Maine Department of Labor Receives Grant to Improve Employment Rates of Youth with Disabilities Bookmark and Share

October 11, 2016

For Immediate Release: October 11, 2016
Media Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 621-5009

$9 million will link career development activities and inter-agency collaboration with improved outcomes

AUGUSTA –Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette is pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Education has awarded the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, part of the Maine Department of Labor, $9 million to help students with disabilities prepare for postsecondary education and competitive integrated employment. Other states receiving a grant were California, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont.

“Creating a brighter future for Maine’s young people has been one of my highest priorities,” stated Governor Paul R. LePage. “Connecting youth with employment, especially our youth with disabilities, is a key part of that strategy. Employment helps people build relationships with their community, improves their prosperity, and provides a better quality of life. It is vital that our state agencies collaborate with proven programs like Jobs for Maine’s Graduates to give our students the best chance at being successfully employed throughout their lives.”

Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette stated, “Our goal is to have at least 90 percent of study participants in postsecondary education or competitive integrated employment within one year of their high school graduation. We will align our work with in-school youth with disabilities using proven models, and we will be working with the Maine Departments of Education and Health and Human Services as well as others to make it happen.”

Maine’s vocational rehabilitation programs will use the progressive employment model to expand employer relationships and align this dual-customer—students and employers, community-based strategy with enhanced programs for students with disabilities through Jobs for Maine Graduates. These interventions, per year, will serve at least 200 students with disabilities who are within two years of graduation from high school.

The grant will enhance statewide collaboration that facilities the transition process from secondary and postsecondary schools or other pre-vocational training settings to competitive integrated employment in jobs at or above minimum wage.

Providing paid work experiences while students with disabilities are still in school is one of the best predictors for student success in continuing into work, post-secondary education and/or training once they graduate.

The grants are being funded through the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Rehabilitation Services Administration.

To learn more about partnering with vocational rehabilitation to hire employees or to access vocational rehabilitation services, visit your local CareerCenter. Find your local CareerCenter at http://www.mainecareercenter.com . For more information about the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, visit http://www.maine.gov/rehab .

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