Hochul Awards $11.1 Million to Increase Disability Resources

J.M. Lesinski

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With October declared Disability Employment Awareness Month by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul also comes a boost to programs aiding disabled individuals. Hochul recently awarded $11.1 million in funding to be distributed over the next three years to increase the network of Disability Resource Coordinators and better provide for individuals with disabilities in New York State Career Centers.

"Now more than ever, it is important we ensure every worker in New York is supported," Hochul stated of the funding. "An important component to our post-pandemic recovery is to ensure workers of every background have job opportunities. I want New York to be a state of opportunity and hope for people of every walk of life, and that means we must continue to increase support for individuals with disabilities."

The announcement made by Hochul also officially creates the New York Systems Change and Inclusive Opportunities Network (NY SCION), building on past programs by the federal Disability Employment Initiative, which has aided roughly more than 31,000 individuals since 2010.

"I commend Governor Hochul on today's announcement to allocate this federal funding which I helped secure in Congress to further expand disability research and resources throughout the state,” commented Representative Adriano Espaillat. “I am confident that the increased benefits to persons with disabilities will positively impact my district and communities around the city. As October is Disability Employment Awareness Month, today's commitment reaffirms our support and efforts to ensure disability resources and benefits for individuals in our community who need our support now more than ever."

With the previous grants coming to a close, the New York State Department of Labor aims to will maintain its pledge to assist individuals with disabilities all across New York state via the new three-year pilot program with a new goal to serve an additional 45,000 persons.

"COVID has opened the door to fundamentally change how we do business at the Department of Labor,” New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon remarked. “We must do it more effectively and efficiently and better meet the needs of all job seekers. Differences should not make you unemployable. We need to raise awareness about the contributions that people with disabilities can make to the workforce and make their employment the norm rather than the exception."

NY SCION plans to fund the appointment of a Disability Resource Coordinator in every Local Workforce Development Area, as well as several positions in New York City, marking a huge gain from only half having had direct access prior.

"New Yorkers of all abilities deserve to have access to the quality support and resources they need to lead healthy lives and have fulfilling careers, I'm proud to have helped secure federal funding to protect and expand these critical programs that individuals with disabilities rely on,” Congressman Joe Morelle said of the funding. “I'm grateful to Governor Hochul for her commitment to strengthening our workforce, fostering an inclusive community, and ensuring all people have the opportunity to succeed."

Disability Resource Coordinator activities can include the following: increasing the enrollment of youth and adults with disabilities - including social security beneficiaries and individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities - in the career center system via outreach and recruitment activities, providing benefits advisement and work incentive counseling to social security beneficiaries in their transition to work, promoting the Ticket to Work Program, formalizing the Integrated Resource Team (IRT) approaching their area (the IRT Resource website was created in New York state under a previous Disability Employment Initiative Project), conducting outreach to businesses, placing youth and adults with disabilities in work experiences (i.e., internships, on the job training, summer work experiences, etc.), placement and retention of youth and adults with disabilities in occupational skills training, placement and retention of youth and adults with disabilities in competitive, integrated employment, career expos, hiring events, and entrepreneurship, career readiness and financial literacy training, and various other workshops.

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Professional journalist for over five years, covering topics all up and down both coasts of the United States, including arts, music, food, politics, and culture. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY
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