[nfbmi-talk] Key provisions in proposed amendments toWorkforceInvesstment Act

Terry D. Eagle terrydeagle at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 8 22:48:05 UTC 2014


Good point about focus on the mid-term elections.  Does that mean the Bill
will have to be reintroduced next year, if no action is taken this year?

-----Original Message-----
From: nfbmi-talk [mailto:nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of joe
harcz Comcast
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2014 11:36 AM
To: NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List
Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] Key provisions in proposed amendments
toWorkforceInvesstment Act

While I see some issues of real concern Christine I must say something you 
might not expect. Given the constant gridlock in congress, for good, bad, or

indifferent I really doubt that anything will go through this year.

They are already scrambling for mid-term elections.

Regardless, I'm wonderring how other programs under the Rehab Act will shake

out like say the Section 509 funding for the PAIR program and the CAP 
funding.

Lots of questions indeed and thanks for this.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Christine Boone" <christineboone2 at gmail.com>
To: "NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>; 
<nfbp-talk at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2014 10:49 AM
Subject: [nfbmi-talk] Key provisions in proposed amendments to 
WorkforceInvesstment Act


Federationists:
As most of you know, beginning with its reauthorization in 1998, the 
Rehabilitation Act has been included as Title IV  in the Workforce 
Investment Act.  That Act has never been reauthorized since its first 
writing, but it is once again scheduled for reauthorization this year.  The 
current proposal would have some significant negative  ramifications 
respecting vocational rehabilitation services.  Here is one overview that 
was prepared by a State Vocational Rehabilitation agency outside Michigan. 
It is provided here for your information.
Review of Key Provisions
in S. 1356 and the SKILLS Act

S. 1356
Splits up Rehab Act programs.
Sends VR to Labor Department, Independent Living to HHS, and NIDRR 
(research) to HHS.
The transfer of VR from Education to Labor will disconnect VR from 
rehabilitation expertise and place it in a department with no rehabilitation

experience and a scant record of serving people with severe disabilities.
The Secretary of Labor would write the regulations for Rehab.
The new name for RSA would be Disability Employment Services and Supports 
Administration (DESSA).
The Commissioner would still be a President's appointment but would not have

to have rehabilitation experience or knowledge.
Rehab would be put under ODEP (the Office of Disability Employment Policy) -

a tiny division that has never administered direct service programs.
Placement in Labor ties VR closer into the generic One-Stop culture, where 
the focus is on the general population and specialized approaches tend to be

absent.
The bill mandates state VR programs to expand and intensify services to 
youth transitioning to post-secondary life, without added funding to do so.
Youth are defined as age 14-24.
Creates a new category of Pre-Employment Transition, for youth age 14 up 
with significant disabilities.  For those in Supported Employment, VR would 
pay 4 years extended services.
Makes states set aside 15% of basic VR funds for Transition, limiting 
administrative spending to 5% of this.
Requires all VR offices have Transition Coordinator positions with support 
staff - administrative expenses which would mostly have to come out of basic

VR funds, beyond the 15% set-aside.
These provisions effectively make Transition a priority for VR spending.  As

a result, some state VR programs may have reduced funds for serving adults 
with severe disabilities.
The bill subjects VR to the same performance standards and measures used for

Workforce programs for the non-disabled public.  There are concerns this 
will not accurately reflect VR performance, will be costly to implement, and

could discourage service to persons with the most significant disabilities.
To implement use of common performance measures, VR would have to retool 
data systems at great cost.  Adjustments in standards to reflect different 
conditions for the VR population would entail much staff work, negotiation 
and approval by Labor.
VR would have to pay for 2 years of extended services for Supported 
Employment clients, instead of the current flexible 18 months.  This would 
be 4 years for youth.
The bill de-emphasizes rehabilitation throughout.
Rehab credentials for VR staff are weakened.
There is concern that features in S. 1356 will reduce access to the highly 
specialized services required to remove employment barriers for people with 
severe disabilities.
Positive features in the bill are business relations emphasis, in-demand 
occupations emphasis, and a focus on career exploration, work experience and

internships for youth.

Skills Act
H.R. 803 by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
Consolidates 36 federal employment programs, not VR, which remains a 
mandatory partner, however.  Although VR remains a distinct program, various

provisions in the bill tie VR more closely into the generic Workforce 
system.
Requires common data reporting and performance measures for all Workforce 
partners.
Increases business representation on Workforce state and local boards. 
Boards would be 2/3 business representatives.  Partner members like VR are 
not required on the Boards.
Emphasizes job training that is responsive to in-demand occupations and 
business needs.
In HR-803 VR remains a distinct program but is moved more closely into the 
generic Workforce system.
Partners must make all their "work-ready" services available at One-Stops. 
It is uncertain whether this translates to co-location.
Lets Governors decide what funds each partner must contribute to the 
One-Stops.  The Governor can require partners contribute funds above those 
set in any infrastructure formula.  Thus VR funds could be tapped for 
various One-Stop expenses.
One-Stops and training providers would have to meet standards, be certified 
and re-certified every 3 years, with focus on meeting standards of program 
integration, as well as other goals.
It is unclear if VR training providers would have to meet training provider 
criteria set by the Governor.
Makes RSA commissioner a Director, no longer a Presidential appointment.
Requires at least 10% of a state's VR basic funds must be for expanding 
Transition.
The Comprehensive Needs Assessment must add a focus on Transition needs and 
the performance of existing services in meeting those needs.
Supported Employment title VI grants are eliminated.
States must set aside one-half of 1% of their basic VR funds for grants to 
for-profit businesses to do job readiness, training and placement.
Eliminates in-service training of VR personnel as a training grant purpose.

Special concerns related to maintaining an effective Rehabilitation system:
Special concerns for Rehab:  with VR melded more closely into the generic 
Workforce system in a number of ways - there is concern for the future of 
some key rehabilitation principles, features and resources that are critical

for successful employment results, including:
informed client choice
individualized plans and services
specialized services
information accessibility
communication accessibility
physical accessibility
availability of specialized staff
staff and system understanding of disability
There is concern that more closely merging VR into the generic Workforce 
system will lead to
leaching away of VR funds for non-VR use
cherry-picking - serving the least disabled first
reduced help for severely disabled with the greatest employment barriers
increased diversion of staff time to bureaucratic functions, away from 
direct service delivery.


___________________________

This week staff and administrators from most public VR agencies across the 
Nation are gathered in Washington D.C.  Today they are on Capitol Hill, 
visiting with their Congressional delegations.  Yesterday they were briefed 
by a panel of experts which included leaders of the National Federation of 
the Blind.



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