I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.
Over 350 people attended Wisconsin’s FIRST ever Employment First Conference. Wisconsin is one of 35 States advocating for integrated employment to be the First option for individuals with disabilities. The timing is perfect as Governor Scott Walker has proclaimed 2014 the year of a “Better Bottom Line”.
Governor Walker spent time at his State of the State address to outline his plans for a “Better Bottom Line”. This is very exciting for the disability community when leaders from across the entire United States recognize the value and the importance of employing individuals with disabilities in the community and at competitive wages.
As part of this conference, Governor Walker was the keynote speaker. He again shared his passion for a “Better Bottom Line”. Prior to the Governor speaking, my son Tyler and I were given the honor of being part of a small group of self-advocates meeting with Governor Walker for about 20 minutes to share our employment stories.
For Tyler, the timing could not have been better. In the last month or so, Tyler has gone through his orientation with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and is starting the process of looking for some work experiences that will lead, not might, but will lead to community employment at a competitive wage. Not bad for a kid whose parents were told that they should have no expectations for him when he was born.
I was able to share with Governor Walker that Tyler is at the beginning of the employment process and that it needs to be starting at a younger age. I also thanked him for his efforts in promoting this effort. As part of this effort, additional funding was budgeted to allow DVR to hire additional counselors. The counselors are in the process of being hired, some current counselors are moving to focus on the Promise Grant. The hope is to eliminate Category 2 waiting lists by the end of this year. This will only improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.
I learned a lot during this conference. I am always amazed by the amount of information that is available when it comes to any disability issue. I learn something new at each and every conference that I attend. The timing for me is perfect ,as I will be heading to a Disability Policy Seminar which will include visits with a number of Wisconsin Congressional legislators in Washington. I always enjoy Washington as there is so much to see and never enough time to see it all.
I strongly encourage you to click on the Employment First hyperlink to learn more about the employment First movement. As always, if you have questions, please feel free to contact me.