Monarch announces Forsyth Industrial Systems to relocate to accommodate enhanced programming
Monarch officials in partnership with CenterPoint Human Services, one of the state’s managed care organizations, recently announced plans to relocate its Forsyth Industrial Systems (FIS) on North Highland Avenue in Winston-Salem. The program, which has been housed at its current location for years, currently provides a day program, employment and community services for people with disabilities.
Jim Kelley, Monarch’s chief operating officer, emphasized the current programs at FIS are not going away, but are simply relocating to better accommodate the needs and enhance the programming.
“This is an exciting time in the history of FIS, which has such a rich and interesting history,” Kelley said. “Our move will place us in a better position to identify and offer new and engaging programs for the people we support in Forsyth County. We look forward to this process and seeking input from the people we support, families and caregivers and others as we continue this exciting journey.”
Monarch staff shared information about the relocation with people the organization supports, parents, caregivers and community partners during two town hall-style meetings this week. The organization will continue to hold meetings and work with a group of identified stakeholders that comprises a transition steering committee to help with the planning and transition process. The agency is also seeking input from key stakeholders about proposals for new locations and feedback about programming.
Kelley said the program redevelopment will foster broader opportunities for community inclusion, allowing people with disabilities to be more engaged and active in the community as they participate in various cultural and educational activities, seek volunteer opportunities and are supported to identify meaningful, competitive employment.
The controversy over subminimum wage, or employment at less than minimum wage, earned by some people with disabilities was designed to prevent the loss of employment for a certain population of workers. As a result, nationally many programs, like FIS, started long ago to rethink their current program strategies.
Kelley said before the U.S. Department of Justice prompted some states to end sheltered workshop placements for people with developmental disabilities, Monarch had already developed a plan to eliminate many of its subminimum wage contracts – and return its certificates issued by the U.S. Department of Labor – in exchange for finding competitive employment and new program opportunities for the people who attend its day programs.
“Funding, federal laws and legal opinions have changed, as has how “sheltered workshops” like FIS are viewed in the community. Over the years, many people have gotten jobs so we no longer need a building as large as FIS,” Kelley explained. “We want to provide more exciting programming options and continue to identify competitive employment for the people we support. There are so many opportunities alternative , community-based locations can offer.”
The FIS move will occur no later than 2016. Monarch officials said it was imperative to start the process as early as possible in order to solicit engagement and input from those who will be impacted. Kelley said Monarch will continue its planning meetings and expects to host a series of stakeholders’ meetings. The next public meeting is scheduled for October.
Established in 1958, Monarch is a non-profit organization that provides support statewide to thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse challenges. The agency is nationally accredited by The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) and certified by The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services as a Critical Access Behavioral Health Agency (CABHA). Monarch operates The Arc of Stanly County, which is a chapter of The Arc of North Carolina and The Arc of the United States. To learn more about how Monarch provides support for people, please call (866) 272-7826.