Seven states are set to receive federal funding to help people with disabilities find jobs. California will get almost a third of a $21 million U.S. Labor Department grant that will be shared by Hawaii, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin. Each state is to direct the money toward improving education, training and public-sector employment opportunities for people receiving Social Security disability benefits and people with disabilities (whether they’re on disability or not).
The grant requires states to create employment networks specifically for people with disabilities who face a tougher job market. The money allows them to hire qualified staff members who have expertise in finding jobs for this demographic.
"During these difficult economic times, it is important to ensure that all workers, including those with disabilities -- who as a group face employment barriers even during times of prosperity -- are able to benefit from the Labor Department's employment and retraining services," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.
The grants also support collaboration between all parties involved in workforce and disability services, such as mental health and developmental disability agencies, Medicaid Infrastructure Grant-supported activities, independent living centers and business leadership networks.
This is the second round of grants given to states under the Disability Employment Initiative. First round winners included Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.