ED/OSERS/RSA
Rehabilitation Services Administration
ED

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

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

Preprint - Section 1: State Certifications

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

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

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

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

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

1.7 The (enter title of state officer below) Yes

State Treasurer

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

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

Executive Director

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

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

State Plan Certified By

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

Signed?Yes

Name of SignatoryStephen H. Suroviec

Title of SignatoryExecutive Director

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)06/18/2014

Assurances Certified By

At the request of RSA, the designated state agency and/or the designated state unit provide the following assurance(s), in addition to those contained within Section 2 through 8 below, in connection with the approval of the State Plan for FY 2015Yes

Comments:

IHE AGREEMENTS PA OVR has fulfilled the interagency coordination requirement of Section 101(a)(8)(B) and 34 CFR 361.53(d) with the vast majority of public institutions of higher education (IHE) throughout the Commonwealth by September 30, 2012, including all 14 independent community colleges and the 14 member institutions of the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). The PASSHE agreement, which covers a 5 year period starting December 2012 and ending in December 2017, is current. The four state-related universities, Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln agreements are still needed. In the past, they wanted to include items not specifically mandated in the Act and beyond the scope of the agreements signed by their 28 IHE colleagues. PA OVR will continue to pursue negotiations with these final four until mutually acceptable agreements have been executed.

PA OVR has met with our Dept. of Labor & Industry/OVR legal team who are reviewing Section 101(a)(8)(B) and 34 CFR 361.53(b) expectations of interagency coordination agreements for State Related Institutions of Higher Education (IHE); our existing agreements with 14 State Related IHE’s that could form a common framework for renewed discussions with the four state-related universities, i.e. Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln Universities. Our OVR legal team and Bureau of Central Operations staff will request quarterly meetings with each institution to resolve and obtain an agreement. On a quarterly basis, OVR will report outcomes to RSA on progress towards achieving agreements with each of the state related IHE’s; Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln Universities. OVR hopes to conclude agreements during the State Plan FFY 2016.

SRC APPOINTMENTS PA OVR, in conjunction with the PA Dept. of Labor & Industry (L&I) Policy Office and the State Rehabilitation Council, submitted four (4) new Council recommendations to the Secretary of L&I for review. On September 2, 2014, the Secretary endorsed these applications and forwarded them, along with required documentation, to the Governor’s Office of Public Liaison for final approval and appointment to the SRC. The four recommended candidates will fill Young Adult, Current/Former OVR Customer, and two General Advocacy category positions.

On the same date, OVR and the L&I Policy Office received assurances that the Office of Public Liaison is now actively processing previously submitted recommendations for the re-appointment of existing Council members in the following categories: Cognitive Disabilities, Intellectual Disabilities and IDEA, as well as a replacement appointment from the PA Department of Education, which is the public education agency for the state. OVR will monitor progress on these appointments through weekly contact with the L&I Policy Office and the Liaison Office in a good faith effort to ensure that these positions are filled promptly and appropriately. Additionally, four more new, eligible re-appointments (Sensory Disability, SILC Member, two Business-Industry- Labor positions, and one recommendation for a new SWIB appointment) are currently in hand and will be ready for review by the Secretary of L&I before the end of September 2014. OVR will provide a progress report to RSA on the status of these and any other outstanding appointments every three months (quarterly) until a complete and representative SRC complement is achieved.

Signed?Yes

Name of SignatoryStephen H. Suroviec

Title of SignatoryExecutive Director

Date Signed (mm/dd/yyyy)06/18/2014

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

Section 1 Footnotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(a) Conduct of public meetings.

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

(b) Notice requirements.

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

(c) Special consultation requirements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preprint - Section 4: Administration of the State Plan

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

(a) Designated state agency.

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

  1. The designated state agency is a state agency that is 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
PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

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. No

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

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

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

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

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

(a) In general.

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

(b) Employment of individuals with disabilities.

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

(c) Facilities.

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

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

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

(a) Data system on personnel and personnel development.

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

  1. Qualified personnel needs.

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

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

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

  1. Personnel development.

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Personnel standards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(d) Staff development.

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

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

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

(e) Personnel to address individual communication needs.

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

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

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

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

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

(a) Comprehensive statewide assessment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(b) Annual estimates.

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

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

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

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

(c) Goals and priorities.

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

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

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

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

  1. provides a justification for the order; and

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

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

(d) Strategies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(e) Evaluation and reports of progress.

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

  1. Attachment 4.11(e)(2):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(a) The designated state unit is able to provide the full range of services listed in Section 103(a) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 CFR 361.48, as appropriate, to all eligible individuals with disabilities in the state who apply for services. 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.

Preprint - Section 6: Program Administration

Section 6: Program Administration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preprint - Section 7: Financial Administration

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

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

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

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

Preprint - Section 8: Provision of Supported Employment Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. specifies the supported employment services to be provided;

  1. describes the expected extended services needed; and

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

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

Attachment 4.2(c) Input of State Rehabilitation Council

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

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

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

Attachment 4.2(c): Summary of Input and Recommendations of the State Rehabilitation Council

Approved by the PA Rehabilitation Council on October 30, 2013. This attachment is the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council’s (PaRC) input to the State Plan. The following documents were used to develop these recommendations to OVR: 1. The PaRC’s annual report (FFY 2013) 2. PaRC Customer Satisfaction Survey 3. Review of items in last year’s Attachment 4. Comments received at last year’s State Plan Meetings 5. Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Monitoring Report 6. Statewide Needs Assessment 7. Workforce Development Statistics

Recommendations from the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council (PaRC) to Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)

COMMENDATION: PaRC commends OVR for outreach to VR consumer customers and business customers in order to increase awareness for the services that are available. OVR is commended on their 2013 outreach which includes participating in the PADES employment event, the National Employment Conference (and resulting follow-up webinar) and the PA Transition Conference.

Council recommends that OVR work toward the following in FY 2015:

1. Transition Issue: Students with disabilities, who are between 14 and 21 years of age or earlier if deemed necessary by the IEP team, need peer support and other services in order to go from the school setting to employment or post secondary education/training. With such support, individuals are more likely to be placed in integrated, competitive employment outcomes.

Recommendations:

a. Develop peer counseling services during transition.

OVR Response: PA OVR will collaborate with its Transition partners to explore/identify potential service delivery models of “peer counseling” with potential for cross-systems development and implementation.

b. Continue to work towards an effective working relationship between DPW, Dept. of Education and OVR on Transition related issues, including reviewing and updating any existing MOU’s.

OVR Response: OVR is a lead member of the Pennsylvania Community on Transition Statewide Leadership Team which regularly reviews the MOU. As part of its transition policy revision, OVR has attached the original IDEA MOU and its addenda to its updated policy. Training on the MOU will be included in agency-wide staff training of the updated policy and the new Transition Resource Manual upon the manual’s completion.

OVR has also engaged the Department of Public Welfare’s Office of Developmental Programs, Office of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services and Office of Long-Term Living in a dialogue to review/revise the MOU regarding the coordination of pre-vocational, employment, and long-term support services.

Review of the existing MOUs will continue to be an ongoing process as more effective, evidence-driven practices emerge and are incorporated into the daily programming of the agencies and schools.

c. Increase efforts to educate individuals, advocates and families on their rights and services to which they are entitled through the Department of Education, DPW and other programs and agencies in relation to preparing for employment.

OVR Response: OVR regularly participates in PaTTAN webinars dedicated to Educational Rights and Responsibilities and self-advocacy that are developed and sponsored by the Pennsylvania Community on Transition Statewide Leadership Team (SLT). The SLT sponsors an annual conference at which several sessions are dedicated to self-advocacy and self-determination within the educational system and IEP process.

OVR has implemented the Early Reach Initiative to increase awareness among its customers and their families about their rights and responsibilities under IDEIA. In addition, OVR will increase counselor training about the role of its staff in advocating for OVR customers within the schools.

OVR’s updated Transition policy more clearly defines its counselors’ roles and responsibilities within the Transition process. A Transition Resource Manual is under development for VR counselors. Training will be offered in 2014 on the revised policy and the Transition Resource Manual.

OVR will engage the Parent Education Network (PEN) and the PEAL Center to participate in educational opportunities for families of youth with disabilities.

d. Continue to implement and increase awareness of Project Early Reach for students 14 and above who are not utilizing OVR funds.

OVR Response: In order to assist youth with disabilities better prepare for their transition into the world of work and independence, OVR has started a new initiative called Early Reach. An Early Reach Coordinator will be assigned to each of the fifteen Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (BVRS) district offices to connect earlier with youth with disabilities (beginning at age 14), their parents, schools, and other community agencies. The purpose of this connection is to reach out to youth with disabilities early, so that they know more about OVR services, what to expect from OVR services and when to expect OVR services. In addition, Early Reach Coordinators will be knowledgeable about the full array of other services that are available to youth with disabilities, so youth can better prepare for vocational choices and goals after they leave secondary education. This initiative will be phased into all fifteen BVRS district offices by the end of 2014.

As of October 2013, there are Early Reach Coordinators working in the following BVRS Phase One district offices: Dubois, Harrisburg, Norristown, Philadelphia and Wilkes Barre. Anecdotal reports from these five district offices indicate that community agencies are eager to collaborate with the OVR Early Reach Coordinators. Early Reach Coordinators are making presentations and connecting with a variety of community partners such as school districts, private schools, parent groups, community mental health providers, statewide youth leadership groups, medical providers, and others to explain OVR services, to facilitate referrals to OVR and to recommend referrals to related services for youth with disabilities pursuing work and independence. Phase Two district offices include Washington, Altoona, York, Erie, Allentown, Pittsburgh and Reading. Phase 2 Early Reach Coordinators should be on staff by the Spring of 2014.

2. Citizen Advisory Committees (CAC) Issue: The purpose of the CAC is to evaluate the services provided by OVR within the local OVR service area, and to provide needed local information and advice to the OVR District Administrators from the people they serve. PaRC strongly recommends that local CACs be comprised of a majority of former or current VR consumer customers.

Recommendations: a. Request reports from CACs on their activities and extend an invitation to join PaRC committees to share knowledge about their districts

OVR Response: Meeting schedules and minutes of previous meetings are available on the PaRC website. If the bylaws of PaRC allow committee participation by non PaRC members, we are willing to extend this invitation.

b. Increase public knowledge of CAC meetings by making information available through the OVR website utilizing a link to the PaRC website

OVR Response: We agree to the importance of public knowledge of CAC meetings and are committed to continuing the practice of posting meeting dates and meeting minutes on the PaRC website.

c. District Administrators eliminate cost prohibitive barriers in order to facilitate consumer customer participation

OVR Response: To the extent possible, we agree with this recommendation. We will make phone or webinar participation possible. We are unable to reimburse travel costs due to stringent commonwealth travel guidelines.

3. Awareness of OVR Services Issue: OVR should continue and increase efforts towards public and professional fields which support individuals with disabilities.

Recommendations: a. Inform Workforce Investment Partners on services OVR provides

OVR Response: We agree to the importance of informing our workforce partners regarding services provided by OVR. We are developing OVR 101 training materials to be shared with all CareerLink staff. We are also exploring joint training opportunities.

b. Outreach to the community, medical professionals, and social service agencies serving individuals who have a disability about services OVR provides

OVR Response: We are requiring a forward thinking outreach plan be submitted by every District Office to outline targeted outreach for the year. They will report on their progress regarding the outreach plan quarterly.

c. Continue in outreach efforts at public fairs, meetings, conferences, seminars, additional professional fields and provider agencies

OVR Response: Outreach/Public Awareness if one of OVR’s 5 strategic priorities and we recognize the importance of continuing outreach efforts in all the above areas.

4. Data on Policy Changes Issue: It is critical that data be collected and reviewed as policies are created, updated and implemented in order to assess the impact on the consumer customers.

a. Track data related to changes made to policies such as the Vehicle Mod and MSD (Most Significant Disability) designation.

OVR Response: The Comprehensive Workforce Development System (CWDS) provides OVR with the ability to track and compare data and statistical information about the OVR program such as data on vehicle modification and relate that to successful closures. OVR utilizes standardized reports in collaboration with an ad hoc reporting tool to track and review collected data. Due to the sensitive nature of the information contained within CWDS, OVR has developed guidelines for creating and sharing information generated through the ad hoc reporting tool.

In keeping with federal mandates, it is the policy of OVR to operate on an Order of Selection when the agency is unable to provide services to all eligible individuals who apply for services. Consistent with OVR’s policy on the Order of Selection, OVR annually evaluates our ability to meet the Order of Selection from a fiscal and programmatic standpoint.

b. Share data with PaRC Committee(s) for input and discussion

OVR Response: OVR will continue to maintain our current practice of collaborating with PaRC for input and discussion in order to assess the impact of policy changes on the consumer customer.

5. New Technology Issue: Technology is advancing at a fast pace and software, applications and hardware and other devices are available that may offer a solution to a consumer customer to increase employment success.

a. Explore new applications and new technology adaptations if it is shown to be more cost effective.

OVR Response: OVR keeps up with the latest in technology through programs like PIAT, Temple University’s Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology Program, and CART, Hiram G. Andrew’s Center for Assistive Technology. This information is then passed on to OVR’s district office AT Coordinators through quarterly meetings and a hands-on training held in Spring 2013.

A separate policy related to the provision of Assistive Technology services and devices will be developed to address the increasing demand for “off the shelf” technology as well as to provide parameters within which OVR will be able to meet the AT needs of its customers in a cost-effective and consistent manner.

Videophone technology is on every RCD’s laptop, and some of them also have an iPhone with the necessary software. The counselors are currently receiving continuing education on assistive listening technologies such as captioned telephones, personal FM listening devices, and visual alerting of environmental sounds to enable OVR’s field staff to make effective recommendations for easing communication barriers in the customer’s workplace.

OVR is consistently examining available technologies that have the potential to improve customer service and increase the probability of achieving successful employment outcomes for our customers. OVR has recently increased its presence on the World Wide Web through the utilization of social media platforms. We currently have pages on Facebook (www.facebook.com) and LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). Both of these sites are accessible to the public and serve as media for the provision of information and increased awareness among customers, stakeholders, providers, and OVR staff members. OVR has launched an iPhone pilot program for our staff members. Over 100 Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and Administrators were provided with the most recent iPhone technology in June 2013. Internal surveys indicate that the iPhone yields direct benefits to counselors and customers. Counselors are able to more effectively manage their caseloads and provide a higher quality of service to their customers. The iPhones are loaded with applications that counselors can use to manage their daily job tasks such as medical encyclopedias, email, calendars, CWDS, navigation, dictation, and software that enhance the accessibility of the device. The iPhones also contain several job search applications that counselors can use to share with their customers. The iPhones have proven to be especially useful in areas where internet access is difficult to obtain and are increasing the frequency of contact between the counselors and their customers. For example, counselors now have the ability to send text messages to customers who may prefer that mode of communication.

OVR is currently exploring a pilot program which utilizes telerehabilitation technology in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh and Hiram G. Andrews Center (HGAC) in Johnstown. The implementation of telerehabilitation hardware and software in OVR District Offices has the potential to create and enhance a number of different services for our customers who are attending or who are interested in attending HGAC.

OVR also distributed updated laptop technology to its staff members in 2013, thereby enabling them to access updated software applications and complete their computing tasks more efficiently.

6. Consumer Customer Service Training for OVR Issue: In order for the consumer customer to have the best experience towards employment, it is important for the OVR counselor and all OVR staff to be trained not only in VR issues, but in proper ways to interact with the consumer customer.

a. Review and assess consumer customer service goals

OVR Response: We acknowledge the recommendations submitted by the PaRC and will continue to put forth effort to ensure that consumer customer service training continues to be an integral part of OVR staff training. One of the priorities being pursued by OVR is providing excellent customer service experiences. b. Assure that Customer Service training is part of the mandatory training taken by a counselor and all OVR staff.

OVR Response: OVR will continue to maintain our current practice of providing at least 1 general “Customer Service” focused training for all staff. This will be implemented through video conference. Over the past year, all OVR District Office staff have completed a customer service training titled “Give ‘em the Pickle.” Additionally, all OVR-developed training programs will continue to include reference or a component as to the implications for good customer service. As continued best practice, OVR’s training division will review consumer customer satisfaction survey information to identify staff training needs specific to customer service.

This screen was last updated on Jun 18 2014 2:23PM by sapabrauchlip

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

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.

Attachment 4.7(b)(3) Waiver of Statewideness

OVR will enter into an Interagency Agreement with Berks Career and Technology Center (BCTC) effective 10/1/14 to provide school-to-work transition services to OVR eligible youth with disabilities who are enrolled in approved training programs at the BCTC and attend one of 16 public school districts within Berks County.

The interagency agreement provides for joint funding (including salary & benefits) of two positions which did not previously exist at BCTC: School-to-Work Coordinator (Professional) Job Trainer (Paraprofessional)

Services to be provided through this interagency agreement will be Career and Technical Education Instruction, Work-Based Experiences, Job Development, Placement and Follow-up, and Job Coaching.

The goals of this interagency agreement are: • To serve 50-65 OVR eligible youth with disabilities during FFY 2015, 2016 and 2017 • To achieve greater than 50% successful competitive, community-integrated job placements among those served • To increase number of students served in the Service Occupations Cluster

OVR is optimistic that this program has the potential for statewide replication. Pennsylvania has 67 Counties, 15 OVR District Offices, and 85 Career & Technology Centers.

The Interagency Agreement was approved by the Berks CTC Board of Directors on May 28, 2014 and signed by the school’s authorized representative.

21.3% - Berks CTC (Local/State Match) 78.7% - OVR (Federal - VR Fund)

Statewide replication of this program will provide us with opportunities to braid funding to serve OVR eligible youth with disabilities and to collaborate with Education & DPW more effectively.

The Interagency Agreement may be amended only by written consent of all parties. Such amendments will become a part of this Interagency Agreement upon the signature of the designees of both Berks CTC and the Department of Labor and Industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

The parties to this agreement shall provide the services as specified and described in Appendix A of the Agreement. Such services shall be provided consistent with the budget as described in Appendix B of the Agreement. All VR services provided under these cooperative agreements must be approved by the VR Counselor in consultation with the OVR customer prior to the provision of services.

All other State plan requirements, including OVR’s order of selection, will apply to all services approved under this waiver.

This screen was last updated on Jun 13 2014 9:58AM by sapabrauchlip

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

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

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

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

Any projections, program continuations, etc. in this Attachment are subject to the availability of supporting funding in the Plan year.

The PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation maintains negotiated Letters of Understanding with more than 190 community service providers covering in excess of 1,000 different rehabilitation, independent living and related services programs. None of these agreements falls into the categories of Rural Development programs under the US Department of Agriculture or state use contracting programs.

In addition to Letters of Understanding, OVR accesses the full complement of business, trade, vocational, and post-secondary schools in the Commonwealth as are approved by the PA Department of Education. Physicians, hospitals, medical and medically-related practitioners and providers, as are licensed and/or certified by the appropriate Commonwealth authorities to provide services in Pennsylvania, are also available for use by OVR. .

This screen was last updated on Jun 13 2014 10:00AM by sapabrauchlip

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

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

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

OVR’s Transition Policy was reviewed by a multi-stakeholder, cross-agency and labor-management workgroup beginning in 2012. It was revised and posted for public comment during 2013. It was endorsed by the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council in November 2013 and approved by the State Board of Vocational Rehabilitation in December of 2013. The revised policy, which now includes attachments of the PA IDEA MOU and its addenda, is now being implemented with ongoing training and resources being developed for OVR staff and stakeholders.

• Outreach to youth and young adults with disabilities and their families/advocates to provide information on OVR services and vocational planning beginning at age fourteen or the age of onset of disability, if later. • Accept referrals of youth and young adults with disabilities at least two years prior to graduation, or earlier on a case by case basis when appropriate. • Provide consultation to youth and young adults with disabilities, parents/families/advocates, LEAs, and other transition partners on vocational issues, the Rehabilitation Act as amended and other legislation that affects youth and young adults with disabilities, other partners, and other resources. • Refer cases within OVR’s Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS) Specialized Services to BBVS Vocational Rehabilitation when the youth and young adults with disabilities become of transition age and eligibility is determined. • Develop an IPE for eligible customers before youth or young adults with disabilities graduate or exit high school.

PA OVR has fulfilled the interagency coordination requirement of Section 101(a)(8)(B) and 34 CFR 361.53(d) with the vast majority of public institutions of higher education (IHE) throughout the Commonwealth by September 30, 2012, including all 14 independent community colleges and the 14 member institutions of the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). The PASSHE agreement, which covers a 5 years period starting Dec 2012 and ending in Dec. 2017, is current. The four state-related universities, Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln agreements are still needed. In the past they wanted to include items not specifically mandated in the Act and beyond the scope of the agreements signed by their 28 IHE colleagues. PA OVR will continue to pursue negotiations with these final four until mutually acceptable agreements are executed.

PA OVR has met with our Department of Labor & Industry OVR legal team who are reviewing: Section 101(a)(8)(B) and 34 CFR 361.53(b) expectations of interagency coordination agreements for State Related Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) and our existing agreements with 14 state-related IHE’s that could form a common framework for renewed discussions with the four state-related universities. Our OVR legal team and Bureau of Central Operations staff will request quarterly meetings with each institution to resolve and obtain an agreement. Quarterly outcomes will be reported to RSA on progress towards achieving agreements with each of the state related IHE’s; Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln Universities. OVR hopes to conclude agreements during the State Plan FFY 2016.

Develop procedures for LEAs to refer youth and young adults with disabilities to OVR. These referrals could come from parents/families/advocates, youth and young adults with disabilities, LEAs, and other relevant partners. Each OVR district office will have a point of contact to collaborate with LEAs in its district. This will enable each LEA to speak with one contact person at each District Office. This point of contact will be responsible for contacting the appropriate OVR staff person and following up to assure that all questions and issues are resolved.

• Collaborate with local education agencies (LEAs) and other community agencies that serve youth and young adults with disabilities. • Provision of cross training for VR staff and LEA staff personnel to provide a better understanding of transition policies and procedures • Professional cooperation so that instruction as outlined on a youth or young adult’s IEP is consistent with the youth or young adults with a disability’s vocational goal on the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) • Seamless coordination of programs and supports as youth or young adults with disabilities transition from entitlement to eligibility systems • Facilitation of self-advocacy and self-determination for transitioning youth and young adults with disabilities

All services listed in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) must be provided and/or paid for by the Local Education Agency (LEA).

Consistent with applicable State and Federal law and delineated in a statewide Memorandum of Understanding, youth and young adults with disabilities are entitled to the following: 1- Special education and related services which are necessary for the youth or young adult to receive a free appropriate public education; and

2- Medically necessary services covered by Title XIX of the Social Security Act (Medicaid)). A local educational agency (LEA) may or may not fund such services through the PA School-Based ACCESS Program;

Youth and young adults with disabilities may be eligible, but may not be otherwise entitled under State and Federal law, to other services, including but not limited to mental health and intellectual disabilities services, vocational rehabilitation services, employment and training services, drug and alcohol services, and other health related services.

OVR is responsible for the development of an IPE that promotes or facilitates the accomplishment of short-term, intermediate and long-term vocational rehabilitation goals and objectives.

LEAs are responsible for the provision of necessary goods and services for youth and young adults with disabilities to access “a free and appropriate public education” to include the provision of transition services that promote movement from school to post-school activities as outlined in the IEP. Youth and young adults with disabilities who may not be entitled to special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended, are entitled to related aids and services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended. LEAs are also responsible, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to ensure that their facilities, resources, and technology are accessible to the public.

For eligible youth and young adults with disabilities ages 14-21, OVR is only obligated to pay for services when necessary to determine eligibility for OVR services and the services are in the individual’s IPE. OVR may agree to cover costs if a local interagency agreement exists in which it is indicated that OVR shall do so, or if it is in the best interest of the student. In the latter instance, OVR staff should consider pursuing reimbursement from the LEA utilizing the interagency dispute resolution mechanism outlined in the state MOU.

OVR representatives should: • Meet with school personnel to discuss OVR transition services whenever possible • Provide information regarding OVR programs and services available to youth and young adults with disabilities • Assist the transitioning youth or young adult and their family/advocate with an application for OVR services • Serve as a consultant regarding employment supports and services • Supply information to youth and young adults with disabilities regarding other relevant agencies and organizations • Attend school functions (i.e. college fairs, career days, disability fairs, open houses, etc.) • Collaborate with the educational staff in providing career counseling and vocational exploration activities

The OVR representative will ensure that youth or young adults with blindness or a visual impairment are informed of BBVS Specialized Services for Children.

In order to identify youth and young adults with disabilities who may not be served in public schools under an IEP or 504 Plan, OVR will continue its collaborative relationships through its Memorandum of Understanding and local interagency agreements. This includes youth and young adults with disabilities covered under Chapter 15 of the Pennsylvania Standards and Regulations (Appendix IV). Outreach will be conducted to identify youth and young adults with disabilities who are underserved through other community partners, such as, but not limited to: • Intermediate Units • career and technology centers • private schools • home schools • approved private schools • student assistance programs • summer employment programs • workforce investment boards • home school organizations • juvenile justice system • foster youth organizations • homeless shelters/programs • medical facilities

This screen was last updated on Sep 2 2014 3:24PM by sapabrauchlip

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

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

Attachment 4.8(b)(3) Cooperative Agreements with Private Nonprofit Organizations Any projections, program continuations, etc. in this Attachment are subject to the availability of supporting funding in the Plan year.

As cited in Attachment 4.8(b)(1), the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) maintains negotiated Letters of Understanding (LOU’s) with more than 190 community service providers covering more than 1,000 different rehabilitation, independent living and related services. Most of those organizations are not-for -profit community rehabilitation providers.

Letters of Understanding define service programs and the corresponding conditions of purchase, including fees and effective/expiration dates, which exist between a rehabilitation service provider and OVR.

A Letter of Understanding entered between OVR and a community service provider creates a locally developed, locally negotiated, and locally sensitive response to the rehabilitation service needs of persons with significant disabilities in the diverse areas of the Commonwealth.

A Letter of Understanding is neither a contract nor an agreement. It does not commit either provider or OVR to the sale or purchase of the defined services.

The continuing use of a Letter of Understanding for OVR customers is reliant upon customer choice, satisfaction with the service, affordability, and the existence of available alternative services.

This screen was last updated on Jun 13 2014 10:09AM by sapabrauchlip

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

Describe the efforts of the designated state agency to identify and make arrangements, including entering into cooperative agreements, with other state agencies and other appropriate entities in order to provide the following services to individuals with the most significant disabilities:

  • supported employment services; and
  • extended services.

ATTACHMENT 4.8(b)(4): ARRANGEMENTS AND COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS FOR THE PROVISION OF SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) uses many avenues to assure collaboration and partnership in the delivery of supported employment and extended services. These include a formal written Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the state level between the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the following Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) offices: the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), and the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) and county-level, local agreements between the 21 OVR District Offices and County ODP/OMHSAS Administrative Entities (AE). The above-mentioned agreements outline the responsibilities of each agency in the area of service delivery and funding. OVR and ODP are currently working on a coordination policy. The intended result is for a more seamless entry into employment for individuals with developmental disabilities and for the coordination of extended services to allow individuals to maintain employment long-term. This is important because the much of the supported employment services provided assist individuals with intellectual disabilities in gaining, stabilizing and maintaining successful employment.

This screen was last updated on Jun 13 2014 10:11AM by sapabrauchlip

Attachment 4.10 Comprehensive System of Personnel Development

Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

As of December 31, 2013 OVR had 967 filled salaried positions and 113 vacancies. This figure includes 189 filled salaried positions at the Hiram G. Andrews Center (HGAC). Statewide, OVR had a total of 405 filled Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor positions, 23 Rehabilitation Teacher positions, and 15 Orientation and Mobility Instructor positions. The current complement of VR Counselors requires that OVR maintain an Order of Selection in order to adequately serve and meet the needs of eligible VR customers at this time.

During FFY 2013, 21,696 individuals applied for VR services, 17,248 individuals were found eligible for VR services and a total of 65,785 individuals received VR services from OVR. As a result, 9,950 individuals were placed in employment in FFY 2013. In the same time period, 3,508 individuals received Independent Living Older Blind Services and 1,589 individuals were referred to the Hiram G. Andrews Center.

OVR projects that in the next five years, approximately 94 VR Counselors will become eligible to retire from employment with OVR. This will be an average of 19 VR Counselors retiring per year. However, additional numbers of new VR Counselors will be needed due to promotions of VR Counselors to higher positions within OVR. OVR projects that an average of 20-25 new VR Counselors will be hired per year in the next 5 - 10 years. To assist with recruitment of VR Counselors, OVR plans to continue its expanded utilization of the “VR Counselor Internship” Program to attract qualified VR Counselors during their last semester of graduate school. There is expected to be an adequate number of VR Counselor candidates to fill vacancies over the next 5 - 10 years. However, certain locations within the state may require targeted recruitment efforts at any given time.

 

Row Job Title Total positions Current vacancies Projected vacancies over the next 5 years
1 VR Counselor 405 38 88
2 VR Counselor Deaf and Hard of Hearing 18 3 5
3 VR Counselor Placement 1 0 1
4 Rehabilitation Teachers 23 0 4
5 Orientation and Mobility Instructors 15 3 9
6 0 0 0
7 0 0 0
8 0 0 0
9 0 0 0
10 0 0 0

 

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors CORE-accredited university programs in Pennsylvania include: Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Scranton, and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. These programs graduate a total of appproximately 38 students per year with a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. In addition to the 38 available students graduating from in-state graduate degree programs, Pennsylvania OVR can recruit students from CORE-approved and other universities that offer a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling nationwide. Pennsylvania residency requirements are waived under the State Civil Service Commission for the VR Counselor Internship position and other VR Counselor classifications in OVR. This waiver provides OVR with an opportunity to recruit students nationwide and offer paid VR Counselor Intern positions to interested master’s degree students who are in their final semester of graduate school. This paid internship allows OVR to attract and recruit candidates for VR Counselor positions who have a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation while they are still in school and before they are recruited by other agencies. The residency waiver and the paid Internship position also assist in OVR’s efforts to recruit and hire individuals with disabilities and those from diverse and minority backgrounds. Current University Initiatives for OVR Counselors and progress since 2001

George Washington University Online Master’s Degree Program Seventy-one employees have completed coursework through the George Washington University (GWU) Online Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling Program. These 71 employees now meet current CSPD requirements.

University of Scranton Forty OVR employees have completed coursework through the University of Scranton and now meet CSPD requirements.

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Four VRCs have completed coursework through Edinboro University and now meet CSPD requirements.

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Six VRCs have completed coursework through the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and now meet CSPD requirements.

University of Pittsburgh One VRC has completed coursework through the University of Pittsburgh and now meets CSPD requirements.

West Virginia University Six VRCs completed the Online Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling Program at West Virginia University.

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale One VRC completed a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Administration Program at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and now meets CSPD requirements.

OVR continues to work with a variety of universities in Pennsylvania and nationwide in order to design creative and innovative ways of offering Master’s level coursework to meet the needs of the remaining VRCs who need training in order to meet CSPD standards. Orientation and Mobility Instructors and Rehabilitation Teachers Accredited university programs in Pennsylvania that train Orientation and Mobility Instructors and/or Rehabilitation Teachers include: Salus University, the University of Pittsburgh’s Vision Studies Program, and Kutztown State University. These programs graduate a combined total of approximately 45 students per year. Graduates of these approved university programs are eligible for certification in Rehabilitation Teaching or in Orientation and Mobility from the Academy for the Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP). In addition, OVR is able to recruit and hire Rehabilitation Teachers and Orientation and Mobility Instructors who are being trained at universities nationwide and who reside outside of Pennsylvania.

Exploratory Development: Higher Learning Programs in Southeastern Pennsylvania The Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation has engaged in ongoing exploratory discussions with local higher learning institutions in support of the development of graduate rehabilitation counseling programs within the southeastern region of the state. The availability of such training would allow for the potential recruitment and retention of qualified rehabilitation professionals who have vested interest in urban metropolitan areas within the southeastern vicinity of the state.

 

Row Institutions Students enrolled Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates from the previous year
1 Penn State University 25 0 13 3
2 University of Pittsburgh 33 0 0 16
3 Edinboro University of PA 17 0 0 4
4 University of Scranton 37 0 0 15
5 0 0 0 0

 

Section 101(a)(7) of the Rehabilitation Act as Amended, or the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD), requires that State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies establish personnel standards for rehabilitation staff, including Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRC), that are consistent with any national or state-approved or recognized certification, licensing, or registration that applies to a particular profession. The purpose of an agency’s CSPD is to ensure the quality of personnel who provide VR services and who assist individuals with disabilities to achieve competitive employment outcomes through the VR program.

New Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors In 2002, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation raised the entry-level requirements for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor positions to reflect the requirements established by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) for Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRC). Specifically, all newly-hired VRCs are required to possess a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, Rehabilitation Administration, or Rehabilitation Education; or CRC credentials or documented proof from CRCC of eligibility to obtain CRC credentials. The revised Civil Service Announcement for VRC positions became effective on October 4, 2002. As of January 2014, a total of 627 VRCs and VRC Interns were hired under the new entry-level requirements. All 627 new VRCs and VRC Interns met CSPD standards for qualified rehabilitation professionals upon being hired.

The change in entry-level standards for VRCs, requiring a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation or CRC credentials or CRC eligibility, includes the following components that seek to ensure an adequate supply of VR Counselors to meet OVR’s staffing needs for the next 5 - 10 years:

Waiver of Residency - The Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission has granted a waiver of Pennsylvania residency to OVR as a condition of application for the positions of VRC and VRC Intern.

Review of Experience and Training - OVR received approval from the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission to implement an Experience and Training Examination as the means to assess a candidate’s qualifications for the position of VRC. This “review of experience and training” replaces the former written Civil Service VRC Exam. The new VRC Civil Service Position Announcement and the Experience and Training Review will remain open “until further notice” in order to assist with recruitment efforts and to ensure an adequate supply of qualified candidates.

Designated Recruitment Specialist - OVR has designated a Rehabilitation Specialist position for the purpose of actively recruiting qualified VRCs within Pennsylvania and nationwide. This Specialist is assigned to work in the OVR Central Office and coordinates all OVR VRC recruitment activities. The Recruitment Specialist, with the assistance of CORE-approved University faculty, field office staff, active OVR Advisory Councils, the Pennsylvania Social Services Union, and other key stakeholders, has developed and is implementing a proactive OVR Recruitment Plan. The goal of this plan is to attract and recruit adequate numbers of qualified VRCs, including those with disabilities and those from diverse cultural backgrounds and under-represented groups, to fill future anticipated VRC vacancies. The Recrutiment Plan includes recruitment efforts to ensure an adequate supply of VRCs trained to provide services to specialty caseloads such as Counselors for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Counselors for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Paid Internship Program - OVR continues to utilize and expand the OVR paid Internship Program. This includes a waiver of Pennsylvania residency, so that the Internship Program can include out-of-state residents as candidates for employment. This provides OVR with an edge in recruiting qualified VRCs while they are still in the final year of their Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling Program. The Paid Internship Program offers a Master’s Degree candidate, enrolled in an approved CORE accredited master’s degree program in Rehabilitation Counseling, a permanent position as a VRC upon graduation and the successful completion of the paid internship with OVR.

Effective January 7, 2006, OVR received approval to hire VRC Interns as a salaried position instead of as an hourly position. This means that VRC Interns will accrue sick days and vacation days and will receive health insurance, group life insurance, and other employee benefits upon their date of hire. This change adds an additional employment incentive for Intern candidates to choose to work for Pennsylvania OVR. This continues to make Pennsylvania OVR an attractive and competitive employer of VRCs nationwide.

Effective November 1, 2006, OVR received approval to increase the pay scale for VRC Interns statewide and to hire staff above the minimum for VRC Interns who choose to work in Norristown and Philadelphia District Offices. The annual salary statewide for the classification of VRC Intern was increased from Pay Scale 4 to Pay Scale 5. Norristown and Philadelphia District Offices are authorized to hire VRC Interns at Pay Scale 5, Step 9. This targeted increase for new staff in southeastern district offices provides an additional recruitment and hiring incentive for this challenging recruitment area and should help to relieve the higher numbers of vacancies in these offices. Salary Incentives for Designated Classifications and Locations - In order to assist with recruitment efforts, OVR received approval to hire VRCs and VRC Interns in the Norristown and Philadelphia District Offices above the minimum effective November 1, 2006. Norristown and Philadelphia District Offices are authorized to hire VRCs at Pay Scale 7, Step 5, which is consistent with the increase in these areas for VRC Interns. OVR also received approval for VRCs for Deaf and Hard of Hearing in all offices across the Commonwealth to be hired at this higher pay scale level (Pay Scale 7, Step 5). In addition, VR Supervisors who are employed in the Philadelphia and Norristown District Offices will receive a four pay step increase.

Currently Employed Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors In order to meet CSPD requirements as outlined in the law, the Pennsylvania State Board of Vocational Rehabilitation took action in September 2001 to raise standards for currently employed VRCs. The Board directed OVR to ensure that existing VRCs meet the standard of possessing a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, Rehabilitation Administration or Rehabilitation Education; or Certified Rehabilitation Counselor credentials; or proof of eligibility to obtain CRC credentials.

In 2008, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) established a deadline for OVR to meet CSPD standards for VRCs. All VRCs employed by OVR must be in compliance with CSPD standards on or before October 1, 2016. As a result, VRCs who do not possess the necessary educational or certification credentials on October 1, 2016, will no longer be able to function as VRCs and will be separated from their VRC position with the Department of Labor and Industry. Therefore, OVR encourages any VRCs who do not meet CSPD standards to consider returning to school before 2014, so that they have ample time to complete university coursework by the 2016 deadline.

OVR has conducted several surveys to research and compile information regarding the professional and educational credentials of VRCs. The most recent OVR survey of professional staff credentials indicated the following statistics as of January 2014 (Note: Exact numbers of VRCs vary monthly due to separations, promotions, and new hires – 422 OVR Counselors were included this survey):

Total Employed Counselors Who Will Meet CSPD 408

*Counselors Currently Enrolled in a University Program 0 *Counselors Currently Meeting CSPD Standards 408

Total Counselors to be Trained by OVR’s CSPD 2016 deadline 14

*Counselors with 26+ Years of Service and eligible to retire 5 *Counselors with under 26 Years of Service and eligible to retire due to age 3 *Counselors with under 26 Years of Service and not eligible to retire due to age 6

As a result of the survey, OVR has determined that 14 VRCs do not meet CSPD standards and must receive training. Of the 14 Counselors who do not meet CSPD standards, 5 VRCs have 26+ years of service with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and will be eligible to and are expected to retire by October 1st 2016. Of the 14 VRCs who do not meet CSPD standards, 9 have less than 26 years of service, including approximately 3 who will be eligible to retire within the next 5 years due to age. VRCs who do not meet CSPD standards are approved to enter Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Programs according to a process agreed upon with the Pennsylvania Social Services Union.

Following completion of training for VRCs hired prior to October 4, 2002, OVR will no longer need a training plan for existing VRCs to meet CSPD requirements. As of October 4, 2002, all newly-hired VRCs are required to meet CSPD standards as an entry-level requirement. These entry-level requirements will ensure that all VRCs employed by OVR will meet CSPD standards.

 

OVR Counselor Recruitment Intiative

Through collaborative initiatives with higher education institutions, OVR will continue to expand recruitment and outreach to students with disabilities for entry-level VR Counselor positions. Collaboration with universities on federal RSA grant applications that seek to provide scholarship opportunities for students with disabilities will further this initiative. This includes supporting the efforts of university programs to apply for and implement Long Term Training Grant programs to train VR Counselors to work for the public VR program in Pennsylvania. In addition, OVR will continue the following activities as part of its overall VR Counselor recruitment initiative:

• Expand and maintain OVR’s partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) that offer a Master’s Degree Rehabilitation Counseling Program. This includes campus visitations, presentations, and meetings with students for targeted recruitment.

• Maintain appointed membership on Coppin State University (CSU) and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) Rehabilitation Counseling Program Advisory Committees. Both are HBCU’s in the Mid-Atlantic region that prepare increased numbers of minority individuals for careers in the Public VR program.

• Maintain active membership on the National Association of Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns (NAMRC).

• Visit colleges, universities, and appropriate job fairs in conjunction with the Office of Equal Opportunity in the Department of Labor and Industry in order to recruit potential job applicants who are from diverse cultural backgrounds and applicants with disabilities.

The VRC Intern classification assists with the recruitment and employment of graduate students in the field of VR in their final semester of graduate school. An internship is required by CORE accredited universities. OVR interviews and selects candidates in their final graduate semester. The Civil Service requirements to apply for a VRC position are waived for staff hired through this program. Upon completion of the intern’s degree and internship, and if appropriate, the intern is hired and reclassified to a VRC. Many qualified VRCs have been hired through the OVR paid internship program and more are expected to be hired through this process. Recruitment of individuals with disabilities and individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds is a priority when seeking potential candidates for the VRC Intern position.

Additional CSPD Activities A portion of the Rehabilitation Services Administration In-Service Training Grant has been allocated for the continuing education of employees that possess CRC credentials and other certifications. Currently, there are approximately 362 OVR staff who maintain CRC credentials. This is expected to increase annually, as more staff complete university programs and as new staff meeting CSPD standards enter employment with OVR.

 

OVR was awarded a five-year grant (2010-2015) from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to financially support the agency’s plan for a comprehensive system of staff development and training. The funding from this grant will ensure staff development for OVR personnel in areas essential to the effective management of the agency’s program of vocational rehabilitation services. It will also provide for the training and development of personnel necessary to improve their ability to provide vocational rehabilitation services leading to employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, especially those with severe disabilities. As part of developing the in-service training plan that was part of the RSA grant submission, a comprehensive needs assessment was done by OVR to determine the training needs of state vocational rehabilitation staff for the period October 2012 – September 2015. As a result of this comprehensive needs assessment, the following topics were identified as priorities for staff development and training and are planned for in the five-year training grant award received from RSA: Rehabilitation Act Amendments and Workforce Investment Act Training Maintenance of Appropriate Staff Certification and Licensure Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology Job Development and Placement Transition Services for Youth with Disabilities Medical Aspects of Disabilities Conflict Resolution Critical Thinking and Decision Making Casework Documentation and Record Keeping Leadership Skill and Development Team Building and Collaboration Stress Management Providing Services to an Aging Population Additional Training as identified OVR also received a Quality Award Training Grant from RSA to implement special continuing education programs in three distinct priority areas. They are (1) Development and Dissemination of Model In-Service Training Materials and Practices for VR Supervisor Training, (2) Distance Learning and Video Conference Initiative, and (3) Enhanced Employment Outcomes for Drug and Alcohol Population. OVR has developed a continuum of training opportunities in each of these areas as a way to expand on OVR’s prior success and to increase competency skills for staff that will lead to increased employment outcomes for customers. OVR uses RSA training grant funds to support presentations by university faculty, experts in the field of rehabilitation, and statewide and nationally known speakers at in-service training programs to promote staff development in the priority areas. In addition, OVR coordinates efforts with various professional associations such as the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association, National Association of Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns, Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Association, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association, to train and retain qualified personnel.

 

Orientation and Mobility Instructors and Rehabilitation Teachers The positions of Rehabilitation Teacher and Orientation and Mobility Instructor require a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation or related field, with specialized training related to serving people who are blind or visually impaired. A master’s degree is preferred. In order to assist with the recruitment of qualified Rehabilitation Teachers and Orientation and Mobility Instructors, a waiver of Pennsylvania residency is also in place for both of these classifications. This waiver provides OVR with an opportunity to recruit candidates nationwide for vacant positions. The OVR designated Recruitment Specialist actively recruits qualified Rehabilitation Teachers and Orientation and Mobility Instructors within Pennsylvania and nationwide.

Communication with Diverse Populations Entry-level requirements for Rehabilitation Counselors for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing require that candidates pass the Sign Communication Proficiency Interview (SCPI) before being offered a formal interview for employment. OVR district offices, in geographic areas where there are large numbers of individuals who speak Spanish, recruit and hire a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who can speak both Spanish and English. In instances where there are no Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors who can communicate with a customer in his or her native language, an interpreter is hired to assist with communication.

OVR plans to continue efforts to work with the blind and deaf communities in order to recruit and hire qualified individuals who are deaf, blind, deaf-blind, and hard of hearing. This includes recommendations and assistance provided by the OVR Advisory Committee for Persons who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the OVR Advisory Committee for the Blind of Pennsylvania. In addition, OVR has a Rehabilitation Specialist assigned to coordinate the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind Program in OVR. This specialist assists with recruitment and outreach to these special populations in order to attract qualified OVR candidates for employment.

 

The implementation of the new Transition Policy will enable staff to have a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities of our partners. There are sections within the new policy that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of OVR’s Transition partners, particularly Education. A Transition Resource Manual and Tool Kit have been developed by a Labor and Management work group. This document will be a “living” document which will enable updates and new chapters to be added electronically. Training modules on the new policy are being developed by the Transition Work Group and will be provided to the staff beginning in Spring of 2014. The Mid Atlantic Region Transition Community of Practice, under the guidance of GW TACE is developing a resource for youth and young adults with disabilities as well as their families, advocates and agency personnel to better understand the role of each player in the school to work transition process. This resource will also provide a list of references by topics that would be of interest to this targeted group. As a partner with the State Leadership team, OVR will be developing content for www.secondarytransition.org. This particular website has been sited by Transition Team members from across the United States as an excellent resource and has been used in presentations at national transition conferences. OVR has already contributed a list of names as points of contacts for Transition each District Office. The agency has also compiled a list of local Transition Councils and a list of all of the CILs, including addresses, phone numbers, present directors and internet links. This information has been added to the secondarytransition.org website and will be a “living” document as well, with changes being made as needed.

This screen was last updated on Jun 13 2014 10:24AM by sapabrauchlip

Attachment 4.11(a) Statewide Assessment

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

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

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

Update In 2013, OVR focused on the provider side of the equation to ensure the best service possible to meet the needs of our customers. OVR has worked on its public image and information sharing, relationships with other state agencies and community organizations, and creating more standard operation procedures so that each customer receives the same stellar service from OVR staff. Below are the categories outlined by RSA and an update on how we worked to set and meet goals in that category.

1. Individuals with most significant disabilities, including their need for supported employment services Supported employment (SE) services are a mainstay for many OVR customers to gain competitive, community-integrated employment. These services offer supports that allow individuals with the most severe disabilities not only to gain employment, but also to become stable and hold their jobs and positions in the long-term. SE provides a support structure that allows customers to use their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice in gaining employment in the community. It also provides a method of assisting customers to acquire new skills and talents in the search for employment and on the work site while employed. SE services are typically provided by community service providers acting in conjunction with the OVR counselor and customer to learn the aspects of the job setting, employer expectations, workplace etiquette, and other skills needed to build a solid work performance. Supported employment services benefit the employer as well by providing assistance in instruction and on-site problem-solving for the customer with a disability and helping the customer to learn work skills as quick and efficiently as possible.

2. Individuals with disabilities who are minorities A public awareness strategy was developed by the Public Awareness/Outreach in-house workgroup. Thus far, a media review of all OVR print and web media has been conducted. Out-of-date information and policies have been removed or updated and translated into other languages. OVR continues to have weekly meetings with the PA L&I Press Office to discuss the future media focus for OVR. OVR established the MOD Squad, a group composed of OVR counselors and Central Office staff to examine the many facets of social media and how OVR could best utilize it. In the fall of 2013, OVR launched its Facebook and Link In pages providing more access, availability and awareness of OVR.

An increasing number of minorities who are applying for and becoming eligible for VR services within Pennsylvania have a criminal history. While having a criminal history/record is not a condition of eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services, the number of minorities who do have disabilities and involvement with the criminal justice system is rapidly increasing. It is important to involve as many partners as possible when working with these individuals because having a criminal record is a barrier to many employment opportunities. Additionally, there is an added level of issues that need to be addressed when a person has major criminal convictions and/or conditions of supervision, i.e. probation or parole. Helping OVR customers understand what responsibilities they have to meet such conditions or how their criminal charges and/or convictions affect their employment opportunities is critical to the success of customers in their pursuit of employment. The ultimate outcome is to assist customers to gain competitive community integrated work by teaming collaboratively with the individual and community partners to remove all barriers.

3. Individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program

Transition services within OVR have been identified as a core function of our public vocational rehabilitation program. An internal transition manual was created to help OVR VR professionals better serve this customer population. This guide was developed to assist all OVR rehabilitation professionals deliver services that result in optimal outcomes for youth and young adults with disabilities. The following document provides a comprehensive resource aligned with OVR’s School to Work Transition policy.

Rehabilitation professionals work with transition age youth and young adults with disabilities beginning at age 14 through 21 years of age. For the Bureau of Blindness & Visual Services (BBVS), this means helping young children in school (and their families/advocates) so they may maximize their elementary, middle, and high school experiences, and in doing so optimize their chances of success when they transition to adult life/higher education/work. For the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (BVRS), this means working with youth and young adults starting at an earlier age (and their families/advocates) so they know what services we offer and how they can maximize their high school experience, whether through general education or special education, to optimize their chances of success when they transition to adult life/higher education/work.

Rehabilitation professionals who work with youth and young adults are encouraged to coordinate their efforts with their BBVS/BVRS counterparts including Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRC) from BBVS and BVRS, Early Reach Coordinators (ERC), BBVS Social Workers, Orientation and Mobility Specialists (O&M), and Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRT). All of these professionals should spend time in the schools forming relationships with transition partners, working with youth and young adults with disabilities and establishing consistent routines.

Phase I of Early Reach was put into full implementation mode. Training was held October 7-10 in central office. The next 5 offices are targeted for January, and the final five are slated for July 2014.

4. Individuals with disabilities served through other components of the statewide workforce investment system

In the fall of 2013, an employer-friendly “how to” manual was introduced, to ensure consistent and excellent service when it comes to hiring people with disabilities. The manual was compiled by staff from OVR, PDE, DPW-ODP and DPW-OMHSAS. The materials appropriately identify OVR as the single-point-of-contact for employers who want to meet their workforce needs by hiring people with disabilities. This will build on the employer manual and encourage local team approaches to working with employers. The teams include representatives from OVR, local PDE agencies, and DPW-funded county-based human service agencies to support people with disabilities in securing employment and meet the related needs of the employers.

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

All local workforce investment boards now have OVR representation, and trainings have been updated for both systems’ staff so an improved understanding of each other’s resources and roles occurs. An updated Citizen Advisory Committee handbook has been published. All local workforce investment boards now have OVR representation, and trainings are being updated for both systems’ staff so an improved understanding of each other’s resources and roles can occur.

OVR created the Business Services and Outreach Division. OVR already has a single point of contact model with placement staff in most offices, but with our new business services and outreach division, this concept is now being directed towards all placement services that serve people with disabilities in the Commonwealth. BSOD personnel are now meeting with current and potential employers and partners (government and community) to detail OVR’s services and how those services can benefit their agencies and organizations.

The merging of the customer satisfaction surveys of OVR and Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council (PaRC) will be complete in July 2014. Both groups worked diligently to reword the survey to meet everyone’s needs. In addition, the workgroup is now creating surveys for current OVR customers and for unsuccessfully closed cases. OVR staff are also looking at a better vehicle for delivering the surveys. Two online survey models and delivery systems are being examined to determine whether they meet the needs of OVR and the PaRC. In addition, a meeting has been scheduled with DPW, which now uses an online performance survey tool to collect information from their customers.

This screen was last updated on Jun 18 2014 1:35PM by sapabrauchlip

Attachment 4.11(b) Annual Estimates

Any projections, program continuations, etc. in this Attachment are subject to the availability of supporting funding in the plan year.

Estimates of Individuals to be Served According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2012 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, 921,341 Pennsylvanians between the ages of 16-64 report having a disability. Of these, only 279,458, or approximately 32.4%, report being employed. However, census data does not provide sufficient detail for projecting demand for services. OVR has researched commonly available data from a variety of resources to assess long-range, systemic needs for services.

Estimates of Costs of Services Based on the information published in the Budget Tables of the U.S. Department of Education and assuming there is no increase in the estimated FFY 2015 Vocational Rehabilitation Grant, the allocation for the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation will be approximately $121,561,000. Furthermore, there is discussion that this proposed allocation would have several programs, including Supported Employment (Title VI, Part B Funds) rolled into it. Given these fiscal constraints, OVR will strive to maintain current service levels and projects it will serve approximately 65,000 individuals in the general program and 4,000 individuals through Supported Employment.

Category Title I or Title VI Estimated Funds Estimated Number to be Served Average Cost of Services
Most Significantly Disabled Title I $63,050,000 63,000 $1,000
Significantly Disabled Title I $2,015,000 2000 $1,007
Non-Significantly Disabled Title I $0 0
Title VI Part B Title VI $931,000 900 $1,034
Totals   $65,996,000 65,900 $1,001

This screen was last updated on Jun 17 2014 9:40AM by sapabrauchlip

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

The goals and priorities are based on the comprehensive statewide assessment, on requirements related to the performance standards and indicators, and on other information about the state agency. (See section 101(a)(15)(C) of the Act.) This attachment should be updated when there are material changes in the information that require the description to be amended.

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

Any projections, program continuations, etc. in this Attachment are subject to the availability of supporting funding in the Plan year. Goals were developed jointly with the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council (PaRC) on December 18, 2013 and jointly agreed to revisions.

Goal 1: Increase Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities 1. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.1: The number of individuals exiting the VR program who achieved an employment outcome during the current performance period compared to the number of individuals who exit the VR program after achieving an employment outcome during the previous performance period. 2. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.2: Of all individuals who exit the VR program after receiving services, the percentage that are determined to have achieved an employment outcome. The performance level is 55.8%

3. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.3: Of all individuals determined to have achieved an employment outcome, the percentage who exit the VR program in competitive, self, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least minimum wage. The performance level is 72.6%.

4. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1A: Of all individuals who exit the VR program in competitive, self, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage, the percentage who are individuals with significant disabilities. The performance level is 62.4%.

5. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.5 comparing the average hourly wage of customers with significant or non-significant disabilities place in competitive employment to the average hourly wage for all workers in Pennsylvania.

6. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.6: Of all individuals who exit the VR program in competitive, self, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage, the difference between the percentage who report their own income as the largest single source of economic support at the time they exit the VR program and the percentage who report their own income as the largest single source of support at the time they apply for VR services. The performance level is 53%.

7. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 2.1: The service rate for all individuals with disabilities from minority backgrounds as a ratio to the service rate for all non-minority individuals with disabilities. The performance ratio level is .80.

8. Increase the number of Business Enterprise Program (BEP) locations as well as people who go through training in the BEP.

9. Partner with the Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership (BWDP) to train or re-train Pennsylvania CareerLink staff® on disability awareness and OVR fundamentals.

10. Based upon the current year’s ongoing evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and structure of Supported Employment (SE) programs, adopt & implement SE policy updates & revisions.

11. Strengthen & expand OVR’s Business Services strategy & single point of contact model.

12. Work collaboratively with Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) to identify & reduce barriers to employment for people with intellectual disabilities.

Goal 2: Increase/Improve Transition Services for Students with Disabilities

1. Meet or exceed, from the previous year, the number of youth and young adults with disabilities (age 25 and younger) who receive services by September 30, 2014.

2. Meet or exceed, from the previous year, the number of youth and young adults with disabilities (age 25 and younger) who are successfully rehabilitated by September 30, 2014. 3. Improve the accessibility of post-secondary programs at HGAC to eligible high school students by increasing the number of secondary schools that are party to the Articulation Agreement with the Commonwealth Technical Institute at HGAC. 4. Evaluate the effectiveness of the OVR’s Early Reach initiative, which is intended to expand awareness of OVR services to students as early as age 14 and their parents.

5. Develop local interagency agreements between OVR district offices and other systems including LEAs and county MH/ID offices for the purpose of strengthening working relationships and increasing opportunities for transition students.

6. Evaluate the effectiveness of changes to OVR’s Summer Academy for transitioning students who are blind or visually impaired which included lengthening the program from 2 weeks to 3 weeks and locating it on a college campus (Penn State).

7. Improve collaboration with career and technical schools.

Goal 3: Improve Customer Service

1. Consider and implement appropriate changes to OVR’s customer service delivery based upon recommendations from PaRC’s contracted study to evaluate what constitutes a positive customer experience.

2. Expand customer awareness and access to information available on the Commonwealth Workforce Development System (CWDS), including an online referral.

3. Implement staff training plan with an emphasis on excellent customer service.

4. Implement staff training plan with an emphasis on how cultural competency can improve professional staff effectiveness.

This screen was last updated on Jun 13 2014 1:33PM by sapabrauchlip

Attachment 4.11(c)(3) Order of Selection

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

Justification for order of selection

Since the Designated State Unit does not believe it will be able to serve all eligible individuals with the available resources, it has adopted an Order of Selection.

 

Description of Priority categories

First Priority: Most Significantly Disabled (MSD) -The physical, mental, or sensory impairment(s) must seriously limit three or more of the individual’s functional capacities, and -The individual must be expected to require two or more vocational rehabilitation services that are expected to last six months from the date of the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).

Second Priority: Significantly Disabled (SD) -The physical, mental, or sensory impairment(s) must seriously limit one or more of the individual’s functional capacities, and -The individual must be expected to require multiple vocational rehabilitation services that are expected to last six months from the date of the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).

Third Priority: Non-Significantly Disabled (NSD) -The individual has a physical, mental, or sensory impairment that does not meet the definition for MSD or SD

 

Priority of categories to receive VR services under the order

First Priority: Most Significantly Disabled (MSD) Second Priority: Significantly Disabled (SD) Third Priority: Non-Significantly Disabled (NSD)

 

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

Given the projections of flat funding at both the Federal and State level, OVR will strive to maintain current service levels. As of December 31, 2013, OVR had a waiting list of about 29 customers whose severity of disability was either classified in the second or third priority. Based on actual FFY 2013 figures, OVR’s outcome and service goals under the Order of Selection are projected as follows for FFY 2015:

For the Most Significantly Disabled category, the number accepted is expected to be 18,000, while the number served will be 65,000. The total cost for FFY 2015 is expected to be $63,050,000, which will be revised following notification of the FFY 2015 appropriation.

For the Significantly Disabled category, the number accepted is expected to be 30 (newly accepted, but placed on a waiting list), so the number served will be 5. Therefore, the total cost for FFY 2015 is expected to be $2,015,500 which will be revised following notification of the FFY 2015 Appropriation.

For the Non-Significantly Disabled category, the number accepted is expected to be 0 (newly accepted, but placed on a waiting list), so the number served will be 0. Therefore, the cost for FFY 2015 is expected to be $0.00.

In total, the number accepted is expected to be 18,000, while the number served will be 65,015. The cost for FFY 2015 is expected to be $65,000,000 which will be revised following notification of the FFY 2015 Appropriation.

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 63,000 9,951 15,000 25 months $6,050,000
2 2,000 1,120 880 25 months $2,015,000
3 0 0 0 0 months $0

This screen was last updated on Aug 28 2014 12:45PM by sapabrauchlip

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

Specify the state's goals and priorities with respect to the distribution of funds received under section 622 of the Act for the provision of supported employment services.

OVR will use Title VI, Part B Funds to provide Supported Employment services to customers throughout the Commonwealth. Services are provided by way of contracts with Community Based Rehabilitation Providers using an individualized, performance-based job coaching model. Once the Title VI, Part B Funds have been exhausted, Title I Funds are used to provide Supported Employment services. Supported Employment (SE) services are a vital part of OVR programming. SE services secure employment for individuals with the most significant disabilities who would not experience an employment outcome from less intensive job placement methods. It is anticipated that approximately 6,800 Pennsylvanians with the most significant disabilities will receive SE services in FFY 2014. Of this number, approximately 875 individuals will be funded out of the $926,000 Title VI, Part B Funds anticipated for distribution to Pennsylvania in FFY 2015. OVR is preparing to make revision to its supported employment policy during FFY 2014. Change that may be considered will look to provide ongoing evaluation to ensure services are being provided to those customers most in need. Increasing communication among VR partners is an area that is to be addressed. A considered focus is achieving a higher level of stability as part of successful employment outcomes through supported employment funding.

An important goal for OVR is to continue to expand SE services for under-served populations. This goal includes providing quality services to rural areas, to continue to increase successful outcomes for transition-aged youth, and to ensure accessibility of services for all potential customers. Another goal is to enhance OVR partnerships with provider agencies such as the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP), the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), and Office of Long Term Living (OLTL). These agencies provide the necessary long-term supports needed to ensure the employment success of the individual with a disability.

This screen was last updated on Jun 13 2014 12:59PM by sapabrauchlip

Attachment 4.11(d) State's Strategies

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

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

As part of the 2015 state plan, OVR remains committed to focusing on the improvement of services to individuals with disabilities. Customer service is one of OVR’s 5 strategic priorities. OVR is committed to expanding and improving services to individuals with disabilities.

In 2015, OVR will be designing, developing, and delivering significant training initiatives for all professional staff in order to increase capacity in the areas of cultural competency, effective communication skills, case load management, critical thinking, facilitation skills, fiscal management, conflict resolution, and stakeholder relations.

Additionally, OVR is committed to ensuring customers have easier access to services and to their case information. Increased online functionality has been developed to provide customers the ability to access their information online. PA Department of Labor & Industry has been developed and implemented JobGateway, an extremely powerful job matching statewide database. All VR staff will be trained to utilize this online tool to better serve residents with disabilities in achieving their employment goal.

In 2014, OVR initiated a social media presence utilizing the platforms of LinkedIn and Facebook. OVR will continue to explore opportunities and strategies for connecting with customers and employers through our online social media presence to increase public awareness and position OVR as the “go to” agency for talent acquisition to enable employers to hire individuals with disabilities.

OVR continues to implement new technology to better serve customers including iPhone technology and a telerehabilitation pilot to help counselors connect more effectively with customers and employers.

 

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.

OVR continues its collaboration with the TACE Center at GWU to develop training and resources on Assistive Technology for its VR counselors. In June, 2013 OVR offered a training series for VR Counseling staff and Assistive Technology Coordinators called Tech Points, an online course that takes counselors through key points of assessing AT needs in the rehabilitation process. This course helps counselors determine if rehabilitation technology seems appropriate, when resources and services should be used, how AT specialists can be involved, and what the benefits are for OVR customers. In addition, training for OVR’s designated AT Coordinators was offered in the spring of 2013 in collaboration with the Center for Assistive and Rehabilitative Technology (CART) at the Hiram G. Andrews Center (HGAC) on various assistive technology devices, applications and services. The Center for Assistive and Rehabilitative Technology (CART) at the Hiram G. Andrews Center (HGAC) is available to OVR customers throughout the Commonwealth. Highly trained professionals evaluate and train people in the following areas of assistive technology: positioning and mobility, computer access, augmentative communication, environmental controls, driver training and vehicle modification, devices for activities of daily living, devices for visual and/or auditory impairment, and home and work modifications. The Learning Technology Program (LTP) assesses student’s needs in the classroom and trains them in the use of assistive technology, if necessary. The Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Lending Library provides the opportunity for any Pennsylvanian to borrow and assess assistive technology devices prior to purchase. The library is located on the Hiram G. Andrews Center’s campus, and the services are free to all Pennsylvanians with disabilities.

Several policies dealing with Assistive Technologies were revised including OVR’s Home Modification Policy and Vehicle Modification Policy. A new policy was developed to address the rehabilitation needs of farmers/ranchers with disabilities called F.A.R.M., Farming and Agriculture Rehabilitation Management. Training will be provided for designated Farm Coordinators in the coming year to better serve farmers and ranchers with disabilities in the Commonwealth.

A separate policy related to the provision of Assistive Technology services and devices will be developed to address the increasing demand for “off the shelf” technology as well as to provide parameters within which OVR will be able to meet the AT needs of its customers in a cost-effective and consistent manner.

OVR retains a number of approved providers who are Rehabilitation Engineers and Assistive Technology Specialists on a "fee-for-service" basis throughout the Commonwealth. Most providers will travel to the OVR customer’s home and/or worksite to provide AT evaluation and training services. Staff from HGAC’s CART will also travel to various parts of the Commonwealth to assess an OVR customer’s AT needs as well as to facilitate training when appropriate. When appropriate and in accordance with OVR’s policies, OVR will purchase Assistive Technology devices and services to support its customers in their vocational goals. OVR also provides information and referral services for other resources when the agency is unable to provide funding for AT devices and services. OVR’s Statewide AT Coordinator regularly distributes information electronically to OVR’s District Offices regarding AT services, programs, and resources. OVR regularly collaborates with the Pennsylvania Institute on Assistive Technology (PIAT) at Temple University to participate in training, maintain the PA Assistive Technology Lending Library, and develop AT resources for Pennsylvanians with disabilities. Low interest loans are available through PATF (Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation) to customers who have a disability or any older or state resident who has need for Assistive Technology.

OVR also collaborates with BWDP, the Bureau of Workforce Development Program, through their CareerLinks to better assist our Veteran population in purchasing assistive technology to help them obtain and maintain employment. The Statewide Veterans Coordinator attends PA Cares meetings monthly in order to learn about assistive technology/training programs offered by various community and state agencies, and higher education institutions. This is then shared with OVR’s Veteran Coordinators and Veteran Counselors out in the field who provide AT equipment and training to our veterans with disabilities.

OVR collaborated with Dr. Connie Baggett from Penn State’s Agrability Program and Jared Grissinger of the Department of Agriculture in developing a new policy to address the rehabilitation needs of farmers/ranchers with disabilities. This policy is called F.A.R.M., Farming and Agriculture Rehabilitation Management. VR counselors with the technical assistance and guidance from Pennsylvania’s AgrAbility Program will now be better able to assess the rehabilitation needs of farmers/ranchers with disabilities in order to provide the specialized rehabilitative and assistive technologies they may need to maintain their employment. The new policy will ensure that services are provided in a consistent and cost-effective manner.

 

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.

OVR is making a commitment to include a cultural competency component to each training developed and implemented by OVR staff.

All district offices are charged with keeping current on the demographics of the counties they serve and arranging outreach activities to target those individuals. Examples include, but are not limited to, conducting informational trainings at community centers which serve minorities (ex. Casa House, Catholic Charities), attending/presenting at Health Fairs hosted by State Representatives which are attended by individuals of all ages, races, minorities and individuals with disabilities, attending meetings with the CIL’s regarding outreach for individuals with disabilities/minorities, developing a working relationship with the International Institutes, represent OVR at job fairs help by state legislators, present OVR information through a variety of stakeholder groups in areas where a large number of minorities reside, maintain strong relationships with organizations such as churches, homeless shelters, literacy organizations, nationality groups, and re-entry programs.

In addition, OVR does outreach to staff and professionals in a number of areas including but not limited to state, county, and local corrections, community job fair organizers, interagency councils, residential facilities and managers, and bureaus and offices in other state agencies.

OVR recognizes the need to expand services to individuals who are unserved or underserved.

OVR is working on a pilot project to provide specialized support professionals (SSP) to individuals who are deaf/ blind to promote their ability to access information, community services, and employment.

OVR will continue to expand our capacity to reach students with disabilities earlier in order to promote better vocational outcomes. Our goal is to inform and educate students starting at age 14, their parents and educators about OVR and what the student can do to better prepare for transitioning to post secondary education/training or employment.

BBVS will continue to focus on pre-vocational specialized services in all six district offices to prepare children more effectively for transition from school to post secondary education, vocational training, or employment.

Collaboration with Workforce Development is one of OVR’s strategic priorities. OVR will continue to be an active partner in the PA One Stop System to collaborate and promote employment opportunities for unserved or underserved individuals with disabilities.

OVR District Office administrators develop an annual plan outlining stakeholder relations activities for the year; including plans to outreach to the unserved or underserved.

In addition, OVR will develop new technological strategies, such as video or teleconferencing to allow for participation of individuals in providing input to the state VR agency.

BBVS will be expanding its statewide summer college initiative for transition age youth with visual impairments from 2 weeks to 3 weeks. It will also be relocating it to a college campus to simulate the college experience to best prepare students for life on a college campus.

BBVS will be partnering with the Overbrook School for the Blind and expanding its statewide summer employment initiative for transition age youth with visual impairments who are targeting employment. The program was expanded from 2 to 3 weeks.

 

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

OVR is committed to identification of promising practices and performance levels of community rehabilitation programs to promote programs that are improving the successful rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. OVR is also developing provider monitoring protocols to promote effective practice among community rehabilitation programs.

OVR is making major revisions to its Supported Employment policy through a work group collaboration including many community rehabilitation program stakeholders. This updated policy will increase employment opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities.

Finally, OVR continually considers the development of new and emerging services with existing community rehabilitation providers to meet the needs of our customers.

 

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

OVR has taken significant steps in recent years to do additional caseload monitoring and has implemented several fiscal integrity measures to ensure compliance with the indicators. We continue to recruit staff nationally and have implemented several training strategies and formed a retention workgroup to help ensure that the staff we are hiring are staying. PA OVR prides itself on successfully rehabilitating nearly 10,000 individuals per year. However, due to the economy and a negative referral trend that outcome could be difficult to reach in years ahead. As a result, PA OVR has formed a Business Services and Outreach unit to focus on the business community that will hopefully result in additional partnerships with employers to increase quality career placements in the coming years. This unit has developed a How to Guide for business on the process of hiring people with disabilities which has been well received by the community. We are also implementing a Single Pont of Contact (SPOC) program where all district offices will have a designated business community representative. PA OVR will continue to focus on traditional placement efforts and explore additional innovations to help ensure that we are able to meet our indicators.

 

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

One of OVR’s 5 strategic priorities is Workforce Development (WD) Collaboration. OVR networks with the Bureau of Workforce Partnership and Operations (BWPO) (formerly known as BWDP, the Bureau of Workforce Development Program) through their CareerLinks. OVR is an active participant on all local WIB’s and a summary of every WIB meeting is submitted to Central Office for review. CareerLink collaboration was added to the job description of a specialist within BVRS for enhanced focus. OVR has developed updated training materials for all CareerLink staff.

OVR networks with the Bureau of Workforce Partnership and Operations (BWPO) (formerly known as BWDP, the Bureau of Workforce Development Program) through their CareerLinks to better assist our veteran population in a collaborative manner to help eligible veterans obtain and maintain employment through job leads, referrals, assistive technology and training. OVR will continue to work collaboratively with BWPO to assess joint agency training needs with regard to serving the needs of mutual customers with disabilities to better assist them not only to purchase assistive technology but also to help eligible customers obtain and maintain employment through job leads, referrals, and training. OVR will continue to work collaboratively with BWPO to assess joint agency training needs with regard to serving the needs of mutual customers with disabilities, specifically veterans 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.

Any projections, program continuations, etc. in this Attachment are subject to the availability of supporting funding in the Plan year. Goals were developed jointly with the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council (PaRC) on December 18, 2013 and jointly agreed to revisions.

Goal 1: Increase Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities 1-7 1. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.1: The number of individuals exiting the VR program who achieved an employment outcome during the current performance period compared to the number of individuals who exit the VR program after achieving an employment outcome during the previous performance period. 2. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.2: Of all individuals who exit the VR program after receiving services, the percentage that are determined to have achieved an employment outcome. The performance level is 55.8% 3. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.3: Of all individuals determined to have achieved an employment outcome, the percentage who exit the VR program in competitive, self, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least minimum wage. The performance level is 72.6%. 4. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1A: Of all individuals who exit the VR program in competitive, self, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage, the percentage who are individuals with significant disabilities. The performance level is 62.4%. 5. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.5 comparing the average hourly wage of customers with significant or non-significant disabilities place in competitive employment to the average hourly wage for all workers in Pennsylvania. 6. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.6: Of all individuals who exit the VR program in competitive, self, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage, the difference between the percentage who report their own income as the largest single source of economic support at the time they exit the VR program and the percentage who report their own income as the largest single source of support at the time they apply for VR services. The performance level is 53%. 7. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 2.1: The service rate for all individuals with disabilities from minority backgrounds as a ratio to the service rate for all non-minority individuals with disabilities. The performance ratio level is .80. 1-7 OVR will assess its performance throughout the year for all standards and indicators. Strategies to address areas that are underperforming may include additional staff training, changes to business rules in the electronic case record management system, updates of policies and procedures, and/or more frequent management review of data.

Indicator 1.2 is the only set RSA indicator that OVR missed this year. It has been a consistent problem for OVR to meet this indicator. Underperformance on indicator 1.2 is usually tied to caseload purging efforts. OVR developed and implemented a standard days over status report for district offices to use to address cases that have been stagnant too long. This often results in cases being closed before rehabilitation efforts have succeeded if there has been no contact with the customer for some time or if services have been stalled. OVR has initiated a program evaluation study to investigate individuals closed in status 28 after entering post-secondary education. The analysis of this study will result in additional counselor training regarding planning with those who wish to enter post-secondary education. We plan to expand our efforts to also reviewing other service areas with unacceptably high status 28 closure rates. This will be an ongoing project across several years. Changes in the indicator will be one measure of the study’s effectiveness.

OVR exceeded all other indicators. None appear to be at risk.

8. Increase the number of Business Enterprise Program (BEP) locations as well as people who go through training in the BEP. OVR will expand information and education efforts regarding the existence of the BBVS Business Enterprise Program by using services like NFB-NEWSLINE to promote business opportunities available to participants. OVR will create and take advantage of opportunities for developing/updating BEP informational materials, press articles, staff presentations to consumers, government and community groups. OVR will engage/coordinate increased publicity efforts with L & I and Commonwealth Press personnel to educate and outreach to potential customers and business opportunities. OVR will increase/expand BEP awareness and active promotion in the BBVS District Offices. Efforts will focus on 1) DO/BEP consumer outreach, recruitment and participation; 2) Developing increased consumer interest and access in HGAC vendor training; 3) Facilitate consumers’ ability to participate in HGAC training and BEP participation.

9. Partner with the Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership (BWDP) to train or re-train Pennsylvania CareerLink staff® on disability awareness and OVR fundamentals. OVR has met and will continue to meet with the Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development and its newly formed subdivision, the Bureau of Workforce Partnership and Operations with the intent of developing a more seamless delivery of services to customers. Intro to OVR – otherwise known as OVR-101 – is in the final stage of being revised and updated, specifically for use by CareerLink staff. When the final approved version is ready, it will appear in online training format and will also be delivered to certain CareerLinks in person by a VR Specialist. The first draft of a revised and updated Disability Awareness training is complete and will be ready for review shortly.

10. Based upon the current year’s ongoing evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and structure of Supported Employment (SE) programs, adopt & implement SE policy updates & revisions. OVR has identified strategies to increase competitive, community integrated employment outcomes through SE services. Both SE data and current policy have been reviewed to distinguish areas of focus so OVR may consider how to update its policy, produce cost-effective services, and increase positive closures for its customers. Policy recommendations are forthcoming that will seek to address improving positive outcomes for customers who are receiving SE services.

11. Strengthen & expand OVR’s Business Services strategy & single point of contact model. OVR’s dual customer base are Individuals with Disabilities referred to as consumer customers (talent supply side) and employers referred to as businesses customers (talent demand side) who need a productive and skilled workforce to produce their goods and services competitively.

The new Business Services and Outreach Division (BSOD) will provide singularity of focus and resources to better understand and be responsive to employers’ needs in a dual customer service model (talent supply and demand side needs). OVR will become the lead State Agency and preferred source for businesses or organizations to recruit and employ individuals with disabilities through a Single Point of Contact model.

In addition, BSOD will promote agency -wide consistency and quality of business services, communication and stakeholder outreach through training, resources, collaboration, and development of innovative web, social media and print based branding. OVR will increase alignment with CSAVR VR-National Employment Team- NET through BSOD agency-wide consistency in delivery of high quality business services utilizing emerging practices in an evolving national VR community of practice. Finally, BSOD will significantly increase the availability and number of successful agency-wide career employment outcomes or, if appropriate, self-employment for all OVR consumer customers in emerging occupations and business and labor markets.

Business Services and Outreach Division will consist of: • Division Chief - Leadership and strategic planning with Executive Staff, BCO Director, District Administrators, Bureau Managers, Division Staff and Labor/Management Workgroup. • East and West Business Services Specialists - Supporting local district offices in business outreach, training, resources and technical assistance of division. • Business Services Analyst II - Coordination of Tri-Annual Needs Assessment, customer satisfaction surveys, complement reports, annual report, and research on economic and policy issues affecting employment or agency services. • Social Media and Communications Outreach Specialist- Coordinating and improving innovation to OVR Web pages (public/LION) social media and print resources for OVR.

12. Work collaboratively with Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) to identify & reduce barriers to employment for people with intellectual disabilities. OVR has been working and continues to work with ODP to increase competitive, community integrated employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Barriers such as communication between funding partners and determining financial responsibility are being identified and addressed to meet the needs of the individual either seeking employment or job retention. Tools have been developed to increase communication between partners. Upcoming programming is being reviewed to allow the customer to maximize both OVR and ODP resources in seeking and obtaining employment. Aligning funding to provide supports to the customer when such supports are needed is also being reviewed to ensure a seamless provision of services and long term success and stability in employment.

Goal 2: Increase/Improve Transition Services for Students with Disabilities

1. Meet or exceed, from the previous year, the number of youth and young adults with disabilities (age 25 and younger) who receive services by September 30, 2014. The Early Reach program has been initiated with a goal of establishing one (1) Early Reach Coordinator (ERC) in each District Office. The main duty of this individual is to perform outreach to the schools, parents, students and OVR collaborative partners to promote transition services that will enable eligible youth with disabilities to more effectively engage in OVR services. The ERC’s will begin working with students at age 14 so that an application can be initiated at age 16 with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor if appropriate. OVR Counselors will meet with local social service providers to describe OVR services and obtain referrals. The OVR field staff will attend local community functions and provide information on OVR services to those attending. OVR has a Facebook page and is investing time in participation in other social media to promote the services provided by the agency in order to engage youth in a manner to which they are accustomed. 2. Meet or exceed, from the previous year, the number of youth and young adults with disabilities (age 25 and younger) who are successfully rehabilitated by September 30, 2014. OVR will continue to work with its customers in efforts to keep them engaged in the job placement process so that more jobs are located that provide self-sustaining wages and benefits. Programs such as Project SEARCH will continue to be implemented and further developed. OVR will continue to support programs like “Start on Success” which promote community-based work experiences for youth with disabilities who are still in school. Transition pilots for Third Party Cooperative Agreements with a local Career & Technology Center as well as with a local Intermediate Unit will be explored. A pilot for Discovery & Customized Employment will be implemented for transition-age youth with the most significant disabilities in collaboration with The Arc of Pennsylvania. Training on most effective practices relevant to youth with disabilities who are transitioning from school to work will be provided including modules from “Skills to Pay the Bills”. 3. Improve the accessibility of post-secondary programs at HGAC to eligible high school students by increasing the number of secondary schools that are party to the Articulation Agreement with the Commonwealth Technical Institute at HGAC. HGAC continues to explore opportunities to expand the number of Articulation Agreements. The Education Director and Education Supervisors attend conferences, seminars, and symposiums where secondary schools are participating and offer an opportunity to discuss developing articulation agreements with HGAC/Commonwealth Technical Institute. 4. Evaluate the effectiveness of the OVR’s Early Reach initiative, which is intended to expand awareness of OVR services to students as early as age 14 and their parents.

In order to assist youth with disabilities better prepare for their transition into the world of work and independence, OVR has started a new initiative called Early Reach. An Early Reach Coordinator will be assigned to each of the fifteen Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (BVRS) district offices to connect earlier with youth with disabilities (beginning at age 14), their parents, schools and other community agencies. The purpose of this connection is to reach out to youth disabilities early, so that they know more about OVR services, what to expect from OVR services and when to expect OVR services. In addition, Early Reach Coordinators will be knowledgeable about the full array of other services that are available to youth with disabilities so these youth can better prepare for vocational choices and goals after they leave secondary education. This initiative will be phased into all fifteen BVRS district offices in three phases by the end of 2014.

As of October 2013, there are Early Reach Coordinators working in the following BVRS phase one district offices: Dubois, Harrisburg, Norristown, Philadelphia and Wilkes Barre. Anecdotal reports from these five district offices indicate that community agencies are eager to collaborate with the OVR Early Reach Coordinators. Early Reach Coordinators are making presentations and connecting with a variety of community partners such as school districts, private schools, parent groups, community mental health providers, statewide youth leadership groups, medical providers and etc. to explain OVR services, to facilitate referrals to OVR and to recommend referrals to related services for youth with disabilities pursuing work and independence.

5. Develop local interagency agreements between OVR district offices and other systems including LEAs and county MH/ID offices for the purpose of strengthening working relationships and increasing opportunities for transition students. OVR’s new School-to Work Transition Policy requires the development and implementation of new interagency agreements with local education agencies (LEAs) throughout the Commonwealth. The policy delineates the roles of both OVR and the LEA with regard to transition age youth. OVR Central Office and district offices are in the process of reviewing current state and local agreements to determine their relevance to current OVR policy and program standards. New agreements will be forthcoming within the next 6-12 months.

6. Evaluate the effectiveness of changes to OVR’s Summer Academy for transitioning students who are blind or visually impaired which included lengthening the program from 2 weeks to 3 weeks and locating it on a college campus (Penn State). The BBVS seized the opportunity to hold this transition program on a college campus by moving the Summer Academy Program Penn State University for the 2014 session. We are extending the length of the program from two to three weeks as staff expressed the need for additional teaching time. We will evaluate the effectiveness of these changes with the assistance of the Pennsylvania State University Rehabilitation Counseling Program. Dr. James Herbert, will help to devise an evaluation tool to measure the effectiveness of these changes.

7. Improve collaboration with career and technical schools. OVR and the Berks Career & Technology Center are pursuing a third party agreement that will support the transition of eligible youth with disabilities from their career-tech program to competitive, community-based employment when they are ready rather than when they “age out” at age 21. If successful, this pilot has the potential to be replicated with every district office and their local secondary career and technical schools. With the assistance of the Pennsylvania Transition State Leadership Team, OVR is pursuing a more visible presence at the Career and Technical Schools with the goals of making students, teachers and parents aware of OVR services, obtaining appropriate referrals and successful rehabilitations.

Goal 3: Improve Customer Service

1. Consider and implement appropriate changes to OVR’s customer service delivery based upon recommendations from PaRC’s contracted study to evaluate what constitutes a positive customer experience.

The Pennsylvania Rehab Council will be implementing a contracted study that will be exploring with stakeholders what constitutes a positive customer experience as it related to OVR services and systems. Once the study is complete we will review the data and determine what measures would be reasonable to pursue and implement. The goal would be to implement local and statewide systematic change and training to ensure that both PA OVR’s outcomes and indicators are being reached and that our customers are not only successfully rehabilitated, but have had an overall positive experience with our staff, vendors, and processes/systems which would eventually be indicated in the mandatory customer satisfaction process.

2. Expand customer awareness and access to information available on the Commonwealth Workforce Development System (CWDS), including an online referral.

OVR has reviewed the process that allows customers access to our online case management system CWDS. Over the past year we have expanded the information available to customers related to contact information and general case information. Fiscal and general correspondence was already available should they need to access that information. However, moving forward OVR will be implementing processes and providing information to ensure that customers are aware of these capabilities and will be strongly encouraging them to access the system. CWDS is also paired with the Commonwealth Job Gateway system. Job Gateway is the online job search site available for use by job seekers to search for work and employers to post jobs. Access to the CWDS system also creates a profile in the Job Gateway. As a result, OVR wants to ensure that customers are aware of the options in the Job Gateway and are given basic information on how to access and use that system. We believe that this expanded access to information will lead to additional placement outcomes. OVR will be able to monitor increased activity by reviewing the number of customers that have created profiles and accessed the system.

3. Implement staff training plan with an emphasis on excellent customer service.

The training division within OVR has implemented a plan that requests all internally developed training programs to identify how the training will support excellent customer service through the established program objectives. We ask all individuals who develop staff training to include the training or learning objective for each program on emphasizing excellent customer service. The training division is also committed to seeking outside presenters with expertise in customer service to develop video conference and in-service training for staff on an annual basis.

4. Implement staff training plan with an emphasis on how cultural competency can improve professional staff effectiveness.

OVR will continue to offer multicultural training opportunities and incorporate cultural competence training best practices in to all future OVR developed training programs to enhance staff knowledge, skills and understanding of the needs of individuals with disabilities who are from diverse cultural backgrounds. Offering trainings infused with cultural competence can improve staff effectiveness by raising their ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures to meet the employment needs and goals of VR consumers.

Support innovation and expansion activities OVR continues to support innovation and expansion opportunities through ongoing Letters of Understanding (LOU) that are developed between community rehabilitation providers and OVR to support the expansion of services to individuals with disabilities. This allows us to constantly evaluate and develop new service provision that brings about innovative approaches to serving customers with disabilities more effectively.

Innovation and Expansion funds for startup costs for Project Search or similar type programs will be considered per site and funding availability at OVR’s discretion.

OVR continually considers the development of new and emerging services with existing community rehabilitation providers to meet the needs of our customers. As funds are available, OVR will develop an Invitation for Bid (IFB) for Innovation and Expansion Activities to provide new strategies and programs to improve employment outcomes for individuals with the most significant disabilities. These projects will target expansion of employment services into rural and underserved counties, job readiness and job placement of customers with the most significant disabilities who have traditionally been underserved, and/or the development of Industry Integrated Employment programs, as well as other innovative strategies identified by local OVR staff. OVR anticipates that potential contracts would generally be up to $150,000 for the initial project year. Higher contract awards could be accepted for proposals of exceptional activity, as funds are available.

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 [See sections 101(a)(15)(D) and (18)(B) of the Act and Section 427 of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA.)]

OVR is collaborating with other supported employment funding sources to overcome issues of dwindling resources. OVR is participating on a Cross Agency Workgroup, currently funded by the Medicaid Infrastructure Grant received by the PA Department of Public Welfare, with the Office of Developmental Programs, the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and the Office of Long-Term Living to address systemic barriers to employment for persons with disabilities, particularly those identified with regard to service definitions, funding, and legislation for supported employment.

 

This screen was last updated on Jun 13 2014 1:09PM by sapabrauchlip

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

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

8. Continue to implement and refine training and services at Hiram G. Andrews Center (HGAC) to better meet the needs of students and OVR District Office staff from BBVS and BVRS.

HGAC continued to be committed to providing the best training and services to our customers. We met with district center counselors to discuss programming and possible changes that enhanced our training programs. We held PAC (Program Advisory Committee) meetings where business professionals review programs offer suggestions on needed changes to provide state-of-the art training. Education staff attended various conferences, symposiums, etc. to learn how to implement the best educational opportunity to our students. Educational staff attended training on disability awareness and teaching methods to meet individual needs. Administrative meetings were held to discuss needed changes/enhancements and implemented these to meet the students’ needs.

9. Provide more disability specific training to OVR counselors, such as, but not limited to, mental health, autism spectrum disorders, sensory loss, traumatic or acquired brain injury.

The OVR Training Division offered a wide variety of disability specific training in 2013 to OVR counselors through video conferencing, in-service, and out-service training opportunities. Some of the disability specific training opportunities are listed below. • 3rd Annual Veteran’s Conference • 2013 Hearing Loss Association of PA’s Employment Conference • Annual Drug and Alcohol Training and Sabotaging Success Training • 2013 Penn-Del AER Spring Vision Conference • 6th Annual PA Autism Training Conference • Rehabilitation Counselor for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Annual Training • Living Well with a Disability Conference • 2013 PA Transition Conference • 2013 Aging/Intellectual Disability Cross-Systems Conference • 12th Annual NE University of Scranton conference on disAbility • Survival for College Bound Students with LD • JAN Webcast: Epilepsy Accommodations • Embrace the 3 Ring Circus of Psychological, Social, and Medical Needs • Assistive Technology for Cognition-Devices and Training • Neuropsychological Evaluation for VR • The role of Psychological and Neuropsychological Assessment and Treatment in Transition Services • Overview of Depression in Adults • JAN Webcast: Workplace Accommodations for Employees who Use Mobility Devices • Maximizing Gains from Cognitive Rehabilitation: Applying Strategies that Work in the Clinical Setting to Training and Employment Settings • Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Workforce • Ethics in Mental Health

OVR’s training division is committed to providing continued disability specific training options to VR staff in 2014 through the Rehabilitation Services Administration Basic and Quality Award grant programs.

10. Provide more employment services to veterans with disabilities.

OVR has had a strong Veteran’s Program since 2008 through an MOU with the VA-VRE. Since this program’s inception, there is a designated Veteran Coordinator and/or Veteran Counselor in each of our District Offices. OVR has made other collaborative efforts through continued involvement with PA Cares, a consortium of local and state agencies, dedicated to assisting veterans. The Statewide Veteran Coordinator shares this knowledge of community services with the Veteran Coordinators and Veteran Counselors out in the field through quarterly meetings. Other professional conferences were offered in 2013 to the OVR staff including a Veteran Conference on 4/1/2013, the PA Veterans Forum on 11/6/2013 and 11/7/2013, and the Joint Military Suicide Prevention Symposium on 6/12/2013. By increasing the knowledge our staff has concerning such issues as Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Substance Abuse, and VA Benefits, OVR’s staff are better able to assist Veterans with disabilities in a more effective manner, thus empowering the veteran to obtain and maintain employment. These Veteran Coordinators and Veteran Counselors also interface with BWDP, the Bureau of Workforce and Development Program, through their CareerLinks by sharing information that may help veterans gain employment and maintain employment.

11. Increase the number of people who go through training in the Business Enterprise Partners (BEP).

BBVS BEP Coordinator will continue to work with the Elected Committee of Blind Operators to develop evaluation and outreach materials to better educate VR Counselors and customers about the BEP. BEP staff will continue to conduct outreach activities with members of the Elected Committee and other operators in the program to meet with staff and customers about the opportunities available in the BEP program. BEP will work with consultants from George Washington University TACE, National Council for State Agencies for the Blind, and consumer groups to promote and expand employment opportunities.

12. Work more effectively with the Bureau of Workforce Development Programs and Pennsylvania CareerLinks®.

In Pennsylvania, implementation of the Title IV of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 has resulted in a system of CareerLinks, one-stop career centers that serve employers and job seekers to create access to each other to assure strong economic conditions.

As the CareerLink initiative progresses, public and private agencies are encountering new opportunities to share resources, eliminate duplication of services, and to partner in new and exciting ways. In Pennsylvania, Team Pennsylvania CareerLink is the one stop delivery system required under the WIA bringing eighteen funding streams, including OVR, into a seamless integrated system providing employment and training services to employers and job seekers. The Secretary of L&I represents OVR on the PA WIB; and the Secretary also ensures that the strategies described in the OVR annual state plan are implemented with stakeholder involvement. Starting in 2012 all OVR District Administrators regularly participate in their regional WIA and WIB Boards. OVR Business Services staff are active in collaborating with local CareerLink Employer outreach representatives to ensure that businesses have access to all talent available for their workforce needs.

OVR’s partnership with CareerLink partner agencies is expected to provide benefits for all parties and their customers.

OVR staff also bring many benefits to CareerLinks as a result of OVR’s history of "one stop" services to persons with disabilities. Through collaboration and planning, OVR offers expertise in these areas:

Information and Referral for Persons with Disabilities Disability Awareness and Sensitivity Training Expertise on Accessibility and Site Modification Guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act Development of Customer Advisory Groups Development of local plans and cooperative agreements Networking with other VR providers, social and health agencies, School-to-Work Programs, and other Commonwealth agencies Economic Development Activities

The key to effective services for job seekers and employers is the CareerLink system’s ability to respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of the customers. Technological access as regards job openings and potential employees will allow for the rapid sharing of information and the elimination of duplicate efforts and contacts. OVR will share its information on job leads and employer programs with all partners and will inform all OVR customers who are ready for employment of the opportunity and benefits of registration for services at CareerLinks. OVR staff will assist its customers with registration on the system and will assist in the coordination of services among partners.

Section 106 (a) (1) (c) of the Rehabilitation Act requires that, to the maximum extent practicable, VR Evaluation Standards and Performance Indicators be consistent with the core-indicators established under section 136 (b) of the WIA. The purpose of the WIA employment and training programs is to assist individuals to obtain employment in the labor market. OVR provides services to eligible individuals with disabilities to assure employment outcomes consistent with customers’ strengths, abilities, capabilities, concerns and informed choice and, therefore, the quality of outcomes will be inconsistent with established WIA indicators. OVR focuses on employment for its customers in the competitive labor market but recognizes successes in other outcomes also. There is no requirement that state vocational rehabilitation programs establish their performance criteria the same as WIA criteria. Therefore, the establishment of a data and information collection system needs to recognize subtle differences between programs and not attempt to count or measure all activities of each partner in the same way. OVR will actively participate in the development of Pennsylvania’s system to assure that OVR customers are counted toward the Standards and Indicators as designed by the state WIB.

Goal II. Increase/Improve Transition Services For Students With Disabilities

3. Continue collaborative activities that include the Transition Grant, projects with the PA Community on Transition Employment Practice Group, and development of joint training modules for OVR and PA Department of Education staff, families, advocates, educators, and youth.

The Transition Grant, a model demonstration project, began in 2007 and ended on September 30, 2013 following a 1 year no cost extension. To date, we have started 10 Project Search Sites and 25 PAS sites. Fidelity Audits were completed in 2013 by Clair Patterson of Project SEARCH- Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The reports have been received and her recommendations are being compiled in order to discuss recommendations with the District Offices that have a Project SEARCH in their geographical areas. OVR Central Office staff have been working in collaboration with Linda Emery of Project SEARCH, Cincinnati. OVR will continue collaboration with the PA Transition Community of Practice Statewide Leadership team. This includes attendance at meetings and webinars, participation in the Annual Transition Conference. OVR will continue to participate in George Washington University Region III Transition Leadership Council. In addition, OVR will continue to participate and collaborate with the National Community of Practice through webinars and list serve.

Through the Mid Atlantic and National Community of Practice, OVR participated with our many partners at the Departments of Education, Health and Public Welfare, Juvenile Justice System, as well as local mental health and intellectual disability agencies, substance abuse treatment providers, and local school districts and other educational entities, in providing and participating in educational presentations to various agency staff ( as previously noted) OVR staff, families, advocates, educators, and youth and young adults with disabilities.

4. Continue the Cognitive Skills Enhancement Program (CSEP) to assist District Offices in the transition needs of students with disabilities and to reflect the stated needs of VR Counselors; and continue to offer CSEP as a service to OVR customers who wish to pursue post-secondary training at HGAC or elsewhere.

The Cognitive Skills Enhancement Program (CSEP) Tier I is an intensive 15-week course designed to assist students with cognitive disabilities through group and cognitive enhancement therapy, assistive technology screening and training, group counseling, vocational planning, vocational mentorships, and identification of and practice using compensatory strategies. CSEP is a one-term, stand-alone program. OVR customers can be referred for CSEP and then return home for vocational training or placement.

CSEP emphasizes behavioral accountability, the development of social awareness skills and improving self-esteem. With CSEP staff guidance, students identify cognitive problems and independently implement strategies that will help compensate for their deficits.

Participants are individuals who have difficulty understanding the impact of their cognitive disability, have little or no vocational experiences or who may have difficulty with organization, planning or problem solving. These students typically are diagnosed with learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury, ADHD and other cognitive disorders.

5. Continue implementation of Articulation Agreements between the Commonwealth Technology Institute at HGAC and secondary schools to improve accessibility of post-secondary programs at HGAC to eligible high school students.

HGAC continues to explore opportunities to expand the number of Articulation Agreements. The Education Director and Education Supervisors attend conferences, seminars and symposiums where secondary schools are participating and offer an opportunity of discussing developing articulation agreements with HGAC/Commonwealth Technical Institute.

6. Increase transition outcomes for students through collaboration with community partners including parent education and training centers.

OVR participated in the Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP). This group includes several members who are Parents/Advocates. OVR actively pursued development of a third party cooperative agreement with the Berks Career and Technology Center and Greene County Human Services to promote placement of youth and young adults with disabilities in community integrated settings with self- sustaining wages.

Statewide Transition Coordinator advised OVR staff of Parent Education and Advocacy Leadership Center (PEAL Center) and Parent Education Network (PEN) and the services they provide. Statewide Transition Coordinator encouraged staff to become involved with these agencies and to register for their distribution lists for training announcements that OVR can then provide to our customers and partners.

7. Begin working with students starting at age 14 (and their parents) so they know what services we offer and how they can maximize their high school experience, whether through general education or special education, to increase their opportunity for success when they transition to adult life through higher education or employment.

In order to assist youth with disabilities better prepare for their transition into the world of work and independence, OVR started a new initiative called Early Reach. The Early Reach Initiative added an Early Reach Coordinator (ERC) to the rehabilitation team in OVR BVRS. The purpose of this connection is to reach out to youth with disabilities, beginning at age 14, so that they know more about OVR services, what to expect from OVR services, and when to expect OVR services. In addition, ERCs will be knowledgeable about the full array of other services that are available to youth with disabilities, so these youth can better prepare for vocational choices and goals after they leave secondary education. An ERC will be assigned to each of the fifteen Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (BVRS) district offices to connect earlier with youth with disabilities, their parents, schools, and other community agencies. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh District Offices will have two ERCs.

The Early Reach Initiative will be phased into all fifteen BVRS district offices by the end of 2014. Currently, there are Early Reach Coordinators working in all five Phase 1 BVRS district offices. • Phase 1 – July 2013 Dubois Harrisburg Norristown Philadelphia (2) Wilkes Barre

8. Develop a matrix of roles, responsibilities, including but not limited to Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and local school districts to foster effective planning for transition planning.

The implementation of the new Transition Policy enabled the staff to have a description of the roles and responsibilities of our partners. There are sections within the new policy that clearly defined the roles and responsibilities of our partners, particularly Education. A Transition Resource Manual and Tool Kit have been developed by a Labor and Management work group. This document was designed to be a “living” document which will enable updates and new chapters to be added electronically.

Goal III: Improve Community Education and Outreach

1. Develop a consistent and comprehensive public awareness plan.

One of the key strategies that contributed to this goal was designating several staff to work on initiatives associated to public awareness. Small workgroups were created with specific focus areas that included public awareness, marketing, and social media. Recommendations from these workgroups were used to develop the public awareness plan. OVR staff also partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s press office to develop materials and obtained their input on effective communication strategies.

Factors that impeded the goal were limited. The main factor was having many assignments and priority activities to work on and limited staff with specific marketing abilities available to assist.

2. Combine OVR’s and PaRC’s Customer Satisfaction Surveys.

In 2013 OVR and PaRC began a process to review how the current PaRC and OVR customer satisfaction surveys could be combined. Initial discussion between OVR and PaRC have centered on expanded questions beyond the mandated survey of Status 26 Successful Closed cases and potential use of OVR CWDS electronic case management system develop and send out an expanded and combined survey. The questions were jointly developed by OVR and PaRC. All questions are based on a 3-point Likert scale of yes, no, not applicable.

The merging of customer satisfaction survey of OVR and PaRC will be complete in July 2014. Both groups worked diligently to reword the survey to meet everyone’s needs. In addition, the workgroup is now creating surveys for current OVR customers and for unsuccessfully closed cases. OVR staff are also looking at a better vehicle for delivering the surveys. Two online survey models and delivery systems are being examined to determine whether they meet the needs of OVR and PaRC. In addition, a meeting has been scheduled with DPW, who now uses an online survey tool to collect information on their performance from their customers.

3. Strengthen relationship with Citizen Advisory Committees and other organizations at the state and local level.

Every District Office has an active Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC). All upcoming meeting notifications are posted on the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council (PaRC) web site. After each meeting, the minutes are also posted to the PaRC website.

4. Continue an emphasis on OVR’s employer outreach.

The new Business Services and Outreach Division (BSOD) will strengthen OVR overall employer outreach through local talent and resource pooling with other government systems and other state agencies such as Dept. of Veteran Affairs, PA Civil Services.

BSOD will work across state systems to coordinate hiring initiatives and promote OVR as the state’s lead agency for hiring individuals with disabilities. OVR BSOD and SPOC alignment will work with Workforce Development Talent Hub model and Job Gateway.

BSOD will provide leadership in and active partnership with CSAVR VR-NET as a mid-Atlantic and national VR program leader with Successful VR placements and responsiveness to NET Corporate and public employer needs. Finally, BSOD will have a primary and secondary CSAVR Point of Contact who will respond to VR-NET national Corporate and Public Employers.

5. Improve outreach to potential customers.

Putting an emphasis on outreach across the organization and developing a plan was probably the key factor. All offices having one or multiple activities for NDEAM placed a significant emphasis on the outreach initiative. There was also a large focus on social media (Facebook and Linked In) and PA OVR was able to establish pages on both social media sites which we considered a progressive step for the Commonwealth. OVR also implemented an Early Reach initiative to provide information and referral services to transition age students with disabilities. Although the program is in its infancy it has already started to have an impact in the pilot offices and the overall community as we expand the pilot.

 

OVR established a goal of providing services to 915 customers via Title VI, Part B Funds distributed to Pennsylvania in FFY 2013. This goal was based on the Title VI, Part B allotment for FFY 2012 divided by the average cost per rehabilitation case for the previous year. The actual number was 903 customers served via Title VI, Part B Funds. Had the calculations been devised in a falling scale to match the decrease of $78,000 in Title VI, Part B funding from FFY 2012 to FFY 2013, the goal would have been compensated accordingly and, therefore would have been met or exceeded.

Provide a description of the factors that impeded the achievement of the goals and priorities.

OVR established a goal of providing services to 915 customers via Title VI, Part B Funds distributed to Pennsylvania in FFY 2013. This goal was based on the Title VI, Part B allotment for FFY 2012 divided by the average cost per rehabilitation case for the previous year. The actual number was 903 customers served via Title VI, Part B Funds. Had the calculations been devised in a falling scale to match the decrease of $78,000 in Title VI, Part B funding from FFY 2012 to FFY 2013, the goal would have been compensated accordingly and, therefore would have been met or exceeded.

During FFY 2013, Supported Employment services were provided to 7,385 people with disabilities. Of that number, 1,631 were placed, with 1,516 in competitive employment, with 1,186 working 20 hours or more a week. Reviewing OVR Supported Employment data allowed field staff to know trends and patterns of where in the rehabilitation process customers experienced challenges in being successful in community, competitive, and integrated employment. Review of data also allowed for a better understanding of which customers are receiving supported employment services. This knowledge assisted OVR staff in being able to clarify issues, address them and in turn increase the success of customers receiving supported employment services.

 

Goal I. Increase Employment Opportunities For People With Disabilities

1. Exceed the number of employment outcomes from the previous year for persons exiting the program into competitive employment.

Progress to Date: OVR met this Indicator. The number of employment outcomes in FFY 2013 increased from the previous year by 11.

2. Exceed the Federal Performance Indicator of 55.8% for persons exiting the program after receiving services who enter into employment.

Progress to Date: OVR did not exceed this Indicator with an estimated performance level of 55.4% OVR has reviewed RSA’s validated data performance on all standards and indicators over the past several years. Indicator 1.2 has proven problematic for PA OVR for several cycles. This past year, we improved and were very close to meeting the indicator. However, the biggest contributing factor regarding this indicator is staff retention. For the past several years, PA OVR has had significant staff turnover at all levels. As a result, caseloads are assigned and reassigned. Consequently, customers have not received a consistent staff person to assist them and, as a result, stop participating. This results in higher Status 28 closures. Newer counselors also tend to be quicker to close cases since they did not start the case and have not developed a rapport with the customer. In addition, OVR has implemented measures over the past years to ensure stricter compliance with status over days indicators. This has been a contributing factor to our performance on Indicator 1.2. To ensure that their caseload is properly managed, staff are more prone to close cases unsuccessful if cases are not moving and not actively participating. OVR continues to aggressively recruit nationally to obtain qualified staff. Unfortunately, our state is gearing up for the end of our existing staff contract. Historically, this results in additional staff retiring due to changes in salary/benefits. OVR will continue to look for innovative ways to fill positions with qualified staff to ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction and outcomes as possible; however, for now we appear to be stuck in a hiring cycle which impacts our ability to meet our goals and maintain a vast network of referral and liaison points/sites.

3. Exceed the Federal Performance Indicator of 72.6% for persons exiting the program into employment at or above the minimum wage.

Progress to Date: OVR exceeded this Indicator with an estimated performance level of 95.1%.

4. Exceed the Federal Performance Indicator of 62.4% for persons exiting the program into competitive or self-employment who have significant or most significant disabilities.

Progress to Date: OVR exceeded this Indicator with an estimated performance level of 100%.

5. Exceed the federal standard of .52 comparing the average hourly wage of customers with significant or non-significant disabilities placed in competitive employment to the average hourly wage for all workers in Pennsylvania.

Progress to Date: OVR exceeded this indicator with an estimated performance level of .57.

6. Exceed the Federal Performance Level comparing the difference between persons reporting self-support at referral and self-support at closure.

Progress to Date: OVR exceeded this Indicator. The estimated performance level was .59.

7. Exceed the Federal Performance Level of a ratio of .80 of all persons exiting the program compared to persons exiting the program who are minorities.

Progress to Date: OVR exceeded this Indicator with an estimated performance ratio of .87.

Goal II. Increase/Improve Transition Services For Students With Disabilities

1. Meet or exceed, from the previous year, the number of youth and young adults with disabilities (age 25 and younger) who receive services by September 30, 2012.

Progress to Date: OVR did not meet this Indicator. In 2012, there were 33,627. In 2013, there were 32,503 youth and young adults who received services. As indicated in Indicator 1.2 above, OVR’s ability to retain staff has been problematic. When caseloads are transferred, liaison points are not frequented as often, and customers are reluctant to expend the more time building rapport with a new counselor. Not only has OVR experienced significant staff retention issues, but also the PA education system has lost a significant number of teachers and support staff due to retirement and layoffs. As a result, staff must perform additional responsibilities instead of working solely as transition coordinators. The combination of new OVR staff with reduced education staff has caused the number of transition aged youth to decrease slightly. To address this challenge, OVR has implemented a new program called Early Reach. The ER Coordinators’ role is to provide information about OVR service availability and referral services to students at age 14, their parents/advocates, schools, educators, and other appropriate transition service providers. By reaching eligible students at an earlier age, OVR will have more time to coordinate transition services which will enable them to move more efficiently from school to work or school to post-secondary education.

2. Meet or exceed, from the previous year, the number of youth and young adults with disabilities (age 25 and younger) who are successfully rehabilitated by September 30, 2012.

Progress to Date: OVR exceeded this Indicator. In 2012, there were 3,044. In 2013, there were 3,822 youth placed in employment.

 

PA OVR spent $239,406.87 on innovation and expansion activities in the Fiscal Year 2012-2013. These funds were used to provide support services to the Pennsylvania State Rehabilitation Council (PaRC), whose mission is to inform and advise the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the State Board of Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Governor on the diverse issues affecting vocational rehabilitation. These issues include ways to improve and expand vocational rehabilitation activities throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

This screen was last updated on Aug 28 2014 12:46PM by sapabrauchlip

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

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

OVR provides job coaching services to Pennsylvanians with disabilities through a network of community-based providers. Services provided through these programs are described below: Background

Beginning in the early 1980s, the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) developed a system of job coaching services using a fee-for-service payment system. Initially, seventeen (17) providers of job coaching services were funded through a five (5) year, OSERS, Title III Supported Employment State Change Grant. The number of job coaching providers contracted with OVR has since grown to over 200. There are over 50 job coaching providers contracted specifically with the OVR Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS) program. Job coaching services are now provided statewide and include time-limited and, to a much lesser degree, time-enduring services.

In recent years, OVR has expanded job coaching/supported employment services to include transitional employment through the Clubhouse model for persons with significant mental health disabilities. Also, job coaching services have been provided on a broader basis since the late 1990’s to persons who are deaf via contracting with job coaching providers fluent in American Sign Language. OVR District Offices continue to work with other key state and private agencies, such as the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OHMSAS), the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP), the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) and the PA Department of Education (PDE). In addition, OVR partners with private community service providers to expand and develop all types of community-integrated competitive employment as defined by the individual needs of their customers. OVR currently uses what is commonly known as the milestone job coaching method. OVR has termed its version "Performance Based Job Coaching" (PBJC) and has used this method of funding community-based supported employment vendors since 1999. This format was based upon research completed by OVR in the mid-1990’s to determine best practices for SE service provision. The above-mentioned format was reviewed in 2013 for areas of improvement. Additionally, OVR is reviewing supported employment data for a three-year funding cycle to determine if policy revisions should be considered to improve the provision of supported employment services. Quality Standards

OVR provides technical assistance and training for its staff through the use of seminars, conferences, and training programs. Job coaching services provided by community based service providers are reviewed every five years to look at relevance and costs related to such services. Additionally, OVR accesses resources from George Washington University’s (GWU) Region III Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) Center for continuous program and staff development. Staff from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), OVR, and Pennsylvania Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (PARF) developed statewide standards for OVR and providers of job coaching services. These standards continue to guide all contracts and contract reviews for provision of job coaching services. The standards are as follows:

1. The population to be served a. Individuals served are those eligible for the State/Federal vocational rehabilitation program. b. Targeted individuals are persons with disabilities needing services to obtain, retain, or prepare for employment that is consistent with their capacities and abilities. c. The job coaching program is responsive to customer needs and to the employment opportunities available in the community. 2. Outcomes for Job Coaching Program Participants a. The program encourages, promotes, and provides for integration in the work force. b. Skill acquisition challenges the individual’s potential to be productive as defined by the employer and employment market. c. The number of hours worked by the participants should be the maximum hours possible based upon the unique strengths, resources, interests, concerns, abilities and capabilities of individuals with the most severe disabilities. The maximum number of employee benefits possible must be sought as well. A competitive employment situation is the intended result, and ideally, it is a position that is full-time with benefits and provides the best opportunity for independence. 3. The Job Coaching Provider Organization a. The provider mission statement is consistent with the planned services. b. There is evidence that the provider has the ability to deliver vocational rehabilitation services in the form of community based work assessments, job readiness training, job development, job placement, job analysis, job skills training, on-the-job supports, itinerant supports, and extended services among others. c. The provider demonstrates prior experience or otherwise presents the capability to deliver services, such as linkages with other services, adequate staff, training for staff, and other supports for staff, etc. d. The provider has a method in place to measure and report the outcomes of services, e.g., automated or alternative method of service reporting and tracking. e. There are job descriptions for all service provider staff. f. Staff development is an integral part of the provider’s budget or annual plan. g. The provider demonstrates that persons with disabilities have a substantial role in the establishment of organizational policy and delivery of services. 4. The Service Design The provider presents for consideration: a. Definitions of Services b. Staffing pattern that includes persons with disabilities c. Model to be used including plan for community integration, job development, placement, training, and extended services d. Linkage with OVR and other funding sources (DPW, PDE) e. Consistent opportunities for informed customer choice

5. Local Linkages: a. The provider demonstrates a knowledge and ability to develop and maintain linkages with other ancillary services in the community, e.g., the PA Department of Labor & Industry-Bureau of Workforce Development Programs (BWDP), the PA Department of Education-Bureau of Special Education (BSE), the PA Department of Public Welfare (OMHSAS, ODP), the PA Department of Aging (Office of Long Term Living (OLTL), Drug and Alcohol Single County Authorities (SCA), Chambers of Commerce, and other extended service agencies and organizations. b. OVR reviews, discusses, and works closely with the provider for mutually responsive programs. The OVR counselor is integral to customer progress, service delivery, and placement activities occurring in concert with the provider. A process is in place to measure and report the outcome of services. Scope and Extent Job coaching services provided to individuals include: evaluations, skills training, job modification, transportation and transportation training services, coordination of ancillary services, advocacy and socialization skills, among others. All services are provided on an individual basis and are tailored by the individual’s needs to achieve a specific vocational goal. Pennsylvania has established local mechanisms through which funding for intensive training and extended services is available for all eligible populations. Populations receiving job coaching include persons with: developmental disabilities, mental health issues, physical disabilities, blindness, deafness, autism and traumatic brain injury, among many other needs. Supported employment services are also available within the special education, mental health and developmental disability systems. OVR is actively engaged in collaborative relationships with those systems to ensure the provision of effective services, to reduce duplication of efforts, to share resources, and to improve employment outcomes for those served mutually by multiple systems. In Pennsylvania, three (3) major sources of extended service funding are available to ensure availability to customers who require long term support—ODP (ID/DD and Autism separately), and OLTL. OVR also has a small funding source, which is very limited. It is the VR state supported employment funding and is intended for customers who need extended services and who have no other source for extended services after the intensive supports are faded from the employment situation. Actual funding available from ODP and OLTL varies from county to county depending on each county’s situation. Other resources sought for extended service funding are natural supports, SSA work incentives, private foundations, etc. For FFY 2013, OVR funded supported employment services to 7,385 persons. Of that number, 1,631 were placed in competitive employment, with 1,186 of those working 20 hours a week or greater. According to RSA table of funding for Pennsylvania, http://rsa.ed.gov/about-your-state.cfmt4, the total of Title VI-B funds allotted was $931,000. OVR’s federal share of expenditures was $859,919. The federal share of unliquidated obligations was $71,306 bringing the total federal share to $931,225. Timing of the Transition to Extended Services

The timing of the transition of an individual with a disability to extended services is dependent upon the needs of the customer and the employer, and in most cases, available funding from one of the following PA Department of Public Welfare (DPW) agencies: the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP), and the Office of Long Term Living (OLTL). Extended services may not be needed for the individual who has appropriate natural supports such as the employer, co-workers, family, and friends. However, extended services must be offered for situations where natural supports for the needs of the employee are missing or incomplete. The determination of the need for extended services begins at the assessment stage of the vocational rehabilitation plan. At that time the rehabilitation team, OVR staff, the individual, the individual’s family, and, if applicable, the individual’s Case Manager/Supports Coordinator determine what resources are needed for long-term supports. This team collaboratively determines what resources are available to meet the extended services need.

Due to the intensive and short-term nature of OVR supports, other partners must be involved to ensure long-term success for the worker with a disability. The rehabilitation team must plan carefully on the needs of an individual with a disability to determine the best time for the employee with a disability to transition to extended services. The sooner the team can be assembled and focused on supporting the customer, the better the transition to extended services will be to meet the needs of the customer and employer.

This screen was last updated on Jun 13 2014 1:17PM by sapabrauchlip