The Role of Public Vocational Rehabilitation and One-Stops
Each state's public vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency is a mandated partner in the One-Stop system. As a mandated partner, VR must make available via the One-Stop system, the core services applicable to VR. The exact nature of the VR and One-Stop partnership is going to vary significantly from state-to-state, and even within states, depending on the structure of services, statewide agreements, and content of the local Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) between VR and the Local Workforce Investment Board. Here are some basic guidelines for One-Stops to keep in mind, concerning their partnership with public VR.
Not everyone with a disability qualifies for VR services
The definition of who qualifies for VR services is much narrower than the broad definition of disability under the ADA. Only people with a disability that interferes with their ability to get or hold a job are eligible for VR services. Therefore, there are many individuals with disabilities who will come into the One-Stop system who do not qualify for VR services, but who can benefit greatly from other One-Stop services.
Order of selection issues
In states where VR funding is not sufficient to serve all eligible clients, there may be an order of selection in place , whereby VR is able to accept only those individuals with the most significant disabilities who could benefit from VR services. If there are individuals who qualify for VR services, whom VR is currently unable to serve, other One-Stop services can play a key role in helping customers who might otherwise not be able to get services.
Requirements for referral to non-VR programs
VR is required to refer individuals who are unable to receive VR services due to ineligibility or order of selection issues, to other components of the states workforce investment system.
Qualified individuals do not have to accept VR services
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) regulations are very clear - even if a One-Stop customer qualifies for VR services, they are not required to use VR services. Individuals who choose not to use VR services, have the absolute right to utilize One-Stop core services, and any other One-Stop services that they qualify for.
VR funds and staff may not be used for non-VR purposes
The partnership between the One-Stop and VR must abide by the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act. For example, VR staff at a One-Stop may do such things as determining eligibility for VR services, explaining VR services during an orientation session, conducting a workshop for VR clients, and providing direct assistance to VR clients. However, VR staff and funds cannot be used to meet the needs of non-VR clients. For example, VR staff cannot help a non-VR client with their resume or in finding a job.
An interactive relationship
The WIA regulations state that the relationship between VR and the One-Stop system should be interactive in nature, with referring of individuals by VR to other components of the One-Stop system, and the One-Stop system similarly referring individuals to VR. Ideally, the One-Stop system can be designed in such a way that individuals will fully benefit from the potential of the One-Stop system, through blending of One-Stop partner services. An individual would utilize VR services as needed, but also benefit from the wide array of other services available as well. One of the major challenges of the One-Stop system will be to do this in a way that creates the perception of seamless service delivery from the customer viewpoint, and also makes the individual fully aware of the options available to them.
Options for people with disabilities
The bottom line is that people with disabilities have a number of options in using One-Stop services. They can: 1) receive most or all of their services exclusively from VR; 2) receive some services from VR, and other services from other One-Stop partners; 3) only use non-VR One-Stop services.
How people with disabilities use One-Stop services is going to be highly dependent on individual needs, choices, and eligibility.
A Mutually Beneficial Relationship
Ideally, VR and the rest of the One-Stop system can mutually benefit from each others expertise. Here are just a few examples of how such a partnership can work:
A well developed partnership will allow the resources of VR and other partners to be used in a broader yet more efficient fashion, and allow VR to focus on its particular areas of expertise.
State Public Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies
A list of the public vocational rehabilitation agencies for all states and territories is available at the following website: www.nchrtm.okstate.edu/pages/state_VR.html
Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA)
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services