Senator Lisa Baker

Pennsylvania State Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) introduced a bill Monday that would require the state to match federal benefits given to help train individuals with physical or mental disabilities.

According to census data, individuals with a disability are more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line and are just half as likely to join the workforce.

“While many young people with disabilities have the desire and ability to work at competitive employment, only two in 10 are currently working,” Baker said. “I have met so many young people with physical and intellectual challenges who are eager to work. With the proper support, we can fulfill their dreams and better utilize our resources to empower them to succeed.”

Senate Bill 200, which has bipartisan support, would allow the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) within the state’s Department of Labor to hire more training personnel and to fund internships and part-time employment. It would also stipulate that the OVR cooperate with other public agencies that work with mental and intellectual disabilities to provide supplemental education programs.

“The state must do a better job connecting local education agencies with public and private employers necessary to seamlessly and successfully transition students from high school to employment,” Baker said. “It is truly a win-win-win.”

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