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Improving Employment & Quality of Life For Virginians with Disabilities
The Virginia State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) is a group of individuals, most of whom have disabilities, appointed by the Governor to work on behalf of people with disabilities by serving as a source of advice, information, and support for the Commonwealth's Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services vocational rehabilitation and supported employment programs. The SRC constantly is searching for ways to communicate with DARS consumers, other people with disabilities, and those who support them.
SRC members outside the front entrance of the DARS central office in Henrico during a break at their August 2021 meeting. Back row from left to right: Aaron Bossard, Billie Cook, Joliefawn Liddell, Angie Leonard, Kathy Hayfield, Daniel Irwin and Lauren Roche (staff).
Front row from left to right: Garrett Brumfield, Justin Spurlock, and Madeline Nunnally.
The mission of the Virginia State Rehabilitation Council, in partnership with the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, and in collaboration with advocacy groups, consumers and their families, is to ensure quality services for Virginians with disabilities to achieve meaningful employment, self-sufficiency and independence.
All Virginians with disabilities have access to quality services leading to meaningful employment, self-sufficiency and independence.
ABOUT THE SRC
Why the State Rehabilitation Council Exists
As a result of amendments to the federal Rehabilitation Act in 1992, each state has a citizens' advisory council for its vocational rehabilitation agency. In Virginia, the State Rehabilitation Advisory Council for the Commonwealth's Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) was established by the General Assembly in its 1994 session. When the Rehabilitation Act was reauthorized as part of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, the role of this citizens' council -- now called a State Rehabilitation Council -- was strengthened in order to underscore its importance in providing public input and advice to the state vocational rehabilitation agencies.
In accordance with federal statutory requirements, the Governor of Virginia appoints individuals to the SRC. The SRC must include among its members:
Representatives of disability groups that include a cross-section of individuals with physical, cognitive, sensory, and mental disabilities; representatives of individuals with disabilities who have difficulty representing themselves or are unable due to their disabilities to represent themselves; and current or former applicants for, or recipients of, vocational rehabilitation services.
One representative each from the federal Client Assistance Program at the disAbility Law Center of Virginia; the Statewide Independent Living Council; the Virginia Board of Workforce Development; the Department of Education; the parent training and information center; the Employment Services Organizations; and a qualified counselor from the state's vocational rehabilitation department.
Four representatives of business, industry, and labor.
A majority of the members of the SRC must be people with disabilities.
Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS)
Vocational Rehabilitation Program
The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program was established under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended, and provides vocational rehabilitation services to eligible individuals with disabilities so that they may prepare for and engage in gainful employment. The DARS VR program provides direct services to consumers through its field offices located throughout the Commonwealth. Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center provides consumers with residential or outpatient programs ranging from early medical rehabilitation to complete vocational services and re-entry into the community. The VR program provides a comprehensive range of services, including vocational evaluation, job placement, career counseling, vocational and academic training, rehabilitation and assistive technology, physical restoration and personal assistance services.
In addition to its Division of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) program, DARS has strong partnerships with many community-based rehabilitation providers across the Commonwealth and supports facility-based employment and supported employment services for the Employment Services Organizations (ESOs), the community rehabilitation providers in Virginia.
DARS also works closely with private, non-profit Centers for Independent Living which provide independent living skills, training, advocacy, information and referral and peer counseling for individuals with disabilities.
The State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) works in partnership with the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) to assess satisfaction with services received through the Division of Rehabilitative Services (DRS). Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2020 was the seventh year of assessing satisfaction for consumers in service delivery (post Individualized Plan for Employment but prior to Employment). Survey highlights are provided below.
A detailed report is available at https://www.dars.virginia.gov/publications.htm#annualreports.
Percentage of Consumers Responding "Yes"
Percent of "Yes" responses from those who closed with employment (n = 57)
Overall percent of “Yes” responses, regardless of status (n = 421)
Have you and your counselor agreed on your plans for reaching your job goal?
Is your counselor doing what he/she said they would do to help you reach your job goal?
Is your DARS office helpful in connecting you with people and services you need to reach your job goal?
Has your DARS office kept in contact with you throughout the process?
Are you moving toward employment in a timely manner?
A different approach was taken in examining survey responses from the FFY20 survey. In addition to the normal overall survey responses, consumer responses were examined by their current status as of available data (April 30, 2021). This view provided more of a utility tool for the survey.
Based on available data as of April 30, 2021, 14% (n=57) of the 421 consumers who participated in the FFY20 survey during service delivery had closed in employment, 15% (n=63) had closed without employment, and 71% (n=301) were still “in service” status (note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding in Excel).
While percentages for agreement on various aspects of service are low among consumers who closed without employment, closure reasons point primarily to: Unable to Locate or Contact, Moved (32%) or Refused Services/No longer interested in services (43%)
Perception of maintaining contact was slightly above the prior six year average (73% of all FFY20 responses).
DARS State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment
DARS is required to file a State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment with the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration, annually. Topics covered in the State Plan include:
Rehabilitation and career needs of people with disabilities
Methods to expand and improve services to meet those needs
Services provided by Employment Services Organizations (ESOs)
Quality, scope and extent of Supported Employment services
Transition of students with disabilities, including students with disabilities who are not in special education programs, from education to vocational rehabilitation.
An important Attachment to the State Plan summarizes recommendations and advice provided by the SRC to DSRS, and presents the agency's response to these recommendations.
Each year, DARS conducts special hearings for the purpose of obtaining public input into its State Plan.
SRC Annual Report
The SRC submits an Annual Report to the Commissioner of the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration and to the Governor of Virginia on the status of vocational rehabilitation programs operated within the state.
Copies may be obtained by contacting the SRC Liaison at SRC Web.
SRC meetings are held quarterly. Meetings are generally scheduled to occur at 8004 Franklin Farms Drive, Richmond, Virginia, in the first floor conference room. The location of the meeting is accessible. Interpreter services will be provided, and other accommodations may be requested prior to the meeting.