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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:

  • VR can assist One-Stop Centers in assuring that the facility and services are fully accessible - both programmatically and physically.
  • VR can assist customers who are using non-VR One-Stop services to find employment, with obtaining assistive technology, arranging for job accommodations, and developing post-employment supports, as long as they also qualify for VR services.
  • If VR staff are assisting people to finding employment, they can utilize the various job search services of the One-Stop system, including job listings, on-site employer interviews and information sessions, as well as employer contacts of other One-Stop staff. VR staff can similarly share their employer contacts with other One-Stop staff.
  • VR clients can avail themselves of the various workshops the One-Stop Center may offer, such as resume development, interviewing skills, etc.
  • VR staff can assist clients in accessing other services available within the One-Stop system, including other intensive services, as well as training services.
  • Through creating understanding among other One-Stop staff concerning the services of VR, other One-Stop partners can utilize the expertise of VR to meet customer needs, and refer individuals to VR who could benefit from VR services.

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.

Resources

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
United States Department of Education
Website: www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/
The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) is the federal agency that funds the public vocational rehabilitation system

Written by:

David Hoff