|We've got NEWS|
|Wednesday, December 29, 1999 |
Tommy G. Thompson
News Media Contact
MADISON The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) in collaboration with the Department of Commerce will soon be starting a new program aimed at helping people with severe disabilities find employment.
The new program, Vocational Rehabilitation Economic Development Partnership (VRED), will replace the Job Creation Program (JCP), which was created in 1997. The new program will capitalize on the strengths of the old one and focus on new ways to better serve Wisconsin residents who have severe disabilities and want to go to work.
"Wisconsin residents who have severe disabilities provide a valuable service through employment," DWD Secretary Linda Stewart said. "We want to make it easier for businesses to provide valuable, long-term employment to people with severe disabilities by providing the right outreach, and the right training for both employee and employer."
VRED will be targeted toward Wisconsin businesses that are interested in business expansion and businesses experiencing vacant job positions in order to provide employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.
As with the old program, which has already brought in nearly $2 million federal rehabilitation dollars, the state will continue to receive 4 dollars for every 1 dollar contributed by Wisconsin through a federal match agreement.
One of the key changes under the new program will be in funding. With the new program, a percentage of the employees wages will be paid in exchange for hiring and providing on-the-job training to persons with severe disabilities and significant employment barriers who are identified by the DWD Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). Businesses will only receive funds for a hired and working DVR client.
Funding will be short-term to get the employee acquainted with the job and help the employer become familiar with the employee. Program participation may be extended or renewed in increments at the joint discretion of Commerce and DVR.
Funding will also cover costs of training front-line supervisors who will work with the newly hired individuals in terms of reasonable accommodations, sensitivity and awareness.
Another goal of the new initiative will be to target business outreach activities to address issues surrounding the recruitment and retention of persons with disabilities for employment opportunities.
"Wisconsin is sensitive to the needs of its residents with severe disabilities," Stewart said. "There are thousands of Wisconsinites with disabilities who want to work; they just need a break. This program could offer them that chance they so urgently desire."
Businesses interested in participating in the program should contact Tony Hozeny at the Department of Commerce. He can be reached at (608) 267-9661.