HARRISBURG, PA (April 13) – The #IWantToWork Campaign’s legislation to to ensure young people with disabilities will be able to prepare for work as adults by getting part-time and summer jobs while in high school was unanimously approved today by the Pennsylvania Senate.

House Bill 400 now needs a procedural approval in the House before being sent to Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature into law.

The legislation will give young people with disabilities an opportunity to obtain part-time employment while still in high school by moving up the timetable for getting them job placements and supports by the state’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). Instead of getting help in their senior year, often just before graduation, OVR staff will begin helping these young people find jobs in the sophomore and junior years.

“Thousands of young people with disabilities will benefit by being able to get jobs while in school and during the summer,” said Dr. Josie Badger, #IWantToWork’s campaign manager. “We are very appreciative of the efforts of our legislative champions, led by Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne, and Mauree Gingrich, R-Lebanon to move this bill forward.” Gingrich is the prime sponsor of HB 400.

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.

“Given the chance, people can succeed regardless of whether or not they have a disability. House Bill 400 offers young people with disabilities an opportunity to be employed, and be productive, tax-paying members of society, just like everyone else,” said Robert Nelkin, chief executive of the United Way of Western Pennsylvania, a major funder of the #IWantToWork campaign.

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.

The #IWantToWork self-advocacy campaign helps young people with disabilities in Pennsylvania get jobs and internships while in high school. Our goal is to let Pennsylvania policymakers know more needs to be done to help young people between the ages of 18 and 21 by sending a strong message that young people with disabilities are ready to work, are good workers, and are great for businesses and employers.


Stephen Drachler

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