June 24, 2020

To:  All WACOSA staff and stakeholders

From:  Steve Howard, Executive Director

Re:  Service Update

As we approach July 1, 2020, I wanted to take a moment and connect with our many valued stakeholders and staff of WACOSA.  Regretfully, I have no new news regarding the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) allowing us to once again provide services to clients living in congregate living settings.  This is very unfortunate and frustrating for all of the individuals we serve who wish to return to work/services, as well as the family members who advocate for them.  Also, frustrated are the WACOSA staff who call daily asking when they can return to work and expressing how much they miss seeing and working with WACOSA clientele.  We are very aware of these feelings and have been working hard through our legislative representatives to appeal to the governor’s office to lift the ban on services to clients in congregate living situations.  While we respect the choice of many not to return to work/services for various personal and family reasons, we also support the right of those we serve to make an informed choice in consultation with their circle of support, related to how they conduct their own lives.

For now, I would like to share what has been occurring these past 2 weeks since I last shared an update with you.  At this time, WACOSA’s two business enterprises, DocuShred and Thriftworks!, have resumed operation.  Currently, they are open limited hours for both store operations and donation drop-off so I encourage you to visit www.wacosa.org/docushred or www.wacosa.org/thriftworks for the latest information, should you wish to visit these businesses. Additionally, as permitted by DHS, we now have 70 persons served back to work in a part-time capacity.  Work hours extend over 3 shifts, with each shift being no longer than 3 hours each.  These 70 individuals include persons who are assisting with the completion of contract work, working in community employment on a limited basis and participating in the pursuit of individual placement opportunities.

We will continue keeping you posted at regular intervals when new developments occur.  For now, we appreciate your continued patience and hope the ban on services to individuals in congregate living situations lifts soon.  Be advised, representatives from our state association, MOHR, have consulted with the Minnesota Disability Law Center in an effort to advocate for those who wish to return to work but are being prevented from doing so.  While these advocates listened closely to our concerns, they made it clear that any progress toward upholding the rights of those we serve must come through clients and their families, not through service providers, like WACOSA.  Should you, as a service recipient or family member/advocate, wish to express your concern over the current restriction on services, feel free to contact the Disability Law Center at (612) 332-1441 or email at info@mylegalaid.org.

Thank you.