Policy Initiatives

Support Items in the State Budget that will Help Youth Get Jobs!

Governor Walker has included two proposals designed by teachers and families supported by WI school administrators and the Department of Public Instruction in his 2017-2019 State Budget.

Now is the time to educate legislators about these key proposals.  The 16 member Joint Finance Committee will make decisions on how the money in the budget is spent for the next two years.  They need to hear what is important to people to encourage them to keep these proposals in the budget.  

Please act before May 15th (the sooner the better)!

The Proposals

Better Bottom Line Transition Incentive Grants

Schools must be supported to improve postsecondary outcomes for youth with disabilities. The  Transition Incentive Fund (administered through DPI; 115.884) has been successful in its first year, but is significantly underfunded. This fund which was appropriated just $100,000 in the 2015-2017 biennial budget rewards schools that prove they have moved more students into community employment at a competitive wage and into postsecondary education and training. Schools use this pay for performance funding to improve their transition programs, including providing transportation to jobs, working with area employers and providing job coaching. Due to proration of funds this year, an incentive payment that was intended to be $1000/student was reduced to just $75/student.

Better Bottom Line Transition Readiness Investment Grant

Too few of Wisconsin’s youth with disabilities are  successfully transitioning to competitive work and/or postsecondary education after completing high school.  The Transition Readiness Investment Grant (TRIG) provides resources to school districts to help students with disabilities transition into the workforce.  Grant awards range from $25,000 to $100,000 per recipient to cover three primary expenses: transportation to community-based transition services including employment; professional development for teachers on transition best practices; and, staffing for schools to allow for dedicated time necessary to transition youth with disabilities into the workforce. 

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Key Talking Points to Inform Your Legislators

  • Research tells us that students with disabilities who have at least one paid job in the community before leaving high school are twice as likely to be employed after high school. Two work experiences increases odds of being employed after high school five-fold. 
  • Quality transition supports are key to success for a youth with disabilities.
  • The Governor’s budget bill currently includes two transition proposals that will help increase the odds for kids. The Transition Incentive Grants (payments back to schools that prove they are getting kids jobs or supporting their sustained enrollment in postsecondary education) and the Transition Readiness Investment Grants will help schools invest in key supports that lead to success.
  • Both of these proposals were informed by results from schools like ours who participated in the very successful 5-year Let’s Get to Work Grant which will be completed this fall. This grant project involved 12 schools statewide and tripled the number of LGTW students with paid jobs in their communities in the first year of the project. After 3 years, more than 60% of LGTW students were working in their communities.
  • High school special education teachers have heavy caseloads and little to no time to get out in the community to meet with employers.
  • Transition teachers in WI say they have had little to no training in how to approach businesses.

Ideas for Action

  • Call your own state legislators to ask for their support and ask them to contact their “budget buddy” on the joint finance committee to keep these proposals in the budget. 
    • To find out who your legislators are call 800-362-9472 or go to www.legis.state.wi.us and click on “Find My Legislators”.
    • Who is the representative for your school or employer? It may be different. Contact both!
  • Send a letter to your legislators signed by teachers/students in your school; make it a student project! Get business signatures support.
  • Attend the final hearing of the Joint Finance Committee THIS WEEK! 
    • Friday, April 21 (10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) Marinette High School (Auditorium) 2135 Pierce Avenue Marinette, WI 54143
  • Write a letter to the editor in your local paper talking about your support for these proposals in the budget, how they help kids at your school and why (name of local legislator) should support them when he/she votes on the budget. 

Need Help – Don’t Wait!

Contact Lisa Pugh at Pugh@TheArc.org or Jenny Neugart at jennifer.neugart@wisconsin.gov.  

 

Remember – to have the most impact, please take action before May 15th!

 

Sample letter/email/script to contact your legislators: 

Dear Representative ______:

I am ___________________________________________.  I am asking you to please support the Better Bottom Line Transition Incentive Grants proposal and the Better Bottom Line Transition Readiness Investment Grant proposal included in the Governor’s budget.  

These proposals are important because both support successful transition outcomes for youth with disabilities, especially into the workforce.  Research shows that students with disabilities who have at least one paid job in the community before leaving high school are twice as likely to be employed after high school.  That increases five-fold if the youth has two paid jobs in high school.  

I hope that you will vote for these in the state budget.  

Sincerely, 

 

Full name

Full address