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

Preprint - Section 1: State Certifications

1.1 The Division for Blind 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 SignatoryBarbara J. Madrigal

Title of SignatoryAssistant Commissioner

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)06/30/2014

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:

No

Signed?Yes

Name of SignatoryBarbara J. Madrigal

Title of SignatoryAssistant Commissioner

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)06/30/2014

* 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 Blind 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 Blind Services (DBS) quarterly as a part of the Council meeting. During these meetings, DBS provided quarterly updates to the council and the RCT provided input and recommendations to DBS. The RCT uses a committee structure to provide more focused review and comment to DBS. 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 DBS 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 provides input on the definition of “most significant” disability. The council will revisit the definition after the conclusion of the needs assessment. 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 DBS on policies relating to participation in the cost of services for individuals who are receiving payments through the Social Security Administration, specifically the cost of room and board for post-secondary students. DBS has drafted a change of policy as a result of that collaboration. The RCT was represented at the NCSRC and CSAVR spring conference. 2015 State Plan Input: The RCT congratulated DBS for adding an additional transition counselor. 2015 State Plan Recommendation on Attachment 4.8 (b) (1): The attachment should be revised to include activities carried out with the State Independent Living Council. DBS Response: This information was added to the attachment as requested. 2015 State Plan Recommendation on Attachment 4.8 (b) (4): 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 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. DBS Response: This information was added to the attachment as requested. 2015 State Plan Input on Attachment 4.11(c) (4): The attachment shows a significant difference of the number served. The RCT asked why the number served has reduced. DBS Response: The number served was updated.

2015 State Plan Input on Attachment 4.11 (C) (1): It is recommended that Measure 1.4 be changed to 90 percent and Measure 4.2 be changed to 400. Measure 4.4 should be deleted as it has been accomplished. DBS Response: DBS revised attachment as requested. 2015 State Plan Input on Attachment 4.11 (e) (2): DBS has narrowly defined assistive technology in this attachment to include only computer related devices. Suggest that DBS add computer related before the words assistive technology to provide clarity and consider including other assistive technology that it provides to its consumers.

DBS Response: DBS revised this attachment as requested.

2015 State Plan Input 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.

DBS Response: DBS will utilize this information to guide it in an effort to gather more in-depth data in the areas identified by the needs assessment. 2015 State Plan Input on Attachment 4.11(d): In regard to the goal related to meeting or exceeding the Standards and Indicators, the information listed does not address strategies needed to meet or improve goals. Specific strategies should be listed.

DBS Response:

DBS revised this attachment to include the specific strategies addressed.

2015 State Plan Input on Attachment 4.11 (b): This attachment was provided to the RCT as a final document one day before this attachment 4.2 was due. The RCT did not have sufficient time to consider the attachment. We request that RCT be involved in the development process earlier. We request that we be given a minimum of a week’s lead time to review the material.

DBS Response: DBS will make every effort to comply with the above recommendations.

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.

DBS Response: DBS will make every effort to comply with the above recommendations.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 2:51PM by txfincherr

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 Jun 29 2009 1:57PM by satxbfajkusm

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 Blind Services (DBS) falls within the purview of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Other agencies within the purview of HHSC are the: • Department of Aging and Disability Services; • Department of Family and Protective Services; and • Department of State Health Services.

DBS has cooperative and collaborative working relationships with each of those agencies. Agency commissioners meet on a regular basis to discuss issues of mutual concern and to identify and resolve problems related to service delivery.

DBS works closely with the DARS Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS), which is the designated state unit for vocational rehabilitation for persons with disabilities other than blindness. DBS and DRS have worked together in areas such as policy and procedures; purchasing of consumer services, specialized services for specific disability groups, and a common database to collect and report consumer information.

DBS works with the Texas Education Agency and local school districts to provide services for transition-age consumers. There is also close collaboration with the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI). A number of specialized services have been developed to prepare students at TSBVI as they move toward the world of work.

DBS also interacts with other agencies including: • Texas Department of Transportation, since inadequate transportation is often a major factor in terms of a consumer’s ability to maintain employment; • Social Security Administration (SSA), in order to collaborate on employment incentives and supports and to maximize the SSA/VR reimbursement activity through the Ticket to Work Program; • Department of Veterans Affairs, in order to enhance access to comparable benefits; and • Texas Department of Insurance’s Division for Workers’ Compensation, in order to facilitate the referral process of injured workers to DARS.

DBS also coordinates consumer services with the State Independent Living Centers. Services accessed through the independent living centers include benefits planning and independent living skills training. A DBS representative also serves on the State Independent Living Council. Interaction at the local level also occurs on a routine basis. Field staff participates in resource planning designed to assist those consumers who need assistance from multiple agencies. Staff participate 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. Efforts to maximize employment are pursued through local chambers of commerce and local mayors’ committees for people with disabilities to promote full integration and opportunities within local communities.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 3:00PM by txfincherr

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

The Division for Blind Services (DBS) works closely with the education system through the DBS Transition Program.

State Educational Agency Partnership DBS established an interagency letter of agreement with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for coordination of transition planning services for students receiving special education services in Texas. This letter of agreement provides for:

• Consultation and technical assistance in planning for the transition of students with disabilities from school to post-school activities, including vocational rehabilitation services; • Transition planning for students with disabilities that facilitates the development and completion of the individual education plan (IEP); • Clarification of the agencies’ respective roles and responsibilities, including financial responsibilities, for providing transition planning services for students who are blind or significantly visually impaired; and • A description of procedures for outreach to and identification of students with disabilities who are in need of transition services.

Local Education Agency Partnerships DBS works with the TEA Special Education Division, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), Texas School for the Deaf, Education Service Centers (ESCs), and other local education agencies to provide a variety of training opportunities. One example of this training is the DBS sponsored “Working with Children and Families.” A key component is extensive training in the special education process, which includes transition planning in the IEP.

Local education agencies are fiscally responsible for services and accommodations documented in the IEP. While a student is in high school, DBS purchases services and provides a technology evaluation for equipment for use in postsecondary education, training, or pursuit of long-term vocational goals. Students then have opportunities to gain skills needed for success in the transition to postsecondary education, training, or employment.

Educational Counseling DBS policy states that transition is a collaborative, student-centered and student-driven process. Transition is an integral part of the education and rehabilitation process and is based on the student’s individual needs, interests, and preferences. Effective transition planning happens as early as possible to help students develop the skills and attitudes necessary to work and live in the community.

The DBS Transition Program provides consumers who are at least 10 years of age and under 24 years of age (and who may have multiple disabilities) with vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to prepare them for employment and enable them to make informed decisions about their future goals. The program is often the link between the DBS Blind Children’s Vocational Discovery and Development Program and the adult VR program. As a result, consumers benefit from seamless delivery of services throughout each stage of development.

Twenty-five transition counselors throughout the state take strong advocacy roles in preparing students with visual loss for entry into the world of work. They serve as informational resources for teachers and other educational staff, and provide resources and information about blindness for parents and transitioning youth throughout development of the youth’s individualized plan for employment (IPE). They work closely with parents, education staff, and community service providers to promote development of skills needed for students to become as independent as possible and competitive in terms of employment.

In addition to training parents and students about their special education rights and responsibilities, DBS provides educational support by working with the transition team to develop and implement the IEP. Goals developed in the IEP are included in the IPE to facilitate successful completion of those goals. The IPE is completed as early as possible during the transition process, so it is in place before students exit secondary education. DBS provides services for youth as early as 10 years of age to ensure IPEs are completed early. Services prepare students to be confident and competent to maximize their potential to achieve success.

Pursuant to 34 CFR 361.22 (a) (2), DBS 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.

Services focus on these six skill areas: • Adjustment to blindness; • Independent living skills; • Travel skills; • Communication; • Support systems; and • Vocational skills.

DBS transition counselors offer current vocational, career, and educational information to help students identify potential career pursuits.

Referral DBS staff works closely with TEA, TSBVI, regional ESCs, and other local education agencies to ensure youths who are blind and visually impaired are referred to DBS. DBS staff participates in outreach activities to help identify students who are blind or significantly visually impaired and who need transition services. Outreach activities include: • provision of information about the Transition Program; • description of available services and eligibility requirements; and • the application process for services.

DBS staff serves as a community resource for local schools and education agencies.

Interagency Agreements DBS and TSBVI have a long-standing interagency agreement to coordinate services for blind and visually impaired youth. DBS and TSBVI co-produce the SenseAbilities newsletter, a publication with worldwide readership. They also coordinate to provide a postsecondary program and a summer work experience program for Transition consumers.

This screen was last updated on Aug 4 2014 9:53AM by txfincherr

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.

The DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) has a long history of utilizing private non-profit community rehabilitation service providers. These were originally limited to facilities designed to provide opportunities for individuals with visual loss, namely organizations in the Lighthouse Industries for the Blind of Texas (LIBT) network. Contractual agreements covered basic services such as vocational evaluation, orientation and mobility, work adjustment, job readiness and placement, specific training programs. Establishment grants were also used within this network to promote training and employment assistance directed toward integrated competitive employment.

Over the last several years, the number and diversity of non-profit vendors has grown extensively. A wide variety of community organizations are now involved in service delivery to DBS consumers. The system was expanded through publication of several requests for proposals (RFPs) soliciting potential vendors, including non-profit community rehabilitation service providers. These RFPs are the foundation for contracts for services such as vocational evaluation, vocational adjustment training, job readiness training, and job development training.

DBS has developed the “VR Resource Guide,” which provides basic information about blindness. The guide answers questions regarding vision loss and provides information on resources available to assist consumers maintain an active and healthy lifestyle with a focus on achieving and maintaining successful employment outcomes. The guide assists local DBS staff and consumers with identifying and contacting private, non-profit vocational rehabilitation service providers at the national, state, and local levels. It is available in paper and electronic formats, allowing DBS staff to provide this information to consumers in their preferred medium. The guide is also available in Spanish.

A system is in place to notify vendors that are potentially interested in providing services for DBS consumers by electronically posting notices on the Texas Marketplace website. This will further expand the visibility of DBS within the community and increase the availability of service providers around the state.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 3:04PM by txfincherr

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:

Due to the multitude of resources (human and fiscal) typically required for successful employment of individuals who are the most significantly disabled, the DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) has learned that collaboration with all available entities is essential. Efforts to collaborate with respect to supported employment services are ongoing. Establishing Funding DBS collaborates with community organizations that provide direct services and with other state agencies that serve various disability populations when establishing both funding and service provisions that assist an individual with the most significant disabilities maintain employment. 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 a variety of local community-level sponsorships. Evidence of Collaboration, Contracts, and Agreements DBS and the DARS Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) have implemented supported employment service contracts and standards that require commitment from community organizations to provide individualized, time-limited services that consumers need and to arrange for extended services. These organizations are responsible for locating or creating the extended services needed by each consumer and securing necessary funding. Extended services are provided or arranged by the community organizations and through developing natural supports.

The outcome-based supported employment payment system, implemented January 2, 2007, was developed through collaboration between DBS and DRS. The system standardized required forms, documentation, and expectations for quality provider performance. The system also allows DBS to share providers with DRS, which significantly increases provider resources for DBS.

DBS also collaborated with DRS on an ARRA-funded project to develop a supported employment training curriculum for current and potential providers. This online training and certification is provided by the University of North Texas Workplace Inclusion and Sustainable Employment program.

DBS and DRS continue working with DADS to improve communication and further align DARS’ and DADS’ employment services. DARS and DADS have a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in place that defines each agency’s responsibilities in coordinating employment services to mutual consumers. The MOA also provides for a systematic exchange of consumer-identifying information for those consumers receiving services from both agencies and helps facilitate collaboration and communication between agencies to enhance consumer services. DBS has joined DRS in a monthly interagency workgroup to address system changes that includes DADS, DSHS, Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), and the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Medicaid/CHIP Division. DBS and DRS, along with other members of the interagency workgroup (DADS, DSHS, and DFPS) participated in a six-month pilot, “First Steps to Employment,” that provided a tool that DADS providers can use to guide consumers who are interested in employment to get the maximum benefit from VR services from DRS and DBS. DBS also uses its current partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to encourage Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP) providers to become Employment Networks (ENs) under the SSA Ticket to Work Program. DBS offers incentive payments to CRP-ENs that provide supported employment or job placement services during the provision of VR services and extended supports to Ticket to Work consumers after VR case closure in order to advance employment or increase consumer earnings. Training DBS has partnered with DRS in providing training on VR and Independent Living (IL) services to DADS HCS waiver utilization review nurses, Private Provider Association of Texas members, community centers, and the Statewide Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Consortium. DBS is also providing input on an employment manual for the STAR+PLUS Long-term Supports and Services waiver portion of HHSC Medicaid/CHIP Division’s 1115 Healthcare Transformation waiver.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 3:05PM by txfincherr

Attachment 4.10 Comprehensive System of Personnel Development

Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), Division for Blind Services (DBS), is committed to ensuring that consumers receive services from qualified rehabilitation professionals. DBS has established procedures to support the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) initiative.

DBS maintains the QVRC Database, which is an electronic database linked to relevant fields from the Health and Human Services Administrative System (HHSAS). Official transcripts are submitted by newly hired Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRC) and Transition Counselors (TC). The CSPD Coordinator reviews transcripts to determine whether or not their degrees meet the CSPD standards for the Qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (QVRC). Educational information is entered into the QVRC Database. The Coordinator tracks graduate enrollment, academic progress, and graduation. The Coordinator collects enrollment and graduation statistics from universities preparing VR professionals. Additionally, DARS Program Reporting and Analysis Unit (PRA) is able to access personnel information to prepare specific analytical reports.

As of September 30, 2013, DBS had 350.25 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) positions available to meet vocational rehabilitation (VR) consumer needs directly. Of the 97 FTEs at the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center (CCRC), 74 provide direct services for consumers. The following is a breakdown by personnel category: • 76 VR Counselors and VR Coordinators FTEs (includes CCRC VR Counselors/Coordinator) • 24.5 Transition Counselor FTEs • 93.75 Support Staff FTEs • 40 VR Teacher FTEs • 7 VR Supervisor FTEs • 12 Field Director FTEs • 97 CCRC FTEs (does not include VR Counselors)

As of September 30, 2013, 76 VRCs and 25 TCs served consumers; the average active caseload size was one VR Counselor per 61 consumers and one Transition Counselor per 76 consumers. Projections for numbers of employees needed are based on historical numbers of eligible consumers served, historical turnover rates for each position, and projected turnover.

From federal fiscal year 2010 through 2013 the turnover rate of 8.49percent per year of VRs and TCs is due to retirement of seasoned staff as well as promotions to higher paying positions both in the private sector and within DARS. Should this trend continue, it is projected that 52.45 percent additional counselors will be needed over the next five years to maintain current staffing levels and counselor-to-consumer ratios.

 

Row Job Title Total positions Current vacancies Projected vacancies over the next 5 years
1 VR Counselor 101 13 52
2 VR Teachers 40 2 61
3 Regional Administrative Assistants & Rehab Assist. 94 18 36
4 VR Supervisors 7 1 78
5 Field Directors 12 2 29
6 CCRC 74 14 81
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. All six schools reported a combined enrollment of 477 students for fiscal year 2013

The University of North Texas and Texas Tech University offer distance learning. Of the DBS Rehabilitation Counselors presently enrolled in Master’s programs, 100 percent are participating via distance learning.

 

Row Institutions Students enrolled Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates from the previous year
1 Texas Tech University 93 5 25 33
2 University of North Texas 163 5 39 36
3 University of Texas-Pan American 158 0 46 30
4 University of Texas at Austin 18 0 9 11
5 University of Texas at El Paso 38 0 9 10

 

DBS has forged productive, proactive working relationships with Texas universities that train rehabilitation professionals. Division representatives serve on rehabilitation education advisory committees, serve as guest lecturers, and make recruiting trips to acquaint students with career opportunities in public rehabilitation. DBS campus involvement with Texas universities results in pre-service student requests for practicum and internship placement with DBS. Internships have been offered since 1999 for students completing master’s degrees in Rehabilitation Counseling or Rehabilitation. In fiscal year 2013 DBS hosted one paid internship student, nine unpaid internship

students, and 10 unpaid practicum students. Evaluations of student interns come directly from certified, licensed, and QVRC DBS internship supervisors and department advisors from the intern’s university.

Job vacancy notices are routinely posted on the Health and Human Services Jobs Center and on WorkinTexas.com, the statewide job site maintained by the Texas Workforce Commission.

Individuals who are blind and meet DBS minimum standards may submit records of verifiable unpaid experience, such as a practicum or internship, in lieu of paid work experience. This practice is valuable in recruiting individuals with disabilities.

Efforts to recruit personnel from minority backgrounds include preference for bilingual candidates who speak Spanish for positions located in areas with high Hispanic populations. Opportunities to promote employment to all community sectors are achieved by sharing job postings with universities and academic programs, including those serving minority populations.

DBS strives to ensure that the staff represents the diversity of the state and the consumers we serve. Ethnic distribution of DBS employees is: • 50.85% White, • 29.94% Hispanic, • 17.70% Black, and • 1.51% other (including Asian American and American Indian).

Approximately 11.49 percent of DBS employees have a reported disability, primarily blindness or visual impairment. When possible, DBS strives to apply the actions and strategies stated above, which have proven effective in hiring staff from minority backgrounds and staff with disabilities.

PRA calculates the overall DBS federal fiscal year 2013 attrition rate to be 9.31 percent, while the VRC and TC attrition rate was 8.49 percent. Counselor turnover reflects retirement of seasoned staff as well as promotion to higher paying positions both in the private sector and within DARS.

DBS has a system to recruit and hire individuals as VRCs who have master’s degrees in Rehabilitation Counseling. DBS maintains the QVRC Database to monitor the number of counselors required to meet CSPD qualifications. Monitoring includes the number of counselors with master’s degrees in Rehabilitation Counseling or closely related fields, as well as the number who are Certified Rehabilitation Counselor’s or Licensed Professional Counselor’s. As of September 30, 2013, there were 101 counselors required to meet CSPD standards. Of those 101 counselors, 73 had met and 22 had not met CSPD Standards. A status report is provided to management on a quarterly basis.

Applicants who meet the CSPD standard for counselor positions are given preference for jobs. If a candidate is hired who does not meet the CSPD standard, DBS informs the chosen candidate through the job offer letter that the candidate is required to meet the standard by participating in the QVRC program and completing the required coursework within seven years after completing the initial training year.

They are required to sign the DARS1362, Qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (QVRC) Acknowledgment form within 30 days of hire. By signing this required form, the VRC agrees that in order to hold a counselor position they must meet the CSPD standard by either meeting the CSPD requirement at the time of employment or by completing the educational requirements within the established CSPD timeline. VR Counselors not achieving the standard within the prescribed time are not allowed to continue functioning in this capacity. DBS can finance graduate degrees in Rehabilitation Counseling if alternate funding sources are not available.

Growth and development for all levels of staff are essential. The DBS staff attend external trainings provided by such agencies as the American Association of Diabetes Educator, the Texas Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (TAER), the American Council of the Blind of Texas (ACBT), the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA), the Council of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), and the University of Arkansas CURRENTS, to name a few. Staff members are encouraged to attend national conferences. In so doing, staff members have the opportunity to receive training as well as to network.

The DARS Center for Learning Management (CLM) collaborates with DBS to provide training to DBS staff. Training needs and priorities are identified to either develop new training or update existing training. The training provided in fiscal year 2013 included such topics as Diabetes, Substance Abuse, Dealing with Ex-Offenders, Social Security Work Incentives, Autism, and Vocational Strategies for Behavioral Health Issues. During the initial year, counselors attend internal training conducted by CLM and DBS subject matter experts to enhance skills and develop a basic understanding of policy and how to implement processes.

Mississippi State University (MSU) has a graduate certificate program for Vision Specialists in Vocational Rehabilitation. This program provides specialized training for VRCs from around the country. The program consists of four graduate courses designed to train VRCs to become more effective in their work with consumers who are blind or visually impaired. These increased professional skills enable graduates to help consumers with vision loss learn independent living skills and assist them in becoming employed. At the end of the program, they receive the Vision Specialist in Vocational Rehabilitation Certificate. Two VRCs attended this program from January 2013 through August 2013. MSU provided stipends for both.

 

The Texas Legislature sets the state’s classification schedule, which determines pay grades for counselors and other classified positions as well as the salary schedule for the pay range agencies must use for compensation. Working within current classification and salary schedules, DARS has developed and implemented policies to recruit and retain a diverse workforce including: • Optional work schedules and telework opportunities, if appropriate for the position; • Reimbursement to VRCs who meet CSPD requirements for one CRC application fee, one CRC exam fee, and in-state travel expenses to take the exam; and • The provision of internal and external training opportunities so DBS staff members can maintain various certifications.

DBS is aggressively working on capacity building and leadership development. DBS’ succession program, FUTURES, has been replaced by The Executive Leadership Academy (ELA) and Aspiring Leaders Academy (ALA). These two developmental opportunities are available to DARS DBS through the Health and Human Services (HHS) Leadership Development Program. The ELA is designed for high potential employees who are one or two levels from senior or executive leadership. The nine-month program includes presentations, mentoring, shadowing, and an action learning project. One field director graduated in 2013. The ALA is intended for high potential employees who are newer to their career or leadership development. They participate in the six-month long program that provides an introduction to leadership, management, and the role of each agency in the Enterprise. One DBS employee graduated in 2013 from this program.

The Academy was implemented in fiscal year 2009. A second group was completed October 2012, and a third group will be scheduled for fiscal year 2015 or fiscal year 2016. The Academy focuses on professional support staff offering leadership training and opportunities for skill development and improvement based on the needs of support staff with DBS.

The State of Texas does not have a certification standard for rehabilitation counselors; therefore DBS chose to base new hiring and personnel development policies on academic preparation consistent with national requirements for CRCs. This includes, at a minimum, a course in Theories and Techniques of Counseling and a course in Medical or Psychosocial Aspects of Disabilities. DBS recognizes the LPCs as an acceptable alternate standard, because coursework required for this license also meets the educational requirements noted above.

Job vacancy notices identify a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling with a minimum of a 600-clock-hour practicum supervised by a CRC as the preferred academic preparation for VRCs and TCs. When the applicant pool does not include anyone with this preparation, positions may be filled by applicants with a (in decreasing order of preference): • Master’s degree in Counseling, Education, Social Work, Psychology, or Sociology supplemented by one year rehabilitation experience working with people who are blind, visually impaired, or who have other disabilities; • other master’s degree with two years of work experience as described above; • other bachelor’s degree in related human services field with equivalent combination of education, training, and experience plus the ability to meet the CRC eligibility requirements within seven years from completion of the initial training year of employment in a VRC position.

Currently, 73 VRCs meet the required academic standards. Of the 28 VRC positions not meeting academic standards: • 22 are enrolled in graduate programs • four are within their first year of hire and are completing required core trainings before beginning graduate school; and, • two are vacant positions.

Candidates who do not meet academic standards are informed at the time of hiring that they have seven years following completion of initial training year to do so. Candidates for VR Coordinator positions must meet standards to be eligible for job postings. DBS has encouraged but has not required counselors to obtain CRC certification, though 14 are presently certified as CRC, three hold LPC certification, and one has both a CRC and LPC.

The In-Service Training Grant funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration is reserved for training staff members to meet the CSPD standards, providing succession training, supporting DBS’ Texas Confidence Builders philosophy, Eye Medical Training, and other external training opportunities.

The Rehabilitation Council of Texas (RCT) assists DBS in addressing issues related to personnel development. 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.

DBS employs other professional staff in full-time or contractual capacities. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and Orientation and Mobility Specialists are required to have valid licenses from certifying bodies appropriate to their professions. DBS is 100 percent compliant in these areas.

 

DBS is committed to ensuring that its workforce is highly skilled, professionally trained, and thoroughly prepared to provide the highest quality service to Texans who are blind or visually impaired. All staff has access to internal and external training designed to develop knowledge and skills necessary to achieve success in their positions, provide developmental activities for new and emerging leaders, and enhance service delivery for consumers. Trainings are delivered via classroom, webinar, or teleconference.

Although VR counselor job descriptions are developed with the requirement for an applicant to have a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, Counseling, or closely-related fields as preferred academic preparations, in some parts of the state a scarcity of graduate level applicants exists. It is essential to hire bachelor’s level counselors to ensure that services to consumers are not unduly delayed. VRCs and TCs who do not meet academic standards at the time of hiring have seven years from completion of their initial training year period in which to comply. DBS finances graduate degrees in Rehabilitation Counseling if alternate funding sources are not available.

Orientation to Rehabilitation and Blindness training is a one-week program attended by all newly hired DBS staff members except for part-time employees. Participants develop an awareness of the nature of blindness and the impact it has on all aspects of a person’s life. Extensive exposure to legislation, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, enables the continuum of DBS services.

Introduction to Blindness training is a two-week program that introduces participants to the non-visual blindfold training strategy. Under blindfold, staff members experiences the key emotional factors and learn alternative techniques in the adjustment to blindness process, discovering that blindness does not preclude an individual from living an independent and successful life.

Immersion Training is a four-to-six week program. Application of the Texas Confidence Builder philosophy, using the least restrictive adaptation model, structured discovery, problem-solving, and adult learning theory includes techniques to facilitate emotional adjustment to blindness. The Orientation and Mobility portion of Immersion Training allows for individualized training and opportunity for immediate feedback.

Eye Medical is a three-day training designed to provide staff members with a basic understanding of the anatomy of the eye, to familiarize them with pathological conditions causing vision loss, and to develop a referential body of knowledge related to diagnostics, treatment, training, and long-term vocational implications.

The staff is encouraged to be aware of current research by using the Internet Resources link available through the DBS intranet site. Information disseminated by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) and a variety of other government and university research centers can be reached from this link. DBS works closely with the Mississippi State University Research and Training (R&T) Center on Blindness and Low Vision and other R&T Centers to stay current in the field of blindness. Many DBS staff members are leaders or active members of the Association of Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). The staff is active in the Texas Rehabilitation Action Network (TRAN) and has presented educational programs to familiarize participants with blindness-related issues.

ReHabWorks (RHW) is an automated statewide caseload management system that serves DBS and DRS. Five staff members were chosen to test RHW regularly to ensure functionality of the system and that the rehabilitation process continues to be properly followed. This group also assists in developing training materials.

Training plans for new employees foster competencies in skills required for different job categories. Structured on-the-job trainings supervised by experienced colleagues are common to all positions; CLM provides or coordinates more formal, extensive trainings for caseload carrying staff. A three-year Individual Training Plan (ITP) is developed for all VR and Transition Counselors, normally within two weeks of hiring.

During the first year of employment, almost seven non-consecutive weeks of mandatory training provide counselors with critical information about processes and procedures, medical issues surrounding blindness, and employment assistance strategies. In the second and third years, counselors receive training in skills needed to facilitate consumer career choice and decision-making as well as counseling techniques to help consumers adjust to blindness.

Many of the courses in the Masters of Rehabilitation Counseling provide opportunities for practical application on actual caseloads. Counselors and other staff learn about assistive technology (AT), including screen readers, braille devices, closed circuit televisions, portable note takers, etc., as part of the intensive Employment Assistance Training program. VR Teachers are provided with a three-year ITP that includes: • four weeks wearing a blindfold at the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center (CCRC) participating in classes with consumers, • three weeks of training in teaching, process, and procedures and Employment Assistance training for VRTs. • extensive braille training. All teachers must demonstrate competency annually by completing The Annual Braille Project and submitting it for review by the VR Teacher Program Specialist. • training transcripts, letters of recommendation from a certified VR teacher, and funding to help interested teachers become Academy-certified. CLM offers ongoing training for all DBS employees through the annual training calendar or through use of vendors. CLM provides a wide array of courses on blindness-specific

topics, such as Eye Medical Training and Counseling/Adjusting with Blindness. While many courses are mandatory for caseload carrying staff, all other employees may request to participate.

All staff members participate with their supervisors in planning annual goals and identifying training needs and goals in their Employee Performance Plans. These processes, combined with input received from DBS managers and administrators, serve as needs assessments that determine annual training calendar offerings.

DBS is aggressively working on capacity building and leadership development. The FUTURES Program has been replaced by The Executive Leadership Academy (ELA) and Aspiring Leaders Academy (ALA). These two developmental opportunities are available to DBS through the Health and Human Services (HHS) Leadership Development Program. The ELA is designed for high potential employees who are one or two levels from senior or executive leadership. The nine-month program includes presentations, mentoring, shadowing and an action learning project. One field director participated in ELA and graduated 2013. The ALA is intended for high potential employees who are newer to their career or leadership development. They participate in the six-month long program that provides an introduction to leadership, management and the role of each agency in the Enterprise. DBS had one employee graduate 2013 from this program. Below is a summary of the TACE 6 CURRENTS sponsored assessment compiled for DARS. This assessment identifies the various level of training needs of DBS’ counselors and management.

Summary of Region Training Needs Survey—DBS for 2014 and 2015

Demographics: All positions, statewide

Respondents: 266 Employees

Training Needs Identified: The following are the top five training needs as well as the specific issues that were identified in the survey: 1) Specific Disabilities: Blindness and Vision Impairments, Traumatic Brain Injury and other Brain Injuries, Hearing Loss and Deafness, and Psych Disorders 2) Counseling: Individual Counseling, Mental Health Counseling, Psychosocial and Cultural Issues in Counseling 3) Foundations Question: Managing Time & Priorities, Medical, Functional, and Environmental Aspects of Disabilities, Problem Solving Skills, and Technology Skills 4) Leadership and Management: Leadership development at all levels and Building the VR team 5) Employment Outcomes: Job Development and Business Development.

Tenure:

Time in Position: 13.5 percent of DBS staff members have been in their position for less than a year, 34.2 percent for 1 to 5 years, 18.1percent for 5 to 10 years, and 34.2 percent for more than 10 years.

Time in Agency: DBS employees that have been with the agency for more than 10 years make up the largest percentage, at 43.7 percent, and those who have been with the agency between 1 to 5 years is 24.1 percent.

Position:

Specialty Areas: In correlation with the job categories addressed, 128 respondents (48.7 percent) considered themselves to be working in a “Specialty Area.” This is consistent with the number of VRC/TC, VR Teacher, Orientation and Mobility Instructor, and EAS employees who completed the survey.

Certification and Licenses:

Sixty (26.4 percent) of the respondents must maintain certification in the following: • CRC: 30 respondents (50 percent) • Social Work Related: 5 respondents (8.3 percent) • LPC: 11 respondents (18.3 percent) • Braille Transcription: 1 respondent (1.7 percent) • Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist (COMS): 10 respondents (16.70 percent) • National Orientation and Mobility Certification (NOMC): 1 respondent (1.70 percent) • Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT): 2 respondents (3.30 percent) • Certifications that satisfy CSPD requirements: CRC and LPC

 

DBS meets adaptive communication needs. For example, with the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Language Line, staff members can establish communication with consumers in numerous languages, including those commonly found in Texas.

Many consumers and staff members who are blind or visually impaired need alternate formats for printed communications. A full-time employee in the DBS Braille Unit prepares documents in braille, large print, or electronic format. Dedicated computers with braille translation software and braille embossers are available in each field office. Staff uses these to produce documents such as letters to consumers or meeting agendas.

DBS employs Assistive Technology (AT) Specialists to support staff using assistive programs with standard agency software to complete their job duties. The AT Specialist assesses staff skill levels, recommends and implements training approaches, and coordinates service delivery statewide.

Accessibility Specialists from the Center for Policy and External Relations (CPER) test the accessibility of internal electronic forms, propose training software, work closely with caseload management system developers, advise vendors to ensure that electronic educational options are equally accessible to all staff, and play a crucial role in testing accessibility within the Health and Human Services system.

In areas of Texas where a high percentage of the population speaks only Spanish, hiring preference is given to candidates who are bilingual in Spanish and English. Most employees in El Paso, Harlingen, Laredo, McAllen, and Corpus Christi offices are bilingual.

The Deafblind Unit serves consumers who are deafblind. Specialists fluent in sign language consult with caseload-carrying staff, consumers, and community resources to develop and implement plans and services. DBS also purchases state-certified interpreter services as needed.

 

DBS works closely with the education system through the Transition program. Transition counselors participate in training covering the Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) process as well as the Individual Education Program (IEP). When conducting group skills activities for the ARD and IEP process, trainers are parents and representatives from: • the Special Education Division of the Texas Education Agency (TEA), • Disability Rights Texas, • Partners Resource Network, Inc., and • The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI).

The DBS staff participates in cross-trainings with other entities involved in education for students with visual loss, such as the Texas Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (TAER), and sponsors and participates in workshops and seminars to help education staff members develop expertise in working with these students.

This screen was last updated on Aug 4 2014 9:59AM by txfincherr

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.

  DBS conducts a Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA) every three years to identify rehabilitation needs, particularly the vocational rehabilitation (VR) service needs, of individuals residing in Texas who are blind or significantly visually impaired, and who: • have the most significant disabilities, including needs for supported employment; • are minorities and have been unserved or underserved by the VR program; and • have disabilities served through other components of the statewide workforce system.

The CSNA also surveys the need to establish, develop, or improve community rehabilitation programs in Texas. The most recent CSNA was conducted in the fall of 2013 and winter of 2014 The VR Needs Assessment Guide was utilized to assist in its completion.

Methodology

These activities were completed as part of the CSNA: • consumer satisfaction review, • key informants survey, • consumer data analysis, • stakeholder input review, and • VR staff survey.

Consumer Satisfaction Review The consumer satisfaction survey for fiscal year 2013 was reviewed as part of the assessment. There were 1,025 responses from VR consumers. Ninety two percent of the survey respondents were satisfied with their services.

Key Informants Survey DBS collaborated with the DARS Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) to develop an instrument to survey persons knowledgeable about the needs of people who are blind or significantly visually impaired. The survey’s purpose was to capture opinions regarding who they consider to be unserved or underserved by the VR program. The survey asked for recommendations about populations identified as unserved or underserved, barriers to serving those populations, and effective intervention strategies. In particular, recommendations were sought regarding the need to establish, develop, or improve Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP) providers. The key informant survey was completed by phone.

Consumer Data Analysis 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. This data was used to determine the overall profile of the Texas population. This profile was compared to the profile of persons DBS serves. Factors reviewed included age, ethnic composition, and metropolitan/non-metropolitan residential status compared to persons who DBS determined eligible in FY 2013.

Stakeholder Input Review The Rehabilitation Council of Texas (RCT), DBS, and DRS conducted nine public meetings to gather public input on the VR service needs of people with disabilities, and analyze the need to establish, develop, or improve CRP providers across the state. The public meetings were held in the following locations. • Dallas, October 16, 2013 • San Antonio, October 24, 2013 • Houston, October 24, 2013 • Beaumont, October 29, 2013 • Laredo, October 29, 2013 • Austin, October 30, 2013 • Midland-Odessa, November 5, 2013 • Corpus Christi, November 6, 2013 • McAllen, November 14, 2013.

RCT, DBS, and DRS representatives attended all meetings. Information gathered from the public meetings, including comments submitted electronically. Comments and recommendations from the RCT and other advocacy groups were considered as part of the analysis.

VR Staff Survey DBS conducted a survey of all VR staff across the state. The survey asked for recommendations about populations identified as unserved or underserved, barriers to providing VR services to those populations, and intervention strategies that could be used with those populations. Surveys were emailed to all staff. One hundred-fifty completed the survey with 29% identifying themselves as counselors. The survey tool used is the accessible web-based application.

DBS staff identified the following barriers to serving DBS consumers: lack of available and appropriate jobs; lack of community services; increase in the numbers of consumers with multiple disabilities; lack of quality relationships with potential employers; lack of quality relationships with agencies that work with consumers; lack of financial resources available to assist consumers; and limited information shared by those working with consumers.

Identified Barriers to Service

The CSNA identified barriers to serving DBS consumers in the following areas: • community services, • financial resources, • employment services, and • consumers with multiple disabilities.

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

Lack of Community Services Potential service providers are unaware of the needs of DBS consumers.

Mitigation Strategies DBS over the years has implemented various strategies to increase public awareness of services provided to help persons who are blind retain or attain employment. DBS makes presentations to inform community service providers of the needs of DBS consumers, maintains relationships with consumer and advocacy organizations, and contacts the local medical community, specifically ophthalmologists and local mental health providers, to ensure people who are blind or visually impaired are informed about VR services.

The DBS staff members have established relationships with businesses as part of its efforts to help consumers locate or maintain employment. DBS will continue with outreach to employers to address attitudes and perceptions, better relationships between DARS and potential employers, and develop opportunities for self-employment.

Lack of Financial Resources Some barriers such as housing and transportation costs may be outside the scope of DARS, but they are significant barriers for those obtaining and maintaining employment. Knowledge of public benefits and how they can be utilized to assist with employment was also noted as a barrier. Mitigation Strategies DBS will continue to seek financial resources to assist consumers. DBS policy allows VR counselors to purchase transportation services related to a program of rehabilitation services for consumers. DBS staff around the state participates in Health and Human Service Regional Coordination Forums related to public transportation to advocate for system improvements.

DBS began providing training to VR staff on benefits planning in 2013, joining DRS’ SSA benefits training initiative. Staff is being trained in how to obtain Social Security benefits queries as well as how to utilize the information to assist consumers in achieving employment goals.

Employment Services

In general, there is a lack of available and appropriate jobs and services for persons who are blind or significantly visually impaired.

DBS 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.

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

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

• informing the board and workforce centers about VR services and eligibility criteria; • processing referrals from workforce centers; • referring to workforce centers consumers who can benefit from the employment services they provide; • providing technical assistance to local workforce boards regarding adaptive technology; • providing sensitivity and awareness of blindness training to workforce centers’ staff, 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, DARS has identified veterans with disabilities as a distinct underserved consumer demographic. Through enhanced collaboration with the VA system, DARS has set a goal of more effectively serving this population through initiatives such as:

Assessing the potential benefits of establishing dedicated caseloads for veterans with disabilities; Exploring and enhancing communication with and marketing of vocational rehabilitation services to the disabled veterans’ community; Enhancing operational relationships with local workforce development boards to more effectively coordinate and provide services to veterans with disabilities; Creating and enhancing business and operational relationships with federal, state, and local units of government who are also responsible for providing services to veterans; and Assessing and enhancing positive alignments between military training and skill sets and the civilian jobs to which those skills can transfer or be applied. DBS will continue to establish quality business relationships to assist in creating employment opportunities for persons who are blind and visually impaired.

Services for Consumers Who Are Blind and Have Significant Secondary Disabilities and/or Attendant Factors

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: Require CRP staff who provide job coaching, job placement, supported employment services, and supported self-employment services be credentialed in order to serve DBS consumers (to help ensure that all CRP staff working with consumers have and maintain, through the continuing education process, the foundational skills necessary to effectively provide individualized and customized, goal directed services);

DBS will continue to recruit potential CRP’s statewide;

DBS will work with current CRP providers of employment services to identify if work trial experiences can be developed across the state;

Facilitate “Think Tank” sessions that help DARS staff better serve special population consumers such as autism and significant mental illness (SMI) by providing training, education, and other resources; and Continue to work with other state agencies in the delivery of extended services (sometimes referred to as long-term supports) to consumers.

DBS VR counselors are provided training and support regarding how to work more effectively with consumers with significant secondary disabilities and attendant factors. DBS will build on the current training and support in order to further increase counselor capacity to effectively serve consumers with significant disabilities and attendant factors. DBS also continues to partner with DRS statewide to coordinate service provision for consumers with serious secondary disabilities.

Conclusion

DBS conducted a CSNA jointly with the RCT to determine the need to establish, develop, or improve CRP providers within the state, as well as the rehabilitation needs of individuals who are blind or significantly visually impaired residing in Texas, particularly the VR service needs of individuals with: • the most significant disabilities, including their need for supported employment services; and • disabilities served through other components of the statewide workforce investment system.

Assessment results indicate: • more individuals with the most significant disabilities could benefit from trial work experiences and situational assessments; • a need for increased public awareness of VR services available to persons who are blind or significantly visually impaired; • services for individuals who are unserved or underserved continues to be an issue and could benefit from more community outreach; and as part of its strategic planning process DBS will be working through 2016 to build staff capacity and expertise through staff training in providing services to consumers who are blind or visually impaired and have additional disabilities. • individuals who are blind or significantly visually impaired could benefit from continued, closer collaboration between the VR program and other components of the statewide workforce system.

This screen was last updated on Aug 4 2014 10:04AM by txfincherr

Attachment 4.11(b) Annual Estimates

DARS/DBS has experienced a slight decrease in individuals applying for Vocational Rehabilitation services between 2011 and 2013.

Year Number of Applications Percent Change From Prior Year 2011 3,374 2012 3,324 (1.48) 2013 3,071 (7.61)

DARS/DBS expects applications will increase in FFY 2015. Each field office is currently implementing outreach plans that will increase referrals by identifying individuals who need VR services. This anticipated increase in applications will also result from planned activities designed to partner with community organizations serving disabled individuals as well as participation in statewide initiatives focusing on underserved disabled populations and veterans.

The DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) estimates that for FY 2015 the number of individuals in Texas who are blind or significantly visually impaired and eligible for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services under Part B of Title I is 7488. This estimate considers a number of factors including:

• A review of the number of individuals applying for VR services in previous years; • A review of the number of eligible individuals served in previous years; • The anticipated population growth in Texas; and • Other variables that may impact the number of eligible individuals in the State.

The number of eligibility determinations over the past three years are:

Year Number of Eligibility Determinations Percent Change From Prior Year 2011 2,257 2012 2,223 (1.51) 2013 2,056 (7.51) DARS/DBS expects the number of eligibility determinations made in 2015 to increase in the same proportion as applications.

Outreach activities will be conducted to broaden the population of individuals with disabilities being served by DARS/DBS. Collaboration with community partners and statewide initiatives will result in increased service provision to unserved and underserved individuals who are blind or visually impaired and have additional disabilities, or persons who are deafblind, and veterans.

Adequate funds are available to serve all individuals currently eligible for DARS/DBS services and individuals in plan status. The division 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 as follows:

Year Average Cost to Support a Successful Rehabilitation Percent Change From Prior Year 2011 $9,001 2012 $8,950 (.57) 2013 $9,153 2.27

The division 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 successfully closed cases with an employment outcome during the Federal Fiscal Year.

DARS/DBS will look at strategies to more effectively use its resources and serve the greatest number of eligible individuals possible by maximizing use of comparable services and benefits and partnering with community service providers.

The division carried over approximately 4,954 Individual Plans for Employment (IPEs) into FFY 2014. This is an increase from FFY 2013 of .75%

Year IPEs Carried Over From Prior Year Percent Change From Prior Year 2011 4,881 2012 4,956 1.54 2013 4,917 0.79 2014 4,954 0.75

The DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) estimates that for FY 2015 the number of individuals in Texas who are blind or significantly visually impaired and eligible for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services under Part B of Title I is 7,488. This estimate considers a number of factors including:

• A review of the number of individuals applying for VR services in previous years; • A review of the number of eligible individuals served in previous years; • The anticipated population growth in Texas; and • Other variables that may impact the number of eligible individuals in the State.

The estimated amount required to provide services for all eligible individuals in the state in FY 2015 is $52,197,227.

DBS anticipates being able to provide the full range of services for all eligible individuals in the state in FY 2015.

For FY 2015, the estimated number of individuals who will receive supported employment services under Part B of Title VI is 400. The projected cost of supported employment services in FY 2015 is $389,652.

Category Title I or Title VI Estimated Funds Estimated Number to be Served Average Cost of Services
Vocational Rehabilitation Title I $52,197,227 7,488 $6,970
Supported Employment Title VI $389,652 400 $974
Totals   $52,586,879 7,888 $6,666

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 4:38PM by txfincherr

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 Blind Services (DBS) and the Rehabilitation Council of Texas (RCT) have collaborated to establish goals and priorities to advance the continued provision of high-quality vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to eligible consumers. DBS and the RCT agree that the following priorities are critical to the successful accomplishment of these goals: • Enhance the quality and scope of services through appropriate coordination with other agencies and organizations; and • Maximize the funding for the program by identifying and utilizing available comparable services and benefits.

Information obtained from the following sources was used to establish the DBS goals and priorities: • DBS performance on Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Evaluation Standards and Performance Indicators; • Quarterly RSA-113 reports; • Quarterly consumer satisfaction reports; • Input from consumers, advocacy organizations, and providers; and • Most recent statewide needs assessment.

Many targets are based on RSA Evaluation Standards and Performance Indicators. Because of the importance of these goals, they remain as goals even when past performance has been satisfactory.

Following are DBS goals and priorities for fiscal year (FY) 2015.

Goal 1: Provide vocational rehabilitation services that result in individuals who are blind or significantly visually impaired achieving a quality employment outcome.

Measure 1.1: The number of employment outcomes (successful closures) achieved will meet or exceed 1,350. Baseline FY 2013: 1,232

Measure 1.2: Of the individuals exiting the VR program after receiving services, a minimum of 70% will have achieved an employment outcome. Baseline FY 2013: 68.68%

Measure 1.3: Of the individuals achieving an employment outcome, the average hourly earnings when compared to the state’s average hourly earnings will equal or exceed a ratio of 0.59. Baseline FY 2013: 0.57

Measure 1.4: Of the individuals achieving an employment outcome, a minimum of 90% will be employed in competitive employment, employed in self-employment, or managing a business through Business Enterprises of Texas; and earning at least minimum wage. Baseline FY 2013: 89.5%

Goal 2: Effectively provide VR services for individuals from minority backgrounds who are blind or significantly visually impaired and ensure they are satisfied with the services provided.

Measure 2.1: Of the total number of consumers: (1) who receive services under an IPE, and (2) who achieve an employment outcome, at least 55% will be from a minority background. Baseline FY 2013: 64.2%

Measure 2.2: On the consumer satisfaction survey performed at case closure, a minimum of 90% of respondents from minority backgrounds will indicate they were satisfied with their overall experience with DBS. Baseline FY 2013: 92%

Goal 3: 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 for VR consumers.

Measure 3.1: On the consumer satisfaction survey performed at case closure, a minimum of 90% of the respondents will indicate they were satisfied with their overall experience with DBS. Baseline FY 2013: 92.1%

Measure 3.2: On the consumer satisfaction survey performed at case closure, a minimum of 90% of the respondents will indicate they were satisfied that services were provided within a reasonable time period. Baseline FY 2013: 90%

Measure 3.3: On the consumer satisfaction survey performed at case closure, a minimum of 90% of the respondents will indicate they were actively involved in choosing their employment goal and the services received. Baseline FY 2013: 92.7%

Measure 3.4: On the consumer satisfaction survey performed at case closure, a minimum of 90% of the respondents will indicate that their counselor listened to and considered their needs and concerns. Baseline FY 2013: 93.6%

Goal 4: Increase access to and provide effective and quality-based supported employment services

Measure 4.1: The number of consumers receiving supported employment services who achieve an employment outcome will equal or exceed 48. Baseline FY 2013: 47

Measure 4.2: The number of consumers receiving supported employment services will equal or exceed 400. Baseline FY 2013: 393

Measure 4.3: The number of consumer employment opportunities will be expanded by 10% of the baseline through increasing the number of supported employment services providers that can work effectively with consumers who are blind. Baseline FY 2013: 38 supported employment vendors that provided services to DBS consumers

Goal 5: Provide effective transition services to meet the needs of eligible students.

Measure 5.1: A minimum of 2,200 eligible students will be provided VR services. Baseline FY 2013: 2,171

Measure 5.2: A minimum of 130 transition students will transfer to the adult VR program. Baseline FY 2013: 126

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 3:44PM by txfincherr

Attachment 4.11(c)(3) Order of Selection

This agency is not implementing an Order of Selection.

This screen was last updated on Jun 29 2009 2:09PM by satxbfajkusm

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.

With the availability of federal funds designated for supported employment services, the goals and priorities of the DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) relate to serving vocational rehabilitation (VR) consumers with the most significant disabilities. In addition to vision loss, these individuals have multiple disabilities or functional limitations that result in the requirement for extended support services in order to retain community integrated employment.

Goals and priorities for the distribution of the separate supported employment funds include the following:

• Maintain the number of consumers receiving supported employment services within their home communities.

Measure: The number of consumers receiving supported employment services will be maintained at 400.

• Increase the number of consumers receiving supported employment services who achieve employment outcomes.

Measure: The number of consumers receiving supported employment services who achieve employment outcomes will increase to 48.

• Continue expanding the availability of supported employment services statewide through collaborative efforts with the DARS Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) in sharing supported employment service providers already contracted with DRS.

Measure: The number of providers available to provide supported employment services will be increased by 10 percent statewide during federal fiscal year (FFY) 2014. As of the end of FFY 2013, there were 38 supported employment service providers working with DBS consumers statewide.

Consistent with prior years, the Title VI, Part B funds allotment will be used primarily to purchase supported employment services for individual consumers on a statewide basis. It is anticipated that the 5percent administrative allowable on the allotment amount will be used toward partial salary and fringe benefits for the statewide program consultant for supported employment.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 3:45PM by txfincherr

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 DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) developed these innovation and expansion activities to address needs of individuals with the most significant disabilities.

1. Work Matters Project The goal of the Work Matters project is to make an impact on consumer salaries by increasing weekly wages. DBS will identify and access higher wage employment opportunities by aligning DBS/DARS business development activities and consumer service provisions to maximize high wage opportunities.

As the Rehabilitation Act mandates, the primary goal of the DBS VR program is to help Texans who are blind secure and maintain employment. Qualified VR counselors help eligible individuals establish appropriate employment goals and obtain services needed to attain those goals.

Strategy:

The DBS strategies will encompass the following: • to expand consumer employment opportunities by building and strengthening strategic business and partner relationships; • align counseling critical thinking process around employment opportunities and data to engage consumers in defining their optimal vocational opportunities; • maximize consumer potential and capabilities based on their job readiness; • increase job placement vendors’ effectiveness in matching consumers abilities with employment opportunities; and • align internal DBS metrics and performance indicators.

Measure:

By the end of Fiscal Year 2015, DBS will have developed specific performance measures related to the implementation of Work Matters Project.

Transition Services At both the national and state level there is a growing recognition of the need to expand and improve services for transition-age students in schools. Recent Congressional proposals for reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 would require VR agencies to serve more transition students or expand strategies for transition services. For example, various proposals would require developing additional services, increasing the number of transition students served by VR, and increasing VR funds expended for transition services.

Understanding career options, developing a work ethic, and gaining work experience is critical for transition-age consumers to succeed in VR and in a work environment. Consumers gain invaluable experience in workplace settings, which helps them learn job expectations, the work environment, and the skills required to succeed in the workplace. Work experience opportunities also increase employment outcomes for transition-age consumers.

Strategy:

To better serve this population of consumers, DBS will: • increase staff knowledge and skills to more effectively help consumers with transitioning to postsecondary education and achieving employment goals, particularly transition-age consumers with intellectual impairments, autism, mental health disorders, and multiple disabilities; • enhance collaboration and coordination with the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, education service centers, the Texas Workforce Commission, and local workforce boards and centers to improve access to services and develop and implement additional service delivery strategies; • expand partnerships with high schools and community and technical colleges to improve access and transition for students moving from secondary to postsecondary education and training; • build on partnerships with businesses that have an interest in pre-employment training for high school students and develop additional work experience options such as: o part-time, summer and volunteer work experience; o internships, job shadowing, and on-the-job training opportunities based on the consumer’s interest and vocational goals; o career guidance; and o career mentoring and peer- to-peer mentoring programs.

 

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.

Computer Assistive technology services and assistive technology devices are provided for consumers at each stage of the rehabilitation process.

Strategies:

1. The DBS staff has expertise regarding computer assistive technology services and devices. These staff are proficient in: a. assessing specific consumer needs, b. training consumers to use computer technology devices, and c. performing job-site evaluations

2. DBS staff is located throughout the state to ensure services are available statewide.

3. DBS contracts with providers around the state who train consumers to use various technologies. Systems have been developed to ensure computer assistive technology services and devices are provided timely.

4. DBS currently has 30 VR Teachers and 13 Rehabilitation Assistants across the state that are providing basic computer technology assessments and training on use of the computer and keyboarding. Most of the assessments and training are taking place in the field offices. Each of the VR Teachers have been issued a net book that they can loan out to consumers who live in rural areas to assist them in practicing their computer skills and in these cases the computer training takes place in the consumer’s homes. All new VR Teachers are being trained as Tech Screeners and it is anticipated that by the end of FY 2014 there will be 35 VR Teachers who are also tech screeners.

Measure:

DBS staff will provide computer assistive technology services to 1100 consumers in FY 2015.

 

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

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

According to the Texas Diabetes Institute report from November 2010 Responding to the Epidemic: Strategies for Improving Diabetes Care in Texas: “Type 2 diabetes is preventable, but annual incidence rates continue to grow, and the associated costs of treating diabetes and its complications represent a significant threat to the financial solvency of the Texas public and private health infrastructure. The reach, impact and diabetes-associated costs to the State of Texas, its taxpayers and those suffering from the disease must be addressed. Despite numerous efforts to improve the social and lifestyle factors that often lead to diabetes, the age-adjusted incidence rate for diabetes among Texas adults almost quadrupled between 1995/1997 and 2005/2007, according to a study by the Office of the State Demographer. This translates into approximately 156,000 new cases of diabetes each year. The State Demographer projects a quadrupling of the number of adult Texans with diabetes from approximately 2.2 million in 2010 to almost 8 million by 2040.” (Change rate 259%)

Not only does the diabetes epidemic impact the number of Texans requiring DARS services, but it also impacts the businesses that DARS serves. According to the HHSC Report to the Legislature on the Direct and Indirect Costs of Diabetes in Texas dated December 2012: Diabetes in Texas was responsible for an estimated $18.5 billion in costs during CY2011 (Calendar Year 2011): $12.3 billion in direct medical costs and $6.2 billion in indirect costs. Indirect Costs include work absenteeism, reduced productivity, inability to work, and premature mortality.

Businesses are increasingly concerned with the impact of employee health on their bottom line. Not only are increased healthcare expenditures a concern, but the impact of absenteeism, presenteeism, productivity, and other indirect costs to employers. It is important that DARS staff understand the impact of diabetes on both employers and employees.

Providing diabetes education to individuals who are blind has some unique challenges including providing health education materials in a format that they can access independently. Since daily self-care is a vital part of diabetes management, the consumer must be the expert in their diabetes. Having easy access to tools and resources to assist in self-care is important. Most materials on the market are created as PDFs that are cannot be read by screen reader software. Most diabetes education materials are not available in large print or audio format. While there is emerging technology to read print materials, it is not always portable and portable optical character recognition devices are in on-going development and reliable varies depending on environmental conditions. There continues to be a need to provide quality diabetes education materials and for consumers to be able to easily obtain the information needed to problem solve. Training individuals who are blind is uncommon among healthcare professionals. Practitioners may be accustomed to treating the clinical issues surrounding the consumer’s diabetes and/or disability, but they are often not accustomed to the techniques and adaptive tools available for self-management. People with vision impairment have unique learning needs which should be considered in order for the diabetes education to be most effective. Diabetes Education Providers need sensitivity training along with practical teaching techniques and tools when working with the blind.

Strategies: 1. Diabetes Services will deliver training on the impact of diabetes on business and other current issues on disabilities and the complications of diabetes.

2. Diabetes Services will address the lack of accessible diabetes education materials by creating new resources in large print and audio formats.

3. Diabetes Services will develop innovative ways to educate providers of diabetes education on the abilities of consumers who are blind to self-manage their diabetes, the adaptive techniques, equipment and supplies, and the challenges of managing diabetes at work. In addition, the education of providers will include teaching tactics and approaches that are effective when working with individuals who are blind. Measures: 1. Will provide diabetes education to 100 rehabilitation professionals 2. Will identify accessible diabetes education materials from internal and external sources available in FY 2015 3. Will provide training to 30 healthcare professionals in blind services and diabetes and in teaching strategies.

Outreach to Serve Individuals with Disabilities who have been Unserved or Underserved by the Vocational Rehabilitation Program

In early 2014, DBS conducted an internal/external assessment and identified strategic priorities for inclusion in the DARS chapter of the 2015-2019 Health and Human Services Strategic Plan. The internal/external assessment resulted in identification of certain underserved consumers, defined as individuals with a disability who are eligible to receive services from DBS, but who are not served as effectively as other DBS consumers. The assessment also resulted in identification of an unserved consumer population, defined as a segment of the population that DBS may not be serving in proportion to their incidence in the population. As a result, DBS developed the following strategic priorities and strategies.

Strategy:

DBS identified individuals who have disabilities in addition to blindness and visual impairment or who are deafblind as underserved by DBS. To better serve these consumers, DBS will initiate outreach and increase staff knowledge and skills in effective rehabilitation strategies for serving such consumers by: • researching and implementing best practices in serving these consumers; • building staff capacity and expertise in serving individuals who are blind and have additional disabilities or who are deafblind; and • increasing coordination and developing new partnerships with other state and community organizations that serve individuals with developmental or intellectual impairments and mental health disorders: o mental health organizations, local authorities, and universities to develop resources, expand knowledge and implement best practices; and o HHSC Office of Mental Health coordination to identify and implement best practices, potential community partners and facilitate service coordination; and o Helen Keller National Center for deafblind youths and adults.

Strategy: Although DBS has a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment services veterans who are blind or visually impaired were identified as a consumer group whose needs are complex and potentially underserved. To better serve this population of consumers, DBS will partner with DRS to increase outreach and provision of VR services to veterans 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 VA’s 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’s community; and o better coordinate veteran’s services with other agencies within the HHS System.

 

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

A critical shortage of O&M instructors exists nationwide as well as statewide. Only two university programs in Texas offer a specialized degree in O&M training.

As a result, DBS collaborates with these universities to provide internship programs for O&M students to result in completion of their university programs and allow them to seek national certifications. In addition, DBS staff members are trained to provide basic O&M skills for consumers. Finally, O&M vendors are trained to integrate confidence building and structured discovery learning into their established curricula as a means of ensuring that consumers completing the program are independent and confident.

Strategy:

Design and implement training opportunities for O & M vendors to improve established O & M services to blind Texans.

Measures: 1. Train 20 people through the Texas Confidence Builders in O & M vendor training. 2. Host up to 4 O & M internships at the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center (CCRC)

 

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

Evaluation Standard 1 – Employment Outcomes • Indicator 1.1 – The total number of employment outcomes for Fiscal Year 2013 was 1232. This represents a decrease when compared to the 1,409 employment outcomes achieved in Fiscal Year 2012. DBS plans to expand employment opportunities by building and strengthening business and partner relationships and increasing job placement vendors’ effectiveness in matching consumers’ abilities with employment opportunities. • Indicator 1.2 – Percentage of consumers exiting the VR program after receiving services who achieve an employment outcome. This year 68.68 percent of the consumers served achieved employment. DBS monitors this measure at the caseload level and will continue to monitor it. Counselors are trained to understand and monitor this measure on their caseloads. Indicator 1.3 – Percentage who exit the VR program with earnings at least equivalent to the minimum wage. DBS has consistently maintained satisfactory performance for this primary indicator well above the required level and plans to continue efforts to maximize work opportunities. • Indicator 1.4 – The percentage of consumers who have a significant disability who exit the VR program with earnings at or above minimum wage. The goal is 89 percent in FFY 2013 DBS exceeded this goal at 98.95 percent. DBS has consistently maintained satisfactory performance for this primary indicator well above the required level. DBS will continue to monitor this indicator while building on efforts to maximize employment outcomes. • Indicator 1.5 – The average hourly earnings of all consumers who exit the VR program in employment as a ratio to the State’s average hourly earnings. The average hourly earnings of DBS consumers was $13.79; approximately 57% of Texas’ estimated average hourly earnings. In 2014, DBS implemented an initiative called “Work Matters” that focuses on the provision of short term training for needed technical skills as identified by the local labor market as a way to continue to increase consumer wages. DBS will continue to strengthen the Work Matters project by implementing strategies outlined on page 1 of this attachment. • Indicator 1.6 – Difference in percentage of individuals achieving competitive employment who report own income as primary source of support at closure and application. DBS exceeded the required performance for this indicator and will continue to focus efforts on assisting consumers in becoming self-supporting at closure.

Evaluation Standard 2 – Equal Access to Services • Indicator 2.1 – Service rate for consumers from minority backgrounds as a ratio to the service rate for all non-minority consumers. DBS has consistently maintained satisfactory performance for this indicator above the required level.

 

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

DBS is involved with the statewide workforce investment system at the state and local levels. DBS works closely with the Texas Workforce Investment Council (the state workforce investment board) and other workforce partners in terms of strategic planning and implementation of the strategic plan. DBS participates on the Council’s Strategic Implementation and Technical Advisory Committee, which focuses on accomplishing activities listed in the strategic plan. DBS reports its performance related to several performance measures on an annual basis.

The workforce system in Texas includes twenty-eight local workforce development boards. DBS has established a relationship with each board to address issues such as: • referral of consumers from local workforce centers to DBS and from DBS to the centers, • services each organization provides, and • cross-training for staff as appropriate.

DBS staff at local levels travels to local workforce centers to meet with consumers. DBS also provides blindness awareness training for staff of the local workforce centers. DBS accesses labor market information provided by workforce centers to improve staff knowledge of employment opportunities which in turn has a positive effect on DBS consumer service provision and employment outcomes. DBS in coordination with the DARS training department utilize the services of the Texas Workforce Commission labor market economists who provide information and direction regarding current and future employment trends to DBS staff to assist in career planning with consumers.

The plan for 2015 is to continue all of the above activities to maintain and continue to develop the relationships within the statewide workforce investment system.

Agency Strategies for Achieving Goals and Priorities

The following strategies will be utilized to assist in achieving FY 2015 goals:

1. Clear direction, training and support will be provided to VR staff to assist DBS in effectively serving consumers from all backgrounds and in achieving quality employment outcomes. 2. Outreach will be provided to assist in identifying supported employment service providers who are interested in working with DBS consumers. 3. Support and training will be provided to supported employment service providers to assist them in providing quality services to DBS consumers. 4. A computerized consumer data system will be maintained to enable VR staff to manage and monitor services more effectively.

 

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

Agency Strategies to support Innovation and Expansion Activities

1. DBS will develop and implement strategies, to increase consumer wages and improve employment outcomes including expanding consumer employment opportunities and maximizing consumer potential and capabilities based on their job readiness. . 2. DBS will seek to expand opportunities for part time, summer, and volunteer work experiences and exposure for consumers receiving transition services.

Agency Strategies to support access to and participation of individuals with disabilities in the VR and Supported Employment services programs

1. Training and support will be provided to VR staff regarding the utilization of assistive technology necessary for consumers to achieve employment outcomes. 2. Recruitment and training will be provided to Orientation and Mobility (O&M) vendors through ongoing partnerships with O & M university training programs. 3. The diabetes program will provide training to staff and providers that focuses on the impact of diabetes has on businesses.

4.11(d) (2) (B) Support Innovation and Expansion Activities

Individuals with the Most Significant Disabilities The following are DBS strategies for supporting access to and the participation of individuals with the most significant disabilities 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 providers of the service. • Develop long term supports needed for supported employment consumers by partnering with other Health and Human Service agencies in Texas; and • Develop services with contract providers that will meet the criteria for trial work experiences.

State Rehabilitation Council Support

Rehabilitation Council of Texas (RCT) is the State Rehabilitation Council for the Division for Rehabilitation Services and the Division for Blind Services. The RCT assists the agency 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 the resource plan. The RCT is a valued and active partner in the development of VR goals, priorities, and policies. The Council reviews, analyzes, and advises the agency about performance related to eligibility; the extent, scope and effectiveness of VR services; and functions performed by the agency. The RCT also reviews and analyzes consumer satisfaction with VR services provided and assists the agency 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 Program

During fall 2013 through spring 2014, the Division for Rehabilitation Services, Division for Blind Services, and Rehabilitation Council of Texas collaborated with the child and Family Research Institute of 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 o the impact of service receipt on Social Security benefits, highlighting the disincentive to work from the fear of losing benefits; o services by consumers and/or parents; and o DARS services among doctors and other medical professionals; • Growing need for services will require partners to leverage available funding and may require increased funding and; • Scarcity of available transportation creates challenges for potential consumers, especially in rural areas, to access DBS offices, providers, and jobs.

Strategies for addressing these barriers are as follows: Lack of awareness of the impact of service receipt on Social Security benefits, highlighting the disincentive to work from fear of losing benefits

Strategies: • 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; and • Provide statewide training for all VR counselors on basic benefits and work incentives supports and services.

Lack of awareness of DARS services among consumers, parents, doctors, and other medical professionals

Strategies:

• Increase collaboration with other organizations to access services for consumers; • Increase outreach efforts to the business community; • Educate community leaders of the availability of DBS services to enhance outreach efforts to all ethnic groups; and • Enhance community outreach activities.

Growing need for services will require partners to leverage available funding and may require increased funding

Strategies:

• DBS will work through DARS to educate state officials and oversight authorities about the value of VR services to Texans with disabilities and to the Texas economy; • DBS will make every effort to draw down the maximum federal funding match in order to provide needed services for Texans with disabilities. • Identify and use available comparable services and benefits and; • Fully use the programs of the Social Security Administration and work to maximize SSA/VR reimbursements.

Scarcity of available transportation creates challenges for potential consumers, especially in rural areas, to access DBS offices, providers, and jobs.

Strategies:

• Continue to participate in Health and Human Services regional coordination forums related to public transportation to advocate for local improvement.

 

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 4:46PM by txfincherr

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

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

DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) reports the following progress toward achieving goals and priorities identified for fiscal year (FY) 2013.

Goal 1: Provide vocational rehabilitation (VR) services that result in individuals who are blind or significantly visually impaired achieving a quality employment outcome.

Measure 1.1: The number of employment outcomes (successful closures) achieved will exceed 1,409. Performance: DBS assisted 1,232 individuals in achieving an employment outcome in FY 2013.

Measure 1.2: Of the individuals exiting the VR program after receiving services, a minimum of 68.9 percent will have achieved an employment outcome. Performance: In 2013, 68.68 percent of the individuals exiting the DBS VR program after receiving services achieved an employment outcome.

Measure 1.3: Of the individuals achieving an employment outcome, the average hourly earnings when compared to the state’s average hourly earnings will equal or exceed a ratio of 0.59. Performance: DBS achieved a ratio of 0.57. In FY 2013 DBS consumers earned an average of $13.79 per hour.

Measure 1.4: Of the individuals achieving an employment outcome, a minimum of 85 percent will be employed in competitive employment, self-employed, or managing a business through Business Enterprises of Texas; and earning at least minimum wage. Performance: In FFY 2013, 89.51 percent of the individuals who achieved an employment outcome were competitively employed, self-employed, or managing a business through Business Enterprises of Texas.

Goal 2: Effectively provide VR services for individuals from minority backgrounds who are blind or significantly visually impaired and ensure they are satisfied with the services provided.

Measure 2.1: Of the total number of consumers: (1) who receive services under an individualized plan for employment (IPE), and (2) who achieve an employment outcome, at least 46 percent will be from a minority background. Performance: DBS exceeded the performance target for this measure with 64.23 percent of consumers receiving services under an IPE and achieving an employment outcome being from a minority background. The current census data for Texas indicates that 55 percent of the population is from a minority background.

Measure 2.2: On the consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 90 percent of respondents from minority backgrounds will indicate they were satisfied with their overall experience with DBS. Performance: DBS exceeded the performance target for this measure with 92 percent of the respondents from a minority background indicating they were satisfied with the services received.

Goal 3: 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 for VR consumers.

Measure 3.1: On the consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 90 percent of all respondents will indicate they were satisfied with their overall experience with DBS. Performance: DBS exceeded the performance target for this measure with 92.1 percent of the consumers surveyed indicating they were satisfied with their overall experience with DBS.

Measure 3.2: On the consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 90 percent of the respondents will indicate they were satisfied services were provided within a reasonable time frame. Performance: DBS met the performance target for this measure with 90 percent of the consumers surveyed indicating they were satisfied services were provided within a reasonable time frame.

Measure 3.3: On the consumer satisfaction survey, a minimum of 90 percent of the respondents will indicate they were actively involved in choosing their employment outcome and the services received. Performance: DBS exceeded the performance target for this measure with 92.7 percent of the consumers surveyed indicating they were sufficiently involved in choosing employment outcomes and services.

Measure 3.4: On the consumer satisfaction survey a minimum of 90 percent of the respondents will indicate that their counselor listened to and considered their needs and concerns. Performance: DBS exceeded the performance target for this measure with 93.6 percent of the consumers surveyed indicating they were treated with courtesy and respect.

Goal 4: Provide effective transition services to meet the needs of eligible students.

Measure 4.1: DBS will provide VR services for a minimum of 2,200 eligible students. Performance: DBS provided services to 2,171 eligible students.

Measure 4.2: A minimum of 115 transition students will transfer to the adult VR program. Performance: DBS exceeded this goal with 126 transition students transferring to the adult VR program.

 

Increase access to and provide effective and quality-based supported employment services.

Measure: The number of consumers receiving supported employment services who achieve an employment outcome will equal or exceed 48. Performance: DBS had a total of 47 consumers who achieved an employment outcome after receiving supported employment services in FY 2013. The number of closures varies from year to year for supported employment cases.

Measure: The number of consumers receiving supported employment services will equal or exceed 360. Performance: DBS exceeded this measure, with 393 consumers receiving supported employment services in FY 2013.

Measure: Expand consumer employment opportunities by increasing the number of supported employment service providers that can work effectively with consumers who are blind by 10 percent. Performance: DBS exceeded this measure in FY 2013, increasing the number of supported employment providers by 11 percent, which is an increase in the number of providers from 34 to 38.

Measure: DBS will develop a training process for supported employment providers across the state. Performance: DBS has completed an orientation PowerPoint and guide that will be reviewed with all new supported employment providers as part of their contracting process.

 

Standard 1 DBS exceeded the required performance on three of the six indicators of Standard 1.

Standard 1.1, which measures the number of successful closures achieved compared to the prior year’s successful closures, was not met in FY 2013. DBS was at 93% of this goal by the end of FY 2013, achieving 1232 successful closures.

Standard 1.2, which measures the rehabilitation rate, was not met by a very narrow margin in FY 2013 at 68.68%.

Standard 1.5, which measures the ratio of average hourly earnings to the state’s average hourly earnings, was not met by a narrow margin. Texas’ average hourly earnings as of September 2013 were $23.92, and ratio of 0.59 is $14.11. DBS consumers’ average hourly earnings were $13.79.

To address performance on wages and closures, DBS will focus on improving employment outcomes and consumer wages by; • Expanding consumer employment opportunities through strengthened partnerships with businesses; • Maximizing consumer potential and capabilities based on their job readiness; and • Increasing the effectiveness of job placement vendors’ effectiveness in matching consumer’s abilities with employment opportunities.

Standard 2 DBS has routinely exceeded the required performance on Indicator 2.1, which relates to the ratio of minority individuals receiving services when compared to non-minority individuals receiving services.

 

Strategies to Expand and Improve Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services DBS developed these innovation and expansion activities to address needs of individuals with the most significant disabilities.

1. System of Quality Assurance DBS strives to provide quality VR services for persons who are blind and significantly visually impaired. To that end, DBS has implemented various methodologies to ensure that consumers receive services effectively and efficiently. These various methodologies would be more effective if they were part of a well-designed system of planning, implementation and oversight, as pointed out in the FY 2009 Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) monitoring report on the VR program. In that report, RSA recommended that DBS:

• Create a written description of the quality assurance (QA) system including, but not limited to, reporting structure, accountability measures, and performance outcomes; and • Develop a comprehensive reporting and communication system to report out process and regular progress throughout the agency.

Strategy In response to RSA’s recommendations concerning a QA system, DBS moved to a new consumer case management system in February 2013.

Measure DBS will continue monitoring progress to assist staff in incorporating QA tools and processes developed through the new case management system into their ongoing work performance.

Performance DBS implemented the QA system in September 2011. The VR policy manual was updated to include direction to staff regarding the QA system developed In FY 2012, and DBS continued to monitor staff progress in using the system effectively. Overall staff and managers are using the QA policy and tools developed to keep up with key performance measures related to VR case management. VR funds in the amount of $12,670.79 were spent on QA innovation and expansion activities in FY 2012. In FY 2013, DBS moved to a new electronic case management system and has been able to utilize the new system to continue the QA system developed in 2009. No funds were expended on QA activities in FY 2013. DBs will continue to refine and improve its QA system.

2. Increased Emphasis on Braille Literacy To promote maximum options for consumers seeking employment, DBS staff will address issues of limited Braille literacy.

Strategy Design a Braille training program for new Vocational Rehabilitation Teachers and Independent Living Workers that incorporates the Simply Braille curriculum and is delivered by the Braille Field Specialist.

Measure All new Vocational Rehabilitation Teachers and Independent Living Workers hired after September 1, 2011, will participate in this training.

Performance In FY 2013, four new Vocational Rehabilitation Teachers participated in Simply Braille curriculum training. The average time to complete the training for uncontracted and contracted Braille was 23 weeks. Braille literacy innovation expansion activities cost $3000 in FY 2012, and no funds were expended in FY 2013. Simply Braille is now being used as the primary training curriculum for all Vocational Rehabilitation Teachers.

3. Support Service Providers (SSPs) for Consumers Who Are Deafblind People who are Deafblind face vision and hearing challenges in all aspects of everyday life. People with dual sensory loss must find ways to communicate, navigate their surroundings, and find social, living, and employment situations that fit their individual needs and abilities.

Communication and mobility are the two areas most affected by a loss of sight and hearing. The most pressing need people who are deafblind have is for reliable, skilled support service providers (SSPs).

SSPs are not personal care attendants, sign language interpreters, or caregivers, but instead help people who are Deafblind participate more fully in society, and achieve a greater level of independence, by: • relaying visual and environmental information; • helping with mobility and access to transportation; • facilitating communication; and • helping to reduce communication barriers that could otherwise result in o unemployment, o underemployment, o social isolation, o inability to participate within the community, or o institutionalization.

The DARS DBS Deafblind Services Unit offers a variety of services to help consumers who are Deafblind find and/or maintain employment and live as independently as possible. Services include help with establishing communication systems, training on use of adaptive equipment, and employment services.

DARS recognizes the need for SSP services. However there are no programs that provide SSP services in Texas. SSP services are arranged informally through volunteers.

SSPs are not yet universally recognized as a profession. No state or national certifications, licensures, or credentials exist for SSPs at this time, even though 17 states have 1 or more SSP programs.

Goal Gather the information needed to support the establishment of SSP services in Texas.

Strategy DBS partnered with the University of Arkansas to complete a study to identify how SSP services are being provided across the nation, the need for SSP services in Texas, and resources within Texas that could be utilized to support SSP services. The results of the study are proving very useful in the exploration of how an SSP program could be implemented in Texas. The results of the study were presented at an RSA-sponsored conference for state coordinators of programs for people who are deaf, late-deafened and Deafblind, so agencies that serve people who are Deafblind in other states could also learn how SSP programs are funded and operated across the United States.

Measures The final report utilizing feedback from the state coordinators of programs for people who are Deafblind will be shared with agencies and stakeholders with the goal of beginning discussions on how SSP services could be established for Texans who are Deafblind. Of the 23 active SSP providers in the United States, 18 contributed information to the study.

Measure 1.1: Identify typical service parameters. Performance: The study identified the following service parameters and compiled the responses: eligibility criteria; total persons who are Deafblind served annually; SSP service hours allowable weekly; types of service assignments allowed and prohibited; and if transportation services are offered, and if so, how paid.

Measures 1.2 and 1.3: Identify potential service providers and potential entities to administer the program. Performance: Surveys were sent to 90 organizations in Texas that serve people with disabilities, including people who are deaf, blind and Deafblind. Thirty-one organizations responded with 15 organizations indicating a definite interest in providing SSP services and administering an SSP program.

Measure 1.4: Identify funding sources and strategies. Performance: Collected useful information about funding sources and strategies including information on funding sources; funding streams; funding cycles; annual budget; cost projection strategies using formulas and/or dependencies that impact funding; frequency of funding commitment review; and use of data in the funding decision-making process. Recommendations The following are recommendations from the study related to the development of an SSP program. 1. Determine if a statewide SSP program or a regional SSP program is the end goal. 2. Use information gleaned from the study to identify existing SSP programs that align with this decision. 3. If a decision is made to implement a statewide SSP program, develop an incremental plan to establish services. 4. Work in partnership with the Deafblind community toward securing funds and developing the implementation plan for the SSP program. 5. Identify a lead individual to coordinate exploration and development of an implementation plan. 6. Plan for adequate staffing. 7. Plan for relationship development with potential vendors and providers who indicated an interest through the survey.

No VR funds were expended in FY 2013 on this project.

4. Strategies Related to Assistive Technology Services and Devices Computer assistive technology services and computer-related assistive technology devices are provided for consumers at each stage of the rehabilitation process.

Strategies 1. The DBS Employment Assistance Services (EAS) Unit includes staff members with expertise regarding computer assistive technology services and devices, including proficiency in assessing specific consumer needs, training consumers to use technology devices, and evaluating job sites.

2. Employment Assistance Specialists are located throughout the state to ensure services are available statewide.

3. DBS contracts with providers around the state who train consumers to use various technologies. Systems have been developed to ensure computer assistive technology services and devices are provided timely.

4. DBS currently has 30 VR Teachers and 13 Rehabilitation Assistants across the state that are providing basic technology assessments and training on use of the computer and keyboarding. Most of the assessments and training are taking place in the field offices. Each of the VR Teachers have also been issued a net book that they can loan out to consumers who live in rural areas to assist them in practicing their computer skills and in these cases the computer training takes place in the consumer’s homes. All new VR Teachers are being trained as Tech Screeners and it is anticipated that by the end of FY 2014 there will be 35 VR Teachers who are also Tech Screeners.

Measure DBS staff will provide computer assistive technology services to 1,100 consumers in FY 2013.

Performance Assistive technology services were provided to 1,098 consumers by DBS staff in FY 2013.

No funds were spent on computer assistive technology innovation and expansion activities in FY 2013.

5. Strategies Related to Establishing, Developing, or Improving Community Rehabilitation Programs A critical shortage of Orientation and Mobility (O&M) instructors exists nationwide as well as statewide. Only two university programs in Texas offer a specialized degree in O&M training.

As a result, DBS collaborates with these universities to provide internship programs for O&M students to result in completion of their university programs and allow them to seek national certifications. In addition, DBS staff in the field and at the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center is trained to provide basic O&M skills for consumers. Finally, O&M vendors are trained to integrate confidence building and structured discovery learning into their established curricula as a means of ensuring that consumers completing the program are independent and confident.

Strategy Design and implement training opportunities for O&M vendors provided by the DBS O&M Field Specialist to improve O&M services to Texans who are blind.

Measures 1. Train 20 people through the Texas Confidence Builders in O&M vendor training. Performance: Fifteen potential vendors were trained through Texas Confidence Builders in 2013.

2. Host up to four O&M internships at Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center (CCRC). Performance: Four O& M internships were sponsored at CCRC in 2013.

A total of $ 2666.16 was spent on Orientation and Mobility innovation and expansion activities in FY 2013.

Outreach Activities to Identify and Serve Individuals with the Most Significant Disabilities who are Minorities and who are Unserved or Underserved According to the Texas Diabetes Institute report from November 2010, Responding to the Epidemic: Strategies for Improving Diabetes Care in Texas: “Type 2 diabetes is preventable, but annual incidence rates continue to grow, and the associated costs of treating diabetes and its complications represent a significant threat to the financial solvency of the Texas public and private health infrastructure. The reach, impact and diabetes-associated costs to the State of Texas, its taxpayers and those suffering from the disease must be addressed. Despite numerous efforts to improve the social and lifestyle factors that often lead to diabetes, the age-adjusted incidence rate for diabetes among Texas adults almost quadrupled between 1995/1997 and 2005/2007, according to a study by the Office of the State Demographer. This translates into approximately 156,000 new cases of diabetes each year. The State Demographer projects a quadrupling of the number of adult Texans with diabetes from approximately 2.2 million in 2010 to almost 8 million by 2040.” (Change rate 259%) Not only does the diabetes epidemic impact the number of Texans requiring DARS services, but it also impacts the businesses that DARS serves. According to the HHSC Report to the Legislature on the Direct and Indirect Costs of Diabetes in Texas dated December 2012: “Diabetes in Texas was responsible for an estimated $18.5 billion in costs during CY2011 (Calendar Year 2011): $12.3 billion in direct medical costs and $6.2 billion in indirect costs. Indirect Costs include work absenteeism, reduced productivity, inability to work, and premature mortality.” Businesses are increasingly concerned with the impact of employee health on their bottom line. Not only are increased healthcare expenditures a concern, but so are the impact of absenteeism, presenteeism, productivity, and other indirect costs to employers. It is important that the DARS staff understand the impact of diabetes on both employers and employees. Providing diabetes education to persons who are blind has some unique challenges, including providing health education materials in a format that consumers who are blind can access on their own. Since daily self-care is a vital part of diabetes management, consumers must be the experts in their diabetes. Having easy access to tools and resources to assist in self-care is important. There is currently a lack of diabetes education materials available in a media accessible to the blind. Most materials on the market are created as PDFs that are unable to be read by screen reader software. Most diabetes education materials are not available in large print or audio format. While there is emerging technology to read print materials, they are not always portable, and portable optical character recognition devices are still in the early stage of development and not always reliable. There continues to be a need to provide quality diabetes education materials and for consumers to be able to easily obtain the pages or resources that are needed to problem solve. Training individuals who are blind is uncommon among healthcare professionals. Practitioners may be accustomed to treating the clinical issues surrounding the consumer’s diabetes and/or disability, but they are often not accustomed to the techniques and adaptive tools available for self-management. People with vision impairment have unique learning needs which should be considered in order for the diabetes education to be most effective. Diabetes education providers need sensitivity training along with practical teaching techniques and tools when working with the blind. In addition, according to the data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and Texas Workforce Commission, the dominant occupations for Texans who are visually impaired include nursing aides, psychiatric aides, home health aides, and personal and home care aides. People with vision impairment could also be successfully employed as patient advocates; elder care services consultants, and other health-related occupations. Many have had success continuing their careers as registered nurses or medical or health services managers, two careers high in the job listings in Texas and for which the need continues to grow. Faculty at health science programs must also know how to train a person with a disability such as blindness to qualify for these healthcare positions as consumers enter their programs.

Strategies 1. The Diabetes Program will deliver training on the impact of diabetes on businesses and other current issues on disabilities and the complications of diabetes.

2. The Diabetes Program will address the lack of accessible diabetes education materials by creating new resources in large print and audio formats.

3. The Diabetes Program will develop innovative ways to educate providers of diabetes education on the abilities of consumers who are blind to self-manage their diabetes, the adaptive techniques, equipment and supplies, and the challenges of managing diabetes at work. In addition, the education of providers will include teaching tactics and approaches that are effective when working with individuals who are blind.

Measures 1. The Diabetes Program will provide diabetes education to 100 rehabilitation professionals. Performance: An online and in-person training was developed for DARS staff (both the Division for Rehabilitation Services and DBS) and implemented by the Center for Learning Management. Diabetes in-services on the following topics were attended by 139 individuals: Diabetes and Worklife, Healthy Coping, Exercise and Activity, and Diabetic Retinopathy for Caseload Management.

2. The Diabetes Program will provide training to 30 healthcare professionals on blind services, diabetes, and teaching strategies. Performance: Training specific to the delivery of self-management education to individuals who are blind was provided to 33 diabetes educators on the topics of philosophy, teaching techniques, and adaptive tools and techniques. In addition, an overview of blind services and how to provide diabetes services to the blind was provided to 250 physicians, diabetes educators, and other healthcare professionals.

The process and availability of diabetes equipment was changed in July 2013 by Medicare. The Competitive Bidding Program was rolled out nationwide, and a resource for the purchase of talking blood glucose monitors and other self-management supplies was changed. Information was released about the Competitive Bidding Program to the DARS staff to address the concerns of people with disabilities being able to obtain appropriate self-management supplies.

Performance In FY 2013 $550,228 were spent on diabetes education, equipment, and supplies for DBS consumers.

The total amount spent on diabetes innovation and expansion activities in 2013 was $1,600.

Strategies Related to Evaluation Standards and Performance Indicators Evaluation Standard 1 – Employment Outcomes • Indicator 1.1 – The total number of employment outcomes for FY 2013 was 1,232. This represents a decrease from the 1,409 employment outcomes achieved in FY 2012. DBS plans to maintain approximately this number of employment outcomes each year, placing more emphasis on maintaining a high level of quality services than on increasing the total number of employment outcomes. DBS began a new employment initiative in 2014 called “Work Matters” that will assist staff in obtaining higher wage jobs for consumers by focusing business development on areas of the labor market with higher wage jobs, primarily technology and skilled trades. • Indicator 1.2 – The percentage of DBS consumers exiting the VR program after receiving services, who achieved an employment outcome, was 68.68 percent. To maintain satisfactory performance on this indicator, DBS will continue training and reinforcing the appropriate use of extended evaluation to continue serving consumers with the most significant disabilities and the use of a thorough comprehensive assessment before VR Counselors develop the individualized plan for employment. DARS is also developing additional tools for counselors to use during situational assessments to improve the information obtained to assist in making eligibility decisions. • Indicator 1.3 – The percentage of DBS consumers who exit the VR program with earnings at least equivalent to the minimum wage. DBS has consistently maintained satisfactory performance for this primary indicator well above the required level. • Indicator 1.4 – Of the consumers who exit the VR program with earnings equivalent to minimum wage, the percentage who have a significant disability. DBS has consistently maintained satisfactory performance for this primary indicator well above the required level. • Indicator 1.5 – The average hourly earnings of all consumers who exit the VR program in employment as a ratio of 0.59 to the state’s average hourly earnings. The average hourly earnings of DBS consumers who exit the VR program was $13.79 at a ratio of 0.57 of Texas’ estimated average hourly earnings. DBS began a new employment initiative in 2014 that will assist enhance staff capacity to assist consumers in obtaining higher wage jobs by focusing business development in areas of the labor market with higher wage jobs, primarily technology and skilled trades. • Indicator 1.6 – DBS exceeded the required performance for this indicator, which compares the percentage of consumers who report being self-supporting at application to the percentage who are self-supporting at closure.

Evaluation Standard 2 – Equal Access to Services • Indicator 2.1 – Service rate for consumers from minority backgrounds as a ratio to the service rate for all non-minority consumers. DBS has consistently maintained satisfactory performance for this indicator above the required level.

Strategies Related to the Statewide Workforce Investment System DBS is involved with the statewide workforce investment system at the state and local levels. DBS works closely with the Texas Workforce Investment Council (the state workforce investment board) and other workforce partners in terms of strategic planning and implementation of the strategic plan. DBS participates on the Council’s Strategic Implementation and Technical Advisory Committee, which focuses on accomplishing activities listed in the strategic plan. DBS reports its performance related to several performance measures on an annual basis.

The workforce system in Texas includes 28 local workforce development boards. DBS has established a relationship with each board to address issues such as: • referral of consumers from local workforce centers to DBS, and from DBS to the centers; • services each organization provides; and • cross-training for staff, as appropriate.

The DBS staff at local levels travels to local workforce centers to meet with consumers. DBS also provides blindness awareness training for staff of the local workforce centers. DBS accesses labor market information provided by workforce centers to improve staff knowledge of employment opportunities, which in turn has a positive effect on DBS consumer service provision and employment outcomes. DBS, in coordination with the DARS training department, utilizes the services of the Texas Workforce Commission labor market economists who provide information and direction regarding current and future employment trends to DBS staff to assist in career planning with consumers.

The plan for FY 2015 is to continue all of the above activities to maintain and continue to develop the relationships within the statewide workforce investment system.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 4:54PM by txfincherr

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

The Division for Blind Services (DBS) is committed to provide quality services to persons with the most significant disabilities. DBS has developed collaborative programs with appropriate public and private non-profit organizations, employers, and other appropriate resources for training, employment, and other time-limited services leading to supported employment.

Supported employment services provide competitive employment in the community for consumers with the most significant disabilities who need individualized assistance finding the most appropriate job matches, and who will most likely require ongoing accommodations and support within their work environments. DBS consumers who benefit from supported employment services are those for whom traditional vocational rehabilitation (VR) approaches and training programs have not been effective. Although consumers can work competitively, they need assistance to compete in the open market, be represented to potential employers, and receive ongoing supports to maintain jobs.

Supported employment services achieve the best possible match between DBS consumers’ skills, interests, abilities, and support needs, and employers’ unmet needs. Employment specialists put supports in place or arrange for supports to be placed to accommodate consumers. DBS uses the “place then train" two-part process to deliver supported employment services: • First, place individuals with significant disabilities in competitive jobs. • Second, provide training and support directly related to the job.

Consumers determined by a DBS counselor to be eligible for supported employment services are those: • who have a significant disability; • who require considerable assistance competing in the open job market; • who have not benefited from traditional vocational rehabilitation services; • for whom competitive employment has not occurred or has been interrupted or intermittent as a result of a significant disability; • who have had difficulty finding the appropriate job match; • for whom supported employment has been identified as the appropriate employment outcome by the consumer and the counselor; and • for whom another individual, an organization, or other resource agrees to provide extended services after DBS-funded services cease.

DBS has identified specific employment outcomes (benchmarks) for which payments are made to providers during the supported employment process.

Extended services are ongoing support services identified to ensure job stability for the duration of the consumer’s employment. Extended services are provided and/or funded by sources other than DBS. This might include the employer and involve either on-site or off-site monitoring, as requested by consumers.

Extended services begin at job stability, continue beyond service closure, and are provided as long as the consumer needs them. These services may include (but are not limited to): • consultation with the employer concerning problem areas or training needs (including direct skills training, if necessary); • facilitation of natural supports on and off the worksite; and • other services the consumer requires to maintain employment.

Title VI, Part B and/or Title I funding is available to all VR counselors to serve Texans with the most significant disabilities thus integrating supported employment into the VR service delivery system. DBS continues providing supported employment training for field staff, and administrative and program specialist support is available on an ongoing basis.

To ensure quality of supported employment provider services, DBS adopted standards and qualification criteria all supported employment providers must meet in order to provide supported employment services. DBS and the DARS Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) collaborated to develop a supported employment training curriculum for current and potential providers. This online training and certification is being provided by the University of North Texas Workplace Inclusion and Sustainable Employment program.

Beginning on January 2, 2007, DBS, in collaboration with DRS, implemented an outcome-based supported employment payment process that included standardizing required forms, documentation, and expectations for quality performance. Training in the new payment structure and best practices in outcome-based supported employment were conducted statewide to DBS and DRS field staff and providers of supported employment services. Every new DBS counselor receives two days of training on the supported employment process.

A key component of the outcome-based system for supported employment is the emphasis on making use of the naturally occurring work supports and building those into extended services for consumers. The payment structure creates financial incentives for supported employment providers to assist employers to train and supervise supported employees rather than supplanting with direct training provided by outside job skills trainers. Additionally, the documentation requirements for job maintenance, job stability, and service closure outcomes require the supported employment services providers to identify strategies for using naturally occurring work or social supports for extended services and ongoing supports.

VR counselors monitor supported employment cases closely before closure. Specific criteria ensure quality of VR outcomes. A case is closed when the consumer: • has been provided substantial services that have had a discernible impact on the consumer ’s employment outcome; • has achieved the employment outcome consistent with the consumer’s strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice; • is employed at closure; • along with family members, if applicable, and the counselor consider the employment outcome to be satisfactory, are satisfied with supports, and agree that the consumer is performing well on the job; • substantially met the goal for hours of employment listed on the individualized plan for employment; • has maintained suitable supported employment for a transition period of at least 60 days; and • has maintained the employment outcome for a total of at least 90 days.

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 Title I funds are terminated.

This screen was last updated on Jun 30 2014 4:07PM by txfincherr