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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: February 3, 2015 11:56 AM
From: Representative Mauree Gingrich
To: All House members
Subject: Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities
In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation that will establish the Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities Act. Too often, students with disabilities graduate from high school "to the couch" in their parents' home with little hope of entering the job market, or are placed in segregated settings with other people with disabilities where the taxpayer investment in their education is not fully realized. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is estimated to be 14%, far in excess of the unemployment within the general population, and 80% of individuals with disabilities are not currently in the workforce.

Many students with disabilities graduating from high school are able to work at competitive employment in integrated settings. These students can successfully enter the private sector job market upon graduation and become taxpaying citizens if they receive job readiness skill training and supported work experience while in school.

This legislation would designate the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) in the Department of Labor and Industry as the lead agency responsible for developing connections between local education agencies and employers to promote the successful transition from school to competitive, gainful employment.

In particular, the OVR would be required to collaborate with officials of local education agencies and other public agencies such as county mental health and intellectual disabilities programs in the development of Individual Educational Plans for high school students with disabilities, ensuring that job readiness skill training is included in such plans where appropriate. The OVR would also arrange for, monitor, and support the placement of high school students with disabilities in lawful internships, on -the-job training and full or part time work at competitive wages in integrated settings with private and public sector employers. Finally, L&I will provide professional guidance relative to job coaching services, and provide the services to individuals who are OVR eligible.

To fund this initiative, adequate state funds will be appropriated to ensure that all federal funds available to PA through the OVR under the provisions of the federal Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are matched by the Commonwealth (4:1 Federal/State match).

Please join me in this effort by co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB400