2017 Wisconsin Act 323 established the Partners with Business initiative to assist businesses interested in hiring and employing people with disabilities using an evidence-based coaching model. The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) submits the first annual report to the legislature on the Partners with Business pilot projects and outcomes. An electronic copy of the report is available online at (https://wi-bpdd.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/PWB-Annual-Legislature-Report_2018-2019.pdf) and a hard copy of the report has been distributed to legislative mailboxes.

In the first year, five grants were awarded to employment service providers, school districts, and a Family Care managed care organization (MCO) to provide technical assistance and coaching on effective strategies to respond to the hiring needs of local businesses by matching employees with disabilities with jobs that fit their skills and interests.

Fourteen businesses received assistance, and in the first few months of the pilot projects 27% of people with significant disabilities participating in the pilots landed jobs working an average of 11 hours per week at $9.57 per hour.

The Family Care MCO focused their grant on helping their employment provider network—which includes hundreds of employment service providers across 52 counties—to implement Partners with Business practices.

This MCO compensates employment service providers based on the number of hours the person with the disability works and the length of time they’ve been on the job, rather than the number of hours of job coaching provided by the agency. This payment strategy incentivizes increasing the number of hours worked by people with disabilities, and results in significant savings for the long-term care system. The pilot found that Partners with Business employment service providers:

  • Increased the number of hours people with disabilities worked by 32%
  • Spent 48% fewer Medicaid dollars
  • Invested 83% less staff time for improved employment outcomes at a lower cost.

We appreciate the legislature’s interest and continued commitment to help people with disabilities be employed in the community and contribute to Wisconsin’s workforce. As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions about the Partners with Business initiative or other disability employment issues.