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
Montana Disability Employment and Transitions Division State Plan for Fiscal Year 2013 (submitted FY 2012)

1.1 The DPHHS - Disability Employment and Transitions Division 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 DPHHS - Disability Employment and Transitions Division [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

Fiscal Operations Bureau Chief

... 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

Disability Employment and Transitions Administrator

... 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
Jim Marks

Title of Signatory
Disability Employment and Transitions Administrator

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)
06/28/2012

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 2013
Yes

Comments:

Signed?
Yes

Name of Signatory
Jim Marks

Title of Signatory
Disability Employment and Transitions Administrator

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)
06/28/2012

* 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
Disability Employment and Transitions Division

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))

This agency is not 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.

Input from State Rehabilitation Council:

The Montana State Rehabilitation Council (Council) advises and works with the vocational rehabilitation programs to improve policies, programs, delivery of services to consumers, and methods for reaching potential consumers and employers. The Council advises and works with Montana Vocational Rehabilitation (MVR) and Blind and Low Vision Services (BLVS) to improve policies, program, delivery of services to consumers, and methods for reaching potential consumers and employers. The Council provides input and advice to MVR) and BLVS in accordance with the Rehabilitation Act. The Council holds meetings quarterly. These meetings are accessible and open to the public and are held in various locations statewide. Policy and program issues are discussed at both the Council meetings and the committee meetings. Council members are invited and do participate with the MVR/BLVS management staff to help develop the strategic plan and determine the agency’s priorities. On March 2, 2012, the Council discussed issues to be included in the state plan. The Council supported keeping most recommendations the same. It was decided to have one new recommendation and one previous recommendation was amended. On May 21, 2012, the Council was presented with MVR and BLVS’s responses to their recommendations. 

The following is a summary of specific input and recommendations from the Council and responses to the input.

1. MVR/BLVS will develop a strong collaborative relationship with the Veteran’s Administration’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services to effectively and proactively be prepared to serve the growing community of Montana veterans in need of vocational rehabilitation services.

A possible performance measure of this objective could be:

• (Timeline to be determined), the two agencies will complete a memorandum of understanding that would formalize agreement on issues such as: (specifics to be determined).

MVR/BLVS RESPONSE: This recommendation is incorporated into Objective 1. 3. of the strategic plan.

There has been turnover in the VA and this has delayed completion of the memorandum of understanding. These efforts will continue.

On the local level, in all regions VR staff have been participating in VA events such as the Veteran Stand Down for homeless veterans and MVR/BLVS counselors have been working with mutual consumers based on the individual needs of the consumers.

 

2. There will be an increased understanding of the transition process by staff.  Possible activities to support this objective could be:

  • Provide in-service training to VR counselors on the legal responsibilities of schools and other service agencies related to transition age consumers.
  • Conduct analysis of the pilot program in transitions:

  1. To determine the impact and potential best practices.
  2. To explore options for expanding elements of the program to other parts of the state.

MVR/BLVS RESPONSE: This recommendation is incorporated into Objective 2.3 and the Strategy 2 of Objective 1.2 of the strategic plan. Objective 2.3 stresses evaluation of transition procedures and developing more effective procedures and the strategy of Objective 1.2 emphasizes the need to have training to support counselors for significant policy and practices.

A number of trainings have been provided to VR counselors over the last year. These trainings have occurred in group settings, through webinar, and through one-to-one technical assistance. The trainings will continue and technical assistance will continue for the foreseeable future.

There has been an analysis of the pilot program in the Missoula area. That analysis has led to a number of best practices that have been shared with counselors across the state. Also, a number of specific tools were developed in the pilot program that are being distributed across the state with training on how to use the tools. The primary features of the pilot have now been expanded to the larger high schools in the state. Those features include having a counselor assigned to the high school who will have regularly scheduled time in the school.

Counselors have been trained in the use of the above noted tools. Specific counselors have been assigned to adopted schools, and MVR/BLVS marketing materials have been distributed across the state.

 

3. MVR/BLVS will increase the public understanding of MVR/BLVS and the services provided by the agencies. Because of the employment focus of MVR/BLVS services, these efforts need to include outreach to businesses and employers.

MVR/BLVS RESPONSE: While the strategic plan does not emphasize increasing the general public understanding of MVR/BLVS, it does stress increased understanding of MVR/BLVS by key agencies in Objective 1.3.   Because key agencies have contact with potential MVR/BLVS consumers it is important that those MVR/BLVS have good communications and procedures in place to make appropriate referrals to MVR/BLVS.  MVR/BLVS is committed to continuing to work with the Council on public relations and that commitment will not diminish. However, during the strategic planning process, there was a realization that not all issues can be included within the final plan and there was an effective process in place that would continue the efforts in this regard without the issue being specified in the plan.

Additional activities that relate to increasing public understanding include: 

  • MVR/BLVS provides information regarding vocational rehabilitation and blind and low vision services at a variety of venues (e.g. disability conferences, Job Fairs, VA Stand Down Programs, etc.).
  • The agency continues to explore social networking tools as a venue for increasing public understanding of the agency. Currently, DPHHS as a whole is exploring the use of social networking tools in order to develop a uniform use of these tools for all agencies in the Department. This process will lead to effective approaches to using the tools; however it does delay the MVRBLVS’s efforts in this regard.

 

4. MVR/BLVS will develop a process for identifying populations that are unserved and underserved by the agencies. This would include gathering data to identify specific disability populations that are not being served, and use that data to develop training for staff. This should include populations with poor outcomes, not just groups which are unserved.

A possible activity to support this objective could be:

Develop a method with the Department of Corrections to determine incidence of persons with disabilities leaving prisons.

A possible performance measure of this objective could be:

(Timeline to be determined), a specific procedure will be in place to compare incidence rates of specific populations of persons with disabilities with incidence rates of same populations in VR services.

MVR/BLVS RESPONSE: This recommendation is included in Objective 2.1 of the strategic plan. The issue related to the Department of Corrections is dealt with in Objective 1.3. In this regard, the agency has developed significant relationships with drug courts across the state, this has included cross training of staff and court personnel.

The agency has identified a nationally recognized dataset with elements that can be obtained from the MVR/BLVS case management system. The system includes 8 elements that can identify unserved or underserved populations. Some of the elements include information on the quality of outcomes.

 

5. MVR/BLVS staff will be professionally trained and have an up-to-date understanding of issues impacting their work with persons with disabilities seeking employment.

MVR/BLVS RESPONSE: This recommendation was dealt with in Strategy 2 of Objective 2.1. In developing the strategic plan it was felt that training was a key strategy overall that would be involved in meeting almost all of the objectives.

Staff training is an ongoing function of MVR/BLVS. Topics featured in recent trainings include transitions, determining eligibility Native American issues, support staff training, and services to the deaf and hard of hearing.

 

6. MVR/BLVS will improve staff retention.

MVR/BLVS RESPONSE: This recommendation was the focus of Goal 1 of the strategic plan; however it was particularly emphasized in Objective 1.3.

 

7. MVR/BLVS will increase accessibility to services in rural areas.

MVR/BLVS RESPONSE:  This recommendation is reflected in Strategies 3 and 5 of Objective 2.1 of the plan.

MVR/BLVS field offices are utilizing technology to increase contacts with rural consumers.

Five new or reinitiated community rehabilitation providers have been added recently. Four of these providers are servicing rural areas.

In the area of Deaf Services: statewide, there is a shortage of interpreters, especially in the rural areas. When in-person, on-site interpreting services are not immediately available, technology now provides for an interim solution in the form of off-site interpreting services, called Video Remote Interpreting (VRI). VRI uses videoconferencing technology, equipment, and a high speed Internet connection to provide the services of a qualified interpreter, usually located at a call center, to people at a different location. All MVR/BLVS counselors for the Deaf/HOH recently received VRI equipment, and training on the usage of this equipment will occur before the end of this fiscal year.

 

8. Because of the mutual priorities of independence and employment of persons with disabilities, MVR/BLVS should reaffirm their relationship with the Statewide Independent Living Council and Centers for Independent Living in order to increase collaboration and facilitate continued growth of both vocational rehabilitation and independent living in Montana.

MVR/BLVS RESPONSE: This recommendation is reflected in Strategy 1 of Objective 1.4 of the plan.

Montana’s Centers for Independent Living recently completed assessments of the facilities of Disability Employment and Transitions Division for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The reports generated by the assessments will assist the Division in becoming compliant with the laws.

The Disability Employment and Transitions Division is contracting with Summit Independent Living Center to develop the Division’s website. This collaboration is assisting the Division to make the website more consumer friendly.

The division administrator routinely attends meetings and events of the Statewide Independent Living Council where he reports and participates on equal footing with those involved in independent living.

The Division’s Independent Living Specialist is currently exploring about opportunities for collaboration between the two programs. Future possible activities include cross training between vocational rehabilitation and independent living staff members and identification of barriers to collaboration.

 

9. Make MVR/BLVS accessible to all staff. This includes having accessible computer systems.

MVRBLVS RESPONSE: This recommendation is reflected in Objective 1.4 of the plan. Recent assessments of facilities for compliance with accessibility laws were previously mentioned. MVR/BLVS’s current computerized case management system is not accessible to persons with visual disabilities. MVR/BLVS is in the process of purchasing a new system that will be accessible. While it will be a lengthy process, when complete, MVR/BLVS’s case management system will be assessable to all employees requiring access to the system to perform their job duties.

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2012 6:46PM by Michael Hermanson

This agency has not requested a waiver of statewideness.

This screen was last updated on Jun 29 2009 1:51PM by Michael Hermanson

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.

Cooperation, collaboration, and coordination with agencies not in the statewide workforce investment system are usually expressed through cooperative agreements or MOUs. MVR/BLVS presently has agreements with the following entities:

Section 121 Vocational Rehabilitation Projects located in Montana Mental Health Developmental Disabilities Program Montana Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) The Commissioner of Higher Education Office of Public Instruction

Section 121 Vocational Rehabilitation Projects

MVR/BLVS presently has cooperative agreements with all of the six Section 121 projects (Flathead Reservation, Fort Belknap Reservation, Fort Peck Reservation, Rocky Boy’s Reservation, Northern Cheyenne Reservation and the Blackfeet Reservation) located in Montana. The purpose of these agreements is to establish procedures to assure continued coordination between the 121 projects and MVR/BLVS. These agreements are implemented for the sole purpose of enhancing, to the greatest extent possible, the delivery of rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities living in the state of Montana and residing on or near the six reservations that currently have a tribal vocational rehabilitation project.

 

Mental Health

This cooperative agreement has provisions that include:

  1. To make available the required supported employment/follow-along services from MVR/BLVS’s Community Rehabilitation Programs certified mental health providers. Follow-along services may be provided through Community Based Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Support, and through Case Management services.
  2. To serve persons identified as eligible for mental health service under Medicaid or the Mental Health Service Plan.
  3. To strengthen supported employment services to Montana citizens eligible for vocational rehabilitation’s supported employment services and for community mental health services funded by the Addictive and Mental Disorders Division.
  4. To provide cross-training and technical assistance between our agencies.
  5. To establish and evaluate annual goals for our interagency work towards coordinated vocational and support services.

 

Developmental Disabilities Program (DDP)

This cooperative agreement has provisions that include:

  1. To strengthen supported employment services to Montana citizens eligible for vocational rehabilitation’s supported employment services and who receive services through the Developmental Disability (DD) provider organizations.
  2. To contract with developmental disability provider organizations to provide adult sheltered and supported employment work services through funds made available to them from the state general fund and Medicaid home and community waiver.
  3. To make available the required supported employment, extended/follow along services from MVR/BLVS’s community rehabilitation program’s enrolled DD providers. Long-term follow-along services are made available by DD provider organizations through a long-term sign off cooperative agreement with MVR/BLVS. This sign off is between the provider organization and MVR/BLVS. It is incumbent upon DD provider organizations to negotiate and secure any approving authority from the DDP. MVR/BLVS agrees DD provider organizations will provide copies of the long-term, follow-along sign off cooperative agreement documents to the DDP regional managers. The DD provider organization’s sign off commits the provider to making available this service, but does not commit funds. In terms of funding source and availability, DDP resource commitments are made between DDP regional managers and provider organizations.
  4. For those residing in the Montana Developmental Center (MDC) who have been identified as being in need of vocational/supported employment services, those needs must be included in the community placement plan. The costs for long-term follow-along need to be included in the resources allocated, and need to be made available to reimburse an enrolled provider for long-term follow-along services after discharge from MDC.

 

Montana Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)

The purpose of this agreement is to establish guidelines and procedures to be used by the Montana Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and the MVR/BLVS Program in coordinating the services of both programs on behalf of individuals with disabilities who desire to pursue the goal of self-employment. This agreement outlines each party’s role and responsibilities, referral procedures, information exchange methods, forms used, and implementation, evaluation, amendments and termination procedures.

 

The Randolph-Sheppard/Business Enterprise Program

This program continues with three vendors with vending routes and one unplaced vendor. The program has been developing new sites for the existing routes to allow the blind vendors an increase of income. Vending is contracted for some of the rest areas on interstate highways. (The rest areas are too far from existing routes to be profitable for blind vendors to operate.) Montana Business Enterprises Inc. experienced a change in leadership which slowed the development of the next route. The program is currently working on replacing older machines that are obsolete where parts are not available for repair.    

 

Department of Agriculture

There is no Department of Agriculture project related to disabilities serving Montana at this time.

 

State Use Contracting Programs Montana

State agencies may purchase supplies and services from sheltered workshops or work activity centers. Such purchases are exempt from competitive bidding laws and rules. The Montana Department of Administration maintains a list of certified sheltered workshops or work activity centers located in the state. The list includes the supplies and services provided by each sheltered workshop or work activity center.

 

Cooperation in Training Activities

 MVR/BLVS routinely collaborates with other organizations to provide training opportunities for MVR/BLVS staff. The following is a list of collaborating organizations:

  • University of Montana - Rural Institute on Disabilities
  • Montana State University - Billings Montana Center on Disabilities
  • TACE Programs
  • Utah State University
  • Montana Youth Leadership Program (MYLF)
  • Centers for Independent Living
  • Brain Injury Association of Montana
  • Client Assistance Program
  • Montana Addictive and Mental Disorders Division
  • Developmental Disabilities Program
  • Disability Determination Services
  • Social Security
  • Rocky Mountain Rehab
  • Western Washington University
  • MAXIMUS – Ticket to Work Training

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2012 6:50PM by Michael Hermanson

  • 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.

Office of Public Instruction This cooperative agreement has provisions that include: Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between MVR and the Office of Public Instruction (OPI)

Purpose: The purpose of this MOU is to enhance the working relationship between the above mentioned parties to provide more effective services to individuals with disabilities in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C., 1485 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. as amended. Within this agreement are strategies for the two agencies to work collaboratively in evaluating, serving and planning for a seamless transition from school for students eligible for MVR services, as they make the transition from school to adult education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, independent living and community participation.

Joint Responsibility for Training: The OPI and MVR shall jointly sponsor training for their respective staff members and Local Education Agency (LEA) personnel. The training shall focus on requirements of federal and state law concerning education of individuals with disabilities, their transition from school to employment, vocational rehabilitation services, assistive technology, and the substance of this MOU.

Responsibilities of the OPI:

  1. Inform - The OPI shall assist school districts to inform MVR of students with disabilities. The notice to MVR shall occur no later than six (6) months prior to the student’s 16th birthday in order for MVR to participate in the future development of the student’s IEP. For students enrolling closer to graduation or age twenty one (21), school districts are urged to inform MVR as soon as those students are identified.
  2. Necessary Lead Time - Eligibility Determinations - The OPI shall encourage school districts to refer students with disabilities to MVR. The timing of the referral should allow two months for MVR to acquire the necessary diagnostic data to determine the student’s MVR eligibility. Referrals should include notice to MVR and an invitation to the MVR counselor to participate, from then on, in transition planning within the IEP process.
  3. Necessary Lead Time - IEP’s - The OPI shall encourage school districts to schedule IEP meetings for eligible students with disabilities one month in advance if at all possible, and to include notice to MVR and the invitation for the MVR Counselor to participate. Development of vocational goals and objectives shall occur in collaboration with the student, parents and appropriate professionals.
  4. Referrals of Students with Disabilities not on an IEP - The OPI shall assist local school districts with referrals of students with disabilities who are not on an IEP and may be in need of services through MVR. The notice to MVR should occur at least one year before their anticipated graduation dates.
  5. Technical Assistance - The OPI shall provide technical assistance to local school districts concerning the provision of free, appropriate, public education, including the responsibility to provide assistive technology to assist with the education of students approaching transition to independent living and employment as appropriate.
  6. Monitoring Data for MVR -The OPI shall provide to MVR the data it collects from school districts regarding the number of special education students they are serving. Data provided to MVR will only be transferred if the release of the data is consistent with the requirements of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  7. Related Services - The OPI shall assist local school districts with coordination of vocationally related services with MVR for eligible students. Coordination should commence in the early stages of transition. Vocationally related service coordination and corresponding agency responsibilities should be identified in the IEP and included on the student’s IPE when appropriate.

Responsibilities of MVR:

  1. Consultation - The MVR counselor shall assist school districts in planning for the transition of students with disabilities from school to post school activities. The MVR counselor shall act as a consultant for the student, parents and the school district during IEP/transition meetings that are scheduled before MVR has an open case on the student. When requested by the local school district, MVR shall ensure that the MVR counselors/staff participate in the evaluation process of students who have applied for MVR services, and in the development of the IEP’s for eligible students.
  2. Former Students - MVR shall encourage former students who are still eligible for IDEA services to enroll again in school for further study and training to enhance their opportunities for employment. Such former students shall also be eligible for MVR services customarily provided by MVR to adults over the age of 21.
  3. Assistive Technology - When required as part of the transitioning student’s IPE, MVR will provide assistive technology services after the individual leaves the school district.
  4. Related Services - (Vocational) After the eligible individual leaves the local school district, MVR will continue to provide vocational services, i.e., vocational assessments, career exploration, job shadowing, vocational guidance and counseling and other required services as documented in the IPE.
  5. Transitions Coordinator - MVR’s Transitions Coordinator coordinate with Montana OPI Transitions Specialists to develop and promote a seamless transition system. MVR’s full time Transition Coordinator also serves as a VR Counselor in the Missoula Public Schools, schedules office hours at the high schools and is available to offer consultation to special education and 504 coordinators, teachers, school administration, parents, advocacy groups and others regarding the role of MVR in the transition process. The MVR transitions counselor shall meet with staff and other interested parties in other school districts as invited to share best practices and facilitate communication between the parties. MVR staff will also be available to provide information on changes in the law or MVR policy regarding transitions services.

Financial Responsibilities: Local school districts are financially responsible for the costs of services they are mandated to provide under the IDEA, and MVR is responsible for costs of services it provides under the Rehabilitation Act. Should a service be necessary that neither party is mandated to provide, consultation will occur between the programs and services. Payment(s) will be based on the needs of the student, the availability of funds, and which agency is best positioned to provide the particular service at the time.

Dispute Resolution as to Financial Responsibilities between Local District and MVR: Should a service be necessary that neither the local school district nor MVR is mandated to provide or there is a dispute as to which entity is responsible to provide the service, consultation will occur between the entities. Services or payments will be based on the needs of the student, availability of funds, and which agency is best positioned to provide the particular service at the time. Should the local school district and the MVR be unable to resolve the dispute after consultation with one another, the Dispute Resolution Procedures outlined in the Interagency Agreement between DPHHS and the OPI shall apply.

 Note:   MVR is in negotiation for a new cooperative agreement with the Office of Public Instruction.  This agreement may be completed before October 1, 2012 and the beginning of the new fiscal year.  However, it will not be complete at the time this plan is submitted.

MOU Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE)

The purpose of this MOU is to develop and adopt principles which will guide the planning and delivery of support services to individuals with disabilities who are mutual clients of MVR and students enrolled in the Montana University System (MUS). This MOU has provisions which include:

  1. MVR and the units of the MUS maintain different requirements for determination of eligibility, documentation of disability, and the provision of services or accommodations. This MOU does not require either MVR or MUS to alter its policies for providing services or supports, and this MOU is not to be used as a basis for determining eligibility for MVR or MUS services.
  2. The units of the MUS through the guidance of the OCHE are required to provide services and accommodations to MVR clients to the same extent as they are provided to other students with disabilities, in accordance with Montana state law, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (PL 101-336) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (PL 93-112, as amended).
  3. MVR is not prohibited in this agreement from contracting with units of the MUS to provide services or support for MVR clients beyond those required to assure equal access to equal educational opportunities.
  4. The MOU will provide both parties with the opportunity to enhance communication and the exchange of information regarding services offered by MVR and the various campuses of the MUS.
  5. MVR and the units of the MUS will work together to enhance cross-referrals of individuals with disabilities, as appropriate to each individual’s needs. Personal information about the individual will not be shared without an appropriate release of information.
  6. The MUS will not require students who have a disability to apply for MVR funding before providing services or support. For students who have applied for MVR services, the MUS will not deny or delay the provision of services or support while MVR is in the process of determining eligibility for services.
  7. MVR services are provided pursuant to an individualized plan for employment (IPE) which is developed jointly by the rehabilitation counselor and the eligible individual. In those situations where referral has been made to campus disability support services, the appropriate disability services staff may also be involved in helping to develop the IPE.
  8. The MVR rehabilitation counselor and the MUS campus disability support services staff will respect the individual’s right and responsibility to fully participate in all decisions regarding his or her vocational future. The IPE shall be developed and implemented in a manner that allows the individual an opportunity to exercise informed choice in selecting an employment outcome, the specific vocational rehabilitation services that are to be provided, the entity that will provide those services, and the methods that will be used to procure the vocational rehabilitation services.
  9. MVR clients who attend a unit of the MUS may need reasonable accommodation, including auxiliary aids or services in order to have equal access to the programs and services offered at that particular institution.
  10. The provision and cost of reasonable accommodations are the responsibility of the particular unit of the MUS. For individuals with disabilities who are mutual clients of MVR and students at a unit of MUS, and are otherwise qualified for such aids or services, the funding source for auxiliary aids and services will be determined on an individual case-by-case basis.
  11. Additional guidelines relative to interpreter services for eligible clients/students:

  • The MUS unit will be responsible for procuring and paying interpreters. MVR will reimburse for its share of the cost.
  • The MUS unit will provide the appropriate MVR office with an estimate of the number of hours and cost of interpreter services which will be billed to MVR prior to the start of services.
  • The MVR office must authorize payment for the interpreter services prior to the start of services.
  • MVR and the MUS unit will require full compliance with the Registry of interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Code of Professional Conduct. In the last year this MOU was updated to include the following points: 

  1. Physical disabilities were included in the agreement to split evenly the cost of auxiliary aids and services.
  2. Pre-approval of any cost sharing agreements needed to be obtained prior to the start of the service.
  3. Documentation of services provided must be provided to MVR/BLVS that meets or exceeds state auditing requirements.

The MOU’s described in this section use MVR to represent both MVR and BLVS.  This MVR designation was used in this report to maintain the integrity of the report on the documents.  The Disability Employment and Transitions Division is now using MVR/BLVS terminology to accurately depict the separation of the services.  In future MOUs the MVR/BLVS designation will be used.

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2012 6:57PM by Michael Hermanson

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

The designated state unit does not have formal cooperative agreements with our private non-profit providers of vocational rehabilitation services in Montana. Rather, MVR/BLVS operates on a purchase-of-service basis and we have identified private non-profit rehabilitation providers who meet qualification standards established by the designated state unit and who provide services on a purchase-of-service basis to our clients. MVR/BLVS staff meets with this provider group regularly to talk about fee structures, services provided, and to discuss outcome measurements and consumer satisfaction for each of these entities.

Because these are individualized purchase-of-services, there is no formal cooperative agreement. The majority of services purchased by MVR/BLVS from Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP) are directly from the vocational rehabilitation counselor utilizing an authorization process. The amount of services purchased depends upon the amount and type of services needed by a consumer. Agencies eligible to receive authorizations must be approved vendors and must be current service providers of DPHHS, have Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) or Rehabilitation Services Accreditation System (RSAS) accreditation. In a limited number of cases, individuals with appropriate backgrounds are authorized to provide services in remote rural areas where a DPHHS, RSAS or CARF provider is not available.

A new fee structure was implemented July 2008.  When American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds were available, each active CRP was allocated funds to be used for staff training. By improving the skills of CRP staff, services to RSA consumers will be improved. This activity was focused on improvement in the overall CRP infrastructure, which should provide benefits beyond the timeframe of the ARRA funding. The CRPs used the funds in a variety of trainings. The funding availability ended August 1, 2011.

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2012 2:40PM by Michael Hermanson

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.

In Montana, supported employment is for individuals with the most significant disabilities who require support services (job finding, job placement and job coaching) geared to help the individual secure competitive employment in an integrated employment setting. MVR/BLVS works closely with state agencies and other organizations with regard to providing supported employment and extended support services for individuals with the most significant disabilities.

Mental Health: MVR/BLVS has a negotiated cooperative agreement with the Addictive & Mental Disorders Division. The cooperative agreement provides for: cross-training and technical assistance between our agencies, establishment and evaluation of annual goals for interagency work towards coordinated vocational and support services, and to make available the required supported employment/ extended support / follow-along services from MVR/BLVS’s Community Rehabilitation Programs certified mental health providers.

Developmental Disabilities Program: MVR/BLVS has had a long and productive relationship with the Developmental Disabilities Program (DDP), and that program continues to sign off for extended support services for persons with significant disabilities. MVR/BLVS and DDP were located in the same department in the past, but were separated in a recent departmental reorganization. However, communication between the two programs continues to be excellent. The cooperative agreement provides for: cross-training and technical assistance between our agencies to make available the required supported employment, extended/follow along services from MVR/BLVS’s Community Rehabilitation Programs enrolled DD providers, and for DDP to be responsible for contracting with developmental disability provider organizations to provide adult supported employment work services through funds made available to them from the state general fund and the Medicaid home and community waiver.

Certified Community Rehabilitation Programs: MVR/BLVS works with a number of community based organizations across the state. Twenty-one of these organizations are certified as extended support service providers to assure quality in service delivery for our consumers. MVRBLVS has certified programs in the mental health arena as well as the developmental disabilities arena to provide these services at the local level. MVR/BLVS works with the Community Medical Center WORC Center to provide extended services to persons who suffer from traumatic brain injury.

Extended Support Services: The extended support service program is the state of Montana’s funding source that makes long-term support services available to individuals as they work in either a sheltered or community-based employment setting. The legislature provided level funding for the program in the last session, which was a success given the cuts made to other state funded programs because of the economic downturn. The extended support service program is administered and managed by Rocky Mountain Rehab, p.c. (RMR) of Billings, Montana, through a contract with the Department of Public Health and Human Services, Disability Employment and Transitions Division.

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2012 2:42PM by Michael Hermanson

Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

Data System

Comprehensive System for Personnel Development (CSPD) information is managed by the MVR trainer who keeps track of trainings offered, staff attending training, CRC credit, and CSPD information. Montana VR Staffing by Type of Staff (data from RSA2)

Administrative:  2006 - 5      2007 - 6      2008 - 6       2009 – 6        2010 - 6      2011 - 6

Counselor:         2006 - 37    2007 - 37    2008 - 38     2009 – 38      2010 - 37    2011 - 39

Support Staff:    2006 - 40     2007 - 40    2008 - 41    2009 – 40      2010 - 40    2011 - 41

Total Staff          2006 - 82     2007 - 83    2008 - 85     2009 – 84     2010 - 83    2011 - 86

NOTE: The RSA2 looks at positions and what part of the year they are filled. It is not the same as the number of bodies or the numbers of FTE.

In FY2011, MVR/BLVS budgeted for and employed 55.75 credentialed staff members, including 42.75 FTE counselors, 4 Vision Rehabilitation Therapists, 4 orientation and mobility specialists, and 5 regional administrators.

In FY2011, MVR/BLVS served 8027 Montanans with disabilities, which means that each counselor FTE served 188 consumers.

The population in western Montana continues to grow, while the population in eastern Montana decreases. Likewise, due to the growth in western Montana, MVR/BLVS is preparing to transfer a counselor position to Polson, Montana where a new satellite office will be opened.  Polson is on the Flathead Reservation.  This will be the first MVR/BLVS office located on a reservation. 

Unfortunately, there is not a "pocket" where the decline is large enough to take away a counselor. Furthermore, Montana has such large travel distances for counselors to meet with consumers that a reduction of staff in less populated parts of the state is not possible.

When all the positions are filled, MVR/BLVS has enough staff to provide vocational rehabilitation services to the state. In the next five years, MVR/BLVS will continue to investigate the feasibility of increased counselor staffing to meet the transitions needs of Montana’s youth with disabilities. MVR/BLVS would like to see a transitions counselor in each of its four regional offices. Of course, population growth and client demographics will be closely monitored. If our counseling staff increases, it is possible that additional support staff would also be necessary. In recent years, MVR/BLVS experienced significant turnover in upper management positions, including the state director, and several regional administrators.  The turnover in MVR/BLVS management has stabilized.  However, MVR/BLVS continues to prepare for succession through its MVR/BLVS Futures Program, which is discussed elsewhere in this plan.

 

Row Job Title Total positions Current vacancies Projected vacancies over the next 5 years
1 Administrator 1 0 0
2 Bureau Chiefs 2 0 1
3 Program Managers (IL, Deaf, Soc. Sec., Hu. Res)) 4 0 0
4 Central Office Administrative Support Staff 3 0 0
5 VR Counselors Total individuals, Reg Ad, BLVS Ad 52 2 6
6 Orientation and Mobility Specialists 4 0 0
7 Vision Rehabilitation Therapists 4 0 0
8 Field Administrative Support Staff 25 3 1
9 Technical Sup Staff Asst Tech. Sp, Bud Ana, Pro An 4 0 1
10 Human Resource Development Specialist 1 0 0

 

Collection and Analysis of Personnel Development

MVR/BLVS continues to review, on a yearly basis, the reported training needs of its entire staff. This is part of our overall maintenance of the comprehensive system for personnel development. Of particular concern to MVR/BLVS is the implementation of a system of personnel development that will ensure an adequate supply of qualified rehabilitation personnel for the designated state unit. In this past year, MVR/BLVS developed a new CSPD policy that clarifies requirements and expectations of employees engaged in CSPD plans.  Additionally, a "Tip Sheet" was developed to notify counselors of institutions of higher education that offer RSA scholarships.  The State Rehabilitation Council has had an opportunity to review and make comments on the development of the plans and policies regarding qualified personnel.

Currently, 96%, of MVR/BLVS’s professional counseling and supervisory staff are identified as Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRC), qualified to sit for the CRC, or under a CSPD Plan (including actively researching graduate schools). At this time, 8 counselors are engaged in graduate classes and 6 counselors are researching and/or applying to graduate schools. Currently, MVR/BLVS has 2  counselor vacancies.  Those who fill the vacancies may require graduate school preparation.

Montana’s personnel policy has been rewritten so applicants who have achieved the CRC status receive a higher priority for hiring than those without it. In addition, Montana vigorously recruits applicants with master’s level degrees in rehabilitation counseling when there are vacancies. Montana State University - Billings (MSU-B) is Montana’s only institution of higher education that offers instruction (BA or MA) in rehabilitation Counseling.  MVR/BLVS has a good working relationship with MSU-B.  Additionally, MVR/BLVS has fostered good working relationships with out of state institutions such as Utah State University. Both MSU-B and Utah State have sought input from MVR/BLVS related to curriculum development and how best to prepare students to work in the public VR program. MVR/BLVS has successfully recruited and hired graduates of these programs, all of whom were well prepared to sit for the CRC examination. MVR/BLVS is also working with West Virginia University and the University of Kentucky to qualify its employees.  The following table illustrates the education status of MVR/BLVS employees preparing for CRC qualification.

 

Row Institutions Students enrolled Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates from the previous year
1 Utah State University 1 1 0 1
2 West Virginia University 1 1 2 0
3 University of Wisconsin - Stout 1 0 0 0
4 Montana State University - Billings 1 0 0 2
5 University of Kentucky 2 2 0 0

 

Plan for Recruitment, Preparation and Retention of Qualified Personnel

The MVR/BLVS management team maintains close and regular contact with field services teams.  Together, they monitor and fulfill staffing needs.  In fiscal year 2012, MVR/BLVS filled all existing counseling positions.  However, responding to increasing client numbers in some areas of the state, MVR is preparing to transfer 2 counseling positions to those areas.

MVR/BLVS continues to recruit the highest quality staff available.  Individuals coming to MVR/BLVS without a masters degree in rehabilitation counseling will be hired on the condition that they will develop a CSPD Plan to meet the standard.

Through the extensive outreach efforts of the Blind and Low Vision Services staff and the HR staff within the department, MVR/BLVS can sometimes attract candidates from across the country for Rehabilitation Teachers and Orientation and Mobility Specialists. In other cases, MVR/BLVS must hire someone locally on a training assignment and pay for their schooling.

Montana has no state university training for either Rehabilitation Teaching or Orientation and Mobility, and therefore, attracting highly qualified professionals in these areas will continue to be a problem for BLVS. In an effort to address this dilemma, training positions have been developed.

MVR/BLVS maintains contact with Montana State University-Billings to update them on the MVR/BLVS Program. The agency gathers information on degree requirements, and works with rehabilitation counseling instructors to ensure that university requirements are compatible with those needed to qualify counselors to effectively and efficiently serve people with significant disabilities who are eligible for vocational rehabilitation services.

MVR/BLVS works with Montana colleges to recruit individuals from minority backgrounds and persons with significant disabilities. MVR/BLVS takes affirmative action to employ and advance in employment, qualified individuals with significant disabilities.

In Montana, Native Americans make up the largest minority population. Six Native American Section 121 projects are located on reservations and employ Native Americans as rehabilitation counselors. However, with the new CSPD standard requiring education at the graduate level, the general MVR program has difficulty recruiting qualified Native Americans for employment within the agency.

By developing a plan to assure adequate numbers of CRC counselors and by providing leadership training at all levels, MVR/BLVS is working to develop future leaders who will be ready to take over key positions as they are vacated. Towards this effort, MVR/BLVS has formed a leadership council that will work directly with current MVR/BLVS management staff in the design and implementation of the process and format for case services to consumers. Staff participating on this leadership council, referred to as the MVR/BLVS Futures Group, will obtain the skills necessary to take MVR/BLVS into the future.

The MVR/BLVS Futures Group is composed of current staff who have been successfully employed by the agency for a minimum of two years, have completed specific prerequisite training in supervision and/or management and who are or have been, enrolled in approved leadership training, as finances allow.

Participation in the MVR/BLVS Futures Group involves a competitive application process and involves a three-year term for staff members and two-year term for the regional administrator. Successful completion of a three-year term in the MVR/BLVS Futures Group has a proposed equivalency of two years of management experience within MVR/BLVS. Allowing staff to participate in real-life problem solving and real-life improvements to our current service delivery system serves the agency well and provides a mechanism for honing the skills of future leaders within the agency.

MVR/BLVS also works closely with TACE programs to provide in-service training to our staff. Presently, staff members are taking advantage of regularly offered videoconference training on a variety of pertinent topics.

 

Personnel Standards

MVR/BLVS has a system for ensuring the yearly evaluation (annual review of each counselor’s CSPD status to arrive at the percentage of “qualified” staff".) and performance of each staff member. The performance evaluation of rehabilitation counselors and other professionals is paramount to our efforts to ensure quality services to Montanans with disabilities. Our evaluations are tied to specific performance activities leading to those quality services.

The standard for counseling staff in Montana is to qualify to sit for the CRC examination or to have qualified to sit in the past, with the completion of additional coursework---and then to complete such coursework. Initially, MVR/BLVS had targeted 2007 as the year in which we would meet our CSPD goal of having 100% of its counselors meet the standard of qualifying to sit for the CRCC examination. Unfortunately, as more experienced employees retire there is not a ready pool of qualified professionals to hire into those vacated positions.

In "difficult to recruit for positions" MVR/BLVS will hire individuals with a baccalaureate degree in a related field (at the minimum) and develop a CSPD plan to ensure that the employee moves toward qualifying to sit for the CRC examination. It typically takes an individual hired with a baccalaureate degree three years to meet the standard. Blind and Low Vision Services instructional staff must be eligible to hold certification from the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals.

In fiscal year 2012, MVR/BLVS identified 14 rehabilitation counselors who require graduate level training to qualify to sit for the CRC examination.  Currently, 6 are researching and applying to graduate schools, and 8 are fully matriculated students engaged in graduate studies.

MVR/BLVS anticipates that the distance education graduate programs will take the average rehabilitation counselor approximately two to three years to complete. Without the distance-learning component, MVR/BLVS would be unable to set this plan in motion, as this allows for the counselor to complete their graduate education while remaining on the job. Through continued use of the distance education programs, MVR/BLVS anticipates maintaining/increasing the numbers of CRCs over the next several years.  The average number of MVR/BLVS counselors who complete a graduate program in rehabilitation counseling is 3 per year. This trend has been observed over the last decade. Three counselors completed their plans in FY 2012.

CSPD requirements dictate graduate level coursework. CSPD funds are also written into the current in-service training grant; however, Rehabilitation Services Administration scholarships are utilized whenever available to the graduate student. MVR/BLVS’s comprehensive efforts to meet the staff training needs prove to be of significant benefit in terms of recruitment of new staff and retention of existing staff.

 

Staff Development

MVR/BLVS performs a complete training needs assessment on all employees each year. MVR/BLVS identifies, through this process, major themes for training large groups as well as individualized training topics identified by staff and their supervisors. This assessment provides for a comprehensive set of training topics that remain fluid as emerging priorities are developed either at the national level or within the state. It is also used to provide information for conference planning purposes to associations such as the Montana Association for Rehabilitation and the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

The MVR/BLVS Human Resource Development Specialist has responsibility for in-service training, the preparation of Montana’s in-service training grant, and for overall coordination of the agency’s comprehensive system for personnel development. MVR/BLVS also completes CSPD assessments on all counselors in a plan to meet the standard. Each year, staff who do not meet the standard are counseled and their annual course of action is determined and documented. Of course, the purpose of this annual review is to continue to move counselors toward meeting the standard. Once counselors meet the standard by qualifying to sit for the CRC examination they receive a 3% pay raise, with an additional 3% upon successful completion of the CRC exam.

MVR/BLVS places a heavy emphasis on leadership at all levels and continuous improvement of staff skills at all levels. Leadership and succession planning training are available to all staff in one form or another. MVR/BLVS currently utilizes the Emerging Leaders Series through the Center for Continuing Education in Rehabilitation at Western Washington University and the state’s leadership program for staff development. Building on the formalized leadership/management training available to staff through the aforementioned programs, MVR/BLVS helps future leaders hone their skills through participation in the MVR/BLVS Futures Group. Additionally, there is emphasis on training in the areas of rehabilitation technology, informed choice, cultural diversity, current rehabilitation trends and disability information, and the Rehabilitation Act with its amendments. Training on topics such as rehabilitation technology, assessment, vocational counseling, and job placement is held at annual meetings such as All Staff, Bi-District, and Montana Association for Rehabilitation conference in addition to online seminars (for example through the TACE). Often a representative of the agency is sent to out-of-state training to bring back and disseminate significant knowledge from research and other sources.

 

Addressing Individual Communication Needs

Communication with Diverse Populations MVR requires that rehabilitation counselors who are hired specifically to work with deaf and hard of hearing consumers have fluent sign language skills. Sign language interpreters for the deaf or hard of hearing are also provided when necessary. Other accommodations, such as documentation in alternative formats, are routinely made by MVR/BLVS.  MVR/BLVS policy is to consult with the consumer to determine the most appropriate mode of communication.

Montana has a relay system for telephone communication with consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing and all offices are equipped with Ubi-Duos. Three offices (with the highest numbers of deaf/hard of hearing clients) have video phones for enhanced communication. The Montana Telecommunications Access Program is housed in the Division and lends tremendous technical support to MVR/BLVS working with sensory impaired consumers. BLVS has also developed a full time Assistive Technology Specialist position.  The Deaf Center is operational and provides interpreter referrals and other services to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. MVR/BLVS purchases interpreter services from the Deaf Center.

The issue of consumers whose primary language is not English is a very rare issue in Montana. The issue is most likely to occur with Native American consumers who are the largest minority group in Montana. Even with this group, it is quite rare to have a consumer whose primary language is not English. Montana is fortunate to have six Native American vocational rehabilitation projects (funded through section 121 of the Rehabilitation Act) located in Montana. The local MVR/BLVS offices have good working relationships with the Native American projects and they are an excellent resource for assisting Native Americans who are not English speakers.

The Billings region has the largest population of Spanish speaking consumers and they have utilized assistance from the local migrant council when working with consumers whose primary language is Spanish. In other very rare instances when working with consumers who speak other languages as their primary language, counselors have been able to utilize family members of the consumer to interpret. Also, Montana has many colleges and universities that offer a variety of foreign languages and if necessary it may be possible to utilize instructors or students from these programs to assist with interpreting or identifying community resources to assist with communication.

 

Coordination of the CSPD and IDEA

The MVR/BLVS CSPD coordinates with the requirements of the CSPD under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in that both necessitate the following.

  1. A description of the procedures and activities that the State of Montana will take to ensure an adequate supply of qualified personnel. 
  2. Detailed in-service training procedures to ensure that all personnel have access to training resources to enhance their professional skills, ultimately improving service delivery to consumers
  3.  In-service training of all personnel.
  4. A system for determining, on an annual basis:

  • The number and type of personnel needed
  • Which institutions of higher education in the state are preparing vocational rehabilitation personnel, the number of students enrolled in the programs, the number who graduate with credentials to qualify for employment with the agency, and
  • When to recruit, prepare, and retain qualified personnel, including personnel from minority backgrounds, and personnel with significant disabilities. 

The new transitions program manager continues to explore ways of coordinating training between MVR/BLVS, OPI, and the schools. Across the state, there are a number of transition fairs that are held annually at the high schools. MVR/BLVS presents at the transition fairs, and provides information regarding MVR/BLVS services and how to access those services.

This screen was last updated on Jun 29 2012 10:33AM by Michael Hermanson

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.

The Rehabilitation Act, as amended in 1998, requires each state to conduct a statewide assessment every 3 years. Our current 3 year Needs Assessment, is a statewide assessment, jointly conducted by MVR/BLVS and the State Rehabilitation Council. This assessment examines the need to establish develop or improve community rehabilitation programs, and the rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities, particularly the vocational rehabilitation needs of:

  1. Individuals with the most significant disabilities including their needs for supported employment services;
  2. Individuals who are minorities and individuals with disabilities who have not been served or are underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program;
  3. Individuals with disabilities served through other components of the statewide workforce investment system;

Three types of input were analyzed:

  1. Direct inputs such as the consumer satisfaction survey, MVR/BLVS counselor survey, focus forums (small regional groups of consumers), and the public hearing
  2. Other indicators such as the Client Assistance Program report of needs, State Rehabilitation Council input, program evaluation tools (standards and indicators, federal annual report, demographic trends, outreach activities conducted by program VISTA worker), and our current strategic plan summary
  3. Priorities from other programs such as the federal priorities, federal draft strategic plan, and legislative priorities.

Method:

The assessment activities took place between March 5, 2008 and March 23, 2010. As indicated above, the assessment sought information from a number of sources. MVR/BLVS consumer focus forums were conducted each year in each region. 

A consumer satisfaction survey was sent to MVR/BLVS consumers each of the last three years: approximately 1,500 surveys were sent out each year. The survey response rate was between 20 and 25 percent each year.

A public hearing was held each of the last three years, with the first two hearings providing general input on improving the MVR/BLVS program and the last hearing focusing on input on the draft goals, activities and performance measures of the MVR/BLVS strategic plan. Teleconferencing sites were located in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, Miles City and Missoula. Participation increased each year and ranged from about 75 participants to over 100 participants. Written comments were also accepted. The written comments increased from 5 to over 100 during the time period.

MVR/BLVS counselors were surveyed in January 2010 to gather input on their perceived needs of the consumers that they serve and 24 counselors responded.

Six Section 121 tribal vocational rehabilitation projects were surveyed and MVR/BLVS received responses from three of the project directors.

MVR/BLVS and the Council met on January 14, 2010 to obtain Council input on the state plan and particularly on their input on the strategic plan for the next 3 years. MVR/BLVS and the Council met again on April 15, to review a draft of the 3 year strategic plan.

The plan was developed out of a meeting of MVR/BLVS management staff, Council representatives (6), the MVR/BLVS Council representative of the Statewide Independent Living Council, and the Client Assistance Program representative.

The Council was also provided the MVR/BLVS response to their recommendations of January 14. The Council expressed approval with the plan.

Needs of individuals with disabilities who have the most significant disabilities, including their need for supported employment services:

An individual with a "most significant disability" means an individual with a disability who meets the criteria for having a significant disability and in addition has serious limitations in two or more functional capacities (such as, but not limited to, mobility, communication, self-care, self-direction, interpersonal skills, work tolerance, or work skills) in terms of employment outcome. Findings of the comprehensive statewide needs assessment for individuals with the most significant disabilities indicate needs for:

  • Increased incentives for employers to hire individuals with the most significant disabilities.
  • Expansion of services in rural areas
  • Reduction of the extended support services waiting list for supported employment.
  • Assistance with Social Security work incentives and protection of current SSI/SSDI benefits
  • Increases in earnings and benefits
  • Better transportation services
  • Contact with mental health centers and promotion of supported employment services
  • Assistance at the high school level with independent living and social skills
  • Increased services for individuals with disabilities who are minorities and individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved

Native Americans

According to 2010 census data 89.4% of Montana’s population is white and 6.3% is American Indian or Alaska Native persons. Persons reporting two or more races made up 2.5% of the population.  In Montana, most persons reporting two or more races, at least one of the races would be American Indian.  Other minorities make up the remaining 1.7% of the population. Six Section 121 Native American VR projects are located in Montana, covering six of the seven reservations located in Montana. Although most Native Americans on or near the reservation prefer to be served by their Section 121 project, a number are served by MVR/BLVS or by both MVR/BLVS and the Section 121 project. In FY 2011, MVR/BLVS served 1,635 minority consumers (20% of the caseload), of which 712 were Native American, 567 were of two or more races, 59 African Americans, 33 were Asian American, 245 were Hispanic/Latino and 19 were Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. The majority of Native American Montanans live on reservations. Many more live just outside the reservation. However, Montana does have a number of urban areas that have Native American service centers (Billings, Butte, Helena, Missoula, and Great Falls). Input on issues related to serving Native Americans with disabilities was received from MVR/BLVS counselors serving the reservations and Section 121 Directors.  Input received included:

  • The Crow Nation should be encouraged to apply for a tribal vocational rehabilitation project
  • There is a need for independent living services on the reservations
  • There is a need for assistance related to the Ticket to Work Program
  • Montana VR counselors need to make appropriate follow up when there are referrals from a tribal vocational rehabilitation project
  • There is a need for assistance with Social Security benefits planning services on the reservations
  • There is a need for assistance related to assistive technology
  • There is a need for training on MonTECH services for tribal vocational rehabilitation programs Information from MVR/BLVS counselors that serve reservations:
  • Transportation difficulties limit access to employment on reservations
  • Difficulty in developing plans for employment due to lack of resources on the reservation
  • Maintaining contact with consumers residing on the reservation is very difficult. This is especially true when the counselor can only visit the reservation once or twice a month
  • Reservation consumers have difficulty with vocational planning. An example is that consumers may want an education, but don’t tie getting an education to a vocational goal.
  • There are problems getting good documentation of disability. Indian Health records are available, but often there is a wealth of information that is provided with little of the information relevant to the person’s disabling conditions. Setting up appointments to get adequate documentation is difficult. Psychological testing and other specialty testing often requires going to a site off the reservation.
  • There is a lack of job opportunities on the reservations and many of the consumers are not interested in leaving the reservation 
  • Many of the consumers residing on the reservation have difficulties transferring from tribal colleges to the state university system because they have not been prepared adequately for the demands of the university system
  • There is a lack of sheltered and supported employment opportunities on reservations
  • There is also some difficulty serving hearing impaired persons on the reservations, but on the Blackfeet reservation there have been some procedures developed that have been successful recently.

Persons with Mental Disabilities including Severe and Persistent Mental Illness

In recent years, the disability makeup of Montana’s caseload has significantly changed. In 1986, 69% of the consumers had physical disabilities, 19% had mental disabilities, and 12% had sensory disabilities. In 2011, 37% of the consumers had physical disabilities, 51% had mental disabilities, and 12% had sensory disabilities. The number of cases with mental disabilities has significantly increased, especially in areas like severe and persistent mental illness, learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. While the numbers served have grown, the fact that many of the MVR/BLVS staff have had less experience working with this population has led to the State Rehabilitation Council considering consumers with mental disabilities an underserved group because MVR/BLVS counselors may not be able to provide the same level of quality with this group of consumers. Findings of the comprehensive statewide needs assessment for individuals with mental disabilities including severe and persistent mental illness include:

  • The need for more mental health centers to provide job placement and supported employment services
  • More information regarding Social Security Work Incentives • Improved transportation options
  • More vigorous outreach by MVR/BLVS to the state hospital and mental health centers
  • Better communication between MVR/BLVS and the Addictive and Mental Disorders Division.

MVR/BLVS management staff, Council representatives (6), the State Rehabilitation Council ,representative of the Statewide Independent Living Council, and the Client Assistance Program representative met for two days in February 2010 to discuss the results of the comprehensive needs assessment, and to make recommendations regarding FY 2011-13 goals and priorities. This meeting developed a framework of goals, objectives, activities and performance measures, which was the initial draft of the three year plan presented in sections: Attachment 4.11(c)(1) State Goals and Priorities

Attachment 4.11(d) State’s Strategies Assessment of need to establish, develop, or improve CRPs programs within the state. MVR/BLVS continually assesses the need to establish, develop and improve CRPs utilizing all of the methods described throughout attachment 4.11 (a). Among the need areas being addressed at this time include:

1) Expansion of services to rural and remote areas by the continued certification of private providers who meet MVR/BLVS qualification levels for job placement and job coaching services

2) Expansion of mental health providers as CRP’s to serve those with severe and persistent mental illness

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2012 3:06PM by Michael Hermanson

 

During Federal Fiscal Year 2012, MVR/BLVS estimates the following number of individuals will be served and the estimated cost of services: Estimated number of people with disabilities with an employment disability in Montana between the ages of 16 to 64 is 19,048,426 (20010 American Community Survey). Title I Vocational Rehabilitation - It is estimated that a total of 8,400 consumers will be served at a case cost of around $9.1 million (including Social Security reimbursement funds), and 735 consumers will be employed. Title VI-B funds - It is estimated that a total of 210 consumers will receive supported employment services at a case cost of around $375,000. It is estimated that there will be 65 supported employment consumers employed.

Category Title I or Title VI Estimated Funds Estimated Number to be Served Average Cost of Services
Title 1 Consumers Title I $9,608,695 8,400 $1,143
Title VI-B consumers Title VI $375,000 210 $1,785
Totals   $9,983,695 8,610 $1,159

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2012 3:07PM by Michael Hermanson

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.

MVR/BLVS’s mission is "Promoting work and independence for Montanans with disabilities". To accomplish this mission, MVR/BLVS and the State Rehabilitation (Council) have developed the goals and priorities, which are listed below. These goals are not in any order of priority. As stated in 4.11(a), MVR/BLVS and the Council met on January 15, 2010 to look at long range needs, and to begin development of the State Plan. MVR/BLVS management staff, Council representatives, the Statewide Independent Living Council chair, and the Client Assistance Program representative met again in February 2010 to discuss the results of the comprehensive assessment, and to make recommendations regarding FY 2011-13 goals and priorities. Each of the preceding reviews included a review of the standards and indicators and yearly performance related to the standards and indicators. The goals and priorities (identified as objectives) established for the ensuing three years were:

Goal 1: Improve the infrastructure that supports MVR/BLVS in order to increase the agency’s potential to promote work and independence for Montanans with disabilities.

Objective 1.1: Increase transportation options for Montanans with disabilities that impact employment opportunities for MVR/BLVS consumers.

Objective 1.2: MVR/BLVS will implement procedures and practices that improve counselor infrastructure/supports to increase quality time spent with clients and improve client outcomes.

Objective 1.3: Establish and/or enhance effective working relationships with a broad range of organizations that assist individuals with disabilities in achieving employment. Objective 1.4: Improve Disability Employment and Transitions Division’s compliance with relevant federal and state civil rights laws that prohibit disability discrimination.

Goal 2: Assure high quality employment for Montanans with disabilities through the vocational rehabilitation program.

Objective 2.1: Provide functionally equivalent services to unserved and underserved populations.

Objective 2.2: Address the high status 30-to-closure ratio.

Objective 2.3: Provide rehabilitation services that lead to successful outcomes in employment for transition age youth 14-24 years of age will need to be hired each year.

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2012 3:24PM by Michael Hermanson

  • 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 29 2009 1:45PM by Michael Hermanson

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.

 

Supported employment services are provided on a statewide basis through the Title VI, Part B funds. Supported employment is competitive employment or employment in integrated work settings in which individuals are working toward competitive work, with ongoing support services for individuals with the most significant disabilities for whom competitive employment has not traditionally occurred or for whom competitive employment has been interrupted or intermittent as a result of a significant disability. Supported employment includes transitional employment for individuals with the most severe disabilities due to mental illness. Fund allocation on a statewide basis ensures an equitable statewide service delivery.

The goal of the state’s supported employment program is to maintain a system whereby individuals with the most significant disabilities are afforded the opportunity to participate in integrated competitive employment.

Title VI, Part B funds will be distributed through four MVR/BLVS regional budgets. Rehabilitation counselors at the local level will authorize supported employment services as needed from the Community Rehabilitation Programs statewide. MVR/BLVS estimates that approximately $375,000 will be expended on Supported Employment services in FY 2013. Funding sources include: $300,000 in Title VI, Part B funds, supplemented with approximately $75,000 in Title 1 (Section 110) funds. It is estimated that a total of 200 consumers will receive supported employment services. It is estimated that there will be 60 supported employment consumers employed.

Supported employment services are available statewide.

Strategies:

Inventory methods of supporting consumers on the job following supported employment outcomes

A. Extended Employment - Rocky Mountain Rehab

B. Mental Health cooperative agreement

C. Developmental Disabilities cooperative agreement

D. Private pay to CRP (CRP is signoff)

E. Natural supports

F. Medicaid waiver program

G. In 2009, the Missoula region began looking at using employment related work expenses as a method to support consumers on the job following supported employment outcomes. At this time few consumers have been able to use this method, but it will continue to be explored in 2013.

Expand the number of mental health providers as CRPs to serve those with severe and persistent mental illness. There are currently five mental health providers that provide supported employment services. There is a possibility that Kalispell mental health may begin providing services during the upcoming year.

In the past two years, MVR/BLVS has expanded the number or rural providers and hopes the expansion will continue in the upcoming year.

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2012 3:10PM by Michael Hermanson

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.

Methods Used to Expand and Improve Services to Individuals with Disabilities

The comprehensive needs assessment is the primary process for identifying areas related to innovation and expansion and innovation and expansion funds are used to support activities related to this process. Activities supported specifically by innovation and expansion funds include the consumer satisfaction survey and meetings for the State Rehabilitaiton Council and the Statewide Independent Living Council.

Other activities related to expanding services are detailed in below in activities to achieve goals and priorities.

.

 

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.

Identification of How a Broad Range of Assistive Technology Services and Assistive Technology Devices will be Provided at Each Stage of the Process

The primary method of providing assistive technology and devices to consumers has been through the relationship with MonTECH of the University of Montana Rural Institute (Rural Institute). MonTECH is Montana’s federally funded assistive technology project since 1991. MonTECH’s primary purpose has been to assist individuals with disabilities to maintain or increase their level of functioning and independence in all environments through the access to and use of assistive technology devises and services to consumers throughout the state.

The current strategy for more effectively using MonTECH’s resources is an annual training for MVR/BLVS staff to learn more about the services available through MonTECH and how to access them. Also, MVR/BLVS made available to CRPs and Section 121 projects funds to attend MonTECH training through ARRA funds. A number of CRPs and Section 121 projects did pursue the training with the ARRA support.

The Blind and Low Vision Services (BLVS) assistive technology specialist provides training and support to BLVS consumers and staff on technology related to blind and low vision issues. The MonTECH program conducted a training for the BLVS staff during June of 2010. The training focused on technology for individuals with visual disabilities.

Description of How Assistive Technology Services and Devices will be Provided on a Statewide Basis.

MonTECH has implemented a process of demonstrating equipment and assessing technology needs through the use of video conferencing via computer. MVR/BLVS hopes to assist with expansion of these efforts through expanding the computer communication technology available in MVR/BLVS offices. MVR/BLVS recruited a VISTA to assist with research in this area and installing equipment and staff training.   In addition, ARRA funds were also used to set provide each office with a variety of assistive technology items that are commonly used by persons with disabilities.  MonTECH will be able to assist with the demonstrations of this equipment through the video conferencing systems.

Each BLVS regional office has a rehabilitation teacher who has background in technology related to blind and low vision and each regional office has some demonstration equipment available for consumers to test equipment before purchase. MonTECH provides additional demonstration equipment to the three BLVS offices outside of Missoula (MonTECH is located in Missoula and their office supplements the BLVS resources for that region).

 

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.

Outreach Activities to Identify and Serve Individuals with the Most Significant Disabilities who are Minorities

Native Americans represent the only significant minority group in Montana. Montana has seven reservations and thirteen tribes within autonomous governing bodies. The Little Shell Chippewa Tribe was recently granted Montana recognition. MVR/BLVS has counselors who serve consumers on each reservation. These counselors coordinate with Section 121 project staff to identify potential referrals and resources. Native Americans with disabilities living on reservations face unique challenges.

  • First, they are eligible for a combination of tribal, federal, and state programs to meet their vocational and health needs. This requires extensive coordination and cooperation between agencies.
  • Secondly, they are faced with significant cultural and economic barriers. Unemployment on these reservations varies from 24% to 70% (Bureau of Indian Affairs, US Department of the Interior, 2007). Today there are very few private or self-employment opportunities on reservations: most employment comes through tribal and federal programs.

Six Section 121 vocational rehabilitation projects (Confederated Salish & Kootenai, Blackfeet, Chippewa Cree, Fort Peck, Fort Belknap, and Chief Dull Knife College) are located in Montana. This gives improved access to vocational rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities being served by the Section 121 projects. MVR/BLVS counselors assigned to these six reservations coordinate with each project staff as needed. In addition, the MVR/BLVS program manager visits each 121 project annually and provides technical assistance when requested.

Four of the Section 121 projects have in the last two years been refunded for five more years.  So, there will be significant Section 121 support in Montana for several more years.  Section 121 projects have a better grasp of the cultural and service delivery barriers that exist on reservations and can help support MVR/BLVS counselors as needed.

In some cases, MVR/BLVS has access to specialized programs, or services, which are not always found on reservations. MVR/BLVS’s efforts are to network, coordinate, offer technical assistance, and provide training opportunities for project staff, to ensure consumers with disabilities have access to the full range of vocational rehabilitation services. Six cooperative agreements have been written and are monitored on an annual basis.

The Confederated Salish/Kootenai Tribes 121 program has been approved as an employment network under the Ticket to Work Program. Chief Dull Knife and Fort Belknap Projects are exploring the possibility of becoming an employment network.

In order to ensure that MVR/BLVS is meeting the needs of Native Americans that do not live on or near the reservation, in the past year MVR/BLVS staff has met or have plans to meet with: Missoula Native American Center Helena Indian Alliance Great Falls Indian Family Health Center Butte - North American Indian Alliance Indian Health Board of Billings Clinic Possibly because of these outreach efforts, over the past three years the number of Native American consumers served in the counties served by the urban centers has increased. MVR/BLVS provided program and referral information, literature regarding MVR/BLVS and MVR/BLVS transitions, and discussed transitions services for youth. In Great Falls, a counselor has been assigned as a liaison to the Indian Family Health Center to ensure that those eligible for MVR/BLVS services receive the appropriate information, and are referred in a timely manner.

Identification of Outreach Procedures Used to Identify and Serve Individuals with Disabilities who have been Unserved or Underserved by the MVR/BLVS Program

For several years MVR has considered Native Americans as the unserved/underserved population of the state. However, recently MVR/BLVS and the State Rehabilitation Council have begun activities to research other potential unserved/underserved populations. The Native American committee has changed its name and purpose. The name is now the unserved/underserved committee and the purpose has been changed to research an array of other possible unserved/underserved populations and develop strategies for those populations in addition to the Native American population. In October of 2008, the committee selected the following populations to be researched as possibly unserved/underserved:

  • foster care youth:
  •  home schooled youth
  • hard of hearing
  • traumatic brain injured veterans
  • Native American/other minorities
  • transition youth
  • mentally ill

 

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

Plans for Establishing, Developing, or Improving Community Rehabilitation Programs

MVR/BLVS continually assesses the need to establish, develop and improve Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP) utilizing all of the methods described throughout attachment 4.11 (a). Among the need areas being addressed at this time include:

1. Expansion of services to rural and remote areas by the continued certification of private providers who meet MVR/BLVS qualification levels for job placement and job coaching services

2. Expansion of mental health providers as CRP’s to serve those with severe and persistent mental illness

In the past two years ARRA funds were used to allow staff of Community Rehabilitation Programs to participate in training activities.  Most Community Rehabilitation Programs did participate in this initiative.  MVR/BLVS is committed to assist with additional trainings in the future when funds are available.  Describe Strategies to Improve the Performance with Respect to the Evaluation Standards and Performance Indicators Many of the strategies developed to meet the goals established by the comprehensive needs assessments are aimed at improving the standards and performance indicators of MVR/BLVS. Those strategies are detailed below in the section on activities to achieve goals and objectives.  Also, MVR/BLVS has incorporated the standards and indicators into performance appraisals for staff. MVR/BLVS and the Council will continue to monitor the performance outcomes throughout the year and work to consult with MVR/BLVS regional administrators to assure compliance in meeting the required indicators. MVR/BLVS tracks the indicators on a quarterly basis so adjustments can be made in areas that may need some attention.

 

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

 Describe Strategies to Improve the Performance with Respect to the Evaluation Standards and Performance Indicators:

Many of the strategies developed to meet the goals established by the comprehensive needs assessments are aimed at improving the standards and performance indicators of MVR/BLVS. Those strategies are detailed below in the section on activities to achieve goals and objectives.  Also, MVR/BLVS has incorporated the standards and indicators into performance appraisals for staff. MVR/BLVS and the Council will continue to monitor the performance outcomes throughout the year and work to consult with MVR/BLVS regional administrators to assure compliance in meeting the required indicators. MVR/BLVS tracks the indicators on a quarterly basis so adjustments can be made in areas that may need some attention.

 

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

Strategies for Assisting other Components of the Statewide Workforce Investment System in Assisting individuals with Disabilities

MVR/BLVS staff are members of the local community management teams (CMTs) and the statewide area management team (SAM). MVR/BLVS has a cooperative agreement with the SAM. As members of these teams, MVR/BLVS staff offer consultation and technical assistance on disability issues as needed.

 

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.

Agency’s strategies to: Achieve Goals and Priorities Identified in Attachment 4.11 (c)(1)

In February 2010, MVR/BLVS management staff met with representatives of the State Rehabilitation Council to discuss comprehensive needs and priorities for the upcoming year. The group looks at formal input from public hearings, focus forums, MVR/BLVS staff, consumer satisfaction survey, Client Assistance Program, MVR/BLVS Council, state and national sources (CSAVR, RSA policy changes, Legislative activities, umbrella agency activities), and other surveys. Information from this meeting is used to plan for the next three years and for the legislature. MVR/BLVS and the State Rehabilitation Council have developed the goals, objectives, and strategies. In addition performance measures have also been identified and will be used over the next three years to measure progress. MVR/BLVS STRATEGIC PLAN 2011-13

Goal 1: Improve the infrastructure that supports MVR/BLVS in order to increase the agency’s potential to promote work and independence for Montanans with disabilities.  

Objective 1.1:   Increase transportation options for Montanans with disabilities that impact employment opportunities for MVR/BLVS consumers.  

Strategies: MVR/BLVS will:

  1. Partner with Montana’s Statewide Independent Living Council and Montana’s centers for independent living on transportation initiatives.
  2. Attend local Transportation Advisory Council (TAC) meetings and advocate for changes in local transportation plans that will benefit persons with disabilities. Consumers will also be encouraged to attend TAC meetings.
  3. Actively participate in the joint Department Public Health and Human Services and Department of Transportation conference/summit in order to develop solutions that address transportation barriers for Montanans with disabilities.
  4. Ensure that information and the resources gathered by Disability Employment and Transition Division’s transportation coordinator gets distributed to all staff on a regular basis.
  5. On the regional level, explore best practices such as taxi discounts and work at home options. Success will be shared with other regions for potential replication.

Objective 1.2

MVR/BLVS will implement procedures and practices that improve counselor infrastructure/supports to increase quality time spent with clients and improve client outcomes.

Strategies:  MVR/BLVS will:

  1. On a quarterly basis, review the computerized case reporting system (CASE-E) and other office procedures to identify best practices and system changes in order to make the system more efficient for counselor use.
  2. Provide training on policies and practices to ensure consistency.
  3. Explore technology options to reduce travel time for staff in areas such as staff training and consumer contacts.
  4. Use MVR/BLVS quarterly newsletter to share best case service practices between regions.
  5. Do a yearly staff needs assessment for training that focuses on issues that create stress for counselors and areas that may increase efficiency of routine procedures.
  6.  Use the recently developed statewide application packet and provide adequate training on use of the packet.
  7. Continue “myth busters” as a method for dispelling inappropriate interpretations of policy and other inconsistent practices.
  8. Develop guidelines on procedures for reinforcing training issues on the local level, including procedures for monitoring implementation by counselors. While this is a need in all training areas, the initial focus will be on the “use of technology” training.

Objective 1.3:

Establish and/or enhance effective working relationships with a broad range of organizations that assist individuals with disabilities in achieving employment.

Strategies: MVR/BLVS will:

  1. Develop and enhance working relationships with public and private organizations, state agencies and organizations such as the State Rehabilitation Council, the Veteran’s Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation Program, the Department of Corrections, and consumer advocacy groups.
  2. Assign MVR/BLVS liaisons to appropriate organizations, committees and councils to promote mutual goals and achievements.

Objective 1.4: Improve Disability Employment and Transitions Divisioncompliance with relevant federal and state civil rights laws that prohibit disability discrimination.

Strategies: MVR/BLVS will:

  1. Complete and update the Americans with Disabilities Act Self-evaluation and Transition Plan for programs and facilities of Disability Employment and Transitions Division.
  2. Identify and eliminate barriers to AWACS, Case-E, and ISERV software by employees who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled and who use assistive technologies to access that software.
  3. Expand the options for qualified sign language interpreter and captions services through the development of remote service contracts and Internet or video phone based communications for the deaf and hard of hearing.
  4. Establish a policy and procedure as well as ongoing training for the publication of accessible documents created for internal and external use by Disability Employment, and Transitions Division.

Goal 2: Assure high quality employment for Montanans with disabilities through the vocational rehabilitation program.

Objective 2.1 Provide functionally equivalent services to unserved and underserved populations.

Strategies:  MVR/BLVS will

  1. Develop a specific set of procedures for identification of underserved.
  2. Meet with representatives of the deaf and hard of hearing community, Native American, and mental health communities to discuss changes to MVR/BLVS practices that could improve services to these groups.
  3. Explore ways to increase the service capacity for rehabilitation providers for rural communities.
  4. Complete a comprehensive review of agency materials to make sure all our materials are in accessible formats.
  5. Explore telework opportunities in rural areas.

Objective 2.3 Provide rehabilitation services that lead to successful outcomes in employment for transition age youth 14-24 years of age.

Strategies: MVR/BLVS will

  1. Conduct analysis of the Missoula pilot program in transitions to determine impact and potential best practices and explore options for expanding elements of the program to other parts of the state.
  2. Provide on-going transitions training to MVR/BLVS counselors.
  3. Outreach to school administrators and school board groups to discuss and explain transitions issues.
  4. Collaborate with entities who serve dropouts, youth in foster care and older youth (juvenile justice, etc.) to work on transitions strategies for these populations.
  5. Work with Montana Youth Transitions Coalition on initiatives related to transitions issues.
  6. Explore alternate models of Individual Plans for Employment (IPE) that meet the needs and circumstances of transitions age youth, including possibly incorporating the IPE as part of Individual Education Plans.
  7. Identify and encourage the use of best practices for informing parents and family members about Vocational Rehabilitation services.
  8. Develop a transitions data tracking system including, but not limited to:

  • Outcomes
  • Outreach strategies
  • Types of services
  • Service costs

The tracking system will be utilized to develop strategies that focus on specific issues identified in the data.

Activities related to the goals and objective in Goal 1:  Improve the infrastructure that supports MVR/BLVS in order to increase the agency’s potential to promote work and independence for Montanans with disabilities tend to reflect efforts in innovation and expansion.  Some of the activities that especially reflect this are:

  • Partner with Montana’s Statewide Independent Living Council and Montana’s centers for independent living on transportation initiatives
  • Actively participate in the joint Department Public Health and Human Services and Department of Transportation conference/summit in order to develop solutions that address transportation barriers for Montanans with disabilities.
  • On the regional level, explore best practices such as taxi discounts and work at home options. Success will be shared with other regions for potential replication.
  • Explore technology options to reduce travel time for staff in areas such as staff training and consumer contacts.
  • Expand the options for qualified sign language interpreter and captions services through the development of remote service contracts and Internet or video phone based communications for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Activities to overcome barriers relating to equitable access to and participation of individuals with disabilities in MVR/BLVS and the supported employment services program are primarily seen in the activities related to the objectives in Goal 2:  Assure high quality employment for Montanans with disabilities through the vocational rehabilitation program. Some examples are:

  • Meet with representatives of the deaf and hard of hearing community, Native American, and mental health communities to discuss changes to MVR/BLVS practices that could improve services to these groups.
  • Explore ways to increase the service capacity for rehabilitation providers for rural communities
  • Explore telework opportunities in rural areas
  • Conduct analysis of the Missoula pilot program in transitions to determine impact and potential best practices and explore options for expanding elements of the program to other parts of the state. 

 

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2012 3:23PM by Michael Hermanson

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

Evaluation of progress made towards achieving program goals and objectives identified in Attachment 4.11 (c) (1).  The evaluation reports on significant impacts of specific activities related to the goals and objectives and an overall review of the performance indicators set for each objective.

Goal 1:  Improve the infrastructure that supports MVR/BLVS in order to increase the agency’s potential to promote work and independence for Montanans with disabilities.

Objective 1.1:  Increase transportation options for Montanans with disabilities that impact employment opportunities for MVR/BLVS consumers.  

Strategies that have had an impact:

  • Ensure that information and the resources gathered by the Disability Employment and Transitions Division’s transportation coordinator gets distributed to all staff on a regular basis. 

This has occurred and is having an impact on improving transportation options to MVR/BLVS consumers 

Performance Measures: 

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, MVR/BLVS will decrease the number of cases closed because of transportation barriers from the previous year.

Benchmark 2010 total:  5 closed cases with transportation barriers noted as reason.

Through September 30, 2011:  5 closed cases with transportation barriers noted as reason.

Analysis: After collecting the information from the data system, it became apparent that this data may not be pertinent to the measuring progress as anticipated. There was discussion with the RA’s regarding the measure. The actual documentation of transportation difficulties is not documented unless it is the only difficulty in placement.  Use of this measure is under review. 

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, each region will report successful transportation initiatives in their area to the state office. The regional reports will be consolidated into a state report and distributed to the regional administrators and State Rehabilitation Council.

Regional transportation initiatives that have been implemented with the assistance of the transportation coordinator:

  • Improving procedures for developing and obtaining bids on accessible vehicles.
  • Improving procedures for developing and obtaining prices for non-accessible vehicle.  This includes checking the availability of state surplus vehicles, which often represent better value than through dealerships.
  • Working on obtaining gas vendors so VR clients are able to charge for fuel.  Two additional gas vendors (Butte and Hamilton) were obtained during the 4th qtr 2011.  One of these vendors is a pilot by a major Montana distributor that could create significant opportunities in the future.
  • Providing guidance to consumers on warranty locations for accessible vehicles.  Worked with two consumers on these issues during 4th qtr of 2011.

Analysis:  The number of initiatives that have been identified and implemented is considered to be significant and therefore progress in this regard has been successful.  It is anticipated that that additional initiatives and appropriate implementation will occur in the remaining the years of the plan. Dissemination of the initiatives has not occurred as described, but has occurred through contacts with RA’s and presentations at various meetings.

 

Objective 1.2

MVR/BLVS will implement procedures and practices that improve counselor infrastructure/supports to increase quality time spent with clients and improve client outcomes.

Strategies that had an impact:

  • Provide training on policies and practices to ensure consistency.  In the last year policy trainings have focused in the area of transition.  It is a high priority to increase the number of transition age persons on the caseload.  It is hoped that this training will impact that area.

  • Explore technology options to reduce travel time for staff in areas such as staff training and consumer contacts.  There have been a variety of options tried in the last year.  Particularly in the area of staff training, the use of monthly webinars has had an impact.  It increases the amount of training that can be done.  This is very important with so many new counselors. 

Performance Measures:  Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, MVR/BLVS will meet the standards and indicators.

There are two evaluation standards:   To achieve successful performance on standard

1, a VR agency must meet or exceed 4 of 6 indicators.  MVR/BLVS met 5 of the 6 indicators (MVR/BLVS did not meet the rehabilitation rate indicator.)  To achieve successful performance on Standard 2, a VR agency must meet or exceed the performance indicator. MVR/BLVS met the indicator.

Analysis: Because the overall requirements have been met or exceeded MVR/BLVS has had adequate progress on this measure.  It is anticipated that the requirements of the Standards and Indicators will continue to be met in the upcoming years of the plan.

 

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, there will be a decrease in the number of waivers from the previous year for extended time between the time a consumer is found eligible for services and the IPE is completed.

Benchmark, 2010 total:  2,540 extensions.

Through September 30, 2011:  2,282 extensions.  This is a 10.2% decrease from the baseline number of waivers.

Analysis:  This performance measure was included in the regional administrator’s regional plan for FFY11.  All regions decreased the number of waivers from the previous year.  It is anticipated that number of waivers will continue to decrease in the remaining years of the plan. 

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, the positive ratings in the consumer satisfaction survey on the questions:  “My relationship with my counselor has been helpful and productive.” and “How would you rate the quality of service you received?” will be at least 85%.

It should be noted that because the consumer satisfaction survey is done on a calendar year basis, the findings reflect the surveys conducted during a calendar year and not fiscal year.

It should be noted that on the Blind and Low Vision Services (BLVS) survey, this question reads:  “My relationship with Blind and Low Vision Services has been helpful and productive?”  The reason for the difference between the two questions is that consumers of BLVS services often interact with other professional staff (such as orientation and mobility personnel) in addition to the counselor.

Benchmark:  85%

Through December 31, 2011:  The positive satisfaction rating for the question:  “My relationship with my counselor has been helpful, timely and productive was: 85%

For the second question, it should be noted that beginning with the 2010, the question “How would you rate the quality of service you received?” was changed to “I am satisfied with the quality of service received.”

Benchmark: 85%  

Through December 31, 2011:  The positive satisfaction rating for the question “I am satisfied with the quality of service received.” was:  83%

Analysis:  While the rate achieved on the first question was adequate and the rate on the second question was close to adequate MVR/BLVS would like to see both of these rates higher in the upcoming years.  In looking at the written comments that accompanied surveys, two specific factors may be related to dissatisfaction.  The first factor seemed to impact both questions.  That factor was turnover in staff during the time period surveyed.  Anecdotal comments indicated that staff turnover created frustration.  The turnover has stabilized since the survey.  The second factor primarily impacted the second question, which related to satisfaction with services.  Anecdotal comments indicated that consumers had a misunderstanding of what services are appropriate through MVR/BLVS.  MVR/BLVS is increasing the use of orientation sessions with consumers and the new consumer orientation handbook, both of these practices should help increase the ratings on the customer satisfaction survey.  The ratings will be reviewed by the Field Chief and the Regional Administrators to see if additional actions can be taken in this regard.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, the number of counselor sick days used will decrease from the previous year.

Benchmark:  Sick leave days used in the first quarter of State FY (July 1 to June 30) 2011:  790

Sick leave days used in the first quarter of State FY 2012:  692.  

Analysis:  Progress is adequate and no changes are planned at this time.  However, we recognize this may be a weak indicator of staff satisfaction and are considering other measures.  It was decided not to do a yearly survey of staff because we do not want to burden staff with additional activities.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, there will be a decrease in calls to Client Assistance Program from the previous year.

Benchmark:  Montana CAP reports that in FFY 2010 there were 154 service requests by 144 consumers.  These requests include referrals related to IL, tribal VR programs, and employment discrimination of VR consumers. CAP does not keep records differentiating the type of referral.  However, MVR/BLVS cases make up the vast majority of the cases and changes in the volume of referrals over a given time period likely reflect changes in the volume of MVR/BLVS related referrals. 

In FFY11 there were 170 service requests by 154 clients  

Analysis:  Due to turnover in counseling staff state-wide, it is not a surprise that calls to CAP have increased this past year. MVR/BLVS is now fully staffed. MVR/BLVS regional administrators now receive a quarterly CAP report that breaks out complaints by county, as well as the type of complaint.  Regional administrators have not had access to this information in the past.  They will now be able to closely monitor the types of complaints, as well as the number of complaints received by individual counselors, and will be able to follow-up with staff if there are notable trends/spikes in their region.  

 

Objective 1.3: 

Establish and/or enhance effective working relationships with a broad range of organizations that assist individuals with disabilities in achieving employment.

Strategies that have had an impact:

  • Assign MVR/BLVS liaisons to appropriate organizations, committees and councils to promote mutual goals and achievements.  A particular success in this regard occurred in a small town in northern Montana.  Through the cooperative relationship established through meeting together on a regular basis, mental health and MVR/BLVS were able to work together on a proposal that has generated funding that will establish new employment opportunities for persons with mental health disabilities that will last for many years. 

Performance Measures:

 Each year of the plan, MVR/BLVS will review for evidence of record (e.g. minutes, agendas, and agreements) for documentation of the participation of MVR/BLVS in partnerships and collaborative March 2010:

  • Memorandum of understanding (MOU) between MVR/BLVS and Second Chance Homes (MVR/BLVS will designate a liaison, and provide training on its laws, services, policies and procedures to Second Chance).  This will increase referrals.
  • Great Falls VR – letter of support for the WoRC Program in Cascade County
  • BLVS – letter of support for Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana – grant proposal to enable seniors with blindness and visual impairments to receive the services required to remain independent in their homes.
  • A letter of support was completed for a proposal by Accessible Space Inc. to build a HUD subsidized apartment building in the Great Falls community.
  • A letter of support was submitted for Western Montana Mental Health’s proposal to expand their vocational program and their proposal was awarded.  This is the proposal mentioned above. 
  • A letter of support was written for Share House which provides housing during addiction recovery.  By having stable housing, mutual clients are better able to participate in job search activities and employment. It is estimated we serve twenty Share House residents each year.

Analysis:  Progress is adequate and no changes are planned at this time. Regions will continue to work collaboratively with the various service providers in their area.  In the upcoming year, the Regional Administrators will be requested to identify successful closures related to the above activities.

 

Objective 1.4:

Improve Disability Employment and Transitions Division’s compliance with relevant federal and state civil rights laws that prohibit disability discrimination.

Strategies that had an impact:

  • Complete and update the Americans with Disabilities Act Self-evaluation and Transition Plan.  The evaluations were completed and plans for removing issues that were uncovered have begun.  This will make MVR/BLVS better models of accessibility in the community.
  • Identify and eliminate barriers to AWACS, Case-E, and ISERV software by employees who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled and who use assistive technologies to access that software.  MVR/BLVS has identified a new case management system that will be accessible and the process of the conversion to the new system began in FY 2012 and should be complete in FY 2013.
  • Expand the options for qualified sign language interpreters and caption services through the development of remote service contracts and Internet or video phone based communications for the deaf/hh.  MVR/BLVS has made arrangements for accessing qualified sign language interpreters through internet access.  This will have a significant impact on the communication between MVR/BLVS counselors and deaf consumers. 

Performance Measures:

By the end of the first year of this plan, the Americans with Disabilities Act Self-evaluation and Transition Plan for programs and facilities of Disability Empolyment and Transitions Division will have been completed.

The centers for independent living were contracted to do Self-evaluations for the MVR/BLVS offices in the Center’s service area.  Those evaluations were completed.  The next step is for the office leaders to review the evaluations and to assign a priority for barriers identified in the evaluations.  Then the offices will commence with the removal of the barriers. 

Analysis: The measure was met as the evaluations were completed.  The quality of the evaluations was very high and will be very useful guides in removing barriers in the last two years of the plan.

By the end of the third year of this plan, there will be evidence of progress made on removing barriers identified in the Americans with Disabilities Act Self-evaluation and Transition Plan.

As mentioned, in the report on the previous performance measure the self-evaluations have been completed and priorities for addressing issues are being assigned.  It is anticipated that evidence of progress will occur based on the priority assignments over the course of the next two years.

Analysis:  The first year of the current plan focused on having the self-evaluations completed.  This was done.  It is anticipated that during the last two years of the plan that significant progress will be made in removing barriers identified in the self-evaluations.  

 

Goal 2:  Assure high quality employment for Montanans with disabilities through the vocational rehabilitation program.

  • Objective 2.1d:   Provide functionally equivalent services to unserved and underserved populations.  

Strategies that had an impact:

  • Explore ways to increase the service capacity for rehabilitation providers for rural communities.  In the past year 5 new providers have been added and 4 serve rural areas. 

Performance Measures:  Have a procedure in place for identifying unserved and underserved populations at least one year prior to the next strategic planning session to get input from those groups for the strategic planning meeting.

A basic structure for identifying unserved and underserved populations that would utilize information available from the MVR/BLVS database has been identified.  During the next year, Information related to these factors will be acquired and analyzed.

Analysis:  Progress on this measure is adequate.  In the upcoming year, data will be gathered from the information system on various specific groups of consumers to assess if there appear to be groups that are underserved.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, there will be an increase from the previous year in successful closures with health insurance benefits through employers of minority groups and other groups identified as unserved or underserved.

Benchmark, 2010 total:  16 closures of 96 total 26’s (16.7%) had health insurance benefits through employers.

Through September 30, 2011:  16 closures of 86 total 26’s (18.6%) had health insurance benefits through employers.  This is an 11.4% increase of the percentage of closures with health insurance from the base line.  

Analysis:  Progress is adequate and no changes are planned at this time.  

Each year, the positive ratings in the consumer satisfaction survey for the question “I am satisfied with the plan my counselor and I developed to meet my needs to achieve my employment goal” will be at least 90% for 26 closures of consumers from minority groups and other groups identified as unserved and underserved.

Benchmark:  90%

Through June 30, 2011:  77%

Analysis:  MVR/BLVS did not meet the goal of 90%.  The plans described in the analysis of the next benchmark should also assist MVR/BLVS in meeting this benchmark in future years of the plan.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, there will be an increase in the number of consumers from minority groups and other unserved and underserved groups who have plans developed from the previous year.

Benchmark 2010:  275 plans were developed for minority consumers

Through December 31, 2011:  248 plans have been developed for minority consumers.  This is a 9.8% decrease from the baseline.

Analysis:  There has been a decrease in the number of plans developed for minority consumers from FFY10.  The most significant drop has been in the Great Falls region: this region serves four reservations, with the Havre satellite office serving three of the four reservations.  The counselor position in the Havre office was vacant for a significant period of time, which likely contributed to the decrease in the number of plans developed.  Training specific to working with the Tribal 121 VR programs will be provided to the counselors that serve the six reservations that have a 121 program in FFY12. Subsequent training will be provided to all counselors within the next two years.  This performance measure was included in the regional administrator’s regional plan for FFY12.  

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, standards and indicators related to minority ratio will be met.

Benchmark:  Minority ratio must be greater than or equal to .80.

Ratio for FY 2012:  .84

Analysis:  MVR/BLVS met this standard & indicator, therefore progress is adequate on the measure.

Objective 2.2:   Develop a plan to address the high status 30-to-closure ratio.

Strategies that had an impact:  The strategies mentioned were primarily research strategies that have provided guidance on how the issue can be addressed.  There are more specifics under the Performance Measurements section.

Performance Measuresments:

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, there will be a 3% decrease in status 30s from the previous year.

Benchmark:  2010:  1612 status 30 closures

Through September 30, 2011:  1423 status 30 closures.  This is an 11.7% decrease in the number of status 30 closures.

Analysis: 

The following actions were initiated in the last year and seemed to have decreased the number of status 30s.  The initiatives will be continued and if other activities that may impact status 30s develop, those actions will also be initiated.

  • Trained all staff on Cognitive Motivational Tools
  • Started orientation meetings in all regions; to ensure that consumers are given a consistent, work ready message to help them determine if they are ready for MVR services
  • Provided training entitled “Effective Counseling for Timeliness” 
  • Regional plans included the directive to “decrease time between certification and eligibility”:  RSA identified this as a possible strategy to reduce the number of 30s. 
  • Status 30 phone survey:  MVR/BLVS hired a VISTA worker this past summer to contact a random sample of clients that had been closed status “30”.  The majority stated that they were “not ready” to work for a variety of reasons.  Most responses were very positive about MVR/BLVS services, despite the fact that they had not entered into an IPE and were closed not working.  The survey reinforced the importance of strengthening our message to potential consumers that VR is a work program and requires that an individual be ready to start working towards their vocational goal at the time of application/eligibility. 

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, there will be a decrease in the ratio of 30s to 26s and 28s from the previous year.

Benchmark:  2010:  The ratio of 30’s to 26’s and 28s was:  .94  

Through September 30, 2011:  The ratio of 30’s to 26’s and 28s was:  .88.  This is a 6.4% decrease in the baseline.  

Analysis: Progress was adequate the first year, but per the preceding performance indicator a variety of new activities have been completed or are in progress that should assist MVR/BLVS in improving even further.   

 

Objective 2.3:   Provide rehabilitation services that lead to successful outcomes in employment for transition age youth 14-24 years of age.

 Strategies that have had an impact:

Conduct analysis of the Missoula pilot program in transitions to determine impact and potential best practices and explore options for expanding elements of the program to other parts of the state.

IMPACT The impact of the project is witnessed through an increase in numbers served (see table below) and the observed findings listed below.

  • Meeting with students in a familiar environment results in an increase in the quantity and quality of information shared by students; students are observed to be more relaxed and open meeting with VR counselors in a familiar environment.
  • A former student observed that traveling to the VR office from school felt very clinical "like going to a doctor’s appointment."
  • Teaching staff expressed appreciation for the convenience of planning and scheduling student meetings at school versus transporting students to another location.  

Transition Age Students (14-24) Served
District20072008200920102011
BILLINGS - IV429479520503455
BLIND & LOW VISION - V5560576870
BUTTE - II471455469490444
GREAT FALLS - III298295330391355
MISSOULA - I489540583613546
Total17421829195920651870

BEST PRACTICES In the past three years there have been improvements initiated in the following areas:

  • Improved methodology for scheduling 1) campus-based VR application appointments and 2) VR counselor attendance at IEPs.
  • Improved use of existing data—garnered from school administered Vocational Preparation Work Experiences—to assess student ability and support needs.
  • Improved protocol for scheduling and staffing CRP based work assessments and vocational evaluations, all tailored to transitions students; scheduling is coordinated with school staff and/or parents and staffing are conducted at school for the convenience of student and his/her support team.
  • The development and implementation of Transition Tools geared to 1) achieve clarity of roles and 2) streamline the transitions process for students, teachers, and parents.

EXPANSION Based on the above observations, plans were to expand the model to Billings, Helena, Great Falls, Bozeman, Butte, Miles City and Kalispell via the "Adopt a School" program.  The expansion plans will be initiated in the 2011-12 school year.  

The transitions program manager has developed a Transitions Kit to help counselors initiate and carry out the project in their assigned schools.  To date the Kit contains:

  • Transitions How-To Guide
  • Letter to Administrators (designed to introduce project and accompanying benefits to school administrators in selected areas)
  • Cooperative Agreement
  • Goal Positioning System
  • Assessment Table (designed to help counselors determine which assessment tool is best for students who are transitioning)
  • MVR/BLVS as a Partner in Transition: Bridging the Gap Between School and Work (Per the recommendation of Vocational Rehabilitation Council PLUK member, this article was included in the Kit.)
  • PowerPoint Presentation, a companion piece to the article noted above, that illustrates the rehabilitation process for transitioning students through case studies.

Provide on-going transitions training to MVR/BLVS counselors.

  • The transitions program manager introduced the Adopt a School idea to counselors in a statewide webinar in the fall of 2010. 
  • Training for counselors assigned to schools in the selected areas of the expansion was conducted via webinar on July 21, 2011.
  • The transitions program manager continues to be available on an ongoing basis to counselors, VR managers, teachers, parents, and other professionals across the state to provide guidance regarding transitions related questions.

Identify and encourage the use of best practices for informing parents and family members about MVR/BLVS services.

 

MVR/BLVS will develop a youth friendly approach for the promotion of MVR/BLVS Transitions. 

Performance Measurements:

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, increase the number of 26 closures for transitions age youth (14-24) by 3% over the previous year.

2010 benchmark:  161 “26 closures” of transition age (2010), a 3% increase (5 “26 closures”) would be 166 “26 closures” of transition age.

Through September 30, 2011:  148 “26 closures” of transition age youth.  This is an 8.0% decrease in the number of “26 closures” of transition age.”

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, increase the number of consumers of transitions age (14-24) on the MVR/BLVS caseload by 5% over the previous year.

Benchmark:  2,065 transition age consumers on the MVR/BLVS caseload (2010), a 5% increase (103 consumers) would be 2,168 transition age consumers.  

Through September 30, 2011:  148 “26 closures” of transition age youth.  This is an 8.1% decrease in the number of “26 closures” of transition age.”

 

Analysis:  MVR/BLVS did not meet this performance expectation.  It is believed that staff vacancies contributed to this underperformance.  Improved performance is expected as a result of the following factors: 

  1. Staff vacancies are being filled. 
  2. Members of the Montana Transitions Team (19 counselors), initiated in the fall of 2011, were assigned to establish service hours in the larger schools across the state. 
  3. Signed Cooperative Agreements between every high school and an assigned VR counselor are being gathered.
  4. Montana Transitions Team members, using a new video designed to capture the attention of youth and invite them to apply, are presenting to audiences, including students, teachers, and parents, across the state.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, increase the number of consumers of transitions age (14-24) on the MVR/BLVS caseload by 5% over the previous year.

Benchmark:  2,065 transition age consumers on the MVR/BLVS caseload (2010), a 5% increase (103 consumers) would be 2,168 transition age consumers.

Through September 30, 2011:  1,870 transition age consumers are on the MVR/BLVS caseload.  This is a 9.4% decrease in transition age consumers from the baseline year.  

Analysis:  MVR/BLVS did not meet this performance expectation.  It is believed that staff vacancies contributed to this underperformance.  Improved performance is expected as a result of the following factors: 

  1. Staff vacancies are being filled. 
  2. Members of the Montana Transitions Team (19 counselors), initiated in the fall of 2011, were assigned to establish service hours in the larger schools across the state. 
  3. Signed Cooperative Agreements between every high school and an assigned VR counselor are being gathered.
  4. Montana Transitions Team members, using a new video designed to capture the attention of youth and invite them to apply, are presenting to audiences, including students, teachers, and parents, across the state.    

 

 

MVR/BLVS continually assesses the need to establish, develop and improve CRPs utilizing all of the methods described throughout attachment 4.11 (a). Among the need areas being addressed at this time include:

  1. 1. Expansion of services to rural and remote areas by the continued certification of private providers who meet MVR/BLVS qualification levels for job placement and job coaching services. New providers are being developed in the northeastern section of Montana. Two providers from this area, who were active in the past and then became inactive, have now reenrolled to be providers in the last year. Also, new providers in rural areas of Montana enrolled for the first time in the last year. 
  2. 2. Expansion of mental health providers as CRP’s to serve those with severe and persistent mental illness MVR/BLVS continues to work on this issue, but there has been no new providers added. 

 

 

Standard 1: Employment outcomes

1.1    Number of rehabs Federal Requirement: at least as many as in the previous year                        

 Montana Results: 776= 60 more than in 2010                         Pass/Fail: Pass    

1.2    Percent employed--Percentage of rehabs compared to all people who had plans written and were closed (Rehab rate) Federal Requirement: at least 55.8%                        

Montana Results: 47.8%                         Pass/Fail: Fail    

1.3    Employed competitively--percentage of rehabs who are getting at least minimum wage Federal Requirement: at least 72.6%                        

Montana Results: 95.5%                         Pass/Fail: Pass    

1.4    Significant Disability--Percentage of rehabs who are earning at least minimum wage who are significantly disabled Federal Requirement: at least 62.4%                        

Montana Results: 83.5%                         Pass/Fail: Pass    

1.5    Earnings ratio--Average hourly rate of rehabs who are earning at least minimum wage divided by the state’s average hourly earnings for all employed people Federal Requirement: at least .52                        

Montana Results: .66                         Pass/Fail: Pass  

1.6    Self supporting--Look at all rehabs who are earning at least minimum wage. This item is the difference between the percent who report their own income as their largest source of support at closure and at application Federal Requirement:  at least 53.0                        

Montana Results: 53.0                         Pass/Fail: Pass    

Standard 2: Equal access / Minority ratio--service rate for minorities as a ratio to the service rate for non-minorities. Note: service rate is defined as the number of people who exited the VR program after receiving services divided by the total number of people exiting the program. Federal Requirement: at least .80                        

 Montana Results: .84                         Pass/Fail: Pass  

 

 

Title 1 funds being used at this time are to support the Statewide Independent Living Council and the Montana Vocational Rehabilitation Council, which meet four times during the year to conduct business. Expenditures included travel, stipends, supplies, meeting room rental, interpreters, and facilitation services.

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2012 3:27PM by Michael Hermanson

  • 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

Supported Employment Definition

The Act as amended defines supported employment as: Competitive work in integrated work settings, or employment in integrated work settings in which individuals are working toward competitive work, consistent with the strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice of the individuals with the most significant disabilities for whom competitive employment has not traditionally occurred; or has been interrupted or intermittent as a result of a significant disability; and who, because of their nature and severity of their disability, need intensive supported employment services for the period, or extended services to perform such work. This also includes transitional employment for persons with the most significant disabilities due to mental illness.

Quality of Supported Employment MVR/BLVS, through its cycle of services planning process, enrolls providers who will be making supported employment time limited services available. The enrollment process requires that providers have met a set of standards described in administrative rules. This enrollment process ensures that the providers of services maintain the necessary education, skills, and degree of professional expertise to provide a level of service commensurate with MVR/BLVS’s work service standard. MVR/BLVS values its priority partners who have met the required standards. Supported employment providers evaluated by the developmental disability system or mental health system represent the majority of our providers. CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) and RSAS (Rehabilitation Services Accreditation System) are also utilized by providers. Other providers are individuals who have been selected to provide services for a limited number of consumers in a rural area where there are no established providers.

Scope of Services

  • The scope of services available may include one or more of the following services depending on the individual’s needs:
  • Vocational Evaluation/In In-House
  • Vocational Evaluation/Community Based
  • Supported Employment/Extended Support Services
  • Supported Employment/Other
  • Follow-Along
  • Job Readiness Services
  • Extended Support Services
  • Job Placement Services/Job Finding

Also, services such as transportation to work place, work clothing, etc. are provided when necessary.

Extent of Supported Employment:

An individual shall be eligible to receive supported employment services using Title VI Part B funds if:

  1. The individual is eligible for vocational rehabilitation services.
  2. The individual is determined to be an individual with the most significant disabilities; and
  3. There is comprehensive assessment of rehabilitation needs of the individual including an assessment of rehabilitation career and job needs, and identifies supported employment as the appropriate rehabilitation objective for the individual.

Cooperative Agreements:

When a goal requiring supported employment is identified in the IPE, a document (cooperative agreement) signed and dated by the extended service provider reflecting the commitment of extended service provisions will be placed in the file prior to closure. If the cooperative agreement is dated after the IPE, there must have been reasonable expectation that extended services were to be available prior to closure.

Funding Extended Support Services Prior to Closure:

For the 90 days preceding closure, the extended support services provider must have met the individual’s support needs without MVR/BLVS time limited funding. MVR/BLVS provides time-limited services needed to support an individual in employment. MVR/BLVS can fund a maximum of 18 months of job coaching and follow-along services unless the Individualized Plan of Employment (IPE) indicates that more than 18 months of services are necessary for the individual to achieve job stability prior to transitioning to extended support services. Prior to the purchase of supported employment services, the need for services, the appropriate extended support services, funding, and  the appropriate agency to provide the services are established and identified on the IPE. The MVR/BLVS counselor secures a signed cooperative agreement from the provider to guarantee ongoing support. Supported employment services are available statewide.

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2012 3:29PM by Michael Hermanson

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  • "A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities" — A blueprint for Governors has been issued by the National Governors Association (NGA).
    PDF (4.13M)

  • TAC-14-02 — Submission of the FY 2015 State Plan for the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and Supplement for the Supported Employment Services Program. (May 28, 2014)
    DOC (247KB) | PDF (233KB)

  • ED-80-0013 - Certification Regarding Lobbying — 34 CFR 82.110(b) requires each State VR agency to submit for approval a signed certification regarding lobbying for each program for which federal funds are requested. In other words, one certification must be submitted for the VR program and another for the Supported Employment program.
    MS Word (24KB)

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