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d. 2. I. iii. II. The Establishment and Maintenance of Education and Experience Requirements, in Accordance with Section 101(a)(7)(b)(ii) of the Rehabilitation Act, to Ensure That the Personnel Have a 21st Century Understanding of the Evolving Labor Force and the Needs of Individuals with Disabilities.

Current Narrative:

The State of Florida allows employees to use a tuition waiver to enroll in six hours (or less) of courses per semester on a space-available basis at public universities. This approach is how many counselors worked to reach the CSPD standard until fall 2006. As recently as six years ago, Florida had six Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling (MRC) programs, five of which were CORE-accredited. As of 2016, Florida now has three CACREP-accredited programs (Florida Atlantic University, the University of South Florida, and the Florida International University).

In recent years, VR has implemented a more aggressive approach in meeting the CSPD standard. VR employees will be encouraged to use the State of Florida Tuition Waiver program as much as possible, since it represents a significant savings to VR. A substantial portion of the in-service training grant was allocated solely to VR’s CSPD activities. In-service training grant funds were used to pay tuition for individuals who could not get the coursework they needed through the waiver program, such as those who do not live near a public university or who otherwise cannot use the waiver program. In-service training grant funds were also allocated for textbook reimbursement. The elimination of the in-service training grant to states has severely reduced VR’s ability to continue support for these activities. It is not currently clear how much of the basic support grant will be available for this kind of support. The Learning and Development Office (LDO) has implemented a data system to track academic classes taken and progress toward certification eligibility.

In addition to the Florida public universities referenced above, VR uses the resources of Auburn University, Southern University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Kentucky, the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, the University of West Virginia, and the University of Wisconsin-Stout, all of whom provide online Masters-level rehabilitation programs. VR also uses the resources of the University of North Texas and San Diego State through the Consortium on Distance Education in Rehabilitation. VR will continue to use additional programs, as appropriate.