In January 2017, the Commission board voted to support the Governor’s funding request for $3.5 million a year for Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS), for a total of $7 million.
We thought that the funds would be used to eliminate all waiting lists for adults for VRS services. We were mistaken. There are four categories of service at VRS and three have waiting lists that will continue. Only Category 1 remains open to new people. If we didn’t get new funding, VRS was in serious danger of having to start a waiting list for Category 1. If a person qualifies for Category 1, they will get service. People who apply for VRS will be assessed by a VR counselor who will determine if they qualify. Every person’s situation is unique.
Youth from 16-24 are treated differently, under a federal law called the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Most youth with a disability will receive VR services.
Categories of Services
Under federal law, VRS serves 4 different categories of individuals with disabilities who are seeking job placement assistance. Federal law also requires that when there are insufficient resources to provide services to everyone who is eligible for VR services, people with the most significant disabilities must be served first.
The 4 categories are:
Category 1: three or more functional limitations in employment (No waiting list)
Category 2: two functional limitations in employment (Has a waiting list since 2014)
Category 3: one functional limitation in employment (Has a waiting list since 2014)
Category 4: no functional limitations in employment (Has a waiting list since 1993)
Functional limitations in employment? What is that?
“Functional limitations in employment” is a term used at the federal level that categorizes how an individual’s disability impacts their ability to find and maintain employment. For example, one individual can have one disability but the disability might impact more than one area of “functional limitations in employment.”
The list of functional limitations in employment are:
We are glad the funding came through and thank you for advocating so people who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing who qualify can get the services they need from VRS. The $7 million in funding is only for the next two years. VRS expects to return to the Legislature in 2019 to ask for funding again,