Oklahoma agency helps people with disabilities find jobs

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s state agency that works with individuals who have disabilities says it has taken more than 3,400 people looking for work off wait lists and placed them in jobs, thanks to a funding boost.

The Department of Rehabilitation Services says in a news release it transferred 3,424 job seekers who are blind, visually impaired or have physical or mental disabilities to working roles in November. The agency has had waiting lists since 2017 because of budget cuts. But an injection of $11.6 million in state and federal money for the current fiscal year let the department take on more clients.

“This state funding is eligible to match federal funds at a 4 to 1 rate, which means DRS earns $4 federal dollars for every state $1 appropriated for VS and VR employment programs,” DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt said. “With the restored funding, we are able to maximize federal and state funding to serve more job seekers.”

Some 2,131 people remained on waiting lists, but the agency expects more funding will let the agency move those people into jobs soon.

“We’re thrilled to begin serving so many people who have been waiting to go to work,” Visual Services Administrator Tracy Brigham said. “This success is due to support from the Oklahoma Legislature. When they match federal funds with state dollars, we can prepare clients to become taxpayers who give back to the system.”