Kentucky VR agencies offer a wide variety of services for individuals with disabilities, however that is not the only role these agencies play. Buddy Hoskinson, former executive director of the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, discussed the role of VR agencies in educating local employers. He said, “We really need to educate the employers on why the value of the consumers that we work with can make a big impact on their companies.” Buddy described that shift in responsibility as a “culture change” that could drastically impact the more than 84,000 employers in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Buddy also discussed changes to the training and availability of staff at local VR offices. As part of the SGA Project, enhanced services were designed and implemented to accelerate the VR application process, including eligibility determination and the development of individualized plans for employment.
I think the training at the very beginning is what really kicked us off in the right direction… The monthly calls have been helpful because everyone continues to learn something along the way.
Throughout the whole process Buddy identified one key responsibility for all VR staff, “to connect the dots to find out what are all the services that are needed to help that individual get to where they want to be.” He explained that implementing the enhanced services model allowed local field offices to provide consumers with consistency.
Buddy described the challenges to fully implementing the program across the commonwealth. He said, “It comes down to funding resources and how do we allocate time and resources to something we know that has been successful.” The process used in Kentucky allowed VR offices to deliver more comprehensive and thorough services and information to clients.
I’ve enjoyed what it has done for our staff. I’ve enjoyed what it seems to have created in the local offices. And more importantly, I think it’s been a positive for the consumers we serve.
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The SGA Project is funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education Grant # H235L100004