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Wisconsin Board for People with Development Disabilities names Goodwill NCW a Partners with Business award winner

(Madison) — The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) has announced six awards statewide to service providers and employment organizations designed so they can help local businesses hire and support workers with significant disabilities.

The Partners with Business initiative was signed into law in 2018 and is based on a successful, cost-effective strategy from BPDD’s Let’s Get to Work youth employment project that shows businesses how co-workers can provide supports to employees with disabilities on the job.

Congratulations to Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin (NCW), headquartered in Menasha. Goodwill NCW plans to implement the Partners with Business model with people with disabilities who receive long-term care through IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct). By implementing the model with IRIS participants, Goodwill will learn how the strategies can be used effectively in Wisconsin’s self-directed services option. Goodwill employment professionals will be trained in the Partners with Business strategies and will support people with disabilities and their employers to use more natural supports, rather than paid job coaching, on the job.

Partners with Business supports workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be successful on the job by using a combination of natural and formal supports, both of which are provided by the employer. Using the Partners with Business approach, a school or vocational service agency works with an employer to provide initial job training for a worker with disabilities and develops on-the-job supports through co-workers. Once co-worker supports have been developed and job training is complete, the employer may receive funds from the long-term care system (i.e. Family Care, IRIS, Partnership) or other sources to designate co-worker(s), instead of agency-provided job coaches, to provide necessary ongoing supports.

“The Partners with Business approach has shown success reducing the need for outside job coaches and has demonstrated increased numbers of hours worked per week by employees. Overall, workers supported through Partners with Business have needed fewer public supports to get and keep their jobs. It’s a win-win employment strategy for people with disabilities in Wisconsin,” said Beth Swedeen, Executive Director for the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities.

These grants are part of the 2017 Wisconsin Act 323, passed on April 16, 2018. To view the statutory language, visit: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/related/acts/323.

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