Term Paper: New York Public Sector Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies

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New York Public Sector Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies

The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of the New York State Public Sector Vocational Rehabilitation Agenices, the Commission for the Blind and the Visually Handicapped (CBVH) and Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID). The function and stages in the process of these agencies is reviewed and comparisions are made. Information from eight sources were referenced and help to show that although both agencies help people rehabilitate, they have their own ways of running their programs and their own goals to establish further progress for the future.

New York Public Sector Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies

Vocational rehabilitation (VR) is a set of services offered to individuals with mental or physical disabilities. These services are designed for all different kinds of participants, enabling them to attain skills that will help them in the workforce. The state of New York has two main Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies: The Commission for the Blind and the Visually Handicapped (CBVH) and Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID). While they both help people rehabilitate, one seeks to help those with visual impairment and the other encompasses a vast variety of other disabilities.

In this paper I will look at the function of vocational rehabilitation and the stages found in the process. The interrelationship between the job placement efforts involved in both State VR processes and the testing, eligibility and training for each participant will be discussed. Similarities, differences and comparisons will be mapped out to seek improvement across both systems, showing that maintaining jobs involves more than training.

In 1920, the state/federal partnership in vocational rehabilitation was created under the National Vocational Rehabilitation Act. This law created a system of state VR agencies and established federal funding of VR services. In addition, the law allows for separation of state VR agencies into those that serve individuals who are legally blind and those that provide services to all other disabled groups (CBVH, ¶ 3). CBVH and VESID are both included in this law, and in 1998 the Rehabilitation Act was incorporated in its entirety at Title IV of the Workforce Investment Act.

CBVH was established by law in 1913 to maintain a 'census of the blind' in New York State to help individuals who are legally blind find suitable employment. CBVH was also charged with researching the causes of blindness and advancing blindness prevention. Their mission statement says its goal is to enhance employability, to maximize independence and to assist in the development of the capacities and strengths of people who are legally blind.

In contrast, VESID concentrates on disabilities in all forms and offers access to a full range of services that may be needed by persons with disabilities through their lives. The agency assists those with physical or mental impairments who want to go to work.

The first stage for both agencies is the process of eligibility to establish if the participant meets the set parameters. In order to determine which people may need special assistance because of their visual disabilities, various governmental jurisdictions have formulated more complex definitions referred to as legal blindness. In North America, legal blindness is defined as visual acuity (vision) of 20/200 (6/60) or less in the better eye with best correction possible or a restricted field of vision of 20 degrees or less in the better or stronger eye (Belote, 2006).

CBVH has the prospective participant complete an application and submit it to the district office. An initial interview will then be scheduled with a CBVH Counselor or representative. People can also be referred by a school, doctor, private agency for the blind or other community, health, or social service organizations.

While the application is fairly simple for the CBVH, additional background information, such as medical reports, school records or work history may be needed to determine eligibility. Recent medical reports that verify the disability can be useful and may be requested. If these are not available, CBVH will assist in obtaining this information. If a person is severely visually impaired but not legally blind, they may qualify for job save services that will help retain employment and adapt to the impairment (CBVH, ¶ 8).

Once eligibility is met, a CBVH counselor will work with the individual to develop an Individual Service Plan (ISP) or an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). These plans will help define personal goals and outline a course of action to achieve it. Fulfillment of the individual plan may require training, adaptive equipment, coursework, and counseling.

Eligibility for VESID requires five factors be met: The person applying has a medically diagnosed physical or mental impairment; the impairment creates an impediment to employment; person can benefit from VR services to achieve employment; person requires VR services to achieve employment; person intends to work. Once found eligible, the agency helps create an Individualized Plan for Employment. This plan outlines the work goal, the steps to achieve it and the necessary services.

VESID starts with the presumption that all persons with disabilities can benefit from vocational rehabilitation services and should have opportunities to work in jobs integrated within their communities. VESID counselors guide individuals through service programs they need to reach their employment goals.

The two agencies differ in their approach and in the programs they offer. In addition to vocational rehabilitation, the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped provides assistance in learning skills such as Braille, various methods of meal preparation, home management activities and other daily living tasks. They offer counseling, guidance, vocational assessment, interpreter services and reader services. One of CBVH's primary objectives is to assist consumers in achieving economic self-sufficiency and full integration into society. CBVH offers these services from seven district offices across the state.

Services offered by the Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities are more geared toward the workforce specifically. They initially assess skills, abilities, interests, and possible job goals. If necessary, a physical and/or psychological examination to help understand how the disability affects the ability to work is performed. They administer special education, driver education and training, career counseling and guidance, and training at a vocational school. They provide books, tools and equipment you may need for training or employment, as well as assist with cost of home or work site modifications needed for employment. They help develop the skills needed to develop a resume and handle job interviews successfully, and help with job placement and job retention.

VESID services end when the individual enters and maintains competitive employment for at least 90 days. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, VESID "closes" services if it seems that the employment goal is not going to be reached. Sometimes people "drop out" of services and the individual program with the agency is closed. VESID stresses that a person who chooses to participate in their services has to be serious about going to work, whether it be part-time or full-time (VESID: Basic Guide, 2010).

CBVH is unique among other state programs in its relationship with the private sector. There are approximately 20 agencies that are not-for-profit private agencies in New York State. Not-for-profit private agencies for the blind, some founded before the establishment of CBVH, provide services to consumers through contracts with CBVH. These agencies provide on-the-job training, placement services, assistive technology and other services (Martin and Browning, 2007). CBVH maintains program monitoring and oversees responsibilities for the supported employment services provided to CBVH consumers. Service providers regularly provide CBVH with individual consumer reports, and CBVH staff meet regularly with providers and consumers. There are approximately 20 agencies that are not-for-profit private agencies in New York State.

Both agencies use different electronic databases to manage the vast amount of data they keep on file. As recently as 2008, CBVH has implemented a new electronic case management system, called the CBVH Consumer Information System (CBVH-CIS). The new system allows supervisory staff to monitor and review consumer cases more easily than when cases were in paper format. The system operates on existing NYS Office for Technology (OFT) servers, which are shared by other applications from other State agencies. This results in periodic slowdowns on the CBVH-CIS across the system which limits the ability of CBVH district office staff to effectively complete consumer applications, authorizations, and other consumer-related service documentation, potentially delaying services to legally blind consumers (NYSCBVH, 2009).

VESID uses the recently implemented electronic database CaMS, which differs from CIS because of its additional financial elements. CaMS is a computer program that manages informational numbers, and since the upgrade of the current family living allowance implemented by VESID in April 2008, it allows the numbers to be automatically recalculated.

These agencies work together frequently. There are times that CBVH needs to reach out to VESID based on the additional disabilities of the consumer. This is achieved through access to a limited number of "VESID slots" or the purchase of intensive services on a fee-for-service basis. CBVH and VESID then work together so that the limited… [END OF PREVIEW]

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New York Public Sector Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies.  (2010, December 7).  Retrieved December 9, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/new-york-public-sector-vocational-rehabilitation/93078

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