OFFICE OF VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION (OVR) COMBINED AGENCY STATE PLAN 2013 FEDERAL FISCAL YEAR UPDATE

Opens OVR 2013 Board Approved Combined Agency Plan in PDF format
Attachment 4.2(c): Input of the State Rehabilitation Council
Attachment 4.8(b)(1): Cooperative Agreements with Agencies Not Carrying Out Activities under the Statewide Workforce Investment System
Attachment 4.8(b)(2): Coordination with Education Officials
Attachment 4.8(b)(3): Cooperative Agreements with Private Non-Profit Organizations
Attachment 4.8(b)(4): Arrangements and Cooperative Agreements for the Provision of Supported Employment Services
Attachment 4.10: Comprehensive System of Personnel Development
Attachment 4.11(a): Statewide Assessment
Attachment 4.11(b): Annual Estimates
Attachment 4.11(c)(1): State Goals and Priorities
Attachment 4.11(c)(3): Order of Selection
Attachment 4.11(c)(4): Goals and Plans for Distribution of Title VI, Part B Funds
Attachment 4.11(d): State's Strategies
Attachment 4.11(e)(2): Evaluation and Reports of Progress
Attachment 6.3: Quality, Scope and Extent of Supported Employment Services
 
If you have any questions or wish to request an alternate format, please contact your local OVR District Office Administrator/Manager.  If you need the phone number for your local office, call the receptionist in the OVR Central Office at 1-800-442-6351 (Voice), or 1-866-830-7327 (TTY) and request that information. 
 
Effective Date:  10/1/2013

ATTACHMENT 4.2(c): SUMMARY OF INPUT AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE STATE REHABILITATION COUNCIL

Approved by the PA Rehabilitation Council on February 8, 2012.
 
This attachment is the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council’s (PaRC) input to the State Plan. The following documents were used to develop these recommendations to OVR:
  1. The PaRC’s annual report (FFY 2011)
  2.  PaRC Customer Satisfaction Survey
  3.  Review of items in last year’s Attachment
  4.  Comments received at last year’s State Plan Meetings
  5.  Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Monitoring Report
  6. Statewide Needs Assessment
  7. Workforce Development Statistics
  8. OVR’s goals for the next fiscal year
Recommendations from the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council
 
COMMENDATION: The PaRC commends OVR for the excellent job administering the triennial needs survey completed this year for planning, thoroughness and execution.
 
Issue #1: COMBINE CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEYS
Discussion: The PaRC recommends combining OVR’s and the PaRC’s customer satisfaction surveys for greater efficiency, a larger targeted audience and more consumer involvement.
 
Recommendation (Action): OVR and PaRC develop a work group and time line within six months to combine the two surveys.
 
OVR’s Response:  OVR will continue to work with the PaRC on the combining of the customer satisfaction surveys.
 
Issue #2: IMPROVE OVR CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SERVICES
 
Discussion: The PaRC recommends that OVR and PaRC work together to monitor the OVR staff training program, by defining what makes good customer service in order to improve customer relations.  A system needs developed to give OVR staff feedback on quality issues.
 
Recommendation (Action):  OVR and PaRC
  1. Together, review the current OVR staff training program.
  2. Define what good customer service is by developing standards.
  3. Develop an evaluation system that administrators can use to monitor and improve the quality of customer service.
OVR’s Response: OVR welcomes the PaRC to provide recommendations on the manner in which our staff is trained.  OVR will continue its work on improving our current staff training program and is committed to providing the best customer service possible.
 
Issue #3: DEVELOP PEER COUNSELING SERVICES DURING TRANSITION
 
Discussion: The PaRC recommends that OVR work with the Department of Education and all the school districts to make paid peer counseling services available during the transitioning process. Young people with disabilities need access to a qualified Peer counselor during this process in order to enhance their chances to make a successful transition to independent living and employment/economic self-sufficiency.
 
Recommendation (Action): Review any current policies, then OVR and the Department of Education should develop a memorandum of understanding to make peer counseling services available to students in transition.
 
OVR’s Response: OVR is willing to identify existing peer counseling programs that are currently being modeled in Pennsylvania and will consider replicating them.  OVR will continue to work with the Centers for Independent Living and the PaRC to identify these programs.
 
Issue #4: STRENGTHEN LOCAL CITIZEN ADVISORY COMMITTEES
 
Discussion: The PaRC recommends that OVR work with the PaRC to strengthen the local Citizen Advisory Committees (CACs) as delineated in the RSA Monitoring report. These local committees need to be used and valued as an integral part of the quality improvement process at the district office level. A viable way to communicate with the Rehab Council needs to be developed in order to help identify local issues that may have statewide implications.
 
Recommendation (Action): Form a workgroup consisting of representatives from each CAC, the district administrators and PaRC members in those districts to develop a plan to support and maintain CACs in each district and plan for regular communication between CACs and PaRC. 
 
OVR’s Response: OVR will continue to support and strengthen Citizen Advisory Committees (CACs).  OVR encourages the PaRC to form a workgroup to look at the current needs of the CACs and provide any recommendations.
 
Issue #5: INFORM PARTNERS ABOUT OVR SERVICES
 
Discussion: The PaRC recommends that OVR inform CareerLink staff and local Workforce Investment Boards about their services.  This will help ensure consistency throughout the state.
 
Recommendation (Action): OVR and PaRC should work together to develop a system to provide regular training and educational materials for CareerLink and local workforce investment board members about OVR services.
 
OVR’s Response:  OVR will continue to inform CareerLink staff about OVR services through our Disability 101 training.  OVR will continue to engage in active Workforce Investment Board participation.
 
Issue #6 OUTREACH OVR SERVICES TO OUR COMMUNITIES
 
Discussion: The PaRC recommends that OVR develop an outreach strategy to the general population, disability service providers, media, education entities and parents of school age children.  This will help to increase awareness of the services available to persons with a disability.
 
Recommendation (Action): OVR and PaRC should work together to develop an outreach strategy about OVR services to reach persons with disabilities in the state.
 
OVR’s Response:  OVR is currently developing a more involved outreach strategy to the public and welcomes any advice or recommendations the PaRC would like to provide.
 
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013

ATTACHMENT 4.8(b)(1):  COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS WITH AGENCIES NOT CARRYING OUT ACTIVITIES UNDER THE STATEWIDE WORKFORCE INVESTMENT SYSTEM

Any projections, program continuations, etc. in this Attachment are subject to the availability of supporting funding in the Plan year.
 
The PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation maintains negotiated Letters of Understanding with more than 270 community service providers covering in excess of 1,000 different rehabilitation, independent living and related services programs. None of these agreements falls into the categories of state use contracting programs or Rural Development programs under the US Department of Agriculture.
 
In addition to Letters of Understanding, OVR accesses the full complement of business, trade, vocational, and post-secondary schools in the Commonwealth as are approved by the PA Department of Education.
 
Physicians, Hospitals, medical and medically-related practitioners and vendors as are licensed and/or certified by the appropriate Commonwealth authorities to provide services in Pennsylvania are also available for use by OVR.
 
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013

ATTACHMENT 4.8(b)(2):  COORDINATION WITH EDUCATION OFFICIALS

 Any projections, program continuations, etc. in this Attachment are subject to the availability of supporting funding in the Plan year.
 
As cited in Attachment 4.8(b) (1), the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) accesses and uses the full complement of vocational schools, colleges, etc. as are approved for such use by the PA Dept. of Education.
 
Following an Executive Order in 1998 and completion of a signed Memorandum of Understanding in January 2001, OVR has been a partner with Education in developing and coordinating Individualized Plans for Employment (IPE) for transitioning students. When possible and appropriate as well as in accordance with PA OVR’s Order of Selection, an Individualized Plan for Employment is developed, upon completion of a comprehensive assessment of strengths, needs, and interests, prior to the student exiting the school setting.  The Individualized Plan for Employment, when possible, is written to complement and support the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
 
The nationally recognized Pennsylvania MOU was renewed by the involved state agency partners in July 2010.  This MOU implementation model addresses:
 
-Consultation and technical assistance to assist educational agencies in planning for the transition of students with disabilities from school to post-school activities, including VR services;
 
-Transition planning by personnel of the designated state agency and educational agency that facilitates the development and completion of their individualized education programs;
 
-Roles and responsibilities, including financial responsibilities, of each agency, including provisions for determining state lead agencies and qualified personnel responsible for transition services; and
 
-Procedures for outreach to and identification of students with disabilities who need transition services.
 
The model is of note because of its inclusion of the students, as well as their families and representatives, in all levels of implementation.
 
Additionally, OVR works in close collaboration with the Bureau of Special Education in the PA Department of Education to implement and maintain a nationally recognized transition program that will enable students with significant disabilities to move successfully from secondary school to post-secondary education or competitive employment. The PA Transition (MOU) Statewide
 
Leadership Team (SLT) meets quarterly to implement and review its State Plan.  Subcommittees of the SLT on which OVR is represented include:  Data-Driven Decision Making, Local Transition Coordination Councils, Interagency Collaboration, and Conference Planning.
 
OVR continues to collaborate with the Department of Education, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Department of Public Welfare to obtain professional clearances for vocational rehabilitation counselors and supervisors who work within public school systems, a requirement for all school personnel and contractors by PA Acts 34 and 151.
 
In September 2007, OVR was awarded a five-year, RSA Transition Grant. PA OVR is aggressively developing sites across the Commonwealth to replicate two distinct models for Transition from School to Work.
 
Project SEARCH, an internationally recognized employment model, has been replicated at 8 sites as of the Fall of 2010 with 3 additional sites under development for initiation in Fall of 2011, which would exceed OVR’s goal of establishing 10 sites throughout the Commonwealth by the end of the grant period.
 
Project Promoting Academic Success, a one-credit college course to assist high school students with disabilities to explore post-secondary education, has been replicated at 22 sites as of Fall of 2010.  Additional sites will be established as opportunities arise.  This exceeds OVR’s goal of establishing 20 sites throughout the Commonwealth by the end of the grant period.
 
OVR continues to participate in both regional as well as national Communities of Practice on Transition with its primary partner, the PA Department of Education.
 
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013

ATTACHMENT 4.8(b)(3):  COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS WITH PRIVATE NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS

Any projections, program continuations, etc. in this Attachment are subject to the availability of supporting funding in the Plan year.
 
As cited in Attachment 4.8(b)(1), the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) maintains negotiated Letters of Understanding with more than 270 community service providers covering more than 1,000 different rehabilitation, independent living and related services. Most of those organizations are not-for -profit community rehabilitation providers.
 
Letters of Understanding (LOU’s) define service programs and the corresponding conditions of purchase, including fees and effective/expiration dates, which exist between a rehabilitation service provider and OVR.
 
A letter of understanding entered between OVR and a community service provider creates a locally developed, locally negotiated, and locally sensitive response to the rehabilitation service needs of persons with significant disabilities in the diverse areas of the Commonwealth.
 
A Letter of understanding is neither a contract nor an agreement. It does not commit either provider or OVR to the sale or purchase of the defined services.
 
The continuing use of a Letter of Understanding for OVR customers is reliant upon customer choice, satisfaction with the service, affordability, and the existence of available alternative services.
 
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013

ATTACHMENT 4.8(b)(4):  ARRANGEMENTS AND COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS FOR THE PROVISION OF SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) uses many avenues to assure collaboration and partnership in the delivery of supported employment and extended services.  These include a formal written Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the state level between the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), and the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) and at the county level with local agreements between the 21 OVR District Offices and County ODP/OMHSAS Administrative Entities.
 
The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation’s formal collaborative working relationship with OMHSAS and ODP is outlined in the above-mentioned MOU. This cooperation and coordination of services is further defined at the local level with agreements between the 21 OVR District Offices and the County ODP Administrative Entities.  These agreements outline the responsibilities of each agency in the area of service delivery and funding.  The local agreements are renewed and/or reviewed annually for the purpose of identifying and addressing mutual concerns in the area of service delivery. OVR and ODP are working to complete a coordination policy intended to be effective July 2012 for a more seamless entry into employment for individuals with developmental disabilities. This is important because the majority of supported employment services are used to support individuals within the developmental disabilities population in gaining and maintaining successful employment.
 
The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation also has a collaborative working relationship with the Department of Education.  This relationship is outlined in the Transition from School to Work Guidelines issued to all 21 OVR District Offices and 501 school districts in Pennsylvania.  A formal MOU  between the Department of Education, the Department of Public Welfare, the Department of Labor and Industry, and the Department of Health was developed and implemented in December 1999 and was renewed in July 2010.
 
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013

ATTACHMENT 4.10: COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEM OF PERSONNEL DEVELOPMENT DATA SYSTEM

Personnel Data and Projections
 
As of December 31, 2010, OVR had 1035 filled salaried positions and 53 vacancies.  This figure includes 198 filled salaried positions at the Hiram G. Andrews Center (HGAC).  Statewide, OVR had a total of 440 filled Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor positions, 21 Rehabilitation Teacher positions, and 13 Orientation and Mobility Instructor positions.  The current complement of VR Counselors requires that OVR maintain an Order of Selection in order to adequately serve and meet the needs of eligible VR customers at this time.
 
During FFY 2010, 26,591 individuals applied for VR services, 22,440 individuals were found eligible for VR services and a total of 97,882 individuals received VR services from OVR.  As a result, 9,460 individuals were placed in employment in FFY 2009.  In the same time period 3,896 individuals received Independent Living Older Blind Services and 1,763 individuals were referred to the Hiram G. Andrews Center. 
 
OVR projects that in the next five years, approximately 115 VR Counselors will become eligible to retire from employment with OVR.  This will be an average of 23 VR Counselors retiring per year.  However, additional numbers of new VR Counselors will be needed due to promotions of VR Counselors to higher positions within OVR.  OVR projects that an average of 20 to 25 new VR Counselors will be hired per year in the next 5 - 10 years.  To assist with recruitment of VR Counselors, OVR plans to continue its expanded utilization of the "VR Counselor Internship" Program to attract qualified VR Counselors during their last semester of graduate school.  There is expected to be an adequate number of VR Counselor candidates to fill vacancies over the next 5 - 10 years.  However, certain locations within the state may require targeted recruitment efforts at any given time.
 
Job Title Total positions Current vacancies Projected vacancies over the next 5 years
VR Counselor
440
16
108
VR Counselor Deaf and Hard of Hearing
18
1
5
VR Counselor Placement
3
1
2
Rehabilitation Teachers
21
2
0
Orientation and Mobility Instructors
13
2
0
 
Personnel Sources
 
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors
 
CORE-accredited university programs in Pennsylvania include:  Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Scranton and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.  These programs graduate a total of appproximately 48  students per year with a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling.
 
Institutions Students enrolled Employees sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates sponsored by agency and/or RSA Graduates from the previous year
Penn State University
18
0
    0 OVR & 6 RSA
13
University of Pittsburgh
22
0
0 OVR & 0 RSA
16
 
Edinboro University of PA
24
0
2 OVR & 0 RSA
9
University of Scranton
41
1
0 OVR & 0 RSA
10
 
In addition to the 48 available students graduating from in-state graduate degree programs, Pennsylvania OVR can recruit students from CORE-approved and other universities that offer a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling nationwide.  Pennsylvania residency requirements are waived under the State Civil Service Commission for the VR Counselor Internship position and other VR Counselor classifications in OVR.  This waiver provides OVR with an opportunity to recruit students nationwide and offer paid VR Counselor Intern positions to interested master’s degree students who are in their final semester of graduate school.  This paid internship allows OVR to attract and recruit candidates for VR Counselor positions who have a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation while they are still in school and before they are recruited by other agencies.  The residency waiver and the paid Internship position also assist in OVR’s efforts to recruit and hire individuals with disabilities and those from diverse and minority backgrounds.
 
Orientation and Mobility Instructors and Rehabilitation Teachers
 
Accredited university programs in Pennsylvania that train Orientation and Mobility Instructors and/or Rehabilitation Teachers include:  Salus University, the University of Pittsburgh’s Vision Studies Program, and Kutztown State University.  These programs graduate a total of approximately 45 students per year.  Graduates of these approved university programs are eligible for certification in Rehabilitation Teaching or in Orientation and Mobility from the Academy for the Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).  In addition, OVR is able to recruit and hire Rehabilitation Teachers and Orientation and Mobility Instructors who are being trained at universities nationwide and who reside outside of Pennsylvania.
 
RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION – PERSONNEL STANDARDS
 
Section 101(a)(7) of the Rehabilitation Act as Amended, or the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD), requires that State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies establish personnel standards for rehabilitation staff, including Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselors, that are consistent with any national or state-approved or recognized certification, licensing, or registration that applies to a particular profession.  The purpose of an agency’s CSPD is to ensure the quality of personnel who provide VR services and who assist individuals with disabilities to achieve competitive employment outcomes through the VR program.
 
New Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors
 
In 2002, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation raised the entry-level requirements for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor positions to reflect the requirements established by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) for Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRC).  Specifically, all newly hired Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors are required to possess a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, Rehabilitation Administration, or Rehabilitation Education; or CRC credentials or documented proof from CRCC of eligibility to obtain CRC credentials.  The revised Civil Service Announcement for VR Counselor positions became effective on October 4, 2002.  As of January 2011, a total of 461 VR Counselors and VR Counselor Interns were hired under the new entry-level requirements.  All 461 new VR Counselors and Interns met CSPD standards for qualified rehabilitation professionals upon being hired.
 
The change in entry-level standards for VR Counselors, requiring a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation or CRC credentials or CRC eligibility, includes the following components that seek to ensure an adequate supply of VR Counselors to meet OVR’s staffing needs for the next 5 - 10 years:
 
-Waiver of Residency - OVR has received, from the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission, a waiver of Pennsylvania residency as a condition of application for the positions of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and VR Counselor Intern.  
 
-Review of Experience and Training - OVR received approval from the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission to implement an Experience and Training Examination as the means to assess a candidate’s qualifications for the position of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.  This "review of experience and training" replaces the former written Civil Service Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Exam.  The new VR Counselor Civil Service Position Announcement and the Experience and Training Review will remain open "until further notice" in order to assist with recruitment efforts and to ensure an adequate supply of qualified candidates.
 
- Designated Recruitment Specialist - OVR has designated a Rehabilitation Specialist position for the purpose of actively recruiting qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors within Pennsylvania and nationwide.  This Specialist is assigned to work in the OVR Central Office and coordinates all OVR Counselor recruitment activities.  The Recruitment Specialist, with the assistance of CORE-approved University faculty, field office staff, active OVR Advisory Councils, the Pennsylvania Social Services Union, and other key stakeholders, has developed and is implementing a proactive OVR Recruitment Plan. The goal of this plan is to attract and recruit adequate numbers of qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, including those with disabilities and those from diverse cultural backgrounds and underrepresented groups, to fill future anticipated Counselor vacancies.  The Recrutiment Plan includes recruitment efforts to ensure an adequate supply of VR Counselors trained to provide services to specialty caseloads such as Counselors for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Counselors for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
 
-Paid Internship Program - OVR continues to utilize and expand the OVR Paid Internship Program.  This includes a waiver of Pennsylvania residency, so that the Internship Program can include out-of-state residents as candidates for employment.  This provides OVR with an edge in recruiting qualified VR Counselors while they are still in the final year of their Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling Program.  The Paid Internship Program offers a Master’s Degree candidate, enrolled in an approved CORE accredited master’s degree program in Rehabilitation Counseling, a permanent position as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor upon graduation and the successful completion of the paid internship with OVR.
 
Effective January 7, 2006, OVR received approval to hire VR Counselor Interns as a salaried position instead of as an hourly position.  This means that VR Counselor Interns will accrue sick days and vacation days and will receive health insurance, group life insurance and other employee benefits upon their date of hire.  This change adds an additional employment incentive for Intern candidates to choose to work for Pennsylvania OVR.  This continues to make Pennsylvania OVR an attractive and competitive employer of VR Counselors nationwide.
 
Effective November 1, 2006, OVR received approval to increase the pay scale for VR Counselor Interns statewide, and to hire staff above the minimum for VR Counselor Interns who choose to work in Norristown and Philadelphia District Offices.  The annual salary statewide for the classification of VR Counselor Intern was increased from Pay Scale 4 to Pay Scale 5.  Norristown and Philadelphia District Offices are authorized to hire VR Counselor Interns at Pay Scale 5, Step 9.  This targeted increase for new staff in southeastern district offices provides an additional recruitment and hiring incentive for this challenging recruitment area and should help to relieve the higher numbers of vacancies in these offices.
 
-Salary Incentives for designated classifications and locations - In order to assist with recruitment efforts, OVR received approval to hire VR Counselors and VR Counselor Interns in the Norristown and Philadelphia District Offices above the minimum effective November 1, 2006.  Norristown and Philadelphia District Offices are authorized to hire VR Counselors at Pay Scale 7, Step 5, which is consistent with the increase in these areas for VR Counselor Interns.
 
OVR also received approval for VR Counselors for Deaf and Hard of Hearing in all offices across the Commonwealth to be hired at this higher pay scale level (Pay Scale 7, Step 5).  In addition, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisors who are employed in the Philadelphia and Norristown District Offices will receive a four step pay increase.
 
Currently Employed Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors
 
In order to meet CSPD requirements as outlined in the law, the Pennsylvania State Board of Vocational Rehabilitation took action in September 2001 to raise standards for currently employed Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors.  The Board directed OVR to ensure that existing VR Counselors meet the standard of possessing a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, Rehabilitation Administration or Rehabilitation Education; or Certified Rehabilitation Counselor credentials; or proof of eligibility to obtain CRC credentials.
 
In 2008 the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) established a deadline for OVR to meet CSPD standards for VR Counselors.  All VR Counselors employed by OVR must be in compliance with CSPD standards on or before October 1, 2016.  As a result, VR Counselors who do not possess the necessary educational or certification credentials on October 1, 2016 will no longer be able to function as VR Counselors and will be separated from their VR Counselor position with the Department of Labor and Industry.  Therefore, OVR encourages any VR Counselors who do not meet CSPD standards to consider returning to school before 2014, so that they have ample time to complete university coursework by the 2016 deadline.
 
OVR has conducted several surveys to research and compile information regarding the professional and educational credentials of VR Counselors.  The most recent OVR survey of professional staff credentials indicated the following statistics as of January 2011  (Note:  Exact numbers of VR Counselors vary monthly due to separations, promotions and new hires – 449 OVR Counselors were included in this survey):
 
 
Total Employed Counselors Who Will Meet CSPD
 
400
  *Counselors Currently Enrolled in a University Program 3
 
*Counselors Currently Meeting CSPD Standards
 
397
Total Counselors to be Trained by OVR’s CSPD 2016 deadline
 
49
  *Counselors with 26+ Years of Service and eligible to retire 31
  *Counselors with under 26 Years of Service and eligible to retire due to age 9
  *Counselors with under 26 Years of Service and not eligible to retire due to age 9
 
As a result of the survey, OVR has determined that 49 VR Counselors do not meet CSPD standards and must receive training.  Of the 49 Counselors who do not meet CSPD standards, 31 VR Counselors have 26+ years of service with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and will be eligible to and are expected to retire by the 2016 deadline. Of the 49 VR Counselors who do not meet CSPD standards, 18 have less than 26 years of service, including approximately 9 who will be eligible to retire within the next 5 years due to age.  VR Counselors who do not meet CSPD standards are approved to enter Master's Degree in Rehabilitation Programs according to a process agreed upon with the Pennsylvania Social Services Union.
 
Following completion of training for VR Counselors hired prior to October 4, 2002, OVR will no longer need a training plan for existing VR Counselors to meet CSPD requirements.  As of October 4, 2002, all newly hired VR Counselors are required to meet CSPD standards as an entry-level requirement.  These entry-level requirements will ensure that all VR Counselors employed by OVR will meet CSPD standards.
 
Current University Initiatives for OVR Counselors and progress since 2001
 
There are currently 3 OVR Counselors attending university programs in order to meet CSPD requirements.  There are also additional classifications of OVR employees pursuing CSPD credentials in RSA grant-funded programs that are being offered at little to no cost to OVR.
 
George Washington University Online Master’s Degree Program
Sixty-nine (69) employees have completed coursework through the George Washington University (GWU) Online Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling Program.  These 69 employees now meet current CSPD requirements.
 
Three (3) OVR employees completed master’s degrees in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from GWU in 2010. In addition, there is 1 OVR employee enrolled in the GWU RSA grant-funded Job Development/Job Placement certificate online program recently offered in 2011.
 
University of Scranton
Forty (40) OVR employees have completed coursework through the University of Scranton and now meet CSPD requirements. There is presently 1 VR Counselor enrolled in the University of Scranton’s Rehabilitation Counseling Program.
 
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Four (4) OVR employees have completed coursework through Edinboro University and now meet CSPD requirements.
 
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Six (6) VR Counselors have completed coursework through the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and now meet CSPD requirements.
 
University of Pittsburgh
One (1) VR Counselor has completed coursework through the University of Pittsburgh and now meets CSPD requirements.
 
Other University Programs
Six (6) VR Counselors completed the Online Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling Program at West Virginia University.
 
In January 2010, 1 VR Counselor started the Online Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Administration Program at Southern Illinois University. Anticipated graduation date is December 2012.
 
OVR continues to work with a variety of universities in Pennsylvania and nationwide in order to design creative and innovative ways of offering Master’s level coursework to meet the needs of the remaining VR Counselors who need training in order to meet CSPD standards.
 
Additional CSPD Activities
 
A portion of the Rehabilitation Services Administration In-Service Training Grant has been allocated for the continuing education of employees that possess CRC credentials and other certifications.  Currently, more than 300 OVR staff maintain CRC credentials.  This is expected to increase annually, as more staff complete university programs and as new staff meeting CSPD standards enter employment with OVR.
 
Orientation and Mobility Instructors and Rehabilitation Teachers
The positions of Rehabilitation Teacher and Orientation and Mobility Instructor require a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation or related field, with specialized training related to serving people who are blind or visually impaired.  A master’s degree is preferred.  In order to assist with
 
the recruitment of qualified Rehabilitation Teachers and Orientation and Mobility Instructors, a waiver of Pennsylvania residency is also in place for both of these classifications.  This waiver provides OVR with an opportunity to recruit candidates nationwide for vacant positions.  The OVR designated Recruitment Specialist actively recruits qualified Rehabilitation Teacher and Orientation and Mobility Instructor within Pennsylvania and nationwide.   
 
STAFF DEVELOPMENT AND COORDINATION OF THE IN-SERVICE TRAINING
 
RSA In-Service Training Grant
OVR was awarded a five-year grant (2010-2015) from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to financially support the agency’s plan for a comprehensive system of staff development and training.  The funding from this grant will ensure staff development for OVR personnel in areas essential to the effective management of the agency’s program of vocational rehabilitation services.  It will also provide for the training and development of personnel necessary to improve their ability to provide vocational rehabilitation services leading to employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, especially those with severe disabilities.
 
As part of developing the in-service training plan that was part of the RSA grant submission, a comprehensive needs assessment was done by OVR to determine the training needs of state vocational rehabilitation staff for the period October 2010 - September 2015.  As a result of this comprehensive needs assessment, the following topics were identified as priorities for staff development and training and are planned for in the five-year training grant award received from RSA:
Rehabilitation Act Amendments and Workforce Investment Act Training
Maintenance of Appropriate Staff Certification and Licensure
Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology
Job Development and Placement
Transition Services for Youth with Disabilities
Medical Aspects
Conflict Resolution
Critical Thinking and Decision Making
Additional Training as Identified
Casework Documentation and Record Keeping
Leadership Skill and Development
Team Building and Collaboration
Stress Management
Providing Services to an Aging Population
 
OVR also received three Quality Award training grants from RSA to implement special continuing education programs. A Quality Award grant was approved to implement video conferencing trainings in OVR’s Central Office as well as OVR’s District Offices.  Two additional Quality Award grants were received from RSA which focus on:  (1) Drug and Alcohol Training; and (2) The Development and Dissemination of a Model In-Service Training for Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisors.  Both initiatives will expand on OVR’s prior successes and will seek to increase competency skills for staff in order to continue increased employment outcomes for customers within these special populations.
 
In order to ensure that OVR’s personnel receive significant knowledge from research and other state-of-the-art methodologies, OVR uses RSA training grant funds to support presentations by university faculty, experts in the field of rehabilitation, and statewide and nationally known speakers at in-service training programs.  OVR also funds staff attendance at national and statewide conferences that include speakers who are experts in current rehabilitation techniques, strategies and interventions.  This includes coordination and facilitation of efforts between OVR and professional associations, such as the Pennsylvania Partners, Pennsylvania Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, National Association of Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns, Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Association, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, etc., to train and retain qualified personnel.
 
Coordination with Personnel Development requirements under the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA)
The goal of the CSPD under IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act is similar and must be approached in a collaborative fashion.  To that end, OVR has designated a full-time Rehabilitation Specialist who is responsible for the OVR School to Work Transition Initiative and a Training Director responsible for OVR staff development.  In addition, the OVR Director of the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Services maintains membership on the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education, and Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP).  Similarly, a representative from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and a representative from Parent Education Network pursuant to IDEA are members of the PA Rehabilitation Council.  These formal memberships and informal relationships facilitate ongoing collaboration and communication regarding personnel standards and personnel development.
 
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act aligns with "highly qualified" requirements for special education teachers as those requirements established under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  As a member of the SEAP, OVR has the opportunity to provide input to the Department of Education in the development of meaningful and effective personnel and parent development as required by IDEA and NCLB.
 
Additionally, a Memorandum of Understanding among the Departments of Education, Public Welfare, Labor and Industry, and Health has further offered OVR an opportunity to collaborate and provide training in order to improve services to students with disabilities who are seeking employment.  The Memorandum of Understanding resulted from an Administrative Executive Order that required all relevant Commonwealth agencies to collaborate in providing services to students with disabilities. The IDEA Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1999 and subsequently renewed in 2006 and 2010 provided a springboard for the work of the State Leadership Team (SLT). The mission of the SLT is to build and support sustainable community partnerships that create opportunities for youth and young adults with disabilities to transition smoothly from secondary education to the post-secondary outcomes of competitive employment; education, training and lifelong learning; community participation; and healthy lifestyles.
 
Pennsylvania is being recognized as a national leader in transition practices because of the "communities of practice" efforts.  An annual transition conference is planned collaboratively by the SLT and is attended by over 800 stakeholders including educators, VR professionals, agency staff, families/caregivers, youth/young adults, and advocates.  Also, regional professional development in the area of transition (CSPD) is planned, developed, presented, and evaluated through this collaborative process.
 
In addition, OVR was awarded a Model Demonstration Project to Improve the Postsecondary and Employment Outcomes of Youth with Disabilities from the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services beginning with FFY 2008.  OVR will implement the 2.25 million dollar grant over a 5-year period through the replication of two nationally recognized, evidence-based models in coordination with local transition teams and under the advisement of the PA Transition State Leadership Team.  Portions of this grant will also be used for professional staff training.
 
The combination of these joint initiatives seeks to ensure the availability of qualified personnel to serve students and adults with disabilities seeking employment and independence in Pennsylvania.
 
COMMUNICATION WITH DIVERSE POPULATIONS
Entry-level requirements for Rehabilitation Counselors for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing require that candidates pass the Sign Communication Proficiency Interview (SCPI) before being offered a formal interview for employment.  OVR district offices, in geographic areas where there are large numbers of individuals who speak Spanish, recruit and hire a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who can speak both Spanish and English.  In instances where there are no Vocational
 
Rehabilitation Counselors who can communicate with a customer in his or her native language, an interpreter is hired to assist with communication.
 
Recruit and Hire People who are Minorities and People with Disabilities
 
OVR Counselor Recruitment Intiative
Through collaborative initiatives with higher education institutions, OVR will continue to expand recruitment and outreach to students with disabilities for entry-level VR Counselor positions.  Collaboration with universities on federal RSA grant applications that seek to provide scholarship opportunities for students with disabilities will further this initiative.  This includes supporting the efforts of university programs to apply for and implement Long Term Training Grant programs to train VR Counselors to work for the public VR program in Pennsylvania.  In addition, OVR will continue the following activities as part of its overall VR Counselor recruitment initiative:
 
-Expand and maintain OVR’s partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's) that offer a Master’s Degree Rehabilitation Counseling Program.  This includes campus visitations, presentations, and meetings with students for targeted recruitment.
 
-Maintain appointed membership on Coppin State University (CSU) and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) Rehabilitation Counseling Program Advisory Committees. Both are HBCU’s in the Mid-Atlantic region that prepare increased numbers of minority individuals for careers in the Public VR program.
 
-Maintain active membership on the National Association of Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns (NAMRC).
 
-Visit colleges, universities, and appropriate job fairs in conjunction with the Office of Equal Opportunity in the Department of Labor and Industry in order to recruit potential job applicants who are from diverse cultural backgrounds and applicants with disabilities.
 
The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Intern classification assists with the recruitment and employment of graduate students in the field of VR in their final semester of graduate school.  An internship is required by CORE accredited universities.  OVR interviews and selects candidates in their final graduate semester.  The Civil Service requirements to apply for a VR Counselor position are waived for staff hired through this program.  Upon completion of the intern’s degree and internship, and if appropriate, the intern is hired and reclassified to a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.  Many qualified VR Counselors have been hired through OVR paid internship program and more are expected to be hired through this process.  Recruitment of individuals with disabilities and individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds is a priority when seeking potential candidates for the VR Counselor Intern position.
 
Special Populations
OVR plans to continue efforts to work with the blind and deaf communities in order to recruit and hire qualified individuals who are deaf, blind, deaf-blind, and hard of hearing.  This includes recommendations and assistance provided by the OVR Advisory Committee for Persons who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the OVR Advisory Committee for the Blind of Pennsylvania.  In addition, OVR has a Rehabilitation Specialist assigned to coordinate the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind Program in OVR.  This specialist assists with recruitment and outreach to these special populations in order to attract qualified OVR candidates for employment.
 
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013

ATTACHMENT 4.11(a): COMPREHENSIVE STATEWIDE NEEDS ASSESSMENT

BACKGROUND
In May 2010, the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) issued guidance, "Developing a Model Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA) with Corresponding Training Materials for State VR Agency Staff and SRC Members (Guidance).  This current CSNA reflects the 2010 Guidance.  In its Introduction, the Guidance outlines the scope and focus of the CSNA.  The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Act) calls for periodic comprehensive statewide needs assessments to be conducted jointly by each state’s vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency and State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) to inform the State Plan.  The Act is specific regarding areas that a needs assessment should address.  In addition to the overall need for rehabilitation services in the state, the Act focuses on several VR subpopulations and services: individuals with most significant disabilities, including those in need of supported employment; unserved and underserved individuals, including minorities; individuals served by other parts of the statewide workforce investment employment system; and establishment, development or improvement of community rehabilitation programs (CRPs).
 
In Pennsylvania, the designated state unit, otherwise known as the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), and the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council (PaRC), jointly conducted the CSNA.  Section 321.69 of the Act outlines the specific topics to examine, including specific populations and the cooperation of stakeholders and providers.  The CSNA is an opportunity for combining existing information and new data to inform the State Plan. 
 
It is essential to note that this CSNA, as noted above, encompasses the overall rehabilitation needs of people with disabilities throughout Pennsylvania, including those "individuals served by other parts of the statewide workforce investment employment system."  So, in addition to information about services provided by OVR staff, rehabilitation professionals from other community partner agencies contributed to this document.  Consequently, information contained in this document, while intended for use by OVR staff and PaRC to develop the State Plan, may be used by other rehabilitation community partner agencies to inform their own strategies.
 
However, throughout the document, most of the service references will be ways that OVR can address the services gaps through their funding mandate, keeping within the boundaries of the Rehabilitation Act and the regulations.
 
HISTORY
OVR submitted, for FFY 2005-2008, a comprehensive needs assessment that used a systems research approach, utilizing data available on the Internet, as well as existing information supplied by staff and constituent activities.  In addition, OVR augmented this information with data gathered from staff and stakeholder questionnaires.  OVR designed the questions to address the statutory requirements for areas to be addressed in the Needs Assessment.
 
In 2008, OVR created an online survey to meet the requirement of the CSNA with questions developed by OVR staff in partnership with the PaRC.  PaRC financed and posted the survey on their website for the month of August.  The district offices announced the survey to customers, partners, and providers.  Approximately 1,000 surveys were completed.  PaRC met with OVR to discuss and draft a report that was submitted in 2009 for FFY 2010.
 
This current CSNA not only reflects the detailed suggestions and models in the 2010 Guidance, but also expands upon the research techniques used in the development of previous CSNA.  Most obviously, the use of focus groups directed at specific stakeholder groups, was an attempt to engage those customers more in depth.
 
DEFINING GOALS & DEVELOPING PLAN
A needs assessment is a systematic exploration of the way things are and the way they should be.  These "things" are usually associated with organizational and/or individual performance.  There are four basic steps to conducting a needs assessment, (1) gap analysis, (2) identify priorities, (3) identify causes of performance problems and/or opportunities and (4) identify possible solutions and growth opportunities.  Although there are many effective methods that OVR currently uses that bring success, this is an opportunity to highlight the areas and possible practices where OVR could take steps to improve service.
 
Goals
The information goals of the needs assessment were determined and stated in the RSA Guidance.  The RSA requested the following information:
  1. The rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities, particularly the vocational rehabilitation services needs of individuals with most significant disabilities, including their need for supported employment services.
  2. The vocational rehabilitation services needs of minorities.
  3. The vocational rehabilitation services needs of individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the vocational rehabilitation program.
  4. The vocational rehabilitation services needs of individuals with disabilities served through other components of the statewide workforce investment system.
  5. The need to establish, develop, or improve community rehabilitation programs within the state.
Steering Committee & Responsibilities
A committee of OVR staff and members from PaRC steered this project.  It was the responsibility of the steering committee to recommend participants, decide on the content and questions, and summarize each phase of the process.  The Committee further relied on the institutional knowledge of OVR field staff, for example, soliciting their input in the development of the survey questions.  This expertise in rehabilitation services of OVR staff and the Council, as well as the familiarity with customers, vendors, counselors, and other possible participants, outweighed the advantages of outsourcing this task.
 
OVR staff secured assistance from the Pennsylvania Office of Administration’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS).  OSS has vast expertise in primary data collection and analysis.  In addition, OSS is experienced in meeting state government performance and economic goals.  OSS assisted in administering the decisions of the steering committee. OSS analyzed the surveys, assisted in conducting focus groups and individual interviews, and assisted in authoring the final report.  OSS services are paid for by 1.5% of all state agencies’ budgets, so the actual services for this project were free of specific charges to OVR.
 
Process
  1. OVR staff reviewed the RSA requirements.
  2. The Steering Committee (Attachment A) discussed the requirements, determined what type of information was needed, and who was in the best position to provide the information.
  3. OVR staff and OSS took the result of the brainstorming session and drafted the actual survey types and questions.
  4. OVR staff (executives and counselors) and PaRC members reviewed and approved the draft surveys
  5. The surveys were published on the PaRC website.  Announcements of the survey were sent to agencies, organizations, providers, customers and advocates.
  6. Results of the surveys, processed in charts and graphs, were distributed to the Committee.  The committee decided on the central or common themes of each survey type.  With approval from the OVR executive staff, the common themes became the discussion topics for the focus groups.
  7. PaRC members and OVR staff nominated potential focus group participants.  Participants were invited by letter.  OVR and OSS staff conducted the focus group process.
  8. After reviewing the results of the focus groups, the committee deliberated on what other detailed information was needed to answer the RSA questions completely.
  9. OVR staff and PaRC members recommended potential interviewees who possessed personal knowledge to help close some of the information gaps identified after the focus groups.  OVR and OSS staff then conducted the interviews.
  10. National and state trends were reviewed to determine whether the conclusions found were unique to Pennsylvania.
  11. OVR and OSS staff wrote the report and submitted it to the OVR executives and PaRC on January 13, 2011.  OVR staff and the PaRC membership had numerous meetings and conference calls to discuss the draft report and make changes.
  12. The draft document was submitted to the OVR Executive Staff for final review at the end of January 2012.
  13. For discussion purposes, terminology throughout this reports was taken directly from the RSA Guidance
GATHERING INFORMATION
The RSA Guidance required that the information be obtained through both primary and secondary data collection.  The Committee included the following required components:
  1. Surveying  VR counselors and consumers of rehabilitation services
  2. Key informant interviews
  3. Focus groups with people with disabilities, employers, disability navigator/PA CareerLink staff and professional staff from other service providers and community rehabilitative programs (CRP)
  4. Public community hearings
  5. Secondary data sources including the American Community Survey, Current Population Survey, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, disability population state estimates, population projections and economic forecasts, VR agency data and information, state level data from federal sources, state/local data & reports and literature review.
Customer Satisfaction Surveys
PaRC
In 2011, PaRC conducted a customer satisfaction survey.  The SurveyMonkey.com survey was posted on the PaRC website from October 1, 2010, through September 30, 2011.  The survey asked questions about the service (response time, individual participation, relationship between OVR and vendors) participants received from OVR.  A relatively small sample size of forty people completed the survey.  (Attachment B).
 
OVR
In order to comply with various sections of the Rehabilitation Act, OVR conducts surveys of all successfully rehabilitated customers six and twelve months post-closure (Attachments C).  Resources do not permit surveying customers closed in other statuses.  The survey questions cover satisfaction with OVR services, as well as current employment and benefits information.  An OVR staff and stakeholder workgroup developed this survey instrument and process.  The purpose of this survey is to gauge how the OVR services aided in finding and maintaining gainful employment.  Bar codes are placed on each survey enabling OVR to track each participant’s response.
 
In October 2010, OVR implemented a new survey and process.  The new template allowed the survey results to be processed through and integrated into OVR’s Commonwealth Workforce Development System (CWDS).  CWDS is an electronic case management system used by, Labor and Industry and Department of Public Welfare partners to aid in job search, job development, and placement services. CWDS also functions as the electronic case record for OVR customers. The OVR portion of the site is secure to protect customers’ confidentiality.  The public can use CWDS to self-refer for services, create résumés and match their skills, requirements and backgrounds with job openings.  Employers can use CWDS to find qualified job applicants and report their new hires.  Service or training providers can use CWDS to receive referrals of those seeking the services, programs or training they provide.  And Commonwealth staff use CWDS to track service delivery.  This shared system streamlines service provision and provides a comprehensive view of services provided to any individual.
 
From January 1, 2011, until December 1, 2011, 9,261 six-month surveys and 8,635 twelve-month surveys were mailed to closed OVR case customers, with a return from 5.8% and 4.5% respectively (537 six-month surveys and 389 twelve-month surveys).
 
Needs Assessment Surveys
The CSNA Committee developed five survey instruments.  The survey audiences were customers, advocates, employers, private sector providers and public sector providers (Attachments D through H).  The Committee advertised the availability of the survey through e-mail blasts, PaRC and organizational newsletters, and in conference and workshop announcements.  The e-mail blasts and announcements encouraged the reader to spread the word about the opportunity to participate.  The target audiences included OVR, the Department of Aging, Corrections, Public Welfare, Veterans’ Affairs, Education, county government and the partners and customers of these organizations.
 
Approximately 2,000 people visited the survey website, and 18.3% completed one of the five surveys.  The questions inquired about the relative ease to access services, the types of services requested and received, the organizations providing the services, and the current gap in the services available.
 
The surveys were posted on the PaRC website from April 1, 2011, to May 31, 2011, via Surveygizmo.com.  OVR staff and OSS developed the top themes from the surveys and scheduled the focus groups.  The top themes were the topics discussed in the focus groups.
 
Focus Groups
Focus groups were held in August and September, 2011.  OVR staff statewide, OVR executives, and PaRC members recommended participants for the focus groups.  Participation was by invitation only.  The invitation included the date, time, location of the focus group, the goal of the focus group, as well as the top themes that would be discussed at the focus groups, and included accommodation requests.
 
Each focus group was designed for 10-12 participants, followed a pre-set agenda (Attachment O), and lasted approximately two hours.  Each group was staffed with a moderator, a note taker, and a flip chart recorder.  OVR trained and briefed focus group staff on their duties and the purpose of the focus group.  The moderator facilitated and managed the group with the goals of easing and promoting honest and balanced discussion, eliciting useful information from all participants, and keeping people on track and on schedule.  The note taker took complete notes of what was being said, as exactly as possible, attributing statements to their source, if relevant.  The flip chart recorders captured key statements by participants and made them visible to the group, using colored markers on a 20" x 25" notepad, mounted on an easel.  The flip chart was important because it helped the group members to keep track of, and focus on, the discussion as it took place.  The recorder worked closely with the moderator to ensure that what he or she recorded matched the intent of the person who said it. 
 
The RSA guidance suggested focus group types and gave each state a choice in the particulars to focus upon.  Pennsylvania selected the following groups:
  1. Individuals with significant disabilities, as defined in the Rehabilitation Act.
  2. Individuals with disabilities from minority groups, as grouped for RSA data collection. (e.g., African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic, Native American, etc.);
  3. Unserved and underserved individuals with disabilities
  4. Employers who have worked, or are currently working, with OVR.
  5. Pennsylvania partners in the statewide workforce investment system, including PA CareerLink staff members and VR counselors from the Pennsylvania Departments of Welfare, Aging, Corrections and Veteran Affairs.
  6. Community partners, including service providers in the private and public sectors.
Ninety-two people participated in 14 focus groups.  Interpreters and CART services were requested and used in five of the 14 focus groups.
 
Individual Interviews
OVR and OSS staff conducted individual interviews in December, 2011 and January, 2012.  Attachment Q lists all who were interviewed.  Each interview lasted approximately one hour.  The interviewees were asked to use their particular background and experience to comment on three basic topics derived from the data obtained through the focus groups, OVR Customer Satisfaction Surveys, and the Needs Assessment Surveys.  The general topics were communication, transition, and effectiveness of services.
 
Secondary Data Sources
The Committee used the 2011 Disability Statistics Compendium, an annual publication of statistics on people with disabilities and government programs, that serve the population with disabilities and is modeled after the Statistical Abstracts of the United States, published yearly by the U.S. Department of Commerce.  The Compendium was designed to serve as a reference guide to government publications.  Each year, the Compendium reflects the statistics published over the year.  New statistics are added each year, as new data sources and publications become available.  The Compendium provides state-level statistics and monthly time-trend statistics published by Federal agencies.  Topics include population size, prevalence of disability, labor force participation, unemployment, employment, poverty, earnings from work, enrollment in education, educational attainment, self-reported health status, health behaviors, immunization, health care coverage, continuous health care provision, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, special education, and vocational rehabilitation.  The information in the 2011 Compendium covers 2006 through 2010.  Complete data on 2011 was not available at the time this report was written.
 
The RSA Annual Review Report (ARR) provides state VR agencies, disability advocates, VR consumers, service providers, and other VR stakeholders with information on the performance of the federal and state VR programs.  Each fiscal year, RSA produces an ARR for each state Vocational Rehabilitation agency receiving funding under the Basic Vocational Rehabilitation program.  This report pulls together information from various forms (such as the RSA-113, the RSA-2, the RSA-911), presents narrative, and charts about the performance of that agency.
 
DISSEMINATION STRATEGIES
Public Hearings
The CSNA public hearings are scheduled to be conducted by OVR staff from March 15 to April 5, 2012, coinciding with the public hearings of the FY 2013 Pennsylvania OVR State Plan (Attachment R).  The dates will be posted in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and notice of the posting will be made by mail and e-mail to over 2500 customers, partners or organizations.  Meetings will be publicized in local newspapers, inviting the public to attend for the purpose of reviewing the assessment and offering their comments for direction of the next phase of the assessment.  In order to receive maximum input, meetings have been scheduled for both daytime and evening hours.  In addition, the draft will be available by request and posted on the PaRC website and the PA OVR website along with updates and future needs assessment activities.
 
ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION
The assessment presents a macro view of the primary information collected through this process and the relevant micro view of OVR information obtained from the primary and secondary data sources.  Topically, it begins with a look at Pennsylvania and OVR, then the populations suggested by RSA: multiple disabilities, minorities, under or unserved individuals and individuals served through other vocational arms of state government.  OVR’s goal throughout this process was to provoke thought, discussion, and identify trends around five major topics:
  1. Vocational rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities, particularly those with the most significant disabilities, including their need for supported employment services;
  2. Rehabilitation services needs of minorities;
  3. Vocational rehabilitation services needs of unserved or underserved individuals with disabilities;
  4. Vocational rehabilitation services needs of individuals with disabilities served through other components of the statewide workforce investment system; and
  5. The need to establish, develop, or improve community rehabilitation programs within the state.
As these topics were discussed, another emerged: the lack of awareness of OVR services and the partnerships it currently maintains despite numerous outreach activities and available materials..  In order for OVR to be effective, potential customers, partners, and stakeholders must understand who OVR is and what OVR does.  To be effective and long lasting, any recommendations to change services or partnership must begin with an educational component.
 
An Overview of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania, the second largest of the seven Middle Atlantic states, is the 33rd most extensive (46,055 square miles), the 6th most populous (12,632,780), and the 9th most densely populated (284.3 per square mile) of the 50 United States.  Of its population, 1,638,378 or 13.1% identified themselves as having a disability (American Community Survey, 2011).  In the 67 counties in Pennsylvania, 48 counties or 71.7% of counties are considered rural, as defined by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, with a population density of 283 persons per square mile or less (www.rural.palegislature.us), while 19 counties are considered urban (28.3%).  As of 2011, two out of every five Pennsylvanians live in a municipality considered to be in fiscal distress (http://issuespa.org), and 20 Pennsylvania municipalities are now in Act 47 distressed status (Pennlive web site - December 29, 2011).  Below is a Pennsylvania map with counties outlined and color-coded to show the unemployment rate.  (White is for a rate of 0-6.4%, grey is for 6.5-7.9%, light blue is for 8.0-9.4% and dark blue is for 9.5% and more).  When looking at the map, much of the highest unemployment rates for all Pennsylvanians are in the rural areas of the state, with the exception of Philadelphia County.
 
An Overview of OVR
Based on data provided to RSA in 2011, OVR served 96,137 or 6.3% of the state’s disability population, of which 9,887 were placed in employment, with 93.4% placed in competitive employment.  Of the 96,137 people OVR served in 2011, 91,900 (95.6%) were served by OVR offices that have urban centers and 4,237 (4.4%) were served by offices that are strictly from rural counties.  In 2010, nearly 3.5 million residents, or 28%, of the Pennsylvania population lived in an urban county (a population density of 284 or more per square mile).
 
Although OVR offices may not be found in many of Pennsylvania’s rural areas, OVR counselors keep offices hours with other agency offices, meet with customers in a variety of field locations or and do home visits to help mitigate the transportation problems inherent in rural areas.
 
OVR has three bureaus, Bureau of Central Operations, Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitative Services (BVRS) and Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS). BVRS maintains a salaried complement of 414 full-time salaried counselors and interns. Most offices serve both urban and rural populations.  Generally, the urban counties are found on the southwest, the Mideast, and southeastern borders.   Most rural counties are found in the area known as the "Big T", extending from the Mason-Dixon Line to the New York border, through a large swath of central PA and across the northern tier of the Commonwealth, north of Interstate 80.  Most offices, with the exception of Altoona, Dubois, Norristown, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington, serve both urban and rural counties. In addition, OVR’s Hiram G. Andrews Center in Johnstown provides a comprehensive program of services featuring the integration of education on campus at the Commonwealth Technical Institute (CTI), counseling, evaluation, and physical restoration in a barrier-free environment.
 
A Pennsylvania map of the OVR offices shows that offices are generally distributed centrally from east to west.  This is where you would find the most densely populated or urban counties.  As previously noted, counselors travel to rural areas to meet customers in satellite offices, other agency sites, and additional locations convenient for the customers.
 
OVR PERFORMANCE: CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEYS COMPARISON
Two surveys were administered to review the service that customers receive from OVR.  One survey was conducted by the PARC and the other by OVR.  It is important to note that the PaRC survey was posted on a web site open to the public, while the OVR survey targeted customers who were served by OVR.  Below is a summary of the findings. As mentioned above, the PaRC survey was posted on their web site. Results were based on less than 50 responses. OVR mailed surveys to everyone that exited an OVR program with a job and received about 1,000 responses.
 
Customer Service
Survey results indicated that participants felt comfortable with their OVR counselors’ knowledge of their disability.  During calendar year 2011, results from the 6 month OVR customer satisfaction survey showed that 86% of the respondents said that their OVR counselor listened to their ideas and nearly 80% expressed satisfaction with the help they received from OVR to achieve their employment goal. Additionally, 82 % felt satisfied with the amount of contact that the OVR counselor maintained with them. For the clients surveyed 12 months after their OVR experience, satisfaction levels were essentially at the same high levels.
 
But some PaRC survey respondents did not feel that many OVR counselors took the opportunity to make personal connections and to value customer opinions.  A third of the respondents (8 out of 27) felt that the counselor tried to learn more about the customer and only 40% of the respondents (11 out of 27) felt that the counselors gave sufficient consideration to the customer’s personal goals.  Slightly less than half of the PaRC respondents reported that they received updates timely and regularly (42.4%, 14 out of 33).
 
Planning Process
In the OVR  survey, nearly 60% of the respondents said that they actively participated with their OVR counselor in writing their employment plan.  However, less than 20% of the PaRC survey respondents (5 out of 26) felt that the help received in choosing the training was beneficial to achieving customer vocational goals or that OVR services helped the customer become employed in their field of choice.  While differences in sample size may account for the disparate finings, this may be an area that merits some examination for future service enhancement.
 
Training Process
OVR did not survey on this topic but a clear majority of the PaRC respondents felt involved in the training process, although twenty percent of the respondents (5 out of 26) felt that they did not receive the necessary assistance in making decisions in training for their employment goals, or that training (20%) or services (32.2%) did not match their desired employment.  Respondents were split on whether counselors needed more follow-up with the vendors and customers during the training period. This may be an area that would benefit from further study.  
 
No information was provided on disabilities or the employment outcome of PaRC respondents.  Eighty-two percent of OVR respondents received employed and 73% were satisfied with the job they had.  Although OVR did not ask if respondents would return for additional services or refer others to OVR, PaRC customers noted throughout the survey, 52% would use OVR again and recommend OVR services.
 
Most Significant Disabilities
In Pennsylvania, both urban and rural areas, serve those with Most Significant Disabilities (MSD) at about the same rates.  About 49.5% of these OVR cases are closed successfully, meaning customers achieved an employment outcome at an average cost of $3,900 per customer.  The success rate is the percent of OVR cases closed successfully (employed) compared to the total number served.  Pennsylvania meets or exceeds federal performance measures for services to individuals with most significant disabilities.  But the focus groups and individual interviews identified a few areas for additional examination, as reflected in the following areas.
 
NEEDS ASSESSMENT SURVEYS AND FOCUS GROUPS
 
Vocational Planning
The need assessment surveys and focus groups revealed that counselors (not necessarily licensed or working for OVR) felt that they were being asked to recommend employment paths and services that may not lead to employment.  OVR’s activities outlined in the Rehabilitation Act must be employment focused. At a minimum, it points to the need to revisit methods the agency and its partners use to educate constituents about its services.
 
In 2011, almost $23 million was spent in training 9,553 people with most significant disabilities who did not find employment.  Close to $4 million was spent on unsuccessful closures that can be attributed to a change in the severity of the disability, the customer being placed in an institution and unavailable for further services, a lack of transportation to maintain employment, the necessary extended services were not available or other reasons not attributed to the control of the customer (Information provided by CWDS). This could be an area for additional examination.
 
Parental & Advocate Participation
Parents and personal advocates expressed the opinion that the people in the best position to determine the pace of Individual Plans for Employment might the parents and advocates who interact with the customers on a daily basis.  They feel that parents and personal advocates can monitor progress at a more intimate level.  Some participants felt that professionals diminished their contribution and value.  In their opinion, this ultimately caused some customers not to succeed at the stated goal.
 
OVR customers age 18 and older are adults.  As adults, these customers are afforded HIPPA and other confidentiality rights.  Although parents and advocates may want to participate in the process, and bring value to the process, OVR staff cannot share information or act on the desires of parents and advocates without the appropriate releases or, in some instances, unless the parent is the court appointed guardian.  OVR customers have the right to choose and direct their employment goals. OVR may need to discuss additional methods to educate parents and advocates about these distinctions.
 
Job Shadowing & Coaching
Several participants (customers, advocates, and employers) felt that a very important training tool was one-on-one training in the form of job coaching and shadowing. Job shadowing is a training technique in which a new employee spends time watching a seasoned worker.  Job coaching is working with individuals with challenges and disabilities that hinder employment to develop their working skills to become successful in competitive employment.  Both allow the customer to learn about the position in a safe environment.  Customers felt comfortable asking questions, and in turn, the customer learned more.  The employer survey and focus group showed that when employees had the chance to learn and ask questions, the employee became a productive worker and the employment relationship was healthy and durable.
 
On-the-Job Training
On-the-Job Training is a wage reimbursement program for employers that provides training to OVR customers to learn specific skills on the job.  In 2011, OVR had 856 customers and 566 employers who used OJT services at a cost of $3,765,117. There is a greater likelihood of success with OJT, or any training modality, when there has been a good effort to match the job requirements with the skills and interests of the clients. Programs, such as OJT, allow OVR to ensure that customers have the necessary skill set to be successful on the job.
 
MINORITIES
According to the National Council on Disability, minorities with disabilities use health care less often, have a higher incidence of secondary health matters and tend not to have insurance, care coordination or access to preventative services.  In the U.S., African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos typically experience disabilities at a higher rate than do Whites/Caucasians (National Council on Disability, The Current State of Health Care for People with Disabilities.  September 30, 2009).  In Pennsylvania, 1 out of 8 white or Caucasian citizens has a disability, compared to 1 out of 5 for both Blacks and Hispanics, and 1 out of 4 for Native Americans.  Social determinants such as education, income level, and prevailing attitudes within the local environment, contribute to these disparities.
 
Aside from the public health issues that racial/ethnic minorities face, those with disabilities experience additional disparities in healthcare, prejudice, discrimination, economic barriers, and difficulties accessing care.  Additionally, preconceptions and perceptions held within a racial or ethnic group about disabilities affects the type of treatment that a family seeks or receives.  In order to address this population, the disability community must encourage and embrace cultural competency training and education for providers as a basic and necessary tool to serve the population.
 
Many of the OVR minority customer customers live in urban areas.  The minority customer focus group conducted in Philadelphia, PA, cited two major barriers to gaining and keeping employment: transportation and the stigma of having a disability.  Other barriers to attendance cited by the group were lack of medical and dental insurance, the need to ensure that employment does not disqualify the customer from other assistance and finding employment that meets individual medical needs (flexible scheduling, individualized on-the-job training, accommodations, etc.).
 
OVR continues to exceed the federal performance standard for minority services. However challenges to success persist. For most of the identified minority groups, the percentage of persons served is greater than the representative population of that group in the state.  However, the percentage of success (employment placement) for the minority population is less than the placement rate for White customers, with the exception of Asians who were tied with Whites and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders who exceeded Whites.
 
When reviewing unsuccessful closure statuses that are under the control of the customer, minorities with disabilities have a higher incidence of unsuccessful outcomes.  This is consistent with studies done in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. Additional research and targeting new modalities to improve outcomes may be indicated.
 
VETERANS
United States’ involvement in foreign wars during the last two decades has focused a spotlight on services to returning veterans as they reintegrate into society.  In Pennsylvania, there are 1.2 million veterans, more than 10% of the total population.  Many of these veterans are unaware of the services available to them from OVR.  Last year, OVR served 2,841 veterans.  And, in an effort to focus more resources on veterans’ services, OVR used ARRA money to fund one counselor position in twelve district offices dedicated to serve veterans.  With the ARRA funding, OVR served 1,600 or 56% of the veterans served. However, despite this activity, there remain some gaps or potential service enhancements to veterans.
 
However, as service members return from military conflicts overseas, the disability service providers will need to prepare to respond to the increased potential need.  The task becomes much greater when we look at the statistics of how many troops are coming back from combat with injuries that have not been immediately proven to be related to war activities, yet manifest or emerge later.  The needs of these veterans, served in part, by VA benefits, are not as easily identifiable or as apparent to the VA or the community in a short amount of time after one’s return.  Dr. David Riggs, (Director of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Center for Deployment Psychology and part of the Uniformed Services University Health Sciences) noted that, many of the deployed individuals suffer from serious emotional distress.  Moreover, upon their return, Dr. Riggs pointed out that these veterans often live in rural or other underserved communities where there is little to no mental or behavioral health services readily available to them.  A Pew Research Center study shows the long-term implications of treatment and loss of productivity is predicted to continue "at least until 2020" and possibly longer.  Their study shows a continuing trend in the types of service-related injuries and illnesses that have already made 1.3 million of the 2.3 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, across the nation, eligible for VA health care and vocational services.
 
Dr. Riggs explained that the Center for Deployment Psychology is working hard to address this problem, but also emphasized the need for the psychologists in the community to help address the critical needs of military personnel and their family’s needs that are often unmet because of location, stigma and lack of providers.  In Pennsylvania, and the nation as a whole, service agencies have opportunities to respond to the needs of these veterans and their families with focused and coordinated service plans.
 
TRANSITION YOUTH
Four clear themes regarding transition emerged during our meetings and discussions with focus groups and individual interviews.  Many of the issues surrounding the transition process are tied to these themes in one fashion or another.
 
More Focus on Transition Youth
It was almost universally acknowledged by respondents to the survey that transition-age youth with disabilities are not served on a consistent basis throughout the Commonwealth.  This observation was not directed toward OVR specifically, but rather was ascribed to a lack of effective communication regarding the assistance that is available.  Despite ongoing efforts by OVR, the Department of Education, and the Department of Public Welfare among others, it was observed that the dissemination of information regarding Transition processes, resources, and services is also inconsistent and may not be reaching all those who need it.  Focus group and interview participants observed that it might also be related to how the individual school districts manage development and implementation of the Individual Education Plans (IEP).
 
Start Early
If transition services only begin when youth with special needs are seniors in high school, valuable time and resources may have been lost to assist the student to effectively transition from school to adult life.  It was suggested the lack of understanding and adequate planning may lead to students feeling overwhelmed and discouraged and cause them to disengage in services once they leave the school setting.  Respondents noted that it made more sense to lead the student through the process in small increments. Opinions varied as to how early to start.  Some suggested ninth grade; some even sooner, if it seems appropriate to the particular case.  One focus group participant commented, "It’s hard to catch up when you’re not catching them in time."  Another frequent suggestion was that OVR counselors need to become involved earlier and OVR should play a more prominent role in the IEP and engage as an equal partner.  Many factors contribute to ineffective collaboration between OVR and school districts including limited human and financial resources, poor communication, and a lack of understanding of roles and responsibilities.  Focus group participants suggested that it sometimes appears as though the educators on the evaluation team or members of the IEP group resent the input of non-educators or "outsiders."  Some participants suggested that this general lack of collaboration and the subsequent "turf" issues could lead to IEP team members failing to focus on the best interests of the child.
 
Thirty-seven percent of all individuals found eligible by OVR are youth and young adults, slightly exceeding the national average.  OVR has 63 counselors that carry a full-time caseload (75% or more of their caseload) serving transition youth.  OVR has placed 3,149 (31.8% of all OVR placements) transition customers into employment for a success rate of 34.1%. The Rehabilitation Act establishes a role and expectation for OVR to participate in transition planning with school students. Although OVR counselors welcome the opportunity to participate in this process earlier, their role is of necessity focused on employment related needs, whether for post-secondary education, training, or placement. However, OVR staff have the opportunity to become involved in the academic planning of the student from the student’s entrance into the process.
 
Encourage Independence
Respondents were fairly straightforward about the need for youth with disabilities to become better self-advocates and more independent: Respondents expressed a general sentiment that service providers and teachers should stop sheltering the students.  Comments seemed to indicate that when parents, teachers, and other support professionals do not set high, yet attainable goals, students were not challenged to reach their full potential.  One respondent indicated that when teachers give students with special needs breaks in their grades because of their disability, or when parents allow the child to use their disability as an excuse, it only sets the child up for failure when they join the adult world and, potentially, the work force.  "Teach them to stand on their own feet," said one participant.
 
Parent and Advocate Participation
Finally, respondents suggested that parents need to learn how to participate in the IEP process and become active partners in their child’s IEP team.  Often, they feel uninformed about their rights or do not understand that they have options under the law.  Again, despite the attempts of several organizations to inform youth with disabilities and their parents about transition services and resources, many parents were still not aware of the available services and resources or how to obtain them.  Once they leave the school system, students and their parents may feel that it is too late to access OVR services, even though it is not.
 
There are pockets of successful collaborations throughout the state. Efforts need to be made to duplicate them throughout the rest of the state.  In addition, the committee recognizes that volunteerism and internships, during the transition process, is beneficial for the customer and the employer.  The skill sets and characteristics obtained will aid potential workers in maintaining employment and the opportunity will encourage businesses to consider utilizing more workers with disabilities.
 
AGENCIES AND COMMUNITY REHABILITATION ORGANIZATIONS COOPERATION
The Pennsylvania Governor’s Policy Office established the task force to include representatives of all agencies who administer workforce development programs. Participants have included Policy Office representatives as well as agency workforce development professionals. The group was tasked with increasing collaboration and communication across state agencies and with providing recommendations to the Governor’s Office to improve workforce development programs and activities in the Commonwealth. As is true throughout the nation, Pennsylvanians are looking for ways to maintain services while reducing costs.
 
OVR participates with many advisory committees that rely on the expertise of community leadership.  OVR has continued to reach out to include the people and organizations that work for the vocational rehabilitative community.  The following committees OVR collaborates with:
Under new leadership, OVR will place an emphasis on stakeholder relations, which means in part reaching out to VR and disability partners to benefit customers.  The expectation is to form closer relationships with partners, seek meaningful input from them, and utilize it to improve OVR services to its customers.
 
OTHER POPULATIONS OF INTEREST
The data collected through this process was geared towards specific populations.  But OVR recognizes that there are issues with a number of other disability populations that emerged in this process.
 
Autism
According to the Pennsylvania Autism Census Project, conducted by the PA Department of Public Welfare, the number of Pennsylvanians with autism is growing rapidly.  Between 2010 and 2015, the number will increase by 265%, resulting in over 25,000 Pennsylvanians with autism (www. paautism.org).
 
In 2011, OVR served 130 individuals with autism at a cost of $33,695.  The low incidence of autism in the data system may be due to a number of reasons.  If an autism diagnosis is coded as a third or fourth qualifying disability, rather than first or second, CWDS will not pull those listed cases.  Additionally, there are many names for autism such as Asperser’s Syndrome, Kanner's Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PPD), or Rhett's Syndrome.  If a case is coded with one of these names, the case will not be recognized under an autism search or any independent search.  This is also true if the counselor codes the case as a learning or cognitive disability.
 
OVR’s statewide Autism Coordinator’s estimate of cases increases to over 350 cases.  To answer this increasing demand, OVR has an autism coordinator in each of the district offices to provide assistance with cases as well as collaborating with the Department of Public Welfare’s Bureau of Autism Services coordinators and waiver programs.  The two agencies regularly cross train staff as well as participate in the yearly Bureau of Autism conference.  The statewide OVR Autism Coordinator in Central Office also coordinates yearly trainings on topics of interest related to autism.  OVR staff regularly presents to many autism support groups and community support groups throughout the Commonwealth to increase awareness of autism.
 
Traumatic Brain Injury
Over 15,000 Pennsylvanians sustain traumatic head injuries each year, and the devastating affects are often felt for years after the initial injury occurs.  Each year, more than 1,000 injured persons experience injuries so disabling that they require intense hospitalization and acute rehabilitation services.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 5.3 million people are living with the results of Traumatic Brain Injury.  Using Pennsylvania’s overall population data, it is estimated that 245,000 of these people are residents of the Commonwealth (PA TBI State Action Plan, 2011).
 
In 2011, OVR served 154 persons with TBI at a total cost of $61,650.  OVR works closely with the PA Department of Health TBI Advisory Board.  This Advisory Board currently consists of representatives of the Departments of Health, Aging, Labor and Industry, Public Welfare, Education, and Insurance.  In addition, organizations such as the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania, Inc. (BIAPA), the United Cerebral Palsy of Pennsylvania, the Centers for Independent Living and the Pennsylvania Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (PARF) and individuals with traumatic brain injury and family members were included as members of the Advisory Board.  OVR is very active in BrainSTEPS, a collaborative educational program sponsored by the Department of Health and Department of Education.  BrainSTEPS stands for Strategies, Teaching, Educators, Parents and Students.  Currently, OVR is involved in developing a volunteer program with BrainSTEPS teams throughout the state to provide information on vocational services to individuals who have had brain injuries.  In addition to BrainSTEPS, OVR regularly participates in training to increase current knowledge and best practices in working with those with TBI.
 
Communication
What is OVR?
Will OVR give me a job?
How do I apply for services?
How long does it take?
Why didn’t my counselor call me today?
Why are different services available in different counties?
Will you buy me a car?
Will you drive me to work?
Will you sit with me at work?
 
These were all recurring questions from focus group to focus group, and sometimes repeated within the same focus group.  A lot of the information collected through this process was specific to a certain population, but there was one theme that all populations had in common:  Who is OVR?  Steve Suroviec, OVR Executive Director since September 2011, has expressed a similar observation insofar as he has heard from both staff in the field and stakeholders that people with disabilities and potential employers in Pennsylvania generally are not as informed about the existence of OVR and/or the services available to them as they could be or should be if OVR’s mission is to be pursued effectively.  The focus group participants, public service providers, private service providers, customers and advocates alike, did not have a full understanding of who OVR was and how it operates.  Public unawareness or confusion about OVR services impedes the delivery of those services.  OVR needs a more comprehensive understanding OVR partners, what they do and how they do it.  In order to provide coordinated and comprehensive service to stakeholders, in a resource deprived economy, the disability community must come together, talk, identify the community’s strengths and weaknesses and cooperate.
 
At the end of each session, the group was asked this simple question, "What would you like to know about OVR?"  Their answers have been complied and information sorted by stakeholder needs to know and the best ways to receive the information.
 
Customers & Advocates
 
Needed information
What services do you provide to customers? How long will it take? What do I have to do? Will my counselor call me?  Why can’t I get what I ask for?  Why do they get it but not me?
 
Best Methods to Communicate
FAQ, social media, newsletters, TV/radio spots, webinars, and fliers received from providers, educators, and medical professionals, support groups, community groups
 
Service Providers
 
Needed information
What are the core services? What modifications will OVR pay for? What is ‘Order of Selection’ and how does it work? What is the process that OVR uses to grant or deny services? Are you willing to work with case managers and other providers to provide services? If we are both working with the customer, who will pay for the services? Why isn’t there consistency across offices in terms of services and process?
 
Best Methods to Communicate
FAQ, professional/association conferences, quarterly updates/newsletters, meetings, webinars
 
Employers
 
Needed Information
Why do we want to hire people with disabilities? What is an accommodation and how much do they cost?  What can they do?  What should I expect from the employee? What extra stuff do I have to do?  Are there any incentives that we will receive for working with the people with disabilities? How does OJT work?
 
Best Methods to Communicate
FAQ, newsletters, one-on-ones, presentations at association meetings, presentations scheduled on EEO/ADA/Employment training days
 
Just as OVR stakeholders and partners desired more information about OVR services, several conversations with OVR staff revealed the need for more information from OVR partners.  OVR staff would like to know the following:
 
Providers
What are your core services? What are your processes and eligibility requirements? What can OVR do to assist you? Are you willing to distribute our information to your clients or place our link on your website? What do you need from us to make you more successful?
 
Customers
What are your goals? How often would you like to hear from your counselor? How dedicated are you to achieving employment? What are your hobbies; what are the things you enjoy?  (People will be consistent and dedicated to the things they enjoy.) What contribution are you willing to make to achieve your goal?
 
Employers
What tasks do you have that are not being met? Have you hired a person with a disability before? Would you be willing with or without assistance to hire a person with a disability?
 
GOALS, PRIORITIES, & STRATEGIES
Analysis of the Needs Assessment results suggests several areas for consideration by OVR and PaRC for future Goals and Priorities attachments in future annual State Plans. These include:
  1. Increase training and coordination of services for underserved populations, specifically veterans.
  2. Establish a transition work group to determine the future direction of transition services for OVR and its partners
  3. Develop an informational campaign highlighting the core services and procedures for OVR.  The campaign would include information and methods specific to these audiences:
    1. customers/advocates;
    2. public agencies, private providers, educators, and vocational partners; and
    3. employers
  4. Develop systematic and regular opportunities to communicate with partners and industry and governmental associations.
  5. Developed a database of VR providers, partners, support group and other VR participants.
FUTURE ACTIVITIES
OVR will also post and mail out information on further needs assessment activities.  Below is a schedule of activities for 2012 that have been tentatively planned thus far to continue this evaluation process.
2012 (on-going):
 
Customer Satisfaction Surveys on all closed cases (employed);
Presentations and lectures for community organizations and disability partners by district offices;
OVR staff participation in statewide workgroups.
 
March 2012:
 
Statewide Public meetings on OVR proposed state plan;
Fall 2012:
 
BVRS will publish OVR video clip with closed caption on OVR 101
Monthly:
 
District Focus Groups on Current Progress of Assessment
 
Quarterly:
 
Steering Committee Review & Progress Assessment by OVR staff and PaRC
 
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013

ATTACHMENT 4.11(b): ANNUAL ESTIMATES

Any projections, program continuations, etc. in this Attachment are subject to the availability of supporting funding in the Plan year.
 
Estimates of individuals to be served:
According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2009 American Community Survey, 831,557 Pennsylvanians between the ages of 18-64 report having a disability. Of these, 542,533, or approximately 35%, report being unemployed. However, Census data does not provide sufficient detail for projecting demand for services. OVR has researched commonly available data from a variety of resources to assess long-range, systemic needs for services.
 
Estimates of costs of services:
Based on the information published in the Budget Tables of the U.S. Department of Education and assuming there is no increase in the estimated FFY 2011 Vocational Rehabilitation State Grant, the allocation for the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation is $128,694,693.  Furthermore, there is discussion that this proposed allocation would have several programs, including Supported Employment (Title VI, Part B Funds) rolled into it. Given these fiscal constraints, OVR will strive to maintain current service levels and projects it will serve approximately 85,000 individuals in the general program and 2,600 individuals through Supported Employment.
 
Category Title I or Title VI Funds Estimated Number to be Served Average Cost of Services
Title I
$128,694,693
85,000
$1,514
Most Significantly Disabled (MSD)
$128,051,219
84,200
$1,520
Significantly Disabled (SD)
$128,668,693
84,615
$1,520
Non-Significantly Disabled (NSD)
$26,000
20
$1,300
Title VI Part B
$1,007,656
2,600
$387
       
Totals
$129,702,349
85,000
$1,248
 
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013

ATTACHMENT 4.11(c)(1):  STATE GOALS AND PRIORITIES

Any projections, program continuations, etc. in this Attachment are subject to the availability of supporting funding in the Plan year.  Goals were developed jointly with the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council (PaRC) on January 24, 2012 and jointly agreed to revisions.
 
Goal #1: Increase Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities
  1. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.1: The number of individuals exiting the VR program who achieved an employment outcome during the current performance period compared to the number of individuals who exit the VR program after achieving an employment outcome during the previous performance period.
     
  2. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.2: Of all individuals who exit the VR program after receiving services, the percentage that are determined to have achieved an employment outcome. The performance level is 55.8%
     
  3. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.3: Of all individuals determined to have achieved an employment outcome, the percentage who exit the VR program in competitive, self, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least minimum wage. The performance level is 72.6%.
     
  4. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1A: Of all individuals who exit the VR program in competitive, self, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage, the percentage who are individuals with significant disabilities. The performance level is 62.4%.
     
  5. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.5 comparing the average hourly wage of customers with significant or non-significant disabilities place in competitive employment to the average hourly wage for all workers in Pennsylvania.
     
  6. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 1.6: Of all individuals who exit the VR program in competitive, self, or BEP employment with earnings equivalent to at least the minimum wage, the difference between the percentage who report their own income as the largest single source of economic support at the time they exit the VR program and the percentage who report their own income as the largest single source of support at the time they apply for VR services. The performance level is 53%.
     
  7. Exceed the performance level for Federal Performance Indicator 2.1: The service rate for all individuals with disabilities from minority backgrounds as a ratio to the service rate for all non-minority individuals with disabilities. The performance ratio level is .80.
     
  8. Continue to implement and refine training and services at Hiram G. Andrews Center (HGAC) to better meet the needs of students and OVR District Office staff from BBVS and BVRS.
     
  9. Provide more disability specific training to OVR counselors, such as, but not limited to, mental health, autism spectrum disorders, sensory loss, traumatic or acquired brain injury.
     
  10. Provide more employment services to veterans with disabilities.
     
  11. Increase the number of people who go through training in the Business Enterprise Partners (BEP).
     
  12. Work more effectively with the Bureau of Workforce Development Programs and Pennsylvania CareerLinks®.
Goal #2: Increase/Improve Transition Services for Students with Disabilities
  1. Meet or exceed, from the previous year, the number of youth and young adults with disabilities (age 25 and younger) who receive services by September 30, 2012.
     
  2. Meet or exceed, from the previous year, the number of youth and young adults with disabilities (age 25 and younger) who are successfully rehabilitated by September 30, 2012.
     
  3. Continue collaborative activities that include the Transition Grant, projects with the PA Community on Transition Employment Practice Group, and development of joint training modules for OVR and PA Department of Education staff, families, advocates, educators, and youth.
     
  4. Continue the Cognitive Skills Enhancement Program (CSEP) to assist District Offices in the transition needs of students with disabilities and to reflect the stated needs of VR Counselors; and continue to offer CSEP as a service to OVR customers who wish to pursue post-secondary training at HGAC or elsewhere.
     
  5. Continue implementation of Articulation Agreements between the Commonwealth Technology Institute at HGAC and secondary schools to improve accessibility of post-secondary programs at HGAC to eligible high school students.
     
  6. Increase transition outcomes for students through collaboration with community partners including parent education and training centers.
     
  7. Begin working with students starting at age 14 (and their parents) so they know what services we offer and how they can maximize their high school experience, whether through general education or special education, to increase their opportunity for success when they transition to adult life through higher education or employment.
     
  8. Develop a matrix of roles, responsibilities, including but not limited to Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and local school districts to foster effective planning for transition planning.
Goal #3: Improve Community Education and Outreach
  1. Develop a consistent and comprehensive public awareness plan.
     
  2. Combine OVR’s and PaRC’s Customer Satisfaction Surveys.
     
  3. Strengthen relationship with Citizen Advisory Committees and other organizations at the state and local level.
     
  4. Continue an emphasis on OVR’s employer outreach.
     
  5. Improve outreach to potential customers.
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013

ATTACHMENT 4.11(c)(3): ORDER OF SELECTION

Justification for Order of Selection
Since the Designated State Unit does not believe it will be able to serve all eligible individuals with the available resources, it has adopted an Order of Selection.
 
Description of Priority Categories
First Priority: Most Significantly Disabled (MSD)
-The physical, mental, or sensory impairment(s) must seriously limit three or more of the individual’s functional capacities, and
-The individual must be expected to require multiple vocational rehabilitation services over an extended period of time.
 
Second Priority: Significantly Disabled (SD)
-The physical, mental, or sensory impairment(s) must seriously limit one or more of the individual’s functional capacities, and
-The individual must be expected to require multiple vocational rehabilitation services over an extended period of time.
 
Third Priority: Non-Significantly Disabled (NSD)
-The individual has a physical, mental, or sensory impairment that does not meet the definition for MSD or SD.
 
Priority of categories to receive VR services under the order
First Priority: Most Significantly Disabled (MSD)
Second Priority: Significantly Disabled (SD)
Third Priority: Non-Significantly Disabled (NSD)
 
Service and outcome goals and the time within which the goals will be achieved
Given the projections of flat funding at both the Federal and State level, OVR will strive to maintain current service levels. As of January 31, 2011, OVR had a waiting list of about 243 customers whose severity of disability was either classified in the second or third priority. Based on actual FFY 2010 figures, OVR’s outcome and service goals under the Order of Selection are projected as follows for FFY 2012:
 
For the Most Significantly Disabled category, the number accepted is expected to be 22,000, while the number served will be 85,000. The number rehabilitated will be 9,400, of which 8,500 will be the number rehabilitated into the competitive labor market. The cost for FFY 2012 is expected to be $128,694,693, which will be revised following notification of the FFY 2012 Appropriation. Please note that the figures for MSD are a subset of SD’s.
 
For the Significantly Disabled category, the number accepted is expected to be 10 (newly accepted, but placed on a waiting list), while the number served will be 22,000. The number rehabilitated will be 9,400, of which 8,500 will be the number rehabilitated into the competitive labor market. The cost for FFY 2012 is expected to be $128,694,693 which will be revised following notification of the FFY 2012 Appropriation.
 
For the Non-Significantly Disabled category, the number accepted is expected to be 10 (newly accepted, but placed on a waiting list), while the number served will be 20. The number rehabilitated will be 3, of which 3 will be the number rehabilitated into the competitive labor market. The cost for FFY 2012 is expected to be $26,000, which will be revised following notification of the FFY 2012 Appropriation.
 
In total, the number accepted is expected to be 22,000, while the number served will be 85,000. The number rehabilitated will be 9,400, of which 8,500 will be the number rehabilitated into the competitive labor market. The cost for FFY 2012 is expected to be $128,694,693, which will be revised following notification of the FFY 2012 Appropriation.
 
Priority Category Number of Individuals To be Served Estimated Number of Individuals who Will Exit With Employment Outcome Estimated Number of Individuals who Will Exit Without Employment Outcome Time within Which Goals Are to be Achieved Cost of Services
1
84,200
9,400
7,500
12 months
$61,568,445
2
84,615
9,400
7,500
12 months
$61,852,834
3
20
3
10
12 months
$25,000
           
 
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013

ATTACHMENT 4.11(c)(4): GOALS AND PLANS FOR DISTRIBUTION OF TITLE VI, PART B FUNDS

OVR will use Title VI, Part B Funds to provide Supported Employment services to customers throughout the Commonwealth. Services are provided by way of contracts with Community Based Rehabilitation Providers using an individualized, performance-based job coaching model. Once the Title VI, Part B Funds have been exhausted, Title I Funds are used to provide Supported Employment services.
 
Supported Employment (SE) services are a vital part of OVR programming. SE services secure employment for individuals with the most significant disabilities who would not experience an employment outcome from less intensive job placement methods.  It is anticipated that approximately 2,700 Pennsylvanians with the most significant disabilities will receive performance based job coaching services in FFY 2013. Of this number, approximately 920 individuals will be funded out of the $1,007,805 Title VI, Part B Funds anticipated for distribution to Pennsylvania in FFY 2013.
 
OVR is developing a plan for statewide implementation of the Social Security Ticket-to-Work’s Partnership Plus Program which is intended to improve employment outcomes for OVR customers who are SSA recipients and, in large part, to ensure the availability of financial resources for long-term supported employment follow-up.
 
An important goal for OVR is to continue to expand Supported Employment services for under-served populations. This goal includes providing quality services to rural areas to continue to increase successful outcomes for transition-aged youth and to ensure accessibility of services for all potential customers.  Another goal is to enhance OVR partnerships with provider agencies such as the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP), the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS), and Office of Long Term Living (OLTL). These agencies provide the necessary long-term supports needed to ensure the employment success of the individual with a disability. Additionally, developing coalitions with the Transition Statewide Leadership Team (SLT), the Pennsylvania Alliance for Full-Participation and the Quality Improvement Employment Committee Workgroup among others facilitates the development of best practice among funding sources and service providers of supported employment services.
 
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013

ATTACHMENT 4.11(d):  STATE'S STRATEGIES

Describe the methods to be used to expand and improve services to individuals with disabilities.
OVR is constantly looking at ways to expand and improve services to individuals with disabilities. With increasing needs in our PA communities, OVR opened the order of selection in the federal fiscal year 2011. Instead of only being able to serve individuals who have most significant disabilities, the new process allows OVR counselors to also provide services to individuals with significant disabilities. Without increases in staff positions to do this, it may create a burden on our offices that we are unable to maintain in the 2012 federal fiscal year. However, we expect to at least continue serving all individuals who applied for services in 2011 but have not yet reached the end of their rehabilitation plan.
 
OVR recognized a need to provide specialized services to Veterans. In 2009, OVR signed a Letter of Understanding with the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment programs to provide more coordinated services to veterans being assisted by both agencies. In 2010, OVR started a pilot project with 3 district offices to have dedicated veterans counselors who specialize in this area and receive additional training in providing services to veterans. In 2011, this project was expanded to 11 district offices.
 
OVR is working on collaborative relationships with a variety of other state agencies and community partners to increase the services that are provided to individuals with disabilities. Some examples of this include our successful community of practice around transition age youth, a joint initiative with the department of corrections to bring an offender workforce development system to Pennsylvania, and cross agency training and agreements with the Office of Developmental Programs, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Office of Long Term Living, Bureau of Autism Services, the Department of Health and many more.
 
Identify how a broad range of assistive technology services and assistive technology devices will be provided to individuals with disabilities at each stage of the rehabilitation process.
OVR is presently collaborating with the TACE Center at GWU to develop a training for designated Assistive Technology Coordinators to be held in 2011.  A survey has been developed to further identify training needs.  Mr. Tony Langdon of Pathfinder Associates will be retained by the TACE to provide OVR specific training based upon Tech Points, which specifically identifies points in the VR process where Assistive Technology needs are evaluated and addressed.
 
The Center for Assistive and Rehabilitative Technology (CART) at the Hiram G. Andrews Center is available to OVR customers throughout the Commonwealth.  Highly trained professionals evaluate and train people in the following areas of assistive technology: positioning and mobility, computer access, augmentative communication, environmental controls, driver training and vehicle modification, devices for activities of daily living, devices for visual and/or auditory impairment, and home and work modifications. The Learning Technology Program (LTP) assesses student's needs in the classroom and trains them in the use of assistive technology, if necessary.
 
The Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Lending Library provides the opportunity for any Pennsylvanian to borrow and assess assistive technology devices prior to purchase. The library is located on the Hiram G. Andrews Center's campus, and the services are free to all Pennsylvanians with disabilities.
 
Describe how assistive technology services and devices will be provided to individuals with disabilities on a statewide basis.
OVR retains a number of approved providers who are Rehabilitation Engineers and Assistive Technology Specialists on a "fee-for-service" basis throughout the Commonwealth.  Most providers will travel to the OVR customer’s home and/or worksite to provide AT evaluation and training services. Staff from HGAC’s CART will also travel to various parts of the Commonwealth to assess an OVR customer’s AT needs as well as to facilitate training when appropriate.
 
When appropriate and in accordance with OVR’s policies, OVR will purchase Assistive Technology Devices and Services to support its customers in their vocational goals.  OVR also provides information and referral services for other resources when the agency is unable to provide funding for AT devices and services.  OVR’s Statewide AT Coordinator regularly distributes information electronically to OVR’s District Offices regarding AT services, programs, and resources.
 
OVR regularly collaborates with the Pennsylvania Institute on Assistive Technology (PIAT) at Temple University to participate in training, maintain the PA Assistive Technology Lending Library, and develop AT resources for Pennsylvanians with disabilities.
 
Low interest loans are available through PATF (Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation) to customers who have a disability or any older or state resident who has need for Assistive Technology.
 
Identify what outreach procedures will be used to identify and serve individuals with disabilities who are minorities, including those with the most significant disabilities.
OVR Central Office periodically reviews the Census and the American Community Survey to ascertain the number of unemployed persons with disabilities and the general ethnic composition of the state. All district offices are charged with keeping current on the demographics of the counties they serve and arranging outreach activities to target those individuals. Most often these activities are done in conjunction with community groups well known to those we are trying to reach. Examples include but are not limited to rescue missions, free medical clinics and health centers, Take Back the Street and similar ministries, partial day programs, inner city schools, Korean Community Center, Hispanic/Latino community centers, and recreation centers. OVR also does outreach to staff and professionals in a number of areas including but not limited to state, county, and local corrections, community job fair organizers, inter-agency councils, residential facilities and managers, and bureaus and offices in other state agencies.
 
Identify what outreach procedures will be used to identify and serve individuals with disabilities who have been unserved or underserved by the VR program.
We review the input received from the community at our public meetings and talk to internal staff about priorities. This year, with the addition of funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), we were able to target groups of individuals considered to be unserved or underserved through the development of specific programs to serve these individuals in the following categories:
 
Employment Readiness Programs
Develop demonstration projects which will establish employment readiness programs to include placement assistance for customers with the most significant disabilities. Examples include, but are not limited to, intensive vocational employment readiness programs for individuals with cognitive disabilities or clubhouse model programs for individuals with mental health disabilities.
 
Industry Integrated Employment & Training Programs
Develop demonstration projects which will establish or expand employment programs or training programs in an industry integrated setting. The goal is to place OVR vocational rehabilitation customers with disabilities in competitive employment through training/apprenticeships/employment in industry integrated settings. Examples include, but are not limited to, restaurant, warehouse or telecommuting employment and training programs that would train the individual with a disability and then provide direct in house or community job placement with the skills obtained through the training.
 
Services to Underserved and Unserved Populations
Develop demonstration projects which will expand services to traditionally underserved and unserved populations, including minorities and urban and rural populations, who are persons with the most significant disabilities seeking competitive employment. Examples include, but are not limited to, intensive job development programs for individuals with the most significant disabilities or multiple disabilities, programs to prevent incarceration of individuals with disabilities, or programs serving individuals who are deaf-blind.
 
Twenty three projects were funded for the 2011 federal fiscal year to develop new and innovative programs to effectively serve individuals with disabilities. These pilot projects could move into fee for service with OVR for the 2012 federal fiscal year if they are proven to be successful.
 
Identify plans for establishing, developing, or improving community rehabilitation programs, if applicable.
Through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, OVR is developing new programs through twenty three Community Rehabilitation Programs in PA. These programs include: Employment readiness programs for individuals with a disability of aspergers, employment readiness programs for individuals with a disability of autism, employment readiness programs for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, expansion of job coaching programs into hard to serve rural areas, industry integrated employment programs, and an expansion of  two  project SEARCH programs, an industry integrated employment program based on the model from the Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati.
 
Describe strategies to improve the performance with respect to the evaluation standards and performance indicators.
OVR will continue a number of strategies initiated in FFY 2010 to increase the number of persons who become employed. These strategies allowed the agency to perform well in the economic downturn and are expected to be even more successful as the economy improves. They include: development of multiple placement opportunities with large companies such as Lowe’s, CVS, and Office Max; using On the Job Training (OJT) to encourage employers to work with our customers; continue staff training in placement and job development techniques; and provide disability specific and diversity training to assist counselors in identifying strategies to overcome barriers unique to specific demographic groups.
 
Describe strategies for assisting other components of the statewide workforce investment system in assisting individuals with disabilities.
OVR has been developing strategies to increase collaborative efforts with the Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership (BWDP) Veterans Programs and the Veteran Administration’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VA-VRE) Program.
-Numerous contacts were made with staff from BWDP during the summer and early fall of 2010 in order to develop cross-agency training in October 2010.  The goal was to increase knowledge and understanding between OVR and BWDP Veterans staff in order to increase collaboration/coordination of services as well as to share resources.  Due to administrative issues on the part of BWDP, agency cross-training did not occur as planned in 2010 but is being considered for 2011.
-OVR conducted staff training in November 2010 for designated Veterans Counselors and Coordinators using ARRA funds.  Speakers from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the VA-VRE, and the Williamsport Veterans Center presented.  BWDP staff were invited to attend but were unable to participate.
-The Technical Assistance and Continuing Education Center at GWU is working with OVR to develop web-based training on the 39th Institute on Rehabilitation Issues  based upon the publication "When Johnny (or Jeannie) Comes Marching Home…and Back to Work" for OVR staff, which will provide cross-system training for OVR staff.  Training will also be made available to BWDP staff.
 
- A series of videoconferences is being planned for Spring/Summer/Fall 2011.  BWDP Veterans Staff will be invited to participate at local OVR District Offices.
 
Describe how the agency's strategies will be used to achieve the goals and priorities identified in Attachment 4.11(c)(1), State Goals and Priorities
In the Attachment 4.11(c)(1), State Goals and Priorities, OVR lists several objectives for each goal. These objectives serve as the strategies to achieve the goals.
 
Goal 1:
Objectives 1-7 are the performance standards and have been previously addressed.
Objective 8 - HGAC has established a curriculum review process to continuously assess the need for graduates of its various programs as well as student interest in them and will add, drop, or modify courses based upon its assessments.
Objective 9 - This relates to the standards and indicators section as was described in that section. The need for staff training was a constant in all needs assessment surveys, including staff surveys.
Objective 10 - OVR has added counselor specialty caseloads for veterans in each district office and is doing cross training with VA/VRE to streamline services.
Objective 11 - HGAC and BBVS are revising and shortening the BEP training program, remodeling the training area, and upgrading equipment to make the program more attractive to potential trainees.
Objective 12 - On the Job Training (OJT) was also discussed in the standards and indicators section. OVR is actively diversifying the types of OJT options available to customers and employers.
 
Goal 2:
Objectives 1 and 2 mirror the standards and indicators for all OVR outcomes.
Objective 3 - OVR has long been a national leader in collaborative activities related to transition. As collaborators, OVR will continue to assess effectiveness of projects and to work constantly to improve them.
Objective 4 - CSEP is a project at HGAC in collaboration with University of Pittsburgh that focuses on building cognitive skills and processing to allow students to perform better in post-secondary settings.
Objective 5 - The articulation agreements between HGAC and secondary schools lead to better career planning choices by students prior to graduation.
Objective 6 - OVR will build more effective collaborations within the blindness community to increase the effectiveness of transition planning with this demographic group.
 
Describe how the agency's strategies will be used to support innovation and expansion activities.
In FFY 2011-2012, OVR will use a combination of Title I 110 money and Title I ARRA money to support Innovation and Expansion activities.  The 110 funds will continue to support UCP. ARRA funded invitation to bid projects and intergovernmental agreements have begun and will continue until the ARRA funding ends September 30, 2011. OVR will analyze the outcomes of the Project SEARCH sites funded via its special RSA transition grant and consider using state contracting procedures to maintain and/or expand the projects with basic support funds. In addition to funding PaRC staff support (UCP), OVR used ARRA funds to conduct several I&E projects across the state including but not limited to employment readiness for individuals with Aspergers, job coaching in rural communities, and employment readiness for individuals with autism. The UCP contract is to provide staff and logistical support to the PA State Rehabilitation Council.
 
Innovation and Expansion Activities
PROJECT: PA State Rehabilitation Council (PaRC) Support Services
Support: Contract to United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Central PA, Camp Hill, PA
Funding: $290,257
Description: To support the activities of the PaRC as that body performs its function as defined in law. PaRC activities have included review/input regarding OVR policy and related procedural issues, and participation on OVR committees. UCP provides logistical support to the PaRC and is responsible for fiscal and administrative oversight of Project funds available to and/or expended by PaRC.
 
Evaluation: On October 1, 2007, this award began a new grant cycle that will continue until September 30, 2011. Support services provided by UCP to the PaRC during the year continue to be consistent with those prescribed by OVR.
 
Overcome identified barriers relating to equitable access to and participation of individuals with disabilities in the state Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and the state Supported Employment Services program
OVR is collaborating with other supported employment funding sources to overcome issues of dwindling resources.  PA OVR is participating on a Cross Agency Workgroup, currently funded by the Medicaid Infrastructure Grant received by the PA Department of Public Welfare, with the Office of Developmental Programs, the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and the Office of Long-Term Living to address systemic barriers to employment for persons with
 
disabilities, particularly those identified with regard to service definitions, funding, and legislation for supported employment
 
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013

ATTACHMENT 4.11(e)(2): EVALUATION AND REPORTS OF PROGRESS

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Supported Employment (SE) Goals
 
SECTION 1
 
Clearly identify all VR program goals consistent with the goals described in the FY 2011 Attachment 4.11(c)(1), including an evaluation of the extent to which the VR program goals were achieved.
 
Goal I.  INCREASE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES 
 
Strengthen partnerships with the PaRC, as well as other agencies at PA CareerLink sites, and improve one-stop services for employers as well as job seekers with disabilities.
OVR has a strong partnership with the PaRC and continues to participate on their CareerLink Accessibility Committee conference calls to identify any problems/concerns for job seekers with disabilities in obtaining one-stop services.  The PaRC continues to receive quarterly reports from the Bureau of Workforce Development on one-stop services for job seekers with disabilities.
 
Strengthen partnerships with the CareerLink sites, and improve one-stop services for employers as well as job seekers with disabilities.
Progress to Date:  OVR has been developing strategies to increase collaborative efforts with the Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership (BWDP) Veterans Programs and the Veteran Administration’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VA-VRE) Program.
-Numerous contacts were made with staff from BWDP during the summer and early fall of 2010 in order to develop cross-agency training in October 2010.  The goal was to increase knowledge and understanding between OVR and BWDP Veterans’ staff in order to increase collaboration/coordination of services as well as to share resources.  Due to administrative issues on the part of BWDP, agency cross-training did not occur as planned in 2010 but is being considered for 2011.
-OVR conducted staff training in November 2010 for designated Veterans Counselors and Coordinators using ARRA funds.  Speakers from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the VA-VRE and the Williamsport Veterans’ Center presented.  BWDP staff were invited to attend but were unable to participate.
-The Technical Assistance and Continuing Education Center at GWU is working with OVR to develop web-based training on the 39th Institute on Rehabilitation Issues  based on publication "When Johnny (or Jeannie) Comes Marching Home…and Back to Work" for OVR staff, which will provide cross-system training for OVR staff.  Training will also be made available to BWDP staff.
-Series of videoconferences being planned for Spring/Summer/Fall 2011.  BWDP Veterans Staff will be invited to participate at local OVR District Offices.
PA OVR was successful in its outreach and enlistment of the Bureau of Workforce Development Partnerships in the PA Transition Statewide Leadership Team as well as in a Cross-Agency Workgroup convened to implement the PA Department of Public Welfare’s Medicaid Infrastructure Grant.
 
Continue to implement and refine Commonwealth Technical Institute (CTI) training opportunities at Hiram G. Andrews Center (HGAC) to better meet the needs of students and OVR District Office staff.
All CTI programs experienced updates and revisions to their curriculums, and continue to be review on a regular basis. In addition, all course outlines, course syllabi, and competency lists were updated. HGAC believes that offering curriculum that leads to successful employment in relevant twenty-first century careers is paramount in preparing Pennsylvanians with disabilities for an independent and self-sufficient lifestyle.
 
Strengthen the collaboration between OVR and PaRC in identifying potential employers.
OVR will continue to encourage PaRC members to network in their local communities to identify potential employers and share this information with OVR placement specialists to educate them on OJT opportunities.
 
To publicize OVR's services in the community to individuals with disabilities.
OVR is extremely active in promoting services to assist individuals with disabilities to return to work.  Partnerships with a variety of agencies, boards and committees enable these community, education and outreach activities to be a forum for sharing information. OVR staff members are active in community based organizations,  hospitals, schools, local transition groups, county government organizations, advisory groups, support groups, etc. to enhance the understanding of OVR. OVR counselors are master’s level trained rehabilitation professionals who provide services to individuals with disabilities through 21 field offices throughout PA.  When OVR assists a customer to obtain or retain employment, it truly demonstrates, promotes and publicizes the abilities of individuals with disabilities.
 
To expand opportunities for persons with blindness or visual impairments to access all services at HGAC.
Quality vocational evaluation services and training opportunities for customers of BBVS have expanded.  A fully accessible vocational evaluation program, complete with chosen program tryout experiences for the evaluees, has been implemented.  Fully accessible chosen training programs other than BEP include:  ASB Medical Office Assistant; AST Culinary Arts; and General Office Clerk.  HGAC has hired a Rehabilitation Teacher of the Blind to address accessibility issues.  Vocational Evaluation:  In addition to the Valpar Worksample (which is for customers who are blind or considerably visually impaired), the McCarron-Dial instrument was identified as appropriate for this population.  This provides aptitudes as well as the achievement levels gained through the WRAT, an instrument with which our evaluators are familiar. Training has been provided on the B/VI testing method.  A three-day training program by Jack Dial, of Texas who is the developer of the program, was administered.  All evaluators benefited from the training with one evaluator identified as the primary evaluator with one primary back up.
 
To obtain signed agreements with the 6 remaining colleges/universities.
Pennsylvania OVR has secured agreements with the 14 universities in the State System of Higher Education and the 14 independent community colleges in an effort  to fulfill the interagency coordination requirement of Section 101(a)(8)(B) and 34 CFR 361.53(d) with public institutions of higher education (IHE). However, issues related to cost-sharing have impeded OVR’s efforts to negotiate with the 4 state-related universities--Penn State, Lincoln, Pitt and Temple. Those universities have sought guidance from RSA and negotiations will continue during the current year.
 
GOAL II.  INCREASE/IMPROVE TRANSITION SERVICES FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
 
Continue collaborative activities that include the five-year Transition Grant, projects with the PA Community on Transition Employment Practice Group, and development of training modules for OVR staff, families, advocates, educators, and youth.
PA OVR has entered the 4th year of a 5 Year Transition Model Demonstration Grant awarded by RSA in 2007.  To date, PA OVR has established 8 out of 10 Project SEARCH sites and has three additional sites under development.  In addition, PA OVR has exceeded its goal of establishing 20 sites Project PAS with 22 established sites.  The PA Departments of Education and Public Welfare have been essential partners in the successful establishment of these model demonstration projects.
 
The PA Transition Statewide Leadership Team held regional transition employment trainings throughout the Commonwealth in November, 2010 and will hold two additional statewide videoconferences in February and April 2011.  PA OVR collaborates in the development, planning, and implementation of all SLT sponsored trainings.  PA OVR staff also attend all trainings.
 
In July 2010, 97 OVR staff attended the 2010 PA Transition Conference in State College, PA.  VR specific training was held during a pre-conference.  Approximately, 25 OVR staff also presented at various sessions throughout the Conference.
PA OVR also continues to provide outreach and education to students with disabilities, their families, and their educators during IEP meetings, Open House events, Local Transition
 
Coordinating Council meetings, and public service/community awareness events.  PA OVR has also partnered with the PA Department of Public Welfare to implement its Medicaid Infrastructure Grant, which has focused, in part, on Work Incentives for Youth in Transition.
 
Continue the Cognitive Skills Enhancement Program (CSEP) to assist District Offices in the transition needs of students with disabilities and to reflect the stated needs of VR Counselors; and continue to offer CSEP as a service to OVR customers who wish to pursue post-secondary training at HGAC or elsewhere.
HGAC continues to experience an increase in the number of referrals of customers with cognitive disabilities and is taking proactive measures to prepare staff to work with this challenging and growing population.  The Cognitive Skills Enhancement Program continues to provide individualized services to customers with cognitive disabilities, through collaboration between University of Pittsburgh and Hiram G. Andrews Center staff. Customers may receive services in varying levels of intensity and frequency:
-CSEP Tier I is the most intensive, full-time 15-week course that emphasizes behavioral accountability, development of social awareness skills and improving self-esteem. Participants must be HGAC residents, participate in evening programming as well as a community mentorship that allows the customer to implement the skills they learn in class.
-CSEP Tier II services provide on-going monitoring and support of Tier I "graduates" as they enter employment or vocational training.
-CSEP Tier III provides support and consultation to any customer with cognitive disabilities enrolled in a training program at HGAC.
-Group and individual therapy, assistive technology screening and training, and identification of compensatory strategies are available at all levels of the program.
 
Continue implementation of Articulation Agreements between the Commonwealth Technology Institute at HGAC and secondary schools to improve accessibility of post-secondary programs at HGAC to eligible high school students.
HGAC continues to expand the number of Articulation agreements between HGAC and secondary schools, as well as approved programs.  Articulation agreements between secondary and postsecondary career schools allow students the unique opportunity to matriculate into postsecondary training with "advanced standing."  Although HGAC allows no more than 20% of programming to be completed via transfer of credit, in some programs, the equivalent of one term of programming can be awarded through advanced standing.  Currently, HGAC has articulation agreements with Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School, Franklin County Career & Technology Center, greater Altoona Career & Technology Center, and the Greater Johnstown Career & Technology Center.
 
In partnership with the PaRC and other stakeholders, evaluate OVR expenses in support of post-secondary education and offer recommendations based on the findings.
OVR will provide the PaRC and other stakeholders, upon request, a list of expenditures in support of post secondary education services and be available to discuss any recommendations to either improve or expand these services.
 
GOAL III: IMPROVE AND INCREASE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES.

 
To increase the number of driver evaluation options.
Attempts were made to utilize ARRA funds for the purpose of expanding the availability of evaluation and training equipment for OVR approved providers throughout the Commonwealth.  These were unsuccessful due to Commonwealth procurement policies.
The Adaptive Driving Program located at the Hiram G. Andrews Center in Johnstown, PA was able to purchase new vehicles and adaptive equipment through the ARRA Funds to increase and improve adaptive driving evaluation and training services for OVR customers.
 

To increase the number of driver education opportunities.
 
Additional providers were added to OVR’s approved provider list for driver’s evaluation and training services.  OVR staff also advocated for students with disabilities to receive driver education services as part of their "individualized education plan" when similar services are available to their non-disabled peers within their school district.  OVR continues to provide information and referral services to students, their families and their school personnel for appropriate adaptive driving evaluation and training services.  When appropriate and in accordance with current OVR policy, OVR sponsors students with disabilities in driver’s evaluation and training services.
 
The Driver’s Education Program at the Hiram G. Andrews Center offers students the opportunity to acquire a valid Pennsylvania driver's license. Classroom instruction consists of 30 hours and behind the wheel training consists of 6 hours.  The goal of the Driver Education program is to provide students with the skills, confidence, and attitude to safely participate in the highway transportation system. Having a valid PA driver's license will enable students to participate in many activities such as education, recreation, employment, and social activities.
 
To continue and expand participation with transportation advocacy groups.
Local district office staff regularly participate in transportation advocacy efforts in conjunction with local Centers for Independent Living, Community Action Programs, and local Transportation Coalitions.
 
Other examples of increased transportation services include:
OVR staff participate in the 5310 Interdepartmental Task Force to review and score grant applications for non-profit organizations that have need to increase transportation opportunities for their clientele.
 
SECTION TWO
 
Identify all SE program goals consistent with the goals described in Attachment 4.11(c)(4), including an evaluation of the extent to which the supported employment program goals were achieved.
 
OVR established a goal of providing services to 1,650 individuals out of the $1,014,515 Title VI, Part B Funds distributed to Pennsylvania in FFY 2009.
 
Progress to Date: During FFY 2010, OVR spent $1,007,656 in part to provide services to 2,621 people with disabilities. Of that number, 368 were placed in competitive employment, with 284 working 20 hours or more a week.
 
OVR set a second goal to continue expansion of Supported Employment services to underserved populations such as rural areas, and to continue to increase successful outcomes for transition aged youth.
 
Progress to Date: OVR’s efforts to reach rural areas and more transition youth have been fortified with a 5 year $2.5 million competitive award from the Department of Education that is projected to serve 3,500 youth over the term of the grant. The Pennsylvania Transition State Leadership Team will identify at least 10 sites, many in rural areas, to replicate a very successful Philadelphia OVR Project SEARCH, an employer driven program for students in their last year of high school. The second project, Post-ITT, which is already in place at the OVR Pittsburgh and Reading District Offices, provides youth in their junior and senior years with exposure to learning in a college setting. Youth earn college credit while attending classes on campus to get a more realistic view of college life. Assessments will take place to determine what assistive technology and accommodation needs the student may have.
 
SECTION THREE
 
Provide an Assessment of the performance of the VR program on the standards and indicators for FY 2010.
 
All the standards and indicators were met or exceeded with the exception of one: Exceed the Federal Performance Indicator of 55.8% for persons exiting the program after receiving services who enter into employment.
 
GOAL I.  INCREASE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
  1. Exceed the number of employment outcomes from the previous year for persons exiting the program into competitive employment.
     
    Progress to Date: OVR met this Indicator. The number of employment outcomes in FFY 2010 increased from the previous year by 154 (from 9,306 in 2009 to 9,460 in 2010).
     
  2. Exceed the Federal Performance Indicator of 55.8% for persons exiting the program after receiving services who enter into employment.
     
    Progress to Date: OVR did not exceed this Indicator with an estimated performance level of 54.5% 
    The economy was a major factor. We served approximately 14, 000 more individuals in 2010 than we served in 2009. However, due to the economy, our successful closures did not significantly increase. Therefore, more cases were closed status 28 because people were unable to find suitable employment. Additionally, we had a significant turnover of counseling staff which inevitably leads to difficulty locating individuals when a new counselor takes over the caseload.
     
  3. Exceed the Federal Performance Indicator of 72.6% for persons exiting the program into employment at or above the minimum wage.
     
    Progress to Date: OVR exceeded this Indicator with an estimated performance level of 92.5%
     
  4. Exceed the Federal Performance Indicator of 62.4% for persons exiting the program into competitive or self-employment who have significant or most significant disabilities.
     
    Progress to Date: OVR exceeded this Indicator with an estimated performance level of 100%
     
  5. Exceed the federal standard of .52 comparing the average hourly wage of customers with significant or non-significant disabilities placed in competitive employment to the average hourly wage for all workers in Pennsylvania.
     
    Progress to Date: OVR exceeded this indicator with an estimated performance level of .60
     
  6. Exceed the Federal Performance Level comparing the difference between persons reporting self-support at referral and self-support at closure.
     
    Progress to Date: OVR exceeded this Indicator. The estimated performance level was 53.9
     
  7. Exceed the Federal Performance Level of a ratio of .80 of all persons exiting the program compared to persons exiting the program who are minorities.
     
    Progress to Date: OVR exceeded this Indicator with an estimated performance ratio of .87.
GOAL II. INCREASE/IMPROVE TRANSITION SERVICES FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
  1. Meet or exceed, from the previous year, the number of youth and young adults with disabilities (age 25 and younger) who receive services by September 30, 2010.
     
    Progress to Date: OVR exceeded the previous year. The 2009 number was 30,985 and the 2010 number was 33,191.
     
  2. Meet or exceed, from the previous year, the number of students with disabilities (age 25 and younger) who are successfully rehabilitated by September 30, 2010.
     
    Progress to Date: The number of youth with disabilities, age 25 or younger, who were successfully rehabilitated in 2009, it was 2,462. In 2010 it was 2449. Since program outcomes fell short by less than one percent, changes in program activity are not warranted at this time.
SECTION FOUR
 
Provide a report on how the funds reserved for innovation and expansion (I&E) activities were utilized in FY 2010.
 
PA OVR spent $290,257 on innovation and expansion activities in the preceding year.
Project: PA State Rehabilitation Council (PaRC) Support Services
Support: Contract to United Cerebral Palsy of Central PA (UCP) – Camp Hill, PA
Funding: $290,257
 
In addition to funding PaRC staff support (UCP), OVR used ARRA funds to conduct several I&E projects across the state including but not limited to employment readiness for individuals with Aspergers, job coaching in rural communities, and employment readiness for individuals with autism.
 
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013

ATTACHMENT 6.3: QUALITY, SCOPE AND EXTENT OF SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

OVR provides job coaching services to Pennsylvanians with disabilities through a network of community-based providers. Services provided through these programs are described below:
 
Background
Beginning in the early 1980s, the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) developed a system of job coaching services using a fee-for-service payment system. Initially, seventeen (17) providers of job coaching services were funded through a five (5) year, OSERS, Title III Supported Employment State Change Grant. The number of job coaching providers contracted with OVR has since grown to over 200.  There are over 50 job coaching providers contracted specifically with the OVR Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS) program. Job coaching services are now provided statewide and include time-limited and, to a much lesser degree, time-enduring services. In recent years, Pennsylvania OVR has expanded job coaching/supported employment services to include transitional employment through Club House programs for persons with significant mental health disabilities. Also, job coaching services have been provided on a broader basis since the late 1990’s to persons who are deaf by contracting with job coaching providers fluent in American Sign Language. OVR District Offices continue to work with other key state and private agencies, such as the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OHMSAS), the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP), the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) and the PA Department of Education (PDE). In addition, OVR partners with private community service providers to expand and develop all types of community-integrated employment as defined by the individual needs of their customers.
 
OVR currently uses what is commonly known as the milestone job coaching method. OVR has termed its version "Performance Based Job Coaching" (PBJC) and has used this method of funding community based supported employment vendors since 1999. This format was based upon research completed by OVR in the mid-1990’s to determine best practices for SE service provision. The above-mentioned format was reviewed in 2007 for effectiveness, but data was inconclusive as to the benefit of PBJC versus the previous method of funding job coaching services.
 
Quality Standards
OVR provides technical assistance and training for its staff through the use of seminars, conferences, and training programs. Job coaching services provided by community based service providers are reviewed every five years to look at relevance and costs related to such services.  Additionally, OVR accesses resources from George Washington University’s (GWU) Region III Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) Center for continuous program and staff development.
 
Staff from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), OVR, and Pennsylvania Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (PARF) developed statewide standards for OVR and providers of job coaching services. These standards continue to guide all contracts and contract reviews for provision of job coaching services. The standards are as follows:
  1. The population to be served
    -Individuals served are those eligible for the State/Federal vocational rehabilitation program.
    -Targeted individuals are persons with disabilities needing services to obtain, retain, or prepare for employment that is consistent with their capacities and abilities.
    -The job coaching program is responsive to customer needs and to the employment opportunities available in the community.
     
  2. Outcomes for Job Coaching Program Participants
    -The program encourages, promotes, and provides for integration in the work force.
    -Skill acquisition challenges the individual’s potential to be productive as defined by the employer and employment market.
    -The number of hours worked by the participants should be the maximum hours possible based upon the unique strengths, resources, interests, concerns, abilities and capabilities of individuals with the most severe disabilities. The maximum number of employee benefits possible must be sought as well. A competitive employment situation is the intended result, and ideally, it is a position that is full-time with benefits and provides the best opportunity for independence.
     
  3. The Job Coaching Provider Organization
    -The provider mission statement is consistent with the planned services.
    -There is evidence that the provider has the ability to deliver vocational rehabilitation services in the form of community based work assessments, job readiness training, job development, job placement, job analysis, job skills training, on-the-job supports, itinerant supports, and extended services among others.
    -The provider demonstrates prior experience or otherwise presents the capability to deliver services, such as linkages with other services, adequate staff, training for staff, and other supports for staff, etc.
    -The provider has a method in place to measure and report the outcomes of services, e.g., automated or alternative method of service reporting and tracking.
    -There are job descriptions for all service provider staff.
    -Staff development is an integral part of the provider's budget or annual plan.
    -The provider demonstrates that persons with disabilities have a substantial role in the establishment of organizational policy and delivery of services.
     
  4. The Service Design
    The provider presents for consideration:
    -Definitions of Services
    -Staffing pattern that includes persons with disabilities
    -Model to be used including plan for community integration, job development, placement, training, and extended services
    -Linkage with OVR and other funding sources (DPW, PDE)
    -Consistent opportunities for informed customer choice
     
  5. Local Linkages:
    The provider demonstrates a knowledge and ability to develop and maintain linkages with other ancillary services in the community, e.g., the PA Department of Labor & Industry (BWDP), the PA Department of Education (BSE), the PA Department of Public Welfare (OMHSAS, ODP, and BAS), the PA Department of Aging (OLTL), Drug and Alcohol Single County Authorities (SCA), Chambers of Commerce, and other extended service agencies and organizations.
OVR reviews, discusses, and works closely with the provider for mutually responsive programs. The OVR counselor is integral to customer progress, service delivery, and placement activities occurring in concert with the provider. A process is in place to measure and report the outcome of services.
 
Scope and Extent
Job coaching services provided to individuals include: evaluations, skills training, job modification, transportation services, coordination of ancillary services, advocacy and socialization skills, among others. All services are provided on an individual basis and are tailored by the individual’s needs to achieve a specific vocational goal.
 
Pennsylvania has established local mechanisms through which funding for intensive training and extended services is available for all eligible populations.  Populations receiving job coaching include persons with: developmental disabilities, mental health issues, physical disabilities, blindness, deafness, autism and traumatic brain injury, etc. Supported employment services are also available within the special education, mental health and developmental disability systems.  OVR is actively engaged in collaborative relationships with those systems to ensure the provision of effective services, to reduce duplication of efforts, to share resources, and to improve employment outcomes for those served mutually by multiple systems.
 
In Pennsylvania, four major sources of extended service funding are available to ensure availability to all populations—ODP (ID/DD and Autism), OMHSAS, OLTL, and the OVR State General Fund.
 
Actual funding available from ODP (ID/DD and Autism), OMHSAS and OLTL varies from county to county depending on each county's situation. Other resources sought for extended service funding are natural supports, SSA work incentives, private foundations, etc.
 
For FFY 2010-2011, OVR funded supported employment services to 2,708 persons. Of that number, 339 were placed in competitive employment with 237 of those working 20 hours a week or greater.  As of the RSA 425 filed on October 26, 2011, the total of federal funds authorized was $1,007,805. OVR’s federal share of expenditures was $595,520. The federal share of unliquidated obligations was $149, 296 bringing the total federal share to $744,816.
 
As OVR continues transition services to transition-age students with disabilities, supported employment will be further expanded to this population. OVR has received a 2.5 million dollar, five-year transition model demonstration grant from RSA in FFY 2008.  With these funds, OVR has funded 10 Project SEARCH programs throughout the Commonwealth. For the purpose of this grant, Project SEARCH serves transition-aged youth with "most significant" disabilities in their last year of high school. This employment internship model which incorporates classroom learning, on-the-job training, and supported employment services has been successful in placing participants in higher paying, self-sustaining positions of employment that often include medical benefits.  Upon completion of the 5 year grant, OVR will continue support of the Project SEARCH programs through Title I funding.
 
Timing of the Transition to Extended Services
The timing of the transition of an individual with a disability to extended services is dependent upon the needs of the customer and the employer, and in many cases, available funding from OMHSAS, ODP (ID/DD and Autism) and/or OLTL. Extended services may not be needed for the individual who has appropriate natural supports such as the employer, co-workers, family, and friends. However, in those cases where natural supports are missing or deficient for the needs of the employee, extended services must be offered.
 
The determination of the need for extended services begins at the assessment stage of the vocational rehabilitation plan in order to ensure long-term employment success for the individual. First, OVR staff, the individual, the individual’s family, and, if applicable, the individual’s  Case Manager/Supports Coordinator determine what resources are needed for long- term supports. Then, this team determines what resources are available to meet this need. Due to the intensive and short term nature of OVR services, other funding sources must be involved to ensure long-term success for the worker with a disability.  Additionally, other agencies’ involvement (funding and resources) will determine when the individual can best transition to extended services. The team of professionals, funding agencies and community resources that can be brought to bear on the long term needs of an individual with a disability will determine the best time for the OVR customer to transition to extended services. The sooner the team can be assembled and focused on supporting the customer, the better the transition to extended services will be as well.
 
Effective Date:  October 1, 2013