SIKESTON - In some communities, the unemployment rate for persons with disabilities can run as high as 70 percent, due to the significant obstacles they face.
To tackle this daunting phenomenon, Missouri has launched the Disability Program Navigator Initiative, a program designed to improve access to career training and job placement services for persons with disabilities. MERS/Goodwill was awarded three DPNI grants, totaling $114,000, to serve this segment of the population by partnering with One-Stop Career Centers in three regions of the state.
The Workforce Investment Board of Southeast Missouri awarded MERS/Goodwill its DPNI grant to serve the 13 counties under its jurisdiction at career centers in Cape Girardeau and Park Hills, as well as other satellite offices in the region. The SEMO WIB is joined by the St. Charles County Department of Workforce Development and the St. Louis County Department of Human Services -- Workforce Development, which also conferred their DPNI grants to MERS/
Goodwill. Through these awards, MERS/Goodwill will increase access for persons with disabilities to important career and training services.
The primary objective of the DPNI is to streamline career services to the disabled through One-Stop Career Centers, facilitating their access to specialized information, skills training, and job placement. In order to accomplish this objective, MERS/Goodwill will focus its efforts in three areas: training career center employees on disability issues and resources for the disabled; educating employers about hiring individuals with disabilities; and informing organizations that serve the disabled about the One-Stop Career Centers.
"Ultimately," said Lewis Chartock, president and CEO of MERS/Goodwill, "these grants will allow MERS/Goodwill to work in partnership with Missouri career centers to help the disabled population get the jobs they so desperately need".
MERS/Goodwill is the largest direct social services provider in Missouri, focusing on training and career services for people facing barriers to employment.
In Sikeston, MERS/Goodwill is located at 404 E. Center St. The telephone number is 472-0095.