at NW Works
We know finding services can be a challenging process. That’s why we compiled a list of commonly asked questions -and the answers- to help you and your loved ones make decisions about our services. Still have questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our contact form to get in touch. Looking for additional resources? Visit our Resources page!
What does it mean to have a disability at NW Works? Do you only work with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)?
No. At NW Works, we work with people with all kinds of disabilities. While our organization was founded to primarily work with people with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, we serve all types of people, including those with ambulatory, auditory, and vision-based disabilities. We also support people with barriers to employment more broadly, through our Career Services program.
What does it mean to have a “barrier to employment”?
Unlike a disability, which is diagnosed by a medical professional, barriers to employment can be harder to identify. A barrier might be a lack of transportation, a history of mental illness, or an undiagnosed disability. It could even be a language barrier. At NW Works, we are committed to helping all people with barriers to employment reach their goals. This may be in the form of resume writing, assistance with job searching and application, interview preparation, or assistance with navigating professional relationships in the workplace. It also might mean participation in our Career Services program.
Do you only provide employment services?
No. NW Works offers a number of non-employment services, such as our Group Day Support and Community Engagement programs. In Group Day Support, clients have the opportunity to build skills for daily living, such as building a budget or learning about healthy relationships. Clients can also practice the skills needed to join the workforce while giving back to the community via Community Engagement. Clients who participate in our Community Engagement program partner with organizations such as the Knights of Columbus and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties to provide needed volunteer work.
In addition, clients can also be connected to community programs NW Works participates in such as the Aktion Club (a service club associated with the Kiwanis Club) or in the NW Works Chimers. To learn more about these programs, visit our website at https://nwworks.com/our-services/ and check out our different services available.
Are NW Works services free? How are services paid for?
NW Works services are not free. There are several ways support services are funded: 3 types of Medicaid Waivers, DARS , and private pay.
Medicaid Waivers are granted via the Northwestern Community Services Board.
Family and Individual Supports (FIS) Waiver and Community Living (ID) Waiver both cover employment and day support services at NW Works. Building Independence Waivers only fund NW Works’ Day Support Services.
Funding via DARS is available for employment options through Long Term Employment Support Services (LTESS) and Extended Employment Services (EES). At NW Works, this solely covers Individualized Supported Employment (ISE), which features competitive, integrated employment opportunities in the community. If an individual is interested in ISE, they should contact the Division of Rehabilitative Services Winchester Office by calling (540) 722-3453.
If individuals are interested in receiving in-house services or our Group Supported Employment program, they either need to be funded by Medicaid Waiver or by private pay. Private pay costs $75 per full day of services. Individuals wishing to learn more about Medicaid Waivers or wishing to get on the waiting list for Medicaid Waivers should contact the Northwestern Community Services Board at www.nwcsb.com or by calling (540) 636-4250.
What is Competitive Integrated Employment? Aren’t carved positions enough?
Competitive Integrated Employment is often referred to as “real work for real pay”, and is considered to be the “gold-standard” for employment of people with disabilities. CIE are jobs in the community, such as working in a restaurant or other business among non-disabled colleagues, where people with disabilities are paid the same wages as non-disabled employees. There may be accomodations made for the individual, but these jobs could be performed by non-disabled employees as well. CIE is a critical part of the Employment First model, which NW Works participates in.
Carved positions are jobs that are created specifically or customized intentionally for people with disabilities. Unlike other jobs, these positions often do not have opportunities for advancement. While they may be a good fit for an individual, they do not solve the larger issue of low employment rates and social isolation for adults with disabilities.
Where do NW Works Clients work?
Our clients work in all facets of the community, from small family-owned businesses to large corporations. Some of the companies you might see our clients working for include restaurants like Oakstone Pizza and Pho Bistro; retailers like Belk, Gabes, Target, and Walmart; as well as companies in a variety of other industries such as Martin’s grocery stores, Monoflow, Melnor, Trex, Valley Health and Spring Arbor Nursing Home. We also work with 9 government agencies in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland under AbilityOne contracts.
Some of our clients work in-house, fulfilling contracts for partners like Rubbermaid, Trex, SouthernCarlson, Medipak, HP Hood and more. We are proud to not only provide business solutions to all these different organizations, but to partner with them to create employment opportunities for our clients.
What is 14c? Why is it ending?
The term 14c refers to a certificate of exemption provided by the United States Department of Labor under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This certificate allows employers to pay certain individuals with disabilities subminimum wages if their disabilities impair their productivity for the work they perform. Companies can only legally do this if they hold these certificates. Whether companies hold a 14c certificate is publicly available information, too.
Subminimum wages for workers are considered anything below minimum wage, which varies by state. In Virginia, minimum wage is currently $11. To understand the elimination of 14c, it is important to understand why it exists in the first place. Subminimum wages were included under the Fair Labor Standards Act out of the belief that people with disabilities face so much discrimination in the workplace that establishing sheltered workshops where they could work with other people with disabilities would be favorable to unemployment. That may be the case, but today, other options are available. To quote the Association of People Supporting Employment First, “while the sub-minimum wage may have at one time been a valid and effective strategy for enhancing employment of people with disabilities, the evolution in disability rights and community employment makes the sub-minimum wage no longer necessary or acceptable.”
The Virginia General Assembly has already considered legislation that would end the practice of subminimum wage work for people with disabilities in the Commonwealth. Although that bill did not pass in 2020, similar legislation was introduced on a federal level that would end the practice across the country. Disability advocacy groups and legislators from all over the United States have called for the end of 14c. Here at NW Works, we made the decision in 2021 to take our own stand, regardless of whether the legislation passes. We will be ending all subminimum wage work at our agency. Why? To put it simply: it’s the right thing to do. People with disabilities deserve to make fair wages for the work they choose to do. As we phase out 14c, we are committed to finding alternatives for our clients to meet their personal choices when it comes to work, the environment they work in, and how often they work.
What comes after 14c? Will I still be able to work?
The most important thing for people to know is that the end of 14c DOES NOT mean clients will not have work opportunities. What it DOES mean is that all clients will be paid fairly for their work.
As we transition out of 14c (subminimum wage), work might look a little bit different to the clients who have been working under it. The transition may be finding work opportunities in the community for clients. It might still be in-house work if a client chooses to do so, but making minimum wages. It also may be self-employment opportunities, such as the wreaths our clients have made in the past. It might be something totally new and different from these examples – all depending on what our clients choose. An important piece for us as we transition out of this system is to ensure the clients are actively participating in how, when, and where they choose to work.
However, we can say that we are hiring a Customized Employment Manager who will help our clients and their teams to confidently choose their work opportunities. This individual will also help our clients navigate financial benefits, to ensure that minimum wage or better jobs do not jeopardize our clients’ benefits such as SSI or SSDI. Our entire team is committed to transitioning all our 14c clients to meaningful work options, either in the community or in-house depending on what our clients want.
On a similar note, although we follow the Employment First model, Community Engagement and Group Day Support will remain at NW Works as options for clients. Not all people want to work or are able to work, so other meaningful opportunities will continue at NW Works for those who choose them.