In 2011, the BPDD started a five-year systems change project that will lead to improved community employment outcomes for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This project – Let’s Get to Work – is already making a difference for youth in Wisconsin.
During the first year of the project, the BPDD awarded grants to five school districts in Wisconsin: Grafton, Holmen, Kewaunee County (which also includes Luxemburg-Casco and Algoma), Manitowoc, and Oconomowoc. The grant provides for professional development and purchases to build the capacity of the high schools to place students with disabilities in competitive employment for minimum wage or higher in their home community. Not only will these select youth benefit directly from the grant, but the goal of the work is to create sustainability and replication of best practices in transition that achieve ongoing real results and meaningful, long-term employment for youth with disabilities in school districts statewide. Learn more about the 2012 school projects.
In participating communities, business owners, community leaders, school staff, families, and others have come together for community conversations resulting in real job offers for youth. In every school, students have summer jobs – a significant change from previous years. Attending prom and taking classes in the general education curriculum are examples of opportunities that are a direct result of a change in expectations for students with disabilities. Most importantly, people are talking about getting youth with disabilities more involved in their communities and eventually into permanent jobs earning real wages and becoming independent.
For 2012-2013, the BPDD awarded grants for a second round of school districts, which are New Auburn, Rhinelander, Stoughton, and West Allis-West Milwaukee.
The Let’s Get to Work project is funded by a grant provided by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities. The grant is a collaborative effort of the BPDD, the Department of Health Services, the Department of Public Instruction, and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.