The vocational rehabilitation services portion of the Unified or Combined State Plan must describe the procedures and activities the State agency will undertake to establish and maintain a comprehensive system of personnel development designed to ensure an adequate supply of qualified rehabilitation personnel, including professionals and paraprofessionals, for the designated State unit. If the State agency has a State Rehabilitation Council, this description must, at a minimum, specify that the Council has an opportunity to review and comment on the development of plans, policies, and procedures necessary to meet the requirements of paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section. This description must also conform with the following requirements:
(a) Personnel and personnel development data system. The vocational rehabilitation services portion of the Unified or Combined State Plan must describe the development and maintenance of a system by the State agency for collecting and analyzing on an annual basis data on qualified personnel needs and personnel development, in accordance with the following requirements:
(1) Data on qualified personnel needs must include -
(i) The number of personnel who are employed by the State agency in the provision of vocational rehabilitation services in relation to the number of individuals served, broken down by personnel category;
(ii) The number of personnel currently needed by the State agency to provide vocational rehabilitation services, broken down by personnel category; and
(iii) Projections of the number of personnel, broken down by personnel category, who will be needed by the State agency to provide vocational rehabilitation services in the State in five years based on projections of the number of individuals to be served, including individuals with significant disabilities, the number of personnel expected to retire or leave the field, and other relevant factors.
(2) Data on personnel development must include -
(i) A list of the institutions of higher education in the State that are preparing vocational rehabilitation professionals, by type of program;
(ii) The number of students enrolled at each of those institutions, broken down by type of program; and
(iii) The number of students who graduated during the prior year from each of those institutions with certification or licensure, or with the credentials for certification or licensure, broken down by the personnel category for which they have received, or have the credentials to receive, certification or licensure.
(b) Plan for recruitment, preparation, and retention of qualified personnel. The vocational rehabilitation services portion of the Unified or Combined State Plan must describe the development, updating, and implementation of a plan to address the current and projected needs for personnel who are qualified in accordance with paragraph (c) of this section. The plan must identify the personnel needs based on the data collection and analysis system described in paragraph (a) of this section and must provide for the coordination and facilitation of efforts between the designated State unit and institutions of higher education and professional associations to recruit, prepare, and retain personnel who are qualified in accordance with paragraph (c) of this section, including personnel from minority backgrounds and personnel who are individuals with disabilities.
(c) Personnel standards.
(1) The vocational rehabilitation services portion of the Unified or Combined State Plan must include the State agency's policies and describe -
(i) Standards that are consistent with any national or State-approved or recognized certification, licensing, or registration requirements, or, in the absence of these requirements, other comparable requirements (including State personnel requirements) that apply to the profession or discipline in which that category of personnel is providing vocational rehabilitation services; and
(ii) The establishment and maintenance of education and experience requirements, to ensure that the personnel have a 21st-century understanding of the evolving labor force and the needs of individuals with disabilities, including requirements for -
(1) Attainment of a baccalaureate degree in a field of study reasonably related to vocational rehabilitation, to indicate a level of competency and skill demonstrating basic preparation in a field of study such as vocational rehabilitation counseling, social work, psychology, disability studies, business administration, human resources, special education, supported employment, customized employment, economics, or another field that reasonably prepares individuals to work with consumers and employers; and
(2) Demonstrated paid or unpaid experience, for not less than one year, consisting of -
(i) Direct work with individuals with disabilities in a setting such as an independent living center;
(ii) Direct service or advocacy activities that provide such individual with experience and skills in working with individuals with disabilities; or
(iii) Direct experience in competitive integrated employment environments as an employer, as a small business owner or operator, or in self-employment, or other experience in human resources or recruitment, or experience in supervising employees, training, or other activities; or
(B) Attainment of a master's or doctoral degree in a field of study such as vocational rehabilitation counseling, law, social work, psychology, disability studies, business administration, human resources, special education, management, public administration, or another field that reasonably provides competence in the employment sector, in a disability field, or in both business-related and rehabilitation-related fields; and
(2) As used in this section -
(i) Profession or discipline means a specific occupational category, including any paraprofessional occupational category, that -
(A) Provides rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities;
(B) Has been established or designated by the State unit; and
(C) Has a specified scope of responsibility.
(ii) Ensuring that personnel have a 21st-century understanding of the evolving labor force and the needs of individuals with disabilities means that personnel have specialized training and experience that enables them to work effectively with individuals with disabilities to assist them to achieve competitive integrated employment and with employers who hire such individuals. Relevant personnel skills include, but are not limited to -
(A) Understanding the functional limitations of various disabilities and the vocational implications of functional limitations on employment, especially with regard to individuals whose disabilities may require specialized services or groups of individuals with disabilities who comprise an increasing proportion of the State VR caseloads, such as individuals with traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress syndrome, mental illnesses, autism, blindness or deaf-blindness;
(B) Vocational assessment tools and strategies and the interpretation of vocational assessment results, including, when appropriate, situational and work-based assessments and analysis of transferrable work skills;
(C) Counseling and guidance skills, including individual and group counseling and career guidance;
(D) Effective use of practices leading to competitive integrated employment, such as supported employment, customized employment, internships, apprenticeships, paid work experiences, etc.;
(E) Case management and employment services planning, including familiarity and use of the broad range of disability, employment, and social services programs in the state and local area, such as independent living programs, Social Security work incentives, and the Social Security Administration`s Ticket-to-Work program;
(F) Caseload management, including familiarity with effective caseload management practices and the use of any available automated or information technology resources;
(G) In-depth knowledge of labor market trends, occupational requirements, and other labor market information that provides information about employers, business practices, and employer personnel needs, such as data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Department of Labor's O*NET occupational system;
(H) The use of labor market information for vocational rehabilitation counseling, vocational planning, and the provision of information to consumers for the purposes of making informed choices, business engagement and business relationships, and job development and job placement;
(I) The use of labor market information to support building and maintaining relationships with employers and to inform delivery of job development and job placement activities that respond to today's labor market;
(J) Understanding the effective utilization of rehabilitation technology and job accommodations;
(K) Training in understanding the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other employment discrimination and employment-related laws;
(L) Advocacy skills to modify attitudinal and environmental barriers to employment for individuals with disabilities, including those with the most significant disabilities;
(M) Skills to address cultural diversity among consumers, particularly affecting workplace settings, including racial and ethnic diversity and generational differences; and
(N) Understanding confidentiality and ethical standards and practices, especially related to new challenges in use of social media, new partnerships, and data sharing.
(d) Staff development.
(1) The vocational rehabilitation services portion of the Unified or Combined State Plan must include the State agency's policies and describe the procedures and activities the State agency will undertake to ensure that all personnel employed by the State unit receive appropriate and adequate training, including a description of -
(i) A system of staff development for rehabilitation professionals and paraprofessionals within the State unit, particularly with respect to assessment, vocational counseling, job placement, and rehabilitation technology, including training implemented in coordination with entities carrying out State programs under section 4 of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (29 U.S.C. 3003);
(ii) Procedures for acquiring and disseminating to rehabilitation professionals and paraprofessionals within the designated State unit significant knowledge from research and other sources; and
(iii) Policies and procedures relating to the establishment and maintenance of standards to ensure that personnel, including rehabilitation professionals and paraprofessionals, needed within the designated State unit to carry out this part are appropriately and adequately prepared and trained.
(2) The specific training areas for staff development must be based on the needs of each State unit and may include, but are not limited to -
(i) Training regarding the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the amendments it made to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973;
(ii) Training with respect to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and Social Security work incentive programs, including programs under the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, training to facilitate informed choice under this program, and training to improve the provision of services to culturally diverse populations; and
(iii) Activities related to -
(A) Recruitment and retention of qualified rehabilitation personnel;
(B) Succession planning; and
(C) Leadership development and capacity building.
(e) Personnel to address individual communication needs. The vocational rehabilitation services portion of the Unified or Combined State Plan must describe how the designated State unit includes among its personnel, or obtains the services of -
(1) Individuals able to communicate in the native languages of applicants, recipients of services, and eligible individuals who have limited English proficiency; and
(2) Individuals able to communicate with applicants, recipients of services, and eligible individuals in appropriate modes of communication.
(f) Coordination with personnel development under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The vocational rehabilitation services portion of the Unified or Combined State Plan must describe the procedures and activities the State agency will undertake to coordinate its comprehensive system of personnel development under the Act with personnel development under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1205-0522)