Parents, Guardians, and Community Support

More than 50 years ago, few, if any, programs existed in state or federal govern­ment to provide employment and community services for people with disabilities until families, guardians, and community business owners worked together and filled the void.

Before then, most people with disabilities were placed in institutions at considerably higher safety consequences, isolation, and taxpayer expense.

The success of these families and guardians to create meaningful employment and social interaction outside an institution was a catalyst to formalize and duplicate services for Wisconsin’s most vulnerable citizens throughout the state.

These organizations became known as community rehabilitation programs (CRPs), and they have purposely made giant leaps in step with modern times.

No longer are these organizations known as "sheltered workshops," and critics have been known to call these organizations "sweatshops."

Today, the provider network includes 66 CRPs with certified work centers and an even greater number of residential service providers

Together, they subsidize a variety of services for people with cognitive and physical disabilities, and economic disadvantages despite a lack of government assistance.

This provider network is critical to the de-institutionalization of people with developmental disabilities and supports for people to live in their own communities and their own homes.

Perhaps most importantly, the provider network allows family members and guardians respite and retention of their financial success and career development so they do not have to give up their lives to become single caregivers, and have timeand energy to enjoy and support their family.

The importance of this network should not be underestimated

CRPs have evolved considerably through the years to become commercial and social enterprises that are successful catalysts for economic development in Wisconsin.

These programs continue to provide meaningful jobs for people with disabilities, and offer expanded services that include social interaction; early intervention through birth-to-three programs; medical rehabilitation services; supported employment; and open employment (also known as job placement in private business / integrated employment); residential and/or supported living services.

Rehabilitation for Wisconsin in Action is a 501(c)(6) business league. We represent the interests of our members - community rehabilitation programs, and other organizations that provide center-based and supported employment, job training, day habilitation, residential, early intervention, care management, and other services.

Collectively, our members provide services to more than 75,000 people with disabilities and economic disadvantages and employ more than 10,000 direct support and other professionals throughout Wisconsin.

Rehabilitation for Wisconsin Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit branch organization that hosts education events around issues that impact people with disabilities and economic disadvantages in Wisconsin. The organization also contracts with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to provide program management services for the Wisconsin Rest Area Maintenance program.