The Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) has received questions regardingimplementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Therefore, we are providingclarification 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 forindividuals with disabilities. The Act also changes the employment outcomes that are allowable underthe Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program. The purpose of this letter is to advise you how WIOAchanges to allowable VR program employment outcomes affect DORS funding in support of thoseoutcomes.
The Individualized Plan for Employment for a DORS consumer must include a specific employmentgoal that is consistent with the general goal of competitive integrated employment. For anemployment outcome to be considered competitive integrated employment, WIOA regulations requirethat the outcome satisfy the following criteria to be permitted under the Vocational Rehabilitationprogram: (1) competitive earnings, (2) integrated location, and (3) opportunities for advancement. If anindividual’s employment fails to satisfy any one of these three components, the employment will notmeet the definition of competitive integrated employment and will no longer be allowed under the VRprogram. Please see the enclosed Fact Sheet for clarification regarding the definition of competitiveintegrated employment and frequently asked questions.
The U.S Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), has determined thatbusiness settings established specifically for the purpose of employing individuals with disabilitiesare unlikely to meet the integrated settings requirement in the definition of competitive integratedemployment (CIE). This includes positions that are funded through the operation of contracts underthe Javits-Wagener-O’Day Act, known as Ability One, or State purchasing contracts, that require thehiring of a specific number of individuals with disabilities. Because RSA has determined that theseset-aside jobs are not typically found in the competitive marketplace, unless a case-by-case analysisfinds 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, yourorganization 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 besuccessful in these non-integrated employment settings.
Similarly, groups, mobile work crews, or enclaves do not satisfy the integrated location component ofcompetitive integrated employment when the employee’s day-to-day interactions with individualswithout disabilities (excluding supervisors and service providers) are merely by chance and are notnecessary for the perfornance of the job. This means an employee is not in integrated employmentwhen interaction with individuals without disabilities occurs only when having a casual conversationunrelated to business, or when arriving, leaving, or taking a break at the same time as individualswithout disabilities, or when receiving supervision or support.
As a result of the change to allowable employment outcomes for the VR program, DORS staff arebeing instructed to issue new authorizations only for job placement and support services leading toemployment that meets the definition of competitive integrated employment. If you currently have aconsumer in a non-integrated employment setting receiving DORS funding, consistent with theIndividualized Plan for Employment, contact the DORS counselor to determine when DORS fundingwill be discontinued. All DORS funding for supports for outcomes in non-integrated settings willcease by April 30, 2017.
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The Vocational Rehabilitation program receives 78.7% of its funding through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. For Federal fiscal year 2018, the total amount of grant funds awarded were $44,234,054. The remaining 21.3% of the costs ($11,971,860) were funded by State appropriations.