As you all know my son, Keith, is autistic. Well I just got some bad news about Keith’s services Monday. You may be familiar with OVR, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, they help disabled people get to work with job skill training and possibly even some extra education funding. Keith started the first phase of OVR training in June 2012. He was being observed in work settings to determine his skills, strengths and needs. Well, they were dragging their feet and now I know why.
OVR is short-term funding for work training and help to get a job. If you need further, long-term job coaching then there are other services to pick up where OVR leaves off. Well, ALL the funding for Special Needs services have been cut, yet again, by the state of PA and Tom Corbett. So not only were SOME of the young people coming out of High School last year out of luck but, ALL the graduates who need help this year are out of luck too. Plus they are cutting the funding of those who already have valid services. It seems to me that if you are cutting the budget you should NOT cut the funds of those who CAN’T help themselves.
This is not meant to be a government bashing post but when the shoe fits…
Anyway, Keith has worked on some job skills and now they are coming to me telling me that they want to close Keith’s case because He will not be able to be independent in a job. He needs long-term job coaching and because he has no long-term funding he will not be eligible for competitive employment, thus no longer eligible for OVR funding. Catch-22! Also he will not be allowed into the sheltered workshop either because they require funding too. Keith now has no funding at all, no short-term funding, no longterm funding, nothing.
That leaves Keith at home with no training, no job, no support and no prospects! I am infuriated by this! We have worked hard in school all these years to prepare him for graduation, adulthood and work. Keith has abilities. He is capable of adding to the community and the economy but he is not able to do it alone, he needs help. Keith wants to be a grown-up, he has enjoyed going to the workshop and working. Keith needs to get out of the house and be productive, without mom. This is not a case of laziness and refusing to work. It is just the opposite. He wants to work but there is no place for him. Not unlike many very able-bodied adults out of work out there who are getting unemployment benefits. Article On Special Needs Individuals and Work.
So, where does this leave us? As my Grandfather use to say, up a creek without a paddle.
This is where my idea comes in. : ) I am trying to get my business off the ground and the Autism Society can always use donations, so here is my thought. Keith is perfectly capable of stringing beads on wire so what if Keith helps me and we donate a percentage of the proceeds to the Autism Society. This would help me, it would be very good for Keith and it will help other Autistic individuals too!
There, it’s all laid out. What do you think? Good idea? Now, what are the logistics? Anybody out there have any experience with fund-raising for a good cause that might be able to point me in the right direction? I am already in contact with some Autism Programs.
Hey, I’ll let you know what happens.
Oh, just in case you are thinking that I should just pay for it myself, it costs over $26,000 a year for these services. These companies charge between $15 and $40 (or more) every 15 minutes, not per hour. So, you tell me, how am I suppose to pay for that? Could you pay for it? Do you make over $160 per hour? I don’t. It’s like literally paying a never-ending college tuition bill because Keith will never graduate out of Autism.