State Plan for the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and
State Plan Supplement for the State Supported Employment Services Program
Texas Division of Rehabilitative Services State Plan for Fiscal Year 2015 (submitted FY 2014)

Preprint - Section 1: State Certifications

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

1.2 As a condition for the receipt of federal funds under Title I, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act for the provision of vocational rehabilitation services, the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services [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

Assistant Commissioner

... 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

Assistant Commissioner

... 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 https://www.ed.gov/fund/grant/apply/appforms/ed80-013.pdf) for both the vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs.

Signed?Yes

Name of SignatoryCheryl Fuller

Title of SignatoryAssistant Commissioner

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)07/01/2014

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 2015Yes

Comments:

Signed?Yes

Name of SignatoryCheryl Fuller

Title of SignatoryAssistant Commissioner

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)07/01/2014

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

Section 1 Footnotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preprint - Section 2: Public Comment on State Plan Policies and Proceduress

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.

Preprint - Section 3: Submission of the State Plan and its Supplement

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.

Preprint - Section 4: Administration of 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
Division for 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. No

  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.

Preprint - Section 5: Administration of the Provision of Vocational Rehabilitation Services

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.

Preprint - Section 6: Program Administration

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.

Preprint - Section 7: Financial Administration

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.

Preprint - Section 8: Provision of Supported Employment Services

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.

Attachment 4.2(c) Input of State Rehabilitation Council

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 Rehabilitation Council of Texas (RCT), which is the State Rehabilitation Council for Texas, met with Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) quarterly as a part of the Council meeting. During these meetings, DRS provided quarterly updates to the council and the RCT provided input and recommendations to DRS.

The RCT uses a committee structure to provide more focused review and comment to DRS. These committees are: the executive committee; the program planning and review committee; policy, procedures and personnel development committee; the consumer satisfaction and needs assessment committee; and the membership and education committee. Much of the interaction included exchanges of information in order to achieve greater clarity and understanding. While the detail work is done in the committee structure, all comments and recommendations are made from the full RCT.

The following is a summary of the input and recommendations made from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. Recommendations are transmitted to DRS both verbally at the RCT meetings and in writing throughout the year by committee reports, the full RCT minutes and the “to do” list.

Input and Accomplishments:

The RCT partnered with DBS, DRS and DARS to design and conduct the needs assessment. Council members facilitated nine (9) town hall meetings across the state. The RCT will work with the agency to continue to analyze the results of the needs assessment.

The RCT provided input on the definition of “most significant” disability. The council will revisit the definition after the conclusion of the needs assessment.

The RCT assisted in the revision of the “Can We Talk?” brochure to include the 180-days appeal process and encouraged it be posted on the website.

The RCT produced the annual report which included its accomplishments as well as consumer success stories.

The RCT reviewed the consumer satisfaction survey and provided feedback to the agency.

The RCT worked with the DARS Commissioner to renew the Resource Plan and Management Agreement.

The RCT worked with DRS on policies relating to participation in the cost of services for individuals who are receiving payments through the Social Security Administration.

The RCT was represented at the NCSRC and CSAVR spring conference.

DRS Response:

DRS appreciates the ongoing dialogue with the RCT throughout the fiscal year and extends special thanks to the RCT for its work on the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment, including its facilitation of the nine the town hall meetings in fall 2013.

FY 2015 State Plan Input and Recommendation on Attachment 4.8 (b) (2):

In regard to serving youth and coordination with education officials, the RCT provided the following comments and suggestions:

· The RCT is concerned that so much emphasis was being given to programs such as Project HIRE and Project Search which impacted so few youth (8-12 per project).

· The RCT recognizes that there are over 80,000 youth that currently have an IEP and expressed concerned that the resources are not available to serve all the transition students that could benefit from VR services.

· The material in the attachment 4.8 (b) (2) seemed to focus on short term training. The RCT recommended a description that includes the assurance that the full range of services are available to transition students. A similar recommendation was made by the RCT for the FY 2014 plan

DRS Response:

DRS agreed with the RCT input related to Project HIRE and Project SEARCH. The language regarding both programs in this attachment was revised to more accurately reflect the broader scope of work with transition-age consumers.

2014 State Plan Input on DRS Attachment 4.11 (c) (1):

The council requested clarification on goal 1 regarding services that support quality employment to people with significant disabilities and to be determined goal number 6. At the time of the review, RCT was told that DRS management is meeting to decide the final goal. DRS returned to the RCT and presented the goals that the DRS had chosen. The RCT agreed to the goals as they were presented.

The RCT reminded DRS that, according to the State Plan, the state goals and priorities are to be developed in partnership with DRS.

DRS Response:

DRS included additional clarification on Goal 1 as requested by the RCT. DRS concurs with RCT’s reminder that the state goals and priorities are to be developed in partnership with the RCT. DRS is implementing improvements to the planning process for the FY 2016 plan, which will include engaging RCT earlier in the process to discuss state goals and priorities before they are drafted and submitted for review and comment by the RCT.

2014 State Plan Recommendation: Attachment 4.8 (b) (4):

The RCT suggested that the evidence of collaboration required in this attachment should include the outcome of the meetings. The RCT suggested that the attachment may need to describe how they are working with the Employment First Task Force as its recommendations may have some impact on the issues related to collaboration with other programs. RCT requested detail of the collaborator’s roles and impact on improvement of services and outcomes should be included.

DRS Response:

DRS revised the language in this attachment to include plans for improving supported employment (SE) services.

2014 State Plan Recommendation Attachment 4.11(c) (4):

The number of persons that are expected to be served should be added.

DRS Response:

DRS revised the attachment to include the numbers of SE consumers expected to be served in 2015.

2014 State Plan Recommendation on Attachment 4.11(a):

The needs assessment did not go far enough to understand the real needs and where those needs are both geographically and population. We recommend that further assessments be conducted to refine and understand the result. As Texas is such a large and diverse state, we recommend assessments be broken down further on the regional level or some other comparable geographical areas to better understand the needs of Texans.

DRS Response:

DRS agrees and will work closely with the University of Texas to expand the capacity of the needs assessment to more accurately identify the needs of individuals related to population and geographic location, particularly as related to underrepresented geographical regions across the state.

2014 State Plan Recommendation on Attachment 4.11 (b):

We appreciate the new format of this attachment that provides more context for annual estimates.

DRS Response:

DRS agrees with the RCT.

2014 State Plan Recommendation Attachment 4.10 DRS:

This attachment shows 29 current vacancies but anticipates only 10 VRC FTE’s needed in the next 6 years. This projection does not appear to take into account attrition and retirement. As was suggested for the FY 2014 plan, the agency should consider its staffing needs from a broader perspective to anticipate and plan for the qualified staff necessary to serve its population

DRS Response:

DRS appreciates this recommendation. Before developing the FY 2016 state plan, DRS will work with DARS administration to evaluate the current process used to determine the agency staffing needs described in this attachment.

2014 State Plan Recommendation on Attachment 4.11(d):

This attachment is to address strategies for all goals. The strategies for goals related to mental illness are not included. In regard to 4. 11 (d) (2) ( B) Goal 1 related to meeting or exceeding the Standards and Indicators, and the strategies need to be more specific. We suggest the baseline be added to Goal 3.1 on transition and the target goal of the strategies be added to Goal 6.1.

DRS Response:

DRS agrees and has 1) revised the language in this attachment to reflect the measures associated with the strategies and goals for consumers with mental illness; 2) revised language in this attachment to include specific strategies related to meeting or exceeding Standards and Indicators; 3) added a baseline number to Goal 3.1 related to transition; and 4) added a target goal for Measure 6.1.

2014 State Plan Recommendation:

The RCT is concerned how the goals and strategies are communicated to the field to ensure staff members are accountable for reaching goals.

DRS Response:

DRS appreciates the RCT’s concern and agrees that the goals and strategies must be communicated to DRS field staff to ensure clarity and accountability. DRS will implement multiple strategies to achieve this objective, including discussion of state goals and strategies at meetings of management and field staff, inclusion of state goals and strategies in the DRS business plan, and issuance of written communication to all DRS staff.

2015 State Plan Recommendations:

We recommend that planning for 2016 state plan begin by October 2015 and the schedule of attachment development consider a more logical order. If this recommendation is accepted, it will allow more time for the RCT to participate more fully in the development of the plan and evaluation of progress.

DRS Response:

DRS agrees with this recommendation and will work closely with the RCT to create a timeline for the development and coordination of the 2016 state plan that better facilitates the RCT’s full participation by allowing more time for the RCT to provide meaningful input and recommendations.

This screen was last updated on Jul 1 2014 12:10PM by Cheryl Fuller

Attachment 4.7(b)(3) Request for Waiver of Statewideness

This agency has not requested a waiver of statewideness.

This screen was last updated on Aug 27 2009 10:55AM by Edward West

Attachment 4.8(b)(1) Cooperative Agreements with Agencies Not Carrying Out Activities Under the Statewide Workforce Investment System

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

The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) has appropriate cooperative arrangements with, and utilizes the services and facilities of, various federal, state, and local agencies and programs. Both DARS and DRS have contracts with TIBH Industries, the Texas State Use Program, to provide services in support of agency and divisional operations.

DRS coordinates with other agencies and programs to ensure people with disabilities receive appropriate services. These agencies and programs include: • Texas Health and Human Services Commission to create administrative efficiencies and better services to consumers of health and human services statewide. Initiatives include co-location of offices across the Health and Human Services Enterprise for improved access by consumers and to reduce administrative costs; • Texas Education Agency and Education Service Centers to coordinate services to transition-age students with disabilities; • Texas Department of Insurance’s Division of Workers’ Compensation for the purpose of enhancing referrals for return-to-work efforts; • Social Security Administration (SSA) to collaborate on employment incentives and supports and maximize SSA/VR reimbursement activity through the Ticket to Work Program; • Department of Veterans Affairs to make best use of case service funds through better access to comparable benefits and to enhance the case management process while avoiding duplication of services; • Texas Veterans Commission to help identify veterans who need additional supports in securing benefits, gaining employment, and accessing advocacy services; • Texas Coordinating Council for Veteran Services to help identify trends that have an adverse effect on the veteran population and create strategies to address and resolve those issues on a state level; • Texas Workforce Commission to facilitate for Texas businesses, the electronic verification that job applicants for the Work Opportunities Tax Credit program are receiving or have received vocational rehabilitation services under an individualized plan for employment; and to access electronic wage data in order to verify employment history and income for consumers for closure data and SSA/VR reimbursement submission; • Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) and Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to reduce duplication and increase coordination of employment services provided to the shared consumer populations of DARS and DADS; • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas AgrAbility to assist consumers with modifications of agricultural equipment and tools. and to allow agricultural producers with disabilities to continue with farming and ranching; • other federal, state, and local public agencies providing services related to the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. For example, to provide services to eligible consumers, DRS participates in community resource coordination groups (CRCGs), which are local interagency groups comprised of public and private providers who come together to develop individualized service plans for children, youth, and adults whose needs can be met only through interagency coordination and cooperation; and • other private and public, for-profit and non-profit entities, such as corporations; partnerships; and sole proprietorships, to provide a number of rehabilitation services purchased only from entities that have been approved as Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP) providers. Contracts with these providers reference the DRS Standards for Providers and specify the terms and conditions of the relationship, including approved services, expected outcomes, fees, staff qualifications, and required documentation.

 

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 12:06PM by Cheryl Fuller

Attachment 4.8(b)(2) Coordination with Education Officials

The provision of quality vocational rehabilitation (VR) services for Texas youth with disabilities is a strategic priority for the Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS). DRS maintains a collaborative working relationship with public education in Texas. DRS VR services provide a coordinated set of age appropriate activities that enable transition students, parents, education personnel, and others to actively plan for and assist the transition student to prepare for life after leaving high school. In addition, DRS proactively develops partnerships with communities, service providers, and businesses to create opportunities for students to obtain postsecondary education, training, and competitive, integrated employment.

State Educational Agency Partnership DRS works closely with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to coordinate transition planning services for students that receive special education services in the state of Texas. As required in 34 CFR 361.22(b), DRS has an Interagency Letter of Agreement with TEA that outlines the responsibility of DRS for the provision of transition planning services as well as the financial responsibility of TEA for the provision of services as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This agreement represents each agency’s commitment to collaborate and cooperatively facilitate the successful transition of students with disabilities from high school to competitive employment through use of VR services.

DRS is actively partnering with TEA, the Texas Workforce Commission, and Health and Human Services agencies to implement HB 617, passed by the 83rd Texas Legislature. HB 617 requires the Texas Education Agency, with assistance from the Health and Human Services Commission, to develop a transition and employment guide for students enrolled in special education programs and their parents. The guide must provide information on statewide services and programs that assist in the transition to life outside the public school system. The bill also requires each school district or shared services arrangement to designate at least one employee to serve as the district’s or shared services arrangement’s designee on transition and employment services for students enrolled in special education programs under Education Code, Chapter 29, Educational Programs, Subchapter A, Special Education Program.

Local Education Agency Partnerships DRS works in conjunction with TEA’s Special Education Division, Texas School for the Deaf, education service centers, independent school districts, and high schools to provide a wide variety of VR services. These services help strengthen the connections between the school, student, parents, and community to promote a smooth transition to postsecondary education, training, and the workforce. Local education agencies maintain fiscal responsibility for services and accommodations outlined in the Individualized Education Plan.

Coordinated Planning and Service Provision DRS develops partnerships with schools and community organizations to help students with disabilities make a smooth transition to adulthood and work. DRS has counselors throughout the state that have a role in preparing students with disabilities for the entry into the world of work. VR counselors coordinate closely with high schools to ensure appropriate youth are referred to the VR program. Counselors work with schools to identify students receiving Supplemental Security Income as early as possible in the process to assist with concerns regarding impact of employment on benefits.

VR counselors have flexible work schedules that allow them to: • Work with students with disabilities on a continual basis while maintaining availability to participate as needed in the admission, review and dismissal process, school activities, parent meetings, community forums, summer skill-building activities, job clubs, and flex schedules; • Work with the students determined eligible for DRS VR services and assist schools make appropriate referrals for students determined ineligible; and • Maintain availability to work with families, businesses, and students as needed.

VR counselors use several tools and strategies in their coordination with schools.

The School Plan is a tool available to counselors for planning with their assigned schools. It provides an outline for open communication about each party’s expectations and goals for the school year. Counselors are encouraged to develop a School Plan with each assigned school before that school year begins, and update it as necessary throughout the year.

DRS uses individual school plans to: • Develop consistent schedules for time spent in schools; • Arrange specific meeting times with students for planning, counseling, and guidance; • Connect with school contacts and referral sources; and • Coordinate time for connecting students to community resources.

Pursuant to 34 CFR 361.22(a)(2), DRS VR policies and procedures provide for the development and approval of an individualized plan for employment (IPE) at the earliest point possible, but no later than the student’s exit from the school system. VR counselors provide educational support by working with the education team to contribute as needed to the IPE. The goals developed in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) are considered in the development of the IPE. The development and approval of an IPE is initiated by a VR counselor. Planning includes informed choice conversations and information so that students eligible for services understand the available options for additional education, training, and employment. Options include college, vocational school, apprenticeships, job placement, job coaching, supported employment, self-employment, direct placement, and others based on need. As appropriate, DRS purchases services for high school students with disabilities that support vocational exploration. This ensures students have an opportunity to gain skills needed for a successful transition from high school to postsecondary education, training, or employment.

To support the work of VR counselors and DRS field office managers, each of the five DRS regions has a regional transition specialist who works with counselors to assist in developing collaborative partnerships with and increasing cooperation between DRS, local school districts, and other community organizations as resources for students with disabilities. These specialists assist in the development of local community support groups to help students and families understand what students need to know to transition effectively into the community.

Strategies to Increase Coordination and Outcomes DRS will develop and implement strategies to achieve consistency in, increase coordination of, and improve outcomes in the delivery of services for youth transitioning from high school to higher education and ultimately employment. These efforts will address opportunities that have been identified by the division and its stakeholders, and will also prepare DRS to respond to changes in state and federal law. Two efforts currently underway will serve as model practices:

Project HIRE DRS is in the third year of implementing Project HIRE, a unique supported educational model which includes the collaboration between DARS and community partners and is funded by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities. The program assists 50 students with developmental disabilities (ages 18-25) in Hidalgo County complete a certificate-level degree at South Texas College and find employment. Project HIRE services supplement the DRS VR Program with wrap-around services not provided by VR services including: • One-on-one support from educational coaches available both inside and outside of the classroom; • Individual and family support through participant support groups and monthly support team meetings; • Six-week summer bridge college-readiness program to prepare participants for college and employment; • Individual participant-centered plans to help identify and achieve goals; and • Individual business mentoring to help participants acquire the soft skills necessary for employment.

Project SEARCH Project SEARCH is a high school transition program that is a business led, one year school-to-work program that takes place entirely at the workplace. The program includes a combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training through worksite rotations. Project SEARCH serves students with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities. Typically, these are students who are on an IEP and in their last year of high school eligibility. The goal for these consumers is competitive employment in an integrated setting–either in that business or at another business.

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities provided grant funding to the Texas Tech University’s TechWorks for Texas program to support the expansion of Project SEARCH. The grant was awarded to pay for technical assistance from the Project SEARCH staff in Ohio that may be needed to start any new sites, as well as to support a collaborative effort from all agencies involved. In its first year, the grant started three sites in the 2013–2014 school year, in addition to the three sites that already existed in Austin.

Four more sites are expected to begin operating in the 2014–2015 school year, which will bring the total number of Project SEARCH sites in Texas to ten. Each Project SEARCH site typically has 10-12 participants per year.

Additional Strategies DRS continues to evaluate policy, procedures, and staffing strategies to improve consistency and increase effectiveness in the provision of transition services. In addition to providing training and guidance to staff, DRS also continues to enhance and expand quality assurance processes to ensure that all staff working with transition age students use consistent practices and processes.

DRS will enhance state-level collaboration with TEA, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the Texas Workforce Commission to increase coordination, information sharing, and planning. In addition, DRS works with state and local educational partners and businesses to identify best and promising practices for providing successful training and employment services to transition consumers.

DRS will also leverage existing business partnerships to identify additional opportunities to better prepare students for the world of work and to obtain jobs. DRS will pursue additional partnerships with businesses that have an interest in pre-employment training for high school students to ensure students entering the workforce are appropriately equipped with the technology and skills to adapt to work in the twenty-first century.

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 12:08PM by Cheryl Fuller

Attachment 4.8(b)(3) Cooperative Agreements with Private Nonprofit Organizations

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

 Private Non-profit Providers DRS DARS DRS routinely works with private non-profit organizations to both purchase and arrange services that help consumers prepare for, obtain and maintain employment. Private non-profit providers of rehabilitation services are an important part of the vocational rehabilitation (VR) service delivery process for many consumers.

Availability of Information on Service Providers DRS policies and procedures support the collection and use of data that can help consumers in selecting a qualified service provider. Consumers and DARS staff members have access to provider information regarding experience in working with special populations, foreign languages, and other communication skills (for example, sign language) or working with an individual who has autism.

Provider Contracting Process In each of its five regions, DRS has a regional Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP) specialist that is responsible for working with new providers who are interested in providing contracted CRP services. To expand opportunities and increase efficiency related to recruiting providers, DRS posts notification of contracting opportunities on the Electronic State Business Daily (ESBD) where non-profit organizations can complete an application to become a CRP provider if the organization meets the requirements listed in the EBSD posting. The regional CRP specialist provides technical assistance and guidance as new providers are approved and existing providers add new services.

Service Provider Contracts DRS establishes contractual relationships with providers of rehabilitation services, including private non-profit providers, to purchase and perform the following services: • Durable medical goods; • Job coaching; • Job placement; • Personal social adjustment training; • Post-acute brain injury services; • Room, board, and supervised Living; • Supported employment services; • Supported self-employment; • Vehicle modification; • Vocational adjustment training; • Vocational evaluation and assessment; and • Work adjustment training. Contracts with these providers reference the DRS Standards for Providers that specify the terms and conditions of the contractual relationship, including approved services, expected outcomes, fees, staff qualifications, and required documentation. The DRS Standards for Providers also specifies the scope of work for providing contracted goods and services. Oversight & Monitoring of Contracted Service Providers Information on all providers is available on DARS’ electronic case management system, ReHabWorks, making this information immediately available to vocational rehabilitation counselors and consumers as they choose services and service providers. Oversight of each CRP is performed regularly by assigned liaisons and on a risk-assessment basis by the DARS Contract Oversight & Support staff. Monitoring visits may include providing a considerable amount of technical assistance and making recommendations for refinement and improvement of the services reviewed. Employment Provider Credentialing Requirements DRS has CRP credentialing requirements for service provider staff members and directors who provide job coaching, job placement, supported employment, and supported self-employment services. The CRP credentials for CRP directors, job coaches, job skill trainers, job placement specialists, and supported employment specialists are obtained from the University of North Texas’ (UNT) Workplace Inclusion & Sustainable Employment program’s website. Typically, the Job Coach and Job Skills Trainer and Director of CRP Employment Services classes are typically offered twice a month while the Job Placement Specialist and Supported Employment Specialist classes are offered about once every six weeks. The credentials required for supported self-employment specialists are obtained when the CRP provider’s staff member completes certification offered by the Center for Social Capital. Once completed, the staff member becomes a Certified Business Technical Assistance Consultant. The classes for these credentials are typically scheduled on an annual basis due to the much lower volume of need. To maintain their UNT credentials, CRP staff members must complete a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education every 3 years (4 of the 20 hours must be in Ethics).

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 12:09PM by Cheryl Fuller

Attachment 4.8(b)(4) Arrangements and Cooperative Agreements for the Provision of Supported Employment Services

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:

The Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) recognizes that collaboration with community organizations and other state agencies is essential to achieving successful employment outcomes for consumers with the most significant disabilities. DRS seeks opportunities to identify, develop, and implement cooperative agreements with other state agencies and appropriate entities, particularly when these agreements establish a framework to assist with the provision of supported employment services and extended services for consumers with the most significant disabilities. Establishing Funding DRS collaborates with local organizations that provide direct care services and with other state agencies that serve people with the most significant disabilities. Potential funding sources include: Medicaid waivers; the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work Program; Department of State Health Services (DSHS), the mental health state agency); Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), the intellectual and developmental disabilities state agency that is the authority for many 1915(c) state Home and Community-based Services (HCS) Medicaid waivers, and numerous community-level sponsorships.

Evidence of Collaboration, Contracts, and Agreements DRS has Standards for Providers based bilateral service contracts and a cooperative agreement with DADS committed to providing individualized supported employment and extended services to DRS consumers. With the assistance of vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors, these organizations are responsible for identifying consumer support needs and locating extended services providers to ensure these supports are established and continue after the VR case closure. Extended services are provided or arranged by the community organizations and through developing natural supports. DRS collaborates with the University of North Texas Workplace Inclusion and Sustainable Employment program to maintain a supported employment curriculum that contains a credentialing component for all current and potential supported employment providers. The training for this curriculum covers many topics, including forms, documentation, and expectations related to supported employment services. It also covers topics related to establishing and maintaining extended services for consumers with the most significant disabilities. DRS and the DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) have a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with DADS that outlines the responsibility of each state agency providing employment services. DRS also partners with DSHS for extended services, and a similar MOA with DSHS is being drafted. DRS subject matter experts routinely provide technical assistance to both DADS and DSHS when changes are made regarding employment services, creating opportunities for partnership and effective use of resources. Additional partnership activities include participation in: • Monthly interagency workgroup meetings to address system changes. The workgroup includes DARS DBS, DADS, DSHS, Texas Workforce Commission, Department of Family and Protective Services and Health and Human Services Commission Medicaid/CHIP Division. • A six-month pilot with the interagency workgroup, “First Steps to Employment”. The pilot provided a tool that helped consumers interested in employment get the maximum benefit from VR services. • State Employment Leadership Network monthly meetings with DADS. This leadership network is a national consortium of intellectual and developmental disability state agencies. • Cooperation with the Social Security Administration to encourage Community Rehabilitation Program providers to become employment networks under the Ticket to Work Program to provide extended services and long-term supports to consumers who participate in the program after their VR case is closed. Documentation of Supported Employment Services and Extended Services Documentation of the supported employment services and extended services needed after a consumer’s VR case successfully closes is included in the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). The IPE also includes the name of the public or private provider of extended services or a statement explaining that there is a reasonable expectation extended services will become available before VR case closure.

As a consumer progresses through the supported employment process, DRS uses naturally occurring work supports as extended services. As appropriate, paid supports are administered through other state agencies or community resources not funded by DRS. Documentation requirements for supported employment services require the Community Rehabilitation Program to identify strategies for using the naturally occurring work or social supports (including ongoing natural and paid supports) for extended services.

Training DRS provides regular training on VR and independent living services to DADS HCS waiver utilization review nurses, Private Provider Association of Texas members, community centers, and the Statewide Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Consortium. DRS has also taken an active role in the development of an employment manual for the STAR+PLUS Long-term Supports and Services waiver portion of the Health and Human Services Commission Medicaid/CHIP Division’s 1115 Healthcare Transformation waiver.

DRS provides annual training on Social Security benefits and work incentives to consumer benefits officers at community centers DARS has opened up this five-day intensive training at no cost to staff involved in the Money Follows the Person employment pilot grant, a three-year grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that was awarded to three DADS providers tasked with transitioning up to 50 percent of their participants in day habilitation programs to competitive supported employment in the community. DRS is providing a 0.5 full-time equivalent project manager for this grant through 2016.

Plans for Improving Supported Employment Services

DRS plans to: • Develop and implement an improved benchmark system for the provision of specific supported employment services statewide; • Explore complimentary services for specific populations like persons with autism and mental health diagnoses; • Develop a supported employment technical assistance training model for DRS staff members to improve their ability to determine when supported employment services are needed; and • Develop tools that will help staff members monitor and provide guidance to supported employment contract providers.

 

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 12:09PM by Cheryl Fuller

Attachment 4.10 Comprehensive System of Personnel Development

Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

Data System on Personnel and Personnel DevelopmentThe Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) is committed to maintaining Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) standards as set forth in Section 101(a) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.18. Toward this goal, DRS has established procedures and supporting activities to ensure the administration of a comprehensive system of personnel development is designed to provide an adequate supply of qualified rehabilitation personnel including professionals and paraprofessionals. The Rehabilitation Council of Texas (RCT) assists both DRS and the Division for Blind Services (DBS) in addressing issues related to personnel development. Specifically, the Policy, Procedures and Personnel Development Committee of the RCT meets quarterly to discuss the development and maintenance of policies and procedures to support the CSPD efforts.DRS has developed and maintains an electronic database that communicates with relevant fields from the Health and Human Services Human Resources databases. Academic achievement is gathered from official transcripts that have been submitted as part of the personnel hiring process. Transcripts are reviewed to determine whether the indicated degree meets the agency standard for qualified vocational rehabilitation counselor (QVRC). In addition, systems are in place with DARS’ internal Program Reporting and Analysis department to confirm specific information necessary for frequent analysis of positions and projection of need.Qualified Personnel NeedsAs of September 30, 2013, DRS had the following full time equivalent (FTE) positions to meet the needs of agency consumers: 500 vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs), 95 transition vocational rehabilitation counselors (TVRCs), 34 unit program specialists (UPSs), and 354 rehabilitation services technicians (RSTs).Based on this complement of VRC/TVRC/UPS FTEs and the 2013 Texas population of 26,664,574, DRS had a ratio of 1 VRC/TVRC/UPS to 42,392 people at the beginning of fiscal year (FY) 2014. As the population continues to grow, DARS anticipates increased demand for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services, which may require additional counselors to serve eligible consumers with significant and most significant disabilities.DRS operates under an FTE cap that is established by the Texas Legislature. Each biennium DARS prepares and submits a Legislative Appropriations Request, which includes requests for additional FTEs needed by DARS to address population growth and other factors requiring additional staffing levels. The legislature considers these requests during the appropriations process in each legislative session. DRS projects the need for additional FTEs to support the rehabilitation program during the next five years as follows: 80 additional VR/TVRC/UPS FTEs needed between 2015 and 2020 and 46 additional RST FTEs needed between 2015 and 2020. Staffing levels are sufficient to support program operations for the current biennium. DARS will monitor staffing levels and reevaluate these projections on an annual basis. As needed, DARS will request additional FTEs in Legislative Appropriations Requests for future biennia.

 

Row Job Title Total positions Current vacancies Projected vacancies over the next 5 years
1 VRC 500 29 64
2 TVRC 95 6 12
3 UPS 34 3 4
4 RST 354 13 46
5 0 0 0
6 0 0 0
7 0 0 0
8 0 0 0
9 0 0 0
10 0 0 0

 

Texas has a total of six university rehabilitation programs available at the master’s degree level. A total of 123 students graduated during the previous year (2011-2012) from the in-state universities listed below with credentials consistent with academic preparedness to meet national certification requirements. Texas has also developed partnerships with out-of-state university distance programs. These universities include University of Arkansas at Little Rock, George Washington University, University of Kentucky, Southern University at Baton Rouge, Virginia Commonwealth University, and West Virginia University.Additonal info for table below.University of Texas- El Paso 2012-2013Students enrolled 38Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA 0Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA 0Graduates from the previous year 9

 

Row Institutions Students enrolled Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates from the previous year
1 Stephen F. Austin University 2012-2013 7 2 1 4
2 University of North Texas 2012-2013 163 15 7 36
3 University of Texas-Austin 2012-2013 18 1 0 11
4 University of Texas-Pan Am 2012-2013 158 0 0 30
5 Texas Tech University - 2012-2013 93 19 0 33

 

DRS has established a number of strategies for recruitment, preparation and retention of qualified personnel. Plans are in place that reflect continued annual needs assessment, quarterly review of strategies and interventions for recruitment, and updated review of the QVRC program following each semester to ensure satisfactory progress.Recruitment DRS has a recruitment plan that identifies in-state and out-of-state entities from which qualified personnel may be hired. DRS also has a designated recruitment coordinator who works closely with each of these organizations. For each identified organization, the coordinator makes contact to establish specific recruitment strategies for each program. The recruitment plan coordinator regularly reviews and updates the plan. Depending on location, size and nature of the class, and need of the institution, the DRS employs the following approaches to recruitment:• DRS participates in advisory committees for partnering universities allowing access and contribution to program improvement processes and to students for on-site visits;• DRS staff conducts classroom orientations and distributes recruitment information for graduating students;• DRS works with administration of distance programs to determine effective processes for recruiting distance students;• DRS contracts with universities for graduate VR internships to recruit rehabilitation counselors (DRS had 26 active interns in FY 2013); and • DRS annually participates in job fairs and employment conferences to recruit persons from minority backgrounds and persons with disabilities. PreparationDRS is committed to the development and continued growth of professional staff who reflect the communities DRS serves. All strategies for DRS’ CSPD programs encourage the retaining and hiring of staff from minority backgrounds and staff with disabilities. DRS collaborates with a number of constituency organizations in order to build a better understanding of consumer needs and encourage contributions to the field of rehabilitation. For example, staff regularly attend training in public workshops delivered by contractors for deaf and hard of hearing services. As a result, the staff not only have the opportunity for training but also for networking and outreach. Additionally, DRS staff attend functions of the National Council on Rehabilitation Education (NCRE), the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, and Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) centers to receive professional training to maintain standards for CSPD. DRS encourages professional development of all staff through community involvement, membership in state associations such as the Texas RehabACTion Network, and membership in national associations such as the National Rehabilitation Association. Regular attendance in national conferences and state and local subchapters as available offers opportunities for training, outreach, and relationship building.The DARS Center for Learning Management (CLM) partners with DRS to develop and deliver training for DRS staff. DRS subject matter experts also provide technical training for staff in their areas of expertise. An organizational needs assessment process was developed to identify training needs and priorities. The biennial needs assessment is conducted by CLM with guidance from the DARS Learning Alliance, an advisory body comprised of senior staff from each DARS division. Staff perceptions, personnel development data, class evaluations, and management information are all considered and evaluated. DRS also periodically uses data provided by TACE in identifying service strategies. The training provided in FY 2013 included topics such as workers’ compensation, substance abuse, diabetes, outcome-based supported employment, comprehensive rehabilitation services, transition services, deaf and hard of hearing services, coaching, dealing with ex-offenders, Social Security work incentives, physical restoration, autism, purchasing, and vocational strategies for behavioral health issues. External training opportunities provided through our partners at TACE and North Texas State University provide additional opportunities for staff to expand their knowledge base. Informal learning experiences are provided at a unit level to assist in specific learning gaps. Regional trainers provide coaching and direction to regional staff on request for internal and external training opportunities. New counselors attend internal training conducted by CLM and DRS subject matter experts to enhance skills and develop a basic operational understanding of policy and implementation of processes during the initial training year. Opportunities for competency-based development are also offered through leadership and other professional development workshops and academies.In order to build a more qualified workforce, DRS has initiated a number of processes to recruit and hire individuals as rehabilitation counselors who have master’s degrees in rehabilitation counseling. DRS maintains a database to monitor the number of counselors who do not meet CSPD qualifications. As of September 30, 2013, DRS had 85 counselors who did not meet the CSPD standard. Of those 85 counselors, 36 are considered in progress working toward their degrees. Those counselors not in progress may be on probation as a new employee, and therefore not eligible to begin school. Additionally, in order to encourage a focus on CSPD standards, DRS policy requires area managers and counselors to discuss the counselor’s plans for meeting the CSPD standard. Since some DRS rehabilitation counselors do not meet the highest requirements in the state, DRS continues with recruiting and preparation strategies. DRS has policies and procedures for administration of the funding for academic coursework, textbooks, and when necessary, in-state travel, for counselors to meet the standard. Newly employed VRCs and TVRCs must complete the QVRC program within seven years from the end of the initial training year. DRS encourages staff to reinstate their Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) status when it expires. As part of the QVRC incentive program initiated by DRS, the division will pay for certification exam fees and related in-state travel costs to encourage staff to obtain their CRC certification. However, DRS does not require counselors to have their CRC credentials.DRS continues close monitoring of the percentage of counselors who meet the standard in order to determine progress toward the goal. Monitoring includes determining the number of counselors with master’s degrees in rehabilitation counseling or closely related fields, the number with doctoral degrees, and the number who are CRCs or licensed professional counselors (LPCs). DRS management receives a monthly status report of counselors’ achievements in reaching CSPD standards.RetentionAs part of its comprehensive statewide training program, DRS supports a wide range of learning activities for all classifications of employees. Staff view professional growth and development activities as a benefit that enhances retention. All staff have professional development plans created in coordination with managers as part of the performance management process. Other retention strategies are as follows:• Flexible work schedules allow for 4 or 4 ½ day workweeks, as well as teleworking opportunities, when feasible;• A variety of training opportunities in leadership skill development are available; • DRS will cover the cost of the exam and in-state travel to achieve CRC examination;• A recognition award program is in place to highlight staff achievement;• Access to training to support credential maintenance is available at no cost to the employee; and• An educational reimbursement program is in place for support staff working toward attainment of bachelor’s degrees.

 

Qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (QVRC)

DRS is committed to ensuring the agency workforce is highly skilled, professionally trained, and duly prepared to serve Texans with disabilities with the highest quality service delivery. Toward this goal, DRS has a plan to achieve standards for counseling staff in compliance with 34 CFR 361.18(c)(1)(i). There are no state-approved or recognized certifications or licensing requirements in Texas. Therefore, DRS has established standards for academic preparedness consistent with the national requirements of the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) for CRC certification.

A counselor meets the CSPD standard by holding a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling; or master’s degree in “counseling or counseling-related” with specific coursework; or master’s, specialist or doctoral degree in specific majors with specific coursework; or current CRC certificate from the CRCC; or current licensure for LPC.

Therefore, a counselor with a master’s degree in counseling or counseling-related degree must, at a minimum, complete a graduate course on the Theories and Techniques of Counseling plus successfully complete six graduate courses with a primary focus on the following areas: one course on assessment, one course on occupational information or job placement, one course on case management and rehabilitation services, one course on medical aspects of disabilities, one course on psychosocial aspects of disabilities, and one course on multicultural issues.

A counselor with a master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree specifically in behavioral health, behavioral science, disability studies, human relations, human services, marriage and family therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, psychometrics, rehabilitation administration/services, social work, special education, or vocational assessment/evaluation must complete a graduate course on the Theories and Techniques of Counseling and successfully complete six graduate courses, each with a primary focus on the areas listed above, plus one course on foundations of rehabilitation counseling.

Furthermore, a counselor with an undergraduate or master’s degree who does not meet the QVRC minimum standards at hire is informed by management of the requirement to successfully meet those standards within seven years from completion of the initial training year. Administrative systems are in place to monitor hire dates, transcripts, and use of in-service training funds to assist staff in accomplishing necessary coursework, or in some cases, obtain a full master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling.

Existing counselors and all newly hired counselors are required to sign an acknowledgement of QVRC requirements. In-service training funds are used in coordination with partner universities for RSA grant slots to assist these counselors in meeting minimum standards. In order to facilitate successful class completion, DRS has allowed flexible work scheduling, tuition reimbursement, textbook reimbursement, and available computer resources. DRS will continue to utilize available resources in both distance learning and on-campus programs to support academic preparedness.Although DRS has taken steps to hire rehabilitation counselors who have master’s degrees in rehabilitation counseling, a number of other factors require that DRS hire counselors with other degrees. A significant barrier to hiring counselors with master’s degrees in rehabilitation counseling is the expanse of Texas that must be served. DRS affords RSTs who attain an undergraduate degree the opportunity for employment in DRS as VRCs. RSTs may apply for financial assistance through the educational leave and financial assistance program if they choose to attain their undergraduate degree and pursue employment as a VRC. The years of knowledge and experience on a caseload coupled with their undergraduate degree have proven beneficial to DRS.

 

DRS is committed to maintaining support for in-service and academic training that ensures all staff receive the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful and that provides developmental activities for new and emerging leaders. DRS has a needs assessment system to develop internal and external training initiatives to address programmatic needs. While there are a number of positions within DRS that support field operations, the focus of statewide training is typically programmatic to enhance direct service delivery for consumers. All staff have access to training opportunities through the professional development plan created through the management chain’s professional development process. Training content for field staff is typically developed within the system of statewide modules of training products disseminated through field management staff. Content learning includes topics that directly relate to the knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes necessary to perform jobs as expected by management and as detailed in job descriptions. The content training strategies include:• Continued focus on the foundations of the VR process for counselors and RSTs, including accurate eligibility determination, inclusion of consumers in planning for service delivery, thorough assessing and planning practices, models for vocational counseling, informed consumer choice, service to culturally diverse populations, good purchasing practices, supported employment, customized employment and other strategies for quality employment assistance, service delivery, and effective case note documentation; • Training in working with employers and consumers to increase knowledge of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, the Olmstead decision, available independence initiatives, and VR participation in the Workforce Investment Act to enhance employment options and employment knowledge; • Training in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), appropriate options and alternatives for effective transition services and Social Security work incentive programs, including programs under the Ticket to Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act of 1999;• Training in assessing appropriate rehabilitation technology interventions;• Extending opportunities to take advantage of training available from sources external to DARS for ongoing dissemination of timely trends related to disability and treatment modalities within the field of rehabilitation; and• Creating leadership training opportunities for field staff that will develop skills and potential for succession into management positions in the rehabilitation industry (for example, participation in the DARS Leadership Academy and the Texas DRS Leadership Academy will continue to be available to field staff, and area managers, as part of routine planning, will identify leadership opportunities for staff at all levels in the unit); • Ensuring staff have access to training opportunities focusing on targeted disability groups identified by the various regions (DRS coordinates with TACE and other entities as appropriate to develop localized training in targeted disability areas); and • Implementation of training for new counselors that focuses on critical thinking and sound decision making. Managers receive training on a variety of management issues including ethics, communication, leadership, monitoring for quality service delivery and compliance, and management information system tools.DARS provides on-going quality improvement training to staff to ensure that they have every opportunity to achieve. As previously described, learning opportunities in a wide variety of topics are also provided by CLM using a variety of delivery strategies as part of its comprehensive statewide training effort. These strategies include self-directed learning, coaching, intranet-based courses, and workshops at the unit, regional, and state levels.DRS also has developed partnerships with organizations such as the NCRE, the American Society for Training and Development, and the TACE centers to ensure that DARS is active in the dissemination of research development for the field of rehabilitation. In addition, Texas DRS uses studies from the Institute on Rehabilitation Issues to assist in the development of practices for service delivery.New CounselorsAll new counselors are trained using a sequence of learning events. The sequence includes an assigned coach who uses a published quick start guide that includes a learning plan for both on-the-job training and required and optional courses. The learning plan guides the new counselor’s learning activities during the initial probationary period. Based on the learning plan, training is provided throughout the initial year through a series of required courses, peer training and coaching sessions that focus on guiding each consumer to successful achievement of their employment and/or independent living goals. Training covers rehabilitation policy and procedures as well as values-based decision making, informed consumer choice, employment assistance, and successful closures. In addition, new counselors learn effective strategies for caseload management, working with Community Rehabilitation Program providers, assessing employment trends, matching employer needs to qualified consumers, and building successful partnerships with consumers, businesses, schools, and other community resources. Following completion of the probationary period, the counselor and supervisor create a professional development plan which addresses the CSPD requirements. The professional development plan is updated annually regarding in-service training activities and progress toward meeting the CSPD requirements.New Rehabilitation Services TechniciansAll new RSTs are trained using a sequence of learning activities. The sequence includes an assigned coach and a quick start guide that includes a learning plan for on-the-job training and required and optional courses. Training is provided throughout the initial year through attendance at a required course on RST fundamentals, other courses as assigned by the RST’s supervisor, peer training, and coaching sessions. The fundamentals course focuses on the role of the RST in facilitating successful employment outcomes for consumers. The required course addresses both internal and external customer service, purchasing, disability etiquette, and an overview of values-based decision making and the RST’s role in the VR process. Following completion of the initial training period, the RST and supervisor develop a professional development plan that identifies additional training and development activities to support the RST’s successful performance. The plan is then updated annually and designed to enhance the growth of RSTs throughout their tenure with the agency. DARS offers an educational assistance program that may be available to RSTs who choose to pursue the necessary educational credentials to advance in the field of vocational rehabilitation.New Area ManagersNew area managers also participate in a sequence of learning activities to develop their skills and competencies. This sequence includes a regional orientation followed by a series of self-directed activities guided by a comprehensive orientation outline. These activities provide training for new managers in VR program management, effective coaching, and values-based decision making. New area managers also attend training in the Central Office that includes instruction on DARS-specific management practices and expectations, leadership, and quality assurance. Following completion of the initial learning activities, the new area manager receives professional development training in management courses through the Governor’s Center for Management Development and other available resources. The regional director and a mentor area manager guide the new area manager through this process. DRS maintains a formal system for evaluating the performance of VR staff within the division. This system requires that supervisory personnel formally evaluate an employee’s performance in the essential functions of the employee’s position. The main purposes of this system are to:• Document the employee’s performance,• Provide a development plan,• Improve performance,• Provide a basis for personnel management decisions, and• Facilitate open communication.The three central aspects of the system for VR staff are: • Consumer satisfaction with services and outcomes, • Area manager and other management review of case records to ensure compliance with policies and procedures, and• Evidence of quality service provision for consumers to access the most appropriate employment outcomes.This system promotes clear understanding between the supervisor and the employee of the priorities and objectives for the upcoming period. In reviewing performance against expectations, emphasis is placed on results achieved through delivery of world class service, identification of reasons for variance from expected results, and establishment of appropriate development plans that serve to deliver skill-enhancing, practical learning opportunities.The Rehabilitation Council of Texas (RCT) has the opportunity to review and comment on the policies, procedures, and programmatic direction of DRS. RCT representatives are invited to fully participate in development and review of policy and procedures. The assistant commissioner for DRS meets regularly with the RCT to present updates and share input regarding knowledge, skills, and abilities of the VR staff and overall VR program outcomes. In summary, a comprehensive and overarching training design is in place to meet the learning needs of all DRS staff. While these activities are provided in a myriad of venues and through multiple modalities, all opportunities for training are specifically directed toward skill enhancement and credential building to form the most qualified staff possible to deliver services for consumers in Texas. Although all staff do not have direct consumer contact, all staff do have direct impact on the success of the VR program in providing vocational and independence opportunities for the community of people with disabilities that DRS serves.

 

DRS continues to provide effective modes of communication for staff, applicants, eligible individuals with disabilities and its community partners and stakeholders based upon individualized needs. Alternate formats include, but are not limited to, American Sign Language interpreters, Spanish interpreters, and AT&T Language Line interpreters for languages such as Vietnamese, Cambodian, Chinese dialects, etc. Also available are captioning, Braille through the DBS Braille Unit, large print, reader services, and electronic formatting and screen readers. DRS also recruits staff that are bilingual for caseloads with heavy concentrations of consumers who speak languages other than English. Additionally, all DARS staff are required to take web-based Language Services Training for People with Limited Language Proficiency (LEP). LEP training provides guidance on best practices and DARS-specific resources for effectively communicating with LEP consumers. Some unit management decisions lead to the development of specialty caseloads where a concentration of consumers is in need of services requiring additional counselor skills. For example, both counselors and RSTs who are hired to serve caseloads with a concentration of deaf and hard of hearing consumers are preferred to have manual communication skills at the time of hire. These counselors and RSTs receive ongoing professional development specific to this target population. The professional development plan created for these individuals includes specific skill maintenance or enhancement activities that may be accessed through external training providers, in addition to traditional training opportunities within DRS.Similarly, caseloads with significant numbers of Spanish-speaking consumers are typically assigned to counselors proficient in Spanish, or an interpreter is made available as needed.

 

DRS develops partnerships with high schools, education service centers, and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to assist with professional development for personnel who work with students with disabilities.DRS has specialty TVRCs and VRCs who are liaisons for high schools and partner with the educational system to more appropriately serve those transition-age students seeking assistance to access adult vocational services. Partnering with independent school districts allows counselors to use office space on campus to ensure that student consumers have access to the resources available through the workforce investment system, community, businesses, and other partners necessary to build a network of support. The increase in the number of students DRS serves with autism, physical and intellectual development disabilities, and psychiatric or dual diagnoses reinforces the need to continue best practices components of the IDEA. State and local staff work closely with the TEA, centers for independent living, communities, and businesses to achieve collaboration, effective programming, and consumer satisfaction. As a result, these efforts improve the effectiveness of VR services for transition consumers. Such collaborations take on many different forms in training DARS and educational staff, as well as in impacting families. DRS staff are often invited to education service centers to participate in educator training and to present training, particularly for more effective transition planning for students. DRS staff work with the schools in creating job fairs which allow students to meet with employers and gather information about the labor market. In addition, family nights are hosted in some areas to invite interested public to the DRS offices to share resource information, discuss service delivery issues, and give input regarding best practices that would better support students and their families. In some areas, community partners such as churches, workforce centers, or community centers assist in providing training to school personnel on understanding cultural diversity in Texas. Training objectives that include sensitivity to cultural issues are integrated in the provision of the principles of ethics in service delivery. Given the cultural diversity within the expanse of Texas, this is an issue often addressed in external conferences with presentations to ensure that staff are sensitive and aware of the manner in which the VR process is applied. DRS continues to enhance partnerships with TEA, high schools, community colleges, stakeholders, and businesses to leverage relations that better prepare students to transition to postsecondary education and the workforce.

This screen was last updated on Jul 15 2014 5:37PM by Cheryl Fuller

Attachment 4.11(a) Statewide Assessment

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

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

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973(the Act) calls for periodic comprehensive statewide needs assessments to be conducted jointly by each state’s vocational rehabilitation agency and State Rehabilitation Council to inform the VR State Plan. The Act is specific regarding areas that a needs assessment should address. In addition to the overall need for rehabilitation services in the state, the Act focuses on several VR subpopulations and services:

· Individuals with the most significant disabilities, including those in need of supported employment;

· Unserved and underserved individuals, including minorities;

· Individuals served by other parts of the statewide workforce investment employment system; and

· Establishment, development, or improvement of community rehabilitation programs (CRPs).

The DARS Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS), Division for Blind Services (DBS), and Rehabilitation Council of Texas (RCT) collaborated with the Child and Family Research Institute of the University of Texas School of Social Work to conduct a comprehensive statewide needs assessment (CSNA) to learn more about vocational rehabilitation (VR) need in Texas. The information gathered will aid DARS to better plan for the expansion and improvement of VR services throughout Texas. This report will also inform the 2015-2017 VR State Plans.

The CSNA used several approaches to obtain information from individuals knowledgeable about the needs of people with disabilities and to identify existing barriers to serving those identified as being unserved or underserved, including surveys of staff and stakeholders, consumer data analysis, demographic research, and town hall meetings.

Frequency of Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment:

The DARS CSNA is conducted every three years. The most recent CSNA occurred during the fall and winter of 2013-2014.

Approach:

The methodology to complete the CSNA is outlined in the VR Needs Assessment Guide, provided by the Rehabilitation Services Administration to help state agencies conduct assessments with an approach that satisfies the Act’s requirements and produces useful and timely information.

The CSNA was accomplished through a range of data collection techniques to ensure broad representation from the public. Elements of the CSNA included:

· Consumer satisfaction surveys,

· Stakeholder surveys,

· Town hall meetings,

· Demographic research, and

· Consumer data analysis.

Consumer Satisfaction Surveys

DRS and DBS conduct ongoing consumer satisfaction surveys in order to assess how VR consumers feel about the services they have received or are receiving. Consumers in the eligibility, in-plan and closed phases of services are surveyed separately. The surveys are extensive, and last year approximately 7,500 DRS consumers and 1,024 DBS consumers completed the consumer satisfaction surveys. The reports from the 2013 surveys were submitted to DARS in January 2014. While including all of the results from the consumer satisfaction surveys does not fit the scope of this CSNA, several of the questions were particularly relevant and helped inform it.

Staff Survey

An online survey was distributed to DRS and DBS staff via DARS supervisors and administrators. Reminder emails were sent to encourage staff to complete the survey. After the survey had been distributed, it was discovered that screen reader users were not able to access the survey. Participants who had any issues with accessibility were asked to call the research team to complete the survey by phone. The survey was completed by 571 DRS employees and 150 DBS employees. The survey asked for basic demographic information, the frequency with which consumer needs are met, barriers to employment, internal barriers to working with consumers, and the importance of various services for consumers. Descriptive statistics were produced for the report.

Stakeholder Survey

An online survey was advertised to stakeholders through list serves. Participants were recruited through DARS-identified stakeholder groups. Emails were sent by the research team to ask groups to share the online survey with their list serves. Individuals were directed to a study-developed website which contained additional information about the CSNA, the research team, and the survey. After the survey had been distributed, it was discovered that screen reader users were not able to access the survey. Participants who had any issues with accessibility were asked to call the research team to complete the survey by phone. The survey asked for basic demographic information, the frequency with which consumer needs are met, barriers to employment, internal barriers to working with consumers, and the importance of various services for consumers. Descriptive statistics were produced for the report.

Town Hall Meetings

Nine town hall meetings were conducted in cities across Texas. These cities included Austin, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, Laredo, McAllen, Midland and San Antonio. Town hall meetings were generally held at DARS offices, were open to all community members, and were advertised specifically to the disability community by email list serves. Town hall meetings were attended by over 60 participants. The exact number and demographic information of participants are unknown.

The town hall meetings were conducted by members of the RCT who facilitated the meetings using a guide developed by the research team. Town hall meetings were recorded by CART transcribers. The town hall meeting transcriptions were coded by the research team using content analysis. Responses were first grouped by the primary question they intended to address. A different member of the research team coded and grouped together responses under each research question. A third member of the research team consulted on the final themes that emerged from each question.

Demographic Research and Consumer Data Analyses

National and state-level data were taken from the 2008-2012 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year Public Use Microdata sample. The ACS is an annual survey conducted by the US Census Bureau that collects household-level information about demographics, and social, economic, and housing-related topics. The 5-year sample was used because the 5-year estimates are the most reliable estimates as they rely on 60 months of data collection and contain a larger sample. Data were analyzed using the Pivot table feature of the US Census Bureau’s online data analysis tool, DataFerret. Data are weighted.

Disability information is collected by the ACS and, since 2008, is defined as a positive response to one or more of six questions about whether or not the individual in question identifies as having a vision, hearing, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, or independent living difficulty.

Data from the DRS and DBS programs cover state fiscal year (SFY) 2011 through SFY 2013. DRS data contains records of VR cases closed in SFY 2011 or SFY 2012 and cases in open or closed status from application through closure for SFY 2013. There are duplicate records across SFYs as a case closed in one SFY may be reinstated in the same or different status in a subsequent SFY. DBS data contains records of VR or VR-Transition cases closed in SFY 2011 or SFY 2012 and cases in open or closed status from application through closure for SFY 2013.

Limitations:

While the CSNA provides insight into the needs of individuals with disabilities, there are multiple limitations in the methods that should be considered when utilizing the findings. First, the samples used were convenience samples that cannot represent the views of any group. Second, it is unknown how technology issues impacted the completion of online surveys by screen reader users. Several individuals did call to complete phone surveys, but others may have refrained due to concerns over confidentiality. Also, given the constraints of the data collection methods used, assessment findings related to the geographical location of unserved and underserved populations in the state are limited. DRS has plans to expand the capacity and use of various data collection methods which is expected to yield valuable information throughout the next three fiscal years.

Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment Findings:

Throughout the various data sources utilized in the CSNA, several common issues arose. These include common underserved populations, barriers, and areas for improvement.

Minority Populations

The CSNA did not identify individuals with disabilities who are minorities as unserved or underserved populations. Minorities are represented among DRS consumers in higher proportions than they are represented in the Texas population.

Underserved Populations

Two populations that consistently emerged as underserved include youth transitioning from public schools and individuals with a mental illness. Participants in the town hall meetings and stakeholders identified transitioning youth as an area in need of further attention, particularly in relation to coordination of services with parents and schools as children age. Mental health was consistently identified in surveys as an unmet need both by stakeholders and staff. Individuals with mental illness were identified as a group that did not consistently have their needs met.

Individuals who are undocumented were also identified in the surveys as a group whose needs are not met, most likely because VR services are provided only to those who can legally work in the United States.

Barriers

There were several barriers identified consistently across data sources. Some barriers such as housing and transportation are outside the scope of DARS, but they are significant barriers to obtaining and maintaining employment.

Another barrier consistently noted is the lack of availability of appropriate jobs. Suggestions for improving the lack of jobs were noted in the town hall meetings. Participants suggested outreach to employers to address attitudes and perceptions, better relationships between DARS and potential employers, and better opportunities for self-employment.

Other barriers identified were lack of awareness of DARS services among consumers, parents, doctors, and other medical professionals; and inadequate funding for services.

Concern over loss of benefits is a barrier identified through multiple surveys. Staff reported low levels of knowledge of how work impacts Social Security benefits. Both staff and stakeholders expressed that concerns over loss of benefits are a disincentive to work.

Areas for Improvement

While the consumer survey reported that consumers were satisfied with their jobs and wages, the stakeholder survey indicated dissatisfaction with DARS that was echoed in the town hall meetings. Customer service issues such as responsiveness were noted as issues. The lack of and quality of service providers (CRP providers) in some areas of the state was also a stated concern. In general, there appears to be a perception that there is too much bureaucracy that impedes the rehabilitation process, particularly related to the eligibility process.

Strategies to Address Underserved Populations:

Services for Transition-age Youth

Transition-age youth has been identified as an underserved population. DRS will develop and implement strategies to achieve consistency, increase coordination and improve outcomes in the delivery of transition services. DRS will leverage use of partnerships and business relations to better prepare students for work and to obtain jobs. In particular, DRS will pursue partnerships with businesses that have an interest in pre-employment training for high school students. Counselors will gain skills needed to market themselves and what they can do to work together in partnership with the school.

Currently, work experience and job shadowing programs have been offered on a limited basis through summer work programs, which partner with educational institutions and businesses to provide transition consumers exposure to work. These programs currently exist in Austin, Dallas, and Lubbock.

Transition consumers can be on VR caseloads for long periods of time. Developing a work ethic is critical for these consumers to succeed in VR and in work. DRS needs to ensure that each transition consumer has an experience in the work world which will help inform the consumer of career options, job expectations, labor market trends, and the soft skills required to work.

DRS plans to focus on improving the effectiveness of transition services by expanding partnerships with schools, community colleges, and technical colleges; and increasing the availability of work experience for transition students. Planned actions include:

· Expanding the availability of transition services by expanding summer work programs; providing additional internships, job shadowing, and on-the-job training opportunities based on the consumer’s interests and vocational goals; enhancing career guidance; and increasing the number of career mentor and peer- to-peer mentor programs.

Services for Persons with Mental Health, Developmental, Intellectual, or Neurodevelopmental Impairments

Persons with mental health disorders have specifically been identified as an underserved population of individuals who receive services from DRS, but who are not served as effectively as other DRS consumers. Additionally, feedback from stakeholders during the CSNA process identified the need to more effectively serve consumers who have developmental, intellectual, or neurodevelopmental impairments.

While these groups constitute about a third of DRS consumers, the need focuses on those most difficult to serve in these groups. Data shows that the rehabilitation rate for these groups over the past three years has been lower than the rest of the population served by up to 14 percent.

VR agencies across the nation are experiencing similar challenges with effectively serving these underserved consumer populations, and discussions at both the state and national level are focused on improving outcomes for these populations. The challenges exist, in part, because for many decades, the VR program was focused more on serving individuals with physical disabilities. As a result VR programs developed expertise and capacity to effectively serve consumers with a wide range of physical disabilities. Individuals with intellectual, developmental, and mental health disabilities were present in the consumer population, but in lower numbers. However, the number of VR consumers in these underserved populations has grown steadily in recent years. This growth has occurred for a number of reasons, including but not limited to, greater societal awareness of the abilities of people with disabilities, more individuals being diagnosed and/or diagnosed properly, advances in assistive and adaptive technologies, and public policy initiatives focused on ensuring that more people with disabilities are integrated into their communities rather than being institutionalized. Particularly related to these populations, the rehabilitation and educational communities and agencies have become more aware of abilities (rather than disabilities) and the possibilities for employment.

DRS plans to focus on increasing staff knowledge and skills with effective rehabilitation strategies for serving consumers who have mental health, developmental, intellectual, or neurodevelopmental impairments. Planned actions include:

o partnering with organizations that serve these individuals(for example, mental health organizations, local authorities serving individuals with intellectual disabilities, universities that offer treatment) to develop resources and expand knowledge about best practices; o partnering with the Health and Human Services Commission Office of Mental Health Coordination to identify best practices, potential community partners, and facilitate service coordination; and o Building staff capacity and expertise to serve these populations through implementation of best practices, coordination with state and community organizations, and use of internal and external subject matter experts to provide staff training.

Strategies to Address Identified Barriers:

Enhance Public Awareness of VR Services and Develop More Effective Relationships with Business

Information taken from public meetings and surveys suggests there is a perception that DARS should enhance public awareness of its services and develop more business community partnerships and relationships with potential employers for people with disabilities.

DARS has plans to develop a new public website to meet the increased expectations and demands of an increasingly technology-savvy population. DARS will employ social media and other interactive communication tools to better connect with the public about DARS services.

DARS will identify and emulate strategies used by other entities that have proven effective in increasing awareness among potential VR consumers.

DARS will work with local business partners to become more keenly aware of regional employment opportunities and needs, and also work with area community colleges and vocational and technical schools to ensure consumers are better prepared for more advanced positions in these businesses.

DRS and DBS are joining forces to bring a DARS-wide approach to business relations so DRS, DBS, and the DRS Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services business relations specialists and employment specialists will work in concert with one another toward a common goal. This includes planned implementation of a shared DRS and DBS customer relations management database to track business partnerships and consumer employment opportunities and placements.

Mitigating Concern about Impact of Work on Benefits

Concern over loss of benefits has been identified as a barrier for consumers seeking rehabilitation services, and the impact of work on Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplementary Security Income is not well understood by staff and potential consumers.

DARS will increase counselor and consumer knowledge about work incentives and the effect of earnings on Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplementary Security Income in order to facilitate quality employment outcomes for consumers. In preparation for this initiative, DARS has added an additional benefits and work incentives specialist. Plans include:

Funding

DRS will continue to work through DARS and state legislative channels to educate state officials about the value of VR services to Texans with disabilities and to the overall state economy. DRS will leverage existing resources and make every effort to draw down the maximum federal funding match in order to provide needed services for Texans with disabilities. As needed, DRS will request additional funding and full-time equivalent positions to address increases in the demand for services.

Transportation Services

Information taken from public meetings and surveys suggests that persons with disabilities, especially those in rural areas, are in need of transportation systems that will facilitate better access to DRS offices, providers, and jobs.

DRS will continue to participate in Health and Human Services regional coordination forums related to public transportation to advocate for local improvement.

Areas for Improvement:

Community Rehabilitation Programs

One of the improvements identified in the CSNA was the need to address the shortage and quality of CRPs in some areas of the state. The greatest need is in rural areas such as the West and Central Plains area of the state, the Rio Grande Valley, and rural East Texas. Planned actions include:

Streamlining the Eligibility Process

The CSNA identified a perception that the eligibility process for VR services needs streamlining. While the regulations allow 60 days for the determination of eligibility, the goal is to determine eligibility as quickly as possible to ensure timeliness of service provision. Delayed services undermine the effectiveness of the rehabilitation process. DRS will make a concerted effort to reinforce the need for staff to determine eligibility in a timely manner. This will be accomplished by using the case review process and quality assurance monitoring to identify issues and opportunities for improvement.

Assisting other Components of the Statewide Workforce Investment System to Assist Individuals with Disabilities:

DRS collaborates with workforce partners at the local, state and federal level to leverage system capabilities and improve employment and wage outcomes for eligible individuals with disabilities.

DRS partners with the Texas Workforce Investment Council and maintains memberships on local workforce development boards across the state of Texas. DRS also seeks opportunities to partner with the Disability Navigators located in one-stop centers to provide consultation on disability issues to workforce system staff and to provide direct assistance to consumers with disabilities as needed.

DRS has established a relationship with each of the 28 local workforce development boards within the state to address issues such as:

· the referral process for consumers to the centers; and

· services that each organization provides, and cross-training for staff as appropriate.

Although not specifically identified in the CSNA, as part of its strategic planning process, DRS has identified veterans with disabilities as a distinct underserved consumer demographic. Through enhanced collaboration with the VA system, DRS has set a goal of more effectively serving this population through initiatives such as:

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 5:57PM by Cheryl Fuller

Attachment 4.11(b) Annual Estimates

Attachment 4.11(b)(1)—Identify the number of individuals in the state who are eligible for services.

Applications

DARS Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) anticipates an increase in individuals applying for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services in 2015. The historical decreasing trend for applications has slowed and is on target to reverse in 2014.

Year Number of Applications Percent Change From Prior Year
201139,144
201234,981(10.6)
201333,715(3.62)

For federal fiscal year (FFY) 2014, DRS is on target to receive 33,587 applications. While this is a decrease of 0.38% from FFY 2013, the overall trend began to shift upward in January 2014. DRS expects applications will continue to trend upward, and there will be an increase in FFY 2015. The predicted increase in applications is attributed to increased awareness among staff to focus on outreach, referrals, and partnerships with other state agencies.

Eligibility Determinations

The number of individuals determined eligible is expected to follow the trend of applications. Therefore, DRS expects to see an increase in the number of eligibility determinations for FFY 2015. The number of eligibility determinations trend is as follows:

Year Number of Eligibility Determinations Percent Change From Prior Year
201127,397
201224,974(8.84)
201324,296(2.71)

For FFY 2014, DRS is on target to determine eligibility for approximately 24,908 individuals. This is an increase of 2.5% from FFY 2013. DRS expects the number of eligibility determinations made in 2015 will continue to increase in proportion to the projected increase in applications.

Outreach activities will be conducted to broaden the population of individuals with disabilities being served by DRS. Outreach, education, and marketing efforts will be targeted to transition students, veterans, and individuals with disabilities in underserved populations such as developmental or intellectual impairments, neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, other disabilities in addition to blindness, and Deaf blindness.

Attachment 4.11(b)(2)—Identify the number of eligible individuals who will receive services provided with funds under:

Average Cost to Support Successful Rehabilitation

Adequate funds are available to serve all 24,296 individuals currently eligible for DRS services and 36,272 individuals in plan status. DRS also has adequate funds to cover the cost of expected eligibility determinations and post-employment services.

The average cost to support a successful rehabilitation is increasing as follows:

Year Average Cost to Support a Successful Rehabilitation Percent Change From Prior Year
2011$7,106
2012$7,041(0.91)
2013$7,2873.49

DRS does not anticipate a significant change in the average cost to support a successful rehabilitation. This average considers the total costs of a case from application to closure for all cases closed with an employment outcome during the federal fiscal year.

DRS will look at strategies to maximize DRS resources and serve the greatest number of eligible individuals possible. This will include increasing the use of comparable services and benefits, expanding best practices in case management, and fiscal training.

Individualized Plan for Employment Carry-Forward

DRS carried over approximately 36,272 individual plans for employment (IPEs) into FFY 2014. This is a decrease from the prior year by 6.28%.

Year IPEs Carried Over From Prior Year Percent Change From Prior Year
201139,913
201240,2360.81
201338,701(3.81)
201436,272(6.28)

DRS set increased targets for consumers served and successful closures in FFY 2014 based on population growth and anticipated resources.

Attachment 4.11(b)(3—Identify the cost of services for the number of individuals estimated to be eligible for services. If under an order of selection, identify the cost of services for each priority category.

Estimated Cost of Services

With an average expenditure per IPE per year of approximately $3,203, IPE costs will total approximately $105,000,000. This will leave DRS with sufficient funds to pay for costs incurred in pre-plan and post-plan services at the current rate of 10.8% of the total expenditures. DRS will continue to build the caseload of open IPEs throughout 2015 to align the number of open plans that can be supported with available financial and staff resources. DRS will continually monitor expenditures and caseload movement to ensure it continues to have the resources to effectively serve all eligible individuals.

DRS estimates approximately 60,918 consumers will be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services in FFY 2015 and that DRS will provide vocational rehabilitation services to all 60,918 consumers in FFY 2015. The following chart details the estimated funds and consumers served by Part B title funds. “Consumers served” for this purpose is defined as consumers with a purchased service during the fiscal year, consistent with the definition used by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) in the RSA 2.

Category Title I or Title VI Estimated Funds Estimated Number to be Served Average Cost of Services
Not applicable Title I $146,000,000 59,787 $2,442
Not applicable Title VI $1,500,000 1131 $1,326
Totals   $147,500,000 60,918 $2,421

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 3:21PM by Cheryl Fuller

Attachment 4.11(c)(1) State Goals and Priorities

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.

The Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) has identified six goals that were jointly reviewed and agreed upon with the Rehabilitation Council of Texas (RCT). The goals align with the results of

· the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA) completed in May 2014, and

· the internal and external assessments conducted by the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) for the Texas Health and Human Services System Strategic Plan 2015-2019.

These goals are based in part, on an analysis of the RSA performance standards and indicators and represent DRS’ strategic priorities beginning in state fiscal year 2015. The goals are intended to be three-year goals; however, DRS and RCT will annually review and update as necessary based on changes in internal or external factors.

Goal 1: Provide vocational rehabilitation services that support quality employment outcomes for individuals with significant disabilities.

Goal 2: Improve consumer outcomes for individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities, neurodevelopmental disorders (including autism), and mental health disorders.

Goal 3: Expand and improve vocational rehabilitation services for youth with disabilities who are transitioning from high school to further education and/or employment, and improve coordination with state and local secondary and postsecondary educational entities.

Goal 4: Increase vocational rehabilitation services to veterans with disabilities and improve coordination with other federal and state entities providing veterans services.

Goal 5: Enhance strategies and coordination to develop and maintain business relationships that result in quality employment outcomes for vocational rehabilitation consumers.

Goal 6: Increase counselor and consumer knowledge about work incentives and the effect of earnings on Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplementary Security Income to facilitate quality employment outcomes for consumers.

Goal 7: Provide supported employment services for individuals with the most significant disabilities who require extended supports in order to achieve and maintain an employment outcome.

The DRS strategies to achieve these goals and the measures for determining progress toward each goal are described in Attachment 4.11(d).

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 11:40AM by Cheryl Fuller

Attachment 4.11(c)(3) Order of Selection

This agency is not implementing an Order of Selection.

This screen was last updated on Aug 27 2009 11:00AM by Edward West

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

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.

The Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) provides supported employment services or supported self-employment services for consumers with the most significant disabilities through the use of funds received under Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

Goals

DRS considers competitive employment to be the primary objective when assisting consumers with the most significant disabilities to achieve their employment goals. The goal for distribution of Title VI, Part B funds is to provide supported employment services that result in a competitive employment outcome for consumers who require supported employment. Providers of supported employment services and supported self-employment services receive payment for providing services to eligible consumers when specific outcome benchmarks have been achieved.

Measure: 50% or greater of consumers exiting the VR program after receiving supported employment services will achieve an employment outcome.

Baseline FFY 2013: 53.06%

Funding

Title VI, Part B and/or 110 funding is available statewide to VR counselors to serve Texans with the most significant disabilities. Services leading to supported employment are integrated into the VR service delivery system. At case closure, or at the conclusion of any time-limited post-employment services, the services paid for by the Title VI, Part B and/or 110 funds are terminated. Title I funds are used to provide services leading to supported employment when Title VI, Part B funds are not available. This creates an opportunity for more consumers with the most significant disabilities to have access to supported employment services.

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 4:45PM by Cheryl Fuller

Attachment 4.11(d) State's Strategies

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.

The Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) reserves and uses a portion of federal funds allocated under Section 110 of the Rehabilitation Act for innovation and expansion (I&E) activities. DRS is engaged in the following strategic initiatives consistent with the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act and the most recent comprehensive statewide needs assessment (CSNA) conducted during FFY 2014.

The comprehensive statewide needs assessment (CSNA) identified underserved populations such as youth transitioning from high school and individuals with mental illness. These results are consistent with the priority areas identified in early 2014 during DARS’ strategic planning process for FY 2015 - FY 2019. In addition, the CSNA identified several opportunities for continued improvement in DRS’ service delivery processes, including increasing consumer engagement, improving customer service, streamlining eligibility, and increasing the knowledge of staff and consumers about work incentives and how work impacts Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplementary Security Income. These opportunities for improvement have been incorporated as goals in the FY 2015 State Plan and strategies to address these findings are listed below under the identified goal.

 

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.

DRS supports rehabilitation technology that assists consumers with disabilities to achieve self-sufficiency and independence. Assistive technology services and devices necessary for consumers to achieve their vocational goals and objectives are provided as part of the rehabilitation process, and DRS policy provides guidance to staff accordingly. The DRS Rehabilitation Technology Resource Center (RTRC) researches new products and emerging technologies to help facilitate consumer awareness of potential solutions and help consumers make informed choices. To help enhance assistive technology services for consumers, the RTRC developed assistive technology toolkits for each of the five DRS regions to improve availability and assist in providing outreach to the community. These toolkits contain the most frequently requested devices, and are designed to help address and mitigate specific disability needs; for example: vision, mobility, communication, and computer access. The toolkits are available for staff to take to presentations, conferences, and conventions, as well as to use in educating staff, businesses, and community partners about tools that can support employing and retaining individuals with disabilities.The RTRC’s assistive technology device loan program allows consumers to use a “Try it before you buy it” approach to help ensure that assistive technology devices are actually appropriate for their circumstances. Items can be borrowed up to four weeks for use at home, school, or work, and the loaner program can also temporarily provide consumers with devices while their existing equipment is being repaired. The DRS RTRC:• Provides training for staff and other entities that collaborate with DRS consumers regarding the availability and use of assistive technology devices designed to accommodate the consumers’ employment and independence needs; and• Collaborates with the transition counselors and school districts to provide students with access to assistive technology as they engage in their rehabilitation program and successfully move toward their employment goals. The RTRC is also an integral part of the vehicle modification process for DARS consumers. The RTRC works with mobility providers, manufactures of conversion vans, and the Texas A&M Texas Transportation Institute to help ensure the safety and effectiveness of this service and to increase consumer and staff awareness of vehicle modification technology. StrategySupport consumer knowledge of and access to assistive technology devices and services.

 

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

Outreach to Individuals with Disabilities who are Minorities Each DRS region engages in numerous programs and activities that are designed to inform and make available vocational rehabilitation (VR) and Supported Employment services to minorities and those who have the most significant disabilities. Some examples of these activities include:• All DRS staff are required to take Language Services for People with Limited English Proficiency training developed by the DARS Center for Learning Management. This training provides guidance on best practices and specific resources for effectively communicating with our unique population of limited English language proficiency consumers. It also includes web-based instruction and desk references for quick access to information. • DRS has ongoing outreach initiatives with historically black colleges and universities.• DRS staff are collaborating with the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of East Texas to make services available to Native Americans with disabilities. • Consumers have access to the Language Line as a resource for those who are not fluent in English.• Outreach to minority transition students, particularly Hispanics, is occurring with the local independent school districts and the education service centers.• DRS staff are attending community job fairs held for the Hispanic population and meeting with groups, such as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Casa de Amigos, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and Catholic Charities. For example, DRS has targeted outreach activities with Catholic Charities of Lubbock and others in various counties and the Guadalupe-Parkway Neighborhood Centers. • Outreach activities with the African American population are occurring, such as meetings with the local Sickle Cell Anemia Association, Minority Business Alliance, African American Family Conference, and NAACP. For example, the Abilene office has an on-going relationship with the International Rescue Committee which has a high percent of African refugees.• DRS staff are actively involved in the Colonias Initiative, a collaborative workgroup of state and private non-profit agencies designed to increase access to services for residents of the colonias located along the Mexican border region who are primarily Spanish-speaking Hispanics. • DRS has a liaison with the American G.I. Forum that targets the needs of Hispanic veterans and has assigned a bi-lingual counselor who has completed the Social Security work incentive training to work with significantly disabled veterans drawing Social Security Disability Insurance benefits but want to work.• A number of counselors are participating in training to learn to speak other languages and attending sign language classes.• DRS establishes specialized caseloads for certain disabilities to help develop the expertise needed to most benefit the consumers served.• DRS actively recruits rehabilitation counselors who are Spanish speaking to better serve the Hispanic population.• Counselors and managers develop relationships with local referral sources that serve individuals who are minorities who have the most significant disabilities. • DRS encourages staff to stay abreast of issues impacting minorities. Examples of related activities include trainings and health summits conducted by the Center for the Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities, which multiple staff have attended. • DRS staff engages with the faith-based community to educate and inform minority and other allied congregations about DARS services. For example, DRS staff participates in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.Outreach to Serve Individuals with Disabilities who have been Unserved or Underserved by the Vocational Rehabilitation ProgramIn early 2014, DRS conducted an internal and external assessment and identified strategic priorities for inclusion in the DARS chapter of the 2015-2019 Health and Human Services Strategic Plan. The internal and external assessment resulted in identification of certain underserved consumers, defined as individuals with a disability who are eligible to receive services from DRS, but who are not served as effectively as other DRS consumers. The assessment also resulted in identification of an unserved consumer population, defined as a segment of the population that DRS may not be serving in proportion to their incidence in the population. As a result, DRS developed the following strategic priorities and strategies.StrategiesDRS identified individuals who have developmental or intellectual impairments, neurodevelopmental disorders (such as autism), and mental health disorders (such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia) as populations that are underserved by DRS. To better serve these consumers, DARS will initiate outreach and increase staff knowledge and skills with effective rehabilitation strategies for serving such consumers by:• seeking stakeholder feedback on outreach strategies and strategies for improving services;• researching and implementing best practices in serving these consumers;• increasing coordination and developing new partnerships with other state and community organizations that serve individuals with developmental or intellectual impairments and mental health disorders to include:o mental health organizations, local authorities, and universities to develop resources, expand knowledge, and implement best practices; ando Health and Human Services Commission Office of Mental Health to identify and implement best practices, potential community partners and facilitate service coordination; and • building staff capacity and expertise through coordination with state and community organizations and the use of internal and external subject matter experts to provide staff training.DRS identified veterans with disabilities as an unserved VR consumer group. To better serve this population of consumers, DRS will initiate outreach and increase VR services to veterans with disabilities and improve coordination with other federal and state entities providing veterans’ services by:• evaluating policies, procedures, and rules to provide seamless and efficient access to services for veterans with disabilities who are not eligible to receive services from the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ VR program; • enhancing coordination with other entities serving veterans with disabilities, to help veterans more easily navigate available programs and services;• increasing collaboration with veterans stakeholder organizations and service providers to:o enhance the coordination and provision of services to veterans with disabilities; o increase the number of veterans with disabilities receiving VR services; o explore options to enhance communication with and identification of veterans in need of VR services within the veterans’ community; ando better coordinate veteran’s services with other agencies within the Health and Human Services (HHS) System.

 

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

DRS works with a network of community rehabilitation programs (CRPs) across the state and continues to operate an outcome-based payment system for supported employment and job placement services. DRS has implemented initiatives to increase the competencies of these CRP partners thereby enhancing services to consumers with disabilities. As part of this initiative, DRS requires contracted CRPs to obtain training and credentialing to ensure that CRP job coaches, job skills trainers, job placement specialists, supported employment specialists, supported self-employment, and CRP directors who oversee those positions meet basic criteria to effectively deliver employment services. This credentialing has been required since federal fiscal year (FFY) 2012. DRS implemented a statistical CRP outcome report entitled “Information on Providers for Informed Consumer Choice (IPICC)” in FFY 2011. This database is available for counselors to share information with consumers to facilitate informed choice as they select their providers. In state fiscal year (FY) 2015, DRS will evaluate the effectiveness and use of the current database, including processes for database maintenance and enhancements. DRS will implement necessary revisions to the system, and may identify additional strategies to obtain outcome reports on CRP performance. DRS is working toward implementing innovative work experience programs (paid and unpaid), additional self-employment services, situational assessments, and trial work evaluations to meet the service needs of consumers. DRS continues to review the need for revising the outcome-based payment method for supported employment and job placement to better serve (1) transition of employment for people with persistent and serious mental illness, (2) supported self-employment, and (3) autism. DRS will continue to evaluate CRP roles by determining and evaluating the need to change or modify CRP services based on the emerging needs of consumers and businesses.

 

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

DRS will increase the average hourly earnings of individuals employed after participating in (VR) services in order to meet or exceed the national benchmark ration of 0.52 of the average hourly earnings of all employed individuals in Texas. (RSA Performance Indicator 1.5). Strategies• Consider establishing an incentive for future supported employment and direct placement contracts for placement outcomes with higher wages (for example, substantial gainful activity level) when the hourly wage meets or exceeds the federal performance standard.• Focus on postsecondary education as a means to increase employment in high-skill, high-wage occupations by increasing the percentage of DRS consumers receiving postsecondary education and training.• Collaborate with the Texas Workforce Commission and local workforce boards to increase DRS staff access to labor market and career information, and increase DRS staff capacity to assist consumers with identification of an employment goal and development of the individualized plan for employment.

 

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

DRS participates in the activities of the Texas Workforce Investment Council (TWIC), which serves as the State Workforce Investment Board. Activities include:• Participating in the development and implementation of the state-mandated strategic plan for the Texas workforce system;• Participating in TWIC meetings and serving on the TWIC Apprenticeship and Training Advisory Committee; and• Reporting quarterly and annually as requested by TWIC on the division’s activities to implement goals and objectives in the workforce system strategic planDRS also serves on local workforce development boards across the state of Texas and actively participates in board activities and committees. In addition, DRS partners with Disability Navigators and other workforce center staff to provide information, partner on community initiatives, and enhance consumer referral processes. Disability Navigators provide consultation on disability issues to workforce system staff and provide direct assistance to consumers with disabilities as needed.DRS has established working relationships with each of the 28 local workforce development boards and their workforce center contractors to develop partnerships, initiatives, and processes such as joint community outreach and awareness events, employer symposia, and job fairs, consumer referrals, coordination of services, and cross-training for staff.

 

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

Strategies to Improve the Performance Related to Goals and Priorities Identified in Attachment 4.11(c)(1)Goal 1: Provide vocational rehabilitation services that support quality employment outcomes for individuals with significant disabilities by meeting or exceeding all Standards and Indicators targets. Strategies • Enhancing outreach activities and strengthening partnerships and coordination with state agencies such as o Texas Department of Insurance’s Division of Workers’ Compensation for the purpose of enhanced referrals for return-to-work efforts;o Texas Veterans Commission for the purpose of assisting with the identification of veterans in need of VR services within the veterans’ community; ando Texas Education Agency and Education Services Centers for the purpose of coordinating services to transition-age students with disabilities.• Strengthening partnerships with post-secondary education, community colleges, and technical colleges for the purpose of expanding educational attainment and higher-paying employment options for DRS consumers.• Partnering with the Texas Workforce Commission, local workforce boards, and workforce centers to increase staff capacity regarding the use of Labor, Market and Career (LOC).• Establishing a coordinated DARS approach to business relations to increase employer awareness about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and to increase consumer employment opportunities. Measure 1.1: The percentage of individuals exiting the VR program with employment outcomes will meet or exceed the Standards and Indicators target.Measure 1.2: The rehabilitation rate will equal or exceed the Standards and Indicators target.Measure 1.3: The percentage of successful closures for competitive or self-employed earning at or above minimum wage will meet or exceed the Standards and Indicators target.Measure 1.4: The population of Measure 1.3 with significant disabilities will equal or exceed Standards and Indicators target.Measure 1.5: The ratio of average hourly earnings of 1.3 population to the state’s average hourly earnings will equal or exceed Standards and Indicators target.Measure 1.6: The percentage increase of 1.3 population self-supporting at closure to self-supporting at profile will equal or exceed Standards and Indicators target.Measure 1.7: The ratio of minority individuals receiving services to non-minorities receiving services will equal or exceed Standards and Indicators target.Measure 1.8: The number of VR consumers served will increase by 2300 over FY 2013..Measure 1.9: On the closed-case consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 80% of the respondents will indicate that they were satisfied with their overall experience with DRS.Measure 1.10: On the closed-case consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 75% of the respondents will indicate that they had input in choosing who would provide the services (schools or colleges, doctors or hospitals, job coaches, etc.).Measure 1.11: On the closed-case consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 85% of the respondents will indicate that they had input in setting their employment goals. Measure 1.12: On the closed-case consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 90% of the respondents will indicate that they were treated in a friendly, caring, and respectful manner when they dealt with DRS staff. Goal 2: Improve consumer outcomes for individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities, neurodevelopmental disorders (including autism), and mental health disorders.Strategies• Seek stakeholder feedback on outreach strategies and strategies for improving services;• Research and implement best practices for serving these consumer populations;• Increase coordination and develop new partnerships with other state and community organizations that serve individuals with developmental or intellectual impairments and mental health disorders, including:o mental health organizations, local authorities, and universities to develop resources, expand knowledge and implement best practices; ando HHSC Office of Mental Health to identify and implement best practices, potential community partners, and facilitate service coordination. • Build staff capacity and expertise through coordination with state and community organizations and the use of internal and external subject matter experts to provide staff training to include the establishment of a statewide team of VR counselors and CRPs who are trained to be subject matter resources that collaborate with the state specialist to develop strategies and tools and identify training needs.Measure 2.1: The number of successful closures for consumers with diagnosis of autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities will be 2,900 or higher.FY 2013: The number of successful closures for consumers with diagnosis of autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities was 2,811. Measure 2.2: The number of successful closures for consumers with diagnosis of mental illness will be 2,479 or higher.FY 2013: The number of successful closures for consumers with diagnosis of mental illness was 2,454.Goal 3: Expand and improve vocational rehabilitation services for youth with disabilities who are transitioning from high school to further education and/or employment, and improve coordination with state and local secondary and postsecondary educational entities. Strategies • Evaluate, revise, and develop policy, procedures, and staffing strategies to improve consistency and increase effectiveness in the provision of transition services.• Create a clear and consistent message about transition services and disseminate to staff through training and information, and to schools, parents, and consumers.• Expand and increase partnerships with state and local secondary and postsecondary educational institutions and organizations to facilitate the identification of best practices, leveraged resources, and improved coordination.Measure 3.1: DRS will increase the number of successful closures for transition-age consumers.FY 2013: The number of successful closures for transition-age consumers for FY 2013 was 3,220.Goal 4: Increase vocational rehabilitation services to veterans with disabilities and improve coordination with other federal and state entities providing veterans services. Strategies • Increase collaboration with veterans’ stakeholder organizations to enhance the coordination and provision of services to veterans with disabilities as well as explore options to enhance communication with and identification of veterans in need of VR services within the veterans’ community.• Evaluate policies, procedures, and rules to provide seamless and efficient access to services for veterans with disabilities who are not eligible to receive services from the Veteran’s Administration VR program.• Provide additional resources and training to VR counselors to improve their ability to provide vocational counseling to veterans, including helping veterans identify how to transfer their military occupational skills to the civilian workforce. Measure 4.1: Increase the number of veterans with disabilities receiving VR services. Baseline FY 2013: 3,227Goal 5: Enhance strategies and coordination to develop and maintain business relationships that result in quality employment outcomes for vocational rehabilitation consumers. Strategies• Develop an agency-wide business relations strategy with a regional focus that creates a unified, comprehensive approach to business development that is executed jointly by DRS and DBS Business Relations Specialists. • Develop a community of practice comprised of DRS and DBS staff that works with businesses to increase staff capacity to serve business customers and expand the number and type of job openings available to DARS consumers. Measure 5.1: Develop and implement a joint business relations strategy for DARS.Measure 5.2: Research and develop a statewide business database that will allow efficient tracking of consumer employment opportunities and outcomes by both DRS and DBS.Measure 5.3: Establish and convene the Business Services Community of Practice.Goal 6: Increase counselor and consumer knowledge about work incentives and the effect of earnings on Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplementary Security Income to facilitate quality employment outcomes for consumers.Strategies • Bi-annually, conduct a five-day benefits and work incentives training for DRS and DBS staff nominated by area managers. Staff attending training must successfully pass an open-book test within ten business days of completion of training to become a Benefits Subject Matter Resource Staff (Benefits SMR).• Train all Benefits SMRs as trainers within three months of successful completion of test.• Provide all Benefits SMRs with daily technical assistance from two Central Office Program Specialists.• Conduct monthly one-hour teleconferences for Benefits SMRs that provide an opportunity for case reviews targeted at consumers receiving SSI/SSDI as well as refresher presentations on a variety of federal and state work incentive programs.• Publish DARS Work Incentive of the Month fact sheet, a quick look at one federal or state work incentive written by the SMRs and disseminated to all DRS and DBS staff statewide.• Annually, conduct one-and-a-half-day statewide Benefits SMR meeting to provide refresher training on a variety of subjects.• Coordinate and conduct training with Texas’ Medicare CHIP program, the Health Information Counseling and Advocacy Program; the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security, HHSC Medicaid/CHIP and their managed care organizations; community centers’ Consumer Benefits Officers; and Work Incentive Planning and Assistance’s (WIPA) Community Work Incentive Coordinators. DRS and DBS have the ability to purchase benefits and work incentives services from the majority of Texas’ WIPA programs.• Provide four-hour federal benefits overview for CRPs statewide.• Target specific offices for additional training based on data on 26s and 28s.• Develop five-day training for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Counselors.Measure 6.1: Increase number of DRS and DBS Benefits SMRs in FFY 2015 from current 89 to 125.Measure 6.2: Complete trainings for all CRPs in DRS Regions 2, 3, and 5.Measure 6.3: 75% of all Deaf and Hard of Hearing Counselors will be trainedas Benefits SMRs by FFY 2016.Measure 6.4: Each Benefits SMR will provide a minimum of two trainings tostaff in their home offices each year.

Goal 7: Provide supported employment services for individuals with the most significant disabilities who require extended supports in order to achieve and maintain an employment outcome.

Strategies

· Develop and implement an improved benchmark system for the provision of specific supported employment services statewide.

· Explore complimentary services for specific populations like persons with autism and mental health diagnoses.

· Develop a supported employment technical assistance training model for DRS staff members to improve their ability to determine when supported employment services are needed.

· Develop tools that will help staff members monitor and provide guidance to supported employment contract providers.

Measure: 50% or greater of consumers exiting the VR program after receiving supported employment services will achieve an employment outcome.

Baseline FFY 2013: 53.06%

Support Innovation and Expansion ActivitiesIndividuals with the Most Significant DisabilitiesThe following are DRS strategies to support individuals with the most significant disabilities to access and participate in the vocational rehabilitation program:• Review, research, and implement an improved benchmark system for the provision of specific supported employment services statewide; • Explore complimentary supported employment services for special populations such as autism and mental health; • Develop a supported employment training and technical assistance model for DRS staff; • Partner with University of North Texas to provide supported employment certification and continuing education to contracted CRP providers; • Develop long-term supports needed for supported employment consumers by partnering with other HHS agencies in Texas; and • Develop services with contract providers that will meet the criteria for trial work experiences. State Rehabilitation Council SupportThe Rehabilitation Council of Texas (RCT) is the state rehabilitation council for DRS and DBS. The RCT assists DARS in fulfilling the requirements of the federal Rehabilitation Act for the delivery of quality, consumer-responsive VR services. Its stated mission is: The Rehabilitation Council of Texas, partnering with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, advocates for Texans with disabilities in the vocational rehabilitation process. Funds are allocated for the operation of the RCT to meet the goals and objectives set forth in its resource plan. The RCT is a valued and active partner in the development of VR goals, priorities, and policies. The RCT reviews, analyzes, and advises DARS about performance related to eligibility; the extent, scope, and effectiveness of VR services; and functions performed by DARS. The RCT also reviews and analyzes consumer satisfaction with VR services provided and assists DARS in developing VR State Plans and in conducting the comprehensive statewide needs assessment.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 ProgramDuring fall 2013 through spring 2014, DRS, DBS, and the RCT collaborated with the Child and Family Research Institute of the University of Texas School of Social Work to conduct a comprehensive statewide needs assessment (CSNA). The CSNA used several approaches to obtain information from individuals knowledgeable about the needs of people with disabilities and to identify existing barriers to serving those identified as being unserved or underserved, including surveys of staff and stakeholders, demographic research, and town hall meetings. Barriers to serving unserved and underserved populations identified in the CSNA included:• Lack of awareness of the impact of service receipt on Social Security benefits, highlighting the disincentive to work from the fear of losing benefits;• Lack of awareness of services by consumers and/or parents;• Lack of awareness of DARS services among doctors and other medical professionals;• Growing need for services that will require partners to leverage available funding and may require increased funding; and;• Scarcity of available transportation that creates challenges for potential consumers, especially in rural areas, to access DRS offices, providers, and jobs.StrategiesThe following are DRS strategies to address the barrier of a lack of awareness of the impact of service receipt on Social Security benefits:• Work closely with community partners such as the local Social Security offices and Work Incentives Planning programs to dispel inaccurate perceptions regarding loss of benefits and attempt to work efforts;• Provide statewide training for all VR counselors on basic benefits and work incentives supports and services; and• Expand training for additional DRS staff to be Benefits Subject Matter Resources (SMRs) including a train-the-trainer component for all SMRs, and provide ongoing statewide training in federal and state work incentive programs for all DRS staff. The following are DRS strategies to address the barrier of a lack of awareness of DARS services among consumers, parents, doctors, and other medical professionals:• Increase collaboration with other organizations to access services for consumers ;• Increase outreach efforts to the business community;• Educate community leaders of the availability of DRS services to enhance outreach efforts to all ethnic groups;• Offer the 2-1-1 Texas statewide referral helpline, a service that assists consumers with referrals to appropriate agencies for help; and• Enhance community outreach activities.The following are DRS strategies to address the barrier of a growing need for services:• DRS will continue to work through DARS to educate state officials and oversight authorities about the value of VR services to Texans with disabilities and to the overall state economy; • DRS will leverage existing resources and make every effort to draw down the maximum federal funding match in order to provide needed services for Texans with disabilities; • As needed, DRS will request additional funding and full-time equivalent positions to address increases in the demand for services;• Identify and use available comparable services and benefits;• Fully use the programs of the Social Security Administration and work to maximize SSA/VR reimbursements; and• Provide budget management training for staff. The strategy of DRS to address the barrier of the scarcity of available transportation is to continue to participate in HHS regional coordination forums related to public transportation to advocate for local improvement.

 

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 11:43AM by Cheryl Fuller

Attachment 4.11(e)(2) Evaluation and Reports of Progress

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

The Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) and the Rehabilitation Council of Texas annually review and report on the effectiveness of the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program. This attachment includes the following information:

An evaluation of the extent to which the goals identified in Attachment 4.11(c)(1) were achieved;

Strategies that contributed to the achievement of these goals and priorities;

To the extent not achieved, factors that impeded achievement of these goals and priorities;

An assessment of the performance of DRS on the standards and indicators established pursuant to Section 106 of the Rehabilitation Act; and

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

Evaluation and Report of Progress on DRS Employment Goals

The following are DRS VR program goals consistent with the goals described in the fiscal year (FY) 2013 Attachment 4.11(c)(1), including an evaluation of the extent to which the VR program goals were achieved.

Goal 1:

To provide vocational rehabilitation services that result in individuals with significant disabilities achieving a quality employment outcome.

Measure 1.1:

The number of employment outcomes (successful closures) achieved will be equal to or exceed 11, 530. (Standards and Indicators Report)

Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2013 Progress: The number of employment outcomes DRS achieved in FFY 2013 was 12,286. (Standards and Indicators Report)

Measure 1.2:

Of the individuals exiting the VR program after receiving services, a minimum of 55.8% will have achieved an employment outcome.

FFY 2013 Progress: Of the individuals exiting the VR program after receiving services during FFY 2013, 59.38% achieved an employment outcome. (Standards and Indicators Report)

Measure 1.3:

Of the individuals achieving a competitive employment outcome earning at or above minimum wage, the average hourly earnings when compared to the State’s average hourly earnings will equal or exceed a ratio of 0.52.

FFY 2013 Progress: Of the individuals achieving a competitive employment outcome earning at or above minimum wage during FFY2013, the average hourly earnings when compared to the State’s average hourly earnings was 0.49. (Standards and Indicators Report)

Goal 2:

To effectively provide VR services to consumers from minority backgrounds with significant disabilities and to ensure they are satisfied with services provided.

Measure 2.1:

Of the total number of individuals residing in Texas with a work disability who: (1) receive services under an individualized plan for employment (IPE), and (2) achieve an employment outcome; at least 46% will be from a minority background.

FFY 2013 Progress: Of the total number of individuals residing in Texas with a work disability who: (1) received services under an IPE, and (2) achieved an employment outcome; 53.03% were from a minority background. (Standards and Indicators Report)

Measure 2.2:

On the consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 80% of the respondents from minority backgrounds will indicate they are satisfied with their overall experience with DRS.

FFY 2013 Progress: 87.2% of respondents from minority backgrounds indicated they were satisfied with their overall experience with DARS. (DRS VR Closed-Case Consumer Satisfaction Survey Report)

Goal 3:

To provide a consumer service delivery system that: (1) enhances available information about service providers, employment options, and other choices, and (2) is based on informed consumer choice and designed to enhance the delivery of quality and timely services to VR consumers.

Measure 3.1:

On the consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 80% of the respondents will indicate they were satisfied with their overall experience with DRS.

FFY 2013 Progress: 88.4% of respondents indicated they were satisfied with their overall experience with DRS. (DRS VR Closed-Case Consumer Satisfaction Survey Report)

Measure 3.2:

On the consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 80% of the respondents will indicate they discussed with their counselor when services would begin and end.

FFY 2013 Progress: 82.5% of respondents indicated they discussed with their counselor when services would begin and end. (DRS VR Closed-Case Consumer Satisfaction Survey Report)

Measure 3.3:

On the consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 71% of the respondents will indicate that they took part in choosing who would provide the services (schools or colleges, doctors or hospitals, job coaches, etc.).

FFY 2013 Progress: 72.4% of respondents indicated they took part in choosing who would provide services. (DRS VR Closed-Case Consumer Satisfaction Survey Report)

Measure 3.4:

On the consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 85% of the respondents will indicate they were satisfied with the explanation of services to help them reach their goal.

FFY 2013 Progress: 86.7% of respondents indicated they were satisfied with the explanation of services to help them reach their goal. (DRS VR Closed-Case Consumer Satisfaction Survey Report)

Measure 3.5:

On the consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 85% of the respondents will indicate that they had input in setting their employment goals.

FFY 2013 Progress: 84.1% of respondents indicated that they had input in setting their employment goals. (DRS VR Closed-Case Consumer Satisfaction Survey Report)

Measure 3.6:

On the consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 90% of the respondents will indicate that they were treated in a friendly, caring and respectful manner when they dealt with DRS staff.

FFY 2013 Progress: 93.6% of the respondents indicated that they were treated in a friendly, caring and respectful manner when they dealt with DRS staff. (DRS VR Closed-Case Consumer Satisfaction Survey Report)

Goal 4:

To provide supported employment services for individuals with the most significant disabilities who require extended supports in order to achieve and maintain an employment outcome.

Measure 4.1:

50% or greater of consumers exiting the VR program after receiving supported employment services will achieve an employment outcome.

FFY 2013 Progress: 53.06% of consumers exiting the VR program after receiving supported employment services achieved an employment outcome.

Measure 4.2:

Establishment of a baseline for supported self-employment consumers, that is, the percentage of consumers with an established supported self-employment service plan who achieve the business plan benchmark.

FFY 2013 Progress:Given current functionality of the DRS case management system and the continued evolution of the supported employment reporting requirements, DRS’ present ability to produce definitive data regarding supported self-employment services is limited in that DRS cannot efficiently gather the comprehensive information necessary to accurately report on this measure.

Measure 4.3:

Establishment of a baseline for supported self-employment consumers, that is, the percentage of consumers who have achieved the business plan benchmark and who go on to achieve the service closure benchmark in supported self-employment.

FFY 2013 Progress:Given current functionality of the DRS case management system and the continued evolution of the supported employment reporting requirements, DRS’ present ability to produce definitive data regarding supported self-employment services is limited in that DRS cannot efficiently gather the comprehensive information necessary to accurately report on this measure.

Goal 5:

To expand and improve transition services for youth with disabilities that will support the agency’s efforts to become a nationally recognized leader in the provision of transition services.

Measure 5.1:

Enhancement of policies and procedures that support consistency and clarity in the collaborative roles of DRS and schools, so students can successfully achieve their established goals.

FFY 2013 Progress:There were no changes to policies regarding transition services during FFY 2013. However, the following enhancements related to the provision of transition services were implemented to ensure quality and consistency of program implementation:

DRS reviewed DARS’ procedures related to transition services to ensure the Transition Counselors and Liaison Counselors for high schools were visiting the high schools, conducting presentations, and ensuring that students and families were informed of DRS services.

DRS attended several meetings at the education services centers across the state to discuss VR and other DARS services. DRS also partnered with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to provide information about DRS services. At TEA’s request, DRS participated in some of their network broadcasts to provide information about DRS.

Measure 5.2:

Redirection of the DRS Business Plan to integrate transition into overall unit-level strategies by December 2012.

FFY 2013 Progress: DRS created a Transition network of volunteers from across the state to evaluate what is working well in the area of transition. The group has developed strategies based on goals and objectives, and will provide updates as progress is made to implement each goal.

Goal 6:

To improve and expand VR services to individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities.

Measure 6.1:

The number of successful closures for consumers with diagnosis of autism and intellectual disability will be 2,400 or higher.

FFY 2013 Progress: The number of successful closures for consumers with diagnosis of autism and intellectual disability was 2,811.

Strategies Contributing to Successful VR Performance Measures

The following are DRS strategies that contributed to the achievement of the VR goals and priorities as described in Attachment 4.11(c)(1):

Goal 1:

To provide vocational rehabilitation services that result in individuals with significant disabilities achieving a quality employment outcome.

Strategies

DRS focused on a number of quality initiatives during FY 2013 to include:

consumer engagement within sub-populations where successes were generally less than the consumer population as a whole;

provision of benefits training for counselors to ensure that myths regarding loss of Social Security benefits were dispelled, and consumers were offered options and alternatives to work with available work incentives;

expanding the employer network of accounts where consumers who were job ready had broader options within available existing job opportunities; and

engaging community partners to expand support networks to enhance options for consumer success.

Goal 2:

To effectively provide VR services to consumers from minority backgrounds with significant disabilities and to ensure they are satisfied with services provided.

Strategies

The Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) established an office for disparity to help create an awareness of underserved populations. Training provided to management positioned field operations for targeted community outreach and prepared staff to address cultural and diversity concerns when necessary.

Partnering with local advocates and services for people with severe disabilities also increased outreach through centers for independent living, and program development with groups such as ADAPT (Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit), Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, and the State Independent Living Council.

Goal 3:

To provide a consumer service delivery system that: (1) enhances available information about service providers, employment options, and other choices; and (2) is based on informed consumer choice, and designed to enhance the delivery of quality and timely services to VR consumers.

Strategies

Management engaged in two improvement initiatives, including use of the Appreciative Inquiry process to identity areas of strength, and review of policy, processes, and practices to identify areas for improvement. Through those initiatives, the DRS has implemented changes in policy and communication systems, and increased alignment of key messages and expectations. The other initiative that developed from the improvement initiatives is a refreshed training of staff related to executing the fundamentals of compliance, policy implementation, documentation, consumer engagement, business relations, contracting processes, and administrative functions that allow better service delivery.

Goal 4:

To provide supported employment services for individuals with the most significant disabilities who require extended supports in order to achieve and maintain an employment outcome.

Strategies

Continued working with the University of North Texas on the credentialing process for supported employment providers to ensure all providers and their staff have the skills to work effectively with consumers;

Continued collaboration with HHSC agencies to coordinate long-term support needs to enable consumers to be successfully employed after VR case closure;

Continued with the Autism Think Tank in which Community Rehabilitation Programs are provided the opportunity to increase their knowledge, resources, and skills related to serving consumers with autism;

Continued training staff across the state on Social Security benefits planning in order to assist consumers maintain those benefits if needed after obtaining successful employment; and

Continued serving a small number of consumers through the Supported Self Employment program who may have not benefited from traditional wage employment opportunities.

Goal 5:

To expand and improve transition services for youth with disabilities that will support the agency’s efforts to become a nationally recognized leader in the provision of transition services.

Strategies

DRS revised the definition of transition-age consumers to accurately show the number of consumers being served; and

DRS staff connected with the education service centers to deliver a consistent message for working with youth with disabilities.

Goal 6:

To improve and expand VR services to individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities.

Strategies

DRSestablished a statewide team of VR counselors and Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP) providers who are trained to be subject matter resources that collaborate with the state specialist to develop strategies and tools, and identify training needs.

Factors Limiting Success in Meeting VR Performance Measures

The following are factors that impeded the achievement of the DRS goals and priorities as described in Attachment 4.11(c)(1).

Goal 1:

To provide vocational rehabilitation services that result in individuals with significant disabilities achieving a quality employment outcome.

Impediments to Achievement (Measure 1.3)

Staff needs additional strategies to more effectively use local labor market information to identify employers with higher wage jobs in the community. Creating more business accounts in strategic industries may also improve the opportunities for higher wage positions. Finally, many rural areas do not have the same opportunities, so staff in those areas need to enhance strategies for access to higher paying jobs, transportation, and resource systems to improve this measure.

Goal 3:

To provide a consumer service delivery system that: (1) enhances available information about service providers, employment options, and other choices; and (2) is based on informed consumer choice, and designed to enhance the delivery of quality and timely services to VR consumers.

Impediments to Achievement (Measure 3.5)

DRS consumers are a large and diverse population within a geographically and demographically large and diverse state. DRS counselors must therefore employ a variety of strategies, skills, and information to engage consumers in meaningful and informed identification of and planning for their vocational goal. DRS will continue to identify strategies and tools to help counselors assist consumers in taking an active role in developing their vocational goal and plan for employment.

Goal 4:

To provide supported employment services for individuals with the most significant disabilities who require extended supports in order to achieve and maintain an employment outcome.

Impediments to Achievement (Measures 4.2 and 4.3)

Current functionality in the case management system and changing supported employment reporting requirements have limited DRS’ ability to produce definitive data regarding supported self-employment services. However, substantive changes to the case management system should allow this data to be more efficiently gathered and may enhance its ability to accurately report on this measure.

 

Goal 4:

To provide supported employment services for individuals with the most significant disabilities who require extended supports in order to achieve and maintain an employment outcome.

Measure 4.1:

50% or greater of consumers exiting the VR program after receiving supported employment services will achieve an employment outcome.

FFY 2013 Progress: 53.06% of consumers exiting the VR program after receiving supported employment services achieved an employment outcome.

Measure 4.2:

Establishment of a baseline for supported self-employment consumers, that is, the percentage of consumers with an established supported self-employment service plan who achieve the business plan benchmark.

FFY 2013 Progress:Given current functionality of the DRS case management system and the continued evolution of the supported employment reporting requirements, DRS’ present ability to produce definitive data regarding supported self-employment services is limited in that DRS cannot efficiently gather the comprehensive information necessary to accurately report on this measure.

Measure 4.3:

Establishment of a baseline for supported self-employment consumers, that is, the percentage of consumers who have achieved the business plan benchmark and who go on to achieve the service closure benchmark in supported self-employment.

FFY 2013 Progress:Given current functionality of the DRS case management system and the continued evolution of the supported employment reporting requirements, DRS’ present ability to produce definitive data regarding supported self-employment services is limited in that DRS cannot efficiently gather the comprehensive information necessary to accurately report on this measure.

Goal 4:

To provide supported employment services for individuals with the most significant disabilities who require extended supports in order to achieve and maintain an employment outcome.

Impediments to Achievement (Measures 4.2 and 4.3)

Current functionality in the case management system and changing supported employment reporting requirements have limited DRS’ ability to produce definitive data regarding supported self-employment services. However, substantive changes to the case management system should allow this data to be more efficiently gathered and may enhance its ability to accurately report on this measure.

 

VR Performance on the Standards and Performance Indicators

The following information is an assessment of the performance of the VR program on the standards and indicators for FY 2013:

Standard 1.1

Number of Current Year Closures Compared to Prior Year Closures

FFY 2013 Progress: 2,286, exceeding the goal by 429

Standard 1.2

Rehabilitation Rate

FFY 2013 Progress: 59.38%, exceeding the goal by 3.58%

Standard 1.3

Successful Closures competitive or self-employment at/above minimum wage

FFY 2013 Progress: 98.72%, exceeding the goal by 26.12%

Standard 1.4

Population of 1.3 with Significant Disabilities

FFY 2013 Progress: 85.42%, exceeding the goal by 23.02%

Standard 1.5

Ratio of Average Hourly Earnings of 1.3 Population to State’s Average Hourly Earnings

FFY Progress: 0.493, failed to meet the goal by 0.027

Standard 1.6

Percentage Increase of 1.3 Population Self-Supporting at Closure to Self-Supporting at Profile

FFY 2013 Progress: 53.38%, exceeding the goal by 0.38%

Standard 2.0

Ratio of Minority Individuals Receiving Services to Non-Minority Individuals Receiving Services

FFY 2013 Progress: 0.9481, exceeding the goal by 0.1481

Strategies Contributing to Successful Passing of Standards and Indicators

Enhanced collaboration with community partners for resource and supports;

Expanded network of business account partners to provide a continuum of options for consumer employment outcomes; and

Focused internally on fundamental service delivery and consumer engagement.

Factors Limiting Success in Passing of Standards and Indicators

Difficulty accessing higher wage jobs in the labor market; and

Competing priorities related to outreach, business services, and internal goals for quality impacting outreach and recruitment for consumers served.

 

During FFY 2013, DRS reserved and used a portion of I&E funds to move forward with the following strategies:

StrategyMeasureBaseline FFY 2011Baseline FFY 2013
1) Maintain public access to a broad range of assistive technology services, including for individuals with disabilities, on a statewide basis through: · DARS Internet. Site contains items specific to assistive technology and vehicle modifications; · DARS Rehabilitation Technology Resource Center (RTRC) Intranet. A Virtual Tour of Assistive Technology (AT) can be accessed by counselors to view the latest AT advances to help consumers make educated decisions about their vocational and independent living goals; · RTRC access. The center is open to both agency staff and the disability community for product demonstrations and testing; · Continuation of the statewide rehabilitation demonstration and loan program; · DRS participation in statewide conferences to inform employers of the technology available that will enhance a consumer’s ability to engage in employment and live independently; and · Vehicle modifications for DRS consumers.The number of assistive devices loaned for consumer demonstration and testing.375· Devices were loaned: 343. · Pieces of technology loaned to aid in consumer decision making process: 122. · Pieces of technology loaned until consumer technology was repaired: 44. · Pieces of technology loaned for training or school purposes: 62. · Pieces of technology utilized in work setting to assist consumers complete certain job functions: 51. · Pieces of technology loaned to assist consumers with activities of daily living: 55. The number of demonstrations of AT in FFY 2013 was 49, with 31 involving the RTRC, and 18 involving AT kits located throughout various regions.
2) The comprehensive statewide needs assessment completed in 2011 revealed a perception that Texans with developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, and autism spectrum disorders (including persons with Asperger’s Syndrome) are underserved. To enhance services to these consumers, DRS added a program specialist who is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst to: · Present training seminars throughout the state to build field staff capacity to better serve population of consumers; · Create a statewide team that will focus on autism and also collaterally improve service delivery to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; · Identify Community Rehabilitation Programs with autism expertise who will each develop at least one partnership with a business that has an autism-friendly work environment; and · Partner with businesses to educate, create or adapt their work environments to promote sustainable employment opportunities.· The number of field staff trained as specialists to serve persons with autism spectrum disorders. . · The number of successful closures for consumers with diagnoses of autism and intellectual disability.· Statewide autism team consisting of 32 VR counselors and 21 regional and Central Office staff. · 14 CRPs have been identified as autism specialists. Each is charged with developing at least one businesspartnership with an autism-friendly business.In FFY 2013, 40 Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, 20 Community Rehabilitation Providers, and 21 Central Office and regional staff were trained as specialists to serve persons with autism spectrum disorders. Additionally, the number of successful closures for consumers with diagnoses of autism and intellectual disability was 2,811.
3) Maintain involvement with the Texas Workforce Investment Council and local workforce development boards, maintain memberships on local boards, look for opportunities to partner with Disability Navigators, and assign counselors to one-stop centers to provide consultation on disability issues to workforce system staff and to provide direct assistance to people with disabilities as needed.· The number of agreements with local workforce development boards. · The number of appointments to local workforce development boards. · The number of one-stop centers with assigned counselors.· Local workforce development boards: 18 of 28 · Public VR appointments: 24 of 28 · Boards that have a Disability Navigator Program: 28 of 28 · One-stop centers with assigned counselors: 266 of 266.In FFY 2013, DRS maintained agreements with 22 of 28 local workforce development boards; 22 of 28 public VR appointments; and 192 of 192 one-stop centers.
4) To increase successful outcomes for consumers, DRS will continue to modify the program business plan until all Standards and Indicators meet or exceed the performance levels. DRS will strengthen existing partnerships and develop new partnerships to include working with HHS agencies, workforce system, Social Security, etc. to ensure coordination of services and long term supports when DRS closes a consumer’s VR case.The number of Standards and Indicators that are met or exceeded.DRS met and/or exceeded performance levels for 5 of the 6 performance indicators in Standard I of the FFY 2011 Standards and Indicators, including primary indicators 1.3 and 1.4.In FFY 2013, DRS met or exceeded 5 of the 6 Standards and Indicators.
5) Maintain a comprehensive training and evaluation system for VR counselors and support staff.The number of times the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) Committee meets with DRS.4 meetings during FFY 2011.In FFY 2013, the CSPD Committee met 4 times.
6) Expand program capacity through collaborative relationships with businesses and community partners that enable more quality employment opportunities for consumers. · Project Search · Clubhouse · Pilot projects for training and placementThe number of developed agreements.No baseline.In FFY 2013, the following agreements were developed. Project SEARCH: 1 agreementis in active service; and 3 agreements are being developed to start in FFY 2014. Clubhouse: Due to the organization’s lack of capacity to participate, DRS did not pursue an agreement. Pilot Projects: There are 4 agreements for training and/or placement of DRS consumers.
7) To increase successful outcomes for transition consumers, use strategic partnerships to outreach to schools and communities as a pipeline to direct business hiring.Number of closures for transition students.New - Baseline count pending revision of methodology for determining the number.In FFY 2011, the number of closures for transitions students was 2,837. In FFY 2013, the number of closures for transitions students was 3,220.
8) With a continued effort to expand service options for consumers, DRS will explore the possibility of entering into third-party agreements with strategic partners to make available to DRS the non-federal share of funds and increase the draw-down of federal matching funds.· Actions taken to explore options for third-party agreements. · Determination of whether to pursue third-party agreements.New- no baseline.DARS and DRS extensively researched options for third- party agreements with other VR agencies and made the determination to not engage in this funding option at this time.
9) With the goal of creating a more efficient VR delivery process, DRS will analyze business systems (with the assistance of a grant funded by the Institute for Community Inclusion) and create a better, smarter, and faster VR system that generates 1000 more successful closures (over a three-year period) and reduces unsuccessful closures by 10% using methodologies such as appreciative inquiry and a decentralized leadership model.Revamped business plan with a more flexible, responsive VR system resulting in increased outcomes for consumers and business partners: · Revamped business plan · 1,000 more successful closures (over a three-year period) · Unsuccessful closures reduced by 10% Note: Public meetings are planned for stakeholder review and input regarding any proposed process changes that would potentially impact service delivery. Revisions will accordingly be made to the State Plan to document any substantive changes in service delivery before implementation.New - no baseline.In FFY 2013, 1,000 more successful closures over 3 years (successful closures) · 2011 - 11,526 (baseline) · 2012- 11,856 (330) · 2013 12,286 (760) 10% reduction in unsuccessful closures · 2011 - 7,917 · 2012 - 8,286 (4.6% increase) · 2013 - 8,406 (6.1% increase)

This screen was last updated on Jul 1 2014 12:09PM by Cheryl Fuller

Attachment 6.3 Quality, Scope, and Extent of Supported Employment Services

The Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) is committed to providing quality services to consumers with the most significant disabilities. DRS works in partnership with public and private non-profit organizations, employers and other appropriate resources for training, employment and other time-limited services related to supported employment. DRS also works in partnership with the Division for Blind Services (DBS) to provide supported employment services consistent with consumer strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice. During federal fiscal year (FFY) 2013, 7,756 Texans with the most significant disabilities were eligible for services under the supported employment program at DRS.

Quality and Scope Supported employment offers competitive employment in the community for consumers with the most significant disabilities who need personalized assistance finding the most appropriate job match requiring extended long-term supports within the work, community, and home environment to maintain employment after DRS closes the vocational rehabilitation case. Consumers who benefit from DRS supported employment services are those for whom traditional vocational rehabilitation approaches have not been effective. Although some consumers have the ability to compete in the open job market, they often require assistance learning how to interact with potential employers, obtain, perform, or retain job tasks and responsibilities. They also require extended supports not funded by vocational rehabilitation to maintain long-term employment once DRS closes their vocational rehabilitation case. Consumers receiving supported services often have no work history and have been excluded from community services, institutionalized or participated in segregated work programs such as sheltered workshops. Supported employment services offers the best possible match between consumer skills, interests, abilities, support needs and the employer’s unmet needs. DRS uses the “place, then train” concept, a two-part process to describe supported employment. First, place consumers with the most significant disabilities into a competitive job; and second, provide training and support directly related to the job. As necessary, the supported employment specialists and vocational rehabilitation counselors, develop support strategies tailored for each consumer based on his or her individual needs. This ensures the appropriate amount of support is provided and the consumer can maintain his or her employment goals. These extended services, sometimes called long-term supports, can be paid and “natural” or “in-kind”, depending on the needs and resources available to the consumer. Examples of extended services include: consulting with a consumer’s supervisor regarding areas of concern or training needs, supports or strategies to improve work performance through job coaching, providing services such as medication management, hygiene or transportation related to maintaining employment. DRS offers supported self-employment services as an alternative employment option for consumers with the most significant disabilities who choose to own their own business within their community. Supported self-employment is competitive employment whereby the consumer owns, manages, and operates a business and is not considered an employee of another person, business, or organization. Supported self-employment businesses are typically small and require a team approach for planning and support. The business team is led by a supported self-employment specialist who assists with exploration, feasibility determination, development of a business plan, business launch and addressing the consumer’s extended service needs. In supported self-employment, the extended services help the consumer effectively and efficiently run their business for a profit and can include long-term job coaching supports, peer supports, natural supports, family supports, or ongoing paid professional services required for the business. The supported self-employment specialist is required to be certified by The Center for Social Capital as a Certified Business Technical Assistance Consultant. Providers of supported employment and supported self-employment services receive payment when they assist eligible consumers in achieving specific outcomes called “Benchmarks”. Timing of Transition to Extended Services A supported employment case remains open for a sixty-day period after the case is identified as “stable”. Stable means the consumer:

As consumer support needs level off in supported employment, transition to extended services provided by sources other than DRS occurs prior to stability. DRS providers do not provide services to consumers during the sixty-day period between “Job Stability” and “Service Closure.” If DRS providers do provide direct services to consumers during this period, job stability is interrupted and the sixty-day stability period starts over. Once consumers successfully maintain job stability for sixty days with extended services being provided by non-vocational rehabilitation resources only, the supported employment case is closed. A consumer’s individualized extended services are identified and documented for both supported employment and supported self-employment in the consumer’s IPE. Common resources that provide extended services for consumers include non-profits, as well as other county, state and federal programs. Funding Title VI, Part B and/or 110 funding is available statewide to all vocational rehabilitation counselors to serve Texans with the most significant disabilities. Services leading to supported employment have been integrated into the vocational rehabilitation service delivery system. At case closure, or at the conclusion of any time limited post-employment services, the services paid for by the Title VI, Part B and/or 110 funds are terminated.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 11:56AM by Cheryl Fuller