Take Your Legislator To Work initiative launched in Philadelphia
Initiative gives Legislators the opportunity to learn more about the many valuable ways individuals with disabilities contribute to Philadelphia businesses
Philadelphia, PA December 10, 2012 - In an effort to share the importance of competitive community employment for individuals with disabilities, the Philadelphia Employment 1st Initiative and Networks for Training and Development, Inc. is organizing a TAKE YOUR LEGISLATOR TO WORK! effort. Legislators representing the Philadelphia area as well as US Representatives and Senators have been invited to visit the work place of an individual in their district. The goal of the effort is to demonstrate the value that people with disabilities contribute to the labor force and their communities.
The Employment 1st initiative is a national initiative which has been adopted in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health / Intellectual disAbility Services. Employment 1st means: Expecting, encouraging, developing, creating and rewarding integrated employment in the workforce at minimum or competitive wages and benefits as the first preferred outcome of working age youth and adults with disabilities (APSE: Association of People Supporting Employment 1st).
According to the most recent American Community Survey (2010), 11% of Pennsylvanians between the ages of 21 and 64, who are not institutionalized, have a disability. The unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is 60% higher than the rate of unemployment for non-disabled workers. Unemployment is a real issue for many and a crisis in the lives of people with disabilities. Employment provides meaningful activity and personal resources, a vehicle to contribute, and, for many, is fundamental to quality of life and the key to self-worth. Just like all of us, people with disabilities want to live as full citizens and employment is an equalizing agent.
People with disabilities are able to work in the community with assistance during job seeking and training through Supported Employment services and supportive coworkers. 18 employment support agencies throughout Philadelphia provide supported employment services. This year the funding for employment services for people with disabilities was cut throughout PA. By visiting individuals at their work place, it is expected that legislators will be more informed about programs when future legislation is proposed and discussed.
On December 11th, PA State Rep.Tom Murt will visit individuals in his district who are supported by Community Integrated Services, a community supported employment agency. Both the employees and Rep. Murt are excited about the opportunity to discuss the significance of employment for people with disabilities. Other legislators are scheduled to make visits in January. For more information, contact Tracy Katz at 215-264-2833.