Governor Tom Wolf is soon expected to sign #IWantToWork Campaign’s champion legislation that will ensure young people with disabilities have access to part-time jobs while in high school, preparing them for work as adults.

The House of Representatives voted unanimously today to send HB 400 to the governor for his signature. We expect and anticipate he will sign the bill soon.

This will be a historic milestone for young people with disabilities. Teenagers with disabilities want what all teenagers want – a part-time job. Not only are time part-time jobs a milestone for every teenager, but employers want people with experience, and you only get that experience when you’re given the chance. Research shows that people who have part-time jobs while in high school are more likely to secure and succeed in future employment opportunities.

House Bill 400 will make significant changes in when and how the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation OVR) begins working with high school students with disabilities to prepare them for work after they graduate.

“This legislation will help young people with disabilities by ensuring they get part-time and summer jobs while they are in high school,” said Dr. Josie Badger, campaign manager. “Right now, most of these students graduate without any job experience. We know when that happens, unfortunately, most will never go to work.”

Thousands of high school students with disabilities across Pennsylvania will benefit from the legislation authored by Rep. Mauree Gingrich, R-Lebanon. OVR will begin working with the students in their sophomore and junior years, rather than during late in their senior year in high school.

Businesses will benefit from the change coming when HB 400 becomes law. They will have a way to more easily identify and hire young people with disabilities, who are eager to work, and research shows, grow into dedicated, hard-working employees. On any given day there are an average of 200,000 open jobs across the Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania invests an average of $200,000 on the education of a young person with disabilities. Without job experience before graduating from high school, research shows three out of four young people with disabilities will never work.

By Alexa Brill

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