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The Time is NOW to Tell Your Legislator that Wisconsin Youth with Disabilities Can Work!

The Time is NOW to Tell Your Legislator that Wisconsin Youth with Disabilities Can Work! The Wisconsin Legislature will soon be making decisions on the 2015-17 state budget and many of their votes will impact people with disabilities, including youth. Now is the time to educate your legislator about what it takes for youth with significant disabilities to get a job in the community that builds on their skills and interests and helps them to be more independent, contributing citizens. Youth with disabilities are ready and willing to work!

THE FACTS: • Did you know that Wisconsin’s youth Let’s Get to Work project schools have TRIPLED the number of youth with significant disabilities who are employed in the community? • Did you know that having just one paid job experience before a youth graduates means they are twice as likely to be employed after high school? These are two facts to share with your legislator as you tell the story about how you or someone you know likes their community job or wants to be employed in the community.

WHAT IS YOUR COMMUNITY EMPLOYMENT STORY? • If you are someone with a disability, why do you want to work in the community? • If you are a parent, what is your employment dream for your child? • If you support or teach someone with a disability, why is the right community job important for their life?

WHAT YOU CAN ASK FOR: The Department of Public Instruction has included two Better Bottom Line proposals in their budget request that are low-cost, build upon the success in Let’s Get to Work schools and encourage and support all school districts across Wisconsin to put practices in place that make sure youth with disabilities have and keep a job after high school. These proposals put money back into school special education and transition programs so schools can focus on working with the business community to find jobs for youth and meet local workforce needs.

YOUR ACTION TODAY CAN HELP: There is no guarantee these two youth employment proposals will be included in the state budget. Legislators must hear from people NOW. If you feel strongly that public education for youth with disabilities should result in community employment for youth with disabilities, send your legislator a link to this easy Better Bottom Line policy brief and make sure to tell your personal community employment story: Better Bottom Line Proposal sheet

HOW TO FIND LEGISLATORS: • Go to Find My Legislators to get your legislator’s email address: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/ • Contact each Joint Finance Committee member (these 16 people make all the major decisions on whether the proposals that support youth employment are included in the state budget): 2015 Joint Finance Committee Contact Sheet

If you would like to learn more about the two DPI Better Bottom Line proposals or to see how much money your school district might be eligible for to support youth employment, go to DPI’s budget link and visit pages 48-57 -http://pb.dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/sfs/pdf/15-17_Budget_Request_Nov_10%20publish.pdf. See here for more information on the Let’s Get to Work youth employment project:http://www.letsgettoworkwi.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Outcomes-Recommendations-June-2014-final.pdf.