Calls for reform in the sheltered workshop program in the United States have become increasingly frequent, and come from broadly representative groups of government agencies (Department of Labor, 1979; General Accounting Office, 1980; Training and Employment Services Policy Analysis, 1979), advocacy groups (Laski, 1979, 1980); rehabilitation professionals (Bellamy, Horner & Inman, 1979; Pomeranz & Marholin, 1977; California Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, 1977); research institutes (JWK International Corporation, 1980; Urban Institute, 1975); and the public press (Wall Street Journal, 1979). This dramatic consensus that change is needed, however, is not yet matched by agreement on specific alternatives to the current system of funding, regulating, and operating workshops.
It is precisely the latter type of consensus that is most likely to produce actual reform. Certainly the many constituencies served and affected by workshops have different priorities and objectives, and it seems unlikely that all groups will be completely satisfied with any particular set of changes. Nevertheless, in a time of limited public resources, new initiatives seem much more likely to result from broadly supported objectives than from separate advocacy efforts by individual interest groups. It is consequently important to negotiate compromises needed for a coalition to advocate comprehensive workshop reform.