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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 30, 2001

Governor Announces Increase in Number of Disabled Persons Finding Jobs

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) released information detailing record-breaking success in placing people with disabilities into competitive employment for fiscal year 2001. According to DHS' Office of Rehabilitation Services (ORS), an all-time high of 6,757 people with disabilities entered into competitive employment during fiscal year 2001. In fiscal year 2000, DHS/ORS placed 5,414 people with disabilities into competitive employment, a 25% increase.

"Persons with disabilities who wish to work outside their homes should be able to earn a living wage and maintain their independence," said Governor Ryan. "This continuing initiative will help every person who wants to find work build a brighter future."

DHS/ORS' success was achieved in part through its statewide community presence. With 51 field offices strategically located in communities throughout Illinois, ORS staff has the ability to collaborate with a wide range of partners, state agencies, community organizations, advocacy groups, local workforce investment boards and employers to provide services to individuals with disabilities.

"Community partnerships and one-on-one service are two of the main reasons why we have helped so many people with disabilities find meaningful employment," said DHS Secretary Linda ReneƩ Baker. "ORS staff; by working closely with people with disabilities, their families and our many community partners; ensure that our customers get connected to needed services so they can get that job and go to work"

ORS' World Class Customer Service initiative has also played a significant part in the department's success. Through this initiative, the department has restructured its organization to engage staff and improve the way supports are delivered. It has also encouraged simplified policies and procedures, developed performance outcomes and tangible incentives to achieve a more consumer-friendly philosophy.

"The true measure of our success is the positive impact that these jobs are having on the lives of thousands of our customers and their families. Many of our customers are going to work for the first time while others are getting better jobs that will help them move up the career ladder," said ORS Associate Director Carl Suter. "Because of the support and guidance provided by DHS/ORS staff, all of these people are well on their way to becoming self-sufficient."

As ORS continues to transform into a 21st Century World Class organization, one of its goals is to remove internal barriers so staff can provide higher quality customer service and spend less time focusing on day-to-day operational issues.


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