ED/OSERS/RSA
Rehabilitation Services Administration
ED

Published February 16, 2017.   Print   Print preview   Export to MS Word   Export to Excel  

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

Preprint - Section 1: State Certifications

1.1 The Dept. of Rehabilitation Services, Bureau of Educ. and Services f/t Blind, Vocational Rehab. Program 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 Rehabilitation 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

State Treasurer

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

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

Director of Education and Rehabilitation, Bureau of Ed. & Services for the Blind

... 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 SignatoryBrian S. Sigman

Title of SignatoryDirector of Education and Rehabilitation

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)06/27/2014

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 2015No

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
Bureau of Education and Services f/t Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation Program

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

The State Plan must contain one of the following assurances.

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

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

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

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

(Option B was selected)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If "Yes", the designated state agency:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This agency is not requesting a waiver of statewideness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Coordination with education officials.

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

  1. The State Plan description must:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(a) In general.

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

(b) Employment of individuals with disabilities.

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

(c) Facilities.

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

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

Attachment 4.10 describes the designated state agency's procedures and activities to establish and maintain a comprehensive system of personnel development designed to ensure an adequate supply of qualified state rehabilitation professional and paraprofessional personnel for the designated state unit. The description includes the following:

(a) Data system on personnel and personnel development.

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

  1. Qualified personnel needs.

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

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

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

  1. Personnel development.

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

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

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

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

Development, updating on an annual basis, and implementation of a plan to address the current and projected needs for qualified personnel based on the data collection and analysis system described in paragraph (a) of this subsection and that provides for the coordination and facilitation of efforts between the designated state unit and institutions of higher education and professional associations to recruit, prepare and retain personnel who are qualified in accordance with paragraph (c) of this subsection, including personnel from minority backgrounds and personnel who are individuals with disabilities.

(c) Personnel standards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(d) Staff development.

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

  1. A system of staff development for professionals and paraprofessionals within the designated state unit, particularly with respect to assessment, vocational counseling, job placement and rehabilitation technology.

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

(e) Personnel to address individual communication needs.

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

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

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

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

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

(a) Comprehensive statewide assessment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(b) Annual estimates.

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

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

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

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

(c) Goals and priorities.

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

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

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

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

  1. provides a justification for the order; and

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

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

(d) Strategies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(e) Evaluation and reports of progress.

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

  1. Attachment 4.11(e)(2):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) for the Vocational Rehabilitation Program at the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind continues to be a valuable and active contributing partner to the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program and the organization as a whole. Over the course of the past fiscal year, the Council members have participated in many activities on behalf of the Program, as well as continuing their existing responsibilities as identified in the Rehabilitation Act. The following information summarizes the recommendations and initiatives of the State Rehabilitation Council and incorporates the Bureau’s response to each item.

SRC Recommendation:

Have the Consumer Satisfaction Survey conducted by an entity experienced in performing consumer-based surveys and statistically analyzing outcome data.

Vocational Rehabilitation Program Response:

The Bureau agreed with this recommendation. The SRC commissioned the Center for Public Policy and Social Research (CPPSR) at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) to conduct a consumer satisfaction survey of VR service recipients for fiscal year 2013. The purpose of the survey was to evaluate the services that consumers received from the Vocational Rehabilitation Program at BESB. Results of the survey found that 91% of survey respondents would recommend BESB Vocational Rehabilitation Services to a friend. Five services had an increase in mean satisfaction ratings. Only three services experienced a decline. Higher Education Training Services registered the largest increase in mean satisfaction rating (7.8, up 2.8 in mean rating). This represents the highest rating since 2009. Personal Care Attendant Services recorded the second-highest mean increase (8.0, up 2.0 in mean rating). Transportation Services also saw an increase in satisfaction (7.71, up 1.71 in mean rating), the highest rating since 2010. Skills Training saw record satisfaction, continuing the upward trend set last year (9.09, up .4 in mean rating). Low Vision Services (8.79, up .04 in mean rating) continued to be a well-regarded service. Among the services experiencing a decline in mean satisfaction ratings, Small Business Services (6.75, down .68 in mean rating) saw the most sizable downturn.

The completed report was posted on the agency website (www.ct.gov/besb).

SRC Recommendation: Based on the results of the client satisfaction survey, implement two measureable strategies for improving on the delivery of services for clients of the Program.

Vocational Rehabilitation Program Response:

The Bureau agreed with this recommendation. Based upon the service utilization rates that were identified in the Consumer Satisfaction Survey (Rehabilitation and Adaptive Equipment Services at 76% and Higher Education Training rising by 11 percent up to 22%), strategies for continuous improvement focused on these two areas. In consultation with the State Rehabilitation Council, in the category of Rehabilitation Equipment, it was felt that the Bureau should develop a strategy of assisting clients with the latest smart phone and tablet technology by developing and issuing a guide for clients on the applications that are available for download to these devices that are accessible and offer increased functionality. Toward that end, Rehabilitation Teacher Jolene Nemeth conducted extensive research into accessible applications and compiled a document that was widely distributed and posted on the agency website. In the category of higher education, the SRC worked to identify barriers to participation in higher education. The Bureau policy on funding for books and supplies was found to be outdated and subsequent to the public hearing process, the policy was modified to allow for a higher level of funding for books and supplies for college level courses, with the continuation of a provision where clients could seek further funding beyond these newly established levels based on actual costs and economic hardship. Additional strategies regarding mentoring for freshman college students have been identified for activities in fiscal year 2014. The SRC is also looking to propose modifications in the policies that govern small business development during the 2015 state plan year, based on the lower level of satisfaction in this category.

SRC Recommendation:

Include a Vocational Rehabilitation Client Success Story into each meeting of the Council

Vocational Rehabilitation Program Response:

The Bureau agreed with this recommendation and has incorporated this as a standing agenda item for every meeting of the Council. At each quarterly SRC meeting, a current or former recipient of services attends and informs the group about how services enabled them to achieve or maintain employment. In situations where the client is not self-employed, their employer is invited as well to present on their experiences in working with the Bureau to ensure a successful employment outcome. The SRC membership greatly values this aspect of the meetings, as it affords members the opportunity to hear directly from clients and employers that have benefitted from services. One of these success stories evolved into the success story featured on the SRC annual report that was submitted to the Governor and the Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration.

SRC Recommendation:

Support initiatives that develop leadership qualities in transition-age youth who are blind Vocational Rehabilitation Program Response:

The Bureau supported this important recommendation. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program as well as the State Rehabilitation Council were cosponsors once again of the Youth Leadership Forum, with 5 clients participating. BESB also cosponsored the Governor’s Coalition for Youth with Disabilities, a coalition of agencies, employers, and organizations that award scholarships to college-bound students with disabilities. Additionally, through collaboration with Channel 3 Kids Camp, leadership development opportunities were provided to 17 transition-age students to serve in coordinator, counselor, and assistant counselor positions at a week-long skills development summer camp, and through four other skills development programs held throughout the year. As a new goal for fiscal year 2014, the SRC has identified a strategy of expanding the mentoring program to utilize college seniors or recently graduated college students to provide guidance to incoming college freshmen on how to address the challenges that arise from the transition into college.

SRC Recommendation:

Participate in the RSA Monitoring process to offer the perspective of the SRC on the Bureau and its policies.

Vocational Rehabilitation Program Response:

The Bureau agreed with this recommendation and actively engaged the SRC in reviewing the pre-monitoring data and materials and involving the SRC Chair in teleconference meetings with RSA. The Chair of the SRC also participated in the exit interview with RSA staff who conducted the on-site monitoring visit. The opportunity to dialogue with staff of the Rehabilitation Services Administration, particularly on their perspective regarding the timelines for the development of Individualized Plans for Employment was very informative. The SRC participated extensively in the development of policy updates that embrace some of the best practices in place in other states.

SRC Recommendation:

Replace SRC members whose terms are expiring with individuals who are actively interested and committed to participating on the SRC

Vocational Rehabilitation Program Response:

The Bureau agreed with this response and sought candidates who were committed to serving and whose background and qualifications would satisfy particular categories for appointment to the SRC. Current and former recipients of services were also contacted by their Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors to make them aware of openings on the SRC. All interested candidates were referred to the membership committee of the SRC to initiate the process of contacting each candidate to discuss the role of the SRC and the role of the members. For candidates who then expressed an interest in joining the SRC, the membership committee forwarded their information to the Governor’s office for consideration. During the fiscal year, new appointments were made in the categories of State Department of Education representative, Statewide Parent Organization, Community Provider and Recipient of Services.

Public Comments:

During the public comment period for the FFY 2015 Vocational Rehabilitation State Plan and the proposed Vocational Rehabilitation policy updates, there was one commenter regarding the State Plan and four commenters regarding the proposed policy revisions. Commenters represented the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut, the Connecticut Association of Blind Students, Bureau staff, and recipients of services. All of the public comments were reviewed in detail by the State Rehabilitation Council at their meeting on June 11, 2014 as well as the Advisory Board at their meeting on June 19, 2014.

For the State Plan, the commenter noted that for the proposed new goal to provide a seminar for clients on how to use Social Media to seek employment, the Strategy and Measure were too vague and needed more specificity. After discussion, the SRC and the Advisory Board decided to amend the Strategy to read:

“The Vocational Rehabilitation Program will sponsor a seminar for clients on how to use Linked In and Facebook to seek employment and market their skills to potential employers and customers (for those clients in self-employment).”

The SRC members further recommended that the Measure be modified to read:

“One seminar on how to use Linked In and Facebook to identify and pursue career opportunities or support a business owner will be provided to clients.”

Advisory Board members recommended that the Measure be further strengthened to include training on security precautions when using Social Media.

Bureau Response: The Bureau agrees with these recommendations and has modified draft State Plan Attachment 4.11(e)(2) accordingly for submission to Rehabilitation Services Administration.

During the Advisory Board meeting, one member noted that for State Plan attachment 4.11(a) – Statewide Assessment, the reference to the BESB registry being “comprised of 10,942 visually impaired individuals” was inaccurate and that a clarification was needed to indicate that the registry contains the names of individuals who are legally blind.

Bureau Response: The Bureau agrees and acknowledges this clarification as correct and accurate.

One commenter asked that the proposed revision in policy language regarding commensurate wages for individuals in supported employment be reworded to make it clear that the job has to pay at least the minimum wage.

The SRC and the Advisory Board both reviewed the 4 sections of proposed policy revisions where this language appears and concurred that changes to the proposed wording would be beneficial to make it clear that the individual must be compensated at or above the minimum wage, but not less than the customary wage and level of benefits paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by individuals who are not disabled.

Bureau Response: The Bureau agrees with these recommendations and will incorporate them into the proposed policy updates that will be submitted to Rehabilitation Services Administration for review.

Three commenters indicated that adding in a market survey requirement for consideration prior to developing an Individualized Plan for Employment or Amendment that includes graduate school was an unreliable approach to utilize to accurately reflect the advantages for a person who is blind obtaining such a degree in order to compete for job openings. The members of the SRC and the Advisory Board agreed with the public comments and recommended that draft policy update remove this proposed language.

Bureau Response: The Bureau agrees and will remove this wording from the section of the draft policy update that addresses a labor market survey for purposes of supporting the need for a graduate level degree.

Three commenters stated that the wording regarding funding availability for clients with Individualized Plans for Employment that includes higher education was inconsistent with the Rehabilitation Act and federal regulatory language that addresses how an Order of Selection is applied when there is insufficient funding to serve all eligible individuals. The SRC and Advisory Board members recommended removing these references from existing policy language.

Bureau Response: The Bureau agrees and will remove these references from the Vocational Rehabilitation policies.

Four commenters indicated that counting merit scholarships and student loans as comparable benefits toward the cost of higher education was not consistent with recent policy guidance from Rehabilitation Services Administration and should be removed from BESB policy. The SRC and the Advisory Board agreed with these public comments after considering the recent guidance issued by Rehabilitation Services Administration and recommended revising language to the sections of the policy that address merit scholarships and student loans so that these sections of policy would now read:

“No training in institutions of higher education shall be paid for by the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program unless maximum efforts have been made to secure comparable benefits or grant assistance, in whole or in part, from other sources to pay for such training. Grant assistance, for purposes of this policy, refers to basic grant entitlement under student financial aid programs. Merit scholarships are not defined as grant assistance and shall not be included in any calculation of unmet need. Where such scholarships are designated to a specific category such as tuition and fees or room and board, Vocational Rehabilitation funding may cover the unpaid balance of that category, up to the remaining unmet need and the allowable fee schedule rate as defined in subsection (h) of this section.”

“A client will not be required to apply for funds available to him/her through student loans to meet the costs of training, nor will the value of the student loan be included in any calculation of unmet need. In cases where a student voluntarily applies a student loan to the cost of a specific category such as tuition and fees or room and board, Vocational Rehabilitation funding may cover the unpaid balance of that category, up to the remaining unmet need and the allowable fee schedule rate as defined in subsection (h) of this section. Clients will be counseled on this policy to ensure understanding that they are not obligated to expend any loan funds to cover costs that would otherwise be paid for by the Vocational Rehabilitation program”.

With these modifications, the SRC and the Advisory Board members recognized that it may be necessary to modify the current form that BESB sends to Financial Aid Offices for completion or, at the very least, that it will be necessary for Vocational Rehabilitation to adjust the calculations of the Financial Aid Officer to reflect these two scenarios. The SRC and the Advisory Board members therefore recommended that the words “as determined by the FAO” be removed from the policy so that the sentence in policy would read:

“Financial participation by the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program in the provision of such training will be limited to the amount of the client’s unmet need.”

Bureau Response: The Bureau agrees with these recommendations and will incorporate these changes into the policy revisions submitted to Rehabilitation Services Administration for review.

Four commenters stated that BESB’s utilization of a family contribution towards the cost of higher education should be removed from policy. The SRC and the Advisory Board deliberated on modifying existing policy and state regulations to remove references to the family contribution toward the cost of higher education. Concerns were expressed by members of the SRC and the Advisory Board that the potential fiscal implications are uncertain at this time, particularly given the plan to serve transition-age students with vision impairments in addition to students who are legally blind. While there were rough projections of potential cost impact available, this data was not sufficient to assure the SRC and the Advisory Board that such a decision would not force the Bureau into an Order of Selection two or three years from now. Additionally, both the SRC and the Advisory Board expressed a need to consult with the State Rehabilitation Council to the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS), which is the other federal Vocational Rehabilitation Program that is within the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS). BRS state regulations have nearly identical language on the family contribution requirements and the potential impact on funding for BRS would need to be explored. If a recommendation was made to waive the family contribution for clients of DORS who are legally blind, the SRC wanted to know if this would lead to a similar advocacy effort by clients with other disabilities served by DORS, and if that was a likely scenario, what funding implications would this have for BRS and DORS.

Based upon these concerns, the SRC and the Advisory Board asked that the Bureau provide more detailed financial projections after transition-age students with vision impairments are served by the Vocational Rehabilitation Program of BESB. The SRC will also reach out to the Commissioner of DORS and the SRC for BRS to discuss the potential implications of such a change.

Bureau Response: The Bureau agrees with these recommendations and will facilitate a meeting with the SRC of BRS and the Commissioner of DORS and also provide more detailed financial projections to the SRC and the Advisory Board after students with visual impairments are being served by the BESB Vocational Rehabilitation Program and actual cost figures are available.

Although not specifically covered during the public comment period, the SRC and the Advisory Board in their June meetings also deliberated on some additional aspects of the proposed policy updates. It was observed that the proposed language to serve current and former clients of BESB’s Children’s Services left open the possibility that all former clients of Children’s Services could potentially come to BESB Vocational Rehabilitation based on the draft language, creating a much larger pool of potential clients than what had been intended when this change was proposed during the DORS strategic planning process. With the exception of one Advisory Board member who opposed serving any students with vision impairments in the BESB Vocational Rehabilitation Program, and one other Advisory Board member who abstained from voting on the matter, the full SRC and the remaining Advisory Board members supported language that would clarify that this policy was intended to serve current and future clients of Children’s Services who are of transition-age and supported adding into the proposed policy language:

“Children who are or were served by the Bureau’s Children’s Services Program on or after January 1, 2010 and who meet the statutory definition of visually impaired may be served by the Bureau’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program.”

It was felt that using 2010 as the date for accepting in referrals would ensure that current college students who meet the age range of a transition student within the federal guidelines would be able to seek services from BESB.

Bureau Response: The Bureau supports this approach and believes that allowing students with vision impairments to be served by BESB Vocational Rehabilitation will provide for a more seamless transition and expand their opportunity to participate in career development and work exposure programs that are presently only available to students served by BESB who are legally blind.

The SRC also became aware that the proposed reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act held language that would require the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) to be developed within 90 days of the determination of client eligibility while the proposed change in BESB policy was to shorten the time frame from 9 months to 6 months. Based on the anticipation that the Workforce Investment Act may be passed in the near future, the SRC and the Advisory Board concurred to revise the policy regarding the development of the IPE to read:

“The IPE shall be developed as expeditiously as possible. Under normal circumstances, sufficient data should be available or gathered to enable the completion of IPE development within a period not to exceed six months or whatever federal law or regulation otherwise requires.”

Bureau Response: The Bureau supports this recommendation and will include this revision in the proposed policy updates that will be forwarded to Rehabilitation Services Administration for review.

This screen was last updated on Jun 26 2014 2:54PM by Brenda Lamarre

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 26 2009 4:14PM by Brenda Lamarre

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

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

State of Connecticut, Bureau of Rehabilitative Services; Services for the Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program

Cooperation and Coordination with Other Agencies and Other Entities

(b)(1): Cooperation with Agencies That Are Not in the Statewide Workforce Investment System and with Other Entities

Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitative Services; Services for the Blind Program (BESB Program) works very closely with a variety of Federal, State, and local agencies and programs.

The Services for the Blind Program continues a Memorandum of Understanding with the Connecticut Radio Information System, Inc. and the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut for the National Federation of the Blind’s Newsline service in Connecticut. Newsline provides access by using a touchtone telephone to over 200 newspapers and periodicals for registered users. This service offers clients who are blind a variety of resources for accessing news and related information.

Through a cooperative agreement with the Department of Labor, the BESB Program’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Division is able to access wage data for clients of the Agency. Through an additional agreement with the Social Security Administration, the agency is able to obtain beneficiary status information for clients who are recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). This information is necessary for verifying the successful achievement of substantial gainful earnings for recipients of agency services. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program is able to seek funding reimbursements from the Social Security Administration for clients who have transitioned off of SSDI or SSI benefits as a result of employment achievement. This has proven to be a very beneficial arrangement. In Fiscal Year 2008, the agency received $23,723 in Social Security funding from this process.

For individuals who are deaf and blind, the BESB Program works closely with the Connecticut Department of Social Services and the Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitative Services; Bureau of Rehabilitation Services Program (BRS Program) for the coordination of services, through a cooperative agreement. Individuals who are deaf and blind can receive coordinated services from both public vocational rehabilitation programs, and a determination is made as to which program will assume lead case management responsibilities. For clients who are receiving case management services through BRS Program, the BESB Program offers orientation and mobility services, rehabilitation technology and rehabilitation teaching assistance.

For clients who are blind and mentally retarded, the VR Division coordinates services with the State Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to bring about successful job placements with long-term supports. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors work closely with DDS to establish a strong working relationship.

The Services for the Blind Program’s Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors also coordinate services with the State Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) for individuals who are blind and have a mental health diagnosis and/or addiction.

Additionally, the program has signed a cooperative agreement with the other Vocational Rehabilitation State Units within the New England Region that allows for the provision of services, such as mobility training, for clients of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program who are attending training programs or college in those states.

This screen was last updated on Aug 31 2011 3:29PM by Brenda Lamarre

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

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

State of Connecticut, Bureau of Rehabilitative Services; Services for the Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program

Cooperation and Coordination with Other Agencies and Other Entities

(b)(2): Coordination with Education Officials

The VR Division at the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services, Services for the Blind is actively involved in a variety of transition school-to-work initiatives.

Collaboration with education officials is present in the participation of the State Department of Education (SDE) on all activities of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), with an appointed member serving on the Council. This involvement includes reviewing policies for the VR Division, and offering recommendations on priorities for the program. A Memorandum of Understanding between this agency and the Department of Education details the responsibility of the SDE to be the lead agency for assuring the right of students with disabilities to access a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), with the intent of improving the preparation of students with disabilities to move into the workplace and/or post-secondary education. The agreement provides for the Vocational Rehabilitation counselors from this agency to be members of Planning and Placement Teams (PPT) as early as the fourteenth birthday of students who are legally blind. Rehabilitation technologists, mobility instructors and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors from this agency provide recommendations to the Planning and Placement Teams on blindness related topics that are relevant to the transition activities of the students. This agency offers mentoring and summer work experiences to students as part of the transition process to provide opportunities to experience the world of work, and to gain insight from successfully employed adults who are blind. These collaborative services are geared toward assisting the student in selecting a career goal that is detailed in an Individualized Plan for Employment by the time of high school graduation.

Staff members from Vocational Rehabilitation and the Children’s Services Divisions at the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services, Services for the Blind have developed a Technology Committee that reviews issues and advances in the field of adaptive technology for people who are blind. The committee offers training programs on adaptive devices and related technology topics to local education agencies, where continuing education credits have been provided to school district staff that participated.

Within the higher education area, the Agency has a cooperative agreement with the State University System that addresses the services available in the university setting for students with disabilities. This cooperative agreement includes the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services Program and describes the responsibilities of the universities as well as the responsibilities of public vocational rehabilitation to ensure that students with disabilities achieve equal access to classroom instruction, internships, and school-sponsored activities.

At the direct service level, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors participate in Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meetings and assist in the development of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for students. The Vocational Rehabilitation program’s involvement begins as early as age 14, with referrals to the program initiated by the Education Consultants of the Agency Children’s Services Division, or the school district’s teacher of the visually impaired. To facilitate this process, the electronic case management system for the Agency has a built in tracking system for identifying when clients who are legally blind turn age 14. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors work with the students, in collaboration with their Education Consultants, or the school district’s teacher of the visually impaired, to identify careers of interest. Training opportunities for the students to develop independent living skills are coordinated between the Children’s Services and Vocational Rehabilitation staff at the Agency. Furthermore, opportunities for the students to learn from mentors who are blind are also jointly developed between the two programs.

The Program’s Educational Projects Coordinator serves as the Transition School-to-Work Coordinator for the division. The Transition Coordinator has been involved in collaboration with the Department of Labor to develop opportunities for transition age youth from BESB to access summer employment through the Workforce Development Boards through funding they have received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The Transition Coordinator is also an active member of the Board of Directors of the Youth Leadership Project that oversees the Youth Leadership Forum (YLF), as well as being an active member in Connecticut Kids As Self Advocate’s (CT KASA). The Youth Leadership Forum is a yearly event that teaches students with disabilities leadership and self-advocacy skills. CT KASA is a support group for students to foster self-advocacy, leadership, and employability. The Transition Coordinator also works on planning the yearly event and recruiting students who are blind for participation, both as delegates and for mentoring staff positions.

The BESB Program continues to conduct career seminars for high school students who are visually impaired or legally blind. This has included events at Connecticut State University System institutions as well as community colleges. These events focus on encouraging the students to prepare for college and to consider careers in science and computer technology. These events have also included professional development activities for university staff to educate them on the support services available through Vocational Rehabilitation for students with visual disabilities.

Vocational Rehabilitation Program staff continues to participate and present information at in-service training programs organized by the Agency for public school teachers and guidance counselors on issues affecting students who are blind. The Transition Coordinator each year presents to a group of private school personnel, through the Connecticut Association of Professional Special Education Facilities, about transition opportunities for students with visual disabilities. This is a collaborative effort, with representatives from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Special Education Resource Center (SERC), and BRS Program also presenting on related topics.

BESB Program’s Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and the Transition Coordinator, through ongoing case conferencing with Educational Consultants of the Children’s Services Division coordinate the necessary services to prepare students for employment and higher education. Much of these efforts consist of enrollment in a variety of summer programs offered by this Agency. These opportunities consist of computer training; activities of daily living training; orientation and mobility training; an overnight summer program at Camp Harkness for career exploration and mentoring; a weeklong intensive residential program (LIFE program) that provides training in preparation for secondary school and work; and a career exposure program, with a mentor component and a stipend for the student provided.

The Transition Coordinator and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors have also assisted students in experiencing job-shadowing opportunities in career fields that they have shown an interest in. Efforts have expanded to now include opportunities for real work experiences during the summer for transition age students. This effort not only benefits the specific students, but also creates employer relationships that benefit future students.

The Agency mentoring program has continued affording students the opportunity to discuss career options and transition issues with former recipients of services who have personal experiences to share. An individual training is conducted for any new mentor and a “How to Be a Mentor” manual is given to each new mentor. Mentors are prescreened in the same method as volunteers to assure safety for all participants. Additionally, mentoring is imbedded into the summer programs, with opportunities available for students to interact with adult mentors who have achieved success in their chosen career. This is most prominently evident in the career exposure program, which places students into a Business Enterprise Program location to gain work experience under the supervision of an entrepreneur who is blind.

Through these comprehensive activities, BESB Program will continue to take an active approach to transition school-to-work activities to prepare students for the world of work.

This screen was last updated on Aug 31 2011 3:36PM by Brenda Lamarre

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.

State of Connecticut, Bureau of Rehabilitative Services; Services for the Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program

Cooperation and Coordination with Other Agencies and Other Entities

(b)(3): Cooperative Agreements with Private Non-Profit Vocational Rehabilitation Service Providers

The Services for the Blind Program (BESB Program) uses the wide range of cooperative agreements with accompanying fee schedules that have been established in collaboration with the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services Program (BRS Program). This provides a statewide comprehensive list of programs and services to choose from. More than 90 non-profit community-based rehabilitation programs are available through these agreements for clients to select from. The services that are offered through the community rehabilitation programs in the state include job development, job coaching, and working evaluations and working interviews, among a variety of other services to enable clients to prepare for and enter into employment.

Additional agreements have been established with private non-profit service providers both in-state and in other states where it is identified that these programs offer specific vocational and independent living services for persons who are blind. These agreements include non-profit rehabilitation providers in Louisiana, Colorado, Maryland, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, which provide work training programs as well as adjustment to blindness training.

The Agency is always exploring additional options to best meet service delivery needs for clients. For example, agreements have been developed with the Puerto Rican Forum and with the Native American Vocational Rehabilitation Program. These agreements have been developed to help with the program’s efforts to provide services to individuals from traditionally underserved populations. To maximize collaboration, a representative of the Native American Vocational Rehabilitation Program serves as an appointed member of the Services for the Blind Program’s State Rehabilitation Council, and a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor from BESB Program represents the Agency on the Native American Vocational Rehabilitation Council.

This screen was last updated on Aug 31 2011 3:41PM by Brenda Lamarre

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:

  • supported employment services; and
  • extended services.

State of Connecticut, Bureau of Rehabilitative Services; Services for the Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program

Cooperation and Coordination with Other Agencies and Other Entities

(b)(4): Evidence of Collaboration Regarding Supported Employment Services and Extended Services

The Services for the Blind Program (BESB Program) has been actively involved in cooperative working relationships with other public and private agencies for many years with regard to supported employment and extended services. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors identify individuals who have a significant disability along with legal blindness who can benefit from long-term supports through supported employment. A cooperative agreement between BESB Program and the State Department of Social Services (DSS), Bureau of Rehabilitation Services Program (BRS Program) allows for the sharing of fee schedules and information that assists in the identifying of training providers and third party funding sources that are essential in supported employment placements. Representatives of both agencies routinely communicate on the identification of new providers and fee schedules that have been established.

This Agency continues to have an active working arrangement with the State of Connecticut, Department of Developmental Services (DDS). This cooperative agreement assists in the coordination and identification of training providers that have specific expertise when a client with mental retardation and legal blindness could benefit from supported employment services. This working relationship also involves the utilization of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) as a long-term third party provider of funding.

In addition to the collaborative relationship with DDS, Services for the Blind Program has developed a strong working relationship with the State of Connecticut, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). Through this arrangement, individuals who have a mental health diagnosis, acquired brain injury, or an addiction diagnosis along with legal blindness can access supported employment opportunities, with DMHAS providing the third party funding.

Beyond the collaborative arrangements for third party funding with other state agencies, the Vocational Rehabilitation Program continues to identify and work with a growing number of Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRPs) throughout the state. Working relationships have been established with a number of private Community Rehabilitation Providers as well as state agencies that offer vocational training and job support services. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors provided training to CRP staff on Agency services and techniques for assisting clients of the Agency to access training and employment opportunities. Staff from 18 private community rehabilitation programs, in addition to staff from two state providers (DDS and DMHAS) were trained through this process. As a result of these training sessions, Southeastern Employment Services, CW Resources, SARAH, Camp Horizons, Seabird Enterprises, Marrakech, Kuhn Employment Opportunities, the Institute of Professional Practice, Birmingham Group, Easter Seals of Greater New Haven, and the Manchester Association of Retarded Citizens all signed agreement to provide extended services to clients of the BESB Program to ensure long-term stability of job placements within supported employment settings.

This screen was last updated on Aug 31 2011 3:44PM by Brenda Lamarre

Attachment 4.10 Comprehensive System of Personnel Development

Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

All staff members working as Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and the Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor at the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind meet the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development. These staff members meet these requirements by having a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling or a closely related field, as specified by the criteria for certification as a rehabilitation counselor by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC). In addition, the State Director for the Vocational Rehabilitation Program also meets the CRCC standard and holds the credential of Certified Rehabilitation Counselor.

There are two staff members that do not meet the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development requirements of a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation or a closely related field. The Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor, who meets this standard, approves all eligibility decisions, Individualized Plans for Employment, and case closures for these two staff.

During Fiscal Year 2013, the Program had three vacant positions.

One of the vacant positions was a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Coordinator, which became vacant in April, 2011 when this staff person retired from the agency. Due to the increasing need for this position, this position was reestablished and recruited for through an agency wide promotional opportunity. One of the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors that covers the Northern part of the state was selected for that position. This left the program with a vacant VR Counselor position for the Northern Region of the state. Recruitment and interviews recently took place for that position. The hiring process is still in progress.

The third vacant position was a Special Assistant to the Blind that became vacant in 2010. The decision was made not to fill this position at the time and the position remains vacant.

It is projected that within the next five years, the need for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors due to attrition and retirement will be four. With the relatively high starting salary for Master’s level Rehabilitation Counselors compared to the private rehabilitation sector within the state, it is anticipated that recruitment efforts would again result in a sufficient applicant pool of qualified individuals when a Counselor vacancy occurs.

The current composition of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program includes one State Director, one Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor, one Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Coordinator, one Quality Control Reviewer, one Education Project Coordinator, seven full-time Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, two Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselors, one Orientation and Mobility Instructor, four Rehabilitation Teachers (two of these staff members are Rehabilitation Technologists), one Administrative Assistant, one Office Assistant, and three Special Assistants to the Blind.

With this staffing level, the staff to client ratio breaks down as follows:

Administrative Assistant 1/1014 Education Projects Coordinator 1/1014 State Director 1/1014 Office Assistant 1/1014 Orientation and Mobility Instructor 1/1014 Quality Control Reviewer 1/1014 Rehabilitation Teacher 1/507 Rehabilitation Technologist 1/507 Special Assistant to the Blind 1/338 VR Counselor/Assistant Counselor 1/113 VR Counselor Coordinator 1/1014 VR Supervisor 1/1014

In terms of years of service, the breakdown for staff is as follows:

1– 4 years of service 1/24 or 4 % 5– 9 years of service 8/24 or 33% 10 – 14 years of service 6/24 or 25% 15 – 19 years of service 5/24 or 21% 20—29 years of service 4/24 or 17%

The service delivery to the clients is divided into five regions throughout the state. At least one Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor is assigned to each of the five regions. The state is divided in half (East and West) for rehabilitation technology services, with one technologist covering each region. There is currently one Rehabilitation Teacher specializing in independent living skills training and adaptive technology training with screen readers, and one Rehabilitation Teacher specializing in computer training with screen readers and/or magnification software. Each of the Rehabilitation Teachers serves the entire state.

Also divided in half (East and West) are the two Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselor caseload assignments for clients whose preferred language is Spanish.

With the recent promotion there is one Vocational Counselor Coordinator that covers the entire state and works with the nine VR Counselors, soon to be ten. This position is designed to work with the VR Counselors on job development activities and case management.

There is one Orientation and Mobility Instructor covering the entire state. This Instructor explores transportation options with clients who are in need of solutions to participate in training or employment. Additionally, the Instructor also provides assessments and travel training with the use of long white canes.

The service delivery model also includes one Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who works primarily with college students. This Counselor has established close working relationships with the offices of Disability Services at the institutions of Higher Education. Through this approach, consistent coordination of support services can be achieved. The assignment of a specific Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to the college students also ensures consistency and timeliness with the financial aid application process.

The Education Project Coordinator serves as the Program’s Transition School-to-Work coordinator, overseeing the statewide mentoring initiative, recruiting, training, and matching mentors with students who are blind. The Education Project Coordinator also is responsible for the development and implementation of programs that provide students with opportunities to work through summer employment and internships, as well as providing career exposure experiences through job shadowing, employer tours, and mentor activities.

1. Job Title Projected vacancies over the next 5 years Job Title -- Total positions -- Current vacancies -- Projected vacancies over next 5 years Administrative Assistant: 1 -- 0 -- 0 Education Projects Coordinator: 1 -- 0 -- 0 State Director: 1 -- 0 -- 0 Office Assistant: 1 -- 0 -- 0 Orientation and Mobility Instructor: 1 -- 0 -- 0 Quality Control Reviewer: 1 -- 0 -- 0 Rehabilitation Teacher: 2 -- 0 -- 0 Rehabilitation Technologist: 2 -- 0 -- 0 Special Assistant to the Blind: 4 -- 1 -- 1 VR Counselor/Assistant Counselor: 10 -- 1-- 4 VR Counselor Coordinator: 1 -- 0 -- 0 VR Supervisor: 1 --0 -- 0

 

Row Job Title Total positions Current vacancies Projected vacancies over the next 5 years
1 Please see above 0 0 0
2 0 0 0
3 0 0 0
4 0 0 0
5 0 0 0
6 0 0 0
7 0 0 0
8 0 0 0
9 0 0 0
10 0 0 0

 

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program monitors the number of students enrolled in Masters of Rehabilitation counseling programs at colleges throughout the region by contacting the educational institutions to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of candidates to address future anticipated recruitment needs. In the past year, Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts had 98 students enrolled, with 30 expected to graduate and Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut had 90 students enrolled with 15 expected to graduate. Salve Regina in Newport, Rhode Island had 53 students enrolled with 5 expected to graduate. The number of Master’s degree candidates is sufficient to address the projected recruitment needs over the next fiscal year.

 

Row Institutions Students enrolled Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates from the previous year
1 Please see above 0 0 0 0
2 0 0 0 0
3 0 0 0 0
4 0 0 0 0
5 0 0 0 0

 

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program remains in contact on an annual basis with all of the institutions of higher education in this region that offer Master’s degree programs in Rehabilitation Counseling to ensure that an adequate flow of graduates is anticipated for projected vacancies. When positions are available, recruitment efforts are conducted through job announcements that are placed on the Department of Administrative Services web site, news publications of minority-based organizations, and colleges in the area. The Program also distributes the job vacancy announcements to organizations of and for individuals who are blind within the state, as well as advertising nationally through Rehab Net, which is a list-serve that connects all 80 public vocational rehabilitation agencies. The list-serve for the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) is also utilized to distribute job announcements to ensure the widest possible distribution.

 

All the staff members who work as Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and the Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor meet the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development requirements and have a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation, or a closely related field, as specified by the criteria for certification as a rehabilitation counselor by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC). In addition, the State Director for the Program also meets the CRCC standard and holds the credential of Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. When vacancies occur, the Program will recruit for individuals who meet the highest standard in the state (CRC eligibility) first. The competitive salary offered by this Bureau has resulted in the ability to hire individuals who possess this level of credentialing in most situations. If there are no qualified candidates from those recruitments, then recruitment will be made for a Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselor level.

There is no requirement in the job specification of the Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselor series to advance into the Counselor level, however staff hired into the job title of Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselor are encouraged to pursue continuing education to meet the qualifications of the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor level.

One of the current staff did pursue this option, acquiring a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling through the Region I Continuing Education Grant, and subsequently applied for and was promoted into the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor level position.

The most recently hired Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselor is currently participating in the Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling program at Central Connecticut State University. The anticipated date for completion of the program is 2016.

 

Collaboration among staff members is encouraged within the Program. Staff members share ideas with each other on successful strategies that can assist clients in achieving their career goals. These practices are shared in regular staff meetings and on a weekly basis on the day all staff report to the office. This approach is very evident in the teaming of counselors for employer outreach and the exchanging of job development information. The staff members meet with the other staff in their region while in the field to discuss job leads, or to team up to meet with employers and participate in job fairs. There is also an emphasis on collaboration between other Programs within the organization, such as Adult Services where independent living services are provided, Children’s Services, and Business Enterprises.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program makes available a full range of training programs offered through public and private entities. Program staff continue to participate in training programs offered by the Region I Technical Assistance Center, many of which are available at no cost to the state.

As part of their yearly goals, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors work directly with their supervisor to identify areas for professional growth and development. Each employee of the program receives at least one written evaluation per year, which is consistent with collective bargaining agreements. The Supervisor of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program meets with staff members regularly to assist with any areas of their job performance that could benefit from further development and to provide feedback on best practices that have proven to be effective in service delivery. Technical assistance on policies and procedures is also provided during individualized meetings and during staff meetings. If an employee is found to need additional assistance and training in order to meet the job requirements, then a plan for improvement is developed. This may include the use of weekly reviews, additional written performance evaluations, and increasing the opportunity for the employee to participate in formalized training programs to increase skills and competencies.

Job development and Assistive Technology continue to be the highest priorities for training goals for the staff in Vocational Rehabilitation. The employment outreach model that was implemented in fiscal year 2006 is the model the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors utilize and it continues to be effective. This model was presented in an extensive training by Employment Management Professionals, Inc. in collaboration with the Region I Technical Assistance Center and the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. This training taught new approaches to job development with a goal of increasing employment outcomes. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors continue to work on a goal of delivering a minimum of two hours of employer outreach activity per week, using the outreach techniques taught through this model. There is a refresher course scheduled for June of this year by the Employment Management Professionals. It is a one day training that will emphasize the job development model of building relationships with employers as well as focusing on case management and movement of cases through the statuses.

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors have participated in a number of trainings in the past year, as well as attending many job fairs throughout the state. Each VR Counselor has joined at least one Job Developers group in their region of the state to share ideas and job leads with other Job Developers in their region. A statewide training of Job Developer’s Groups was held at the Bureau and sponsored by the APSE organization.

The Program has placed a high priority goal on the training of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and Rehabilitation Teachers on the most current adaptive technology through national and statewide trainings and technology demonstration seminars. Most of the VR Counselors and the Education Projects Coordinator are participating in a statewide training sponsored by the Tech. Act “Achievement through Technology.” This training will focus on learning about Assistive Technology for Education, Employment, and Community Living. Most of the VR Counseling staff and Education Projects Coordinator will also attend an all-day conference on Serving Adults with Disabilities.

One of the Rehabilitation Technologists attended a national conference on technology at California State University at Northridge (CSUN). The other Rehabilitation Technologist attended the National Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference. The Rehabilitation Technologists bring back all the information they learned and provide an in-service training to program staff on the latest technology available to individuals who are blind.

Two Rehabilitation Teachers participated in trainings at the New England Assistive Technology Marketplace (NEAT) through the Connecticut Institute for the Blind. These trainings included updates for Window Eyes, Zoomtext, and accessibility features of the IPAD and Apple products.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Staff participated in a full-day training on Ethics and Violence in the Workplace, sponsored by the TACE Center and Assumption College. All the VR Counselors participated in one day training on working with individuals with criminal backgrounds. This training was sponsored by the TACE Center.

The Education Project Coordinator (Transition Coordinator) organizes programs for transition-age school-to-work clients of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. This includes opportunities that are available through the Business Enterprise Program for transition-age students in a paid work experience to learn from entrepreneurs who are blind.

This year the Education Projects Coordinator and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors again teamed up with the General Agency for summer youth employment, working with community rehabilitation programs. This was a successful program allowing a number of transition-age clients to work in summer employment. The Transition Coordinator works in collaboration with the Connecticut Institute for the Blind to plan an annual overnight summer camping opportunity for transition-age students that has a strong mentoring focus. The agenda for the camp is to visit worksites in the area that employ individuals who are blind, and to learn more about the careers these mentors are employed in. There is also a week-long overnight camp held at a local college. This camp has a focus on technology training, worksite visits, rehabilitation teaching, and orientation and mobility. The Transition Coordinator also oversees the Bureau’s mentoring program.

 

There are two Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselors who are bilingual in English and Spanish, and who work with Spanish-speaking clients throughout the State. Part of their duties includes outreach to community-based organizations to distribute information about services offered by the organization. The Bureau also provides information to clients in large-print, Braille, electronic, and audio formats to ensure that materials are accessible. The Bureau recently entered into an agreement to work with a language assisted line to allow staff to use a translator through a conference line to communicate with clients speaking different languages.

One Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and two Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselors attended an all-day training on Partners Building Bridges for Diversity. Also, the two Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselors participated in a Latino Conference.

 

Collaboration through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) occurs on a continual basis through joint training programs and initiatives. Staff members from Vocational Rehabilitation and Children’s Services Programs have developed a Technology Committee that reviews issues and advances in the field of adaptive technology for people who are blind. The committee offers training programs on adaptive devices and related technology topics to local education agencies, where continuing education credits have been provided to school district staff that participated. Additional collaboration between the Children’s Services and the Vocational Rehabilitation Program has resulted in the provision of parent education and family day programs that included activities and information on transition from school to work. There is also a summer program committee with members from both Vocational Rehabilitation and Children’s Services that meet on a regular basis to plan for the different summer programs offered to the transition-age students of both Vocational Rehabilitation and Children’s Services.

This screen was last updated on Jun 26 2014 3:48PM by Brenda Lamarre

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:

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

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

The State Rehabilitation Council to the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program for individuals who are blind commissioned the Center for Public Policy and Social Research (CPPSR) at Central Connecticut State University to conduct a comprehensive statewide needs assessment to assist the Bureau with establishing goals and priorities. The full report as issued by CPPSR appears immediately below. Further into this document, are observations and recommendations that the Bureau and the State Rehabilitation Council shall be fully considering for implementation.

CPPSR Full Report:

BUREAU OF EDUCATION AND SERVICES FOR THE BLIND (BESB) NEEDS ASSESSMENT Table of Contents I. Overview II. Methodology III. Clientele Summary A. Overview B. Minorities C. Youth IV. Vocational Rehabilitation Outcomes V. Focus Group Summary VI. VR Staff Interview Summary VII. Further Recommendations VIII. Conclusions IX. Appendix & Footnotes

I. Overview In accord with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) is required to conduct a needs assessment of individuals with disabilities living within the state. This needs assessment complies with the evaluative objectives outlined in the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA) Guide dated November 30, 2009. As noted in the Guide, this analysis is valid for three years. In conducting this analysis, Central Connecticut State University’s (CCSU) Center for Public Policy and Social Research (CPPSR) gathered information from consumers, an advisory council, the Internet, and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) staff.

II. Methodology In conducting the assessment, The Center for Public Policy and Social Research examined and/or conducted: • An analysis of population statistics for Connecticut that describe disability and minority status; • A description of VR participation rates of minority individuals in comparison to individuals in the overall population in Connecticut and to national VR statistics; • An analysis of VR services to individuals with the most significant disabilities, • An analysis of Bureau improvements since the previous VR assessment; • The results of a teleconference focus group discussion held with the Bureau Consumer Advisory Committee (conducted January 2014); • The results of the consumer satisfaction survey for individuals served during Fiscal Year (FY) 2013; • Comparative longitudinal data analysis based off of the consumer satisfaction survey from FY 2003-2013; • The results of one in-depth interview with a Bureau Consumer Advisory Committee member. • The results of three in-depth interviews with BESB Vocational Rehabilitation counselors (conducted April 2014).

III. Clientele Summary A. Overview At the end of fiscal year (FY) 2011, BESB’s registry comprised of 10,942 visually impaired individuals (footnote 1). The Bureau’s registry for FY 2012 accounted for 10,735 visually impaired individuals, revealing that their clientele decreased by 1.8% (footnote 2). Data for FY 2013 further show a registry increase of approximately 2.7% to 11,034. No reliable state blind population statistics are available at this time. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain whether this recent registry increase indicates growth within the visually impaired community or success on BESB’s behalf at identifying more of its potential clientele.

B. Minorities According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 data, predictions based on of 2010 Census findings, Connecticut’s minority population is slightly less representative than that of the national population. Approximately two-fifths of all Americans (38.9%) self-identified their ethnicity in a minority group. Of those individuals who associated with one ethnicity, 16.9% were Hispanic or Latino, 13.1% were African American, 5.1% were Asian, 1.2% were Native American, and 0.2% were Pacific Islander (footnote 3). Slightly off of national statistics, approximately one-third (32.3%) of Connecticut survey respondents identified themselves as a minority (footnote 4). In order of frequency, state minorities are accounted for as follows: 14.2% Hispanic/Latino, 11.2% African American, 4.2% Asian, .5% Native American, and .1% Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (footnote 5).

Comparing BESB, state, and national statistics, we find that the Bureau’s Vocational Rehabilitation program appears to be successful at engaging Connecticut’s visually impaired minority community. Overall, Bureau clientele enrolled in the VR program who self-identify their ethnicity reasonably reflect both the state and national minority population at approximately 34%. Sub-groups are similarly represented. For fiscal year 2012, BESB reported the following of program enrollment: 19% African American, 12% Hispanic/Latino, 2% Asian, and less than 1% Native American/Pacific Islander (footnote 6). As noted in the overview of the Clientele Summary, participation in BESB’s Vocational Rehabilitation program has decreased by approximately 1.5% between 2011 and 2013 (footnote 7). Notably, minority enrollment in the program remained steady during this time. This indicates that while the overall registry enrollment has dropped, outreach to minorities with visual disabilities has remained consistent. Currently, there is no reliable data that measures the incidence of blindness in minority communities within Connecticut. For this reason, the Needs Assessment approximates information based on general minority population statistics.

Since the last VR assessment was issued, BESB has taken numerous steps to improve its outreach to the minority community. BESB employs two bilingual counselors and pays for interpreters on an "as needed" basis. BESB also continues outreach to specific minority groups through local meetings and events. Such outreach efforts include attending the Puerto Rican Forum and working with other agencies that offer ESL (English as a Second Language) classes (footnote 8). Given the information, CPPSR concludes that BESB has made successful efforts in reaching out to underserved populations. Towards the end of this report, suggestions to further assist in outreach efforts have been provided.

c. Youth Reporting practices vary, so it is difficult to compare BESB’s success at reaching minority and child populations with other states. For example, many agency websites do not divulge statistics for race, ethnicity, or age. Despite the lack of comparative data, it is possible to assess how BESB is doing within its own state. We conclude that BESB is actively engaging blind youth in the State of Connecticut. In fiscal year 2011, the Bureau’s registry accounted for 10,942 blind individuals. Out of that number, 1,074 were children. The 2012 report reveals that 1,123 out of 10,735 individuals on BESB’s registry were children. This reflects a 3% increase in their enrollment. While the registry grew 2.7% in FY 2013 (totaling 11,034), the number of children decreased to 1,100 (footnote 9). This represents a drop of less than 1%. The amount of children served since the last Assessment saw a statistically insignificant increase of .09%. This adds a net of three children since the end of fiscal year 2010. While it is difficult to determine the reason behind the fluctuation of children registered with BESB simply by looking at numbers, a possible explanation is that some children entered adulthood.

IV. Vocational Rehabilitation Outcomes This section compares Connecticut’s Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind outcome data with those from other peer agencies. These data were derived from the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) 911 Ad Hoc Query feature. Information is from the most recent RSA reporting (FY 2012). Looking at a variety of metrics, BESB’s measured outcomes are very competitive with peer agencies.

Compared to peer agencies with similar grant amounts received for FY 2012, BESB ranked the highest for closing cases based upon favorable employment outcomes (88.8%, footnote 10). Of the 6 peer state agencies included in this particular comparison, Oregon ranked second at 78.13%, Iowa and South Carolina tied for third (77.88%), Arkansas fifth (73.99%), and New Mexico sixth (53.03%). Another metric that can be used to evaluate BESB’s VR program is to compare the Bureau’s outcome data to peer agencies with similar amounts of individuals served. BESB served 125 new clients in FY 2012. Other agencies serving numbers of clients closest to this figure include Minnesota (159), Oregon (128), Idaho (106), and Iowa (104). BESB reported the highest positive employment outcome percentage in this cohort by over ten percentage points (10.67%, footnote 11). Among peer agencies, as measured by both grant funds received and the number of clients served, Connecticut’s Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind leads in positive employment outcomes.

While BESB is highly competitive in most measures presented in the RSA data, one area stands out as being a place to improve the services offered. This comes in observing the average hours per week in which clients are employed. Looking at reported outcomes for agencies that exclusively serve blind populations, the average is 26.48 hours per week worked (footnote 12). BESB sits right at this mean. Using the median, a more precise measure of central tendency given the outlier of Maine (10.33), we find that BESB falls just below the middle point of the data (28.17). The unfortunate fact is that Connecticut has the 39th highest unemployment rate in the country (footnote 13). This undoubtedly contributes to the Bureau’s difficulty in locating and obtaining full-time opportunities for their clients. However, when BESB does place VR clients in positions, these individuals make highly competitive salaries. Among all 24 states that isolate the reporting of blind agency data outcomes, BESB is second in the nation with an hourly wage of $16.24. This figure is $3.54 above the average for this agency cohort. Washington leads this grouping with an average hourly wage of $17.03.

The Bureau stands out when examining the average time to case closure with no employment. BESB leaves cases open for an average of 95.30 months, a true outlier. Isolating reported outcomes for agencies exclusively serving the blind population, a cohort of 24 states, the statistical average for this metric 46.72 months. Qualitative data offer some insights as to why BESB’s figure is comparatively high. Some clients who enter the VR program are unprepared for employment. For example, some of these individuals are adjusting to life as a newly-blinded person. These individuals may not aggressively seek employment for an extended period of time. These cases are typically left open. Further, VR counselors report an unconditional desire to never give up on a client. These insights are statistically corroborated by BESB’s low percentage of cases closed without employment. Looking at the 24 states that isolate data for agencies exclusively serving the blind population, the Bureau has the lowest percentage of cases closed without unemployment (11.2%). Notably, this figure is just shy of 20 percentage points below the average for this cohort (31.18%).

Financial efficiency is extremely important in today’s economic climate. We find the Bureau to be extremely efficient with its funds. BESB spent an average of $5,603 on each client with a positive employment outcome. This measure of efficiency is sixth in the nation among the 24 state cohort referenced above. Looking at this same peer grouping, BESB spends the highest amount of dollars on cases closed with no employment (average of $14,249.07). This figure is substantially above the mean ($7,437.268).

Bureau employment outcomes reported to the RSA correspond to customer satisfaction survey results. Central Connecticut State University’s Center for Public Policy and Social Research has collected longitudinal data on client attitudes towards services rendered by BESB. The results typically yield a margin of error of +/-5 at the 95% confidence interval. In fiscal year 2013, more than nine out of ten survey respondents (91%) reported that they would recommend BESB to a friend (footnote 14). Since the last time this assessment was conducted, the Bureau reached its all-time high on this valuable measure. The results for fiscal year 2012 revealed that 94% of clients surveyed would recommend BESB to a friend.

Overall, Bureau clients that participated in the survey reported high levels of satisfaction across all services. On average, BESB clients reported higher levels of satisfaction with services compared to 2012. Five services enjoyed an increase in mean satisfaction rating. Only three services experienced a decline, all of which were modest downturns. These findings continue the general positive trend set in 2012. In 2013, Low Vision and Skills Training services, for example, both experienced notable increases in satisfaction from the previous year’s survey. The mean satisfaction score for Low Vision Services improved from 7.72 in 2011 to 8.79 in 2013 (footnote 15). Skills Training Services’ mean score increase from 7.96 in 2011 to 9.09 in 2013. This represented the highest satisfaction mark out of all of BESB’s services in 2013.

V. Focus Group Summary As part of the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment, the Center for Public Policy and Social Research conducted a focus group with members of the Bureau Consumer Advisory Committee (BCAC). This focus group was conducted within the context of a BCAC teleconference business meeting held in January of 2014. The purpose of this focus group was to understand how BCAC members felt about BESB services, needs that should be addressed in the near future, and how BESB could increase outreach efforts to the unserved and underserved. Given that BESB’s Director was involved in the teleconference, Advisory Committee members seeking greater confidentiality were encouraged to call the Principal Investigator at a later point in time. One individual took advantage of this offer. It is worth noting that these qualitative findings cannot be generalized beyond the BCAC membership. Still, they provide valuable insight into how a group of select consumers and agency affiliates view BESB’s operations.

The chief concern that emerged from the focus group revolved around the topic of access to technology. Multiple BCAC members talked about the importance of getting technology to older adults. They felt that the concentration of technology training has been geared towards people who are going into the workforce or are currently employed. An increasing number of older adults are interested in using computers at home. However, these individuals are missing both the adaptive technology and the skill set needed to use that equipment. The Committee stressed that technology is a critical tool for independence. Clients have the ability to receive needed goods and services that are otherwise difficult to obtain. Provided example included online grocery shopping and access to online vendors such as Amazon. One client suggested that there is a large population of older people living alone. Access to online services is particularly important for this age group.

A second concern was the issue of unreturned phone calls. One focus group participant mentioned that certain staff members return phone calls right away, while others do not return their calls. As a result, clients end up calling supervisors. This strategy puts an additional strain on the Bureau’s management team. The Director of BESB mentioned that messages left on direct lines cannot be tracked. He can only identify calls that come in via the main switchboard. This means that the Bureau currently has no mechanism to confirm if calls were received and/or returned. CPPSR offers some suggestions to address this issue in section seven of this report.

A third concern is improving outreach to underserved populations. One individual referenced the demographic influence that Connecticut’s two casinos have had on the Southwest region of the State. Language barriers may hinder outreach efforts. For example, there is a growing Haitian population in Connecticut that speaks French Creole. Furthermore, one BCAC member highlighted the importance of recognizing cultural barriers. Some cultures tend to deal with disabilities within the family, a concern that was reaffirmed by CCSU in an interview with one of the VR counselors. VR Counselors should be knowledgeable about—and sensitive to—how certain cultures view disability.

Finally, focus group participants expressed a need for a job placement specialist. The group was informed that a Counselor Coordinator was hired in October of 2013. This hire will be responsible for helping people get jobs and needed services. Mr. Richmond, the incumbent, should be instructed to engage federal partners when they have job openings. He should also help clients who have given up on finding employment. Further suggestions about how to best use the Counselor Coordinator are offered at the conclusion of this report.

It is worthy of mention that BCAC members were very complimentary of BESB’s services. While not specifically related to VR, one individual praised the Bureau for helping with general daily skills. This client has learned basic organizational skills, cooking skills, and alternate ways to deal with day-to-day tasks. CRIS Radio, a collaborative partner of the Bureau, is thankful that counselors are informing clients about their service. It is estimated that 90% of new applications come from BESB referrals.

VI. VR Staff Interview Summary In April of 2014, CPPSR conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with three counselors working in BESB’s Vocational Rehabilitation division. Several recommendations were made by the VR employees who participated in the interview process. CPPSR is presenting these recommendations in a broad context to help BESB identify actionable solutions:

Finding 1: VR counselors are responsible for a diverse range of time-sensitive tasks. Some of these tasks are clerical responsibilities that take away from quality casework time. Bill paying tasks were cited as being particularly time consuming.

Solution: We suggest that the Counselor Coordinator adapt an “open door policy” to assist counselors with identifying priorities. We also suggest developing a college internship program to help with BESB’s day-to-day operations. This would allow additional time for counselors to focus on getting their clients jobs.

Finding 2: Counselors expressed interest in being more integrated into the agency’s policy- making process.

Solution: Our findings suggest that management values the expertise of its VR counselors. We suggest that management verbally reaffirm this position to its staff. We also suggest that, when possible, that the leadership continue to engage the counselors in the policy brainstorming and implementation processes.

Finding 3: Counselors are concerned that clients call management as a means of overriding their decisions. A unified front should be presented in these scenarios.

Solution: Utilize middle management, specifically the Counselor Coordinator, to deal with these situations. When a client calls management, that call should be redirected to the Coordinator. This person should then meet with the counselor to come up with a mutually agreeable solution. This approach would help establish a greater sense of teamwork among the staff.

Finding 4: One counselor expressed that he/she did not feel technologically mobile, especially during the client intake process. This person reported not having access while “on the go.”

Solution: A separate finding suggests that technology requests from VR counselors are taken seriously and usually approved. Management should verbally reaffirm this position. We suggest that the Director convene a meeting focused on technology. Counselors should be encouraged to discuss what technology they see as being necessary. If technological gaps are ultimately identified, management should work to fill them.

Finding 5: One counselor expressed frustration over not being able to accept electronic signatures from clients. This counselor reported driving a long distance just to secure a signature.

Solution: A separate finding suggests that BESB can accept electronic signatures from clients. This position should be reaffirmed to VR staff members.

Finding 6: Counselors find the new case management system frustrating. A common report states that the system’s built-in authorization process is cumbersome and time consuming.

Solution: Offer this feedback to appropriate decision-makers in the Department of Rehabilitation Services. Encourage the DORS leadership to make the system more user-friendly.

VII. Further Recommendations Based on the data collected for this Assessment, CPPSR has a few recommendations for improving the VR program. First, we have some broad suggestions on how to improve agency outreach. CPPSR sees social media as a valuable way for the Bureau to extend its name recognition and knowledge of services offered. As state law permits, CPPSR suggests setting up and maintaining a Facebook account. There is no charge to establish an account. The Bureau could then post regular announcements regarding special events and outreach efforts. By “friending” other agencies or business-oriented networks, the Bureau may come to learn of new outreach opportunities. We also recommend, as state law permits, that BESB create a series of YouTube videos. These videos could highlight BESB’s mission, available services, and client success stories. These videos could be posted on the BESB website and Facebook page. Links to the videos could also be distributed via e-mail. If someone calls BESB wanting to learn more about the Bureau’s mission, video links could serve as valuable promotional material. Clients could also participate in making videos and share their personal stories about the Bureau. We realize that some of the decisions regarding the use of social networking platforms rest with the Commissioner of the Department of Rehabilitation Services. It is our suggestion that the Commissioner consider the Bureau as a test case for social media outreach. We find that both VR staff and the Bureau’s management team are interested in utilizing digital technology. Activating LinkedIn accounts for VR counselors was a positive first step. Continued advancements should be investigated, especially in light of the Bureau’s enthusiasm towards integrating this new technology.

Along the lines of digital technology, we recommend that the BESB website be improved. The website is unorganized and visually unappealing. This could discourage potential consumers, as well as potential employers, from pursuing a relationship with the Bureau. Having a strong digital presence is important in today’s technological age. Should the BESB pursue this suggestion, it is critical that the Bureau conforms to the standards adopted by the State of Connecticut Website Accessibility Committee (WCAG A, footnote 16). We suggest that documents and reports should be organized with clear headings. We also recommend having headings on the home page targeted to specific populations. For example, “Information for Consumers” or “Information for Employers” would offer website visitors some direction. If the Bureau is in a position to pursue social media outreach, including that information on the website would be extremely valuable.

CPPSR finds great merit in the newly-instituted college mentorship program. This is a positive development that may ultimately assist students in important career trajectory decisions. Interviews with VR staff members highlighted some potential improvements to the program. Instead of starting the mentorship program during a client’s freshman year, establish the mentor/mentee relationship one year earlier. The junior or senior year of high school would be ideal. The mentor could then assist with critical decisions such as what college/university to attend and navigating the first day of school. Capturing the transition period from high school to college would maximize the value of this new program. This same mentor may then assist the student with career questions as they prepare to transition to post-college life.

Also in the realm of higher education, we suggest that the Bureau consider establishing an internship program with local colleges and universities. Students majoring in social work, sociology, and political science may have interest in gaining real-world experience at the Bureau. Many departments housed in Connecticut’s state university system have internship coordinators. This individual is a valuable point-person for connecting the Bureau with students. Students could work for either a semester or, more ideally, an entire academic year. We see an internship program as a valuable pipeline for addressing some long-standing concerns that BESB has been facing. One prominent example is the issue of phone calls going unreturned. CPPSR is not aware of any technology that could serve as an immediate fix to this dilemma. Consequently, we suggest that the Bureau turn to the power of people. College interns could assist with the day-to-day operations of BESB. This could include things such as helping with billing paperwork, tracking phone calls, and directing clients to the appropriate staff member. We realize that part of the difficulty with addressing these needs comes in training new workers. If BESB could secure interns for an academic year, this training would be worth the time investment. Many internship programs base themselves on a “for credit only” arrangement. To present a more competitive internship program, we suggest that the Bureau consider offering a semester stipend in addition to the possibility of earning college credit. Such a program would also allow for BESB to identify new talent worthy of full-time positions.

CPPSR views the recent re-emergence of the Counselor Coordinator position as a positive development. During the BCAC teleconference, BESB’s Director mentioned that the incumbent will be responsible for helping clients get jobs and needed services. We perceive that this employee can serve as a critical liaison between upper management and the VR staff. As an example, a client recently called upper management to challenge a decision that a VR counselor made regarding technology training. These types of calls should be redirected to the Counselor Coordinator. In close consultation with the VR counselor handling the case, a decision can be made on how to address the dispute. This team-oriented approach will enhance the sense of camaraderie and teamwork within the Vocational Rehabilitation division.

VIII. Conclusion Connecticut’s Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind has done an excellent job of providing services and employment opportunities for the blind population of the State. When clients get jobs, those placements are quality employment opportunities. The average wage for BESB clients in the Vocational Rehabilitation program is extremely competitive. While this may partially be attributed to the high cost of living in Connecticut, it may also be that BESB takes steps to ensure that its clients maintain a quality standard of living. Additionally, in fiscal year 2012, 47 out of 111 cases closed with employment resulted in the client receiving health insurance. Moving forward, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, this metric may become less significant. Still, we see this as a positive measure of the Bureau’s commitment to placing clients in viable, long-lasting employment opportunities. Counselors have a true passion for helping their clients.

The client satisfaction data also reveal positive trends. The survey results from 2012 and 2013 indicate that the Bureau is very popular among its clientele. As previously mentioned, the Bureau posted excellent satisfaction ratings in many key service areas. Notably, satisfaction ratings have improved over the last two years, even as funding has decreased. Not only has the Bureau been able to serve more individuals with less grant funding, but it was highly ranked in several of our comparisons with other states that did not have similar grant decreases.

IX. Appendix & Footnotes

Table Number Table Title Table 1: BESB Clientele, FY 2009-2013 Table 2: BESB Vocational Rehabilitation Participants, FY 2013 Table 3: BESB Vocational Rehabilitation Participants, FY 2012 Table 4: State of Connecticut Minority Statistics, 2012 Table 5: National Minority Statistics, 2012 Table 6: Comparison of Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Outcomes between BESB and States with Similar Grant Amounts, FY 2012 Table 7: Comparison of Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Outcomes between BESB and States Serving Similar Amounts of Individuals, FY 2012

Table 1: BESB Clientele, FY 2009-2013 (footnote 17) Clientele Number Total for 2009 12,166 Children 1,071 Total for 2010 12,426 Children 1,097 Total for 2011 10,942 Children 1,074 Total for 2012 10,735 Children 1,123 Total for 2013 11,034 Children 1,100

Table 2: BESB Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Participants (FY 2013, footnote 18) Participants Number Percentage of Total Total VR 954 Minorities 326 34% African-American 182 19% Hispanic/Latino 115 12% Asian 19 2% Native-American/Pacific Islander 9 <1%

Table 3: BESB VR Participants (FY 2012, footnote 19) Population Number Percentage of Total Total VR 958 Minorities 321 33.5% African-American 184 19.2% Hispanic/Latino 118 12.3% Asian 19 2% Native-American/Pacific Islander 5 <1%

Table 4: State of Connecticut Minority Statistics (2012, footnote 20) Population Number Percentage Total Population 3,591,765 ? 1% of national Minority Population 1,160,140 32.3 African-American 402,278 11.2% Hispanic/Latino 510,031 14.2% Asian 150,854 4.2% Native American 17,959 0.5% Pacific Islander 3,592 0.1% Other 75,427 2.1%

Table 5: National Minority Statistics (2012) Population Number Percentage Total 313,873,685 Minorities 122,096,863 38.9% African American 41,117,453 13.1% Hispanic/Latino 53,044,653 16.9% Asian 16,007,558 5.1% Native American 3,766,484 1.2% Pacific Islander 627,747 0.2% Other 7,532,968 2.4%

Table 6: Comparison of Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Outcomes between BESB and States with Similar Grant Amounts (FY2012, footnote 21) CT OR IA SC AR NM Employment Rate 88.8% 78.13% 77.88% 77.88% 73.99% 50.9% Number Closed with Employ- ment 111 100 81 257 313 35 Percent Closed with Employment at 35 Hours Per Week or More 39.2% 18.75% 41.35% 31.21% 38.53% 12.1% Average Hourly Rate 16.24 13.60 14.76 8.41 9.98 12.4 Average Time to Close Months with Employ- ment 28.5 38.6 28.0 17.3 22.1 63.9

Table 7: Comparison of Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Outcomes between BESB and States Serving Similar Amounts of Individuals (FY2012, footnote 22) CT OR IA ID MN Employment Rate 88.8% 78.13% 77.88% 75.47% 50.94% Number Served 125 128 104 106 159 Number Closed with Employ- ment 111 100 81 80 81 Percent Closed with Employment at 35 Hours Per Week or More 39.2% 18.75% 41.35% 45.0% 43.21% Average Hourly Rate 16.24 13.60 14.76 13.26 13.41 Average Time to Close Months with Employ- ment 28.5 38.6 28.0 27.1 45.6

Footnotes 1. BESB, "Annual Report on Services to Individuals who are Blind or Visually Impaired," http://www.ct.gov/besb/cwp/view.asp?a=2848&q=465926

2. BESB. “4.11 (b) Annual Estimates CT-B-FFY2013” Under “DORS-BESB VR Program FFY 2013 State Plan.” http://www.ct.gov/besb/cwp/view.asp?a=2851&q=504626

3. U.S. Bureau of the Census, “USA People QuickFacts” under “State & County QuickFacts – USA QuickFacts” http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

4. U.S. Bureau of the Census, "Connecticut," under "State & County QuickFacts – Connecticut” http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/09000.html

5. U.S. Bureau of the Census, "Connecticut," under "State & County QuickFacts – Connecticut” http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/09000.html

6. BESB, “Annual Update on Services to Individuals from Minority Backgrounds” Under “Underserved Populations CT-B-FFY2013,” http://www.ct.gov/besb/cwp/view.asp?a=2851&q=504658

7. BESB, BESB, "State Plan for Rehabilitation Services for FY 2012," under "Draft”http://search.ct.gov/search?q=submitted%20fy%202011&btnG=Search&client=besb&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=besb&ulang=en&entqrm=0&entsp=a__besb_policy&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF-8&ud=1&sort=date%3AD%3AS%3Ad1&exclude_apps=1&site=dors_collection&ip=108.248.14.233∾ BESB, “State Plan for the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program for FY2014,” Under “4.11(b) Annual Estimates CT-B-FFY2014,” http://www.ct.gov/besb/cwp/view.asp?a=2851&q=504626

8. One such example is BESB’s alliance with Aspire.

9. BESB, " Dept. Rehabilitation Services, under “4 11(b) Annual Estimates CT-B FFY2013” http://www.ct.gov/besb/cwp/view.asp?a=2851&q=504626 (accessed on March 12, 2014), BESB, Dept. Rehabilitation Services, under “4 11(b) Annual Estimates CT-B FFY2014” http://www.ct.gov/besb/cwp/view.asp?a=2851&q=524056, Dept. Rehabilitation Services, State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation FFY 2012, under “4 11(b) Annual Estimates CT-B FFY2012,” http://www.ct.gov/besb/cwp/view.asp?a=2851&q=483788

10. Data derived from: U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), Management Information System (MIS), Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Data, 2012, http://www.rsa.ed.gov.

11. Oregon had the second-best positive employment outcome figure at 78.13%.

12. This analysis excludes RSA data from states that combine disabilities.

13. As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for March of 2014: http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm

14. Diana T. Cohen, “Connecticut Board of Education and Services for the Blind Vocational Rehabilitation Division. Survey Report: Fiscal Year 2013,” Center for Public Policy and Social Research, Central Connecticut State University http://www.ct.gov/besb/cwp/view.asp?a=2851&q=532954

15. Cohen, page 5.

16. State of Connecticut Website Accessibility Committee: Design Guidelines http://www.access.state.ct.us/policies/accesspolicy40.html

17. State of Connecticut, Board of Education and Services for the Blind, "The Digest of Administrative Reports to the Governor Fiscal Year 2007-2008; State of Connecticut, Board of Education and Services for the Blind, "The Digest of Administrative Reports to the Governor Fiscal Year 2008-2009," under "Annual Report 2009," http://www.ct.gov /besb/lib/besb/Administrative_Digest_for_BESB_FY09.doc, 2; State of Connecticut, Board of Education and Services for the Blind, "The Digest of Administrative Reports to the Governor Fiscal Year 2009-2010," under "Annual Report 2010," http://www.ct.gov/besb/cwp/view.asp?a=2848&q=465926.

18. BESB, “State Plan for the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program for FY2014,” Under “4.11(b) Annual Estimates CT-B-FFY2014,” http://www.ct.gov/besb/cwp/view.asp?a=2851&q=504658BESB, “Annual Update on Services to Individuals from Minority Backgrounds” Under “Underserved Populations CT-B-FFY2013.”

19. State of Connecticut, Board of Education and Services for the Blind, "State of Connecticut, Bureau of Rehabilitative Services; Services for the Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program," http://www.ct.gov/besb/cwp/view.asp?a=2851&q=504658.

20. U.S. Bureau of the Census, "Connecticut," under "Quick Facts http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/09000.html. This is a prediction based upon the 2010 US Census. All numbers that ended in .5 or above were rounded up to the next whole number.

21. Data derived from: U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), Management Information System (MIS), Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Data, 2012, http://www.rsa.ed.gov.

22. Data derived from: U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), Management Information System (MIS), Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Data, 2012, http://www.rsa.ed.gov.

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 1:28PM by Brenda Lamarre

Attachment 4.11(b) Annual Estimates

The Department of Rehabilitation Services, Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind is a comprehensive service delivery organization, providing a wide range of rehabilitative services to adults who are legally blind, and children who are legally blind or visually impaired within Connecticut. Presently the Bureau has identified 11,367 individuals who meet these criteria and are listed on the Bureau’s Blind Registry. Of that number, 10,275 of these individuals are adults and 1,092 are children. Through outreach efforts, the Bureau has worked to ensure that all individuals who are legally blind have access to and knowledge of the services provided by this organization.

Of the total number of individuals on the Bureau’s registry, 1,002 clients are presently registered with the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, with 878 of these individuals found eligible for services. The majority of the remaining 124 individuals are in referral status or applicant status moving towards eligibility determinations. With the addition of one new client that was found eligible for supported employment services during the fiscal year, there are now 14 clients who are eligible for this service delivery model.

The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program provides a wide range of services to eligible individuals. Guidance and counseling, mobility training, rehabilitation technology, adaptive equipment, rehabilitation teaching, job coaching, on-the-job training, low vision services, as well as a variety of skills assessments, are among the services provided.

In fiscal year 2013, there were a total of 1,004 participants in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program expended $1.33 million in purchased client services during the fiscal year. Additionally, $107,000 was expended for the improvement and maintenance of Business Enterprise locations. Total program costs, including all purchased services, staffing, and administrative operations were approximately $4.23 million for the year. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, budget projections indicate that approximately $4.99 million will be expended on combined program costs, including an estimated $1.65 million in purchased services to serve approximately 1,100 clients, and $3.34 million in administrative and operational costs. This estimate includes inflationary adjustments, inclusion of indirect cost charges to the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, as well as projected costs to serve transition age students who are visually impaired, and who will transition into the Vocational Rehabilitation Program at this Bureau beginning in the new fiscal year. In prior years, students with vision impairments who were not declared legally blind transitioned into the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services for vocational rehabilitation services.

With the anticipated availability of approximately $3 million in carry over funds from FY 2014 in addition to the anticipated federal Title I allotment of $3.1 million and state matching funds of approximately $900,000, the Program is not projecting the need for an Order of Selection in FY 2015.

Category Title I or Title VI Estimated Funds Estimated Number to be Served Average Cost of Services
0
Totals   $0 0

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 1:32PM by Brenda Lamarre

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.

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

State of Connecticut, Bureau of Rehabilitative Services; Services for the Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program

State’s Goals and Priorities

The following goals and priorities have been identified with the participation of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) for the Vocational Rehabilitation Program at the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services, Services for the Blind, and reflect the commitment of the Agency to increase employment opportunities for people who are legally blind through the provision of vocational rehabilitation and supported employment services. These goals and accompanying objectives include those activities that will utilize Innovation and Expansion funds, as well as those goals and objectives that will be addressed with the use of basic allotment funds and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds.

These goals and objectives further emphasize expanded approaches that utilize collaboration with Workforce Investment System partner agencies to maximize access to job openings, paid internships, and vocational training. The overarching theme of these goals and objectives is to provide for timely, quality services that will result in increased job placements into careers, as measured by the federal Standards and Indicators.

The Program will commit no less than 1.5 percent of the Title I funds received during FY 2010 for these initiatives.

GOAL A (the desired outcome)

EMPLOYMENT GOAL: Individuals who are blind obtain or retain quality jobs.

Objectives (the reasons the goal is of high importance):

1. Due to the economic conditions, individuals who are blind are experiencing fewer opportunities to access and maintain employment. 2. With these economic conditions, available job opportunities are requiring a greater diversity of skills and flexibility in adapting to employer circumstances. 3. Individuals who are blind desire to be contributing members of society. 4. Employment is an important avenue to self-sufficiency. 5. For individuals who are losing vision or whose job duties change, assistance to maintain employment is often necessary. 6. Entrepreneurial opportunities offer individuals who are blind the option for customizing employment to meet individual needs and circumstances. 7. Career advancement is an important aspect of career development, resulting in greater prospects for self-sufficiency. 8. For individuals who are blind and who experience multiple barriers to employment, on-the job training and long-term job supports enable for the achievement and maintenance of employment.

Strategies (the methods for achieving the objectives):

1. Services for the Blind Program (BESB Program) and the Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitative Services; Bureau of Rehabilitation Services Program (BRS Program) will collaborate on a statewide on-the-job training model to market to employers. 2. Title I and ARRA funds will be utilized to develop and disseminate an Employer Toolkit that includes information and incentives for hiring and retaining individuals who are blind. 3. BESB Program, BRS Program and the State Department of Labor (DOL) will collaborate on distributing a statewide flyer containing employer incentive information. 4. BESB Program and BRS Program will collaborate to design an incentive package utilizing Title I and ARRA funds to engage Temporary agencies for job matching. 5. BESB Program and BRS Program will collaborate in designing and implementing a durational job model using Title I and ARRA funds that enables clients to acquire vocational skills and saleable experience. 6. Each Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor will engage in active employer outreach. 7. BESB Program, BRS Program and DOL collaboration with the five regional workforce development boards will result in access to ARRA funded Summer Youth jobs for BESB transition age students. 8. Utilizing the new Employment Network model through the Ticket to Work program, employers will be encouraged to become providers of long-term support for clients who experience multiple barriers to employment. 9. BESB Program will utilize paid internships as an option to provide clients with work experiences to market to employers.

Measures (the activities that will be achieved in FY 10):

1. A marketing packet for On-the-Job Training incentives will be developed and distributed to at least 100 employers. 2. A Toolkit that includes materials on adaptive technology, tax incentives, ADA regulations and Ticket to Work incentives will be distributed by Counselors to employers. 3. On behalf of BESB Program and BRS Program, Department of Labor will distribute 25,000 incentive outreach flyers to employers in the state. 4. Two Temporary Agencies will be contracted with for the provision of job placement services. 5. Using the Durational job model, ten clients acquire durational employment. 6. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors conduct two hours per week of employer outreach. 7. Thirty transition age students engage in paid work experiences/internships in Fiscal Year 2010. 8. Through the utilization of ARRA funds, as a supplement to Title I and Title VI-B funds, 125 clients will work in FY 2010.

GOAL B (the desired outcome)

INNOVATION AND EXPANSION: Expand and promote vocational services to groups of individuals who are legally blind who want to obtain, retain or advance in employment, utilizing at least two percent of Vocational Rehabilitation federal funding allotted for Fiscal Year 2010. Objectives (the reasons the goal is of high importance):

1. There are individuals who are legally blind who are unaware of the BESB Program and the Program’s vocational rehabilitation services that are available to assist with obtaining, retaining, or advancing in employment. 2. There is a broad range of vocational rehabilitation services that benefit whole groups of individuals who are legally blind, who want to obtain, retain, or advance in employment.

Strategies (the methods for achieving the objectives):

1. Maintain sponsorship of NFB Newsline and expand the service to include a web-based option. 2. Update community-based adaptive technology centers to maintain state of the art adaptive technology for people who are blind to engage in vocational preparation and job seeking activities. 3. Support State Rehabilitation Council activities that promote active member participation in the field of blindness rehabilitation. 4. Conduct a statewide needs assessment and a client satisfaction survey to determine what specific additional services can improve the opportunities for people who are legally blind to increase access to employment. 5. Co-sponsor and implement leadership development opportunities for transition school to work students who are legally blind. 6. Utilize Web-based job search and job lead services to locate and circulate job openings to clients of the Agency and organizations of and for the blind in Connecticut. 7. Conduct statewide outreach activities and follow up contacts to eye doctors, intermediate care clinics and hospitals to ensure that mandatory referral requirements to BESB Program are understood and implemented.

Measures (the activities that will be achieved in FY 10): 1. BESB Program enters into a contract with the National Federation of the Blind for NFB Newsline, that includes expanded internet services, as documented by the written contract on file. 2. BESB Program provides technical assistance and purchases updated equipment, as requested, for two community-based technology centers, as documented in a written report. 3. BESB Program funds State Rehabilitation Council participation in two training programs/conferences, and the SRC cosponsors two rehabilitation events during the fiscal year. Documentation of these activities is on file. 4. A needs assessment is conducted by a professional surveying organization, and the result of the assessment is posted on the Agency website. A client satisfaction survey is also conducted and results are posted on the Agency website (www.ct.gov/besb). 5. Vocational Rehabilitation Program at the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services, Services for the Blind cosponsors two leadership development programs operated by other entities, and directly funds client participation in five leadership development programs for transition age students. 6. BESB Program enters into written agreements with The Net and GettingHired.com for job distribution activities, and for job seeking clients to access employer job leads. 7. BESB Program conducts outreach activities, in person, and/or via teleconference with 25 mandatory reporting entities in the state (doctors, hospitals, clinics). 8. BESB Program cosponsors the Connecticut Community Providers conference, as documented by agendas for each event.

Analysis of the Standards and Indicators:

In reviewing the agency performance on the federal standards and indicators in the past year, the results indicate that overall employment outcomes were up from the prior year. Standard 1.1 showed a significant reversal in the 2008 data (up by 14 outcomes), compared to the 2007 data (down by 21 outcomes). The percentage of program completers in Standard 1.2 also increased from 80.46 in 2007 to 86.24 in 2008. The average hourly wage for clients who achieved employment also increased for 2008, compared to 2007 ($17.45 versus $16.42). These indicators reflect the priority of the agency to provide for quality employment opportunities for clients. Goals for the new fiscal year reflect a continuation of this priority, adding a broader approach to job creation with the addition of federal stimulus funds.

This screen was last updated on Aug 31 2011 3:54PM by Brenda Lamarre

Attachment 4.11(c)(3) Order of Selection

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

This agency is not implementing an Order of Selection.

This screen has never been updated.

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.

It is the primary goal and priority of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program to consider supported employment as an option in all circumstances where the provision of these services will increase the likelihood of placement success for people with significant, multiple barriers to employment.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program for individuals who are blind received $45,000 in Title VI, Part B funds for fiscal year 2013. All of these dollars were available for the provision of direct services. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, there were 5 clients who achieved employment outcomes in supported employment settings. The funding source for long-term support for 4 of these situations was the Department of Developmental Services, with a community rehabilitation program providing the direct job coaching support in 3 of the cases, and a volunteer organization providing the direct job coaching support in the fourth situation. In the fifth placement situation, job coaching and long-term support was provided by a member of the client’s family to ensure that the client remains successfully employed.

One new client was found eligible for supported employment services during the fiscal year. Of the 20 clients that were eligible for supported employment services during the fiscal year, 5 clients achieved employment outcomes, 13 individuals were in a service status, 1 individual was in eligibility status, and 1 individual exited the program without achievement of an employment outcome due to medical reasons. Of this total number of eligible individuals, Title VI, Part B funds have been utilized for 2 individuals during the fiscal year.

As noted above, community rehabilitation programs continue to be utilized most frequently as the providers of extended services for the employment programs coordinated in the past year. In the current and upcoming year, this approach will continue to be utilized. This is based on the history of job placement outcomes from preceding fiscal years that has continually demonstrated the proven ability of community rehabilitation providers to employ job coaches and vocational instructors necessary for the provision of long-term employment supports, combined with their willingness to periodically assume the cost of providing extended services when other public funding options are not available. This arrangement is especially important, given the limited availability of third party funding from other public agency providers.

In addition to the option of utilizing community rehabilitation providers for the provision of extended services, the successful utilization of natural supports through a client’s family and the use of a volunteer organization in one other placement situation have shown promise as a practice to replicate to expand options for the provision of support services. It is a high priority goal to identify all possible providers of long-term funding to cover the cost of providing the supports over an extended period of time. In addition to seeking out community rehabilitation providers who can financially assume the role of becoming the provider of extended services, the Vocational Rehabilitation Program will continue to explore the option of utilizing volunteer groups, employers, and families where feasible to offer natural supports as an option. The Program will also continue to contract with community rehabilitation providers who can access public and private funds for people with multiple disabilities in order to secure supported employment placements.

In order to facilitate the identification of supported employment options for transitioning high school students, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors participate in Planning and Placement Team meetings (PPTs) and work in cooperation with the Children’s Services Program at BESB. The number of students who are legally blind who are age fourteen and older continue to be tracked by the Vocational Rehabilitation Program to ensure that services are offered and made available. To strengthen the continuum of services for children with vision impairments who are served by the Bureau’s Children’s Services Program, the Vocational Rehabilitation Program will begin to serve these individuals as well as students who are legally blind effective with the new federal fiscal year. Traditionally, children who met the statutory definition of visually impaired were referred to the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services for vocational rehabilitation while those students meeting the statutory definition of legal blindness transitioned into the Vocational Rehabilitation Program at BESB. This change in the transition process will ensure the same level of collaboration and program activities for all transition-age students served by the Bureau. There are approximately 100 students of transition age who meet the criteria for visually impaired, and for whom referrals into Vocational Rehabilitation are anticipated.

Over the past two years the program has assigned one Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor as the single point of contact to work with individuals who have significant, multiple barriers to employment. This Counselor has been focusing on working with the transition-age students in the school system to identify linkages to long-term support services before graduation from High School. He has reached out to the Department of Developmental Services and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to ensure clients are found eligible for their services if applicable and are receiving services prior to graduation. He has participated in many outreach activities and panels to educate providers as to the benefits of long-term supports. The goal of the next year is to also work with adults as well as transition age students to find more clients eligible for Supported Employment funding.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program will continue to distribute funds to providers and employers who can offer the long-term assurances that supports will be in place to enable people with the most significant disabilities to participate in competitive, integrated employment at or above the state minimum wage rate. Vocational Rehabilitation Program staff will continue to participate in Planning and Placement Team meetings early in the transition process to identify the need for supported employment services, and to identify providers, both private and public, that may offer services while a student is preparing to transition from public or private education into employment. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors will also utilize supplemental evaluations through community rehabilitation providers to identify the need for supported employment services prior to the development of Individualized Plans for Employment in situations where it is uncertain if long-term supports will be necessary to ensure a successful placement outcome.

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 1:37PM by Brenda Lamarre

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State of Connecticut, Bureau of Rehabilitative Services; Services for the Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program

State’s Strategies and Use of Title I Funds for Innovation and Expansion Activities

The following goals and objectives have been identified with the participation of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), and reflect the commitment of the Agency to increase vocational training and employment opportunities for people who are legally blind through the provision of vocational rehabilitation and supported employment services. These goals and accompanying objectives are also outlined in State Plan Update 4.11(c)(1).

This summary document restates these goals and objectives, and additionally identifies the specific strategies and activities that the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Division at the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services, Services for the Blind will utilize and undertake to achieve these outcomes.

These strategies further identify how the Agency will utilize partnerships to maximize access to training, paid internships and job opportunities for individuals who are blind. Furthermore, the strategies identified in this document reflect the areas where the Agency will utilize new funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to supplement Title I and Title VI-6B funds to increase employment opportunities for clients served by the Agency.

GOAL A (the desired outcome)

EMPLOYMENT GOAL: Individuals who are blind obtain or retain quality jobs.

Objectives (the reasons the goal is of high importance):

1. Due to the economic conditions, individuals who are blind are experiencing fewer opportunities to access and maintain employment. 2. With these economic conditions, available job opportunities are requiring a greater diversity of skills and flexibility in adapting to employer circumstances. 3. Individuals who are blind desire to be contributing members of society. 4. Employment is an important avenue to self-sufficiency. 5. For individuals who are losing vision or whose job duties change, assistance to maintain employment is often necessary. 6. Entrepreneurial opportunities offer individuals who are blind the option for customizing employment to meet individual needs and circumstances. 7. Career advancement is an important aspect of career development, resulting in greater prospects for self-sufficiency. 8. For individuals who are blind and who experience multiple barriers to employment, on-the job training and long-term job supports enable for the achievement and maintenance of employment.

Strategies (the methods for achieving these objectives):

1. Services for the Blind Program (BESB Program) and the Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitative Services; Bureau of Rehabilitation Services Program (BRS Program) will collaborate on a statewide on-the-job training model to market to employers. 2. Title I and ARRA funds will be utilized to develop and disseminate an Employer Toolkit that includes information and incentives for hiring and retaining individuals who are blind. 3. BESB Program, BRS Program and the State Department of Labor (DOL) will collaborate on distributing a statewide flyer containing employer incentive information. 4. BESB Program and BRS Program will collaborate to design an incentive package utilizing Title I and ARRA funds to engage Temporary Agencies for job matching. 5. BESB Program and BRS Program will collaborate in designing and implementing a durational job model using Title I and ARRA funds that enables clients to acquire vocational skills and saleable experience. 6. Each Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor will engage in active employer outreach. 7. BESB Program, BRS Program and DOL collaboration with the five regional workforce development boards will result in access to ARRA funded Summer Youth jobs for BESB Program transition age students. 8. Utilizing the new Employment Network model through the Ticket to Work program, employers will be encouraged to become providers of long-term support for clients who experience multiple barriers to employment. 9. BESB Program will utilize paid internships as an option to provide clients with work experiences to market to employers.

GOAL B (the desired outcome)

INNOVATION AND EXPANSION: Expand and promote vocational services to groups of individuals who are legally blind who want to obtain, retain or advance in employment, utilizing at least two percent of Vocational Rehabilitation federal funding allotted for Fiscal Year 2010.

Objectives (the reasons the goal is of high importance):

1. There are individuals who are legally blind who are unaware of BESB Program and the Vocational Rehabilitation services that are available to assist with obtaining, retaining, or advancing in employment. 2. There is a broad range of vocational rehabilitation services that benefit whole groups of individuals who are legally blind, who want to obtain, retain, or advance in employment.

Strategies (the methods for achieving these objectives):

1. Maintain sponsorship of NFB Newsline and expand the service to include a web-based option. 2. Update community-based adaptive technology centers to maintain state of the art adaptive technology for people who are blind to engage in vocational preparation and job seeking activities. 3. Support State Rehabilitation Council activities that promote active member participation in the field of blindness rehabilitation. 4. Conduct a statewide needs assessment and a client satisfaction survey to determine what specific additional services can improve the opportunities for people who are legally blind to increase access to employment. 5. Co-sponsor and implement leadership development opportunities for transition school to work students who are legally blind. 6. Utilize Web-based job search and job lead services to locate and circulate job openings to clients of the Agency and organizations of and for the blind in Connecticut. 7. Conduct statewide outreach activities and follow up contacts to eye doctors, intermediate care clinics and hospitals to ensure that mandatory referral requirements to BESB Program are understood and implemented.

GOAL C (the desired outcome)

OUTREACH TO MINORITY AND UNDERSERVED POPULATIONS: Expand and promote vocational services to individuals who are blind from minority or underserved populations to ensure they are afforded equal access to the full range of vocational rehabilitation services to obtain, retain or advance in employment.

Objectives (the reasons the goal is of high importance):

1. There are individuals who are legally blind from minority or underserved populations who are unaware of BESB Program and the Vocational Rehabilitation services that are available to assist with obtaining, retaining or advancing in employment. 2. There is a broad range of vocational rehabilitation services available to benefit individuals from minority or underserved populations to assist with obtaining, retaining, or advancing in employment.

Strategies (the methods for achieving these objectives):

1. Develop and maintain community partnerships in cities and towns with large minority or typically underserved populations to ensure that individuals from minority backgrounds are educated and exposed to programs and resources that will allow for an overall healthy development. 2. Track individuals from underserved populations to ensure that they are engaged in services and fully understand the scope of available services that can be provided. 3. Perform Supervisor case review prior to an unsuccessful closure for a person from minority or underserved populations to ensure that they were provided every opportunity to engage in vocational services.

GOAL D (the desired outcome)

IMPROVE PERFORMANCE ON THE STANDARDS AND INDICATORS: The Vocational Rehabilitation Program at the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services, Services for the Blind will show improvement with regards to performance on the Federal Standards and Indicators.

Objectives (the reasons the goal is of high importance):

The Federal Standards and Indicators measure the performance of the VR agency during a fiscal year and can be used to determine the degree to which individuals served by this agency achieve quality employment and achieve self-sufficiency.

Strategies (the methods for achieving these objectives):

1. Provide Supervisory guidance to Vocational Counselors to ensure that individuals who achieve an employment outcome have been provided with guidance and counseling to understand the full range of vocational services available and given opportunities to maximize their employment potential. 2. Provide Supervisory guidance to Vocational Counselors to ensure that individuals who receive Social Security Benefits are provided with information on the availability of Benefits Counseling to assist them in making informed decisions about returning to work or advancing in employment. 3. Perform case closure review to ensure that case documentation supports that individuals closed after IPE development but without an employment outcome had been given every opportunity to remain engaged in vocational services.

 

This screen was last updated on Aug 31 2011 4:02PM by Brenda Lamarre

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

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

The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services Division received $3,133,140 as the base allotment in federal Title I Funds during Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. Of that amount, BESB reserved a minimum of 1.5 percent ($46,997) for innovation and expansion activities. The following summary details the efforts during FY 2013 regarding the use of these funds to address the goals and objectives established in consultation with the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC).

GOAL A (the desired outcome)

EMPLOYMENT GOAL: Individuals who are blind obtain or retain quality jobs.

Objectives (The reasons the goal is of high importance):

1. Due to the continuation of a challenging economic climate, individuals who are blind continue to experience fewer opportunities to access and maintain employment, requiring a greater diversity of skills and flexibility in adapting to employer needs. 2. Employment provides individuals who are blind the opportunity to be contributing, self-sufficient members of society. 3. Career advancement is an important aspect of career development, resulting in greater likelihood of achieving self-sufficiency. 4. For individuals who are losing vision or whose job duties change, assistance to maintain employment is often necessary. 5. For individuals who are blind and who experience multiple barriers to employment, on-the job training and long-term job supports enable achievement and maintenance of employment.

Strategies (The methods for achieving the objectives):

1. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors will begin to utilize new internet-based technologies to connect with employers to offer job placement and job retention services. 2. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program will offer a paid internship, on-the-job training arrangement, or a combination of both to employers who have actual job openings for which the client will be considered for hire. 3. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program will facilitate a job seekers networking group for clients who are seeking employment. 4. Vocational Rehabilitation staff that have job placement as a primary responsibility will each join and participate in a local or regional consortium or group that has a focus on networking for job leads.

Measures (the activities that were achieved in FY 13): 1. Vocational Rehabilitation staff with job placement responsibilities will each join one employment networking internet-based service and document utilization of activities to outreach to employers on behalf of clients on their caseloads.

Summary of Activities: Each Counselor with placement responsibilities has joined Linked In, an internet professional networking web-based service. Six of the staff participated in a training at the Hartford One Stop Career Center on how to use Linked In for professional networking and searching for employment. Two of these staff then trained the remaining four staff on how to use the service. One of the Job Development groups that four of the staff are active members of assisted in developing a group on Linked In to develop articles and information on working with individuals with disabilities, focusing on technology and working with individuals with criminal backgrounds. Also, this group is used to advertise open positions across the participating agencies and organizations. The other six counselors have joined this Linked In group. Linked In has been beneficial in finding job postings in the area and also connecting with other staff across the state that have experience working with individuals who are legally blind.

Evaluation of Progress: This measure was achieved.

2. Work sites are secured using the paid internship model, on-the-job training model, or a combination of both for 20 clients.

Summary of Activities: There were a total of 22 sites developed, achieving the measure. Out of the 22 sites, 6 were developed for transition-age youth as durational employment opportunities. For the remaining 16 sites that were developed specifically with a goal of seeking a hiring outcome, 3 were under the On-the-Job Training model and the remaining 13 sites were under the Paid Internship model. All 3 of the On-the-Job Training placements resulted in job hires (100%) while only 3 of the 13 Paid Internships lead to job hires (23%). This data demonstrates that although there are fewer opportunities to secure the On-the-Job Training model with employers, when such arrangements can be secured there is a far greater likelihood of a job hire resulting.

Evaluation of Progress: This measure was achieved.

3. Two job seekers networking support groups will be implemented; one for job seekers who are seeking employment due to recent displacement from the workforce and one for individuals who are looking to enter or reenter the workforce. Each group will be facilitated by a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.

Summary of Activities: The first Job Seeking Skills class took place in December, 2012. This group was led by one of the bilingual Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselors and was designed to accommodate individuals who are Spanish speaking. This group had eight clients participating over a period of four weeks. There were guest speakers brought in from the benefits counseling program at BRS to discuss returning to work and how it affects benefits. Other speakers focused on Assistive Technology for individuals who are blind. The second networking support group conducted was an ongoing group of individuals that had been displaced from employment. That group met once each week through teleconference and it was led by two Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors. The clients that participated were different per session. The group utilized an open format to allow for information exchange and personal experiences to be shared. This group was conducted for a six month period and ended after participation declined.

Evaluation of Progress: This measure was achieved.

4. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors that have job placement as a primary responsibility will join at least one job developers group in their region and document active participation.

Summary of Activities: Each Counselor with job placement as a primary responsibility has joined a job developer’s group in their region and they are all active participants. The State of Connecticut, in collaboration with the Institute for Community Inclusion through the University of Massachusetts developed three statewide Job Development Leadership network groups in the North, Southeast and Western regions. All of the Counselors have joined at least one of these groups. BESB hosts the ongoing North’s Job Development Group once each month. There was a training of the statewide Job Development Leadership Network that BESB staff hosted and were active participants in. In addition to these groups, there are other Job Developer groups that staff participated in that are held through the Department of Labor and the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services.

Evaluation of Progress: This measure was achieved.

GOAL B (the desired outcome)

INNOVATION AND EXPANSION: Expand and promote vocational services to groups of individuals who are legally blind who want to obtain, retain or advance in employment.

Objectives (The reasons the goal is of high importance):

1. There are individuals who are legally blind who are unaware of Vocational Rehabilitation services that are available to assist with obtaining, retaining, or advancing in employment. 2. There is a broad range of Vocational Rehabilitation services that benefit whole groups of individuals who are legally blind, who want to obtain, retain, or advance in employment.

Strategies (The methods for achieving the objectives):

1. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program will sponsor NFB Newsline and career-related programming at CRIS Radio for clients of the agency to access educational, career and occupational outlook information. 2. Community-based adaptive technology centers will receive updated adaptive technology for people who are blind to engage in vocational preparation and job seeking activities. 3. Support State Rehabilitation Council activities that promote awareness of services and supports available to people who are blind. 4. Cosponsor and implement leadership development opportunities for transition school-to-work students who are legally blind.

Measures (the activities that were achieved in FY 13):

1. The Bureau enters into a contract with the National Federation of the Blind for NFB Newsline and CRIS Radio, as documented by written contracts on file.

Summary of Activities: In partnership with the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut, NFB Newsline was continued into fiscal year 2013. More than 1,000 clients in Connecticut receive this service. In total, over 420,000 minutes of news and information were delivered to Connecticut subscribers of this service in fiscal year 2013.

Evaluation of Progress: This measure was achieved.

2. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program provides technical assistance and purchases updated equipment, as needed, for at least one community-based technology center, as documented in a written report.

Summary of Activities: During the fiscal year, the Bureau has continued to support the maintenance and operation of the adapted computers located at the Southeast Connecticut Community Center of the Blind and at BESB. This has included the installation of software updates as well as providing monthly onsite technical assistance to staff and clients of the Center. The adaptive technology lab located at BESB received a new computer with Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013 software during the fiscal year. Both adaptive technology lab locations are able to offer training and troubleshooting on Windows 7 and Windows XP computers and Windows 8 is offered at the lab at BESB. Additionally, adaptive software is available at both locations.

Evaluation of Progress: This measure was achieved.

3. On behalf of the SRC, the client satisfaction survey is conducted by an entity experienced in administering such surveys, and the SRC utilizes the results of this survey to develop two measureable strategies for continuous improvement.

Summary of Activities: The SRC commissioned the Center for Public Policy and Social Research (CPPSR) at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) to conduct a consumer satisfaction survey of VR service recipients for fiscal year 2013. Similar surveys have been conducted in previous fiscal years. The purpose of these surveys is to evaluate the services that consumers received from the Vocational Rehabilitation Unit at BESB. Overall, in 2013, BESB continued to receive high marks for their Vocational Rehabilitation Services and counselors. Ninety-one percent of survey respondents reported that they would recommend BESB Vocational Rehabilitation Services to a friend. Low Vision Services were the most widely used service in 2013 with 78% of consumers receiving this service. Rehabilitation and Adaptive Equipment Services were provided to 76% of consumers. Skills Training and Higher Education Training saw the largest percentage increases in use. Skills Training rose by 11 percentage points to 48% reaching an all-time high, with just shy of half of all clients receiving this service. Higher Education Training also rose by 11 percentage points, up to 22%, recording its second-highest percentage of use in the history of the survey, four percentage points off of the record high set in 2011. On average, BESB clients reported higher levels of satisfaction with services compared to 2012. Five services had an increase in mean satisfaction ratings. Only three services experienced a decline, all of which were modest downturns. These findings continue the general positive trend set in 2012. Higher Education Training Services registered the largest increase in mean satisfaction rating (7.8, up 2.8 in mean rating). This represents the highest rating since 2009. Personal Care Attendant Services recorded the second-highest mean increase (8.0, up 2.0 in mean rating). Transportation Services also saw a sizable uptick in satisfaction (7.71, up 1.71 in mean rating), the highest rating since 2010. Skills Training saw record satisfaction, continuing the upward trend set last year (9.09, up .4 in mean rating). Low Vision Services (8.79, up .04 in mean rating) continues to be a well-regarded service. Among the services experiencing a decline in mean satisfaction ratings, Small Business Services (6.75, down .68 in mean rating) saw the most sizable downturn. Strategies for continuous improvement identified and implemented were in the category of higher education, and in the category of Rehabilitation Equipment. In consultation with the State Rehabilitation Council, in the category of Rehabilitation Equipment, it was felt that the Bureau should develop a strategy of assisting clients with the latest smart phone and tablet technology by developing and issuing a guide for clients on the applications that are available for download to these devices that are accessible and offer increased functionality. Toward that end, Rehabilitation Teacher Jolene Nemeth conducted extensive research into accessible applications and compiled a document that was widely distributed and posted on the agency website. In the category of higher education, the SRC worked to identify barriers to participation in higher education. The agency policy on funding for books and supplies was found to be outdated and subsequent to the public hearing process, the policy was modified to allow for a higher level of funding for books and supplies for college level courses, with the continuation of a provision where clients could seek further funding beyond these newly established levels based on actual costs and economic hardship.

Evaluation of Progress: This measure was achieved.

4. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program cosponsors two leadership development programs for clients.

Summary of Activities: The Vocational Rehabilitation Program as well as the State Rehabilitation Council were cosponsors of the Youth Leadership Forum, with 5 clients participating. BESB also cosponsored the Governor’s Coalition for Youth with Disabilities, a coalition of agencies, employers and organizations that award scholarships to college-bound students with disabilities. Additionally, through collaboration with Channel 3 Kids Camp, leadership development opportunities were provided to 17 students to serve in coordinator, counselor and assistant counselor positions at a week-long skills development summer camp, and through four other skills development programs held throughout the year. As a new goal for fiscal year 2014, the SRC has identified a strategy of expanding the mentoring program to utilize college seniors or recently graduated college students to provide guidance to incoming college freshmen on how to address the challenges that arise from the transition into college.

Evaluation of Progress: This measure was achieved.

5. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program will update outreach materials that detail services available to clients and distribute this literature to eye doctors, town social service departments and one-stop career centers across the state.

Summary of Activities: In conjunction with National Low Vision Awareness Month, the Bureau sent a mailing to more than 1,000 eye doctors across the state to educate them on the reporting requirements and referral process for patients in their care who are determined to be legally blind. This mailing included a summary of services that are offered by BESB as well as a description of the incentives and supports that are available if they hire a person with blindness. A marketing document on tax credits and hiring incentives available to employers was also developed and is utilized by the Counseling staff in their marketing and outreach efforts to employers, federal, state and municipal service providers, and the one-stop career centers.

Evaluation of Progress: This measure was achieved.

6. Marketing materials to inform employers about services are obtained and provided to Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors for distribution to employers.

Summary of Activities: As noted in the previous objective, this measure was achieved with the development and distribution of a marketing document that Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors utilize in their outreach efforts to employers. An updated client success story was also added to the portfolio of success stories that the Counselors utilize in their outreach and marketing efforts. This success story also appeared on the annual report issued by the State Rehabilitation Council.

Evaluation of Progress: This measure was achieved.

1. GOALS FOR NEW YEAR

All goals and objectives carry equal weight and are not listed in a priority order. The Program will commit no less than 1 percent of the Title I base allotment funds received during FY 2015 for these initiatives. GOAL A (the desired outcome)

EMPLOYMENT GOAL: Individuals who are blind obtain or retain quality jobs.

Objectives (The reasons the goal is of high importance):

1. With an economy that has changed the types and volume of job opportunities that exist, individuals who are blind continue to experience fewer opportunities to access and maintain employment, requiring a greater diversity of skills and flexibility in adapting to employer needs. 2. Employment provides individuals who are blind the opportunity to be contributing, self-sufficient members of society. 3. Self-Employment offers the opportunity to focus on a career of interest, creating both challenges and autonomy. 4. Careers that require post-secondary education degrees remain in demand and offer greater likelihood for competitive earnings than careers which require no formal education past high school. 5. For individuals who are blind and who experience multiple barriers to employment, on-the job training and long-term job supports enable achievement and maintenance of employment.

Strategies (The methods for achieving the objectives):

1. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors will utilize the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) labor market database to provide clients with written summaries of careers that includes economic growth projections, educational requirements and potential earnings. 2. The Mentoring Program will be expanded to provide mentor success story audio narratives for all clients to access. 3. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program will sponsor a seminar on how to develop a successful business for both clients and Counselors to participate in. 4. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program will sponsor a seminar for clients on how to use Linked-In and Facebook to seek employment and market their skills to potential employers and customers (for those clients in self-employment). 5. Vocational Rehabilitation staff that have job placement as a primary responsibility will increase utilization of the supported employment model to facilitate employment opportunities for clients with multiple barriers to employment.

Measures (the activities that will be achieved in FY 15): 1. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors will provide ONET career information summaries in accessible formats to clients during the IPE development process and also during the IPE Amendment process if a new career goal is being selected. 2. Mentors will be utilized to create 5 profiles of their career paths from high school to employment which will be available on the agency website. The identified careers will be from the emerging job market as well as careers that are of common interest. 3. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program will sponsor a workshop for clients to participate in that will cover resources for developing a business plan, assessing economic demand, funding options and how to develop a customer base. 4. One seminar on how to use Linked-In and Facebook to identify and pursue career opportunities or support a business owner will be provided to clients. Training in security measures when using Social Media will be included in the seminar. 5. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program will identify and determine at least 5 clients eligible for Supported Employment.

GOAL B (the desired outcome)

INNOVATION AND EXPANSION: Expand and promote vocational services to groups of individuals who are legally blind who want to obtain, retain or advance in employment.

Objectives (The reasons the goal is of high importance):

1. There is a broad range of Vocational Rehabilitation services that benefit whole groups of individuals who are legally blind, who want to obtain, retain, or advance in employment.

Strategies (The methods for achieving the objectives):

1. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program will sponsor NFB Newsline and career-related programming at CRIS Radio for clients of the agency to access educational, career and occupational outlook information. 2. Community-based adaptive technology centers will receive updated adaptive technology for people who are blind to engage in vocational preparation and job seeking activities. 3. Support State Rehabilitation Council activities that promote awareness of services and supports available to people who are blind. 4. Cosponsor and implement leadership development opportunities for transition school-to-work students who are legally blind.

Measures (the activities that will be achieved in FY 15):

1. The Bureau enters into agreement with the National Federation of the Blind for NFB Newsline, and provides information on BESB services and career opportunities to CRIS Radio. 2. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program provides technical assistance and purchases updated equipment, as needed, for at least one community-based technology center, as documented in a written report. 3. On behalf of the SRC, the client satisfaction survey is conducted by an entity experienced in administering such surveys, and the SRC utilizes the results of this survey to develop two measureable strategies for continuous improvement. 4. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program cosponsors two leadership development programs for clients.

 

It is the primary goal and priority of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program for individuals who are blind to consider supported employment as an option in all circumstances where the provision of these services will increase the likelihood of placement success for people with significant, multiple barriers to employment.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, there were 5 clients who achieved employment outcomes in supported employment settings. The funding source for long-term support for 4 of these situations was the Department of Developmental Services, with a community rehabilitation program providing the direct job coaching support in 3 of the cases, and a volunteer organization providing the direct job coaching support in the fourth situation. In the fifth placement situation, job coaching and long-term support was provided by a member of the client’s family to ensure that the client remains successfully employed.

One new client was found eligible for supported employment services during the fiscal year. Of the 20 clients that were eligible for supported employment services during the fiscal year, 5 clients achieved employment outcomes, 13 individuals were in a service status, 1 individual was in eligibility status and 1 individual exited the program without achievement of an employment outcome due to medical reasons. Of this total number of eligible individuals, Title VI, Part B funds have been utilized for 2 individuals during the fiscal year.

Community rehabilitation programs continued to be utilized most frequently as the providers of extended services for the employment programs coordinated in the past year. In the current and upcoming year, this approach will continue to be utilized. This is based on the history of job placement outcomes from preceding fiscal years that has continually demonstrated the proven ability of community rehabilitation providers to employ job coaches and vocational instructors necessary for the provision of long-term employment supports, combined with their willingness to periodically assume the cost of providing extended services when other public funding options are not available. This arrangement is especially important given the limited availability of third party funding from other public agency providers. In addition to the option of utilizing community rehabilitation providers for the provision of extended services, the successful utilization of natural supports through a client’s family and the use of a volunteer organization in one other placement situation have shown promise as a practice to replicate to expand options for the provision of support services.

The challenging economy continues to impact on the scope and variety of job placement options available to clients. The need for long-term funding support is an additional step that is necessary for supported employment placements at the onset. These two variables in combination make the timing challenging in filling job vacancies with a client who requires long-term supports. To address this, within the past year the agency has assigned a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to work closely with the Department of Developmental Services to strategize on the best approaches to secure funding commitments, and to also collaborate on job placement activities for clients who are mutually served by both agencies.

 

In reviewing the Standards and Indicators for FY 2013, the first indicator addresses the overall number of individuals achieving employment outcomes in FY 2012 and FY 2013 in total, in comparison to the number of individuals achieving an employment outcome in total for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. The Program increased the total number of individuals achieving employment outcomes from 223 to 224 for these time periods, thereby passing the first indicator. The second indicator addresses the number of individuals who exit the Program in employment versus the number of individuals who exit the Program not in employment subsequent to the development of an employment plan. Eighty-six percent of Program participants exited the Program in employment in FY 2013, thereby achieving the required passing level of 68.9 percent. The third indicator addresses the number of individuals that exit the Program in competitive employment job categories as a percentage of all employment outcomes. Of the 224 individuals that achieved employment outcomes during the two-year time period, 193, or 86.2 percent achieved competitive wages, passing the required indicator level of 35.40 percent. Performance indicator 4 asks for the percentage of individuals achieving an employment outcome who are classified as having a significant disability as defined by the Rehabilitation Act. Since all of the clients served by this Program meet the definition of having a significant disability through legal blindness, this indicator achieved 100 percent. The fifth indicator examines the hourly earnings of the individuals who achieved employment, requiring that the average hourly earnings of these individuals reach at least 59 percent of the Connecticut average hourly wage. For this state, the average hourly wage was $30.06 in 2013, so to pass the indicator, the Program would need to achieve $17.74 per hour on average for the clients who achieved employment. The Program passed this indicator, with the average hourly earnings reaching $18.07, or 60 percent of the Connecticut average hourly rate. The final indicator is the only one the Program was not able to pass in 2013. It examines the percentage of clients that report self-sustaining earnings at Program completion compared to those who indicated self-sustaining earnings at application. Since this Program provides a significant level of assistance to individuals who are employed at application and who are seeking assistance to retain their current employment or find new employment, it is common for applicants of services to have competitive wages at the time of application. To pass this indicator, 30.4 percent of individuals who exited the Program in employment needed to have transitioned from other sources of support at application to self-sustaining earnings at closure. The Program was not able to reach this required percentage, with 15.5 percent of individuals moving from other sources of support at application to self-sustaining wages at closure.

 

During the fiscal year, Innovation and Expansion funding were utilized to cover the cost of the NFB Newsline service. Innovation and Expansion funds were also utilized to cover the cost of the State Rehabilitation Council’s co-sponsorship of the Youth Leadership Forum. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program also was a separate co-sponsor of this leadership development camp for transition age students. Additional uses of the Innovation and Expansion funding included the outreach mailing to eye doctors across the state to maximize referrals and to encourage them to consider hiring clients into their practices. Innovation and Expansion funds were also utilized to secure the Center for Public Policy and Social Research to conduct and analyze the 2013 consumer satisfaction survey. Additionally, Innovation and Expansion funds were utilized to purchase adaptive technology and upgrades to the technology training facility located at the Southeast Connecticut Community Center of the Blind, and also at the technology training lab at the agency. Lastly, funding was utilized to facilitate the participation of the State Rehabilitation Council, through its Chair to participate in national activities at the conferences of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind and the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation.

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 2:02PM by Brenda Lamarre

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

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

State of Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitative Services; Services for the Blind, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program

Quality, Scope, and Extent of Supported Employment Services

The Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitative Services; Services for the Blind Program is committed to providing competitive employment opportunities in integrated settings to all clients of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. To ensure that individuals with the most significant disabilities are provided with the necessary long-term support in order to access the competitive labor market, the Program is able to supplement basic program funds with supported employment grant funds. Through the use of Title VI, Part B funds, in addition to the use of federal Vocational Rehabilitation Program funds and state matching funds, client placement into competitive employment with the provision of long-term support is available. For this placement option to occur, the following circumstances must apply:

• The client will have been found eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation Services and will be an individual with a disability that includes legal blindness and is considered to be most significant in its scope. This individual will have a disability that constitutes or results in a substantial impediment to employment. It will be further determined that the client can benefit from vocational rehabilitation services to prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment. The need for supported employment, ongoing support services, and extended services to ensure long-term placement success will be documented in the client’s case record of services. The individual will have not traditionally accessed competitive employment as a person with a significant disability, or the individual will have a history of intermittent or interrupted employment in competitive settings as a result of a significant disability.

• The preliminary assessment to determine eligibility shall be initiated utilizing Vocational Rehabilitation Program funds and shall consider the potential benefits that supported employment and long-term supports could have in assisting the individual in obtaining an employment outcome. Immediately following a decision of eligibility, and to the extent necessary to gather information for the development of an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), a comprehensive assessment shall be initiated. This assessment shall include the unique strengths, resources, priorities, interests and needs of the individual, including the need for supported employment services. Supplemental evaluations, utilizing Title VI, Part B funds may occur to assist in identifying the specific needs, support services, and priorities of the individual in order to access the competitive labor market.

• The job placement will be within an integrated work setting. There will be opportunities during the work day to interact with non-disabled co-workers and the public, to the same extent that non-disabled workers performing the same type of job are able to interact with co-workers and the public. The employment must be considered permanent, and the client will be paid a wage that is consistent with the prevailing wage normally paid by the employer for that type of work. If the client is part of an enclave, employed by a community rehabilitation provider, who has a sub-minimum wage agreement with the Department of Labor, the client will be paid the appropriate wage based on a time studied rate in an integrated community setting. The specific number of hours worked by the individual, per week, will be the maximum number of hours possible and shall be based upon the unique strengths, resources, interests, concerns, abilities and capabilities of the individual with a most significant disability, and will be incorporated into the Individualized Plan for Employment of the individual.

• Specific ongoing support services necessary to maintain the individual in a supported employment setting during the rehabilitation process will be identified and included in the Individualized Plan for Employment. The need for extended services, including ongoing support, after transition to the provider of long-term funding will also be identified in the Individualized Plan for Employment and will include at a minimum, at least two follow-up visits per month with the client at the worksite to ensure and assess job stability. Or, if appropriate and especially if desired by the individual, two off-site monitoring visits per month directly with the client may be substituted.

• Ongoing, third party funding support will be secured through written agreement and be available prior to the initiation of the actual placement at the worksite. However, the lack of immediate third party funding support will not impede the exploration of supported employment options, or the development of an Individualized Plan for Employment that identifies supported employment as a necessary service in the obtaining of an employment outcome. Providers of ongoing third party support shall include agencies, organizations, programs within organizations, employers, families, and other resources and providers that can provide the necessary training, follow-up and long-term placement support. The use of natural supports within the work place will be considered and encouraged in the exploration of a third party funder.

• The specific number of months for Agency support and sponsorship will have been agreed upon. This time period will be 18 months or less, except that periods in excess of 18 months will be permitted if necessary in order to stabilize an individual’s job placement prior to a transition to the provider of long-term support.

• Specific criteria for the measurement of placement success for an individual will be identified and in place prior to the transition from supported employment services to extended services and ongoing support services provided by third parties. Prior to the transition to the provider of long-term funds, this Agency will monitor the placement for a period of no less than 90 days to confirm that the necessary supports are being provided and that the client, employer, and third party funding source are in agreement that the job placement is stable.

This screen was last updated on Aug 31 2011 5:07PM by Brenda Lamarre