The effort to make sure young people with disabilities get part-time and summer jobs has gotten a boost with the approval of #IWantToWork’s legislation by the Senate Labor and Industry Committee.
Gingrich/Baker Bill HB400 was unanimously passed out of the committee on Tuesday. After a review by the Senate Appropriation Committee it will be in position for a vote by the full Senate. It passed the House unanimously in April. The bill is spearheaded by Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne, chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee.
A companion bill, Gingrich/Baker Bill HB400, was recently passed unanimously by the House committee. The House bill’s lead sponsor is House Labor and Industry Committee Chair Rep. Mauree Gingrich, R-Lebanon. Sen. Baker introduced an identical bill, SB 200, in the Senate. She graciously allowed the House bill to move. Her action could help ensure the funding linked to the bill is included in the 2015-2016 state budget.
The legislation, Sen. Baker said during the meeting, will help give young people with disabilities “the ability to have dignity… [and] transition to a job, not a couch.” Sen. Tina Tartaglione, the ranking Democrat on the committee, who uses a wheelchair after an accident many years ago, added the bill is important because she sees “so many teenagers aging out of the system and they go nowhere.”
Young people with disabilities can work and want to work. Business research shows people with disabilities meet or exceed their colleagues in productivity, quality of work, attendance, and job retention.
This legislation will give young people with disabilities an opportunity to obtain part-time employment while still in high school, with the support from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). This will be a significant benefit for businesses, as it will allow them to increase their number of employees, and therefore their production, by hiring young people with disabilities who can, and do, want to work.
Dr. Josie Badger, #IWantToWork campaign manager said, “Our legislators need to know that people can be successful with or without a disability. This legislation will offer young people with disabilities the opportunity to get a job, and be independent, productive, taxpaying members of society.
Pennsylvania invests an average of $200,000 on the education of a young person with disabilities. Instead of gaining the meaningful employment they’ve worked hard for, many end up staying at home or finding limited, unfulfilling work. They want to be taxpaying, productive members of an integrated workforce.
No one grows up wanting to rely on Social Security disability benefits. Pennsylvanians with disabilities are ready to use their education and training to get meaningful, inclusive employment that will keep them from living in poverty while allowing them to work and live in fully integrated settings.
The #IWantToWork self-advocacy campaign helps young people with disabilities in Pennsylvania get jobs and internships while in high school. Our goal is to let Pennsylvania policymakers know more needs to be done to help young people between the ages of 18 and 21 by sending a strong message that young people with disabilities are ready to work, are good workers, and are great for businesses and employers.
By Alexa Brill