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Employment Programs Help Disabled Workers

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
April 15, 2009

The recession has made it difficult to find a job but the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that those with disabilities are being effected more than the average. In February of 2009 the unemployment level in Texas for those with disabilities was 14%, vs. a national average of 8.7% for those without disabilities. However, new programs are being established throughout the country to help bridge the gap.

The Plano Courier Star reports on a new program to help the disabled gain employment. The program is a partnership between the Dallas-based company Alliance Data and Special Care and Career Services (SCCS).  SCCS is a non-profit organization that helps adults with cognitive disabilities find jobs suited for their particular situation. Considering that there are 300,000 adults with disabilities in the U.S., the program speaks to a widespread need.

One participant is David Garcia, who has had a life full of experiences facing the challenges of being a little person. Garcia has been with Alliance Data for six years, and his manager as has learned a lot from watching him work. "I no longer look at him as a small person, but as an individual," Ronald Swift said. "There's no difference in him compared to the guy in the next cubicle, and I think it would be a huge disservice to David if we did make a big deal of it".

SCCS has placed disabled persons at nineteen companies since September 2008. In 2007 it placed 141 adults through the Supported Employment Services division. Employment programs for the disables aren't just good for the clients; they are good for the general community.According to Cathy Packard, SCCS executive director, "The more we help introduce people with special needs back into the community, the less dependency they have on the state's department of social services and the more potential for our client to be an independent, tax-paying citizen of the community".

Coloradoan.com reports that people with disabilities have a greater unemployment rate, with 13.1% unemployed compared to the general unemployment rate of 8.9%. Project Search is a public/private partnership between the Poudre School District, Columbine Health Services and the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. The program places disabled students into internships for up to 15 hours a week over the course of a year. The program is designed to provide training that could lead to full-time jobs.

According to the Times of Trenton Regional News a program for disadvantaged youth has been created under the name Summer HEAT (Help Employ Area Teens). The program provides internships and paying jobs to young adults who have a disability or other factors that are barriers to employment. Twenty employers have committed to provide at least 100 jobs. Before starting work, the youthful participants (age 17 to 25) must complete 8 hours of job skills training. A disadvantaged youth - in this program - is defined as a school dropout, deficient in basic skills, tests below 8th grade on standardized test, pregnant or parenting, having a physical, mental or learning disability, an offender, or someone with a low income.

Robert Garcia is happy to be in the program and to have a job. "I love it here", said Garcia. "There are great relationships between everybody here. There are good days and some bad days, but we keep going with the good."

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