February 11, 2009

ILR Joins Project to Help Disabled People Find Employment

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The School of Industrial and Labor Relations’ Employment and Disability Institute is collaborating on the project “New York Makes Work Pay,” which plans to make finding employment easier for disabled people. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services is sponsoring the initiative. Collaborators with the EDI include New York State Most Integrated Settings Coordinating Council’s Employment Committee, the New York State Office of Mental Health and Syracuse University’s Burton Blatt Institute, according to the Cornell Chronicle.
In the state of New York, there are over 1 million residents between the ages of 21 and 64 that have at least one disability according to the EDI’s 2007 Disability Status Report. While 78 percent of non-disabled New York residents in that age group are employed, only 34 percent of New Yorkers with disabilities have jobs. The “New York Makes Work Pay” program will spend $12 million to carry out their five-year plan.
Thomas Golden, EDI associate director and a project co-principal investigator, explained that the project will analyze the exact causes of the “roadblocks” that make it difficult for disabled people to find jobs. According to Golden, this analysis needs to take place before a plan can be created to successfully bring the disabled into the workforce.
New York Governor David Paterson (D) expressed his support for the program in a letter describing the program as a “comprehensive, coordinated system of identifying and removing barriers for New Yorkers living with disabilities.”
In the short-term, the project is working to inform disabled people of their options. Golden explained that the project will create a website to make public the information disabled people need in order to return to work. One current issue Golden mentioned was that many disabled people incorrectly believe that returning to work would compromise their current health care plan. Since they do not understand the rules they elect to avoid any risk by not returning to work.
In addition to informing the disabled in the hopes to motivate them to find employment, the project will also address employers, persuading them to take on disabled employees by informing them of some of the incentives to hiring the handicapped.