Tag Archives: vocational rehabilitation

Our State of the Science seminar on rural VR well attended and informative

Over 120 individuals registered for our 2017 State of the Science event, “Effective Rural Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Job Development.” The live, participatory webinar was held June 22, 2017 and was attended by State Vocational Rehabilitation staff and administrators, researchers and job development providers from around the country. For those who missed or were unable to register for the live session, an archived recording of the webinar is now available.

The agenda featured a presentation on RTC:Rural employment research by Dr. Catherine Ipsen, RTC:Rural Director of Rural Employment Research followed by a panel discussion. Panelists included: Betsy Hopkins, Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation at the Maine Department of Labor; Mimi Schafer, Rehabilitation Area Manager for Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services; Jessica Adams, Program Manager for Community Connections, Inc.; Joe Xavier, Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation; and Dr. Susan Foley, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Panelist bios can be viewed here: State of the Science webinar features a panel of experts from the VR field.

Dr. Catherine Ipsen headshot

Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Rural Institute Associate Director and RTC:Rural Employment Project Director

To begin the webinar, Dr. Ipsen shared RTC:Rural demographic research by Research Associates Lillie Greiman and Andrew Myers regarding rural disparities. Using American Community Survey data, Greiman and Myers examined differences in rates of poverty, employment, and those out of the labor force for people with and without disabilities in rural and urban areas.

Dr. Ipsen then presented work on two RTC:Rural employment research projects: Premature Exit from VR Services and Rural Contracted Services. “Access to timely job development services is vital to keeping people engaged in the VR program,” said Dr. Ipsen. “Many providers, however, are reluctant to serve rural areas due to barriers imposed by distance, economic opportunity, and VR payment and referral models.” Continue reading

State of the Science webinar to feature a panel of experts from the VR field

Our 2017 State of the Science webinar on June 22, 2017 will focus on Effective Rural Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Job Development. In addition to a review of RTC:Rural current research presented by Dr. Catherine Ipsen, the webinar will feature a panel of five experts in rural VR issues from around the country.

The webinar is designed to provide current and pertinent information that will stimulate a rich discussion among participants. Strategies to address VR outcomes will be 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 is free, but registration is required. Registration for this event is limited and filling up quickly! If you are not able to attend the live webinar, an archive recording will be available after it is complete.

Click here for full details and to register.

Read below to learn more about each panelist. Continue reading

Mapping Disability and Employment

Improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities requires overcoming persistent rural conditions and barriers

Using data from the American Community Survey, RTC:Rural researchers created three maps to explore disability and employment. The three maps are:

  • Disability in America: Employment Rates
  • Disability in America: Unemployment Rates
  • Disability in America: Out of Labor Force

Full size images of these maps, and further analysis and text description of them, can be found on the RTC:Rural website at this link: Maps of Disability and Employment.

  • map of employment rates of people with disabilities in the US - click the link in this article for a full text description of the map
  • map of unemployment rates of people with disabilities in the US - click the link in this article for a full text description of the map
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Showcasing RTC:Rural employment and VR research products

RTC:Rural‘s long running Employment and Vocational Rehabilitation research project explores solutions to assist rural rehabilitation service providers in helping people with disabilities achieve and maintain employment.

Over the last six months we have produced several new tools to help vocational rehabilitation professionals provide their best services. We are also holding a live State of the Science webinar on Effective Rural Vocational Rehabilitation Job Development, to be held June 22, 2017 at 10:00am MDT.

Click the links below for more details on each item: Continue reading

State of the Science Seminar on Effective Rural Vocational Rehabilitation Job Development, June 22, 2017

banner image for event featuring RTC:Rural logo, background image a of a rural pasture and three images of people at work

Join us on June 22, 2017 at 10:00 am MDT for RTC:Rural’s State of the Science (SOS) webinar exploring how Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) payment models influence the availability of job development services in rural areas. The webinar will 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.

State Vocational Rehabilitation staff and administrators, researchers and job development providers, and other interested parties are encouraged to participate.

The webinar is free, but registration is required. Registration for this event is limited and filling up quickly! If you are not able to attend the live webinar, an archive recording will be available after it is complete.

Click here for full details and to register.

Continue reading

6 Essential Elements of Social Media Policy for VR Agencies

In a recently published paper in the Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin titled “Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Guidance on Social Media Use: A Policy Analysis,” RTC:Rural’s Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Director of Employment Research, and Rebecca Goe, Research Associate, examined the social media policies of 22 Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies.

They found that only two VR policies covered recommended social media policy elements, and only one acknowledged social media as a tool for consumer job search.

From their analyses, Ipsen and Goe recommend six essential elements for a complete social media policy. These elements are presented in the following infographic. A full text description can be found below the image.

Access the full journal article here. Continue reading

Telecom Toolbox: A Resource for Job Seekers and Service Providers

Telecom ToolboxTelecom Toolbox logo is an online resource for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) professionals and clients to support their use of online tools to reach employment goals.

RTC:Rural’s ongoing research on how to improve VR services revealed three areas in which VR agencies could make changes to positively impact client employment outcomes: use of telecommunication strategies, online career development, and understanding of ethical issues in social media and telecommunications use.

Communication

Using telecommunication strategies, such as email, text messaging, video chat, or instant messaging, can help overcome many of the barriers that people with disabilities contend with when it comes to finding employment. These forms of communication can be especially important in rural areas, where opportunities and resources tend to be fewer and far-between. For VR counselors, telecommunication can offer ways to provide services in a timely and cost-efficient manner, and increased communication between counselors and clients has positive impact on employment outcomes.

Online Career Development

In this increasingly digital world, tapping into the plethora of online resources can be a game-changer when it comes to finding employment. However, many VR agencies are not fully utilizing current online job-seeking methods. This happens for a variety of reasons, including a lack of counselor training and a lack of ethical guidance in social media use specific to the VR process.

Ethics

Though telecommunication and social media strategies provide opportunities for VR agencies and clients, they present some unique ethical concerns due to their continually evolving nature. These concerns can leave VR counselors and agencies intimidated or unsure about how to integrate social media into their practice. Adding to this confusion is limited guidance on telecommunication and social media use by professional organizations.

Based on these identified needs for training and guidance, RTC:Rural developed Telecom Toolbox as a resource for both VR counselors and individuals working on their own to find employment. The website is a resource to understand the pros and cons of different social media platforms and how they support job search efforts. It also provides guidance on how to create and manage a professional online profile. Continue reading

RTC:Rural presents research at NARRTC 2017 “Taking Charge of Change”

RTC:Rural staff member presenting at a conference

RTC:Rural researcher presenting at a conference

In April 2017, RTC:Rural researchers presented three current research projects at the 2017 NARRTC conference, held this year in Alexandria, Virginia.

This conference provides an annual opportunity for grantees of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) to come together and share their latest research findings.  Training and knowledge translation methodologies and results are also shared. The 2017 theme is “Taking Charge of Change.”

Projects presented aim to enhance interventions, programs or systems to improve the lives of people with disabilities. These research projects fall into the priority categories of Community Participation & Independent Living, Employment & Vocational Rehabilitation, Health & Wellness, and Knowledge Translation.

RTC:Rural was on the agenda with two presentations and one poster:

1. Using Participatory Curriculum Development as an Integrated Knowledge Translation Strategy (Presentation)

Authors: Dr. Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D., Tracy Boehm Barrett, M.P.H., Tannis Hargrove, M.S., Mary Olson, MSW

Self-management and health promotion remain a significant challenge for people with disabilities living in rural areas. Online learning is a promising avenue to make evidence-based programs available to people, yet the best approaches to implementing online content for rural people with disabilities are unknown.

To establish these best approaches, RTC:Rural is partnering with stakeholders from the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) and eight Centers for Independent Living across the country to develop two health promotion programs that blend online and face-to-face learning. These programs are based on the Living Well with a Disability program. Continue reading

RTC:Rural developing self-employment training module for VR counselors and consumers

RTC:Rural and our partners have been working for a number of years to promote self-employment among people with disabilities in the vocational rehabilitation system, as it is an option that addresses some of the barriers to employment of living in a rural community.

Starting in 2015, in partnership with the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation (USOR) and other stakeholders, RTC:Rural researchers developed a self-employment manual, along with policies and procedures to help Utah vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors become better prepared to guide consumers through the self-employment process.

RTC:Rural is currently working to adapt the USOR manual into an online module, incorporating direct feedback from stakeholders to make the material more applicable and accessible to a wider audience, including consumers themselves. Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Associate Director for the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities and the Director of Employment Research at RTC:Rural, is leading the project.

Previous research by RTC:Rural has shown that self-employment is a viable option for many people with disabilities, but is an underutilized option within the VR system. Reasons for this vary, but include VR counselors feeling ill equipped to help consumers determine if business ideas are feasible, and concerns over case costs, business failure, and income potential. The self-employment module aims to alleviate some of those concerns and provide VR counselors with the tools they need to help consumers achieve successful employment outcomes. Continue reading

RTC Director of Employment Research publishes paper on self-employment

Dr. Catherine Ipsen headshot

Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Rural Institute Associate Director and RTC:Rural Employment Project Director

Dr. Catherine Ipsen’s paper “Rural and urban vocational rehabilitation self-employment outcomes” was published in the January 2017 issue of the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Dr. Ipsen is the Associate Director for the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities and the Director of Rural Employment Research at RTC:Rural. Dr. Ipsen co-authored the paper with Dr. Grant Swicegood, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Central Methodist University.

The paper examines self-employment rates among vocational rehabilitation (VR) consumers in rural versus urban areas, noting that rates are higher in rural areas.

Dr. Ipsen and Swicegood report that VR consumers who are self-employed work fewer hours per week and earn more than those in competitive job placements. In spite of this, the study found that many VR agencies do not promote self-employment to their clients, for a variety of reasons.

Man working at a desk

Self-employment is a viable option for people with disabilities, especially in rural communities, though many VR agencies do not promote self-employment to their clients, for a variety of reasons.

Drs. Ipsen and Swicegood conclude that self-employment is a viable option for people with disabilities, especially in rural communities.

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