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 Cort  

 

SUBJECT:

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

 

DATE:

February 28, 2007

 

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goals 3 - 6

 

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

 

Executive Summary

 

Issue for Decision  (Consent Agenda)

 

In accordance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended in 1998, the Amendment to the State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Services, effective October 1, 2007, is presented for your approval.

 

Proposed Handling

 

This question will come before the EMSC-VESID Committee at its March 2007 meeting, on its consent agenda, where it will be voted on and final action taken.

 

Procedural History

 

Each year, the Board of Regents approves the Amendment to the State Plan that must be submitted to the Rehabilitation Services Administration by April 1.

 

Background Information

 

The Rehabilitation Act requires the Board of Regents to submit an annual Amendment to the State Plan outlining the goals, priorities and objectives in providing vocational rehabilitation and supported employment services to individuals with disabilities in New York State.  The attached report summarizes the content of the Amendment.  The complete document is in the Regents Office for your review.


Recommendation

 

VOTED:  that the Amendment to the State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Services, effective October 1, 2007, is approved.

 

Timetable for Implementation

 

Upon approval by the Regents of the State Plan, it will be submitted to the Rehabilitation Services Administration for review and approval, as required, prior to April 1, 2007.


 

 

Proposed Amendment to the State Plan

for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Effective October 1, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York State Education Department

Office of Vocational and Educational Services for

Individuals with Disabilities


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

Effective October 1, 2007

 

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 Disabilitiesí (VESID) goals, priorities and performance in providing vocational rehabilitation and supported employment services to individuals with disabilities in New York State.  This 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.  The Program Year 2007 State Plan continues to be an amendment to the original document since the Workforce Investment Act has not yet been reauthorized.  

 

          VESID, in conjunction with the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), developed the Amendment to the State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Services, Effective October 1, 2007.  The previous yearís Amendment to the State Plan (July 1, 2006) 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.

 

          The public comment period regarding the State Plan amendments extended from September 8 through November 17, 2006.  As part of the State Plan development, VESID solicited public comment on achieving high quality employment outcomes for people with disabilities through seven public meetings.  Discussion questions focused on greater participation of youth in vocational rehabilitation, the timely development of the Individualized Plan for Employment and postsecondary education leading to quality employment, as these topics relate to the content and implementation of the State Plan.

 

Public Meetings

 

          To notify and inform the public about the meetings on the State Plan, VESID emailed flyers that gave specific details on the theme of the State Plan public meetings, the meeting dates, meeting times and locations.  The flyers were sent to consumers, community agencies, schools, independent living centers, and support groups.  VESID also utilized the newsletters, faxes, and internal communication processes of several community rehabilitation providers and associations to advertise the public meetings.

 

          VESID further advertised the public meetings through the VESID website.  Using Internet access, VESID created an interactive public meeting web page that was accessible to the public seven days per week, 24 hours per day.  The public meeting web page allowed individuals to review the public meeting themes, questions and background information and to electronically post their comments.  The page was redesigned this year and more than 50 comments, many detailed, were received, a response comparable to what we received last year.

 

         The public meetings were designed to provide ample opportunities for participants to review and discuss their ideas about VESIDís State Plan, policies, future direction, transition, individualized planning of employment goals, and the use of post- secondary education to achieve employment.  At each meeting, VESID provided a brief presentation on the State Plan and provided data and information related to the theme questions.  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.

         

          The comments and recommendations received during the public comment period were reviewed for inclusion 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.  We will compile the comments and post a summary of the comments on the VESID website, along with a response from VESID related to the comments received.

 

Amendment of the State Plan:  Required Attachments

 

          The following attachments describe VESIDís plans, policies and activities in a number of required areas.  The sections of the Amendment to the State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Services, Effective October 1, 2007 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.

 

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

          Describes VESIDís efforts to facilitate the transition of students with disabilities from school to post-school employment at the statewide and local levels.

 

Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD): (Attachment 4.10)

 

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

Results of Comprehensive Statewide Assessment of the Rehabilitation Needs of Individuals with Disabilities and the Need to Establish, Develop, and Improve Community Rehabilitation Programs: (Attachment 4.11(a))

 

          Describes VESIDís interagency review of the needs of persons  with the most significant disabilities for expanded supported employment opportunities.  Also describes VESID and State Rehabilitation Councilís joint efforts to assess the needs of special populations.

 

Annual Estimates of Individuals to be Served and Costs of Service: (Attachment 4.11(b))

 

VESID estimates that, during Federal Fiscal Year 2008, 28,300 individuals with significant or most significant disabilities will become eligible for VESID services.

 

Stateís Annual Goals and Priorities: (Attachment 4.11(c)(1))

         

Describes VESIDís goals and priorities and highlights key performance indicators

to measure success.

 

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

 

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

 

Evaluation and Report of Progress in Achieving Identified Goals and Priorities and Use of Title l Funds for Innovation and Expansion Activities: (Attachment 4.11(e)(2))

 

Describes VESIDís progress in achieving the goals and priorities, as required by regulation, and agreed to with the State Rehabilitation Council.

 

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)

 

          The State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) gives advice and works in partnership with the Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID).  Together, the SRC and VESID partner to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive appropriate, timely, and effective vocational rehabilitation (VR) services.  The SRC accomplishes its responsibilities and activities through the work of its committeesóthe Policy, Procedures and State Plan Committee, the Quality Assurance and Improvement Committee, and the Workforce Development Committee.  The committees accomplish specific tasks and bring recommendations to the full council for final action.  This structure assists the council to accomplish a broader range of activities than would be possible working as one large body.

 

          Together, VESID and the SRC work cooperatively in setting the policy direction for the delivery of vocational rehabilitation services for eligible individuals in New York State.  VESID and the SRC use a team approach to policy development, community agency collaboration, and State Plan development.  This last year, the SRC and VESID worked collaboratively to undertake the restructuring of the vocational rehabilitation system through the Designing Our Future initiatives.

 

          The following is a summary of input and recommendations of the State Rehabilitation Council and VESIDís response to the recommendations:

 

Background: VESID requested exemption for specific Specialized Vocational Training (SVT) programs from the State Education Departmentís (SED) licensing requirement. VESID was facing the loss of some SVT programs, which have long been successful in training and placing VESID consumers.  Some VESID community rehabilitation programs were unable to meet specific licensing requirements that apply to vocational schools, but do not meet the needs of individuals with disabilities served by the community rehabilitation programs.  VESID provided draft procedures for reviewing the SVT and converting the SVT to special Work Adjustment Training (WAT) programs.  The procedures were reviewed by the SRC.

 

SRC Recommendation: The SRC supports and approves VESIDís recommendation to change procedures for converting SVT programs to WAT, as an exemption from the licensing requirements in selected circumstances.

VESID Response: VESID appreciates the SRCís unanimous support for the development of new procedures to convert from SVT programs to WAT programs.  VESID agrees with the SRC position that certain training programs need to be exempt from restrictive licensing processes. Only appropriate SVT services will be exempted by VESID for this purpose and will be converted into special WAT programs.

 


SRC Recommendation: In reviewing the RSA 107 corrective action plan, the SRC recommends that VESID insert a clause into each VESID policy where a cost or duration limit is set.

VESID Response: As recommended by the SRC, VESID will insert a reference to the waiver policy for all policies describing specific services that have cost or duration limits.

 

SRC Recommendation: VESID will add additional monies to the SRC FFY2007 budget request to allow travel to CSAVR and other training opportunities for SRC members.

VESID Response: VESID increased the SRC budget by $30,000 for FFY2007.  This increase will allow for additional travel for SRC members to attend CSAVR and other SRC training opportunities, as well as contribute towards a formal needs assessment that VESID and the SRC collectively conduct.

 

SRC Recommendation: All VESID information and policies that are presented to the Board of Regents must first go to the State Rehabilitation Council.

VESID Response: VESID routinely consults with the SRC on the State Plan, policies and procedures, and other materials.  To the extent possible, VESID will share other information with the SRC prior to the Board of Regents review.

 

SRC Recommendation: Change SRC working committee meeting start time to 1:30 for the first day of the SRC meetings.

VESID Response: The Committee meeting time has been changed to accommodate the SRC request.

 

SRC Recommendation: The Policy, Procedures, and State Plan Committee, at the discretion of the Executive Committee, will write a letter of support to the RSA promoting VESID.

VESID Response: VESID appreciates the time commitment, collaboration, and support the SRC provides as a partner in the employment of individuals with disabilities.

 

SRC Recommendation: The SRC recommends that VESID schedule Region II Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program (RRCEP) SRC training for the entire SRC.

VESID Response: The RRCEP will provide training to the entire SRC in February 2007.

 

SRC Recommendation: VESID should seek clarification from Social Security Administration (SSA) as to how SSA would view getting cost reimbursement for vocational rehabilitation services to youth.

VESID Response: VESID submits claims on all expenditures that meet Social Security criteria.  If charges to VESID are incurred by youth on Supplemental Security Income, and are documented in record of services, VESID seeks reimbursement.

 

SRC Recommendation: A letter from the SRC to the SSA will be submitted in support of VESIDís response letter to Notice of Proposed Rule Making regarding Ticket to Work.

VESID Response: VESID looks forward to its continued collaboration with the SRC.

 


SRC Recommendation: The SRC will refer transition issues of concern that fall outside the SRC purview in a letter from the SRC to the Commissionerís Advisory Panel on Special Education.

VESID Response: VESID is supportive of communication between the SRC and the State Education Department Commissionerís Advisory Panel related to issues of overlapping concern.

 

SRC Recommendation: A SED representative provided the SRC with an overview of transition services in New York State for students with disabilities.  The SRC requests that copies of the report be obtained electronically and sent to all SRC members.

VESID Response: VESID obtained a copy of the presentation and electronically transmitted the information to all SRC members.

 

SRC Recommendation: Each SRC Committee will look at the proposed transition process and report to full SRC about specific transition issues they can undertake.

VESID Response: VESID is committed to working with the SRC to enhance the transition of youth to adult services and employment.  We continue to look forward to the SRCís collaboration to ensure the success of youth in transition.

 

SRC Recommendation: As recommended by the SRC Transition Ad Hoc Committee, the Policy, Procedures and State Plan Committee will evaluate the current VESID policies affecting youth and transition to determine how policies align with Designing Our Future initiative.

VESID Response: VESID and the SRC Policy, Procedures and State Plan Committee will work together to revise the transition policy in 2007 to improve transition services to youth with disabilities during 2007.

 

SRC Recommendation: After a VESID liaison to one of the SRC committees was reassigned, the SRC recommended retaining specific VESID liaisons and/or providing appropriate transition planning for mentoring of new liaisons.

VESID Response: While VESID certainly understands that good working relationships are formed between the SRC members and VESID liaisons, VESID liaison staff does have to be rotated occasionally.  VESID will make a good faith effort to provide a transition period when liaison staff are leaving, bringing new VESID staff on simultaneously to learn the liaison duties.

 

SRC Recommendation: The SRC nominated Lisa Koop as Chair of the SRC for 2007.

VESID Response: VESID approves the nomination and looks forward to working closely with the new chair in 2007.

 

SRC Recommendation: Review existing by-laws; revise and develop a written document that describes the process roles, and responsibilities for the SRC.

VESIDís Response: The SRC Chair and the VESID SRC Coordinator worked together to provide this information in a written document known as the New York State Rehabilitation Council Guiding Principles.

 


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

 

Coordinating services to in-school youth with disabilities is a continuing priority for VESID, which administers both the special education and vocational rehabilitation programs.  It is VESIDís policy for vocational rehabilitation counselors to seek school referrals within two years prior to school exit, coordinate vocational rehabilitation with school service planning, and use school records to the maximum extent in determining eligibility.  This policy reflects the relationship defined in the Joint Agreement Between the Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals With Disabilities and the Office Of Elementary, Middle, Secondary and Continuing Education to Improve Transition Planning and Services for Students with Disabilities (1992).  The vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor's role with in-school youth is primarily one of planning for the continuity of career preparation for the studentís years after leaving school.  However, if the student needs vocational rehabilitation services to make a smooth transition to permanent employment directly upon the student's exiting from school, the counselor can fund these services.  VESID works with schools to ensure that, to the maximum extent possible, the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) is completed before vocational rehabilitation-eligible students receiving special education leave school.

 

Caseload statistics are monitored to determine the progress of VESID in serving and placing youth, defined as individuals with disabilities who are less than 22 years of age at the point of referral to the vocational rehabilitation program.  Trend data indicate that there has been a steady increase statewide in the proportion of youth served.  In FFY 2005, VESID served almost 30,000 youth (individuals who applied for services before age 22), an increase from the previous year, and 30 percent of all served.  Over the past five years, the number of youth on the VESID caseload has increased significantly.

 

VESID will collaborate in the following activities to improve the transition of youth with disabilities from secondary education to post-school employment outcomes.

 

Policy Improvement 

 

          VESID will update its policy and procedures to more effectively guide VR counselors in their work with school districts, parents, and transition age youth.  Policy and procedures will cover the following topics:

 

                Make VR services more readily accessible to students with disabilities through consistent VR policy, procedures, and practices.  Eliminate practice of prohibiting purchase of any VR service until the last semester of high school.

 

                 Allow flexibility for VR Counselors to work with students to determine if certain VR services are required to enable the individual to achieve post-school employment.

 


                  Clarify when VR can use case services dollars to provide services while still in school.

 

                  List those services that VR may provide (work-study, summer work, work experiences, part-time after school job placement) and those that are clearly the responsibility of a school district (e.g., career and technical education or ďoc - edĒ programs).

 

                   Emphasize the primary responsibility of school districts for transition, but allow VR services when it is clearly not a service that the school is mandated to provide.

 

                   Encourage students (and families) to stay in school and maximize educational achievement.

 

                   Clarify eligibility requirement of other adult service agencies (Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities and the Office of Mental Health) to ensure that students and families have access to the full array of adult support services that are necessary to succeed in employment and address other post-school challenges.

 

                   Measure referral numbers from schools to VR, establish baseline, and set goals.

 

Designing Our Future Transition Partnership Team

 

          VESIDís vocational rehabilitation (VR) and special education managers will work to better coordinate activities between special education and vocational rehabilitation services.  The State Rehabilitation Council will also be consulted as this process proceeds.  The Transition Partnership Team will:

 

                   Increase communication opportunities to allow outreach to parents and students about the VR program and services while ensuring confidentiality of personally identifiable information.

 

                   Improve mechanisms for data exchange between special education and vocational rehabilitation.

 

                   Reassess the ďtransitionĒ VR counselor strategy and other strategies being implemented within VR to improve transition.   Improve coordination of statewide efforts through a central team coordinating VESID VR overall transition efforts.


                   Implement joint training initiatives for regional VR staff and special education, transition, and school district staff to continuously improve transition services.

 

                   Use provision for services to groups in the federal regulations (361.49(a)(7)) for the transition coordination sites or local school district consortiums to provide consultation and technical assistance for the transition of students with disabilities to post-school employment.

 

State Plan Priorities and Goals

 

          VESID will include youth as part of its priority in achieving an increase in high quality employment outcomes and will establish separate goals for youth in its annual goals and priorities.

 

Services to Groups for Consultative and Technical Assistance to Educational Agencies 

 

          VESID will provide VR services to groups under 34 CFR 361.49 (a)(7) for consultative and technical assistance services for planning the transition of students to post-school employment activities.  Federal regulations require us to develop written parameters as described in 34 CFR 361.49 (b) for these services.  VESID is planning to use services to group funds for contracts with the regional transition coordination sites, transition projects with school districts as a result of a pending request for proposals (RFP) procurement process, and for projects through selected Boards of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) in several regions.  Contracts will contain clearly defined services and measures for ensuring that the services to groups are actually carried out.  VESID intends to implement the following processes to comply with the regulations:

 

                   Describe the nature and scope of the services provided and the criteria under which each service is provided in a written policy.  The written policy will align with the service parameters and standards delineated in the contracts.  It will define what services are to be provided, who is intended to receive them, the conditions for when to provide and what the expected outcomes are.

 

                 Maintain information to ensure the proper and efficient administration of those services, including the types of services provided, the costs of the services and estimates of the numbers of individuals benefiting from those services.  Data collection will allow VESID to determine how many individuals received the services and the amount of funds used.  This information will be spelled out clearly in the policy and in the performance measures and reporting requirements of the contracts.

 

                 VESID will develop policy and procure services to groups for students in transition to employment.

 


Comprehensive System of Personnel Development:

Attachment 4.10

 

VESID is committed to fulfill its obligation to establish and maintain a Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) designed to ensure an adequate supply of qualified rehabilitation personnel staff.

 

Qualified Personnel Providing Vocational Rehabilitation Services

 

VESID ensures an adequate number of qualified rehabilitation counselor professionals by tracking all staff who are working to meet the needs of consumers.  VESID uses ACCESS, EXCEL, and the New York State Education Departmentís Fiscal and Personnel Information Management system to track vocational and rehabilitation counselors who meet CSPD requirements.  

 

VESID hires only vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors who meet CSPD requirements to provide vocational rehabilitation services to consumers.  Therefore, personnel data is relevant only to the vocational rehabilitation counselor series.  As of September 2006, VESID's data reflected an adequate supply of qualified rehabilitation professionals as summarized in the following table.

 

  Full-time Equivalent Vocational Rehabilitation 

  Counselors (VRCs)

337

  VRCs not meeting CSPD standards

44

  VESID Persons with Open Cases (Status 02-24)

53,109

  Ratio of Counselors to Consumers

1:158

  Anticipated VRCs that VESID will need over the 

  next five years due to retirement of current VRCs

70

 

 

          VESID does not employ any other type of rehabilitation staff, such as mobility instructors or rehabilitation teachers.  VESID does use VR Counselor Assistants who are promoted from VESID administrative support staff.  While these individuals interact with consumers, they process administrative tasks to facilitate service delivery and are not making decisions about eligibility or vocational rehabilitation services in the Individual Plan for Employment (IPE).

 


Coordination with Higher Education in the Preparation of Rehabilitation Professionals

 

In New York State, the Rehabilitation Counseling graduate programs at institutions of higher education within New York State are:  University at Albany - State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo - SUNY, Syracuse University, Hofstra University, St. Johnís University, and Hunter College.  These six programs are accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) and prepare vocational rehabilitation professionals. 

 

CORE accredited Masterís Programs in Rehabilitation Counselor Education provide evidence that a program complies with the strict professional stage of development.  CORE accreditation is granted to programs that have been fully operational long enough to allow for the objective assessment of the professional performance of graduates.  This recognition provides evidence that a program complies with all federal standards and is deemed able to maintain that level of compliance through the duration of the accreditation period.

 

VESID is working with these institutions of higher education 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 maintains a contact at each of these institutions of higher education and collects the following student data.

 

2006-2007 State Plan/ Institutions of Higher Education (CORE) Student Total

 

SUNY Albany

SUNY Buffalo

Syracuse

Hunter

Hofstra

St. Johnís

TOTALS

# of CORE Students

18

15

13

90

32

14

182

Students with Disability

2

1

4

10

5

1

23

Students as non-white

1

2

1

39

21

3

67

Graduated in 2005

9

7

4

20

10

5

55


Plan for Recruitment, Preparation, and Retention of Qualified Personnel

 

          As a function of VESID's plan to recruit, prepare, and retain qualified personnel, VESID has made progress in many areas, but is concerned with a diminishing pool of qualified candidates.  During the 2006-2007 academic year, 90 of the 182 students, or 49 percent, identified themselves as individuals with a disability or non-white, a significant decrease from last year.

 

Under the Long-Term Training Grant which ended last year, five VESID staff were completing their CSPD requirements.  All of them continue to be supported by VESID through the In-Service Training (IST) grant and all have plans to continue.  We anticipate that these individuals will meet the requirements by spring 2013.

 

For the remaining counselors who do not meet the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) standard, VESID continues to promote options for coursework and continuing education toward meeting the CSPD requirement.

 

          VESID projects that 70 counselors are needed over the next 5 years.  This projection is based on the number of vocational rehabilitation counselors age 50 or older with 25 years of service.  These counselors are all eligible for retirement within the next 5 years.

 

VESID has developed paid internships for recruiting VR counselors.  VESID has visited several graduate programs both within and outside of New York State to offer paid internship opportunities to graduate rehabilitation counseling students.  Several students have participated in the paid rehabilitation counselor internship program in the New York City metropolitan area during the fall 2006 semester.  In addition, there are opportunities for paid internships at several of the upstate district offices and candidates are being recruited to participate during 2007.

 

Personnel Standards: Highest Standard for the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

 

VESID will employ vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs) who have, or are eligible to obtain, qualification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC).  New York State Civil Service qualifications for the VRC title were amended to match the CRC eligibility requirement.  All vocational rehabilitation counselors who are added to the Civil Service list for that title require:

 

                 A current Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) certificate; or

                 A masterís degree in rehabilitation counseling, including a supervised internship, from a CORE accredited program; or

                 A masterís degree in rehabilitation counseling or counseling and notice of eligibility to sit for the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) certificate examination.

 

We anticipate that all VESID VRCís will meet the CRC eligibility requirements by FFY 2013.


          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 its student recruitment efforts to reach students from diverse backgrounds.

 

Staff Development

VESID is addressing current and projected vocational rehabilitation personnel needs by ensuring that all its personnel are adequately trained.  To accomplish this goal, the following activities have been and will continue to be implemented 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) training           sessions.  Training is offered in the fields of counseling, vocational rehabilitation counseling, medical aspects of disabilities including mental           illness, acquired brain injury, end stage renal disease, job placement, rehabilitation technology, diversity, informed choice, the Americans with           Disabilities Act, and other topics related to the field of vocational rehabilitation.  All employees have access to these training opportunities and are encouraged to attend.

 

                 VESID continues to 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, the National Centers for Workforce and Disability (Youth and Adult), the Burton Blatt Institute of Syracuse University, the Institute of Rehabilitation Issues, the Law, Health Policy and Disability Center at the University of Iowa College of Law, and many other professional, educational, and private sources.

 

VESID provides ongoing training to all VRCís regarding policy and procedural changes; relevant federal and State laws; and evidence-based rehabilitation practices. Training provided during FFY 2006, to date, included the following topics:

 

                 Policy and procedures: new staff training, eligibility including presumed      eligibility for SSI/SSDI individuals, significance of disability,Fast Track  intake, placement and marketing, due process, supported employment policy and procedures, case noting, VESIDís electronic case management system (CaMS), homemaker closures, functional capacity evaluations,           vehicle modifications, college policies and procedures, RSA monitoring and performance indicators, consumer involvement and economic need.  In addition, training was provided to new staff and vocational rehabilitation counselors that presented a broad overview of all VESID policies and procedures.

 

                  Disability-related training: end stage renal disease, sickle cell anemia,         augmentive communication devices, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), multiple sclerosis, interpretation of psychological tests, obsessive compulsive disorders, rehabilitation technology, understanding           recreational substance abuse, implications of Aspergerís Syndrome, vicarious trauma, gang awareness in our schools and communities, methamphetamine labs, principles of psychosocial rehabilitation, and acquired brain injury.

 

                 Placement and marketing training: World of Work Inventory I and II, Self-Employment services, Designing Our Future, job coaching, workers compensation, navigating a changing job market, aerospace industry, labor market trends, and regional demand occupations.

 

                 Collaborative Work Projects:  VESID is working with the Office of Mental Health (OMH) on several initiatives for mutual analysis and potential benefit to consumers with mental illness.  Implementation of the OMH program initiative, Personal Recovery Oriented Services (PROS), was           delayed due to some technical problems in the approval process.  The program has been approved for implementation and VESID has developed local liaisons to the OMH-funded vocational programs.  VESID   met with OMH on a regular schedule to discuss issues of mutual concern regarding supported employment and related vocational services to           individuals with mental illness.  As this program is implemented, VESID       staff will receive training.

 

          VESID facilitated a training workshop at a statewide conference of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) that featured three VESID consumers who used a combination of Individualized Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Treatment (IPRT) program and VESID-sponsored supported employment to sustain competitive employment.  Representatives from the respective community rehabilitation programs also participated to give the workshop participants, consumers, and other service providers an understanding of how VESID and the mental health community can collaborate to assist this population in achieving employment.

 


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 is not available, VESID contracts with outside agencies and individuals for interpreter or communication services.  VESID also ensures that vocational rehabilitation counselors 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 is planning to conduct a needs assessment of the specialized counselors who are working with deaf individuals to determine their training and resource needs.  The results of this survey process will be reported in the next State plan. 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.

Coordination with Personnel Development and Training under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

VESID administers special education, vocational rehabilitation, and independent living programs.  The coordination of meaningful transition services for students with disabilities from school-age to postsecondary settings is a priority area for vocational rehabilitation and special education collaboration.  VESIDís special education and vocational rehabilitation program managers jointly review and share training information and, when relevant, coordinate efforts by inviting our respective staff to training on transition, accommodations, assessment, and knowledge of specific disabilities.

The chart below indicates that new applications 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.  There is a slight increase in total numbers of youth served and in successful employment outcomes for youth.  Most promising is the increase in employment outcomes for youth, even though employment outcomes for all VR consumers have decreased.

 


 

Youth with Disabilities (age 14-21)

 

FFY*

2003

FFY*

2004

FFY*

2005

New youth applicants

11,096

10,898

10,665

Youth served

28,776

29,304

29,441

Youth employed as a result of VESID services

3,392

3,264

3,585

School districts whose students are in VESID caseload

610

615

617

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VESID has a number of VRCís across the State dedicated solely to transition.  In some offices, VESID is demonstrating a ďtransition teamĒ concept to determine if this approach leads to better outreach to school districts and to students with disabilities.

 

          More information about coordination with students with disabilities is reported in Attachment 4.9(c)(2) Coordination with Education Officials.  Final results for FFY 2006 are not yet available.

 


Results of Comprehensive Statewide Assessment of the Rehabilitation Needs of Individuals with Disabilities and the Need to Establish, Develop, and Improve Community Rehabilitation Programs:  Attachment 4.11(a)

 

          The 1998 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act require that a needs assessment be conducted jointly with the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) every three years to collect data about the rehabilitation of New Yorkers with disabilities.  The needs assessment must identify the vocational rehabilitation needs of:

 

                 Individuals with the most significant disabilities, including their need for supported employment services;

 

                 Individuals who are minorities and individuals who are unserved and underserved by vocational rehabilitation; and

 

                 Individuals who are served through other components of the workforce investment system.

 

          In addition, the assessment must identify the need to establish, develop, and improve community rehabilitation programs.

 

          VESID submitted its last needs assessment report and plan two years ago, with the Program Year 2005 (July 1, 2005) State Plan.  Since that time, VESID has worked cooperatively with the SRC, the Employment Service Systems Research and Training Center (ESSRTC), particularly Hunter College and the Center for Essential Management Services (CEMS), the State Workforce Investment Board and the New York State network of community rehabilitation providers to implement comprehensive needs assessment activities.  These activities have enabled VESID to better identify and address the rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities in New York State.

 

          As described in the Program Year 2005 State Planís Statewide Needs Assessment, Attachment 4.12(a), VESID and the SRC committed to working cooperatively with the ESSRTC to implement a comprehensive employment practices study, as one part of a broader needs assessment strategy.  The purpose of the study is to identify practices that lead to quality employment outcomes, and refine that knowledge to formulate a model that predicts employment success.  Specifically, factors related to consumer characteristics, counselor practices, and service delivery are being examined in detail.  In addition to these factors, employment outcomes are influenced by economic factors, such as the unemployment rates and the growth of local economies.  The influence of these economic factors and other contextual factors on the decisions of consumers and counselors will be considered.  Since outlining this initial plan in 2005, the objectives of the study have been focused as follows:

 

 


1)    To describe best practices by identifying exemplary Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRCs) who will report on what contributes to their success in creating employment opportunities for consumers.

 

2)    To use existing data from VESIDís extensive database to derive profiles of counselorsí caseloads, service patterns, and outcomes.

 

3)    To collect additional data concerning organizational culture, counselor competencies, external factors, and consumer satisfaction with services to include in analytic models identifying best service and administrative practices in collaboration with the VESID System Redesign Initiative (Designing Our Future).

 

4)    To explain the variation in outcomes using the predictor and moderating variables specified in the conceptual framework.

 

          VESID is committed to making effective use of the findings from the comprehensive needs assessment, moving from research to practice, and using what is learned to shape policy, training, operations and practice.

Characteristics of Individuals Served

 

          During FFY 2006, the characteristics of individuals with disabilities who participate in VESID services, to some degree, reflect the unique diversity of the population in New York State:

 

                 30.3 percent are Black or African-Americans, a higher percentage than in the general population in New York State (14.3 percent).

 

                 13 percent are Hispanic, a slightly higher percentage than in the general population in New York State (12.5 percent).

 

                 1.9 percent are Native Americans (American Indian/Eskimo/Aleut).

 

                 1.9 percent are Asian-American.

 

                 0.7 percent are Pacific Islander.

 

                 18.1 percent are SSI recipients and 13.6 percent are SSD beneficiaries.

 

                 2.5 percent are TANF recipients and 13.8 percent are Safety Net participants.   

 


Based on an analysis of individuals who are closed after receiving VR services, at the time of services:

 

                 Almost 41 percent had mental and emotional (psychosocial) disabilities, nearly 10 percentage points higher than the national average for VR agencies;

 

                 Almost 31 percent had cognitive impairments, slightly more than 4 percentage points above the national average for VR agencies.  Individuals with traumatic brain injury equal 1.5 percent; and,

 

                 Close to 24 percent had physical impairments and less than 5 percent had visual or communication impairments.

 

Assessment Activities

 

          Previously, a needs assessment study was conducted by the SRC and CEMS in 2001 and was reported in earlier State Plans.  The study resulted in identifying potentially unserved or underserved cultural groups, including Native Americans, Asians, African-Americans, Eastern Europeans, and Hispanics. Potentially underserved disability-related populations include those who are deaf, chronically mentally ill, dually diagnosed, or who have acquired brain injury, and degenerative conditions.  Other groups mentioned included older persons, students in transition, persons in rural areas, and persons who had involvement in the criminal justice system.

 

          Additional assessment activities were conducted over the past two years including:

 

                 Focus groups with exemplary counselors and identification of promising practices;

 

                 Consumer satisfaction survey with preliminary results;

 

                 A review of a study of VR services to Chinese Americans in New York City;

 

                 An analysis of VR services to individuals with mental health impairments;

 

                 A study of the training needs of supported employment providers;

 

                 An implementation plan for the Designing Our Future initiative, with an emphasis on unserved and underserved groups by the Access to Services           Team; and

 

                 An analysis of individuals served through other components of the workforce investment system.

 


Identifying Practices of Exemplary Counselors

 

          One of the first objectives of the ESSRTC needs assessment was to describe best service practices of exemplary counselors, and how their work and behavior contribute to high levels of employment success for consumers from diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic groups.  To achieve this objective, VESID identified 28 counselors from across the State who have demonstrated consistently high performance in providing high quality services to diverse populations as demonstrated by outcome measures.  The ESSRTC conducted six focus groups with these exemplary counselors.

 

          A content analysis of the transcripts from these focus groups is currently underway and a report should be available shortly (prior to the start of this State Plan Program Year) to identify those practices that likely lead to high performance results.   This information will be used to explore how management and organizational practices can better support high performance in counselors, leading to quality employment outcomes for consumers. 

 

          The subsequent objective of this aspect of the needs assessment is to identify and provide detailed descriptions of counselor actions to create clear, evidence-based management practices that promote positive outcomes for consumers, including individuals from diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic groups.

 

Consumer Satisfaction Survey

 

          During 2006, VESID mailed consumer satisfaction surveys to 5,003 individuals with VR Status 26 (employed) and Status 28 (not employed) closures.  Five hundred ninety-five surveys (11.9 percent) were returned.  CEMS, in cooperation with the VESID Monitoring Unit and the SRC Quality Assurance and Improvement Committee, is conducting a full analysis of the findings from the survey.  Preliminary findings yielded the following summary results:

 

                 36.6 percent of the Status 26 closures and 11.9 percent of the Status 28 closures were employed full time.

 

                 80 percent of the respondents rated VESID services as very good or good.

 

                 76.7 percent agreed or strongly agreed that the time it took to begin receiving services met their needs.

 

                 91.1 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they were treated courteously by VESID counseling staff.

 

                 84.8 percent would recommend VESID to another person.

 

          VESID and the SRC will work with the ESSRTC to examine more closely the comparison of satisfaction responses and ratings to various unserved and underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minorities.  As VESID and the SRC continue to analyze the findings, VESID will explore implications for policy, procedures, practice and training, and gather additional survey data on consumer satisfaction.

 

Access to Services for Chinese Americans

 

          VESID reviewed a study conducted by the Center for Independence of the Disabled of New York (CIDNY) in August 2004 entitled, ďBarriers to VESID Services for Chinese-Americans with Disabilities in New York City  The report recommended several best practice solutions that emphasize interagency collaboration to be fully inclusive.  VESID, through its continued efforts under Designing Our Future, can engage in additional steps to better determine how many individuals with disabilities statewide are experiencing language-related barriers to service.  One recommendation from the report that begins to address access to vocational rehabilitation services is the need for translation of written communications including brochures, applications, guidelines, and correspondence.  This study was shared with the Designing Our Future Access to Services Team and will be further discussed by the SRC to recommend specific actions that VESID could initiate to address issues raised by the study for all major populations in the State who have Limited English Proficiency.

 

Services to Individuals with Mental Illness

          The New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) is a statewide association of community mental health and rehabilitation providers who are involved in providing employment services to individuals with severe and persistent mental illness.  The previous needs assessment that was conducted by the SRC and CEMS in 2001 found that individuals with chronic mental illness were one of the underserved populations. At the request of the NYAPRS Employment Committee during 2006, VESID conducted an analysis of the service delivery process of individuals who have identified a mental illness as a primary disability when participating in vocational rehabilitation services.  This analysis was shared with the NYAPRS Employment Committee, of which one of the members is the chair elect of the SRC.  A summary of some of the key findings includes:

                 Individuals with mental illness made up 19 percent of all individuals served in all statuses;

 

                 22 percent of the individuals determined to be eligible during FFY 2005 were individuals with mental illness;

 

                 VESIDís active caseload (Status 10 Ė 24) consists of 19 percent of individuals with a mental illness or 9,724 individuals;

 

                 In FFY 2005, the number of individuals with mental illness who achieved an employment outcome (Status 26) increased by 30 individuals,while the overall number of employment outcomes for all consumers decreased by more than 500;

 

                 The percentage of individuals with mental illness who achieve an employment outcome after receiving services (RSA Performance Indicator 1.2) is 46.9 percent for FFY 2005, about 7.4 percentage points lower than the 54.3 percent achieved for all VESID consumers and below the national standard for all consumers of 55.8 percent.

 

          VESID and the NYAPRS Employment Committee will continue to explore how to improve services to this population that research has often identified as underserved by the vocational rehabilitation and workforce development system.  VESID and NYAPRS will consider how a pilot project or other efforts under the Designing Our Future initiative could be developed to improve outcomes for these individuals.

Improving Supported Employment Services Provided by Community Rehabilitation Programs to Individuals with the Most Significant Disabilities

 

          In the previous needs assessment attachment, VESID described changes in contracts with community rehabilitation programs to better provide vocational rehabilitation and supported employment services to diverse groups of individuals with disabilities, particularly underserved individuals with the most significant disabilities.  Essentially, VESID contracted for supported employment with more community rehabilitation providers that specialized in working with individuals with severe and persistent mental illness and individuals with brain injury.  VESID also funded a comprehensive assessment of training needs of staff from VESID-funded supported employment providers throughout New York State.  The Community Rehabilitation Program Region II Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program (under the Center for Rehabilitation Synergy at the State University of New York at Buffalo) conducted the assessment.  Through an intensive effort that included survey and focus groups with managers and direct service staff, the assessment generated 14 proposed recommendations for further consideration to improve supported employment services provided through community rehabilitation programs for individuals with the most significant disabilities.  A few of the key recommendations included:

 

                 Development of a statewide Staff Development Planning Tool to maximize       consistency between providers and offer a suggested plan for           comprehensive staff training.

 

                 Development of an on going needs assessment process that takes place as part of each training workshop.

 

                 Development of a task force to address the joint training needs of schools         and providers to maximize the outcomes for students transitioning to adult services. Also, allow school personnel to attend supported employment       trainings and include them in marketing efforts.

 

                 Creation of a ďGuide to Staff Training and DevelopmentĒ to be used as a resource for supervisors to build support for staff training. Additionally, each workshop should have a supervisorís guide to integrate workshop content into daily operations.  Development of a training plan that considers providing the rotation of training topics over an extended period        of time.

 

         VESID is in the process of reviewing the proposed recommendations and setting priorities that address the training needs of its supported employment community rehabilitation provider network.  Over the next year, we will develop a training strategy to address the most important recommendations.  It is likely that VESID will issue a Request For Applications (RFA) for an organization to coordinate and implement a training program for community rehabilitation programs that provide supported employment services.

Designing Our Future

 

         VESID continues to work on its Designing Our Future initiative, a statewide process for designing a future vocational rehabilitation service delivery system.  The Designing Our Future initiative has systematically assessed the critical changes needed for an effective vocational rehabilitation program responding to the needs of unserved and underserved populations, including minorities and individuals with the most significant disabilities. VESID submitted an implementation plan to the Board of Regents in May 2006.  The implementation plan was accepted by the Regents and VESID is in the process of initiating the first phase of changes in policy and piloting several key initiatives from the plan.  There are several teams charged with the responsibility of designing new processes for:

 

                 Improving access to services;

 

                 Expanding partnerships through the workforce system, transition activities        and interagency cooperation;

 

                 Enhancing the use of technology to facilitate service delivery;

 

                 Improving communication with internal and external stakeholders, including business and industry;

 

                 Expanding service delivery methods and strategies;

 

                 Improving VESID internal capacity, structure and resources for monitoring,    training, procurement and business processes; and

 


                 Evaluating the effectiveness of implementation and measuring outcomes.

 

          The Designing Our Future Steering Committee has established specific goals for increasing employment outcomes for FFY 2007 and FFY 2008.  Specifically, VESID will increase employment outcomes by 3 percent from the FFY 2005 level during FFY 2007.  This would mean that 13,689 individuals with disabilities will achieve an employment outcome.  For FFY 2008, the Designing Our Future Steering Committee has established a goal of increasing employment outcomes by 5 percent from the FFY 2007 target. This would mean that 14,372 individuals with disabilities will achieve an employment outcome.  As these work teams progress with their pilot activities, VESID will be evaluating findings and making operational, policy, and service delivery changes to better meet the needs of consumers.

 

          The ESSRTC has also committed to assist VESID to measure the effectiveness of the Designing Our Future initiative.  The ESSRTC has offered to construct a fidelity scale that reflects the anticipated changes.  The scale will have the capacity to provide data on the extent to which plans were implemented and the quality of the implementation.  The measures can then be used to assess the relationship between the changes and consumer outcomes.

 

Under Designing Our Future, the Access to Services Work Team has a particular responsibility to demonstrate initiatives that can improve services to unserved and underserved groups.  This team is:

 

                 Conducting focused outreach efforts to identified unserved and underserved populations in Nassau and Suffolk Counties (Long Island);

 

                 Developing a survey in English and Spanish of individuals from empowerment zones, community-based disability groups, ethnic and           Limited English Proficient (LEP) groups, and other traditionally underserved populations, to learn what they know about and expect from VESID VR services; and

 

                 Developing a Linguistic and Cultural Sensitivity Awareness Program           based on a Linguistic and Cultural Competency curriculum that was created by the local Independent Living Center.  Pilot training using this curriculum is planned for the Nassau and Suffolk County VESID offices.

 

          Another significant assessment activity related to Designing Our Future is the VR Fiscal Management Project.  A cross-functional team of VESID staff from all levels of the organization has been involved with a consultant to examine all fiscal processes, particularly those related to purchasing services on behalf of consumers, and determine how the service processes can be improved through new technology applications.

 


Individuals Served Through Other Components of the Statewide Workforce Investment System

 

          Under the VESID Designing Our Future initiative, strategies for integrating vocational rehabilitation expertise at the one stop centers are being implemented by VESID.  In addition, VESID has continued to pursue increased accessibility and improved services for customers with disabilities as an explicitly stated goal among all workforce partner programs.  VESID has played a key role in promoting the concept that the Statewide Workforce Investment System embrace a vision to close the employment gap for individuals with disabilities and develop a comprehensive strategy for employment of individuals with disabilities.

 

          Over the past several years, State Education Departmentís Commissioner Mills has urgently championed this priority as a member of the State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB). The SWIB responded by charging the SWIB Systems Integration Subcommittee to explore how the workforce system can more effectively assist individuals with disabilities to enter employment.

 

          Prior to the initial meeting of the Subcommittee, VESID shared VR data with the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) for all people served in all statuses during 2003.  DOL examined how many VR consumers had work activity in 2004, based on the Unemployment Insurance database.  DOL found that more than 44,000 or 52 percent of VESID consumers served in 2003, had work activity in 2004.  This is well above the annual 13,826 Status 26 closures claimed in FFY 2004.  This indicator suggests that VR clients are more engaged in the job market than VESID is able to capture without access to wage data from other sources, such as the Unemployment Insurance database.  The data analysis also indicated that for 2003, WIA Title I (one stop services to adults, dislocated workers and youth) was serving 3,248 one stop customers who self-identified as individuals with disabilities.  A significant number of these one stop customers (862) were also VESID consumers.  WIA Title III (Wagner-Peyser Employment Services) served 15,659 individuals who self-identified as having a disability; VESID consumers comprised 2,975 of these individuals.  Finally, 81,551 individuals were classified as disabled who were served by the TANF Welfare to Work program in 2003 and 4,011 were also VESID consumers.

 

          During 2005, VESID staff participated in two interagency design teams charged by the SWIB Systems Integration Subcommittee to examine communication among one stop partners and the intake, eligibility, and referral processes among the partners for customers with disabilities.  These two design teams made recommendations to the Systems Integration Subcommittee in November 2005.  The Subcommittee reviewed the recommendations in early 2006 and prepared recommendations for the SWIB.

 


          In February 2006, the SWIB accepted several recommendations from the Subcommittee including:

 

                 Creating and deploying a standard method to inform customers of the full range of partner services, using multi-media approaches;

 

                 Ensuring access for all customers and a common method across one stops for all staff to assess functional abilities of individuals with disabilities; and

 

                 Streamlining the intake and eligibility process for VESID and other partner programs for customers with disabilities.

 

          VESID has approached NYS DOL to continue efforts to implement these recommendations and to continue to share information so that we can continuously assess how individuals with disabilities are served by all components of the statewide workforce investment systems and sustain our efforts to close the employment gap for individuals with disabilities in New York State.

 

Next Steps for Continuing Statewide Needs Assessment

 

          Over the next year, the ESSRTC will analyze VESID and New York State data, using information from the VESID case management system from the most recent five fiscal years to identify consumer characteristics and service variables that are predictive of employment outcomes.  This will permit an identification of consumers who are being underserved in terms of not achieving proportional outcomes when compared to other groups.  It will also identify those services which tend to occur more frequently for those who are likely to succeed.  As the study proceeds, additional data will then be collected on organizational climate, counselor competency, consumer satisfaction, and consumer outcomes.  As the information from the study is gathered through these different strategies, the information will be used to develop a model that predicts key employment outcomes so that practices known to be successful can be selected for future consumers.  The study will result in the development of recommendations about administrative and service practices that achieve optimal outcomes.

 

          In summary, VESID is engaged in a multifaceted and continuous process of assessing the vocational rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities in New York State.  Some of these processes are research-oriented, as the analyses that are being done by the ESSRTC Consortium and the University of Buffalo study of supported- employment training needs at community rehabilitation programs.  Others run closer to practice, where VESID can make adjustments to program interventions or develop training plans, such as the activities done in Suffolk and Nassau Counties for unserved and underserved under Designing Our Future.  These pilot activities hold promise to affect statewide policy, procedures, and practice in the future.

 


          VESID has made other operational changes to improve services to unserved and underserved individuals including individuals with the most significant disabilities:

 

                 VESID has raised its economic need thresholds to match the 200 percent of poverty income levels, widely considered as the criteria for ďlow incomeĒ families and individuals.

 

                 VESID has worked with the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), responsible for the TANF welfare-to-work programs, to redesign the Local Interagency VESID Employment Services (LIVES) initiative geared toward assisting TANF individuals with disabilities to access VR services and engage in countable work activities leading to employment.

 

                 VESID has initiated a pilot project in Brooklyn and Queens to better serve individuals with chemical dependencies through a cooperative consortium with the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and their network of treatment and vocational service providers.

 

          As VESID and the SRC continue to conduct and gather findings from all of these needs assessment activities, the information will be used to:

 

                 Recommend the development of training programs throughout the State to       disseminate the best service and administrative practices to vocational rehabilitation practitioners and managers;

 

                 Establish more consistency and greater accountability for quality services and outcomes;

 

                 Shape policy, procedures and operational activities that will improve           services to individuals who are minority, unserved, underserved, and most significantly disabled; and

         

                 Enhance services from community rehabilitation programs, including           supported employment, and improve coordination of services with other           components of the statewide workforce investment system.

 

 


Annual Estimates of Individuals to be Served and Costs of Service:  Attachment 4.11(b)

 

VESID expects that during the Federal Fiscal Year 2008, fiscal and personnel resources will be sufficient to serve all eligible persons who apply for services.  This expectation is based on VESIDís projections of federal and State funding, referral levels, eligibility rates, service needs including persons with significant disabilities, and staffing plans.  In meeting this expectation, VESID affirms that it will:

 

 

 

 

 

VESID estimates that during FFY 2008, 28,300 individuals with disabilities will be found eligible for VESID services.  This number is based on activity trends from FFY 2002 through FFY 2006 and reflects a slight decrease when compared to previous years.  Based on historical data reported to the Rehabilitation Services Administration, VESID estimates that, under Title I, it will serve 90,100 individuals, at a total estimated cost of 218.5 million dollars.  VESID estimates that of the 90,100 individuals served, approximately 13,900 individuals will be receiving supported employment services.  All of these individuals receiving supported employment services will be served using a combination of Title VIB funds and State funds.

 


Annual Goals and Priorities: Attachment 4.11(c)(1)

 

To align with the requirements and performance expectations of the Rehabilitation Act and the implementing regulations, VESID, in conjunction with the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), has developed annual priorities and goals that are consistent with Section 106 of the Act and with regulations found in 34 CFR, parts 361.80 through 361.89.

 

The SRC assists VESID in preparation of the State plan and amendments to the Plan, including the development and implementation of the needs assessments, quality assurance, and workforce development activities as required.  SRC members are advised on all policy development and program evaluation activities and SRC representatives are directly involved in specific policy development teams, in addition to the work done by SRC committees and their respective VESID staff liaisons.

 

The priorities and goals identified are based on an analysis of the most recent activities related to the comprehensive statewide assessment, including findings from the VESID Designing Our Future initiative, our most recent performance on the standards and indicators, and our current Section 107 Monitoring Corrective Action Plan.

 

Priority #1:  Individuals with disabilities, including youth, will be employed in integrated work settings consistent with their abilities, interests, and achievements.

 

Goal 1.1.1:  Increase the total number of individuals who achieve an employment outcome (RSA Performance Indicator 1.1).

Baseline for FFY 2005:  13,292

 

Goal 1.1.2:  Increase the total number of youth (applicants at age 14 Ė 21) who achieve an employment outcome.

Baseline for FFY 2005: 3,585 (FFY 2004:  3264).

 

Goal 1.2.1:  Increase the percentage of individuals exiting the VR program after receiving services who achieve an employment outcome and exceed the national standard of 55.8 percent (Performance Indicator 1.2).

Baseline for FFY 2005:  54.3 percent does not meet the standard.

 

Goal 1.2.2:  Increase the percentage of youth with disabilities (applicants at age 14-21) exiting the VR program after receiving services who achieve an employment outcome and exceed the national standard of 55.8 percent (variation on RSA Performance Indicator 1.2).

Baseline for FFY 2005:  55.1 percent does not meet standard.


Goal 1.3:  Increase the percentage of individuals achieving an employment outcome who earn at least minimum wage (RSA Performance Indicator 1.3).

Baseline for FFY 2005:  94.8 percent (exceeds the national standard of 72.6 percent).

 

Goal 1.4:  Increase the percentage of individuals having significant disabilities who achieve competitive employment (RSA Performance Indicator 1.4).

Baseline for FFY 2005:  97.3 percent (exceeds the national standard of 62.4 percent).

 

Goal 1.5.1:  Increase the average hourly earnings of individuals employed after receiving VESID services when compared to the average hourly earnings of all employed individuals in the State and approach the national benchmark ratio of .52 (RSA Performance Indicator 1.5).

Baseline for FFY 2005:  .40

Note:  The Average VR wage for FFY 2005 is $9.69, compared to an average State wage of $24.48.  To meet the standard for this indicator in New York State for 2005, the average VR wage would need to be $12.73.

 

Goal 1.5.2:  Increase the average hourly earnings of individuals employed after participating in postsecondary training when compared to the average hourly earnings of all employed individuals in the State and will exceed the national benchmark ratio of .52 (Variation on RSA Performance Indicator 1.5).

Baseline for FFY 2005:  .46

Note:  The Average VR wage of individuals who participate in postsecondary training is $11.25.

 

Goal 1.6:  Of all individuals who achieve paid employment, increase the percentage of individuals who report their own income as the largest single source of economic support at the time they exit the VR program when compared to what was reported at application.

(RSA Performance Indicator 1.6, national standard >= 53 percent)

Baseline for FFY 2005:  63.8 percent exceeds the standard.

 

Priority # 2:  All services for which VESID has responsibility will be consumer focused, cost-effective, meet high standards, and continuously improve.

 

Goal 2.1:  The service rate for individuals from minority backgrounds will exceed the national standard and will be comparable to the service rate for individuals not from minority backgrounds (RSA Performance Indicator 2.1, national standard >= .80).

Baseline for FFY 2005: .90 exceeds the standard.

 

Goal 2.2:  Consumer satisfaction with VESID services will increase annually toward the target of 95 percent of respondents expressing satisfaction on key questions contained in VESID consumer satisfaction surveys.

Baseline for FFY 2006 (first year for which data is available):  80 percent overall satisfaction.

 


Additional discussion of VESID performance results related to these priorities and goals is found in State Plan Attachment 4.12(e) Evaluation and Report of Progress in Achieving Identified Goals and Priorities.

 


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

 

Federal Title VI, Part B 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 VI, Part B resources do not provide sufficient funds to create additional new programs.  For FFY 2006, VESIDís total supported employment funding was $40 million of which $1,871,781 was Title VI, Part B funds.  At present, Title VI, Part B funds represent less than five percent of the total funds VESID uses for intensive supported employment services.  VESID will continue the operation of the projects established under Title VI, Part B support. Title VI, Part B funds will continue to be used to supplement, but not supplant, Title I funds.

 

Supported Employment Programs

 

VESID issued a request for proposals (RFP) for all intensive supported employment services and for all VESID-funded extended services in the fall of 2003. New contracts were effective July 1, 2004. Those contracts entered the third year of a planned five-year cycle on July 1, 2006.  VESID now has 181 supported employment contracts compared to 130 in the past. Many of the new contract providers represent previously underserved populations.  This yearís contracts are extended to 15 months in order to allow VESID to assess how well the supported employment payment and structure is working to meet the needs of individuals with the most significant disabilities.  A revised RFP for supported employment services may be issued prior to the end of the contract cycle to improve the payment and reporting structure.

 

          Through the authority of Chapter 515, of the NYS Laws of 1992, VESID is assigned the responsibility for administering, establishing standards, and monitoring the intensive service component of all supported employment programs in New York State.  VESID also has the responsibility for the provision of extended service to individuals who are not eligible for such service through other source.

 

          VESID has revised the Provider Guidelines for Supported Employment (http://www.vesid.nysed.gov/supportedemployment/guidelines.htm).  These guidelines were revised based on the new contracts with the involvement of community rehabilitation programs, state agency partners, and consumer organizations.  The revised guidelines establish a common basis for accepted practice and procedures for supported employment.  They are intended to facilitate quality service delivery.  VESID is renewing cooperation with the State partners - Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH), Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD), and Office of Mental Health (OMH) Ė through periodic meetings to address concerns regarding the supported employment program.

 

          VESID combines Title VI, Part B and Section 110 funds to provide supported employment services to individuals with the most significant disabilities. The range of individuals with disabilities served through supported employment services includes individuals with all types of disabilities within those served by VESID and the CBVH.  VESID maintains agreements (Memoranda of Understanding and Integrated Employment Implementation Plan, Chapter 515 of the Laws of 1992) with OMRDD, OMH, and CBVH, which define VESID as the sole source for intensive funding.  Program evaluation includes review of data from interagency quarterly reports as well as on-site reviews, including consumer interviews.  Successful and exemplary practices have been disseminated to the staff of the State agencies involved and to other project sites.

 

Supported Employment Goals and Priorities

VESIDís Title VI, Part B program goals are 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, significant learning disabilities and severe and persistent mental illness;

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

In addition, VESID issued a request for proposals (RFP) in 2004 for the provision of a statewide supported employment needs assessment (see Comprehensive Needs Assessment, Attachment 4.12(a) for more information).  The contract was awarded to the SUNY-Buffalo Research Foundation. The results of this needs assessment were received in July, 2006 and will be utilized as the basis for a statewide RFP to provide the actual training to providers and VESID staff.  This new training RFP will permit VESID to meet identified and unmet training needs for supported employment across the State.

 

VESID VRCís manage the individual program of each consumer participating in intensive supportive employment. This includes developing the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) and monitoring its implementation. The programs funded under Title VI, Part B represent previously underserved individuals.  Every effort is made to improve the project's performance through continuing technical assistance and service delivery improvements.

 


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) to evaluate State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies based on their performance on evaluation standards and indicators. Performance on these standards is 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.  In addition to the required performance indicators, VESID has established additional measures related to the priorities and goals described in Attachment 4.12(c)(1) Annual Goals and Priorities. The following results are based on the most recent data available on the federal performance indicators and the priorities and goals, as described in Attachment 4.12(c)(1).

 

Priority #1:  Individuals with disabilities, including youth, will be employed in integrated work settings consistent with their abilities, interests and achievements.

 

Goal 1.1.1:  Increase the total number of individuals who achieve an employment outcome (RSA Performance Indicator 1.1).

Performance for FFY 2005:  13,292, a decrease from FFY 2004 (13,826).

 

Results:  VESID had a decrease in the number of individuals achieving an employment outcome for FFY 2005.  The number of employment outcomes decreased by 534 placements, going from 13,826 employment outcomes in FFY 2004 to 13,292 employment outcomes in FFY 2005.

 

          The employment outcome numbers are influenced by many factors, including the overall economic climate in the State.  In western and central New York metro areas, 25 percent of the manufacturing jobs were lost over the past five years.  While manufacturing still accounts for a significant amount of the economic activity in these regions, obtaining jobs in these remaining skilled occupations is highly competitive and the dramatic job losses between 2000 and 2005 place tremendous pressure on the job market.  With an increased supply of skilled workers available to employers due to these job losses, job seekers with disabilities, who may not have the experience of these more seasoned workers, are at a distinct disadvantage in the job market.

 

Goal 1.1.2:  Increase the total number of youth (applicants at age 14 Ė 21) who achieve an employment outcome.

Performance for FFY 2005: 3,585 (FFY 2004:  3,264), an increase of 321 placements.

 

Results:  VESID continues to focus on its outreach efforts to youth in transition and this particular indicator shows an increase (+321) in FFY 2005.  The overall increase in youth served is a promising indicator that we will continue to increase employment


outcomes in future years.  This is the first year that VESID is establishing this goal related to its priority on integrated, quality employment.

 

Goal 1.2.1:  Increase the percentage of individuals exiting the VR program after receiving services who achieve an employment outcome and exceed the national standard of 55.8 percent (Performance Indicator 1.2).

Performance for FFY 2005:  54.3 percent does not meet the standard.

 

Results:  The percentage of individuals with disabilities who achieved employment after receiving vocational rehabilitation services from VESID in FFY 2005 is 54.3 percent which does not meet the national standard of 55.8 percent by almost 2 percentage points.  VESID District Offices are making an effort to reverse the recent decline in employment outcomes and this indicator is a signal that their efforts need to continue to alter the downward trend.

 

Goal 1.2.2:  Increase the percentage of youth with disabilities (applicants at age 14-21)

exiting the VR program after receiving services who achieve an employment outcome and exceed the national standard of 55.8 percent. (variation on RSA Performance Indicator 1.2).

Performance for FFY 2005:  55.1 percent does not meet standard.

 

Results:  This is the first year that VESID has established an employment goal for youth.  The measure does not meet the national standard, but VESID is committed to significantly improving its performance on this goal in the future.

 

Goal 1.3:  Increase the percentage of individuals achieving an employment outcome who earn at least minimum wage (RSA Performance Indicator 1.3).

Performance for FFY 2005:  94.8 percent.

 

Results:  The FFY 2005 rate of 94.8 percent is a slight increase from the FFY 2004 rate of 94.0 percent of individuals obtaining employment through VESID earning at or above minimum wage.  For both years, VESID far exceeds the national benchmark standard of 72.6 percent.

 

Goal 1.4:  Increase the percentage of individual having significant disabilities who achieve competitive employment (RSA Performance Indicator 1.4).

Performance for FFY 2005:  97.3 percent.

 

Results:  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 2005, 97.3percent of individuals obtaining employment through VESID earning at least minimum wage had significant disabilities, a slight increase from the FFY 2004 rate of 96.8 percent. The national benchmark standard is 62.4 percent.

 

Goal 1.5.1:  Increase the average hourly earnings of individuals employed after receiving VESID services when compared to the average hourly earnings of all employed individuals in the State and approach the national benchmark ratio of .52. (RSA 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)

Performance for FFY 2005:  .40 (.41 for FFY 2004).

 

Results: The average FFY 2005 VR wage is $9.69, compared to an average State wage of $24.48.  To meet the standard for this indicator in 2005 in New York State, the average VR wage would need to be $12.73.  This indicator decreased slightly in FFY 2005 to .40 from the FFY 2004 level of .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 is set at just above half of the overall hourly wage.

 

There are many structural forces in the New York State economy that make it challenging for VESID consumers to earn a livable wage.  Some of these are:

 

 

 

 

The widening gap in wage distribution in New York State makes this performance measure particularly problematic for VESID and its consumers.  Based on the Current Population Survey, the real median wage in New York State increased by 3.2 percent between 1995 and 2005.  However, for those in the 95th percentile, real hourly wage rose by 11.3 percent over the same period.  Given these factors, VESID is still committed to improving its performance on this indicator and assisting VESID consumers in obtaining higher wage employment outcomes.

 


Goal 1.5.2:  Increase the average hourly earnings of individuals employed after participating in postsecondary training when compared to the average hourly earnings of all employed individuals in the State and exceed the national benchmark ratio of .52 (Variation on RSA Performance Indicator 1.5).

Performance for FFY 2005:  .46.

 

Results:  The average VR wage of individuals who participate in postsecondary training is $11.25.  As would be expected, individuals who participate in postsecondary training are earning significantly higher wages on average when compared to all VESID consumers.  However, these individuals are still securing jobs on average at wages below the .52 threshold established by RSA.  These individuals are earning about $1.48 less per hour than the required threshold.  One factor that might account for lower wages is that VESID job seekers, while gaining postsecondary training to increase their overall wages, may still be at a disadvantage in comparison to their non-disabled counterparts who may have more work experience, in addition to training, upon entering the job market.  Job seekers without disabilities may be tapping into the higher wage opportunities at a greater rate than job seekers with disabilities.

 

Goal 1.6:  Of all individuals who achieve paid employment, increase the percentage of individuals who report their own income as the largest single source of economic support at the time they exit the VR program when compared to what was reported at application.

(RSA Performance Indicator 1.6 is the 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.  The national standard is greater than or equal to 53 percent.)

Performance for FFY 2005:  63.8 percent exceeds the standard.

 

Results:  In FFY 2005, 63.8 percent of individuals with disabilities reported their own earnings as the largest single source of support from the time of application to successful closure.  This was a slight increase (.3 percent) from FFY 2004.  VESID's result significantly exceeds the national benchmark of 53 percent.

 

Priority # 2:  All services for which VESID has responsibility will be consumer-focused, cost effective, meet high standards, and continuously improve.

 

Goal 2.1:  The service rate for individuals from minority backgrounds will exceed the national standard and will be comparable to the service rate for individuals not from minority backgrounds (RSA Performance Indicator 2.1, national standard >= .80).

Performance for FFY 2005:  .90 (.92 for FFY 2004).

 

Results: In FFY 2005, minority individuals with disabilities received vocational rehabilitation services at a rate of 90 for every 100 (.90) non-minority individuals. VESID continues to exceed the national standard on this indicator.  The national standard ratio is .80.  VESIDís performance on this indicator has increased from .89 in 2003 and .92 in 2004.  It is also noteworthy that VESID seems to be serving a higher percentage of minority individuals in comparison to the general New York State population.  For example, African-Americans and blacks make up only fourteen percent of the Stateís population, but are more than 30 percent of all VESID consumers served

 

Goal 2.2:  Consumer satisfaction with VESID services will increase annually toward the target of 95 percent of respondents expressing satisfaction on key questions contained in VESID consumer satisfaction surveys.

Performance for FFY 2006 (first year for which data is available):  80 percent of VESID consumers who received services under an IPE report an overall satisfaction rating of VESID services as good or very good. 

 

Results:  This is the first Consumer Satisfaction survey in several years.  While the 80 percent overall satisfaction rate is promising, it is below VESIDís target of 95 percent.  These results also reflect that 20 percent rated VESID services as poor or very poor.  As VESID and the SRC Quality Assurance and Improvement Committee review and analyze the findings, they will explore what changes to policy, procedures, and practice can improve the experiences of individuals with disabilities involved in VESID services.  This may have implications for training of staff in customer service techniques that are relevant to the VR process.

 

Innovation and Expansion Activities

Regarding innovation and expansion activities, VESID has been piloting several initiatives under the Designing Our Future process, particularly related to improving access to services.  VESID is continuing to implement five pilot projects related to improving access:

        Placement Express to assist job-ready applicants to obtain expedited placement services;

 

 

 

 

 

 

VESID continues to invest in improving technology of its case management system to maximize the efficiency of the counselorsí use of time and streamline service delivery.  VESID is also involved in an extensive analysis of fiscal processes and determining how fiscal processes can be streamlined and improved through the use of technology.  This project is called the VR Fiscal Management Project and a consulting firm has been involved in helping VESID conduct the ďas isĒ analysis and looking for improvement opportunities in these processes that can have a profound effect on service delivery.

 

Continuous Quality Improvements

 

VESID remains committed to continuous quality improvement in vocational rehabilitation services.  VESID will use data to continuously evaluate the impact of its policies, procedures, and practices.  Priorities and goals will be measured and modified to respond to findings from VESIDís ongoing statewide needs assessment.  These evaluation and assessment activities will be used to align policies, procedures, training and practice to achieve the goals of the program resulting in operating a statewide comprehensive, effective, efficient, and accountable program that provides vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities, consistent with their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, and informed choice, so that they may prepare for and engage in gainful employment.