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Madison — Governor Scott Walker today highlighted two grants that aim to improve employment outcomes and increase affordable and accessible housing for people with disabilities.

“For the last thirty years, Wisconsin has been committed to increasing supportive living in the community for individuals with disabilities so they can live independent lives,” said Governor Walker. “These grants will help people find permanent housing and the services they need to live independently and will provide the means to improve their quality of life by developing work skills to enter the competitive workforce.”

The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities was awarded the “Let’s Get to Work” grant, a five-year federal grant of $1.82 million. The Board will work with the Department of Health Services, the Department of Workforce Development and the Department of Public Instruction to elevate community expectations and remove policy barriers that prevent youth with significant disabilities from accessing the supports and experiences they need in order to develop work skills. The project will work with eight school sites across Wisconsin over three years to gather data and develop strategies for dissemination of policies and practices.

Project SEARCH, a partner organization in “Let’s Get to Work” grant activities, is a one year, high school transition program which provides training and education leading to employment for individuals with disabilities. Project SEARCH was developed in 1996 by Nurse J. Erin Riehle, then the Director of the Emergency Department of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Governor Walker today toured the University of Wisconsin Hospital’s Project SEARCH site.

“UW Hospital’s commitment to Project SEARCH reflects an understanding that helping people achieve their best health means little if they do not have opportunities to take part in the work life of their community. It is apparent that during their training here, the students help deliver care to others while enhancing their own skills and self-development,” said Governor Walker.

Another grant, the “Real Choice System Change” grant, was awarded to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Federal legislative changes allow DHS and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) to develop new, high quality and integrated supportive housing units for Medicaid-eligible persons with disabilities. This $330,000 grant will fund costs to establish a new independent housing referral process using the current infrastructure of the long-term care system. The grant will also allow for the creation of a new housing counseling curriculum to be used for provider agencies serving members in the community and provide technical assistance. The grant will also help to educate developers about the benefits of reformed federal legislation and the clientele the projects can serve.