CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, Inc. (WVARF) serves as the state’s Central Nonprofit Agency, linking people with disabilities to meaningful employment opportunities.
WVARF is a collaboration of nonprofit corporations and government agencies working to advance preferential purchasing programs, or “State Use” programs, which create jobs for individuals with disabilities. These employment opportunities are available through state and local service contracts managed by WVARF.
National studies consistently prove that most Americans with disabilities want to work, but more than two-thirds remain unemployed. Many states have passed legislation – commonly known as “State Use” laws – to help employ people with disabilities by providing them access to government contract opportunities. Individuals with disabilities, state agencies, and the general public all benefit from State Use programs. These programs promote independence, generate tax dollars, stimulate local economies, and reduce public assistance payments. They also fulfill the needs of government purchasers and provide meaningful employment to those who otherwise may not be able to do so in other work environments.
The West Virginia State Use Program was created in 1984 by the passage of the State Use Law, which mandated state agencies purchase products and services from Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP) if such goods and services were available at a comparable quality and price offered by private businesses. This also allowed Community Rehabilitation Programs to create more employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities who can provide quality commodities and services at a fair market price.
The State Use Program is administered through a contract between WVARF and the State of West Virginia. A governor-appointed Committee for the Purchase of Commodities and Services from the Handicapped oversees the “fair market price” fluctuations for commodities and services provided to state agencies from Community Rehabilitation Programs.
In a 2012 national survey of State Use participants, 59 percent of clients said they would not have a job if they weren’t working on a State Use Program contract. These workers pay taxes and help reduce the need for government entitlements; a combination that results in saving West Virginia an average $2.3 million every year. This equates to approximately $2,700 per individual employed through the WV State Use Program.
According to the federal State Use Programs Association, national studies also show that State Use Programs for state and federal government agencies saved $72.8 million in 2012 alone, all while employing thousands of disabled Americans.
During fiscal year 2014-15, over 1,300 individuals with disabilities in West Virginia worked and prospered from local Community Rehabilitation Programs.
From janitorial services and grounds maintenance to document imaging and data management, WVARF and Community Rehabilitation Programs continue to grow each year thanks to the disabled men and women who have gained empowerment through meaningful employment contracts.