Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Impact of the Recession on AtWork! and the People We Serve

First of five excerpts from testimony by Chris Brandt before the City of Bellevue Human Services Commission, March 16, 2009.

The economic recession has impacted AtWork! and the people we serve in two ways: the amount of resources available to serve them and the job opportunities available for people seeking employment. In fiscal year 2009 AtWork! (which ended September 30) served 237 people, of which 79 are Bellevue residents.

AtWork! served fewer new people last year than planned (bringing into service 24 clients, a little over ½ of the 40 we targeted). There simply was not enough funding for everyone who needs services. Particularly impacted are young adults 21 to 35 who did not get a job or into service after high school graduation. These individuals typically need more intensive 1:1 support to be successful in employment as they often have both cognitive and physical disabilities. When people with disabilities are not served in an employment program, aging families and residential support programs are additionally burdened. More importantly, they suffer from isolation, a lack of purpose, and stigmatization. Skills learned in high school deteriorate and inappropriate behaviors and mental health issues increase.

People with disabilities must be eligible for the federal home and community based waiver program to receive funding for employment services from the county and state. In the past the state provided funding for those who did not qualify for the federal match program. This is no longer the case.

In fiscal year 2008, 5 people employed in community businesses lost their jobs. In our fiscal year 2009 16 people lost jobs, with more than ½ related to the economy. So far in fiscal year 2010, which started October 2009, 11 people have lost jobs, ¾ due to the economy. Job development is more difficult as people with disabilities are competing with a large skilled laid-off workforce. AtWork! placed 20 new people in community jobs in 2009, the same as in 2008. The City of Bellevue’s support of AtWork!’s community liaison and job development staff person was critical to this success.

Read the continuation of Chris Brandt’s testimony here at the AtWork! blog on March 23rd.

posted by AtWork! at


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