Job training for those with disabilities threatened

A Portage group is concerned funding could be cut from a program providing job training for those with disabilities.

Northwoods, Inc. both employs its clients and helps place them with jobs. The program, started in 1972, helps more than 300 individuals each year.

Many participants work at the group's bakery or assembling and packaging products from magnetic name badges to truck parts for local companies. Job coaches also accompany many clients to other employment in the community and help them settle in. Northwoods staff fear a pending change to Medicaid rules at the federal level could limit funding for the training.

"We're training people what it means to work fast enough, what it means to do quality work, what it means to work with a supervisor," says Northwoods, Inc. President and CEO Jeff Aerts.

Aerts says the group is paid by local companies for their work, but relies on the state and federal governments to provide much of the funding for training. Northwoods is currently paid hourly for the programs.

Several state legislators are writing to leaders in Washington, D.C. advocating for a change that would keep current funding in place.

See the full story (with video) here.

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