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      Jesson addresses ‘Together, We Work’ conference on employment for people with disabilities

      Posted on December 12, 2012 at 10:52 AM

      Commissioner Jesson Speaking

      Commissioner Jesson Speaking at "Together, We Work" Conference

      Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson spoke Dec. 5 k at “Together, We Work,” the first conference hosted by Minnesota APSE (Association of People Supporting Employment First) and Pathways to Employment.

      The two-day event brought together people with disabilities, employers, supported employment service providers and advocates to make connections and discover ways to increase employment opportunities even in times of scarce resources.

      “Employment is so important, not just in terms of economic security, but also in how it helps unlock the potential of individuals to strive and seek and achieve,” Jesson said during her remarks Dec. 5 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Park.

      For more than a decade, the Department of Human Services along with the Department of Employment and Economic Development and the State Council on Disability, has worked to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities and help meet Minnesota’s workforce needs through Pathways to Employment.

      With $15 million in federal grants since 2000, Minnesota has used Pathways to Employment to build infrastructure, promote change and improve work outcomes. The legacy includes the Disability Benefits 101 website,which provides tools and information on health coverage, benefits and employment so that people with disabilities can plan for their work life, as well as an assessment process that identifies individuals’ strengths with an eye to employment, partnerships with schools to help young people with disabilities make the transition from school to work, and technical assistance to service agencies to increase competitive employment and earnings for people with disabilities.

      Jesson said jobs continue to be a top priority for the state, and jobs for people with disabilities a top priority for the department.

      She covered several reform efforts currently underway at DHS, including Reform 2020, which will improve services for people with disabilities through greater flexibility, responsiveness and accessibility. If approved by the federal government, an employment demonstration in the plan will help individuals navigate medical, mental health and employment support and services to reduce barriers to working.