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Wisconsin given nearly $32.5 million to help kids grow out of SSI

Just before the federal government shutdown, more than $211 million in federal grants were announced for a demonstration project intended to give kids with disabilities who rely on Supplemental Security Income the help they need to reach their own education and career goals. The initiative, called “Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income,” or PROMISE is intended to prove what supports and services are most effective in helping child-SSI recipients grow up to live as fully and independently as possible.

The grants were given to six projects divided among 11 states. Wisconsin, Arkansas, Maryland, California and New York each received funding for their own five-year projects, and the sixth grant was given to a consortium of six states: North and South Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Arizona. Of the $211,114,668 in total grants awarded, Wisconsin will receive $32,497,181.

“All children deserve a chance to achieve their educational and career goals,” the U.S. Secretary of Education said in that agency’s press release. The PROMISE program is a joint effort between the Social Security Administration and the federal Departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services. “The PROMISE initiative provides services and support to help our most at-risk students and their families,” he continued, “so that they can focus on their education and a brighter future.”

The benefits for kids with disabilities could be considerable, as these demonstration programs are meant to give them and their families whatever support is most effective in meeting three goals: graduation from high school, finishing a job training program or post-secondary education, and finding employment in the competitive private job market. Once the most effective services are identified, the idea is to implement them nationwide.

The benefits for the Social Security disability program could also be substantial. If children and teens with disabilities can work and live independently when they grow up, they won’t have to rely on Supplemental Security Income benefits as adults.

It is not clear yet whether the government shutdown will delay these valuable programs.


  • Disability Scoop, “States Get Millions To Wean Kids Off SSI,” Shaun Heasley, Oct. 8, 2013
  • U.S. Department of Education press release, "Department Awards $211 Million for the Promoting the Readiness Of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE) Initiative," Sept. 30, 2013

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