One of the key discussion points in our work to improve the Vocational Rehabilitation process has been the need for joint-training for VR Counselors and providers. In times past, separate trainings have led to misunderstandings due to differing interpretations of VR policy and procedure. By giving providers and VR staff the same information, at the same time, all stakeholders would have a shared understanding of the material presented. Kylee Hope, the Director of the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services, showed her support for this idea by inviting me to last week’s Annual Training Symposium for VR staff.
As the only person there that was not employed by VR or involved in putting on the Symposium itself, I felt a bit strange in crashing that party. The Bureau of Rehabilitative Services represents a very large number of Counselors and Supervisors, spread all over the state. Inevitably, the first question I was asked was in which office I worked. When I answered that I worked for INARF, the second question, just as inevitably, was why I was there. As I described my guest status and the idea of everyone learning critical information together, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive.
The symposium opened with Dr. John Wernert, Secretary of the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) addressing the group on the critical importance of work, and the valuable role that Vocational Rehabilitation plays in assisting individuals with disabilities in leading fulfilling lives.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the breakout sessions, I was especially interested in the discussion of the proposed “Hybrid” Service Model, and what the counselors would think of it. The presentation, identical to the one given at the INARF Professional Interest Section, was well received by attendees, especially in the fact there is flexibility built in to the system, allowing for true person-centered service delivery. Also very well received was the announcement that Case Coordinator positions had been approved, relieving VR Counselors of much of the administrative work and freeing them up to focus on working with their clients (For more information on these positions, search the Indiana Job Bank here).
There is certainly more work to be done as we strive together to re-design the Vocational Rehabilitation service model. It is gratifying to know, however, that the VR leadership, counselors, and providers are on the same philosophical page. The need for person-centered services, the importance of discovery, and the belief that there is a difference between a job placement and the right job placement are values that are universal to our industry. We are pointing in the same direction.