A-TEAM Wisconsin members support Employment First bill at State Capitol

Daily Jefferson County Union

Published February 5, 2018

MADISON - Support for a full array of employment choices for individuals with disabilities filled the room at two public hearings held at the Wisconsin State Capitol on Wednesday, January 10. A-TEAM Wisconsin members from around the state were among many others in attendance to support the Employment First bill that both Senate and Assembly committees met on that day.

The Employment First bill requires state agencies, including the Department of Health Services, Workforce Development and Department of Public Instruction to focus strong effort towards people with disabilities becoming competitively employed in the community. The bill also protects a person’s choice of facility-based employment services such as a community rehabilitation program.

Both houses were receptive to this bill. The Assembly has since went to session and voted in favor of this bill on January 16.

A-TEAM Wisconsin, a volunteer grassroots movement made up of individuals with disabilities, their families, caregivers, and supporters of Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPs), are proud to support this bill. The A-TEAM formed in 2011 to support all choices for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including all employment options.

With the goal of the bill to encourage competitive integrated employment, the A-TEAM is pleased that it also ensures the self-determination and informed choice of the individual, and a full array of service options.

At the hearings, A-TEAM members joined other advocacy groups including ARC Wisconsin, Disability Rights Wisconsin, Medford School Special Education, and Beyond Vision. Six A-TEAM advocates spoke on behalf of all the state members and gave powerful testimonials in favor of the Employment First bill.

Yael Kerzan, A-TEAM South Central WI member, stated, "It's so wonderful to work hard and somewhere to go to. I don't want to sit at home and do nothing. I don't want to watch TV."

Kris Hale, A-TEAM Southeastern WI member, said, "My brother, Andy, works at a community rehabilitation program, Opportunities, Inc. in Fort Atkinson. He has worked in the community in the past for an hour or two a week, but it's the CRP that has been his constant in his life. It's his reason to get up every morning and collect that paycheck every 2 weeks, so he can take his girlfriend to dinner. That's important to him. This is a real job."

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