Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Employing People With Disabilities

daugaardheader DaugaardEmploying People With Disabilities
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

My mom and dad took pride in self-reliance and taught me the value of hard work. They both worked hard on our family farm, and when the farm went upside-down financially, they both took jobs as janitors at Augustana College to make ends meet.

Mom and Dad were also both deaf, but their inability to hear did not prevent them from working to support my sisters and me. They taught us that all work has dignity and that idleness is not an option. Their disability led them to develop higher levels of determination and persistence.

In 2013, about 65 percent of Americans with disabilities were not working or looking for work. In South Dakota, that number is about 51 percent.

Even though our unemployment rate for those with disabilities is much lower than other states’, it’s still too high. There are too many South Dakotans with disabilities who want a job but can’t find one.

My goal is to make South Dakota an “employment first state.” This means making employment the first priority and the preferred outcome for our citizens with disabilities.

As a result of the Employment Works Task Force I established in 2013, the Department of Human Services is now providing technical assistance to employers and connecting them with qualified individuals. I am also challenging the state of South Dakota to become a model employer of people with disabilities.

As a part of this employment first effort, we’re striving to show employers what Walmart, Camille’s Sidewalk Café in Sioux Falls, Larson Manufacturing and SDSU in Brookings, Black Hills Corporation and many other businesses already know. We are a state that faces considerable workforce needs and there is an untapped labor pool comprised of people with disabilities who are ready, willing and completely ABLE to work.

On Tuesday, Aug. 11, the South Dakota Retailers Association is partnering with the Department of Human Services to host a webinar to guide employers through the process of finding and hiring people with disabilities. That same day, the Department of Human Services is launching an awareness campaign called “Ability for Hire.” This campaign aims to educate employers about the benefits of hiring those with disabilities, and to change misperceptions about them.

South Dakota is making definite progress in this arena, but there is always more to be done. I urge all South Dakotans to pitch in on this issue – to hire more qualified workers with disabilities; to support businesses in their efforts to employ people with disabilities; and to prepare youth for an expectation of a lifetime of work rather than public support. You can also help spread the word about when it launches Aug. 11.

The experiences of businesses like Camille’s and Black Hills Corporation demonstrate that change is possible. These businesses are proving that employing people with disabilities is not an act of charity or sympathy; it’s enlightened self-interest at its very best. It enriches and diversifies our workforce. It’s good for business and good for taxpayers. Best of all, it provides a willing worker an opportunity for the self-respect earned through personal achievement.


13 thoughts on “Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Employing People With Disabilities”

  1. There are many programs already in place for the disabled to work full or part time and still remain with their safety net. Or is your goal to kick these people off their legal right to the Social Security they contributed to their entire career? If not, your plan is just duplicate legislation.

  2. Porter, as the parent of a special needs child, I’m quite sure you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    There’s an entire spectrum of those with disabilities, from relatively minor physical disabilities, to those who have far more significant developmental disabilities. I’ve never known one person with a disability who didn’t want to live and work independently, just as anyone without a disability is able to.

    I just hope that as my daughter ages and enters the workforce, there’s substantive work that she can do, and isn’t relegated to picking up trash or wiping tables. She will certainly be able to do something more than be warehoused in a group home.

    Governor Daugaard has been an advocate and working for substantive employment for the disabled his whole time as Governor, and should be commended for it.

    It’s not a Republican/Democrat thing – it’s the right thing.

  3. Mr. Powers,
    I could call you an arrogant SOB, but I won’t. (A Donald Trump style of insult just for you). Just because I don’t have a disabled child doesn’t mean there isn’t a disabled person in my immediate family and there is. However, you are correct that, “There’s an entire spectrum of those with disabilities, from relatively minor physical disabilities, to those who have far more significant developmental disabilities.” Many with a disability WANT to live and work independently but just can’t …. because they’re disabled, sir. That’s what disabled means!! Developmentally disabled and physically disabled are two distinctly different categories. When your Governor states that 51% of the disabled don’t work that is “dog whistle” for his thinking that there must be a significant number of the disabled that are just “faking” it. His deaf parents were much closer to being able bodied than a 55 year old woman with chronic pain or an Iraq veteran with an amputation. Helping the developmentally disabled receive training and encouraging their employment is essential. Forcing the physically disabled to alter their already disrupted lives because a politician (not a Doctor) thinks they’re being lazy is selfishness at it’s zenith.

  4. ….. and furthermore, Mr. Powers – Your use of the term “minor disability” shows that you also feel there is fraud among the disabled that has gone undetected. There is partial disability in Military Pensions but not in Social Security Disability Insurance. You’re either disabled 100% or you’re not qualified for the Insurance payment at all. Who are you to ordain whether someone who’s been determined by a government medical Doctor and a duly elected court judge to be 100% disabled to be less so than any other victim of disability? Maybe the arrogant SOB is more appropriate than I thought. Why don’t you tell me the name of one … just ONE person in South Dakota who’s receiving their disability pension who’s not truly qualified. HMMMM? Just one, sir or apologize and shut up.

    1. Porter –

      Do you find you have difficulty breathing with your head so far up your ass?

      Maybe your version of utopia is sitting around on government assistance, but most people I know, especially those with a disability, want to be treated – especially in terms of employment – as those who are not.

      You inappropriately try to portray this as some sort of political machination to deprive people of public entitlements, when the opposite is true. It’s the governor backing their hiring because they want to work.

      And I repeat as an assistive tool for the hopelessly ignorant – They want to work.

      I don’t care if you want to support hiring the disabled or not. But don’t come on here and spew paranoid bullshit that it’s a Republican plot. Because that just makes you sound like a nut.

  5. As a matter of fact I am with one of the hardest “disabilities.” I could educate you, but not today. I will do that another time- that I can promise . I can see you have no idea how much money, time and challenges go with the term “disabilty”. “Dicrimination based on disabilty” will cost you and every person that is on an entitlement program in every state in the union. As far as you stating” they want to work but are disabled.” Well perhaps that maybe true, but your talking to a mom that paid taxes and ironicly my son did not get appropriate or any sort of assistance- he is an American. Physical disablities does not mean they have no mind- so consider what they can do. You would know that if you were remotely around it. You also need to consider some doctors and some medical professionals are not always ethical, sir. I suggest you look deeper before insulting parents who live with it- poltical bloggers or not. Have you ever heard of fraud? Are you not for human and civil rights? We need to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves -that’s the right thing to do.

  6. Ma’am, I live with a disabled person and feel no need to be educated by you. If your son gets no assistance that’s a travesty and a result of capital “C” Conservative politicians thinking only of the rich. Those disabled and receiving a pension from Social Security Disability Insurance are entitled without a doubt and to cast aspersions on them and their life situation is as you say “insulting”.

  7. You may live with a physical disablities but it is apparent you look the other direction. You will get an education and the term insulting will have a new meaning to you. Have a good day, sir.

  8. Thank you, ma’am. Anytime one of you capital “C” Conservatives care to have another discussion on entitlements and the USA debt and how the Republican Party misconstrues the facts to scare voters, I’m happy to participate.
    A good day to you, also.

    1. Porter may even wear his hat lined with tin foil to keep Republicans from scanning his brain.

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