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Governor Creates Task Force to Focus on Employing People with Disabilities





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, July 10, 2013

CONTACT: Patrick Baker, DHS communications officer, at 605-773-5990 or patrick.baker@state.sd.us

Governor Creates Task Force to Focus on Employing People with Disabilities

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard has announced the formation of a task force to study employing South Dakotans with disabilities as part of his Employment Works initiative.

 

Led by the state Department of Human Services, the task force will bring the private and public sectors together to ensure people with disabilities are a vital part of South Dakota’s workforce. The task force will offer a broad spectrum of perspectives, including people with disabilities and their family members, the business community, representatives of state government, service providers and nonprofit stakeholders.

 

“Every South Dakotan should have the opportunity to be productive, earn a living and feel a sense of personal fulfillment from employment, and I intend to show employers in this state the real benefits of hiring people with disabilities,” Gov. Daugaard said. “Helping people with disabilities help themselves is not only the right thing to do, it is good business.”

 

Over the last year, Daugaard has assisted Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware, Chair of the National Governors Association (NGA), to hold forums exploring ways that governors can provide the leadership necessary to make significant advancements in employing people with disabilities in their states. Conversations Daugaard had with some of his Cabinet members at an NGA conference in May in Seattle led to the formation of the task force.

 

The Governor said he will ask state government to act as a role model, starting with a focus on how state agencies can improve their own policies and hiring practices. The task force has also been charged with developing a plan that will help dispel common misconceptions about barriers and cost concerns associated with hiring people with disabilities.

 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only about 20 percent of people with disabilities are either employed or actively seeking work compared to roughly 69 percent of the nation’s population without disabilities. Daugaard said growing up in a home with self-sufficient, hard-working parents who were deaf taught him that people with disabilities often develop higher levels of determination and persistence. He believes bringing more awareness to the employer side of the equation will have the greatest impact in South Dakota.

 

“My intent for the Employment Works initiative is to create a common vision that will result in South Dakotans with disabilities becoming competitively employed while meeting the needs of our businesses,” the Governor said.

 

About DHS

In partnership with its stakeholders, the South Dakota Department of Human Services’ mission is to optimize the quality of life of people with disabilities through the programs and services offered by its divisions. Learn more by visiting the department’s website, dhs.sd.gov, and viewing the 2013 DHS Strategic Plan.

 

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