ADVOCACY TIP | Encourage students and parents to learn about VR Employment Goals and the Individual Plan for Employment (IPE).
After eligibility for VR services is established and assessments have been performed, the next step is to develop a written plan to determine the person’s employment goal and the specific VR services needed to help the individual reach that goal.
This plan is known as the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). It is developed by the VR “client,” with or without assistance from the VR counselor, and is completed on a form provided by the state VR agency. The IPE must be developed no later than 90 days after the person’s eligibility determination is made. If necessary, the VR agency and client can agree to an extension to a specified later date.
For young adults in school, some of this planning may already have begun. No later than the Individual Educational Program (IEP) year in which the student turns 16, the IEP is required to include post-secondary goals for employment, education/training and, if appropriate, independent living with specific transition services to assist the student in meeting these goals. Note that in order to include these goals the IEP must be developed during the prior school year, when the student is 15 years old. Understanding the requirements of the VR IPE while in school can help better prepare the student for receiving VR services. The IPE developed while the student is in school must be consistent with the goals in the IEP.
ADVOCACY TIP | If the student is still in school, encourage parents and/or students to work with the IEP Team to coordinate the development of the IPE with the transition goals in the IEP. They need to be consistent.
For VR services, the IPE must include:
The IPE must be reviewed at least annually and must be amended if necessary due to changes in employment outcome, VR services to be provided, and VR service providers. Changes made when the IPE is reviewed cannot take place until they are agreed upon by the person and their VR Counselor.
Employment goals and outcomes are central to the IPE and are defined by law as “entering, advancing in, or retaining full-time or part-time competitive integrated employment.” They include “customized employment, self-employment, telecommuting, or business ownership.”
ADVOCACY TIP | When it comes to planning employment goals, encourage Dreaming Big. The employment goals set in the IPE and the VR services that will be provided to achieve them are required to maximize the student’s employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence, and inclusion and integration into society.
In 1986, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was amended to include its purpose to “[E]mpower individuals with disabilities to maximize employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence, and inclusion and integration into society, through … comprehensive and coordinated state-of-the-art programs of vocational rehabilitation.”
In 1992, specific language was included to add “The purpose of the VR Program is, in part, to empower individuals with disabilities to maximize employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence, and inclusion and integration into society.”
Taken together these amendments are broadly interpreted to mean that if a person has the required ability, the VR agency should provide services to persons who need help to qualify for, find, or keep a job that is consistent with their strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, interests, and informed choice.
WIA regulations in 2001, and the passage of WIOA in 2014, reaffirmed that states must look beyond options in entry-level employment for VR program participants who are capable of more challenging work.
Together they stressed that:
VR agencies are required to implement their programs and provide information and services with “respect for individual dignity, personal responsibility, self-determination, and pursuit of meaningful careers, based on informed choice, of individuals with disabilities.”
Implementation of informed choice ensures that the person, or the person through their representative, is able to:
This principle, and many rules surrounding vocational rehabilitation, help to ensure that the VR process is consumer-driven and that the VR agency’s policies and methods facilitate the flexible provision of services and afford eligible persons meaningful choices and services.
ADVOCACY TIP | Students engaging with the VR agency have a right to make “Informed Choices” (see Glossary). The VR agency will provide information to help, but students and parents should consider interests carefully and learn as much as possible about their employment options, available services, and their rights throughout the VR process.
SOURCE ARTICLE: Center for Parent Information and Resources
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