reserved for things a person genuinely enjoys. At one point, I couldn’t keep a job and I wanted to contribute and keep busy so I volunteered at the animal shelter. I enjoyed being around the animals, I was definitely contributing — those animals would be cooped up alone in their cages all day if it weren’t for volunteers — and instead of getting an insultingly small amount of money that would barely make a difference in my household budget, I did the work for free (along with other volunteers, most of them “able” people who had full-time jobs in addition to the volunteer work) and felt the equal of everyone else and felt that my time was valued more when I offered it as a gift for work I loved than it was valued if I did drudge work I hated for far less that market wages.

      • Posted by autisticaplanet on February 2, 2016 at 4:53 pm

        That’s good that you can volunteer. I made stretch bracelets for a few social service agencies around Christmas time, something I could do from the sanity of my own home.

  3. My name is Sunny Cefaratti. I am totally blind and on the autism spectrum. I just read this blog and I would like to tell you my story.
    For eight years I was in a sheltered workshop here in Maryland. I was also payed sub minimum wage and I was in a room that held at least 100 people. There would be days where I just sat and waited for work. I left the sheltered workshop on March 13, 2015. I am now working with a personal job coach that I hired. I think we shouldn’t really abolish sheltered workshops, but we should see how to change the programs. My understanding is that disabled people should work in the community like everyone else. My question is: where do you put those individuals with severe medical needs or severe aggressions? Another question is: if you do close the sheltered workshops, who is going to pay for this? I would like to talk to you more about this. Please E-mail me back at sunnycef@gmail.com.
    Thank you from Sunny Cefaratti

    • Posted by autisticaplanet on February 2, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      I agree. Not everyone, myself included, could work out in the community. I believe that minimum wage should be paid nonetheless. I couldn’t afford to hire a job coach, and there are many situations that would make working outside the home impossible for me. Work from home needs to be an option as well, and minimum wage paid. Not all on the spectrum, including me, can do what others who are more able can. I don’t want one group speaking for me. For me, autism isn’t simply a way of thinking differently and I do have real, life-limiting disabilities not limited to autism.

    • We should have a robust social safety net to provide fairly for the needs of people who cannot work.

      But if people are working, they should be paid.

      In states that have closed their sheltered workshops, more disabled people, not less, are earning fair wages in the community.

      People who can’t work for whatever reason should have control of their choices over how they use their time. I don’t think the right question is “where do we put them?” but “what do they want to do?”

      • Yes! Why is it considered more important for someone to do some grueling token of work for pennies than it is for them to have a happy life regardless of what they can do. The Puritan ethic of “if you don’t work, you don’t eat,” is reasonable for those few who can work yet refuse to (such people do exist but they are a very small minority) but it is ludicrous when taken to the extreme of forcing someone who really can’t work to work anyway and then use the fact that they can’t work as a justification for paying them pennies for the time and life that has been stolen from them.

  4. Thank you for your clear-minded, well-spoken plea.
    As the mother of a 21-year old autistic son who graduated from high school 8 months ago and who is enrolled in a supported employment program, I can tell you why many parents are still opting to put their adult children in sheltered workshop situations even though the promise of supported employment is so much more hopeful for our children: the supported employment programs are not yet adequately funded and the process takes so long that you need to have someone care for your child for quite a long time. Many of us do not have a spare parent or other family member who can do this. I think it likely that the program my son is in will take nearly 2 years, and it is good in many ways! And I have a child who is likely going to make it all the way through to half time independent employment in the mainstreamed workforce.
    To most people our children are invisible or throw-away so the fact that they are making a pittance in sheltered workshops, it’s almost like a secondary problem, not the heart of the issue.

    • So, I can see how this is a difficult situation for families and parents.

      However, it is unnerving to me how often these conundrums are phrased in terms of where “to put” an adult or near-adult person.

      Where does what they *want* come into the equation? When we talk about non-disabled adult children, the question is never “where to put them,” as if their choices are a non-issue. Why is it with disabled young adults?

      • Excellent point! “Placement” should not literally mean placing a person as if they were a checker on a board. “Putting” someone someplace implies a frightening ignorance of that person’s autonomy and will.

  5. When these people say that being made to feel productive is the reward that disabled people should earn for their work, with a small paycheck being just a bonus, I always want to ask them if the pride of feeling productive would be enough for THEM to work for 37 cents an hour, and if not, why not.

    Also, if they tried using professional seamstresses, who found the work too repetitive and boring, but found that developmentally disabled people were willing and able to do this work, then isn’t it rather that the disabled employees in this situation should rightly be earning *more* for ability to perform work that there’s a shortage of ability to do, not less?

    I accept that some people are simply not able to maintain employment, and that’s why I believe in a robust social safety net, but this suggests that at least in *many* cases, it isn’t really the inability of disabled people to perform genuinely valuable work that’s at issue.

  6. As a retired vocational rehab counselor who began as a vrc in a sheltered workshop then went to our state’s vr system as a counselor i will not dispute your statements or perspectives. I will say they are myopic and dangerous.

    You are myopic and dangerous because you seek to impose your own values and needs on folks you’ve never met. I believe the myopia stems from the individuals life stories. Applying these to others in broad strokes is harmful. Totally eliminating the option for sheltered employment is unfair and shortsighted.

    For all its flaws, and, they are many and monstrous, the vr process, by law, is based on individualized data to offer individualized employment plans. Developing meaningful plans is a process based on data and communication. If data lacks an option, plans and outcomes get flawed. Sheltered Employment as a short, or long term option MUST BE PRESERVED as a viable choice for many folks

    • As a retired vocational rehab counselor, have you ever worked for 37 cents an hour? Would you? I mean, the feel goods from your labor should be enough, right? Or is that only for disabled people? Are we the only ones who get to be paid in pennies and should feel grateful? Is dignity only for the nondisabled?

    • “I believe the myopia stems from the individuals life stories.”

      “Developing meaningful plans is a process based on data and communication. If data lacks an option, plans and outcomes get flawed.”

      Do you not see the contradiction in your own statements? Right now, disabled people are ignored, marginalized, and decentered by the folks developing these plans. Highlighting the life stories where the plans fail is how we can include the data that will make the plans more meaningful.

    • “Myopic”? That’s an interesting choice of words. *showily cleans glasses*

      it’s really of concern to me that we had people supposedly helping us who think that “people deserve meaningful jobs for real pay” is a dangerous idea. I think that’s a dangerously bigoted attitude. As you’re the one who had the power here, you are by definition more dangerous. You could enforce this.

      Scary, scary, scary service providers.

    • I’m not necessarily against “sheltered” employment situations, but if people are *working,* they need to be paid a fair wage. Yes, that’s a value that I’m pretty comfortable thinking should be applied to everyone.

      I mean, I could just as well as, who in the world are you to impose your values that disabled working people don’t need to be paid fairly?

      Likewise, when we’re talking about sheltered workshops, we’re not talking about the entire vocational rehab system. But sheltered employment is known to be far less successful at moving people into jobs in their communities than supported employment is. What is your stake in preserving a known inferior system?

    • Posted by Dani Alexis on February 5, 2016 at 5:12 am

      Okay. Why?

      Your comment states a position, but does not give a single fact to back it up. Even if I feel inclined to believe someone who starts their argument with name-calling, you haven’t given me a single thing *to* believe.

      So. You say sheltered employment “must be preserved.” Why? How does it benefit *the worker* to be paid less than minimum wage?

      • 38 years matching folk’s functional abilities to safe appropriate jobs

        • Posted by Dani Alexis on February 5, 2016 at 7:10 pm

          You worked in voc rehab for 38 years, therefore sub-minimum wage pay in sheltered workshops is necessary?

          Sorry, I’m not following your reasoning. How did your career make it necessary to pay disabled workers less than minimum wage?

        • For that matter, why does a job being safe and appropriate for someone with a limited skill set mean that it should be paid at a rate far below what we’d consider fair for any other worker?

          As Sparrow detailed in the post, the business she corresponded with had tried to get professional seamstresses to do the work. The disabled workforce they wound up using was willing and able to do work that the “professionals” weren’t. So why should they be being paid at a rate far below what a “professional” would command?

  7. Once size does not fit all. Not all are able to be included in the community in spite of best efforts. It’s all about individualizing the program to fit the person and the resources are lacking to make that happen. A variety of options for both work and housing need to be made available to meet the wide variety of abilities and needs. It is a SPECTRUM disorder and programming/housing needs to cover all ranges of the spectrum.

    • So long as that variety of options does not include forced isolation or sub-minimum wages, we agree completely.

    • Autism IS a spectrum condition. But nowhere along that spectrum do people not need civil rights, fair compensation for their work, or the same options to live and work in their communities that other people have.

    • Posted by autisticaplanet on February 5, 2016 at 12:43 am

      I’m glad you brought up housing. There needs to be sensory accommodations made for people like me on the spectrum who can’t tolerate loud noises-this is why I couldn’t work in a sheltered workshop-or at Office Max. I would say I have a 60 percent sensory impairment and 40 percent social.

      • This is why I spend so much of my time in the forest or desert. I have incredibly sensitive hearing and the world of humans hurts. Nearly all my disability is sensory/cognitive. The social stuff barely registers on my radar and completely goes away when I stop hanging out with jerks.

        • Posted by autisticaplanet on February 5, 2016 at 7:57 pm

          It is a blessing that you can drive and live out of a small space. A city life would definitely not be for me. If I had my way, I’d live rural. As it is, I hope for sensory accommodating housing that isn’t crime ridden or only in an urban setting. I am glad you don’t struggle as much living the life you do.

          • Yes, I am very privileged to be able to drive. Most of my friends cannot drive.

            We each need to seek the life that most resonates with us, following our skills, strengths, dreams, and needs.

  8. New Zealand got rid of sheltered workshops. The idea was people could be employed in the community for a real wage. The problem has been that many people cannot work in the community at a level that employers want even with support. The ones that can – do, but many in the sheltered workshops had such high needs. The consequence has been a lot of people who have nothing to do. They lost the friendships and the feeling of importance of doing something meaningful. Yes they got paid less than minimum wage but here in NZ we have wealfare to look after people. So this was extra income. No one wants sweat shops or people with disabilities being taken advantage of. I’m not sure what the answer is. All I know is we have a lot of people with disabilities with nothing meaningful to fill their days. I wish I could change society to be more accepting.

    • Bravo Bronwyn Harris

    • Posted by autisticaplanet on February 5, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      I’m not sure what the answer is in Illinois, USA, either. There needs to be a movement or petition to lawmakers (congress here). We need to agree to disagree and make all our voices heard. Disabled people need more compassion (not pity) across social and economic areas to name a few. A collective voice would help. One where no one is singled out with a common goal.

      • Posted by autisticaplanet on February 5, 2016 at 8:02 pm

        No one is singled out, with a common goal. I forgot the comma. :0 oops.

      • Yes autistic aplanet…there needs to be a movement, or petition lawmakers, here in Illinois; I am speaking personally AND as a caregiver. I’m in…where do I go from here???

        • Hello my name is Sunny. This Wednesday, me and two other women will be speaking to our Maryland legislators at our annual Developmental Disabilities Day conference. I will be speaking on the topic of sheltered workshops. I was in a sheltered workshop for eight years, but I left the program on March 13 2015. I think we need to make new laws on how to change the programing in the workshops. Yes people with disabilities should be allowed to make their own choices based on what is best for them. Our legislators need to pass bills that will allow us to make those choices within reason. I hope we can improve the quality of life for every individual with disabilities. Law makers should pass bills that will allow supported employment to individuals with disabilities. Each company by law must provide the accommodations for each individuals. I need to hear words of inspiration to help me advocate for the well-being of all American citizens including those of us with disabilities.

        • Posted by autisticaplanet on February 8, 2016 at 4:56 pm

          I see you are from a town called Staunton. I’m in the suburbs NW of Chicago. Whenever I e-mail or write my congressmen, I get a reply of platitudes. I am not a leadership type person. I’m wondering if there is a petition already going or some agency that would appreciate people with ASD or their families contributing their stories, including experience with sheltered workshops. I hope a link could be provided.

    • Why did they lose friendships? Why did they lose the opportunity to do meaningful work? (On that note, would YOU consider doing repetitive manual labor for far less than minimum wage “meaningful?” Not “meaningful for severely disabled people,” but meaningful for YOU? Is that how YOU would wish to spend your working years? If not, why not? Was that work what they chose as meaningful to them, or is it all they ever had because someone decided that was where they belonged?)

      Why are there not other places where people can maintain friendships? Why aren’t they being matched with volunteer work, if the concern is for people to have something meaningful to do?

      It reminds me of how, here in the US, when large institutions for the mentally ill started closing, the idea was that the people released from them would be supported in their communities, in group homes or with outpatient followup. But the community-based support never materialized, because it was never properly funded. A lot of people wound up on the street; it was very awful. Then everyone started saying “all these people on the street, we really should go back to the institutions.”

      When, no, the right thing to do would be to appropriately fund the community-based support and treatment. Just because people don’t want to do that doesn’t make the institutions okay.

      Just because you have failed to establish other places in the community where disabled people can get together, be with friends, or do meaningful work (hmmm, because they’ve all been in sheltered workshops, maybe?) does not make the sheltered workshops okay. “Sheltered workshops” or “people with nothing to do and no way to see their friends” are NOT THE ONLY TWO OPTIONS.

  9. Bravo unstrangemind for a thought provoking article. You started an educating conversation for people on both sides of the topic.

  10. i know about sub minimum wage i worked at goodwill industries 34 days the sign on the door reads sheltered workshop they are warehousing disabled/ non disabled in a ware house setting vocational rehabilitation is a waste of time they will refer you to a place a so called sheltered workshop sheltered workshops need to end now your article was very informative to unstrange mind thank you for your article the fair labor standards act of 1938 which allows employers to pay below minimum wage needs to be repealed it’s wrong i have not shopped any goodwill industries retail stores their prices are 2 to 5 times higher than walmart or any other store they get their donations for free

  11. my daughter, who has no concept of the value of money and no association of the amount one earns to the assessment of one’s worth, loves attending the sheltered workshop. Yes – she makes a pittance. It doesn’t matter to her. She enjoys the interaction with the very patient workshop staff and the other workers. The program includes off-site activities like visits to the local fitness center and volunteer work at a local foodbank. On days when I suggest she stay home for other events, she asks to go in to work instead. I support your efforts to work and live independently but please remember that not everyone can do so. Some people need the support these places provide.

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