While many service providers offer a valuable service to people with disabilities, they don’t always meet the goals of a competitive disability employment and inclusion program: equal jobs, equal pay and integration with other employees.

Here are three red flags to watch out for with service providers:

1.  Sub-minimum wage

Some agencies provide a “learn to work” or “sheltered workshop” environment—meaning that they bring people with disabilities into an employment or training workshop environment where they perform tasks that have been outsourced by employers as part of a learning experience. Sometimes, employees in these facilities are paid less than minimum wage. Always ask about pay scale so you can make sure anyone who’s joining your in-house workforce or who is part of a company-sanctioned outsourced team is paid paid minimum wage—or better.


2.  Lack of collaboration

Competition can be fierce among service providers, but you should look for an agency that’s willing to work with other community providers, as well as your local or state VR, to help you get the talent you need.


3.  90 Days and Gone

Many agencies work on a 90-day timeline, meaning that after an individual is successfully placed for 90 days, the agency is no longer involved or available to answer your questions or concerns. So ask about the follow-up and how responsive they’ll be if you need additional assistance, and keep in mind that there may be a fee for ongoing support beyond the first 90 days of employment.

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