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

View Bureau of Rehabilitation Services VR State Plan for 2013 H126A120007 @Published

State Plan for the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and
State Plan Supplement for the State Supported Employment Services Program
Bureau of Rehabilitation Services State Plan for Fiscal Year 2013 (submitted FY 2012)

1.1 The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) 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 The Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), Effective July 1, 2012 [3] agrees to operate and administer the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program in accordance with the provisions of this State Plan [4], the Rehabilitation Act, and all applicable regulations [5], policies and procedures established by the secretary. Funds made available under Section 111 of the Rehabilitation Act are used solely for the provision of vocational rehabilitation services under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act and the administration of the State Plan for the vocational rehabilitation services program.

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

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

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

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

1.7 The (enter title of state officer below)
Yes

State Treasurer

... 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

Director, Bureau of Rehabilitation Services

... 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
Amy Porter

Title of Signatory
Director, The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)
06/26/2012

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
No

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 primarily concerned with vocational rehabilitation or vocational and other rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities (Option A was selected/Option B 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
The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services

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.

 

SRC Participation

The State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) Chair and/or members of the SRC have collaborated with the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) and attended or participated in the following:

  1. BRS Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA);
  2. BRS 2013 State Plan;
  3. BRS 2012 Public Meetings;
  4. BRS Transition Committee;
  5. Connect-Ability Employment Summit 2011;
  6. Council of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) Fall 2011and Spring 2012 Conference;
  7. National Council of State Rehabilitation Councils (NCSRC) Conferences (two) and Teleconferences (six);
  8. SRC Meetings (six per year);
  9. Review of Administrative Hearing Outcomes (1); and
  10. A survey of BRS offices.

Legislative Changes

Effective July 1, 2011, the State Legislature removed the Vocational Rehabilitation program from the Department of Social Services and combined it with several other disability-related programs to form the new Bureau of Rehabilitative Services.  Effective July 1, 2012, the name of this new agency became the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS).  This new agency now includes the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, the Board of Education and Services for the Blind, the Commission on the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, the Driver Training Program for Persons with Disabilities, and the Worker’s Compensation Commission. This merger aligns services together that may assist consumers who have some similarity in need. While the merger in name was effective in July, the actual transition is still a work in progress. Amy Porter was recently named Commissioner of DORS.  SRC members have monitored the transition to ensure that the needs of VR consumers remain a priority as the new agency works out the details.  

Expanding Services

BRS has recently hired counselors, employment specialists and support staff in all three service regions. These new individuals will bring fresh talent and skills in serving our constituents to find or keep employment. As staff becomes more familiar with the needs of consumers and the tools and resources to assist them, we anticipate more consumers will become or remain productive employees. Welcome aboard!  

Based on budget projections and the recent ability to fill counselor positions, BRS proposes to lift the Order Of Selection (OOS) starting October 1, 2012 to serve all consumers with disabilities, not just those with a most significant or significant disability (Priority 1 and Priority 2). This OOS has been in effect since 1991. Given the current difficult economic atmosphere, we are pleased that BRS has carefully assessed that now is the best time to expand services to more consumers. We are equally pleased that BRS will continue to monitor this expansion so that it does not overly stress the capacity of monetary and human resources available to meet consumers’ needs.  

Office Surveys

The Consumer Satisfaction Committee of the SRC led members in surveying the offices to determine visibility, accessibility, and consistency of information offered to consumers upon their initial visitThecommittee developed the survey and members of the SRC visited BRS offices to inquire about receiving services. They assessed how easy the office was to find, how easy it was to park, how easy it was to enter the building and find staff that were knowledgeable about vocational rehabilitation services. Some offices stand alone and are independent of other state services; some are co-located with One-Stop Centers at the State Labor Department. Some offices schedule appointments to meet with a counselor and some schedule group orientation meetings that offer general information about possible services available at BRS. As a result of conducting this survey, SRC members gained better insight regarding what consumers face and how they begin their collaboration with the VR program. They also learned more about constraints that impact the VR staff and their ability to serve consumers.  

BRS 2012 Public Meeting

BRS and the SRC hosted three public meetings in April 2012 in Hartford, Norwich, and Torrington. Consumers, their families, and others interested in the VR program were invited to review the draft of the 2013 State Plan and to share their comments regarding this draft at the public meeting. More than 5,000 consumers received invitations via mail to attend the public meetings. Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) partners were notified electronically from the distribution of our flyer and the posting on the BRS website.   

Eight representatives of the SRC attended the public meetings to assess the effectiveness of the VR program by listening to consumer comments and questions. Top-ranking staff, led by Amy Porter, BRS Director, presented an overview of the State Plan, highlighted the goals for the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program, and explained why BRS plans to eliminate the Order of Selection (OOS) effective October 1, 2012. They responded to questions in the group setting and were available for individual conversations for topics that were not shared publicly. A few Counselors and Consultants also attended to support the public meetings.   

About 25 people who were not staff or SRC members attended the public meetings. Few of the attendees had read the State Plan prior to the meeting, but copies were provided for their review. Consumers who spoke publicly appreciated the professionalism of the counselors in assisting them and were grateful to BRS for making a positive difference in the quality of their lives. Several counselors were praised by name for the assistance they had provided to specific consumers. While similar themes were not presented at each meeting, some questions were generated regarding the newly acquired Driver Training Program in the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services and the Bureau’s ability to provide assistance to the ever growing population of students who are identified with Autism. Consumers in attendance later took advantage of an opportunity for one-on-one discussions following the group presentations.   

Evaluations of the public meetings were also distributed to enable attendees to share feedback on the process and to make suggestions for improvements. Overall, the public meetings were well-received and BRS received positive feedback in several areas for the public meetings: 

  • Open forum; 
  • Informative, willing to answer questions; 
  • Representatives at meetings were courteous; and 
  • Thanks for your help.  

In addition to providing comments at the public meetings, anyone who could not attend, but wanted to share a comment or ask a question could send it by mail, e-mail, or fax. This period for written communication was extended beyond the dates of the public meetings in case someone was unable to attend the public meeting, but still wanted to submit their comments. Written comments were acknowledged and those that contained issues were passed on to District Directors for follow-up as needed.   

Of particular note is a letter submitted by one of our VR partners:  

“Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the BRS Annual State Plan.  On behalf of the State Unit on Aging (Aging Services Division of the Department of Social Services), I want to commend the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services for a comprehensive plan that involves many partnerships.  We are pleased to work in partnership with BRS in Aging and Disability efforts, in particular, the Aging and Disability Resource Centers.    The draft plan appropriately acknowledges the ADRC counseling services, technical enhancements, marketing materials, the role of the Community Choices Counselors and the Community Choices Counselor training and certification.   Thank you for including the role of the ADRCs in the plan and the continued partnership of the State Unit on Aging with BRS.”       

Follow-up to Previous Recommendations

The SRC had significant interest in being a part of the selection process for the new agency director, however that desire was unfulfilled. As Amy Porter was selected as the new director, we are pleased with the outcome.   The SRC is also pleased to learn that video telephones have been installed in the BRS offices which will help facilitate working with consumers who are deaf.    

SRC Recommendations to BRS for State Plan 2013

As a result of the SRC office surveys this year, the following recommendations are offered:  

Recommendation 1 –

Signage to locate the building and directions to access the BRS office needs improvement in these offices:

  • Danbury, Enfield, Hartford, Middletown, Norwich, Torrington, and Waterbury.

We are aware that the consolidation of the new Bureau of Rehabilitative Services may require a name change for the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services. We hope that signs and directions to the office locations will be highly visible to all visitors in all offices.  

BRS Response: We agree that the signage could use improvement in each of these offices. When we finalize the name of the overall agency and the individual programs, we will develop a plan to address the concerns to the greatest extent possible. There are times when landlord issues or physical space may limit our options for signage, but we will take these into consideration in the development of our plan.    

Recommendation 2 –  

The following offices need more accessible parking:

  • Danbury, Hartford, Stamford, and Waterbury.  

BRS Response: We agree that there is a need for more accessible parking in each of these offices. We will raise this issue with staff from the Department of Administrative Services. We also anticipate that an overall agency space plan will be developed over the next year, and as this is occurring, we will be sure to raise the issue of parking. As with the issue of signage, there are often landlord issues or issues of physical space that may limit our options.    

Recommendation 3 –  

Availability of BRS staff to greet consumers upon arrival needs to be addressed in the following locations: 

  • Danbury, Danielson, Hartford, and Torrington.  

BRS Response: The physical layout and entry point into the designated BRS space in these four offices is not conducive to the presence of a receptionist or other staff to greet consumers upon arrival. We will continue to focus on the response time of BRS staff, so that individual consumers are brought into the BRS space as quickly as possible. In addition, we will discuss alternatives with the SRC, combining a discussion of their observations with our physical constraints in these specific offices.   

Recommendation 4 –   

Staff was overall helpful, informative, and pleasant. There was at least one person in Norwich who seemed to be exceptional in providing customer service, even anticipating questions yet to be asked. Perhaps BRS could add customer service training so that more staff has the same level of skills in welcoming consumers and anticipating their needs.  

BRS Response: It is great to hear the example of exceptional service. We strive to be a customer-service oriented agency, and again, will have further discussions with the SRC about what set this individual and office apart from others so that we know where to focus our efforts. As part of our training calendar, we often provide training opportunities in the area of customer service, so we have a vehicle to use to incorporate any specific information recommendations that come out of our discussions with the SRC.     

General Note from BRS: 

We want to acknowledge the work that the SRC members put in to conducting this evaluation of the BRS offices. Many members participated, and travelled to different offices within the state to get a real-world perspective on what a consumer might experience. We appreciate the time and effort, as well as the specific feedback, and will try to address your recommendations individually.          

This screen was last updated on Jun 26 2012 10:48AM by Evelyn Knight

This agency has not requested a waiver of statewideness.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2009 3:29PM by Evelyn Knight

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.

Cooperative Agreements with Agencies Not Carrying Out Activities Under the Statewide Workforce Investment System

A. The Department of Social Services (DSS)

DSS is the former designated state agency for the vocational rehabilitation (VR) and supported employment programs. The designated state agency changed July 1, 2011, when BRS was merged with the Board of Education and Services for the Blind, the Commission on Deaf and Hearing Impaired, and the Worker’s Rehabilitation Services to form the new Bureau of Rehabilitative Services. Effective July 1, 2012, the name of this new agency became the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS). It no longer operates under a Memorandum of Agreement with DSS for Administrative Purposes Only (APO). Many DORS offices are currently co-located with DSS offices.

We also maintain collaborations with other program divisions within DSS. It enables coordination of additional services for individuals with significant disabilities with the Family Services Unit in the Bureau of Assistance Programs responsible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) policy for the following programs: Temporary Family Assistance, Jobs First Employment Services, Employment Success, and Transportation for Economic Independence. The Bureau of Aging, Community, and Social Work Services provides a partnership when working on employment opportunities for individuals in the Adult Services Unit, specifically the nursing facility transition program.

The Department of Social Services adopted a Universal Design Model to make reasonable accommodations for individuals needing DSS services. BRS collaborated with the TANF Program to hire four state-funded TANF/VR Counselors. These counselors screen TANF consumers subject to sanctions for not complying with their employment plans. These screenings are done at the conciliation interview. As part of that process, consumers are offered the opportunity to be screened in one or more of these three areas: Mental Health, Substance Abuse and/or Learning Disabilities.

If the screening results identify a significant disability, the consumer will be invited to apply for VR services.

B. The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS)

BRS and DMHAS co-fund an Education Consultant position through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). This consultant is the liaison between the vocational rehabilitation agency and the mental health staff and spends a considerable amount of time on supported employment training and initiatives across systems.

Three additional Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) were executed that enabled BRS to pilot the embedding of three VR counselors within the clinical teams of three local mental health authorities (LMHA). One of the three counselors continues to be embedded in the LMHA after three years. At this site, the VR counselor and the clinical team collaborate to better serve individuals with significant psychiatric disabilities. At the other two sites, the VR counselors provide consultation and direct services through frequent on-site visits.

C. The Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB)

Due to the merger described earlier, we no longer need a MOA to work with the VR program for individuals who are blind. However, during this period of transition (through June 30, 2012), we will continue to follow the previously established MOA which outlines services to be provided for consumers in instances where individuals meet the eligibility criteria for both VR programs.

D. Commission on the Deaf and Hearing Impaired (CDHI)

Due to the merger described earlier, we no longer need a MOA to work with CDHI. However, during this period of transition (through June 30, 2012), we will continue to follow the previously established MOA which sets forth the terms and conditions for purchasing certified sign language interpreting services. The MOA established rates, scheduling, and cancellation procedures.

This screen was last updated on Jun 26 2012 11:11AM by Evelyn Knight

  • 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.

 Coordination with Education Officials

 

A. Higher Education

In April, 2006, BRS, the Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB), and the Connecticut State University

System entered into an Interagency Agreement which delineates the responsibilities of all parties in providing auxiliary aids and services to students with disabilities, when such auxiliary aids and services are necessary for the student to access and benefit from higher education. The intent of this agreement is to promote a collaborative approach in addressing the needs of students with disabilities, to improve the coordination of services, and to efficiently allocate shared responsibilities. The agreement clearly identifies which party provides a specific auxiliary aid or service and under what conditions it should be provided. It also includes a process for interagency dispute resolution.

 

B. High School

BRS has been working with multiple state agencies and workforce partners to enhance the service provision for young adults transitioning from high school to work. BRS follows the federal regulations from RSA regarding comparable services and is guided by our agency policies on transition services when students with disabilities transition from school to VR services. These policies include developing an employment plan that specifies what services and supports BRS will provide directly upon graduation from high school. The bureau’s training grant focuses resources on the procedures for counselors to follow, as each counselor is assigned one or more schools to cover within each of Connecticut’s 143 districts that provide secondary services.

These procedures describe the funding of services, the questions that counselors should consider in making decisions, and the parameters for funding or co-funding services. They also describe the relationship with the State Department of Education (SDE), and encourage counselors to contact the transition consultant to resolve any issues that arise.

 

To this end, we have the following agreements:

• The bureau has a MOA to co-fund a full-time transition consultant with the SDE. The consultant sits on the bureau’s Transition Committee, trains new BRS staff, and provides ongoing technical assistance.

 

This formal MOA describes the responsibilities of the transition consultant, which include consultation and technical assistance between the bureau and the State Department of Education. The transition consultant also coordinates the transition planning between the two agencies. Beyond these roles and responsibilities, the MOA includes financial responsibilities of the two agencies, as well as outreach and identification strategies.

 

• BRS has a long-standing relationship with Connecticut high schools, the Connecticut Technical High Schools, the Department of Correction, Department of Children and Families (DCF), Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Department of Public Health /Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs, the Department of Social Services (DSS) Medicaid Katie Beckett Waiver and CT AHEAD (Association of Higher Education and Disability) with liaisons to each of the schools and other public education programs. These relationships continue to facilitate the transition of students with disabilities from educational services in school to the receipt of VR services. In addition, Connecticut has initiated a number of new activities to increase referrals and improve services to this group.

 

• BRS has liaison counselors assigned to each high school in Connecticut as well as the other agencies providing alternative public education. 

 

Transition Partnership

BRS partnered with the State Department of Education, the Regional Educational Service Centers, the Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center (CPAC), and the State Education Resource Center (SERC) to develop the Regional Education Service Center (RESC)/State Education Resource Center (SERC) Transition Resource Counselor Initiative.  This initiative will help develop effective working partnerships between BRS and local education agencies; coordinate services for students and families regarding employment; increase capacity for RESCs/SERCs to collaborate on vocational rehabilitation services; and develop a plan to sustain this collaboration.  Each RESC and SERC hired a Transition Resource Counselor to identify supports and services available through BRS and other state adult service agencies.

 

 

 

 

This screen was last updated on Aug 23 2011 8:15AM by Evelyn Knight

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

Cooperative Agreements with Private Nonprofit Organizations

 

BRS initiated partnership agreements with several Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRP) and a One-Stop to provide employment support services for Social Security Beneficiaries of the Ticket to Work Program who exit the VR system. Connecticut’s VR service providers, in conjunction with the VR agency, are developing an Employment Network Consortium. Now that the new ticket regulations have been published, the community rehabilitation providers have been meeting with the bureau to work out the new Partnership Plus Model as described in the new regulations. Consumers who require long-term supported employment will benefit from this model. Additionally, participating CRPs and the bureau will expect a benefit through increased revenue from SSA cost reimbursements.

 

 

 

This screen was last updated on Aug 23 2011 8:15AM by Evelyn Knight

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.

The Bureau provides supported employment and extended services to consumers with significant disabilities, as appropriate. Bureau counselors work with each individual consumer to identify necessary services. In the process of developing an Individual Plan for Employment, the counselor and consumer make decisions about the need for supported employment or extended services. Once the services are deemed necessary, the counselor and consumer identify a source of long-term funding and meet with a representative case manager, if appropriate. Once long-term supports are obtained, the plan can be executed.   Supported employment and extended services are provided in partnership with our statewide network of Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPs). These arrangements are based on fee-for-service contracts.   We use a series of strategies to accomplish the goals of supported or extended employment, including the following:  

  • The statewide Ongoing Employment Supports Committee is a resource for supported employment funding opportunities on a case by case basis;
  • Cooperative agreements and technical assistance are provided for the Ticket to Work program. These agreements include CRPs, One-Stop Centers and Independent Living Centers (ILCs); and 
  • Maintain the Interagency Employment Practice Improvement Collaborative for staff in the bureau, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), and CRPs designed to increase successful employment outcomes to an underserved target population.

 

This screen was last updated on Jun 26 2012 10:48AM by Evelyn Knight

Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

Data System on Personnel

The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) maintains a computerized record system for personnel needs, resources, and training. In addition to this information, the bureau uses a caseload management program called System 7 and results of ongoing needs assessments to analyze personnel needs on an annual basis.

 

As of March 2012, 156 active positions were filled. The number and type of BRS positions are identified in the personnel chart further down in this attachment.

 

The bureau currently has 81 of 81 vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor positions filled.  Twelve serve specialty caseloads:

 

  • one counselor prioritizes consumers with mental health diagnoses;
  • one counselor prioritizes transition caseloads;
  • six counselors prioritize individuals that are Deaf; and
  • four counselors prioritize Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients with disabilities.

 

All BRS field staff is given the supervision necessary to ensure that the position provides the level of direct services deemed necessary. Supervisors meet with their staff annually to address development needs for the upcoming year. Strategies for building the skills of all staff are included in Individual Staff Development Plans. The In-Service grant provides BRS with the resources to provide the training needed for the agency’s goals and priorities while it supports individual staff development needs.

 

Annual Information on Staff and Consumer Ratios

The bureau served 8,441 consumers in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2011.  With 81 VR counselors, the ratio of VR counselors to all consumers is 1:104; the ratio of VR supervisors to consumers is 1:1055. The ratio of all staff to consumers is 1:54. Of the 8,441 total annual consumers, 2,194 developed an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). The ratio of staff to consumers who developed an IPE is different: 81 VR counselors to all consumers with an IPE is 1:27; VR supervisors to consumers with an IPE is 1:274; and all staff to consumers with an IPE is 1:14.

 

Current Need for Staff

Internal promotions and other occasions of attrition result in an ongoing need to recruit and hire staff at the entry level.  The bureau will continue to hire staff until full staffing as outlined in the subsequent chart is achieved.

 

Qualified Personnel Needs - Five Year Projections

The bureau expects its staffing level to remain constant with the positions identified in the chart below in the next five years.  In making this projection, the bureau considered the following:

  • costs for staff, administration and case services;
  • projected increase in transition referrals;
  • budget for staff increases; and
  • the likelihood of increased federal dollars for the vocational rehabilitation program.

 

The bureau updates its four-year budget projections quarterly to determine the need to adjust staff/case service/administrative costs.

 

The bureau continues to evaluate the skills support staff will need to assist the counseling staff over the next several years. The bureau also continues to review potential duty changes for staff which may occur as a result of responding to needs as they arise.

 

 

Row Job Title Total positions Current vacancies Projected vacancies over the next 5 years
1 Administrative/Fiscal/Secretarial Support Staff 40 1 6
2 Central Office Consultants 13 0 2
3 Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWIC) 7 0 1
4 District Directors 3 0 1
5 Managers 3 1 1
6 Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisors 9 1 2
7 Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors 81 0 24
8 0 0 0
9 0 0 0
10 0 0 0

 

Personnel Development

We analyze the graduate information from the regional CORE universities to find schools that offer required courses or graduate degrees in rehabilitation counseling. We also check with local CORE schools for the availability of distance learning opportunities for the required CSPD courses.

 

The following identifies the CORE (Council on Rehabilitation Education) accredited institution of higher education in the state that is preparing vocational rehabilitation professionals. All rehabilitation counseling graduates from this college will be eligible to sit for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exam.

 

 

Row Institutions Students enrolled Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates from the previous year
1 Central Connecticut State University 81 2 10 17
2 0 0 0 0
3 0 0 0 0
4 0 0 0 0
5 0 0 0 0

 

Recruitment

The bureau sends announcements for Counselor positions to all CORE-accredited institutions of higher education that train VR Counselors in the United States. We have initiated contacts with all CORE-accredited universities so that we can continue to find well-qualified staff for the vacancies we anticipate in the future. In addition to the Connecticut-based CORE institution listed above, we are in close contact with the regional institutions from which we have traditionally found Counselor applicants (Assumption and Springfield Colleges in MA, and Salve Regina in RI); we have staff that serve on advisory boards or teach at these institutions.

 

The bureau is pleased to report that we have successfully recruited a qualified staff representative of the population of Connecticut: the 32% diversity of our staff exceeds the 25% diversity of our state. We are also pleased to have recruited 12% of our staff from individuals that have disabilities. Our primary challenge has been finding Master’s level counselors who are proficient with Spanish or American Sign Language (ASL). We will continue the following steps to ensure there is a sufficient pool of qualified counselors for future openings:

 

  • increase our on-campus college recruitments;
  • increase presentations to high school students. Inner-city high schools with increased percentages of minority students will be targeted to generate interest in rehabilitation counseling as a vocation;
  • increase the number of consumers we help to go into the rehabilitation counseling profession; and
  • increase newspaper recruitment, including newspapers that serve diverse populations, and continue online nation-wide recruitment.

 

The bureau will hire counselors at the Bachelor’s level, only after extensive efforts to find acceptable candidates at the Master’s level are unsuccessful. The bureau requires that a Bachelor’s Degree be in a related field, defined as:

 

  • Psychology;
  • Social Work;
  • Social Science; or
  • A degree deemed acceptable by the bureau.

 

In those instances when the bureau hires a counselor with a related Bachelor’s degree as previously defined, a 48-credit Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling will be required. These counselors must apply to a planned program at an approved graduate school within six months of the hire date and complete their master’s degree within four years of the first eligible semester of classes. The bureau will require the colleges or universities to be CORE-accredited or to be in the process of achieving accreditation.

 

 

Personnel Standards for the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD)

The current requirements for CSPD are based on the national standards for Certified Rehabilitation Counselors. The bureau was successful in changing the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services job description for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to match our current criteria. The bureau hires counselors that meet the following:

1. Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from a CORE-accredited institution; or

2. Master’s and current Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) certification; or

3. Master’s in a related field which had a Theories and Techniques of Counseling course as part of the required curriculum; or

4. Master’s, Specialist, or Doctoral degree in one of 13 qualifying majors (as specified by CRCC) granted from a college or university accredited by a recognized regional accrediting body at the time the degree was conferred. 

 

The bureau will pay for and require the following graduate courses for new counselors in permanent positions with a Master’s in a related field as described in 3 or 4 above. The number of additional required courses will depend on the previous education of the new employee as well as total months of vocational rehabilitation counseling experience. The bureau’s definition of education, course curriculum, and experience is based on current standards for the national Certified Rehabilitation Counselor certification:

 

• 60 months of vocational counseling experience accepted by the credentialing committee - no additional courses are required. CSPD requirements are met.

 

• 48 months of vocational counseling experience accepted by the credentialing committee - two of the following four additional courses are required to meet CSPD requirements:

 

o Assessment;

o Occupational Information or Job Placement;

o Medical or Psychosocial Aspects of Disabilities; or

o Community Resources or Delivery of Rehabilitation Services.

 

• 36 months of vocational counseling experience or less – up to six additional courses are required to meet requirements for CSPD:

 

o Theories and Techniques of Counseling;

o Foundations of Rehabilitation Counseling;

o Assessment;

o Occupational Information or Job Placement;

o Medical or Psychosocial Aspects of Disabilities; and/or

o Community Resources or Delivery of Rehabilitation Services.

 

 

Even though the bureau bases its educational standards for VR Counselors on the national standards for Certified Rehabilitation Counselors, it does not require counselors to have CRC certification. However, applicants with a CORE-accredited rehabilitation Master’s degree should be able to sit for the CRC exam. Applicants with a related Master’s degree with 36-60 months experience, applicable courses, and 12 months supervision by a CRC may also be able to sit for the CRC exam at the time of application.

 

BRS employees interested in CRC certification are encouraged to contact the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification at the following website: http://www.crccertification.com/ for more specific information on their credentials and experience. The bureau does not guarantee that the above criteria will entitle a counselor to sit for the CRC exam. The bureau provides training at no cost, and offers Continuing Education Units (CEU’s), which will count toward the ongoing training requirements by CRC as well as the National Board for Certified Counselor (NBCC), Connecticut’s Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and Certified Vocational Evaluator (CVE).

 

Current Data on Achievement of CSPD Standards and Staff Certifications

The bureau currently has 90 staff positions required to meet the Comprehensive System of Personnel Standards; 81 counselors and nine supervisors.  As of this writing, no counselor positions are vacant; one supervisor position is vacant.

 

All staff in these categories meet the CSPD requirements, with the exception of those that are newly hired or in the midst of their Master’s program.  Newly hired counselors who do not meet the CSPD standard are allowed three years to complete CSPD courses.  Sixteen counselors are taking one to six courses to meet the Connecticut standard for CSPD.  Counselors hired at the Bachelor’s level are allowed four years to complete a CORE-accredited rehabilitation Master’s degree. There are currently two counselors in this category.

 

In addition to education requirements, BRS encourages staff to pursue certification in their field. The bureau is especially pleased with the number of staff holding certifications since staff fund the cost of the certification exams and yearly fees themselves.

 

Currently the bureau has 34 Certified Rehabilitation Counselors, 10 Connecticut Licensed Professional Counselors, four National Board of Certified Counselors, seven Certified Work Incentive and Assistance Programs (WIPA) Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWIC) and five Certified Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) or National Certified Interpreters. We also have one Consultant who is an Assistive Technology Professional (ATP).

 

The bureau embraces the CSPD process to ensure continuous organizational development, continuous improvement of the competencies of all staff, especially (VR) Counselors and supervisors.

 

The bureau also seeks continuous improvements in service delivery, the continuation of a professional level VR staff that can consistently achieve quality employment outcomes as specified in the Rehabilitation Act and promised in the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, we continually seek ways to meet the needs of our consumers and deliver a complete array of services based on the goals of employment, community participation, and informed consumer choice. The bureau has hired a qualified, diverse, flexible and progressive rehabilitation staff to serve our current and future consumers. BRS strives toward the continuous development of desired consumer outcomes: sustained jobs, jobs with future growth, and jobs with sufficient earnings.

 

BRS has created policy that maintains good stewardship of public funds while providing services that consumers need for employment. The bureau’s goal is for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to help consumers reach independence through employment.

VR supervisors and VR caseload counselors currently have the primary responsibility for the following:

  • making eligibility determinations;
  • approving the Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) and any amendments to the IPE;
  • making the determination as to who is an individual with a significant disability based on functional limitations; and
  • consulting with each Consumer to determine ineligibility and when a record of service can be closed for a Consumer who has achieved an employment outcome.

 

 

Preparation/Staff Development

BRS systematically provides adequate and ongoing training to staff. In-service training addresses retention of qualified staff, succession planning, leadership development and capacity building. All staff development activities support the bureau’s mission - to increase the quality of services and the number and quality of employment outcomes for people with disabilities. In-service training is available to all staff.

 

The bureau bases its plan for staff development on a multi-faceted comprehensive needs survey. The bureau uses all available information for ongoing analysis of training needs including the following:

 

  • Public Meetings (2012);
  • Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment results;
  • Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) 107 Review;
  • Key training personnel collaboration with TACE (Technical Assistance and Continuing Education), Region 1 staff;
  • Management reports; and
  • Manager, district director, consultant, and supervisor feedback.

 

In addition to ensuring that staff meets CSPD requirements, BRS provides Foundations of CT VR, a year-long series of in-service training for new staff and staff who need refresher training. This includes a broad array of topics pertaining to VR such as: Foundations of CT VR Training, trainings on the specific populations, independent living, transition, and community rehabilitation services. A variety of training methods are utilized to assure that training activities are diverse enough to address individual learning styles. 

 

Retention of Qualified Staff

Connecticut is fortunate to have several factors that ensure retention of staff. The majority of staff leaves because of retirement or choosing to stay home with children rather than leaving for another position. BRS attributes the reasons for retention success as follows:

  • BRS recruits staff that is committed to the importance of VR work;
  • In-service training is available to staff at all levels;
  • Salaries are high, benefits are good and most staff have a thirty-five hour workweek; some choose to work four days a week;
  • Staff may give input into decisions that affect the way they work;
  • Staff was deeply involved in helping to plan adjustment to the new case management system that included train-the-trainer sessions, testing and evaluations, and problem solving of System 7; and
  • Staff can participate in ongoing committees: Staff Training, Regional Training, Community Rehabilitation Providers, Transition, Autism Spectrum, and the BRS Annual Meeting.  

The committees ensure that staff have input into the work of the bureau. The committees also give staff opportunities for leadership experiences that will help them prepare for other positions in the bureau.

 

In 2008, BRS re-engaged in a process to create Individual Staff Development Plans (ISDP) with all employees. The bureau has continued with its plan for each staff person to be given an opportunity to create an ISDP. The plans identify areas of an employee’s current job that need further development, areas that could be developed to prepare for a future job in the agency, and training needed for either. This plan encourages staff to pursue areas of their strength and interest. In addition, the encouragement of staff development for areas in which they may work someday will build bench strength, which is an important component of the bureau’s plan for succession.

 

 

Performance System for Measuring Counselor Performance

In 2009, the bureau implemented a new evaluation system for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors. The new system balances a computerized report of each counselor’s success in meeting federal standards and indicators. It includes the supervisor’s assessment of softer skills such as counseling skills, the ability to deal with people, and the ability to follow through effectively. Further, the supervisor evaluates the counselor’s knowledge of agency policy and fiscal procedures.  Consequently, counselors are provided with objective feedback to address and enhance their professional development.

 

Succession Planning

The bureau’s succession planning has proved valuable. Promotional opportunities are encouraged.The focus this past year has been to fill counselor vacancies and ensure new staff is adequately trained.  Succession planning will continue to be a part of the bureau’s long-range plans.

 

Leadership and CapacityBuilding

In addition to the Individual Staff Development Plans, committee participation involving leadership opportunities, and ongoing participation in updates for the state plan, the bureau has planned the following activities for supervisors and other staff:

  • Co-facilitate training with a central office consultant;
  • Make presentations to their regional staff meetings about training they have attended; and
  • Participate in various committees where members assume leadership roles for training, policy development, and communication with other staff.

 

The bureau was awarded two five-year, in-service training grants. Both awards cover the time period of 10/1/2010 – 9/30/2015 and training activities have been initiated. The bureau has developed an integrated program of training, education, and development activities for staff to gain the necessary skills, knowledge, and experiences to improve the quality and outcomes of the vocational rehabilitation process.  Our training project contributes to counselor knowledge of current VR practices and BRS policy. 

 

Assistive Technology – Resources and Training for Staff

BRS helped create and is a member of the NEAT (New England Assistive Technology) Center at Oak Hill. The Center is the largest assistive technology (AT) center in Connecticut where one can try AT devices for personal use, observe AT device demonstrations, donate or purchase used equipment that is refurbished and recycled, obtain loans of AT devices and receive training on the latest adaptive equipment.

 

The Connecticut Tech Act Project director provides training and consultation for bureau staff.   Other in-service trainings on specific disability populations contain information on technological solutions for consumers.

 

Training Based on our In-Service Training Project

The bureau continually analyzes all consumer data to identify areas where it needs to increase training or vary approaches. The In-Service Training Project has identified two major goals to guide the next five years of the grant.  The goals include:

 

  •  Goal I:  To improve the skills of all bureau staff by providing training and development in vocational rehabilitation service provision, responsiveness to consumers, bureau mission and programs, and awareness of state and community resources; and 
  •  Goal II:  To improve recruitment and retention of bureau staff by providing career development and succession planning activities to assist counselors in defining appropriate career paths and to assist the bureau to maximize its resources, while continuing to meet CSPD requirements. 

 

Affirmative Action Plan

BRS operates under an Affirmative Action Plan of the Department of Social Services (DSS). This plan and its policies are also applicable to each of the bureau’s staff development programs. Consequently, except for training specific to certain classifications of employees, training is open to all employees regardless of age, ancestry, mental or physical disability, national origin, religion, race, sex, or sexual orientation. The bureau assures the following for all training programs:

  • interpreter services for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing;
  • Braille, large print, or oral format, as needed, for persons with visual impairments;
  • an architecturally accessible training site; and
  • personal care assistants for those requiring this service.

 

Communication with Diverse Populations

The bureau addresses individual communication needs of applicants for and recipients of services through the services of others able to communicate in alternate languages, appropriate modes, or in native languages. Approximately 10% of the current staff is bilingual in English and Spanish. The bureau employs staff who speak other languages as well as staff who use both American Sign Language (ASL) and English. The bureau publishes on its website all the languages its staff speaks, by district. The list below indicates the languages spoken by current staff and the regions in which they work:

  • American Sign Language (ASL) – Northern, Southern, Western
  • French – Northern
  • French Italian – Southern
  • Portuguese – Northern
  • Spanish – Northern, Southern, Western

 

 The bureau can also hire interpreters in most languages and can access interpreter services over the phone for all languages.

 

Each district has Rehabilitation Counselors for the Deaf (RCD) on staff to work with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. These counselors are equipped with newly installed video phones.  The bureau hires full-time Interpreter Assistants for its RCDs who are in need of this accommodation. The bureau also contracts interpreter services through the Connecticut Commission on the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired and Family Services Woodfield.

 

The bureau does not serve many consumers who use Braille since there is a public Vocational Rehabilitation program through the Connecticut Board of Education and Services for the Blind that serves the majority of consumers who have visual disabilities. When needed, the bureau can provide Braille materials for consumers or staff. The bureau’s goal is to provide any communication support necessary for staff or consumers with disabilities.

 

 

 

 

Coordination with the CSPD under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)

The bureau co-funds an Education Consultant position with the Connecticut State Department of Education’s Division of Special Education and Pupil Services who has been active in the Department of Education’s Comprehensive System of Personnel Development Council. The bureau’s Coordinator of Staff Development routinely plans training with input from the Consultant in the co-funded position. This Consultant provides annual training for all bureau professional staff on Transition and other provisions of the IDEA. The Consultant also meets with the management team of the bureau semi-annually to review current collaborative training and other provisions of the IDEA. This collaboration allows for coordination of the bureau’s human resource plan and personnel development under the IDEA.

This screen was last updated on Jun 26 2012 10:48AM by Evelyn Knight

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.

Approach to the 2010 Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment

The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) published new guidelines in the fall of 2009 for conducting a three-year Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA). The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS), scheduled to submit the results of the CSNA in July 2010 as part of the annual State Plan submission, established a committee of representatives of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) and bureau staff to finalize the assessment report. Committee members reviewed the new guidelines and developed a strategy to follow the new reporting outline with the results of our comprehensive assessment. This approach would enable us to get in synch with RSA’s expectations and set us on the course for the next three-year assessment schedule. The CSNA provides the blue print to evaluate the vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs according to the outline listed in Section III of full CSNA report.

Background

The environment in which Connecticut’s vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs operate has changed dramatically since our last Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA) submitted in 2007. The first major change related to staffing. BRS was faced with a statewide retirement program, through which a significant number of experienced staff retired. The bureau lost 21 staff to retirements in addition to regular attrition, which claimed an additional six staff in the months surrounding the enactment of the retirement program. The total impact was an overall 17% decrease in staff that included a significant number of leadership and senior level positions. These staff losses presented a particular challenge in the area of direct consumer services as 14 vocational rehabilitation counselor positions were vacated. The second major change relates to the economy. As with the rest of the nation, we are experiencing a recession that has had a negative impact on employment opportunities. According to an April 2010 news release from the Connecticut Department of Labor, non-farm employment is down 97,000 jobs from its pre-recession peak employment of 1,711,500 in March 2008. This represents a decline of 5.7%. Overall, Connecticut is facing an unemployment rate over 9%.

A third major change relates to the implementation of a new Management Information System. In October of 2009 “VR System 7” replaced the “Integrated Client Information System” (ICIS) as the bureau’s primary information management tool. ICIS had been in production in the bureau since 1985 and was limited in terms of its caseload management capabilities. The implementation of System 7 not only brought forth major challenges in terms of capturing business requirement that had previously been executed via paper-driven processes, but it also required many staff at all levels of the agency with limited computer skills to adapt to an electronic caseload management tool. System 7 houses all consumer case information, processes fiscal transactions related to client purchase of services, maintains statistical data and is designed to support the most business processes of the bureau. Although an enormous amount of time and effort have been invested in the successful implementation of the system and the training of staff, both technical and end-user issues significantly impacted the statistical, fiscal and qualitative performance of the bureau throughout FFY 2010 and FFY2011. It is expected that with ongoing collaboration with the contracted MIS vendor and continued end-user support these issues will diminish over time.

These challenges have been coupled with a number of significant opportunities, including the infusion of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding, strong business partnerships, and marketing efforts at the state and national level. Through ARRA, BRS received $2.4 million for vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs under Title 1, Part B of the Rehabilitation Act. This funding has enabled BRS to develop innovative strategies to improve employment outcomes for Connecticut residents with disabilities. Six Employment Consultants within BRS’s newly created Employment Division were hired to outreach specifically to employers. An essential function of their role is to enhance existing collaborations with other state and community-based agencies and service providers to increase job opportunities for our consumers.

The opening of the Walgreens Distribution Center in Windsor, CT provided a blue print for other companies to follow. Walgreens exceeded its goal to hire individuals with disabilities in at least 1/3 of its positions. Special recruitment and training was established to ensure success. BRS, Connect-Ability, and two local community rehabilitation providers (CRP) have collaborated to create a similar model at Lowe’s in Plainfield, CT. Roses for Autism in Guilford, CT has also developed a model. BRS and Connect-Ability continue to explore the flexibility of these and other models for other prospective employers, including ESPN, The Prudential, and Travelers Insurance.

The Connect-Ability media campaign, funded by our Medicaid Infrastructure Grant, has helped to promote consumers with significant disabilities to successfully work competitively in a variety of vocational fields. There is also a national marketing campaign titled “Think Beyond the Label” that adds to the reach of Connecticut’s marketing efforts. This publicity, coupled with the annual Connect-Ability Employment Summit, has helped to increase employer interest in hiring consumers who have disabilities and to educate employers about overcoming barriers that may hinder hiring consumers with disabilities.

Data Sources

BRS used many of the data sources recommended in the CSNA Guide. The CSNA committee evaluated results of surveys and interviews to obtain feedback from consumers, family members and other valued partners in the VR system to garner concerns, issues, and successes about the VR and SE programs as follows: • BRS Public Meetings Feedback; • State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) Survey Results; • Results of a Consumer Survey; • Results of Key Informant Survey; • Results of a Counselor Survey; and • Results of CRP Comments.

In addition to the feedback generated by the groups listed above, the CSNA committee also reviewed Existing Data from the following sources: • Annual Review of Report to RSA (a combination of federal reports), 2008 • State Population: Census, ACS • Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, 2009 • CT Department of Labor, Labor Market Information, March 2010 • US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008-18 Projections • Connecticut State Department of Education Data on Youth with Disabilities • 704 Report of State Independent Living Services Program.

Methods

Public meetings: During the public meeting process in 2007, 2008 and 2009, consumers were invited to attend a public meeting in their regions to discuss specific topics or general concerns. This enabled all attendees to have questions answered or to provide comment. All questions and comments received at the public meetings received an immediate response, accompanied by follow up steps, as appropriate. Consumers who could not attend the meetings had additional time to submit written comments or questions by e-mail, fax, or postal mail. Supervisors and counselors were available to continue detailed/personal discussions in private, as needed. All written responses received an acknowledgement that their communication had been received and their comments would be added to others that had been submitted. Written communications that included concerns or issues were forwarded to the Regional Director for follow-up and resolution with the consumer and their counselor (or counselor’s supervisor), if needed. As with other information presented by BRS, consumers were referred to the Client Assistance Program (CAP), as desired.

Office Consumer Satisfaction Surveys: Through the SRC, consumer satisfaction feedback with office visits was monitored. Following a meeting with a counselor, consumers had an opportunity to share their satisfaction regarding the treatment they received, satisfaction with access to the building, and satisfaction with the information shared at the meeting. This on-going snapshot of individual consumers identified recurring themes that needed to be addressed as well as confirmed positive and appropriate staff interactions. Consumers were given the survey to complete in the office or return by mail in a postage-paid envelope. District Directors first reviewed the surveys to determine if any issues existed that needed immediate attention. Lastly, the SRC Consumer Satisfaction Committee reviewed the surveys to determine trends/issues to evaluate for recommendations to BRS. Survey results were discussed at every SRC meeting. This approach enabled the SRC to obtain a sense of daily interactions between counselors and consumers. BRS addressed findings to improve service to our consumers.

Consumer Satisfaction Mail Survey: A mail survey was conducted as part of the CSNA. A four-page survey was developed by BRS in consultation with the University of Connecticut’s Health Center to assess overall satisfaction with vocational rehabilitation services. While the survey results were anonymous, consumers could identify themselves if they wanted to speak with someone about their experience at BRS. The consumer satisfaction survey examined two different populations: VR cases that were closed in fiscal year 2009 and open VR cases. Based on a random sampling of potential respondents, 414 consumers with closed cases were surveyed (239 non-minority and 175 minority, of which 72 clients identified as Latino) and 347 consumers with open cases (231 non-minority and 116 minority clients, of which 40 were Latino) were surveyed. Surveys were sent by mail along with an invitation to participate and a self-addressed, postage-paid reply envelope. Measures were included to ensure Latino consumers had access to the survey in Spanish, if needed.

Key Informant Interviews: The committee identified 14 individuals with unique perspectives on the vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs and/or the consumers BRS serves. These individuals were interviewed by CSNA committee members. District Directors interviewed a small sample of Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRP) to gather their perspectives, as well.

Counselor Surveys: BRS counselors received an open-ended, 13-question survey by e-mail. The survey solicited the following information based on each counselor’s experience: 1. What are the service needs of individuals with significant and most significant disabilities; 2. Who are unserved/underserved populations and what are their service needs; 3. How effective are our Community Rehabilitation Providers and what is needed to improve their effectiveness and strengthen our relationships; 4. How accessible are supported employment services and what barriers need to be removed: 5. How effective are the partnerships we have with other state agencies who serve our consumers and how can we streamline the process to improve service; 6. What recommendations can you make to remove barriers and increase access to services for our consumers? General knowledge of BRS participation in statewide committees and status of ongoing programs, projects, and partnerships have also been considered in the CSNA.

Results

Based on the results of the CSNA, the bureau will strive to improve services for individuals with the most significant disabilities, 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. The Bureau considered the following themes in the development of the agency goals and priorities: 1. increase collaborations with other businesses, state agencies, workforce investment boards and community-based service agencies; 2. participate in cross-training with other state agencies – the Departments of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) and Developmental Services (DDS), the Autism Pilot – to assure understanding of system differences and options for improved continuity for mutually-served consumers; 3. provide equal access to services with information in alternate formats for consumers whose primary language is not English (American Sign Language [ASL] and Spanish in particular); 4. develop counseling staff knowledge and skills regarding specific consumer populations (consumers with Autism, consumers with mental illness, young adults and minority consumers); 5. increase the Bureau’s presence in the community and an awareness of community resources; and 6. investigate transportation options to assist consumers in finding and keeping employment. Based on the results of the comprehensive statewide needs assessment, the bureau will strive to improve community rehabilitation programs within the state as follows: 1. use establishment grants for the purposes of establishing new programs of service within existing CRPs; 2. offer rate differentials and technical assistance to CRPs that wish to expand their capacity to provide services to people who are deaf or Spanish speaking; 3. continue joint trainings of CRP and BRS staff to enhance better understanding of program implementation to achieve maximum success for consumers; 4. continue meetings of the CRP Committee to strengthen partnerships between BRS and CRPs; 5. encourage use of a Consumer Choice Handbook for Assessment Services. These themes were used to inform the Bureau’s state plan goals, priorities and strategies.

 

This screen was last updated on Aug 11 2011 3:13PM by Evelyn Knight

 

According to the US Census Bureau American Community Survey, Connecticut had 3,519,913 civilian residents who were non-institutionalized in 2010.  From this number, 2,220,078 persons were 18-64 years of age; 8.1% of this population, 179,340 persons, had a disability (margin of error +/-0.3%).

 

Records from 2010 also show of the 344,221 non-institutionalized people with disabilities over age 16, only 24% were employed.  The remaining 76% individuals of working age with disabilities were unemployed.  As the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) may provide transition services to students as young as age 14, many of these individuals may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services in the future.

 

These statistics indicate a considerable number of individuals who are not currently working plus a sizeable number of the transition-age individuals may be eligible for VR services. In addition, an unknown number of the 24% who are working may be under employed. Persons with disabilities who are already employed may also require services to attain employment consistent with their unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests and informed choice.

 

These points make it difficult, if not impossible, to accurately estimate the number of potentially eligible consumers of VR services. That number is many times more than BRS has historically served or has the resources to serve.

 

 

State Estimate of the Number of Individuals to be Served Under this Plan

For Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2012, the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS or the Bureau) projects that it will serve 4,769 eligible consumers in Individual Plans for Employment (IPEs) under Part B of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act. This is a 3.4% increase from FFY 2011, when 4,611 individuals received services under an IPE.

 

BRS has been engaged in a multi-year effort to rebuild its counseling staff with qualified professionals since a Retirement Incentive Program (RIP) offered by the State of Connecticut in late FFY 2009 resulted in a large amount of attrition. With the Bureau’s continued focus on recruitment and ongoing training of newer staff, a 3.3% increase in consumers served under an IPE was realized in FFY 2011 over FFY 2010. Anticipated production increases are further substantiated by an 8% increase (through 2/29/12) in new plans being implemented for FFY 2012 when compared to the same point in the year during FFY 2011.

 

BRS has been operating in an Order of Selection (OOS) since 1991, serving only all Priority 1(Most Significant Disability) and Priority 2 (Significant Disability) consumers.  As a result of the receipt of unprecedented sums of reallocated Title I funds in both FFY 2010 and 2011, the Bureau has been able to apply resources to fill critical vacancies and strategically build the needed capacity enabling an expansion of services to include individuals in Priority 3 (Not Significant Disability) status. This ability to serve all eligible individuals translates into the removal of an OOS, a change that the Bureau plans to implement at the onset of FFY 2013.

 

The absence of a significant waiting list and the fact that BRS has consistently utilized the same OOS for over 20 years makes projecting the number of Priority 3 individuals to be served extraordinarily difficult. Over more than two decades, referral sources have become accustomed to the Bureau’s OOS and proactively self-screen their potential referrals against our well-known criteria. Initially, the Bureau anticipates that numbers of new applicants with Not Significant Disabilities will be low. It will take time for referral sources and the general public to digest the elimination of our OOS. At the same time, the numbers do have the potential to expand rapidly when considering the large percentage of unemployed individuals with disabilities reported in the most recent Census data referenced in the beginning of this attachment. Upon analysis of referral sources that BRS expects will most rapidly respond to the elimination of OOS and the populations with whom they interact, the Bureau projects that 500 eligible individuals with Not Significant Disabilities will implement IPE’s in FFY 2013. In addition, the Bureau expects a 6% increase over FFY 2012 in Priority 1 and Priority 2 consumers receiving services. Combining projections for all priority statuses yields a reasonable projection of 5,553 eligible consumers receiving services under an IPE during FFY 2013.  This represents a total increase in projected number of consumers served under Title I funding of 16.4% over FFY 2012. 

 

Please note, this expansion in services, when applied to the Bureau’s four-year financial planning model, is not sustainable indefinitely. As our newer counseling staff becomes more entrenched in their local communities, their ability to conduct outreach to and serve individuals with significant disabilities will expand quickly to a point where fiscal resources will not sustain serving consumers of a lower priority status. Therefore, BRS anticipates that a reinstitution of an Order of Selection limiting services to Priority 1 and Priority 2 individuals due to fiscal constraints will likely be required for FFY 2015.  

 

Supported Employment

 

During FFY 2011, BRS assisted 148 consumers eligible for Supported Employment funding and purchased services for 127 consumers under Title VI-B of the Act, utilizing $318,349. Essentially, the Bureau expended over four times more Title VI-B funding in 2011 than it did in 2010. In FFY 2010, BRS spent $78,170 while serving 43 consumers. This remarkable increase in utilization of Title VI-B funds is a direct result of statewide training related to Supported Employment and quality assurance controls put in place to monitor proper categorization of IPE’s at the counselor level. BRS will continue to present this training to all new counselors who are hired and will be make it available to veteran staff on an as-needed basis. Quality assurance measures will also remain in effect indefinitely to continue to monitor proper Title VI-B fund utilization.  

Thus far in FFY 2012 (year to date 2-29-12), BRS has purchased services for 97 individuals, expending $191,673 in Title VI-B funds. This represents a pace somewhat higher than FFY 2011 service and expenditure levels. By the conclusion of FFY 2012 the Bureau expects to provide purchased services for 150 consumers within FFY 2012 using Title VI-B with a total projected expenditure of $352,000.

The Bureau anticipates that 162 individuals could potentially receive services funded under Title VI-B.  In combination with the 5,553 individuals projected to receive services under Title I, the total number of individuals who could be served in FFY 2013 is 5,715.

 

Costs of Services

Title I purchase of services (POS) costs for Priority 1 and Priority 2 consumers in FFY

2012 is projected to be approximately $11.9 million.  In addition to a traditional POS expenditure of $10 million, the Bureau has and will continue to utilize available funding to initiate alternative client service-oriented projects that promise to pay significant dividends to our consumers throughout FFY 2012 and beyond. Over the course of FFY 2012, the Bureau intends to invest $1 million in serving significant numbers of consumers by funding their participation in Industry Specific Training and Placement Programs, Summer Youth Employment Programs and Employer Outreach and Hiring events designed to serve groups of consumers.  In addition to these projected expenditures, BRS continues to participate in and fund an interagency agreement with the State Department of Education to expand outreach and the availability of services to transition-aged consumers in secondary schools.  The bureau will invest approximately $870,000 on this project over the course of FFY 2012.  

Through traditional POS for Priority 1 and Priority 2 individuals, as well as expansion into providing services for individuals of Priority 3 status, BRS projects to expend approximately $11.1 million in FFY 2013. This projection is predicated on a 6% growth in Priority 1 and 2 consumers served over FFY 2012 level, as well as the reasonable estimate of Priority 3 individuals being served, as cited above. The Bureau also intends to continue to utilize approximately $1.3 million to fund consumer participation in Industry Specific Training and Placement Programs and Employer Outreach and Hiring events as previously outlined.  This results in a total FFY 2013 services expenditure projection of $12 million for Title I funding. Please note that total expenditures may increase upon targeted expansion of the projects mentioned above.

 

With respect to the 162 consumers projected to receive services under Title VI-B during FFY 2013, the Bureau estimates a complete expenditure of carried forward FFY 2012 funding and allocated FFY 2013 Supported Employment funding, which is expected to be approximately $350,000.

Category Title I or Title VI Estimated Funds Estimated Number to be Served Average Cost of Services
All Eligible Consumers Title I $12,400,000 5,553 $2,233
Most Significant Title VI $350,000 162 $2,160
Totals   $12,750,000 5,715 $2,230

This screen was last updated on Jun 26 2012 10:48AM by Evelyn Knight

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.

Goals and Priorities

 

The Bureau, in collaboration with the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), conducted a comprehensive assessment of the rehabilitation needs of people with disabilities and identified four major goal areas.  These goals and priorities will be used to carry out the Supported Employment and Vocational Rehabilitation programs.  The SRC jointly agrees with BRS on these goals and priorities for the coming year.

 

Each of the goal areas contains a set of priority areas that the bureau could address in the coming year.  We cannot address every issue identified as a need, but attempted to build goals broad enough to address the major themes.  Priority areas were chosen based on their frequency of occurrence in the assessment. 

 

Goal 1:  To improve the quality of vocational rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities.

Priority areas: 

·        customer service and provision of information

·        ongoing skill development

·        case management in an electronic system

 

Goal 2:  To increase employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, particularly those individuals from unserved or underserved populations.

 

Priority areas: 

·        individuals from minority backgrounds (particularly Latinos)

·        young adults with disabilities (particularly those with learning disabilities)

·        individuals with psychiatric disability

·        individuals with autism spectrum disorders

 

Goal 3:  To increase access to services for all individuals with disabilities.

Priority areas: 

·        services for individuals who are deaf

·        services for individuals whose primary language is Spanish

·        transportation

·        timeliness of access to initial appointment

 

Goal 4:  To create effective partnerships designed to advance employment for Connecticut citizens with disabilities.

Priority areas: 

·        Businesses

·        Community Rehabilitation Providers

·        State agencies

 

 

These broad goals are intended to be five-year goals, with the priority areas being flexible enough to change from year to year if necessary.  

 

This screen was last updated on Aug 23 2011 8:15AM by Evelyn Knight

  • 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 Aug 23 2011 8:15AM by Evelyn Knight

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.

 

(1) The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) will continue to use supported employment Title VI, Part B funds to allow maximum options in providing services to meet individual consumer needs. The Bureau will target service to those persons who are presently not served or are underserved, and who:

  • Are individuals with the most significant disabilities and who have previously been unable to maintain competitive employment due to the severity of their disabilities;
  • Are in need of ongoing support for the duration of their employment; and
  • Will have extended support services available beyond BRS time-limited services.

BRS maintains that given the proper supports, the majority of persons with disabilities, including those individuals with the most significant disabilities, are capable of maintaining competitive employment. Supported employment services are available to individuals with the most significant disabilities who have been unable to maintain competitive employment because of the severity of their disabilities. The goal is to assist these individuals to achieve employment in the most integrated setting possible.

Services will be provided on an individual case basis with emphasis on methods that provide maximum integration and consumer informed choice. Therefore, BRS will continue to focus on placing consumers in individual placements with maximum integration.

 

The Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992 Supported Employment definition emphasizes “competitive work in an integrated employment setting for persons with the most severe 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 and who, because of the severity of the disability, need intensive support services or extended services in order to perform such work, inclusive of transitional employment for persons with the most severe disabilities due to mental illness.”

 

Through FFY 2012 (year to date 2-29-12), the bureau has purchased supported employment services for 97 individuals.  This represents a pace somewhat higher than FFY 2011 service (127 persons) and expenditure levels. The bureau projects to provide purchased services for 150 consumers within FFY 2012 using Title VI-B.  Based upon FFY 2011 data, of the 5,053 individuals projected to receive services in FFY 2013, the bureau anticipates that 162 could potentially receive services funded under part B of Title VI.  

 

(2) The Bureau continues to increase the availability of supported employment services and expenditures to individuals with the most significant disabilities by implementing the following strategies:

  • Maintain a Desk Guide of Supported Employment Resources;
  • Provide ongoing training and technical assistance to bureau staff and providers on accessing supported employment long term supports;
  • Collaborate with the stakeholders in the Departments of Developmental Disabilities (DDS) and Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) in formalized training of staff in all agencies in the similarities and differences in supported employment policies and practices; and
  • Coordinate access to training opportunities for CRP staff in the core contracted services for skill enhancement and professional development. 

This screen was last updated on Jun 26 2012 10:48AM by Evelyn Knight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bureau of Rehabilitation (BRS) has developed a set of strategies designed to address the goals and priorities identified in section 4.11 (c)(1) of this plan.  BRS 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. 

We have also incorporated preliminary measures to be sure that the strategies are effective. 

 

Goal 1:  To improve the quality of vocational rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities.

Priority areas: 

·        customer service and provision of information

·        ongoing skill development

·        case management in an electronic system

 

Objective 1.1:  To improve the Bureau’s performance on Standards and Indicators with respect to quality.

·        Strategy:  continue to use a performance evaluation model that incorporates selected standards and indicators into annual service ratings of employees. 

o       Measure: rehabilitation rate (standards and indicators 1.2)

o       Measure: consumer wage comparison to state averages (standards and indicators 1.5)

o       Measure: primary source of support (standards and indicators 1.6)

 

Objective 1.2:  To improve customer service through the provision of information

·        Strategy:  Develop materials and post on the BRS website

o       Measure:  of website hits

 

·        Strategy:  Develop materials and post on the Connect-Ability website

o       Measure:  of website hits

 

Objective 1.3:  To develop customer service models and skills for all staff

·        Strategy:  Use In-Service Training Project to provide customer service training to all staff

o       Measure:  consumer satisfaction

 

Objective 1.4:  To maximize the utility of System 7, BRS’ new case management system

·        Strategy:  Use In-Service Training Project to provide System 7 case management training

o       Measure:  counselor survey, consumer satisfaction 

 

 

Goal 2:  To increase employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, particularly those individuals from unserved or underserved populations.

 

Priority areas: 

·        individuals from minority backgrounds (particularly Latinos)

·        young adults with disabilities (particularly those with learning disabilities)

·        individuals with psychiatric disability

·        individuals with autism spectrum disorders

 

Objective 2.1:  To increase overall employment outcomes.

·        Strategy:  continue to use a performance evaluation model that incorporates selected standards and indicators into annual service ratings of employees. 

o       Measure: rehabilitation outcomes (standards and indicators 1.1)

         

Objective 2.2:  To increase employment outcomes for Latinos.

·        Strategy:  work with the Bureau’s Latino Committee to develop new approaches to working with consumers who are Latino

o       Measure:  rehabilitation rate for individuals with ethnicity identified as Hispanic

 

Objective 2.3: To increase employment and postsecondary outcomes for young adults.

·        Strategy:  cross-training on new Learning Disability guidelines and transition toolkit

o       Measure:  training evaluations

 

·        Strategy:  Partner with State Dept of Ed and community partners to conduct training and outreach activities with school districts throughout the state

o       Measure: of employment outcomes for individuals referred prior to age 24, as compared to previous year

 

Objective 2.4:  To increase employment outcomes for individuals with psychiatric disabilities.

·        Strategy:  partner with Local Mental Health Authorities and state Mental Health agency

o       Measure: of employment outcomes, as compared to previous year

o       Measure: earnings of individuals in competitive employment, as compared to previous year

 

Objective 2.5:  To develop more responsive services for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

·        Strategy:  Review recommendations from the Autism Task Force

o       Measure: Appropriate recommendations are implemented

 

·        Strategy:  Utilize the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Committee

o       Measure:  of consumers and families participating in the Committee

 

Goal 3:  To increase access to services for all individuals with disabilities.

Priority areas: 

·        services for individuals who are deaf

·        services for individuals whose primary language is Spanish

·        transportation

·        timeliness of access to initial appointment

 

Objective 3.1:  To increase access to services for individuals with disabilities.

·        Strategy:  Make consumer-use workstations available in all offices.

o       Measure: of people using consumer-use workstations

 

Objective 3.2:  To increase access to services for individuals who are deaf.

·        Strategy: Make video phones available in all BRS offices

o       Measure: of video phones available, usage

 

·        Strategy:  Continue the rate differential for Community Rehabilitation Providers who make their services accessible to individuals whose primary language is ASL

o       Measure:  utilization of the rate differential

 

Objective 3.3:  To increase access to services for individuals whose primary language is Spanish.

·        Strategy:  Incorporate into our case management system the ability to translate forms into Spanish.

o       Measure: ability to produce all forms in Spanish.

 

·        Strategy:  Continue the rate differential for Community Rehabilitation Providers who make their services accessible to individuals whose primary language is Spanish

o       Measure:  utilization of the rate differential

 

·        Strategy:  Make the BRS website information available in Spanish

o       Measure:  of hits to the Spanish forms within the website

 

Objective 3.4:  To increase access to transportation for Bureau consumers.

·        Strategy:  Partner with Connect-Ability staff to identify transportation resources and develop regional expertise.

o       Measure: of counselors identified as transportation experts

 

Objective 3.5:  To decrease the wait time between 00 and 02.

·        Strategy:  re-introduce status 00 to develop baseline measure

o       Measure: of days between 00 and 02

 

Goal 4:  To create effective partnerships designed to advance employment for Connecticut citizens with disabilities.

Priority areas: 

·        Businesses

·        Community Rehabilitation Providers

·        State agencies

 

Objective 4.1: Create partnerships with Businesses.

·        Strategy:  Increase the use of On-the-Job Trainings

o       Measure:  of OJTs negotiated

·        Strategy:  Implement Industry Specific Training and Placement Programs

o       Measure: of awards

o       Measure: of placements

 

Objective 4.2:  Develop the capacity of Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRPs) to meet the needs of BRS consumers, particularly those identified as being unserved or underserved in terms of service or access.

·        Strategy:  Establish a communication differential for CRPs serving individuals whose primary language is American Sign Language (ASL) or Spanish

o       Measure:  of CRPs able to serve consumers whose primary language is American Sign Language (ASL) or Spanish

 

Objective 4.3:  Partner with state agencies.

·        Strategy:  Work with Connect-Ability to implement employment-focused Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with four state agencies.

o       Measure:  MOA deliverables

 

This screen was last updated on Aug 23 2011 8:17AM by Evelyn Knight

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

 

The Bureau of Rehabilitation (BRS) has developed a set of strategies designed to address the goals and priorities identified in section 4.11 (c)(1) of this plan.  BRS used 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. 

 

Goal 1:  To improve the quality of vocational rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities.

Priority areas: 

·         customer service and provision of information;

·         ongoing skill development; and

·         case management in an electronic system.

 

Objective 1.1:  To improve the Bureau’s performance on Standards and Indicators with respect to quality.

·         Strategy:  continue to use a performance evaluation model that incorporates selected standards and indicators into annual service ratings of employees.  Standards and Indicators are based on activity in FFY 2011.

o   Measure: rehabilitation rate (standards and indicators 1.2) -

§  Indicator 1.2 – Of cases closed after services, percent of employment outcomes: (>=58%) 60.70%.  The bureau had a rehabilitation rate of 60.7%. Therefore, we passed this Indicator.

o   Measure: consumer wage comparison to state averages (standards and indicators 1.5) -

§  Indicator 1.5 – Earnings ratio – hourly wage competitive employment to hourly wage of all employed in state (>=.52) .57.  The bureau had an average earnings ratio of .57 when compared to the state average earnings. Therefore, we passed this Indicator. 

o   Measure: primary source of support (standards and indicators 1.6) -

§  Indicator 1.6 – Self-support at closure VS self-support at application (>=53) 43.8%.  The bureau failed this Indicator as 43.8% of our successful outcomes went from not self-supporting to self-supporting at closure.

 

 

Objective 1.2:  To improve customer service through the provision of information

·         Strategy:  Develop materials and post on the BRS website.

o   Measure:  of website hits -

§  The BRS Website is constantly updated with information about the vocational rehabilitation program and announcements about disability-related opportunities.  Visitors to the site may learn how to apply for services, find transition information, read publications and the BRS Policy Manual, learn about hiring a personal care assistant or about targeted projects within the employment division, and may track the activities of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) while learning how to become a member.  We also have links to Connect-Ability, the Tech Act Project, Ticket to Work, the newly-created Bureau of Rehabilitative Services and the Department of Social Services. We also post updates from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) and the Council of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR).  There were 114,640 page views to the BRS site for FFY 2011.

 

·         Strategy:  Develop materials and post on the Connect-Ability website.

o   Measure:  of website hits -

§  Connect-Ability continued with its marketing campaign, that included the creation of two new TV spots, print ads and internet banner ads in addition to a comprehensive website www.connect-abiltity.com.  Connect-Ability responded to 450 calls for technical assistance and had 25,000 unique visitors to its website in FFY 2011.

 

 

Objective 1.3:  To develop customer service models and skills for all staff

·         Strategy:  Use In-Service Training Project to provide customer service training to all staff.

o   Measure:  consumer satisfaction-

§  The bureau was awarded two five-year, in-service training grants covering October 1, 2010 – September 30, 2015. The Bureau has developed an integrated program of training, education, and development activities for staff to gain the necessary skills, knowledge, and experiences to improve the quality of services and the number and quality of employment outcomes for people with disabilities.  Our training project enhances counselor knowledge of current VR practices and BRS policy.  In-service training is available to all staff.

BRS provides Foundations of CT VR, a year-long series of in-service training for new staff and staff who need refresher training. This includes a broad array of topics pertaining to VR such as: Foundations of CT VR Training, trainings on specific populations, independent living, transition, and community rehabilitation services. A variety of training methods are utilized to assure that training activities are diverse enough to address individual learning styles. 

The bureau continually analyzes all consumer data to identify areas where it needs to increase training or vary approaches. The In-Service Training Project has identified two major goals to guide the next five years of the grant.  The goals include:

1.      Goal I:  To improve the skills of all Bureau staff by providing training and development in vocational rehabilitation service provision, responsiveness to consumers, Bureau mission and programs, awareness of state and community resources.

2.      Goal II:  To improve recruitment and retention of Bureau staff by providing career development and succession planning activities to assist counselors in defining appropriate career paths and to assist the Bureau to maximize its resources, while continuing to meet CSPD requirements. 

Consumer satisfaction as it relates to counselor knowledge will be evaluated in the Regional Survey & Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA) later this year.

 

o   Over the past year Connect-Ability created an online training platform in partnership with the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The purpose of the online training platform, called the Distance Learning Initiative, is to provide online training for individuals with disabilities, family members, educators, employers, and anyone else who’s interested in taking the training modules. A variety of training modules will be available on topics such as assistive technology, personal care assistance, work readiness, ADA and disability etiquette, as well as some specific training geared to vocational rehabilitation counselors and community rehabilitation providers. The training modules are available for free by signing up for at an account at www.connect-ability.com/e-learning.

 

 

Objective 1.4:  To maximize the utility of System 7, BRS’ new case management system.

·         Strategy:  Use In-Service Training Project to provide System 7 case management training.

o   Measure:  counselor survey, consumer satisfaction - 

§  Staff has indicated a need for a more organized plan for training New Hires; a way to identify daily responsibility for informal training, and the need to make available ongoing refresher courses for staff at large to address key areas of function with the case management system.  We are currently exploring how to include System 7 in the existing training in a manner that would be most beneficial to the counseling staff.

 

§  Consumers will be questioned about satisfaction in service as it relates to the new data base in upcoming consumer satisfaction surveys.

 

 

Goal 2:  To increase employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, particularly those individuals from unserved or underserved populations.

 

Priority areas: 

·         individuals from minority backgrounds (particularly Latinos);

·         young adults with disabilities (particularly those with learning disabilities);

·         individuals with psychiatric disability; and

·         individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

 

Objective 2.1:  To increase overall employment outcomes.

·         Strategy:  continue to use a performance evaluation model that incorporates selected standards and indicators into annual service ratings of employees. 

o   Measure: rehabilitation outcomes (standards and indicators 1.1) -

§  Indicator 1.1 - Change in employment outcome from previous year: (>=923) 1,171.  The bureau closed a total 1,171 cases with successful outcomes in FY 2011.  This was 249 more cases with successful rehabilitation outcomes than the prior year. Therefore, we passed this indicator.

            

Objective 2.2:  To increase employment outcomes for Latinos.

·         Strategy:  work with the Bureau’s Latino Committee to develop new approaches to working with consumers who are Latino.

o   Measure:  rehabilitation rate for individuals with ethnicity identified as Hispanic -

§  Measure:  Rehabilitation rate for Latino Consumers for FFY 2011:  48.9% compared to the Rehabilitation Rate for Latino Consumers for FFY 2010: 65.2%.  Staff will continue to work on solutions that will raise this rate.

 

Objective 2.3: To increase employment and postsecondary outcomes for young adults.

·         Strategy:  cross-training on new Learning Disability (LD) guidelines and transition toolkit.

o   Measure:  training evaluations -

§  Training was provided to School Psychologists via six regional half-day presentations regarding the identification criteria for students with LD and the impact on transition age students as they exit school heading toward college, employment, and/or working with BRS or other state agencies.  However, there are no outcomes from training evaluations.

 

·         Strategy:  Partner with State Department of Education and community partners to conduct training and outreach activities with school districts throughout the state.

o   Measure: of employment outcomes for individuals referred prior to age 24, as compared to previous year -

§  During the past year, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) selected the Graduation Rate indicator along with closing the achievement gap for Latino and African-American students with disabilities as a priority for CSDE’s November 2011 site visit. These priorities will be the focus of all professional development and technical assistance activities for the 2012-13 academic year.  Approximately 50 public and private agency personnel, community providers, parents and families participated in the planning.

 

§  The CSDE VR Consultant worked with the BRS Transition Committee to revise training for BRS counselors on the identification of transition-age students with learning disabilities to incorporate the new CT guidelines as specified in IDEA 2004 and the revised Guidelines for the Identification of Students with Learning Disabilities (2010). Trained the BRS Transition Committee to provide district professional development and technical assistance to regional personnel which was completed in each of the three districts.

§  The CSDE and the State Education Resource Center (SERC) use the 74-piece Transition Toolkit as part of their training with school districts.  This toolkit, available on the BRS Website at http://www.ct.gov/brs  (School to Work), helps staff, consumers and their families, and stakeholders with transition planning.  

 

§  Measure: For FFY 2011, 21.5% of employment outcomes were individuals referred prior to age 24. For FFY 2010, 17.1% of employment outcomes were individuals referred prior to age 24.

 

Objective 2.4:  To increase employment outcomes for individuals with psychiatric disabilities.

·         Strategy:  partner with Local Mental Health Authorities and state Mental Health agency.

o   Measure: of employment outcomes, as compared to previous year -

§  Measure: Out of 1,171 successful employment outcomes for FFY 2011, 342 or 29% of the consumers received services due to a primary and/or a secondary psychiatric disability. Compared to FFY 2010, 24% (225 out of 922 successful closures) of the consumers received services due to a primary and/or a secondary psychiatric disability. 

 

o   Measure: earnings of individuals in competitive employment, as compared to previous year -

§  Measure: For FFY 2011, of those successfully closed consumers in competitive employment who received services due to a primary and/or secondary psychiatric disability, the average monthly earnings at closure were $1,296.85 per month (average annual salary of $15,562.16).  Compared to FFY 2010, the average monthly earnings at closure for the 24% of those consumers who received services due to having a psychiatric disability were $1,259.03 (average annual income of $15,108.36). 

 

Objective 2.5:  To develop more responsive services for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

·         Strategy:  Review recommendations from the Autism Task Force.

o   Measure: Appropriate recommendations are implemented -

§  BRS convened an Autism Task Force to develop recommendations for BRS, partner agencies, organizations, and families.  The task force submitted recommendations to BRS in March 2012 and they are currently being evaluated. 

 

·         Strategy:  Utilize the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Committee.

o   Measure:  of consumers and families participating in the Committee -

§  The Committee met with 25 families/individuals and, in addition, conducted about 15 case conferences.

 

 

Goal 3:  To increase access to services for all individuals with disabilities.

Priority areas: 

·         services for individuals who are deaf;

·         services for individuals whose primary language is Spanish;

·         transportation; and

·         timeliness of access to initial appointment.

 

Objective 3.1:  To increase access to services for individuals with disabilities.

·         Strategy:  Make consumer-use workstations available in all offices.

o   Measure: of people using consumer-use workstations -

§  Although equipment has been ordered, no workstations have been installed.  Space has been identified in some offices while other offices have space limitations.  BRS will continue to pursue the installation of these computers for consumer use.

 

Objective 3.2:  To increase access to services for individuals who are deaf.

·         Strategy: Make video phones available in all BRS offices.

o   Measure: of video phones available, usage -

§  BRS currently has eight Video Phones for Deaf Professionals or Professionals working with Deaf consumers in district offices; one additional phone will be installed in East Hartford.

§  BRS also has 11 public Video Phones for consumers to use located in the Danbury, Danielson, Hartford, Manchester, Middletown, New Britain, New Haven, Norwich, Stamford, Torrington, and Waterbury offices; and Bridgeport’s public videophone is scheduled to be installed in April.

 

·         Strategy:  Continue the rate differential for Community Rehabilitation Providers who make their services accessible to individuals whose primary language is ASL.

o   Measure:  utilization of the rate differential -

§  Since establishing the CRP Communication Rate Differential, the number of CRPs who provide services to consumers who are monolingual ASL users jumped from four CRPs to nine CRPs.

 

§  Since establishing the CRP Differential Rate the number of CRP staff persons who meet our advanced ASL criteria within these documented CRPs jumped from eight Employment Specialists to 18 Employment Specialists. An additional three Employment Specialists know ASL, but do not meet our advanced criteria yet. They are receiving training and work alongside other staff or interpreters who meet our advanced ASL criteria.

 

Objective 3.3:  To increase access to services for individuals whose primary language is Spanish.

·         Strategy:  Incorporate into our case management system the ability to translate forms into Spanish.

o   Measure: ability to produce all forms in Spanish -

§  The limitations of System 7 do not enable us to produce forms in Spanish.  Staff access Spanish forms as needed using Microsoft Word files.

 

·         Strategy:  Continue the rate differential for Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRP) who make their services accessible to individuals whose primary language is Spanish.

o   Measure:  utilization of the rate differential -

§  Since establishing the CRP Communication Rate Differential, the number of CRPs who provide services to consumers who are monolingual Spanish users jumped from zero CRPs to six CRPs.

 

§  Since establishing the CRP Differential Rate the number of CRP staff persons who meet our advanced Spanish criteria within these documented CRPs jumped from zero Employment Specialists to 12 Employment Specialists.

 

·         Strategy:  Make the BRS website information available in Spanish

o   Measure:  of hits to the Spanish forms within the website

 

§  There are no Spanish forms on the BRS Website.   However, the Consumer Handbook and the Job Seeker Brochure are available in Spanish.

 

Objective 3.4:  To increase access to transportation for Bureau consumers.

·         Strategy:  Partner with Connect-Ability staff to identify transportation resources and develop regional expertise.

o   Measure: of counselors identified as transportation experts

 

§  One transportation expert has been identified in each region for a total of three in the state.

 

Objective 3.5:  To decrease the wait time between 00 (initial inquiry for services) and 02 (application).

·         Strategy:  re-introduce status 00 to develop baseline measure.

o   Measure: of days between 00 and 02 -

§  The limitations of System 7 do not currently allow the number of days between 00 and 02 to be tracked.

 

 

 

Goal 4:  To create effective partnerships designed to advance employment for Connecticut citizens with disabilities.

Priority areas: 

·         Businesses;

·         Community Rehabilitation Providers; and

·         State agencies.

 

Objective 4.1: Create partnerships with Businesses.

·         Strategy:  Increase the use of On-the-Job Trainings (OJTs).

o   Measure:  of OJTs negotiated -

§  10/1/10 – 9/30/11 = 155 OJTs negotiated (previous year 89 OJTs). Represents an increase of approximately 75% of successfully negotiated employer agreements.

 

·         Strategy:  Implement Industry Specific Training and Placement Programs.

o   Measure: of awards -

§  Five awards granted to:

-   Quinnebaug Valley ARC / Lowes Distribution Center

-   Community Enterprises / Mohegan Sun

-   Community Enterprises / Walgreens Retail Stores

-   Community Enterprises / Homegoods Distribution Center

-   Kennedy Center / CVS Retail

 

o   Measure: of placements -

§  The grants were awarded starting in June 2011. Preparations began with some classes starting before September 2011. Actual placement numbers will not be available until the next plan submission.

 

Objective 4.2:  Develop the capacity of Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRPs) to meet the needs of BRS consumers, particularly those identified as being unserved or underserved in terms of service or access.

·         Strategy:  Establish a communication differential for CRPs serving individuals whose primary language is American Sign Language (ASL) or Spanish.

o   Measure:  of CRPs able to serve consumers whose primary language is American Sign Language (ASL) or Spanish -

§  As described earlier, the CRP Communication Rate Differential for the number of CRPs who provide services to consumers who are monolingual ASL has more than doubled, as has the number of CRP staff persons who meet our advanced ASL criteria. We are pleased with the possible outcomes this strategy may create.

 

§  As we had no CRPs who could provide services to consumers who were monolingual Spanish users and the CRPs had no staff who met the advanced Spanish criteria to provide this service, improvement in this area was drastically needed.  We are glad that the CRPs responded to this strategy to improve service to this population and we hope to see continued success.

 

 

Objective 4.3:  Partner with state agencies.

·         Strategy:  Work with Connect-Ability to implement employment-focused Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with four state agencies.

o   Measure:  MOA deliverables

 

§  Implement capacity-development plans to create sustainable infrastructure change that supports employment of individuals with disabilities in the following state agencies:

o   Department of Developmental Services (DDS)

Assist Connecticut’s DDS in taking a leadership role to improve employment services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

 

DDS hired four part-time consultants to work from April 1, 2011 - December 31, 2012 to support implementation of our employment goals.  Three consultants oversee the development and implementation of a new employment specialist position in each of the three DDS regions (one consultant per region).  A fourth consultant will oversee the work of the three regional consultants and to assist the DDS regional Self Determination Directors with implementation of agency employment goals and activities.

 

Conduct an employment marketing campaign to increase the number of DDS consumers being employed in the State of Connecticut

 

Develop an Individual Plan (IP) Buddy Curriculum & Process. 

Develop an Employment Idol Video II

Increase access to employment information for consumers with developmental disabilities

   

o   Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS)

Assist DMHAS in taking a leadership role to improve employment services for individuals with mental health and substance abuse disabilities.

§  EPIC –Employment Practice Improvement Collaborative 1 & 2 will build capacity of staff in multiple agencies to provide basic skills/soft skills and/or employment readiness life skills to young adults within state agency systems.

 

§  As a result of the Connect-Ability Employment Practices Improvement Collaborative (EPIC) project, DMHAS has recognized skill gaps of young adults within its system. A more holistic approach is needed to ensure successful employment and educational outcomes for this age group.  The results of these findings indicate that basic skills/ soft skills/ and/or employment readiness life skills are critical elements of young people’s success for obtaining employment.

 

§  A resource inventory will be completed to catalogue the best practices in promoting youth employment and the effectiveness of the Office of Disability Employment and Policy (ODEP) Soft Skills curriculum for the population.  An evaluation of these tools to determine their viability relative to what is already available through the ODEP Soft Skills training curriculum will be completed.

 

§  Revision of DMHAS’ Young Adult Services employment protocols to incorporate new skill building strategies.

 

§  Develop a ‘train-the trainer’ model across agencies for Soft Skills curriculum delivery. 

 

§  Agency champions will be identified through existing Advisory Boards, with a shared vision for providing basic skills/soft skills/ and/or employment readiness life skills to young adults receiving state services in preparation for competitive employment.  This group will meet once a quarter and will be used to sustain the project after funding.

 

§  At least two partner agencies will train personnel on the use of KeyTrain software, which includes the National Readiness Credential, as well as other existing work-readiness products.

 

§  The final curriculum and protocols, including all materials for the Connect-Ability website and/or designated web-site, will be delivered via distance learning.

 

§  Marketing/educational/outreach plan for employers designed and implemented to inform Connecticut employers on the National Workforce Readiness Credential and its value to the Connecticut workforce.

 

o   Department of Social Services (DSS)

Assist DSS to create a sustainable infrastructure change that supports employment of individuals with disabilities and improve employment services for all people with disabilities.

 

§  Social Work To modify marketing materials associated with Social Work (SW) division waivers and related programs including: updating logos or photos, incorporating Connect-Ability, and including employment-related information.

 

§  Interactive Web-Based Desk Guide A web-based interactive desk guide about waivers, programs and policies will be developed as an internal resource for SW staff.

 

§  Trainings Create and conduct cross-division training program  for staff from SW, Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC), and BRS to disseminate information across divisions regarding:

a.       Connect-Ability’s employment message;

b.      Social Work counseling services; 

c.       BRS employment-related services; and

d.      ADRC counseling services.

 

§  Aging Services Division  - Technical Enhancements for ADRCs “Warm” transfer line technology will be implemented by each of the ADRC partner organizations to transfer caller in “warm” fashion toll-free to anywhere, specifically directly to C-A for employment advancement efforts.

§  Develop Marketing Materials for ADRCs with Connect-Ability.  Marketing materials will be updated to incorporate the Connect-Ability logos and information about the availability of employment services.

 

§  The Community Choice Counselors will track options and benefits provided to consumers including referrals to Connect-Ability, Vocational Rehab, and Assistive Technology as of October 1, 2010 to monitor employment referrals.

§  ADRC Counselor Training & Certification

·         All ADRC Community Choices (CC) counselors will complete the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) training and become certified to meet the high standard set by the CT ADRC program.

 

·         The goal of training is to have all ADRC CC counselor complete training and certification within one year of hire date.

 

o   State Department of Education (SDE)

Assist Connecticut’s State Department of Education (SDE) in taking a leadership role to improve employment services for youths with disabilities.

§  Create and disseminate disaggregated district-level Post School Outcome Survey (PSOS) data for purpose of informing transition-planning efforts.

 

§  Create manual describing processes for allowing for continued annual use of dissemination procedures for disaggregated district-level data reports.

 

§  Employ cross-categorical PSOS analysis to assist in identifying and addressing emergent themes.

 

§  Provide technical assistance to districts in accessing and analyzing district-level PSOS data to inform program improvement decisions.

 

§  Develop website and guidelines to assist in the provision of technical assistance school districts regarding identification and prioritizing proposed changes to LEA practices, policies, procedures and transition services based on student identified needs and data from the PSO survey.

 

 

The State Plan needs to clearly articulate strategies in a few additional areas.  These include:

  • Strategies to provide Assistive Technology services;
  • Strategies to address equitable access to services;
  • Strategies for improving community rehabilitation programs; and
  • Strategies for assisting other components of the statewide workforce investment system assist individuals with disabilities.

 

Strategies to provide Assistive Technology services:

Connecticut Tech Act Project:  The mission of the Connecticut Tech Act Project is to increase independence and improve the lives of individuals with disabilities through increased access to and acquisition of Assistive Technology (AT) devices for work, school, and community living. CT Tech Act services include:

·        AT device demonstrations;

·        AT device loans;

·        AT recycling and refurbishment;

·        Assistive Technology Loan Program, which provides low-interest financial loans for             individuals with disabilities to buy AT devices and services;

·       Training and Technical Assistance for counselors and consumers regarding the use of AT in  employment settings; and

·        Information and Referral

 

The Connecticut Tech Act Project continues to provide recycling through the website www.getATstuff.com, where devices can be listed and obtained for free or for a lower cost. Additionally, the Connecticut Tech Act Project continues to engage followers with information on Assistive Technology devices and services through the page on Facebook.

 

The Connecticut Tech Act Project added also continues to operate the AT Device Loan Program for BRS consumers, enhancing the inventory of devices and producing a visual inventory for consumers and counselors to peruse. BRS consumers may borrow an AT device from the inventory to use while they engage in working evaluations, on-the-job training or employment. The purpose of this loan program is to allow the consumer, VR counselor and employer to make an informed decision about the AT device and determine if the AT device will remove barriers and increase independence for the consumer as they perform their job duties. Since the start of this program in June 2010:

 

  • 32 devices have been loaned to BRS consumers;

§  15 loans resulted in consumers deciding that the device was appropriate and either he or she purchased it, BRS purchased it, or the employer provided it to the consumer.

§  2 consumers decided on a different device as a result of the loan.

§  15 consumers decided not to receive a device at all or the decision is still pending.

 

Other Connecticut Tech Act Project (CTTAP) highlights for FY2011 include the following:

·         12 AT Loans were approved, for a total of $335,354; 8 loans were for vehicle modifications, one was for a computer, one was for environmental adaptations and two were for mobility devices.

·         A total of 821 devices were recycled/refurbished

·         A total of 184 devices were loaned to all CTTAP consumers

·         451 devices were demonstrated to a total of 705 individuals.

·         6482 individuals participated in trainings and public awareness events;

·         Public awareness activities that include printed materials, such as newsletters, brochures, postcards, the CTTAP Web and the CTTAP’s page on Facebook reached approximately 17,908 individuals;

·         The CTTAP Program Director continues to act in the role of Assistive Technology Consultant to VR counselors and consumers and to participate in the BRS Case Conferencing Team to provide guidance around AT needs for VR consumers.

Strategies to address equitable access to services

The Bureau has met the RSA minority indicator for the last two years.  However, we continue to monitor this indicator closely to ensure continued performance at the standard.   Local plans will address community issues.  Statewide, the Bureau will employ the following strategies:

·         Identify best practices for providing culturally appropriate VR services.  For the Latino population, we will use the Bureau’s Latino committee to assist in the identification of best practices. 

·         Provide training to disseminate best practices.

·         Conduct outreach to minority populations through community organizations and faith-based organizations to improve minority access under both the VR and Supported Employment Programs.

 

Indicator 2.1 – Ratio of minority population to nonminority population (>=.80) .83.

The bureau had a minority service rate that was .83 of the service rate for consumers from non-minority backgrounds. Therefore, we passed this Indicator in FFY 2011.

 

Strategies for improving Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP)

·         The Bureau has a sufficient number of CRPs to support the needs of the VR program.  Our efforts, therefore, are targeted at improvements to the current structure rather than the establishment or development of new programs. 

·         Gaps in services from the CRP community exist in populations where English is not the primary language, particularly those who use ASL or Spanish as their primary language.  The Bureau is offering rate differentials and technical assistance to CRPs that wish to expand their capacity to provide services to people who are deaf or Spanish speaking.

·         The Bureau has an internal committee comprised of staff at all levels of the organization, as well as representatives of CRP organizations, to report and address concerns related to CRPs.  The Bureau will continue meetings of the CRP Committee to strengthen partnerships between BRS and CRPs.

·         The Bureau will encourage use of a Consumer Choice Handbook for Assessment Services.  This handbook offers descriptions of the individual components and purposes of individual services provided by CRPs.

·         The Bureau will continue joint trainings of CRP and BRS staff to enhance better understanding of program implementation to achieve maximum success for consumers.

 

Strategies for assisting other components of the statewide workforce investment system to assist individuals with disabilities

·         Most of the One Stop Centers have an assigned staff liaison from the Bureau.

·         In four of the state’s One Stop Career Centers, the Bureau’s offices are co-located.

·         The success of the initiative with the Walgreens Distribution Center has led to more industry-specific training projects as identified in Goal 4.  We look forward to continued success in working with the Office of Workforce Competitiveness and the Department of Economic and Community Development. 

 

Supported Employment Goals

The goal for our Supported Employment program is to increase the numbers of consumers able to access supported employment services.

 

Supported Employment Strategies

We used the following strategies to accomplish the goals for Supported Employment:

·           Continue to provide training to bureau staff, providers and other agencies providing supported employment services.

·           Continue to reimburse Community Rehabilitation Providers at an hourly rate for their support for consumers using supported employment services.

·           Continue to develop Best Practices/ Evidenced Based Practices for target populations receiving supported employment services

·           Continue to seek additional avenues for long-term support for consumers that require supported employment services;

 

Impeding Factors for achieving goals and priorities

Supported employment training for bureau staff has helped to increase identification of individuals who meet the criteria for supported employment. Supported employment training has been re-aligned to support the SE goal to increase access to the service provision. 

 

Consistent policies and practices in and between agencies administering supported employment programs continue to be a challenge for all stakeholders, including providers.  Enhancing collaborative trainings and providing technical assistance is helping to bridge the gap.  The newest initiative that the bureau is utilizing is the Distance Learning Initiative as a way to reach all community partners and consumers in promoting comprehensive service delivery. 

 

 

Of the Standards and Indicators not already listed above for FFY 2011, the outcomes were as follows:

Indicator 1.3 – Of consumers who achieved employment, percent w/competitive employment: (>=72.6%) 100%

The bureau had a competitive outcome rate of 100%. Therefore, we passed this Indicator.

 

Indicator 1.4 – Of consumers who achieved competitive employment, percent w/significant disability: (>=62.4) 100%

The bureau had a competitive outcome/significant disability rate of 100%. Therefore, we passed this Indicator.

 

Use of Title 1 Funds for Innovation and Expansion Activities

The Bureau included two projects for Innovation and Expansion (I&E) under Title I funding:

  • State Independent Living Council of CT (SILC) $180,000

  • State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) $ 11,385

 

Total funding for Innovation and Expansion $191,385

Description of Innovation and Expansion Projects

Innovation and expansion funding supported the State Independent Living Council (SILC) and State Rehabilitation Council (SRC).

 

State Independent Living Council (SILC)

During fiscal year 2011, the State Independent Living Council (SILC) received $180,000 in I & E funds to support the general operation of the Council.  This then allowed all of the Title VII, Chapter 1, Part B monies to be used to support the goals and objectives of the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL).  Towards this end, the SILC achieved the following major initiatives in FFY 2011:

·         sponsored the Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) at UCONN, during which 40 high school students with disabilities from throughout CT attended a four-day training curriculum which focused on enhancing community leadership skills;

                  

·         provided support toward the development of a comprehensive Very Special Arts (VSA) website (http://ctvsa.org/) that includes:

o   a directory/registry of Connecticut visual and performing artists with disabilities;

o   an on-line gallery of visual art works by Connecticut artists with disabilities;

o   a directory of Connecticut teaching artists who work with artists with disabilities;

o   opportunities for artists with disabilities including professional development and mentoring;

 

·         coordinated over 30 people to testify in support of Green Access and Metro Access accessible taxicab applications.  Subsequent to the denial of this initiative by the Department of Transportation, SILC continued to coordinate information sharing for consumers and agencies on the need for the expansion of accessible taxicabs within Connecticut.

 

·         supported Independence Unlimited’s Visit-Ability initiative with funds to promote a Design Contest for youth and funds toward a resource book for housing developers and consumers; and

 

·         supported the creation of  fully accessible computer work stations for consumer use at four of the Centers for Independent Living.  These stations will allow consumers who are blind or visually impaired and consumers with other significant physical disabilities the opportunity to become familiar with and access highly technical computers in the community.

 

State Rehabilitation Council (SRC)

In 2011, the SRC collaborated with BRS on the public meetings and the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA). SRC members conducted a survey of the BRS offices to assess how easy the office was to find, how easy it was to park, how easy it was to enter the building and find staff that were knowledgeable about vocational rehabilitation services.  Results were shared with BRS and formed the basis of recommendations to BRS this year.  The SRC Chair participated in several national meetings and teleconferences. The SRC also contributed $5,000 to the Youth Leadership Forum which included a scholarship to one of its graduating participants for the fourth year.  See Attachment 4.2(c) for more information on the SRC.

This screen was last updated on Jun 26 2012 10:48AM by Evelyn Knight

  • 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

 

Program Status

The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (the Bureau or BRS) is allocated $255,000 annually for the Title VI, Part B Funds and expects to expend all of its allocation. The Bureau continues to focus on the quality service delivery system for the Supported Employment Services funding through collaborations with our state and local community rehabilitation service partners for the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2011. In previous years, attention has been specific to the areas of community rehabilitation provider (CRP) and vocational rehabilitation counseling staff training; establishing quality standards and minimum requirements of direct service staff; and reviewing the qualifications of the CRP vocational services Program Director. Consumer program participation increased as a result of these initiatives.

 

Transition to Extended Services

As with all Bureau services, supported employment services will be designed and provided based on the individual needs of the consumer. The Bureau will work with relevant state agencies, private non-profit organizations and our other partners to transition consumers from Title VI, Part B funding to the identified provider of the ongoing, long-term support funding as soon as the funding is available and transition is appropriate. Use of Title VI, Part B funds will vary, based on the needs of the individual consumer, but will generally not exceed 18 months in length.

 

Coordination and Collaboration

The BRS is engaged in facilitating systemic changes in how supported employment services are delivered in the community. The Bureau works with relevant state agencies, private non-profit organizations and other partners to transition consumers from the Title VI, Part B funding to an appropriate ongoing employment support program.   The Bureau oversees one of the three state-funded long-term supports programs and in SFY 2011 spent approximately $1.1 million in serving VR consumers after VR services were completed.  These efforts have led to internal and external improvements in our state system and have built a foundation for a strong supported employment service program in this state.

 

This screen was last updated on Jun 26 2012 10:48AM by Evelyn Knight

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Last updated on 06/26/2012 at 11:13 AM

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