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Disabled can get help finding work

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ANN MARIE AMES
June 22, 2009

The Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation has offices at the Rock and Walworth counties' job centers to help people whose physical or mental disabilities get in the way of work.


For some, the disability might be obvious.


For others, it might be something they've worked around for years and have been able to ignore until they were laid off and forced to look for new work.


Examples could be chronic pain or an addiction.


The division works to help people with disabilities find appropriate work, Rock County Director Suzanne Lee said.


"Our primary function is to work with people with a disability when it poses a barrier to getting, maintaining or advancing employment," Lee said.


Some people are afraid to admit they have a disability, Lee said. Others are unaware of it.


The division of vocational rehabilitation supports people who have disabilities that interfere with their mobility, communication skills, work tolerance, work skills, self-care skills, self-direction skills, interpersonal skills and relationships, Lee said.


Her staff works with up to 500 people at a time and has a waiting list for services, Lee said. Caseworkers start by helping a person determine what kind of work they want. Then they work backwards from there, she said.


Once a person is employed, a staff member follows up for a 90-day period, she said. On an average, people are in the system for two to three years, Lee said. Some attend school.


Recently, the state got $10 million in recovery and re-investment money to support the division of vocational rehabilitation program.


That has allowed the division to double the number of people it takes off its monthly waiting list from 500 to 1,000.


Call the Rock County Job Center at (608) 741-3400. In Walworth County, call (262) 741-5180. In either case, ask for a vocational rehabilitation representative. Visit www.ded.state.wi.us/dvr.

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