ED/OSERS/RSA
Rehabilitation Services Administration
U.S. Department of Education

State Plan for the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and
State Plan Supplement for the State Supported Employment Services Program
Minnesota State Services for the Blind State Plan for Fiscal Year 2012 (submitted FY 2011)

1.1 The Minnesota State Services for the Blind (DSU) is authorized to submit this State Plan under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended [1] and its supplement under Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act [2].

1.2 As a condition for the receipt of federal funds under Title I, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act for the provision of vocational rehabilitation services, the Department of Employment and Economic Development [3] agrees to operate and administer the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program in accordance with the provisions of this State Plan [4], the Rehabilitation Act, and all applicable regulations [5], policies and procedures established by the secretary. Funds made available under Section 111 of the Rehabilitation Act are used solely for the provision of vocational rehabilitation services under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act and the administration of the State Plan for the vocational rehabilitation services program.

1.3 As a condition for the receipt of federal funds under Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act for supported employment services, the designated state agency agrees to operate and administer the State Supported Employment Services Program in accordance with the provisions of the supplement to this State Plan [6], the Rehabilitation Act and all applicable regulations [7], policies and procedures established by the secretary. Funds made available under Title VI, Part B, are used solely for the provision of supported employment services and the administration of the supplement to the Title I State Plan.
Yes

1.4 The designated state agency and/or the designated state unit has the authority under state law to perform the functions of the state regarding this State Plan and its supplement.
Yes

1.5 The state legally may carry out each provision of the State Plan and its supplement.
Yes

1.6 All provisions of the State Plan and its supplement are consistent with state law.
Yes

1.7 The (enter title of state officer below)
Yes

State Director

... has the authority under state law to receive, hold and disburse federal funds made available under this State Plan and its supplement.

1.8 The (enter title of state officer below)...
Yes

State Director

... has the authority to submit this State Plan for vocational rehabilitation services and the State Plan supplement for supported employment services.

1.9 The agency that submits this State Plan and its supplement has adopted or otherwise formally approved the plan and its supplement.
Yes

State Plan Certified By

As the authorized signatory identified above, I hereby certify that I will sign, date and retain in the files of the designated state agency/designated state unit Section 1 of the Preprint, and separate Certification of Lobbying forms (Form ED-80-0013; available at http://www.ed.gov/fund/grant/apply/appforms/ed80-013.pdf) for both the vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs.

Signed?
Yes

Name of Signatory
Richard Strong

Title of Signatory
State Director

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)
06/28/2011

Assurances Certified By

At the request of RSA, the designated state agency and/or the designated state unit provide the following assurance(s), in addition to those contained within Section 2 through 8 below, in connection with the approval of the State Plan for FY 2012
Yes

Comments:

Signed?
Yes

Name of Signatory
Richard Strong

Title of Signatory
State Director

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)
06/28/2011

* The signatory of the assurance with the authority to execute and submit the State Plan will maintain a signed copy of the assurance(s) with the signed State Plan.

Section 1 Footnotes

[1] Public Law 93 112, as amended by Public Laws 93 516, 95 602, 98 221, 99 506, 100-630, 102-569, 103-073, and 105-220.

[2] Unless otherwise stated, "Rehabilitation Act" means the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

[3] All references in this plan to "designated state agency" or to "the state agency" relate to the agency identified in this paragraph.

[4] No funds under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act may be awarded without an approved State Plan in accordance with Section 101(a) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR part 361.

[5] Applicable regulations include the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR Parts 74, 76, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82, 85 and 86 and the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program regulations in 34 CFR Part 361.

[6] No funds under Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act may be awarded without an approved supplement to the Title I State Plan in accordance with Section 625(a) of the Rehabilitation Act.

[7] Applicable regulations include the EDGAR citations in footnote 5, 34 CFR Part 361, and 34 CFR Part 363.

2.1 Public participation requirements. (Section 101(a)(16)(A) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.10(d), .20(a), (b), (d); and 363.11(g)(9))

(a) Conduct of public meetings.

The designated state agency, prior to the adoption of any substantive policies or procedures governing the provision of vocational rehabilitation services under the State Plan and supported employment services under the supplement to the State Plan, including making any substantive amendments to the policies and procedures, conducts public meetings throughout the state to provide the public, including individuals with disabilities, an opportunity to comment on the policies or procedures.

(b) Notice requirements.

The designated state agency, prior to conducting the public meetings, provides appropriate and sufficient notice throughout the state of the meetings in accordance with state law governing public meetings or, in the absence of state law governing public meetings, procedures developed by the state agency in consultation with the State Rehabilitation Council, if the agency has a council.

(c) Special consultation requirements.

The state agency actively consults with the director of the Client Assistance Program, the State Rehabilitation Council, if the agency has a council and, as appropriate, Indian tribes, tribal organizations and native Hawaiian organizations on its policies and procedures governing the provision of vocational rehabilitation services under the State Plan and supported employment services under the supplement to the State Plan.

3.1 Submission and revisions of the State Plan and its supplement. (Sections 101(a)(1), (23) and 625(a)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act; Section 501 of the Workforce Investment Act; 34 CFR 76.140; 361.10(e), (f), and (g); and 363.10)

(a) The state submits to the commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration the State Plan and its supplement on the same date that the state submits either a State Plan under Section 112 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 or a state unified plan under Section 501 of that Rehabilitation Act.

(b) The state submits only those policies, procedures or descriptions required under this State Plan and its supplement that have not been previously submitted to and approved by the commissioner.

(c) The state submits to the commissioner, at such time and in such manner as the commissioner determines to be appropriate, reports containing annual updates of the information relating to the:

  1. comprehensive system of personnel development;
  2. assessments, estimates, goals and priorities, and reports of progress;
  3. innovation and expansion activities; and
  4. other updates of information required under Title I, Part B, or Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act that are requested by the commissioner.

(d) The State Plan and its supplement are in effect subject to the submission of modifications the state determines to be necessary or the commissioner requires based on a change in state policy, a change in federal law, including regulations, an interpretation of the Rehabilitation Act by a federal court or the highest court of the state, or a finding by the commissioner of state noncompliance with the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act, 34 CFR 361 or 34 CFR 363.

3.2 Supported Employment State Plan supplement. (Sections 101(a)(22) and 625(a) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.34 and 363.10)

(a) The state has an acceptable plan for carrying out Part B, of Title VI of the Rehabilitation Act that provides for the use of funds under that part to supplement funds made available under Part B, of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act for the cost of services leading to supported employment.

(b) The Supported Employment State Plan, including any needed annual revisions, is submitted as a supplement to the State Plan.

4.1 Designated state agency and designated state unit. (Section 101(a)(2) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.13(a) and (b))

(a) Designated state agency.

  1. There is a state agency designated as the sole state agency to administer the State Plan or to supervise its administration in a political subdivision of the state by a sole local agency.

  1. The designated state agency is a state agency that is not primarily concerned with vocational rehabilitation or vocational and other rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities and includes a vocational rehabilitation unit as provided in paragraph (b) of this section (Option B was selected/Option A was not selected)

  1. In American Samoa, the designated state agency is the governor.

(b) Designated state unit.

  1. If the designated state agency is not primarily concerned with vocational rehabilitation or vocational and other rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities, in accordance with subparagraph 4.1(a)(2)(B) of this section, the state agency includes a vocational rehabilitation bureau, division or unit that:

  1. is primarily concerned with vocational rehabilitation or vocational and other rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities and is responsible for the administration of the designated state agency's vocational rehabilitation program under the State Plan;
  2. has a full-time director;
  3. has a staff, at least 90 percent of whom are employed full-time on the rehabilitation work of the organizational unit; and
  4. is located at an organizational level and has an organizational status within the designated state agency comparable to that of other major organizational units of the designated state agency.

  1. The name of the designated state vocational rehabilitation unit is
MN State Services for the Blind

4.2 State independent commission or State Rehabilitation Council. (Sections 101(a)(21) and 105 of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.16 and .17)

The State Plan must contain one of the following assurances.

(a) The designated state agency is an independent state commission that

  1. is responsible under state law for operating or overseeing the operation of the vocational rehabilitation program in the state and is primarily concerned with the vocational rehabilitation or vocational and other rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities in accordance with subparagraph 4.1(a)(2)(A) of this section.
  1. is consumer controlled by persons who:
    1. are individuals with physical or mental impairments that substantially limit major life activities; and
    2. represent individuals with a broad range of disabilities, unless the designated state unit under the direction of the commission is the state agency for individuals who are blind;
  1. includes family members, advocates or other representatives of individuals with mental impairments; and
  1. undertakes the functions set forth in Section 105(c)(4) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.17(h)(4).

(b) The state has established a State Rehabilitation Council that meets the criteria set forth in Section 105 of the Rehabilitation Act, 34 CFR 361.17

(c) If the designated state unit has a State Rehabilitation Council, Attachment 4.2(c) provides a summary of the input provided by the council consistent with the provisions identified in subparagraph (b)(3) of this section; the response of the designated state unit to the input and recommendations; and, explanations for the rejection of any input or any recommendation.

(Option B was selected)

4.3 Consultations regarding the administration of the State Plan. (Section 101(a)(16)(B) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.21)

The designated state agency takes into account, in connection with matters of general policy arising in the administration of the plan and its supplement, the views of:

(a) individuals and groups of individuals who are recipients of vocational rehabilitation services or, as appropriate, the individuals' representatives;
(b) personnel working in programs that provide vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities;
(c) providers of vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities;
(d) the director of the Client Assistance Program; and
(e) the State Rehabilitation Council, if the state has a council.

4.4 Nonfederal share. (Sections 7(14) and 101(a)(3) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 80.24 and 361.60)

The nonfederal share of the cost of carrying out this State Plan is 21.3 percent and is provided through the financial participation by the state or, if the state elects, by the state and local agencies.

4.5 Local administration. (Sections 7(24) and 101(a)(2)(A) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.5(b)(47) and .15)

The State Plan provides for the administration of the plan by a local agency. No

If "Yes", the designated state agency:

(a) ensures that each local agency is under the supervision of the designated state unit with the sole local agency, as that term is defined in Section 7(24) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.5(b)(47), responsible for the administration of the vocational rehabilitation program within the political subdivision that it serves; and
(b) develops methods that each local agency will use to administer the vocational rehabilitation program in accordance with the State Plan.

4.6 Shared funding and administration of joint programs. (Section 101(a)(2)(A)(ii) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.27)

The State Plan provides for the state agency to share funding and administrative responsibility with another state agency or local public agency to carry out a joint program to provide services to individuals with disabilities. No

If "Yes", the designated state agency submits to the commissioner for approval a plan that describes its shared funding and administrative arrangement. The plan must include:

(a) a description of the nature and scope of the joint program;
(b) the services to be provided under the joint program;
(c) the respective roles of each participating agency in the administration and provision of services; and
(d) the share of the costs to be assumed by each agency.

4.7 Statewideness and waivers of statewideness. (Section 101(a)(4) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.25, .26, and .60(b)(3)(i) and (ii))

X This agency is requesting a waiver of statewideness.

(a) Services provided under the State Plan are available in all political subdivisions of the state.
(b) The state unit may provide services in one or more political subdivisions of the state that increase services or expand the scope of services that are available statewide under this State Plan if the:

  1. nonfederal share of the cost of these services is met from funds provided by a local public agency, including funds contributed to a local public agency by a private agency, organization or individual;

  1. services are likely to promote the vocational rehabilitation of substantially larger numbers of individuals with disabilities or of individuals with disabilities with particular types of impairments; and

  1. state, for purposes other than the establishment of a community rehabilitation program or the construction of a particular facility for community rehabilitation program purposes, requests in Attachment 4.7(b)(3) a waiver of the statewideness requirement in accordance with the following requirements:

  1. identification of the types of services to be provided;

  1. written assurance from the local public agency that it will make available to the state unit the nonfederal share of funds;

  1. written assurance that state unit approval will be obtained for each proposed service before it is put into effect; and

  1. written assurance that all other State Plan requirements, including a state's order of selection, will apply to all services approved under the waiver.

(c) Contributions, consistent with the requirements of 34 CFR 361.60(b)(3)(ii), by private entities of earmarked funds for particular geographic areas within the state may be used as part of the nonfederal share without the state requesting a waiver of the statewideness requirement provided that the state notifies the commissioner that it cannot provide the full nonfederal share without using the earmarked funds.

4.8 Cooperation, collaboration and coordination. (Sections 101(a)(11), (24)(B), and 625(b)(4) and (5) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.22, .23, .24, and .31, and 363.11(e))

(a) Cooperative agreements with other components of statewide work force investment system.

The designated state agency or the designated state unit has cooperative agreements with other entities that are components of the statewide work force investment system and replicates those agreements at the local level between individual offices of the designated state unit and local entities carrying out the One-Stop service delivery system or other activities through the statewide work force investment system.

(b) Cooperation and coordination with other agencies and entities.

Attachment 4.8(b) (1)-(4) describes the designated state agency's:

  1. cooperation with and use of the services and facilities of the federal, state, and local agencies and programs, including programs carried out by the undersecretary for Rural Development of the United States Department of Agriculture and state use contracting programs, to the extent that those agencies and programs are not carrying out activities through the statewide work force investment system;

  1. coordination, in accordance with the requirements of paragraph 4.8(c) of this section, with education officials to facilitate the transition of students with disabilities from school to the receipt of vocational rehabilitation services;

  1. establishment of cooperative agreements with private nonprofit vocational rehabilitation service providers, in accordance with the requirements of paragraph 5.10(b) of the State Plan; and,

  1. efforts to identify and make arrangements, including entering into cooperative agreements, with other state agencies and entities with respect to the provision of supported employment and extended services for individuals with the most significant disabilities, in accordance with the requirements of subsection 6.5 of the supplement to this State Plan.

(c) Coordination with education officials.

  1. Attachment 4.8(b)(2) describes the plans, policies and procedures for coordination between the designated state agency and education officials responsible for the public education of students with disabilities that are designed to facilitate the transition of the students who are individuals with disabilities from the receipt of educational services in school to the receipt of vocational rehabilitation services under the responsibility of the designated state agency.

  1. The State Plan description must:

  1. provide for the development and approval of an individualized plan for employment in accordance with 34 CFR 361.45 as early as possible during the transition planning process but, at the latest, before each student determined to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services leaves the school setting or if the designated state unit is operating on an order of selection before each eligible student able to be served under the order leaves the school setting; and

  1. include information on a formal interagency agreement with the state educational agency that, at a minimum, provides for:

  1. consultation and technical assistance to assist educational agencies in planning for the transition of students with disabilities from school to postschool activities, including vocational rehabilitation services;

  1. transition planning by personnel of the designated state agency and the educational agency for students with disabilities that facilitates the development and completion of their individualized education programs under Section 614(d) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;

  1. roles and responsibilities, including financial responsibilities, of each agency, including provisions for determining state lead agencies and qualified personnel responsible for transition services; and

  1. procedures for outreach to students with disabilities as early as possible during the transition planning process and identification of students with disabilities who need transition services.

(d) Coordination with statewide independent living council and independent living centers.

The designated state unit, the Statewide Independent Living Council established under Section 705 of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 364, and the independent living centers described in Part C of Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 366 have developed working relationships and coordinate their activities.

(e) Cooperative agreement with recipients of grants for services to American Indians.

  1. There is in the state a recipient(s) of a grant under Part C of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act for the provision of vocational rehabilitation services for American Indians who are individuals with disabilities residing on or near federal and state reservations. Yes

  1. If "Yes", the designated state agency has entered into a formal cooperative agreement that meets the following requirements with each grant recipient in the state that receives funds under Part C of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act:

  1. strategies for interagency referral and information sharing that will assist in eligibility determinations and the development of individualized plans for employment;

  1. procedures for ensuring that American Indians who are individuals with disabilities and are living near a reservation or tribal service area are provided vocational rehabilitation services; and

  1. provisions for sharing resources in cooperative studies and assessments, joint training activities, and other collaborative activities designed to improve the provision of services to American Indians who are individuals with disabilities.

4.9 Methods of administration. (Section 101(a)(6) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.12, .19 and .51(a) and (b))

(a) In general.

The state agency employs methods of administration, including procedures to ensure accurate data collection and financial accountability, found by the commissioner to be necessary for the proper and efficient administration of the plan and for carrying out all the functions for which the state is responsible under the plan and 34 CFR 361.

(b) Employment of individuals with disabilities.

The designated state agency and entities carrying out community rehabilitation programs in the state, who are in receipt of assistance under Part B, of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act and this State Plan, take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities covered under and on the same terms and conditions as set forth in Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.

(c) Facilities.

Any facility used in connection with the delivery of services assisted under this State Plan meets program accessibility requirements consistent with the provisions, as applicable, of the Architectural Barriers Rehabilitation Act of 1968, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the regulations implementing these laws.

4.10 Comprehensive system of personnel development. (Section 101(a)(7) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.18)

Attachment 4.10 describes 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. The description includes the following:

(a) Data system on personnel and personnel development.

Development and maintenance of a system for collecting and analyzing on an annual basis data on qualified personnel needs and personnel development with respect to:

  1. Qualified personnel needs.

  1. The number of personnel who are employed by the state agency in the provision of vocational rehabilitation services in relation to the number of individuals served, broken down by personnel category;

  1. The number of personnel currently needed by the state agency to provide vocational rehabilitation services, broken down by personnel category; and

  1. Projections of the number of personnel, broken down by personnel category, who will be needed by the state agency to provide vocational rehabilitation services in the state in five years based on projections of the number of individuals to be served, including individuals with significant disabilities, the number of personnel expected to retire or leave the field, and other relevant factors.

  1. Personnel development.

  1. A list of the institutions of higher education in the state that are preparing vocational rehabilitation professionals, by type of program;

  1. The number of students enrolled at each of those institutions, broken down by type of program; and

  1. The number of students who graduated during the prior year from each of those institutions with certification or licensure, or with the credentials for certification or licensure, broken down by the personnel category for which they have received, or have the credentials to receive, certification or licensure.

(b) Plan for recruitment, preparation and retention of qualified personnel.

Development, updating on an annual basis, and implementation of a plan to address the current and projected needs for qualified personnel based on the data collection and analysis system described in paragraph (a) of this subsection and that provides for 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 in accordance with paragraph (c) of this subsection, including personnel from minority backgrounds and personnel who are individuals with disabilities.

(c) Personnel standards.

Policies and procedures for the establishment and maintenance of personnel standards to ensure that designated state unit professional and paraprofessional personnel are appropriately and adequately prepared and trained, including:

  1. standards that are consistent with any national- or state-approved or recognized certification, licensing, registration, or, in the absence of these requirements, other comparable requirements (including state personnel requirements) that apply to the profession or discipline in which such personnel are providing vocational rehabilitation services.

  1. To the extent that existing standards are not based on the highest requirements in the state applicable to a particular profession or discipline, the steps the state is currently taking and the steps the state plans to take in accordance with the written plan to retrain or hire personnel within the designated state unit to meet standards that are based on the highest requirements in the state, including measures to notify designated state unit personnel, the institutions of higher education identified in subparagraph (a)(2), and other public agencies of these steps and the time lines for taking each step.

  1. The written plan required by subparagraph (c)(2) describes the following:

  1. specific strategies for retraining, recruiting and hiring personnel;

  1. the specific time period by which all state unit personnel will meet the standards required by subparagraph (c)(1);

  1. procedures for evaluating the designated state unit's progress in hiring or retraining personnel to meet applicable personnel standards within the established time period; and

  1. the identification of initial minimum qualifications that the designated state unit will require of newly hired personnel when the state unit is unable to hire new personnel who meet the established personnel standards and the identification of a plan for training such individuals to meet the applicable standards within the time period established for all state unit personnel to meet the established personnel standards.

(d) Staff development.

Policies, procedures and activities to ensure that all personnel employed by the designated state unit receive appropriate and adequate training. The narrative describes the following:

  1. 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.

  1. Procedures for the acquisition and dissemination to designated state unit professionals and paraprofessionals significant knowledge from research and other sources.

(e) Personnel to address individual communication needs.

Availability of personnel within the designated state unit or obtaining the services of other individuals who are able to communicate in the native language of applicants or eligible individuals who have limited English speaking ability or in appropriate modes of communication with applicants or eligible individuals.

(f) Coordination of personnel development under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Procedures and activities to coordinate the designated state unit's comprehensive system of personnel development with personnel development under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

4.11. Statewide assessment; annual estimates; annual state goals and priorities; strategies; and progress reports.

(Sections 101(a)(15), 105(c)(2) and 625(b)(2) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.17(h)(2), .29, and 363.11(b))

(a) Comprehensive statewide assessment.

  1. Attachment 4.11(a) documents the results of a comprehensive, statewide assessment, jointly conducted every three years by the designated state unit and the State Rehabilitation Council (if the state has such a council). The assessment describes:

  1. the rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities residing within the state, particularly the vocational rehabilitation services needs of:

  1. individuals with the most significant disabilities, including their need for supported employment services;

  1. individuals with disabilities who are minorities and individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program carried out under this State Plan; and

  1. individuals with disabilities served through other components of the statewide work force investment system.

  1. The need to establish, develop or improve community rehabilitation programs within the state.

  1. For any year in which the state updates the assessments, the designated state unit submits to the commissioner a report containing information regarding updates to the assessments.

(b) Annual estimates.

Attachment 4.11(b) identifies on an annual basis state estimates of the:

  1. number of individuals in the state who are eligible for services under the plan;

  1. number of eligible individuals who will receive services provided with funds provided under Part B of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act and under Part B of Title VI of the Rehabilitation Act, including, if the designated state agency uses an order of selection in accordance with subparagraph 5.3(b)(2) of this State Plan, estimates of the number of individuals to be served under each priority category within the order; and

  1. costs of the services described in subparagraph (b)(1), including, if the designated state agency uses an order of selection, the service costs for each priority category within the order.

(c) Goals and priorities.

  1. Attachment 4.11(c)(1) identifies the goals and priorities of the state that are jointly developed or revised, as applicable, with and agreed to by the State Rehabilitation Council, if the agency has a council, in carrying out the vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs.

  1. The designated state agency submits to the commissioner a report containing information regarding any revisions in the goals and priorities for any year the state revises the goals and priorities.

  1. Order of selection.
    If the state agency implements an order of selection, consistent with subparagraph 5.3(b)(2) of the State Plan, Attachment 4.11(c)(3):

  1. shows the order to be followed in selecting eligible individuals to be provided vocational rehabilitation services;

  1. provides a justification for the order; and

  1. identifies the service and outcome goals, and the time within which these goals may be achieved for individuals in each priority category within the order.

  1. Goals and plans for distribution of Title VI, Part B, funds.
    Attachment 4.11(c)(4) specifies, consistent with subsection 6.4 of the State Plan supplement, the state's goals and priorities with respect to the distribution of funds received under Section 622 of the Rehabilitation Act for the provision of supported employment services.

(d) Strategies.

  1. Attachment 4.11(d) describes the strategies, including:

  1. the methods to be used to expand and improve services to individuals with disabilities, including how a broad range of assistive technology services and assistive technology devices will be provided to those individuals at each stage of the rehabilitation process and how those services and devices will be provided to individuals with disabilities on a statewide basis;

  1. outreach procedures to identify and serve individuals with disabilities who are minorities, including those with the most significant disabilities in accordance with subsection 6.6 of the State Plan supplement, and individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program;

  1. as applicable, the plan of the state for establishing, developing or improving community rehabilitation programs;

  1. strategies to improve the performance of the state with respect to the evaluation standards and performance indicators established pursuant to Section 106 of the Rehabilitation Act; and

  1. strategies for assisting other components of the statewide work force investment system in assisting individuals with disabilities.

  1. Attachment 4.11 (d) describes how the designated state agency uses these strategies to:

  1. address the needs identified in the assessment conducted under paragraph 4.11(a) and achieve the goals and priorities identified in the State Plan attachments under paragraph 4.11(c);

  1. support the innovation and expansion activities identified in subparagraph 4.12(a)(1) and (2) of the plan; and

  1. overcome identified barriers relating to equitable access to and participation of individuals with disabilities in the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and State Supported Employment Services Program.

(e) Evaluation and reports of progress.

  1. The designated state unit and the State Rehabilitation Council, if the state unit has a council, jointly submits to the commissioner an annual report on the results of an evaluation of the effectiveness of the vocational rehabilitation program and the progress made in improving the effectiveness of the program from the previous year.

  1. Attachment 4.11(e)(2):

  1. provides an evaluation of the extent to which the goals identified in Attachment 4.11(c)(1) and, if applicable, Attachment 4.11(c)(3) were achieved;

  1. identifies the strategies that contributed to the achievement of the goals and priorities;

  1. describes the factors that impeded their achievement, to the extent they were not achieved;

  1. assesses the performance of the state on the standards and indicators established pursuant to Section 106 of the Rehabilitation Act; and

  1. provides a report consistent with paragraph 4.12(c) of the plan on how the funds reserved for innovation and expansion activities were utilized in the preceding year.

4.12 Innovation and expansion. (Section 101(a)(18) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.35)

(a) The designated state agency reserves and uses a portion of the funds allotted to the state under Section 110 of the Rehabilitation Act for the:

  1. development and implementation of innovative approaches to expand and improve the provision of vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities under this State Plan, particularly individuals with the most significant disabilities, consistent with the findings of the statewide assessment identified in Attachment 4.11(a) and goals and priorities of the state identified in Attachments 4.11(c)(1) and, if applicable, Attachment 4.11(c)(3); and

  1. support of the funding for the State Rehabilitation Council, if the state has such a council, consistent with the resource plan prepared under Section 105(d)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.17(i), and the funding of the Statewide Independent Living Council, consistent with the resource plan prepared under Section 705(e)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 364.21(i).

(b) Attachment 4.11 (d) describes how the reserved funds identified in subparagraph 4.12(a)(1) and (2) will be utilized.
(c) Attachment 4.11(e)(2) describes how the reserved funds were utilized in the preceding year.

4.13 Reports. (Section 101(a)(10) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.40)

(a) The designated state unit submits reports in the form and level of detail and at the time required by the commissioner regarding applicants for and eligible individuals receiving services under the State Plan.
(b) Information submitted in the reports provides a complete count, unless sampling techniques are used, of the applicants and eligible individuals in a manner that permits the greatest possible cross-classification of data and protects the confidentiality of the identity of each individual.

5.1 Information and referral services. (Sections 101(a)(5)(D) and (20) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.37)

The designated state agency has implemented an information and referral system that is adequate to ensure that individuals with disabilities, including individuals who do not meet the agency's order of selection criteria for receiving vocational rehabilitation services if the agency is operating on an order of selection, are provided accurate vocational rehabilitation information and guidance, including counseling and referral for job placement, using appropriate modes of communication, to assist such individuals in preparing for, securing, retaining or regaining employment, and are referred to other appropriate federal and state programs, including other components of the statewide work force investment system in the state.

5.2 Residency. (Section 101(a)(12) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.42(c)(1))

The designated state unit imposes no duration of residence requirement as part of determining an individual's eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services or that excludes from services under the plan any individual who is present in the state.

5.3 Ability to serve all eligible individuals; order of selection for services. (Sections 12(d) and 101(a)(5) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.36)

(a) The designated state unit is able to provide the full range of services listed in Section 103(a) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.48, as appropriate, to all eligible individuals with disabilities in the state who apply for services. Yes

(b) If No:

  1. Individuals with the most significant disabilities, in accordance with criteria established by the state, are selected first for vocational rehabilitation services before other individuals with disabilities.

  1. Attachment 4.11(c)(3):

  1. shows the order to be followed in selecting eligible individuals to be provided vocational rehabilitation services;

  1. provides a justification for the order of selection; and

  1. identifies the state's service and outcome goals and the time within which these goals may be achieved for individuals in each priority category within the order.

  1. Eligible individuals who do not meet the order of selection criteria have access to the services provided through the designated state unit's information and referral system established under Section 101(a)(20) of the Rehabilitation Act, 34 CFR 361.37, and subsection 5.1 of this State Plan.

5.4 Availability of comparable services and benefits. (Sections 101(a)(8) and 103(a) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.53)

(a) Prior to providing any vocational rehabilitation services, except those services identified in paragraph (b), to an eligible individual or to members of the individual's family, the state unit determines whether comparable services and benefits exist under any other program and whether those services and benefits are available to the individual.
(b) The following services are exempt from a determination of the availability of comparable services and benefits:

  1. assessment for determining eligibility and vocational rehabilitation needs by qualified personnel, including, if appropriate, an assessment by personnel skilled in rehabilitation technology;

  1. counseling and guidance, including information and support services to assist an individual in exercising informed choice consistent with the provisions of Section 102(d) of the Rehabilitation Act;

  1. referral and other services to secure needed services from other agencies, including other components of the statewide work force investment system, through agreements developed under Section 101(a)(11) of the Rehabilitation Act, if such services are not available under this State Plan;

  1. job-related services, including job search and placement assistance, job retention services, follow-up services, and follow-along services;

  1. rehabilitation technology, including telecommunications, sensory and other technological aids and devices; and

  1. post-employment services consisting of the services listed under subparagraphs (1) through (5) of this paragraph.

(c) The requirements of paragraph (a) of this section do not apply if the determination of the availability of comparable services and benefits under any other program would interrupt or delay:

  1. progress of the individual toward achieving the employment outcome identified in the individualized plan for employment;

  1. an immediate job placement; or

  1. provision of vocational rehabilitation services to any individual who is determined to be at extreme medical risk, based on medical evidence provided by an appropriate qualified medical professional.

(d) The governor in consultation with the designated state vocational rehabilitation agency and other appropriate agencies ensures that an interagency agreement or other mechanism for interagency coordination that meets the requirements of Section 101(a)(8)(B)(i)-(iv) of the Rehabilitation Act takes effect between the designated state unit and any appropriate public entity, including the state Medicaid program, a public institution of higher education, and a component of the statewide work force investment system to ensure the provision of the vocational rehabilitation services identified in Section 103(a) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.48, other than the services identified in paragraph (b) of this section, that are included in the individualized plan for employment of an eligible individual, including the provision of those vocational rehabilitation services during the pendency of any dispute that may arise in the implementation of the interagency agreement or other mechanism for interagency coordination.

5.5 Individualized plan for employment. (Section 101(a)(9) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.45 and .46)

(a) An individualized plan for employment meeting the requirements of Section 102(b) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.45 and .46 is developed and implemented in a timely manner for each individual determined to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, except if the state has implemented an order of selection, and is developed and implemented for each individual to whom the designated state unit is able to provide vocational rehabilitation services.
(b) Services to an eligible individual are provided in accordance with the provisions of the individualized plan for employment.

5.6 Opportunity to make informed choices regarding the selection of services and providers. (Sections 101(a)(19) and 102(d) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.52)

Applicants and eligible individuals or, as appropriate, their representatives are provided information and support services to assist in exercising informed choice throughout the rehabilitation process, consistent with the provisions of Section 102(d) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.52.

5.7 Services to American Indians. (Section 101(a)(13) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.30)

The designated state unit provides vocational rehabilitation services to American Indians who are individuals with disabilities residing in the state to the same extent as the designated state agency provides such services to other significant populations of individuals with disabilities residing in the state.

5.8 Annual review of individuals in extended employment or other employment under special certificate provisions of the fair labor standards act of 1938. (Section 101(a)(14) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.55)

(a) The designated state unit conducts an annual review and reevaluation of the status of each individual with a disability served under this State Plan:

  1. who has achieved an employment outcome in which the individual is compensated in accordance with Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 214(c)); or

  1. whose record of services is closed while the individual is in extended employment on the basis that the individual is unable to achieve an employment outcome in an integrated setting or that the individual made an informed choice to remain in extended employment.

(b) The designated state unit carries out the annual review and reevaluation for two years after the individual's record of services is closed (and thereafter if requested by the individual or, if appropriate, the individual's representative) to determine the interests, priorities and needs of the individual with respect to competitive employment or training for competitive employment.
(c) The designated state unit makes maximum efforts, including the identification and provision of vocational rehabilitation services, reasonable accommodations and other necessary support services, to assist the individuals described in paragraph (a) in engaging in competitive employment.
(d) The individual with a disability or, if appropriate, the individual's representative has input into the review and reevaluation and, through signed acknowledgement, attests that the review and reevaluation have been conducted.

5.9 Use of Title I funds for construction of facilities. (Sections 101(a)(17) and 103(b)(2)(A) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.49(a)(1), .61 and .62(b))

If the state elects to construct, under special circumstances, facilities for community rehabilitation programs, the following requirements are met:

(a) The federal share of the cost of construction for facilities for a fiscal year does not exceed an amount equal to 10 percent of the state's allotment under Section 110 of the Rehabilitation Act for that fiscal year.
(b) The provisions of Section 306 of the Rehabilitation Act that were in effect prior to the enactment of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 apply to such construction.
(c) There is compliance with the requirements in 34 CFR 361.62(b) that ensure the use of the construction authority will not reduce the efforts of the designated state agency in providing other vocational rehabilitation services other than the establishment of facilities for community rehabilitation programs.

5.10 Contracts and cooperative agreements. (Section 101(a)(24) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.31 and .32)

(a) Contracts with for-profit organizations.

The designated state agency has the authority to enter into contracts with for-profit organizations for the purpose of providing, as vocational rehabilitation services, on-the-job training and related programs for individuals with disabilities under Part A of Title VI of the Rehabilitation Act, upon the determination by the designated state agency that for-profit organizations are better qualified to provide vocational rehabilitation services than nonprofit agencies and organizations.

(b) Cooperative agreements with private nonprofit organizations.

Attachment 4.8(b)(3) describes the manner in which the designated state agency establishes cooperative agreements with private nonprofit vocational rehabilitation service providers.

Section 6: Program Administration

6.1 Designated state agency. (Section 625(b)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(a))

The designated state agency for vocational rehabilitation services identified in paragraph 1.2 of the Title I State Plan is the state agency designated to administer the State Supported Employment Services Program authorized under Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act.

6.2 Statewide assessment of supported employment services needs. (Section 625(b)(2) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(b))

Attachment 4.11(a) describes the results of the comprehensive, statewide needs assessment conducted under Section 101(a)(15)(a)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act and subparagraph 4.11(a)(1) of the Title I State Plan with respect to the rehabilitation needs of individuals with most significant disabilities and their need for supported employment services, including needs related to coordination.

6.3 Quality, scope and extent of supported employment services. (Section 625(b)(3) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(c) and .50(b)(2))

Attachment 6.3 describes the quality, scope and extent of supported employment services to be provided to individuals with the most significant disabilities who are eligible to receive supported employment services. The description also addresses the timing of the transition to extended services to be provided by relevant state agencies, private nonprofit organizations or other sources following the cessation of supported employment service provided by the designated state agency.

6.4 Goals and plans for distribution of Title VI, Part B, funds. (Section 625(b)(3) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(d) and .20)

Attachment 4.11(c)(4) identifies the state's goals and plans with respect to the distribution of funds received under Section 622 of the Rehabilitation Act.

6.5 Evidence of collaboration with respect to supported employment services and extended services. (Sections 625(b)(4) and (5) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(e))

Attachment 4.8(b)(4) describes the efforts of the designated state agency to identify and make arrangements, including entering into cooperative agreements, with other state agencies and other appropriate entities to assist in the provision of supported employment services and other public or nonprofit agencies or organizations within the state, employers, natural supports, and other entities with respect to the provision of extended services.

6.6 Minority outreach. (34 CFR 363.11(f))

Attachment 4.11(d) includes a description of the designated state agency's outreach procedures for identifying and serving individuals with the most significant disabilities who are minorities.

6.7 Reports. (Sections 625(b)(8) and 626 of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(h) and .52)

The designated state agency submits reports in such form and in accordance with such procedures as the commissioner may require and collects the information required by Section 101(a)(10) of the Rehabilitation Act separately for individuals receiving supported employment services under Part B, of Title VI and individuals receiving supported employment services under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act.

7.1 Five percent limitation on administrative costs. (Section 625(b)(7) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(g)(8))

The designated state agency expends no more than five percent of the state's allotment under Section 622 of the Rehabilitation Act for administrative costs in carrying out the State Supported Employment Services Program.

7.2 Use of funds in providing services. (Sections 623 and 625(b)(6)(A) and (D) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.6(c)(2)(iv), .11(g)(1) and (4))

(a) Funds made available under Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act are used by the designated state agency only to provide supported employment services to individuals with the most significant disabilities who are eligible to receive such services.
(b) Funds provided under Title VI, Part B, are used only to supplement and not supplant the funds provided under Title I, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act, in providing supported employment services specified in the individualized plan for employment.
(c) Funds provided under Part B of Title VI or Title I of the Rehabilitation Act are not used to provide extended services to individuals who are eligible under Part B of Title VI or Title I of the Rehabilitation Act.

8.1 Scope of supported employment services. (Sections 7(36) and 625(b)(6)(F) and (G) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.5(b)(54), 363.11(g)(6) and (7))

(a) Supported employment services are those services as defined in Section 7(36) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.5(b)(54).
(b) To the extent job skills training is provided, the training is provided on-site.
(c) Supported employment services include placement in an integrated setting for the maximum number of hours possible based on the unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests and informed choice of individuals with the most significant disabilities.

8.2 Comprehensive assessments of individuals with significant disabilities. (Sections 7(2)(B) and 625(b)(6)(B); 34 CFR 361.5(b)(6)(ii) and 363.11(g)(2))

The comprehensive assessment of individuals with significant disabilities conducted under Section 102(b)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act and funded under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act includes consideration of supported employment as an appropriate employment outcome.

8.3 Individualized plan for employment. (Sections 102(b)(3)(F) and 625(b)(6)(C) and (E) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.46(b) and 363.11(g)(3) and (5))

(a) An individualized plan for employment that meets the requirements of Section 102(b) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.45 and .46 is developed and updated using funds under Title I.
(b) The individualized plan for employment:

  1. specifies the supported employment services to be provided;

  1. describes the expected extended services needed; and

  1. identifies the source of extended services, including natural supports, or, to the extent that it is not possible to identify the source of extended services at the time the individualized plan for employment plan is developed, a statement describing the basis for concluding that there is a reasonable expectation that sources will become available.

(c) Services provided under an individualized plan for employment are coordinated with services provided under other individualized plans established under other federal or state programs.

Required annually by all agencies except those agencies that are independent consumer-controlled commissions.

Identify the Input provided by the state rehabilitation council, including recommendations from the council's annual report, the review and analysis of consumer satisfaction, and other council reports. Be sure to also include:

  • the Designated state unit's response to the input and recommendations; and
  • explanations for the designated state unit's rejection of any input or recommendation of the council.

Attachment 4.2(c): State Rehabilitation Council Input and Recommendations

MINNESOTA STATE REHABILITATION COUNCIL FOR THE BLIND

Long before it was required by federal law, blind consumers and Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB) recognized the wisdom of developing a partnership. In 1985, the Advisory Council for the Blind was formed. At that time, the majority of the members were blind consumers with some representation from the business community. With the 1992 Rehabilitation Act amendments, the membership expanded and the responsibilities increased.

Ms. Judy Sanders, Chairperson of the SRC-B, wrote the following in her transmittal letter for their 2010 annual report:

“The SRC-B enjoys a productive and positive relationship with SSB. We are continuing to strengthen our relationship with other entities in Minnesota, including the Governors Workforce Development Council. Helping Minnesotans, who are blind, visually impaired and DeafBlind find and maintain meaningful employment is a complex and demanding endeavor. The rewards, however, are great, both for individuals benefiting from SSB services and for all Minnesotans.

We take our responsibilities seriously and are dedicated to improving the lives of Minnesotans who are blind, visually impaired and DeafBlind through improvements in the delivery of employment, educational and independent living services. Our members work hard and receive support from the blind community. In the coming year, we look forward to a newly-energized Council through the help of new appointees to lend their abilities to those with experience.”

The full SRC-B annual report can be found at: http://www.positivelyminnesota.com/JobSeekers/Blind_or_Visually_Impaired/State_Rehabilitation_Council_for_the_Blind/Reports_Other_Documents.aspx . This report summarizes committee work for the year and contains the SRC-B’s “Report on the Effectiveness of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program” for FFY2010. The FFY2011 report will be completed by the end of this year.

During FFY2010 and through FFY2011, the SRC-B carried out most of its work through its eight committees and six task forces. The Council created the eighth committee in FFY2011 to address the low rate of successful outcomes. Committees and task forces meet between full SRC-B meetings and report on their committee work at each SRC-B meeting. In addition, the SRC-B has a work plan outlining the specific activities and reports that must be completed throughout the year. The current work plan can be found at http://www.positivelyminnesota.com/JobSeekers/Blind_or_Visually_Impaired/State_Rehabilitation_Council_for_the_Blind/Reports_Other_Documents.aspx .

In addition to committee and task force work, the SRC-B:

• had representation at the spring and fall conferences of the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB), the National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils (NCSRC), and related teleconferences

• was involved with the RSA Monitoring visit

• updated and revised their new member orientation packet materials

• was involved with Strategic Planning activities

INPUT OF THE STATE REHABILITATION COUNCIL

Specific input is provided by the SRC-B through its eight committees and six standing task forces. Committee responsibilities are reviewed each year and the committee charge is amended as needed with approval of the SRC-B. The current structure was approved by the SRC-B at their June 2011 meeting. Committee and task force members serve for one year and must be reappointed by the SRC-B chairperson with approval of the SRC-B. SSB appoints staff to each committee and task force to assist with the work.

The chairperson of each committee or task force need not be a member of the SRC-B, though usually is. Each committee has specific membership requirements in order to assure needed public input to the committee and ultimately, to the SRC-B. The following committee and task force descriptions are taken from the SRC-B document posted at http://www.positivelyminnesota.com/JobSeekers/Blind_or_Visually_Impaired/State_Rehabilitation_Council_for_the_Blind/Reports_Other_Documents.aspx

SRC-B Committees

Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities Committee

Charge: This committee exists to carry out specific duties contained in federal regulation for the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program. These include:

1. Conduct a review and analysis of the effectiveness of and consumer satisfaction with the functions of the Department of Employment and Economic Development; Vocational Rehabilitation services provided within the state (except adjustment to blindness and technology services), and the employment outcomes of persons served.

2. In collaboration with SSB, evaluate the extent to which SSB achieved its goals and priorities, strategies used, and factors that impeded success and performance on the federal standards and indicators.

3. Jointly with other committees of the Council and in partnership with SSB, develop and, as necessary, revise an annual statement of goals and priorities.

The product of this committee must include a statement of goals and priorities, a customer satisfaction report, and a joint report with SSB on progress made in improving the effectiveness of the VR program, including progress concerning goals and priorities. Quarterly progress shall be reported to the Council.

Membership: Not all committee members need be members of the SRC-B but the committee shall include at least two Council members. The committee shall consist of no more than five persons.

2010 Report (The following are excerpts from the Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities Committee’s report.)

Customer Satisfaction Survey

“The Committee reviewed the Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSS) results through March 31, 2010. Five survey items were analyzed to compare the results for years ending 3/31/07, 3/31/08, 3/31/09, and 3/31/10. While there has been some fluctuation in results, no significant changes have taken place from year to year.”

“Three other open-ended questions were also added to the survey this year, replacing the previous Questions 8 and 9. The committee reviewed the verbatim comments in response to questions regarding what SSB should start doing, continue doing, or stop doing. The committee tracked the categories of comments receiving the four highest percentages from quarter to quarter. In addition, the members of the committee also read the verbatim comments to determine if trends or issues specific to SSB arise which may not be apparent from these categories. No significant trends were identified from this data, although the committee did note a recurring theme of dissatisfaction with the time it took to get a response back from SSB when a contact was made. For the complete Customer Satisfaction Survey results see: http://www.positivelyminnesota.com/About_Us/Customer_Satisfaction/Adjustment_to_Blindness_Satisfaction/ATB_Survey.aspx

Progress on FFY10 Goals and Priorities:

Goal and Priority 1: Employment Outcomes

Although the Workforce Development Unit assisted 80 individuals to become successfully employed, RSA Indicator 1.1 was not met. All strategies to assist the WorkForce Development Unit to meet this goal were successfully met and/or implemented.

Goal and Priority 2: Minority Service Rate

By the end of FFY10, 62 persons from minority backgrounds had exited services. SSB did not meet RSA indicator 2.1. All strategies to assist the WorkForce Development Unit to meet this goal were successfully met and/or implemented.

Goal and Priority 3: Deafblind Outreach and Service

During FFY10, 9 individuals with a dual sensory loss secured employment as a result of services from SSB. This goal was met. Additionally, all strategies to assist the WorkForce Development Unit to meet this goal were successfully met and/or implemented.

Goal and Priority 4: Increased customers satisfaction with services

By the end of March 2010, the annual overall satisfaction with services provided by SSB was 84% in response to question 1 on the Customer Satisfaction Survey. This goal was not met. However, all strategies to assist the WorkForce Development Unit to meet this goal were successfully met and/or implemented.

Goal and Priority 5: Increase the number of referrals of transition-age students to SSB. This goal and priority was added in FY10 with the intention of increasing not only the number of referrals of transition-aged students as well as the number who are referred between ages 14-16. The initial measure of whether or not this goal has been met is simply the number of individuals ages 14-21 who were determined eligible during the FFY. Data will also be kept and reviewed on the number of eligible individuals by age group to determine whether referrals are being made at a younger age, as is the focus. In FY10, 48 individuals between the ages of 14-21 were determined eligible for services. This compares to 57 in FY2009 48 in FY08 and 38 in FY07. The general strategies for meeting this goal were all implemented; however, the strategies specific to outreach to minority and Deafblind populations were addressed in the goals specific to those unique populations.

Goal and Priority 6: Insure every SSB customer has the information needed to make an informed choice in selecting providers for adjustment to blindness training.

During FFY10, 100% of SSB customers attending ATB half time or more indicated that they exercised informed choice in choosing their service provider. This goal was met.

Goal and Priority 7: All VR staff members new to SSB will receive Introduction to Blindness – Phase 1 and Phase 2 training on the essential aspects of blindness and visual impairments.

100% of new VR staff completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 training. This goal was met. All strategies identified to meet this goal were successfully met and/or implemented

Standards and Indicators

The performance of the WorkForce Development Unit of State Services for the Blind on the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Standards and Indicators for FY2010 found that SSB met four of the six indicators for standard one, and all three primary indicators.”

Vendor Outcomes and Measures Committee

Charge: This committee exists to support and advise SSB regarding measuring the outcomes realized by the recipients of training in adjustment to blindness and technology. This committee will provide input to the Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities Committee and the full Council for consideration in the development of annual goals and priorities in conjunction with SSB, and will monitor those goals and priorities throughout the year.

The product of this committee must include an annual report to the SRC-B concerning its efforts and results.

Membership: This committee shall consist of three members, one of whom shall be the Council member representing community rehabilitation programs.

2010 Report

“Last year the committee continued the survey of 20 items given to each SSB customer after completing specific training with a vendor. Since the population base is relatively small in statistical terms, especially for a single vendor, the committee was concerned that the highest return possible is needed. The company surveying for the Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities Committee (Strategic Research Group) also surveys for this committee. That provides the maximum response rate by contacting people at night as well as during the day.

The survey results are published in a semiannual report covering 12 months of activity.

This report contains extensive tables for each vendor meeting the minimum statistical requirements for meaningful results.

The committee and other council members became concerned about the complexity and volume of the full table-laden report. As a result, the committee also produced a condensed report with just explanatory text and a summary of vendor ratings according to skill area. This report can be used as an introduction to the full report to narrow focus on the desired training.

Both reports are available in print, Braille, audio, and the SSB website so that all customers, SSB staff, vendors, and the public have access to the results.

The data collected showed good customer satisfaction, but some areas of training need improvement. The best results were achieved in travel and computer. The areas that were weakest in the results were for challenging the student, increasing self confidence, and reading/writing Braille.

SSB management continued to provide full support for the survey.”

The Adjustment to Blindness Customer Satisfaction Survey report can be viewed at http://www.positivelyminnesota.com/JobSeekers/Blind_or_Visually_Impaired/State_Rehabilitation_Council_for_the_Blind/Reports_Other_Documents.aspx .

Minority Outreach Committee

Charge: This committee exists to recommend specific strategies for increasing and improving services to individuals from minority backgrounds. This committee will provide input to the Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities Committee and the full Council for consideration in the development of annual goals and priorities in conjunction with SSB.

The product of this committee must include an annual report to the full Council containing specific strategies for increasing and improving services to individuals from minority backgrounds.

Membership: With the approval of the SRC-B, the Council chairperson shall appoint members and a chairperson for this committee. Not all committee members need be members of the SRC-B but the committee shall include at least two Council members. This committee shall consist of no more than six persons, one of which is the Council member who is the representative of the directors of the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services projects in the state.

2010 Report

“SSB is currently completing a project with Century College and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) which will put cultural information on the five largest minority populations in Minnesota: Somali, Hmong, Latino, American Indian, and Russian, on the Intraweb as an on-line course for SSB staff.

During this year, SSB worked with the English Language Learning (ELL) programs in the Twin Cities to understand what these programs provide to immigrants/refugees and how SSB can partner with them in assisting our customers with visual impairments to effectively learn English. Two training opportunities were provided to Workforce Development Unit (WDU) staff to learn more about the ELL programs.

During one of these training sessions, WDU staff were also provided with an introductory session on the use of spoken language interpreters in meetings and in ATB training.

SSB in its outreach efforts was present as an exhibitor and/or presenter at the following events:

• The Hmong Resource Fair, held in October.

• SSB staff presented at a Collaborative Disability Awareness Conference at the Shooting Star Conference Center in Mahnomen, MN, held In June, 2010. This conference was sponsored by the White Earth Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

• SSB participated in the Twin Cities World Refugee Day held in June, 2010, in Minneapolis. This is a Resource Fair which brings together community organizations serving refugee and non-refugee persons in areas such as education, employment, health and housing.

The committee members worked on revising the strategies for meeting Goal 2 on the SRC-B work plan. Goal 2 states: Increase the number of individuals served. Priority 2.1 relates to the Minority Service Rate. This priority states: “By the end of FFY2011, SSB will meet RSA Indicator 2.1 as follows: The ratio of customers from the minority population exiting after receiving services under an IPE to all customers from the minority population exiting will exceed 80% of the same ratio calculated for customers from the non-minority population. Current (FFY2009) performance level is 69.9%”. The revised strategies for this goal were unanimously accepted by the SRC-B at their August 2010 meeting.”

DeafBlind Committee

Charge: This committee exists to support and advise SSB regarding its services to individuals who are deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired. This committee will provide input to the Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities Committee and the full Council for consideration in the development of annual goals and priorities in conjunction with SSB, and will monitor those goals and priorities throughout the year.

The product of this committee must include an annual report to the full Council containing specific strategies for increasing and improving services to individuals who are deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired.

Membership: The committee shall include at least two Council members, one of which is the representative of the DeafBlind community. Every effort shall be made, to the extent possible, for two members to be culturally deaf, and for the majority of the members to have a dual sensory loss. This committee shall consist of no more than six persons.

2010 Report

“Note: (The following is a message from the Chair of the Deafblind Committee, not only summarizing the efforts of her committee, but acknowledging the cooperation of staff and the Deafblind Community.)

My report starts off with a big hello and a huge thank you to all the DeafBlind Committee for their hard work last year. At the conclusion of last year’s DB Committee we had just decided to work on an ASL draft of the “What if my counselor and I disagree document” both in a simplified English for our ASL users and a more revised version for our hard of hearing users. We voted at our very first meeting to get it approved. However, realizing time constraints we needed to focus in on the DB survey that was shared with us by the Goals and Priorities committee. We solicited help from Natasha Lemler, Pam Brown and Linda Lingen to come up with some ideas from that last Customer Satisfaction & goals and priorities survey and requested if it would possibly follow that same format like the one 3 years ago. After some lengthy discussions we came to the conclusion it needed some work. We started to revise this document, after a few meetings we narrowed it down to how the survey would be conducted and finalized the questions that would be in the survey. We did not complete the revisions until the end of the year in May 2010.

I feel confident that we have a working document that will allow the DB population to understand clearly the survey and that SSB has hope that everyone will feel comfortable sharing their experiences about the services they received from SSB. Again a big thanks to all of you who helped create and implement that new revised survey and hopefully now we can start working on the document “What if my counselor and I disagree” document for 2010 -2011. I am excited about working with the DeafBlind committee for the 10-11 fiscal years. Thank you again for allowing me to serve State Services for the Blind and help play a small role in accomplishing meeting their goals to better serve the DeafBlind citizens of our wonderful state.”

Senior Services Committee

Charge: The Senior Services Committee exists to assist State Services for the Blind to improve and expand services to blind, visually impaired, or DeafBlind Minnesotans who are not interested in employment. The majority of this group is seniors. These customers face significant barriers to independence, but they can benefit from services which help maintain or increase their independence. Activities include identifying unmet needs, recommending services necessary to meet these needs and identifying strategies to remove or reduce barriers to their independence.

The product of this committee must include an annual report to the full Council detailing their recommendations on improving and expanding services to senior blind, visually impaired and DeafBlind Minnesotans.

Membership: Every effort shall be made, to the extent possible, for this committee to include the three persons serving on the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) who represent blind customers, one of whom serves on the Council as a liaison from the SILC. This committee shall also include at least one additional Council member. Additional members, as appropriate should be sought. Total membership shall consist of no more than seven persons.

2010 Report

“The seven members of the Senior Services Unit committee held regular meetings at 3:00 on the afternoon of the same days the SRC-B met so that our members could attend both meetings. Committee meetings were well attended, and participation was enthusiastic and meaningful. With two new members, we took a few minutes to introduce ourselves to one another.

We greatly appreciated the information presented by SSB staff at our meetings. The video prepared for nursing home staff working with seniors who are dealing with loss of eyesight was well received and given high praise as a training tool. The committee received regular reports on the financial status of the SSU. We also reviewed the 28-page guide outlining SSU services available to customers designed for use by staff. The committee was kept updated on the progress of the work being done on the SSB administrative rule.

All members of the SSU committee are well aware of the fact that our specific issues are not at a high priority level for the SRC-B, despite the fact that the SSU serves the largest number of customers within SSB, and the SRC-B’s primary concern is with federally-funded programs; and the services of the SSU are available largely through state funds. We also know that whenever funds are scarce, it is always the SSU services or staff which takes the cuts. Nevertheless, the members of the SSU committee have committed themselves to making certain that senior blind do not lose services due to reduced funding. We are ready to take whatever steps are necessary to inform relevant officials of the importance of senior services in ensuring the continued independence of those experiencing loss of eyesight.”

Transition Services Committee

Charge: This committee provides specific advice and counsel regarding services to transition-age youth (ages 14 – 21). This committee will provide input to the Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities Committee and the full Council for consideration in the development of annual goals and priorities in conjunction with SSB, and will monitor those goals and priorities throughout the year.

The product of this committee is a report to the full Council with specific strategies for providing services to blind, DeafBlind and visually impaired transition-age youth.

Membership: This committee shall include the Council representative of the Department of Education and the Council representative of PACER, Inc. Parents of blind or visually impaired children, and Teachers of the Blind/Visually Impaired will be urged to apply. This committee shall consist of no more than seven persons.

2010 Report

The Transition Committee’s focus is to collaborate with the Workforce Development Unit to identify opportunities in assisting blind, visually impaired and DeafBlind youth to gain job experience during their transition years. It is the aspiration of the Transition Committee, with the aid of Teachers of the blind, visually impaired and DeafBlind and the Resource Center of the Minnesota Department of Education, that we can give advice and guidance to SSB counselors on how to assist blind, visually impaired and DeafBlind teenagers find their first employment opportunity.

Communication Center Committee

Charge: This committee exists to help SSB improve and expand the services of the Communication Center for blind, visually impaired, and DeafBlind persons. This committee will provide input to the Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities Committee and the full Council for consideration in the development of annual goals and priorities in conjunction with SSB, and will monitor those goals and priorities throughout the year.

The product of this committee is a report to the full Council containing specific strategies for increasing and improving Communication Center services.

Membership: The committee shall include at least two Council members. This committee shall consist of no more than nine members.

Every effort shall be made, to the extent possible, to include at least one person representing each of the following:

Minnesota Braille and Talking Book Library

Resource Center for the Blind /Visually Impaired

Minnesota Teachers of the Blind/Visually Impaired

Volunteers

Disabled Student Services

Consumers at-large

College Students

2010 Report

The product of this committee is a report to the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind containing specific strategies for increasing and improving Communication Center services. During FFY 2010 the Communication Center Committee met four times to receive updates and offer input on the projects, staffing changes, and other on going work of the Communication Center.

Listed below are highlights and accomplishments of the Communication Center in FFY 2010:

• Evolution of Textbook Production – Work has been completed permitting the production of audio books in the DAISY format. This format allows students to navigate recorded material similarly to what can be done with a hard-copy book, providing direct access to specific pages, sections and chapters. Books can be distributed on CD’s and still on cassette. Work is being done to make textbooks available on cartridges which are compatible with the new National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) Digital Talking Book cartridges. Almost all volunteers have now received training and can produce books using this new technology. The Communication Center is now also authorized to receive National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) files from the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) taking advantage of the availability of textbooks in electronic format. This reduces the need for manually copying in braille or scanning texts allowing volunteers to concentrate on formatting.

• Support of National Library Service Functions – The Communication Center is the agency in Minnesota that distributes and repairs the equipment used to read books from the National Library Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. During the past year, a new Digital Talking Book player has been introduced which has resulted in significant increase in this activity. The Communication Center das distributed over 3,600 new NLS digital talking book players.

• Radio Talking Book Receivers – The new digital radio talking book receivers were received from the manufacturer, and distribution has begun in targeted areas of the state.

• Modernization of the Radio Talking Book Service – This work has permitted greater automation of broadcasts. Overnight broadcasting now makes use of the new system reducing overall costs. Also being developed are approaches for more flexible listening options for users. Programs are now archived and can be retrieved through a secure web site.

• Braille Production - Huge numbers of print pages were converted to braille to support Minnesota students in K-12 and in post-secondary institutions. Over 700,000 braille pages were produced directly or distributed from other sources during this year. This effort has a strong effect on the quality of education of blind Minnesotans and ultimately their potential for employment.

• NFB Newsline® and Dial-in News Service Improvements In response to requests of consumers, the Communication Center added procedures to more quickly identify interruption of Newsline or Dial-in News in 2009. During the current year, the Advisory Committee continued to monitor the results of these changes and noted significant improvements.

• Dial-in News and NFB Newsline® Expansion – Additional user interface enhancements such as additional and clearer voices have been added to these services.

• Annual Volunteer Recognition Events The Communication Center conducted the annual volunteer recognition events to applaud the work of nearly 700 volunteers that make possible much of the work of the Communication Center. This year the major event honoring current volunteers was a wonderful buffet and entertainment on Nicollet Island. Over 300 volunteers and their guests were present for this event. This event was sponsored by the Hamm Family Fund at the St. Paul Foundation.

• National and International Involvement During the year staff and committee members were involved in a number of national and international activities including: the DAISY consortium, National Braille Association, Braille Authority of North America, and the International Association of Audio Information Services. In addition, the Communication Center is continuing to consult with representatives of the People’s Republic of China as they work to establish a Radio Talking Book service in that country. These efforts reflect continued leadership by staff members and Communication Center Committee members.

• Staff Changes – During the past fiscal year, new staff members assumed critical roles. In particular, the transition to new leadership of the Braille and Audio Sections was successfully completed.

Recurring Task Forces

Membership: With the approval of the SRC-B, the Council chairperson shall appoint members and chairperson for each task force.

Annual Report Task Force

Charge: This task force coordinates the completion of the SRC-B Annual Report and Report on VR Effectiveness as required by the Rehabilitation Act. The task force members are appointed in August. The task force assures that each Council committee submits its annual report to SSB in accordance with the Council’s work plan. Final Council approval occurs at the December Council meeting. SSB produces the final report for distribution by December 31. The entire report can be viewed at http://www.positivelyminnesota.com/JobSeekers/Blind_or_Visually_Impaired/State_Rehabilitation_Council_for_the_Blind/Reports_Other_Documents.aspx

Budget Task Force

Charge: This task force recommends the Resource Plan to the full Council for each fiscal year at the August meeting. A midyear review of expenditures and any necessary refinements in the Resource Plan for the current fiscal year are brought to the full Council at the April meeting.

Council Committees Task Force

Charge: This task force reviews the Council committee and recurring task force structures and reports recommendations on changes to the Council at the June meeting. The current SRC-B committee and task force descriptions can be viewed at: http://www.positivelyminnesota.com/JobSeekers/Blind_or_Visually_Impaired/State_Rehabilitation_Council_for_the_Blind/Reports_Other_Documents.aspx .

Needs Assessment Task Force

Charge: This task force, jointly with SSB, conducts a statewide needs assessment in accordance with the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act.

New Member Orientation Packet Task Force

Charge: This task force meets annually to review the SRC-B New Member Orientation Packet and recommends updates as needed. The current new member orientation materials may be viewed at: http://www.positivelyminnesota.com/JobSeekers/Blind_or_Visually_Impaired/State_Rehabilitation_Council_for_the_Blind/Reports_Other_Documents.aspx

Work Plan Task Force

Charge: This task force reviews the Council’s annual work plan and recommends revisions for Council approval. The current SRC-B work plan outlining the specific activities and reports that must be carried out throughout the year can be viewed at http://www.positivelyminnesota.com/JobSeekers/Blind_or_Visually_Impaired/State_Rehabilitation_Council_for_the_Blind/Reports_Other_Documents.aspx .

COUNCIL ACTIVITIES, ADVICE AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The Minnesota State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind (SRC-B) provides advice and recommendations to State Services for the Blind (SSB) during meetings held throughout the year. SSB values the input, advice and recommendations provided by the Council and gives serious consideration to all. Below are the activities, advice and recommendations offered to SSB from the SRC-B and its response to it for the period of July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.

Goals, Priorities and Strategies

SSB develops its goals, priorities and strategies jointly with the SRC-B. At its April 2011 meeting, the SRC-B recommended the adoption of the jointly developed goals, priorities and strategies for FFY2011 presented at that meeting. SSB commends the Council on the importance of this work which along with their work plans and other Council committee charges helps this Council and the Agency complete its work.

• SSB agrees to the Goals and Priorities it jointly developed with the SRC-B. They provide increased clarity, focus and direction to the work of SSB.

RSA Monitoring Review

The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) conducted its monitoring review of SSB during FFY2010. The SRC-B has been actively involved during this process. The Council was pleased to have two representatives from RSA attend a portion of the February Council meeting. The representatives were able to explain the monitoring process and answer questions for Council members and members of the public. The Council and its Committee Chairs joined RSA and SSB staff for a conversation regarding the strategic planning process. SSB has been working with the TACE 5 to develop a strategic plan in FFY2011 and the Council’s input will be solicited. There were SRC-B members represented at the RSA on site review exit conference.

• There were no specific recommendations made by the SRC-B regarding the RSA monitoring review.

SSB Rule Promulgation

SSB formed an advisory committee in FFY2010 to provide SSB advice in updating Minnesota Rules regarding the provision of rehabilitation services to blind and visually impaired persons present in the state. Members of the SRC-B were appointed by the Council Chair to the advisory committee on June 6, 2010. The goals of the rulemaking, as stated by the Director, included conformance with federal regulation and law; restructuring independent living services, clarifying and streamlining rule parts related to purchase, maintenance and ownership of technology aids and devices; and repeal unnecessary rule parts.

The advisory committee met on June 9, 16, 23, 30; July 14, 21, 28; and August 4, 2010. Most of the rule changes were related to federal conformance which SSB had already integrated into the Policy and Procedures Manual after each Rehabilitation Act reauthorization and regulation cycle. There were a number of other changes of concern to the agency, SRC-B members and other members of the advisory committee. They included:

1. requiring only vocational rehabilitation counselors to conduct the initial interview. SSB proposed broadening the approach to include “SSB direct services staff,” which could include vocational rehabilitation technicians. SRC-B members and other members of the advisory committee were firm in their conviction that only vocational rehabilitation counselors conduct initial interviews because they felt that the counseling relationship started with the initial interview and this would benefit the applicant in the long run. While SSB felt that the counseling relationship could be developed in a number of ways, SSB did accede to the position taken by SRC-B members, and other members of the advisory committee.

2. identifying and clarifying the role and function of SSB staff in the delivery of vocational rehabilitation services. This is related to the first item above. This had been an issue for some members of the community, including SRC-B members. SSB, over time, has moved to utilizing paraprofessional staff to deliver services that are not required to be performed under the Rehabilitation Act by vocational rehabilitation counselors. SRC-B members, along with other members of the community, requested clarity within the rules so that federal regulations regarding those services and activities that only a vocational rehabilitation counselor may provide are clear. SSB agreed with that position and made rule changes to that effect.

3. setting a standard for the prompt development of the individual plan for employment (IPE). SSB proposed that 90 days be the standard for prompt development of the IPE. After discussion, the SRC-B members and other members of the advisory committee agreed with that position, in that it was felt to be sufficient time, on average, to complete assessments and other activities necessary to develop the IPE.

4. retaining a rule passage, dating to 1986, regarding SSB being able to amend an eligible individuals IPE without the eligible individual’s agreement. SSB intended to keep this provision, used in only rare circumstances where an individual was not meeting important requirements contained in the IPE, and only after significant intervention to alter the performance or fulfillment by the eligible individual. SRC-B members, and other advisory committee members, were uneasy about this provision, concerned about potential misuse of this provision by vocational rehabilitation counselors. While the provision includes due process rights for the eligible individual, and continuance of the services until those due process rights were concluded, the uneasiness remained. Language was negotiated by SSB, SRC-B members, and other advisory committee members that is consistent with Code of Federal Regulations, title 34, section 361.57(b)(4) related to the “suspension, reduction, or termination of vocational rehabilitation services.” All parties, including SRC-B members agreed to the compromise.

5. strengthening language regarding assessing the alternative techniques of blindness in preparing the IPE. SSB proposed that specific language be included in the rule to emphasize the assessment of and training in the alternative techniques of blindness. This proposal was enthusiastically received by the SRC-B members, and other members of the advisory committee.

6. significantly clarifying and streamlining rule parts related to purchase, maintenance and ownership of technology aids and devices. SSB proposed that, contrary to policy dating back to 1986, transfer of ownership to eligible individuals of such aids and devices occur when purchased permanently for the use of the eligible individual. An added feature was requiring SSB to purchase an initial maintenance or service agreement, or extended warranty, if available. This proposal was enthusiastically received by the SRC-B members, and other members of the advisory committee.

7. extending the period of time within which an applicant or an eligible individual may request review of any determination made by SSB. The Client Assistance Program (CAP), lobbied the advisory committee, of which they were a member, to lengthen the time within which an applicant or an eligible individual may request review of any determination made by SSB. SSB was unaware of any detrimental impact on applicants or eligible individuals from the 30-day limit in place since at least 1986, but in the spirit of compromise, SSB offered first 45 days, and finally 60 days as the new period of time within which an applicant or an eligible individual may request review of any determination by SSB. This compromise was accepted by SRC-B members, and other members of the advisory committee.

Members of the SRC-B were briefed on the progress and process of rulemaking continuously, including at their August 5, 2010, October 7, 2010, December 2, 2010, February 10, 2011, April 7, 2011 and June 2, 2011 meetings. Members of the SRC-B were provided with notice of the published, proposed rules and Statement of Need and Reasonableness on March 28, 2011, and encouraged to review, comment, ask questions, and request a public hearing consistent with Minnesota’s Administrative Procedures Act, if that was their desire. One SRC-B member, along with two other members of the community, commented on item 4, above. No individual, including SRC-B members, requested a public hearing under the Minnesota Administrative Procedures Act.

This screen was last updated on Jul 29 2011 9:38AM by Jennifer Beilke

This agency has requested a waiver of statewideness.

Identify the types of services to be provided by the program for which the waiver of statewideness is requested.

The waiver request should also include:

  • a written assurance from the local public agency that it will make available to the designated state unit the non-federal share of funds;
  • a written assurance that designated state unit approval will be obtained for each proposed service before it is put into effect;
  • a written assurance that all state plan requirements will apply to all services approved under the waiver.

Not required.

This screen was last updated on Jun 19 2009 11:26AM by samnccarlsonc

Describe interagency cooperation with and utilization of the services and facilities of agencies and programs that are not carrying out activities through the statewide workforce investment system with respect to

  • Federal, state, and local agencies and programs;
  • if applicable, Programs carried out by the Under Secretary for Rural Development of the United States Department of Agriculture; and
  • if applicable, state use contracting programs.

Attachment 4.8(b)(1): Coordination with Agencies not in WFC System

VR-SSB does not have a formal interagency agreement with the programs carried out by the Department of Agriculture's undersecretary for rural development, nor does it have formal agreements with other federal or State agencies, except as noted below. All qualified VR counselors have been provided a description of the programs provided by the USDA Minnesota Rural Development Offices and are able to access these services as needed.

SSB continues to work in collaboration with the other designated state unit in Minnesota, Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS), and has developed and has in place a formal cooperative agreement with representatives of the higher education system in the State. This agreement involves representatives from the Minnesota State Colleges and University System throughout the State. VR-SSB also has formal interagency agreements with the American Indian VR programs in the State and has arrangements with the general rehabilitation for program providing reciprocal referral services between VR-SSB and VRS.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2010 3:52PM by Jennifer Beilke

  • Describe the designated state unit's plans, policies, and procedures for coordination with education officials to facilitate the transition of students with disabilities from school to the receipt of vocational rehabilitation services, including provisions for the development and approval of an individualized plan for employment before each student determined to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services leaves the school setting or, if the designated state unit is operating on an order of selection, before each eligible student able to be served under the order leaves the school setting.
  • Provide information on the formal interagency agreement with the state educational agency with respect to
    • consultation and technical assistance to assist educational agencies in planning for the transition of students with disabilities from school to post-school activities, including VR services;
    • transition planning by personnel of the designated state agency and educational agency that facilitates the development and completion of their individualized education programs;
    • roles and responsibilities, including financial responsibilities, of each agency, including provisions for determining state lead agencies and qualified personnel responsible for transition services;
    • procedures for outreach to and identification of students with disabilities who need transition services.

Attachment 4.8(b)(2) Coordination with Education

Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB), Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS), and the Minnesota Department of Education/Special Education (MDE) have a collaborative agreement regarding the transition of students with disabilities from school to the receipt of VR services and to work. The agreement’s purpose is to:

• Promote collaborative, flexible service delivery to youth in transition

• Promote seamless implementation of VR services for students with individual education plans (IEP)

• Encourage school districts to develop and promote pre-adolescent vocational skill development

• Define the roles and responsibilities of each agency

The agreement clarifies how Minnesota’s two vocational rehabilitation programs will assist education agencies to plan the transition of students with disabilities from secondary school to the receipt of VR services. Agreed-upon practices for statewide transition planning include:

• Allocate staff time for ongoing consultation with the Special Education Office to continuously improve transition policies and services

• Allocate staff time for service on State-level coordination bodies

• Allocate staff time for participation in the Community Transition Interagency Committees that facilitate improved local transition practices

• Special Education, VR-SSB and VRS will work toward data sharing that improves transition services planning and the evaluation of transition services

The agreement delineates critical practices VR programs and Special Education will implement to facilitate a smooth transition for individuals with disabilities as they complete their IEPs. Agreed-upon practices to facilitate a student’s smooth transition include:

• Special Education will encourage local school districts to implement pre-adolescent career exploration and vocational skill development

• Special Education will encourage school districts to provide complete and timely referral information to VRS/VR-SSB to promote a timely, efficient engagement with VR services

• VRS/VR-SSB will use information provided by the school district to help determine if a student is eligible for VR services

• VRS/VR-SSB will develop and, as appropriate, implement individualized plans for employment (IPE) prior to an eligible student completing secondary school

• VRS/VR-SSB will develop employment plans that appropriately coordinate with the IEP

The agreement outlines the roles and responsibilities of education and both VR programs. Schools are responsible for providing free and appropriate public education, as defined by the IEP, for students in Special Education. Schools must access available third-party dollar resources to help meet these responsibilities. VRS/VR-SSB is responsible for providing services that help prepare an individual to effectively implement post-secondary VR services. SSB can collaboratively fund services that help a student determine their long-term adult career goal.

The agreement defines several VR outreach activities:

• Special Education will encourage all school districts to identify students who might benefit from VR services and make families aware of this during IEP meetings no later than fall of their junior year

• Special Education will encourage school districts to invite VR-SSB counselors to IEP meetings when the IEP team begins to identify transition services aimed at an adult employment outcome

• VRS/VR-SSB staff will attend IEP meetings to which they are invited, to inform participants about VR services and processes, and to accept applications for service

In a manner consistent with the requirements of Section 101(a)(11)(D) of the Act, SSB has continued as an active signatory to the Minnesota Interagency Cooperative Agreement to Plan, an agreement that has been in place since December 1987. This agreement is an understanding among organizations to facilitate the necessary changes, both within and among the several agencies, to realize an equitable statewide system for transition services. It provides information about what agency services exist and how agencies work together in Minnesota’s communities. With local input, agencies can actively participate in the planning and creating of employment and community living options for individuals with disabilities of transition age.

There are several parts to the Minnesota Interagency Cooperative Agreement to Plan including a listing of members and a goals section. Three levels of goals are identified:

• Planning for Individuals

• Community Planning

• Statewide Planning

Another key section is the matrix which summarizes secondary and post-secondary school services available from each signatory agency to meet transition-related needs of individuals with disabilities. This section identifies available resources and defines the financial responsibility of each agency for necessary transition services.

Minnesota State Interagency Committee

In June 1998, a new State-level committee, established by state statute, the Minnesota State Interagency Committee (MnSIC), held its first meeting. The mission of MnSIC, as delineated in Minnesota statute, is to "...develop and implement a coordinated, multi-disciplinary, interagency service system for children ages three to 21 with disabilities."

Members of MnSIC include two representatives from the Minnesota Association of Counties; two representatives each from MDE, Commerce, Corrections, DEED (both VRS and SSB), Health, and DHS; one representative from the Minnesota School Boards Association and the Minnesota Nurses Association; and one ex-officio representative from the Minnesota Administrators of Special Education (MASE). The representatives were appointed by the respective commissioners or directors and have been meeting regularly since the summer of 1998. MnSIC roles and responsibilities as defined in legislation include:

• Identify and assist in removing State and federal barriers to local coordination of services provided to children with disabilities

• Identify adequate, equitable, and flexible funding sources to streamline these services

• Develop guidelines for implementing policies that ensure a comprehensive and coordinated system of all State and local agency services, including multi-disciplinary assessment practices for children with disabilities ages three to 21

• Develop, consistent with federal law, a standardized written plan for providing services to a child with disabilities

• Identify how current systems for dispute resolution can be coordinated and develop guidelines for coordination

• Develop an evaluation process to measure the success of State and local interagency efforts in improving the quality and coordination of services to children with disabilities ages three to 21

• Develop guidelines to assist the governing boards of the interagency early intervention committees in carrying out the duties assigned to them by Minnesota State statute

• Carry out other duties necessary to develop and implement within communities a coordinated, multi-disciplinary, interagency intervention service system for children with disabilities

Several significant products have been implemented as a result of the interagency activities of this group. An updated formal interagency agreement with the State educational agency was implemented April 1, 2000, and reviewed for the need to update in 2005. The IIIP, a single document which delineates and coordinates all services needed by a child with a disability, was implemented incrementally beginning January 1, 2001. The implementation was completed by the fall of 2003 and included all eligible youth to age 21. This implementation included extensive statewide training provided by members of the MnSIC. Currently, evaluation methods are being developed and implemented. The MnSIC and the interagency management team (IMT) continue to develop annual goals for interagency collaboration on services to children and youth including transition activities.

Community Transition Interagency Committee (CTIC)

CTICs are another major vehicle for interagency cooperation. They were established at the local level to promote interagency coordination, remove system barriers, and expand community services so that students with disabilities will receive services they need to transition from school to adult life. These committees include educators; parents; students; advocacy groups; local business or industry representatives; county officials; post-secondary, vocational, and community education entities; and representatives from corrections, social security, health professionals, and local service providers. These community-based committees identify local transition needs and solutions. They sponsor job fairs, transition fairs, transition libraries, the development of transition materials, and other projects to improve opportunities for students during their transition from school-to-work.

For example, beginning in the spring of 1997, several CTICs co-sponsored "work skills days" for students with disabilities in their school districts. Partners in this event were SSB, RS, Job Service, the local Job Training Partnership Act agency, the local school district, CILs, and county social services. Local business representatives served as judges in a morning of mock-job interviewing, filling-out job applications, solving on-the-job problems, and general work knowledge testing. Students used skills they have been learning in their employment skills classes (taught by work experience coordinators). This activity continues in various CTICs throughout the State, with the exact format individualized to the students and employers in a given area. It has proven a great confidence-builder for students and a great disability awareness-builder for business representatives. While not intended in the program design, it is becoming increasingly common for student participants to be offered jobs during Work Skills Days.

SSB has continued involvement of their counselors in local CTIC activity. The low incidence of blindness among students of transition age continues to be an issue that SSB staff need to accommodate for in their work with local school districts and CTICs.

Centers for Independent Living (CIL)

Throughout the Centers’ history in Minnesota, state monies have been provided for independent living skills training necessary for youths with disabilities to make the transition from family and school to independent living and the workplace. As a result of the 1997 Minnesota legislature allocating additional money to the CILs for transition services, the eight CILs in Minnesota have expanded and enhanced independent living transition services. In recent years, funding for the CILs has been reduced, in turn reducing transition services.

Results

In FFY2010, as a result of this interagency activity and outreach activities made by SSB:

• 43 transition-age individuals were referred to SSB

• 28 of those referrals were from secondary schools

• 46 individuals who applied for services while of transition age received SSB/VR services during FFY2010

This data for FFY2010 is inconsistent with annual data since 2002. The number of individuals who applied for services while of transition age who received SSB/VR services has dropped dramatically since 2009. Additionally, the number of transition-age individuals referred to SSB has been steadily dropping since 2006 despite increased outreach activities.

Future Direction

SSB staff have been part of a broad array of transition partnerships and relevant school-to-work models. SSB will continue to work with traditional partners to promote these models and facilitate effective implementation of emerging school-to-work efforts.

The MnSIC, CTICs, SSB, and VRS staff in administrative and local offices will continue to build and strengthen partnerships in evolving school-to-work transition initiatives for secondary school students. MDE (the lead department) is working with DEED and MnSCU to implement a school-to-work systems initiative for all learners in Minnesota. SSB counselors, through their involvement with CTICs and WorkForce Centers, are also continuing their involvement with evolving school-to-work partnerships that design and direct local activities.

At the individual customer level, SSB counselors are actively involved with blind youth and, as appropriate, parents, family members, and authorized representatives in the development and implementation of IEPs or IIIPs, coordinating those plans with IPEs as appropriate. Such planning, development, program implementation, follow-up, and evaluation is coordinated with the local education authority. The IPE addresses the provision of transition services, in a manner consistent with SSB policy (i.e., the SSB Administrative Rule and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended) and consistent with the matrix portion of the Minnesota Interagency Cooperative Agreement to Plan, which in the future will be known as The State Interagency Agreement. That matrix delineates responsibilities for the provision of transition services.

The IPE and the IEP/IIIP also detail timeframes for evaluation and follow-up of youth who have received transition services. Staff from local educational authorities (teachers), qualified under the education laws of the State of Minnesota, and staff from SSB, qualified consistent with requirements of the Rehabilitation Act, evaluate and follow-up youth who have received transition services in accordance with timeframes contained in their IEP/IIIP/IPE. Youth of transition age who have realized a satisfactory employment outcome, consistent with an IPE, are followed for at least 90 days by their SSB rehabilitation counselor.

The activities detailed below are designed to facilitate outreach and referral efforts to transition-age students who are blind or visually impaired. The goals of this ongoing involvement by the counselor in the education of a student, beginning as early as age 14, are to enable a student to live independently before leaving a school setting, have a greater understanding of relevant employment options, and develop self-advocacy skills.

• SSB added a specific goal related to Transition outreach to the agency’s Goals and Priorities beginning in FY08. For FY11, specific strategies which have been implemented toward the goal of increasing the number of transition students who apply for services between the ages of 14-15 include: o specific outreach to teachers of the blind and visually impaired with the goal of increasing understanding of requirements and challenges faced by the teaches and by SSB counselors o continuation of a half day information fair which provides students and their families with information about SSB to increase their understanding of the value of applying for SSB services as early as possible o implementing a method for documenting enrichment activities provided to students between the ages of 14-22 in all areas of adjustment to blindness training as part of an employment plan o implementing a method of measuring the outcome of these enrichment activities to use as a marketing tool at SSB Information Fairs and with teachers of the blind and visually impaired o developing a plan to assist eligible students of transition age to obtain at least one paid work experience prior to graduation

• SSB is actively involved in two unique summer programs focused on transition. Learning Independence from Experience (LIFE), carried out in cooperation with the Minnesota Academy for the Blind, provides transition training to as many as 12 students between the ages of 17 and 22 who have impairments in addition to blindness. The Summer Transition Program (STP) serves as many as 25 high school juniors and/or seniors each summer. It is housed at St. Thomas University in St Paul, Minnesota, and is designed to provide alternative skills training and career exploration activities for participating students. Staff members assist students with transition goals that may include informational interviews, job shadowing, and mentoring. This gives students a first-hand experience in the world of work. While living in the dorms at St. Thomas, students also participate in a variety of independent living activities with specific mobility, self-care, communication, leadership, and related goals.

• A wide range of transition programs, separate and apart from the above summer programs, are individually tailored by counselors to meet the unique needs of each student. Such initiatives might include summer work experiences, advanced computer skills training, college readiness training, advanced training programs in specific educational areas, and attendance at the Helen Keller National Training Center. SSB assigns a staff member as liaison with the State Academy for the Blind, with specific focus on transition needs. Joint efforts with the State Academy are also focused on better vocational preparation of blind students of transition age.

• Several outreach efforts continue to be part of SSB’s transition activities. These activities include involvement with the Statewide Vision Network, vision teachers who meet four times each school year to discuss issues related to the education of blind children of all ages. Outreach and identification of youth of transition age needing transition services are facilitated via this network. Network participants alert parents of youth needing transition services to services offered by SSB.

• Counselors also work individually with high schools to focus on outreach and identification of youth in need of transition services (including youth who are not currently receiving special education services). Counselors attend IEPs/IIIPs, at the invitation of the parents and vision teacher, to educate prospective customers about SSB services.

• A final SSB outreach effort is facilitated through law. State law requires eye care professionals, when making an initial diagnosis of legal blindness, to advise the individual that services are available through SSB. This requirement extends to youth of transition age.

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2011 2:19PM by Jennifer Beilke

Describe the manner in which the designated state agency establishes cooperative agreements with private non-profit vocational rehabilitation service providers.

Attachment 4.8(b)(3): Coordination with Non-profit VR providers

State Services for the Blind (SSB) currently has operating agreements (rather than cooperative agreements) with three full-time adjustment training centers (CRPs) which focus on blindness and also provide other services to blind and visually impaired customers. SSB discusses programs, services, and operating agreements with each CRP as necessary. The director of SSB approves all service costs charged by these CRPs after review by staff internal to SSB.

This screen was last updated on Jun 19 2009 11:30AM by samnccarlsonc

Describe the efforts of the designated state agency to identify and make arrangements, including entering into cooperative agreements, with other state agencies and other appropriate entities in order to provide the following services to individuals with the most significant disabilities:

  • supported employment services; and
  • extended services.

Attachment 4.8(b)(4) Arrangements and Cooperative Agreements For The Provision of Supported Employment Services

For customers that require other types of training or services from community-based rehabilitation programs, including supported employment program services, Tate Services for the Blind (SSB) utilizes community rehabilitation programs (CRPs) that have operating agreements with the general rehabilitation Designated State Unit, Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) or with SSB.

Services to all supported employment program customers have and will continue to be provided under fee-for-service arrangements with CRPs. SSB’s relationship with these CRPs is governed by operating agreements with either SSB or VRS for the specific services required. The operating agreements describe the services offered by the CRPand the agreed upon cost of each service. Information about each CRP is provided to each customer so that they can make an informed choice in the selection of their service provider.

Extended services are secured via individual agreements with non-VR organizations, including a number of agreements with an array of counties in Minnesota.

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2011 2:26PM by Jennifer Beilke

Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

Attachment 4.10: Comprehensive System of Personnel Development

Minnesota State Services for the Blind’s (SSB) policies, procedures and activities to maintain a comprehensive system of personnel development is described in this state plan attachment. This system assures that there is an adequate supply of qualified staff in the ratio and personnel categories needed; that staff is available to provide services statewide; and that staff have ongoing personnel development opportunities. The ultimate purpose of this system is to assure that SSB customers, who are blind, visually impaired or DeafBlind, are provided with high quality VR services leading to employment outcomes.

This comprehensive system of personnel development consists of:

• An annual review and analysis of data on current staffing and future needs, as well as a review of each vacancy when it occurs;

• Collaboration with institutions of higher education and communication regarding the number of students in the counseling graduate programs;

• Policies and actions related to recruitment, preparation, and retention of qualified staff;

• Personnel standards in accordance with the Rehabilitation Act; and

• Personnel development including methods to assess individual and organizational staff training needs and the provision of in-service training.

Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

SSB maintains data on the number of employees in each personnel category for all of its programs. This data is reviewed on an annual basis and each position is reviewed when a vacancy occurs to determine whether a change in personnel category or services is necessary to meet the current needs of SSB customers. Personnel levels are also reviewed annually when the VR program budget is developed.

SSB’s WorkForce Development Unit (WFD), the VR field unit, employs approximately 52 staff positions filled by 46 individuals (excluding those assigned to the Randolph-Sheppard Program). Sixteen positions are currently earmarked for qualified VR counselors. During FFY2010 the ratio of qualified VR counselors (16) to individuals served (992) is 1 to 62. The ratio of qualified VR counselors to individuals served during FFY10 and into FFY11 is expected to average between 1 to 62 and 1 to 68 depending on the number of counselor vacancies. It is the intention of SSB to fill all counselor positions.

The following table provides the personnel categories used by SSB’s WFD program, the current number of people filling those positions, and the projection for new staff needed over the next five years.

 

Row Job Title Total positions Current vacancies Projected vacancies over the next 5 years
1 State Director 1 0 1
2 Field Operations Director 1 0 1
3 Field Operations Supervisor IV 2 0 1
4 Field Operations Supervisor II 1 0 3
5 Qualified VR Counselor 16 0 6
6 Lead VR Counselor 1 0 1
7 Placement Staff 3 0 8
8 Psychologist 1 0 0
9 Assistive Technology Supervisor 1 0 0
10 Assistive Technology Specialist 5 0 1

 

Reviewing information on incidence of disability and the results of outreach activities provides insight as to the number of individuals who may be accessing SSB services over the next five years. Dedicated resources have been identified to carry out marketing and outreach activities in addition to numerous presentations made by field staff to a wide variety of audiences. SSB believes that the number of individuals that have traditionally come to SSB for vocational rehabilitation services represents a realistic picture of the need for services by Minnesotans who are blind, visually impaired or DeafBlind. As a result, SSB anticipates needing the same number and approximate mix of staff positions over the next five years, given current trends and anticipated changes in the rehabilitation program. To enhance services and the success of customers, SSB is using federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds for two additional counselors and three additional placement staff. It is anticipated that the individuals hired for these positions will be able to fill in as staff retire over the next two years.

With the exception of the availability of the federal ARRA funds, SSB continues to project that staff turnover, rather than program expansion, will drive any shifts in staffing. With SSB’s focus on individuals pursuing competitive employment outcomes in integrated settings, it is essential to increase the emphasis on work with employers. It is expected that the three additional placement staff, hired using federal ARRA funds, will increase the number of employment outcomes.

In response to an identified need for succession planning within the Work Force Development unit, an entry-level Supervisory position was created in FY10. The stated purpose was to provide an experienced counselor who otherwise would not be qualified to apply for a supervisory position to obtain the necessary supervisory experience. This position is heavily mentored by the Field Operations Director with support from the experienced Field Operations Supervisor IV. Should it be determined that utilizing this model for succession planning is effective, additional entry-level supervisory positions will be posted with relevant responsibilities.

Collaboration with Institutions of Higher Education

Minnesota has two credentialed graduate programs in vocational rehabilitation counseling. The two programs are Minnesota State University at Mankato (MSU-M) and St. Cloud State University (SCSU). SSB management maintains contact with the Directors of the Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling graduate programs through direct one-on-one conversations and by serving on advisory committees. Through discussion with the Director of the program, SSB learned that for this current academic year, MSU-M has 25 students and 5 graduates. The Director reports that this is a lean year and that for the Fall2011, they will have 14 students. The Director at SCSU reports having 30 students in the program with 12 graduations.

The University of Wisconsin at Stout is very close to the Minnesota border. SSB has now hired several graduates from their programs. Stout offers master’s degrees in both rehabilitation counseling and in a dual concentration in vocational evaluation and rehabilitation counseling. They offer their program both on campus and online. For this current academic year, Stout has 85 students enrolled in the rehabilitation counseling program. Thirty one of those students are on campus with 25 in the RC concentration and 6 in the dual VE/RC concentration. The other 54 students are online and all are in the RC concentration. Stout expects 29 students to graduate (14 on campus and 15 online) in the VR program. Five of the 29 will have the dual concentration of vocational evaluation and rehabilitation counseling. SSB has hired one graduate with the dual concentration who, in addition to other duties, has developed appropriate vocational evaluation methods for use with DeafBlind customers.

All graduates from these three programs have the necessary credentials to qualify for national certification. All graduates meet the Minnesota standard for a qualified rehabilitation counselor. This represents a significant pool of qualified counselors that more than meets the anticipated staffing needs of SSB.

The Director of WFD has periodic opportunities to meet with students at MSU-M and, as a result, students with disabilities and from minority backgrounds will frequently express interest in paid internship experiences with SSB. The Director of WFD provides feedback to the counseling program staff regarding the skill needs of VR counselors at SSB.

Increased communication and relationship building is developing with the University of Wisconsin at Stout since the hiring of their graduates. Less formalized contacts are maintained with two out-of-state credentialed vocational rehabilitation counseling programs in Michigan and Wisconsin.

 

Row Institutions Students enrolled Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates from the previous year
1 Minnesota State University at Mankato 25 0 0 5
2 Saint Cloud State University 30 0 0 12
3 University of Wisconsin Stout 85 0 0 29
4 0 0 0 0
5 0 0 0 0

 

Plan for Recruitment, Preparation and Retention of Qualified Personnel

SSB annually reviews and updates its plan to address current and projected needs for qualified personnel. This plan is informed by monitoring data on the number of employees in each personnel category for all of its programs. Staffing patterns are reviewed annually in light of customer service demands and when the VR program budget is developed. Each vacancy is reviewed when it occurs to determine whether a change in personnel category or services is necessary to meet the current and emerging needs of SSB customers.

SSB carefully reviews all staff vacancies, regardless of funding source. Additionally, SSB is utilizing the VR Technician classification to provide the VR counselors with paraprofessional support in the areas of job development, job search and general service implementation, thus providing the VR counselor additional quality time to spend in 1:1 work with clients.

SSB has aggressively addressed the recruitment of new staff, including individuals with significant disabilities and individuals from minority backgrounds via several distinct strategies. One strategy is strengthening relationships with MSU-M. SSB management staff worked with MSU-M in developing its proposal for RSA long-term training funding. The proposal permits students to expedite the completion of their Master’s program while serving paid internships with RS-VR and SSB. The program also provides increased opportunities for students to "fast-track" their training by combining the internship experience with class work.

A second strategy continues to be paid internships. SSB offers paid internship opportunities to select students enrolled in Master’s-level rehabilitation counselor education programs in Minnesota and throughout the nation. Use of these internships continues to be one means to attract individuals, including those from minority backgrounds and individuals with significant disabilities, to enroll in rehabilitation counselor education programs, have a positive experience with the public VR program, and increase the probability of their future employment in the public system. This internship program was the source for one of SSB’s hires of a qualified VR counselor. The individual, who happens to have a significant disability, indicated a major reason for accepting employment with SSB was the positive internship experience. This year SSB hosted one intern from the University of Wisconsin at Stout. The intern was then hired as a fully qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor using ARRA funds.

A third strategy attempts to address the general climate of recruiting persons to enter employment with state government. Recently it has not been inviting to many to work in state government given relatively flat pay increases and concern about budget shortfalls. However, SSB is fortunate to have internal options to meet VR staffing needs for qualified VR counselors. There are eight rehabilitation counselors currently employed in SSB’s Senior Services Unit who meet the standard for qualified VR counselor. If critical counselor vacancies do occur, and no other options for filling the position are identified, strong consideration would be given to staff realignment.

The fourth strategy addresses traditional and nontraditional recruitment efforts. SSB’s recruitment efforts utilize several channels of communication to target potential employees, including individuals from minority backgrounds and individuals with significant disabilities. SSB, through the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget, publicizes staff vacancies to a wide population via print and internet listings. Employment and paid internship opportunities are, as appropriate, listed on the homepage of the Rehabilitation Recruitment Center of the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials. The Director of WFD has periodic opportunities to meet with students at MSU-M and, as a result, students with disabilities and from minority backgrounds know about SSB, know about the state personnel system, and how to watch for and apply for employment openings.

The fifth strategy includes initiatives to retain staff, including individuals with disabilities and individuals from minority backgrounds, which encompass paid training experiences and development opportunities consistent with present and projected future needs of both the individual and of SSB.

A final strategy that is expected to positively impact recruitment and retention is the realignment of the rehabilitation counselor classification system within Minnesota’s civil service system. This realignment resulted in differentiating the functions of a qualified rehabilitation counselor from those of related positions in the counselor series and created a way to recruit for a "rehabilitation assistant" position leading to opportunities for a career ladder for an individual to move towards becoming a fully qualified rehabilitation counselor. Such a career ladder may be especially attractive to individuals from minority backgrounds and individuals with significant disabilities who need to work and could be supported by SSB in their pursuit of a graduate degree to meet the qualifications of a rehabilitation counselor. An additional factor is the ability to hire persons with experience at a relatively higher level in the classification system than had been SSB’s practice.

 

Personnel Standards

Policies and procedures are in place relating to the establishment and maintenance of standards to ensure personnel needed by SSB are appropriately and adequately prepared and trained. Such policies and procedures, including negotiated labor agreements with exclusive bargaining representatives, also cover the selection, retention, development, and termination of staff employed by SSB, and includes requirements of State law concerning the classification of SSB positions by Minnesota Management and Budget.

Both SSB and Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS), the two Designated State Units in Minnesota, have worked cooperatively with Minnesota Management and Budget to ensure the classification specifications used to certify individuals eligible for employment in the designated State units are consistent with their personnel needs and are based on the highest entry-level degree requirements in the State. Standards for the position of rehabilitation counselor at SSB were refined in 1999 to comply fully with federal requirements, were reviewed and approved by RSA and have not changed. The academic degree standard for a vocational rehabilitation counselor at SSB is the Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a closely related field, with graduate-level coursework in each of the following: theories and techniques of counseling; medical/psycho-social aspects of disability; assessment; and occupational information or job placement.

Both SSB and VRS continue to work closely with Department of Human Resources to ensure only those individuals who have earned a Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling, or a closely related field, qualify for placement on eligible lists for rehabilitation counselor.

All counselor positions at SSB are currently held by persons fully meeting the position standard. Therefore, SSB will not have any expenditures for staff needing to obtain a graduate degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling.

An analysis of current lists of persons eligible for employment as a rehabilitation counselor, as well as information from the three graduate rehabilitation counselor programs continues to indicate there are no factors that would adversely affect SSB’s ability to hire qualified staff, given the standard for rehabilitation counselors. In addition, SSB recruits for counselor positions nationwide.

When SSB has a vacancy, eligible individuals are interviewed by appropriate SSB staff. Employee selection is based not only on general class qualifications, but also on their ability to meet specific job demands. This process also applies to internal transfers and would be followed if it were necessary to consider realignment of staff from the Senior Services Unit to VR. Thus, the designated State unit continues to play a significant and deciding role in ensuring individuals employed by SSB are appropriately and adequately prepared and trained.

New employees come to SSB with a variety of knowledge, skills and abilities. Nearly all need SSB to provide them with additional information, and in some cases training, to ensure they have the tools and resources to do their job. Minnesotans expect SSB to be “experts” in the field of blindness. We are the one public organization providing such services. Therefore, SSB has an obligation to train staff on the essential aspects of blindness and visual impairment. To meet that expectation, SSB has a comprehensive training program about blindness and visual impairment consisting of:

• Introduction to Blindness and Visual Impairment —PHASE I. Responsibilities of SSB staff do vary, but there are minimum requirements for all positions and are part of this course which is required of all new employees.

• Introduction to Blindness and Visual Impairment —PHASE II. “Under the blindfold” and with simulators are training activities which will be required of some new staff as determined by SSB management.

• Continuing Education in Blindness and Visual Impairment –PHASE III. Training consists of specialized and ongoing training related to blindness and vision loss and will be required of staff as determined by SSB management.

Staff may request, for development purposes, additional or more advanced training activities that will be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account organizational needs and resources. All WDU staff members new to SSB will receive Introduction to Blindness —Phase 1 and Phase 2 training on the essential aspects of blindness and visual impairment within three months of hire.

On April 26, 2010, Minnesota Statute 248.07 was amended calling for Rehabilitation Counselors employed by SSB after January 1, 2011 to successfully complete a minimum of 6 weeks of intensive training under sleepshades from an adjustment to blindness center. This law, passed and signed earlier in the session, codifies in statute the current SSB staff training policy.

 

Personnel Development

SSB, in collaboration with other offices of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), continues to be a partner in implementing the employee performance development communication model, the objective of which is to collectively understand how employees’ performance and development contributes to the mission, vision, values, and goals of DEED. The model focuses on organizational values, continual improvement, and ongoing dialogue.

Critical to continual improvement is personal responsibility of the employee for professional and job-related development. Meeting the development needs of the individual employee is the explicit responsibility of that employee, with required support of the supervisor, to ensure continuing learning and development take place. Supplemental to formal and more traditional development activities are informal coaching, counseling, and teaching activities among and between supervisors and staff. Counseling supervisors use the results of formal and informal case record reviews for informal coaching and teaching to improve individual counselor performance.

SSB conducts a comprehensive assessment of overall State unit training needs every three years consisting of a staff survey, a review of development plans, and prioritization of training and development needs by the SSB management team. This staff development needs assessment activity is the basis for the in-service training program plan which continues to be updated at least annually to reflect emergent needs.

RSA accepted the SSB in-service basic and quality training plan for FFY2006 through FFY2010. SSB’s in-service training grant for FFY2011 through FFY2015 is designed to assist all State unit personnel to carry out the purpose of the Rehabilitation Act and the SSB’s mission. It is designed to improve the competencies of all State vocational rehabilitation personnel in providing vocational rehabilitation, independent living, access and assistive technology, and other support services, to SSB customers, resulting in improved customer satisfaction, enhanced employment opportunities, and increased employment outcomes.

The training plan addresses three broad goals –

• Increase understanding and application of essential organizational principles and values, including those relative to blindness and diversity.

• Acquire, maintain and continually improve the ability of staff to apply the wide range of vocational rehabilitation tools and skills required in both current as well as future positions with the unit.

• Gain, maintain and continually improve those essential other (i.e., non-vocational rehabilitation specific) abilities such as computer access, critical thinking and effective communication skills, needed for staff to successfully serve customers.

The additional quality training grant Minnesota SSB received will provide VR staff with specialized, intensive training in three areas:

• placement;

• adjustment to blindness training; and

• English language learners.

This specialized training is designed to provide state agency personnel the tools needed to better serve blind, visually impaired and DeafBlind customers, including those from diverse cultures, in a changing vocational and social environment.

Additional activities contained in the training plan focus on preparing individuals for future leadership opportunities, capacity-building, succession planning, and retaining qualified staff in government service. Staff Adjustment to Blindness (ATB) training (experiential training at a community rehabilitation center “under the blindfold”) is included as an essential portion of staff training. Another area is access technology. Access technology is constantly changing and access technology staff must remain current with these changes.

While staff development efforts continue to focus on employment and rehabilitation technology, it does so in the overarching context of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. Training and information continues to be provided on other WIA Titles and the relationship of Title IV to other WIA Titles. Future training will be centered on the field application of regulations pertaining to future amendments to the Rehabilitation Act and to the Workforce Investment Act.

Strategic Planning

SSB began a strategic planning effort in FY2010 and has been working with Bill Svrluga and his team WJS Consulting Group (WJSCG) to increase SSB staff alignment around the overall mission, vision, direction and key SSB goals for the next 3-5 years. With the help of WJSCG, SSB will move to ensure that each unit has a clear focus for their work, how it relates to all of SSB, and key measures of success. This process is expected to raise morale, and clarify staff roles within their units and within the agency.

 

Information is disseminated to staff from a wide range of sources in a variety of ways. Information is increasingly made available via web-based resources. Print material is, as appropriate, made available to staff in braille and other alternate formats. Access to information in a format or form accessible to staff and customers continues to be critical for success. The SSB Communication Center is a resource available to all staff for making materials available to customers in braille and other alternate formats. In addition, each SSB office in the WorkForce Center System has the capacity to produce braille locally for customers.

Foreign language interpreters are available to staff from locally based resources, as are interpreter services for customers who require or request sign language communications. Sign language and tactile interpreters are used when needed to communicate with customers who are DeafBlind or have a hearing impairment. SSB is fortunate to have a Supervisor in the Workforce Development Unit who is proficient in American Sign Language (ASL) and a counselor who has intermediate level ASL skills.

SSB will continue to encourage coordination of personnel development among agencies through the exchange of relevant information and mutually supportive activities. Such coordination includes appropriate involvement of representatives from the education and rehabilitation communities in staff training activities of each organization.

 

Knowledgeable individuals, including representatives from professional associations and organizations, make presentations at regional and sectional staff meetings concerning topical areas of emerging interest. These presentations include SSB staff sharing information following attendance at conferences and other training and development sessions. SSB coordinates personnel development with activities and efforts of Minnesota Department of Education concerning IDEA, transition activities, and supported employment with special focus on development activities with the State Vision Network, the primary communication vehicle for vision teachers throughout the State.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2011 3:05PM by Jennifer Beilke

Provide an assessment of the rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities residing within the state, particularly the vocational rehabilitation services needs of:

  • individuals with most significant disabilities, including their need for supported employment services;
  • individuals with disabilities who are minorities;
  • individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program; and
  • individuals with disabilities served through other components of the statewide workforce investment system.

Identify the need to establish, develop, or improve community rehabilitation programs within the state.

Comprehensive Statewide Assessment of the Rehabilitation Needs of Minnesotans who are Blind, Visually Impaired or DeafBlind

Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB) and its State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind (SRC-B) developed a process framework for conducting the triennial statewide assessment of the rehabilitation needs of Minnesotans who are blind, visually impaired or DeafBlind. This framework was first implemented in FFY2006, and has subsequently been used as a guide to conduct the needs assessment.

Since 2005 the SRC-B has appointed members to a Needs Assessment Task Force (NATF) to work with SSB staff to carry out the annual tasks associated with a needs assessment. The NATF's responsibilities are to-

  • Identify data sources-reports, surveys, etc.-that provide information on the needs of Minnesotans who are blind, visually impaired or DeafBlind;
  • Advise SSB on the scope and methods for conducting a needs assessment as required under the Rehabilitation Act; and
  • Make recommendations, based on needs assessment findings, regarding the VR needs of Minnesotans who are blind, visually impaired or DeafBlind.
  • The framework for conducting a needs assessment has been followed again in FFY2009. The NATF members and SSB consider the process for needs assessment to be continuous, ongoing, and drawing on a variety of sources of information.

NEEDS ASSESSMENT PROCESS FRAMEWORK

Step 1: Identify the service needs of individuals. Sources of this information might include: customer satisfaction survey results; federal standards and indicators; demographic data; disability incidence; ratio of people served to the general population.

Step 2: Identify services provided by SSB to customers. Sources of this information might include: case service expenditure patterns.

Step 3: Identify concerns or gaps in services between what is needed and what is provided. Sources of this information might include: customer satisfaction survey results; outreach efforts; trend data; training and staff development; customer service needs (supported employment, services from community rehabilitation programs, computers/assistive technology, etc); goals and priorities.

Step 4: Identify the results obtained. Sources of this information might include: employment outcomes; closures without an employment outcome; comparison of findings of the VR Longitudinal Study with SSB results; progress on meeting goals and priorities; federal standards and indicators; customer satisfaction survey results and customer service improvements (phone calls returned, more productive relationships).

Step 5: Allocate/realign resources; make recommendations

Step 6: Return to Step 1 and continue through the framework to conduct a needs assessment that is ongoing and systematic.

Because the needs assessment was viewed as a continuous process, the NATF identified activities for each year of the three-year cycle. This provided the NATF and SSB staff more focus to this complex activity. This cycle of activity was developed in 2007 during the review of the needs assessment activities and results.

Three-Year Cycle of Activity for Conducting a Comprehensive Needs Assessment

Year 1

Conduct a comprehensive statewide assessment of the rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilitiesEstablish fiscal year goals, priorities and strategies

Year 2

Review needs assessment findingsReview goals, priorities and strategiesIdentify what's missing

Year 3

Review and evaluate needs assessment processRecommend changes to the process for conducting the next needs assessment

Over the last three years, a wide range of data has been gathered and analyzed. Areas of concern or gaps in services have been identified. SSB goals, priorities and strategies have been reviewed and modified in light of the findings of many activities associated with this ongoing, comprehensive statewide needs assessment. The following is an outline of the information contained in this attachment-

  1. Minnesota State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind Needs Assessment Review
  2. Incidence of Disability
  3. Rehabilitation Needs of Minnesotans with Disabilities
    1. SSB Performance on Federal Standards and Indicators
    2. Current SSB / SRC-B Goals and Strategies
  4. Customer Satisfaction Survey Results
    1. Findings
    2. Current SSB / SRC-B Goals and Strategies
  5. VR Service Needs of Individuals with the Most Significant Disabilities Including their Need for Supported Employment
    1. Case Service Expenditure and Service Provision Patterns
    2. Findings
  6. VR Service Needs of Individuals with Disabilities Who are Minorities
    1. Case Service Expenditure and Service Provision Patterns
    2. Findings
    3. Current SSB / SRC-B Goals and Strategies
  7. VR Service Needs of Individuals with Disabilities Who are Underserved
    1. Case Service Expenditure and Service Provision Patterns
    2. DeafBlind Needs Assessment Survey
    3. Findings
    4. Current SSB / SRC-B Goals and Strategies
  8. VR Service Needs of Individuals with Disabilities Who are Unserved
  9. VR Service Needs of Individuals with Disabilities Served Through Other Components of the Workforce Investment System
    1. Findings
    2. Current SSB / SRC-B Goals and Strategies
  10. Assessment of the Need to Establish, Develop, or Improve Community Rehabilitation Programs
    1. Findings
    2. Current SSB / SRC-B Goals and Strategies
  11. Summary
    1. Data Highlights

I. MINNESOTA STATE REHABILITATION COUNCIL FOR THE BLIND NEEDS ASSESSMENT REVIEW

Over the last three years, the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind (SRC-B) through its Needs Assessment Task Force (NATF) has evaluated the process SSB used to conduct a needs assessment in 2005 and reviewed the current state plan needs assessment document. The NATF identified additional sources of information for review to determine if there were gaps in services that needed to be addressed. Information was provided and reviewed regarding referral sources, the number of transition students in caseloads, the number of Social Security beneficiaries referred and served, and the number of successful and unsuccessful closures.

Anecdotal information suggested that SSB was serving fewer students with vision loss in the state than had been served in the past and fewer than those who could potentially be eligible for services. Data was reviewed on the number of students served by SSB over a 6-year period so that trends could be examined.

From 2002 through 2008, the number of SSB customers age 21 and younger at time of referral has steadily gone down. In FFY2002 there were 315 customers age 21 and younger. In FFY2008, that number was 242. Only about half of the students referred to SSB are referred by elementary or secondary school staff. That has been the trend since FFY2002.

As the NATF reviewed this data, there were many questions that came to mind. Is SSB serving about the right number of blind, visually impaired or DeafBlind students? If there needs to be more outreach to transition aged students, how many should SSB be serving? How many blind, visually impaired or DeafBlind students are there in Minnesota? There is a need to educate teachers and parents about SSB services. Could SSB tie into the Minnesota Department of Education's marketing and communication to teachers and parents?

It is difficult to accurately assess the number of students in Minnesota who are blind, visually impaired or DeafBlind. The Minnesota Department of Education's unduplicated child count is for funding purposes and a student can only be counted one time. Any student with multiple disabilities will only be counted in one category resulting in undercounting students who are blind, visually impaired, or DeafBlind. In 2006 the child count showed a total of 474 students listed as visually impaired or DeafBlind, 175 of who were of transition age. In 2008 the child count showed a total of 515 students listed as visually impaired or DeafBlind, 167 of who were of transition age.

The Federal Quota Registration of Blind Students under the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind is an annual census conducted by the Minnesota Resource Center: Blind/VI for the American Printing House. In 2008, 788 blind and visually impaired students, pre-college level, were eligible to receive educational materials through that program.

The NATF reviewed information on the total number of SSB customers. In FFY2002 the total number of customers was 1,538 while in FFY2008 it was 1,015. Referral sources for all SSB customers were reviewed and it was found that they have been fairly consistent over time. Each year the category with the most new customers was "self referred"-ranging from 39 percent in FFY2003 to 42 percent in FFY2006. Physicians made far fewer referrals ranging from 13 percent in FFY2002 to 6.5 percent in FFY2006. Since this data was reviewed by the NATF, complete data for FFY2007 and FFY2008 showed the same patterns. Self-referrals increased slightly to 46 percent in FFY2008 and physician referrals remained at 7.5 percent.

The NATF also requested information on the number of Social Security (SSA) beneficiaries served by SSB, interested especially in changes since the implementation of Ticket to Work. Prior to Ticket to Work, SSA made direct referrals to SSB. Over the period of time reviewed- FFY2002 to FFY2007-the percentage of new SSB customers who are SSA beneficiaries has remained at about 50 percent. Referral sources for SSA beneficiaries were also reviewed and those have remained very consistent over that same time period. The primary source of referral was self-referral (20-28 percent). Referrals by physicians ranged from only 2 percent to 5 percent.

Data on the reasons for unsuccessful closures was provided and reviewed. For both transition students and all SSB customers, the top two reasons for an unsuccessful closure after an Individual Employment Plan was developed were unable to locate and refused services.

Other SRC-B Committees were asked whether other customer needs or gaps in services were identified so they could be included in this needs assessment activity. No other additional, specific customer needs were identified.

The NATF identified three areas of potential need: (1) enhance outreach to transition students; (2) increase overall outreach and marketing efforts; and (3) develop strategies to increase the number of employment outcomes and decrease the number of unsuccessful outcomes.

SSB management has also been concerned about these areas and has taken various steps to address these issues. Among the activities taken and planned are the following:

OUTREACH AND MARKETING: In early 2008 SSB hired a full-time outreach and marketing coordinator who spends 25 percent of his time working with staff in the WorkForce Development Unit (VR) to assist with general and targeted outreach efforts on a statewide and local basis to transition age students, and to ethnic and minority communities.

SCHOOL TO WORK TRANSITION: A goal and strategies were added for FFY2009, and continues for FFY2010, to address the transition area.

CLOSURE OUTCOMES: A strategy has been added to Goal and Priority #1 to analyze data comparing successful and unsuccessful closures to identify any statistically significant differences that may lead to changes in service provision. Through the Region 5 Technical Assistance and Continuing Education Center, SSB is utilizing the services of a doctoral student at Southern Illinois University to evaluate SSB's aggregate customer data (RSA 911) for FFY2004 through FFY2008 to complete this analysis. In addition, SSB's director of the Vocational Rehabilitation program has reviewed all cases closed as unable to locate and refused services to identify any trends or issues with policy or practice that need to be addressed.

II. INCIDENCE OF DISABILITY

Several sources of data were reviewed to estimate the incidence of vision loss in Minnesota. Each source uses different surveying methods and surveys varying age groups. The U.S. Census Bureau combines both hearing loss and vision loss under one heading of "sensory disability" making it difficult to effectively use that data to determine potential demand for vocational rehabilitation services by Minnesotans with a vision loss.

Since 2002 Minnesota SSB has participated in the Minnesota State Survey conducted by the University of Minnesota Center for Survey Research. This year's survey was conducted from October 2008 to January 2009. A total of 805 telephone interviews were completed of adults, age 18 and over, who reside in Minnesota.

The results each year have indicated that between 4.5 percent and 7.5 percent of the respondents had a vision problem that made it difficult to read written materials even when wearing corrective lenses. The results for 2008 are consistent with previous findings. The 2008 survey found that 6 percent of respondents indicated they have a vision problem.

Follow-up questions were added in 2008. All respondents were asked questions one and three. If they answered yes to either, they were asked one additional question.

  1. Does anyone in your household have a vision problem that makes it difficult for them to read material in regular size print such as books, magazines, or newspapers even when they are WEARING glasses or contact lenses? (responses: yes, respondent; yes, someone else; yes, both; no; don't know)
  2. (IF YES) Has this vision problem caused you/this person/you or this person to have any difficulty with finding or keeping a job?
  3. Have you ever heard of an organization called State Services for the Blind?
  4. (IF YES) Have you or anyone else in your household ever used services from State Services for the Blind?

Six percent of the respondents to question one stated they have a vision problem that makes it difficult to read material in regular size print even when wearing glasses or contact lenses. Minnesota's population is just under 5.2 million and 3.7 million are between the ages of 18 and 69. Potentially 222,000 adult Minnesotans could have a serious visual impairment. Because of the impact of aging on vision, it is no surprise that the incidence of vision loss increased with age.

Question 1 - Age groups:18 - 24 = 4%25 - 34 = 1.4%35 - 44 = 1.5%45 - 54 = 6.4%55 - 64 = 8.2%65 and older = 8.7%
For those who responded yes to question one, they were asked if their vision problem had caused them to have any difficulty with finding or keeping a job. Seven percent responded it had. The results of this survey suggest the number of Minnesotans who have experienced work related problems because of vision loss could be as high as 15,500.

It is somewhat surprising that no one under the age of 44 responded yes to this statement. At the same time, it is not surprising that vision problems impact more people in the older age groups.

Question 2 - Age groups:18 - 24 = 0%25 - 34 = 0%35 - 44 = 0%45 - 54 = 8.7%55 - 64 = 7.7%65 and older = 13.3%
When asked if they had ever heard of an organization called State Services for the Blind, 48 percent indicated they had. This awareness was fairly high across all age groups, and especially high with those ages 45 and older.
Question 3 - Age groups:18 - 24 = 18.9%25 - 34 = 25.7%35 - 44 = 31%45 - 54 = 50%55 - 64 = 63.3%65 and older = 66.7%
Given the broad awareness of SSB, it is somewhat surprising that only one percent of the respondents indicated they or anyone else in their household had ever used the services of SSB.
Question 4 - Age groups:18 - 24 = 0%25 - 34 = 0%35 - 44 = 0%45 - 54 = 1.8%55 - 64 = 0%65 and older = .9%
Data from the National Eye Institute in the National Institutes of Health, Lighthouse International and the American Foundation for the Blind also publish estimates of vision loss. Their estimates range from 3 percent to 12 percent depending on the age groups studied.

The Lighthouse International cites a study by the American Foundation for the Blind published in 2004. Data collected from the National Health Interview Survey on Disability, found that approximately 54 percent of people 18-69 years of age who have a significant vision impairment are unemployed. Applying this unemployment rate to Minnesota would suggest nearly 120,000 Minnesotans have a significant vision loss and are unemployed.

The Social Security Administration's (SSA) Office of Policy Data publishes annual statistics on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients by state and by Congressional District. The 2007 data, released in September and October of 2008, indicates there are 1,672 Minnesotans receiving SSDI and 723 receiving SSI because of vision impairment.

Since FFY2005 roughly fifty percent of SSB's customers are SSA beneficiaries. In FFY2008 that percentage increased slightly to 52.6 percent or 534 customers. Of those, about half, 248, received Social Security because of a visual impairment. The rest qualified for Social Security based on other disabilities.

As noted in an earlier section of the needs assessment, it is difficult to accurately assess the number of students in Minnesota who are blind, visually impaired or DeafBlind. The Minnesota Department of Education's unduplicated child count is for funding purposes and a student can only be counted one time. Any student with multiple disabilities will only be counted in one category resulting in undercounting students who are blind, visually impaired, or DeafBlind. In 2006 the child count showed a total of 474 students listed as blind, vis ually impaired or DeafBlind, 175 of who were of transition age. In 2008 the child count showed a total of 515 students, ages 0 - 22, listed as blind, visually impaired or DeafBlind. The count for students of transition age, 14-22 years, indicated 26 were students identified as DeafBlind and 141 as blind or visually impaired.

The child count is also reported by race/ethnicity, disability and age. The race/ethnicity of the 26 transition age students identified as DeafBlind is: American Indian, 0; Asian, 0; Black, 4; Hispanic, 0; white, 22. The race/ethnicity of the 141 transition age students identified as having a visual impairment is: American Indian, 3; Asian, 13; Black, 16; Hispanic, 8; white, 101.

The Federal Quota Registration of Blind Students under the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind is an annual census conducted by the Minnesota Resource Center: Blind/VI for the American Printing House. In 2008, 788 blind and visually impaired students, pre-college level, were eligible to receive educational materials through that program.

Over the last several years as SSB has focused on improving services to people who are DeafBlind, the number of DeafBlind customers has steadily increased. In FFY2008, 107 DeafBlind customers received services from SSB. Estimates from the Helen Keller National Center suggest 1 in 8,000 individuals are DeafBlind. For Minnesota, that would equate to approximately 650 individuals, of whom 520 would be of transition age or older.

The Minnesota DeafBlind Technical Assistance Project conducts an annual census of students who are DeafBlind. As of their latest count in December of 2007, they report 253 students (birth - 22 years of age) are DeafBlind. Of those 127 are male and 126 are female; 192 are Caucasian and 61 are minority. Thirty percent of the students have DeafBlindness as their primary disability.

Outreach Events

SSB has continued to place emphasis on outreach activities so that more Minnesotans are informed about SSB services. A m arketing and outreach coordinator, hired in FFY2008, spends 25 percent of his time working with the WorkForce Development Unit (WDU) and 75 percent of his time with the Independent Living Older Blind program.

In keeping with an agency goal to increase referrals of transition age students, SSB's marketing and outreach coordinator has been working with WDU staff to (1) improve informational materials for students, (2) develop and disseminate informational materials for all teachers of the blind and visually impaired, and (3) plan for an open house event in September of 2009 for families, students, and teachers to introduce them to SSB programs and services. It is intended that the open house will become an annual event and that smaller, similar events will occur in Greater Minnesota locations.

In keeping with an agency goal to increase the number of customers from minority backgrounds, a number of outreach activities have been carried out. SSB had an exhibit at a number of events for specific minority groups including: the Minnesota Department of Human Services' Wisdom Walk for Native Elders; the Low Vision Fair for African Americans; the Payne-Phalen Block Nurse Hispanic Outreach Fair; the Eastside YMCA Senior Fair (90 percent of the participants are Hmong); and the Minneapolis Housing Authority's low income high rises (highly diverse groups included Hmong, African-American, Hispanic and African).

Presentations about SSB services were given at some of these events. Additional meetings were held with specific groups such as the Little Earth senior housing complex for Native Elders and the Urban League to discuss services. In addition, a mailing to tribal health agencies and diabetes health providers closest to American Indian reservations was done in April of 2008. Additional activities have been carried out at the local office level as well.

Under the auspices of SSB's RAMP Project (Respectful and Aware of Multicultural Perspectives), monthly e-mails listing cultural events throughout the state are sent to all staff. Training plans continue to focus on cultural diversity.

Estimating need for vocational rehabilitation services based on prevalence data is very difficult. Many Minnesotans with a vision impairment are elderly and need independent living services. A significant number are served by the SSB Senior Services Unit. Many younger Minnesotans with a vision impairment function on an equal basis with their sighted peers and do not desire nor require vocational rehabilitation services from SSB. There is as yet no reliable way to estimate the number of individuals among those with a significant vision loss who want and need vocational rehabilitation services.

SSB will continue to participate in the Minnesota State Survey conducted by the University of Minnesota Center for Survey Research to gain accurate, ongoing information on the prevalence of vision loss. Outreach efforts will continue to assure that SSB services are widely known among community service providers, ophthalmologists, educators and others.

III. REHABILITATION NEEDS OF MINNESOTANS WITH DISABILITIES

In FFY2008 SSB provided vocational rehabilitation services to 1,015 Minnesotans who are blind, visually impaired or DeafBlind. Services were provided by 16 qualified vocational rehabilitation counselors in SSB's WorkForce Development Unit at 11 locations throughout the state with most in Minnesota's WorkForce Centers (one-stops).

Sources of information about the rehabilitation needs of Minnesotans with disabilities are taken from VR caseload data, federal standards and indicators, and customer satisfaction survey results.

Vocational Rehabilitation Caseload Data

Performance highlights for the WorkForce Development Unit for FFY2008 are-

  • the number of paid closures increased 11% from 81 in FFY2007 to 90 in FFY2008
  • the number of unpaid homemaker closures continues to be reduced from a high of 450 in 1998 to 3 in FFY2008
  • unsuccessful closures before plan decreased 30.7% from 101 in FFY2007 to 70 in FFY2008
  • unsuccessful closures after plan decreased 7.8% from 115 to 106 from FFY2007 to FFY2008
  • the difference in weekly salary from application to closure increased 24% from $202 in FFY2007 to $250 in FFY2008
  • 93 blind customers found employment in FFY2008 compared with 81 in FFY2007, a 14.8% increase
  • the average weekly wage at closure for full-time work was $16.76 per hour, 17% more than the $14.34 per hour average in FFY2007
  • the average weekly wage at closure for all paid closures was $13.83 per hour, 1.7% less than the $14.07 per hour average in FFY2007

Case Service Expenditure and Service Provision Patterns - Title I, Part B

Reviewing case service expenditure patterns presumes that the needs of current SSB customers mirror the needs of other Minnesotans with visual impairments who may need and be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services.

SSB case service expenditures were very similar during FFY2007 and FFY2008 for the top eleven categories of purchased services. In fact, they are very consistent with expenditures going back to FFY2004. Adjustment to blindness training has remained the number one service in terms of expenditures since at least FFY2004. Case service expenditures for FFY2008 totaled nearly $4.2 million.

Primary Services Provided/Expenditures in FFY2008:
(1) Adjustment to Blindness Training - $1,083,762(2) Post Secondary Training - $679,318(4) Job Placement - $303,623(5) Adaptive Equipment - $277,971(7) Computer Equipment - $206,973(8) Low Vision Equipment - $188,477(10) Other Training/Education - $98,848(11) Vocational Assessment/Diagnosis - $92,514
Support Services Provided/Expenditures in FFY2008:
(3) Maintenance - $558,668(6) Transportation - $219,528(9) Training Supplies and Books - $101,020

SSB service provision-the services provided to the most number of people-were also very similar for FFY2007 and FFY2008. However there were some significant changes from FFY2004. During FFY2007 and FFY2008, job placement and vocational assessment services appeared in the top ten listing of services provided in terms of the number of people receiving the service. The provision of low vision equipment increased significantly from number eleven to number three-from 91 individuals to 157. Other services have remained fairly similar since FFY2004.

The top eleven services provided and the number of customers who received that service in FFY2008 were:

Transportation - 288Adjustment to Blindness Training - 187Low Vision Equipment - 157Maintenance - 152Adaptive Equipment - 150Computer Equipment - 141Training Supplies and Books - 135Post Secondary Training - 123Medical Diagnosis/Assessment/Evaluation - 94Vocational Assessment/Diagnosis - 76Job Placement - 62

Later sections of this attachment address in more depth the vocational rehabilitation service needs of SSB customers in supported employment funded through Title VI, Part B, customers who meet the Minnesota definition of individuals with the most significant disability, customers who are underserved (DeafBlind), and customers from minority backgrounds. SSB case service expenditures for FFY2008 are very similar among four of these five customer groups. There were only fourteen customers served in supported employment. Perhaps because that group was so small, their service needs were quite different from all customers in Title I as well as the other three customer groups.

The top ten services provided in terms of expenditures are noted above for all SSB customers served through Title I. Nine out of ten of those services were the same for customers from minority backgrounds. The one service they needed more was vocational assessment rather than training supplies and books. Eight out of ten of those services were the same for customers with the most significant disabilities. The services they needed more were vocational assessment and vocational education. Seven out of the ten services were the same for customers who are DeafBlind. The services they needed more were job coaching, vocational assessment and health services.

The average expenditures per customer for each group were:

Title I - $4,133Most Significant Disability - $4,259DeafBlind - $10,747All Minority - $3,714

The services provided to the most number of people are listed previously in this section for all SSB customers in Title I. The pattern is the same for customers with the most significant disabilities and only one service category is different for customers from minority backgrounds. DeafBlind customers had eight out of ten service categories the same, needing reader/drivers/notetakers and job placement more than the other customer groups.

Learning and applying blindness skills is foundational to vocational success for individuals who are visually impaired, blind or DeafBlind. The distribution of Adjustment to Blindness Training (ATB) was further examined because it is such a critical service, and it ranks among the top in the expenditure of case service funds and of the services provided. The average cost per customer for adjustment to blindness training for all SSB customers was $5,796. The other groups varied slightly--$6,242 for customers with the most significant disabilities, $7,355 for customers who are DeafBlind and $7,089 for customers from minority backgrounds.

ATB expenditures accounted for 26 percent of the expenditures for all SSB customers. The other groups varied slightly-30 percent for customers with the most significant disabilities, 25 percent for customers who are DeafBlind and 33 percent for customers from minority backgrounds.

The percentage of customers receiving ATB training also varied slightly. Eighteen percent of all SSB customers received ATB training, 20 percent of customers with the most significant disabilities, 37 percent of customers who are DeafBlind and 17 percent of customers from minority backgrounds. Some current SSB customers had previously received ATB training-35 percent of all SSB customers, 34 percent of customers with the most significant disabilities, 36 percent of customers who are DeafBlind and 41 percent of customers from minority backgrounds.

SSB Performance on Federal Standards and Indicators

The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) has established standards and indicators for measuring the performance of vocational rehabilitation programs across the nation. Standard 1 centers on employment outcomes; Standard 2 centers on service rate to persons from a minority background. The federal standard requires that each agency pass at least 4 of 6 Indicators and 2 of 3 Primary Indicators on Standard 1. In FFY2008 SSB met 5 of the 6 Indicators and all 3 of the Primary Indicators. SSB has consistently met the three primary indicators of Standard 1 since their inception. Indicator 2.1 was not calculated, as fewer than 100 persons from minority backgrounds exited the program during the fiscal year.

The federal indicators, required performance level and SSB's achievement are listed below. The state programs are the "DSU" or Designated State Unit.

1.1 — The number of individuals exiting the VR program who achieved an employment outcome during the current performance period compared to the number of individuals who exit the VR program after achieving an employment outcome during the previous performance period.

Required Performance Level: DSU's performance in current period must equal or exceed performance in previous period. In FFY2008 SSB assisted 12 more individuals to obtain employment than in FFY2007.

1.2 — Of all individuals who exit the VR program after receiving services, the percentage who are determined to have achieved an employment outcome.

Required Performance Level: For the general and combined DSUs, the level is 55.8 percent; for agencies serving individuals who are blind, the level is 68.9 percent. In FFY2008, SSB's performance level was 47 percent.

1.3 — Of all individuals determined to have achieved an employment outcome, the percentage who exit the VR program in competitive, self-, or business enterprise program (BEP) employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage.

Required Performance Level: For the general and combined DSUs, the level is 72.6 percent; for agencies serving individuals who are blind, the level is 35.4 percent. In FFY2008, SSB's performance level was 94.6 percent.

1.4 — Of all individuals who exit the VR program in competitive, self-, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage, the percentage who are individuals with significant disabilities.

Required Performance Level: For the general and combined DSUs, the level is 62.4 percent; for agencies serving individuals who are blind, the level is 89.0 percent. In FFY2008, SSB's performance level was 100 percent.

1.5 — The average hourly earnings of all individuals who exit the VR program in competitive, self-, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage as a ratio to the State's average hourly earnings for all individuals in the State who are employed (as derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, "State Average Annual Pay" for the most recent available year).

Required Performance Level: For the general and combined DSUs, the level is a ratio of .52; for agencies serving individuals who are blind, the ratio is .59. In FFY2008, SSB's performance level was .68.

1.6 — Of all individuals who exit the VR program in competitive, self-, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage, the difference between the percentage who report their own income as the largest single source of economic support at the time they exit the VR program and the percentage who report their own income as the largest single source of support at the time they apply for VR services.

Required Performance Level: For the general and combined DSUs, the level is an arithmetic difference of 53.0; for agencies serving individuals who are blind, the level is a difference of 30.4. In FFY2008, SSB's performance level was 31.8 percent.

2.1 — The service rate for all individuals with disabilities from minority backgrounds as a ratio to the service rate for all individuals with disabilities from non-minority backgrounds.

Required Performance Level: All agencies must attain a ratio level of .80. In FFY2008, because fewer than 100 persons from minority backgrounds exited SSB's program during the fiscal year, the ratio was not calculated.

Current SSB / SRC-B Goals and Strategies

SSB did not meet Standard 1.2, the percentage of individuals who exit the VR program after services who achieved an employment outcome. SSB also did not meet Standard 2.1 because fewer than 100 persons from minority backgrounds exited the program.

SSB has, along with the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind, developed two goals and a number of strategies to improve performance on the federal Indicator 1.2 and Standard 2.1.

GOAL AND PRIORITY #1: Employment Outcomes-SSB will meet RSA Indicator 1.1 and 1.2.

The strategies for meeting this goal are-

  1. Each Counseling Supervisor will ensure staff of the WorkForce Development Unit (WDU):
    1. agree to specific paid closure goals by September 30 of each year for the following year;
    2. actively participate in all relevant workforce-related activities to ensure customers are provided current, accurate information about employment demands, trends and opportunities; and
    3. utilize the results of the biannual case file reviews to assess individual training needs to improve staff counseling and placement skills.
  2. The marketing and outreach coordinator dedicates 25 percent of his time to work with WDU staff on targeted VR outreach activities: i.e., presenting information on SSB services at various professional conferences; contacts with community based organizations; mailings to ophthalmologists; etc. Effectiveness will be measured by comparing referrals from FFY2007 through FFY2009.
  3. Analyze data comparing successful and unsuccessful closures to identify any statistically significant differences that may lead to changes in service provision.

GOAL AND PRIORITY #2: Minority Service Rate-By the end of FFY2010, at least 100 persons from minority backgrounds will exit services annually and SSB will meet RSA Indicator 2.1.

The strategies for meeting this goal are-

  1. Carry out the in-service quality training grant plan for training on cultural diversity.
  2. Provide information to staff on cultural diversity training opportunities and various community cultural events and encourage attendance.
  3. The marketing and outreach coordinator works with SSB WDU staff in outreach activities to Minnesota's community-based organizations representing minority groups, with emphasis on community-based organizations serving African-Americans.
  4. Strengthen relationships between Adult Basic Education programs and SSB to enhance mutual understanding of respective programs so that SSB customers are better prepared for employment. Work with CRPs, vendors and other community organizations to develop innovative approaches to effectively serve non-English speaking SSB customers.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Funding

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides an unprecedented opportunity to implement innovative strategies to improve employment outcomes and independent living opportunities for blind, DeafBlind and visually impaired individuals. The recession, as well as long-standing barriers to employment and independent living for the blind, have resulted in a far too low employment rate and less than independent living arrangement for these individuals in our community. Our federal partner has asked us to fund short-term investments that have the potential for long-term benefits.

With this in mind, State Services for the Blind will make the following investments:

  • The WorkForce Development Unit (Vocational Rehabilitation) will hire two additional counselors and three placement coordinators to expand and enhance employment opportunities for SSB customers. New approaches to placement, training, and internships will be explored. Also, SSB is exploring potential vendors to work with customers in developing small business plans.
  • SSB will hire one administrative staff person to coordinate ARRA reporting and work on critical infrastructure for the future, including purchase and lending of assistive technology, staff development to improve critical competencies, and update policies and rules for the delivery of WorkForce Development Unit services.

IV. CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY RESULTS

Beginning in 2000, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, SSB's Designated State Agency (DSA), began working with all of its programs to create a joint customer satisfaction survey to gauge customer satisfaction with the Minnesota's WorkForce Center System and each of its partners' programs. Some of the survey questions were those required of U. S. Department of Labor programs and the rest were crafted by program staff to obtain additional needed information. SSB was, and continues to be, a partner to this activity.

Minnesota contracts with an outside entity, currently the Strategic Research Group (SRG) of Columbus, Ohio, to ensure neutrality in interviewing and independence in reporting. SRG conducts quarterly telephone surveys. Approximately 290 SSB customers are interviewed each year.

The results of the quarterly surveys are provided to the Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities Committee of the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind (SRC-B). That Committee reviews and analyzes the quarterly survey results. Their analysis is included in their annual report. In the SRC-B Annual Report for 2008, the Committee wrote:

"The Committee reviewed the Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSS) results through March 31, 2008. Five survey items were analyzed to compare the results for years ending 3/31/05, 3/31/06, 3/31/07, and 3/31/08. While there has been some fluctuation in results, no significant changes have taken place from year to year.

Additionally, the committee reviews the verbatim comments in response to questions regarding services customers found most helpful and areas needing improvement. The committee tracks the categories of comments receiving the three highest percentages from quarter to quarter. In addition, the members of the committee also read the verbatim comments to determine if trends or issues specific to SSB arise which may not be apparent from these categories. No significant trends were identified from this data. The complete Customer Satisfaction Survey results can be found at:www.deed.state.mn.us/customersurvey/ssb/index.htm"

The survey questions were modified by a DSA committee, including SSB, when the contract was moved to the Strategic Research Group in 2005. Questions 6 through 9 are specific to SSB. The questions now asked are:

  1. What is your overall satisfaction with the services provided?
  2. To what extent have the services met your expectations?
  3. How well do the services you received compare with the ideal set of services?
  4. How satisfied are you that staff understand your needs?
  5. How satisfied are you that staff responded to your request for help in a reasonable amount of time?
  6. Which services, if any, were the most helpful to you in getting a job?
  7. Which services, if any, do you believe will most help you in keeping your job?
  8. Which services, if any, do you believe will help you the most in getting a better job?
  9. Which services, if any, do you believe will help you in getting a job?
  10. What about these services that you received could be improved?

Findings

The Customer Satisfaction Survey results for SSB for FFY2008 were:

  1. Overall Satisfaction with services: 84%
  2. Extent to which services met expectations: 78%
  3. Comparison with "ideal" set of services: 79%
  4. Satisfied that counselor understood customer needs: 87%
  5. How satisfied with the time to get your answer: 85%

As noted earlier, the SRC-B Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities Committee found that while there has been some fluctuation in the results, no significant changes have taken place from year to year. SSB is very pleased that 87 percent of its customers surveyed during FFY2008 felt their counselor understood their needs and 84 percent were satisfied with the services they received.

While there is much to celebrate in the customer satisfaction survey results, there are always areas that need improvement. SSB and the SRC-B, have chosen to focus on the overall customer satisfaction score in setting agency goals. The Director of the Workforce Development Unit and the Council Committee on Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities review the respondents' open-ended comments to questions six through nine, analyze the findings, and identify any actions to be taken. The comments are organized into major categories. The percentage of respondents that made comments within each category follow:

When asked what services were helpful in getting a job, keeping a job, or getting a better job the answers were:
36% developing and learning job-related skills27% resources to help job search20% learning job search skills16% financial help14% staff helpfulness9% resources5% exceptional program or services
When asked what about their services could be improved, the answers were:
49% unrelated comment or a compliment about services29% provide more services from a WorkForce Center18% improve the quality of WorkForce Center services12% resources, financial, and material support7% improve staff services7% provide more job skills training improvements7% other

Current SSB / SRC-B Goals and Strategies

SSB and the SRC-B have identified goals and priorities along with strategies to address customer satisfaction

GOAL AND PRIORITY #4: Increase customer satisfaction with services provided-by the end of FFY2010 the annual overall satisfaction with services provided by SSB will be at or above 85 percent. (Q1 on the Customer Satisfaction Survey, "What is your overall satisfaction with the services provided?" The scale is from 1 to 10 where "1" means "very dissatisfied" and "10" means "very satisfied".)

The strategies for meeting this goal are-

  1. Customer satisfaction surveys will be administered quarterly to approximately 60 SSB customers as part of the DEED customer satisfaction initiative. The surveys are conducted by an external organization as the result of a competitive process
  2. SSB and the SRC-B Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities Committee will continue to review and analyze the data on a quarterly basis including specific customer comments
  3. Based on the analysis of the customer satisfaction survey results, recommendations for program improvements will be brought to SSB and the SRC-B to assure that services are available that meet customer needs.

Because customer satisfaction is highly correlated with informed choice, SSB has a goal and priority to insure every SSB customer has the information needed to make an informed choice in selecting providers for adjustment to blindness training. The customer satisfaction surveys referred to in goal six are conducted by SRG.

GOAL AND PRIORITY #6: Insure every SSB customer has the information needed to make an informed choice in selecting providers for adjustment to blindness training.

During FFY2010 100 percent of SSB customers attending ATB half time or more will indicate that they were given the opportunity to choose their provider.

The strategies for meeting this goal are-

  1. During FFY2010 SSB counselors will complete the "Choosing ATB Training" form with each customer who is considering ATB training. Counselors will ensure that all customers are provided information, in an accessible format, about options for receiving adjustment to blindness services, and strongly encourage each customer to tour each community rehabilitation program. The "Choosing ATB Training" form is signed by the counselor and customer. The customer affirms that they received the information they needed to make an informed choice in the selection of the provider. A copy of the form will be sent to SSB's State Director, and the information will be compiled and reported semi-annually to the SRC-B.
  2. SSB and the Vendor Outcomes and Measures Committee of the SRC-B developed and implemented a customer satisfaction survey for customers who completed adjustment to blindness training. During FFY2010, each SSB customer will be surveyed six months after completion of adjustment to blindness training or at time of case file closure, whichever comes first. Each month an estimated ten to fifteen customers will be contacted to complete the telephone survey of eighteen questions.The data gathered from the completed customer satisfaction surveys will be formatted, posted externally on the SSB website, and made available on tape for customer review when selecting a service provider to meet their rehabilitation needs. ATB providers will be able to use the results for continuous improvement of their services. The results will be reported to the SRC-B and will be used to identify customer needs and areas for service improvements.
  3. SSB will continue to require individual vendors who provide training to SSB customers on access and assistive technology to pass a test, developed by SSB staff or an external vendor, on the software programs they wish to teach in order to be on the list of approved vendors. In addition, each individual vendor and CRP trainer must take and pass an adult learning course which was developed for SSB by Century College, a school within the Minnesota State College and University System. That course provides training on learning styles, teaching methods, multiple intelligences, and how to write individualized training plans and learning objectives.

Customer satisfaction is also impacted by staff knowledge and understanding. SSB has a goal related to staff training on developing blindness skills.

GOAL AND PRIORITY #7: All VR staff members new to SSB will receive Introduction to Blindness -Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 training on the essential aspects of blindness and visual impairment.

The strategies for meeting this goal are-

  1. Supervisory staff will ensure all new VR staff will complete Introduction to Blindness -Phase 1 training within three months of hire.
  2. Supervisory staff will ensure all new Rehabilitation Counseling staff will complete Introduction to Blindness-Phase 2 training within three months of hire.
  3. Introduction to Blindness-Phase 2 training will be discussed with and encouraged for career development for current staff that would otherwise not be required to attend.

V. VR SERVICE NEEDS OF INDIVIDUALS WITH THE MOST SIGNIFICANT DISABILITIES INCLUDING THEIR NEED FOR SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT

While over 90 percent of SSB customers are individuals with a significant disability, 25 percent met SSB's criteria as an individual with the most significant disability. An individual with a most significant disability is an eligible individual who:

  • has a severe physical or mental impairment that results in serious limitations in terms of an employment outcome in five or more of the following functional areas: mobility, communication, self-care, self-direction, work skills, interpersonal skills or job seeking skills; and
  • is expected to require multiple VR services over an extended period of time.

Case Service Expenditure and Service Provision Patterns

Case service expenditures for SSB customers with the most significant disabilities show a similar pattern from FFY2005 with only minor changes. Total expenditures equaled $1.094 million with average expenditures of $4,259 per customer. The top ten services in terms of expenditures for individuals with the most significant disabilities in FFY2008 was-

  1. Adjustment to Blindness Training - $324,569
  2. Maintenance - $221,270
  3. Post Secondary Training - $133,445
  4. Transportation - $60,377
  5. Vocational Assessment - $56,008
  6. Computer Equipment - $47,591
  7. Adaptive Equipment - $47,307
  8. Job Placement - $47,009
  9. Low Vision Equipment - $35,750
  10. Vocational Education/Business College - $24,033

The expenditure pattern has been very similar over the last three years. However, in FFY2005 the top ten services included transportation, other training and miscellaneous supplies, and did not include job placement. Expenditures were somewhat higher in FFY2005, $1.4 million, with an average cost per customer of $6,067. There were slightly fewer customers in this category served in FFY2008-257-compared to FFY2005-232.

SSB service provision, the services provided to the most number of people, show a similar pattern as in the past and similar to the listing of those services with the most expenditures. The differences were more individuals received vocational assessment and job placement in FFY2005, and more people received low vision equipment and training supplies and books in FFY2008.

Customers receiving services under a supported employment plan are considered to be those with the most significant disability. The number of customers in supported employment plans has decreased from 32 in FFY2005 to 14 in FFY2008. There does not seem to be any particular reason for this reduction other than the natural mix of customer needs. While it remains very difficult to find ongoing employment supports, there are very few customers closed because those supports were not available-one in FFY2008, zero in FFY2007, three in FFY2006 and zero in FFY2005.

The top three services provided to customers in supported employment plans were job placement, vocational assessment and job coaching. That was the case both in terms of the number of customers receiving the service and the level of expenditures. That seems consistent with the needs of most individuals needing supported employment.

Findings

SSB customers who meet SSB's criteria as an individual with the most significant disability made up 25.3 percent of all WorkForce Development customers and accounted for 26 percent of all expenditures.

Learning and applying blindness skills is foundational to vocational success for individuals who are visually impaired, blind or DeafBlind. Approximately the same percentage of customers with the most significant disabilities, 20percent, received adjustment to blindness training as did all SSB WorkForce Development customers, 18percent. The average expenditure for adjustment to blindness training per customer with the most significant disabilities was slightly higher at $6,242, compared to all customers at $5,796.

Average expenditures per person for all WorkForce Development customers were $4,133. Average expenditures were only slightly higher for individuals with the most significant disabilities, $4,259. Patterns of expenditures and service provision were very similar for customers with the most significant disabilities to those for all SSB customers.

There were too few people served in supported employment to compare the data to other customer groups and to all SSB customers. While the number of individuals in supported employment is down and the expenditures are down, the pattern of service provision remains quite consistent over time.

VI. VR SERVICE NEEDS OF INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES WHO ARE MINORITIES

As noted in Section III, SSB did not meet federal Standard 2.1, "the service rate for all individuals with disabilities from minority backgrounds as a ratio to the service rate for all individuals with disabilities from non-minority backgrounds". Because fewer than 100 persons from minority backgrounds exited SSB's program during the fiscal year, the ratio was not calculated.

In an effort to improve performance in this area, SSB has taken a number of actions. Together with the SRC-B, SSB established a Minority Outreach Committee which has been working on various issues related to outreach and services to new immigrants and other minority communities. SSB obtained a Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) quality in-service training grant focused on increasing staff cultural competencies. SSB developed and disseminated to staff information on the cultures of Minnesota's new immigrant groups and provides information on a monthly basis on ethnic/cultural events throughout the State. One responsibility of SSB's newly hired marketing and outreach staff person is to focus marketing activities to specific ethnic communities.

Data from the Minnesota State Demographic Center for 2007, the most recent data available, shows increases in all but two of Minnesota's ethnic/minority communities. The American Indian population has declined significantly from 82,000 in 2004 to 48,500 in 2007. The Hmong population has declined from 60,000 in 2004 to 49,000 in 2007.

Hispanic/Latino: 206,000American Indian: 48,500Hmong: 49,000Somali: 25,000Russian: 29,500Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 2,000Asian: 182,000Black: 224,000Caucasian: 4,455,800

The race/ethnicity of students of transition age in Minnesota schools who are identified as having a visual impairment or are DeafBlind is listed in Section I. Incidence of Disability. Of the 26 transition age students identified as DeafBlind only four are students of color. Of the 141 students of transition age identified as having a visual impairment, 40 are students of color.

Case Service Expenditure and Service Provision Patterns

Case service expenditures for SSB customers with disabilities who are minorities, show the following pattern for the top ten categories of purchased services.

Primary Services Provided/Expenditures in FFY2008:

(1) Adjustment to Blindness Training - $283,561(2) Post Secondary Training - $124,408(4) Job Placement - $54,908(5) Other Training/Education - $46,601(6) Low Vision Equipment - $41,208(8) Computer Equipment - $32,115(9) Adaptive Equipment - $27,966(10) Vocational Assessment/Diagnosis - $27,350

Support Services Provided/Expenditures in FFY2008:

(3) Maintenance - $116,687(7) Transportation - $32,858

This expenditure pattern has remained fairly consistent over time. Adjustment to blindness training remains the number one service expenditure and transportation the service provided to the most number of customers. The average expenditures for the 234 customers from minority backgrounds were $3,714, very similar to that for all Title I customers at $4,133.

SSB service provision, the services provided to the most number of people, show the following pattern for SSB customers with disabilities who are minorities.

Primary Services Provided/Number of Customers in FFY2008:

(2) Low Vision Equipment - 41(3) Adjustment to Blindness Training - 40(5) Computer Equipment - 27(7) Vocational Assessment/Diagnosis - 22(8) Post Secondary Training - 21(9) Medical Diagnosis/Assessment/Evaluation - 21

Support Services Provided/Number of Customers in FFY2008:

(1) Transportation - 73(4) Maintenance - 33(6) Training supplies and Books -- 27(10) Reader/Driver/Notetaker/Interpreter - 21

Findings

There has been a significant increase in the number of SSB customers from minority backgrounds. In FFY2005 SSB served 133 minority customers; in FFY2008 the number served was 234. In FFY2005 customers from minority backgrounds were 11 percent of the WDU customers and in FFY2008 they were 23 percent of all customers. Service patterns are much more similar to those for all Title I customers than in FFY2005. With the significant increase in the number of customers from minority backgrounds served by SSB, it is anticipated that continued emphasis on this goal and its attending strategies will result in meeting this goal.

The five-year RSA quality in-service training grant that began in October of 2006 focused resources on developing and improving staff cultural competencies. SSB contracted with Century College, a public college within the Minnesota State Colleges and University System, to complete an initial organizational assessment so that training and other activities in this area would reflect staff needs. The individual assessments utilized the "Discovering Diversity Profile" self-scoring assessment tool. The organizational assessment was carried out through eight staff forums conducted throughout the state. The results confirmed that SSB has a sensitive, knowledgeable, and skilled staff with respect to cultural competency. Training has been designed to enhance this high level of competency and to provide specific information about cultural/ethnic groups. The next step in training is to develop an electronic training curriculum with a series of modules that staff will be able to utilize independently.

When providing VR services staff must be sensitive to the differing cultural views on gender, disability-especially blindness-and work. Another very challenging area is providing adjustment to blindness training for individuals with little or no English proficiency. Assuring that competent translators are available or working with English as a Second Language instructors to teach the basic words needed to succeed in adjustment to blindness training programs is a significant need. SSB along

This screen was last updated on Sep 14 2009 11:24AM by samnccarlsonc

Attachment 4.11(b) Annual Estimates of Individuals to Be Served and Costs of Services

During FFY2010, 1062 people applied for or were receiving vocational rehabilitation services from State Services for the Blind (SSB) using Title I, Part B funds. Of those, 992 individuals were determined eligible for vocational rehabilitation services from SSB. A total of 64 individuals were closed before a plan was developed and 75 were closed after a plan was developed. There were 80 paid employment closures.

The number of customers in supported employment plans has decreased from 32 in FFY2005 to 7 in FFY2010. There does not seem to be any particular reason for this reduction other than the natural mix of customer needs. While it remains challenging to find ongoing employment supports, there are very few customers closed because those supports were not available—zero in FFY2010 & 2009, one in FFY2008 and three in FFY2006. Services provided to individuals in a supported employment plan were purchased using Title VI, Part B funds.

Case service expenditures for FFY2010 for purchased services for Title I, Part B customers was $6.0 million and $12,806 for Title VI, Part B plans. SSB estimates that approximately 966 customers will apply for or receive services under Title I, Part B, at an estimated cost of $6.0 million in FFY2011, and 976 customers will apply for or receive services at an estimated cost of $6.0 million in FFY2012. SSB estimates that approximately 8 customers will be served under Title VI, Part B, at an estimated cost of $13,000 in FFY2011, and 7 customers will be served at an estimated cost of $13,000 in FFY2012.

Minnesota SSB did not operate under an order of selection during FFY2010 and does not anticipate the need to close categories during the remainder of FFY2011 or during FFY2012.

This year the array of services provided to individuals through Title VI, Part B funds was quite different from services provided to individuals through Title I, Part B funds. The differences, however, may be attributable to the small number of individuals served under a supported employment plan rather than from differences in the needs of the two customer groups.

Title I, Part B

SSB case service expenditures using Title I, Part B funds were very similar during FFY2007 and FFY2008 for the top eleven categories of purchased services. In fact, they are very consistent with expenditures going back to FFY2004. Adjustment to blindness training has remained the number one service in terms of expenditures since at least FFY2004.

Primary Services Provided/Expenditures in FFY2010:

(1) Adjustment to Blindness Training - $1,441,402

(2) Post Secondary Training - $627,483

(4) Job Placement - $359,013

(5) Adaptive Equipment - $336,001

(6) Computer Equipment - $286,196

(7) Low Vision Equipment - $255,804

(8) Assessments - $199,445

(9) Medical Diagnosis/Assessment/Evaluation - $198,407

Support Services Provided/Expenditures in FFY2010:

(3) Vendor Maintenance - $426,962

(10) Customer Maintenance - $196,310

(11) Reader/Driver/Notetaker/All Interpreters -$131,500

SSB service provision—the services provided to the most number of people—were also very similar for FFY2007, FFY2008, FFY2009 and FFY2010. However there were some significant changes from FFY2004. During FFY2007 and FFY2008, job placement and vocational assessment services appeared in the top ten listing of services provided in terms of the number of people receiving the service. Job placement services do not appear in the top ten for FFY2009 but reappear for FFY2010. The provision of low vision equipment increased significantly from number eleven to number three—from 91 individuals to 154 in FFY2009. In FFY2010 low vision equipment has risen to number two- from 154 to 257 individuals. Other services have remained fairly similar since FFY2004. The top eleven services provided and the number of customers who received that service in FFY2010 are:

Transportation – 301

All Other - 257

Adjustment to Blindness Training – 208

Medical Diagnosis/Assessment/Evaluation – 197

Post Secondary Training – 159

Vocational Assessment/Diagnosis – 153

Maintenance – 97

Reader/Driver/Notetaker/Interpreters - 65

Other Training/Education - 60

Placement - 54

Vocational and Occupational Skills Training - 34

Title VI, Part B

Case service expenditures for FFY2010 for the 11 Title VI, Part B customers were $12,806. The top three services provided to customers in supported employment plans were Maintenance (6 customer totaling $7,266), Job Placement (3 customers totaling $4,800) and Self Employment Services (1 customers totaling ($3,062). The number of customers receiving the service and the level of expenditures were not consistent. The number of individuals in supported employment is decreasing while the expenditures are increasing which is not consistent with the pattern of service provision over time.

SSB is analyzing closure data and based on that review along with strategic planning efforts, there may be a shift in the magnitude of various services being offered.

Category Title I or Title VI Estimated Funds Estimated Number to be Served Average Cost of Services
Case service expenditures Title I $6,000,000 976 $6,147
Case service expenditures Title VI $13,000 7 $1,857
Totals   $6,013,000 983 $6,116

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2011 12:49PM by Jennifer Beilke

The goals and priorities are based on the comprehensive statewide assessment, on requirements related to the performance standards and indicators, and on other information about the state agency. (See section 101(a)(15)(C) of the Act.) This attachment should be updated when there are material changes in the information that require the description to be amended.

  • Identify if the goals and priorities were jointly developed and agreed to by the state VR agency and the State Rehabilitation Council, if the state has a council.
  • Identify if the state VR agency and the State Rehabilitation Council, if the state has such a council, jointly reviewed the goals and priorities and jointly agreed to any revisions.
  • Identify the goals and priorities in carrying out the vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs.
  • Ensure that the goals and priorities are based on an analysis of the following areas:
    • the most recent comprehensive statewide assessment, including any updates;
    • the performance of the state on standards and indicators; and
    • other available information on the operation and effectiveness of the VR program, including any reports received from the State Rehabilitation Council and findings and recommendations from monitoring activities conducted under section 107.

Attachment 4.11(c)(1) SRC-B and SSB Joint Goals and Priorities for FFY2012

This attachment outlines the goals and priorities for the State Services for the Blind’s (SSB) vocational rehabilitation program. The original goals and priorities were jointly developed and were formally agreed to by SSB and the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind (SRC-B) at the April 7, 2011, SRC-B meeting.

These goals and priorities are based on an analysis of the results of the FFY2010 state plan statewide needs assessment; SSB’s performance on the federal standards and indicators; findings and recommendations from the section 107 review conducted by RSA in 2010; the results of customer satisfaction surveys; and the actions and recommendations of the SRC-B, its committees and task forces.

These goals were selected for one, or more, of the following reasons—

• The goal continues to be a federal focus area—customer satisfaction; increased employment outcomes; and outreach to transition-age students;

• The goal is an ongoing area of concern based on the findings of the needs assessment—increasing outreach and services to individuals who are DeafBlind or from minority backgrounds; or

• The goal continues because SSB and the SRC-B agree it is of significant importance or that more improvement is desired—customer informed choice in selection of vendor and staff adjustment to blindness experiential training.

The strategies, described in Attachment 4.11(d), were also developed jointly with the SRC-B and agreed to by both SSB and the SRC-B. The implementation of the strategies and reports on progress toward meeting the goals and priorities are reported on at regular SRC-B meetings.

GOAL 1: Improve number and percent of closed cases achieving employment after receiving services.

PRIORITY 1.1: Employment Outcomes—By the end of FFY 2013, SSB will meet RSA Indicator 1.1 by increasing for the two year period (FFY2012 and FFY 2013) the number of individuals achieving employment over the base period of FFY2010-FFY2011.

PRIORITY 1.2: Employment Rate— SSB’s performance on RSA Indicator 1.2 will increase annually from the 2010 baseline of 50%, reflecting an increase in the percentage of persons closed achieving employment after receiving services.

PRIORITY 1.3: Increase customer satisfaction with services provided—By the end of FFY2011 the annual overall satisfaction with services provided by SSB will be at or above 85%. (Q1 on the Customer Satisfaction Survey, “What is your overall satisfaction with the services provided?” The scale is from 1 to 10 where “1” means “very dissatisfied” and “10” means “very satisfied”. A response equal to or greater than “6” fall in the “satisfied” range).

PRIORITY 1.4: Continue to insure every SSB customer has the information needed to make an informed choice in selecting a Community Rehabilitation Provider (CRP) for adjustment to blindness training. During FFY2012, 100% of SSB customers attending ATB half time or more will indicate that they were given all the information they needed to make an informed choice about the CRP they wanted to attend.

GOAL 2: In the targeted groups, increase the number of individuals served and the vocational outcomes achieved.

PRIORITY 2.1: Minority Service Rate— By the end of FFY2011, SSB will meet RSA Indicator 2.1, as follows: The ratio of customers from the minority population exiting after receiving services under an IPE to all customers from the minority population exiting will exceed 80% of the same ratio calculated for customers from the non-minority population. Current (FFY2010) performance level is 52.6%.

PRIORITY 2.2: Deafblind Outreach and Service—Enhance services for persons who have a dual sensory loss, including persons who are Deafblind. During FFY2012 at least _*_ individuals with a dual sensory loss will secure employment as a result of SSB services.

*NOTE: The number of individuals who will secure employment is left blank until July 2011 when a realistic number will be determined.

PRIORITY 2.3: Increase the percentage of students who apply at ages 14 and 15 from the baseline of 39% of all applicants between the ages of 14-22 in FFY2009 to 45% of all applicants between the ages of 14-22 in FFY2011.

This screen was last updated on Jul 29 2011 9:42AM by Jennifer Beilke

  • Identify the order to be followed in selecting eligible individuals to be provided vocational rehabilitation services.
  • Identify the justification for the order.
  • Identify the service and outcome goals.
  • Identify the time within which these goals may be achieved for individuals in each priority category within the order.
  • Describe how individuals with the most significant disabilities are selected for services before all other individuals with disabilities.

This agency is not implementing an Order of Selection.

This screen was last updated on Jun 19 2009 11:27AM by samnccarlsonc

Specify the state's goals and priorities with respect to the distribution of funds received under section 622 of the Act for the provision of supported employment services.

Attachment 4.11(c)(4) Goals and Plans for Distribution of Title VI, Part B Funds

Minnesota State Services for the Blind’s (SSB) goal and plan for Title VI, Part B funds, is to use them on an individualized, fee-for-service basis to purchase needed services for customers whose vocational rehabilitation goal is competitive employment with supports. All funds authorized under Title VI, Part B, less a maximum of five percent set-aside for administrative expenses, are distributed and authorized by VR counselors to purchase needed services for customers under a supported employment plan. The money is administered and tracked, in accordance with federal requirements, through SSB’s electronic tracking system.

During FFY2010, SSB provided services to 7 individuals under a plan for supported employment. The total Title VI Part B expenditures for FFY2010 were $12,806.

SSB purchases needed services from community rehabilitation programs. Those purchases are governed by operating agreements with either SSB or the General VR agency for the specific services required.

The top three services purchased for customers in supported employment plans were maintenance, job placement, and self employment services. The number of customers receiving the service and the level of expenditures were not consistent.

SSB has set a specific, measurable goal for supported employment for FFY2012. This goal is set taking into account the number of individuals in a supported employment plan currently within counselor caseloads, where the individuals are in the process of completing their rehabilitation plan, when they are expected to be ready for employment, and the ongoing services available. SSB will assist four SSB customers to secure competitive employment with supports following the provision of supported employment services using Title VI Part B funds.

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2011 2:30PM by Jennifer Beilke

This attachment should include required strategies and how the agency will use these strategies to achieve its goals and priorities, support innovation and expansion activities, and overcome any barriers to accessing the vocational rehabilitation and the supported employment programs. (See sections 101(a)(15)(D) and (18)(B) of the Act and Section 427 of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA)).

Describe the methods to be used to expand and improve services to individuals with disabilities.

Identify how a broad range of assistive technology services and assistive technology devices will be provided to individuals with disabilities at each stage of the rehabilitation process; and describe how assistive technology services and devices will be provided to individuals with disabilities on a statewide basis.

Identify what outreach procedures will be used to identify and serve individuals with disabilities who are minorities, including those with the most significant disabilities; and what outreach procedures will be used to identify and serve individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the VR program.

If applicable, identify plans for establishing, developing, or improving community rehabilitation programs within the state.

Describe strategies to improve the performance of the state with respect to the evaluation standards and performance indicators.

Describe strategies for assisting other components of the statewide workforce investment system in assisting individuals with disabilities.

Describe how the agency's strategies will be used to:

  • achieve goals and priorities identified in Attachment 4.11(c)(1);
  • support innovation and expansion activities; and
  • overcome identified barriers relating to equitable access to and participation of individuals with disabilities in the state Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and the state Supported Employment Services Program.

ATTACHMENT 4.11(d) Strategies to Achieve the SRC-B and SSB Joint Goals and Priorities FFY 2012

This attachment outlines the strategies that will assist State Services for the Blind’s (SSB) vocational rehabilitation program to achieve the goals and priorities for the vocational rehabilitation program. The original goals and priorities were jointly developed and were formally agreed to by SSB and the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind (SRC-B) at the April 7, 2011, SRC-B meeting.

The goals, priorities and strategies are based on an analysis of the results of the FFY2010 state plan statewide needs assessment; SSB’s performance on the federal standards and indicators; findings and recommendations from the section 107 review conducted by RSA; the results of customer satisfaction surveys; and the actions and recommendations of the SRC-B, its committees and task forces. The implementation of the strategies and reports on progress toward meeting the goals and priorities are reported on at regular SRC-B meetings.

SSB does not believe there are barriers to equitable access to and participation of individuals with disabilities in the state Vocational Rehabilitation program or Supported Employment program as described in Section 427 of GEPA. However, SSB does believe the strategies identified for Goal 2 will improve access to and participation of individuals from minority backgrounds and individuals who are DeafBlind whether served under Title I or Title VI.

GOAL 1: Improve number and percent of closed cases achieving employment after receiving services.

PRIORITY 1.1: Employment Outcomes—By the end of FFY 2013, SSB will meet RSA Indicator 1.1 by increasing for the two year period (FFY2012 and FFY 2013) the number of individuals achieving employment over the base period of FFY2010-FFY2011.

During FFY 2012 and 2013, the strategies for meeting this priority are—

1. By August 31 of each year, each counselor and their supervisor will meet to review the potential of each customer for successful employment by the end of the next FFY. Each counselor with at least two years of experience will be expected to identify at least six individuals for whom successful closure is realistic during the next FFY.

Between January 1 and January 31 of each year, supervisors and counselors will review the projections, taking into account any changes in the caseload. As appropriate, the supervisor will revise the outcome goal and customers identified as potential successful closures. Supervisors will monitor progress of designated customers toward their employment outcome during required monthly meetings with each counselor and provide assistance as needed. Recognition of counselors who met and who exceeded their individual outcomes goals will occur at the February staff meeting each year.

2. Each counseling supervisor will ensure each WFD counselor attends training in utilizing Labor Market Information, MySkillsMyFuture, ISEEK and other websites which provide relevant information regarding the labor market. Counselors will attend training in the utilization of each of these websites at least once every two years. Counselors newly employed by SSB will attend training in each of these websites within one year of hire.

Because there are multiple websites which provide counselors and customers with a wide range of information about current and future jobs, knowledge of these websites will provide customers with a broader range of information to assist them in choosing a job goal in a high demand area. Ensuring counselors have knowledge of the various tools available which provide current labor market information is expected to result in an increase in the number of applicants who achieve an employment outcome.

3. Staff new to SSB have little, if any, experience with blindness, and a paucity of understanding of the capabilities of persons competent in the skills of blindness, Therefore all new WFD staff will successfully complete Introduction to Blindness —Phase 1 and Phase 2 training on the essential aspects of blindness and visual impairment within three months of hire and before any caseload activity is assigned.

PRIORITY 1.2: Employment Rate— SSB’s performance on RSA Indicator 1.2 will increase annually from the 2010 baseline of 50%, reflecting an increase in the percentage of persons closed achieving employment after receiving services.

The strategies for meeting this priority are—

1. Continue ongoing data analysis of successful and unsuccessful closures. On a quarterly basis assess and, as appropriate, develop and implement changes in service provision which address areas of specific concern.

2. By December 31, 2011, develop, and by March 31, 2012, implement a comprehensive program to facilitate the success of customers interested in self-employment /entrepreneurship as an employment outcome. Strategies will be included in the FY2013 Goals and Priorities reflective of decisions made by March 31, 2012.

3. Between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012, data will be maintained to evaluate the effectiveness of procedures implemented to improve internship, job trial or on-the-job training experiences of SSB customers. Not later than October 31, 2012, any changes to existing procedures will be completed and implemented.

4. By September 30, 2013,SSB will develop a method to evaluate the effectiveness of providing customers with mentorship and/or peer counseling information on their adjustment to blindness and their understanding of the viability of competitive employment for them

PRIORITY 1.3: Increase customer satisfaction with services provided—By the end of FFY2011 the annual overall satisfaction with services provided by SSB will be at or above 85%. (Q1 on the Customer Satisfaction Survey, “What is your overall satisfaction with the services provided?” The scale is from 1 to 10 where “1” means “very dissatisfied” and “10” means “very satisfied”. A response equal to or greater than “6” fall in the “satisfied” range).

The strategies for meeting this priority are—

1. Customer satisfaction surveys will be administered quarterly to approximately 70 SSB customers as part of the DEED customer satisfaction initiative. The surveys are conducted by an external organization.

2. SSB and the SRC-B Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities Committee will continue to review and analyze the data on a quarterly basis including specific customer comments.

3. Based on the analysis of the Customer Satisfaction Survey comments about effective communication between the counselor and customer, by October 1, 2011, SSB will develop a training protocol with the goal of increased effectiveness of communication between counselor and customer. This protocol will be implemented not later than November 1, 2011.

PRIORITY 1.4: Continue to insure every SSB customer has the information needed to make an informed choice in selecting a Community Rehabilitation Provider (CRP) for adjustment to blindness training. During FFY2012, 100% of SSB customers attending ATB half time or more will indicate that they were given all the information they needed to make an informed choice about the CRP they wanted to attend.

The strategies for meeting this priority are—

1. During FFY2012, SSB counselors will complete the “Choosing ATB Training” form with each customer who is considering ATB training. Counselors will ensure that all customers are provided information, in an accessible format, about options for receiving adjustment to blindness services, and strongly encourage each customer to tour each community rehabilitation program. The “Choosing ATB Training” form is signed by the counselor and customer. The customer affirms that they received the information they needed to make an informed choice in the selection of the CRP. A copy of the form will be sent to SSB’s State Director, and the information will be compiled and reported semi-annually to the SRC-B.

2. SSB and the Vendor Outcomes and Measures Committee of the SRC-B developed and implemented a customer satisfaction survey for all customers who complete adjustment to blindness training. During FFY2012, each SSB customer will be surveyed six months after completion of adjustment to blindness training or at time of case file closure, whichever comes first. Each month an estimated ten to fifteen customers will be contacted to complete the telephone survey of eighteen questions.

3. The data gathered from the completed customer satisfaction surveys will be formatted, posted externally on the SSB website, and made available in an accessible format for customer review when selecting a service provider to meet their rehabilitation needs. ATB providers will be able to use the results for continuous improvement of their services. The results will be reported to the SRC-B and will be used to identify customer needs and areas for service improvements.

4. To insure quality services, SSB will continue to require individual vendors who provide training to SSB customers on access and assistive technology to pass a test on software they wish to teach and to successfully complete an adult learning course prior to becoming an approved vendor.

GOAL 2: In the targeted groups, increase the number of individuals served and the vocational outcomes achieved.

PRIORITY 2.1: Minority Service Rate— By the end of FFY2011, SSB will meet RSA Indicator 2.1, as follows: The ratio of customers from the minority population exiting after receiving services under an IPE to all customers from the minority population exiting will exceed 80% of the same ratio calculated for customers from the non-minority population. Current (FFY2010) performance level is 52.6%.

The strategies for meeting this priority are—

1. During FFY2012, at least one specific marketing and outreach activity will be implemented with each of the identified minority communities.

2. As a result of the information presented at the July 2011 WFD staff meeting, the need for additional training or information dissemination opportunities will be determined. The results of the analysis regarding the need for additional training will be reported to the WFD and ASU Directors not later than August 31, 2011. If additional training and/or information dissemination opportunities are required, these activities will begin no later than October 31, 2011.

3. In conjunction with the Minority Committee of the SRC-B, SSB will develop a plan for providing information to CRPs, vendors and Adult Basic Education programs on innovative approaches to effectively serving non-English speaking SSB customers by July 1, 2012.

4. Between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012, data will be maintained to evaluate the effectiveness of procedures implemented to improve internship, job trial or on-the-job training experiences of SSB customers from minority backgrounds. Not later than October 31, 2012, any changes to existing procedures will be completed and implemented.

PRIORITY 2.2: Deafblind Outreach and Service—Enhance services for persons who have a dual sensory loss, including persons who are Deafblind. During FFY2012 at least _*_ individuals with a dual sensory loss will secure employment as a result of SSB services.

*NOTE: The number of individuals who will secure employment is left blank until July 2011 when a realistic number will be determined.

The strategies for meeting this priority are—

1. All new WFD staff will receive one-on-one training on the DeafBlind Procedures Manual to include communication styles and communication issues as part of the orientation that occurs within the first three months of hire. All WFD staff will receive an annual review of the communication methods at their October staff meeting.

2. The Plan to increase effective communication between counselors and Deafblind customers and the Plan to increase the number of Deafblind competitively employed will continue as written until June 2013. In June 2013, the Deafblind needs assessment will be administered. This needs assessment will contain questions specifically designed to determine the effectiveness of the Plan to increase effective communication and the plan to increase the number of competitive employments.

3. To increase and improve communication between Deafblind customers and SSB, the Deafblind Committee of the SRC-B, in cooperation with SSB, will continue to review standard written communications at least once per year to determine their effectiveness with ASL users. Additional materials will be developed as determined by the Deafblind Committee.

4. Between October 1, 2011 and June 30, 2013, the collaborative efforts of SSB, Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of the Department of Human Services to improve statewide services to Deafblind individuals will be reported to the Deafblind Committee by SSB’s representative on the Quad-Agency Team after the annual meeting of that group. As a result of the Deafblind needs assessment administered in June 2013, strategies for additional collaborative efforts will be developed, incorporated in the Goals, Priorities and strategies for FFY2014 and communicated to the Quad-Agency Team.

PRIORITY 2.3: Increase the percentage of students who apply at ages 14 and 15 from the baseline of 39% of all applicants between the ages of 14-22 in FFY2009 to 45% of all applicants between the ages of 14-22 in FFY2011.

The strategies for meeting this priority are—

1. Continue working statewide with Special Education teachers, teachers of the blind, visually impaired, or Deafblind and other IEP team members in designated school districts to facilitate regular information meetings with SSB counselors.

2. By November 1, 2011, SSB will evaluate the Information Fairs hosted to date to determine their effectiveness. Based on the result of this evaluation, SSB will develop a format for communicating information about SSB to transition students and their families not later than December 31, 2011. This format will be implemented by June 30, 2012.

3. Monitor outcomes of enrichment activities beginning March 2012 to determine whether the goal of each activity was met. Enrichment activities will be reviewed every six months between March 2012 and October 2014 to monitor impact on success of each student and determine future direction of provision of enrichment activities for students.

4. Between May 2012 and July 2012, evaluate the contents of the Transition Timeline and, based on feedback from counselors, revise as necessary. Review changes to Transition Timeline with counselors prior to September 2012 and implement revised document not later than September 30, 2012.

 

This screen was last updated on Jul 29 2011 9:37AM by Jennifer Beilke

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Supported Employment (SE) Goals

Attachment 4.11(e)(2): Evaluation and Report of Progress in Achieving Identified Goals and Priorities and Use of Title I Funds for Innovation and Expansion Activities

Progress in Achieving Identified Vocational Rehabilitation Program Goals and Priorities

The goals, priorities and strategies for the State Services for the Blind’s (SSB) vocational rehabilitation program were jointly developed and formally agreed to by SSB and the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind (SRC-B) in April of 2009. The goals, priorities and strategies were based on an analysis of the results of the 2007 state plan statewide needs assessment; SSB’s performance on the federal standards and indicators; findings and recommendations from the annual section 107 review conducted by RSA; and the actions and recommendations of the SRC-B, its committees and task forces.

GOAL AND PRIORITY 1: Employment Outcomes—SSB will meet RSA Indicator 1.1 and 1.2.

Although the Workforce Development Unit assisted 80 individuals to become successfully employed, RSA Indicator 1.1 was not met. All strategies to assist the WorkForce Development Unit to meet this goal were successfully met and/or implemented.

SSB has identified a number of strategies for meeting this goal—

The strategies for meeting this goal are—

1. Each Counseling Supervisor will ensure staff of the WorkForce Development Unit (WDU): a) agree to specific paid closure goals by September 30 of each year for the following year; b) actively participate in all relevant workforce-related activities to ensure customers are provided current, accurate information about employment demands, trends and opportunities; and c) utilize the results of the biannual case file reviews to assess individual training needs to improve staff counseling and placement skills.

2. The SSB marketing and outreach coordinator dedicates 25% of his time to working with WDU staff on targeted VR outreach activities: i.e., presenting information on SSB services at various professional conferences; contacts with community based organizations; mailings to ophthalmologists; etc. Effectiveness will be measured by comparing referrals from FY2007 through FY2009.

3. Analyze data comparing successful and unsuccessful closures to identify any statistically significant differences that may lead to changes in service provision.

GOAL AND PRIORITY 2: Minority Service Rate—By the end of FFY2010, at least 100 persons from minority backgrounds will exit services annually and SSB will meet RSA Indicator 2.1.

For FFY 2010, 62 persons from minority backgrounds exited services. SSB did not meet RSA Indicator 2.1. All strategies to assist the WorkForce Development Unit to meet this goal were successfully met and/or implemented.

The strategies for meeting this goal are—

1. Carry out the in-service quality training grant plan for training on cultural diversity.

2. Provide information to staff on cultural diversity training opportunities and various community cultural events and encourage attendance.

3. The SSB marketing and outreach coordinator will work with SSB WDU staff in outreach activities to Minnesota’s community-based organizations representing minority groups, with emphasis on community-based organizations serving African-Americans.

4. Strengthen relationships between Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs and SSB to enhance mutual understanding of respective programs so that SSB customers are better prepared for employment. Work with Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPs), vendors and other community organizations to develop innovative approaches to effectively serve non-English speaking SSB customers.

GOAL AND PRIORITY 3: Deafblind Outreach and Service—Enhance services for persons who have a dual sensory loss, including persons who are deafblind. During FFY2010 at least four individuals with a dual sensory loss will secure employment as a result of SSB services.

For FFY2010, 9 individuals with a dual sensory loss secured employment as a result of services from SSB. This goal was met. Additionally, all strategies to assist the WorkForce Development Unit to meet this goal were successfully met and/or implemented.

The strategies for meeting this goal are—

1. Continue training opportunities for new staff on understanding deafblindness and competency in serving SSB customers who are deafblind.

2. Design, implement and analyze needs assessment and customer satisfaction surveys administered to each SSB customer with a dual sensory loss or who is deafblind.

3. To increase and improve communication between deafblind customers and SSB, the DeafBlind Committee of the SRC-B, in cooperation with SSB, will review and revise standard written communications to determine their effectiveness with American Sign Language (ASL) users and develop additional materials as needed.

4. Promote collaborative efforts with other state agencies, which provide services to individuals who are deafblind, so that specific vocational needs, like the need for supported employment, can be met.

GOAL AND PRIORITY 4: Increase customer satisfaction with services provided—by the end of FFY2010 the annual overall satisfaction with services provided by SSB will be at or above 85%. (Q1 on the Customer Satisfaction Survey, “What is your overall satisfaction with the services provided?” The scale is from 1 to 10 where “1” means “very dissatisfied” and “10” means “very satisfied”.)

For FFY 2010, the overall annual satisfaction with services provided by SSB was 86% in response to question 1 on the Customer Satisfaction Survey. This goal was met and all strategies to assist the WorkForce Development Unit to meet this goal were successfully met and/or implemented.

The strategies for meeting this goal are—

1. Customer satisfaction surveys will be administered quarterly to approximately 60 SSB customers as part of the DEED customer satisfaction initiative. The surveys are conducted by an external organization as the result of a competitive process.

2. SSB and the SRC-B Customer Satisfaction & Goals and Priorities Committee will continue to review and analyze the data on a quarterly basis including specific customer comments.

3. Based on the analysis of the customer satisfaction survey results, recommendations for program improvements will be brought to SSB and the SRC-B to assure that services are available that meet customer needs.

GOAL AND PRIORITY 5: Increase the number of referrals of transition-age students to SSB.

SSB had no way to objectively measure this goal during FFY 2010.

The strategies for meeting this goal are—

1. Continue working statewide with Special Education teachers, teachers of the blind and visually impaired, and other IEP team members in designated school districts to facilitate regular information meetings with SSB counselors.

2. Conduct an annual SSB Information Fair and open house for families, students, and teachers to include presentations about the various programs, informed choice, time for questions and answers and perhaps one-on-one time with counselors and Communication Center staff.

3. Continue to encourage and provide enrichment activities to students in all areas of adjustment to blindness training as part of an employment plan.

GOAL AND PRIORITY 6: Insure every SSB customer has the information needed to make an informed choice in selecting providers for adjustment to blindness training.

This goal was met during FFY2010. During FFY2010 100% of SSB customers attending ATB half time or more will indicate that they were given the opportunity to choose their provider.

The strategies for meeting this goal are—

1. During FFY2010 SSB counselors will complete the “Choosing ATB Training” form with each customer who is considering ATB training. Counselors will ensure that all customers are provided information, in an accessible format, about options for receiving adjustment to blindness services, and strongly encourage each customer to tour each community rehabilitation program. The “Choosing ATB Training” form is signed by the counselor and customer. The customer affirms that they received the information they needed to make an informed choice in the selection of the provider. A copy of the form will be sent to SSB’s State Director, and the information will be compiled and reported semi-annually to the SRC-B.

2. SSB and the Vendor Outcomes and Measures Committee of the SRC-B developed and implemented a customer satisfaction survey for customers who completed adjustment to blindness training. During FFY2010, each SSB customer will be surveyed six months after completion of adjustment to blindness training or at time of case file closure, whichever comes first. Each month an estimated ten to fifteen customers will be contacted to complete the telephone survey of eighteen questions.

The data gathered from the completed customer satisfaction surveys will be formatted, posted externally on the SSB website, and made available on tape for customer review when selecting a service provider to meet their rehabilitation needs. ATB providers will be able to use the results for continuous improvement of their services. The results will be reported to the SRC-B and will be used to identify customer needs and areas for service improvements.

3. SSB will continue to require individual vendors who provide training to SSB customers on access and assistive technology to pass a test, developed by SSB staff or an external vendor, on the software programs they wish to teach in order to be on the list of approved vendors. In addition, each individual vendor and CRP trainer must take and pass an adult learning course which was developed for SSB by Century College, a school within the Minnesota State College and University System. That course provides training on learning styles, teaching methods, multiple intelligences, and how to write individualized training plans and learning objectives.

GOAL AND PRIORITY 7: All VR staff members new to SSB will receive Introduction to Blindness —Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 training on the essential aspects of blindness and visual impairment.

100% of new VR staff completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 training. This goal was met. All strategies identified to meet this goal were successfully met and/or implemented.

The strategies for meeting this goal are—

1. Supervisory staff will ensure all new VR staff will complete Introduction to Blindness —Phase 1 training within three months of hire.

2. Supervisory staff will ensure all new Rehabilitation Counseling staff will complete Introduction to Blindness—Phase 2 training within three months of hire.

3. Introduction to Blindness—Phase 2 training will be discussed with and encouraged for career development for current staff that would otherwise not be required to attend.

 

Progress in Achieving Identified Supported Employment Program Goals

SSB did not set a specific goal for supported employment for FFY2009. At the time the state plan was written and approved, it was thought that the goal to be set was how the Title VI Part B funds would be used—contracted out or on an individualized, fee-for-service basis to purchase needed services for customers whose vocational rehabilitation goal is competitive employment with supports.

SSB’s goal for supported employment outcomes for FFY 2011 is to assist 4 SSB customers to secure competitive employment with supports following the provision of supported employment services using Title VI Part B funds.

 

The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) established standards and indicators measure the performance of vocational rehabilitation programs. Standard 1 centers on employment outcomes; Standard 2 centers on the service rate to persons from a minority background. The federal standard requires that each agency pass at least 4 of 6 indicators and 2 of 3 primary indicators on Standard 1. In FFY2010 SSB met 4 of the 6 indicators and all 3 of the primary indicators. SSB has consistently met the three primary indicators of Standard 1 since their inception. Indicator 2.1 was not calculated, as fewer than 100 persons from minority backgrounds exited the program during the fiscal year.

Standard 1

1.1 The number of individuals exiting the VR program who achieved an employment outcome during the current performance period compared to the number of individuals who exit the VR program after achieving an employment outcome during the previous performance period.

Required Performance Level: DSU’s performance in current period must equal or exceed performance in previous period. In FFY2010 SSB assisted 13 less individuals to obtain employment than in FFY2009.

1.2 Of all individuals who exit the VR program after receiving services, the percentage who are determined to have achieved an employment outcome.

Required Performance Level: For the general and combined DSUs, the level is 55.8 percent; for agencies serving individuals who are blind, the level is 68.9 percent. In FFY2010, SSB’s performance level was 50.64 percent.

1.3 Of all individuals determined to have achieved an employment outcome, the percentage who exit the VR program in competitive, self-, or business enterprise program (BEP) employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage.

Required Performance Level: For the general and combined DSUs, the level is 72.6 percent; for agencies serving individuals who are blind, the level is 35.4 percent. In FFY2010, SSB’s performance level was 92.40 percent.

1.4 Of all individuals who exit the VR program in competitive, self-, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage, the percentage who are individuals with significant disabilities.

Required Performance Level: For the general and combined DSUs, the level is 62.4 percent; for agencies serving individuals who are blind, the level is 89.0 percent. In FFY2010, SSB’s performance level was 98.74 percent.

1.5 The average hourly earnings of all individuals who exit the VR program in competitive, self-, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage as a ratio to the State’s average hourly earnings for all individuals in the State who are employed (as derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, “State Average Annual Pay” for the most recent available year).

Required Performance Level: For the general and combined DSUs, the level is a ratio of .52; for agencies serving individuals who are blind, the ratio is .59. In FFY2010, SSB’s performance level was .80.

1.6 Of all individuals who exit the VR program in competitive, self-, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage, the difference between the percentage who report their own income as the largest single source of economic support at the time they exit the VR program and the percentage who report their own income as the largest single source of support at the time they apply for VR services.

Required Performance Level: For the general and combined DSUs, the level is an arithmetic difference of 53.0; for agencies serving individuals who are blind, the level is a difference of 30.4. In FFY2010, SSB’s performance level was 34.5 percent.

Standard 2

2.1 The service rate for all individuals with disabilities from minority backgrounds as a ratio to the service rate for all individuals with disabilities from non-minority backgrounds.

Required Performance Level: All agencies must attain a ratio level of .80. In FFY2010, because fewer than 100 persons from minority backgrounds exited SSB’s program during the fiscal year, the ratio was not calculated.

AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT FUNDING

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has provided an unprecedented opportunity to implement innovative strategies to improve employment outcomes and independent living opportunities for blind, DeafBlind and visually impaired individuals. The recession, along with long-standing barriers to employment and independent living for the blind, have resulted in a far too low employment rate and less than independent living arrangement for these individuals in our community.

With this in mind, State Services for the Blind is making short-term investments that have the potential for long-term benefits:

• The WorkForce Development Unit (Vocational Rehabilitation) had hired two additional counselors and one placement coordinator to expand and enhance employment opportunities for SSB customers. New approaches to placement, training, and internships are being explored.

• SSB invested in an electronic accessibility project that increases state employment opportunities.

• SSB has invested in transition age youth by increasing opportunities to test and obtain assistive technology.

• SSB had hired one administrative staff person to coordinate ARRA reporting and work on critical infrastructure for the future and update policies and rules for the delivery of WorkForce Development Unit services.

It is expected that these actions will assist SSB to improve its performance in all areas and to meet Goals and Priority 1 as well as Federal Indicator 1.2.

 

INNOVATION AND EXPANSION

SSB used Title I funds for innovation and expansion in support of the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind (SRC-B) meetings, for meetings of Council committees and task forces, and in support of member travel to national rehabilitation meetings. The SRC-B actual expenditures for FFY2010 were $37,811.

SSB resources for support of the Statewide Independent Living Council come from Title VII rather than Title I funds. SSB will continue to use Title I funds for innovation and expansion in support of the SRC-B’s resource plan of $39,100 for FFY2011.

This screen was last updated on Jul 29 2011 9:37AM by Jennifer Beilke

  • Describe quality, scope, and extent of supported employment services to be provided to individuals with the most significant disabilities
  • Describe the timing of the transition to extended services

Attachment 6.3: Quality, Scope, Extent of Supported Employment for Individuals with the Most Significant Disabilities

Supported employment services promoting the integration of people with the most severe disabilities into employment in Minnesota have become increasingly available. The scope and quality of supported employment services have improved as more entities become aware of the benefits of ongoing employment supports for individuals with the most significant disabilities. However, the demand for supported employment exceeds the capacity of systems in Minnesota to provide the necessary extended ongoing employment supports.

In addition to the goals for Title VI Part B described in Attachment 4.11(c)(4), SSB will continue to engage in capacity building and technical assistance efforts with other state agencies and community service providers. For example, SSB is working with the Minnesota Department of Human Services regarding the need for ongoing employment supports for individuals who are DeafBlind. SSB counselors have had some success working with county social workers to obtain waiver funding for those ongoing supports.

Vocational rehabilitation services provided by SSB to individuals under a supported employment plan over the last two years are described in Attachment 4.11(b). The services are similar to those provided to other customers under an IPE but how the services are provided and the supports that are needed, will vary significantly depending on the needs of the individual. When vocational rehabilitation services are completed, a customer transitions to extended services. That transition occurs when the individual achieves the goals set out in their supported employment IPE, when they reach stability on the job, and when a service provider agrees to begin providing the needed ongoing employment supports. In most cases, the transition from vocational rehabilitation services to extended services occurs within three months.

In Minnesota, the sources of ongoing support primarily include the counties, community rehabilitation programs or other private non-profit organizations.

This screen was last updated on Jun 19 2009 11:34AM by samnccarlsonc

The following information is captured by the MIS.

Last updated on 07/29/2011 at 9:45 AM

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Completed on 08/09/2011 at 4:40 PM

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