Presentation to the 2017 Health and Human Services Joint Appropriation Subcommittee


~~“The Disability Employment and Transitions Division (DETD) is engaged in multiple reforms. In particular, the Division’s  Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services (VRBS) program is undergoing very significant changes due to new national and state public policies. The United States adopted the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in 2014, and the regulations for this law became official in September 2016. These changes mesh with Montana’s and the Department’s priorities, especially the larger purposes of creating more high paying jobs and operating an efficient and cost-effective government.
VRBS started down the path of flipping its focus from adult to youth services. We’ve partnered with 90 of Montana’s 177 school districts that include high schools and launched multiple other projects to prepare youth for employment. Competitive integrated employment is another outcome sought by national and state leaders. Workers with disabilities should be able to work in their communities for comparable wages and advancement opportunities, and the pipeline to segregated, sub-minimum wage employment must be disrupted with 21st Century approaches to employment, approaches that zero in on high quality, in-demand jobs and high expectations for workers with disabilities. Lastly, VRBS is aligning itself with other workforce development partners. We are now in a combined state plan and obligated to achieve common performance measures with the Department of Labor and Industry’s WIOA programs and the Office of Public Instruction’s Adult Basic Education. Other public and private partners are also involved in our combined effort to support Montana employers and workers with services that break free from organizational silos and provide seamless services across multiple employment agencies. The WIOA requires that that VRBS serve businesses so that the program has dual customers, Montana workers with disabilities and the businesses that employ their talent.”

State Policies & Initiatives: 
  • Department of Rehabilitation Services
  • School-to-Work Transition
  • Employer Engagement
  • Cross-Agency Collaboration / Partnerships
Date Enacted: