July 13, 2011
Important Update! The HELP Committee is scheduled to address the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act on August 3. There is still time to respond to this action alert!
We are asking you to e-mail or call your senators regarding the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act! Tell them Section 511 should be removed from the bill prior to the HELP Committee’s markup on July 20. Please read on to learn more about this bill, and the concerns that must be addressed!
This action alert applies to every senator, regardless of whether they are members of the HELP Committee. Senators who are not on the committee should be asked to urge their colleagues who are on the committee!
View a sample letter to your senator’s office
View talking points to use during phone calls
The Workforce Investment Act Background: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee has introduced legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act. The Workforce Investment Act is an important piece of legislation that coordinates job training funds and establishes the U.S. vocational rehabilitation system. It has not been reauthorized since 1998.
Members of the HELP Committee have expressed interest in using the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act as an opportunity to improve employment outcomes for youth with significant disabilities transitioning into adulthood. This goal has been warmly received by the disability policy community as a means to promote employment in competitive, integrated settings.
What’s the Problem? One provision places these efforts at great risk of undermining the Workforce Investment Act. Section 511 of Title V would create a “check list” for the vocational rehabilitation system to determine whether a youth with a significant disability is capable of accomplishing an employment outcome. The ambiguity of Section 511 creates several loopholes that may put more youth at risk of being placed in sheltered workshops and earning below the minimum wage. Section 511 also fails to provide any assurance that vocational rehabilitation agencies will offer a minimum amount of supported employment services to youth.
Contacting Your Senator’s Office: Please reach your senator’s office by phone or e-mail as soon as possible. You can contact their office by calling (202) 224-3121. Ask for the name of someone on your senator’s staff handling employment policy. Be sure to get a contact phone number or e-mail to deliver your request. Use the sample letter and talking points (linked above). The central message: Section 511 of Title V of the Workforce Investment Act must be removed prior to the committee’s markup. The language in this section, as is, puts individuals with disabilities at risk for being placed in sheltered workshops and/or being paid below the minimum wage.
Deadline: The Senate HELP Committee has scheduled a markup session for 10 a.m. ET on July 20. Please contact your senator before this date and ask that Section 511 of Title V be removed from the bill!
Thank you for your advocacy!
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