HARRISBURG, PA (July 5, 2017) — The #IWantToWork Campaign is pleased to join Representative Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, Representative Dan Miller, D-Allegheny and Senator Bob Mensch R-24, who just introduced their PA Employment First legislation as House Bill 1641 and Senate Bill 21. Twenty-two other states have already adopted similar legislation to support the competitive employment of people with disabilities.
“#IWantToWork is thrilled to join together with these legislators to help make this a reality,” said Dr. Josie Badger, #IWantToWork campaign manager. “The Employment First legislation will help thousands of hard-working, capable people with disabilities find employment that suits their skills and where they can thrive.”
With strong bipartisan support, the PA Employment First legislation presented by Representatives Cutler and Miller and Senator Mensch will result in a number of positive changes for the disabilities and business communities:
- It will result in a dynamic change in employment supports for people with disabilities.
- The legislation supports a shift in priorities within existing funding. It places a priority on putting competitive employment opportunities for people with disabilities at the forefront of Pennsylvania policy. The legislation does not focus on closing Adult Training Facilities also known as “sheltered workshops” for people with disabilities.
- It calls on the Governor to develop a three-year plan and sets a 7% goal for of the state workforce to be made up of talented individuals with disabilities.
- Agencies that provide services and support to people with disabilities will coordinate efforts to ensure state programs, policies, procedures and funding support competitive employment in integrated settings for people with disabilities who are of working age.
- Additionally, it will create an Employment First Oversight Commission to report progress to the public, Governor, and Legislature.
“We know that employment may not be the right answer for everyone with a disability—but it should be the first option sought,” said Representative Cutler. “Every year approximately 17,000 Pennsylvania high schoolers with disabilities graduate into the workforce. People with
disabilities in our state are willing and able to work. Let’s commit to providing the opportunities they are asking for and deserve.”
“People with disabilities deserve a real opportunity to be a part of the Pennsylvania workforce and become contributing members of society in their communities,” said Senator Mensch.
Gov. Tom Wolf issued an Executive Order in May 2016 implementing a number of Employment First policies. This bipartisan legislation will ensure these policies are kept in place after Gov. Wolf’s term ends.
“We are thrilled to see this important legislation taking steps forward under the great leadership of Representatives Cutler and Miller and Senator Mensch,” said Maureen Westcott, executive director, The Arc of Lancaster County and #IWantToWork coalition supporter. “This legislation is critical as it will allow more people with disabilities to have access to a wider base of support in order to obtain competitive employment.”
About #IWantToWork—The #IWantToWork self-advocacy social media campaign is powered by young people with disabilities. The campaign focuses on creating and advocating policies to help people with disabilities prepare and obtain jobs in integrated work environments. It is a major element of the Campaign for What Works, a statewide civic effort initiated by The Pittsburgh Foundation, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership and The Forbes Funds to ensure the future of our vital human service programs and, above all, the well-being of the people they serve. More information is available at www.IWantToWorkPA.org.