The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) utilizes a national data collection system, RSA 911, to monitor Vocational Rehabilitation programs and identify successful practices. The RSA 911 has been used extensively to examine outcomes across agencies, demographics, and disability groups. Unfortunately, RSA 911 case data does not include geographic indicators that allow researchers to compare rural and urban service delivery patterns or control for economic variations across places. This project addresses this gap in understanding.
Researchers worked with multiple state VR agencies to secure RSA 911 data for 2008 and 2009 that included an additional county identifier for each case. In total, 48 VR agencies elected to participate including 17 general, 12 blind/low vision, and 19 combined agencies. In addition, we interviewed 82 agency informants from these agencies to better understand how services are delivered to consumers residing in rural areas. These interviewees included 21 counselors, 4 supervisors, 37 area managers, and 20 administrators.
Findings uncovered several differences between rural and urban service delivery patterns. One significant difference related to the time it takes to develop an Individualized Plan of Employment (IPE), which was significantly longer in rural cases. Maintaining client engagement in the period of time between application and formalizing an Individualized Plan of Employment (IPE) is of critical importance because it is significant predictor of competitive employment outcome (Ipsen, Swicegood, & Asp, manuscript in preparation). In part, delays to IPE may relate to a variety of rural service delivery barriers including more limited public transportation options, fewer or non-existent vendor services to assist with job development activities; more limited availability of specialized services such as interpreters; less frequent consumer counselor communication; and a narrower array of employment options.
- Project dates: 2008 – 2013
- Funded by: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Grant No. H133B080023
- Principal staff: Catherine Ipsen, Ph.D., Becca Goe, M.A., Nancy Arnold, Ph.D., Kyle Colling, Ph.D., Grant Swicegood, M.S., Charles Asp, Ph.D.
- Related projects: