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  • Program-Specific Requirements for Vocational Rehabilitation (Combined or General)

    The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services Portion of the Unified or Combined State Plan [13] must include the following descriptions and estimates, as required by section 101(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by title IV of WIOA:


    [13] Sec. 102(b)(2)(D)(iii) of WIOA

    • i. Comprehensive System of Personnel Development; Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

      Describe the designated State agency's procedures and activities to establish and maintain a comprehensive system of personnel development designed to ensure an adequate supply of qualified State rehabilitation professional and paraprofessional personnel for the designated State unit, including the following:

      • 4. Staff Development

        Describe the State agency's policies, procedures, and activities to ensure that, consistent with section101(a)(7)(C) of the Rehabilitation Act, all personnel employed by the designated State unit receive appropriate and adequate training in terms of:

i. 4. A. A system of staff development for professionals and paraprofessionals within the designated State unit, particularly with respect to assessment, vocational counseling, job placement, and rehabilitation technology, including training implemented in coordination with entities carrying out State programs under section 4 of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998; and

Current Narrative:

Personnel Development

VR’s Learning and Development Office (LDO) efforts will continue to be oriented toward appropriate and adequate training for all employees, with available resources allocated to the CSPD effort. Although the in-service training grant was the primary funding source for these activities, it was not the only resource used to fund staff development and training activities. Supplemental funds were provided from other budget resources.

Although there has been an emphasis on helping counselors meet the CSPD standard and developing the technical, managerial, and leadership skills of supervisors and managers, VR provides staff development opportunities to employees at every level. Examples include the Counselor Training Program:

  • Up to 30 hours of learning within the first 8 weeks of hire.
  • Attendance in a 3.5-day classroom training, which includes an individualized Competency Checklist outlining the strengths and weaknesses for each participant.
  • “Longboarding” over the remaining 12 months. This is in the form of Webinars and the completion of a Longboarding To-Do list, a list of activities required to enhance their learning experience with their supervisor and bookend classroom training.
  • Webinars on over 15 topics annually are available for new and existing staff and many are being developed in direct response to recommendations from participants.
  • Developing Welcome Packets for all field job classes. In additional to welcoming someone to the agency, this provides new staff with information on the mentorship program, professional development while working with the agency, the benefits of joining a professional organization such as the National Rehabilitation Association, and how to handle difficult situations they may be presented with for the first time, for example: first ethical dilemma or working with a transition customer.
  •  Evolving Partnerships with University and Professional Organizations. This includes working with Indiana University to further strengthen staff competencies in functional capacities, significance of disabilities, and the impact of mental and physical disabilities. Introducing them to the National Rehabilitation Association to help them connect with like-minded people, build their leadership skills, and keep up with current trends in the rehabilitation field.
  •  New LDO Support Process for Area-level Trainers. Area trainers receive training and assistance on: available technology, facilitator skills, targeting trainings on a local level, reviewing existing trainings for consistency, and development of trainings for staff.  This will assist in VR identifying more trainings that qualify for CRC credits, sharing of quality material across the state, and ensure uniform and up-to-date information is being delivered.  
  •  Focused training on field level supervisors to expand the support and guidance provided to vocational rehabilitation counselors.  Efforts will include identifying areas to reduce administrative burdens while maintaining a high level of quality assurance and fiscal responsibility.
  • Proposal to develop a Distance Learning Network using Video Conferencing Technologies and identified training facilities to increase access to learning opportunities across the state.

Additional Personnel Development Activities

The Organization and Employee Support Team (OES) recently designed a new human resource information site, available through VR’s SharePoint application. Using SharePoint increases the level of support and customer service provided to VR’s employees, volunteers, contracted staff, supervisors and personnel liaisons. The intent is to provide user-friendly experiences for new and existing employees.

The OES Homepage provides job opportunity announcements, access to more than 900 HR forms, procedures and policies and a calendar of upcoming important HR dates and events.

In carrying out its staff development and training program, VR addresses several topics in its training curricula. The training curricula include (but are not limited to) modules on the following: preliminary assessment, eligibility determination, assessment, IPE development, vocational counseling (within the modules on eligibility determination and individualized plan for employment development), job placement, rehabilitation technology, cultural competence, ethics, supported employment, transition from school to work, medical and psychological issues, caseload management and special programs.

VR places emphasis on the professional development of unit supervisors, area supervisors and area directors. Topics are selected based on policy or procedure changes, new initiatives, audit and review findings and general professional development.

Counseling and non-counseling employees, including administrative employees, will continue to receive training in core subjects through distance and onsite learning. As caseloads and customer needs continue to grow more complex, the role of the paraprofessional technician becomes more and more critical to the effective management of caseloads. All counseling staff will continue to work toward CRC eligibility and/or degrees in rehabilitation or counseling through tuition waivers and other mechanisms.

Engineers from the Rehabilitation Technology Engineering Program, contracted through the University of South Florida, provide training on rehabilitation technology and engineering. The contract ensures that rehabilitation technology engineers are available statewide.

State labor market information, as well as national data, provides information on the employment and advancement of qualified individuals with disabilities. Job announcements are published online through the People First website, providing access to all state jobs through one internet portal.

Manuals related to policy and rehabilitation information management are available online. Employees can find more information about medical and psychological conditions, rehabilitation technology, federal and state plans, legislation and regulations and employment-related information.


Onboarding helps new personnel successfully assimilate into their new position, with a quicker ramp-up to productivity. VR wants to help all personnel be successful in their new job, get up-and-running with their new duties quickly and smoothly, and contribute to VR’s success. Since VR personnel includes career service, selected exempt service/senior management service and OPS employees, as well as volunteers and contracted staff, all with differing onboarding needs, it became apparent that a one-size-fits-all approach to onboarding was not sufficient.

Based on that, OES created Onboarding resource sites specific to needs of VR’s career service, selected exempt service/senior management service, and OPS employees, as well as sites specific to VR’s volunteers and contracted staff. Each site provides onboarding information for the specific

personnel category, such as New Hire Paperwork that provides the new employee with all of the required hiring forms and related policies, VR Mentorship Program information, TED- Training, Education, and Development links and resources, and the Human Resources Page.

VR’s Mentorship Program

A major reason why newly hired employees struggle and ultimately leave is failure to establish connections and build strong interpersonal relationships within the organization. Understanding that new employees need connection, a sense of belonging, a sense of their potential, and a need to feel valued, OES worked with various sections within VR to create a Mentorship Program.

Mentors often play an important role in making new employees feel valued, developing coworker relationships, and helping new employees feel comfortable during the first few months of employment. Each new employee, or protégé will be assigned to a mentor for a period of up to a year. No mentor will be assigned to more than two active protégés at any one time.

The Mentorship Program is composed of two parts. The first is a comprehensive information resource site delivered through SharePoint. The site has information specific to mentors, protégés, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), and supervisors. The second component is the Individualized Mentoring Action Plan, or IMAP. The IMAP is a software application designed specifically for the mentorship program. In the IMAP, mentors and SMEs create personalized profiles. The profiles are used to assist with assigning mentors and SMEs to appropriate protégés. The software is designed to quickly sort through hundreds of mentor and SME profiles that match the needs identified in the protégé’s profile.

Human Resources Page

The Human Resources page is a one-stop information resource for VR personnel. The Human Resources page consists of six functional groups, which are further divided into subject groups, specific categories, and detailed information pages. Topics include employee rights, benefits and responsibilities, resources such as forms, procedures, and policies, and useful information about VR and state government. Most pages have embedded links to either an internal portion of the VR Intranet, or to an outside website. Each employee can then bookmark any page for easy access.