If you have trouble reading this e-mail, go to http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr/rehab_resource/default.htm
Mike Greco, DVR Administrator
A 1959 article from the Middleton Times-Tribune features "Hire the Handicapped Week", the pre-cursor to National Disability Employment Awareness Month. You can click on the picture to read the full article.
"Taking it to the next level."
This phrase has quickly become a mantra in DVR. Federal Fiscal Year 2012 saw DVR meet, and beat, its successful employment outcomes goal. And, as we continue working with our outcome goals and performance indicators for FFY 2013, we are on pace to meet and exceed our goals for another year.
We have been able to achieve this because all of us are "taking it to the next level." Through innovative programs that help connect job seekers with disabilities to employment, Wisconsin DVR continues to perform well.
And as we continue to look for new ways to improve services for job seekers with disabilities and methods to better support staff in their work, we'll use this issue of the Rehabilitation Resource to take a look back. Programs and services have come and gone. The definition of success has changed over time. Our customers and their expectations continue to evolve.
Throughout the February newsletter, you'll see snapshots of DVR and its services at various times, and how the landscape of disability employment policy has been transformed through advocacy and legislation.
"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see." - Winston Churchill
Note: The Rehabilitation Resource will focus on one topic each month. If you have suggestions for newsletter topics or themes, please contact Kristin Rolling.
The federal/state partnership of vocational rehabilitation began in 1917 with the passage of the Smith-Hughes Act (Public Law 347). Since then, legislation, and the services of state agencies, has taken a wide variety of forms and focuses.
Here are some statistics from past DVR annual reports:
In comparison, DVR had 3,250 successful employment outcomes in FFY 2012, with a budget of $73.8 million.
While the successful outcome totals from years past look impressive, it is important to remember that, during that time, DVR did not work first with people with the most significant disabilities. In fact, many times, individuals with the most significant disabilities were determined to be "too severely disabled to benefit from services."
The innovations of today - Walgreens Retail Employees with Disabilities Initiative (REDI), Project Search, Individualized Placement and Supports, Motivational Interviewing - are just the most recent in Wisconsin's long history of innovation in vocational rehabilitation.
William F. Faulkes was the first director of the Wisconsin Vocational Rehabilitation Division and was also the founder and first president of the National Rehabilitation Association (NRA). Throughout his tenure, he continually advocated for services to people who were not included, sometimes specifically excluded, from receiving vocational rehabilitation services. In its beginning, vocational rehabilitation services were the exclusive right of people with orthopedic impairments, but Faulkes continually advocated for funding and services for individuals with a wide variety of physical and mental disabilities, well before any of his colleagues saw the benefit of doing so.
"Bill Faulkes anticipated the federal amendments which decades later enabled state rehabilitation agencies to consider a client's nervous system and psyche as well as his muscles and bones." (From A History of Vocational Rehabilitation in America, by C. Esco Oberman.)
From the museum's website: "Social struggles of many kinds - civil rights, labor issues, suffrage, immigration and assimilation, the provision of health care for all - make it clear that history is useful for understanding the experiences and problems we encounter in the present."
1920 - Smith-Fess Act (Public Law 236): Established federal/state program in rehabilitation and provided funds for vocational guidance, training, occupation adjustment, prosthetics, and placement services. Services intended for people with physical disabilities only and were primarily vocational in nature.
1936 - Randolph-Sheppard Act: Created the blind vending program.
1943 - Vocational Rehabilitation Amendments of 1943 (Public Law 113): Responding to acute pressure for more workers due to the World War, Congress increased funding, expanded services to include physical restoration, required states to submit annual written plans for approval by a federal agency, and for the first time provided a specific definition of vocational rehabilitation. Also, for the first time, services were expanded to include mental disabilities and mental illness. These Amendments also split rehabilitation for the blind from general rehabilitation.
1965 - Vocational Rehabilitation Amendments of 1965 (Public Law 333): By expanding services to persons with socially-disabling conditions such as alcoholism and by introducing the concept of extended evaluation to determine eligibility, these Amendments sought to allow the rehabilitation counselor to serve persons with severe disabilities.
1973 - Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Public Law 112): Responding to mounting pressure from consumer groups, Congress created the Individualized Written Rehabilitation Program (IWRP) which was supposed to make the rehabilitation client a full partner in the rehab process.
Want to learn more? Visit the VR History folder on DVR's V Drive/Shared Server (Management Services / Refer / VR History Documents).
Submitted by Lyssa Frechette - VRC, Milwaukee Northeast
As part of Workplace Wellness, WDA 2 participated in an "Appreciation Activity". The main objective was to show staff in each office that they were appreciated by someone in their office and their great works do not go unnoticed. Staff was presented with stationary and asked to write at least one letter expressing their appreciation for someone in their office. The letters were to be anonymous and delivered secretly to their mailbox. Everyone received an appreciation letter, and the exercise brought staff closer as well as making them feel like their hard work is truly appreciated. The exercise was a big hit from the reaction of staff.
Kathleen Enders, Contract Specialist - Central Office
Email to Larry Dresser, Special Services Section Chief from WDA 8 Director Randy Sommerfeld
Yesterday WDA 8 had our vendor training for the new on-line agreement. It went very well, Kathleen explained everything extremely well to about 28 people. Two vendors emailed me this morning to say it was a great training and they enjoyed it.
She did a nice job.
Timothy Solfest (VRC) and Jackie Lenz (VRC) - La Crosse
Email from a service provider
I just want to let you both know that I appreciate all the attention that you give your clients. You guys really do an AWESOME job of following up, and WDA 9 makes a really efficient team. I bet you guys don't hear thank you enough, but I really think you both deserve it. Thank you two for being so very easy to work with and for making this job much more pleasurable, it is very much appreciated!
Lorie Walker - VR Supervisor, Madison
I want to thank you for the opportunity you have given me to work in a Temporary Work Experience at the DVR, first in Madison and later in Beaver Dam. Being introduced to the services DVR offers me as a consumer, and being given the opportunity to return to work, have been completely life-changing experiences for me. I am sincerely overcome with gratitude and awe when I think of this unexpected "happening" which has so affected my life!
After more than 10 years of disability and struggling to find someone who would even consider hiring me when I had no current or even recent job experience, this TWE has restored hope and confidence, along with generally improving the quality of my life. I am touched by the mission of DVR and feel privileged to be a recipient of your assistance, as well as the chance to participate in the execution of the work you do. I have met so many wonderful counselors and CCC's who have blessed me with their kindness, care and patient instruction. Overall, I feel like I have been given a new life.
Nancy Prokash - VRC, Shawano
I wanted to take a moment and thank both of you ladies (email also sent to a service provider) for helping me so immensely in 2012. You have literally changed my life.