National R&E Workgroup Call: Working with VR Data National Consortium for Health Systems Development 09/27/06
What is VR? • State/Federal partnership providing employment services for people with disabilities and employers, overseen by the Rehabilitation Services Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education. • Eligibility for VR is based on significance of disability, not income. • Individualized employment plans are developed for each VR customer, and services include assessments, vocational training, post-secondary education, transportation and vehicle modifications, personal assistance, job coaching, supported employment, transition services, job placement, and other services. • VR is a capped program, not an entitlement. Every VR agency must creatively spread limited funding among those who need services. VR agencies must prioritize services for those with the most significant needs.
VR Data: What is it? • All state VR agencies are required to collect and submit data to the Federal government on services, demographics and outcomes for their consumers. • These data include information on primary and secondary disability, educational status, demographics, services delivered, vocational goals and outcomes. • Most VR agencies collect more than what they are Federally required to. • Aggregate data is available from several resources, but individually-identifiable data only from the VR Agency itself.
Six VR Standards and Indicators (those in yellow are “core” indicators) 1. Change in Employment Outcomes (compared to last year) 2. Percent of Employment Outcomes (compared to all consumers served) 3. Competitive Employment Outcomes (percentage in competitive employment) 4. Significance of Disability (percentage with significant disabilities) 5. Earnings Ratio (earnings of consumers vs. general population in state) 6. Self-Support (percentage who achieve self-support)
What This Means for MIG? • VR standards and indicators match some of the program outcomes that MIGs are measuring. • VR is one of the only agencies outside of SSA that gathers verified disability data. Disability data can help a MIG understand whom their programs are serving. • VR is a social service agency with capped funding-- a MIG can provide considerable research and analysis supports to a VR agency and help them analyze their program.
An Example of MIG/VR Collaboration: Maine Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Comprehensive Needs AssessmentMay 2006 Full document available at: http://www.maine.gov/rehab/dvr/gvr_plan.htm Maine MIG website: www.choiceceo.org
Maine DVR RSA requires state vocational rehabilitation agencies to conduct a “comprehensive statewide assessment” every three years Maine DVR collects a lot of data, but staff have little time for analysis or combining of data sources Maine MIG One strategic priority of the Maine MIG is to, “Improve and expand vocational rehabilitation services” Maine MIG has analytic capacity, but not much access to or background knowledge about VR data and operations Collaboration MeetsVR and MIG Needs
Context of Maine Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment • Large geographic state with dispersed population of 1.3 million; most population and areas of economic growth in southern Maine • Falling federal and state funding for vocational rehabilitation services • High turnover of rehabilitation counselors (~15%) • Growing number of transition-age applicants (<23) • DVR implemented Order of Selection (waiting list) in 2002
Selected Findings (1) Growth of the Maine DVR waiting list in FFY 2003 – 2004 was of great concern to the agency. Efforts to reduce the list began to have an impact in FFY 2005. But a bottleneck developed in the VR process in the steps immediately following removal from the waiting list, particularly in Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) development. (See next three slides)
Selected Findings (2) Overall, Maine DVR rehabilitation rate dropped slightly from FFY 2003 – 2005, but decrease was greatest among people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Selected Findings (3) Maine DVR expends significant resources on postsecondary education, and is very successful at improving education levels among program participants.
Recommendations • Increase recruitment, retention and availability of counselors. (Turnover impacts caseloads, time in IPE development, rehabilitation rates, etc.) • Identify and implement innovative methods to meet increasing demands for youth transition services • Implementing new strategies to increase the number of successful employment outcomes • Evaluate post-secondary services from a cost-benefit perspective
Maine MIG Vastly improved understanding of VR services and operations Access to a valuable source of data, and to important information about the strengths, limitations, and appropriate uses of the data Maine DVR MIG offers a resource, focus and expertise in data analysis Caution is needed in interpreting data MIG access to external data helped significantly with "comprehensive“ picture Lessons Learned and Benefits from the Collaboration
What Other Ways to Collaborate on R&E Issues? • Most VR agencies measure job outcomes when the case is closed. MIGs can help VR link with Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage data to look at VR outcomes longitudinally. • Comparisons with other VR agencies regionally and nationally can help a state understand its program.
Other R&E Issues (cont.) • VR is a primary user of and referral source to benefits counseling and Medicaid Buy-In programs. Linking data between these programs can help a state understand their effectiveness, and can help the VR agency identify consumers who should be utilizing services. • The VR database contains information on primary and secondary disabilities, which can be of great interest to a Medicaid agency that is trying to understand who their programs serve. • VR agencies often have limited resources to analyze their outcomes, conduct assessments on how their meeting needs and market their program.