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i. 2. Plan for Recruitment, Preparation and Retention of Qualified Personnel

Describe the development and implementation of a plan to address the current and projected needs for qualified personnel including, the coordination and facilitation of efforts between the designated State unit and institutions of higher education and professional associations to recruit, prepare, and retain personnel who are qualified, including personnel from minority backgrounds and personnel who are individuals with disabilities.

Current Narrative:

IDVR will continue to recruit qualified staff from Rehabilitation Counselor Education programs. We maintain contact with Auburn University, Hofstra University, Montana State University, New Mexico Highlands University, Portland State University, San Diego State University, University of Arizona, University of Kentucky, University of North Texas, University of Northern Colorado, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, University of Wisconsin - Stout, Utah State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, West Virginia University, and Western Washington University. Management staff also attends the Fall and Spring National Council on Rehabilitation Education (NCRE) conferences for recruitment (when feasible).

Additionally, IDVR supports paid and unpaid internships for master’s level students in Rehabilitation or related fields. IDVR continues to face challenges in recruiting qualified applicants. The entry-level wage for a QRP is lower than comparable state and private positions. IDVR has increased wages for QRP’s in Calendar Year 2021.  IDVR a implemented a recruitment and retention bonus program to increase the potential for hiring QRPs as well as retain current QRPs.  It is too soon to determine what impact, if any this program will have on QRPs for the agency.

IDVR conducts exit interviews with staff, when possible, to determine whether there are areas of concern affecting staff retention. The current trend suggests counselors are leaving VR for positions which do not require a master’s degree and/or are paid more per hour.  This trend has continued.  Idaho has a very low unemployment rate and the wages have increased significantly in the private sector.   As a State agency we are not as nimble in wage movement. For PY 2020 the turnover rate for the rehabilitation counselor position was 23 percent.

As of June 2022, it is less than six months since QRP retention bonus implementation.  The Division believes that the strategy has had a preliminary positive impact on the retention of QRP as the Division has only experienced one QRP resignation since implementation of the retention strategy.  Two QRP have been hired since implementation under the recruitment bonus strategy.