On July 22, 2017, State Vocational Rehabilitation staff and administrators, researchers and job development providers from across the country participated in RTC:Rural’s State of the Science webinar exploring how Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) payment models influence the availability of job development services in rural areas. The event aimed to help participants understand which models may facilitate better VR outcomes in rural areas, and encourage conversation between VR and providers about how payment models impact job development services.
While VR agencies use a variety of models to deliver job development services, the majority contract with third-party providers to deliver services such as resume development, job coaching, and job placement. There is evidence, however, that different payment models (such as hourly, fee-for-service, or performance-based benchmarks) influence the availability and quality of job development services in rural communities.
This Rural VR Job Development webinar explored the relationship between VR payment models, geography, and VR outcomes. The webinar was designed to provide current and pertinent information to stimulate a rich discussion among participants. Strategies to address VR outcomes were discussed such as hybrid models that draw upon the strengths of different delivery models and the use of incentives to serve rural areas and “hard cases.”
The webinar featured a review of current research from the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural), followed by reactions from a panel of experts representing a variety of perspectives within the field of VR service delivery:
--Betsy Hopkins, Director of Maine’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, spoke about Maine’s efforts to implement a hybrid payment model.
--Jessica Adams, a job development service provider in rural Idaho, shared insights from her experience participating in Idaho’s piloted (and then abandoned) performance-based system.
--Mimi Shafer, Rehabilitation Area Manager in southwestern Minnesota, spoke to challenges in serving rural areas due to CARF accreditation requirements, and new challenges introduced by WIOA.
--Joe Xavier, Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation, shared his perspectives on what makes a successful VR program in rural areas.
--Susan Foley, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Community Inclusion at University of Massachusetts, Boston, shared perspectives based on her experiences directing multiple national centers focused on research, training, and technical assistance for VR agencies.
A video recording of the webinar is available for viewing here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhBHn50LdH8