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Scott Walker, Governor
Raymond Allen, Secretary

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
Email: sec@dwd.wisconsin.gov

Thursday, October 27, 2016
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/news/
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WIWorkforce
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

A Better Bottom Line: Number of Job Seekers with Disabilities Reaching Employment Goals Nears 10,000 Since 2014

A record 9,507 individuals reach employment goals during first two full federal fiscal years following Governor Walker's Proclamation of 2014 as Year of A Better Bottom Line

MADISON – Today, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced that the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) has helped a record 9,507 individuals with disabilities reach their employment goals during the first two full federal fiscal years following Governor Scott Walker's launch of A Better Bottom Line to encourage more employers to hire job seekers with disabilities.

"Governor Walker has made assisting individuals with disabilities find employment one of his top priorities since taking office," DWD Secretary Ray Allen said. "A combination of additional state resources and the great work of our DVR staff, coupled with additional activities to build awareness of the assets that workers with disabilities contribute to any employer's bottom line, helped DVR exceed their goals during federal fiscal year 2015 and again in 2016, resulting in an unprecedented two-year total that brought us closer than ever to the 10,000 mark."

The estimated annual earnings of these individuals is estimated at $167 million.

"The Governor's A Better Bottom Line initiative continues strong as we observe October as Disability Employment Awareness Month with our many partners in vocational rehabilitation," Secretary Allen said. "We continue to encourage more DVR-eligible job seekers to take advantage of our services and more employers to hire these talented, capable and loyal members of our state's workforce."

As an employer, the Walker Administration is committed to providing more opportunities for job seekers with disabilities. In one example, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) received Program Achievement honors today from the Wisconsin State Council on Affirmative Action for DOR's TeamWorks program. The honor was given today during the Council’s annual Diversity Awards Ceremony at the Wisconsin State Capitol. DWD Secretary Allen was guest speaker at the ceremony. A video about the TeamWorks program, which features DVR consumers, is available online.

In addition to fully funding and expanding core DVR services since 2014, thanks to the support of the Wisconsin Legislature, Governor Walker also included the expansion of Project SEARCH in his Year of A Better Bottom Line initiative. Recently, DWD announced that the number of Project SEARCH sites is being expanded to 25 over the next two school years. Project SEARCH is a program designed to assist young adults with disabilities gain real-world work experience prior to graduation.

"Wisconsin's economy continues to build upon its successes. Employers are hiring and workers are enjoying a competitive business climate where employers are completing for skilled talent," Secretary Allen said. "To continue our growth, no member of Wisconsin workforce can be left on the sidelines, and DVR services and workers with disabilities continue to demonstrate their value to not only Wisconsin businesses, but our overall economy.

Wisconsin was also one of six sites selected for a federal Promise grant to assist youth with disabilities receiving SSI and their families work toward brighter financial future. Components include work experiences, work incentive benefits counseling, financial literacy training, connections to community resources and education and training. The goal of the program is to decrease reliance on SSI and move youth with disabilities and their families from government dependence to financial independence. The program launched in 2014 and surpassed its enrollment goal of 2,000 earlier this year.

For more information on DVR Services, please visit http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr