Summary of Regulations for Public VR Programs Pertaining to WIA & One-Stop Systems
The following is a summary of the requirements for State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) programs, under the federal regulations governing VR programs [published in the Federal Register on January 17, 2001 - 66FR 4380-4435].
Requirements as a Partner Under WIA
- State VR programs must be an integral part of the statewide workforce investment system
- State VR programs must participate as a partner in the One-Stop service delivery system
- As a required partner, the VR program must:
- make available via the One-Stop system the core services applicable to VR
- use a portion of VR funds to create and maintain the One-Stop service delivery system, and provide core services
- enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Local Workforce Investment Board relating to the operation of the One-Stop service delivery system including:
- a description of services
- how the cost of the identified services and operating costs of the system will be funded
- methods for referral
- Participate in the operation of the One-Stop system consistent with the MOU and Rehabilitation Act
- Serve as a representative on the Local Workforce Investment Board
- The VR program must ensure that its application forms are widely available throughout the state, particularly in One-Stop centers.
Relationship of State Rehabilitation Council and SWIB
- The State Rehabilitation Council must carry out its designated functions after consulting with the State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB)
- The State Rehabilitation Council must include at least one representative of the SWIB. However, this individual cannot represent another organization on the Council besides the SWIB.
Cooperative Agreement Requirements
At the state level, the VR program must enter into cooperative agreements with other One-Stop partners, and replicate these agreements at the local level between local VR offices and local entities of the One-Stop system. The purpose of entering into these cooperative agreements is to increase the capacity of partners, and the One-Stop system as a whole, to better address the needs of individuals with disabilities.
These cooperative agreements may provide for:
- cross training and technical assistance regarding VR services, including eligibility criteria and benefits of VR services
- the use of information and financial management systems that link all partners of the One-Stop system to one another, and that include employment statistics, job vacancies, career planning, and workforce investment activities
- the use of customer service features such as common intake and referral procedures, customer databases, resource information, and human services hotlines
- the establishment of cooperative efforts with employers to facilitate job placement
- the identification of staff roles, responsibilities, and available resources
- specification of the financial responsibility of each partner of the One-Stop system with respect to providing and paying for necessary services, consistent with the Rehabilitation Act, other Federal requirements, and state law
- procedures for resolving disputes among partners of the One-Stop system
Parameters for Use of VR Funds in One-Stop System
- VR funding must be used in a way that is consistent with the Rehabilitation Act and implementing regulations.
- VR funds cannot be used for services to individuals who do not meet the priority for services under the order of selection.
- However, within the One-Stop system, VR funds can be used for intake and other expenditures that VR would normally expend prior to determining eligibility.
Requirement for All Partners to Serve People with Disabilities
- All partners in the workforce investment system (and not just VR) have a legal responsibility under WIA to serve people with disabilities.
- Some individuals with disabilities may receive the full scope of services they need through the One-Stop system without accessing the VR program at all. Others may be referred to VR for all services, or an individual may receive a combination of services from VR and other One-Stop system partners.
- If an individual is eligible for VR services and chooses not to use VR services, he/she has the right to use any other services of the One-Stop system for which they are eligible.
VR Statewide Assessment Must Include Needs of Individuals Not Served by VR
- The VR state plan must include the results of a comprehensive statewide assessment.
- This assessment must identify the vocational rehabilitation services needs of, among others, individuals with disabilities served through other (non-VR program) components of the statewide workforce investment system.
- The VR state plan must describe strategies the state will use to address the needs identified in the comprehensive assessment, including, among other things, strategies for assisting other components of the statewide workforce investment system in assisting individuals with disabilities.
VR Information and Referral System Must Include Referrals to Non-VR Programs
- The VR program must implement an information and referral system.
- Among other things, this system must refer individuals with disabilities to other appropriate Federal and State programs, including other components of the statewide workforce investment system.
- If an individual is referred to another program (including other components of the states workforce investment system) through VRs information and referral system, documentation must be provided on the nature and scope of the services provided by VR to the individual, and on the referral itself.
Requirements for Prompt Handling of Referrals to VR
- The VR program must have procedures for the prompt and equitable handling of referrals of individuals for vocational rehabilitation services, including referrals of individual made through the One-Stop system.
- Once an individual has submitted an application for vocational rehabilitation services, including applications through common intake procedures of One-Stop Centers, an eligibility determination must be made within 60 days, subject to specified exceptions. An individual is considered to have submitted an application when an agency application form has been signed by the individual (or his/her representative), or has completed a common intake application form in a One-Stop Center requesting vocational rehabilitation services.
VR Must Refer Individuals It Is Unable to Serve to Non-VR Programs
- In an individual is determined ineligible for VR services, the individual must be referred to other training and employment-related programs that are part of the One-Stop system.
- In the event that VR services cannot be provided to all eligible individuals with disabilities applying for services, the state must show the order for selecting eligible individuals. The order of selection must assure that individuals with the most significant disabilities will be selected first for the provision of VR services. If due to operating under an order of selection, VR is unable to serve an otherwise eligible individual, VR must assist this individual to secure employment assistance from other entities, particularly other programs of the statewide workforce investment system
Requirements for Referrals to Other Programs
In making referrals to other programs, VR must refer the individual to the other programs of the statewide workforce investment system best suited to address the specific employment needs of an individual with a disability. In making a referral, the VR program must provide the individual who is being referred:
- a notice of the referral to the agency to which the individual is being referred
- information identifying the specific point of contact within that agency
- information and advice regarding the most suitable services to assist the individual to prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment.
IPE Must Include Responsibilities of Other Entities
- An Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) is required for delivery of VR services. The IPE must include, among other things, the responsibilities of other entities to provide services and benefits to the individual, and how such services will be coordinated.
VR Not Required to Pay Cost of Access to One-Stop System
- VR programs are not required to pay for the costs of providing individuals with disabilities access to the One-Stop system. The One-Stop system is responsible for the costs of providing access for individuals with disabilities, per the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Excerpted and adapted from Policy Brief: Provisions in the Final Regulations Governing the State VR Program Describing the Interplay with WIA and TWWIIA by Robert Silverstein, published by the Institute for Community Inclusion, Center on State Systems and Employment (RRTC)