The Importance of Building Relationships with State Agencies

Hands from a variety of people overlapping.

State agencies play a critical role in how the Wisconsin government operates. They create policies and put laws into action.

Did You Know? There are 61 state agencies in Wisconsin. Here is the full list.

Throughout the years, the Council has worked to build relationships with state agencies. This article highlights the work of the Department of Workforce Development and the Department of Health Services, and how those agencies relate to the Council.

State Agency: Department of Workforce Development (DWD) 

Department of Workforce Development logo

What They Do: The Department of Workforce Development builds and strengthens Wisconsin’s workforce. DWD provides job services, training and employment assistance to people looking for work, and works with employers to find the necessary workers to fill current job openings.

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) is housed within this department, as is the Business Enterprise Program (BEP).

DVR provides assistance with education and training, opportunities to find work, and help with the purchasing of adaptive technology for use in education and employment settings for job seekers with disabilities. The BEP matches vending machine operators who are blind with facilities.

DWD’s work is linked to the Council’s legislative priority of employment, and the Council supports expanding services from DVR and increased funding for BEP.

People you Might Interact with from this Agency: A DVR Counselor helps people with disabilities find or explore jobs.

State Agency: Department of Health Services (DHS)

Wisconsin Department of Health Services logo

What They Do: DHS protects and promotes the health and safety of the people of Wisconsin. Each Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) is a part of this department. An ADRC can assist with applying for benefits such as SSI or SSDI, and connects people to community resources such as transportation, adaptive equipment and housing options.

The Office for the Blind and Visually Impaired (OBVI) is also a part of DHS, under the Office for the Promotion of Independent Living (OPIL). OBVI vision services staff provide in-home rehabilitation training to promote independence.

The Council contracts with OBVI to share the workload, as there are currently not enough vision services professionals to meet the needs of the growing population experiencing visual impairment.

The work of DHS is directly linked to the Council’s Legislative Priority of Healthcare and Long Term Care. The Council supports the work of the ADRCs and increased funding for OBVI.

People you Might Interact with from this Agency: If you have ever gone to your local ADRC office, those staff work for the Department of Health Services. Every county has an ADRC or shares one with other counties if service areas are close together. Vision services staff from OBVI, who provide vision rehabilitation, orientation and mobility instruction and in-home visits, are all employees of DHS.

Help Build Relationships: Sign up for Legislative Day

To further relationships with these state agencies and others, attend the Council’s annual Legislative Day. It takes place on Tuesday, April 21, at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison. The event is an opportunity to spend the day in conversation with representatives from state agencies and the Governor’s offices. We will explore the agency’s interface with the BVI community, continue the dialogue about the Council’s Legislative Priorities, and look at budget and policy recommendations. These state agencies play important roles in carrying out policy, making materials and experiences accessible, and creating processes that are efficient and effective. It is critical to talk with them so policy is enacted with inclusivity for all Wisconsin residents.

Sign up by Friday, April 10. Contact Kathleen at (608) 237-8120 or email kcallen@WCBlind.org to reserve your spot.

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