NewsThe U.S. Department of Labor has recently awarded seven states $21,166,560 as part of the Disability Employment Initiative to improve education, training, and employment opportunities for youth and adults who are unemployed, underemployed or receiving Social Security disability benefits. The state recipients of the program now includes California, Hawaii, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin

“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. “These federal grants will help to provide services and support to individuals with disabilities in seven additional states, and put them on the path to permanent and secure jobs.”

This is the second round of funding that the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and its Office of Disability Employment Policy has allocated for disability funding. With the addition of the latest seven states, the initiative now supports 16 states in total.

“Our priority is to provide individuals with disabilities the foundation of education, job training, and employment and support services to achieve economic stability,” said ETA Assistant Secretary Jane Oates.

In part, the grants will encourage the hiring of staff with expertise in disability and workforce issues. Multiple workforce and disability service systems in each state will also benefit from the program. The grants also work to expand the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work Program by requiring state workforce agencies or local workforce investment boards to become employment networks – enabling Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries to seek out the agencies for employment opportunities.

“Access to high-quality employment and training services is vital to moving youth and adults with disabilities into the workforce and preparing them for good jobs in high-growth, high-demand industries,” said ODEP Assistant Secretary Kathy Martinez.

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