WIOA, Competitive Integrated Employment, and VR Funding

From the Office of Scott Dennis, DORS Acting Director

July 3, 2018


The Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) has received questions regarding
implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Therefore, we are providing
clarification related to how DORS provides vocational rehabilitation services.


The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
(WIOA), places extensive emphasis on the achievement of competitive integrated employment for
individuals with disabilities. The Act also changes the employment outcomes that are allowable under
the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program. The purpose of this letter is to advise you how WIOA
changes to allowable VR program employment outcomes affect DORS funding in support of those
outcomes.


The Individualized Plan for Employment for a DORS consumer must include a specific employment
goal that is consistent with the general goal of competitive integrated employment. For an
employment outcome to be considered competitive integrated employment, WIOA regulations require
that the outcome satisfy the following criteria to be permitted under the Vocational Rehabilitation
program: (1) competitive earnings, (2) integrated location, and (3) opportunities for advancement. If an
individual’s employment fails to satisfy any one of these three components, the employment will not
meet the definition of competitive integrated employment and will no longer be allowed under the VR
program. Please see the enclosed Fact Sheet for clarification regarding the definition of competitive
integrated employment and frequently asked questions.


The U.S Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), has determined that
business settings established specifically for the purpose of employing individuals with disabilities
are unlikely to meet the integrated settings requirement in the definition of competitive integrated
employment (CIE). This includes positions that are funded through the operation of contracts under
the Javits-Wagener-O’Day Act, known as Ability One, or State purchasing contracts, that require the
hiring of a specific number of individuals with disabilities. Because RSA has determined that these
set-aside jobs are not typically found in the competitive marketplace, unless a case-by-case analysis
finds that an employment position meets each requirement of CIE, including in an integrated setting,
the position cannot be considered to meet the definition of competitive integratedemployment. Therefore, if positions within your organization do not meet the definition of CIE, your
organization will not receive payment from DORS for the placement of an individual into these nonintegrated employment settings or any follow-along services that the individual may need to be
successful in these non-integrated employment settings.


Similarly, groups, mobile work crews, or enclaves do not satisfy the integrated location component of
competitive integrated employment when the employee’s day-to-day interactions with individuals
without disabilities (excluding supervisors and service providers) are merely by chance and are not
necessary for the perfornance of the job. This means an employee is not in integrated employment
when interaction with individuals without disabilities occurs only when having a casual conversation
unrelated to business, or when arriving, leaving, or taking a break at the same time as individuals
without disabilities, or when receiving supervision or support.


As a result of the change to allowable employment outcomes for the VR program, DORS staff are
being instructed to issue new authorizations only for job placement and support services leading to
employment that meets the definition of competitive integrated employment. If you currently have a
consumer in a non-integrated employment setting receiving DORS funding, consistent with the
Individualized Plan for Employment, contact the DORS counselor to determine when DORS funding
will be discontinued. All DORS funding for supports for outcomes in non-integrated settings will
cease by April 30, 2017.

As we move forward, DORS is committed to working closely with Community Rehabilitation
Programs to assist individuals with disabilities to obtain competitive integrated employment as defined
in WIOA regulations. When considering ajob opening for a potential placement, ajob developer who
has any question regarding whether that placement would be considered integrated by DORS should
discuss these concerns with the DORS counselor before initiating placement.

If you have any other questions or comments, please contact my office or Kate Drake at
Catherine.DrakeQmaryland.gov.
 

Competitive Integrated Employment Resources