Published: Jul 05, 2011 8:58 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 05, 2011 7:58 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - State welfare workers are starting a program to help mentally ill Floridians find jobs.

The Department of Children and Families announced Tuesday it will link 25 people who are in recovery from serious mental illness and were treated by the agency with paid internships. The agency said unemployment rates for the mentally ill can be as high as 80 percent.

DCF hopes the program will encourage other employers to follow. The paid internships will be at hardware and grocery stores and health care facilities in Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami. DCF says the six-month program will allow interns to gain job experience, making them better candidates for permanent employment.

Secretary David Wilkins said educating and training employers about mental illness will be key to long-term success.

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