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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Regs need reassessment

The Worcester County Developmental Center, like every other vocational training center for adults with intellectual disabilities, is not necessarily looking forward to the future.
Because of changes to federal regulations via a 2015 rule on “Home and Community-Based Services,” the developmental center and others like it will no longer be able to provide jobs for disabled people who may not be able to function in a traditional workplace.
The revised regulations issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services focused on a couple of things: wages at in-house workshops that are below the minimum and the desire to integrate developmentally disabled adults into community workplace.
States that fail to bring its centers into compliance face losing the federal money that supports these enterprises and other services.
As the developmental center’s executive director, Jack Ferry, told the Berlin mayor and council this week, the center has about three years until it has to institute major changes in its operation. These would include the elimination of its in-house jobs program.
As well intentioned as the federal rule might be, it misses the point. Not everyone is employable in the average workplace setting, which means that some of the center’s people will lose the opportunity to be productive citizens and the feeling of self-worth that engenders.
It’s been written before, but it still stands that traditional workplace hiring is based on finding the right person for job, while the developmental center finds the right job for the person.
At a time when many other federal regulations are being altered or abolished, maybe it’s possible that, with a loud enough expression of concern, that the home and community-based services rule could get another look.