Mike Kenny and Jammie White are representatives for the Ohio Rehabilitation Program Services Commission. Both are rehabilitation program specialists for transition age youth, in this webcast they will discuss the services available through the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission.
What is the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission?
The Ohio Rehab Services Commission is a state agency that’s responsible for providing vocational rehabilitation services to people with physical, mental and emotional disabilities. And so in that agency there are three divisions that go into that, and sometimes people with refer to our agency totally as BVR, but you want to be able to make a distinction between BVR and the Ohio Rehab Services Commission. So the Rehab Services Commission is sort of an umbrella name for the whole state agency, and under that are divisions that are called Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, which is BVR, the Bureau of Services for the Visual Impairment, which is BSVI, and then we also have a section that’s called BDD, which is the Bureau of Disability Determination. So BVR is what a lot of people, comes to mind a lot of times when people are talking about rehab services the state agency, and they just seem to refer to us as BVR. But one of the things that you want to keep in mind is BVR is just one aspect of the Ohio Rehab Services Commission. So BVR would be working with people that do not have visual impairment, I think that’s kind of one of the ways to think about it, it’s like people who have physical, mental and emotional disabilities and it’s trying to provide vocational rehab services to those types of people. And so that might include types of things such as job placements, it might include job counseling, it might refer to making referrals to other agencies who can handle services or provide things like job coaching and job training, but it also might include a lot of assessment activities on our part to determine where somebody is in the vocation rehabilitation process, what they can still do if they were working on a previous job and now they’ve encountered a disability and can’t do that job any more. So it might be accessing somebody’s residual abilities, it might be accessing where they are in terms of their intellect, physical capabilities, emotion capabilities of handling jobs, so that’s what BVR does. BSVI works specifically with people with visual impairments. And so somebody might have those types of disabilities, but they might have also a visual impairment that goes along with that. So those people would probably most likely be referred to BSVI. BDD refers to the Bureau of Disability Determination and a lot of times what those people are is looking for would they be eligible to receive social security disability benefits, or just social security benefits because of their disability. And so we have a whole separate part of our agency that works with that, in making those determination decisions to whether someone can receive that.
Who is eligible for services through RSC?
In order for us to determine a person eligible for services, they have to meet three criteria. If we’re looking at a transition age youth, this person should be of twenty-three years of age, and or younger. We have to make sure that that person has a diagnosed disability, and you need to bring documentation to show us that you have that disability and or have your IEP or ETR if you are working with someone who is a transition youth and or a parent, you want to have that information. The criteria you definitely would have to have an impediment to employment or a problem with employment, or be in what we call a job save situation where you’re in the possibility of your going to loose a job and we need to come in and save the job. So there is a process that you go through and then once we determine you eligible for services we can then move forward and begin the process of serving that particular consumer. I think Jammie mentioned it, but one of the things that we want to reiterate a lot is the agency is really about employment. So it’s not an agency that is a social service agency and so sometimes our councilors get referrals for people who actually do need some service but they might not be deemed as eligible for our services and so then sometimes there’s a misunderstanding about what do you actually do. And so I think like if people would focus on the idea that our agency is about employment. So our councilors are looking to see does your disability present some major barrier to you getting a job. It may but it also may not. We don’t deny that they have a learning disability, but their particular learning disability may really not present any major barrier to them getting a job. It’s not to say that there wouldn’t be some adjustments on a job for a person with a learning disability and what they do, but in just in terms of being able to get employment that particular disability may not really present an impairment to that. So that person may not be eligible for our services. So like Jammie was saying, it’s very individualize in terms of like somebody coming to us for eligibility, so we don’t like to make kind of blanket statements that say well everybody from this group is eligible and everybody from this group is not. But one of the things that you have to really remember is our agency is mostly totally about employment. And on top of that I want to add that if you are a parent or a person who is looking to refer, typically if there’s a councilor that’s working with a particular school district, or a particular school, it usually will work that the work-study coordinator or someone is making that referral to our agency or to our office. So that person may be someone that you may want to contact to be sure to get correct documentation and is provided to the BVR councilor, whether is be the IEP, ETR documentation so they can, it depends on what district or what school you’re participating in, but ultimately the more information the councilor has when they start working with that student the better in us determining that person eligible for services. Because we want them to be eligible, but if you try to go outside of the school district and do it and your dealing with someone who is sixteen or seventeen years of age, you may have more difficulty if don’t have all the documentation and there hasn’t been a discussion with that school district and the councilor first.
What are the three criteria for eligibility?
If the person has a disability, which seriously limits them in two or more areas of their disability, we call it functional capacities, and this could be mobility, communication, self-care, self-direction, their interpersonal skills, work tolerance and or work skills. That’s criteria one. The second is that the person needs multiple vocational rehabilitation services over an extended period of time. And the third is has one or more physical or mental disabilities resulting from specific disabilities outlined in vocational rehabilitation policy. We go by most significantly disabled, or significantly disabled, we identify the most needed population in order to determine someone eligible as well. So we documents whether significantly disabled is usually one limitation, and most significantly disabled is two limitations. And we identify them in order to serve that population a little faster.
You mention a little bit about the required documentation for transition age youth. Can you give us an overview of the types of documentation that would be important to have available?
If you are receiving social security disability income, or SSI, then you can actually bring the form, or the letter, it’s usually called reward letter into the office, and we can actually make you eligible that day. It basically shows that you have a diagnosed disability if you’re receiving that benefit. Also if you’re seeing a psychologist, or doctor, or teacher, anyone who could give us the diagnosis for you, then we can have that documentation as well. It could be a letter, it could be a format, it would just depend when you come in you would want to bring that information. And if you don’t have it, it’s O.K., you can actually bring your doctor’s addresses and phone numbers and we can request that information in order to determine eligibility.
Should a transition age youth also bring their IEP?
Yes, if you have the most current IEP, really sometimes the IEP I think can be a little difficult to decipher as some councilors have trouble with that. If you have a current ETR, and I know that most people or MFE that has the actual diagnosis that would be very helpful. The more information that the councilor has up front, the better in determining that person eligible. So anything you have, a list of medications, things from the doctor, if you have a primary disability, and a secondary disability, just make sure that you bring that information in with you.
Can you give us an overview of the services that might be provided through RSC?
Our councilors could provide a variety of type things, so again it would be very individualized for each particular person that comes in. And we talked about the people who come in to see us, we call them consumers, so if I’m using that term you just refer that it might mean a client, or a student, or something else, but it’s the people we serve we call them consumers. So our consumers, like the types of services they would receive will be very individualized according the documentation that they bring in and the type of needs that that particular person has. But generally the types of things we tend to provide might include counseling around job placement, meaning what types of things would a person want to be going into. And then would their skills and abilities match sort of what their desires are. So it might be counseling around those types of things. If might also actually be job placement, so our councilors might work with people out in the community, showing employers who have jobs and our councilors would know about those types of things and they might actually be helping people be placed on a job. So those are two things. It might also include things such as, referring to other agencies who would provide services to help that consumer get to a job. So for example, it might be a job coach, so that somebody follows that person along and sort of teaches them the skills as they’re going onto a job. So that they learn to progressively to get better and better at what they’re wanting to do. So our councilors will refer to those types of things. It might be referring to other agency that can provide skills to help the person again get to that job. So for example, a person might make a referral to an agency that might help somebody for drivers training. For example, a person might need to be retrained on how to do that in order to get to their job. It might also include things such as adaptive technology, so again our councilor might go and make an assessment or have the person, the consumer assessed on what types of technology would be beneficial for them in the work place. And then it could be purchasing that equipment, loaning that equipment out to the person while they’re at work, or while they’re at school. But mainly is making those assessments to determine the types of things that are there. So again, for the initial types of things, then again, it’s again all focused on employment, what’s going to get the person to that job. So it might be some direct services that the councilor himself or herself are actually providing, but a lot of it might be referral to other services that are going to help that person to reach the goal of employment. The BVR councilors role, and the BSVI councilors role, is more and less a case manager. They’re really managing a case that has been assessed and then move forward into how are we going to plan this out, and how are we going to coordinate all of this to get to our goal, which is ultimately. And really the earlier we can get that person referred to us the better. It doesn’t always happen that way, sometimes we’ll get a transition youth that just graduated from high school, that’s always a little bit tougher, but when we’ve got the schools involved that’s really good, and it’s a great asset to the process.
Once a person has been found eligible and RSC is involved is there a length of time that RSC can stay involved or a limit to the amount of services RSC may provide?
We do have time limited services, which they’re a little bit different from agencies that have life long services. Typically, from the point that a person has a job, we follow the case for ninety days, we don’t just leave them once they get employed. We follow them for ninety days and then we will close the case, what we call successful closure. However, in our transition plans, the nice things about those for our transition youth is that we can use the option of exploration. We can use that as the job goal, we can say exploration of, and give them what we call try-outs to different types of jobs. And we would not actually close that case until we knew for sure what the official job goal is. That means that the councilor would then go back and amend the plan to include the official job goal, and in a way I know exactly what your asking but it just depends, it really depends on that particular case, the length of time, but when they get that official job goal and they’re employed for ninety days, we will typically close the case as a success, unless they need some additional services, which we hope that we’ve done as much as we could upfront for that youth.
Can you define what RSC would consider a successful closure?
A successful closure would be working for ninety days on your job, where everything is going well, you’re doing good, you really don’t need our services, we don’t need job coaching, we see everything as going fine and then we close the case, in what we call a twenty-six, which is a successful closure for us.
Is there an amount of hours that a person must be working to be considered a successful closure?
It would just depend on what the individualize plan is, for one person it may be twenty hours a week, for the next person it may be forty, thirty, it depends on what that individualize plan is for the consumer.
Is the ninety-day rule an Ohio rule?
That’s a good question, because a lot of time people will ask how did you come up with ninety days as being the length of time for successful closure? Because sometimes people will say it might take somebody longer to know that they were performing on a job. S I thing it’s important to know that that is not a criteria that our agency just drew out of a hat, or had a meeting and decided on whether they were going to come up with ninety days, that’s a federal guideline. So regardless of where you would go in the country, agencies such as ours would have that same guideline in terms of what they would consider successful closures.
I know that we cannot assume that any individual would be eligible based on a disability label but would it be likely that an individual on the autism spectrum be eligible for RSC services and would you recommend they apply?
We would recommend that everyone on the spectrum consider our services. Again we talked a little bit earlier, what makes somebody eligible is whether that disability creates a major barrier to employment. And so in a lot of cases a person themselves may know that, the parent may know that. But again, what we see our agency is being one that sort of collaborates between our councilor and the consumer. So that decisions as to whether somebody would be eligible or not I think is done in a collaborative way, making a determination about we’ve got an access, we know what you can do, again we see paperwork that you’ve given us. We can help you and talk to you in terms of making that determination.
How should parents be involved?
If you are a parent who is applying for services, go to the initial interview, be a part of the process. If there are some behaviors or some social issues that are going on with that child, be specific; tell the councilor whatever specifics, what are the environments the child might have difficulty with? If there are behaviors, be straight forward, the more information, the better they can identify what environment would be better for that student.
What is RSC doing to help their counselors better understand the needs, challenges, and strengths of individuals on the autism spectrum?
Our agency is really trying to provide more training for our counselors. We do that in a specific number of ways, we did have people from OCALI come out and provide some training through a videoconference session for our councilors that was specific about people going into post secondary training, and the types of things a councilor needs to consider. Types of jobs that might be valuable, what the issues might be on a campus, so we felt that was valuable to do. We have an upcoming conference where our councilors will be attending, then again we’re bring in people from OCALI to talk a little bit about just autism in general, types of things you need to know about serving that population. So again what we’re trying to do is provide training through conferences, through video trainings, through things throughout the state, so that smaller trainings in each office so to give people more of an idea of working with people on the spectrum.
How can I contact RSC?
We do have our website which will be listed (www.rs.state.oh.us), but if you would like to apply for services or refer for services you can contact your local area offices, and we have office throughout the entire northeast, southwest, and if you pick up the phone you can contact and that person will actually take the referral for you over the phone if you want to do it that way. My strong suggestions if it is a transition youth, that you actually contact someone at the school directly first and let them know is there someone who works directly with BVR or BSVI. And if there is a contact person, find the way that that office does the actual initial interviewing, because many offices do that differently, and you want to be sure that you get scheduled in at a time, or maybe that RSC councilor can actually come to you, to the school and meet with you there at a more convenient time. Because we take mostly adults in for services they will actually be referred in and scheduled in as an adult if you don’t do it the other way. Well we do have office throughout the state, sometimes it’s hard to find them, sometimes you’re looking through the phonebook and you wonder how am I going to find where that office is for my particular area. So if you’re not able to find that you can call in to the state office and they will be able to refer you agency that’s in your area and it’s a 1-800 number so it’s toll free (Ohio Rehabilitation Services commission) and it’s 1-800-282-4536.