~~IVRS area offices are also becoming involved and engaged in sector partnerships. At the state level, IVRS has representation on the statewide Career Pathways and Sector Partnership Advisory Boards and will be involved in policy development that addresses accessibility issues. At the local level, the sector partnerships are locally developed workforce partners that serve specific industry sectors by providing a talent pool of eligible job candidates, as well as technical assistance to business and industry regarding their specific questions and needs. The Burlington Area Office has one IVRS employee on each sector partnership which has proven to be a systemic approach to placement. This allows the team to serve the business, and when a member of the team resigns or retires, a new member from the organization is then placed on the partnership. In this manner business receives services in a continuous fashion, the relationship is built with the partnership, and there is not any gap in service delivery to the business. IVRS area offices are all working with their local workforce development partnerships to become engaged and involved, or in some instances to create these partnerships where they do not exist. IVRS can be instrumental in this development because IVRS is in every county and has personal contacts in each county. This will serve as a conduit to creating and extending sector partnerships to more rural and remote areas of the state.
Sector partnerships are increasingly recognized as an effective method for aligning education, economic, and workforce development systems to address industry-identified labor market needs. The federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which replaces the Workforce Investment Act, shifts from an “employment first” strategy to one which emphasizes credential attainment through the use of sector partnerships and career pathways. (Page 107) Title I
IVRS developed a transition strategic plan to expand services for students with disabilities. Progress is occurring; as in 2016, VR served 33% of the students with a disability, and in 2017, that percentage increased to 51%. IVRS and SRC members work together to provide collective responses to incorporate policies and procedures from input received from external partners. SRC members also routinely review survey information from IVRS consumers related to their satisfaction levels with agency services. The SRC did work with Dr. Darlene Groomes, through a consultation project on quality improvement. This led to discussion on the strategic plan to focus on the following areas: Visionary Leadership; Customer Focus; Valuing Employees and partners; Managing for innovation; Management by Facts; and Focus on Results and creating value. Consistent trends that were identified include developing working relationships with business and industry, communication regarding transition initiatives, and implementing the use of technology to increase field staff efficiencies. Other activities in which the SRC helps IVRS advance its goals and mission involve Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). The SRC has supported IVRS initiatives such as Future Ready Iowa, Intermediary Network contracts, Making the Grade, Transition Alliance Programs, Project Search programs, STEM Career Camps, TEAM (Transitioning to Employment and Advocating for Myself), iJAG (Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates) have been supported. IVRS staff also informed SRC members of work being done with the Microsoft training academy to help job candidates seeking credentialing in Microsoft products. SRC members are provided quarterly updates about Iowa’s progress in the Employment First initiative. Iowa is the lead agency with the Department of Labor Office of Disability and Employment Policy Employment First project. As part of Iowa’s 2017 Employment First plan, there was a focus in Ottumwa, Iowa, in partnership with the South Central Behavioral Health Region. Priority areas involved provider transformation and staff capacity for four targeted providers and building networking skills for the region in the area of business engagement. A similar initiative is currently underway in two other parts of the state (Des Moines and Cedar Rapids) with a focus on improving staff capacity. SRC members were informed about IVRS’ new grant initiative with Nebraska, with a focus on the Sioux City/Council Bluffs corridor. Iowa VR supported a grant that garnered RSA funding. Staff will be hired to look at closed cases of job candidates in these areas: health care, engineering, transportation and logistics, and advanced manufacturing. The plan is for VR to upgrade these candidate’s skill levels and create a pathway to fill with new job candidates providing advanced credentialing to further career advancement. SRC members also supported communication with the Omaha Indian Tribe of Nebraska and the development of a MOA to foster collaboration with our common job candidates. Recent guest speakers at the SRC ranged from representatives from the IVRS Self-Employment and Independent Living programs, to the Iowa Coalition for Integration and Employment (ICIE). (Page 293) Title I
None noted. Specific recommendations were made during the last SRC meeting on the following: VR SERVICE DELIVERY COMMITTEE Proposed Recommendations to IVRS The VR Service Delivery Committee reviewed data compiled by IVRS on rehabilitation rates of the following disability types: Intellectual Disability, Psychiatric Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Deaf/Hard of Hearing. Data from 2013-2017 was compared and rehab rates were lowest for all of those populations in 2017. Intellectual Disabilities Potential Cause: Employment First • IVRS is serving more people. • Individuals who elect to work in sheltered workshops are closed in Status 28. • More individuals have had failed attempts at competitive integrated employment. • These numbers include people referred from sheltered workshops who don’t really want to work in the community. Potential Recommendations: • Decrease caseload size by increasing waiting list to allow more intensive services to MSD job candidates. • Provide more intensive Career Counseling to individuals employed at subminimum wage. Psychiatric Disabilities Potential Causes: (Page 294) Title I
IVRS has a training coordinator position who stays current on research trends through frequent communication with our university training programs. Management staff are aware and utilize the national Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials and we have shared practices through internal work groups as applicable. (Motivational interviewing being an example of a topic) IVRS administrator and senior management staff will often participate in national conferences such as the spring and fall CSAVR Conferences where promising practices and research based ideas are shared. IVRS also participates in regional training and sharing with our common states of Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska which also includes general and blind agencies. These opportunities also facilitate the acquisition and sharing of researched based practices. We also have outreached for TA to WINTAC in areas such as Career Index, Performance measures, quality review of SES programs and services and workforce collaboration which also has been a strategy to stay abreast of current knowledge trends.
The agency routinely uses the latest research and pilot projects to update training programs in areas such as assistive technology, mental illness, learning disabilities, autism, and head injury/traumatic brain injury. IVRS is the lead agency with the Employment First Initiative and both internal staff and IVRS partners have access to a myriad of customized employment training webinars.
IVRS also provides training on policy, motivational interviewing, benefits planning, and when new initiatives and issues arise, training is developed, coordinated and/or provided by the IVRS Training Specialist. Recent examples this past year have included external training coordination with the Epilepsy Foundation and the Iowa Brain Injury Alliance. (Page 323) Title I
IVRS is seeing an increase in service to individuals with the most significant disabilities, which is consistent with our mission. The Managed Care system implemented in Iowa is considered a challenge to individuals who may not have the support of their case manager or care coordinator in a plan to pursue competitive integrated employment. To address these issues, progress has occurred through Employment First efforts to improve coordination of services with managed care organizations and the development of an Employment First Guidebook, which has been shared across systems. Both of Iowa’s major managed care organizations have active members with regular representation on the Employment First Leadership team. IVRS increased reimbursement rates to community providers to align with Iowa Medicaid rates. Training is held at least annually for internal staff and community partners on the roles, responsibilities and expectations for service delivery. IVRS provides an annual Report Out of their service provision to CRPs, which is shared with local IVRS supervisors and available to stakeholders to enhance informed choice options. (Page 331) Title IV
IVRS has been an active participant in the Employment First initiative and as a result, more individuals who may have entered facility-based employment have obtained employment. This is evidenced by the data indicating that in 2014 IVRS served 403 individuals in SES and job Development spending $971,295 dollars and had 252 successful employment outcomes. In 2017, we served 1,057 job candidates spending $1,779,919 and had 406 successful employment outcomes.
Throughout the state, many of Iowa’s Community Rehabilitation Programs have shown a commitment to competitive integrated employment (CIE) and helping facilitate an individual’s movement towards this goal. CIE is a priority for most of SRC members and has been the driving force behind Iowa’s Employment First efforts as well. As a result, there were changes made to the IVRS Menu of Employment Services in partnership with the Iowa Department of Human Services and supported by external service providers. The work in Iowa is done collaboratively and both a representative from DHS and the Executive Director of the Iowa Association of Community Providers remain key members of the Iowa Employment First Leadership Team.
IVRS will continue to participate in Employment First efforts - with its clear focus on helping individuals with the most significant disabilities access competitive integrated employment. The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, Disability Rights of Iowa, the Iowa Association of Community Providers, Iowa’s Department of Human Rights, Iowa Client Assistance Program and the IVRS State Rehabilitation Council are key partners focused on equitable access and participation. National data from the Department of Labor in 2016 indicated there were 241,265 individuals in America earning subminimum wages. Iowa data shows a figure of 5,568 earning subminimum wages during that period. (Page 338) Title IV
STRATEGY — IVRS staff will work with local education agencies to help them understand the career skill gap, programs available to students to become employed in Fast track career jobs, and career pathways that will lead to employment. IVRS will support STEM training to help students and youth achieve access in higher employment. IVRS will also provide counseling and guidance services on labor market information and the opportunities available with appropriate training. Information will be provided by IVRS to youth about internships, apprenticeship training and post-secondary options.
IVRS continues to promote the Employment first philosophy that work is the first and preferred option for all individuals, including youth. High expectations to build towards successful careers are discussed in initial conversations by IVRS, and staff are able to access students as early as age 14. (Page 343) Title IV
Priority areas for IVRS are based upon input from the SRC, our comprehensive statewide needs assessment and strategic plan. Priority areas include increasing employment outcomes and the labor market participation rate for individuals with disabilities; improve transition services consistent with the goals of the pre-employment transition vision; expand business networking and continue to expand Employment First efforts for all individuals with the belief that everyone can work with the right services and the right supports. (Page 346) Title IV
The State Unit recognizes that Title VI, Part B funds are only a supplement to the regular Title I funds. By the end of the first quarter of the fiscal year the State Unit typically has exhausted its Title VI, Part B dollars and is spending Title I dollars for supported employment. IVRS is making an effort to collaborate with various government entities including the Department of Human Services Medicaid Waiver program to ensure that adequate funding will be available to pay for supported employment. Efforts to align funding, as well as establish uniform payment systems among state partners continues to be viewed as IVRS priority areas going forward.
The MOA with our Medicaid Provides clearly identifies a priority by IVRS to serve youth with disabilities. The leveraged funding between our state systems has provided flexibility in determining funding streams with IVRS taking a lead role for those under the age of 24. Continued emphasis needs to occur in this area, as Iowa’s managed care system has experienced significant change, coupled with a lack of knowledge and understanding across stakeholders. An Employment First Service Guidebook was collaboratively developed to help with providing better information. (Page 354) Title IV
Iowa has received technical assistance support through the Office of Disability and Employment Policy and shared training options with Iowa partners. Iowa was an original pilot project and is now recognized as a leader in the provision of Employment First practices. The continued focus of community provider transformation efforts, the Community of Practice Webinars and continued participation with Subject Matter Experts as identified by ODEP and the Department of Labor all provide opportunities for continued expansion and improved service delivery for individuals with the most significant disabilities in competitive integrated employment.
IVRS has also implemented benefits planning services as part of a “best practices” approach to service delivery. Any Social Security recipient who comes to IVRS for services has staff available to address concerns they may have with benefits. Ongoing training has been provided to staff at IVRS to help ensure this service remains available in every IVRS office. (Page 355) Title IV
This remains a priority of the State Rehabilitation Council, and has been the driving force behind Iowa Employment First. Improvements have occurred because of changing the IVRS Menu of Service Manual based on feedback from community surveys.
IVRS has established a commitment to continuing partnerships with the Iowa Association of Community Providers member network and spoken at several of their meetings. IVRS has also revisited collaborative efforts with the Iowa Department of Human Services, Iowa Medicaid System.
IVRS continues to offer joint training to CRP partners to keep staff updated in best practice approaches in service delivery. Seen below are the following topics that are - or have been offered - through IVRS Community of Practice opportunities:
• Success Stories in Utilizing an Integrated Resource Team
• Utilizing the Positive Personal Profile to Capture & Showcase Information Learned in Discovery
• Successful Transition Practices & Partnering with Schools
• Business Engagement Strategies to Support Successful Employment Outcomes
• Iowa's Success Stories
• The Role of Person-Centered Planning in Achieving Integrated Employment Outcomes
• Discovery and Customized Employment
• WIOA & Section 511 (Page 358) Title IV
Taking into consideration the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for individuals with Disabilities, which was tasked to review ways to increase employment for individuals with disabilities, IVRS has prioritized service areas relating to expansion of early work experiences, establishing high expectations, and a focus on business driven demand needs. Communication is continuing in coordination efforts within waiver programs to increase effectiveness.
IVRS will review emerging practices and identify ways to integrate recommended practices and strategies into service delivery. IVRS has utilized expanded practices in implementing the Employment First effort, in expanding contract use as well as in supporting partnership with the Independent Living Centers in expanding support and resources for individuals with the most significant disabilities in supported employment. (Page 361) Title IV
Internally, IVRS staff experienced a learning curve in implementing the provisions of WIOA. The intensive service model requires that systems distinguish individuals who require intensive VR services and understand the Employment First philosophy. Staff need to determine the right strategies and supports for all individuals who want to work. Efforts to refine their skills are continuing to be addressed with assistance from Subject Matter Experts, innovative pilot practices and ongoing training. In 2017, IVRS hired a Training Resource Manager who is creating a professional development training series for all staff. There are individual tracks for different job classifications that allow for further drilling into expertise areas. (Page 362) Title IV
Employment First opportunities are continuing to draw attention to Iowa and facilitate changes in our systems. Iowa’s efforts have been enhanced through the collaboration occurring between a variety of systems and entities that serve individuals with disabilities. Close communication is provided by IVRS to agencies under contract with IVRS in the provision of Supported Employment Services (SES).
Community Provider organizations participated in initial SES pilots that involve new service delivery options such as Discovery and Customized Employment. IVRS initially had a focus on provider transformation, but this past year has moved towards capacity building. The EF philosophy helped to provide a framework to build upon and establish a common purpose to unite forces in Iowa. For the past three fiscal years, IVRS realized an increase in the number of individuals served through supported employment services. As a result, this increase produced a higher number of job candidates served through the Employment First initiative and through the formal supported employment services. (Page 363) Title IV
The Iowa Coalition for Integrated Employment is a current initiative that brings together a diverse set of stakeholders representing all levels of service and interest in employment options for Iowans with disabilities. ICIE is the result of a five-year grant awarded by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. ICIE includes a base consortium of representatives from the Development Disabilities Council, the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Disability Rights Iowa, the Iowa Department of Human Rights, and the Department of Human Services to improve systems so that Iowa youth with disabilities have fully integrated and competitive work opportunities. The overall goal of ICIE has been to improve systems so that individuals with disabilities, including those with intellectual disabilities, have fully integrated, competitive work, regardless of where they live in the state. ICIE has been a key collaborator with innovative braiding of funding to expand financial and technical assistance areas specifically related to Employment First and the delivery of supported employment services in Iowa. (Page 365) Title IV
As previously discussed under sections f. and p. (Arrangements and Cooperative Agreements for the Provision of Supported Employment and Evaluation and Reports of Progress), IVRS continues to increase referral numbers and purchase services and supports from community rehabilitation providers. Data reflects an expanded array of services are being provided with an increase in numbers of job candidates being served.
Quality benchmarks such as length of time in service and outcome measures are being collected through the CRP Annual Report, which is provided by IVRS to all partners. This information also influences informed choice options as job candidates make decisions on which providers they want to work with. IVRS involvement with Employment First efforts and the leveraged resources working with the Iowa Coalition for Integrated Employment and the Disability Employment Initiative enhanced the scope and outreach of program efforts. Significant changes have occurred with the alignment of funding and the Menu of Services that have expanded to reflect the services needed for enhanced customized and supported employment services. (Page 370) Title IV
The IDB also works with Partners to resolve collaboration issues, promote innovative policies, procedures, and practices in service delivery and communicate those to local partners. The partners have determined that the indicator of success is the increased inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workforces of local communities. In a data snapshot of Partner agencies, there was an increase in community employment. The Partners will continue to review this information and revise the measures as we move forward with WIOA. The Partners also recognized that there are approximately 110,000 Iowan’s who might benefit from SSA disability benefits planning services. Some of these individuals are served by a variety of agencies. The Department for the Blind is focused on services being provided in the community, in integrated and competitive environments. Due to the state’s shift of services from facility-based to community-based placements, there will be a need for increased individuals needing benefits planning. Partner agencies have begun to determine the feasibility of establishing a benefits planning network that will identify approved training opportunities for Iowa benefits planners, to provide technical assistance to trainers, and to develop referral processes for SSA recipients not currently connected to the service delivery system. The Department for the Blind participates in activities with other Partner agencies to cooperate as well as involve community partners, families and education in implementing an Employment First approach. The Department of Human Services and IDB have not developed a formal agreement at this time. IDB has taken steps to reach out to DHS partners to begin the development of a formal agreement to establish collaborative efforts and to reduce duplication of services. The IDB has also worked with Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services to develop an agreement to identify collaborative efforts and to reduce duplication of services. Both agencies agree to share resources, discuss strategies, provide training and technical assistance and provide referral and information services, while also coordinating cases that are shared between the two agencies. (Page 396) Title IV