Prevocational Services closing leaves more than 60 disabled adults with out a job

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 7:08 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - North Central Health Care will be closing its prevocational services after nearly 30 years of employing disabled adults. One Wausau family has been a part of it for nearly two decades. Ryan Werner started working there right after he graduated from high school. He’s now 37 and doesn’t know any other job.

“Even though he doesn’t earn minimum wage or a lot, it’s important for him to go have someplace to go and to complete a task,” said Janet Werner, Ryan’s mother.

Ryan goes to work four days a week, but come Monday, he won’t be returning to work.

“Where he gets to see his friends, as well as do something that makes him feel useful,” said Janet Werner.

This isn’t the first time north central health care is shutting down a program due to lack of financing. NCHS said there are other options.

“We’re finding that there are alternative programs in the community that does essentially the same thing as we do,” said Mort McBain, Interim Executive Director, NCHC.

Northern Valley Workshop and a supplemental employment program are two of the three similar programs McBain referred to.

Janey Werner worries Ryan won’t be able to function at a high enough level to work for them.

“With down syndrome, he doesn’t read, he doesn’t write,” said Janet Werner.

Ryan also has diabetes that he needs help monitoring. Janet said these jobs won’t offer that assistance. The third option is unpaid adult daycare. Janet said she has friends with children in adult daycare.

“They do puzzles and crafts and then you don’t get paid a dime,” said Janet Werner.

Plus, Janet said she thinks Ryan will get bored with that after a while. Ryan’s father, Rodney Werner said this isn’t the solution.

“These individuals said we’ll just put them in another room and let them color. That’s not the way you run something like this for the handicapped people,” said Rodney Werner.

Rodney Werner said his son is part of a vulnerable population and they aren’t able to advocate as well for themselves. He said there’s a lot of uncertainty about Ryan’s future.

“It’s the parents and guardians that are trying to get something done at this point,” said Rodney Werner.

NCHC is working with families to try to find solutions that work for them. If you have ideas on solutions you can contact North Central Health Care Prevocational Services.