California State Rehabilitation Council Annual Report 2011



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Partners in the State Plan Process


In accordance with its federal mandate to jointly develop, agree to, and annually review State goals and priorities, the SRC was an integral partner with the DOR in development and approval of the 2012 State Plan Update, submitted to RSA in June 2011. At each SRC meeting of FFY 2011, planning and planning-related issues and projects comprised a significant amount of time on the agenda. The SRC received presentations and had direct access to the DOR executive leadership, Planning Unit, and key DOR project and program specialists. In each case, the SRC had the opportunity to receive and discuss substantive information, ask questions, identify any areas of concern, and make recommendations.

The DOR and SRC jointly modified the 2012 State Plan goals from the 2011 State Plan to reflect the outcome of the DOR’s expanded and inclusive approach (Integration Project) to develop FFY 2012 goals and priorities. The Integration Project included the comments from the State Plan public meetings, Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA) findings, and SRC and DOR staff input to develop strategic 2012 State Plan goals, objectives, and strategies.

The SRC approved the following amended 2012 State Plan VR and Supported Employment (SE) goals at the February 2011 meeting:

Goal 1: VR and SE consumers will achieve quality employment outcomes through DOR services, as measured by wages, employer-provided benefits, and consumer satisfaction.

Goal 2: The DOR will increase the quantity of VR and SE employment outcomes.

Goal 3: The DOR will advance equality, accessibility, and independence for persons with disabilities, including unserved and underserved populations.

Goal 4: The DOR will actively engage employers to achieve quality employment outcomes for persons with disabilities.

Goal 5: The DOR will continuously improve the service delivery system and administrative operations to better serve consumers.

Goal 6: As a model employer, the DOR will attract, develop and retain a diverse and highly skilled workforce.

The DOR and the SRC jointly conducted public meetings in the spring of 2011 throughout the state to solicit public input on the proposed 2012 State Plan.

At the May 2011 meetings, the SRC independently reviewed the 2011 State Plan public comments, and began discussion of priorities to consider in the development of the 2012 State Plan.
Partners in the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment

Required by Federal Regulation (34 CFR 361.29), the DOR, in conjunction with the SRC, must conduct a Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA) every three years. The CSNA is required to provide a description of the rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities in California, by determining the extent, distribution, and potential remedies of unmet vocational needs of a broad spectrum of individuals with disabilities residing in California.

The SRC and DOR have jointly conducted the triennial CSNA in three (3) phases, approximately one year each, from FFY 2009 through FFY 2011 (10/1/08-9/30/11). In working jointly with the DOR the SRC has been briefed on, had many opportunities to provide input into the design of, and has embraced all three (3) phases of the CSNA. Similarly, the SRC has evaluated and used the results to inform its recommendations to the DOR and 2012 State Plan.
Focused surveys of Community-Based Organizations (CBO)

In FFY 2011, as part of CSNA Phase 3, the DOR jointly with the SRC administered electronic surveys to CBOs. For the CSNA, the DOR defines CBOs as public or private organizations or individuals within a community, serving and/or representing their community, that are also familiar with the culture, values, heritage, beliefs, and characteristics of their community.


The surveys were distributed to CBOs that represent the following groups:

1. Individuals with Brain Injury.

2. Individuals with Autism.

3. American Indians with disabilities.

4. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with disabilities.

5. Latinos/Hispanics with disabilities.

6. African Americans with disabilities.
The survey results are being compiled and a final report is expected in FFY 2012 on the findings of all three (3) CSNA phases.


Partners in the Consumer Satisfaction Survey (CSS)


In accordance with Section 105 (c)(4) of the Act, the SRC and DOR work in partnership to conduct periodic assessments of consumer satisfaction. The SRC and the DOR together developed the content of the current four-part CSS in 2008. The CSS assesses consumer satisfaction of their vocational rehabilitation service at four different points within the cycle as follows:


  • Pre-Plan: consumers who have not yet entered into an IPE with the DOR. The IPE includes an agreed-upon vocational goal and the DOR services and supports that will be provided, as well as describing the consumer’s responsibilities toward achieving a successful employment outcome.

  • In-Plan: consumers who have reached agreement with the DOR on an IPE, and are in the process of receiving those services. Due to the variable nature of vocational goals and the amount of preparation necessary, some consumers are only In-Plan for a few months, and others remain in this status for years.

  • Closed – Employed: consumers whose cases have been closed by the DOR because they have become employed and retained that employment for at least 90 days.

  • Closed – Not-Employed: consumers whose cases have been closed without achieving employment success. There are a variety of reasons why a consumer’s case may be closed.

The 2011 survey was based on a sample of 10,800 consumers selected from DOR’s service records. Of these, a total of 10,000 were selected to receive the survey electronically. Another 800 were selected to receive the survey via surface mail. This is the second consecutive year of electronic survey use, which has significantly increased the sample size over prior years (3000 and 4000, during 2008 and 2009 respectively). The questionnaires in electronic format were distributed using the Survey Monkey proprietary software.


In addition to the English version, the survey materials were translated into six languages. Survey materials were also available in accessible format versions for blind or visually impaired consumers.
The overall survey response rate was 19.8%. Response rates for the Pre-Plan, In-Plan, Closure Employed and Closure Not Employed groups were 18.3%, 22.6%, 18.9%, and 12.9%, respectively.
Each of the four questionnaires had a series of closed-ended items, as well as open-ended items for consumer comments. The closed-ended items were expressed as statements, with consumers asked to indicate their level of agreement. Each statement had five response options. Those responses, and the point value they were assigned for quantifying the average responses, are:

  • (5) strongly agree

  • (4) agree

  • (3) no opinion

  • (2) disagree

  • (1) strongly disagree.

Overall, respondents in the Closed Employed group had the highest levels of satisfaction, while those in the Closed Not Employed status had the lowest levels.


Some results in each group were:


  • Pre-Plan: As determined by rating averages, respondent agreement with the various statements was highest for, “I am allowed to ask questions about paperwork that I am asked to sign,” and lowest for, “I am receiving complete information about choosing my services, employment goal and my appeal rights.” The rating average was 4.14 for the former statement, and 3.34 for the latter.




  • In-Plan: Rating averages ranged from a high of 4.22 for the statement, “I am provided information in a format I understand,” to a low of 3.76 for the statement, “I am satisfied with how problems are resolved.”



  • Closure Employed: Agreement ranged from a rating average high of 4.22 for the statement, “I was provided information in a format I understand,” to a low of 3.52 for the statement, “I went to work because of the services I received.”



  • Closure Not Employed: Agreement ranged from a rating average high of 3.92 for the statement, “I was provided information in a format I understand,” to a rating average low of 3.04 for the statement, “Services helped me move closer to my career goal.”

Overall, the statement that received the highest level of agreement among respondents was, “I am provided information in a format I understand.” About 83% of respondents were in agreement with the statement. Results for the five response options were “strongly agree” (42.5%), “agree” (40.7%), “no opinion” (6.9%), “disagree” (6.4%), and “strongly disagree” (3.5%).


The survey included an item that asked consumers to provide suggestions about how services could be improved. Many consumers used the opportunity to comment by expressing appreciation for the services received from DOR, and for the help and support of counselors.
Other comments were more pointed. Consumers frequently stated that they would like to hear from their counselors more often, and receive more frequent updates on matters related to their program of services. Many consumers said they would like to have their phone calls returned more promptly. Quite a number of consumers expressed a desire to have more job leads, and receive more help with job search and job placement.
Judging from consumer response to the survey items, it seems reasonable to conclude that a majority of DOR consumers were generally satisfied with the services they received. Overall, almost seventy-one percent (70.9%) of the respondents selected either “strongly agree” (38.0%) or “agree” (32.9%) in response to the statement, “I am satisfied with services from the Department of Rehabilitation.” The results suggest that increasing the communication, and time spent, between counselors and consumers would likely contribute to an increase in consumer satisfaction.

SRC Responsibilities
Review of Rehabilitation Appeals Board Decisions
In accordance with its federal mandate, the SRC reviewed the appeals decisions issued during 2011. A total of 22 decisions were issued. The Rehabilitation Appeals Board (Board) determined that the DOR acted within the established regulations in provision of services in 18 of the 22 decisions (81%). In the four (4) remaining decisions, the DOR was directed to either accommodate the consumer’s request or work with the consumer to develop a new course of action pending receipt of additional information from the consumer.
A wide range of topics came before the Board this year and mostly fit into the following overarching categories; however, each case's specifics were unique.

  • Termination of transportation funds or denial of requested equipment (8 cases or 36%)

  • Consumer's vocational goal choice (6 cases or 27%)

  • Public versus private school training (5 cases or 22%)

  • Premature case closure (3 cases or 13%)

The SRC makes the following general observations:



  • Increased communication between counselor and consumer may reduce disagreements and misunderstandings. The DOR has two current initiatives; AWARE Implementation and a new VRSD Model that are intended to increase the amount of time counselors can spend with consumers (see Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Modernization Project for details). Increasing the amount of time spent together may reduce miscommunication.

  • Very few of the cases (6 of 22) had CAP representation at the hearings. It is not known, however, if there may have been CAP involvement in preparation of the case or in previous attempts for resolution (i.e. administrative review or mediation).


SRC and State Independent Living Council (SILC) Collaboration
In alignment with federal mandate, the SRC & SILC partnered in effort to further strengthen coordination and working relationships between the DOR, SILC, and Centers for Independent Living. The SRC and SILC met jointly in February 2011 to identify possibilities for future collaboration, and subsequently established a joint task force aimed at developing specific collaboration recommendations. The SRC anticipates continuing this effort in FFY 2012.

SRC Recommendations to DOR
The SRC adopted a series of recommendations during FFY 2011. Although the DOR responded in writing on August 11, 2011; in some instances, as noted below, DOR took immediate action.
SRC Recommendation 2010.3: On May 19, 2011, the SRC submitted to the DOR Director a clarification of a recommendation initiated in 2010:

The SRC recommends that the DOR survey the districts to determine the availability and use of soft skills training. The SRC is seeking this information on soft skills training for consumers

In response to the request for clarification, the SRC offered the following: as used for purposes of this recommendation, the SRC takes its definition of soft skills from the soft skills taken from the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) website: "Soft skills are those non-technical skills which are critical to obtaining and maintaining employment, including: professionalism/work ethic; oral and written communication; teamwork and collaboration skills; critical thinking/problem solving skills." Further information available at: www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/softskills.htm.


DOR Response:

The DOR thanks the SRC for its recommendation to survey all DOR districts to determine the availability and use of soft skills training. Unfortunately, at this time, as the organization is in the midst of modernizing both case recording (ERS/ AWARE) and service delivery systems (VRSD Project), the DOR is unable to adopt this recommendation due to lack of available resources.


As a component of the Vocational Rehabilitation Service Delivery model, additional classifications are being considered to ensure a comprehensive team approach to both assess and provide for the needs of applicants and consumers. The DOR will take under advisement the SRC’s recommendations to ensure availability of soft skills training for consumers.
“Soft skills” as defined by ODEP is not identified as a stand-alone service within DOR. However, soft skills assessment and training is woven into many of the employment services and programs provided by DOR, especially through the counseling and guidance provided by our rehabilitation counselors. DOR purchased services that are aligned with the ODEP definition of soft skills include but are not limited to:

  • Personal, Vocational, Social Adjustment (PVSA)

  • Work Adjustment Services

  • Work Services

  • Employment Services

  • Workability Programs

  • Internships and On-the-Job training programs

The DOR looks forward to an ongoing discussion with the SRC regarding soft skills assessment and training at its August 2011 council meeting.


SRC Recommendation 2011.1 (11/18/10)

The SRC recommends that the DOR identify needs for services in growing and emerging disabilities for inclusion in the 2012 State Plan.


SRC Recommendation 2011.2 (11/18/10)

The SRC recommends that the DOR increase consumer opportunities to look at non-traditional pathways to employment for inclusion in the 2012 State Plan.


SRC Recommendation 2011.3 (11/18/10)

The SRC recommends that the DOR expand its efforts to increase employment opportunities in emerging industries for inclusion in the 2012 State Plan.


SRC Recommendation 2011.4 (11/18/10)

The SRC recommends that the DOR develop strategies to gather input from business and industry for inclusion into the 2012 State Plan.


SRC Recommendation 2011.5 (11/18/10)

The SRC recommends that DOR include the following in the 2012 State Plan:



  • The DOR will maintain the quality and quantity of employment outcomes.

  • The DOR will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of vocational rehabilitation services delivery.

  • The DOR will maintain the quantity of employment outcomes of SSI/SSDI beneficiaries.

  • The DOR will develop and implement efficient and effective workforce development and leadership succession plans.

  • The DOR will promote equality for persons with disabilities through systems change.

  • The DOR will maintain competitive, integrated employment outcomes for consumers accessing SE services.

  • The DOR will continue to enhance DOR staff knowledge of SE Regulations and processes by providing training and technical assistance.

  • The DOR will promote and enhance collaboration with local and statewide SE partners and stakeholders.


DOR Response:

The DOR thanks the SRC for recommendations 2011.1 – 2011.5. The DOR incorporated these recommendations as critical feedback from which the 2012 State Plan new Goals, Objectives and Strategies were developed. The DOR and SRC worked jointly to finalize these goals, objectives and strategies and the DOR further thanks the SRC for its active involvement and participation in 2012 State Plan Public meetings to invite public feedback on this joint work. As a result, the DOR has submitted the 2012 State Plan to the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) and is awaiting formal approval.


SRC Recommendation 2011.6 (1/25/11)

The SRC recommends the DOR continue its development of the 2012 State Plan Goals and Objectives consistent with the information and approach presented to the SRC on January 25, 2011.


DOR Response:

The DOR thanks the SRC for and implemented recommendation 2011.6 which voiced support for the inclusive process by which the 2012 State Plan Goals, Objectives and strategies were developed. The DOR’s “Integration Project” invited and coordinated feedback from the SRC, internal and external stakeholders, members of the public and staff members from all departmental divisions to set the direction for the 2012 state plan.


SRC Recommendation 2011.7 (2/9/11)

The SRC provided clarification language for SRC Recommendation 2010.3


DOR Response:

The DOR thanks the SRC for clarification of recommendation 2010.3 and DOR’s response is noted above.


SRC Recommendation 2011.8 (2/10/11)

The SRC recommends that the DOR streamline vocational rehabilitation process forms and priority for services/Level of Significance of Disability (LSOD) determinations and extensions, including the following:



  • Combine the Eligibility and Priority for Services/LSOD Determinations & Extensions in AWARE.

  • Revise California Code of Regulations (CCR) Section 7054 to reflect the new forms and eliminate signature requirement on the LSOD Determination as soon as practicable.

  • Revise RAM 30, Sections 30059 and 30085, to eliminate signature requirements accordingly.

  • Articulate and communicate the policy change in a guidance memo to be released by March 2011 and in the AWARE Reference Guide (training materials) by March 1, 2011.


DOR Response:

The DOR has adopted SRC recommendations 2011.8 and 2011.9, policy recommendations tied to two critical Vocational Rehabilitation Modernization (VR MOD) projects. These two projects



  1. Update our electronic records system (ERS/ AWARE) for the first time in twenty years; and

  2. Modernize our Vocational Rehabilitation Service Delivery (VRSD) System.

The DOR appreciates recommendations contained within 2011.8 that were made subsequent to a presentation regarding the policy changes necessary to implement the DOR’s new off the shelf electronic records system (AWARE). These recommendations voice the SRC’s acknowledgement and support of case recording policies that will provide greater efficiencies for consumers and staff alike. The DOR has appreciated the SRC’s involvement on the ERS/ AWARE steering committee and the collaborations with the SRC on this critical strategic project.
SRC Recommendation 2011.9 (2/9/11)

The SRC recommends that the DOR:



  1. Adopt a decrease in the frequency of inquiry regarding an individual's desire to remain on the waiting list, from once every 90 days to annually.

  2. Post a notice on the DOR Internet web page, inviting wait-listed consumers to contact the DOR at any time regarding their desire to remain or be removed from the waiting list, and informing them they will receive an inquiry by mail annually.

  3. Revise CCR Section 7055(c) from a 90-day notification schedule to an annual notification schedule.

  4. Send the DR 68D Notification Letter - Consumers on Waiting List annually rather than quarterly.

  5. Revise CCR Section 7055(d) to reflect the change in frequency to annual notification.

  6. Retain the current wait-list-specific case closure time frames in CCR 7055 (d) to afford an individual sufficient time to respond to the DOR's annual, mailed inquiry.


DOR Response:

As noted above, the DOR adopted and is in the process of implementing recommendations 2011.8 and 2011.9. These recommendations, as noted above, were made subsequent to presentations related to implementation of ERS/AWARE. The DOR specifically appreciates the recommendation that consumers be directed to the DOR Internet site inviting wait-listed consumers to contact the DOR at any time regarding their desire to remain or be removed from the waiting list, and informing them they will receive an inquiry by mail annually.


SRC Recommendation 2011.10 (4/13/11)

The SRC recommends the DOR adopt the modified proposed language of CCR 7179.1 and 7179.3


DOR Response:

The CCR Title 9 direct implementation of the public vocational rehabilitation program in California. This recommendation was made subsequent to a presentation related to potential case closures due to threatening and harassing behavior in the workplace by applicants and eligible consumers. This recommendation remains pending and the DOR and will keep the SRC updated.



Consumer Success Stories
Aaron first applied for services with the DOR in December 1998. He was HIV positive and had been diagnosed with depression. After working together for about a year, he and his counselor developed an IPE for a Master's Degree in Counseling at San Francisco State University (SFSU). Aaron received a computer, books, supplies, and tuition for his program and excelled in his classes. In 2008, Aaron graduated from SFSU with his Master's Degree in Counseling and obtained a temporary position as high school counselor. He had expected the position to end in June 2009, but fortunately, they turned it into a permanent position. He is currently pursuing his Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy.
When his first DOR counselor suggested training to become a janitor in a hospital, Andrew, a young man with severe hearing loss, refused. He had something else in mind; he insisted that he wanted to go to college.

Andrew attended Fresno City College for two years and carried a 4.0 GPA; after which he transferred to University of California, Santa Cruz where he double majored in Anthropology and History. Andrew graduated summa cum laude and with college honors. Following graduation from UC Santa Cruz, Andrew decided he wanted to go to law school. With the help of his counselor, he became the first hard of hearing person to attend Pepperdine University School of Law. He graduated in 2000 and passed the California Bar Exam on his first attempt. Ten years later he represents federal and postal employees; handling mostly disciplinary, discrimination, and sexual harassment cases.


SVRC-QRP Juan Galvan was born with Muscular Dystrophy (MD) and has endured the condition's manifestations, treatments, and barriers his entire life. During his teen years, Galvan lost most of his ambulatory capabilities and was introduced to a power wheelchair; which to date is his means for mobility. Galvan professes that even though he has been blessed with unconditional support from his family and friends, his lifelong goal was to feel empowered through independence. Upon graduating from high school, he was referred to the DOR for services. His first counselor provided him with the tools and guidance to pursue his vocational and independent living goals. Within a few years, he graduated from Imperial Valley College with an Associate's degree in Psychology and then went on to obtain a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from San Diego State University. In 2007, Galvan received a Master's degree in Marriage Family Therapy. In February 2010, Galvan's journey came full circle when he became an SVRC-QRP for the DOR.

Acronyms and Abbreviations used in this Report

2011 Unless otherwise noted, references to 2011 refer to Federal Fiscal Year 2011 (October 1, 2010 - September 30, 2011)

Act The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended in 1998

ARRA American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

AWARE Accessible Web-based Activity Reporting Environment

BEP Business Enterprise Program

CAP Client Assistance Program

CBO Community Based Organizations

CCR California Code of Regulations

CCEPD

CFR Code of Federal Regulations

CRP Community Rehabilitation Program

CSNA Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment

CSS Consumer Satisfaction Survey

DOR Department of Rehabilitation

EDD Employment Development Department

EPC Executive Planning Committee

FFY Federal Fiscal Year

GCEPD Governor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities

IPE Individualized Plan for Employment

MEP Mobility Evaluation Program

QRP Qualified Rehabilitation Professional

RSA Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. Department Of Education

SE Supported Employment

SILC State Independent Living Council

SRC State Rehabilitation Council

SVRC Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

VR Vocational Rehabilitation

VR Mod VR Modernization Project

Attributions

The following source documents were utilized in developing this Annual Report:



  • 2011 DOR/SRC CSS Report

  • 2012 DOR State Plan

  • ARRA Status Reports

  • California EDD Labor Market Review (September 2011)

  • DOR "DOR-Ways" publications

  • DOR "News Hour Updates"

  • DOR Preliminary Data Reports [DISCLAIMER: At the direction of RSA, this report contains preliminary raw data not yet validated for FFY 2011. The validated data will not be available until early 2012.]

  • DOR VR Modernization Project Overview

  • Rehabilitation Appeals Board Decisions (Redacted)

  • 29 United States Code (USC) Section 725(b)

  • VRSD Pilot Update - Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advisory Committee (December 19, 2011)

The SRC prepares and submits an annual report to the Governor of California and Commissioner of the RSA on the status of vocational rehabilitation programs operated within California. This document fulfills that mandate and is available to the public in a variety of formats. For additional information, please visit the SRC's webpage at: http://www.dor.ca.gov/execsrc.htm.

The SRC welcomes visitors. SRC meetings are open to the public and include time on the agenda for public comment. For additional information, please contact the State Rehabilitation Council at src@dor.ca.gov or (916) 558-5868.



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