THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234

 

TO:

The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents

FROM:

Rebecca H. Cort

COMMITTEE:

EMSC-VESID

TITLE OF ITEM:

Amendment to the State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Services

DATE OF SUBMISSION:

February 27, 2004

PROPOSED HANDLING:

Approval

RATIONALE FOR ITEM:

Required under the Rehabilitation Act of 1998, as amended

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goals 3-6

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

In accordance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1998, as amended, the Amendment to the State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Services, effective July 1, 2004, is presented for your approval.  The attached report summarizes the content of the Amendment.  The complete document is available in the Regents Office for your review.  The draft Amendment was shared with you for your information in October 2003, prior to release for public comment.

 

 

Attachment

 

 

AMENDMENT TO THE STATE PLAN

FOR VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION AND SUPPORTED

EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

 

 

 

 

 

 

EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT

OFFICE OF VOCATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL SERVICES FOR

INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES

 

THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK

 

Regents of The University

 

Robert M. Bennett, Chancellor, B.A., M.S. .......................................................................    Tonawanda

Adelaide L. Sanford, Vice Chancellor, B.A., M.A., P.D. ...............................................    Hollis

Diane OíNeill McGivern, B.S.N., M.A., Ph.D. ..............................................................    Staten Island

Saul B. Cohen, B.A., M.A., Ph.D............................................................................................    New Rochelle

James C. Dawson, A.A., B.A., M.S., Ph.D. ..........................................................................    Peru

Robert M. Johnson, B.S., J.D. ...............................................................................................    Huntington

Anthony S. Bottar, B.A., J.D. .............................................................................................    North Syracuse

Merryl H. Tisch, B.A., M.A. ...................................................................................................    New York

Geraldine D. Chapey, B.A., M.A., Ed.D...........................................................................    Belle Harbor

Arnold B. Gardner, B.A., LL.B...........................................................................................    Buffalo

Harry Phillips, 3rd, B.A., M.S.F.S. ......................................................................................    Hartsdale

Joseph E. Bowman, Jr., B.A., M.L.S., M.A., M.Ed., Ed.D................................................    Albany

Lorraine A. Corts-VŃzquez, B.A., M.P.A..................................................................    Bronx

James R. Tallon, jr., B.A., M.A.  ..........................................................................................    Binghamton

Milton L. Cofield, b.s., m.b.A., Ph.D. ...............................................................................    Rochester

 

President of The University and Commissioner of Education

Richard P. Mills

 

Chief of Staff

Counsel and Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs

Kathy A. Ahearn

 

Chief Operating Officer
Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Management Services
Theresa E. Savo

 

Deputy Commissioner for Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities

Rebecca H. cort

 

Coordinator, Policy, Planning and Partnerships

Douglass Bailey

 

Manager, VR Policy and Partnerships

Judith kleinberg

 

 

 

  The State Education Department does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, religion, creed, disability, marital status, veteran status, national origin, race, gender, genetic predisposition or carrier status, or sexual orientation in its educational programs, services and activities.  Portions of this publication can be made available in a variety of formats, including braille, large print or audio tape, upon request.  Inquiries concerning this policy of nondiscrimination should be directed to the Departmentís Office for Diversity, Ethics, and Access, Room 530, Education Building, Albany, NY 12234. Requests for additional copies of this publication may be made by contacting the Publications Sales Desk, Room 309, Education Building, Albany, NY 12234.

 

 

 

SUMMARY OF THE AMENDMENT TO THE STATE PLAN FOR

 VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION AND SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT

 SERVICES, EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2004

 

 

 

State Plan Process

 

The Rehabilitation Act, as amended, requires that New York State prepare a State Plan on the same cycle as the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).  This document informs the public of the Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) goals, priorities and objectives in providing vocational rehabilitation and supported employment services to individuals with disabilities in New York State.  This five-year document, entitled State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Services, Effective July 1, 2001, was previously submitted and approved by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).  The Rehabilitation Act further requires that each state annually amend its approved State Plan in specific areas as requested.  The Amendment to the State Plan consists of specific attachments that must be updated annually as required by RSA. The content and format of the Amendment to the State Plan are based on the most recent guidance provided by RSA.

 

            VESID, in conjunction with the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), developed the proposed Amendment to the State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Services, Effective July 1, 2004.  The proposed Amendment to the State Plan was used to solicit input and recommendations from the public on planned activities related to the vocational rehabilitation of persons with disabilities for the next year.

 

            Additionally, VESID informed the public of a major effort it has undertaken to assess our overall capacity for serving individuals with disabilities. Called Designing Our Future, VESID is seeking to provide a quality vocational rehabilitation system that continues to meet high standards while ensuring fiscal accountability, fostering collaboration with state and community partners and supporting personnel planning that allows for creative use of staff skills and regional partnerships. VESID began informing the public of this process at the first state plan public meeting held November 17 and will continue gathering information from various constituencies throughout the first half of 2004.  The four points around which Designing Our Future will be built are: obtaining more employment for VESID consumers, enhancing collaboration among state and community entities, technology advancement and identifying and utilizing professional expertise.

 

            The public comment period regarding the State Plan amendments extended from November 17 through December 18, 2003.


 

 

Public Meetings

 

To notify and inform the public about the town meetings on the state plan, VESID mailed flyers that gave specific details on the proposed Amendment including meeting dates, times and locations. The flyers were sent to consumers, community agencies, schools, independent living centers, and support groups. VESID also used the newsletters, Friday faxes, and internal communication processes of several community rehabilitation providers to advertise the proposed Amendment and town meetings.

 

VESID further advertised the proposed Amendment and the town meetings through two VESID websites.  Using Internet access, VESID created a Virtual Town Meeting site that was accessible to the public seven days per week, 24 hours per day. The Virtual Town Meeting allowed individuals to review the proposed Amendment and to electronically post their comments.

 

The town meetings were designed to provide ample opportunities for participants to review and discuss their ideas about VESIDís state plan, policy, and future direction, including order of selection, supported employment, the comprehensive system of personnel development, VESID's annual estimates of individuals to be served, and evaluation and report of progress.  At each meeting, VESID provided a PowerPoint presentation on the proposed Amendment, including Designing Our Future. The SRC led the public discussion to solicit recommendations. VESID staff facilitated the discussion, but public participants remained free to offer comments or recommendations on any part of the State Plan and its process. A total of 82 people attended the five meetings.

           

             VESID included for public discussion an attachment on Order of Selection. By introducing this attachment during the public comment period, VESID is alerting the public that VESID may not have either the necessary funds or staff to serve all eligible individuals and so must prioritize by category the people VESID can serve first.  As we do not anticipate the need to enter an order of selection, we will not submit the attachment as part of the final plan. Though VESID is not submitting the Order of Selection attachment at this time, providing this information to the public for review fulfills statutory requirements regarding public notification.  Should an Order of Selection become necessary during the year, this Amendment to the State Plan can be submitted with no further public input.

 

            The comments and recommendations received during the public comment period were reviewed for incorporation into VESIDís Amendment to the State Plan.  Comments that were received, but did not directly alter the Amendment, are being shared with VESID leadership for consideration. Most comments received reflected recommendations for Designing Our Future.  These have been shared with the Designing our Future steering committee.

 

 

Amendment of the State Plan: Summary of Public Comments and Required Attachments

 

The following attachments describe VESIDís plans, policies and activities in a number of required areas.  Highlights of the Amendment to the State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Services, Effective July 1, 2004 include:

 

                 Summary of Input and Recommendations of the State Rehabilitation Council; Response of the Designated State Unit; and Explanation for Rejection of Input or Recommendations: Attachment 4.2(C)

 

      Summarizes the advice of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) on the State Plan, policy development and general comments. VESIDís responses to SRC are also included.  Since this is the Council's recommendation to VESID, it reflects only the Council's motions and does not go to the public for comment.

 

                    Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD)

 

            Describes VESIDís activities that ensure an adequate supply of qualified rehabilitation professionals in conformance with its CSPD.  The CSPD calls for VESID to use the highest national standard, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), as the goal in recruitment/retention of counselors.

 

Comments: Public concerns were raised about the declining number of VESID counselors due to retirement and attrition, and the rising counselor caseloads. It was suggested that VESIDís hiring practices be broadened beyond hiring only Certified Rehabilitation Counselors.

 

Response:  VESID, by federal law and regulation, must seek to hire vocational rehabilitation counselors who meet highest professional standards. In New York State, that requires VESID to hire vocational rehabilitation counseling professionals who have or are eligible to obtain certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). No change to attachment.

 

                    Goals and Plans for Distribution of Title VI, Part B Funds (Supported Employment)

 

            This attachment indicates that VESID plans to continue to fund supported employment services using Federal VIB and other funds.

 

Comments: none

 

Response: No change to attachment.

 

 

                    Annual Estimates of Individuals to be Served

 

            VESID estimates that, during Federal Fiscal Year 2003-2004, 36,900 individuals with significant or most significant disabilities will be eligible for VESID services.

 

Comments: The SRC raised concerns about program changes made by the New York State Office of Mental Health, through its Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) programs. The SRC expressed concern that the PROS programs may increase the number of consumers who seek service from VESID.  As such, the council thought the VESID estimate should be higher.

 

Response: VESID will monitor the PROS activity, but based on historical trends and data, believes that the annual estimate is a reasonable and fair estimate.

No change to attachment.

 

                    Order of Selection (OOS): Attachment 4.12(c)(2)(A)

 

            Describes how VESID will provide services if the determination is made that it cannot provide the full range of rehabilitation services to all eligible individuals. It includes the order to be followed in selecting eligible individuals to be provided vocational rehabilitation services; a justification of that OOS; the service and outcome goals and the time within which these goals may be achieved for individuals in each priority category within the order.

 

            Comments: VESID received a variety of comments from the public  recommending that VESID not go to an OOS.

 

            Response: The comments and recommendations have been forwarded to the VESID policy unit and to leadership for further consideration. VESID will do whatever it can to avoid an OOS. This attachment is not being submitted with the final State Plan.

 

                    Evaluation and Report of Progress in Achieving Identified Goals and Priorities and Use of Title l Funds for Innovation and Expansion Activities

 

            Describes VESIDís progress in achieving the goals and priorities agreed to with the State Rehabilitation Council.

 

Comments: No comments were received on this attachment.

 

Response:  No change to attachment.

 

 

Summary of Input and Recommendations of the State Rehabilitation Council; Response of the Designated State Unit; and Explanation for Rejection of Input or Recommendations: Attachment 4.2(C)

 

Over the last several years, VESID and the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) have sought to work more closely and cooperatively in setting the policy direction and the delivery of vocational rehabilitation services for eligible New York State VESID consumers. VESID and SRC developed a process that reflects a team approach to new policy development in which the appropriate VESID units (policy, training, operations and technology) work together with SRC members to assure full communication on policy issues while adhering to an efficient policy development and implementation process. This process has allowed SRC and VESID to jointly develop the State Plan and VESID policy.

 

The table below provides the SRCís recommendations and VESID's response to each recommendation.

 

State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) Recommendations

VESID Response

 

STATE PLAN

Change the format of the State Plan Town Hall meetings to:

 

Target audiences, based on ďtimely issuesĒ and go where they are, e.g., for consumer issues seek input from self-advocate meetings, for teacher input go to schools and colleges, for employers seek out locations where they will be, including employment fairs, provider meetings, etc.

VESID can hold town meetings on the State Plan throughout the year.  However, VESID is statutorily required to provide the public with the required State Plan attachments and to solicit public discussion on those attachments.  VESID can, however, coordinate the State Plan meetings with other venues.

VESID will increase efforts to participate in existing meetings and forums and to incorporate feedback gathered throughout the year.

Gather input (on the State Plan) throughout the year. The report has to be written in the winter but input can be gathered any time.

VESID can gather input throughout the year. SRC should be aware that vocational rehabilitation State agencies often must wait for policy directives governing the State Plan content from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). If we have meetings earlier in the year, it is conceivable that we would have to re-hold them when new policy directives on the State Plan are issued from RSA. That is both time consuming and costly.

Continue the practice of making available a virtual town meeting on the web site.

VESID will continue to post both the State Plan and town meeting on the web site.

Use the State Plan as a way to do outreach to individuals who might be interested in becoming members of the State Rehabilitation Council.  Have applications available.

 

This has been incorporated in State Plan presentations.  Having membership applications available is a good addition to this effort and VESID will do so.

Share all comments received as part of the State Plan and provide feedback to those who make comment.

Because most of the comments VESID receives come from open discussion at public forums, it is not possible to provide individual feedback. During the past several years, VESID has summarized public comments and has posted that summary with VESIDís response on the VESID  web site. We will continue to do this.

The Council strongly opposes an order of selection and encourages VESID to take measures to ensure that an order of selection is not implemented.

VESID agrees and will continue to look at how resources and staff are allocated to continue to be able to serve all eligible consumers.

Council members have expressed concern that changes by the Office of Mental Health in its Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) program may increase the numbers of consumers who seek service from VESID. The Council requests that the expected increase in numbers of consumers be reflected in the State Plan; the overall issue be adequately monitored; and the results of the monitoring activity be shared with funding sources, including members of the Legislature, if appropriate.

At this time VESID does not expect a dramatic increase in the numbers of consumers with mental illness seeking VESID services and has been working closely with the Office of Mental Health regarding the initiation of PROS.

 

However, VESID will monitor the activities related to PROS and will share the results of this monitoring activity with all appropriate parties.

VESID goals and performance indicators need to be revisited and aligned more appropriately to current circumstances, i.e., staffing levels, employment opportunities, New York State budget issues.

VESID is revising its goals and key performance indicators.  SRC and other stakeholder input will be sought regarding the targets and benchmarks for each indicator.

ADDITIONAL ADVICE PROVIDED THROUGHOUT LAST YEAR

The State Rehabilitation Council believes VESIDís capacity to serve all eligible individuals is potentially being compromised by the number of cuts in staffing. SRC requests that VESID provide an analysis of staffing in the District Offices and provide information to demonstrate that staffing levels and service provision options are adequate to provide appropriate service to consumers.

VESID has undertaken a major effort, Designing Our Future, which will assess our overall capacity and needs and will establish creative solutions to assure continuation of high-quality services.

 

Analysis of staff will be part of this effort and shared with SRC.

VESID should ensure that staff are well trained, in a timely manner, about Medicaid Buy-in and what it means to consumers and VESID in terms of implementation.

VESID agrees.  Several specific activities are already under way to assure that staff are trained and that information is available at VESID offices regarding the Medicaid Buy-in.

VESID should ensure that employers are made aware of Medicaid Buy-ins.

VESID will work with others responsible for dissemination of information on the Medicaid Buy-in to assure that our efforts are coordinated with the overall training effort.

VESID must be more visible to employers. One suggestion is that VESID participate more fully in the Business Leadership Network (BLN).

VESID will share its current employer information with the SRC. We look forward to working with the SRC and  many employer networks to increase VESIDís visibility with employers.

VESID should outreach to colleges and gather more input from that arena, particularly as the State Education Department has a goal to increase access to and success of students with disabilities in postsecondary education.

The New York State Education Department (SED) has developed a postsecondary education work plan.  A future Request For Proposal is being planned to identify best practices to increase access to and success of these students. Technical assistance will be available to help institutions of higher education meet the Regents priority goal of increasing access and success of students with disabilities, which is now a part of the institutionsí master plans. 

VESID should explore funding opportunities- both an assessment of available money and development of new funding streams- to support students with disabilities in postsecondary education.

There is a New York State legislative bill that has been introduced in both the Assembly and the Senate to establish a funding program for the improvement of disability services at institutions of higher education. VESID and the Offices of Higher Education and Professions are gathering input from the four higher education sectors to develop an advocacy plan for widespread legislative support.

The Council believes that overall supported employment is in jeopardy. VESID should undertake an analysis of supported employment and its future. This would require a systemic plan for re-energizing the Stateís commitment to supported employ-ment. The Council recommends that parents of school-age children (those who might in the future need supported employment) be brought into this issue to assist with garnering support, federal and State, for the supported employment program.

VESID is  reviewing hundreds of applications for new supported employment contracts which are effective July 1, 2004. Those applications reflect a high interest on the part of providers to maintain and expand supported employment services. VESID agrees to the need to expand the involvement of parents to provide additional support for the appropriate utilization of supported employment as a transition mechanism.

One area that requires improvement for us as a Council, as well as for VESID, is consumer involvement. The Council hopes to work closely with VESID in the near future to discuss opportunities to more effectively engage consumers. The Council must have ongoing input and feedback from consumers if it is to appropriately represent issues of concern.

VESID agrees that consumer involvement is crucial. We look forward to working with the Council to ascertain the Councilís specific concerns and recommendations. VESID is also looking forward to the Councilís involvement as we go forward with designing the future of the vocational rehabilitation system.

The Council is very pleased that the State Education Department and the State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB) have adopted the goal of increasing the rate of employment of individuals with disabilities. However, at this time, we call upon VESID to work with us to set some specific interim goals and measurements. We must begin to track our actual progress together in meeting the global goal.

VESID looks forward to working with other offices within SED, the SRC and the SWIB to establish goals that can be agreed upon by each of these entities. VESID will continue to work with SRC to find solutions that will increase the rate of employment for individuals with disabilities.

 

Comprehensive System of Personnel Development: Attachment 4.11(b)

 

            VESID's Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) was jointly developed by a work group that included VESID management and professional staff, a representative of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), and professional staff from the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH).

 

ADEQUATE SUPPLY OF QUALIFIED REHABILITATION PROFESSIONALS

 

            VESID will ensure an adequate supply of qualified rehabilitation professionals by tracking all staff and working to meet the needs of consumers by providing the most qualified rehabilitation professionals. The Microsoft ACCESS program is being used to monitor the CSPD.  VESID also tracks all its personnel through two data systems. The first is the New York State Education Department's mainframe computer-based personnel system, which generates a monthly report describing the status of staff items, grade level, item numbers, position classification and pay scale. The other system is the Operations Database, a VESID-maintained system that includes Central Office and District Office personnel information by appointment type, date of appointment, grade level, pay level, and personnel movement such as time worked and resignations. The Operations Database allows immediate access to personnel data that are VESID specific.

 

As of August 2003, VESID's figures in regard to adequate supply of qualified rehabilitation professionals are as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full-Time Equivalent Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRCs)

345

VRCs not meeting CSPD standards

49

VESID Active Caseload

60,570

Ratio of counselors to consumers

1 counselor to every 177 consumers

Anticipated VRCs who VESID will need over the next two years due to loss of current VRCs

50

 

COORDINATION OF CSPD WITH THE INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATION ACT (IDEA)

 

            VESID administers both special education and vocational rehabilitation programs. The CSPD functions for vocational rehabilitation are being carried out by VESID's Vocational Rehabilitation Training Unit, in collaboration with all other VESID organizational units. VESID recognizes the need to address cross-system concerns that affect all staff. For example, the coordination of meaningful transition services from school age to postsecondary settings remains one of the most challenging aspects of program delivery and is a high priority area for vocational rehabilitation and special education collaboration. Several years ago, a joint memorandum of agreement was developed that outlined roles and responsibilities between vocational rehabilitation and special education. The State Education Department and CVBH also share a memorandum of understanding regarding the transition of young adults with visual impairments to employment. VESID and CBVH plan to continue their relationship within the CSPD context and other matters related to IDEA. In addition, VESID continues to partner with other agencies to serve consumers, without overlapping our services.

 

            During 2002, in response to the continued need to assist more young people to successfully transition from school to careers or further education, VESID hired 29 counselors and counselor assistants, with IDEA funds, to work specifically with schools and students with disabilities who are transitioning to adult roles.  On October 2002, these staff received specialized training in transition and working with students with disabilities. VESID continues to review the results of this effort to assure that students with disabilities are able to more successfully attain high-quality employment and postsecondary educational programs leading to career opportunities.

 

            The chart below indicates that new referrals for youth (ages 14-21) have increased, as have the number of youth served and the school districts with which VESID is working. VESID continues to work closely with schools to enable the smooth transition of students with disabilities from school to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Fiscal Year

2001-2002

State Fiscal Year

2002-2003

New youth referrals

9,947

11,432

Youth Served

25,176

27,733

Youth employed as a result of VESID services

3,205

3,240

School Districts whose students are in VESID caseload

569

604

School buildings within school districts

977

1,121

 

Description of and information on institutions of higher education within the State that are preparing rehabilitation professionals

 

            There are seven institutions of higher education in New York State accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) that prepare vocational rehabilitation professionals. VESID is working with these institutions to develop a process for the recruitment of students from diverse populations, and to establish a curriculum based on best practices, research, and development trends.

 

VESID has collected the following data regarding the CORE accredited institutions:

 

Number of students enrolled in seven CORE accredited institutions (2003-2004)

245

Number of students identified with disability

40

Number of students identified as non-white

157

Number of students who graduated in 2002

81

 

Plan for recruitment, preparation, and retention of qualified personnel

 

            As a function of VESID's CSPD plan to recruit, prepare, and retain qualified personnel, VESID has made significant progress in many areas. While some of these innovations will not be fully implemented because of the current budget restrictions in New York State, they have been developed and approved, and will be operational as soon as possible.

 

        SED has implemented an agency-wide Diversity Plan that specifies a process for the recruitment and selection of qualified candidates and is designed to support appropriate outreach to underrepresented populations as a required component of all recruitment efforts. The need to address diversity issues is a critical consideration of VESID's CSPD.  However, recruitment visits to colleges with significant enrollment of students from minority populations will be suspended until the current hiring freeze and travel restrictions are lifted.  All VESID staff participates in diversity training to enhance awareness to issues of diversity in its broadest sense (ethnic, racial, cultural, gender, etc.). During the past year VESID was able to hire five counselors under the New York.

 

        Approval is in place to utilize the State Civil Service Law, section 55b/c program, that encourages public employment of individuals with disabilities.

 

        Approval is in place that offers up to 15 paid internship positions for individuals in their second year of a master's degree program.  This program will begin as soon as budget considerations allow.  In the interim, unpaid internships are available.

 

        Approval is in place to retain a pool of VRC positions to be used for a two-month overlap of new staff and retiring counselors, providing for training and caseload transition.  This initiative will be operational when the current NYS  ďfreezeĒ on hiring of new staff is lifted.

 

        A proposal to increase the salaries of all vocational rehabilitation counselors' (VRCs) and counselor assistants to keep salaries competitive with the private sector has been forwarded to the NYS Department of Civil Service for review and approval.

 

        VESID has implemented the Long Term Training Grant for CSPD, which covers the cost of college courses required for VESID VRCs to meet the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) and CSPD standards. At the end of the 2002-2003 academic year, two VRC staff graduated and met the CRC requirements. In the current 2003-2004 academic year, 28 VRC staff are attending four New York State CORE institutions and one out-of-state distance learning CORE institution. The VESID Personnel Development Team provides mentoring to Long Term Training Grant awardees.

 

        All applications to the Long Term Training Grant for college tuition support have been approved, so there has been no need to implement the approved strategy for prioritizing applications.  Nearly all applicants are completing their schoolwork on their own time, necessitating few requests for reduced work time.

 

        A distance learning cooperative to provide ongoing educational opportunities for those who do not meet the highest standards is now being implemented by two schools, Syracuse University and City University of New York's Hunter College, and programs are being developed with two additional schools. Our intent is to develop such plans with all seven CORE institutions in New York State.

 

        VESID has continued to provide ongoing updated training opportunities to all VRC staff. VESID personnel will continue to receive appropriate and adequate training through a system of staff development. VESID's Vocational Rehabilitation Operations Training Unit has primary responsibility to ensure that all personnel employed by VESID are appropriately and adequately trained and prepared to provide quality services to internal and external customers.

 

        VESID has continued to partner with CBVH and maintain relationships with New York State-based federally sponsored initiatives.

 

        Relationships continue with New York State-based federally sponsored initiatives, such as the Regional Rehabilitation Training Center (RRTC) on Brain Injury at Mt. Sinai; RRTC on Disability and Employment Policy at Cornell University; the two Parent Training and Outreach Centers; and the long term training grant program at Hunter College.

 

        Access is provided to training in sign language for interested counselors.

 

        VESID maintains an extensive on-line manual and web-based resources that provide easy access for counselors to VESID policies, procedures, technical assistance briefs, federal laws and federal regulations, as well as disability and employment-related information.

 

PERSONNEL STANDARDS

 

Standard for VESID Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

 

            The New York State Education Department/VESID will hire Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling Professionals who have or are eligible to obtain certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC).

 

            If VESID is unable to recruit individuals who meet the CRC standard because the unique and specific service needs of a region limit availability of qualified applicants, VESID will hire individuals in the following priority order:

 

        Master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling or a closely related field and no CRC.

        Bachelor's degree (VR related).

        Bachelor's degree with specialized skills.

 

Hiring preference will be given to individuals who meet national certification standards.

 

In addition, outreach efforts for recruitment will be made through disability groups and associations (in accordance with the SED/VESID Diversity Plan) serving minority populations. VESID will also work with institutions of higher education to expand their student recruitment efforts to reach students with diverse backgrounds. VESID will work with the New York State Department of Civil Service to review, as necessary, VESID's standard for hiring qualified VRCs based on agency and federal regulation and revise existing employment descriptions and standards to meet the above policy.

 

 

Staff development

 

VRCs hired prior to July 1, 2000

VRCs hired after July 1, 2000

VESID will provide training and other incentives to each VRC, as mutually agreed, to move toward the standard. Support will be provided through In Service Training funds and the Long Term Training Grant.

VESID will develop a strategy to ensure that individuals who are hired after July 1, 2000 and do not meet the national standard will obtain that standard.

 

            While it is the intent of VESID to hire and retain employees who meet the national standard, in some instances VESID may be unable to hire vocational rehabilitation counselors who meet the standard. For example, in order to hire VRCs who meet the unique needs of regional offices (e.g., expertise in Spanish, communication skills, or expertise with persons who are severely disabled), VESID may need to recruit personnel without CRC certification. In these cases, VESID will develop a strategy to ensure that those individuals meet the national standard.

 

            VESID will address current and projected vocational rehabilitation personnel needs by ensuring that all its personnel will be adequately trained. To accomplish this goal, the following activities have been and will continue to be supported for employees:

 

        In-service training funds provide for attendance at workshops, formal course work, agency developed and conducted training sessions, and Rehabilitation Research Continuing Education Program (RRCEP) developed or sponsored training sessions. Training is offered in the fields of counseling rehabilitation, medical aspects of disabilities, job placement, rehabilitation technology, diversity, choice, Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, and other topics related to the field of vocational rehabilitation. All employees have access to these training opportunities.

 

        VESID will continue to support and provide training on rehabilitation technology, and will work with RRCEP to develop relevant training programs.

 

        VESID distributes information received from a variety of sources including the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Materials, Arkansas Research and Training Center, Institute of Rehabilitation Issues, and many other professional, educational and private sources.

 

        VESID provides ongoing training to all VRCs regarding policy and procedural changes that have resulted from the 1998 Rehabilitation Act Amendments, 2001 Federal Vocational Rehabilitation regulations and other federal and state laws and regulations relevant to the vocational rehabilitation process. Training provided in FFY 2003 to date includes: transition training, policies on Training at a College or University, Order of Selection, Significance of Disability, and Due Process; Social Security Benefits and Ticket to Work. VESID also provided or sponsored training to staff on World of Work, Ethical Issues, Disability Awareness, Understanding Substance Abuse, Impact of Employment and Benefits and Medicaid, Business for Self, Learning Disabilities, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.  Training was also provided on supervisory procedures.

 

        VESID is implementing a cross-training pilot program between VESID and the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) called RESPECT. RESPECT stands for responsive, encouraging, sensitive, perceptive, empowering, caring and thoughtful. Respect International is an advocacy, humanitarian, and educational non-profit organization, created out of the need of persons with psychiatric challenges to be treated with respect. The program will identify action steps that local agencies and counselors can take to enhance collaborative vocationally related services to individuals with psychiatric disabilities. In addition to VESID and OMH, local county mental health agencies and the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services will participate and together develop local action plans for improving vocational services to this group. This is the culmination of lengthy negotiations among the state and local partners striving to develop better working relationships regionally.

 

Personnel to address individual communication needs

 

            To ensure that VESID adequately provides services to consumers who are not English proficient, have a cognitive disability or are deaf, VESID has professional staff able to communicate in the native language of individuals who are non-English speaking or who use other modes of communication, such as sign language. When such staff are not available, VESID contracts with outside agencies and individuals for interpreter or communication services.  VESID also ensures that VRCs are aware of how an individual's cognitive disability might affect his or her ability to participate in the vocational rehabilitation process.

 

            VESID requires the use of Certified or State-approved interpreters for the deaf when sign language interpreter services are required in the provision of vocational rehabilitation services.

 

            VESID also requires a specific communication skill level for vocational rehabilitation staff working with Spanish-speaking consumers. VESID will continue to use these standards and make adjustments when appropriate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

Annual Estimates of Individuals to be Served and Costs of Service: Attachment 4.12(b)

 

VESID estimates that during Federal Fiscal Year 2004-2005, 35,280 individuals with significant or most significant disabilities will be found eligible for VESID services. This number reflects a continuation of historical trends.  Based on historical data reported to the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), VESID estimates, under Title l, that it will serve 110,000 individuals, at a total estimated cost of 195 million dollars. VESID estimates that of the 110,000 individuals served, approximately 6,700 individuals will be receiving supported employment services.  An estimated 900 of those individuals receiving supported employment services will be served using Title VlB funds.

 

Goals and Plans for Distribution of Title VI, Part B Funds: Attachment 4.12(c)(3)

 

Federal Title VIB funds for supported employment services were initially used to develop model programs to determine the most effective structure for supported employment and to determine what types of services and supports work best with different populations.   However, Title VIB resources do not provide sufficient funds to create additional new programs.  At present, Title VIB funds represent approximately 7.6 percent of the total funds VESID uses for intensive supported employment services. VESID will continue the operation of the projects established under Title VIB support.  Title VIB funds will continue to be used to supplement, but not supplant, Title I funds.

 

Supported Employment Programs

 

Providers for supported employment programs were originally selected through an interagency competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) issued in the fall of 1987, through processes described in earlier State Plan submissions.  Final selections from among the top scoring agencies were made based on diversity of population, diversity of geographic location, and model or approach used.

 

VESID issued a new application for all Intensive Supported Employment services and for all VESID-funded extended services on July 1, 2002.  That application was the result of extensive negotiation with providers, advocacy groups and the Stateís fiscal authorities, as coordinated by VESID.  VESID chose not to implement the results of that application process because the scoring and selection criteria resulted in very significant shifts in service delivery and in gaps in service delivery.  Accordingly, VESID has sought and received permission to extend its current supported employment contracts for one final year and, during that interval, will design and implement an application process which meets both programmatic and administrative requirements.  That application, released the end of calendar year 2003, will result in new contracts effective July 1, 2004.

 

VESID combines Title VIB and Section 110 funds to provide supported employment services to individuals with the most significant disabilities.  Disabilities served in supported employment services include all disabilities within those served by VESID and Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH).  VESID maintains agreements (Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and Integrated Employment Implementation Plan, Chapter 515 of the Laws of 1992) with the Office of Mental Retardation and Development Disabilities (OMRDD), Office of Mental Health (OMH) and CBVH which define VESID as the sole source for intensive funding.  Program evaluation includes reviews of statistical data from interagency quarterly report submissions as well as on-site reviews, including consumer interviews. Successful and exemplary practices have been disseminated to staff of the State agencies involved and to other project sites.  Each of VESIDís Title VIB programs is designed to:

 

        provide services to individuals with the most significant disabilities who might not be traditionally considered appropriate for competitive employment;

 

        develop techniques for unserved and underserved populations, such as persons with traumatic brain injuries, deafness, multiple disabilities, autism, severe learning disabilities, and mental illness;

 

        develop quality programs that could be used for replication purposes; and

 

        establish successful supported employment programs that will provide technical assistance to future similar programs.

 

Providersí performance and costs are reviewed at least annually.  Budget renegotiations occur based on overall performance, including performance on projected outcomes agreed to by VESID and the provider.

 

VESID counselors perform case management duties for each consumer supported through Title VIB, including developing the Individualized Plan for Employment and monitoring its implementation.  Since the programs funded under Title VIB represent services to previously underserved individuals, every effort is made to improve the project's performance through continuing technical assistance and service delivery improvements. The following chart summarizes VESID's current level of federal expenditure in supported employment, the number of programs and individuals served, types of disabilities served in programs and types of supported employment models.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                   2002/2003 SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT            

 

Federal Resources for Supported Employment FFY 2002

 

 

Funding Source

 

  Number

      of

Programs

 

Consumers

to be

Rehabilitated

 

                      Types of

                    Disabilities

 

            

        Models

 

 

Title VIB

CBVH Contracted

 

       6

 

30

 

blind, deaf blind, developmental disabilities with blindness

 

individual

enclave

mobile crew

 

 

Section 110

Contracted

 

153

 

    3,561

 

developmental disabilities, severe mental illness, traumatic brain injury, severe physical disabilities, deafness,

multiple disabilities, autism        

 

individual

enclave

mobile crew

 

 

 

 

Title VIB models and expand service delivery

 

 

 

13

 

 

356

 

 

 

 

Total

   Federal Resources

   (contracted only)   

 

    

172

             

 

 

3,947

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evaluation and Report of Progress in Achieving Identified Goals and Priorities and Use of Title I Funds for Innovation and Expansion Activities: Attachment 4.12(e)

 

            Section 106 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended in 1998, requires the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Commissioner to evaluate state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies based on their performance on evaluation standards and indicators.  These standards were developed and published as 34 CFR 361.81 on June 5, 2000, and have been applied officially to state VR agency performance results beginning with federal fiscal year (FFY) 2000 data.  Performance on these standards is being used to determine whether a state VR agency is complying substantially with the provisions of its state plan.  States that do not meet the performance criteria will be required, jointly with RSA, to develop a program improvement plan.

 

            The following results are based on the most recent data available on the federal performance indicators and the current published goals and priorities.  The innovation and expansion activities undertaken with Title I funds contributed to these levels of achievement.

 

VESID Goal: Individuals with disabilities will participate successfully in postsecondary education.

 

Results:        The number of self-identified students with disabilities enrolled in institutions of higher education in New York State has increased steadily over the last nine years, from fewer than 25,000 in 1993 to 36,249 in 2001. With higher standards in place in schools and more students with disabilities ready and able to access postsecondary education, there is still a continuing need for campuses to be prepared to serve increasing numbers of students with disabilities.  Increasing percentages of special education graduates are planning postsecondary education. Of the 15,863 students with disabilities who completed high school in 2002, 48.1 percent had plans to pursue a four-year, two-year, or other postsecondary education program. This rate is 3.9 percentage points higher than the rate for 2000-2001. Postsecondary education represents graduate, bachelor, associate, and non-degree colleges, as well as business and trade schools.

 

The number of Individuals with disabilities funded by VESID in postsecondary education programs has increased from 12,299 students in FFY 1999 to 12,601 students in FFY 2002.

 

The gap between rates of all associate degree candidates and associate degree candidates with disabilities is getting smaller. In FFY 2001, 23.9 percent of full-time, first time entrants into associate degree programs graduated within three years while 23.2 percent of students with disabilities did the same. For the second consecutive year, the success rate for students with disabilities in baccalaureate programs has actually surpassed that for all students.  Non-disabled students had a 58.3 percent graduation rate for baccalaureate degrees while students with disabilities had a 60.6 percent graduation rate.

 

In federal fiscal year 2002, the number of individuals who obtained employment after receiving funding for postsecondary education increased by 2.0 percentage points from the previous year. While increasing percentages of placements in competitive employment have resulted in higher average wages for all consumers, the average wage for consumers who attended postsecondary programs continues to be higher.  In FFY 2002, the average starting salary for consumers who attended postsecondary education programs was $10.75 per hour as compared to the $8.64 per hour average salary for consumers during the same time frame who did not pursue postsecondary education.

 

VESID Goal: Individuals with disabilities will be employed in integrated work settings. 

 

The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) has established seven national standards and indicators for state vocational rehabilitation programs. Third year data for these indicators are presented below.

 

Results: In federal fiscal year (FFY) 2002, the number of individuals placed in jobs decreased slightly from the previous year.

 

 

 

Performance Indicator 1.1; Increase in individuals achieving an employment outcome after receiving vocational rehabilitation services from VESID. This data only includes data reported for individuals with disabilities placed in integrated settings. VESID had a slight decrease in the number of individuals achieving an employment outcome for FFY 2002.  In spite of severe economic restrictions and loss of staff across the State, the number of employment outcomes declined by only 421 placements, going from 14,995 employment outcomes in FFY 2001 to 14,574 employment outcomes in FFY 2002.

 

This slight decrease is reflective of many factors. Vocational rehabilitation placements are affected by the overall economic climate, and the recent economic downturn has depressed the availability of jobs available to vocational rehabilitation consumers. The continued high numbers of retirements among VESID counseling and other staff, and significant state and federal fiscal constraints, have also contributed to this decrease in placements.

 

            Performance Indicator 1.2; Percentage of individuals exiting the vocational rehabilitation program who achieve an employment outcome.  Using the revised definition of employment outcome, the percentage of individuals with disabilities who achieved employment after receiving vocational rehabilitation services from VESID in FFY 2002 is 60.0 percent, exceeding the national standard of 55.8 percent by 4.2 percent. Beginning in FFY 2002, individuals placed in non-integrated settings were not recognized as employment outcomes.

 

            Performance Indicator 1.3; Percentage of individuals achieving an employment outcome who earn at least minimum wage. For FFY 2002, 91.0 percent of individuals obtaining employment through VESID earned at or above minimum wage, far exceeding the national benchmark standard of 72.6 percent.

 

Performance Indicator 1.4; Percentage of individuals having significant disabilities who achieved competitive employment. Individuals are considered to have a significant disability when they have a physical or mental impairment which seriously limits one or two functional capacities such as mobility, communication, self-care, self-direction, interpersonal skills, cognition, work tolerance, or work skills and whose vocational rehabilitation will require multiple vocational rehabilitation services over an extended period of time.  VESID assisted substantially greater percentages of individuals with significant disabilities to achieve competitive employment compared to the national standard. For FFY 2002, 94.9 percent of the individuals obtaining employment through VESID earning at least minimum wage, had significant disabilities. The national benchmark standard is 62.4 percent. 

           

Performance Indicator 1.5; Average hourly earnings of individuals employed through VESID who earn at least minimum wage compared to the average hourly earnings of all employed individuals in the State.  For FFY 2002, the ratio of hourly earnings for VESID consumers to all employed individuals in the State was .41. VESID results for this standard remain below the national benchmark, which is set at a ratio of .52.  This ratio reflects the relationship of hourly wages earned by individuals at the time of closure (typically 90 days after attaining employment) to the average hourly wage for all workers in the State.  The benchmark ratio of .52, which is set at just above half of the overall hourly wage, reflects that vocational rehabilitation consumers often use vocational rehabilitation services after very little prior work experience, and are at the beginning of their careers. The standard is a statewide ratio, which in New York State is significantly affected by earnings in the Borough of Manhattan.   Outside the Borough of Manhattan, VESID hourly wages exceed the national benchmark standard.

 

            Performance Indicator 1.6; Percentage increase of individuals who report their own income as largest single source of economic support from the time of application for VESID services to the time of successful closure in employment with earnings of at least minimum wage. In FFY 2002 62.8 percent of individuals with disabilities reported their own earnings as the largest single source of support from the time of application to successful closure. VESID's outcomes exceed the national benchmark, which is 53 percent.

 

Performance Indicator 2.1; Comparison of service rate for individuals from minority backgrounds compared with that for individuals from non-minority backgrounds.   This indicator measures the rate at which individuals with disabilities from minority and non-minority backgrounds receive services. In FFY 2002, minority individuals with disabilities received vocational rehabilitation services at a rate of 88 for every 100 (.88) non-minority individuals. VESID continues to exceed the national standard on this federal indicator. The national standard ratio is .80.

 

VESID Goal: All services for which VESID has responsibility will be cost-effective.

 

Results: In FFY 2002, the cost of services, which include all costs associated with purchased, direct and administrative services, has decreased from $1,826 in FFY 2001 to $1,705 in FFY 2002. This represents a 6.6 percent overall decrease in the costs of services.  In FFY 2002, the salaries of individuals with disabilities placed in jobs by VESID represented $215 million in annualized first-year earnings.

 

VESID Goal: All services for which VESID has responsibility will meet high standards and continuously improve.

 

Results: VESID has evaluated its performance against the RSA quality performance indicators as noted above. VESID also hosted consumer focus groups and surveyed responses to gather information on consumer satisfaction. Consumers who attended forums in each of VESID's District Offices and who replied to a statewide mail survey provided feedback on six key points in VESID's service delivery process. The six key points to consumer satisfaction are: timeliness of services, courtesy and responsiveness, initial contacts and application, individualized employment plan, training, and job placement. Consumer response was very favorable and also provided information in which VESID can improve, particularly in the area of job placement.

 

A survey conducted in 2001-2002 indicated an overall satisfaction rate with VESID vocational rehabilitation services of 89 percent while 91 percent of consumers who attended forums responded favorably when asked if they would return to VESID or recommend a friend or family member to VESID for vocational rehabilitation services.

             

Continuous Quality Improvement

 

VESID remains committed to continuous quality improvement in vocational rehabilitation services.  Each of the cost savings measures that have been instituted to date is being evaluated in terms of the cost effectiveness and the impact on consumers and potential consumers served.  Those measures that may have a direct impact on access or services will be refashioned to maintain high quality while being cost effective to the overall system. 

Continued budget constraints, including staffing decreases due to the State hiring freeze, make it imperative that we seriously address new and different ways to accomplish our mission.  In order to maintain and improve the quality of services and outcomes, VESID will address new ways to structure and deliver vocational rehabilitation services.  Using data resulting from cost-effective measures already taken and input from a wide range of stakeholders and staff, VESID will set goals related to areas of service identified as high priority for change and innovation.  All aspects of service delivery will be open for potential positive change.  This may include, for example, locations where services are delivered, entities that deliver services, case flow and supervision, policy changes or changes in funding mechanisms.