~~Vocational Rehabilitation is an engaged partner to increase educational access to job-seekers that may need VR services and supports to be successful in other state and federal programs. VR is able to provide services to assist with barriers stemming from an individual’s disability that assists in access to existing programs or aids in successfully completing a program. VR is working with State programs, like JAG and local educational agencies, to identify ways to collaborate to serve student and youth populations through pre-employment transition services. Project SEARCH is a VR program that is a worksite-based school-to-work program that provides employment and education opportunities for students with disabilities transitioning from high school. The program benefits employers by increasing workforce diversity and reducing recruitment and training costs. Many employers experience improved job retention, enhanced community image and increased customer satisfaction. Additionally, the Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Program (http://www.in.gov/fssa/ddrs/4901.htm) provides entrepreneurial opportunities for legally blind clients of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS). These blind entrepreneurs manage a wide variety of food-service operations, including cafeterias, coffee shops, vending locations, and highway area vending sites. Through this program, blind individuals receive training and opportunities to become productive, tax-paying citizens and independent business owners. (Page 14) Title I
Host work-and-learn events: Indiana, through the Indiana Career Council, the Indiana Works Councils and other partners, is hosting an event on 11/10/15 that will focus on successful programs across the state that are creating learning opportunities for students and educators, through a variety of methods, programs, and experiences. The inaugural Indiana Sectors Summit was held in October 2016 to grow and expand sector partnerships across Indiana, as well as continue to explore how we utilize sector partnerships as the vehicle to develop industry-driven career pathways in Indiana. To continue the momentum and progress generated from the summit, DWD contracted with Jobs for the Future (JFF) to provide strategic guidance, training, technical assistance and support including facilitation and planning of the 2016 Indiana Sectors Summit, mapping where sector partnerships exist and the assets that support sector partnership development, convening stakeholders for working groups and regional workshops, and organization and planning of the 2017 Indiana Sectors Summit. The second annual summit was held in November 2017 with the goal to deepen understanding and relationships between launching, advancing, and/or sustaining sector partnerships in collaboration with the Skill UP 3 grant opportunity incorporating tailored technical assistance requested from local partners. More information can be found at http://www.in.gov/dwd/sectorpartnerships.htm.
o Collaborate with WIOA core programs to strategically enhance employer engagement and work-based learning opportunities for individuals with disabilities. This includes expanding VR employer engagement to develop appropriate disability-related information (e.g., disability awareness training, Section 504 overview materials for Indiana based federal contractors, business-to-business resources for beginning disability hiring initiatives, etc.) and resources for employers. (Page 35) Title I
Vocational Rehabilitation is an engaged partner to increase educational access to job-seekers that may need VR services and supports to be successful in other state and federal programs. VR is able to provide services to assist with barriers stemming from an individual’s disability that assists in access to existing programs or aids in successfully completing a program. VR is working with State programs, like JAG and local educational agencies, to identify ways to collaborate to serve student and youth populations through pre-employment transition services. Project SEARCH is a VR program that is a worksite-based school-to-work program that provides employment and education opportunities for students with disabilities transitioning from high school. The program benefits employers by increasing workforce diversity and reducing recruitment and training costs. Many employers experience improved job retention, enhanced community image and increased customer satisfaction. Additionally, the Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Program provides entrepreneurial opportunities for legally blind clients of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS). These blind entrepreneurs manage a wide variety of food-service operations, including cafeterias, coffee shops, vending locations, and highway area vending sites. Through this program, blind individuals receive training and opportunities to become productive, tax-paying citizens and independent business owners. (Pages 44-45) Title I
Staff will also be trained to use multiple resources and tools to ensure accessibility to services. One such resource that staff will be encouraged to use is the Guidepost for Success, which is a set of key educational and intervention strategies for youth, including those with disabilities. Additionally, One-stop assessments, Individual Education Program (IEPs), and Academic and Career Planning (ACPs) tools will continue to be utilized to identify career paths, barriers to employment, training or service needs, and employability skills. These assessments will also assist with identifying hidden disabilities and the potential need for accommodations. DWD and agency partners will implement policies to support accessibility to services throughout the state. Development of a Reasonable Accommodation Policy will be explored that requires the WDBs to formally track when a reasonable accommodation is requested and whether it is approved or denied. This policy may include, but will not be limited to: the process for handling and tracking reasonable accommodation requests; examples of reasonable accommodations (i.e., frequent breaks, ensuring a quiet testing environment, reading the test aloud); providing training and information regarding One-stop procedures; and a process for notifying the state regarding the approval/denial of the request(s). The state will track both informal and formal complaints received in the One-stop offices through the State’s Quarterly Customer Service Record Log, located at http://www.in.gov/dwd/files/complaint log.xls . This will help the state identify any patterns for alleged discrimination of individuals with disabilities. Along these same lines, when DWD or a One-stop office removes a job order that prohibits individuals with disabilities from applying, the employer’s contact information will be logged on the Quarterly Customer Service Record Log for tracking purposes. (Pages 72-73) Title I
The Commission also suggested that further exploration is necessary on the provision of work experience services to students, including those working toward a High School diploma. Financial literacy and self-disclosure are also important issues for individuals with disabilities and VR is encouraged to ensure resources are in place to meet these needs. Additional suggestions regarding services to youth with disabilities included looking at best practices from a School-to-work pilot project utilizing career coaches in schools and providing work experiences prior to a student’s exit from school.
VR Response: VR continues to facilitate a Statewide Transition Workgroup and will address these recommendations with the group. VR has implemented modifications to the VR employment service model and Discovery services. One of the changes is increased access to work experiences by all VR consumers, including youth. Discussions are already underway between the VR Director and the DWD Youth program directors. Both parties are very interested in better collaboration on programs such as Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG). (Page 133) Title IV
As of December, 2017, progress from the work plan touched on all 5 of the goals identified by the group: early work experience, postsecondary education, family expectations, system integration, seamless transition, and professional supports and incentives. These accomplishments included over 61,000 early work experiences being provided to students with disabilities statewide, over 3,000 sessions related to education on postsecondary options provided to students with disabilities, outreach to families and educators related to transition expectations through webinars and in-person trainings sponsored by IN*Source, About Special Kids, and local transition cadres, training to pre-ETS providers on supplementing rather than supplanting training available through local education agencies to ensure seamless transition and system integration, as well as discussion of appropriate qualifications for transition providers. VR works closely with IIDC at IU on several transition-related priorities. IIDC promotes partnerships between Indiana schools and various state agencies and other support organizations. IIDC’s focus is on career development, secondary education, and transition to adult life. As part of the need to establish an infrastructure and ensure sustainability of transition services, including pre-ETS, VR works with the existing Transition Cadres in Indiana. Established in 2011 and dedicated to improving secondary transition outcomes for students, a network of Transition Cadres throughout Indiana (funded by DOE) is working collaborative, both regionally and statewide. The efforts are focused on implementing promising practices and creating innovative strategies, tools, and resources for teachers and other transition professionals. VR has provided training on VR and its services to the Cadres and is attending the regularly scheduled cadre meetings to continue the joint collaboration. For more information please see: http://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/cadre-leaders. In coordination with IIDC, VR developed written informational materials for educators and students. Three VR fact sheets, entitled “Working with Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation” are in the process of being updated to include information on pre-ETS, order of selection, and other programmatic updates. The fact sheets provide resources for students, teachers, and families about VR at students’ Transition IEP meetings. Another important informational and educational tool that was created to improve outreach and education about VR is the “Working with Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation” Video. This video provides a quick 5 minute overview of VR in an entertaining manner in hopes to provide a unique mode of educating transition-aged students and families. (Video may be viewed at www.vrs.in.gov.) VR has counselors assigned to each school for outreach and education to teachers, students, and parents. These VR counselors collaborate with the school staff to enable a seamless transition to life after high school. The goal for each student is for a VR application to be completed, and, for eligible consumers who are being served, to have an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) in place, before exiting high school. LEA’s and VR confer at least one time per year to identify students who may require VR services. VR Counselors are invited to IEP meetings and make it a priority to attend when schedules permit. VR counselors and/or area supervisors are also involved in local transition councils if they exist in the community. Councils are made up of local stakeholders who are involved in the transition from school to work and adult life. Councils could include students/family, school personnel, service providers, etc. In addition, VR is responsible for providing written information to students and their families regarding adult services. (Page 142) Title IV
VR and DOE maintain an interagency agreement, which was updated in recent years to capture expanded federal requirements under WIOA. The interagency agreement states that: the roles and responsibilities, including financial responsibilities and methods for determining which partner agency and qualified personnel is responsible for transition services are: 1. The student’s Transition IEP will define the services and responsible payer for each of the services. If VR is responsible for payment of a service, this responsibility will be described in the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). 2. Each agency will maximize coordination in the use of federal funds. 3. Decisions related to which entity will be financially responsible for providing transition or pre-ETS that can be considered both a special education and a VR service must be made at the local level as part of the collaboration between the VR agency, state educational agency, and the local educational agency. The Partner Agencies will collaborate to develop the required procedures and processes that VR area offices and local educational agencies will use when considering and assigning the financial responsibility of each agency for the provision of transition and pre-ETS to students with disabilities. The required procedures and processes will be based, at least in part, on the following criteria: a. Is the purpose of the service related to an employment outcome or education? b. Is the service one that the school customarily provides under IDEA, Part B? c. Is the student receiving special education services 14 years or older or entered grade 9? 4. The partner agencies will develop procedures and processes for outreach efforts and identification of eligible and potentially eligible students with disabilities. These efforts will occur as early as possible during the transition process and will include: a description of pre-ETS available to students who are eligible or potentially eligible for VR services; the purpose of the VR program; eligibility requirements; application process; and the scope of services that may be provided to eligible individuals. Any formal training on the topic of transition from school to adult life will include appropriate stakeholders, e.g., VR area office staff, school personnel, and students/families. The interagency agreement between VR and DOE is in the process of being reviewed and will be updated by June, 2018. The review of the interagency agreement between VR and DOE will include an assessment of current strategies and identification of new strategies to maximize transition opportunities for students. This will include the types of consultation and technical assistance VR will provide to educational agencies, methods that VR can use to provide consultation and technical assistance, including through alternative means, such as conference calls and webinars, how DOE and VR will work together in the development and facilitation of the IEP and IPE, cross-training opportunities between the VR and DOE, and coordination with non-educational agencies for out-of-school youth. (As appropriate, describe the procedures and activities to coordinate the designated State unit's comprehensive system of personnel development with personnel development under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
VR has a Statewide Transition Coordinator on staff to train and notify VR field staff of all changes and initiatives related to working with transition-aged students. In addition, VR will be adding a Statewide Transition Director. IIDC continues to serve as a transition resource to VR and DOE. Training and technical assistance is offered statewide and the targeted audience is parents, students, school officials, VR professionals, and CRP staff. Initiatives are currently ongoing to develop and update transition guides that will be available to all appropriate stakeholders. The Transition Alliance workgroup will be expanded in the coming year to serve as an advisory group pertaining to statewide VR Transition initiatives. Partners who sit on this group include parent advocates, DOE, schools, DWD, VR, IIDC, etc. VR is investigating opportunities for cross-training with VR and appropriate school personnel. Targeted training and technical assistance is ongoing for the VR field staff; specifically, VR has held webinars and face-to-face trainings on transition-related topics, such as special education overview, Transition IEPs, 504 Plans, special education eligibility, transition services, etc. All of these strategies will support VRs’ priority to increase outreach efforts and access to VR services for transition aged youth (Pages 144- 145) Title IV
Gap in services from school to work (student leaves school without connections to services) • Lack of information on available services • Concerns related to loss of Social Security benefits or health benefits • Lack of timeliness of services, that is, time from referral to job placement • Lack of high expectations from families • Lack of high expectations from school and agency personnel What strategies do you recommend to improve/expand VR services for students and youth with disabilities? The 250 respondents to this question gave a variety of responses. The most frequently noted was to have VR involved with students at a much earlier age, which would include having more frequent presence of VR counselors in the school and dedicated transition counselors. It was noted that better coordination is needed with the schools and VR. Another strategy that was frequently mentioned was that of more involvement with families to address expectations and impact of work on benefits. (Page 162) Title IV
Priority 1.4: Ensure VR staff is trained, highly knowledgeable, and are providing information on services across WIOA core programs, and other appropriate programs that may assist individuals with disabilities achieve their employment outcome. New staff will participate in both web-based and classroom-based training throughout, at minimum, the first year of employment.
Priority 1.5: Work in partnership with WIOA core programs to strategically enhance employer engagement and work-based learning opportunities for individuals with disabilities. This includes expanding VR employer engagement to develop appropriate disability-related information and resources (e.g., disability awareness training, business-to-business resources for beginning disability hiring initiatives, etc.) for employers. A plan for joint data collection will be developed by the end of FFY17.
GOAL 2: Increase the number of people with disabilities in competitive, integrated employment. (Pages176-177) Title IV
Priority 1.5: Work in partnership with WIOA core programs to strategically enhance employer engagement and work-based learning opportunities for individuals with disabilities. This includes expanding VR employer engagement to develop appropriate disability-related information and resources (e.g., disability awareness training, Section 503 overview materials for Indiana-based federal contractors, business-to-business resources for beginning disability hiring initiatives, etc.) for employers. A strategy for required collection and report of business engagement efforts will be identified by late 2017. (Page 193) Title I
Indiana’s Supported Employment (SE) services are highly individualized and involve ongoing support services and other appropriate services needed to support and maintain an individual with the most significant disability (MSD), including youth with the most significant disabilities in SE for a period of time that generally does not exceed 24 months. Such services, such as job coaching, are for individuals who have SE and long-term supports identified on the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). Often, because of the nature and severity of the individuals’ disability, there is a need for extended services that are provided by a State agency, private nonprofit organization, natural supports, or any other appropriate resources that are funded outside of VR. VR funding is available for the provision of extended services to Youth with a MSD, for a period not to exceed four years, if the youth has exhausted 24 months of SE services, and is not eligible for extended services through other agencies. Eligible VR participants with the most significant disabilities obtain SE services through Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPs) across the state. The service delivery requirements are to provide appropriate ongoing support services to individuals with MSD for whom competitive employment has not traditionally occurred, or for whom competitive employment has been interrupted or intermittent as a result of the significance of the disability, and who requires SE services. SE services are provided from the time of job placement through achievement of stabilization and retention (90 days after stabilization). The expected outcome of SE services is to ensure that stabilization on the job has appropriately occurred after a period of gradually decreasing needed supports and a correlated demonstration of increased independence. The intensive level of support needs should be well-documented by the CRPs in the Employment Support and Retention Plan, and the expectation of fading (i.e., decreasing the amount of support as a consumer becomes more proficient in completing job duties) is important to reach optimal independence. VR acknowledges that fading of supports may not always occur in a completely linear process, and levels of SE support may ebb and flow depending on the needs of the individual. However, a pattern of increased independence and reduced need for support (fading) should be evident prior to the identification that stabilization has occurred for an individual needing SE services. More specifics regarding Supported Employment may be found in the Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services — Manual of Employment Services at www.vrs.in.gov. (Pages 199- 200) Title IV