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MADISON Department of Workforce Development Secretary Jennifer Reinert announced today the department would request emergency funding from the Joint Finance Committee for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation at its December 19th s.13.10 meeting.
The $500,000 request if granted would allow approximately 1,000 people with the most severe disabilities, who are currently on a waiting list, to receive DVR services. The request includes $426,000 for direct services to clients and $74,000 to fill approximately 15 vacant vocational counselor and supervisory positions. The additional funding would also draw down approximately $1.9 million in federal match, which would otherwise have to be matched with less efficient third party contracts.
"This request is being made, in part, as a recommendation from the DVR Strategic Reform Task Force. Each member of the task force, along with the department, agreed the additional funding coupled with improved financial practices would be the best way to maximize services we can provide to clients," said Secretary Reinert.
"We are not only confident that this funding is critically necessary for people with disabilities, but that it will be well-managed and wisely spent. And we are very encouraged by what has taken place over a short period of time with the task force," said Bob Stuva, Executive Director of Rehabilitation for Wisconsin Inc., and a member of the task force.
Secretary Reinert, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Administrator Tom Dixon, and Jon and Carol Rost who have a son that has been successfully employed through assistance from DVR, will also travel to Washington D.C. next week to discuss with Wisconsins congressional delegation the need for more federal funding for the program.
"The D-V-R program is funded 80 percent by federal dollars and the increases have not kept up with the increased costs of technology, rehabilitation and the increased number of people with disabilities seeking services. In order for this program to be able to serve the thousands of people who would like to work but need DVR assistance, we must secure additional federal funding," said DVR administrator Tom Dixon.
Jon and Carol Rosts 24-year old son Eric is autistic. When he was 17-years old the Rosts were told Eric would have to wait up to 10 years for supported employment. But through Erics persistence and their own, and assistance from DVR, Eric is successfully working in electrical and hydraulic mechanical assembly, paying taxes and enjoying homeownership.
"This would not have been possible for Eric, had it not been for the very caring individuals and advocates at the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Each day the doors are closed to new clients, someone like Eric has to put their life on hold not knowing when they will have the chance to contribute toward their community," said Jon Rost.
The Rosts are also the founders of Hearthstone, a self-help and advocacy organization in Sheboygan County that helps individuals and families of individuals with disabilities move toward self-determined independence.
In August, the department had to close all categories and discontinue serving new
The division recently simplified the categories to make them more congruent and easier
Category 1 = Category A = Most Significantly Disabled
Category 2 = Categories B & C = Significantly Disabled
Category 3 = Categories D, E, F, & G = Other Eligible Individuals
The DVR Task Force has held several strategic planning sessions and created workgroups
|Division of Administrative Services |
Content Contact: Rachel Biittner