Welfare to Work
Responding to Specific Learning Disabilities in WtW Clients and in the Employment Setting
Persons with specific learning disabilities (SLD) confront significant barriers in obtaining and retaining competitive employment. Persons with SLD may have difficulty taking in information, making sense of it, or applying it practically. Attitudinal barriers on the part of employers are also a significant factor in the employability of people with SLD. Many employers continue to have erroneous beliefs that SLD is synonymous with mental retardation and are generally less willing to make reasonable accommodations for people with learning disabilities. One of the largest challenges faced by SRS and SDA case managers in effectively working with clients who have SLD lies in the screening for and identification of the disability. Preliminary investigations indicate that at least 30% of long-term TANF recipients in Kansas have SLD. Finally, the work-first philosophy of the current welfare to work system is not generally sufficient in the supports that it can provide to a person with SLD.
This project sought to reduce the above barriers to competitive employment for people with SLD through the accomplishment of four objectives.
- First, we provided SRS and SDA case managers with staff development on an SLD screening battery, its administration, scoring, and interpretation.
- Second, we provided professional development to SRS and SDA case managers on the day to day and employment barriers faced by persons with SLD and on a model for successfully accommodating SLD.
- Third, we focused on employers and long-term supports for clients with SLD. Project staff will provide employers with information on hiring people with SLD and form partnerships with Small Business Development Centers to reach employers statewide.
- The final project objective was to develop a comprehensive assessment, instructional, and accommodations model that can be replicated across Kansas and to provide training on SLD to a variety of community-based organizations (CBOs). A specific goal within this objective was to develop a plan with the state’s 19 community colleges to deal with the issues involved in providing appropriate educational supports and curricula for students with SLD.