[nfbmi-talk] Key provisions in proposed amendments to WorkforceInvesstment Act

Christine Boone christineboone2 at gmail.com
Sun Apr 20 00:26:17 UTC 2014

Terry, I am sorry I did not see this message when you sent it.  Most of your messages come through just fine, but this one went into my junk mail, along with a bunch of other odd messages from folks who write to me frequently.  

Anyway in answer to your question, Yes that was the very same week of the gathering of leaders of rehabilityation agencies, blind, general and combined.   FYI, Ed Rodgers was  not seen, though Gwen McNeal and Leamon were both in attendance, as was Ms. Sheri Heibeck.  
Now I am wondering if Mike and Ed Begged off, giving their tickets to Sheri and Gwen?  It does seem rather off does it not, that Sheri should go, as an assistant Center director???

I actually have some thoughts on why Ed might not have been there.  I will share some time if you like.
On Apr 8, 2014, at 6:43 PM, Terry D. Eagle <terrydeagle at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Thanks Christine.  Great summary.
> Is the Washington D.C. gathering of VR staff actually this week, April 7 -
> 11?
> Terry
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nfbmi-talk [mailto:nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of
> Christine Boone
> Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2014 10:50 AM
> To: NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List; nfbp-talk at yahoogroups.com
> 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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