ED/OSERS/RSA
Rehabilitation Services Administration
ED

State Plan for the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and
State Plan Supplement for the State Supported Employment Services Program
Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services State Plan for Fiscal Year 2012 (submitted FY 2011)

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

1.2 As a condition for the receipt of federal funds under Title I, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act for the provision of vocational rehabilitation services, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development [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

Director of Vocational Rehabilitation Services

... 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 Vocational Rehabilitation Services

... has the authority to submit this State Plan for vocational rehabilitation services and the State Plan supplement for supported employment services.

1.9 The agency that submits this State Plan and its supplement has adopted or otherwise formally approved the plan and its supplement.
Yes

State Plan Certified By

As the authorized signatory identified above, I hereby certify that I will sign, date and retain in the files of the designated state agency/designated state unit Section 1 of the Preprint, and separate Certification of Lobbying forms (Form ED-80-0013; available at http://www.ed.gov/fund/grant/apply/appforms/ed80-013.pdf) for both the vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs.

Signed?
Yes

Name of Signatory
Kimberley T. Peck

Title of Signatory
Director, Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)
06/29/2011

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 2012
Yes

Comments:

The Minnesota-General program assures RSA that a triennial comprehensive needs assessment has been carried out and submitted to RSA.

Signed?
Yes

Name of Signatory
Kimberley T. Peck

Title of Signatory
Director, Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)
06/29/2011

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

Section 1 Footnotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.1 Public participation requirements. (Section 101(a)(16)(A) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.10(d), .20(a), (b), (d); and 363.11(g)(9))

(a) Conduct of public meetings.

The designated state agency, prior to the adoption of any substantive policies or procedures governing the provision of vocational rehabilitation services under the State Plan and supported employment services under the supplement to the State Plan, including making any substantive amendments to the policies and procedures, conducts public meetings throughout the state to provide the public, including individuals with disabilities, an opportunity to comment on the policies or procedures.

(b) Notice requirements.

The designated state agency, prior to conducting the public meetings, provides appropriate and sufficient notice throughout the state of the meetings in accordance with state law governing public meetings or, in the absence of state law governing public meetings, procedures developed by the state agency in consultation with the State Rehabilitation Council, if the agency has a council.

(c) Special consultation requirements.

The state agency actively consults with the director of the Client Assistance Program, the State Rehabilitation Council, if the agency has a council and, as appropriate, Indian tribes, tribal organizations and native Hawaiian organizations on its policies and procedures governing the provision of vocational rehabilitation services under the State Plan and supported employment services under the supplement to the State Plan.

3.1 Submission and revisions of the State Plan and its supplement. (Sections 101(a)(1), (23) and 625(a)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act; Section 501 of the Workforce Investment Act; 34 CFR 76.140; 361.10(e), (f), and (g); and 363.10)

(a) The state submits to the commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration the State Plan and its supplement on the same date that the state submits either a State Plan under Section 112 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 or a state unified plan under Section 501 of that Rehabilitation Act.

(b) The state submits only those policies, procedures or descriptions required under this State Plan and its supplement that have not been previously submitted to and approved by the commissioner.

(c) The state submits to the commissioner, at such time and in such manner as the commissioner determines to be appropriate, reports containing annual updates of the information relating to the:

  1. comprehensive system of personnel development;
  2. assessments, estimates, goals and priorities, and reports of progress;
  3. innovation and expansion activities; and
  4. other updates of information required under Title I, Part B, or Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act that are requested by the commissioner.

(d) The State Plan and its supplement are in effect subject to the submission of modifications the state determines to be necessary or the commissioner requires based on a change in state policy, a change in federal law, including regulations, an interpretation of the Rehabilitation Act by a federal court or the highest court of the state, or a finding by the commissioner of state noncompliance with the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act, 34 CFR 361 or 34 CFR 363.

3.2 Supported Employment State Plan supplement. (Sections 101(a)(22) and 625(a) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.34 and 363.10)

(a) The state has an acceptable plan for carrying out Part B, of Title VI of the Rehabilitation Act that provides for the use of funds under that part to supplement funds made available under Part B, of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act for the cost of services leading to supported employment.

(b) The Supported Employment State Plan, including any needed annual revisions, is submitted as a supplement to the State Plan.

4.1 Designated state agency and designated state unit. (Section 101(a)(2) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.13(a) and (b))

(a) Designated state agency.

  1. There is a state agency designated as the sole state agency to administer the State Plan or to supervise its administration in a political subdivision of the state by a sole local agency.

  1. The designated state agency is a state agency that is not primarily concerned with vocational rehabilitation or vocational and other rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities and includes a vocational rehabilitation unit as provided in paragraph (b) of this section (Option B was selected/Option A was not selected)

  1. In American Samoa, the designated state agency is the governor.

(b) Designated state unit.

  1. If the designated state agency is not primarily concerned with vocational rehabilitation or vocational and other rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities, in accordance with subparagraph 4.1(a)(2)(B) of this section, the state agency includes a vocational rehabilitation bureau, division or unit that:

  1. is primarily concerned with vocational rehabilitation or vocational and other rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities and is responsible for the administration of the designated state agency's vocational rehabilitation program under the State Plan;
  2. has a full-time director;
  3. has a staff, at least 90 percent of whom are employed full-time on the rehabilitation work of the organizational unit; and
  4. is located at an organizational level and has an organizational status within the designated state agency comparable to that of other major organizational units of the designated state agency.

  1. The name of the designated state vocational rehabilitation unit is
Vocational Rehabilitation Services

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

The State Plan must contain one of the following assurances.

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

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

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

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

(Option B was selected)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If "Yes", the designated state agency:

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

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

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

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

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

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

X This agency is requesting a waiver of statewideness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Coordination with education officials.

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

  1. The State Plan description must:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(a) In general.

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

(b) Employment of individuals with disabilities.

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

(c) Facilities.

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

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

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

(a) Data system on personnel and personnel development.

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

  1. Qualified personnel needs.

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

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

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

  1. Personnel development.

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Personnel standards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(d) Staff development.

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

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

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

(e) Personnel to address individual communication needs.

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

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

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

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

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

(a) Comprehensive statewide assessment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(b) Annual estimates.

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

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

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

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

(c) Goals and priorities.

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

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

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

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

  1. provides a justification for the order; and

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

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

(d) Strategies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(e) Evaluation and reports of progress.

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

  1. Attachment 4.11(e)(2):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.1 Information and referral services. (Sections 101(a)(5)(D) and (20) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.37)

The designated state agency has implemented an information and referral system that is adequate to ensure that individuals with disabilities, including individuals who do not meet the agency's order of selection criteria for receiving vocational rehabilitation services if the agency is operating on an order of selection, are provided accurate vocational rehabilitation information and guidance, including counseling and referral for job placement, using appropriate modes of communication, to assist such individuals in preparing for, securing, retaining or regaining employment, and are referred to other appropriate federal and state programs, including other components of the statewide work force investment system in the state.

5.2 Residency. (Section 101(a)(12) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.42(c)(1))

The designated state unit imposes no duration of residence requirement as part of determining an individual's eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services or that excludes from services under the plan any individual who is present in the state.

5.3 Ability to serve all eligible individuals; order of selection for services. (Sections 12(d) and 101(a)(5) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.36)

(a) The designated state unit is able to provide the full range of services listed in Section 103(a) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.48, as appropriate, to all eligible individuals with disabilities in the state who apply for services. No

(b) If No:

  1. Individuals with the most significant disabilities, in accordance with criteria established by the state, are selected first for vocational rehabilitation services before other individuals with disabilities.

  1. Attachment 4.11(c)(3):

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

  1. provides a justification for the order of selection; and

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

  1. Eligible individuals who do not meet the order of selection criteria have access to the services provided through the designated state unit's information and referral system established under Section 101(a)(20) of the Rehabilitation Act, 34 CFR 361.37, and subsection 5.1 of this State Plan.

5.4 Availability of comparable services and benefits. (Sections 101(a)(8) and 103(a) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.53)

(a) Prior to providing any vocational rehabilitation services, except those services identified in paragraph (b), to an eligible individual or to members of the individual's family, the state unit determines whether comparable services and benefits exist under any other program and whether those services and benefits are available to the individual.
(b) The following services are exempt from a determination of the availability of comparable services and benefits:

  1. assessment for determining eligibility and vocational rehabilitation needs by qualified personnel, including, if appropriate, an assessment by personnel skilled in rehabilitation technology;

  1. counseling and guidance, including information and support services to assist an individual in exercising informed choice consistent with the provisions of Section 102(d) of the Rehabilitation Act;

  1. referral and other services to secure needed services from other agencies, including other components of the statewide work force investment system, through agreements developed under Section 101(a)(11) of the Rehabilitation Act, if such services are not available under this State Plan;

  1. job-related services, including job search and placement assistance, job retention services, follow-up services, and follow-along services;

  1. rehabilitation technology, including telecommunications, sensory and other technological aids and devices; and

  1. post-employment services consisting of the services listed under subparagraphs (1) through (5) of this paragraph.

(c) The requirements of paragraph (a) of this section do not apply if the determination of the availability of comparable services and benefits under any other program would interrupt or delay:

  1. progress of the individual toward achieving the employment outcome identified in the individualized plan for employment;

  1. an immediate job placement; or

  1. provision of vocational rehabilitation services to any individual who is determined to be at extreme medical risk, based on medical evidence provided by an appropriate qualified medical professional.

(d) The governor in consultation with the designated state vocational rehabilitation agency and other appropriate agencies ensures that an interagency agreement or other mechanism for interagency coordination that meets the requirements of Section 101(a)(8)(B)(i)-(iv) of the Rehabilitation Act takes effect between the designated state unit and any appropriate public entity, including the state Medicaid program, a public institution of higher education, and a component of the statewide work force investment system to ensure the provision of the vocational rehabilitation services identified in Section 103(a) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.48, other than the services identified in paragraph (b) of this section, that are included in the individualized plan for employment of an eligible individual, including the provision of those vocational rehabilitation services during the pendency of any dispute that may arise in the implementation of the interagency agreement or other mechanism for interagency coordination.

5.5 Individualized plan for employment. (Section 101(a)(9) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.45 and .46)

(a) An individualized plan for employment meeting the requirements of Section 102(b) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.45 and .46 is developed and implemented in a timely manner for each individual determined to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, except if the state has implemented an order of selection, and is developed and implemented for each individual to whom the designated state unit is able to provide vocational rehabilitation services.
(b) Services to an eligible individual are provided in accordance with the provisions of the individualized plan for employment.

5.6 Opportunity to make informed choices regarding the selection of services and providers. (Sections 101(a)(19) and 102(d) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.52)

Applicants and eligible individuals or, as appropriate, their representatives are provided information and support services to assist in exercising informed choice throughout the rehabilitation process, consistent with the provisions of Section 102(d) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.52.

5.7 Services to American Indians. (Section 101(a)(13) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.30)

The designated state unit provides vocational rehabilitation services to American Indians who are individuals with disabilities residing in the state to the same extent as the designated state agency provides such services to other significant populations of individuals with disabilities residing in the state.

5.8 Annual review of individuals in extended employment or other employment under special certificate provisions of the fair labor standards act of 1938. (Section 101(a)(14) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.55)

(a) The designated state unit conducts an annual review and reevaluation of the status of each individual with a disability served under this State Plan:

  1. who has achieved an employment outcome in which the individual is compensated in accordance with Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 214(c)); or

  1. whose record of services is closed while the individual is in extended employment on the basis that the individual is unable to achieve an employment outcome in an integrated setting or that the individual made an informed choice to remain in extended employment.

(b) The designated state unit carries out the annual review and reevaluation for two years after the individual's record of services is closed (and thereafter if requested by the individual or, if appropriate, the individual's representative) to determine the interests, priorities and needs of the individual with respect to competitive employment or training for competitive employment.
(c) The designated state unit makes maximum efforts, including the identification and provision of vocational rehabilitation services, reasonable accommodations and other necessary support services, to assist the individuals described in paragraph (a) in engaging in competitive employment.
(d) The individual with a disability or, if appropriate, the individual's representative has input into the review and reevaluation and, through signed acknowledgement, attests that the review and reevaluation have been conducted.

5.9 Use of Title I funds for construction of facilities. (Sections 101(a)(17) and 103(b)(2)(A) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.49(a)(1), .61 and .62(b))

If the state elects to construct, under special circumstances, facilities for community rehabilitation programs, the following requirements are met:

(a) The federal share of the cost of construction for facilities for a fiscal year does not exceed an amount equal to 10 percent of the state's allotment under Section 110 of the Rehabilitation Act for that fiscal year.
(b) The provisions of Section 306 of the Rehabilitation Act that were in effect prior to the enactment of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 apply to such construction.
(c) There is compliance with the requirements in 34 CFR 361.62(b) that ensure the use of the construction authority will not reduce the efforts of the designated state agency in providing other vocational rehabilitation services other than the establishment of facilities for community rehabilitation programs.

5.10 Contracts and cooperative agreements. (Section 101(a)(24) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.31 and .32)

(a) Contracts with for-profit organizations.

The designated state agency has the authority to enter into contracts with for-profit organizations for the purpose of providing, as vocational rehabilitation services, on-the-job training and related programs for individuals with disabilities under Part A of Title VI of the Rehabilitation Act, upon the determination by the designated state agency that for-profit organizations are better qualified to provide vocational rehabilitation services than nonprofit agencies and organizations.

(b) Cooperative agreements with private nonprofit organizations.

Attachment 4.8(b)(3) describes the manner in which the designated state agency establishes cooperative agreements with private nonprofit vocational rehabilitation service providers.

Section 6: Program Administration

6.1 Designated state agency. (Section 625(b)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(a))

The designated state agency for vocational rehabilitation services identified in paragraph 1.2 of the Title I State Plan is the state agency designated to administer the State Supported Employment Services Program authorized under Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act.

6.2 Statewide assessment of supported employment services needs. (Section 625(b)(2) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(b))

Attachment 4.11(a) describes the results of the comprehensive, statewide needs assessment conducted under Section 101(a)(15)(a)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act and subparagraph 4.11(a)(1) of the Title I State Plan with respect to the rehabilitation needs of individuals with most significant disabilities and their need for supported employment services, including needs related to coordination.

6.3 Quality, scope and extent of supported employment services. (Section 625(b)(3) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(c) and .50(b)(2))

Attachment 6.3 describes the quality, scope and extent of supported employment services to be provided to individuals with the most significant disabilities who are eligible to receive supported employment services. The description also addresses the timing of the transition to extended services to be provided by relevant state agencies, private nonprofit organizations or other sources following the cessation of supported employment service provided by the designated state agency.

6.4 Goals and plans for distribution of Title VI, Part B, funds. (Section 625(b)(3) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(d) and .20)

Attachment 4.11(c)(4) identifies the state's goals and plans with respect to the distribution of funds received under Section 622 of the Rehabilitation Act.

6.5 Evidence of collaboration with respect to supported employment services and extended services. (Sections 625(b)(4) and (5) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(e))

Attachment 4.8(b)(4) describes the efforts of the designated state agency to identify and make arrangements, including entering into cooperative agreements, with other state agencies and other appropriate entities to assist in the provision of supported employment services and other public or nonprofit agencies or organizations within the state, employers, natural supports, and other entities with respect to the provision of extended services.

6.6 Minority outreach. (34 CFR 363.11(f))

Attachment 4.11(d) includes a description of the designated state agency's outreach procedures for identifying and serving individuals with the most significant disabilities who are minorities.

6.7 Reports. (Sections 625(b)(8) and 626 of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(h) and .52)

The designated state agency submits reports in such form and in accordance with such procedures as the commissioner may require and collects the information required by Section 101(a)(10) of the Rehabilitation Act separately for individuals receiving supported employment services under Part B, of Title VI and individuals receiving supported employment services under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act.

7.1 Five percent limitation on administrative costs. (Section 625(b)(7) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.11(g)(8))

The designated state agency expends no more than five percent of the state's allotment under Section 622 of the Rehabilitation Act for administrative costs in carrying out the State Supported Employment Services Program.

7.2 Use of funds in providing services. (Sections 623 and 625(b)(6)(A) and (D) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 363.6(c)(2)(iv), .11(g)(1) and (4))

(a) Funds made available under Title VI, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act are used by the designated state agency only to provide supported employment services to individuals with the most significant disabilities who are eligible to receive such services.
(b) Funds provided under Title VI, Part B, are used only to supplement and not supplant the funds provided under Title I, Part B, of the Rehabilitation Act, in providing supported employment services specified in the individualized plan for employment.
(c) Funds provided under Part B of Title VI or Title I of the Rehabilitation Act are not used to provide extended services to individuals who are eligible under Part B of Title VI or Title I of the Rehabilitation Act.

8.1 Scope of supported employment services. (Sections 7(36) and 625(b)(6)(F) and (G) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.5(b)(54), 363.11(g)(6) and (7))

(a) Supported employment services are those services as defined in Section 7(36) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.5(b)(54).
(b) To the extent job skills training is provided, the training is provided on-site.
(c) Supported employment services include placement in an integrated setting for the maximum number of hours possible based on the unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests and informed choice of individuals with the most significant disabilities.

8.2 Comprehensive assessments of individuals with significant disabilities. (Sections 7(2)(B) and 625(b)(6)(B); 34 CFR 361.5(b)(6)(ii) and 363.11(g)(2))

The comprehensive assessment of individuals with significant disabilities conducted under Section 102(b)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act and funded under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act includes consideration of supported employment as an appropriate employment outcome.

8.3 Individualized plan for employment. (Sections 102(b)(3)(F) and 625(b)(6)(C) and (E) of the Rehabilitation Act; 34 CFR 361.46(b) and 363.11(g)(3) and (5))

(a) An individualized plan for employment that meets the requirements of Section 102(b) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.45 and .46 is developed and updated using funds under Title I.
(b) The individualized plan for employment:

  1. specifies the supported employment services to be provided;

  1. describes the expected extended services needed; and

  1. identifies the source of extended services, including natural supports, or, to the extent that it is not possible to identify the source of extended services at the time the individualized plan for employment plan is developed, a statement describing the basis for concluding that there is a reasonable expectation that sources will become available.

(c) Services provided under an individualized plan for employment are coordinated with services provided under other individualized plans established under other federal or state programs.

Required annually by all agencies except those agencies that are independent consumer-controlled commissions.

Identify the Input provided by the state rehabilitation council, including recommendations from the council's annual report, the review and analysis of consumer satisfaction, and other council reports. Be sure to also include:

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

SUMMARY OF INPUT AND RECOMMENDATIONS PROVIDED BY THE STATE REHABILITATION COUNCIL (SRC); RESPONSE OF THE DESIGNATED STATE UNIT

The State Rehabilitation Council provides ongoing input and recommendations to VRS. The council’s meeting minutes and annual report can be found online at: http://www.positivelyminnesota.com/JobSeekers/People_with_Disabilities/For_Our_Partners/State_Rehabilitation_Council.aspx

The following summary of council recommendations describes what the council deemed its most important actions in FFY 2010. Council recommendations from previous years are also reported when they continue to be actively followed by the council.

1. Vocational Rehabilitation Services’ Participation in the Minnesota WorkForce Center (WFC) System: The SRC has renewed annually a set of recommendations on this topic since 1994. In FFY 2009, acknowledging VRS implementation of those recommendations, the council retired them from its annual summary. The council did request that VRS report annually on the status of six topics related to the designated state unit’s participation in the WFC system:

a. Training WFC staff in applicable human rights law, including department and VRS policies on inclusiveness and non-discrimination, and in the human and customer relationship skills that support successful program use by individuals with disabilities.

b. Allocating VRS funds for the WFC system, so that a verifiable cost basis substantiates the appropriateness of direct and indirect costs assessed to VRS for the operation of WFCs.

c. Ensuring early SRC participation in discussions and decisions affecting VRS program participation in the WFC system and in VRS service delivery planning, in keeping with mandates expressed in 1998 amendments of the Rehabilitation Act.

d. Ensuring program and physical accessibility at all WorkForce Centers.

e. Maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of VRS customer data within the WFC information management system.

f. Measuring WFC system activities other than VRS for the quality of their performance and outcomes relating to individuals with disabilities.

VRS Response: VRS appreciates the council’s insights and contributions to improving services to Minnesotans with disabilities at the state’s WorkForce Centers. In FFY 2010, substantial effort was made to renegotiate the cost allocation plans for VRS’ participation in the WorkForce Centers. The Council was updated on this process throughout the year.

2. Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD): The SRC recommended that VRS encourage the expansion of graduate level training in rehabilitation counseling into the Twin Cities metropolitan area, either by a) a school in the metro area, b) one of the schools with an established program offering classes in the metro area or c) distance learning. This would also allow persons with a graduate degree in a closely related field to obtain classes that would qualify them to be employed as a rehabilitation counselor.

VRS response: VRS appreciates the support for expanding graduate level training opportunities in rehabilitation counseling. Minnesota State University-Mankato began offering courses in rehabilitation counseling in the Twin Cities metropolitan area last year. The University of Wisconsin-Stout offers an online program.

3. Nontraditional Approaches to Staffing: The SRC recommended that VRS employ nontraditional approaches to staffing, such as post-retirement options, part-time employment and job sharing.

VRS response: The current hiring freeze has prevented VRS from continuing to use the post-retirement option to staff special projects and as substitutes when counselors are on leave of absence.

4. Timely Appointments to the SRC: The council recommends that the VRS director and governor’s office seek ways to recruit members from under-represented groups and to ensure timely and efficient appointments.

VRS Response: The director concurs that it is critical that the council be fully staffed. VRS will continue to recruit members from under-represented groups, and work with the governor’s office to ensure timely appointments.

5. Client Assistance Program Representative on the SRC Reviews All Proposed VR Policy: A continuing partnership with the Client Assistance Program (CAP) is of historic importance to individuals with disabilities. For many years, a CAP representative on the SRC has been asked to review all proposed policy changes relating to VRS and to determine which changes should be discussed by the full SRC. The process allows timely and efficient examination of proposed policy changes. The SRC recommended that this process be incorporated into the state plan and dropped from the SRC’s list of standing recommendations.

VRS Response: CAP and the SRC have provided valuable feedback to VRS on proposed policy changes. VRS fully agrees with this recommendation and has incorporated it into the state plan. VRS worked with the CAP representative to provide coverage on the Policy Committee while she was on a leave of absence.

6. Recommendations for Transition-Aged Youth: For the purposes of these recommendations, transition-aged consumers are those consumers aged 16 to 21 who receive special education services as required by an individual education program and have not graduated from school or received a diploma.

a. Foster transition-age consumer satisfaction.

VRS should continue to provide services to transition-age consumers that demonstrate personal concern by VRS staff. VRS should also assist staff in developing an orientation toward transition-age consumers.

b. Communication with transition-age consumers and parents.

VRS should foster communication (including enhanced web presence) of transition services so that all transition-age consumers and parents:

• Know its name

• Know its purpose

• Know about and understand all assessments that are conducted

• Know about career exploration opportunities

• Know about and understand the Employment Plan

• Know and understand their rights and the VR appeal process.

c. Communication among parents.

VRS should work to ensure that parents have the opportunity to communicate with each other and share ideas and information.

d. Communication and coordination with educators.

VRS should foster communication and coordination with educators to ensure:

• Appropriate VRS involvement in Individual Education Programs (IEPs)

• Seamless provision of services between VRS and educators

• Employment Plans are coordinated with IEPs.

e. VRS should resolve differences in services between

• VRS staff in the Twin Cities, metropolitan area

• VRS staff in Greater Minnesota.

VRS Response: VRS agrees that there should be continued emphasis on improving transition services for students with an IEP or 504 Plan.

6. Funding of Health Care when presented to post-secondary students as a mandatory fee.

Most post-secondary students have access to health care and will not require funding via VRS. Covering the cost of health insurance is an agency prohibition, but consumers could request a formal exception. The exception process allows the client to request directly to the VRS director that an agency policy be waived.

The SRC respectfully recommends that when post-secondary schools impose a mandatory health insurance fee for uninsured VR customers, VR should seek to cover this cost via the exception process if a) the practice is limited and b) the consumer has made sufficient effort to obtain health insurance from other venues.

VRS Response: VRS has implemented SRCs recommendation. VRS will approve an exception to the policy prohibiting payment of health insurance premiums if the fee is mandatory and the person has pursued all appropriate avenues to obtain health insurance coverage. CFP applies.

7. The State Rehabilitation Council reviewed and provided advice on the RSA Monitoring Report, and made the following recommendation: The State Rehabilitation Council agrees with Rehabilitation Services’ recommendation that the Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation program be located at an organizational level and has an organizational status within DEED comparable to that of other major organizational units of DEED. We also agree that the Vocational Rehabilitation Services director be included as a member of the DEED Executive Leadership Team. The State Rehabilitation Council believes that this is essential to maintain Federal resources and the integrity of the Vocational Rehabilitation program in Minnesota and the effective delivery of Vocational Rehabilitation services to Minnesotans with Disabilities.

VRS/DEED Response: The Commissioner of DEED agrees with RSA that the directors of VRS and State Services for the Blind should be a part of the DEED Executive Leadership Team. This will occur as part of a larger reorganization of DEED’s management structure.

In addition to the formal recommendations, VRS management has requested consultation and advice on the following issues during FFY 2010: managing the VRS budget, advice on implementing the recommendations from the RSA Monitoring Report, closing of Category 3 under the Order of Selection, closing of Category 2 under the order of Selection, anticipated changes to VRS policy as a result of changes to state data privacy laws, meeting the federal performance measures, and the impact that a potential state shutdown will have on people with disabilities. In addition, the VRS Director provided monthly updates on progress toward achievement of the State Plan goals.

This screen was last updated on Jun 29 2011 10:23AM by John Fisher

This agency has requested a waiver of statewideness.

Identify the types of services to be provided by the program for which the waiver of statewideness is requested.

The waiver request should also include:

  • a written assurance from the local public agency that it will make available to the designated state unit the non-federal share of funds;
  • a written assurance that designated state unit approval will be obtained for each proposed service before it is put into effect;
  • a written assurance that all state plan requirements will apply to all services approved under the waiver.

VRS requests continuation of the waiver with respect to delivery of vocational rehabilitation services in Minnesota Independent School District No. 2170, which includes the cities of Staples and Motley in north central Minnesota.

VRS serves students with disabilities in all public school districts and most private schools through Minnesota WorkForce Centers and satellite offices. Uniform statewide provision of services is required by the Rehabilitation Act, except when waived.

Independent School District 2170 and VRS use a service model, pursuant to waiver, under which a full-time counselor provides services exclusively to the district’s eligible students. The school district employs the counselor, sharing costs with VRS. Hiring authority and case supervision is a responsibility of the VRS area manager. The contract under which this collaboration is carried out is negotiated and administered by the local rehabilitation area manager to meet specific local needs. This written contract provides that all non-federal funds allocated by the agreement are made available to VRS, that all services provided under the agreement are subject to VRS approval, and that all state plan requirements apply to all services approved under the contract.

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Describe interagency cooperation with and utilization of the services and facilities of agencies and programs that are not carrying out activities through the statewide workforce investment system with respect to

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

COOPERATION AND COLLABORATION WITH OTHER AGENCIES AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

Following is a discussion of Vocational Rehabilitation Services’ collaborative arrangements with federal, state and local agencies and with private entities that are not formal components of the statewide workforce investment system.

Pathways to Employment (PTE): A Medicaid Infrastructure Grant that addresses multiple systemic barriers to the employment of individuals with disabilities in collaboration with the Minnesota State Council on Disabilities and the Department of Human Services. PTE is fully discussed in Attachment 4.11(d) State Strategies.

Memorandum of Understanding between DEED-Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the Minnesota Association of Financial Aid Administrators: To coordinate support for the post-secondary education planning of consumers, preserve confidentiality, maximize access, and maximize the use of comparable benefits.

Interagency Cooperative Agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Services Mental Health Division: To improve the quantity and quality of rehabilitation and support services to persons with serious and persistent mental illness.

Interagency Cooperative Agreement, Minnesota Plan for the Integration of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Services: To coordinate policies on injury prevention and on the provision of VR services and community supports to individuals with TBI.

Deaf2Work: A collaborative project with RISE, Inc. and Home Depot to increase employment of persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Cooperative Agreement with Self-Help for Hard-of-Hearing Individuals: Pursue shared goals for employment of persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, including increased referrals to VR.

Minnesota Employment Center for Individuals Who Are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing: Provides state-funded services to support the employment of deaf and hard-of-hearing persons.

Cooperative Agreements with the White Earth Nation – Tribal VR program and the Red Lake Nation – Tribal VR program: VRS and SSB provide information, technical assistance, training opportunities, and support to the tribal VR programs, establishing a process for referral and transfer of cases in accordance with best practices ensuring choice. Although not a formal part of the written agreement, the Social Security Administration has also played a crucial role in providing technical assistance. Rehabilitation Act Section 105 (a)(11 )(F)

Interagency Cooperative Agreement between DEED and DHS-Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Division: Through training, shared information, and common advocacy, improve employment outcomes for customers who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Work Incentive Connection (Minnesota’s Work Incentives and Planning Assistance program): An agreement to provide fee-for-service support to provide work incentive training, benefit analysis counseling and related services that increase the employment of persons who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Vocational Rehabilitation Services and VRS-Extended Employment Coordinated Employability Projects: Through multiple innovation and expansion grant activities, demonstrate an effective model for collaborating with service providers and employers to provide supports for continued employment of Minnesotans with significant disabilities.

Professional vocational rehabilitation counseling organizations: Active participation relating to ongoing professional development for staff and to counselor recruitment takes place through well established working relationships with and memberships on the boards of the Minnesota Rehabilitation Association, including the Minnesota Rehabilitation Counseling Association chapter.

Performance-based system of payment and services for community rehabilitation programs and limited-use vendors: An innovative compensation system, developed for use with community rehabilitation programs and limited-use vendors providing job placement, job coaching, and job retention services that rewards organizations facilitating successful outcomes for VR customers.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services: Memorandum of Understanding to enhance work opportunities for veterans with disabilities by sharing information, coordinating activities and offering complementary services.

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Memorandum of Understanding establishing formal working relationships between the USDA’s AgrAbility Project and Vocational Rehabilitation Services field offices under which consumers may access programs funded by USDA Rural Development in support of their employment plans. The Minnesota USDA Rural Development Office also uses technical economic information and forecasting provided by DEED to develop and market its services.

State Use Program: Since the mid-1990s, Minnesota state agencies have been legislatively encouraged to purchase goods and services from small businesses operated by individuals with disabilities. In 2007, the Legislature enacted a set-aside program, providing that 19 percent of the total value of all state janitorial contracts be awarded to community rehabilitation organizations approved by VRS as service providers under the VRS Extended Employment Program. During the 2010 legislative session, the set-aside program was expanded to include document imaging, document shredding, mailing, collating, and sorting services. Further, the amount of each contract awarded under this section may exceed the estimated fair market price for the same goods and services by up to 6 percent.

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

COORDINATION WITH EDUCATION OFFICIALS

Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS), State Services for the Blind (SSB), and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) have entered into an agreement to achieve better coordination between schools and VR services and creating a bridge from the school to VRS or SSB prior to school exit. It also aims to:

• Provide guidance to students with disabilities transitioning from school to employment.

• Offer consultation and technical assistance to educators in planning for the transition of students with disabilities from school to VR services.

• Define roles and responsibilities, including financial responsibilities, of each agency, and determine state lead agencies and qualified staff responsible for transition services.

• Design methods of identification and outreach to students with disabilities who are in need of transition services.

• Guide the development of policies and procedures that help students with disabilities make the transition from school to employment.

• Promote flexible, coordinated, and collaborative planning and service delivery among MDE, VRS, and SSB for eligible youth transitioning from school to employment.

The agreement clarifies how Minnesota VR programs will assist education agencies to plan the transition of students with disabilities from secondary school to the receipt of VR services. Agreed-upon practices for statewide transition planning include:

• Allocate staff time for ongoing consultation with MDE’s Special Education Office to continuously improve transition policies and services.

• Allocate staff time for service on state-level coordination bodies.

• Allocate staff time for participation in the community transition interagency committees (CTICs) that facilitate improved local transition practices.

• MDE’s Special Education Office, SSB, and VRS will share data that improves transition services planning and the evaluation of transition services.

The agreement delineates critical practices that VR programs and the MDE Special Education Office will implement to facilitate a smooth transition for individuals with disabilities as they complete their individual education programs (IEPs). Agreed-upon practices to facilitate a student’s smooth transition include:

• MDE’s Special Education Office will encourage local school districts to implement pre-adolescent career exploration and vocational skill development.

• MDE’s Special Education Office will encourage school districts to provide complete and timely referral information to VRS/SSB two years prior to graduation to promote a timely, efficient engagement with VR services.

• VRS/SSB will use information provided by the school district to determine if a student is eligible for VR services.

The agreement outlines the roles and responsibilities of education and VR. Schools provide free and appropriate public education, as defined by the IEP, for students in the special education program. Schools must access available third-party dollar resources to help meet these responsibilities. VRS and SSB provide services that help prepare an individual to implement post-secondary VR services. In this agreement, VRS/SSB commits to assigning VR counselors to work with students referred from each secondary education program in Minnesota. The agreement identifies joint outreach activities such as:

• Identification of prospective VRS/SSB participants, including students who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out and students with disabilities on Section 504 plans.

• Coordination and collaboration of IEP/IIIP/IPE meeting with VRS, SSB, and schools, when the IEP/IIIP team has begun to identify transition of other post-secondary employment services (note: IIIP = individual interagency intervention plan; IPE = individual plans for employment).

• Development of an outreach tool for students with disabilities, school personnel, and other community agencies. Materials may include a description of the purpose of the VR program, referral process, eligibility requirements, priority for services, application procedures, and scope of services that may be working with partners at the local WorkForce Centers who work with youth with disabilities to solicit appropriate referrals.

• MDE will encourage school districts to identify students who are prospective VR participants and make them and their families aware of VR services during IEP/IIIP meetings: prospective VRS customers no later than two years before leaving secondary school, prospective SSB customers upon identification of visual impairment.

• MDE will encourage school districts to coordinate IEP/IIIP meeting with VRS and SSB staff. These meetings with prospective VR applicants will occur when the IEP/IIIP team has begun to identify transition or other post-secondary employment services.

• MDE will provide a 504 contact for school districts to identify and refer students with 504 plans to VRS and SSB for services.

Coordinated Services for Youth in Special Education

Minnesota law mandates a coordinated system of services for youth, birth to 21, who are involved in special education. The Minnesota System for Interagency Collaboration (MnSIC) was formed to develop and implement this system. VRS is represented on MnSIC and VRS staff participate on subcommittees that develop service strategies for students and recommendations for governance and coordination of state and local collaborative efforts.

Community Transition Interagency Committee (CTIC)

Approximately 70 local CTICs promote statewide interagency coordination to remove system barriers and expand community services. CTICs include parents, students, advocacy groups, local businesses, county government, post-secondary education, vocational education, community education, corrections, SSA health care, and other local service providers. VRS staff serve on all CTICs, thereby helping to improve and expand vocational services that result in employment outcomes.

Rehabilitation Counselors Assigned to High Schools

VR counselors are assigned to public and private high schools in every Minnesota school district. They are active participants on transition planning teams so that each VR eligible student with a disability can access VR services and establish a written VR plan before leaving school. Outreach efforts include working with school nurses, guidance counselors, case managers, principals, social workers, 504 personnel, community agencies and work experience coordinators to identify students with disabilities who are not in special education programs. About 11 percent of students referred to VRS are not enrolled in special education programs. A referral of all potentially eligible students prior to the student’s final year of school is sought so that an employment plan can be completed before the student leaves school.

This screen was last updated on Jun 21 2011 3:01PM by John Fisher

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

COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS WITH PRIVATE NON-PROFIT VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SERVICE PROVIDERS

VRS purchases services such as vocational evaluation, work adjustment training, skill training, job development and job placement, on-the-job training, and time-limited job coaching. Services must be consistent with an employment plan developed between counselor and customer, based on the consumer’s informed choices and offered in integrated settings.

Written Assurances

Providers must provide written assurances about their organizational missions, operations (including audits and lines of authority), staff development and qualifications, services, fees, populations served, standards of professional practice, and adherence to customers’ employment plans. They must also provide written assurance regarding vendor compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Minnesota Human Rights Act and other employment law on individual rights, accessibility, occupational health and safety, and data privacy.

Two Categories of Providers

Minnesota distinguishes between two categories of vendor: the limited-use provider and the unlimited use community rehabilitation program (CRP). This arrangement permits wide selection of services and system flexibility and emphasizes the use of providers accredited by the national Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

Limited Use Providers

Limited-use providers (those without CARF accreditation) introduce competition to the rehabilitation marketplace and provide an entry point for new providers in response to an unmet or emerging service need. They are typically small organizations with small caseloads, limited to a narrow range of specialized services such as intensive job placement or job coaching for individuals with a particular disability. Some are private-for-profit entities. VRS uses the services of 62 limited-use providers. Contracts are limited to $20,000 annually.

CARF-accredited CRPs

A non-limited-use CRP must be accredited by CARF for the services they provide. Operating agreements, detailing services and specific fee schedules, are negotiated, with the engagement of VRS area managers and counseling staff. VRS management reviews the agreement for approval or modification. VRS currently has 55 operating agreements with CRPs statewide.

VRS employs a program specialist to help maintain a mutually supportive professional relationship and to negotiate modifications to agreements with CRPs. VRS convenes semi-annual regional meetings with CRPs to promote mutually held goals, including:

• Develop and maintain choices for consumers.

• Meet workforce needs identified by the state’s employers.

• Ensure that services are provided in integrated settings.

• Facilitate state-level planning and coordination of training needs of CRP staff.

• Facilitate communication between VRS and CRP staff at the administrative level.

• Increase CRP awareness of vocational rehabilitation issues at state and national levels.

• Identify and provide training for CRP and VRS staff.

VRS established a CRP Advisory Committee this year to assist in achievement of these common goals. The initial priority topic was the VRS/CRP working relationship to address un-served and underserved Minnesotans with disabilities. The following trends were noted: An increase in people with autism spectrum disorder, increase in New Americans from Africa and Bhutan, increase in individuals with disabilities with criminal backgrounds, continued challenges with bridging transition IEP/504 services and adult services, continued challenges with serving TANF participants with undiagnosed disabilities or functional limitations that do not meets VRS Order of Selection open categories, lack of qualified ASL interpreters across the state, unmet needs of veterans with disabilities, and inadequate long term supports for people with SPMI.

The Advisory Committee is also engaged in defining CRP quality measures and defining opportunities for joint training of VRS and CRP staff.

This screen was last updated on Jun 21 2011 3:03PM by John Fisher

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.

EVIDENCE OF COLLABORATION REGARDING SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT SERVICES AND EXTENDED SERVICES

Statewide Collaboration

VRS collaborates with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), Department of Human Services (DHS), and county and local service providers to offer statewide supported employment services. VRS is a partner in several state-level agreements that provide long-term supports.

During development of an employment plan, VRS counselors and other service team members help consumers to select supported employment services that meet their needs. They identify which services will be provided by VRS, as well as the source of long-term supports in the community.

VRS provides time-limited supports for about 18 months, but an employment plan may be amended if additional time is needed to achieve job stability. Following case closure, the main resources for long-term supports in the community are county case managers, community rehabilitation programs, the VRS Extended Employment Program, DHS programs such as traumatic brain injury waiver funding, and the Social Security Administration’s Impairment-Related Work Expense exclusions and Ticket to Work funding for persons on SSI and/or SSDI.

State-funded VRS Extended Employment Program

Minnesota’s Extended Employment Program, administered by VRS, develops contracts with CARF-accredited CRPs. The contracts set expectations for extended support, establish funding levels and specify how many employment hours will be funded. These collaborations contribute significantly to the quality, scope, and effectiveness of the state’s supported employment efforts. The VRS Extended Employment Program augments Minnesota’s supported employment resources, including those for persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and for persons with serious mental illness. It provides about $14 million a year to CRPs for employment supported by ongoing services. More than 75 percent of these dollars support people working in integrated community settings. VRS coordinates vocational rehabilitation and extended employment services to maximize the impact of both time-limited and extended services.

Individuals with Serious Mental Illness and Individuals Who Are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing

Extended Employment dedicates $1.6 million to supports for persons with serious and persistent mental illness. Another dedicated appropriation provides $325,000 annually to provide ongoing supports for persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

In state fiscal year 2010, VRS extended employment services provided ongoing work supports to about 6,800 individuals, most having previously received time-limited VR services. VRS and the DHS Mental Health Division also collaborate on projects that lead to community-based employment for adults with serious and persistent mental illness. Services include functional assessment, individualized career planning, job skill acquisition, job placement, job development, and non-time-limited supports to maintain and advance in employment. All recipients of these grants must demonstrate collaboration with counties, local community support programs, VRS, and providers of employability services such as community rehabilitation programs, regional treatment centers, and community mental health centers.

This screen was last updated on Jun 23 2011 12:41PM by John Fisher

Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEM OF PERSONNEL DEVELOPMENT

The Comprehensive System of Personnel Development is the planning framework for recruiting, developing and retaining qualified staff to carry out the state’s vocational rehabilitation mission. Pursuant to Section 101 of the Rehabilitation Act, the plan addresses the following topics:

• The Need for Qualified Personnel

• Regional Higher Education for the Preparation of Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals

• Recruitment and Retention of Qualified Personnel

• Staff Training and Development

• Personnel to Address Individual Communication Needs

• Coordination with Personnel Development of the State’s Secondary Education System under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Need for Qualified Personnel

In FFY 2010, VRS served 21,486 consumers and ended the year with an active caseload of 13,102 individuals, including 588 in applicant status. In FFY 2011, we anticipate serving approximately 19,000 consumers, and ending the year with an active caseload of 12,325, including 675 in applicant status. In FFY 2012, counselors will have an average caseload of about 90. Due to continuing fiscal challenges, system-wide staffing patterns may change in FFY 2012, likely resulting in fewer staff to serve VR consumers.

Statewide allocation of staff is based on population data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The geographic allocation of staff is consistent with the distribution of Minnesota’s population of Minnesotans with disabilities. Seventeen VRS field service teams cover the state, ranging from 14 to 24 positions.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services management consists of a director, six managers, and 2 supervisors in the administrative office, 17 rehabilitation area managers, and 5 rehabilitation supervisors serving 17 field offices. Twenty-two rehabilitation specialists provide technical assistance and consultation to management and field staff. Direct case service by 139 rehabilitation counselors is augmented statewide by 18 rehabilitation representatives, two community liaison representatives, 33 placement, 2 business services specialists, 71 vocational rehabilitation technicians, with 22 staff providing clerical support to both field and administrative offices. VRS employs two full-time sign language interpreters, supplemented by purchased interpreter services and the sign language skills of counselors who serve deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers.

In calendar year 2010, VRS experienced 12 retirements and 7 voluntary resignations; these included 2 manager positions and 7 counselor positions. Between January and June 30, 2011, 26 employees opted to accept the State’s early retirement incentive; this included 2 rehabilitation area managers, 2 rehabilitation supervisors, and 12 rehabilitation counselors. Many of these positions will remain unfilled at this time. Between 2011 and 2016, about 22% of VRS staff, including 14% of counselors and 42% of managers and supervisors will become eligible to retire. The number of voluntary resignations has remained relatively constant (around 2%) over the past four years.

 

Row Job Title Total positions Current vacancies Projected vacancies over the next 5 years
1 VRS Program Director/Managers/Supervisors 9 0 5
2 Rehabilitation Area Managers/Supervisors 22 1 9
3 Rehabilitation Specialists 22 1 6
4 Rehabilitation Counselors 139 7 20
5 Job Placement/Business Services 35 0 5
6 Vocational Rehabilitation Technicians 71 1 19
7 Clerical Support 22 1 8
8 Other Admin/Field 11 1 3
9 TOTAL 348 11 75
10 0 0 0

 

Three area graduate programs award master’s degrees that prepare individuals to work as vocational rehabilitation counselors: Minnesota State University at Mankato; St. Cloud State University; and University of Wisconsin - Stout. VRS maintains a collegial relationship with these programs, recruiting for paid internships and filling counselor positions from among graduates. The table below displays current enrollment and the number of rehabilitation counseling graduates available through these programs.

 

Row Institutions Students enrolled Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates from the previous year
1 Minnesota State University - Mankato 20 6 0 3
2 St. Cloud State University 29 0 0 12
3 University of Wisconsin - Stout 85 6 20 29
4 0 0 0 0
5 0 0 0 0

 

Recruitment and Retention of Qualified Personnel

Paid internships commonly lead to permanent counseling positions. Thirteen students completed internships in 2010 and 10 completed practicum or internships thus far in 2011. Ten internships are currently in progress and scheduled for completion by December 2011; this includes 6 current VRS employees. In July 2010, VRS reduced the hourly rate paid to interns, and as of May 2011, VRS is offering only unpaid internships. A staff development specialist works closely with managers, professors, interns, supervising counselors, and Human Resources to coordinate intern placement and supervision. This position devotes approximately 25 percent time as the VRS point of contact for inquiries about vacancies and internships. Other activities include presentations to students, coordinating VRS participation in career fairs, and informing university personnel of counselor vacancies.

The VRS staff development manager is an active member of graduate counseling advisory committees at the University of Wisconsin - Stout and Minnesota State University - Mankato, and communicates regularly with other graduate and undergraduate program directors. A reduction in teaching staff at MSU - Mankato may limit the program’s ability to continue offering coursework in the Twin Cities metropolitan area; this began in 2009 at the request of VRS, and has enabled four VRS employees to enroll in the graduate program without having to travel outside the metro area.

VRS provides tuition support for staff pursuing graduate degrees in rehabilitation counseling. Employees in the U-W Stout online program have also had access to RSA stipends to assist with some tuition costs. Two VRS employees graduated in the spring of 2011, and an additional 6 employees are scheduled to graduate in December 2011. Five other VRS employees are in progress toward graduate degrees and 3 have been accepted to the UW - Stout online program for Fall 2011.

Media advertisement: VRS posts its vacancies at the State of Minnesota personnel openings website and the MinnesotaWorks job bank, as well as in newspapers.

Minnesota post retirement option: The post retirement option, which permits a state retiree to work up to half time without losing insurance or retirement benefits, is a component of VRS retention and succession planning strategies.

Strategic planning for organizational vitality: VRS pays close attention to organizational vitality and staff morale through statewide staff communication about the vision, mission, values, strategic goals and agency achievements. Of note, in October 2010, RSA Commissioner Lynnae Ruttledge joined in conversation with VRS staff through a statewide videoconference. Staff appreciated the opportunity to engage directly with Commissioner Ruttledge around their issues and concerns as well as the strategic direction of RSA.

Counselors and other staff are recruited and hired under the Minnesota’s competitive civil service system, including affirmative action to recruit and hire individuals with disabilities and members of the state’s diverse cultural and ethnic populations. Voluntary disclosure of ethnic and cultural status provides the following FFY 2011 data: 27 employees (8 percent) identify themselves as American Indian, Asian, Black or Hispanic/Latino; five (2 percent) specify no cultural or ethnic status; 90 percent identify themselves as White. VRS actively recruits individuals with disabilities from graduate professional programs. At the moment 34 employees (10 percent) voluntarily disclose a disability.

A Twin Cities team, consisting of a multilingual Somali rehabilitation counselor and two East African community liaison representatives, offers services to a growing African immigrant population. This New Americans project is a potential model for the expansion of service to other cultural and ethnic populations.

Coordination with professional associations: The VRS staff development manager has a working relationship with the board of the Minnesota Rehabilitation Association (MRA), ensuring that VRS staff training needs are part of the association’s training agenda and that productive staff networking and recruiting takes place. A significant number of staff attend MRA conferences each year. VRS encourages staff membership in professional associations, and many serve as officers and work on association committees. The staff development manager is also a member of the National Council on Rehabilitation Education.

 

Personnel Standards

Vocational rehabilitation counselors and other professional staff are hired through competitive examination under the Minnesota civil service system. The current rehabilitation counselor candidate examination was developed by a workgroup that comprises staff from VRS, State Services for the Blind, and the department’s Office of Human Resources.

Per RSA guidance during the 2010 Monitoring visit, VRS is revising the State’s standard for entry level rehabilitation counselors. Minnesota VRS anticipates the revised standard will alleviate a long standing problem with having an adequate number of candidates to consider for counseling positions in rural areas of the state and for specialized caseloads.

Qualifications for counselors are based on both educational preparation and professional work experience. The academic degree standard for Rehabilitation Counselors is the Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling or a Master’s Degree in a closely related field and evidence of completion of a graduate level course in counseling theories/techniques.

Qualifications

Rehabilitation Counselors

• Qualifications are based on educational preparation and professional work experience.

• Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling; or

• A degree in a closely related field with evidence of completion of graduate level coursework in counseling theory/techniques.

All of the agency’s vocational rehabilitation counselors meet the state’s standard.

Rehabilitation Representative

• Bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or in a related social services field; or

• Bachelor’s degree in any field, plus two years experience providing employment related services for persons with disabilities.

Placement Coordinator

• One year professional experience in which the primary focus was the provision of vocational services to persons with disabilities; or

• Master’s degree in behavioral science, counseling, vocational evaluation, job placement, vocational rehabilitation, or a closely related degree; or

• Three years paraprofessional experience in which the primary focus was the provision of vocational services to persons with disabilities.

Vocational Rehabilitation Technician

• A minimum of one year of experience in an organization whose mission includes the provision of services to persons who are injured or disabled so that an understanding and sensitivity toward people with disabilities has been obtained,

• Customer service skills sufficient to perform intake, assist with forms, and to develop positive relationships with the consumers,

• Keyboarding skills sufficient to create documents and complete data entry, and

• English sufficient to interview consumers and employers, present job-seeking skills training, and to draft correspondence or complete forms.

 

Staff Training and Development

The staff development manager is responsible for the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development and brings all staff development issues to the VRS management team. A staff development specialist coordinates training and develops curricula to meet identified needs, performs case review, and coordinates internships and other recruitment activities.

Staff development and training needs are assessed through interviews with field staff, reports from area managers and recommendations from staff groups and committees. Case review yields training needs information. A staff development group meets regularly to develop and guide staff development activity.

The comprehensive staff training and development plan describes core training curriculum for staff, identifies competencies required of each VRS position as well as training strategies and resource information for each competency, and identifies specialized competencies for serving transition age youth and deaf/hard-of-hearing consumers. Annual performance reviews between supervisor and employee include the development of an Individual Development Plan which identifies specific competencies and/or training needed by the employee.

Formal classroom training for new employees includes: New Employee Orientation, New Counselor Training, Data Practices, Ethics, Information Management, Purchasing Procedures, and Work Incentives. A Field Trainer manual is available for use in on-the-job training of counselors.

Guidelines for funding continuing education contribute to agency succession planning, professional expertise and leadership capacity. Completion of an Ethics course once every five years is a minimum expectation for all staff. Besides agency-required training, staff must complete at least one self-initiated "elective" training activity annually. Although funding for staff to attend external training events was significantly restricted during 2010-11, the agency continues to make a concerted effort to publicize conferences and external training opportunities available to staff; these are a vital component of the overall Staff Development strategy as they enable counselors to obtain advanced training to meet individual learning and development goals for serving VR consumers.

A significant ARRA funded initiative during 2010-11 has been to equip VRS staff with skills in Motivational Interviewing (MI). A total of 253 staff completed a 3-day Introduction to MI training program. In addition, 38 staff from 22 different Community Rehabilitation Programs participated in MI training with VRS. Approximately 1/3 of those completing the initial training participated in 8 follow-up review sessions (MI Coaching Circles), and 19 have continued skill development through MI Proficiency Training. Early results indicate that staff who are putting the skills into practice are experiencing improved relationships and greater success in developing meaningful employment plans with consumers. VRS expects that continued skill development and application of Motivational Interviewing skills will lead to more positive consumer engagement, fewer individuals dropping out of the VR process, and ultimately improved employment outcomes. We have initiated discussion with the University of Wisconsin - Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute and the University of Wisconsin - Madison regarding assistance in building a research component to evaluate outcomes of the MI training initiative over the next several years.

Training on assessment and employment planning, with an emphasis on increasing the level of consumer engagement has been provided. All staff received training on DB101, a new online tool for benefits analysis. DB101, along with training in Work Incentives has equipped staff with the knowledge and tools they need to assist consumers with decision making about their employment goals. VR Techs who provide psychometric services received training in Career Scope, an online interest and aptitude assessment tool. VRS staff attended training on AT 101- the Basics of Assistive Technology, a program offered by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. In addition, field office Assistive Technology Liaisons received training on assessment and accommodations in the area of Office Ergonomics.

In response to staff challenges in serving people with criminal backgrounds, VRS hosted a Council on Crime and Justice training program on "De-mystifying Criminal Backgrounds for Employment", offering 4 sessions and reaching 188 VRS and Community Rehabilitation Program staff.

In response to staff challenges in serving people affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders, VRS, with funding support from the Region 5 TACE, brought in James Emmett Consulting for two training programs on career planning and employment services with people affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders.

In collaboration with Community Rehabilitation Program partners, VRS has developed a "Placement 101" curriculum for job placement staff. Designed around partnering with the consumer, the business, and the referral source, this course will provide VRS and CRP placement staff a solid foundation of knowledge and skills for the work of job development and job placement. The training program will be piloted in summer/fall of 2011. VRS and CRPs in Minnesota are making a concerted effort to work in partnership to serve VR consumers; this training program is a practical and tangible way of living into the commitment to collaboration in service to people with disabilities.

Field managers and supervisors participated in Leader’s Circles, a facilitated learning strategy that provides a framework for action learning on real-life management and supervisory issues. Managers and supervisors have found this learning format invaluable to gaining comfort and confidence in managing their roles within the organization.

In 2010 the Department of Employment and Economic Development, strongly influenced by the needs of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, began discussions to obtain a technology solution to handle administrative functions related to staff training and development. The result was a decision by the State of Minnesota to purchase and deploy a learning management system that would be available to all State agencies in Minnesota. We expect that this "Enterprise Learning Management" web-based program, when fully operational, will significantly streamline training administrative activity, freeing up staff time for more substantive training and development efforts.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development librarians routinely track and disseminate relevant research and journals. They also provide in-service training to VRS teams on how to use the department’s advanced online library search capabilities.

In the next year, priorities are to continue to develop staff skills in Motivational Interviewing, to continue to build effective training programs for new employees, including "Placement 101", to implement Enterprise Learning Management technology for VRS, and to continue to provide opportunities for leadership development.

 

Personnel to Address Individual Communication Needs

VRS ensures that personnel and methods are available so that staff may communicate with consumers in a preferred language or other means of communication. Substantial numbers of VRS consumers use languages other than English, including: Cambodian, Lao, Vietnamese, Somali, Spanish, and American Sign Language. Translation of forms, information brochures and the ready availability of purchased interpreter services or a multilingual staff member ensures effective communication statewide.

Five VRS managers/supervisors, six counselors, and two placement coordinators serving deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers are conversationally competent in American Sign Language. Two certified Sign Language Interpreters are on staff. VRS is supporting one counselor and one placement coordinator in attending the Western Oregon University Rehabilitation Counseling with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Adults Program in the summer of 2011; a Rehabilitation Representative attended this month long immersion program in the summer of 2010. Two rehabilitation counseling students who are Deaf completed internships with VRS this year.

Since FFY 2007, a wireless face-to-face communication technology, UbiDuo, has been deployed in 35 VRS field offices and WorkForce Centers to aid communication with persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Another five have been placed in community rehabilitation programs. VRS field offices are moving from obsolete devices for the deaf (TTYs) and adopting PC software such as NexTalk. Deaf and hard-of-hearing specialists in six locations use videophone (Sorenson VP-200 and D-Link) to improve communication and achieve efficiencies of time and travel.

 

Coordination of Personnel Development

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act

VRS and Minnesota’s secondary education system have a collaborative agreement with the Minnesota Department of Education, facilitated by Department of Education representation on the State Rehabilitation Council and augmented by VRS participation on the Minnesota State Interagency Coordinating Team (MnSIC), with staff support by the VRS program specialist for transition services.

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2011 4:58PM by John Fisher

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.

RESULTS OF THE COMPREHENSIVE STATEWIDE ASSESSMENT OF THE REHABILITATION NEEDS OF INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES

The comprehensive statewide assessment of vocational rehabilitation needs, including the need for supported employment services, shapes Vocational Rehabilitation Services’ goals, strategic priorities, and services. This narrative summarizes the findings and conclusions of the triennial comprehensive needs assessment completed in FFY 2010 and updated in FFY2011. The full assessment is available at: http://www.positivelyminnesota.com/JobSeekers/People_with_Disabilities/PDFs/2010_Comprehensive_State_Needs_Assessment.pdf

Findings and Conclusions

Identifying Minnesota’s Needs

The comprehensive needs assessment describes the vocational rehabilitation needs of Minnesotans with disabilities, both in general and in relationship to specific populations and services. Per RSA requirements, the assessment focuses on individuals with the most significant disabilities, minorities, underserved/underserved populations, and people served through CRPs and other workforce system components. This study uses a definition of need found in the RSA VR Needs Assessment Guide (2009 draft): a "need" refers to a gap – between real and ideal conditions – that is acknowledged by community values and potentially amenable to change.

Clearly Minnesotans with disabilities have many vocational rehabilitation needs. The literature review alone lists 23 need areas, and the number escalates when the assessment turns its attention to other workforce system components, community rehabilitation providers, population and program data, key informant interviews and other study results.

Needs framework

The project team examined needs across populations, subgroups, and disabilities, using a variety of sources spanning providers, agencies, experts, advocates and consumers. The team used a variation on traditional trends analysis modeling to group similar and related needs into two categories: 1) Ongoing, established needs that have long existed among Minnesotans with disabilities, which may be considered either permanent or receding in significance or urgency; and 2) Emerging and “horizon” needs that are becoming increasingly visible.

Selection Criteria

A wide range of criteria helped to identify the most significant needs, including population criteria, service criteria, and high-impact criteria.

The project team focused on the categories of needs by type (e.g., ongoing or emerging), the frequency and the depth of data across sources, and a consideration of the selection criteria. The project team recognized the unavoidable complexity involved in prioritizing needs when they are all important, particularly to the people affected by them.

Economic Context

It is important to note the economic concerns that permeate all findings, conclusions and plans. Like the rest of nation, Minnesota has been hit hard by recession, rising unemployment, a hiring downturn, increased lay-offs and reduced hours for workers. In today’s environment VRS clients face tough competition in securing positions. Some client groups, such as youth in transition, older workers, and individuals with the most severe disabilities are particularly hard-hit by a harsh economic and employment environment.

Additionally, state budget issues have exacerbated problems faced by clients, employers, state agencies, counties, service providers, and all others involved in providing, receiving, planning or funding VRS and VRS-related services. The recession has caused a steep decline in state tax receipts, and it is likely that Minnesota, like other states, will struggle to find the revenue needed to support critical public services for a number of years.

Most significant needs

From the project team’s initial framework of 18 areas of significant need, a leadership group representing VRS, SRC and SILC identified four areas of greatest need. The needs represent internal issues largely under VRS’s control, external issues that may be somewhat or only tangentially under VRS’s purview, and the cross-cutting needs of special populations.

Four primary areas

1. Long-term supports. Every analysis of long-term supports in Minnesota indicates a wide gap between what is provided and what is demanded. The extended employment (EE) program’s internal needs assessment and the Community Rehabilitation Program/Limited Use Vendor (CRP/LUV) survey indicate a lack of funding for ongoing supports. The current economic crisis, county restrictions and declining waiver slots pose significant challenges in providing and sustaining supports. Populations identified as underserved include those with Autism Spectrum Disorders, TBI, and mental illness. In addition, data suggests adequate long-term supports often are not provided for individuals denied by VRS or Medicaid waiver programs (for example, individuals using a DD or CADI waiver), or for transition-age youth with learning disabilities, emotional behavioral disability, or borderline IQ who do not qualify for services.

Options for future consideration include:

• Expanding supported employment or extended employment programs.

• Exploring alternative resources for long-term employment supports (such as the Ticket to Work program).

• Examining how access to long-term supports affects completion of VR/VRS assessments and employment plans.

2. External communication, education, and training. VRS seeks to clarify its identity, visibility and accessibility with a diverse range of stakeholders including the general public, clients, other state agencies, employers, and community partners. Still, service partners and potential customers continue to have questions about eligibility, the service entry process, and what distinguishes VRS from other disability-related programs. Various sources mentioned the need for: specialized communications for some groups (e.g. immigrants, veterans and ex-felons); cultural training, staff diversity and community relationships, to better serve minorities; new employer partnerships; and strategies for clarifying VRS’s role with education, training and employment partners. Tellingly, interview data indicates that some people with an in-depth understanding of VRS activities are not aware of the agency’s breadth of responsibilities or current policies.

Options for future consideration include:

• Continuing relationship-building efforts with underserved populations, minorities and employers.

• Partnering new approaches with colleges, high schools, prisons, treatment centers and anti-poverty programs.

• Increasing staff capabilities or redesigning program processes to meet the needs of new customers, concurrent with education and communication plans.

3. Staff training. Across many data sources VRS staff were identified as the strength of the employment system for people with disabilities. Others suggested that services would be improved if staff received “a portfolio of education and training opportunities,” including guidance on serving special populations such as veterans and ex-felons. Training is a primary element in a larger concern regarding more collaboration among workforce components.

Options for future consideration include:

• Providing training to other employment professionals in support of universal design development and other VRS-related issues.

• Identifying training as a strategy for building employment system cohesion and collaboration.

4. Employer partnerships. Employees are only one side of the employee-employer equation. As the National Technical Assistance and Research Center (NTAR) states, “the success of any workforce investment initiative is contingent on the active participation of employers. This is true both for generic, mainstream systems, such as One-Stop Career Centers under the workforce investment system, as well as programs and systems that target specific populations, such as state VR agencies and other disability employment providers.” Many sources recommend that VR strengthen its partnerships with employers and assure that they are viewed and treated as a VR customer.

Options for future consideration include:

• Developing and implementing new employer partnership approaches; the need for new approaches is especially important in the current economic climate.

• Strengthening education to employers and staff regarding the importance of employers as a VRS customer, and the value of people with disabilities as employees.

Other Ongoing/Established Needs

5. Transportation. A lack of transportation excludes people with disabilities from obtaining employment, training and access to other services, especially in rural areas. Numerous state sources confirm national assessments that a lack of transportation is one of the most significant impediments to employment. The Minnesota Interagency Committee on Transit Coordination described transportation as “a lifeline for a person to access work, school, medical care and other daily needs.” And while “health and human service organizations have established a variety of transportation systems, the delivery of these services is often fragmented or duplicative.” The number of people with transportation needs is growing, particularly in some rural areas of the state – seven counties, for example, have no transit options available.

Options for future consideration include:

• Assuring an appropriate VRS role in providing employment-related transportation for VRS customers.

• Pursuing a more vigorous VRS role in inter-agency efforts to develop creative transportation solutions with existing resources.

6. Transition-age youth. In 2010, 23,243 Minnesota secondary students aged 16-21 received special education services and 1,961 had 504 Plans. Over half of students receiving special education have a learning disability or emotional behavioral disorder. Several studies have identified transition-age youth with disabilities as having significant employment-related needs. Recently, improving services for transition-age youth has been both a national and state focus.

Options for future consideration include:

• Expanding the range of work experiences, job exploration, other post-secondary experiences and vocational needs “beyond the next job.”

• Exploring and resolving geographic differences in service satisfaction.

• Bolstering efforts to increase consumer and parent understanding of VRS programs.

• Improving communication with educators and parents.

• Continuing to work more collaboratively with schools, expanding outreach to younger students.

7. Mental Illness. Mental illness is the primary diagnosis of more than one third of the individuals in the Minnesota VR caseload and it is a secondary diagnosis for others. While this indicates significant resources are already helping this population, “individuals with mental illness” was the group most frequently identified as having unmet needs in the CRP survey. VRS staff, who have enlisted numerous strategies to assist people with mental illness, also identify this as an area of need. The Extended Employment Serious Mental Illness (EE-SMI) program serves people with the most significant disabilities.

Options for future consideration include:

• Increasing the capacity of the EE-SMI program.

• Focusing on sub-populations such as people who are chronically homeless and ex-offenders.

• Developing or expanding initiatives for immigrants and refugees.

• Providing additional mental health training for staff, beyond traditional curricula.

8. Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Communication and Issues. American Community Survey data shows that about 2 percent of Minnesota’s population is deaf or has a serious difficulty hearing, while about 4.5 percent of VRS clients are deaf or hard-of-hearing. DEED is only one of the state’s providers of services to clients with hearing loss. The number of workers who are hard-of-hearing is growing, and makes up the vast majority of the “deaf and hard-of-hearing” population.

Options for future consideration include:

• Improving collaboration and leveraging opportunities with DHS’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Division

• Assuring access to interpreters, hearing aids and real time media captioning.

• Ensuring counselors understand the unique needs of clients who are hard of hearing.

9. Low income. A recurrent theme in stakeholder and community forums is that the interconnection of poverty and unemployment requires a holistic approach to helping people with disabilities. While this is viewed as a need for all low-income people with disabilities, there is a related concern for the subset of people with disabilities receiving SSI or SSDI support who are unaware of their employment options or who fear losing benefits if employed. In 2008, almost 104,000 adult Minnesotans received Social Security Disability Insurance; these recipients are eligible for vocational rehabilitation services unless they are too severely disabled to benefit. People who are enrolled in the state’s MFIP program also could benefit from VR services.

Options for future consideration include:

• Engaging in more collaborative anti-poverty strategies from an employment and disability perspective.

• Ensuring that people receiving SSI or SSDI support or enrolled in MFIP are well informed about VRS and the employment options and services available to them.

• Marketing the state’s new online benefits analysis tool (DB101) when it is available.

Other emerging/horizon needs

10. Minority credibility and outcomes. State demographic data indicates that minority populations are growing much more rapidly than the white, non-Hispanic population. Many subpopulations have high rates of disability; for example, African Americans’ and Native Americans’ disability rates are almost twice as high as Minnesota’s average rate. At VRS, minorities are proportionately represented in the total client population, but are underrepresented in employment outcomes. VRS has initiated a focus on minority staffing, a significant consideration in building credibility and improving services.

Options for future consideration include:

• Continuing to recruit and hire minority staff as able and appropriate; this is a key credibility issue for many minority clients.

• Conducting further research to explain why minorities are underrepresented in employment outcomes.

11. New populations. Minnesota has the largest Somali refugee population in the United States, estimated from 30,000 to 60,000. Immigrants and refugees with disabilities often experience significant barriers in obtaining employment. Data indicate significant increases in the Somali population, and 52 percent of CRPs surveyed felt that the Somali population had high or very high needs. VRS initiatives are providing experience and knowledge in effectively reaching new populations, particularly immigrant and refugee groups.

Options for future consideration include:

• Continuing to assess the impact of current initiatives and the need for more or different services in this area.

12. WorkForce Center (WFC) universal design. WorkForce Centers have made progress in applying universal design concepts: almost 100 percent of WFC survey respondents think the majority of WFC resources are universally available to all customers. However, other stakeholders express a concern that the application is not complete, and that training is needed to help centers better address universal design considerations.

Options for future consideration include:

• Continuing VRS involvement in applying universal design concepts, and/or VRS guidance in developing WFC training to address universal design considerations.

• Articulating and disseminating the intent and outcomes of universal design.

13. Ex-offenders. One in 26 adult Minnesotans is under control of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, and the number of individuals released back into the community has continued its steady rise. Many ex-offenders have disabilities and face serious barriers in seeking employment. Many informants and eighty two percent of respondents to the CRP/LUV survey listed ex-offenders as a population with high or very high needs.

Options for future consideration include:

• Building upon current efforts to strengthen collaboration between VRS and the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC).

• Providing more staff training regarding ex-offender issues and subpopulations (e.g., individuals with mental illness and sex offenders).

• Expanding work with employers so that VRS/DOC collaborations are addressing employer concerns.

14. Veterans strategy. The percentage of military veterans who have a disability is twice that of civilians. VRS and other organizations are developing cooperative strategies for serving veterans with disabilities, particularly in light of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. This program array, while helpful, can also be confusing to clients and staff. Clients have indicated a need for better collaboration, coordination and role clarity among service partners. Subpopulations of veterans may have special needs including TBI, physical injuries, chemical dependency, emotional problems and homelessness. VRS staff should know veterans’ issues and available services. Undiagnosed conditions and veterans’ reluctance to seek assistance challenge outreach efforts.

Options for future consideration include:

• Reviewing approaches for evaluating the effectiveness of VRS veteran programs and coordinating them with other state and federal programs.

• Assessing staffing needs to assure that knowledge of veterans’ issues and services are up-to-date and aligned with the needs of the veteran population and subpopulations.

• Implementing new initiatives based on research and planning.

15. Self-employment. In response to community forums and other consumer-based information, VRS has expanded its efforts to assist clients who are interested in exploring and developing self-employment options. Staff report that these efforts help clients in determining whether and when self-employment is a viable option, and creating business plans when it is viable.

Options for future consideration include:

• Continue or expand efforts to evaluate process and employment outcomes associated with VR’s self-employment services.

16. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). An estimated 1 in 110 children has autism and this population is rapidly growing. Minnesota Department of Education’s 2011 statistics indicate that of the 23,243 students with IEPs, 2,517 or 10.8% have autism. In 2010, 10.1% of students with an IEP were diagnosed with ASD. Many key informants, published reports, and survey participants recommend new approaches to serving people with ASD. Vocational Rehabilitation Services is facing challenges in serving people with ASD: (1) Counties may not consider ASD a developmental disability, making the person ineligible for county funded long-term, ongoing supports; (2) staff and programs may have little experience with ASD clients, and best-practices research is limited; and (3) Traditional services are often not suitable for persons with ASD as highly individualized services are required. For example, the person may benefit from both post-secondary education and long-term ongoing supports. VRS has limited experience assisting people move between systems.

Options for future consideration include:

• VRS should continue planning and research to better identify emerging best practices in the field.

• Initiating pilot projects based on research.

• Training based on pilot project results.

17. Older workers. During the next 25 years, workers over 65 will account for almost 60 percent of the labor force’s growth and become 8 percent of the workforce. Recession is forcing “baby boomers” to seek new occupational fields, delay retirement, or reenter the workforce part-time. Older people are more likely to have a disability, but are not traditional clients. Barriers to service include staff inexperience serving older workers and perceived program age restrictions.

Options for future consideration include:

• Planning and research to better identify and implement improved practices.

• Training based on research.

18. Data gaps. VRS and other agencies collect and compile a significant amount of data on people served and services provided. Consistent, agreed-upon definitions of commonly used terms, such as “disability” and “employment outcome” would promote comprehensive, valid, reliable data across all service systems. VRS faces significant challenges in meeting data requirements, such as data collection costs, paperwork burdens on staff and consumers, a mobile clientele, and privacy restrictions. More detailed data is required to:

1. Know Minnesota’s prevalence rates for different disabilities;

2. Estimate a specific population’s demand for and type of required services;

3. Identify county-level service and funding gaps;

4. Design new service approaches and make strategic program decisions;

5. Measure effectiveness through longitudinal studies; and

6. Communicate results to funding agencies, policy makers, advocates and other stakeholders.

Options for future consideration include:

• Creating data coordination standards across public agencies.

• Maintaining easily-accessible web-based data sources.

This screen was last updated on Jun 29 2011 10:38AM by John Fisher

ANNUAL ESTIMATES OF INDIVIDUALS TO BE SERVED AND COST OF SERVICES

Estimate of the Total Number of Persons Who Will Be Served

In FFY 2012, Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) anticipates serving about 16,885 persons under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act, all of whom will be individuals with either a significant disability or a most significant disability under Minnesota’s administrative rule for vocational rehabilitation. It is estimated that about 13,660 (81 percent) will be persons who have a most significant disability, and about 3,225 (19 percent) will be persons with a significant disability.

Estimate of the Number of Persons Potentially Eligible for Services

Of the approximately 225,000 Minnesotans between the ages of 16 and 64 with two or more long-lasting disabilities, it is estimated that approximately 150,000 are eligible for vocational rehabilitation services.

Estimates within Priority Categories

In FFY 2012, it is estimated that about 13,660 persons with serious limitations in three or more functional areas (priority category one) will be served at an approximate case service cost of $13.6 million; about 2,650 persons will be served who have serious limitations in two functional areas (priority category two) at an approximate case service cost of $2.6 million; and about 575 persons will be served who have a serious limitation in one functional area (priority category three) at an approximate case service cost of $570,000.

Estimate of Supported Employment Services

To implement individualized employment plans with a supported employment goal in FFY 2012 under Title VI Part B, Supported Employment Services Program, of the Rehabilitation Act, approximately 1,875 individuals will be served at an approximate cost for purchased services of $2,438,000. Under the administrative rule enacted to establish Minnesota’s order of selection, all persons receiving supported employment services must be found to have three or more serious functional limitations (priority category one).

Estimate of Outcomes

In FFY 2012, approximately 2,700 individuals will obtain a competitive, supported, or other vocational outcome that is approved by the U.S. Secretary of Education. All of these will be individuals with significant or most significant disabilities.

Category Title I or Title VI Estimated Funds Estimated Number to be Served Average Cost of Services
Priority Category One Title I $13,600,000 13,660 $995
Priority Category Two: Closed 4/21/2011 Title I $2,630,000 2650 $992
Priority Category Three: Closed 7/1/2010 Title I $570,000 575 $991
Priority Category Four: Closed Title I $0 0
Totals   $16,800,000 16,885 $994

This screen was last updated on Jun 21 2011 4:25PM by John Fisher

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 GOALS AND PRIORITIES

Five revised goals, including strategic priorities for each goal, were implemented October 1, 2010, based on the comprehensive statewide needs assessment and recommendations from the Section 107 monitoring activities. They were jointly developed and approved by Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the Minnesota State Rehabilitation Council.

Goal 1 is the primary goal. Goals 2 through 5 support the achievement of Goal 1. Progress in achieving the goals is measured by establishing outcome measures for Goal 1 and process measures for the remaining goals. Several process measures were achieved in FFY 2011 and are therefore being updated for FFY 2012.

Goal 1: More jobs, better jobs

The result of this goal is expanded job opportunities and improved employment outcomes for Minnesotans with disabilities.

Goal 1 Strategic priorities

VRS will:

A. Increase the number of employment outcomes

B. Increase the quality of employment outcomes

C. Improve service to minority and underserved populations

D. Expand development of long-term supports

E. Improve consistency of transition services received by students who are in high school

Goal 1 Outcome Measures:

A. Using the results from FFY 2010 as the baseline, employment outcomes will increase by 100 in each of the next two FFYs (2011 and 2012)

B. The percentage of consumers with employment outcomes who exited the program after receiving services will increase to 60% within two years

C. The percentage of individuals with significant disabilities whose employment outcome results in income equal to or greater than SGA level at closure will increase to 60% by the end of FFY 2012

D. Of all individuals from minority backgrounds exiting the VR program after receiving services, the percentage achieving employment outcomes will increase to 50% by the end of FFY 2012

Goal 2: Organizational vitality

The result of this goal is a vibrant organization providing the best possible services to Minnesotans with disabilities.

Goal 2 Strategic priorities

VRS will:

A. Provide VRS staff with the training and resources to do their job

B. Increase VRS staff diversity in line with demographic normative data

C. Enhance internal and external communication

D. Strengthen organizational leadership capacity

Goal 2 Process Measures:

A. 80% of direct service staff will complete at least one elective training during the federal fiscal year. It is anticipated that this will help maintain staff qualifications.

B. VRS currently has a hiring freeze. VRS will focus on maintaining staff diversity through job retention.

C. An annual survey of staff will indicate that 85% of staff feels that they are well informed and they have the resources needed to do their job. VRS will utilize a modified version of the Gallup Organization Q12 survey, a 12 question survey to measure employee engagement. Gallup found that there is a high correlation between high scores on this survey and superior job performance.

Goal 3. Effective partnerships

The result of this goal is collaborative partnerships that fully use resources to serve Minnesotans with disabilities.

Strategic priorities

VRS will:

A. Increase availability of ongoing or long-term supports through policy, practice or resource changes

B. Provide VRS, WFC and community partner staff with training that advances our shared mission

C. Develop a process to evaluate consumer outcomes and satisfaction with services provided by community partners

D. Emphasize partnerships that support transition services

E. Identify and expand consumer service best practices

Goal 3 Process Measures:

A. The number of CRPs and CILs accessing Ticket to Work funded job retention services will increase annually.

B.1 In collaboration with the CRP Advisory Committee, VRS will develop and implement joint training for VRS and CRP staff on supported employment services and funding streams during FFY 2012. This training will assist the agency in maximizing the use of existing supported employment funding.

B.2 CRPs, CILs, county financial workers and social workers, and mental health workers will receive training on how to use Disability Benefits 101 software (www.db101.org) to reduce Social Security beneficiaries’ fears and to provide accurate information about how income will impact public benefits (SSDI, SSI, Minnesota Supplemental Income, food support and public health insurance). Training of VRS and WFC staff was completed in FFY 2011. This will impact employment outcomes, the percentage of consumers who will achieve employment outcomes, and the percentage of consumers achieving employment above SGA.

C. A CRP Advisory Committee was established in early FFY 2011 to better define and propose strategies to establish, develop, or improve our community rehabilitation programs, and to determine how to better measure consumer satisfaction. Their input is being integrated into our Statewide Assessment and future plans. CRP performance measures will be established by July, 2012.

Goal 4. Employer engagement

The result of this goal is high quality placement services that we can count on.

Strategic priorities

VRS will:

A. Identify potential jobs and needed skills at the regional level

B. Increase the quality of placement services by "raising the bar" through staff training and development activities

C. Capitalize on the VRS/CRP partnership and provide leadership to placement providers by exploring options for sharing Business Advisory groups and exploring options for using temporary agencies for work experience and initial placements

Goal 4 Process Measures:

A. Coordinate with DEED’s Labor Market Information office to provide staff training on the use of "MySkillsMyFuture" software to assist job seekers match their transferable skills to current job openings.

B. Develop and implement "Placement 101" curriculum for VRS and CRP placement staff.

C. The VRS/CRP Advisory Committee will discuss and recommend strategies for improving the quality of placement services

Goal 5. Engaged councils

The result of this goal is robust, participatory councils; the State Rehabilitation Council and as appropriate the State Independent Living Council; fulfilling their missions and statutory roles.

Strategic priorities

VRS will:

A. Invite participation and seek advice as outlined in the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended

B. Provide operational and reporting transparency to the councils

C. Develop and revise policy and procedures with active council involvement

D. Meet the resource and membership needs of the councils

E. Increase inter-council coordination

Goal 5 Process Measures:

A. VRS staff will respond to all of the Council’s information requests within a month.

B. The VRS Director will attend all meetings and provide a Director’s Report of current activities and issues. If she is unable to attend, she will arrange for another member of the Management Team to represent her.

C. SRC and the Client Assistance Program will be informed of all proposed policy and procedure changes in a timely manner, and be invited to attend the Policy Committee meeting to discuss the proposed change.

D. The annual survey of the Councils will indicate that the resource and membership needs of the SRC and SILC are being met, and the two councils are aware of the primary activities of both their own Council and the other Council.

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2011 10:56AM by John Fisher

  • 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.

Justification for order of selection

ORDER OF SELECTION

Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services implemented an Order of Selection in 1993, setting forth who will be served first when the program cannot serve all eligible individuals. Determination of eligibility and qualification for service is based on the applicable Minnesota administrative rule and the Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Policy and Procedure Manual.

Annual State and Federal resources allocated for Minnesota’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services program continue to not be sufficient to serve all Minnesotans who are eligible for services. Conclusions regarding capacity of the Minnesota vocational rehabilitation program in any given year are based on:

1) an analysis of resources available for annual operation of the vocational rehabilitation program,

2) expenditures required to implement employment plans approved prior to commencement of the fiscal year,

3) the anticipated costs for determining eligibility and qualification for service of new applicants during the fiscal year,

4) the anticipated costs of implementing approved vocational rehabilitation plans for new applicants during the fiscal year, and

5) reasonable and necessary costs related to administration of the vocational rehabilitation services program.

Program expenditures have exceeded annual program resources for the past three fiscal years. The availability of over $12 million of carryover funds from previous years allowed the agency to meet all financial obligations during this three-year period.

The budget forecast for FFY 2011 indicated a continuing trend in deficit spending with less than $0.5 million of carryover funds available. This fiscal situation required the agency to implement several budget reduction measures, one of which was to impose a limit on the amount of case service dollars available in FFY 2011. After factoring in the ongoing obligations for all consumers currently in plan development or receiving services under an existing employment plan, it was determined that there would be sufficient resources available to develop plans only for consumers who would be eligible in priority categories one and two. Therefore, the agency closed priority category three on July 1, 2010.

The agency closed category two on April 21, 2011 when it became apparent that the state budget would most likely not be completed by the end of the legislative session. The Governor’s proposed budget included a $2 million increase in state match while the Legislature’s budget proposal did not include this new funding. The session ended with no budget resolution. To ensure adequate resources to continue existing plans, it was necessary to close category two. VRS will need to consider closing category one if no state budget is approved before the start of the state fiscal year on July 1, 2011. Once the state budget is approved VRS management will determine if a category can be re-opened.

Individuals qualifying in priority categories two, three or four are offered information and referral regarding alternate services, including the core services available at Minnesota WorkForce Centers. The person may choose to be placed on a waiting list for vocational rehabilitation services. In FFY 2012, 1,350 people in category 2 and 400 people in category 3 will be placed on the waiting list.

VRS consulted with the State Rehabilitation Council on two occasions this past year concerning the closing of categories, and will continue consultations to determine when to either re-open a category or close category one depending on the state budget resolution.

DEFINITION OF TERMS

Eligibility for VR Services

A person is eligible for vocational rehabilitation services from the general VR agency when they have a physical or mental impairment that constitutes or results in a substantial impediment to employment, and they require vocational rehabilitation services to prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment.

Qualifications for VR Services

A person is qualified for vocational rehabilitation services from the General VR agency when they are eligible and found to have serious functional limitations due to a severe impairment and wish to obtain, retain, or regain employment.

Service Priority

The order of selection establishes service priority based on the number of functional areas in which a person has significant limitations to employment. Persons with limitations in more functional areas are deemed to have more significant disability. It is intended by the order of selection that persons with the most significant disabilities will be served first when all persons who are eligible cannot be served.

Waiting List

When annual program resources are insufficient to serve qualified new applicants and to serve all current customers through the end of the fiscal year, a priority category may be closed. New applicants who qualify in a closed category are then placed on a statewide waiting list for that category. Closing a category slows the rate of increase in the number of persons being served. It conserves resources so that obligations to persons who are already being served may continue to be met.

Functional Areas

Serious limitations in life skills in one or more of the following areas, as defined:

A. Communication: the ability to effectively give and receive information through words or concepts, such as reading, writing, speaking, listening, sign language, or other adaptive methods

B. Interpersonal skills: the ability to establish and maintain personal, family, and community relationships as it affects, or is likely to affect, job performance and security.

C. Mobility: the physical and psychological ability to move about from place to place inside and outside the home, including travel to and from usual destinations in the community for activities of daily living, training, or work.

D. Self-care: the skills needed to manage self or living environment, such as eating, toileting, grooming, dressing, money management, and management of special health or safety needs, including medication management, as they affect an individual’s ability to participate in training or work-related activities.

E. Self-direction: the ability to independently plan, initiate, organize, or carry out goal-directed activities or solve problems related to working.

F. Work skills: (1) the ability to do specific tasks required to carry out job functions; and (2) the capacity to benefit from training in how to perform tasks required to carry out job functions.

G. Work tolerance: the capacity or endurance to effectively and efficiently perform jobs requiring various levels of physical demands, psychological demands, or both.

Serious Limitation

A serious limitation in a functional area means that, due to a severe physical or mental impairment, the individual’s functional capacities in the specific area are restricted to the degree that they require services or accommodations not typically made for other individuals in order to prepare for, enter, engage in, or retain employment. Accommodations are defined as special working conditions, job re-engineering, rehabilitation technology, or substantial support and/or supervision.

List of Physical or Mental Disabilities

Physical or mental disabilities resulting from amputation, arthritis, autism, blindness, burn injury, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, deafness, head injury, heart disease, hemiplegia, hemophilia, respiratory or pulmonary dysfunction, mental retardation, mental illness, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, musculoskeletal disorders, neurological disorders including stroke and epilepsy, paraplegia, quadriplegia, and other spinal cord conditions, sickle cell anemia, specific learning disability, and end-stage renal disease, or another disability or combination of disabilities determined on the basis of an assessment for determining eligibility and priority for services to cause comparable serious functional limitation.

 

Description of Priority categories

Service Priority Categories

Persons are served according to their priority category. When priority categories must be closed, lower priority categories are closed before higher categories. Persons leave their waiting list according to the priority of their category and their date of application for VR services.

• Priority Category One (first priority for service) includes all individuals with a most significant disability, that is, persons whose condition results in serious limitations in three or more functional areas.

• Priority Category Two (second priority for service) includes all individuals with a significant disability that results in serious functional limitations in two functional areas. This category is closed, effective April 21, 2011.

• Priority Category Three (third priority for service) includes all individuals with a significant disability that results in a serious functional limitation in one functional area. This category is closed, effective July 1, 2010.

• Priority Category Four (fourth priority for service) includes all other eligible customers. These customers have a disability that makes them eligible for service but they do not have a serious limitation in a functional area. This category is currently closed.

 

Priority of categories to receive VR services under the order

Service Priority: The order of selection establishes service priority based on the number of functional areas in which a person has significant limitations to employment. Persons with limitations in more functional areas are deemed to have more significant disability. It is intended by the order of selection that persons with the most significant disabilities will be served first when all persons who are eligible cannot be served.

 

Service and outcome goals and the time within which the goals will be achieved

FFY 2012 Service and Outcome Goals and the Time Within Which the Goals will be Achieved for Each Category of the Order: In FFY 2012, under the order of selection currently in effect, approximately 17,000 individuals will be served. Approximately 2,600 of these individuals will achieve employment outcomes in FFY 2012.

Priority Category Number of individuals to be served Estimated number of individuals who will exit with employment after receiving services Estimated number of individuals who will exit without employment after receiving services Time within which goals are to be achieved Cost of services
1 13,660 1,742 1,425 28 months $13,600,000
2 2,650 702 574 25 months $2,630,000
3 575 156 128 21 months $570,000

This screen was last updated on Jun 21 2011 4:33PM by John Fisher

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.

Estimate of the Number of Persons to Be Served

During FFY 2012, about 1,875 individuals will be served with Title VI, Part B funds supplemented by Title I funds, at a purchased service cost of about $2,438,000. Under the administrative rule that sets forth Minnesota’s priority-for-service categories, all persons receiving supported employment have three or more serious functional limitations.

The Contribution of State Funding

Title VI B and Title I funds are used to prepare people for supported employment. The VRS Extended Employment Program (VRS-EE) provides ongoing employment supports using state funding of $12,150,000 annually that flows to community rehabilitation programs. More than 75 percent of this state funding provides extended services for persons in supported employment. The VRS-EE "basic" program serves all disability groups. An additional state appropriation of $1,550,000 is dedicated to extended supported employment services for persons with serious mental illness since it has been historically difficult to obtain ongoing support services for this population. An annual state appropriation of $340,000 is also administered by VRS through the Minnesota Employment Center for Persons Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (http://www.mnemploymentcenter.org) to provide ongoing supports for that population.

System Complexity and Limited Capacity

Funding for supported employment, within which Title VI Part B funds play a relatively small part, is governed by a myriad of federal and state laws and rules covering many categories of services. For example, a network of private, not-for-profit organizations, licensed by the Department of Human Services Disability Services Division, provides training and habilitation services that may include supported employment. People with mental illness may receive work-related support through the State Comprehensive Mental Health Act. In these instances, each county determines the level of service that will be provided.

Title VI B supported employment funds are distributed on a fee-for-service basis under fee schedules developed with service providers. VRS collaborates with the Departments of Education and Human Services and county and local service providers to facilitate access to other funding and service resources. During development of a vocational rehabilitation employment plan, the vocational rehabilitation participant and the service team design a supported employment framework that best meets the participant’s needs. Planning for eventual long-term supports in the community is a crucial part of planning during VRS’ time-limited period of service. Minnesota’s limited capacity for extended ongoing supports has been identified as a barrier to the effectiveness of supported employment services provided under time-limited VR services.

Strategic Goal for Effective Partnerships

In FFY 2012, under the designated state unit’s strategic goal for effective partnerships, VRS will continue to facilitate a statewide planning collaboration to better understand Minnesota’s supported employment needs, current service capacity and gaps, particularly those related to the development needs of community rehabilitation programs, the needs of transition-age youths, and the needs of underserved populations.

This screen was last updated on Jun 23 2011 12:38PM by John Fisher

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.

STRATEGIES FOR ACHIEVING GOALS IN FFY 2012

The goals and strategic priorities established for FFY 2012 are discussed in Attachment 4.11(c)(1).

INNOVATION AND EXPANSION ACTIVITIES

Innovation and Expansion activities are developed in response to needs identified in the Comprehensive Statewide Assessment of Need. The following activities are among the current strategies for achieving the agency’s goals and strategic priorities.

Equal Access to VRS and Partner Services

The focus of Minnesota’s innovation and expansion activities is to ensure equal access to services regardless of specific disability, impediment to employment, economic status, public assistance status, race, or culture. This activity specifically addresses program access, and adherence to the employment non-discrimination principles requirements of Section 427 of the General Education Provisions Act. VRS seeks partnerships with other public and private entities to increase access to vocational rehabilitation services and other employment services.

WorkForce Centers (WFCs) serve a significant number of people with disabilities beyond the customers served by VRS and SSB. The needs assessment indicated that notable progress has been made toward achieving universal design; almost 100 percent of survey respondents indicated they felt WFC resources were universally available. However, continual VRS involvement in staff training and applying universal design concepts is needed, and WFCs need to articulate and disseminate information about program access.

Program access to CRPs is monitored by reviewing compliance with CARF policies on program access, and by continuously monitoring the geographical coverage provided by the network of CRPs. A VRS/CRP Advisory Committee has been established to further address the need to ensure full program access statewide.

Because Minnesota is a 723 state, access issues for the Centers for Independent Living are addressed through state monitoring.

State Rehabilitation Council

The council conducts 10 meetings annually, along with public forums and numerous committee meetings to carry out its consultative and participative roles in the work of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. In 2012 the council will participate in updating the VR state plan and the comprehensive needs assessment, engage in strategic planning, review the policies and practices that guide the delivery of VRS services, and assist in identifying program evaluation needs.

Collaborative Independent Living and VR Services

All eight Centers for Independent Living received funding to develop joint projects with local VR offices to improve IL and VRS service access, address the needs of transition-age youths, and provide outreach for use of rehabilitation technology. IL staff are now located in each of the metro area WorkForce Centers. Contracts have been renewed to allow VRS to purchase services from the IL Centers on a fee-for-service basis.

Persons with Mental Illness

VRS collaborates with the Department of Human Services (DHS) Adult Mental Health Division and with community partners to build supports and services for persons with serious mental illness (SMI), who now comprise 33 percent of the VR caseload and 31 percent of employment outcomes. Innovative projects developed with financial support from the Johnson and Johnson Foundation and $470,000 in dedicated state funding are increasing the quality of services, on-going supports and outcomes for this population throughout Minnesota. VRS will examine the vision for SMI services and review the collaborative agreement with DHS to determine the impact national health care reform and state mental health budget cuts will have on this activity.

SSDI and SSI Beneficiaries

About 40 percent of VRS applicants receive SSA benefits. VRS was instrumental in establishing the Work Incentives Connection (WIC), a private non-profit Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Organization that provides information and benefit analysis for consumers and work incentives training for VRS staff.

SSA, VRS and State Services for the Blind co-host quarterly meetings of the Employment Networks. In addition to providing in-service training, the meetings provide an opportunity to learn more about the services offered by each Employment Network to assist consumers make informed choices when selecting a vendor for employment services and on-going job retention services. The current focus of this group is to expand the use of Ticket to Work funding to provide ongoing supports.

Pathways to Employment [Medicaid Infrastructure Grant (MIG)]

Pathways to Employment, a joint effort of VRS, Department of Human Services, and the Minnesota State Council on Disability, pursues infrastructure change that will improve competitive employment for individuals with disabilities. The MIG grant ends December 31, 2011, with a no cost extension into 2012. Current activities include: Camps to Careers, a series of "summer camps" that allow transition-age youth to explore high-wage careers through hands-on projects in businesses and college classrooms. This activity has transitioned to local partners and will continue, with a possible expansion into the North Minneapolis inner-city area. The Youth Zones, specialized job search programming for transition students at five local WorkForce Centers, will also continue utilizing local funding. The State as a Model Employer project provides paid internship opportunities for VRS consumers at state agencies. Development and implementation of Disability Benefits 101 (www.db101.org), an online tool to determine the impact earnings will have on SSA benefits, state benefits, health insurance and food support, will continue as will funding for the Disability Linkage Line, a call center providing information and referral to health care, employment services and other related support services.

VRS commissioned a study of funding models that support businesses that are established through VRS small business initiatives. State and local community development agencies, micro-loan programs, the Small Business Administration and the Department of Agriculture offer consumer access to business consulting, capital, and financing options.

Minorities with the Most Significant Disabilities.

VRS continues to expand services to minority populations. A New Americans VRS office in St. Paul employs multi-lingual staff of East African descent to provide outreach and services to recent immigrants, primarily from Somalia, who are not fluent in English.

Rehabilitation Technology (Assistive Technology)

A rehabilitation technology specialist provides onsite assistive technology assistance to staff and consumers. He also coordinates with the Minnesota Department of Education to promote inclusion of assistive technology in transition plans, and coordinates with the national AgrAbility project to assist agricultural workers with disabilities maintain their employment. The specialist is supported by three regional liaisons and a local liaison on each VR team. Placement coordinators assist employers in using rehabilitation technology to resolve employment barriers. The VRS website has an assistive technology page with links to nationally recognized websites.

Collaborative Projects Serving Transition-Age Youths

VRS awarded five grants totaling $500,000 in ARRA funds for services to underserved transition-age youths. The White Earth Band of Ojibwa/White Earth Tribal VR program helped students explore renewable energy careers by building and installing solar panels in the students’ family homes, followed by training in green energy industries and how to create business and marketing plans. The Minnesota Employment Center for People who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing is addressing communication barriers that have resulted in underemployment and unemployment. PACER Center, in collaboration with two area colleges, offered internships in digital media and other computer-based careers. The digital media developed during the internships describe programs and services for people with disabilities, and will be disseminated on youth-focused social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube. Employment First assists students in developing skills in the high-growth health care services industry. Goodwill Industries is focusing on students with emotional or behavioral disorders who have dropped out of school, become involved in the court system, lack a support system, or have not succeeded in other employment programs.

FastTRAC (Training, Resources, and Credentialing) Services

VRS awarded four grants totaling $500,000 in ARRA funds to develop model systems that assist people with significant disabilities in acquiring stackable credentials in several industries. Each grant brought together a local service provider, VRS, and Adult Basic Education. Some projects also included a local college. Mankato Rehabilitation Center developed skill training, placement and post-employment career development services in the retail industry. Resource, Inc. developed customized training for veterans and inner city residents with criminal backgrounds, with stackable industry recognized certifications in the maintenance and energy audit fields. Winona ORC Industries assessed participants in an in-house sheltered employment program to identify credentials for improving opportunities for integrated supported employment. In addition to specialized GED and English as a Second Language classes, stackable credentials are being developed in occupations such as Certified Nurse Assistant, janitorial, fork lift operator, retail services and food service. Winona WorkForce Center expanded FastTRAC programs in health care and manufacturing by adding curriculum in the hospitality industry. Participants can enroll in preparatory classes in math, reading and computer literacy, followed by National Work Readiness classes and certification. Graduates can then enroll in the culinary arts training course. Credits are offered through the local college if the person wants to pursue a degree after completing the credentialing process.

Paid Internships

VRS deployed $1.5 million in ARRA funds to offer paid internship opportunities. Community rehabilitation providers assisted in finding appropriate internships and serve as the employer of record. The internships led to more placements at a higher starting wage. VRS has established a workgroup to explore options for continuing this highly successful model when ARRA funds are exhausted.

Asberger’s Spectrum Research

VRS, in collaboration with the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, used ARRA funds to develop a model program for students with Asberger’s who might be interested in the digital arts field. The first phase was to determine interest in and availability of digital arts careers, and to identify gaps in the educational process. The next phase was to identify businesses that are willing to offer internships to help consumers determine whether the goal is appropriate before investing in a post-secondary degree. VRS has applied for a NIDRR grant to continue this research.

Department of Corrections

VRS, Corrections, CRPs and halfway houses have formed two interagency workgroups (Minneapolis and Anoka) to study ways to assist ex-offenders with disabilities to re-enter the community after incarceration. Individuals with criminal backgrounds have historically not done well in the VRS program. The Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment showed that 82 percent of the CRP respondents felt this was a population with very high needs.

 

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2011 11:32AM by John Fisher

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

EVALUATION AND REPORT OF PROGRESS

This document reflects the commitment of the State Rehabilitation Council and VRS to a disciplined process for making decisions that shape and guide VRS as an organization. Consumers, stakeholders and VRS staff contributed insights over many months to the planning process, resulting in the five goals. A strategic planning process is never finished. Changing consumer needs – as reflected by the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment, program evaluation and ever-changing social, legal and economic circumstances – prompted revisions to our priorities and process measures as reported in Attachment 4.11 (C) (1). The revisions will take effect with the start of FFY 2012.

What follows is a report of progress on the goals that pertained during FFY 2011.

Goal 1: More jobs, better jobs

The result of this goal is expanded job opportunities and improved employment outcomes for Minnesotans with disabilities.

Goal 1 Strategic priorities

VRS will:

A. Increase the number of employment outcomes

B. Increase the quality of employment outcomes

C. Improve service to minority and underserved populations

D. Expand development of long-term supports

E. Improve consistency of transition services received by students who are in high school

Goal 1 Outcome Measures:

A. Using FFY 2010 as the baseline, employment outcomes will increase by 100 in each of the next two FFYs. (The performance improvement plan sets the FFY 2011 goal at 2,210 and FFY 2012 at 2,310).

B. The percentage of consumers with employment outcomes who exited the program after receiving services will increase to 60% within two years

C. The percentage of individuals with significant disabilities whose employment outcome results in income equal to or greater than SGA level at closure will increase to 60% by the end of FFY 2012

D. Of all individuals from minority backgrounds exiting the VR program after receiving services, the percentage achieving employment outcomes will increase to 50% by the end of FFY 2012

The following key measures show progress to date:

A1. The number of consumers achieving employment outcomes.

RSA National Standard: Equal or exceed previous year.

2006: 2,523

2007: 2,502

2008: 2,620

2009: 2,389

2010: 2,143

The 2011 performance to date is 1,525, a 352 increase over the previous fiscal year performance for the same time period. It is anticipated that the placement goal established in the Performance Improvement Plan will be substantially exceeded.

B1. The percentage of consumers with employment outcomes who exited the program after receiving services.

RSA National Standard: 55.8%

2006: 60.5

2007: 63.9

2008: 60.5

2009: 49.1

2010: 47.8

The 2011 performance to date is 54.3%

B2. The percentage of consumers with competitive employment outcomes. RSA National Standard: 72.6%

2006: 92.5

2007: 96.3

2008: 97.6

2009: 96.0

2010: 97.7

B3. Consumers’ average wage compared to all other Minnesota workers.

RSA National Standard: .52

2006: .520

2007: .498

2008: .492

2009: .491

2010: .501

B4. Percentage change, from application to closure, of earned income as the primary source of financial support.

RSA National Standard: 53.0

2006: 64.4

2007: 67.5

2008: 63.3

2009: 64.1

2010: 65.4

C1. The percentage of individuals with disabilities whose employment outcome results in income equal to or greater than SGA level at closure will increase to 60% by the end of FY 2012.

2006: 62.1

2007: 63.8

2008: 60.0

2009: 55.3

2010: 56.2

D1. The ratio of minority and non-minority service rates. RSA National Standard .80

2006: .75

2007: .77

2008: .80

2009: .87

2010: .84

D2. Of all individuals from minority backgrounds exiting the VR program after receiving services, the percentage achieving employment outcomes will increase to 50% by the end of FY 2012.

2006: 50.0

2007: 51.3

2008: 50.6

2009: 39.8

2010: 38.1

For 2011 to date, the percentage is 45.7.

Goal 2: Organizational vitality

The result of this goal is a vibrant organization providing the best possible services to Minnesotans with disabilities.

Goal 2 Strategic priorities

VRS will:

A. Provide VRS staff with the training and resources to do their job

B. Increase VRS staff diversity in line with demographic normative data

C. Enhance internal and external communication

D. Strengthen organizational leadership capacity

Goal 2 Process Measures:

A. 80% of counseling staff (counselors and VR representatives) will complete training on Motivational Interviewing by the end of FFY 2011. It is anticipated that this will increase employment outcomes, the percentage of consumers achieving employment outcomes, and the percentage of consumers achieving wages above SGA.

B. 95% of direct service staff will complete training on Social Security work incentives and how to utilize Disability Benefits 101 (a new software program) for benefits planning in FFY 2011. It is anticipated that this will increase employment outcomes, the percentage of consumers achieving employment outcomes, and the percentage of consumers achieving wages above SGA.

Goal 2 Achievements:

A. 253 VRS staff completed the 3-day introductory training on Motivational Interviewing. This includes 80% of counselors, 95% of rehabilitation representatives, 83% of placement staff, and 92% of field supervisors. In addition, 38 staff from 22 CRPs participated in the training. 110 staff have joined MI Coaching Circles and 19 staff are completing MI Proficiency Training.

B. 98% of VRS staff and 75% of WFC resource area staff completed training on Disability Benefits 101 (www.db101.org). In addition, 3 webinars were held for CRP staff. Training modules have been added to the website for people who were unable to attend or prefer self-paced training.

Goal 3. Effective partnerships

The result of this goal is collaborative partnerships that fully use resources to serve Minnesotans with disabilities.

Strategic priorities

VRS will:

A. Increase availability of ongoing or long-term supports through policy, practice or resource changes

B. Provide VRS, WFC and community partner staff with training that advances our shared mission

C. Develop a process to evaluate consumer outcomes and satisfaction with services provided by community partners

D. Emphasize partnerships that support transition services

E. Identify and expand consumer service best practices

Goal 3 Process Measures:

A. Direct service staff will receive training and guidance on how to more effectively use Ticket to Work funded job retention services (Partnership Plus services) in early FFY 2011. This will impact employment outcomes.

B. VRS, WFC, CRPs, CILs, county financial workers and social workers, and mental health workers will receive training on how to use Disability Benefits 101 software to reduce Social Security beneficiaries’ fears and to provide accurate information about how income will impact public benefits (SSDI, SSI, food stamps and public health insurance). Initial training will be completed in FFY 2011. This will impact employment outcomes, the percentage of consumers who will achieve employment outcomes, and the percentage of consumers achieving employment above SGA.

C. A CRP Advisory Committee will be established in early FFY 2011 to better define and propose strategies to establish, develop or improve our community rehabilitation programs, and to determine how to better measure consumer satisfaction. This input will be integrated into our Statewide Assessment and future plans.

Goal 3 Achievements:

A. Training on Partnership Plus services was included as part of the Disability Benefits 101 training. The CRP/IL Referral Form has been revised to include information about the availability of TTW funded services following VRS purchased services to facilitate transfer of the ticket from VRS to the CRP upon VRS case closure.

B. Three webinars were held to introduce CRP and IL staff to Disability Benefits 101. Training was also provided at the Minnesota Rehabilitation Association conference and Community Action Program conference (services for low income families). Additional training is planned for county financial workers, social workers and mental health workers.

C. The CRP Advisory Committee has met regularly. Topics have included development of CRP performance measures and development of joint VRS/CRP training on Supported Employment services and funding.

Goal 4. Employer engagement

The result of this goal is robust employer relationships and new employment opportunities for Minnesotans with disabilities.

Strategic priorities

VRS will:

A. Create mechanisms that regionally identify potential jobs and needed skills

B. Expand employer involvement with skill development opportunities

C. Increase employer use of effective supports in ways that make business sense

D. Encourage common use of language understandable to both the VRS and business worlds

E. Solicit employer feedback for improving workplace preparation and job retention for Minnesotans with disabilities

Goal 4 Process Measures:

A. Continue to coordinate with the DEED Labor Market Information office to develop software that matches a person’s job skills with current job openings in the local area. Implementation of this software in FFY 2011 will increase employment outcomes and the percentage of consumers who achieve an employment outcome.

B. 85% of the interns funded by VRS in each fiscal year will either be hired by an employer or return to college to complete their degree.

C. The FastTrac grants funded by ARRA funds will be evaluated to determine best practices for employer involvement with skill development and provision of natural supports.

D. The feedback provided by employers involved in Workforce Investment Boards, VRS funded internships and FastTrac training programs will be analyzed and used to improve employer engagement.

Goal 4 Achievements:

A. DEED has implemented and provided initial training on DOL’s "My Skills, My Future" software that matches a person’s skills with training programs and current job opening in the local area. VRS implemented Career Scope, an online vocational assessment tool that measures interests and aptitudes, to assist the person identify O’Net job classifications that can be further explored using the "My Skills, My Future" software.

B-D. Results of the ARRA funded Innovation and expansion activities are still being analyzed. The initial feedback has been very positive. 314 people completed or are currently engaged in paid internships. It appears that the internships increased the average starting wage and number of hours worked. The FastTrac grants improved completion rates with more people entering employment after training and achievement of a credential. For example, a training program focused on serving individuals with felony convictions had a 90% completion rate. VRS has historically seen a very high drop out rate with this population.

Goal 5. Engaged councils

The result of this goal is robust, participatory councils - the State Rehabilitation Council and as appropriate the State Independent Living Council - fulfilling their missions and statutory roles.

Strategic priorities

VRS will:

A. Invite participation and seek advice as outlined in the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended

B. Provide operational and reporting transparency to the councils

C. Develop and revise policy and procedures with active council involvement

D. Meet the resource and membership needs of the councils

E. Increase inter-council coordination

Goal 5 Process Measures:

A. VRS staff will respond to all Council’s information requests within a month.

B. The VRS Director will attend all meetings and provide a Director’s Report of current activities and issues. If she is unable to attend, she will arrange for another member of the Management Team to represent her.

C. SRC and the Client Assistance Program will be informed of all proposed policy and procedure changes in a timely manner, and be invited to attend the Policy Committee meeting to discuss the proposed change.

D. The annual survey of the councils will indicate that the resource and membership needs of the SRC and SILC are being met, and the two councils are aware of the primary activities of both their own council and the other council.

Goal 5 Achievements:

For additional information about SRC activity, the minutes and 2010 Annual Report can be found online at: http://www.positivelyminnesota.com/JobSeekers/People_with_Disabilities/For_Our_Partners/state_Rehabilitation_Council.aspx.

SILC minutes and information can be found at http://www.mnsilc.org/index.htm.

Progress toward achievement of the goal is measured formally through an annual survey of the members. Following is a discussion of the FFY 2010 survey:

Priority A: Resources to conduct the Council’s business.

Progress: When asked to measure the availability of resources to conduct the council’s business, the average score was 96% (range 90-100). Significant comments included: "Especially appreciate the support of VR staff to encourage active participation…", "VR staff provide all the necessary information a week or two in advance", "Public forums this year have been phenomenal and helpful with speakers". Areas identified for improvement included the payment system for reimbursement of per diem and "More cheeseburgers!"

Priority B: Consultation and meaningful consideration.

Progress: When asked to measure the degree to which VRS consults with the council and gives meaningful consideration to its advice, members provided an average score of 96 (range 90-100). Comments included "I feel they come to the SRC with most pressing issues - budget, staffing, cost allocation", "Especially appreciated is the support the Director [Kim Peck] in assuring full consideration of council work", "Quality focus", "Excellent job on informing the council", "Staff keeps us well informed and up to date on important developments".

Priority C: VRS maintains transparency of its business operations and Federal Reporting.

Progress: Four questions on the survey measured the degree to which VRS keeps its business operations and federal reporting requirements transparent to the council. Average scores were 92, 91, 78, and 83. Comments were generally positive. Members appreciated the promptness that the Director informed them of issues, and the effort taken to explain important issues (i.e., the budget). They felt VRS disclosed what it needed to share with the council and was always open to questions. Some members felt the clarity of the reports and data provided was in need of improvement (average score 78, range 25-100). Some people felt they received a very complete explanation of the data while others felt it was confusing.

Priorities that Crosscut All Strategic Goals

Four strategic priorities were not attached to a single goal.

Priority A: Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment.

Progress: A new comprehensive statewide needs assessment was completed in FFY 2010 and updated in FFY 2011. The assessment is summarized in Attachment 4.11(a). The full report is available at http://www.positivelyminnesota.com/JobSeekers/People_with_Disabilities/PDFs/2010_Comprehensive_State_Needs_Assessment.pdf

Goals and strategic priorities have been updated in response to the identified needs.

Priority B: Coordinated planning.

This priority measures how leadership by the VRS director and management team shapes the VRS budget, legislative agenda, matching funds strategy; and, productive inter-agency and stakeholder relationships.

Progress: A Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) comprising the core VRS management team and five seasoned rehabilitation area managers from urban and greater Minnesota meets monthly, promoting alignment among VRS programs, bringing in field office perspectives, and enlarging the circle of expertise and leadership available to administrative office managers as strategic decisions are considered and made. The chairs of the State Rehabilitation Council and Statewide Independent Living Council are included when the state plan is discussed. A public policy and legislative affairs position was created to participate on the designated state agency’s legislative affairs team, better coordinating VRS disability employment services planning with that of the department, the governor’s office, and the legislature. The VRS director actively participates in the 10 monthly State Rehabilitation Council meetings and executive committee meetings.

Priority C: Program Evaluation.

Progress: In partnership with the SRC, an information management system and methods for assessing the effectiveness and impact of VRS activities continues to be improved. The new system delivers VRS data required for formal program evaluation to managers throughout the fiscal year, as well as ad hoc status reports to all staff that are easily generated whenever needed.

Priority D: Communication.

Progress: Methods of internal and external communication with staff and the public to facilitate achievement of the VRS mission and strategic goals continues to be improved and include a schedule of e-mail based communications to staff from the VRS director, intentional outreach activity to statewide media about VRS programs and services and disability employment issues; documentation and dissemination about the successes of Minnesotans with disabilities in the workforce; and development of print, online and video materials that describe VRS mission and services to a broad constituency including potential consumers, employers, community partners and educators.

Strategic Goal for the Supported Employment Services Program:

Expand Minnesota’s capacity to provide long term employment supports.

This strategic goal is to establish a collaborative statewide assessment of Minnesota’s service capacity for supported employment, including the service capacity and development needs of community rehabilitation programs in Minnesota, supported employment needs of transition-age youths and young adults, low incidence populations of persons with disabilities and other unserved and underserved populations. This strategic goal is aligned with Strategic Goal Three, along with which its progress is reported. See Strategic Goal Three, above.

Performance of the VR program on the standards and indicators for the most recently completed federal fiscal year.

Performance and the five year trends are documented as part of the Goal 1 Outcome Measures. Indicator 1.1 (Employment Outcomes) was not met in FFY 2010 (Standard +1, Achieved -246).

Year to date data for FFY 2011 indicates that the standard will be exceeded this current fiscal year. Indicator 1.2 (Closed with an Active Employment Plan) was also not met (Standard 55.8, Achieved 47.8). Indicator 1.3 (Competitive Employment) was exceeded (Standard 72.6, Achieved 97.7), however Indicator 1.5 (Average hourly Wage was below standard at .501 (Standard: .52). Employment Earnings as the Primary Source of Support (Indicator 1.6) was also achieved (Standard 53, Achieved 65.4).

With respect to program participation of individuals who are minorities, Minnesota has shown continuous improvement and has met the national standard for the past three years.

Contributions to Goal Progress from Innovation and Expansion Activities

About 5.5 percent of Minnesota’s VR appropriation was used for innovation and expansion activities to improve and increase services to historically underserved populations with the most severe disabilities. These activities represent program response to identified need.

State Rehabilitation Council

Ten monthly meetings of the SRC, committee meetings, and public forums are where council members carry out their consultative and participative roles in the work of VRS. Primary contributions are annual participation in development of the VR state plan; study of consumer satisfaction, VRS strategic planning, and review of the policies and practices that guide the delivery of services.

Persons with Mental Illness

Collaborative activity at state and local levels between VRS, DHS Mental Health Division, and community partners continues to build supports and services for persons with serious mental illness (SMI), who now comprise 33 percent of the VR program’s total caseload and 31 percent of employment outcomes. Innovative projects developed with dedicated state funds are increasing the quality of services and outcomes for this population in urban and rural Minnesota.

SSDI and SSI Beneficiaries

SSA, VRS and SSB continue to co-host quarterly meetings of the Employment Networks. One result of this is more Employment Networks are providing Ticket-to-Work funded job retention services following VRS intensive services (Partnership Plus services). Ticket-to-Work funding is used to supplement Supported Employment funding or to provide continued job retention services beyond the 90 days VRS typically provides. Work incentives basic and advanced training for counselors was provided by work incentives specialists at the Work Incentives Connection. VRS staff, and most CRP direct service staff, also received training on using Disability Benefits 101 to provide benefits counseling.

Pathways to Employment

Pathways to Employment, the state’s Medicaid Infrastructure Grant, is a joint effort of VRS, DHS, and the Minnesota State Council on Disability. Significant activities in the past year include 16 Camps to Careers, encouraging transition students to explore high paying careers through hands-on experience in businesses and college classrooms; funding for paid internships in state government; purchase of additional assistive technology equipment for the Regional Offices for Deaf/Hard of Hearing equipment loan program; funding for expanded use of evidence based practices in supported employment; assisting the WorkForce Center system become an Employment Network for the Ticket-to-Work program; development of Disability Benefits 101, an online tool to determine the impact income will have on SSA benefits, state public assistance, health insurance, food support and housing assistance; and funding the Disability Linkage Line, a call center providing information and referral to a wide variety of community services.

Rehabilitation Technology

Rehabilitation technology, also referred to as assistive technology, can enhance employment outcomes, leading to better employment outcomes including higher paying jobs. Staff surveys and comprehensive case reviews indicate that rehabilitation technology is an underused tool in the development of employment plans and demonstrate the need for training and coaching to increase its use by both experienced and new staff. Implementation of the VR Rehabilitation Technology Services Plan has involved widespread staff participation, brought focus to rehabilitation technology activity, and honored the work of VR program counselors serving as technology liaison to their own VR teams.

Minorities with Most Significant Disabilities

State demographic data indicates Minnesota’s minority populations are growing at a much higher rate that the white, non-Hispanic population. Minnesota has the largest Somali refugee population in the United States.

The New Americans office in St. Paul specializes in addressing the needs of Somali and other East African immigrants who lack fluency in English. The community has embraced this new approach with the office currently serving 42 people; 8 people are in plan development, five people are preparing for employment, 22 are ready for employment, and seven people are working.

Collaborative Projects with Centers for Independent Living

Each of the state’s eight Centers for Independent Living received grant funding (SSA program income funds) to continue providing IL services that are integrated into the Employment Plan. When feasible, the IL services are provided at the VR office. For example, the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living has placed IL staff in each of the Twin Cities metropolitan area WorkForce Centers. In the most recent quarter, 373 VRS customers received IL services as part of this activity. 99 of the consumers have a Ticket to Work, providing a potential funding source if continued IL services are needed after VR case closure to assist the person maintain employment.

Collaborative Projects Serving Transition-Age Youths

ARRA funding was utilized to fund five "Innovation in Transition" projects. The Introduction to Green Technology project trained 14 students on the White Earth Reservation on how to build and install solar panels, and create business and marketing plans to pursue self-employment in this industry. The Minnesota Employment Center and VECTOR developed a School to Career program to assist youth who are deaf or hard of hearing transition from school to work. 15 people entered competitive employment, and an additional 6 people completed paid internships. PACER Center provided paid internships to teach students digital media skills by developing six videos about self-advocacy, postsecondary accommodations, healthy hobbies, WorkForce Center services, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and Independent Living services. 100% of the interns indicated that the internship increased their interest in taking postsecondary classes, and all of the interns indicated they had an understanding of how VR can assist people with disabilities achieve their employment goals. The videos are being used to orientate transition students to adult services in a "youth friendly" manner. The Employment First project provided integrated VR, technical college and CRP services to provide training, college credit, and placement in entry level health care positions. 27 students enrolled in the program; 15 people are successfully employed in the field while 10 people are working outside of health care. Goodwill Industries expanded their transition services for students with mental illness to a rural area.

FastTRAC (Training, Resources, and Credentialing) Services

Four grants were funded with ARRA dollars to assist people with disabilities acquire stackable credentials in a variety of employment areas. Resource Inc. developed a "certified maintenance professional" program for people with disabilities who have a felony background. If people successfully completed the initial training, they could continue training with certifications available in pool maintenance, boiler maintenance and residential energy auditing. A mentor was assigned to each trainee to help keep the person engaged and active. People with felony convictions were targeted because VR has struggled with keeping this group of people engaged in the VR process. 38 of the 42 people (90%) successfully completed at least one credential. However, only 12 people achieved employment. This is a substantial improvement, but additional strategies are needed to help keep people engaged and motivated during job search. Winona ORC, Winona WorkForce Center and the local adult basic education program received two grants to develop training and credentials in the areas of CNA, culinary arts, fork lift operator, retail sales, janitorial and housekeeping. MRCI developed training that leads to National Retail Federation certification in retail sales. 48 people participated in training. 15 people entered employment, while 22 continue in job search.

 

Strategic Goal for the Supported Employment Services Program: Expand Minnesota’s capacity to provide long term employment supports.

This strategic goal is to establish a collaborative statewide assessment of Minnesota’s service capacity for supported employment, including the service capacity and development needs of community rehabilitation programs in Minnesota, supported employment needs of transition-age youths and young adults, low incidence populations of persons with disabilities and other unserved and underserved populations. This strategic goal is aligned with Strategic Goal Three, along with which its progress is reported. See Strategic Goal Three, above.

 

Performance of the VR program on the standards and indicators for the most recently completed federal fiscal year.

In FY 2010, Minnesota achieved above the national standard with respect to the percentage of consumers with competitive employment outcomes (Standard 72.6%, Achieved: 97.7%). Two standards were not met, primarily due to the economy: the number of consumers achieving an employment outcome standard (Standard: +1, Achieved: -246) and the percentage of consumers with employment outcomes (Standard: 55.8%, Achieved: 47.8%). See Strategic Goal One Measures for specific information on the five-year trends. For the current fiscal year to date, the percentage of competitive employment outcomes is 98%, and the number of consumers achieving an employment outcome is +352. The percentage of consumers with employment outcomes is improving and is currently at 55.5%.

With respect to average wage, Minnesota has maintained a stable trend over the past five fiscal years (Standard: .52, Achieved: .50). Minnesota’s emphasis on serving individuals with the most significant disabilities, and the high percentage of individuals needing supported employment services, affects the average starting wage. The five-year trend for change in primary source of support between application and closure has consistently been above the national standard (Standard: .53, Achieved 65.4)

With respect to program participation of individuals who are minorities, Minnesota has shown continuous improvement and has met the national standard for the past three years. (Standard .80, Achieved .84).

 

Innovation and Expansion activities are fully discussed in 4.11(e)(2) Contributions to Goal Progress from Innovation and Expansion Activities.

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2011 11:33AM by John Fisher

  • 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

QUALITY, SCOPE AND EXTENT OF SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

Supported employment services promote the integration of people with the most significant disabilities into the Minnesota workplace. The use of funds from Title VI Part B of the Rehabilitation Act initially allowed for expansion of supported employment services and outcomes. However, currently, the demand for these services exceeds the capacity of systems in Minnesota to provide the extended ongoing supports needed by Minnesotans with the most significant disabilities. Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) continues to work cooperatively with consumers, family members, advocates, employers, service providers and State, county, and local agencies to improve and expand the use of supported employment services statewide.

Approximately 2,400 vocational rehabilitation consumers were served in FFY 2010 with SE funds. VRS uses all federal funds authorized under Title VI, Part B in addition to Title I funds to purchase services for customers on a fee for service basis. Funds are distributed to field offices to purchase needed services for those consumers with a vocational goal that requires ongoing supports. Supported employment expenditures are administered and tracked separately in accordance with federal requirements. The quality of supported employment services in Minnesota is assured by a State administrative rule requirement that vendors from whom more than $20,000 in services are purchased annually must be fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) or have applied for accreditation and be actively pursuing that credential. In addition, vendors who agree to meet professional standards of service but are not CARF-accredited may be granted a limited use provider status, under which their services are limited to $20,000 or less annually.

The state’s major challenge regarding supported employment is one of consumer access to extended ongoing supports when they are needed. Agency structures and funding systems for extended support are governed by a myriad of federal and State laws and rules, each governing a specific piece of the categorical funding available to people with disabilities. A network of private not-for-profit organizations in Minnesota licensed by DHS Disabilities Services Division provides day training and habilitation services that may include such extended supports. People with mental illness may receive work-related support through the State Comprehensive Mental Health Act. Each county determines what level of service will be provided.

The agency’s coordination of vocational rehabilitation services with its extended employment services contributes significantly to the quality, scope, and effectiveness of the State’s overall SE efforts. When developing a customer’s employment plan, the consumer and VR counselor identify the time-limited services to be provided by VRS, the expected ongoing supports needed, and the source of those supports. This may include natural supports. VRS is a partner in several state level agreements that facilitate provision of these services. With respect to extended employment services, VRS develops contracts with each accredited community rehabilitation program (CRP) that includes an outline of expectations for extended support. Each program submits an application for funding which becomes part of the contract and specifies the number of employment hours that will be funded by VRS.

VRS provides $14,037,000 in state funding annually to community rehabilitation programs to support ongoing vocational services through sheltered and supported employment. Seventy-eight percent of this funding provides ongoing services to people working in supported employment. By coordinating its short-term vocational rehabilitation services and long-term extended employment services, VRS facilitates optimal benefit from time-limited and extended funding for persons in supported employment.

VRS, through state-funded extended employment services, provides ongoing work supports to approximately 8,000 individuals in SE annually. Many of these individuals received time-limited vocational rehabilitation services prior to entering supported employment.

Part of Minnesota’s supported employment funding is dedicated to extended supports for persons with serious and persistent mental illness. VRS and the Department of Human Services Mental Health Division collaborate on coordinated employability projects to promote innovation in service delivery, including supported employment services, for this population. The projects are designed to provide functional assessment, individualized career planning, job skill acquisition, job placement, job development, and non-time-limited supports necessary to maintain and advance in employment. All recipients of grants under these projects are required to demonstrate collaboration with counties, the local community support program, VRS, and providers of employment services such as CRPs, regional treatment centers, and community mental health centers.

In addition, an annual state appropriation of $325,000 is administered by VRS-VR and VRS-EE to provide ongoing supports for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

This screen was last updated on Jun 28 2011 11:39AM by John Fisher

The following information is captured by the MIS.

Last updated on 08/02/2011 at 9:58 AM

Last updated by samnfisherj

Completed on 08/02/2011 at 9:58 AM

Completed by samnfisherj

Approved on 08/29/2011 at 1:03 PM

Approved by rsavroomanl

Published on 09/27/2011 at 10:52 AM

Published by jack

The following documents have been identified as being related to the information you are viewing.

  • Monitoring Report for Minnesota - General — as of March 1, 2011
    DOC (463KB) | PDF (462KB)

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

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

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

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