Wed., April 10, 2013 3:00pm (EDT)

Newly Disabled Wait For Job Training
By Orlando Montoya and John A. Young
Updated: 1 year ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Goodwill provides vocational training for people with disabilities.  The training is funded by the state.  Now the state is having trouble paying for the services.  There's now a waiting list to get training.  (photo Goodwill of the Coastal Empire)
Goodwill provides vocational training for people with disabilities. The training is funded by the state. Now the state is having trouble paying for the services. There's now a waiting list to get training. (photo Goodwill of the Coastal Empire)
Thousands of Georgians with disabilities now have to wait for rehabilitation services due to state budget cuts.

Since October there has been a waiting list for disability services the state can no longer afford to provide.

The budget problems stem in part because Georgia's Vocational Rehabilitation Agency was switched this year from the state Department of Labor to the Department of Human Services.

The move temporarily reduced a federal grant.

Vocational Rehabilitation Director Greg Schmieg says there's been a sharp rise in residents applying for disability programs.

"The number of cases that were served by the Vocational Rehab program in the year 2012 was a little over 41,000," Schmieg says. "That's about a 40% increase over the number of cases served in the year 2000."

Schmieg says the agency is looking at creative new ways to raise money for the disabled.

"Even though the federal grant money is resolved and available, there's only about 50% of it that's available for us to serve the number of people we have to serve," Schmieg says.

In the meantime, 8,000 Georgians with new disabilities have been unable to receive the training they need for employment.

The program trains the newly disabled and helps them match their skills with jobs.

And that reduces their reliance on other government programs.