Summary of Innovations Projects to Date*
CUSTOMIZED EMPLOYMENT and DISCOVERY
Florida DVR – Transition & Discovery Certification
From January to August 2010, Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation conducted a highly successful pilot project using Customized Employment in a high school setting to seamlessly transition five students from the education to the rehabilitation system in Osceola and Seminole counties. Participants included VR, the school systems and private provider staff. TACE provided the training and technical assistance. Data and findings from the pilot informed a subsequent project to train and credential providers in the use of Discovery. The state partnered with TACE, Marc Gold & Associates and the University of South Florida to test a performance-based credentialing process to certify community rehabilitation providers in the use of Discovery. Project results were instrumental in decisions to expand the use of Discovery statewide, with implementation now proceeding in areas serving half the state of Florida.
Mississippi DRS – Customized Employment for Individuals with the Most Significant Disabilities
In a 2011 pilot project, Mississippi Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (MDRS) introduced Customized Employment as an option for counselors to use in serving individuals with the most significant disabilities. In the first phase of the project, staff were trained and assisted in working with jobseekers in teams, resulting in job placements for all participants. In the second phase, Customized Employment / Discovery was added as an MDRS service category for the Individual Plan for Employment (IPE). The service category for authorizations was modified to include Customized Employment / Discovery and IPE code changes were instituted to report and track utilization of Customized Employment. TACE provided training and technical assistance for skill-building and focus group supports. Currently MDRS is proposing to expand the use of Customized Employment for individuals in sheltered workshops, partnering with community rehabilitation providers, with TACE providing capacity building resources.
Georgia VRA – Transition “From Discovery to Employment”
In 2011-12, a Georgia interagency partnership (state departments of Education, VR, Developmental Disabilities and Advocacy; Employment First Georgia, school districts and community rehabilitation providers) implemented a pilot project to develop an infrastructure for VR use of Customized Employment. TACE provided intensive training, facilitation and project management resources to create an incubator where administrators and practitioners could understand the implications of integrating Customized Employment into VR operations. As a result of the first phase state policy, fee schedules and standards were re-drafted to reflect Customized Employment practice and four provider agencies were authorized to accept VR Customized Employment referrals. Grass-roots demand for Customized Employment prompted the VR agency to incorporate specific Customized Employment objectives into its strategic plan. A second round of Customized Employment training, offered with TACE support, generated interest in a spin-off project to introduce Discovery in the residential assessment center setting (see Georgia RWS). State agency MOUs developed as a result of the first phase of the project were signed in February 2013. TACE and GVRA are now exploring further capacity-building options including a performance-based training and credentialing process.
Georgia RWS – Discovery & Customized Employment in the Residential Setting
In 2012-13, TACE provided training and consultation resources to help the Roosevelt Warm Springs residential assessment center incorporate Discovery and Customized Employment into its overall shift to a client-directed team approach to service delivery. The objective was to maintain continuity for the jobseeker in the community, before and after the residential experience. Discovery teams of staff representing all aspects of services are now being trained to work with the student to develop a Profile. Group Discovery has been introduced as a planning option, and, for students from the immediate community, the full CE process will be used to assist in finding customized jobs. Plans are also under way for the organization to do its own needs analysis to identify internal customized job opportunities.
Kentucky OVR – Customized Employment Adoption and Curriculum
Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) launched a pilot project in late 2011 to introduce Customized Employment into the vocational rehabilitation system and to develop a continuing education training curriculum. OVR counselors and community rehabilitation providers received intensive training and simultaneously implemented Customized Employment with selected jobseekers. As a result of the project, OVR developed a permanent fee code for Discovery and negotiated for long term supports through the HCBS waiver. The University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute (HDI) incorporated Discovery training into its Supported Employment Leadership Series curriculum. TACE provided training and project management supports for the project in collaboration with HDI. OVR is currently considering strategies and TACE supports to expand and integrate the practice into ongoing operations.
Kentucky OVR – Asset Development and VR Counseling & Guidance
In October 2012 Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) and TACE co-sponsored a statewide Asset Development Summit for the disability and asset building communities to strategize to bring individuals with disabilities into the economic mainstream. The Summit fostered discussions among local partners to take immediate action and plan future collaborative activities. Following the Summit, TACE sponsored a 2-day training for OVR staff on “Poverty Reduction Programs, VR and Asset Building.” A 2013-2014 pilot project is now under way to incorporate asset building in VR counseling and guidance. TACE is provide training and technical assistance to VR staff and developing tools to use in the process.
North Carolina DVRS – Asset Development and VR Counseling & Guidance
In 2012 North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services began a pilot project to integrate benefits planning and asset development counseling. TACE provided training and consultation to assist VR administrators, employment specialists and benefits planners in taking advantage of each others’ resources to improve financial and job stability for jobseekers. The project also connected VR staff with the existing asset development system in North Carolina. Due to organizational restructuring in the VR agency, project activities were suspended in 2013. Discussions are under way to resume in 2014.