Innovating Services, Improving Outcomes: A VR Model for Serving SSDI Clients

Mathematica, ICI, and CSAVR
Date/Time [EST]: 
09/28/2017 - 1:00pm
As the main source of job services for people with disabilities, state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies have the potential to help people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) become more independent and economically successful. But recent research suggests that VR services for these individuals could be improved. Although SSDI beneficiaries who receive VR services see their earnings increase, only a small share earn enough to leave the disability rolls.
To this end, the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and Mathematica Policy Research received a grant from the Rehabilitation Services Administration to develop the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Project Demonstration. This demonstration focused on improving employment outcomes for state VR clients who receive SSDI.
Mathematica’s Center for Studying Disability Policy hosted this webinar featuring a panel of experts. The panel discussed the experiences of VR agencies in Kentucky and Minnesota that implemented the SGA Project innovations, which were designed to help beneficiaries prepare for and find jobs with earnings high enough to leave the disability rolls.
  • Gina Livermore, moderator (Mathematica)
  • Susan Foley (Institute for Community Inclusion)
  • Joe Marrone (Institute for Community Inclusion)
  • Purvi Sevak (Mathematica)
  • Todd Honeycutt (Mathematica)
  • Steve Wooderson, discussant (Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation) 

How Does the Dual Customer Approach Support VR Employment Outcomes?

Kathleen West-Evans and Beth Butler
Date/Time [EST]: 
01/29/2016 - 12:00pm

This webinar will provide Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies with an overview of the National Employment Team (NET) and the Talent Acquisition Portal (TAP). Kathleen West-Evans, Director of Business Relations at the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, will discuss how the NET and TAP are building relationships with businesses that contribute to career planning and VR employment outcomes. 

Download the Powerpoint presentation: How Does the Dual Customer Approach Support VR Employment Outcomes? Powerpoint (PDF)

All ExploreVR webinars are live captioned: Does the Dual Customer Approach Support VR Employment Outcomes? Transcript (WORD)

The JD-VRTAC is a national center housed at the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The center and its webinars are funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) within the US Department of Education under grant #H264A140002. 

The Vocational Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Demand-Side Strategies (Demand-Side RRTC) is housed at the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The center and its webinars are funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) Grant # H133B120002.

Job-Driven VRTAC

RTAC Expert Summit: Introducing the VR Program Management Framework as a Tool for WIOA Implementation

Date/Time [EST]: 
09/28/2015 - 12:00pm

On Monday, September 28, 2015 from 12pm - 4pm EST and Tuesday, September 29, 2015 from 12pm - 3:30pm EST, the Research and Technical Assistance Center (RTAC) on VR Program Management hosted an online virtual conference, Expert Summit: Introducing the VR Program Management Framework as a Tool for WIOA Implementation. The RTAC Expert Summit discussed the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program Management Framework, and highlighted effective program management practices in the context of adapting to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

The two-day virtual conference was a forum to bridge research, policy, and practice. We invited researchers, service users, providers, consultants, and administrators to join us as we discussed priority issues regarding WIOA and identify avenues for future research and development.

This summit stimulated a dialogue between ICI researchers, state VR agency leadership and staff, and content experts regarding all components of the VR Program Management Framework.

For more information about the RTAC Expert Summit, including an archive of the Expert Summit:

RTAC Expert Summit Day 1 Webinar Presentation Day 1 includes Sessions 1, 2, and 3. 

RTAC Expert Summit Day 2 Webinar Presentation Day 2 includes Sessions 4 and 5.

RTAC Expert Summit Session 1: VR Program Management Key Findings (PPT)

RTAC Expert Summit Session 2: Employer Engagement (PPT)

RTAC Expert Summit Session 3: Pre-employment Transition Services (PPT)

RTAC Expert Summit Session 4: Customized Training (PPT)

RTAC Expert Summit Session 5: Extended Services (PPT) 

RTAC Expert Summit Sessions & Agenda (PDF)

RTAC Expert Summit Sessions & Agenda (Word)

Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies Helping People With Psychiatric Disabilities Get Employed: How Far Have We Come? How Far Do We Have to Go?

Publication Year: 2013

Case Studies of Promising Practices in Vocational Rehabilitation

The Vocational Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (VR-RRTC.org) based at the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston partnered with national content experts to identify promising VR employment practices serving people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD). The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), the funding agency, requested an emphasis on identifying promising practices for people with mental illnesses and people with intellectual disabilities/developmental disabilities, and to identify promising practices related to order of selection and the designation of most significant disability. This report provides a summary of four promising VR employment practices for persons with IDD. The study included a nationwide call for nominations through extensive outreach using a variety of channels and venues, including (but not limited to) direct contact with VR agencies, Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) Centers, the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), and NIDRR. The VR RRTC formed a Delphi expert panel to review and rate all nominated practices using a systematic, multi-step procedure to evaluate nominations.

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Agency Decision-Making Control and Employment Outcomes by Vocational Rehabilitation Consumers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Publication Year: 2013

Introduction: We hypothesized that consumers who are blind or visually impaired (that is, those who have low vision) who were served by state vocational rehabilitation agencies with decision-making control over administrative functions would experience better vocational rehabilitation outcomes than consumers served by vocational rehabilitation agencies with less control in these areas. Methods: We merged person-level RSA-911 (fiscal year 2010) data with agency-level data collected as part of the National Survey of State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, which we conducted in 2011. We employed multilevel modeling, controlling for select person-level characteristics, and agency-level indicators of primary decision-making control by vocational rehabilitation agencies in six key administrative functions: human resources, infrastructure, management information systems, policies and procedures, program evaluation, and purchasing. Dependent variables were measures of "any employment" and "competitive employment" outcomes. Results: We report a positive association between agency decision-making control over policies and procedures and competitive employment outcomes by consumers who were blind (odds ratio = 2.64; 95% confidence interval 1.23-5. 72). Among consumers who are visually impaired, agency decision-making control over human resources was negatively associated with any employment closures (odds ratio = 0.56; 95% confidence interval = 0.36-0.93) and competitive employment outcomes (odds ratio = 0.56; 95% confidence interval = 0.33-0.97). Discussion: Results demonstrate the potential for factors related to agencies, in addition to factors related to individuals, to function as mediators of vocational rehabilitation outcomes for consumers who are blind or visually impaired. Implications for practitioners: Findings highlight the importance of understanding how management control over areas such as policy and procedures have the potential to influence service delivery and subsequent employment outcomes.

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Using ICI's www.StateData.info website: Focus on RSA-911

Frank Smith
Date/Time [EST]: 
10/06/2009 - 3:30pm

This is an interactive web tutorial on using the RSA 911 information contained in StateData.info. The webinar is tailored for state VR agency staff that are involved in planning, evaluation, management and public information. The webinar provides an overview of the StateData.info site and how to navigate through the 911 data.

Visit the ExploreVR Open Data Lab to download raw RSA 911 data sets

A Systematic Research Synthesis on Vocational Rehabilitation

Heike Boeltzig, Martha Klemm, Allison Fleming, and Susan Foley
Date/Time [EST]: 
11/03/2010 - 2:00pm

Researchers present and discuss the findings of a systematic review of empirical research on the public VR system spanning 1970 to 2008. The review aimed to characterize the public VR program in terms of its programmatic and systematic features, the types of customers served, and the kinds of outcomes achieved as resported in research studies. More broadly, the review aimed to describe the existing VR research base, including gaps in research, and to make recommendations for future research investment. Researchers conducted an extensive literature search and then narrowed the sample to 550 studies that met the review criteria. A structured coding tool was used for data analysis and quality assessment. In addition to the findings, presenters discuss study implications as well as methodological challenges and how these were addressed.