Meeting of the Board of Regents | May 2009
Evaluation and Report of Progress in Achieving Identified Goals and Priorities and Use of Title I Funds for Innovation and Expansion Activities: Attachment 4.11(e)(2)
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 to develop a program improvement plan jointly with RSA. 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 2007: 13,198, an increase from FFY 2006 (12,956).
Performance for FFY 2008: 13,236, an increase from FFY 2007.
Results: VESID had a slight increase in the number of individuals achieving an employment outcome for FFY 2008. In FFY 2008, the number of employment outcomes increased by 38 placements.
The employment outcome numbers are influenced by many factors, including the overall economic climate in the State. Unemployment in NYS increased during 2008, a significant loss of jobs from the financial and banking industry and the dramatic loss of manufacturing jobs has continued. 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. The increase was most likely influenced by a management performance plan with the VESID District Office Managers. More supervisory oversight combined with the formation of service delivery teams, including the VR counselor assistants, may have also helped.
Goal 1.1.2: Increase the total number of youth (applicants at age 14 – 21) who achieve an employment outcome.
Performance for FFY 2007: 3,690, an increase from FFY 2006 (3,575).
Performance for FFY 2008: 4,140, an increase from FFY 2007.
Results: VESID continues to focus on its outreach efforts to youth in transition, and this particular indicator shows a significant increase (+450) in FFY 2008. The overall increase in youth served is a promising indicator that we will continue to increase employment outcomes in future years. This is the second year that VESID is reporting the results for this goal related to its priority on integrated, quality employment. VESID has been committed to serving youth with disabilities at an earlier age. Youth accounted for a significant portion of the overall increase in employment outcomes. In 2007, VESID implemented the Model Transition Program which generated an increase in school-age referrals. VESID also revised the Youth-in-School Transition Policy in August 2008. It is likely that the results of this indicator have been affected by the outreach of the VESID counselor to the transition-aged population. Due to shifting budgetary demands, the MTP projects will conclude on November 30, 2009.
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 2007: 58.5 percent exceeds the standard.
Performance for FFY 2008: 59.8 percent exceeds the standard.
Results: The percentage of individuals with disabilities who achieved employment after receiving vocational rehabilitation services from VESID in FFY 2008 is 59.8 percent, which exceeds the national standard of 55.8 percent by four percentage points. VESID District Offices continue to make significant efforts to increase employment outcomes. The results seem to have been affected by the implementation of the strategies including improvement in service delivery through the work of VR counselors and counselor assistants. The challenge is to sustain this performance during the current economic downturn.
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 2007: 57.3 percent exceeds the standard.
Performance for FFY 2008: 60.2 percent exceeds the standard.
Results: This employment goal for youth has been steadily increasing. The percentage of youth at application who have achieved an employment outcome after receiving services exceeded the standard since FFY 2006, with an increase each subsequent year. VESID vocational rehabilitation counselors have increased outreach to the youth population. It is also likely that youth benefited from the supervisory oversight, the addition of VR counselor assistants and the focus on moving job-ready individuals into job placement services.
Goal 1.3: Increase the percentage of individuals achieving an employment outcome who earn at least minimum wage (RSA Performance Indicator 1.3) and exceed the national standard of 72.6 percent.
Performance for FFY 2007: 94.4 percent exceeds the standard.
Performance for FFY 2008: 94.7 percent exceeds the standard.
Results: The FFY 2008 rate of 94.7 percent is a slight increase from the FFY 2007 rate of 94.4 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. The slight increase does not seem to be significant and it is unlikely that this increase is related to any specific program improvement strategies.
Goal 1.4: Increase the percentage of individuals having significant disabilities who achieve competitive employment (RSA Performance Indicator 1.4) and exceed the national standard of 62.4 percent.
Performance for FFY 2007: 98.0 percent exceeds the standard
Performance for FFY 2008: 98.4 percent exceeds the standard.
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 a substantially greater percentage of individuals with significant disabilities in achieving competitive employment compared to the national standard. For FFY 2008, 98.4 percent of individuals obtaining employment through VESID earning at least minimum wage had significant disabilities, a slight increase from the FFY 2007 rate of 98.0 percent. Since 2000, VESID has steadily seen an increase each year in the percent of individuals having significant disabilities who achieve competitive employment. The national benchmark standard is 62.4 percent. VESID is serving a high percentage of individuals with significant disabilities and has developed a strong infrastructure to competently serve these individuals through its partnerships with the State offices for mental health, developmental disabilities, blind and visually impaired and alcoholism and substance abuse services.
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 2007: .37 (.38 for FFY 2006) does not meet the standard.
Performance for FFY 2008: .37 (.37 for FFY 2007) does not meet the standard.
Results: The average FFY 2008 VR wage is $10.54, compared to an average State wage of $28.75. To meet the standard for this indicator in 2008 in New York State, the average VR wage would need to be $14.95. This indicator remained level at .37 from FFY 2007. 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. Many of the individuals served by VESID, given the economic need criteria for many VESID services, are low income individuals. A high percentage of individuals served by VESID are determined to have significant and most significant disabilities. The wide gap in wage distribution in New York State also makes this performance measure particularly problematic for VESID and its consumers. New York State also has the highest average wage of all 50 states. Given these factors, VESID is still committed to improving its performance on this indicator and assisting VESID consumers in obtaining higher wage employment outcomes. VESID did not meet this goal, although the average wage did increase slightly. Through its efforts to promote greater participation in postsecondary training and education, VESID still expects that this strategy will eventually yield more significant increases in average wage, even if the .52 benchmark is not achieved.
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 2007: .41 does not meet the standard.
Performance for FFY 2008: .40 does not meet the standard
Results: The average VR wage of individuals who participate in postsecondary training has remained steady over the last three years (FFY 2006 at $11.65, FFY 2007 at $11.65 and FFY 2008 at $11.64 per hour). 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 $3.31 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. VESID will continue to use the strategy of supporting higher education as a means to higher wage employment and careers.
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 the 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 a difference greater than or equal to 53 percent.)
Performance for FFY 2007: 63.7 percent difference exceeds the standard.
Performance for FFY 2008: 63.0 percent difference exceeds the standard.
Results: In FFY 2008, a difference of 63 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 decrease (0.7 percentage point) from FFY 2007. This result significantly exceeds the national benchmark of 53 percent. Even though there is a slight decrease in FFY 2008, it does not appear to be a significant change. This factor is probably most affected by the quality of placements that VESID and its network of providers are able to achieve with consumers. It indicates an incremental move toward economic self-sufficiency, even if most individuals are not able to earn above 52 percent of the New York State average wage (Performance Indicator 1.5).
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 2007: .87 exceeds the standard.
Performance for FFY 2008: .89 exceeds the standard.
Results: In FFY 2008, minority individuals with disabilities received vocational rehabilitation services at a rate of 89 for every 100 (.89) non-minority individuals.
VESID continues to exceed the national standard on this indicator. The national standard ratio is .80. VESID has consistently met the performance standard for this indicator since its inception. 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. VESID is meeting this standard through its practice of hiring staff whose diversity reflects the communities we are serving.
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 2007 (first year for which data are available): Consumers were surveyed in 2006. Results were available in 2007 at which time 80 percent of VESID consumers who received services under an IPE report an overall satisfaction rating of VESID services as good or very good.
Performance for FFY 2008: A consumer satisfaction survey was conducted during FFY 2008; results again indicate that 80 percent of VESID consumers who received services under an IPE report an overall satisfaction rating of VESID services as good or very good. Eighty-four percent of the respondents would recommend VESID to someone else.
Results: While the 80 percent overall satisfaction rate is promising, it is below VESID’s target of 95 percent. These results also reflect that 20 percent of the responders 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. The current results reflect that VESID rehabilitation counselors follow the standards of practice for rehabilitation counseling.
Evaluation of Supported Employment Goals
VESID’s 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 acquired brain injuries, deafness, multiple disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, significant learning disabilities and significant 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.
Over the past year, VESID has continued its leadership role in facilitating a focused dialogue around supported employment with our State agency and community rehabilitation program partners. VESID has met monthly with the Chapter 515 Interagency Implementation Team, consisting of representatives from VESID, CBVH, OMH and OMRDD. VESID, in cooperation with its interagency partners, issued its 2008 annual report on supported employment, available on the VESID website.
As described in the Chapter 515 report, during the State Fiscal Year 2008 (April 1, 2007 – March 31, 2008), a total of 14,731 individuals with the most significant disabilities were working in supported employment as a result of intensive services provided by VESID and CBVH and in extended services by OMH and OMRDD. These individuals require the supports available through the supported employment model to maintain competitive employment.
During 2008, VESID continued its supported employment contracts with 176 provider agencies into the final year of a planned five-year contract cycle. This contract cycle incorporated a number of new providers who serve underserved populations, such as individuals with severe and persistent mental illness, as well as expanded services by established providers to serve underserved populations, i.e. individuals with acquired brain injuries.
Another major effort will be training for supported employment providers. As a result of an RFP, VESID awarded a contract to SUNY Buffalo for the purpose of providing statewide training to the entire network of supported employment providers across the State. This intensive effort will highlight the best practices of existing programs and help replicate those practices. Working in close collaboration with VESID Central and District Office staff, SUNY Buffalo will provide technical assistance to these programs in their efforts to provide high quality supported employment services. This program will also cover topics related to techniques for serving emerging and challenging populations, i.e. individuals with autism spectrum disorders or multiple learning disabilities.
Continuous Quality Improvements
VESID remains committed to continuous quality improvement in vocational rehabilitation services. VESID will use data to evaluate the impact of its policies, procedures and practices. Priorities and goals will be measured and modified to respond to findings from VESID’s 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.