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American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation. Historical Overview of Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation. Social Service Systems. Grapples with uniqueness of American Indian Communities historically and today Most Social Service staff don’t know: There are over 339 Federally Recognized Tribes

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american indian vocational rehabilitation

American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation

Historical Overview of Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation

social service systems
Social Service Systems
  • Grapples with uniqueness of American Indian Communities historically and today
  • Most Social Service staff don’t know:
    • There are over 339 Federally Recognized Tribes
    • 227 of the 339 are in Alaska
    • 60 of the 339 are State Recognized Tribes
social service system cont
Social Service System cont…
  • Complicating services to Indian People
    • Distinct Cultures
    • Distinct Languages (around 250 spoken today)
historical efforts of service provision
Historical Efforts of Service Provision
  • 1947 Office of VR and the BIA signed Cooperative Relationship Memorandum 21
    • Resolved to focus efforts to serve Indians with disabilities
    • Report notes, “…there is a very limited chronicle of integration of vocational rehabilitation services by the Tribal or Federal service agencies.”
1978 annual report of the dept of education rehabilitation program summary
1978 Annual Report of the Dept. of Education-Rehabilitation Program summary:
  • The greatest problem that face VR in the effort to improve services to Native Americans are ones that relate more to the potential client’s status as an American Indian than to disability status. The Indian population on reservations, including the disabled population, is not conveniently located for easy participation in general Federal and State programs; they are usually dispersed in large rural areas. If there is a single, important step that RSA should consider in order to improve VR services to Native Americans, that step is developing ways to take VR to the reservation Indians. It is not likely that they will or even can come to VR in significant numbers.
what did american indian vr look like in the 1980 s
What did American Indian VR look like in the 1980’s?
  • “The American Indian and Alaska Native people are the most underserved, misrepresented, and unknown population that require assistance in achieving employment and independence” – Richard W. Corbridge, Assistant Commissioner, Region X RSA
  • American Indians have one of the highest disability profiles in the country, yet have been identified as unserved and underserved by State Vocational Rehabilitation systems.
landmark year for tribal vr 1975
Landmark Year for Tribal VR: 1975
  • Arizona Division of VR funded a 3 year establishment grant to the Navajo Nation to begin serving tribal members with disabilities on the reservation
  • 1978 – tri-state grant entered into by Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah VR systems to fund Navajo to continue servicing cases during 1975 – 1978.
1978 rehab act reauthorization
1978 Rehab Act Reauthorization
  • Section 130 was written into Title I, which provided for American Indian projects to serve Indian people on reservations
  • However, no mechanism was identified to fund the programs
  • The Navajo Nation spearheaded movement to include funding mandate to the Act and succeeded about 1983.
the first tribal vr program
The First Tribal VR Program…
  • The Navajo Nation applied for and received the first Section 130 Funding
  • They received $650,000
  • They were the only Tribal VR Program until about 1985
  • Achievement came more than 40 years after the 1947 memorandum
tribal vr today
Tribal VR today
  • Today there are 69 federally funded Tribal VR programs in 23 states and 1 Tribally funded program in North Carolina
  • Funding increased from $650,000 annually to $23,998,000 annually
tribal vr today cont
Tribal VR Today cont…
  • FY 2003, Tribal VR successfully rehabilitated 1,452 American Indians with Disabilities
  • Reason for success – Many of the services were provided by American Indians originating from the community who understand the culture, speak the language, and know the resources
1998 rehab act amendments
1998 Rehab Act Amendments
  • Required cooperative agreements between Tribal and State VR programs
  • SRCs and SILCs were required to have Tribal VR representation
  • Consortia of Administrator for Native American Rehabilitation pushed through 20 out of 22 recommended amendments
indian issues and challenges
Indian Issues and Challenges?
  • Still the same as 1978
    • Poverty
    • Rural and Remote Communities
    • High Unemployment Rates
    • High rates of disabling conditions
      • Cancer, Heart Disease, Substance/Alcohol Dependence, Learning Disabilities, TBI