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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

    • g. Coordination with Employers

      Describe how the designated State unit will work with employers to identify competitive integrated employment and career exploration opportunities in order to facilitate the provision of:

g. 1. VR Services; and

Current Narrative:

ADRS is committed to a “dual customer” approach in working with employers to identify competitive integrated employment opportunities and career exploration opportunities for the consumers we serve.  ADRS focuses on developing effective working relationships with employers by providing business services that meet the disability-related needs of business and which assist our agency in the provision of VR services. Alabama VR has developed and delivered appropriate products and services to assist employers with their outreach and recruitment; job placement, retention and advancement; accommodations; disability-education; resource linkages; and consulting services for individuals with disabilities. The development and delivery of appropriate products and services enables Alabama VR to meet the needs of business as specified in WIOA regulations. ADRS has a business relations unit, “READI-Net” (Resources for Employment And Disability Information Network), led by a State Office Administrator of Business Relations and staffed by specially trained Business Relations Consultants (BRCs) in a classification separate from the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. The Administrator serves as the ADRS representative with full oversight of collaborative relationships with businesses developed by BRC staff or other VR agencies in The NET (VR’s National Employment Team) that wish to establish or grow their partnership with Vocational Rehabilitation in Alabama. At the state level, the Administrator is the lead liaison to workforce partners, community organizations and other agencies that establish partnerships with business and is the “rating supervisor” of the business relations consultants. At the local level, the BRCs are charged with establishing and maintaining effective relationships with business to create employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities or to assist business with the retention of workers whose job is affected by illness, injury or disability.

BRCs develop and deliver other disability-related services needed by business and are accountable for the quality and effectiveness of those services. They simultaneously assist consumers (including youth and adults) with job readiness preparation (through group or one-on-one sessions), job development, job search, job retention and follow-up. In addition, ADRS works with a network of community-based organizations on customized placement services for consumers, necessitating coordination with employers. These partnerships include special assistance to students and youth with disabilities, transition services, and supported employment assistance. This coordination with business also involves internal ADRS staff specializing in job readiness and placement services for individuals who are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing and may include Deaf Support Specialists, audiologists, or other contract employment specialists focusing on visually impaired. Engagement with businesses through the ADRS RAVE (Retaining A Valued Employee) program also necessitate collaboration with business and includes ADRS vocational rehabilitation counselors, BRCs, rehabilitation technology specialists and other rehabilitation professionals. To foster collaboration among these resources, thus avoiding duplication of effort with employers while maximizing assistance to consumers, the BRCs participate in local collaboration teams facilitated by workforce partners to include any and all local entities that assist VR consumers with job readiness, placement and retention services and who reach out to employers on behalf of those consumers. These groups meet either monthly or quarterly and can include: ADRS staff, community rehabilitation programs, supported employment projects, jointly funded pre-ets specialists with the school systems, disabled veterans organizations, workforce partners, staffing companies, state and Federal agencies, and more. To enhance coordination with employers, the ADRS READI-Net program and BRCs also engage with entities that represent business and disability-related issues, such as staffing companies, Society of Human Resource Management, Chambers of Commerce, Alabama Industry Liaison Group, EEOC, OFCCP, Disability: IN Alabama and other partners that represent the needs of employers. BRCs work through these entities to deliver needed disability-related services to the business. 

Operating under an “employer account system” to ensure accurate record keeping of services provided to employers and to organize outreach to employers, ADRS has an employer data base, “Mr. ED”, that maintains permanent records on every business contacted by BRCs or with whom BRCs have a working relationship. These records reflect the following: 1) Company name and detailed demographics on contact info, staffing patterns, benefits, referral processes, type company (e.g. Federal contractor, Federal agency, private sector, etc.) and more; 2) Specific services provided to the company by ADRS; 3) Job vacancies, particularly those from businesses under affirmative action mandates - ADRS works with people with disabilities in all special populations such as minorities, women, felons, LGBT, dislocated workers, poverty level, age and others; 4) Employment and retention outcomes with the company; 5) Archived records that reflect the history of the partnership and track repeat business. A number of customized services to businesses to enhance hiring opportunities of individuals with disabilities by the business, include a variety of the following, which require coordination with the business and delivery by ADRS staff or partners: Pre- hire work experiences; Mentoring or internships; Summer work experience; On-the- Job training support (fiscal and programmatic) after hire; Apprenticeship Sponsorship opportunities, Career Advancement services, Targeted Job Tax Credits; Accommodations at the job site such as: job coaching, delivery and set up of accommodation resources, and additional follow up services to ensure success; and RAVE services to assist existing employees with disabilities. 

Under section 511 of WIOA, employers who hold 14C Certificates and pay subminimum wage to individuals with disabilities must meet guidelines under WIOA.  ADRS Supported Employment Specialists meet employees who are currently receiving subminimum wage to provide career counseling, information and referral including information about local training opportunities. Additionally, information is provided by the local One-stop Career Centers and benefit specialists.  Employers have been contacting ADRS specialists to provide this information to new and existing employees.  Youth seeking subminimum wage employment (SWE) must apply for VR services and be found ineligible, or eligible with an IPE, and have worked toward an employment outcome without success or had their VR case closed. These youth must receive career counseling including information and referral to federal and state programs and other resources in their area prior to entering SWE.