Last week, the United States Department of Labor announced six states would receive grant money close to $15 million to help expand opportunities for employment for disabled youth and adults. Our state was included in that list, with our Employment Security Department receiving close to $2.5 million.
Grant money is part of the Disability Employment Initiative, which pairs the knowledge and skills of the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the United States Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration in an effort to drive an increase in employment opportunities, training, and education for disabled youth and adults that are either receiving Social Security disability benefits, are underemployed, or unemployed.
Funding from this initiative is in its sixth round and began in 2010. Since that time, the department has given over $90 million in grant money, dispersed in 27 states to fund 43 projects; all of which were aimed at creating more opportunity for disabled folks by driving growth and fine-tuning of effective workforce strategies. This initiative has afforded many states improvements in partnership and collaboration among multiple systems to better serve the needs of disabled folks when it comes to obtaining gainful employment.
The six states receiving this grant money will be looked upon to better employment results and grow the number of credential-earning people with disabilities, increase dynamic commitment with the business segment, offer additional and expanded training prospects that are job-driven, construct valuable community teamwork and partnerships across several service distribution systems, enable academic and employment evolution in the disabled youth sector, and integrate adaptable methods for planning and delivering help and training services to include tailoring employment approaches for folks with substantial disabilities looking for work.
Specifically in our state, the Employment Security Department described in a news release last week that the grant money will go toward funding services that are provided by community colleges in King and Snohomish counties, the King and Snohomish Workforce Development Councils, Governor Inslee’s Disability Employment Task Force, the Washington Access Fund, the Washington Business Alliance, and Community-Minded Enterprises. Once these organizations have continued to improve upon current systems, expansion of these programs can begin into other counties so that employment assistance for disabled youth and adults is more widespread across our state.