Work Options for Disabled on Forefront for McMorris Rodgers

By Tom Bacon

Like any mom, eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers thinks about the future for her 6-year old son, Cole. But she knows Cole may have a tougher time than most kids finding a job down the road, because he was born with Down syndrome.

In a congressional blog site, McMorris Rodgers said that despite improvements in education for kids with disabilities, most of those who graduate from high school or college will find that no one is willing to hire them.

The 4-term representative said that progress, however, has begun in a handful of forward thinking companies and states, Washington included. She cited programs launched by companies such as Bank of America, Walgreens and Walmart which prove. in her view, that companies can do well - make money - and do good - hire people with disabilities.

McMorris Rodgers said the current federal model is broken. The nation spends more than 170-billion dollars a year to support people with disabilities, when most of them would rather have jobs. She pointed to a non-profit program called "Project Search" which tries to link up schools and companies to provide internship opportunities for young adults with disabilities. But she said only a tiny fraction of people who need such programs can take part.

McMorris Rodgers called for the U.S. to make the issue a national priority - meaning collaboration by business leaders, politicians and the people they serve. She said Cole, now age 6, has at least twelve more years of school ahead before he looks for work. But she knows the clock is ticking.
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