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
Montana Disability Employment and Transitions Division State Plan for Fiscal Year 2015 (submitted FY 2014)

Preprint - Section 1: State Certifications

1.1 The DPHHS - Disability Employment and Transitions Division 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 DPHHS - Disability Employment and Transitions Division [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

Fiscal Operations Bureau Chief

... 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

Disability Employment and Transitions Administrator

... 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 SignatoryJim Marks

Title of SignatoryAdministrator of Disability Employment and Transitions Division

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

Assurances Certified By

At the request of RSA, the designated state agency and/or the designated state unit provide the following assurance(s), in addition to those contained within Section 2 through 8 below, in connection with the approval of the State Plan for FY 2015No

Section 1 Footnotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(a) Conduct of public meetings.

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

(b) Notice requirements.

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

(c) Special consultation requirements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preprint - Section 4: Administration of the State Plan

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

(a) Designated state agency.

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

  1. The designated state agency is a state agency that is 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
Disability Employment and Transitions Division

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

The State Plan must contain one of the following assurances.

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

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

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

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

(Option B was selected)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If "Yes", the designated state agency:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This agency is not requesting a waiver of statewideness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Coordination with education officials.

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

  1. The State Plan description must:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(a) In general.

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

(b) Employment of individuals with disabilities.

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

(c) Facilities.

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

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

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

(a) Data system on personnel and personnel development.

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

  1. Qualified personnel needs.

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

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

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

  1. Personnel development.

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Personnel standards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(d) Staff development.

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

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

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

(e) Personnel to address individual communication needs.

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

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

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

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

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

(a) Comprehensive statewide assessment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(b) Annual estimates.

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

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

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

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

(c) Goals and priorities.

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

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

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

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

  1. provides a justification for the order; and

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

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

(d) Strategies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(e) Evaluation and reports of progress.

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

  1. Attachment 4.11(e)(2):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Input from Montana State Rehabilitation Council The State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) advises and works with Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services (VRB Services) to improve policies, programs, delivery of services to consumers, and methods for reaching potential consumers and employers. The SRC provides input and advice to VRB in accordance with the Rehabilitation Act. The SRC holds meetings quarterly. These meetings are accessible and open to the public and are held in various locations statewide. Policy and program issues are discussed at most SRC meetings. SRC members are invited and do participate with the VRB Services management staff to help develop the strategic plan and to determine the agency’s priorities. On October 4, 2012, the SRC discussed and developed their recommendations to VRB Services. On May 8, 2014, the SRC was presented with VRB Services responses to their recommendations.

The following is a summary of the recommendations of the SRC from the May 8, 2014 meeting and the VRB Services responses:

1. Complete analysis of potential groups of unserved/underserved populations and develop guidance for staff to address issues that are impacting unserved/underserved populations.

VRB Services Response: VRB identified a nationally recognized dataset with elements that can be obtained from the VRB Services case management system. Over the past year, using the identified dataset as a guide, VRB examined the data for the following categories of populations:

  • Minority groups
  • Disability type
  • Gender
  • Urban/Rural areas

There have been a variety of areas identified where there are significant differences in the data from the target populations and the general caseload. The agency is currently reviewing the factors that may be influencing these differences. The agency is also in the process of looking at a second year of the data to determine if the differences remain consistent over time.

2. Complete report on best practices related to collaboration between VRB Services staff and Section 121 projects. Then provide a report to the Section 121 projects and VRB Services offices that work with Section 121 projects. The report will also be provided to the council.

VRB Services Response: During the last year, the Administrator and the section 121 liaison visited all of the section 121 projects and asked Section 121 personnel what they believed were best practices for the interaction between section 121 projects and VRB Services. The responses were gathered.

In the near future, VRB counselors who work with section 121 projects will be contacted on their thoughts related to these issues. When this information is available a summary will be developed and sent for review by the participants who provided input. When the comments from the review are available a report will be developed and made available to the audience mentioned in the SRC suggestion.

3. Strengthen networking between VRB and other agencies.The SRC and the Director of Field Services will discuss potential agencies where networking needs strengthening and recommend three areas that should be focused on in the upcoming year.

VRB Services Response: On May 9, 2014, the SRC and Director of Field Services discussed the priorities for networking. For fiscal year 2014 the priorities will be networking with:

  • Developmental Disabilities Program
  • businesses
  • Chambers of Commerce

The Director of Field Services will gather input from the field related to the networking activities for these groups and report back to the council periodically.

4. Ensure VRB services staff receive adequate training and support related to major agency changes such as the new database system and entering order of selection.

VRB Services Response: The agency puts a high priority on staff training related to all issues that impact staff and the delivery of services to consumers. There are two significant components to determining what staff training needs are. The first is an annual survey of training needs. The second is the identification of any issues indicating a need for staff training during the annual statewide case review process.

Training occurs on a planned basis through:

  • bi-weekly trainings that are provided through an internet service
  • the annual conference of the Montana Association for Rehabilitation
  • the annual Disability Employment and Transitions Division(DETD) Spring Conference

Prior to implementation of order of selection a special series of trainings were arranged in each region. Prior to the roll out of the new case management system a similar set of regional trainings are planned.

Also, staff may participate in other trainings in areas that they believe will assist them in their job. The Conference on Native American Rehabilitation and the annual state Transition Conference are examples of trainings that counselors have attended.

Providing a comprehensive system of training opportunities for staff is complex and involves many facets. Resources to support the activities are limited, but VRB Services is committed to make staff training a high priority.

5. Continue to utilize one SRC meeting a year as an opportunity to interact with unserved/underserved populations and exchange perspectives and ideas.

VRB Services Response: This has been an ongoing tradition in scheduling the SRC meetings and there is no reason it will not continue. In fiscal year 2014 there will be a meeting at the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind.

6. Have the DETD transportation coordinator present to the SRC on initiatives that will assist people with disabilities obtain employment and independence.

VRB Services Response: The agency agrees that this would be an important presentation for the SRC and arrangements for such a presentation will be made.

7. Have each region report on transition activities in their area through a web base presentation.

VRB Services Response: VRB Services is will have a regional administrator present on transition activities at SRC meetings. The regional administrators will rotate and there will be a complete report of all four regions over the period of a year.

8. Encourage VRB Services staff to make contact with the local Chambers of Commerce.

VRB Services Response: At the recent SRC meeting this was made a priority for networking by the SRC and the Director of Field Services. The Director of Field Services will be reporting on progress made on this activity at future VRC meetings.

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

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

This agency has not requested a waiver of statewideness.

This screen was last updated on Jun 29 2009 1:51PM by Michael Hermanson

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.

Cooperation, collaboration, and coordination with agencies not in the statewide workforce investment system are usually expressed through a cooperative agreements or a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services (VRB Services) presently has agreements with the following entities:

  • Section 121 Vocational Rehabilitation Projects located in Montana
  • Mental Health
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Montana Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)
  • The Commissioner of Higher Education
  • Office of Public Instruction
  • Public Transportation Programs

Section 121 Vocational Rehabilitation Projects

VRB Services presently has cooperative agreements with all of the six Section 121 projects (Flathead Reservation, Fort Belknap Reservation, Fort Peck Reservation, Rocky Boy’s Reservation, Northern Cheyenne Reservation and the Blackfeet Reservation) located in Montana. The purpose of these agreements is to establish procedures to assure continued coordination between the 121 projects and VRB Services. These agreements are implemented for the sole purpose of enhancing, to the greatest extent possible, the delivery of rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities living in the state of Montana and residing on or near the six reservations that currently have a tribal vocational rehabilitation project.

Mental Health

This cooperative agreement has provisions that include:

  1. To make available the required supported employment/follow-along services from community rehabilitation programs (CRPs) that are certified mental health providers. Follow-along services may be provided through community based psychiatric rehabilitation and support, and through case management services.
  2. To serve persons identified as eligible for mental health service under Medicaid or the Mental Health Service Plan.
  3. To strengthen supported employment services to Montana citizens eligible for vocational rehabilitation’s supported employment services and for community mental health services funded by the Addictive and Mental Disorders Division.
  4. To provide cross-training and technical assistance between our agencies.
  5. To establish and evaluate annual goals for our interagency work towards coordinated vocational and support services.

Developmental Disabilities Program (DDP)

This cooperative agreement has provisions that include:

  1. To strengthen supported employment services to Montana citizens eligible for vocational rehabilitation’s supported employment services and who receive services through the developmental disability (DD) provider organizations.
  2. To contract with DD provider organizations to provide supported employment work services through funds made available to them from the state general fund and Medicaid home and community waiver.
  3. To make available the required supported employment, extended/follow along services from CRPs enrolled with VRB Services. Long-term follow-along services are made available by DD provider organizations through a long-term sign off cooperative agreement with VRB Services. This sign off is between the provider organization and VRB Services. It is incumbent upon DD provider organizations to negotiate and secure any approving authority from the DDP. VRB Services agrees DD provider organizations will provide copies of the long-term, follow-along sign off cooperative agreement documents to the DDP regional managers. The DDP provider organization’s sign off commits the provider to making available this service, but does not commit funds. In terms of funding source and availability, the DDP Regional Manager provides the sign off that funds are available to provide the service.
  4. For those residing in the Montana Developmental Center (MDC) who have been identified as being in need of vocational/supported employment services, those needs must be included in the community placement plan. The costs for long-term follow-along need to be included in the resources allocated, and need to be made available to reimburse an enrolled provider for long-term follow-along services after discharge from MDC.

Montana Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)

The purpose of this agreement is to establish guidelines and procedures to be used by the Montana Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and VRB Services in coordinating the services of both programs on behalf of individuals with disabilities who desire to pursue the goal of self-employment. This agreement outlines each party’s role and responsibilities, referral procedures, information exchange methods, forms used, and implementation, evaluation, amendments and termination procedures.

The Randolph-Sheppard/Business Enterprise Program

This program continues with three vendors with vending routes and one unplaced vendor. The program has been developing new sites for the existing routes to allow the blind vendors an increase of income. Vending is contracted for some of the rest areas on interstate highways. Many rest areas are too far from existing routes to be profitable for blind vendors to operate.

Department of Agriculture

There is no Department of Agriculture project related to disabilities serving Montana at this time.

Public Transportation Programs

VRB Services has MOUs with the public transportation programs in Great Falls and Billings, which are two of the larger cities in the state. The MOUs commit to procedures to assist VRB’s consumers to obtain documentation necessary to obtain transportation services at reduced fares.

State Use Contracting Programs Montana

State agencies may purchase supplies and services from sheltered workshops or work activity centers. Such purchases are exempt from competitive bidding laws and rules. The Montana Department of Administration maintains a list of certified sheltered workshops or work activity centers located in the state. The list includes the supplies and services provided by each sheltered workshop or work activity center. (Administrative Rules of Montana 2.5.607)

Cooperation in Training Activities:

VRB Services routinely collaborates with other organizations to provide training opportunities for VRB Services’ staff. The following is a list of collaborating organizations:

  • University of Montana - Rural Institute on Disabilities
  • Montana State University - Billings Montana Center for Inclusive Education
  • TACE Programs
  • Utah State University
  • Montana Youth Leadership Program (MYLF)
  • Centers for Independent Living
  • Brain Injury Association of Montana
  • Client Assistance Program
  • Montana Addictive and Mental Disorders Division
  • Developmental Disabilities Program
  • Disability Determination Services
  • Social Security
  • Rocky Mountain Rehab
  • Western Washington University
  • Montana Youth Transitions (MY Transitions)
  • MonTECH

This screen was last updated on Jun 25 2014 9:11AM by Michael Hermanson

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.

Office of Public Instruction: This cooperative agreement has provisions that include: Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services (VRB Services) and the Office of Public Instruction (OPI).

Purpose: The purpose of this MOU is to enhance the working relationship between the above mentioned parties to provide more effective services to individuals with disabilities in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C., 1485 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. as amended. Within this agreement are strategies for the two agencies to work collaboratively in evaluating, serving and planning for a seamless transition from school for students eligible for VRB Services, as they make the transition from school to adult education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, independent living and community participation.

Joint Responsibility for Training: The OPI and VRB Services shall jointly sponsor training for their respective staff members and Local Education Agency (LEA) personnel. The training shall focus on requirements of federal and state law concerning education of individuals with disabilities, their transition from school to employment, vocational rehabilitation services, assistive technology, and the substance of this MOU.Responsibilities of the OPI:

1 Inform - The OPI shall assist school districts to inform VRB Services of students with disabilities who are on an IEP and may be in need of assistance through VRB Services. The notice to VRB Services shall occur no later than the first IEP at which transition services are considered in order for VRB Services to participate in the future development of the student’s IEP. For students enrolling closer to graduation or age twenty one, school districts are urged to inform VRB Services as soon as those students are identified.

2. Necessary Lead Time - Eligibility Determinations - For the first IEP meeting following the initial notice to VRB Services, the OPI shall encourage school districts to inform VRB Services of the meeting in advance to allow sufficient time for VRB Services to acquire the necessary diagnostic data to determine the student’s eligibility. The notice to VRB Services should include an invitation to the VRB Services counselor to participate, from then on, in transition planning within the IEP process. VRB Services participation in IEP meetings is subject to parental approval.

3. Necessary Lead Time - IEP’s - For all IEP meetings subsequent to the first meeting, the OPI shall encourage school districts to schedule IEP meetings for eligible students with disabilities in a timely manner, and to include notice to VRB Services and the invitation for the VRB Services Counselor to participate subject to parental approval. Development of vocational goals and objectives shall occur in collaboration with the IEP team.

4. Notice to VRB Services of Students with Disabilities not on an IEP - The OPI shall assist local school districts with referrals of students with disabilities who do not receive special education services and related services and may be in need of services through VRB Services. The notice to VRB Services should occur at least one year before the student’s anticipated graduation date.

5. Technical Assistance - The OPI shall provide technical assistance to local school districts concerning the provision of free, appropriate, public education, including the responsibility to provide assistive technology to assist with the education of students approaching transition to independent living and employment as appropriate.

6. Monitoring Data for VRB Services -The OPI shall provide to VRB Services the data it collects from school districts regarding the number of special education students they are serving. Data provided to VRB Services will only be transferred if the release of the data is consistent with the requirements of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

7. Related Services - The OPI shall assist local school districts with coordination of vocationally related services with VRB Services for eligible students. Coordination should commence in the early stages of transition. Vocationally relatedservice coordination and corresponding agency responsibilities should be identified in the IEP and included on the student’s IPE when appropriate.

Responsibilities of VRB:

1. Consultation - The VRB Services counselor shall assist school districts in planning for the transition of students with disabilities from school to post school activities. The VRB Services counselor shall act as a consultant for the school district. VRB Services may provide consultation services to students and families only after VRB Services takes an application from the student. When requested by the local school district, VRB Services shall ensure that the VRB Services’ counselors/staff participate in the evaluation process of students who have applied for VRB Services, and in the development of the IEP’s for eligible students.

2. Former Students - VRB Services shall encourage former students who are still eligible for IDEA services to enroll again in school for further study and training to enhance their opportunities for employment. Such former students shall also be eligible for VRB Services customarily provided by VRB Services to adults over the age of 21.

3. Assistive Technology - VRB Services will provide assistive technology services relevant to functions outside those assistive technology services required to access the educational program.

4. Related Services - (Vocational) After the eligible individual exits the local school district, VRB Services will continue to provide vocational services, i.e., vocational assessments, career exploration, job shadowing, vocational guidance and counseling and other required services as documented in the IPE.

5. Transitions Coordinator - VRB Services’ transition coordinator will coordinate with Montana OPI transitions specialists to develop and promote a seamless transition system. VRB Services’ transition coordinator oversees the implementation of VRB Services’ "Adopt a School" program. Adopt a School builds relationships between local schools and VRB Services by establishing regular office hours at larger high schools for vocational rehabilitation counselors. These counselors connect students with disabilities to VRB Services and establish collaborations with special education and 504 coordinators, teachers, school administration, parents, advocacy groups and others regarding the role of VRB Services in transition. The VRB Services’ transition coordinator shall meet with staff and other interested parties in other school districts when invited to share best practices and facilitate communication between the parties. VRB Services’ staff will also be available to provide information on changes in the law or policy regarding transitions services.

6. Outreach - VRB Services assigns a vocational rehabilitation counselor to each high school in the state. Counselors shall inform student, families special and regular education teachers, school administrators, advocacy groups, and others about VRB Services. Counselors will distribute both print and electronic materials that explain transitional and rehabilitative services, and they will maintain monthly contact with local school authorities

OPI shall assist the local school districts with methods and procedures for outreach and identification of students and families who may benefit from VRB Services. Assistance with the methods and procedures should include actions needed to engage those who are not aware of VRB Services, including how the school districts identify and work with transition aged students who may be in alternative high schools, residential facilities, or are incarcerated.

7. Financial Responsibilities: Montana is a local control state in which local school districts are financially responsible for the costs of services they are mandated to provide under the IDEA, and Section 504. OPI shall encourage and promote financial agreements between LEAs and VRB Services.

Such agreements may be made on an individual basis and in consultation with all parties including students, their families, school officials, and vocational rehabilitation professionals.

If there is a dispute as to which entity is responsible for providing a necessary service, consultation will occur between the entities. Services or payments will be based on the rights of the student, availability of funds, and which agency is best positioned to provide the particular service at the time. Should the local school district and VRB Services be unable to resolve the dispute after consultation with one another, the Dispute Resolution Procedure outlined in the Interagency Agreement between the Department of Public Health and Human Services and the OPI shall apply.

While not part of the MOU with the OPI, VRB Services commits to the development and approval of an individualized plan for employment before each eligible student able to be served under the order of selection leaves the school setting. Should Montana come out of order of selection, VRB Services is committed to development and approval of an individualized plan for employment before each student determined to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services leaves the school setting.

MOU Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE)

The purpose of this MOU is to develop and adopt principles which will guide the planning and delivery of support services to individuals with disabilities who are mutual clients of Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services (VRB Services) and students enrolled in the Montana University System (MUS). This MOU has provisions which include:

  1. VRB Services and the units of the MUS maintain different requirements for determination of eligibility, documentation of disability, and the provision of services or accommodations. This MOU does not require either VRB Services or MUS to alter its policies for providing services or supports, and this MOU is not to be used as a basis for determining eligibility for VRB Services or MUS services.
  2. The units of the MUS through the guidance of the OCHE are required to provide services and accommodations to VRB Services’ clients to the same extent as they are provided to other students with disabilities, in accordance with Montana state law, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (PL 101-336) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (PL 93-112, as amended).
  3. VRB Services is not prohibited in this agreement from contracting with units of the MUS to provide services or support for VRB Services’ clients beyond those required to assure equal access to equal educational opportunities.
  4. The MOU will provide both parties with the opportunity to enhance communication and the exchange of information regarding services offered by VRB Services and the various campuses of the MUS.
  5. VRB Services and the units of the MUS will work together to enhance cross-referrals of individuals with disabilities, as appropriate to each individual’s needs. Personal information about the individual will not be shared without an appropriate release of information.
  6. The MUS will not require students who have a disability to apply for VRB Services before providing services or support. For students who have applied for VRB Services, the MUS will not deny or delay the provision of services or support while VRB Services is in the process of determining eligibility for services.
  7. VRB Services are provided pursuant to an individualized plan for employment (IPE) which is developed jointly by the rehabilitation counselor and the eligible individual. In those situations where referral has been made to campus disability support services, the appropriate disability services staff may also be involved in helping to develop the IPE.
  8. The VRB Services’ rehabilitation counselor and the MUS campus disability support services staff will respect the individual’s right and responsibility to fully participate in all decisions regarding his or her vocational future. The IPE shall be developed and implemented in a manner that allows the individual an opportunity to exercise informed choice in selecting an employment outcome, the specific vocational rehabilitation services that are to be provided, the entity that will provide those services, and the methods that will be used to procure the vocational rehabilitation services.
  9. VRB Services’ clients who attend a unit of the MUS may need reasonable accommodation, including auxiliary aids or services in order to have equal access to the programs and services offered at that particular institution.
  10. The provision and cost of reasonable accommodations are the responsibility of the particular unit of the MUS. For individuals with disabilities who are mutual clients of VRB Services and students at a unit of MUS, and are otherwise qualified for such aids or services, the funding source for auxiliary aids and services will be determined on an individual case-by-case basis.
  11. Additional guidelines relative to interpreter services for eligible clients/students:

  • The MUS unit will be responsible for procuring and paying interpreters. VRB Services will reimburse for its share of the cost.
  • The MUS unit will provide the appropriate VRB Services/ office with an estimate of the number of hours and cost of interpreter services which will be billed to VRB Services prior to the start of services.
  • The VRB Services’ office must authorize payment for the interpreter services prior to the start of services.
  • VRB Services and the MUS unit will require full compliance with the Registry of interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Code of Professional Conduct.

In addition:

  • Physical disabilities are included in the agreement to split evenly the cost of auxiliary aids and services.
  • Pre-approval of any cost sharing agreements needed to be obtained prior to the start of the service.
  • Documentation of services provided must be provided to VRB Services that meets or exceeds state auditing requirements.

This screen was last updated on Jul 28 2014 2:16PM by Michael Hermanson

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

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

The designated state unit contracts with for-profit and non-profit providers of vocational rehabilitation services. Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services (VRB Services) operates on a purchase-of-service basis. We have identified and enrolled rehabilitation providers who meet qualification standards established by the designated state unit. VRB Services’ staff communicates regularly with the providers regarding fee structures, services provided, and consumer satisfaction.

VRB Services requires Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRP) to accept a set fee for service, but does not guarantee a minimum level of consumers to be referred. The contract used with CRPs follows the master contract developed by the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) legal unit to cover liability and related issues. Services purchased by VRB Services from CRPs are directly approved from the VRB Services’ counselors utilizing an authorization process. The amount of services purchased depends upon the amount and type of services needed by the consumer. Agencies eligible to receive authorizations must be enrolled vendors and must be current service providers of DPHHS; or have accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) or Rehabilitation Services Accreditation System (RSAS). In a limited number of cases, individuals with appropriate backgrounds are authorized to provide services in remote rural areas where a DPHHS, RSAS or CARF provider is not available.

In the past year, VRB Services collaborated with the Developmental Disabilities Program (DDP) to develop a training program for direct line staff of CRPs that provide vocational services. The provider responsible to develop the training has been identified and in the upcoming year an on-line training will be developed and available to all CRPs working with VRB Services and/or the DDP. Satisfactory completion of the training will be mandatory for staff involved with vocational services for the two sponsoring agencies. There will be a test that can be taken to demonstrate competency related to the skills covered by the training. If the test is passed then the person can opt out of the training.

This screen was last updated on Jul 28 2014 2:16PM by Michael Hermanson

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.

In Montana, supported employment is for individuals with the most significant disabilities who require support services (job development, job placement and job coaching) to help the individual secure competitive employment in an integrated employment setting. Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services (VRB Services) works closely with state agencies and other organizations to provide supported employment and extended support services for individuals with the most significant disabilities.

Mental Health: VRB Services has a negotiated cooperative agreement with the Addictive & Mental Disorders Division. The cooperative agreement provides guidance for: cross-training and technical assistance between our agencies, establishment and evaluation of annual goals for interagency work towards coordinated vocational and support services, and makes available the required supported employment/extended support/follow-along services from community rehabilitation programs (CRPs) certified mental health providers and enrolled VRB providers.

Developmental Disabilities Program: VRB has had a long and productive relationship with the Developmental Disabilities Program (DDP), and that program continues to sign off for extended support services for many individuals with significant disabilities. The cooperative agreement provides guidance for: cross-training and technical assistance between our agencies to make available the required supported employment services from CRPs enrolled by VRB Services, and for DDP to be responsible for contracting with developmental disability provider organizations to provide long term supports through funds made available to them from the state general fund and the Medicaid home and community waiver.

Enrolled Community Rehabilitation Programs: VRB Services works with a number of community based organizations across the state. Many are enrolled as extended support service providers to assure quality in service delivery for consumers. VRB Services has enrolled programs in mental health services, developmental disabilities, as well as other disability organizations to provide these services at the local level.

Extended Employment Services: The extended employment service program is the state of Montana’s funding source that makes long-term support services available to individuals as they work in either a sheltered or community-based employment setting. In many of the past legislatures there have been generous increases in funding recognizing the unmet needs for this service. However, the most recent legislature provided level funding. The extended support service program is administered and managed by Rocky Mountain Rehab, p.c. (RMR) of Billings, Montana, through a contract with the Department of Public Health and Human Services, Disability. In the last two years, VRB Services and RMR are working to transition more of this program’s resources from sheltered employment to competitive community placement supports. These efforts have been somewhat successful, but a larger shift in resources will be necessary to meet the needs of consumers needing long term supports in integrated settings if level funding of the program continues.

This screen was last updated on Jun 24 2014 6:18PM by Michael Hermanson

Attachment 4.10 Comprehensive System of Personnel Development

Data System on Personnel and Personnel Development

Data System

Comprehensive System for Personnel Development (CSPD) information is managed by the Human Resource Development (HRD) Specialist of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Visual Services (VRB Services). This position keeps track of trainings offered, staff attending training, CRC credits for qualified counseling staff and their support team members.

VRB Services staffing by type of staff (data from RSA2):

Administrative: 2008 - 6 2009 - 6 2010 - 6 2011 - 6 2012 - 5 2013-5

Counselor: 2008 - 38 2009 - 38 2010 - 37 2011 - 39 2012 - 39 2013-41

Support/Other: 2008 - 41 2009 - 40 2010 - 40 2011 - 41 2012 - 45 2013-45

Total Staff 2008 - 85 2009 - 84 2010 - 83 2011 - 86 2012 - 89 2013-91

NOTE: The RSA2 looks at positions and what part of the year they are filled. It is not the same as the number of bodies or the numbers of FTE.

In FY2013, VRB Services budgeted for and employed 46.75 FTE counselors, (38.75 FTE counselors and 8 case carrying counselor supervisors), 24.25 administrative support members who provide direct support to counselors, and 5 regional administrators.

In FY2013, VRB Services served 8,098 Montanans with disabilities, which means that each counselor FTE served approximately173 consumers.

The population in western Montana continues to grow, while the population in eastern Montana decreases. Montana has such large travel distances for counselors to meet with consumers that a reduction of staff in less populated parts of the state is not possible.

When all the positions are filled, VRB Services has enough staff to provide vocational rehabilitation services to the state. In the next five years, VRB Services will continue to investigate the feasibility of increased counselor staffing to meet the transitions needs of Montana’s youth with disabilities. VRB Services would like to see a transitions counselor in each of its four regional offices. Of course, population growth and client demographics will be closely monitored. If our counseling staff increases, it is possible that additional support staff would also be necessary.

In recent years, VRB Services experienced significant turnover in upper management positions, including the state director, and several regional administrators. Even though VRB Services management has stabilized, VRB Services continues to prepare for succession through its VRB Services’ Futures Program, which is discussed elsewhere in this plan.

 

Row Job Title Total positions Current vacancies Projected vacancies over the next 5 years
1 Division Administrator 1 0 0
2 Bureau Chiefs 2 0 1
3 Prog Mgrs (IL, Deaf; Soc Sec; HRD; Transportation) 5 0 1
4 Central Office Administrative Support Staff 3 0 0
5 Counseling Staff(BLVS, Gen Prog, & counselor sups) 47 3 5
6 Orientation and Mobility Specialists 4 0 0
7 Vision Rehabilitation Therapists 5 0 0
8 Field Administrative Support Staff 24 0 5
9 Tech Sup (Bud Anly; Bud Anly Sup; Prog An; AT SP) 4 0 1
10 Regional Administrators 5 0 2

 

Collection and Analysis of Personnel Development

VRB Services continues to review, on a yearly basis, the reported training needs of its entire staff. This is part of our overall maintenance of the comprehensive system for personnel development. Of particular concern to VRB Services is the implementation of a system of personnel development that will ensure an adequate supply of qualified rehabilitation personnel for the designated state unit. VRB Services developed a new CSPD policy that clarifies requirements and expectations of employees engaged in CSPD plans. Additionally, a "Tip Sheet" was developed to notify counselors of institutions of higher education that offer RSA scholarships. The State Rehabilitation Council has had an opportunity to review and make comments on the development of the plans and policies regarding qualified personnel.

Currently, 87.5% of VRB Services’ professional counseling and supervisory staff are identified as Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRC), qualified to sit for the CRC, or are under a CSPD Plan (including actively researching graduate schools). At this time, 7 counselors are engaged in graduate classes and 4 counselors are researching and/or applying to graduate schools. Currently, VRB Services has 3 counselor vacancies. As vacancies open, the new counselors may require graduate school preparation.

Montana’s personnel policy has been rewritten so applicants who have achieved the CRC status receive a higher priority for hiring than those without it. In addition, Montana vigorously recruits applicants with master’s level degrees in rehabilitation counseling when there are vacancies. Montana State University - Billings (MSU-B) is Montana’s only institution of higher education that offers instruction (BA or MA) in rehabilitation counseling. VRB Services has a good working relationship with MSU-B. Additionally, VRB Services has fostered good working relationships with out of state institutions such as Utah State University. Both MSU-B and Utah State have sought input from VRB Services related to curriculum development and how best to prepare students to work in the public VR program. VRB Services has successfully recruited and hired graduates of these programs, all of whom were well prepared to sit for the CRC examination. VRB Services is also working with West Virginia University and the University of Kentucky to qualify its employees. The following table illustrates the education status of employees of VRB Services preparing for CRC qualification.

 

Row Institutions Students enrolled Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates from the previous year
1 Utah State University 1 1 0 0
2 West Virginia University 3 3 0 0
3 University of Wisconsin - Stout 0 0 0 1
4 Montana State University - Billings 1 0 0 1
5 University of Kentucky 2 2 2 1

 

Plan for Recruitment, Preparation and Retention of Qualified Personnel

The management team of VRB Services maintains close and regular contact with field services teams. Together, they monitor and fulfill staffing needs. In fiscal year 2013, VRB Services filled all existing counseling positions. When necessary, VRB Services makes counselor position transfers based on changes in caseload numbers in various parts of the state.

VRB Services continues to recruit the highest quality staff available. Individuals coming to VRB Services without a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling will be hired on the condition that they will develop a CSPD plan to meet the standard.

Through the extensive outreach efforts of the Blind and Low Vision Services (BLVS) staff and the HR staff within the department, BLVS can sometimes attract candidates from across the country for Vision Rehabilitation Therapists and Orientation and Mobility Specialists. In other cases, BLVS must hire someone locally on a training assignment and pay for their schooling.

Montana has no state university training for either Vision Rehabilitation Therapy or Orientation and Mobility, and therefore, attracting highly qualified professionals in these areas will continue to be a problem for BLVS. In an effort to address this dilemma, training positions have been developed.

VRB Services maintains contact with Montana State University-Billings to update them on the VRB Services Program. The agency gathers information on degree requirements, and works with rehabilitation counseling instructors to ensure that university requirements are compatible with those needed to qualify counselors to effectively and efficiently serve people with significant disabilities who are eligible for vocational rehabilitation services.

VRB Services works with Montana colleges to recruit individuals from minority backgrounds and persons with significant disabilities. VRB Services takes affirmative action to employ and advance in employment, qualified individuals with significant disabilities.

In Montana, Native Americans make up the largest minority population. Six Native American Section 121 projects are located on reservations and employ Native Americans as rehabilitation counselors. However, with the CSPD standard requiring education at the graduate level, the general VRB Services program has difficulty recruiting qualified Native Americans for employment within the agency.

By developing a plan to assure adequate numbers of CRC counselors and by providing leadership training at all levels, VRB Services is working to develop future leaders who will be ready to take over key positions as they are vacated. Towards this effort, VRB Services has formed a leadership council that will work directly with the current management staff of VRB Services in the design and implementation of the process and format for case services to consumers. Staff participating on this leadership council, referred to as the VRB Services’ Futures Group, will obtain the skills necessary to take VRB Services into the future.

The VRB Services’ Futures Group is composed of current staff who have been successfully employed by the agency for a minimum of two years, have completed specific prerequisite training in supervision and/or management and who are or have been, enrolled in approved leadership training, as finances allow.

Participation in the VRB Services’ Futures Group involves a competitive application process and involves a three-year term for staff members and two-year term for the regional administrator. Successful completion of a three-year term in the VRB Services’ Futures Group has a proposed equivalency of two years of management experience within VRB Services. Allowing staff to participate in real-life problem solving and real-life improvements to our current service delivery system serves the agency well and provides a mechanism for honing the skills of future leaders within the agency.

VRB Services also works closely with TACE programs to provide in-service training to our staff. Presently, staff members are taking advantage of regularly offered video conference training on a variety of pertinent topics.

 

Personnel Standards

VRB Services has a system for ensuring the yearly evaluation of each counselor’s CSPD status (to determine percentage of “qualified” staff") and performance of each staff member. The performance evaluation of rehabilitation counselors and other professionals is paramount to our efforts to ensure quality services to Montanans with disabilities. Our evaluations are tied to specific performance activities leading to those quality services.

The standard for counseling staff in Montana is to qualify to sit for the CRC examination or to have qualified to sit in the past, with the completion of additional coursework---and then to completed such coursework. Initially, VRB Services had targeted 2007 as the year in which we would meet our CSPD goal of having 100% of its counselors meet the standard of qualifying to sit for the CRC examination. Unfortunately, as more experienced employees retire there is not a ready pool of qualified professionals to hire into those vacated positions.

In "difficult to recruit for positions" VRB Services will hire individuals with a baccalaureate degree in a related field (at the minimum) and develop a CSPD plan to ensure that the employee moves toward qualifying to sit for the CRC examination. It typically takes an individual hired with a baccalaureate degree three years to meet the standard. Blind and Low Vision Services instructional staff must be eligible to hold certification from the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals.

In fiscal year 2014, VRB Services identified 11 rehabilitation counselors who require graduate level training to qualify to sit for the CRC examination. Currently, 4 are researching and applying to graduate schools, and 7 are fully matriculated students engaged in graduate studies. The following is the status of the 11 counselors mentioned above:

  • 1 has completed their degree and will be sitting for CRC
  • 3 are in the process of determining their school choice
  • 3 should complete training in December 2014
  • 3 should complete training in 2015
  • 1 will complete training in 2016

VRB Services anticipates that the distance education graduate programs will take the average rehabilitation counselor approximately two to three years to complete. Without the distance-learning component, VRB Services would be unable to set this plan in motion, as this allows for the counselor to complete their graduate education while remaining on the job. Through continued use of the distance education programs, VRB Services anticipates maintaining/increasing the numbers of CRCs over the next several years. The average number of VRB Services’ counselors who complete a graduate program in rehabilitation counseling is 3 per year. This trend has been observed over the last decade.

CSPD requirements dictate graduate level coursework. CSPD funds are also written into the current in-service training grant; however, Rehabilitation Services Administration scholarships are utilized whenever available. VRB Services comprehensive efforts to meet the staff training needs prove to be of significant benefit in terms of recruitment of new staff and retention of existing staff.

 

Staff Development

VRB Services performs a complete training needs assessment on all employees each year. VRB Services identifies, through this process, major themes for training large groups as well as individualized training topics identified by staff and their supervisors. This assessment provides for a comprehensive set of training topics that remain fluid as emerging priorities are developed either at the national level or within the state. It is also used to provide information for conference planning purposes to associations such as the Montana Association for Rehabilitation and the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

The VRB Services’ HRD Specialist has responsibility for in-service training, the preparation of Montana’s in-service training grant, and for overall coordination of the agency’s comprehensive system for personnel development. VRB Services also completes CSPD assessments on all counselors in a plan to meet the standard. Each year, staff who do not meet the standard are counseled and their annual course of action is determined and documented. Of course, the purpose of this annual review is to continue to move counselors toward meeting the standard. Once counselors meet the standard by qualifying to sit for the CRC examination they receive a pay raise, with an additional raise successful at completion of the CRC exam.

VRB Services places a heavy emphasis on leadership at all levels and continuous improvement of staff skills at all levels. Leadership and succession planning training are available to all staff in one form or another. VRB Services currently utilizes the Emerging Leaders Series through the Center for Continuing Education in Rehabilitation at Western Washington University and the state’s leadership program for staff development. Building on the formalized leadership/management training available to staff through the aforementioned programs, VRB Services helps future leaders hone their skills through participation in the VRB Services’ Futures Group. Additionally, there is emphasis on training in the areas of rehabilitation technology, informed choice, cultural diversity, current rehabilitation trends and disability information, and the Rehabilitation Act with its amendments. Training on topics such as rehabilitation technology, assessment, vocational counseling, and job placement is held at annual meetings such as the annual spring conference and Montana Association for Rehabilitation conference. Also, VRB Services has initiated web based trainings on areas where training has been identified as a need. For the web based trainings, either agency personnel or Montana based resources are utilized to provide the training. In addition, staff frequently participate in online trainings offered by TACE. Often a representative of the agency is sent to out-of-state training to bring back and disseminate significant knowledge from research and other sources.

 

Addressing Individual Communication Needs

Communication with Diverse Populations

VRB Services requires that rehabilitation counselors who are hired specifically to work with deaf and hard of hearing consumers have fluent sign language skills. Sign language interpreters for the deaf or hard of hearing are also provided when necessary. Other accommodations, such as documentation in alternative formats, are routinely made by VRB Services. The policy of VRB Services is to consult with the consumer to determine the most appropriate mode of communication.

Montana has a relay system for telephone communication with consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing and all offices are equipped with Ubi-Duos. Three offices (with the highest numbers of deaf/hard of hearing clients) have video phones for enhanced communication. The Montana Telecommunications Access Program is housed in the Disability Employment and Transitions Division and lends tremendous technical support to the staff of VRB Services working with sensory impaired consumers. BLVS has also developed a full time Assistive Technology Specialist position. VRB Services purchases interpreter services as needed by consumers.

The issue of consumers whose primary language is not English is a very rare issue in Montana. The issue is most likely to occur with Native American consumers who are the largest minority group in Montana. Even with this group, it is quite rare to have a consumer whose primary language is not English. Montana is fortunate to have six Native American vocational rehabilitation projects (funded through section 121 of the Rehabilitation Act) located in Montana. The local offices have good working relationships with the Native American projects and they are an excellent resource for assisting Native Americans who are not English speakers.

The Billings region has the largest population of Spanish speaking consumers and they have utilized assistance from the local migrant council when working with consumers whose primary language is Spanish. In other very rare instances when working with consumers who speak other languages as their primary language, counselors have been able to utilize family members of the consumer to interpret. Also, Montana has colleges and universities that offer a variety of foreign languages and if necessary it may be possible to utilize instructors or students from these programs to assist with interpreting or identifying community resources to assist with communication.

 

Coordination of the CSPD and IDEA

The VRB Services CSPD coordinates with the requirements of the CSPD under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in that both necessitate the following.

  1. A description of the procedures and activities that the State of Montana will take to ensure an adequate supply of qualified personnel.
  2. Detailed in-service training procedures to ensure that all personnel have access to training resources to enhance their professional skills, ultimately improving service delivery to consumers
  3. In-service training of all personnel.
  4. A system for determining, on an annual basis:

  • The number and type of personnel needed
  • Which institutions of higher education in the state are preparing vocational rehabilitation personnel, the number of students enrolled in the programs, the number who graduate with credentials to qualify for employment with the agency, and
  • When to recruit, prepare, and retain qualified personnel, including personnel from minority backgrounds, and personnel with significant disabilities.

The HRD Specialist continues to explore ways of coordinating training between VRB Services, OPI, and the schools. Across the state, there are a number of transition fairs that are held annually at the high schools. VRB Services presents at the transition fairs, and provides information regarding VRB Services and how to access those services.

This screen was last updated on Jul 28 2014 2:29PM by Michael Hermanson

Attachment 4.11(a) Statewide Assessment

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

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

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

The Rehabilitation Act, as amended in 1998, requires each state to conduct a statewide assessment every 3 years. The recently completed 3 year Needs Assessment was a statewide assessment, jointly conducted by Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services (VRB Services) and the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC). This assessment examines the need to establish develop or improve community rehabilitation programs, and the rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities, particularly the vocational rehabilitation needs of:

  1. Individuals with the most significant disabilities including their needs for supported employment services;
  2. Individuals who are minorities and individuals with disabilities who have not been served or are underserved by VRB Services;
  3. Individuals with disabilities served through other components of the statewide workforce investment system;

Three types of input were analyzed:

  1. Direct inputs such as the consumer satisfaction survey, VRB Services counselor survey, focus forums (small regional groups of consumers), consumer survey related to status 30 contacts, and the public hearings.
  2. Other indicators such as the Client Assistance Program report of needs, SRC input, demographic trends, involvement with the State Employment Leadership Network (SELN), program evaluation tools (such as the standards and indicators and federal annual report), and our current strategic plan summary.
  3. Priorities from other programs such as the federal priorities, and legislative priorities.

Method:

The most recent complete assessment took place between October 1, 2010 and June 14, 2013. As indicated above, the assessment sought information from a number of sources.

A consumer satisfaction survey was sent to consumers of VRB Services each of the last three years: approximately 1,750 surveys were sent out each year. The survey response rate was between 20 and 25 percent each year.

A public hearing was held each of the last three years, with each providing general input on improving the VRB Services program and input on the draft goals, activities and performance measures of the VRB Services’ strategic plan. Teleconferencing sites were located in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, Miles City and Missoula for all of the hearings. For the 2012 hearing, a rural site (Glasgow) was added. For the 2013 hearing again a rural site (Havre) was added. In addition, during the 2012 and 2013 hearings a call in option was available to join the hearing. During 2013, a link to provide public comment was added to the Disability Employment and Transitions website. Also, during FY 2012, public hearings separate from the statewide public hearing were held on 4 of the reservations located in Montana (Blackfeet, Fort Peck, Fort Belknap, and Northern Cheyenne.) Participation at the statewide public hearing each year ranged from about 60 participants to over 100 participants. Written comments were also accepted. From 10 to 100 written comments were received each year.

In May of 2012, VRB Services’ counselors were surveyed to gather input on their perceived needs of the consumers that they serve and 13 counselors responded.

In FY 2013, Six Section 121 tribal vocational rehabilitation projects were surveyed and VRB Services received responses from four of the project directors.

In FY 2013, VRB Services conducted phone interviews with 69 consumers who were closed in status 30 as either refused services or failure to cooperate in order to assess the reason for leaving services in more detail.

Throughout fiscal year 2012 and 2013, VRB Services was involved with the State Employment Leadership Network (SELN), which is a group of agency personnel, community rehabilitation providers, and consumers that are planning to make integrated community placement a goal for all Montanans with intellectual disabilities.

VRB Services’ management staff and the SRC met on January 17th, 2013 to discuss the results of the comprehensive needs assessment, and to provide further input on the needs of Montanans with disabilities. Following that meeting a draft of the strategic plan was developed. On May 10, 2013, the management staff, SRC the Statewide Independent Living Council, and Client Assistance Program representative met to review the draft plan and provide additional input. On June 14, 2013, VRB Services’ management team met and finalized the strategic plan.

Needs of individuals with disabilities who have the most significant disabilities, including their need for supported employment services:

An individual with a "most significant disability" means an individual with a disability who meets the criteria for having a significant disability and in addition has serious limitations in three or more functional capacities (such as, but not limited to, mobility, communication, self-care, self-direction, interpersonal skills, work tolerance, or work skills) in terms of employment outcome. In addition, the person will require multiple services over an extended period of time. Findings of the comprehensive statewide needs assessment for individuals with the most significant disabilities indicate needs for:

  • Expansion of services in rural areas
  • Reduction of the extended support services waiting list for supported employment
  • Assistance with Social Security work incentives and protection of current SSI/SSDI benefits
  • Increases in earnings and benefits
  • Better transportation services
  • Contact with mental health centers and promotion of supported employment services
  • Assistance at the high school level with independent living and social skills
  • Increased services for individuals with disabilities who are minorities and individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved
  • The need for a separate advisory group for persons with low vision or blindness.
  • Concern about persons with disabilities being paid below minimum wage

Native Americans

According to 2010 census data 89.4% of Montana’s population is white and 6.3% is American Indian or Alaska Native persons. Persons reporting two or more races made up 2.5% of the population. In Montana, for most persons reporting two or more races, at least one of the races would be American Indian. Other minorities make up the remaining 1.8% of the population. Six Section 121 Native American VR projects are located in Montana, covering six of the seven reservations located in Montana. Although most Native Americans on or near the reservation prefer to be served by their Section 121 project, a number are served by VRB Services or by both VRB Services and the Section 121 project. In FY 2013, VRB served 1,425 minority consumers (17.6% of the caseload), of which 719 were Native American, 326 were of two or more races, 81 African Americans, 29 were Asian American, 250 were Hispanic/Latino and 20 were Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. The majority of Native American Montanans live on reservations. Many more live just outside the reservation. However, Montana does have a number of urban areas that have a number of Native American residents. This population is served by Native American service centers (Billings, Butte, Helena, Missoula, and Great Falls). Staff of VRB Services maintain contact with the Native American Services Centers to seek appropriate referrals and to obtain information on the needs of Native Americans with disabilities residing away from reservations. Input on issues related to serving Native Americans with disabilities was received from Section 121 Directors and public hearings conducted on reservations. Input received included:

  • The Crow Nation should be encouraged to apply for a tribal vocational rehabilitation project
  • There is a need for independent living services on the reservations
  • There is a need for assistance related to the Ticket to Work Program
  • Montana VRB Services’ counselors need to make appropriate follow up when there are referrals from a tribal vocational rehabilitation project
  • There is a need for assistance related to assistive technology
  • Transportation difficulties limit access to employment on reservations
  • It is difficult to develop plans for employment due to lack of resources on the reservation
  • There are problems getting good documentation of disability. Indian Health records are available, but often there is a wealth of information that is provided with little of the information relevant to the person’s disabling conditions, particularly impediments to employment. Setting up appointments to get adequate documentation is difficult. Psychological testing and other specialty testing often requires going to a site off the reservation
  • There is a lack of job opportunities on the reservations and many of the consumers are not interested in leaving the reservation
  • There is a lack of sheltered and supported employment opportunities on reservations
  • There is also some difficulty serving hearing impaired persons on the reservations, but on the Blackfeet reservation there have been some procedures developed that have been successful
  • There needs to be assistance for helping tribal members develop their own businesses
  • It is difficult to identify tribal members who have hidden disabilities

Persons with Mental Disabilities including Severe and Persistent Mental Illness

In recent years, the disability makeup of VRB Services’ caseload has significantly changed. In 1986, 69% of the consumers had physical disabilities, 19% had mental disabilities, and 12% had sensory disabilities. In 2013, 34% of the consumers had physical disabilities, 54% had mental disabilities, and 12% had sensory disabilities. The number of cases with mental disabilities has significantly increased, especially in areas like severe and persistent mental illness, learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. While the numbers served have grown, the fact that many of the VRB Services’ staff have had less experience working with this population has led to the SRC considering consumers with mental disabilities an underserved group because VRB Services’ counselors may not be able to provide the same level of quality with this group of consumers. Findings of the comprehensive statewide needs assessment for individuals with mental disabilities including severe and persistent mental illness include:

  • The need for more mental health centers to provide job placement and supported employment services
  • More information regarding Social Security Work Incentives
  • Improved transportation options
  • Better communication between VRB Services and the Addictive and Mental Disorders Division
  • The need for a statewide task force to work on improving long-term follow along services for persons with mental disabilities

Status 30 Closure Phone Interviews

Most of the consumers who were interviewed indicated the following reasons for discontinuing VR services prior to initiating a plan:

  • Personal problems took precedence over vocational goal

  • No longer required VR assistance

  • Disability was too debilitating to consider planning for work

Attachment 4.11(d) State’s Strategies Assessment of need to establish, develop, or improve CRPs programs within the state. VRB continually assesses the need to establish, develop and improve CRPs utilizing all of the methods described throughout attachment 4.11 (a). Among the need areas being addressed at this time include:

1) Expansion of services to rural and remote areas by the continued certification of private providers who meet VRB Services’ qualification levels for job assistance and supported employment services

2) Expansion of mental health providers as CRP’s to serve those with severe and persistent mental illness

3) Planning for the needs of consumers requiring higher level of long-term supports was identified through participation with the SELN.

In the upcoming year a new comprehensive needs assessment process will begin. The process will be similar to the process of the last three year assessment. The following is an outline of the planned activities that will make up the comprehensive statewide assessment:

  • Each year there will be a customer satisfaction survey conducted and an analysis of the survey results.
  • A statewide town hall meeting will be held each of the three years to gather input from consumers and other stakeholders. Also, in 2015 if the local Section 121 project is agreeable, a town hall meeting will be held on each of the reservations with a Section 121 project to gather information on the needs of Native Americans.
  • In FY 2015 VRB Services’ counselors will be surveyed to gain their input on the needs of consumers.
  • VRB Services will continue to be involved with the State Employment Leadership Network to gather information on how VRB Services can assist with the Employment First initiative activities.
  • In late FY2015 the input that has been obtained from the previous activities will be presented to the VRB Services’ leadership team to assess and develop priorities for the upcoming strategic plan.
  • After a draft of priorities are developed, input on the priorities and potential strategies for achieving the priorities will be obtained from the SRC and if possible the SILC.
  • In early FY 2016 a final draft of the strategic plan will be presented to the SRC for any final recommendations.

This screen was last updated on Jul 28 2014 3:23PM by Michael Hermanson

Attachment 4.11(b) Annual Estimates

For Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2015 the Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services program (VRB Services) estimate that total projected program costs for both administrative and client services funded under Title I and Title VI-B will be $16,371,685 including both federal and non-federal funds. VRB Services projects an estimated overall deficit of $981,225 for FY 2015 in Title I funds and, as such, will continue to operate under an order of selection.

According to data provided by the 2012 American Community Survey, there are approximately 63,344 people with disabilities who are between the ages of 18 and 64 years of age residing in Montana. From this population data set, VRB Services anticipates serving 4,300 clients at a case cost of $13.1 million using Title I funding, with 816 consumers becoming employed. Our program also anticipates that a total of 200 consumers will receive Title IV-B Supported Employment services at an overall case cost of around $300,000 with an estimated 34 consumers employed in FFY 2015.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services first implemented order of selection in March 2014 and currently has only Priority Category Three closed. VRB Services anticipates no changes in the status of category closures for FFY 2015 at this time. The table below represents estimates based on preliminary FFY 2015 projections:

Category Title I or Title VI Estimated Funds Estimated Number to be Served Average Cost of Services
Priority Category One Title I $8,246,836 2,736 $3,014
Priority Category Two Title I $4,108,839 1248 $3,292
Priority Category Three Title I $755,240 316 $2,390
Priority Category One Title VI $300,000 200 $1,500
Totals   $13,410,915 4,500 $2,980

This screen was last updated on Jun 25 2014 3:33PM by Michael Hermanson

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.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services’ (VRB Services) mission is "Promoting work and independence for Montanans with disabilities". To accomplish this mission VRB Services and the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) have developed the goals and priorities, which are listed below. As stated in 4.11(a), VRB Services and the SRC met on January 17, 2013 to look at the results of the statewide needs assessment, and to begin development of the State Plan. VRB Services’ management staff, SRC, the Statewide Independent Living Council, and the Client Assistance Program representative met again in May 2013 to discuss the draft of the strategic plan, and to make final recommendations. Each of the preceding reviews included a review of the standards and indicators and yearly performance related to the standards and indicators. The goals and priorities established for the ensuing 2014-2016 were:

Goal 1: Assure high quality employment for Montanans with disabilities through the vocational rehabilitation program.

Goal 2: Improve the infrastructure that supports VRB Services in order to increase the agency’s potential to promote work and independence for Montanans with disabilities.

In order to achieve the preceding goals the following priorities were established:

Priority 1: The VRB Services’ delivery process will become more seamless through reducing procedures and practices that create unnecessary delay in the development of plans and delivery of services.

Performance Measure 1.1: Individualized Plans for Employment (IPE) will be developed within 120 days of a person becoming eligible or the counselor will obtain an approved waiver for a limited time extension.

Target: At least 90% of IPE extensions will be in the case file and valid.

Performance Measure 1.2: Reduce the number of status 30 closures.

Target: The number of status 30 closures will decrease each year of the plan.

Performance Measure 1.3: Decrease the number of pre-plan assessments (excluding assessments to determine eligibility).

Target: The number of pre-plan assessments (excluding assessments to determine eligibility) will decrease by 2% each year of the plan.

Priority 2: Employees of VRB Services will be satisfied with their jobs.

Performance Measure 2.1: High satisfaction will be expressed on the annual employee satisfaction survey.

Target: Positive responses on the survey for each question will be 85% or higher.

Performance Measure 2.2: Staff turnover will not be excessive.

Target: The number of VRB Services’ staff leaving for non-retirement reasons will be less than 10 persons each year.

Priority 3: VRB Services will have a quality community rehabilitation provider (CRP) network.

Performance Measure 3.1: There will be an increase in CRP job placement or job search referrals that lead to a successful placement.

Target:

The following percentages will be the targets for each year of the plan:

2014: above 30% 2015: above 31% 2016: above 32%

Performance Measure 3.2: The procedures for dealing with CRP compliance with contract and performance expectations will be implemented.

Target: Each report of issues related to CRP compliance will be investigated by regional personnel and a report of findings will be on file. Actions related to the report will have been implemented.

Performance Measure 3.3: There will be an increase in the weekly wages at closure earned by consumers served by CRPs.

Target: The weekly wages at closure earned by consumers served by CRPs will increase each year of the plan.

Performance Measure 3.4: Consumer satisfaction with CRP services will be monitored.

Target: A procedural guidance related to measuring consumer satisfaction with CRP activities will be completed by October 1, 2015 and performance measures and targets will also be developed.

Performance Measure 3.5: CRP vocational direct service staff will complete appropriate training or otherwise demonstrate competency.

Target: When the DPHHS training program is developed, CRPs will be required to have vocational direct service staff successfully complete the training within a specific period of time or complete a competency exam. If this is not done, the CRP’s enrollment as a VR provider will be jeopardized.

Priority 4: VRB Services will increase its capacity to serve un-served and underserved populations.

Performance Measure 4.1: VRB Services will utilize caseload based data and census data to identify specific issues related to unserved or underserved populations.

Target: Issues identified by the caseload research and census research will generate guidance addressing issues that are impacting unserved or underserved populations.

Priority 5: VRB Services will increase its capacity to serve transition age (14-24) youth with disabilities.

Performance Measure 5.1: VRB Services will increase the number of IEPs completed with transition youth before they graduate from high school.

Target: The number of IEPs completed with transition youth before they graduate from high school will increase each year of the plan.

Performance Measure 5.2: VRB Services will increase the number of 26 closures for transitions age (14-24) youth.

Target: The number of 26 closures for transitions age consumers will increase by 3% each year of the plan.

Performance Measure 5.3: VRB Services will increase the number of transition age youth (14-24) served.

Target: The number of transitions age youth served will increase by 5% each year of the plan.

Priority 6: VRB Services will increase the quality of successful closures by placing more consumers in positions that pay a living wage and have employee benefits.

Performance Measure 6.1: On the consumer satisfaction survey, 26 closures will indicate VRB Services assisted them in meeting their needs.

Target: For the question "I believe the program has met most of my needs." 90% of the responses from 26 closures will be positive.

Performance Measure 6.2: Real income for 26 closures will increase.

Target: Wages at closure combined with benefits income for 26 closures will increase faster than the rate of inflation for each year of the plan.

Performance Measure 6.3: The number of 26 closures with health benefits will increase.

Targets: The percentage of 26 closures that have health benefits provided by employers will increase each of the three years of the plan.

The percentage of 26 closures that have employer provided health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare will increase each year of the plan.

Priority 7: VRB Services will become a model of an accessible work place for individuals with disabilities.

Performance Measure: 7.1: VRB Services will address identified barriers to accessibility in VRB Services’ offices.

Targets: Each year of the plan, VRB Services will address barriers to accessibility identified in accessibility studies conducted in 2012. When all the identified barriers are removed the target will be met.

When VRB Services changes to or adds a new office, an accessibility study will be completed within a year and a plan will be developed to address identified accessibility barriers. When all identified barriers are removed the target will be met.

When individual employees have a specific accessibility barrier not addressed in the preceding surveys, they will report the barrier to their supervisor, and the issue will be assessed and a plan for removal developed. When all individualized barriers are removed the target will be met.

Performance Measure 7.2: VRB Services will work to be a resource for making the network of services for persons with a disability accessible.

Target: VRB Services will develop and provide guidance procedures for staff on information that can be provided to other agencies in the network on resources available for addressing the workplace for accessibility.

This screen was last updated on Jun 25 2014 2:35PM by Michael Hermanson

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

Justification for order of selectionSince Montana’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services program (VRB Services) does not believe it will be able to serve all eligible individuals with the available financial resources, it has implemented an order of selection.

 

Description of Priority categories

Description of Priority categories:The Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Service program has established the following three priority categories under order of selection:

Priority Category One - Most Significantly Disabled (MSD): Eligible individuals with serious functional limitations in three or more functional capacities, and who will require multiple services over an extended period of time.

SD Priority Category Two: Eligible individual(s) with serious functional limitations in one or more functional capacities, and who will require multiple services over an extended period of time.

- OR - The individual is a recipient of Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as a result of disability or blindness.

NSD Priority Category Three: All other eligible individuals with disabilities.

 

Priority of categories to receive VR services under the order

Priority of categories to receive VR services under the orderThose individuals in Priority Category One will have the highest priority and will be served first, followed by individuals in Priority Category Two, and finally by those individuals in Priority Category Three. All individuals within a higher priority category will be served before any individual in the next lowest priority category.

Regardless of which category closure scenario is in effect, eligible individuals will be released from the statewide waiting list first by priority category; then by order of application date.

 

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

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

The time frame for achieving these goals by priority category are depicted in the table below:

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 2,936 509 533 Immediately to one year $8,546,836
2 1,248 266 212 Immediately to two years $4,108,839
3 316 75 100 Six months to three years $755,240

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 12:43PM by Michael Hermanson

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.

Supported employment services are provided on a statewide basis through the Title VI, Part B funds. Supported employment is competitive employment or employment in integrated work settings in which individuals are working toward competitive work, with ongoing support services for individuals with the most significant disabilities for whom competitive employment has not traditionally occurred or for whom competitive employment has been interrupted or intermittent as a result of a significant disability. Fund allocation on a statewide basis ensures an equitable statewide service delivery.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services (VRB Services) will continue to encumber TitleVI, Part B funds on a fee-for service basis. When supported employment services exhaust Title VI, Part B funds, then Title I funds will be utilized to provide needed supported employment services. In that way, consumers in need of supported employment services will continue to be served. In compliance with the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, VRB Services will expend.

The goal of the state’s supported employment program is to maintain a system whereby individuals with the most significant disabilities are afforded the opportunity to participate in integrated competitive employment. VRB Services estimates that approximately $375,000 will be expended on Supported Employment services in FY 2014. Funding sources include: $300,000 in Title VI, Part B funds, supplemented with approximately $75,000 in Title 1 funds. It is estimated that a total of 250 consumers will receive supported employment services, and that there will be 43 supported employment consumers employed.

VRB Services has identified the following sources of funding for extended services. Each funding source has a different group of providers for the services, but most of the extended services providers are enrolled CRPs with VRB Services.:A. Extended Employment - Rocky Mountain RehabB. Mental Health cooperative agreement C. Developmental Disabilities cooperative agreementD. Private pay to CRP (CRP is signoff)E. Natural supportsF. Medicaid waiver programG. Utilize employment work expenses as an option for Social Security recipients.

VRB Services prioritizes the use of supported employment models that maximize integration of person with the most significant disabilities in real work sites, doing meaningful work. VRB Services encourages expansion of models beyond enclaves and similar models and does not support the use of bench work models. VRB Services has a strong preference for individual placement models.

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 12:48PM by Michael Hermanson

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.

Methods Used to Expand and Improve Services to Individuals with Disabilities

The comprehensive needs assessment is the primary process for identifying areas related to innovation. Activities supported specifically by innovation and expansion funds include the consumer satisfaction survey and meetings for the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) and the Statewide Independent Living Council.

Other activities related to expanding services are detailed in below in activities to achieve goals and priorities.

 

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.

Identification of How a Broad Range of Assistive Technology Services and Assistive Technology Devices will be Provided at Each Stage of the Process

The primary method of providing assistive technology and devices to consumers has been through the relationship with MonTECH of the University of Montana Rural Institute (Rural Institute). MonTECH is Montana’s federally funded assistive technology project since 1991. MonTECH’s primary purpose is to assist individuals with disabilities to maintain or increase their level of functioning and independence in all environments through the access to and use of assistive technology devises and services to consumers throughout the state.

The current strategy for more effectively using MonTECH’s resources is an annual training for Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind (VRB) Services staff to learn more about the services available through MonTECH and how to access them.

The Blind and Low Vision Services (BLVS) assistive technology specialist provides training and support to BLVS consumers and staff on technology related to blind and low vision issues.

Description of How Assistive Technology Services and Devices will be Provided on a Statewide Basis.

MonTECH has implemented a process of demonstrating equipment and assessing technology needs through the use of video conferencing via computer. VRB hopes to assist with expansion of these efforts through expanding the computer communication technology available in VRB Services offices. Each VRB Services office has been provided with a variety of assistive technology items that are commonly used by persons with disabilities. MonTECH will be able to assist with the demonstrations of this equipment through the video conferencing systems.

Each BLVS regional office has a rehabilitation teacher who has background in technology related to blind and low vision and each regional office has some demonstration equipment available for consumers to test equipment before purchase. MonTECH provides additional demonstration equipment to the three BLVS offices outside of Missoula (MonTECH is located in Missoula and their office supplements the BLVS resources for that region).

 

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

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

Native Americans represent the only significant minority group in Montana. Montana has seven reservations and some of the reservations are home to more than one tribe. Each reservation has an autonomous governing body. In addition, the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe is granted Montana recognition, but not federal recognition, and does not have a reservation. VRB Services has counselors who serve consumers on each reservation. These counselors coordinate with Section 121 project staff to identify potential referrals and resources. Native Americans with disabilities living on reservations face unique challenges.

  • First, they are eligible for a combination of tribal, federal, and state programs to meet their vocational and health needs. This requires extensive coordination and cooperation between agencies.
  • Secondly, they are faced with significant cultural and economic barriers. Unemployment on these reservations varies from 24% to 70% (Bureau of Indian Affairs, US Department of the Interior, 2007). Today there are very few private or self-employment opportunities on reservations: most employment comes through tribal and federal programs.

Six Section 121 vocational rehabilitation projects (Confederated Salish & Kootenai, Blackfeet, Chippewa Cree, Assiniboine Sioux, Fort Belknap, and Chief Dull Knife College) are located in Montana. This gives improved access to vocational rehabilitation services for Native Americans with disabilities residing on or near reservations served by the projects. Section 121 projects have a better grasp of the cultural and service delivery barriers that exist on reservations and can help support VRB Services’ counselors as needed.

VRB Services’ counselors assigned to these six reservations coordinate with each project staff as needed. In addition, the VRB Services’ program manager visits each 121 project annually and provides technical assistance when requested.

In some cases, VRB Services has access to specialized programs, or services, which are not always found on reservations. VRB Services efforts are to network, coordinate, offer technical assistance, and provide training opportunities for project staff to ensure consumers with disabilities have access to the full range of vocational rehabilitation services. Cooperative agreements have been completed with each of the Section 121 projects and are monitored on an annual basis.

In order to ensure that VRB Services is meeting the needs of Native Americans that do not live on or near the reservation, VRB Services’ staff met with: Missoula Native American Center, Helena Indian Alliance, Great Falls Indian Family Health Center, Butte - North American Indian Alliance, and the Indian Health Board of Billings Clinic. VRB Services provided program and referral information regarding VRB Services and the transitions services for youth. In Great Falls, a counselor has been assigned as a liaison to the Indian Family Health Center to ensure that those eligible for VRB Services receive the appropriate information. During the fall 2013 SRC meeting a group from the Helena Native American Pow Wow organization provided a presentation on issues related to urban Native Americans.

Identification of Outreach Procedures Used to Identify and Serve Individuals with Disabilities who have been Unserved or Underserved by VRB

For several years VRB Services has considered Native Americans as the unserved/underserved population of the state. In addition, VRB Services is currently conducting an assessment of case work data to determine other potential unserved/underserved populations and will be developing outreach strategies for the groups identified.

 

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

Plans for Establishing, Developing, or Improving Community Rehabilitation Programs

VRB Services continually assesses the need to establish, develop and improve community rehabilitation programs (CRP) utilizing all of the methods described throughout attachment 4.11 (a). The need areas being addressed at this time include:

1. Expansion of services to rural and remote areas by the continued certification of private providers who meet VRB qualification levels for job placement and job coaching services

2. Expansion of mental health providers as CRP’s to serve those with severe and persistent mental illness

In the past two years, through the collaboration with multiple agencies, CRPs, and consumers involved with the State Employment Leadership Network, many initiatives are under consideration that will increase the number of persons with significant intellectual disabilities to be placed in competitive community employment. A significant number of the initiatives under consideration include assisting CRP services to be prepared to serve this population. One initiative that has been started is to develop web based training for vocational services staff of CRPs that will be required by both VRB Services and the Developmental Disabilities Program.

 

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

Describe Strategies to Improve the Performance with Respect to the Evaluation Standards and Performance Indicators:

Many of the strategies developed to meet the goals established by the comprehensive needs assessments are aimed at improving the standards and performance indicators of VRB Services. Those strategies are detailed below in the section on activities to achieve goals and objectives. Also, VRB Services has incorporated the standards and indicators into performance appraisals for staff. VRB Services and the SRC will continue to monitor the performance outcomes throughout the year and work to consult with VRB Services’ regional administrators to assure compliance in meeting the required indicators. VRB Services tracks the indicators on a quarterly basis so adjustments can be made in areas that may need some attention.

 

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

Strategies for Assisting other Components of the Statewide Workforce Investment System in Assisting individuals with Disabilities

VRB Services staff are members of the local community management teams (CMTs). As members of these teams, VRB Services staff offer consultation and technical assistance on disability issues as needed. Also, most of the enrolled CRPs are active members of the CMTs.

 

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.

Agency’s strategies to: Achieve Goals and Priorities Identified in Attachment 4.11 (c)(1)

In May 2013, the management staff of VRB Services met with representatives of the SRC to discuss comprehensive needs and priorities for the upcoming year. The group looked at formal input from public hearings, focus forums, VRB staff, consumer satisfaction survey, Client Assistance Program, SRC, state and national sources (CSAVR, RSA policy changes, legislative activities, umbrella agency activities), and other surveys. Information from this meeting is used to plan for the next three years and for the legislature. VRB Services and the SRC have developed the goals, objectives, and strategies. In addition performance measures have also been identified and will be used over the three years of the plan to measure progress.

For the strategic plan covering FFY 2014 through FFY2016, the format of strategies was changed. In past plans, strategies were connected to specific priorities or objectives. In reviewing this plan’s strategies, it was determined that several strategies applied to multiple priorities. Therefore, the strategies will not be listed with specific priorities. Rather, the priorities will be listed numerically and then after the strategy, the priorities that are expected to be impacted will be listed.

VRB SERVICES’ STRATEGIC PLAN 2014-16

Goal 1: Assure high quality employment for Montanans with disabilities through VRB.

Goal 2: Improve the infrastructure that supports VRB in order to increase the agency’s potential to promote work and independence for Montanans with disabilities.Priority 1: The VRB Services’ delivery process will become more seamless through reducing procedures and practices that create unnecessary delay in the development of plans and delivery of services.

Priority 2: VRB Services’ employees will be satisfied with their jobs.

Priority 3: VRB Services will have a quality community rehabilitation provider network.

Priority 4: VRB Services will increase its capacity to serve un-served and underserved populations.

Priority 5: VRB will increase its capacity to serve transition age (14-24) youth with disabilities.

Priority 6: VRB Services will increase the quality of successful closures by placing more consumers in positions that pay a living wage and have employee benefits.

Priority 7: VRB Services will become a model of an accessible work place for individuals with disabilities.

Strategies to Address Priorities

Expand options in areas such as self-employment, online and home employment, including expanding the Business Enterprise Program.

Priorities addressed: 1, 4, and 6

Develop additional consumer support and input mechanisms for the Blind and Low Vision Services (BLVS) program, such as establishing an advisory group.

Priorities addressed: 1, 4, 5, and 6

Be able to provide more assistance to consumers related to assistive technology.

Priorities addressed: 4, 5, and 6

Use technology to assist counselors in having more time to work with consumers and less time doing paper work.

Priorities addressed: 1, 2, and 7

Improve VRB Services counselor’s relationships with employers.

Priorities addressed: 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7

Develop and provide guidance on transition age timelines.

Priorities addressed: 1, 2, and 5

Implement new CRP compliance procedure.

Priorities addressed: 1, 2, and 3

Develop procedures to increase quality/quantity of services in rural areas.

Priorities addressed: 1, 2, and 4

Review wait time for supported employment and provide guidance on reducing the time involved or approaches for adding value to the wait time.

Priorities addressed: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5

Develop a paperless case management and vendor payment system.

Priorities addressed: 1, 2, 3, and 7

Improve working relationship with mental health agencies.

Priorities addressed: 3, 4, and 5

Improve working relationships with Development Disabilities Program.

Priorities addressed: 3, 4, and 5

Provide training and ideas for serving individuals with autism.

Priorities addressed: 4 and 5

Explore alternatives for job placement services.

Priorities addressed: 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6

Support initiatives and procedures that increase opportunities for persons with disabilities to obtain state and federal government jobs.

Priorities addressed: 4, 5, and 6

Encourage regular meetings between VRB Services and Section 121 Project staff.

Priorities addressed: 1, 4

Review potential of streamlining eligibility process for dual cases with Section 121 projects.

Priorities addressed: 1, 4

Utilize counseling techniques that are less directive. This will increase consumer motivation to participate in the process.

Priorities addressed: 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6

Review supports and orientation procedures for new counselors to ensure their start with VRB Services is a positive and productive period.

Priorities addressed: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7

Continue to explore methods to facilitate increased productive and supportive communication between counselors. The emphasis should be on supporting the counselors in smaller offices. Utilize tools such as interactive video to facilitate such activities.

Priorities addressed: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,

Explore methods and techniques for an ongoing consistent approach to providing feedback to counselors and obtaining feedback from counselors.

Priorities addressed: 1, 2,

Ensure that staff are aware of training requirements and opportunities for possible advancement in the agency.

Priorities addressed: 2

Encourage CRPs to be active in Community Management Team activities.

Priorities addressed: 3, 4, and 6

Encourage staff participation in activities and conferences related to minority groups and other potentially unserved and underserved populations.

Priorities addressed: 2, 4

Explore providing training for counselors on how to effectively participate in the Individualized Education Plan process.

Priorities addressed: 1, 3, and 5

Build relationships with other youth oriented programs that can be contacted to increase the connections with transition age youth.

Priorities addressed: 4, 5

Explore methods for outreach to businesses on the benefits of working with VRB Services to gain employees.

Priorities addressed: 1, 6

Provide counselor training on new health care law.

Priorities addressed: 1, 2, and 6

Explore increased use of Working Well with a Disability, Living Well with a Disability classes and other programs that help consumers to prepare for employment.

Priorities addressed: 1, 4, 5, and 6

Explore partnerships to allow continued availability of Newsline provided through the National Federation of the Blind.

Priorities addressed: 4 and 6

 

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 12:53PM by Michael Hermanson

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

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

Evaluation of progress made towards achieving program goals and objectives identified in Attachment 4.11 (c) (1). The evaluation reports on significant impacts of specific activities related to the goals and objectives and an overall review of the performance indicators set for each objective.

Goal 1: Improve the infrastructure that supports Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services (VRB Services) in order to increase the agency’s potential to promote work and independence for Montanans with disabilities.

Objective 1.1: Increase transportation options for Montanans with disabilities that impact employment opportunities for consumers of VRB Services.

Strategies that have had an impact:

  • Ensure that information and the resources gathered by the Disability Employment and Transitions Division’s transportation coordinator get distributed to all staff on a regular basis. This has occurred throughout the last three years.
  • The organization of transportation providers initiated dispatching software to assist consumers when scheduling transportation.

Performance Measures:

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, VRB will decrease the number of cases closed because of transportation barriers from the previous year.

Benchmark 2010 total: 5 closed cases with transportation barriers noted as reason.

Analysis: After collecting the information from the data system, it became apparent that this data may not be an accurate measure for the objective. There was discussion with the regional administrators (RA) regarding the measure. The actual coding of transportation difficulties is not made unless it is the only difficulty in placement. After review of the measure and coding guidelines used by staff, it was determined that this was an inappropriate measure and gathering the information was discontinued. There has been no measure identified to take its place.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, each region will report successful transportation initiatives in their area to the state office. The regional reports will be consolidated into a state report and distributed to the regional administrators and State Rehabilitation Council (SRC).

Regional transportation initiatives that have been implemented with the assistance of the transportation coordinator during the three years of the plan:

  • VRB Services’ offices in all regions are working with the transportation coordinator to get quotes for vehicle repairs, tires, and other repairs.
  • Through working with the transportation coordinator there is better representation of VR staff and consumers at local transportation advisory committees. This is important because these committees make many of the decisions of how funding for public transportation will be utilized. Having a stronger representation at the meetings increases the chances of funding being used to meet the needs of VRB consumers.
  • Regional offices have collaborated with local transit providers to make obtaining bus passes easier for consumers and cheaper for VRB Services.

Objective 1.2: VRB Services will implement procedures and practices that improve counselor infrastructure/supports to increase quality time spent with clients and improve client outcomes.

Strategies that had an impact:

  • MonTECH provided training on assistive technology stations that were developed at each office.
  • In order to make contacts in rural areas, counselors are utilizing videoconferencing techniques more often. Examples include:

  1. Addressing consumer needs in rural areas
  2. Coordinating inter office communication
  3. Training Activities

  • Counselors are increasing the use of new orientation booklets and other procedures to streamline the process of orienting new consumers to VRB Services, which has allowed counselors to focus on plan development and counseling activities.
  • A counselor position was added to the Havre office. This office has the largest travel territory in the state and services three reservations. The addition of a counselor in this territory will help increase the amount of quality time spent with clients and VRB Services anticipates improved client outcomes for the Havre office.

2013 analysis: The number of initiatives that have been identified and implemented is considered to be significant and therefore progress in this regard has been successful.

Performance Measures:

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, VRB Services will meet the standards and indicators.

There are two evaluation standards: VRB Services met the overall standards and indicators for FFY 13. VRB Services missed one indicator: the rehabilitation rate (percentage of people receiving services who had employment outcomes). The rehabilitation rate has been an ongoing concern - currently Montana is at 47.9% and the standard is 55.8%

2013 analysis: Because the overall requirements have been met or exceeded, VRB Services has had adequate progress on this measure.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, there will be a decrease in the number of waivers from the previous year for extended time between the time a consumer is found eligible for services and the IPE (Individualized Plan for Employment) is completed.

Benchmark, 2010 total: 2,540 waivers.

Through September 30, 2011: 2,282 waivers This is a 10.2% decrease from the previous year.

Through September 30, 2012: 2,198 waivers This is a 3.7% decrease from the previous year.

Through September 30, 2013: 1,662 waivers This is a 24.4% decrease from eth previous year.

There was a 34.6% decrease from baseline over the three years of the plan.

2013 analysis: The revision of the IPE extension policy and template were completed in FFY2013. VRB Services continues to significantly reduce the rate of IPE extension waivers. This performance measure will again be included in the regional administrator’s regional plan for FFY14.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, the positive ratings in the consumer satisfaction survey on the questions: “My relationship with my counselor has been helpful and productive.” and “How would you rate the quality of service you received?” will be at least 85%.

It should be noted that because the consumer satisfaction survey is done on a calendar year basis, the findings reflect the surveys conducted during a calendar year and not fiscal year.

It should be noted that on the Blind and Low Vision Services (BLVS) survey, this question reads: “My relationship with Blind and Low Vision Services has been helpful and productive?” The reason for the difference between the two questions is that consumers of BLVS services often interact with other professional staff (such as orientation and mobility personnel) in addition to the counselor.

Benchmark: 85%

For Calendar Year 2011: The positive satisfaction rating for the question:“My relationship with my counselor has been helpful, timely and productive was 85%.

For Calendar Year 2012: The positive satisfaction rating was 88.2%.

For Calendar Year 2013: The positive satisfaction rating was 83.9%.

For Calendar Years 2011 through 2013: The positive satisfaction rating was 86.4%.

For the second question, it should be noted that beginning in FFY 2010, the question “How would you rate the quality of service you received?” was changed to “I am satisfied with the quality of service received.”

Benchmark: 85%

For Calendar Year 2011: The positive satisfaction rating for the question “I am satisfied with the quality of service received.” was 83%.

For Calendar Year 2012: The positive satisfaction rating was 86.9%.

For Calendar Year 2013: The positive satisfaction rating was 79.9%.

For Calendar Years 2011 through 2013: The positive satisfaction rating was 85.0%.

2013 Analysis: Over the three-year period, the target was met, although in FFY13, the positive satisfaction rating for both questions dropped below 85%. While counselor turn-over has decreased, the advent of new counselors who are not fully experienced may have affected the outcome on these two survey questions in FFY13. VRB Services will continue to monitor the results from the consumer satisfaction survey, and will look at possible strategies to increase the satisfaction rate if the targeted response falls below 85% on these two survey questions in FFY14.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, the number of counselor sick days used will decrease from the previous year.

Benchmark:Sick leave days used in the first quarter of State FY (July 1 to June 30) 2011:790

Sick leave days used in the first quarter of State FY 2012: 692.

Analysis: This proved to be a difficult measure to obtain and the value of the measure was questioned. Therefore, the measure was discontinued. VRB Services is exploring measures that may be more appropriate including the development of an employee satisfaction survey.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, there will be a decrease in calls to Client Assistance Program (CAP)from the previous year.

Benchmark: Montana CAP reports that in FFY 2010 there were 154 service requests. These requests include referrals related to Independent Living (IL), tribal VR programs, and employment discrimination of VR consumers. CAP does not keep records differentiating the type of referral. However, VRB Services’ cases make up the vast majority of the cases and changes in the volume of referrals over a given time period likely reflect changes in the volume of VRB Services related referrals.

In FFY11: There were 170 service requests

In FFY12: There were 139 service requests

In FFY13: There were 85 VRB Services referrals to CAP. For the 2013 report CAP was able to remove the referrals related to IL, Tribal VRB Services program referrals, and employment discrimination of VR counselors. In the previous years, IL referrals, Tribal VR program referrals, and employment discrimination of VR counselors had been included. It is believed that the number reported would have been a decrease as the number of calls related to the other issues is not that high.

2013 analysis: The number of CAP referrals continues to reduce significantly. It should be noted that CAP referrals are not necessarily considered "bad." Often counselors will refer their clients to CAP when there is a disagreement over VR services; this is a practice that should be encouraged, and not discouraged. RAs will continue to monitor the type of complaints, as well as number of complaints received in their region; they will follow-up with staff if there are notable trends/spikes in their region.

Objective 1.3: Establish and/or enhance effective working relationships with a broad range of organizations that assist individuals with disabilities in achieving employment.

Strategies that have had an impact:

  • Setting up VRB Services informational meetings at other agencies such as mental health programs and Job Services to inform participants of those agencies of VRB Services.
  • Attending Veteran Stand Downs.
  • Implementation of "Adopt a School"; counselors have regular "office hours" at targeted high schools in their region.

2013 analysis: VRB Services staff continues to work hard with establishing/enhancing effective working relationships with a broad range of organizations. Regular collaboration and communication with these entities can only improve their understanding of VRB Services as well as assist in developing a comprehensive network of services to serve consumers.

Performance Measures:

Each year of the plan, VRB will review the evidence of record (e.g. minutes, agendas, and agreements) for documentation of the participation of VRB in partnerships and collaborative efforts.

Strategies that had an impact:

  • As mentioned previously, there were MOUs developed with several transportation agencies around the state that will assist in providing addition funding to public transportation in the cities involved.
  • As a result of involvement with the State Employment Leadership Network, VRB Services and the Developmental Disabilities Program collaborated to develop a training program that will be available to CRP vocational personnel across the state.
  • As a result of collaboration created with the mental health organization in a small community in northern Montana, 16 individuals with significant psychiatric disabilities were successfully employed.

2013 analysis: Progress is adequate and no changes are planned at this time. Regions will continue to work collaboratively with the various service providers in their area.

Objective 1.4: Improve Disability Employment and Transitions Division’s compliance with relevant federal and state civil rights laws that prohibit disability discrimination.

Strategies that had an impact:

  • VRB Services spent most of the last year working on a new case management system that will be significantly more accessible than the current system. It is anticipated the system will be operational in FFY 2014.
  • VRB Services implemented accessing interpreters through video relay and has begun using this method across the state. This enhances interpreter options significantly for deaf and hard of hearing consumers.
  • VRB Services has had accessibility reviews of all but one of the field offices and the central office. During the three years of this plan many accessibility issues in the offices were addressed.

Performance Measures:

By the end of the first year of this plan, the Americans with Disabilities Act self-evaluation and Transition Plan for programs and facilities of Disability Employment and Transitions Division will have been completed.

The centers for independent living were contracted to do self-evaluations for the VRB Services’ offices in the center’s service area. Those evaluations were completed. The next step is for the office leaders to review the evaluations and to assign a priority for barriers identified in the evaluations. Then the offices will commence with the removal of the barriers. Analysis: The measure was met as the evaluations were completed. The quality of the evaluations was very high and will be very useful guides in removing barriers.

VRB Services continues to see this as an important objective and has an objective in the new three year plan that continues to address the issue. This includes moving a step further to becoming a resource for addressing accessibility for other agencies serving persons with disabilities.

By the end of the third year of this plan, there will be evidence of progress made on removing barriers identified in the Americans with Disabilities Act Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan.

The changes that were made include:

  • automatic doors have been installed in some offices
  • office furniture and other items have been rearranged in several offices
  • bathroom modifications were made in one office
  • curb cuts were installed at one office location
  • signage related to accessibility issues have been placed in offices
  • offices have arranged for more rapid snow removal
  • proper signage for an accessible entrance
  • reconfiguration of a ramp

2013 analysis: Many changes have been made since the accessibility evaluations were completed. These adjustments have made VRB Services’ offices more accessible to a variety of disabilities. VRB Services continues to commit to identifying and addressing accessibility issues.

Goal 2: Assure high quality employment for Montanans with disabilities through the vocational rehabilitation program.

Objective 2.1:Provide functionally equivalent services to unserved and underserved populations.

Strategies that had an impact:

  • During the last year the data available in case service system was reviewed in the areas of rural/urban populations, different disabilities, and minority populations to determine if there were indications of various groups in these categories being unserved or underserved.
  • Equipment and training have been provided to counselors serving deaf and hard of hearing consumers to utilize web based interpreters.
  • Several new CRPs have been added that serve rural areas and particularly persons with mental health disabilities in rural areas.
  • As a result of involvement with the Supported Employment Leadership Network collaboration changes have been made in VRB Services procedures that will enhance services for persons with severe developmental disabilities.
  • A counselor was added to the Havre office, which serves some of the most rural areas of the state and 3 reservations.

Performance Measures:

Have a procedure in place for identifying unserved and underserved populations at least one year prior to the next strategic planning session to get input from those groups for the strategic planning meeting.

As mentioned above, the analysis has been conducted with a variety of consumer groups. Some discrepancies have been identified. VRB Services is currently looking at factors that may have impacted the discrepancies. When this review is complete, plans for addressing the issues will be developed if appropriate.

Analysis: Progress on this measure slowed in the past year. There were significant differences identified with some specific groups compared to the general caseload. However, the process of determining if these differences are impacted by case practice or other issues has been a challenge that has required significantly more detailed analysis and time constraints have limited the follow-up analysis that can be done at this time.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, there will be an increase from the previous year in successful closures with health insurance benefits through employers of minority groups and other groups identified as unserved or underserved.

Benchmark, 2010 total: 16 of 96 total 26’s (16.7%) had health insurance benefits through employers.

FFY 2011: 16 closures of 86 total 26’s (18.6%) had health insurance benefits through employers. This is an 11.4% increase of the percentage of closures with health insurance from the previous year.

FFY 2012: 14 of 116 total 26s with health insurance (12.1%). This is a 34.9% decrease of the percentage with health insurance from the previous year.

FFY 2013: 22 of 127 total 26s with health insurance (17.3%). This is a 4% increase of the percentage with health insurance from the previous year.

This was a 4 % increase from baseline over the three years.

2013 analysis: Because of the small numbers involved there has been high fluctuation between years, but at the end of the three year period a higher percentage of clients had insurance at case closure. This objective will remain in the new three-year strategic plan. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, there is an expectation that successful closures with health insurance will continue to increase each year. Additionally, VRB Services receives regular job announcements from the National Employment Team (NET), which includes federal positions as well as positions from the private sector. NET is in the process of implementing new software for counselor’s use (Talent Acquisition Portal). This software will enable the counselor to search for and match an individual’s skills to job openings that are posted both regionally and nation-wide. This is expected to start in 2014. VRB Services is hopeful that this new software will enable counselors to more closely match an individual’s skill set to specific job openings across the country and therefore improve our employment rate, as well as improve wages and access to employee sponsored health care.

Each year, the positive ratings in the consumer satisfaction survey for the question “I am satisfied with the plan my counselor and I developed to meet my needs to achieve my employment goal” will be at least 90% for 26 closures of consumers from minority groups and other groups identified as unserved and underserved.

Benchmark: 90%

Through Calendar Year 2011: 77%

Through Calendar Year 2012: 100%

Through Calendar Year 2013: 100%

2013 analysis: VRB Services did meet the goal of 90%. The agency is hopeful the positive reports will continue. Because of the small population involved, this measure may fluctuate significantly between years.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, there will be an increase in the number of consumers from minority groups and other unserved and underserved groups who have plans developed from the previous year.

Benchmark FFY 2010: 275 plans were developed for minority consumers.

FFY 2011: 248 plans were developed for minority consumers. This is a 9.8% decrease from the previous year.

FFY 2012: 369 plans were developed for minority consumers. This is a 48.8 % increase from the previous year.

FFY 2013: 348 plans were developed for minority consumers. This is a 5.7% decrease from the previous year.

There was a 26.5% increase from baseline during the three years.

2013 analysis: While there was a decrease in the number of plans developed from FY2012, overall there has been an increase since the baseline was taken in FY10. With the addition of a counselor in the Havre office (which serves three reservations), we expect that progress will continue with this indicator.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, standards and indicators related to minority ratio will be met.

Benchmark: Minority ratio must be greater than or equal to .80.

Ratio for FY 2011: .84

Ratio for FY 2012: .90

Ratio for FY 2012: .80

2013 analysis: VRB met this standard & indicator, therefore progress is adequate on the measure.

Objective 2.2: Develop a plan to address the high status 30-to-closure ratio.

Strategies that had an impact:

  • Conducting interviews with past status 30 closures.
  • Conducting Effective Counseling Timeliness training.

Performance Measurements:Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, there will be a 3% decrease in status 30s from the previous year.

Benchmark 2010: 1612 status 30 closures

FFY 2011: 1423 status 30 closures. This is an 11.7% decrease in the number of status 30 closures from the previous year.

FFY 2012: 1524 status 30 closures. This is a 7.1% increase from the previous year.

FFY 2013: 1327 status 30 closures. This is a 12.9% decrease from the previous year.

There was a 17.7% decrease from baseline over the three years.

2013 analysis: VRB Services continues to make progress in reducing the number of status 30 closures: there has been a 17.7% decrease (from baseline), which is a significant decrease from the 3% decrease per year that was initially anticipated. With RSA’s guidance, VRB Services has decreased the number of assessments completed, which in turn has helped the timely completion of IPE’s. These strategies have reduced the number of status 30s overall.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, there will be a decrease in the ratio of status 30s to status 26s and status 28s from the previous year.Benchmark: 2010: The ratio of status 30s to status 26s and status 28s was: .94

FFY 2011: The ratio of 30s to 26s and 28s was: .88. This is a 6.4% decrease from the previous year.

FFY 2012: The ratio of 30s to 26s and 28s was: .87. This is a 1.0% decrease from the previous year.

FFY 2013: The ratio of 30s to 26s and 28s was: .71%. This is an 18.4% decrease from the previous year.

There was a 24.5% decrease from baseline over the three years.

2013 analysis: VRB Services progress in this realm has significantly improved each year. This improvement is attributed to VRB Services decreasing the number of pre-plan assessments and completing IPE’s in a timely manner. VRB Services expects this trend will continue in the coming year.

Objective 2.3: Provide rehabilitation services that lead to successful outcomes in employment for transition age youth 14-24 years of age.

Strategies that have had an impact:

VRB Services expanded the Adopt the School strategy developed in the Missoula school district to several other schools in the state. This included developing a statewide network of VRB Services transition counselors focusing on communication and collaboration between team members.

Development and implementation of the Transitions How to Guide.

Successful coordination with Montana Youth Transitions and Montana Youth Leadership Forum.

Performance Measurements:

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, increase the number of 26 closures for transitions age youth (14-24) by 3% over the previous year.

2010 benchmark: 161 26 closures of transition age youth.

FFY 2011: 148 26 closures of transition age youth. This is an 8.1% decrease in the number of 26 closures of transition age from the previous year.

FFY 2012: 184 26 closures of transition age youth. This is a 24.3% increase in the number of 26 closures of transition age from the previous year.

FFY 2013: 184 26 closures of transition age youth. This is a 0% increase in the number of 26 closures of transition age from the previous year.

There was a 14.3% increase from baseline over the three years.

2013 analysis: VRB Services achieved significant improvement in FFY 2012, meeting and exceeding the criteria for this performance indicator. This improvement was attributed to 1) staff vacancies being filled, 2) the continued efforts of the VRB Services Transition Team in their local schools, and 3) the use of VRB Services Transitions marketing tools across the state. For Fiscal year 2013, it was anticipated that the increase in closures would continue. However, maintaining the significant gains of 2012 is an adequate achievement.

Increasing employment for youth with disabilities continues to be a high priority for VRB Services. It continues to be an objective of the new three year strategic plan. It is anticipated that there will be new effective strategies implemented and additional increases in the percentage of transition age youth will be seen in the upcoming years.

Each fiscal year, beginning with fiscal year 2011, increase the number of consumers of transitions age (14-24) on the VRB caseload by 5% over the previous year.

Benchmark: 2,065 transition age consumers on the VRB caseload (2010).

FFY 2011: 1,870 transition age consumers on the caseload. This is a 9.4% decrease from the previous year.

FFY 2012: 1,897 transition age consumers on the caseload. This is a 1.4% increase from previous year.

FFY 2013: 2,002 transition age consumers on the caseload. This is a 5.5% increase from the previous year.

There was a 3.1% decrease from baseline over the three years.

Analysis: VRB Services met the indicator with a year over year increase of over 5% for the first time in the three years of the plan. This improvement is attributed to 1) staff vacancies being filled, 2) the continued efforts of the VRB Services Transition Team in their local schools, and 3) the use of VRB Services Transitions marketing tools across the state. It is hoped that with increased experience of the Transition Team using the Adopt a School model that there will be a significant increase in the upcoming year.

Increasing the number of youth with disabilities served each year continues to be a high priority for VRB Services. It continues to be an objective of the new three year strategic plan. It is anticipated that there will be new effective strategies implemented and additional increases in the number of transition age youth served will be seen in the upcoming years.

 

VRB Services continually assesses the need to establish, develop and improve CRPs utilizing all of the methods described throughout attachment 4.11 (a). Among the need areas being addressed at this time include:

  • Expansion of services to rural and remote areas by the continued enrollment of private providers who meet VRB Services qualification levels for job placement and job coaching services. New providers are being developed in the northeastern section of Montana and in other remote areas of the state.
  • Expansion of mental health providers as CRP’s to serve those with severe and persistent mental illness VRB Services continues to work on this issue, but there has been no new providers added in the last year.
  • VRB Services in collaboration with the Developmental Disabilities Program is developing an on-line training to be required of all providers. This will provide a core set of information and techniques for all providers in the state.

 

Standard 1: Employment outcomes

1.1 Number of rehabilitations

Federal Requirement: at least as many as in the previous year

Montana Results: 896= 66 more than in 2012 Pass/Fail: Pass

1.2 Percent employed--Percentage of rehabilitations compared to all people who had plans written and were closed (Rehab rate)

Federal Requirement: at least 55.8%

Montana Results: 47.9% Pass/Fail: Fail

1.3 Employed competitively--percentage of rehabs who are getting at least minimum wage

Federal Requirement: at least 72.6%

Montana Results: 96.5% Pass/Fail: Pass

1.4 Significant Disability--Percentage of rehabilitations who are earning at least minimum wage who are significantly disabled

Federal Requirement: at least 62.4%

Montana Results: 84.7% Pass/Fail: Pass

1.5 Earnings ratio--Average hourly rate of rehabilitations who are earning at least minimum wage divided by the state’s average hourly earnings for all employed people

Federal Requirement: at least .52

Montana Results: .65 Pass/Fail: Pass

1.6 Self supporting--Look at all rehabilitations who are earning at least minimum wage. This item is the difference between the percent who report their own income as their largest source of support at closure and at application

Federal Requirement: at least 53.0

Montana Results: 53.1 Pass/Fail: Pass

Standard 2: Equal access / Minority ratio--service rate for minorities as a ratio to the service rate for non-minorities. Note: service rate is defined as the number of people who exited the VR program after receiving services divided by the total number of people exiting the program.

Federal Requirement: at least .80

Montana Results: .88 Pass/Fail: Pass

 

In 2013 I & E funds were used to:

  • Support the Statewide Independent Living Council and the SRC, which each meet four times during the year to conduct business. Expenditures included travel, stipends, supplies, meeting room rental, interpreters, and facilitation services.
  • To pay some costs related to the consumer satisfaction survey.

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 12:57PM by Michael Hermanson

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

Supported Employment Definition

The Act as amended defines supported employment as: Competitive work in integrated work settings, or employment in integrated work settings in which individuals are working toward competitive work, consistent with the strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice of the individuals with the most significant disabilities for whom competitive employment has not traditionally occurred; or has been interrupted or intermittent as a result of a significant disability; and who, because of their nature and severity of their disability, need intensive supported employment services for the period, or extended services to perform such work. This also includes transitional employment for persons with the most significant disabilities due to mental illness.

Quality of Supported Employment Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services (VRB Service) enrolls providers who will be making supported employment time limited services available. The enrollment process requires that providers have met a set of standards described in administrative rules. This enrollment process ensures that the providers of services maintain the necessary education, skills, and degree of professional expertise to provide a level of service commensurate with VRB Services work service standard. VRB Services values its priority partners who have met the required standards. Supported employment providers evaluated by the developmental disability system or mental health system represent the majority of our providers. The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and Rehabilitation Services Accreditation System (RSAS) are also utilized by providers. Other providers are individuals who have been selected to provide services for a limited number of consumers in a rural area where there are no established providers.

As mentioned previously, VRB Services and the Developmental Disabilities have collaborated to develop training for CRP vocational services staff. The training will be required. It is felt this will significantly improve the quality of CRP supported employment services.

Scope of Services

The scope of services available may include one or more of the following services depending on the individual’s needs:

  • Vocational Evaluation
  • Community Based Assessment
  • Supported Employment
  • Job Readiness Service
  • Job Placement Services

Also, services such as transportation to work place, work clothing, etc. are provided when necessary.

Extended support services are available through a variety of programs following closure of the VR case.

Extent of Supported Employment:

An individual shall be eligible to receive supported employment services using Title VI Part B funds if:

  1. The individual is eligible for vocational rehabilitation services.
  2. The individual is determined to be an individual with the most significant disabilities; and
  3. There is comprehensive assessment of rehabilitation needs of the individual including an assessment of rehabilitation career and job needs, and identifies supported employment as the appropriate rehabilitation objective for the individual.

Cooperative Agreements:

When a goal requiring supported employment is identified in the IPE, a document (cooperative agreement) signed and dated by the extended service provider reflecting the commitment of extended service provisions will be placed in the file prior to closure.

Funding Extended Support Services Prior to Closure:

VRB Services provides time-limited services needed to support an individual in employment. VRB Services can fund a maximum of 18 months of job coaching and follow-along services unless the Individualized Plan of Employment (IPE) indicates that more than 18 months of services are necessary for the individual to achieve job stability prior to transitioning to extended support services. Prior to the purchase of supported employment services, the need for services, the appropriate extended support services, funding, and the appropriate agency to provide the services are established and identified on the IPE. Supported employment services are available statewide.

This screen was last updated on Jun 27 2014 12:29PM by Michael Hermanson