Advocate for Disability Issues
As a nonprofit organization, grassroots advocacy is an important part of Opportunity Partners’ mission in order to influence outcomes that directly affect the lives of the people we serve. Grassroots advocacy increases our capacity to build influence and create change in Minnesota’s public policy.
These efforts bring together many people who share the same cause and who work for that cause from the ground up, creating a groundswell of voices.
Grassroots advocacy happens at the Capitol with our legislators, in the community with our friends and neighbors, and in the workplace as we advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. Grassroots advocacy, by its very nature, is something that is continuous.
Advocates Broadcast: monthly video update
“Advocates Broadcast” is a monthly video report that will provide updates about our policy and advocacy initiatives.
COAL (Committee of Advocacy and Leadership)
- What is COAL?
- Share your story with a legislator. Follow this link to access tools and information to help you craft your message. We have set up several templates to help get you started:
Disability Policy Resources
Opportunity Partners is following these subjects very closely and we are involved with other disability providers and advocacy groups in analyzing these disability policy matters. We will be posting resources here as they become available.
Disability Waiver Rate Setting Methodology
In 2007, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services informed Minnesota that its four disability waivers were out of compliance with federal requirements for uniform rate distribution methods and standards. These include the Brain Injury (BI), Community Alternative Care (CAC), Community Alternative for Disabled Individuals (CADI), and Developmental Disabilities (DD) waivers. In January 2014, DHS established what is now known as the Disability Waivers Rate System.
Home and Community Based Services Final Rule
This rule addresses several sections of Medicaid law under which states may use federal Medicaid funds to pay for home and community-based services (HCBS). The rule supports enhanced quality in HCBS programs, adds protections for individuals receiving services, and reflects that individuals receiving supports through HCBS have full access to the benefits of community living and are able to receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.
As a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision, states were required to develop an Olmstead Plan that outlines how people with disabilities will have choices about where they live and are served in community settings suitable to their needs and desires. This involves developing plans for employment, housing, transportation, healthcare, etc., in the most integrated settings.
Minnesota Employment First Policy Draft
The MN Department of Human Services released its Employment First Policy draft as part of its Olmstead Plan. Employment First has four core values: that employment is the first and preferred outcome for working-age people with disabilities; people with disabilities are competitively employed or self-employed; employees with disabilities earn at least minimum wage and benefits; employees with disabilities are fully integrated into the workplace and interact with co-workers, customers and the public. The plan includes addtional sections on informed choice around employment including benefits of work, exploration and support, and work experience and employer engagement, as well as state agency requirements and quality assurance.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
In 2014 Congress passed WIOA, designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. It increases individuals with disabilities’ access to high quality workforce services and prepares them for competitive, integrated employment. It requires better employer engagement and promotes accessibility to employment and training services for people with disabilities. Youth with disabilities will receive extensive pre-employment transition services to obtain and retain competitive, integrated employment.
Section 14c of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) authorizes employers, after receiving a certificate from the Wage and Hour Division, to pay special minimum wages to workers who have disabilities. This is highly regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor; however, there are increasing pressures at the federal level and among advocacy groups to eliminate the practice. In February 2014, President Obama signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers, including those with disabilities employed under new government contracts.
Meet your legislators in the community. Check the legislative websites for events to attend.