Meeting the needs of adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities and ensuring their inclusion in the Jewish community is a civil rights issue that compels our community’s unwavering commitment.
JUF and Encompass are committed to expanding Jewish community-based services for these adults so that they can live safe, productive and meaningful lives and to enhancing inclusion so that they can fully participate in our Jewish community.
At present, agency partners include JCC Chicago, JCFS Chicago (including JVS), Keshet, Libenu, and Yachad.
Encompass, with support from JUF’s Government Affairs Department, has become a recognized leader in advocacy, based upon a belief that efforts to tweak the current system are misplaced and inadequate. We are at the table with the new Governor to advocate for system transformation, having submitted a position paper that calls for a new Developmental Disabilities waiver that includes community-integrated living, customized employment, and integrated quality day programming, all at rates that allow the agencies to do the work, including hiring and retaining qualified staff. Given the enormous number of people who are on the wait list for funding, the waiver must include funding for capacity building and staff training.
Encompass, with support from JUF Planning and Allocation professionals, is committed to strengthening agency partners toward the buildout of a system of services for Jewish adults, regardless of ability to pay, that is sustainable and that adheres to person-centered planning.
Recognizing that no one agency can meet the breadth and depth of identified need, JUF and Encompass have adopted a collaborative, partnership-based model to leverage resources, maximize efficiencies and minimize duplication of efforts in providing a full array of financially sustainable, community-based services. JUF and Encompass convene agency executives and community leaders toward these goals, and to develop broader options and more affordable models.
Jewish adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, like all of us, want the opportunity to participate, contribute and belong. JUF and Encompass are committed to providing inclusion opportunities in a wide array of community-based settings including organizations that engage Jewish millennials, synagogues and congregations, and employers.
Current efforts are directed toward making connections to naturally occurring social opportunities, including those offered by JUF's Young Adult Division, Tikkun Olam Volunteer Network, Base Hillel, OneTable, Moishe House, ChiTribe and many others. Disability and inclusion professionals from JCFS Chicago, Keshet and Libenu will provide inclusion training to professionals from these organizations during a one-day conference to be held on January 28, 2020, "Building Community, One Person at a Time: Going Beyond Inclusion to Inspire Belonging."
This work is modeled after and builds upon work to advance inclusion in area houses of worship. Our initial work with Chicagoland synagogues and congregations was dedicated to research and engagement, which included congregational and community surveys and focus groups, to better understand barriers to inclusion. The second year built upon lessons learned from the research and focused on continued engagement and education, including four workshops and a cohort of eight congregations which met on a regular basis to share ideas and resources. In the third year, synagogues put their lessons to work through a series of projects designed to improve inclusion in a concrete way. Most recently, fourteen congregations representing each denomination and from various geographical areas received mini-grants funded by JUF to implement a wide array of inclusion projects including enhancements to building accessibility, the worship experience, congregational education, supplemental and religious school education, professional development and more.
Based upon what is learned in our work with young adult organizations and synagogues, Encompass and JUF will begin to explore how to address chronic unemployment and underemployment of adults with disabilities through enhanced workplace inclusion efforts.