Missouri State Senator Dan Hegeman represents parts of northern Clay County. This is his September 26, 2016 newsletter. For more information on our Opinion Section please click HERE.
Missouri is home to more than 90 sheltered workshops, which collectively employ about 7,500 men and women with disabilities. These workshops are essential to providing adults with disabilities the opportunity to earn a steady paycheck while gaining critical job and life skills training. Here in northwest Missouri, as in every corner of the state, sheltered workshops are a valuable asset to our local communities.
Unfortunately, many states throughout the country are phasing out their sheltered workshops in favor of moving individuals with disabilities into traditional workplaces. For the most part, this trend is the result of increased pressure and new regulations from the federal government. While placing workers with disabilities in more traditional employment positions is certainly a goal to strive toward, the fact remains that there are many men and women who thrive in the sheltered workshop environment and a traditional workplace environment would be a poor fit.
I have long understood the value of sheltered workshops and have seen firsthand myriad ways people with disabilities and our communities benefit from them. For nearly 30 years, sheltered workshops throughout the state have teamed up with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to provide maintenance and janitorial services at Missouri’s rest areas.
This working relationship has proven beneficial for all parties involved — Missourians with special needs have found steady employment, and our clean rest areas have made the traveling public feel welcome in the Show-Me State. It is precisely this mutually beneficial relationship that continues to compel me to be an advocate for sheltered workshops and their employees.
This summer, I was proud to stand on behalf of our sheltered workshops and the work they do in conjunction with the state, particularly with Department of Transportation. I was joined in this effort by a number of my Senate colleagues. Together, we advocated for a continued relationship between MoDOT and our workshops. I am happy to report MoDOT has made the decision to continue using Missouri’s sheltered workshops to provide janitorial services at our state rest stops and welcome centers and I look towards continuing to support the engagement of people with disabilities into productive and fulfilling employment settings.
As always, please feel free to call, email, or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is [email protected] and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.