- Program-Specific Requirements for Vocational Rehabilitation
The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services Portion of the Unified or Combined State Plan* must include the following descriptions and estimates, as required by section 101(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by WIOA:
* Sec. 102(b)(D)(iii) of WIOA
d. 2. P. i. I. Identify the Strategies That Contributed to the Achievement of the Goals.
Priority 1.1: Develop a common understanding among WIOA core programs and other appropriate agencies (e.g., Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services and Department of Education) of Vocational Rehabilitation and the services it may provide to eligible consumers, in varying capacities, in order to provide integrated service delivery and improve employment outcomes for consumers. VR Leadership will continue discussions with appropriate agencies throughout FFY 2016 and develop and/or revise written agreements in FFY 2016.
Progress toward achieving Priority 1.1: An updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was developed with DWD and regional Workforce Development Boards in 2016, and negotiations regarding infrastructure funding agreements were finalized in 2017. In June, 2017 BRS and DWD jointly conducted a Roundtable Summit to encourage open conversation about serving job seekers with disabilities and to better understand training needs of Work One offices. In follow-up to this summit, BRS and DWD collaborated on the development and provision of training on working with job seekers with disabilities for Work One center staff. The BRS Director also continues to be active member of the State Workforce Innovation Council (SWIC) and several BRS staff are represented on SWIC task forces.
Priority 1.2: Continue development of a web-based VR case management system to improve the efficiency and enhance the mobile working environment of VR field staff and enrich the data utilized by VR to make informed program decisions. The system will also ensure appropriate system integration and data-sharing to align resources, collect common consumer information, increase efficiencies, track effectiveness of the program, and ultimately to improve the consumer’s experience in VR in meeting his/her employment goal. Develop a project plan and process flow in FFY 2016.
Progress toward achieving Priority 1.2: A dedicated workgroup completed a Business Process Analysis in 2016, which was used to obtain an overview of requirements for the development of a new case management system. BRS contracted with Alliance Enterprises in April, 2017 and is on target to ‘go-live’ with a new case management system (AWARE) in 2019.
Priority 1.3: Develop processes and procedures to ensure proper and consistent referrals to and from VR and WIOA core programs (and other appropriate programs) in order to maximize the service options and service delivery for individuals with disabilities. Written procedures will be drafted in FFY 2016.
Progress toward achieving Priority 1.3: All VR staff completed training to gain a deeper understanding of DWD and Work One programs. Intake VR Counselors received additional training regarding eligibility requirements for the various Work One programs to help them work more effectively with VR participants on referral to specific Work One programs. If a VR applicant or eligible individual is interested in potentially accessing the local Work One, VR facilitates a referral to the local Work One contact for the Area Office. The referral package consists of the participant’s basic contact information and a release to share information. VR is exploring the possibility of obtaining access to the Work One case management system to track the individual’s participation across programs, which will help VR to obtain required data for federal reporting purposes.
Priority 1.4: Ensure VR staff is trained, highly knowledgeable, and are providing information on services across WIOA core programs, and other appropriate programs that may assist individuals with disabilities achieve their employment outcome. New staff will participate in both web-based and classroom-based training throughout, at minimum, the first year of employment.
Progress toward achieving Priority 1.4: In late 2017 and early 2018, all VR staff received face-to-face training regarding DWD and Work One programs and services. VR Intake Counselors provide information about Work One during intake meetings with VR applicants and make referrals as applicable. Further training strategies will be explored in 2018.
Priority 1.5: Work in partnership with WIOA core programs to strategically enhance employer engagement and work-based learning opportunities for individuals with disabilities. This includes expanding VR employer engagement to develop appropriate disability-related information and resources (e.g., disability awareness training, Section 503 overview materials for Indiana-based federal contractors, business-to-business resources for beginning disability hiring initiatives, etc.) for employers. A strategy for required collection and report of business engagement efforts will be identified by late 2017.
Progress toward achieving Priority 1.5: At the state level, there is consistent participation of the VR team on three State Workforce Innovation Council workgroups: A Work based learning Task Force, the Work Ethic Certification Task Force and the Sector Strategies Task Force, along with mandated core programs. These efforts have helped to forge opportunities for closer collaboration at the state level.
Disability Awareness training has been presented to hiring managers with Indiana State Personnel as the State of Indiana is an employer/customer to VR. VR and DWD have partnered to ensure that Front line staff at Work One Centers across the state receive Disability Etiquette and Awareness training. VR representatives are participating on the Indy Business Leadership Network committee that is partnering with the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) to bring the first ever Midwest Diversity & Disability Awareness Conference in 2018.
Additionally, DWD is currently utilizing Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM for their statewide business service efforts. Dedicated staff throughout all 92 counties are responsible for building relationships with Indiana businesses to understand their workforce need and offer assistance to help fill this need. The customer relationship management (CRM) tool is used to track all of the interactions between our staff and the business’ across the state. The CRM allows for a concise system allowing for better communication amongst staff and a greater understanding from a statewide perspective of the current and future needs of Indiana business. In addition to these activities, the CRM also tracks all DWD business services provided to those employers which allows DWD to meet their federal reporting requirement for business services. DWD is extending utilization of the system to VR to jointly track business engagement efforts. The Business and Community Engagement team has received training on the CRM and will begin using the database to capture business engagement efforts starting in 2018. In addition to helping VR meet federal reporting requirements, the system will help to better serve employers in a more comprehensive way across different agencies.
GOAL 2: Increase the number of people with disabilities in integrated, competitive employment.
Priority 2.1: Develop a coordinated process with the Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services and State and local educational agencies in assisting individuals with disabilities, especially youth with disabilities who are considering subminimum wage employment or who are already employed, at a subminimum wage, to maximize opportunities to achieve competitive integrated employment through services provided by VR and the local educational agencies. Identify resources for conducting the necessary education and outreach to this population, including adequate personnel resources, in FFY 2016.
Progress toward achieving Priority 2.1: Career counseling and information and referral services (CCIR) are provided to youth who are considering subminimum wage employment or individuals of any age who are already employed at subminimum wage, either by a VR Counselor or through a partnership with the Arc of Indiana and Self-Advocates of Indiana. CCIR services are offered in a one-on-one or group setting; may include video or digital communication; and occur at the worksite during the lunch hour or at a mutually-agreed upon location. Guardians are welcome and encouraged to attend. During the discussion, local resources regarding employment services and other-related information are communicated to assist in maximizing opportunities for competitive, integrated employment. Following the discussion, the participant receives a certificate of participation to document completion of the CCIR activities and a copy is submitted to BRS for record-keeping purposes.
BRS, BDDS, and The Arc of Indiana continuously explore options to enhance the CCIR sessions, as it’s important the information and local resources provided on competitive, integrated employment are current and relevant to individuals with disabilities employed at subminimum wage. The goal is to build upon and not repeat information provided to the individuals receiving CCIR services twice within the first six months of employment, and those receiving CCIR services annually. Various avenues for how CCIR services are provided will also be explored, such as the development of an informational video and providing the services virtually.
Priority 2.2: Identify best practices, create strategies, and partner with other agencies to better serve students and youth with disabilities to ensure a pathway and appropriate services to meet their employment outcomes. This includes expanding pre-employment transition services to students with disabilities and meeting the 15% spend requirement.
Progress toward achieving Priority 2.2: Through partnering with key stakeholders, VR was able to expand opportunities for students and youth with disabilities, including working with the State Workforce Innovation Council (SWIC) on the Work and Learn Taskforce, DWD on the Work Ethic Certificate taskforce for high school students, EmployIndy (the Marion County Workforce Development board) youth committee to ensure students and youth with disabilities were included in initiatives including Partner Engagement, and cross-training with Work One staff on providing services to individuals (including students and youth) with disabilities. VR is also partnering with DWD to expand the JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) program to more students with disabilities. Additionally, a webinar was presented to VR staff on the use of Labor Market Information for students and others with disabilities. BRS also drafted a pre-ETS forecasting document to outline strategies for expansion of pre-ETS statewide and working toward meeting the 15% earmarking requirement.
Priority 2.3: Develop a targeted education campaign to elevate the importance and expectation of employment for individuals with disabilities. This includes information and education related to benefits planning and economic independence to families, students, and beneficiaries of Social Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance. VR will partner with INSOURCE, a parent group for youth with disabilities, the Client Assistance Program, and Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security on developing the campaign and disseminating information. Strategies for increased education and awareness will be developed during FFY 2016.
Progress toward achieving Priority 2.3: Education and training was provided to a variety of stakeholders on the importance of employment for students and youth with disabilities, including IN*Source, ASK (About Special Kids), and local school systems through the transition cadres. In addition, materials were developed for DOE on VR services and employment for students with disabilities. Two VR mentoring days were completed in fall 2017, with VR partnering with local businesses as well as DWD and DOE to provide tours of the businesses and education on Work One services and self-advocacy.
Priority 2.4: Continue development of blind entrepreneurs through the Business Enterprise Program and increase trainees of the program. At least 50% of trainees will secure employment as licensed vendors within 6 months of completing training.
Progress toward achieving Priority2.4: Three individuals completed training to become a licensed vendor in 2016, and two, or 67% of those individuals obtained employment within six months of training completion. An additional training class is planned for FFY18.
GOAL 3: Develop program initiatives and training that adequately support VR staff and community rehabilitation providers in the provision of quality services.
Priority 3.1: Conduct a systematic review of the new Employment Service Model (effective July 1, 2015) to identify best practices and determine necessary system revisions to ensure the quality of services and employment outcomes. Review trends in service provision and employment outcomes on a quarterly basis throughout FFY 2016, and continue to meet at least quarterly with the Employment Service Model workgroup to review strengths and identify areas of improvement.
Progress toward achieving Priority 3.1: An evaluation of services and outcomes under the revised employment service model, compared to services and outcomes under the previous Results Based Funding (RBF) employment service model has been ongoing since August, 2016. Baseline data was obtained in August, 2016, and an initial summary report was completed and posted on the VR website in November, 2016. Data has continued to be updated and shared in subsequent VR employment service evaluation reports, with the most recent report completed November, 2017. Within the first two years following implementation of the new model, VR participants who received employment services through a CRP, had increased access to discovery and supported employment services, and the quality of employment outcomes began to improve, with an average hourly wage of $9.26 in 2017 for those placed through a CRP, compared to an average hourly wage of $8.67 in 2015, which was a 7% increase over the two-year time period. This indicates good progress, however more improvement is needed. The overall average wage obtained by all VR participants achieving employment outcomes increased by 16% during this same time period, with average wages of $12.06 in FFY15 and $13.97 in FFY17.
Additionally, VR has achieved an increase in the number of individuals obtaining competitive, integrated employment during the first quarter of FFY18 (970), compared to the first quarter of FFY17 (846). Also, VR has seen a decrease in the number of individuals exiting the program without employment after development of an IPE in the first quarter of FFY18 (600), compared to the first quarter of FFY17 (694). This is a positive trend that BRS will be closely monitoring throughout FFY18.
Priority 3.2: Continue development of VR staff through professional development and training, including the creation of a web-based training curriculum (VR Leadership Academy) that can be shared across WIOA core programs to ensure consistency in information and increased knowledge about VR service delivery. VR will introduce new training by March 2016 that will aim to increase focus on counseling and guidance.
Progress toward achieving Priority 3.2: BRS contracted with Education Data Systems, Inc. to develop a curriculum centered on the building skills for the provision of high quality counseling and guidance to VR participants. All VR Counselors and Supervisors completed this training in 2016, and the training continued to be provided for new hires quarterly throughout 2016. The VR Leadership Academy was enhanced in 2017 to ensure alignment with modifications to the VR federal regulations resulting from WIOA, and to provide a more interactive learning process. Additional enhancements are planned for 2018.
Priority 3.3: Develop training and technical assistance opportunities to community rehabilitation programs (CRP) and staff (e.g., program managers and employment specialists) to ensure best practice and improve the quality of employment services and supported employment to consumers of varying disabilities, including those with the most significant disabilities. Increased training opportunities will be available to providers in FFY 2016 as compared to prior years.
Progress toward achieving Priority 3.3: Both the number of training opportunities and training topics increased in 2016. As an example, a ‘check and connect’ webinar training series was implemented in 2016 in partnership with Indiana University’s Center on Community Living and Careers, Indiana Institute on Disability and Community (CCLC/IIDC), which has featured topics on supported employment, discovery, customized employment, and a variety of other topics. Additionally, CCLC/IIDC under contract with BRS, provided one-on-one training and technical assistance to more than 20 CRPs in 2016 and 2017. Additionally, BRS entered into Establishment project contracts with 47 CRPs in 2017 for the purpose of enhancing training and building sufficient staffing capacity to provide high-quality, responsive services to VR applicants and eligible individuals. Through this funding, CRP’s have been able to increase the provision of training, including hands-on foundational skills training, to their direct services staff.