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Meeting of the Board of Regents | May 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 - 8:30am

Comprehensive System of Personnel Development:

Attachment 4.10


VESID is committed to fulfilling 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 relies on several data systems to track the adequate number of qualified rehabilitation counselor professionals who work to meet the rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities.  VESID uses ACCESS, EXCEL and the New York State Education Department’s Fiscal and Human Resources Information Management systems to track its vocational rehabilitation counselors who meet CSPD requirements.  


VESID only hires vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs) who meet CSPD requirements to provide vocational rehabilitation services.  Therefore, personnel data is relevant only to the vocational rehabilitation counselor series.  As of September 30, 2008, VESID's data reflected an adequate supply of qualified rehabilitation professionals as summarized in the following table:



  Full-time Equivalent Vocational Rehabilitation 

  Counselors (VRCs)



  VRCs not meeting CSPD standards


  VESID Consumers with Open Cases (Status 02-24)


  Ratio of VRCs to Consumers

1: 180

  Anticipated VRCs that VESID will need over the 

  next five years due to retirement of current VRCs





As discussed in Annual Estimates of Individuals to be Served and Costs of Service:  Attachment 4.11(b) VESID uses trend data projections to estimate the number of individuals that will be found eligible for VESID services.  Based on these projections, VESID determined the number of VRCs that will be needed to serve its consumers over the next five years.


              VESID does not employ any other type of rehabilitation staff, such as mobility instructors or rehabilitation teachers.  VESID does use vocational rehabilitation counselor assistants (VRCAs), who are either promoted from VESID’s administrative support staff or have experience or college training to be eligible for the New York State Civil Service examination.  These individuals interact with consumers, performing administrative tasks to facilitate service delivery.  Even though they are not making decisions about eligibility or vocational rehabilitation services in the Individual Plan for Employment (IPE), they provide a substantial contribution to VESID’s overall capacity to serve applicants and eligible individuals, including individuals with significant disabilities.


Coordination with Higher Education in the Preparation of Rehabilitation Professionals


Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) accredited Master’s programs in Rehabilitation Counselor Education provide evidence that a program complies with developing well-defined professional competencies.  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.


New York State has four programs that prepare vocational rehabilitation professionals and are accredited by CORE.  The rehabilitation counseling graduate programs at institutions of higher education are:  University at Albany - State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo - SUNY, Hofstra University, and Hunter College.  The program at Syracuse University ended December 2008, and the University of Albany - SUNY will be closing December 2009.   New York State will have lost half of their CORE accredited rehabilitation counseling programs in three years, which results in increased challenges to recruit qualified counselors.


During the 2007-2008 academic year, 69 of 156 students, or 44 percent, identified themselves as individuals with a disability or non-white.  This is a decrease in the diversity of the qualified candidates from CORE accredited programs.  VESID is working with institutions of higher education to increase the recruitment of students from diverse populations.  Outreach efforts for recruitment from the CORE programs are made through disability groups and associations (in accordance with the SED/VESID Diversity Plan) serving minority populations.  VESID maintains a contact at each of these institutions of higher education and collects the following student data:










Institutions of Higher Education (CORE) Student Total


SUNY Buffalo






# of CORE Students







Students with Disability







Students as non-white







Graduated in 2008







Plan for Recruitment, Preparation and Retention of Qualified Personnel


VESID projects that 100 VRCs are needed over the next 5 years.  This projection is based on the number of VRCs and supervisory counseling staff age 50 or older with 25 years of service, who will be eligible for retirement within the next five years.  There is a need for new VRCs to fill counselor vacancies created by retirement and promotional opportunities.  Although VESID remains concerned with a diminishing pool of qualified VRCs, we believe that the current level of counselors and counselor assistants allows us to adequately serve current numbers of eligible individuals.             


As counselors retire or leave VESID, vacancies will be created that will need to be filled by qualified VRCs.  VESID has four programs to promote the recruitment and preparation of qualified personnel that address projected needs.  These programs include:


  • VESID’s recruitment plan;
  • the counselor internship program;
  • a program to assist counselors in meeting the national standard


  • exploration of a counselor traineeship. 



              VESID’s recruitment plan identifies qualified VRCs who seek employment opportunities in New York State.  VESID targets both colleges in close proximity to New York State and historically black colleges and universities in southeastern United States with CORE accredited programs in rehabilitation counseling.  In 2008, a diverse recruitment team comprised of staff from VESID and SED’s Office of Human Resources Management traveled to 21 CORE accredited rehabilitation counseling programs to meet with program directors and their undergraduate and graduate students.  The purpose of these visits was two-fold: to recruit students for internships and eventual employment and to recruit a diverse population to meet consumer needs.  Because of fiscal constraints limiting staff travel, there has been more emphasis on recruiting job candidates by phone and video conferences and by attending national conferences that attract both professional counselors and graduate students.


The counselor internship program enables VESID to provide opportunities for students to complete their practicum and internship requirements for their graduate programs.  VESID offers both paid and unpaid internship opportunities three times each year that provide students with practical field experiences for their graduate programs in rehabilitation counseling.  The program has been expanded to allow recently graduated students to work in intern status while pursuing full time employment through the NYS Civil Service system.  In FFY 2008, VESID provided 31 internships.  Three of the VRCs were hired after their internships, and two counselors were hired from the recruitment process. 


To be in full compliance with the Rehabilitation Act’s personnel standards for vocational rehabilitation counselors, the NYS Education Department must ensure that its VRCs meet the national standard or a State-approved or recognized certification, licensing or registration requirement.  Since New York does not have a State-approved or recognized certification, licensing or registration requirement, VRCs have to meet the national standard.  The national standard is a Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) certificate or a Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or counseling, and notice of eligibility to sit for the CRCC certificate examination. 


VESID recently instituted a program to enable VRCs to meet the CRCC national standard accordance with federal regulation.  Elements of this program include:


  • Tuition assistance for VRCs who are pursuing the appropriate Master’s degree and certificate eligibility;
  • Financial and administrative assistance for VRCs needing transcript verification by CRCC;
  • NYSED outreach to colleges and universities that offer Master’s degrees in Rehabilitation Counseling to assist in the enrollment and matriculation of VRCs; and
  • Financial assistance for counselors to pursue a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling.


              Also, VESID is working with the State Education Department’s (SED) Office of Human Resources, NYS Civil Service and Master’s degree CORE accredited rehabilitation counseling programs in New York and other states to explore the development of counselor traineeships for graduate students that offer both an experiential and academic component.  To successfully complete the traineeship, the VRC would need to complete a series of activities to become CRC eligible within a specified timeframe.  This would complement current opportunities for interns and address current and projected needs for qualified VRCs.

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 are required to have:


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


  • a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, including a supervised internship, from a CORE accredited program; or


  • a Master’s 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 by FFY 2013, all VESID VRCs will either meet the national standard or be engaged in a program to meet the standards. 


Personnel Standards:  Civil Service Qualifications for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Assistant


              VESID will employ vocational rehabilitation counselor assistants (VRCAs) to assist VR counselors in the administrative, para-professional and routine communication tasks that enhance the vocational rehabilitation process.  The VRCAs do not determine eligibility nor do they provide vocational rehabilitation services to consumers.  VESID has 100 positions designated for VRCAs, of which 95 full time equivalent items are filled, and five are vacant.  VESID anticipates that it will need 25 VRCAs over the next five years due to retirement and trend data projections of consumers to be served.          


               VRCAs who qualify to be placed on the open competitive Civil Service list for this title must meet the following qualifications:


  • Bachelor's degree in vocational rehabilitation, social work, counseling, or psychology; OR
  • Bachelor’s degree and one year of qualifying experience; OR
  • 60 semester college credit hours and two years of qualifying experience; OR
  • Four years of qualifying experience.


Qualifying experience: In order for experience to be considered qualifying, the primary responsibilities of a position must have involved professional or paraprofessional duties in one of the following areas:


Either A. providing direct services beyond routine personal care or supervision to physically, mentally or learning disabled adults or adolescents in a rehabilitation program or facility.


 OR B.          providing vocational or educational services to disabled adults or disabled adolescents in the areas of assessment, counseling, job coaching, guidance, placement or job development.


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 for attendance at workshops, formal course work, and agency developed and conducted training sessions, Region II Technical Assistance and Continuing Education Centers (formerly known as the Rehabilitation Research Continuing Education Program) and the NYS Supported Employment Training Initiative (SETI) program.  Effective September 2008, SETI provides staff development; training and technical assistance to the VESID funded Supported Employment Providers.  This project will partner with the Region II Technical Assistance and Continuing Education Centers (TACE) to offer a full array of training topics throughout the five year training cycle.  TACE provides training in the fields of counseling, vocational rehabilitation counseling, medical aspects of disabilities, rehabilitation technology, job placement, 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 TACE and SETI to develop relevant training programs.
  • VESID distributes information to staff 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.

              The VESID Training Unit uses three databases to track training programs and conferences statewide, including training provided by State Education Department Office of Human Resources and other agencies’ training programs.  The databases include Oracle Training Administration - Commissioner's Database; Training Program Evaluation (TPE) and the VR Training Unit’s Monthly Report which includes listings of all trainings and number of staff attended.


VESID provides ongoing training to all vocational rehabilitation counselors and vocational rehabilitation counselor assistants regarding new or revised policy and procedural changes and evidence-based rehabilitation practices.  Many training programs are provided in cooperation with the TACE and SETI.  Training provided during FFY 2008 to date, included the following topics:

  • Assessment:  Vocational Assessment for Beginners; Assessing and Managing Suicide Risks; Functional and Situational Assessment; Managing Challenging Behaviors (assesses consumer work readiness and behavior); and, World of Work, Inc. (WOWI).


  • Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling:  Transitioning School Age Students with Disabilities; Ethical Issues in Rehabilitation; Dimensions of Counseling: Ethics, Mentoring, and Leadership; Developing Cultural Awareness; Counseling Skills for Direct Service Providers; NYS Training Council - Sailing through Changing Times with Quality Training and Organizational Development; American Sign Language; Case Management System VR Database (CAMS); Orientation to Supported Employment; Transition and the Vocational Rehabilitation Process; and Vocational Implications of Psychiatric Disabilities.


  • Disability-Related Training: Window into the Deaf World; Working with Consumers Who Have Mood Disorders; Serving the Individual with a Hearing Loss;  Invisible Disabilities - Tools for Success for Human Service Providers; Multiple Sclerosis and the Rehabilitation Process; Psychopharmacological Interventions; Brain Injury: Medical, Psychological and Vocational Aspects; Brain Injury in the Community: Giving Voice to the Silent Epidemic; Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and/or Learning Disability: Facilitating Transitions to Success; Advanced Autism; Fourth Annual Training for the Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing; Coexisting Conditions; Mental Health – Increase Advocacy Skills and Knowledge of Mental Illnesses; and Cerebral Palsy – Medicaid/Medicare Compliances.


  • Job Placement/Employment:  Job Development I and II; Job Development Advanced; Job Development Web Course; Assuring Equal Opportunity for New Yorkers with Disabilities in Public Employment & Services; Exceptional Presentation and Training Skills; Nassau Placement Network - Blue Print for Success; New York Goes Back to Work; and The Home-Based Career Development Program.


  • Rehabilitation Technology:  Technology Conference; Technology Exposition; Assistive Technology - Making the Right Choice; Case Management System (CaMS); and Technology Updates on CaMS.


  • Policies and Procedures: Referral & Application; Eligibility and Significance of Disability; Economic Need; Youth in School Transition; Updated College and University Training; Due Process; Individualized Plan for Employment; Unified Contract Services and Policy and Procedure Training for New Staff.


  • Financial Procedures and Controls:  Private College Contracts and Unified Contract Services.


  • Supported Employment: Orientation to Supported Employment (1 of 3 Series); Job Coach I and II; Job Development I and II; Career Development and Exploration; Functional and Situational Assessment; Extended Services and Natural Supports; Managing Challenging Behaviors; Documentation and Record Keeping; Job Retention for Supported Employment; Advanced Job Development; and Supported Employment Program Management I.


  • Other Related Training:  Ask the Expert & Benefits Management for Individuals w/Criminal Justice Involvement; Consortia of Administrators for Native American Rehabilitation (CANAR); Defending a Worker's Compensation Claim; Reducing Youth Violence in NY State; NYC's 4th Annual Criminal Justice; New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals, Inc. (NYATEP) Workforce; New York State Rehabilitation Association (NYSRA); New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS); Association for Persons in Supported Employment (APSE); NY Association on Independent Living, Inc (NYAIL) - Improve The Quality Of Life And Safeguard The Rights Of People With Disabilities: Assistance With Housing, Education, Employment, Medical Needs, And Personal Assistance Services.



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. Staff hired as rehabilitation counselors for the deaf also must pass a profiency test in sign language.

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.  VESID’s special education and vocational rehabilitation program managers jointly review and share training information and, when relevant, coordinate efforts by inviting our respective staff to receive training on transition, accommodations, assessment and knowledge of specific disabilities.

The chart below indicates that new applications for youth (ages 14-21) have significantly 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 significant increase in total numbers of youth served and in successful employment outcomes for youth.  Most promising is the continued increase in employment outcomes for youth.


Youth with Disabilities

 (Applicants age 14-21)












New youth applicants (age 14-21)






Youth served






Youth employed as a result of VESID services






School districts with students in VESID open caseload











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