Summit Group Knowledge Base

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Categories: Agency Structure | Blind and Visually Impaired | Client Surveys | Cost for Services

Cost for Services | Customer as Stakeholder | Deaf and Hard of HearingEmployee Development

Health Care | Job Development and Placement Services | Networking Opportunities

 Policies | RSA 911 | Self-Employment | Supported Employment | Trial Work

Agency Structure

– (07/15/2013) The Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Program is in the process of re-organizing the program and creating an organizational chart to more efficiently serve our clients. As part of this process, we are developing a program evaluation section. We are considering including program policy, quality assurance and training in this section. We would like to know how other program evaluation units are set up and would also be interested in organizational charts for other state vocational rehabilitation programs. Any and all shared information would be greatly appreciated. This knowledge will help us in determining the most efficient placement of personnel for program evaluation activities to improve services to individuals with disabilities.

From Janet Cool, Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission:

Ohio VR has had VR policy as part of the Program Integrity and Evaluation (PIE) unit, but has parsed this out due to the need for VR administration to “own” the policies and procedures to which they hold their program staff accountable. PIE staff then evaluate case work and program compliance upon those principles which creates a clearer distinction between policy and compliance with policy. PIE is frequently utilized in development and planning of training programs for field staff based on emerging patterns and trends, although again, the VR training program is house under the VR program so trianing topics are primarly driven based on VR field needs.

File attached: Ohio’s Table of Organization in relation to the PEQA functions

From Michael Shoemaker, Utah State Office of Rehabilitation:

Utah’s Program Evaluation Unit consists of one person at this time with some assistance from an office specialist. We do have a separate training unit that does statewide training. One of the trainers is specifically over basic counselor orientation and training that staff goes through directly after they are hired and the other is working developing supervisory training.


Blind and Visually Impaired

– (05/03/2013) Florida Blind Services is trying to find out what the other blind agencies provide to college bound clients. What services do you provide to your visually impaired and blind college students? Do you provide any or all of the following: Tuition, Books, Supplies, Transportation, Incidentals, Housing, Meals, Maintenance, Other?

From Kara Lang, Nevada Rehabilitation Division:

We provide tuition, books, supplies, transportation, housing, meals, assistive technology, and maintenance. Meal and housing maintenance is only provided if the program is not offered at an in-state public institution within commuting distance, or if a school not within commuting distance was chosen because it met unique disability needs. A portion of the participants SSI/SSDI is expected to be used toward this maintenance before VR funds.

From James Gears, Ohio Rehabilitation Commission:

We provide tuition, books, supplies, transportation, housing, and meals.

From Michael Shoemaker, Utah State Office of Rehabilitation:

We provide tuition, books, supplies, transportation, housing, and meals. Additionally, Utah’s program offers a six-week summer transition to college training program at its center.

From Janell Turner, Kentucky Office for the Blind:

We provide tuition, books, transportation, housing, and meals.


Client Surveys

– (06/12/2014) Choosing Good or Sound Evaluation Questions: We all know that evaluation can go far off track if the evaluation questions from the beginning are confusing, unclear, irrelevant, unrealistic or not sound. How do you or others in your organizations go about selecting good or sound evaluation questions? I know this includes judgment and a decision making process. I am very interested in how this judgment is made. Do you/your organization have examples of the judgment/decision-making process?

From Jennifer Beilke, MN State Services for the Blind:

The process will vary depending on the project. For an Adjustment to Blindness Customer Satisfaction Survey we started with the existing evaluation. Our state department did research with our vendors, customers, and staff to find out what was really important to them. We involved our council committee and council in the process for their input. The new questions were used in a trial run with our customers to test them out before going live.

From David Higginbotham, LA Rehabilitation Services:

We have three QA staff at this time. Each of the evaluation questions is reviewed on an ongoing basis or at least annually to assure that the item actually measures the standard for which it is intended. The text of the question must be approved by the three QA staff and the Assistant Director of LRS.

From Richard Clark, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services:

In Iowa one of the ways we have grown in selecting questions for the evaluation is by bringing in a team of field staff to build the questions. This team would consist of the staff that are exceeding in the areas of the QA process. We present them with the information from the regulations and ask for feedback on how this would be handled in the field. Based on their responses we build the questions and how we would expect to see it in the case files. Then we take the questions out to the field to train the field staff on the process and questions that have been developed so that they understand what we are looking for and how it will be scored. From there we ask for feedback and tweak it as needed or further educate if the staff are just not understanding the questions. I will attach a copy of one of the forms we have built to review the quality of work with Transition. In this form you will see the questions we would ask in bold and examples of things we would look for in the file to determine if it occured or not. Not all of the examples would be required in each case but some of those activities should be occurring.

Attachments: 1


– (03/25/2013) I work for KY OVR and we are a VR-general agency. We are currently searching for a more time- and cost-efficient way of conducting six and twelve-month Positive Employment Outcome follow-ups. We average about 3500+ PEO outcomes per year, which equates to 7000+ surveys. I have been challenged to find a more cost-effective way of conducting these follow-up surveys without any additional time on field staff. We have traditionally done mail-out surveys but due to cost of postage and employee time, we were actually looking at better ways to perform this task using current technology and resources (and hopefully a better response rate). Please let me know generally how your state VR agency conducts these follow-up surveys.

From Lori Ann Jenkins, Program Analyst at the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation:

Currently we survey our customers six months after a successful closure (employment) and then again 12 months after a successful closure.  The survey is sent via US mail.  The surveys are printed at our Hiram G. Andrews Center, a training center for people with disabilities who want to become employed.   In 2011, OVR purchase an industrial size printer for the primary purpose of the survey.  The printer is also being used to train students at the HGAC as a trade for future employment and as an income stream.  The surveys are scanned by the PA Dept of Revenue for $.26 per survey, and the results tabulated by our contractor Deloitte (who works with our interagency customer database – CWDS).  We send out on an average 7000 surveys a quarter, and receive a 10% return rate.  Currently we are reconsidering placing the survey online and other methods of gaining the necessary information.

From Janet Cool, MSSA, Manager at the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission:

I have attached the consumer survey policy and associated forms we are utilizing in Ohio to garner consumer feedback.  With AWARE as our case management system, consumer surveys can be generated as letter attachments.  We worked with IT to coordinate survey links which allow consumers to reply online.  For those without email addresses listed, we have an internal support staff who conducts phone calls, and as the third step there is a mailing that is sent to encourage feedback and the same support staff enters the feedback into AWARE.

Attachments: 1,2,3,4

From Don Kay, Assistant Director at DSHS Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in Washington State:

At Washington DVR, we send our surveys similar to the way you do it. We have assigned one staffer who each month mails hardcopies and tabulates returns. If you find anyone who does it more efficiently, please pass it on. Thanks!

From Mike Hermanson, MS, CRC, VR Program Manager at Montana Vocational Rehabilitation:

Actually, just this morning I was tossing around an idea with our database person.  They indicated that we now have the email of consumers in our data base and I am considering perhaps sending out emails for the surveys, at least for those we have a working email for.  We haven’t done it yet, but it is an idea.  For two years, consumers have been able to do the survey on line, but we haven’t had a great deal of interest in that.  That is probably because the url for the site questionnaire comes with the hard copy survey and prepaid postage envelope to send in and they just do the hard copy rather than type in a rather long url.  Anyway, with the email they could just poke the link to the survey web site and that may go over better, again in early idea stages and haven’t implemented yet.


Cost for Services

– (01/24/2013) When paying for interpreting services for consumers, is a “minimum rate” paid for the service in the event that the consumer does not keep the appointment, or if the appointment last for a shorter time than originally scheduled? What rate is paid for interpreting services in your state?

From the Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation:

We pay for interpreter services for appointments that are missed unless the appointment is cancelled more than 24 hours in advance.

From Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services:

If consumer does not keep the appointment, or the appointment is shorter than expected, full payment is still expected for interpreting services. Rate depends on agency that is being used from the state of Minnesota master contract, but tends to range between $35-$75 an hour plus referral fee and two hour minimum for onsite interpreting.

From the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission:

Rate: $4.70 / Unit of Service
UOS (Unit of Service) = 6 minutes
2 hour minimum (which equates to $47 for each of the first two
hours); any time over 2 hours is billed by UOS
No differential rates for emergency, evening, or weekend appointments
No differential rates for geographic region
Does not include travel time; includes appointment time only

Mileage: Up to 45-cents per mile

Missed Appointment / No Show Fee: 2 hour maximum

From the Washington DC Rehabilitation Services Administration:

The standard practice in the Washington, DC area is that if a consumer doesnot keep an appointment, interpreters are not paid a “minimum rate” but rather the entire amount for the agreed upon time. The interpreter is alsopaid the entire amount if a meeting lasts less than the time originally scheduled. Interpreters are also paid in full if an appointment is canceled with less than a 72 hour notice.

DC RSA does not establish the rate of pay for interpreters. The pay rate is established by the interpreting companies that sign a contract with the agency. Currently DC RSA has two contractors/companies who assign interpreters on an ad-hoc basis depending on need. One company charges a one hour and a half minimum. The other company charges a two hour minimum.Rates are different for both companies. Rates for both companies also vary depending on length of assignment, when the request was made, number of interpreters needed, specialty, and last minute requests. Last minute requests are usually at a premium.

From the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services:

We pay a minimum of 2-hours. This is paid if “no show” or appointment is cancelled less than 24 business hours notice. And this is paid if the appointment last shorter than 2 hours.

We follow the rates established by the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. They have a multi-agencies contract for state agencies, which we are part of this. This prevent state agencies from competing with each other with hourly rates. I have attached the contract for your review. The actual rates are on page 15.



From the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services:

IL-DRS Response: Illinois pays a 2 hour minimum. Assignments over 2 hours require 2 interpreters. Two interpreters are hired when working with individuals who are deafblind regardless of the length of the assignment. The interpreter is paid the number of hours they were hired to work when the customer does not keep the appointment and does not cancel at least 2 days prior to the assignment date. When the appointment ends earlier than the originally scheduled end time, the interpreter is paid for the scheduled hours. Illinois VR pays the following rates:

Rates for sign language interpreters

License Hourly Fee
 Sign Language Interpreter  Master $45.00
 Sign Language Interpreter Advanced $40.00
 Sign Language Interpreter Intermediate $35.00
 Sign Language Interpreter – Provisional $20.50


Rates for sign language interpreter services for individuals who are deafblind

License Hourly Fee
 Sign Language Interpreter Deafblind – Master $50.00
 Sign Language Interpreter Deafblind  – Advanced $45.00
 Sign Language Interpreter Deafblind  – Intermediate $40.00


Rates for sign language interpreter services occurring between the hours of 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM:

License Hourly Fee
 Sign Language Interpreter – Master 6:00PM to 6:00AM $52.00
 Sign Language Interpreter – Advanced 6:00PM to 6:00AM $47.00
 Sign Language Interpreter – Intermediate 6:00PM to 6:00AM $42.00
 Sign Language Interpreter Deafblind – Master 6:00PM to 6:00AM $57.00
 Sign Language Interpreter Deafblind  – Advanced 6:00PM to 6:00AM $52.00
 Sign Language Interpreter Deafblind  – Intermediate  6:00PM to 6:00AM $47.00
 Certified Deaf Interpreter 6:00PM to 6:00AM $52.00
 Certified Deaf Interpreter Deafblind 6:00PM to 6:00AM $57.00

From State of Oregon DHS-Vocational Rehabilitation:

This depends on whether the interpreter was coordinated through our sister program, Oregon Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (ODHHS), or through a private, for profit interpreter coordination program. I will attach the most recent matrices I have from ODHHS; if the job was coordinated by a private company, we follow their cancellation/no-show policy. I am attaching two matrices I recently received from ODHHS’ Coordinator, Jeff Brownson. I do not have similar information from the private coordinators, but can tell you generally their hourly rate is $75-80.



From the Minnesota State Services for the Blind:

The State of MN has contracts for Interpreting services. Currently, we have two agencies on contract. DeafBlind interpreting costs more. $62.50/hour with a two hour minimum for the first agency. The second agency charges $72.50/hour with a two hour minimum. There is a minimum rate paid for the service when a cancellation occurs with short/no notice (less than 48 hours).


Customer as Stakeholder

– (04/28/2014) I am looking for counselor training resources: outreach/orientation, eligibility, vocational assessment and IPE development. The knowledge from your responses will be used as resources to train VR professionals working with Native Americans with Disabilities under the AIVRS/121 Programs. There is significant turn over in the professional ranks and many lack formal training in VR. Training materials need to be adapted to ensure their cultural relevancy to the population.

From David Vandergoot, WorkLife Resources:

We have developed online training materials in some of the areas you mentioned, including assessment and planning to some degree. Other courses focus on placement, job development and working with employers. These were initially designed for providing vocational rehabilitation services to SSDI beneficiaries but have also been adapted for general VR populations. They have not been adapted for cultural relevancy for Native Americans.

From Veronica A. De Leon-Dowd, NM Division of Vocational Rehabilitation:

Karen Provine, NMDVR Staff Development Unit;

From Susie Calhoun, CTUIR:

We are sending our Job Developer to CANAR Mid Year for the New Case Manager Track and hope that Lou will be coming to Oregon to work with the 5 Tribes and their staff in the near future.


Deaf and Hard of Hearing

– (01/23/2013) Louisiana utilizes an Order of Selection. For consumers who are Deaf, or Hard of Hearing, upon determining eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services in your state, is severity of disability ranked based on dB loss or loss of speech discrimination, or is severity of disability ranked solely based on functional limitations?

From the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services:

Severity is based on functional limitations. RSA told us years ago that we could not use dB loss or speech discrimination as part of the eligibility determination. We generally use the concept of… is there a hearing loss? If yes, then we look at functional limitations.

From the Minnesota State Services for the Blind:

SSB does not utilize an Order of Selection.  For our Deafblind customers, eligibility is based on vision.  SSB does have a system of classifying individuals as DeafBlind by taking into account diagnosis, prognosis, and dB loss.

From the State of Oregon DHS-Vocational Rehabilitation:

In Oregon VR, we use functional loss to determine severity of disability in D/HOH consumers, as we do with all other disability groups. A couple of years ago, our RCDs worked with me to create the attached Functional Loss Indicators document. We use it as a training tool as well as a reference for field staff. The guide could apply to nearly any disability group–it’s based on the foundations of Rehabilitation, after all–but we have noticed an increase in accurate and effective determination of functional loss by ALL VRCs, not just the RCDs, since we implemented its use. Because we only have 13 RCDs statewide, some Deaf and many HOH clients are served by general VRCs in their local offices; this document has helped those staff immeasurably.



From the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services:

The severity of disability is determined by the individual’s functional limitations.

From the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission:

Ohio is also an Order of Selection state. Severity of disability is based solely on functional limitations.

From Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services:

Severity of Disability is ranked on functional limitations.



From the Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation:

We use an Order of Selection. We do not use the dB loss as the determination of SD or MSD. We use functional limitations and the requirement that the person need multiple significant services lasting 6 months or longer.

From Montana Vocational Rehabilitation:

Montana has never been under OOS, but anticipates that we will be within the next two years. Currently the disability ranking is based solely on functional limitations.


– (01/23/2013) Regarding rehabilitation counselors for the deaf and hard of hearing, does your state have a minimum sign language proficiency requirement for the position with additional higher levels required for promotional opportunities?

From the Minnesota State Services for the Blind:

SSB does not have a minimum sign language proficiency requirements for its counselors serving our Deaf Blind individuals, though having experience using ASL is a preferred qualification on job postings.

From State of Oregon DHS-Vocational Rehabilitation:

At this time, no minimum proficiency (based on objective data) is required, but as a part of the Oregon Department of Human Services, VR will move to requiring language proficiency for staff who receive the “bilingual” pay differential for spoken languages or ASL; for ASL proficiency, the expectation will be that staff score at least a 3 on the ASLPI instrument. The only promotional opportunities related to D/HOH services we have within Oregon VR are one “lead” RCD position and the State Coordinator for D/HOH Services (which is a portion of the duties of the person in my present position). We do not, at present, require “higher levels” of ASL proficiency for those two positions.

From the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services:

RCD must obtain a rating of advance on the SLPI.   Rehabilitation Case Coordinators must obtain an intermediate on the SLPI.    Ratings above advanced are not required for promotional opportunities.

From the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission: 

For an RCD at RSC, we require a minimum of Novice Plus on the SLPI and a level 2 on the ASLPI.

From Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services:

No, positions are just advertised as “signing skills required”, SCPI (Sign Communication Proficiency Interview) can be used to assess skills.

From the Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation:

We do not have written proficiency requirements for the RCD position. Our RCDs meet with staff proficient in sign language as part of the interview process.  When I was hired as an RCD back in 1988, I met one-on-one with the SCD. (I am now the SCD… and the program evaluation person… Delaware is a small state!)  We have only two RCDs; one was hired in 1987 and the other in 1995, both before I was SCD.

From the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services:

No. Signing skills are assessed during the interview process (no formal testing, etc).  No additional higher levels for promotion.


Employee Development

– (04/10/2014) Florida DVR is implementing a Learning Management System (LMS) and is interested in knowing how you handle course naming conventions (which of course reflect how your curriculum tracks are conceptualized). Any examples or policies you could provide would be appreciated. Your responses will enable us to take advantage of the experience of our peers to build our LMS faster. In turn, that will enable us to get critical training to our staff so that they can more effectively serve individuals with disabilities.

From Don Kay, WA-DVR:

The State of Washington Department of Social & Health Services uses an LMS system for all employees, including DVR. Contact Dona Fuerst, DVR Training Manager, for examples and details. Email

From David Higginbotham, LA Rehabilitation Services:

LRS does not have a LMS. I would appreciate information regarding this also. Oregon has an extensive web based training library.

From Warren Grantor, North Dakota Voc Rehab:

North Dakota VR used a LMS to create online classes for the new case management system. The naming convention was simliar to a college catalog, such as:

300C  Basic Navigation
310C  Finding Particiants
320V  Application
320B  Application
330V  Eligibility
560C  Reports


Where C = Combined; V = VR Staff; B = Vision Specialists

The numbering scheme made it easier to designate which courses had pre-requisites.

From Kathleen Enders, WI VR:

In WI DVR, we use a state/department system called Cornerstone to track training. We do not track this ourselves but use that system.


Health Care

– (02/14/2014) How are states responding to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the impact on VR services and clients? WYDVR is interested in any new policies and/or procedures that are being utilized. WY DVR is interested in how other states are responding to this and what, if any, impacts states foresee on services to clients. WY DVR is trying to determine if additional policies, procedures or guidelines need to be put into place to address the potential impacts.

From John Stem, MD Division of Rehabilitation Services:

Maryland DORS has not made any specific changes to policy resulting from the ACA and does not anticipate formally making changes. Individuals who indicate they have insurance through the ACA will be coded as having “Private Insurance through Other Means” (RP 41) in the RSA 911.

From Feona Barnett, Arkansas Division of Services for the Blind:

We have a meeting on this very subject Thursday, February 6th. This will be our first meeting to discuss this issue. I am interested in hearing what you find out from other states. Thanks!

From John Halliday, ICI:

The web site has two webinars on this issue with considerable material to consider.

From Janet Cool, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities:

Ohio is providing training to counselors regarding the Affordable Care Act, which is expected to increase their knowledge about comparable benefits. The BVR Deputy Director does not otherwise foresee any changes in policies or procedures related to the Affordable Care Act, at least at this point. However, the ACA should allow more people to access health insurance and therefore have new or increased comparable benefits available to them that could be utilized in lieu of VR funding. Existing policies and procedures already indicate that these resources are utilized first.


Job Development and Placement Services

– (10/01/2013) We’re interested in finding out how other states are handling contracts for services with Community Rehab Providers (CRPs). This includes contracting with vendors to provide services for programs such as VR and IL. We’d like to see some models, policies, procedures and contract templates if possible. And, if states are not contracting out but providing these services through in-house staff, that would be helpful to know as well. We’re also interested in learning if there’s anyone contracting on a fee for service basis for supported employment services. If so, it would be great if they were willing to share the model, policies, procedures on that. Additionally, if someone has a particularly successful Supported Employment program we’d love to see their model (fee for service or otherwise). Information will be used to formulate policy that will our agency increase the efficiency and effectiveness of services provided through Community Rehabilitation Programs. Thank you!

From Karon Grandon, Arizona RSA:

Yes, we contract with CRPs for many services for both VR and IL.

From Janet Cool, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities:

Ohio established Fee Schedule for VR services as part of our administrative code: OAC 3304-2-52 (Appendix) that outline rates and service delivery requirements. Please find attached the portion of our VR Manual that addresses these areas. We are also attaching a copy of our current Provider Agreement form. We are currently in the process of reviewing this administrative rule and making changes. OOD does not purchase Supported Employment as a separate service, however, any VR service can be provided to weave a fabric of services to ensure the Consumer’s needs are met.

Attachment: 12

From Michael Shoemaker, Utah State Office of Rehabilitation:

Utah’s Vocational Rehabilitation program uses a milestone program to pay CRPs for providing supported employment. As this inquiry lends itself to wanting to view policy I am attaching chapter 22 of our case service manual for the details in how we work with clients that receive supported employment.

Attachment: 1


– (05/13/2014) What practices do states use for quality assurance of CRP services? I am particularly interested in examples of consumer satisfaction surveys specifically related to CRP services. This information will help to provide information for assessing the strengthens and weaknesses of the CRPs providing services. In particular, it will assist in getting the consumer perspective on CRP services.

From Jennifer Beilke, MN State Services for the Blind:

MN Services for the Blind (SSB) has a vendor monitoring system that monitors CRPs a minimum of every three years. Additionally, SSB conducts customer satisfaction surveys specific to CRPs providing adjustment to blindness training services.


– (05/27/2014) IDVR is evaluating a Milestones(outcome-based) payment system for CRPs. I would like feedback from other VR programs who use or have evaluated a Milestones payment system in order to better understand potential issues, concerns, and benefits. The purpose of evaluating and possibly changing our payment system is to improve service delivery, job placement, and retention of VR clients.

From Douglas Morton, from the Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services:

Illinois VR has used a milestone payment system with CRP agencies for the last six years. We pay providers 25% of the total amount when an individual achieves 15 days of employment, another 25% at 45 days of employment, and the final 50% when the individual achieves employment stability after 90 days of employment. Milestone contracts account for about a third of our CRP contracts. We also continue to have contracts that pay a lump sum payment when an individual achieves employment stability after 90 days of employment. These types of performance-based contracts have reduced our spending on unsuccessful closures, compared to service-based contracts used in the past. While there was some initial resistance the milestone contracts have proven to be popular with providers. We believe that the interests of the VR agency, the customer and the provider are aligned in this system.

From LuAnn Summers, from WVDRS:

WVDRS implemented Milestone payments in 2008 when we closed our Rehabilitation Center and worked on moving CRP services back into the communities that clients reside. Below is feedback regarding benefits, potential issues and concerns. If you have additional questions please feel free to contact me.


• Ability to pay the CRP throughout the rehabilitation process

• Ensures follow up of services from the CRP

• Provides regular on-going updates to the counselor as the CRP must send in required paperwork with the invoice during the process

• Reimburses the CRP for services provided and does not punish them if through no fault of theirs if the client is not successful

• Better promotes the counselor being a part of the rehabilitation process making decisions along the way

Potential issues:

• During implementation there was initial confusion regarding making payments for services provided if the client was not successful

• Must ensure that time lines are reasonable for the CRP and the client to ensure that follow up is being done in a timely manner for the client and enables the CRP to provide the services within reasonable time frame

• Having the ability to train all new and existing staff prior to implementation/utilization of services and update on regular basis

• This milestone system does require the counselor to be on top of the case to be a part of the decision making throughout the rehabilitation process


We really did not have any major concerns. We researched how other states were implementing services along with fees for those services and utilized those aspects that would work well in WV. After implementation we reviewed utilization reports and met with each district to discuss utilization and determine why certain services were utilized more than other and made some tweaking along the way. We had one service, community based assessment, that we had made milestone that just did not seem to work well for milestone payment so we did go back and change it to an hourly rate. You will have to follow the process after implementation to ensure it is providing your clients and counselors with the type of outcomes you are hoping to obtain.

Attachments: 1

From Tim Gravier, Missouri VR:

The benefit is that it’s “outcome based” and as an agency, you can define the outcome parameters. The issue faced is a third party verification of the outcome or a very reliable source of verification.

From Don Kay, WA-DVR:

WA-DVR has used an outcome-based CRP contract for a number of years. Here is a link to the current contract that is on our website:

Let me know if youhave any questions.

From David Higginbotham, Louisiana Rehab Services:

For each Milestone: 1) Clearly define the parameters (e.g. related activities, time frame); 2) Specify the quality indicators for each Milestone (e.g. standards for service delivery, doucmentation of services; and 3) Specify the standard(s) that must be met for the CRP to recieve payment for services.


– (07/28/2014) Are any states using a milestones payment system for PARTNERSHIP PLUS instead of cost reimbursement? Partnership Plus is an agreement between VR agencies and Employment Networks to provide ongoing job support services for Ticket-to-Work customers. After a VR customer’s case is successfully closed, a designated EN is able to provide various job retention and support services directly to customers. The various allowable services directly assist the customer in maintaining employment and increasing earnings.

From James Gears, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities:

No, Ohio VR only accepts Cost Reimbursement cases. We have in the past taken Tickets as an Employment Network (EN) but found that there was a significant risk and loss of revenue due to cases being mis-labelled or Consumers going on to work above SGA after initially reporting an interest in part time work.

From Shanti Aaron, Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA):

No, Georgia does not have a PP agreement that involves milestone payments.

From Linda Lingen, Organization: MN State Services for the Blind:

We do not at this time use any milestone payments – only cost reimbursement payments.

From Nelva Sneed, DARS-Division for Rehabilitation Services (Texas):

The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services-Division for Rehabilitation Services uses the cost reimbursement system only.

From Richard Clark, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services:

Iowa used to do the milestones but went away from it a couple of years ago.  We now just do the cost reimbursement.

From Gina Haupt, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation:

Wisconsin is Cost Reimbursement only. We have one agreement that we use and we currently have an agreement with 8 different EN’s. We are hoping to expand and get more agreements. All Partnership Plus agreements are with vendors of VR so we know they are quality providers.

From Veronica A. De Leon-Dowd, NM DVR:

NM does not do this.

From David Leon, DARS (VA):

I am the ticket to work coordinator for the Virginia Department for Aging and rehabilitative services. The nature of Partnership Plus implies that the VR agency has chosen cost reimbursement for that case. As a state VR agency that at times also acts as an Employment Network, we occasionally choose to assign a clients ticket rather than place it in use SVR. In these cases, we do have a revenue sharing agreement in place for the ticket revenue, but in Virginia, we view this as an administrative EN agreement, not Partnership Plus.


– (02/04/2013) In Montana, when an assessment is done related providing guidance on issues such as whether there is a need for supported employment or if the person could benefit from VR services we usually get the assessment from the same provider that is expected to provide placement and/or support services in the future. We recently became concerned about conflict of interest issues related to this approach. I would like to know if there are states that focus on having assessments from entities distinct from the agency that will provide services? Are there states that have providers that primarily do assessment only? If there is separation but usually an assessment is done by a provider that also provides an array of others services are there specific guidelines on when the assessment agency can or cannot provide the other services?

From William T. Downey, PhD:

A partial answer is that if those doing the assessment are certified/licensed (eg, Certified voc evaluator, CRC, psychologist, etc), their ethics and standards of practice would prevent them professionally from engaging in conflict behavior.  In other situations, maybe not.

From the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired:

At Virginia Blind, the VRC determines the need for SE services and then purchases SE and follow-along as needed.

From the Arkansas Division of Services for the Blind:

I am currently working with a team to develop specific evaluation/training for Supported Employment clients.  This training will consist of evaluations, soft skills, conflict resolution skills, coping skills, activities of daily living skills, and grooming.  All of this will preclude the place then train model of SE.  This is a three piece team consisting of Division of Services for the Blind, World Services for the Blind, and Lighthouse for the Blind.  We determine eligible and develop the plan, WSB provides the pre-employment training, and we have a vendor who will provide the placement service, training, and the eventual employment.

From DE Blind:

At DE Blind, the VRC determines the need for SE services and then purchases SE and follow-along as needed.


At Va DARS, the counselor basically makes the  decision whether the client needs SE the refers to the appropriate vendor.  The decision is usually made based on the available diagnostic info, counseling sessions and a voc eval, if needed.

From the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development:

In MN, the counselor makes the determination and often in consultation with a community provider which may also provide the services.  No specific guidelines on working with a community provider.  We don’t have any providers who only do assessments.  In our rural areas we are often lucky to have one community provider willing to provide supported employment services.

From Wisconsin DVR:

In Wisconsin, the decision to utilize SE services is made in a SE Consultation meeting (usually prior to IPE development) with members of a team that includes the consumer, parents/guardians, DVR Counselor, Service Provider, Long Term funding source, teachers or anyone else the consumer wishes. The Consultation meeting requires the team to address a long list of questions and provide resources for a SE assessment if SE services I.e. assessment continue. The consumer can select a SE provider from an established service provider listing that includes consumer satisfaction, statistics, results, description of provider etc. In many places there isn’t more than one choice. (We are working on that.) We have established a detailed description of all SE services and reporting elements. All of our SE providers are expected to comply with those requirements.

In the past, we have found issues with providers that would like to recommend continuation or establishment of an individual in a congregate setting. DVR in WI will no longer accept those recommendations for payment. Each provider must describe in detail what level and types of support an individual will need to be placed in an integrated and competitive setting. Those details are shared with the SE team and taken into account for the process to continue.

From the Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation:

Alaska VR receives the majority of our SE referrals from those CRP’s that also provide the long term supports.  Typically the CPR’s are the agencies that receive the long term funding.  If that is not the situation our counselors determine if the individual requires SE services that level of support through various assessments.

From the SC Commission for the Blind:

For South Carolina Blind, the VR Counselor is required to staff any potential SE cases with upper level VR Management prior to making a determination for the need for SE services.   Once the need for SE services has been assessed and agreed upon, the VR Counselor proceeds with the purchase and/or coordination of SE services and conducts follow-along as needed.

From the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation:

The Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) counselors assess the rehabilitation, career, and employment needs for eligible customers.  Counselors will provide the opportunity for customers to choose from available DVR providers for Supported Employment.

From Nebraska General:

Nebraska General has agreements with any provider that provides SE services in Nebraska. We use a milestone payment schedule that the provider agrees to when signing our agreement. We have VR staff who are liaisons with each of the providers. VR and provider staff staff potential referrals to determine appropriateness. Contact with the provider throughout the process is part of our milestone payment schedule along with written reports at certain points. We don’t have any SE providers that provide an assessment only service.

Nebraska General has evaluation staff and placement staff so we are not purchasing these services. The only exception is SE – job placement is part of our SE agreement with providers.

From the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency:

The Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Program utilizes several different types of assessments that could provide guidance regarding the need for supported employment.  These include a comprehensive vocational evaluation, Vocational Profile or Work Evaluation. We do have contracts with providers who do just the vocational evaluation or work evaluations and some are providers for all three as well as supported employment.

We have contracts with community rehabilitation programs that provide a variety of services that may or may not include SE.  The guidelines we have in place has more to do with not being able to bill for services that are generally included under the umbrella of SE, such as job coaching, personal-social adjustment training&  job readiness training that are typically addressed on the job.

We do have a specific policy regarding what constitutes eligibility for supported employment, which the counselor must document. The written reports we receive from providers must give the specific information that allows the counselor to do this; however, in reality it is common for providers who provide SE, recommend that service, when the justification is not evident. We have addressed this in regularly scheduled communication meetings with the providers or on an individual basis.


– (04/02/2013) I am looking to find out which states are using pay for performance, performance based contract or milestone payments for their job development and job placement services? I also would love to have names of persons who I could contact to get more information on what their state is doing. Thanks!

From John Stem, Staff Specialist, Maryland VR:

Maryland VR has a milestone-based (pay-for-performance) program for community rehabilitation programs who use evidenced based practices in supported employment service provision. Please see the attached Fact Sheet for details, and contact Catherine Drake, DORS Staff Specialist, CRPs at 410-554-9440 or, if you have any additional questions.

Attachments: 1

From David Norman, Program Implementation Specialist, Texas Division for Rehabilitation Services:

In response to your question above, we are doing this in Texas.  If you have questions about our process, feel free to contact Kelly Yarbrough, our Program Specialist for Community Rehabilitation Programs:  Her telephone number is 512-424-4219.

From Don Kay, Assistant Director, Washington DVR:

Washington DVR has been paying outcome fess for all CRP services for a number of years. Below is a link to our website where we have posted the CRP contract and related material that is attached by additional links. If you open the link to the contract document and scroll to the end you’ll find the outcome fee schedule for each CRP service. Let me know if you have any questions. Link:

From Mike Hermanson, MS, CRC, VR Program Manager, Montana VRBS:

Montana uses only a limited performance based approach.  We $147.90 for completion of Intake and Planning.  We pay $153 when  a successful 26 has been achieved in the case.  Actual job development and job placement are paid on an hourly rate of $59.16.

From James R. Gears, MRC, CRC, CWIC, Rehabilitation Program Specialist, Ohio VR:

I manage our VR providers for Ohio.  We currently do have a Performance Based Job Development structure based on a three tier approach.  We allow providers the option of using a Performance Based or Unit of Service (Hourly) rate.  VR Staff decide how to authorize based on what the options that the Provider has on their Fee Schedule.  Some offer just PBO, UOS, or a both POB and UOS options.

Tier I: Job Readiness, Resume, & Placement Plan: Consists of the upfront services to establish development goals, outline responsibilities that the JD and Consumer will have, outline positions to be explored within the vocational goal.  In addition, as part of this Tier the Consumer gets basic interviewing skills and resume (or in some cases a sample mock application if resume is not deemed appropriate) to prepare them for a job search.  Paid when the resume and placement plan are submitted.

Tier II: Job Development: Consists of contacts with employers.  Paid upon successful placement that has been agreed upon by the Consumer, VR Staff, and provider.

Tier III: Retention: Paid upon completion of 90 days of successful employment.  Successful employment starts after the Job Coach has significantly faded from the job site.

Our 2013 rates for Performance Based are based on a 30% – 30% – 40% total cost allocation, or $1353 for tier I & II, and $1804 for Tier III.  We do pay $0.45 mileage in addition to the Tiers.  We also pay a second placement fee is someone loses their job after Tier II has been paid, but before Tier III, and needs to go back into development.  The second placement fee is $451.00.

From Jim Hinson, Supervisor V, New Hampshire VR:

The only performance based incentive we offer to Job Developers is a Placement/Retention Bonus.  The quicker they place one of our customers into a job, the larger the bonus.


Within 2 mo: $450;  Within 4 mo: $350;  Within 6 mo: $250;  Within 9 mo: $150;  9 Plus Months: $0

To be eligible for the placement/retention bonus, the following criteria must be met:

JS/JD package was approved, based upon the referral, and all components were completed. ie: job search report, job search logs and the placement notification.
Referral is effective at the initial meeting.
Customer and counselor must agree that the job is acceptable.
The job is a permanent, not temporary, position.

*Note: VR counselor can still approve retention bonus in cases they deem appropriate.  Example: customer in hospital due to medical reasons

Upon receiving a job offer VR counselor and customer must agree that the job is acceptable.  At that time, CRP documents the placement and the placement incentive amount is determined by VR counselor.  The product of this phase shall be the Placement Notification Form Placement Notification.doc.  This report will be sent to the VR counselor by electronic submission within 24 hours of the job offer.

The retention bonus is paid to the CRP when job has been retained for 90 days.

The bonus is only paid for Non-Supported Employment customers.  If you would like to see the full Non Supported Employment Process, click on the link below.

CRP Process: Non Supported Employment Process

I would also recommend you reaching out to Vermont VR…Hugh Bradshaw.  They also offer incentives for Job Developers.

Attachment: 1

From Arizona RSA:

Arizona RSA’s contact for this project is Christopher Deere – Email at

From Pamela Brauchli, M.Ed., VR Specialist, Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehab:

The attached policy was written in 2003. We’re putting together a workgroup to revise the job coaching policy this summer. If you have questions, our supported employment specialist is Randy Loss. You can reach him at I’m sure he’d like to see the info you receive from other states.

Attachment: 1

From Kellie D. Scott, Program Evaluator, Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehab:

We provide some JP services in-house.  However, we also offer JP services through a CRP.  Please find attached our Service Fee memos for those services.  We now call them “Employment and Retention services” when accessing a CRP for the JP services.

Attachments: 1,2

From HarrietAnn Litwin, M.Ed., CRC, Delaware DVR:

Delaware is using pay for performance/milestone payments for job placement and has been doing so for MANY years. I think it was initiated, in its earliest version, back in the early 1990’s.  The best person from whom to get information on this would be Dan Madrid at

From Virginia DARS:

In Virginia, we have a fee for service payment policy for supported employment and job coach training services.  For more information you can contact

From Catherine Ipsen, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, The University of Montana Rural Institute:

I thought the attached fact sheet might be of interest to you.  It discusses some research we did with state agency informants regarding rural service delivery issues and vendor based services.  It highlights some issues related to different payment arrangements.

Attachments: 1


Networking Opportunities

– (1/31/2014) DC RSA just posted its RFP seeking Vendors for our once-every-3-years Needs Assessment. If you can suggest any vendors and/or rate your experience of vendors, I would like to hear your experience or direct the vendors to the attached link for more info: The RFP will be posted until January 31.

From Michael Shoemaker, Utah State Office of Rehabilitation:

For the last two cycles (2010 and 2013) we have contracted with the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Utah. The primary investigator on these contracts is Dr. Cathy Chambless who worked previously as a Rehabilitation Counselor, has instructed courses in Rehabilitation Counseling through the Rehabilitation Counseling Program at the University of Utah and has more than 30 years experience in the field of Vocational Rehabilitation. We have been pleased with our experience of working with Cathy and her team on this and several other projects. If we had to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best I think we could rate this research group overall as an 8. Also, there is another experienced vendor that I am aware of that I can speak with you about if your interested. My phone number is (801)887-9395 and my email address is


– (06/09/2013) A colleague from Massachusetts is trying to identify networks or collaboratives of community agencies that work together to develop employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The target area is the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. The colleague wishes to contact these collaboratives to discuss their interest in participating in a project to enhance their job development services and improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

From Cecelia Hockett, GA Vocational Rehabilitation Agency – VRP:

We have recently partnered with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and with Mental Health. You can contact Tangye Teague for more information at

From Susan Foley, ICI/UMass Boston:

The ICI in partnership with the VT VR has a NIDRR RRTC (VR RRTC on Demand Side Strategies) to develop a learning collaborative to adapt, implement and study the VT Progressive Employment Model in at least 5 other states.



– (03/02/2014) Our agency is attempting to ascertain what RSA considers a legitimate client signature, as there doesn’t appear to be any specific policy guidance. Currently, the VR case management software populates/types the client’s name in the signature field on the IPE and any subsequent amendments. Does this suffice as a legitimate client signature or is a hand written signature required?

From Cecelia Hockett, GVRA:

Currently the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency VR Program has clients to sign a hard copy document. We will be moving to an electronic case file in the very near future and will be very interested in viewing the responses to this inquiry.

From From Linda Deschenes, RI – Office of Rehabilitation Services:

Good question, RI also would be interested in the responses to this question. The case management system used in RI populates signatures in the same way referenced in your question. As we have not gotten our signature pads operational, RI continues to use the signature page of the “paper” IPE which is then scanned into the electronic case file.

From Terry Sands, MN Vocational Rehabilitation Services:

We have the same question.

From Feona Barnett, Arkansas Division of Services for the Blind:

Arkansas Division of Services for the Blind plans to go-live with the AWARE Software Program April 1, 2014. AWARE will allow us to use electronic signatures on IPE’s and amendments. Eligible individuals and counselors will be able to sign their names on an electronic key pad which will transfer to the signature fields on the IPE Signature Cover Page. Agency policy requires the individual and counselor sign the IPE and amendments.

From David Higginbotham, Louisiana Rehabilitation Services:

LRS requires the consumer’s original signature (i.e. faxed or scanned copy is not acceptable) for the IPE.

From Christopher Deere, Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration:

The population in the system in and of itself does not suffice. We require either a hard copy (scanned into System 7) signature as evidence or have set up other methods to receive quasi signatures via email. We also are integrating scan pads into our system at which time a signature received in the form via these pads will suffice.

From HarrietAnn Litwin, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation:

No. We require actual, hand-written signatures on the IPE and on any amendments with substantial services, change of services, etc.

From Kathy Marchione, CT- BRS (general):

We require a written consumer signature on all documents.

From Jennifer Geuther, South Dakota Division of Rehabilitation Services:

In South Dakota a hand written signature is required and we have this requirement written into our counselor manual.

From Andrew Reese, DC Rehabilitation Services Administration – Department on Disability Services:

We require a hand written signature. Our system also populates the signature field with the client’s, counselor’s and any other required person’s names. However, in federal audits, we have had problems when we did not have hand written signatures. Two caveats – we are in the process of moving to an electronic case record, so the signature will be electronic – but we use signature pads and require the client to sign, the same as we do for a printed application.

In our monitoring visit, RSA claimed that our printed referral was so thorough that it qualified as an application – even though the regulations require applications to be signed, and there was no signature line on our referral form.

From David Ritacco, Oregon General:

I don’t believe that a field that could be filled in by a person other than the participant is sufficient. However, if the participant is assigned a password that only they know to enter their signature electronically, I think this is sufficient.


– (09/04/2013) Nevada is reviewing its policies on dental restoration services. Currently, Nevada provides dental services “only when a dental disability exists which impedes the ability to work or interferes with maintaining an occupation.” We would like to know if other States have specific policies for determining eligibility based on a dental impairment being the sole disability (no other qualifying disabilities exist). Also — what specific guidelines other States may have for providing dental restoration services, including what services are generally excluded.

From Lynn Ritter, Division of Blind Services, Florida:

We do not have a specific policy. We provide dental if the condition causes cosmetic problems severe enough to prevent an individual from obtaining a job which involves serving the public or will cause loss of job unless corrected; results in toxic poisons which cause physical symptoms in other parts of the body or aggravates an already existing disability or is an acute dental condition that interferes with employment and/or the provision of other services.

From Pamela Brauchli, OVR:

PA does not have a sole dental policy. It’s part of our physical restoration policy.

From Michael Shoemaker, Utah State Office of Rehabilitation:

Hello, Jan, Below is Utah’s Vocational Rehabilitation policy regarding dental services from Chapter 14 of our Client Services Manual.

“Dental Restoration: The VR Counselor may determine that dental restoration is appropriate if the condition of the teeth and gums contributes to, or is a result of a physical or mental impairment which, for the individual, constitutes a significant impediment to employment. The VR Counselor determines that the condition is stable and remediable within a reasonable period of time, and the client meets financial need criteria. Dental restoration is appropriate when it will enable the client to achieve the employment outcome listed in the IPE. It is not within the scope of USOR to undertake a program of general dental care. However, it does assume the responsibility for correcting dental difficulties which are impediments to employment, and those closely associated with other impairments that have resulted, or are likely to result in an impediment to employment. Dental services must These services need to be included incorporated in the IPE before they can be authorized. Dental restoration cases requiring extensive crown and bridge work, root canal procedures, expensive capping and other out-of-the-ordinary procedures will be referred to the DRRS Dental Consultant through the District Director or Field Service Director. Unusual cases i.e. TMJ, oral surgery, implants, etc, forward client record through the Field Service Director. Inter-Current Dental Problems: During the rehabilitation process, a client may contact the VR Counselor because of dental problems. Preventative and standard dental work or filling of teeth is not the responsibility of USOR unless such restoration is essential in achieving an employment outcome. In the event that a client has an acute dental problem which prevents the continuation of a rehabilitation program, the VR Counselor may authorize dental care. Exceptions: In the event that an eligible individual’s dental health is of such a nature as to be causing pain, suffering, and other health problems that threaten progress towards an employment outcome, the VR Counselor may justify providing immediate emergency dental care to stabilize the condition and relieve pain.”


RSA 911

– (02/01/2014) RSA 911 Service Category Survey Results

The Statistics RRTC conducted an online survey to explore data quality issues related to the new RSA-911 case services report form. Specifically, we were interested in examining the variations between agencies in using VR service categories (data elements 51-190). The online survey was distributed through the VR program evaluator’s network.

A total of 43 complete responses were received from 25 states (based on 50% of the respondents who chose to identify their state) and respondents identified themselves as data managers (39%) Program evaluator (39%), decision maker (25%), agency manager (30%) and other (18.8%).

Most agencies used state-specific software for case management and reporting (42%). Approximately 35% of the agencies used Aware and another 12% were using Libera.

About 72% of the respondents indicated that they were somewhat satisfied with the quality of data reported using the new service categories of the RSA-911; 20% were highly satisfied and 8% were not satisfied.

When asked about any concerns they may have about the quality of data reported using the RSA 911 service categories, 32% of the respondents said that they had no concerns about the quality of the data, while the other 68% had some very specific concerns. The most common issues raised were related to the clarity in the new service categories, especially rehabilitation technology, training, transition, technical assistance and assessment. A few respondents raised concerns about the quality of data reported since the new definitions were implemented mid-year. Respondents pointed out that it is likely that the data quality may be compromised due to conversion of old expenditure codes and the need to estimate costs for services provided in addition to services purchased.

Some of the concerns raised by respondents are highlighted below:

-  Challenging to consistently and accurately capture no cost services such as counseling and guidance or newly created services within the agency

- “Transition” is being identified as a specific service. Transition services include a full range of allowable services including job placement, supported employment, training etc.

- Data elements are not capable of keeping up with the reality of rapidly changing and developing technologies

- Service categories are more aligned with the billing units, but do not support outcome based evaluation, like how RSA wants

- Difficult to distinguish customized employment from other job placement activity for supported employment

- The data reported is not always accurate and/or tracked in a manner that is consistent with actual job placements and providing supports in a timely manner (i.e. transportation, clothing).

- Concerns we have are all of the additional fields required concerning comparable benefits for and cost for each individual service.

- Since these are 911 elements represent services provided on closed cases, and since many of those cases will have had services provided and categorized before the revision went into effect, the data may represent ‘mixed’ categories, which could result in diminished data quality.

- There appears to be such specific guidance on how to code certain type of services that when a service that we can provide doesn’t fit into one of those categories it’s hard to know how to code it. Some of the guidance for what type of assessment services seems to be vague

- The definition of rehabilitation technology including hearing aids and wheelchairs demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of what rehabilitation technology is.

- I have concerns about the way we respond to the provider/purchaser of the services. The new provider categories/comparable benefit providers doesn’t necessarily capture the entities who help pay for services – financial aid, medical insurance.

- The data does not reflect the amount of services provided. While total dollars of purchased services allow for an aggregate examination, without comparable agency level data that is classified by type of services it is difficult to paint an accurate picture of service delivery.

- The quality of data submitted over the next 3-4 years will not be the most accurate due to conversion of the old expenditure codes.

- The Breakdown of Specifics of Training Facilities (Ex. Public, Private) has created some problems in our Case Management System.

- Questions for the new taxonomy need to be developed using a hierarchical structure and the categories should be mutually exclusive. For example, Assessment (51-55) includes psychological assessments, dental, and medical exams, which may also be categorized under Diagnosis and Treatment of Impairments (56-60). The hierarchical structure used for Training and Personal Assistance Services, each with several subcategories might be extended to other types of services, such as Diagnosis and Treatment of Impairments, Transportation, Maintenance, and Rehabilitation Technology to provide more granularity. The categories for the new taxonomy could be developed through axial coding for these dimensions.



– (03/27/2014) What is the difference between Self-Employment and Small Business, if any? We plan to redefine our policies to provide better services.

From Kellie Scott, KY-OVR:

I understand the difference to be whether someone has employees (besides themself) or not. However, in our policies it doesn’t matter, as long as they hold 51% of the business.

From Sue-Ellen Woodlief, Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services – Division of Vocational Rehabilitation:


•means the consumer solely owns, manages, and operates a business and is not considered an employee of another person, business, or organization;
•exists when the service or product is actively marketed to other potential customers; and
•includes home-based businesses and telecommuting businesses.

Self-employment allows for

•choice and control,
•the use of natural skills and talents,
•expanded work opportunities,
•accumulation of wealth, and
•independence and creative freedom.

Small Business is one that is independently owned and operated, is organized for profit, and is not dominant in its field.

You may be interested in Texas DARS Supported Self-Employment Policy. Here is a link to access it:

If you have questions or would like to discuss, please contact me.

From Sherri Simpson, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities:

In Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities’ self-employment policy and procedure, self-employment is defined as: an employment outcome in which the individual works for profit or fee in his or her own business, farm, shop, or office, including sharecroppers. While not defined by OOD, a small business refers to the size of the company or business rather than the individual.

From Mike Hermanson, Montana Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services:

Montana does not differentiate between a self-employment plan and a small business plan.

From Kathy Marchione, CT BRS:

From our policy manual :

Distinguishing the Difference Between Business Ownership and Self-Employment:

Owning and operating a small business involves the selling of a product or service in the marketplace. The owner must develop and maintain a customer base in order to both achieve success and to remain successful. It generally involves an element of competition with similar businesses within the area, or in the absence of direct competition, the possibility of competition sometime in the future. In establishing the business venture, the individual must do a market analysis and develop a marketing plan (i.e., advertising). In cases where a consumer’s goal is small business ownership, a referral to the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CSBDC) will generally be required. For BRS purposes, self-employment refers to an individual employed in the capacity of an independent contractor where a steady flow of work is assured, without the foreseeable need to market oneself or one’s product and/or services. Independent contractors normally have a contractual relationship with one or more companies, nonprofit organizations or governmental entities to deliver a good or service. The contract specifies what is required in the finished product or service only. The independent contractor exercises behavioral and financial control over the manner in which the good or service is produced and/or delivered.

There may be occasions in which the employment goal is a mix of self-employment (i.e., independent contractor) and small business owner/operator. Typically this would occur when the consumer has contractual relationship(s) for a portion, but not all, of their planned venture. Counselors are encouraged to discuss these cases with their supervisor or district director to determine if a referral to the CSBDC is warranted. In these cases, as well as any other where the counselor is unsure of the distinction between business ownership and self-employment, the assistance of the Central Office Consultant assigned to small business services should be sought.

Self-Employment (Independent Contractor):

When it has been determined that the goal is self-employment, a referral to the CSBDC is not necessary. Rather, attention should be given to determining that the consumer possesses the necessary knowledge, skills, and stamina required for the job, as well as the personality attributes associated with success in self-employment. These include good time management skills, organizational skills, and the ability to work independently without supervision (i.e., self-supervision). Counselors should also make sure that the consumer is aware of federal and state tax requirements for independent contractors, including the federal self-employment tax, requirements for filing quarterly estimated payments, record keeping, and the various deductions available to filers to lessen their tax liability. Counselors should encourage consumers to seek advice from a qualified tax professional or from the Federal or State departments of revenue. A wealth of information is readily available online at and

From Don Kay, WA-DVR General:

Washington DVR treats “Self-Employment” and “Small Business” as the same. If you would like a copy of our Self-Employment procedures, let me know.

Inge Huband, DWS-Vocational Rehabilitation:

The technical definition for small business is as follows:

SBA defines a small business concern as one that is independently owned and operated, is organized for profit, and is not dominant in its field. Depending on the industry, size standard eligibility is based on the average number of employees for the preceding twelve months or on sales volume averaged over a three-year period. Examples of SBA general size standards include the following:

• Manufacturing: Maximum number of employees may range from 500 to 1500, depending on the type of product manufactured;
• Wholesaling: Maximum number of employees may range from 100 to 500 depending on the particular product being provided;
• Services: Annual receipts may not exceed $2.5 to $21.5 million, depending on the particular service being provided;
• Retailing: Annual receipts may not exceed $5.0 to $21.0 million, depending on the particular product being provided;
• General and Heavy Construction: General construction annual receipts may not exceed $13.5 to $17 million, depending on the type of construction;
• Special Trade Construction: Annual receipts may not exceed $7 million; and
• Agriculture: Annual receipts may not exceed $0.5 to $9.0 million, depending on the agricultural product.

(SBA Website:

Therefore, any self-employed individual could be technically identified as a small business owner, but would most likely fall under the “micro business” category.

1. Official Definition – Advocate groups typically define microbusinesses as an organization with less than five employees, small enough to require little capital ($35,000 or less) to get started.
2. Unofficial Definition – Microbusiness owners are the ‘…people who refer to themselves as soloists, independents, consultants, craftsmen, artists, musicians, freelancers, free agents, and self-employed people. The majority of these companies are one-person enterprises …operate out of their homes; and many …have part-time help from a family member or friends.’ (Courtesy of Lloyd Lemons in his Microbusiness Defined article).
(SBA Website:

The difference between small business and being self-employed is simply in the numbers of employees and/or the amount of annual revenue the business is achieving within its category. (Technically speaking)

The similarities are the licensing and registration of the self-employed individual; he or she will have to follow the laws of the legal business structure he/she chooses, maintain the same paperwork trail as the “small business”, and follow the same rules.

I hope this information is useful.

From Cecelia Hockett, GA VR Agency:

Georgia VR views self employment (in a specific field/area) as an employment outcome. For example an accountant may want to set up their own accounting business or a barber may want to establish their own barber shop. Because of the limits on the financial support that VR can provide, our clients who pursue self employment have only sought to establish small businesses. In defining a small business, Georgia VR for the most part adheres to the Small Business Administration definition which indicates that a small business is one that “is independently owned and operated, is organized for profit and is not dominant in its field.” Some of our clients obtain competitive employment in a small business setting and some are assisted in establishing their own small business and become self employed. I hope this is helpful.

From Pamela Brauchli, Office of Vocational Rebabilitation:

OVR may assist a customer in establishing a small business for the purpose of self-employment, so long as it is the most viable opportunity for the individual to achieve financial independence and will enable the person to meet both ordinary living expenses and ongoing business costs. Attached is OVR’s current policy. However, we acknowledge that it’s time to update it.

Attachments: 1


Supported Employment

- (01/14/2014) How is Supported Employment funded in your state? Do you have braided or blended funding? If so, how does that work? Or, does all the funding come from your VR system?

From Lucinda Garcia, DVR:

Funding is through VR system caseload monies.

From William Noone, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission:

The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission funds supported employment through its VR system in two ways. First, the front end of VR services and short-term supports are provided through VR funds, both Title VIB and Title I funds. Long term, extended services are provided through state funds.

Massachusetts utilizes both federal and state funds to provide supported employment services. Most of the initial funding is federal and the state provides the on-going or extended supports. Massachusetts utilizes a pay for performance supported employment system entitled Competitive Integrated Employment Services. Providers are compensated based on results or successful employment outcomes.

From Brian Hickman, WY Division of Vocational Rehabilitation:

WYDVR uses a blended funding. We receive $300,000 a Fiscal year. After counselors identify the client has being most significantly disabled, they can access this funding for supported employment services. Once they $300,000 is spent, General Rehab funds are used to continue the services. The client and counselor never sees a difference when the funding switches.

From Teri Egner, OK Dept of Rehabilitation Services:

We have blended funding. Both VR and the DDS agency fund SE services in OK. DDS also provides extended services for ind. with ID that VR pays the upfront training costs. We also use Natural supports and work incentives for extended services.

From Scott Fraley, VA DARS:

Time-limited services are funded through 110 $; long-term follow-along is funded by state money through the Long Term Employment Support Services, Medicaid and local MH and MR funding.

From Torrey Morse, DRS/BRS:

All funding comes from the VR System – Title 6 funds and Title 1 as needed.

From Mike Hermanson, Montana Vocational Rehabilitation:

The initial phase of supported employment (assessment, placement, and stabilization is usually funded by VR and mostly through supported employment funding. long-term supports are funded from a variety of sources: Developmental Disabilities (Medicaid Waiver), Mental Health, Senior and Long Term Care (Medicaid Waiver), and a state funded source administered by the same state division as VR (Disability Employment and Transitions Division) – Extended Employment Services.

From Michelle Barlow, NYS ACCESS-VR:

All of NYS’s intensive funding is from the VR system. Extended funding may be funded by mental health, developmental disability or VR.

From Cecelia Hockett, GA Vocational Rehabilitation Agency:

Georgia VR Program supported employment (SE) is federally funded under Title IV. However, there are other funding sources in the state to include the mental health program. Once the client has been successfully placed, stabilized on a job and successfully closed Status 26, Long Term/Extended SE services are provided at the expense of the SE provider. This has been an ongoing bone of contention in our state. We are currently working with the state mental health and developmental disability programs to arrange an agreement for continued funding for Long-term/Extended services support. Unfortunately I am not certain what is meant by braided or blended funding. But, I hope this information has been helpful. I will email a copy of our current payment structure.

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From Randy Loss, PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation:

All funding comes from RSA for VR services. There are prevoc and extended services provided by our state IDD agency, but none during the intensive stage.

From Victoria Drake, OK Department of Rehab Services:

All funding comes from VR system, as far as I know.

From Teresa Brandenburg, KY Office of Vocational Rehabilitation:

We have a braided or blended funds for SE. The upfront funds come from VR state and Federal funds. Long Term Support funds come from a variety of sources to include, state general funds, medicaid waiver funds, Pass Plans, and other privates sources that Supported Employment agencies draw funding.

From David Higginbotham, LA Rehabilitation Services:

All funding for SE services provided through LRS is VR money. The New Opportunities Waiver provides some work supports and Medicaid of Louisiana is the funding source. I do not know of a case where the two funding sources were utilized simultaneously.


– (01/22/2014) After a client has received SE services and has been closed 26 in the VR system, who pays for the long term follow along support? Where does the money come from? Who administers the funds for the follow along support. Does any state have the money funneled through to VR and if so, what does that look like? Also, are all disability groups included in the long term follow along dollars for post-employment support?

From Antionette Williams, Florida Division of Blind Services:

After client receives SE Services and case is closed 26, follow along support is paid for via community rehab providers through their own funding stream. For follow along, funds are administered by the community rehab provider. Fl. Blind does not receive money funneled through funneled VR. Other disability groups are included accordingly.

From Natasha Lemler, Minnesota State Services for the Blind:

After a client has received SE services and has been closed 26 in the VR system, who pays for the long term follow along support?

-Our primary long term follow along support is a county waiver program. Secondary support is a grant provided to a few select placement agencies called the Extended Employment Grant.

Where does the money come from?

-CADI waiver funds comes from the state primarily. The Extended Employment grant I believe is federal.

Who administers the funds for the follow along support?

-The county or placement agency that receives it.

Does any state have the money funneled through to VR and if so, what does that look like?

-Our blind agency does not.

Also, are all disability groups included in the long term follow along dollars for post-employment support?

-The waiver programs through the county are primarily for those with a TBI, developmental disability, severe mental health, or who are deafblind.

From Paige Tidwell, Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency:

As of right now, VR does not pay for follow along support, which has been a big issue in building capacity and availability of services. Our state DD funds follow along support through the DD waiver and state grant & aid funds. GA VR is working closely with the state DD and MH agencies in implementing state-wide changes to our SE, to include the funding structure. We are also looking at Partnership Plus through SSA/TTW as an additional funding option for job retention/follow along services. I have been curious about using post-employment to provide follow along funding, so I am very curious how others respond.