Below is a summary of the recommendations presented in the 2015 CSNA and OOD’s progress towards addressing them. OOD has implemented all but one of the nine 2015 CSNA recommendations. The recommendation that has not been implemented involves an agreement with the Social Security Administration that is still in process.
OOD and the Ohio Department of Education entered into an interagency agreement to launch the Ohio Transition Support Partnership (OTSP) in October 2015. This partnership funds 30 dedicated VR counselors and 15 caseload assistants to serve approximately 3,800 students with disabilities each year. OOD is also actively engaging with students and contributing to IEP development for younger students. The number of youth with disabilities between the ages of 14 and 18 served by OOD has increased more than 77 percent from FFY 15 to FFY 17. The Partnership supports earlier engagement for students with disabilities to get a head start on becoming job ready and better prepared to enter the labor market with the skills necessary to be successful in today’s workforce. From its launch in October 2015 through September 4, 2018, over 1,000 youth have obtained a job through the Partnership.
In alignment with the WIOA common performance measure in serving employers effectively, OOD’s Division of Employer and Innovation Services provides training and technical assistance to employers throughout Ohio. OOD’s Business Relations Specialists have conducted approximately 346 training sessions for 147 employers since 2016. Other activities that support this performance measure include regional job fairs and hiring events, which connect more than 700 OOD candidates to nearly 200 businesses each year; administrative support for Disability:IN Ohio; candidate sourcing for Ohio employers; and On-the-Job training arrangements.
OOD developed several labor market information tools to assist OOD’s VR counselors in writing Individualized Plans for Employment (IPE) that align with the in–demand occupations in their particular area and by industry cluster. OOD’s Business Relations team also uses this information to identify employers seeking candidates for these occupations to establish partnerships for the purpose of sourcing qualified OOD eligible individuals for the available jobs.
OOD promoted In-Demand Jobs Week by hosting events throughout Ohio during the first full week of May 2018 to align job seekers and employers to raise awareness on the in-demand jobs available in Ohio.
OOD’s Division of Disability Determination has submitted a proposal to the Social Security Administration (SSA) outlining a pilot process for referring youth who are approaching age-18 re-determination to the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. A final decision from SSA is pending.
The VR Job Related Services procedure directs VR Staff to assist job-ready individuals with online registration for OhioMeansJobs.com as part of job seeking skills training. CRPs who provide job development services for OOD are also required to assist candidates to register as a requirement for billing.
In October 2016, OOD launched an online application portal, OODWorks.com, to assist individuals with disabilities and their families to learn about the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program to determine if the program is appropriate for them, as well as allowing them to begin the process of applying for VR services online. It includes a motion graphics video discussing the purpose of the VR program, a self-assessment to help someone determine if they are a good candidate for the program, and connection to other resources if they are not a good candidate for services. OODWorks.com has been well received by individuals who have used the site and as of August 2018, more than 2,250 Ohioans with disabilities have initiated an application for vocational rehabilitation services through this initiative.
The establishment of a fifth administrative area in VR was announced on January 24, 2018. The East Central Area, which covers Canton, Mansfield, Youngstown and Zanesville, consists of seven teams of VR Counselors and support staff aligned under seven Supervisors and an Area Manager. The new area is also supported by a dedicated Business Relations Specialist to facilitate interactions with employers in the East Central Area in the development of employment opportunities for VR participants.
In 2015, the VR program implemented a new structure for onboarding new VR counselors. All probationary counselors are supervised by a designated training supervisor for the area during at least the first six months of service. This structure allows for consistent training and development of new VR counselors statewide and ensure they are properly supported during this critical period of mastering their job duties.