Important Budget News from OOD Director Miller
Dear valued partner,
I am excited to share with you Governor DeWine’s biennial Executive Budget for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025, which reinforces his commitment to making Ohio a Disability Inclusion State and Model Employer of Individuals with Disabilities. This historic investment will allow us to positively impact the lives of Ohioans with disabilities like never before. Your partnership has played an important role in getting results for Ohioans with disabilities, and now OOD is being entrusted with unparalleled opportunities. This message will provide a budget overview and invitation to a virtual meeting this Friday for stakeholders to come together to learn more.
Governor DeWine’s significant investments provide OOD with the opportunity to draw down the maximum amount of federal grant dollars available by the second year of the biennium, allowing the Vocational Rehabilitation program to help even more Ohioans with disabilities get and keep a job. His budget also funds a brand-new initiative called Accessible Ohio. This initiative will support Ohio’s cities, counties, state agencies, attractions, and venues in becoming accessible and inclusive for individuals with disabilities.
Supports Ohioans with Disabilities to Earn Higher Wages
As Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted continue to bring in-demand jobs to Ohio, OOD will increase support to Ohioans with disabilities so that they can attain credentials (e.g., degrees, certificates, licensures). These credentials will help remove barriers for Ohioans with disabilities as they work to achieve financial independence.
Nationwide, individuals with disabilities are disproportionately employed in low-wage, entry-level jobs, experience dramatically higher rates of poverty, and have significantly lower levels of educational attainment. People with disabilities are also much more likely to be employed part-time than those with no disability, and the percentage of working-age individuals with disabilities who are employed is less than half that of working-age individuals without disabilities. Governor DeWine’s Executive Budget aims to level the playing field and increase earnings for Ohioans with disabilities.
With the Governor’s support and a new five-year federal grant, OOD’s Works4Me program will help 1,450 individuals with disabilities to move out of subminimum wage employment and into competitive integrated jobs. The innovative program will bring together partnerships from across the state to bridge the skills gap for individuals with disabilities through career development, work incentives planning, paid community-based work experiences, and wraparound services.
Boosts Credential Attainment
Through existing partnerships with Ohio Technical Centers, community colleges, career centers, and other training programs, OOD will seek to support Ohioans with disabilities to earn short-term credentials needed for in-demand, well-paying jobs. This will help meet the needs of Ohio’s employers seeking to hire skilled workers. OOD can provide counseling and guidance to these students with disabilities to address their needs and purchase necessary services such as tuition, fees, licensures, exams, tools, equipment, uniforms, transportation, technology, and other supports. Students will have access to OOD’s network of more than 700 Employer Partners for internships and employment opportunities and receive any needed on-the-job support.
Expands Ohio College2Careers
With the support of Governor DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly, OOD, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Higher Education, launched Ohio College2Careers (Ohio C2C) in 2019. Originally implemented at 15 colleges and universities, the partnership expanded in 2021 to Ohio’s two Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Wilberforce University and Central State University. Ohio C2C immerses full-time vocational rehabilitation counselors on campuses to assist students with disabilities in career exploration, assistive technology, resume and interview preparation, and job placement. Our Career Development Specialists connect these students with OOD’s network of more than 700 Employer Partners for internships and careers.
With Governor DeWine’s Executive Budget, a continued partnership between the Ohio Department of Higher Education and OOD will expand Ohio C2C to make these critical services and resources available to college students with disabilities statewide, serving an additional 1,600 students annually. OOD will also modernize policies to increase support for tuition and other education expenses for students with disabilities and refine current career services to meet the needs of college graduates with disabilities.
Increases Services to High School Students with Disabilities
The Ohio Transition Support Partnership (OTSP), which began in 2015 with the Ohio Department of Education, ensures that students with disabilities have access to OOD’s Vocational Rehabilitation services. In FY 2022, OOD assisted nearly 16,000 young people with disabilities, including approximately 4,500 students through the Ohio Transition Support Partnership, to work toward their employment goals. Governor DeWine’s Executive Budget will expand OTSP to serve an additional 2,250 students with disabilities annually. This will empower more students with disabilities as OOD supports their successful transition from secondary education to post-secondary education and employment.
In addition, OOD will focus on increasing services to students with disabilities enrolled in Career-Technical Education in Ohio. A greater number of these students can benefit through help from OOD with individualized work experiences, assistive technology, tools, licensure/certification fees, work clothing, and job placement in their chosen field.
Supports the Creation of “Accessible Ohio”
Building upon Governor Mike DeWine’s commitment to Ohioans with disabilities, the Accessible Ohio initiative creates the first-ever coordinated effort in Ohio to support Ohio’s cities, counties, state agencies, attractions, and venues to be accessible and inclusive. Ohio will lead the way in fostering a sense of community and belonging that strengthens the state for all of its citizens.
Accessible Ohio will make Ohio a global leader in public accessibility, encouraging businesses to locate in Ohio and visitors to prioritize travel to our state. OOD will support Ohio’s public and private entities in their endeavors to become accessible and inclusive.
Accessible Ohio Specialists will be on hand to work directly with local partners to identify barriers to access and establish goals for accessibility through customized consultations.
Increases Support for Community Centers for the Deaf
Governor DeWine’s proposed budget invests an additional $500,000 annually for the Community Centers for the Deaf to increase services to help Ohioans who are deaf or hard of hearing reach their educational and vocational goals. As a result, individuals served by the Community Centers for the Deaf will engage more in the community and experience greater independence.
Supports Disability Services Partners
Governor DeWine’s Executive Budget strives to leave no individual with a disability behind. OOD’s long-standing partnerships with Vocational Rehabilitation providers, Ohio’s Centers for Independent Living, sight centers, Assistive Technology of Ohio, and the Ohio Brain Injury Program through The Ohio State University, will continue to receive funding support from OOD to meet the needs of Ohioans with disabilities.
Creates Penalty Enhancement for Hate Crimes Against Individuals with Disabilities
Governor DeWine’s proposed budget includes adding an enhanced penalty for hate crimes committed against individuals with disabilities (“disabilities” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act). The enhancement would address criminal acts that are motivated by prejudice or intolerance directed at those with disabilities. Specifically, the proposed budget would make the crimes of aggravated menacing, menacing, criminal damaging, criminal mischief, or telecommunications harassment an offense of the next higher degree than the original offense committed if the victim is an individual with a disability, and the offender targeted the individual based on his or her disability.
Empowers Ohioans with Disabilities
Governor DeWine’s Executive Budget significantly increases efforts to support Ohioans with disabilities, empowering them to find careers, stability, purpose, meaning, connection, and independence.
This historic investment in Ohioans with disabilities will allow OOD to maximize federal resources allocated to Ohio by providing the full state match that is needed to access these grant funds by the second year of the biennium and serve more than 41,000 Ohioans with disabilities annually. With the full match, an additional 6,000 individuals with disabilities a year will receive increased support for vocational rehabilitation services, education, credentials, and assistive technology. The investment also expands the employer partners OOD assists (currently more than 700) in recruiting new employees and strengthening diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
The Executive Budget also continues funding for OOD Jobs for Recovery, Ohio Employment First, Ohio Vocational Apprentice Program, Independent Living Services for Older Blind Ohioans Program, and Personal Care Assistance Program. For those individuals who are unable to work due to their disability, OOD’s Division of Disability Determination will continue to determine medical eligibility for Ohioans with disabilities who apply for Social Security disability benefits.
I would like to invite you to a virtual meeting this Friday, February 3, 2023, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The meeting will take place as a Microsoft Teams Webinar. You can view the meeting through your web browser, and you do not need to have Microsoft Teams to participate. Click here to register for this meeting. In addition to providing a budget overview, I will prioritize answering questions submitted in advance to OOD.OfficeofCommunication@ood.ohio.gov.
OOD is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodations in its services, activities, and programs in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other applicable laws. To request an accommodation based on a disability, including a link to join the meeting with an American Sign Language interpreter, please contact OOD.OfficeofCommunication@ood.ohio.gov as soon as possible.
Thank you for your continued dedication and partnership in serving individuals with disabilities.
Kevin L. Miller