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DVR's Rehabilitation Resource masthead

January 2014

As of 01/02/14

Successful Closures

1,133=29% of goal
(24.9% elapsed)

Rehab Rate


Minority Serv. Rate


Social Security Reimbursement



Funding Legislation

Looking Back at 2013

Thank You

Staff Updates

Web What's New

the rehabilitation resource

Governor Walker Signs DVR Full-Funding Legislation

image:Senate Bill 274 Signing PhotoSenate Bill 274, which provides full funding for DVR and 9 full-time staff to DVR, was signed into law on Friday, December 6, by Governor Scott Walker. The legislation was sponsored by Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) and Representative Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) and passed both the Assembly and Senate with strong bipartisan support.

Read the press release: (http://walker.wi.gov/newsroom/press-release/governor-scott-walker-signs-worker-training-law-people-disabilities).

Looking Back at 2013

This originally appeared as part of the Department of Workforce Development's Year-End Report.

The mission of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) is to obtain, maintain and improve employment for people with disabilities by working with consumers, employers, and other partners.

DVR Serves:

  • Individuals with disabilities, assisting them to maximize their employment opportunities by helping them develop the skills that today's businesses are seeking in the workforce of the future; and,
  • Business owners, providing the talent of qualified job seekers with disabilities talent and helping them achieve a better bottom line.

DVR is located throughout the State, including in many Job Centers, in addition to our Central Administrative Office in Madison. The Division Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) works in teams, available to assist all customers and maintaining the unique relationship each customer has with DVR.

DVR's primary services for job seekers with disabilities are:

  • Career guidance and counseling
  • Disability and employment assessment
  • Job search and placement assistance
  • Information and referral services
  • Transition to work services for students with disabilities in high school
  • Employment service support for persons with severe disabilities; includes time-limited, on-the-job supports
  • Vocational and other training
  • Rehabilitation technology
  • Occupational licenses, tools, and other equipment
  • Assistance in small-business plan development

DVR's primary services for businesses are:

  • Recruitment of pre-screened and qualified applicants
  • Retention strategies for employees with disabilities
  • Access to financial incentives for hiring qualified applicants with disabilities
  • Assistance to increase accessibility of the businesses' products and services for both employees and customers
  • Education for managers and staff related to disability and employment

Federal Fiscal Year 2013 Accomplishments

Serving Job-Seekers with Disabilities

  • Almost 18,000 job seekers with disabilities actively engaged with DVR in an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).
  • 3,840 individuals with disabilities successfully reached their employment goal and entered the workforce.
  • The earnings of these 3,840 recent additions to Wisconsin's workforce are projected to be $66 million annually, more than double the public investment made in their services. A hefty portion of these earnings will be used to purchase goods and services, bolstering Wisconsin's economy and transforming successful DVR customers into workers and taxpayers, and measurably decreasing their dependence on public assistance.
  •   FFY 10 FFY 11 FFY 12 FFY 13
    Successful Outcomes 2,784 2,972 3,250 3,840
    Return on Investment 189% 197% 210% 206%
  • When a DVR consumer who receives Social Security disability benefits works above a level known as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), DVR receives reimbursement from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for the cost of that person's case with DVR. In Federal Fiscal Year 2013, DVR received more than $6 million in reimbursements from SSA. Reimbursed funds are folded back into the program to offer additional job-seeker and business services.

Meeting Business Needs

  • Wisconsin DVR hired twenty new Business Services Consultants (BSCs) in 2013, individuals who will develop relationships with Wisconsin businesses and help them recruit, hire and retain people with disabilities. After only six months, DVR BSCs have:
  • Been involved in 150 direct hires of DVR job seekers
  • Arranged 118 On-the-Job Training (OJT) experiences for DVR job seekers
  • Arranged 154 internships and temporary work experiences for DVR job seekers
  • Had contact with 2,092 businesses in Wisconsin to discuss recruiting and hiring people with disabilities
  • Private-sector and state agency employers have benefited significantly from the following DVR OJT initiatives:
  • Since February 2009, almost 1,900 OJT private-sector hires were supported by a 50 percent payroll cost subsidy for employers providing up to 90 days of OJT following a hire. More than 82% of DVR consumers who participated in an OJT have achieved their employment goals, making the OJT-hire initiative a tremendous success and making it affordable for small employers to hire and train new employees.
  • In this same time period, DVR has invested nearly $2.1 million for more than 130 DVR job seekers participating in six-month OJT internships with 15 state agencies. More than 50 DVR LTE employees are now part of the State's permanent workforce as a result of their successful completion of an OJT-LTE internship position. DVR has also trained state agency Human Resources (HR) staff on how to utilize exceptional hiring procedures and increase the hiring of people with disabilities.
  • DVR participates in The National Employment Team (The NET), a national network of the 80 vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs that creates a coordinated approach to serving business customers through a national VR team with a talent pool of one-million job candidates.
  • The NET has partnerships with a number of major corporations such as Walgreens, Safeway, Convergys, Microsoft and Food Lion. The NET also partners with federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), to name a few. The NET brings the following benefits to Wisconsin DVR business customers and job seekers with disabilities:
  • Business has direct access to a pool of qualified applicants and the support services provided by the public VR system and their partners;
  • VR consumers have access to national employment opportunities and career development resources; and
  • VR agencies have a national system for sharing employment resources, best practices and business connections.
  • Businesses and job seekers with disabilities can access the Talent Acquisition Portal (TAP), an online tool that connects VR consumers nationwide with employment opportunities.

Meeting Federal Expectations

  • The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), the US Department of Education agency that provides almost 80% of Wisconsin DVR's funding, establishes performance indicators that each state's vocational rehabilitation agency is required to meet. In FFY 2013, Wisconsin DVR met or exceeded all performance indicators.
  • Performance Indicator Target Wisconsin DVR
    Those achieving an employment outcome. 2,784 3,840
    Those receiving services who achieved an employment outcome. 55.8% 57.4%
    Those who achieved an employment outcome at or above minimum wage. 72.6% 100%
    Those who achieved an employment outcome who have a significant disability. 62.4% 99.6%
    Those who achieved an employment outcome who are earning the state average hourly wage or higher. 52% 59%
    Those who achieved an employment outcome who listed "own income" as primary support when leaving DVR. 53% 61%

Wisconsin as a National Leader

  • Wisconsin has led the nation in the use of Motivational Interviewing (MI) as a counseling technique that is used with job seekers with disabilities. It allows counselors to evoke change from within the job seeker, change that is more substantial than requiring or imposing changes upon them.
  • Wisconsin DVR's approach to working with customers we share with other agencies is a model that has gained interest in several other states. DVR has agreements with the Departments of Public Instruction, Health Services, and Children and Families, as well as several Wisconsin tribal entities, so that services to individuals who interact with multiple agencies receive services that are well-coordinated.

DVR Innovations

  • Wisconsin was selected as one of six sites for a PROMISE Grant from the US Department of Education. This 5-year, $32.5 million pilot is aimed at improving the education and career outcomes of low-income children with disabilities who receive a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA). DVR will provide case management services and partner with the Wisconsin Departments of Public Instruction, Health Services, and Children and Families to coordinate services to youth and their families.
  • DVR and the Department of Health Services have worked collaboratively to establish an innovative model that provides a rapid job search and includes ongoing and individualized support after a placement is made for job seekers with severe and persistent mental illness. Through this Dartmouth College-designed model, DVR expanded its service choices for DVR consumers with the most significant disabilities with the addition of Individual Placement and Support (IPS). Since starting the project in 3 counties, the rehabilitation rate for individuals with persistent mental illness has gone from a statewide rate of 39% (SFY 2009) to a rate of 49.6% (SFY 2013) and has been further expanded to 9 counties in Wisconsin. An additional 8 counties have approached the statewide IPS team to begin planning for expansion of IPS in coordination with the other existing county projects.
  • DVR partnered with the Walgreens Retail Employees with Disabilities Initiative (REDI) to provide training for individuals with disabilities in a retail setting. This national program began its pilot in the Milwaukee metro-area Walgreens retail locations in 2012. Forty-eight DVR consumers who completed REDI training have been hired in permanent positions by Walgreens, and six others have been hired by other businesses.
  • Building on the success of REDI, called place and train, DVR has offered the place and train model with other businesses and is currently working with Froedtert Health Systems, Wisconsin's tribal entities, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and Sam's Club to implement this model at their various locations.
  • Wisconsin continued its successful participation in Project SEARCH, a national program that provides real-life work experience to help youth with significant disabilities make successful transitions from school to work and adult life. In 2013, Wisconsin added two new Project SEARCH sites at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton and Waukesha Memorial Hospital. These additions brought the statewide total of Project SEARCH sites, with other sites at University of Wisconsin Hospital (Madison), William S. Middleton Veteran's Hospital (Madison), Children's Hospital (Milwaukee), Wal-Mart Distribution Center (Menomonie), and Ministry St. John's Hospital (Marshfield). There are currently 60 interns participating in Project SEARCH statewide.
  • DVR partners with the Department of Health Services, the Department of Public Instruction and the Board for People with Developmental Disabilities to implement Let's Get to Work grants in nine school districts throughout the state. These grants provide career exploration and work experience for youth with developmental disabilities in Wisconsin.
  • DVR also established a Youth On-the-Job Training (OJT) initiative. DVR will reimburse an employer for the costs associated with training a youth in a job at up to 100% of wages for up to 500 hours. DVR transition consumers can work these hours either during school or summer breaks. More than 300 youth OJTs have been developed since the program's beginning in 2011.

Thanks for a Job Well Done

Christopher Gerou - VRC, Kenosha

Email to VR Supervisor, Julie Ferraro

The financial support was a big factor, but even greater than that was the emotional and moral support that I received from DVR at the Kenosha office. The staff at DVR at the Kenosha office fully demonstrated that they believed in me and were confident that I could succeed by their continual support and encouragement. Christopher repeatedly told me he believed in me and was confident that everything would work out.

If I had to sum up how DVR helped me I would say that DVR empowered me by listening, supporting, and believing in me. I've learned through this experience that I must value individuals that I serve and support. I must hear their dreams, and guide them by providing direction so that they can endure long enough to achieve their dreams. Thank you DVR for your love and support. Your care and support just overwhelmed me. DVR has been the wind beneath my wings, and I am thankful!"

Karla Opatz - VRC, Eau Claire

The first thing I want to tell you is "Thank You!" You made my life a better way to live and I owe you so much, more than I can give you. If it wasn't for your support, your heart and soul, people like myself would carry the burden of survival much more harshly. I needed a miracle of hope that I could count on and that wouldn't have happened without you. Thank you so very much, Karla!

Staff Updates

New Faces/Transfers

  • Kimberly Schwartz, VR Counselor, Waukesha (Transfer from Milwaukee)


  • Linda Raap, Policy Analyst, Central Office
  • Maryann Hollister, Consumer Case Coordinator, WDA 1
  • Krysta Hannon, VR Counselor, WDA 10

What's New/Updated on the Web