(MCT) — A few years ago, Iowa Works started a pilot program to integrate services for people receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds.
Today, that TANF, formerly welfare, program outperforms the state average. While an average of 27 percent of statewide recipients become employed.
The Burlington region’s program has been so successful it’s a model for the state, and may become one for the nation.
Region 16 has another opportunity to set the standard.
The agency’s charge this time is to help people with disabilities, including people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, find employment.
Iowa Workforce Development Program coordinator Doug Keast and Iowa Works Region 16 director Deb Dowell discussed the details with the regional workforce investment board.
“The main benefit we’re working on here is having somebody here who’s going to be a problem-solver and a connector,” Keast said. “The biggest challenge those folks (with disabilities) have is the amount of misinformation that is out in the community.”
Keast said some believe they are better off getting SSDI checks than finding employment, but added there are programs in place to help the disabled find employment.
Dowell said, for instance, the workforce center can help someone with a service dog find the kind of employment where animals can be acceptable, and if the person is not qualified, the center offers training services.
Dowell said the state received a federal grant, through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Disability Employment Initiative, to help those with disabilities find employment.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who helped enact the Americans with Disabilities Act 23 years ago, has continued to make an effort to ensure people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to work.
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