~~DORS is the designated state agency for the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) and the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS).
Consumers with disabilities who need help finding employment may apply for assistance at the applicable DORS offices. They may seek help with their job search when their disability poses a barrier and when they need VR services to help them prepare for, enter into or maintain gainful employment in a competitive setting. Services may include vocational counseling, benefits counseling, job search assistance, skill training and career education, school-to-work transition services, on-the-job training in business and industry, assistive technology services for mobility, communication and work activities, vehicle and home modifications, supported employment services, restoration services for a physical or mental condition and assistance accessing transportation options. Once eligibility has been determined, consumers work with a VR counselor to develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) to identify the target employment goal and the services that DORS can provide to assist them in reaching that goal. The IPE also identifies the consumer’s responsibilities to help reach the desired job goal. (Page 104) Title I
SDE provides transition and supportive services for students with special needs up to age 21. At 18 a student doesn’t need to officially withdraw in writing, but it is the policy of our Education Dept. to require 18 year olds to get a written withdrawal form. (This is because it forces the system to apprise the family that if they have an IEP and withdraw, they lose all entitlements to IEP services. 17 year olds can return to school, and reinstate IEP within 90 days. Those who withdraw from school in writing are only eligible for services under ADA, not other special education services. There are exceptions to this policy for certain students.)
Until our draft policy is adopted and there is a clarification, CT DOL is using these definitions used for purposes of unemployment benefits: "School" means an established institution of vocational, academic or technical instruction or education, other than a college or university. "Regularly enrolled student" means an individual who has completed all forms and processes required to attend a school, college or university and who will attend prescribed classes at the times they are offered. (Page 141) Title I
SDE and BRS have staff that serve on each other’s advisory committees (Transition Task Force and BRS Transition Committee). Program staff attends common training regarding the Individualized Education Plan (IEP), secondary transition services and WIOA. SDE and BRS collaborated to develop a statewide CT Transition Community of Practice (COP) with a broad stakeholder base as a single portal for transition resource development, professional development, and interagency collaboration. SDE and BRS initiated statewide strategic planning with agencies, school districts, families and other stakeholders. (Page 191-192) Title I
1. The responsibilities of BRS under the formal interagency agreement are as follows:
2. Collaborate with the SDE in coordinating, providing, and documenting the provision of pre-employment transition services to students with disabilities;
3. Provide vocational rehabilitation services to students and youth who meet the eligibility criteria of BRS;
4. Work with the Local Education Authority (LEA) to make the best effort to develop an Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) for each student eligible for adult VR services before the student leaves the school setting;
5. Provide consultation and technical assistance to aid LEA in planning for the transition of eligible students; (Page 192) Title I
18. Assure that IEPs developed by LEA for youth with disabilities aged 16 or over include plans for the provision of educationally-related “transition services” as defined in 34 C.F.R. 361.22(b)(4) and 34 CF.R. 300.43. Educationally-related transition services shall also include such activities identified by the LEA as are based on the child’s needs, consider the child’s preferences, and are designed to facilitate movement from school to post-secondary activities, including employment;
19. For each student with a disability with an IEP or Section 504 Accommodation Plan that the LEA has reason to believe may pursue subminimum wage employment following their exit from the school system, SDE shall assure that LEA document the provision of transition services in accordance with the documentation requirements of 34 C.F.R. 397.30(b)(1), including, at a minimum, the child’s name, a description of the service or activity completed, the dated signature of the responsible educational official documenting the completion of the required service or activity, and the dated signature of the responsible educational official who transmits the documentation of the provision of transition services to BRS upon the request of BRS; (Page 193) Title IV
Assist the LEA in providing transition planning for students with disabilities that facilitates the development and implementation of their individual educational programs (IEPs) under section 614(d) of the IDEA;
2. The responsibilities of SDE under the formal interagency agreement are as follows:
Coordinate with BRS to provide training and technical assistance regarding the IDEA, transition and IEP requirements for special educators and vocational rehabilitation counselors, including but not limited to presenting at statewide events and supporting the statewide transition website of the Connecticut Transition COP. (Page 194) Title IV
The Bureau provides supported employment and extended services to consumers with significant disabilities, as appropriate. Vocational Rehabilitation counselors work with each individual consumer to identify necessary services. In the process of developing an Individual Plan for Employment (IEP), the counselor and consumer make decisions about the need for supported employment or extended services. When the services are deemed necessary, the counselor and consumer identify a source of long-term funding and meet with a representative case manager, if appropriate. Once long-term supports are obtained, the plan can be executed. Supported employment and extended services are provided in partnership with our statewide network of Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP’s). These arrangements are based on fee-for-service contracts. We use a series of strategies to accomplish the goals of supported or extended employment, including the following:
The statewide Ongoing Employment Supports Committee is a resource for identifying supported employment funding opportunities on a case by case basis;
Cooperative agreements with CRPs, American Job Centers and Independent Living Centers (ILCs) allow for additional employment supports through the Ticket to Work program; and
The Interagency Employment Practice Improvement Collaborative for staff in BRS, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), and CRPs is designed to increase successful employment outcomes to an underserved target population. (Page 196) Title IV
BRS will procure transition services for students with disabilities that include placement with employers to participate in work-based learning experiences and work place readiness training, as defined in WIOA. The scope of services will include social skill development, independent living and instruction in self-advocacy, peer mentoring, and assistive technology. Upon graduation, youth will benefit from transition services to prepare for, seek and maintain employment and secure supports needed to be successful. (Page 197) Title IV
BRS maintains a computerized record system for personnel needs, resources, and training. In addition to this information, the Bureau annually uses a caseload management program and results of ongoing needs assessments to analyze personnel needs.
BRS assisted 8,330 consumers in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2017. With 61 VR counselors, the ratio of VR counselors to all consumers is 1:113; the ratio of VR supervisors to consumers is 1:1,388. The ratio of all staff to consumers is 1:76. Of the 8,330 total annual consumers, 2,554 developed an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). Based on the same number of VR counselors, the ratio of staff to all consumers with an IPE is 1:42; VR supervisors to consumers with an IPE is 1:42; and all staff to consumers with an IPE is 1:23. (Page 198) Title IV
If services cannot be provided to all eligible individuals who apply, the Director of BRS will implement an Order of Selection (OOS) as set forth in this Section. After determining eligibility, counselors must assign a priority category and follow the Order of Selection set forth below for the provision of services. Individuals determined eligible, and with an approved Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) prior to the date of implementation of the Order of Selection, will continue to receive services. The Bureau will notify all eligible individuals of the priority categories in the Order of Selection. Eligible individuals in priority categories not currently being served will be notified in writing of their assignment to a particular category and advised of their right to appeal their category assignment. (Page 216) Title IV
Priority 1: BRS will assist as many individuals determined to be Priority 1 as possible to achieve service and outcome goals.
Priority 2: This priority category will be closed upon implementation of the Order of Selection, with only those individuals with an approved IPE at that time receiving services. An exception will be made for individuals determined to be of this priority needing specific services or equipment to maintain employment. Review of the Bureau’s capacity to serve these individuals will be reviewed quarterly with the category being re-opened for the number of individuals that resources are projected to reasonably allow.
Priority 3: This priority category will be closed upon implementation of the Order of Selection, with only those individuals with an approved IPE at that time receiving services. An exception will be made for individuals determined to be of this priority needing specific services or equipment to maintain employment. Review of the Bureau’s capacity to serve these individuals will be reviewed quarterly with the category being re-opened for the number of individuals that resources are projected to reasonably allow. (Page 218) Title IV
BRS has met quarterly with SDE and representatives from the Regional Education Service Centers (RESCs), Department of Developmental Services Education Liaisons and Transition Consultants, now called, CT Transition Alliance, to continue providing current transition information. BRS, SDE and the CT Community of Practice (CT COP) maintain partnership with the IDEA National Transition Community of Practice. This partnership led to the creation of a state stakeholder run website called CTTransition.Org. The CT COP represents a core team of stakeholders and initial practice groups that include the BRS Transition & Level Up committees and the Transition Task Force. The CT COP continues to uphold the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD) Guideposts for Success as a framework for secondary transition activities and information. This is the same framework BRS has used for Transition since 2010.
As a result of these efforts, BRS assisted 280 Young Adults with Disabilities achieve successful employment outcomes in FFY 2017. (Page 227) Title IV
G. COORDINATION WITH
BESB VR Response: BESB VR agreed with this recommendation. During FY 2017, the SRC continued its initiative for BESB VR whereby a standing agenda item for SRC meetings consists of a “VR Success Story”, in the form of a presentation by a BESB VR client who has achieved an employment outcome. Typically explaining the type of work they are involved in and how BESB VR supports helped them with that work, BESB VR and SRC members continue to respond positively to this initiative, as it provides the SRC with an opportunity to hear value-added and diverse perspectives on BESB VR’s ability to support clients and employers in the workplace.
SRC Recommendation 4: Support initiatives that develop leadership qualities in transition-age youth who are blind.
BESB VR Response: BESB VR supported this important recommendation. The SRC continued its support and sponsorship of the Youth Leadership Forum (YLF), an annual week-long leadership training program for transition-age youth with disabilities to learn team-building, self-advocacy and task management skills. The SRC is an ongoing co-sponsor of this program and considers its co-sponsorship to be very important and worthwhile. (Page 242) Title IV
At the direct service level, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors participate in Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meetings of clients who are in middle school or high school and assist in the development of Individualized Education Programs (IEP’s) for students. The services that are detailed in the IEP of each student are factored into the development of each client’s Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), which must be developed within ninety (90) days of the determination of eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services, or by the time the client exits high school, whichever comes sooner. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor involvement begins as early as age 14, with referrals to the Program initiated by the Education Consultants of the Bureau’s Children’s Services Program and Teachers of the Visually Impaired that work directly for school districts. The client is assigned to one of the two Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors that are exclusively dedicated to serving pre—employment transition services eligible clients. Assignments are based on geographic location of the client. (Page 247) Title IV
A final point that emerged from the SRC focus group was regarding programming for individuals with multiple disabilities, such as having both visual and mobile impairment. The group concluded that BESB collaborates with other disability-centered agencies; additionally, the VR program does allow for modifications to be made on a case-by-case basis. Collaborative IPEs with VR plans represent a new area of engagement for BESB. These collaborative efforts are commendable and, to the fullest extent possible, should be expanded. Investigating new sources of collaboration would be a worthwhile endeavor. (Page 267) Title IV
BESB VR Update: In recognition of the extensive need for transition-age youth to acquire knowledge of careers in demand, and to learn of the successes of adults who are legally blind, BESB VR organizes and conducts career exposure programs, mentoring programs, college days and skills acquisition events, seeking out role models who are legally blind and employed or enrolled in higher education to participate in these events and programs. The BESB VR Transition Coordinator and the Pre-Employment Transition Counselors work directly with school district staff to incorporate these activities into the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or service plan of the students to emphasize the inclusion of these career development strategies as a critical component of the overall education process. BESB VR also utilizes job shadowing to expose transition-age youth to actual employment situations. Real work experiences for students with disabilities are crucial for the development of positive worker traits as well as developing self-confidence and money management skills. In the past fiscal year, 45 students participated in paid work experiences. Through a collaboration with United Technologies facilitated by the Chair of the SRC, 9 students participating in National Mentoring Day, gaining insight and exposure to careers in the aerospace industry. (Page 271) Title IV
BESB VR Update: The two Pre-Employment Transition Counselors participate in Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meetings of students with disabilities and assist in the development of Individualized Education Programs (IEP’s) for these students. The services that are detailed in the IEP of each student are factored into the development of each client’s Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), which must be developed within ninety (90) days of the determination of eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services, or by the time the client exits high school, whichever comes sooner. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor involvement can begin as early as age 14, with Pre-Employment Transition Services commencing at age 16. Referrals to BESB VR are most commonly initiated by the Education Consultants of BESB’s Children’s Services Program and Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments that work directly for school districts. (Page 286) Title IV
Supported Employment Services are ongoing support services, including customized employment, and other appropriate services: (A) Organized and made available, singly or in combination, in such a way as to assist an eligible individual to achieve competitive integrated employment; (B) Based on a determination of the needs of an eligible individual, as specified in an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE); and (C) Provided by the Bureau for a period of not more than 24 months, unless under special circumstances the eligible individual and the rehabilitation counselor jointly agree to extend the time to achieve the employment outcome identified in the IPE; and (D) Following transition to extended services, as post-employment services that are unavailable from an extended services provider, and that are necessary to maintain or regain the job placement or advance in employment. (Page 301-302) Title IV
For individuals who have been found eligible for services, an IPE shall be developed as soon as possible, but not later than a deadline of 90 days after the date of the determination of eligibility, unless the Bureau and the eligible individual agree to an extension of that deadline to a specific date by which the IPE shall be completed. If the Bureau is operating under an order of selection, this timeframe will apply to each eligible individual to whom the Bureau is able to provide services.
The Bureau will conduct an assessment for determining vocational rehabilitation needs, if appropriate, for each eligible individual or, if the Bureau is operating under an order of selection, for each eligible individual to whom the Bureau is able to provide services. The purpose of the assessment is to determine the employment outcome, and the nature and scope of vocational rehabilitation services, including the need for supported employment services, to be included in the IPE. The IPE will be designed to achieve the specific employment outcome that is selected by the individual consistent with the individual’s unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice, and results in competitive, integrated employment. The IPE will be amended, as necessary, by the individual or, as appropriate, the individual’s representative, in collaboration with a qualified vocational rehabilitation counselor employed by the Bureau if there are substantive changes in the employment outcome, the vocational rehabilitation services to be provided, or the providers of the vocational rehabilitation services. For a student with a disability, the IPE will consider the student’s Individualized Education Program or 504 services. (Page 302) Title IV
For a client for whom an employment outcome in a supported employment setting has been determined to be appropriate, the IPE or subsequent amendment developed to include supported employment must identify: (A) The supported employment services to be provided by the Vocational Rehabilitation Program; (B) The extended services needed by the eligible individual, which may include natural supports; (C) The source of extended services, or to the extent that the source of the extended services cannot be identified at the time of the development of the IPE, a description of the basis for concluding that there is a reasonable expectation that such a source will become available; (D) Periodic monitoring to ensure that the individual is making satisfactory progress toward meeting the weekly work requirement established in the IPE by the time of transition to extended services; (E) The coordination of services provided under an IPE with services provided under other individualized plans established under other federal or state programs; (F) The extent that job skills training is provided, and identification that the training will be provided at the job site; and (G) Placement in an integrated setting for the maximum number of hours possible based on the unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests and informed choice of the individual. (Page 303) Title IV
Ongoing Support Services in supported employment are identified based on a determination by the Vocational Rehabilitation Program of the individual’s needs as specified in an IPE, and are furnished by the Vocational Rehabilitation Program from the time of job placement until transition to extended services, unless post-employment services are provided following transition, and thereafter by one or more extended service providers throughout the individual’s term of employment in a particular job placement or multiple placements if those placements are being provided under a program of transitional employment. These services include an assessment of employment stability and provision of specific services or the coordination of services at or away from the worksite that are needed to maintain stability based on: (A) at a minimum, twice-monthly monitoring at the worksite of each individual in supported employment; or (B) if under special circumstances, especially at the request of the individual, the IPE provides for off-site monitoring, twice monthly meetings with the individual, consisting of:
(1) Any particularized assessment supplementary to the comprehensive assessment of rehabilitation needs; (2) The provision of skilled job trainers who accompany the individual for intensive job skill training at the work site; (3) Job development and training; (4) Social skills training; (5) Regular observation or supervision of the individual; (6) Follow-up services including regular contact with the employers, the individuals, the parents, family members, guardians, advocates or authorized representatives of the individuals, and other suitable professional and informed advisors, in order to reinforce and stabilize the job placement; (7) Facilitation of natural supports at the worksite; (8) Any other service identified in the scope of vocational rehabilitation services in Bureau policy. (Page 304) Title IV