Peoria Area Businesses Honored for Employing People with Disabilities

State and private employers work together to mentor people with disabilities to help them go to work and earn more.

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is recognizing numerous companies in October for their commitment to hiring people with disabilities. Four employers were honored today in Peoria for their willingness to hire, retain, and promote significant numbers of persons with disabilities in quality jobs. They include:

  • Peoria Production Shop - Employer of the Year Award
  • Illinois Central College - Corporate Business Partnership Award
  • Methodist Medical Center - Extra Mile Award
  • Lowe's - Collaboration Award

The honors were announced Thursday, October 25 by Robert Kilbury, director of the IDHS Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) in a ceremony at the Workforce Network in Peoria.

"We appreciate the commitment of Illinois employers in hiring people with disabilities," said DRS Director Kilbury. "I encourage other Illinois companies to follow the example of these businesses and join us in building a stronger workforce."

In the past four years, 27,619 Illinoisans with disabilities entered into competitive employment, according to statistics from the IDHS Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS). In Fiscal Year 2007 the DRS vocational rehabilitation program helped 5,230 people with disabilities become employed statewide, an increase of 5 percent over the FY2006 figure.

The average wage earned by Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program customers who entered employment in FY2007 was $9.41 an hour, continuing a steady increase from the figure of $8.36 per hour in FY2003.

Equally important, the percentage of people with disabilities who receive employer-provided health insurance increased from 27 percent in 2003 to 30 percent in 2006.

"We're working hard to close the employment gap that separates workers with disabilities and those who do not have disability related barriers to employment," said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. "Undoubtedly, the positive relationships our DRS staff have cultivated with many employers throughout Illinois have played a critical role our success. Employers are finding that people with disabilities are skilled, productive, and conscientious workers."

As Illinois' lead agency serving individuals with disabilities, DRS helps people with disabilities prepare for and find quality employment that pays a living wage and offers opportunities for advancement. DRS works closely with employers through its Corporate Business Partner initiative to match them with qualified individuals with the skills and qualities they need. As a division of DHS, DRS also offers a wide range of support services to assist eligible individuals with disabilities in obtaining and maintaining employment.

For more information about hiring persons with disabilities and other services provided by DHS/DRS, call 1-800/843-6154 (Voice) or 1-800/447-6404 (TTY).