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DVR Project Information
- Career Pathways
- Customized Employment
- Independent Living Center Innovation and Expansion Projects
- Individual Placement and Support (IPS)
- Let's Get to Work
- Project SEARCH
- Vocational Futures Planning
- Vocational Rehabilitation for Native Americans (VRNA) and American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation (AIVR)
- Wrap Around Milwaukee (WAM)
Career Pathways is a project that began with funding from the Joyce Foundation to establish “stackable” credential and certificate programs that allow for a flexible approach to obtaining work related skills, certificates and education. Interested individuals can also be provided with entry level skill training and remedial education to enable them to be successful in an academic program.
Employment sectors have worked with the technical college system to develop pathways that match the local labor market. Individuals can take a course and then return for additional training in a given profession where they can gain certificates toward a larger degree or educational program while they continue working. DVR has worked with Wisconsin technical colleges to pre-screen referrals and coordinate services for individuals in this flexible educational approach.
Customized Employment is a model of supported employment that can be an option for individuals when typical supported employment strategies have not been successful or where customized employment strategies may more successfully meet the individualized support needs of the individual. Customized Employment uses an approach called “Discovery” to identify strengths of an individual in community settings. Those strengths are then matched to fill the needs of a business and a job is customized.
DVR has worked since 2009 in collaboration with specialized trainers to establish service descriptions, a fee schedule, criteria for selection and a list of certified trained providers.
Several ILCs and WDAs have collaborated on new projects including Financial Literacy, Peer Mentoring, and Advanced IT Training (iPads for Transition Students - establishing consistency in applications used and learned between home, school and employment site).
IPS is an evidenced based practice model of supported employment for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. In Wisconsin the Department of Workforce Development – DVR has partnered with the Department of Health Services – Division of Mental Health to establish IPS in Wisconsin as part of a grant from Dartmouth College and Johnson and Johnson. Mental health services in Wisconsin are provided by each county.
The IPS model involves a team approach involving an Employment Specialist and a DVR counselor becoming a part of a mental health treatment team, with employment becoming a focus of mental health services. Adherence to the prescribed national model is essential. Fidelity reviews are conducted until “good” fidelity is achieved. Technical assistance is provided as part of the grant and can be provided for counties wishing to implement IPS.
Legislation has been proposed (2014) for a significant expansion of IPS availability in Wisconsin.
- IPS Special Project Criteria
- IPS Process in Wisconsin
- IPS Process Flowchart
- IPS Technical Specifications
- IPS Fee Schedule
The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) was awarded a five year grant to examine interventions to improve employment outcomes for youth with developmental disabilities in Wisconsin. DVR, DHS (Department of Health Services) and DPI (Department of Public Instruction) are partners implementing changes for examination as part of the grant.
DVR has implemented earlier transition services for individual students at grant sites/schools and are utilizing a Youth On-the-Job (Y-OJT) agreement to assist an employer in associated costs of training a youth (student) in a job at up to 100% of their wages for up to 500 hours. DVR has a liaison counselor at each high school in Wisconsin who can provide technical assistance to students and their teams prior to application with DVR. This might include attending IEP meetings to provide input about potential jobs/careers, resources and disability information related to jobs. DVR can also offer the Y-OJT to transition students who have an active case with DVR.
Project SEARCH is a business led collaboration that enables young adults with disabilities to gain and maintain employment through training and career exploration. A 9-12 month program, Project SEARCH provides total immersion in a large community business. Students with disabilities are offered a workforce alternative for their last year of high school. All participants must be eligible for services with the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). At some sites, young adults who have completed high school may be eligible to participate in Project SEARCH.
The Project SEARCH partnership includes a local high status business, a school, DVR, a vocational services agency and a disability services agency, such as a managed care organization. The business provides an on-site training classroom, business liaison and rotational internships for on the job training. The school provides an instructor. DVR works with a local vocational services agency to supply job coaches who support students in their internships as needed and assist with final job placement. The disability services agency provides follow along services for any eligible student who is hired at the business site or in the community.
Each day, students report to the host business, learn employability skills in the classroom and job skills through their internships (usually 3-4 internships during the year). Students are encouraged to use public transportation when available, just as they would when employed after high school. Students and their teams meet monthly for progress reports and to continually refine their career goals and determine concrete next steps. Managers from the host business work with the teacher and job coaches to support the students every step of the way, with an ultimate goal upon program completion being the students’ competitive placements at the host business or in the community, based on the skills and experience learned in their Project SEARCH experiences.
Project SEARCH sites must be licensed by the flagship business, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and must comply with standards of model fidelity (trademarked and copyrighted). Technical assistance is provided by the founders of Project SEARCH to ensure consistency in approach and data collection for this evidenced based program.
There are currently 7 official Project SEARCH sites in Wisconsin:
- William S. Middleton Memorial Veteran’s Hospital (2008) in Madison
- University of Wisconsin Hospital (2010) in Madison
- Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin (2011) in Wauwatosa
- Waukesha Memorial Hospital (2013) in Waukesha
- Ministry St. Joseph's Hospital (2011) in Marshfield
- Wal-Mart Distribution Center (2011) in Menomonie
- St. Elizabeth Hospital (2013) in Appleton
In the Walgreen’s Retail Employees with Disabilities Initiative (REDI), DVR refers job seekers with significant disabilities to participate in a training program that prepares them for a customer service job with Walgreen’s or other retail settings. On-site job coaches, who are funded by DVR and participate in a Walgreens-designed training, provide the support the externs need while they are learning their job duties. Externs participate in a series of modules to help build skills, store knowledge and interpersonal skills. Successful completion of the four week training program results in a “recommended for hire” status for the externs, applicable at Walgreens or another retail store. Wisconsin is one of twelve states involved in the first phase of the national REDI launch.
REDI has expanded from a Milwaukee pilot to having 17 sites across Wisconsin (including 1 to begin in West Bend in October 2013). There are 49 REDI graduates statewide, with a total of 40 hires statewide (39 hired by Walgreens and 1 with another employer). Successful REDI placements have occurred in Workforce Development Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10. DVR currently has 11 consumers involved in REDI training with the possibility of up to 4 new externs to begin at the new West Bend site
VFP is a project that was developed by the Department of Health Services for individuals with physical disabilities who are served in the long term care system. VFP is an evidenced based model to provide employment planning services. It is a consumer driven and team based comprehensive employment service which includes all facets of helping an individual with significant physical disabilities to obtain, maintain or advance in employment.
DVR has convened a Workgroup comprised of stakeholders as well as possible skilled providers of this service. We are evaluating the success of the original pilots and determining what needs to be in place for a new pilot to be successful.
Vocational Rehabilitation for Native Americans (VRNA) and American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation (AIVR)
VRNA supports participants in their journey to lead independent lives through employment. The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council (GLITC), acting as contract agent for the Section 121 Vocational Rehabilitation projects in the State of Wisconsin, and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to assist GLITC to expand and support its Section 121 Programs throughout Wisconsin. DVR will continue to provide necessary technical services to GLITC to help support its efforts to serve eligible individuals, including services to Native Americans living in urban areas of the State; e.g., Milwaukee, Madison, Black River Falls.
AIVR is a program designed to assist tribal governments to develop or to increase their capacity to provide a program of vocational rehabilitation services, in a culturally relevant manner, to American Indians with disabilities residing on or near federal or state reservations. The program’s goal is to enable these individuals, consistent with their individual strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities and informed choice, to prepare for and engage in gainful employment. Program services are provided under an individualized plan for employment and may include native healing services. Wisconsin DVR has coordinated the training of AIVR staff and consumers that may be served by both programs.
DVR (WDA 7) is currently collaborating with Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) providing two consumers (who completed screening) opportunities to engage in a Train to Work model (incorporating soft and hard work skills) at the LCO casino. Discussions are underway to expand to other parts of the state (involving casinos as well as a Dental Clinic offering a multitude of possible positions for the Train to Work model.
DVR Wrap Around Milwaukee is an Innovation and Expansion project created to assist DVR consumers having significant life problems that create barriers to obtaining and maintaining employment. Major trauma and poverty are often factors in the lives of some Milwaukee county job seekers who become DVR consumers, making it very difficult for them to participate in DVR employment services. Wrap Around services are provided in “real time” – rapid response is a key component of this project .Advocates help consumers navigate social systems to resolve life issues, freeing them to participate in DVR services and become successfully employed. DVR is contracting with two agencies in Milwaukee to provide comprehensive services. The agencies were selected following a RFI application process. La Causa provides Wrap Around services to youth in transition; The Bridge provides Wrap Around services to adults. All of the individuals receiving Wrap Around services are DVR consumers who have an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).