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Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Rehabilitation Services

Number 4
Project Timeline, click image for text only version


Welcome to the 4th bi-monthly NoQ4U [Eliminate the Waitlist] newsletter and a new year! The purpose of this newsletter is to provide updated information and to solicit feedback about this project from DVR staff, as well as our partners and stakeholders. If you missed it, you can access background information about this project by checking out our first three newsletters, as well as project plans and detailed information on our website: NoQ4U Intranet Homepage

We hope you enjoy reading these periodic updates.

As reflected in the updated project timeline, much has been accomplished throughout the system in these early months of implementation. Staff teams in each office have been contacting folks on the wait list, and working to either re-engage clients with our system, or close files where potential clients are not ready for employment at this time.

We have welcomed a talented and enthusiastic pool of project employees to the Bureau, thanks to the successful deployment of the ARRA funds. With our new numbers, the immediate goal No waiting in queueis to eliminate the wait for services for all those people in Category 1 by April 1st, 2010. Accomplishing this first step will put us squarely on the path to successful elimination of the wait list for all people by October, 2010.
During the past few months, staff have been very busy attending training, training and more training! We received official confirmation that the new Order of Selection Rules have been approved and will take affect on January 1st, 2010. Josh Howe has been working closely with our OIT folks to effect a seamless transition from the previous order of selection process to the new one in ORSIS. Chris Littlefield and I have traveled around the state to train staff about the new Order of Selection as well as the new protocols on entering VR. The new documents from this training are available on line and can be downloaded for use effective immediately. Also available on the internet site is a calendar that outlines all training over the next few months.

This work is already making a clear and measurable difference for our clients. Your focus, patience and engagement have been key to these early successes
As always we welcome your feedback; both kudos and concerns. If you prefer, you can ask questions, or provide feedback by using this feedback form: If you are reading this newsletter from outside the state system, please feel free to contact me through e-mail –

Betsy Hopkins
Assistant Director
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

January 2010

Maine Department of Labor logo

In This Issue

Message from the Director
Project Overview

Working Groups:
 • Entering the VR System
 • Plan Development
 • Plan Accomplishment
 • Exiting VR
 • Transition
 • Data and Technology

BRS Director Scribbles

I am very pleased with the progress DVR is making on eliminating the waitlist by October, 2010! It was a pleasure to meet with many staff and providers at the feedback sessions that were held in October and November. They were well attended, and the feedback we gathered was helpful to us in proceeding with this project.
As I stated in my previous “scribble,” ongoing training and then implementation of the new practices the core groups have recommended is the next stage of this project. I have heard so many positive things about the new staff we hired using the ARRA funds, and I continue to appreciate the work that all of you are doing to make this goal attainable. We will be scheduling another feedback session in June for staff and providers as a check in to see how everyone is doing. Look for that date on the training calendar. Thank you again for all that you do.

Jill Duson
Bureau of Rehabilitation Services

Project Overview

Maine's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is in the process of embarking on a major initiative to eliminate the wait list and provide the "right service at the right time" to its consumers. Maine DVR plans to go "back to the basics" by evaluating each major process point with consumers. DVR has identified these points as: "Entering the VR System," "VR Plan Development," "VR Plan Accomplishment" and "Exiting the VR System." The goal is to provide services to all eligible clients at the time that they need them to achieve competitive, community-based employment.

Use of Recovery Act money for the project: Maine Bureau of Rehabilitation Services American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 money has regulations that will allow for the department to hire limited-period positions providing they offer support to Title I applicants/clients. The focus of these positions (9 Rehabilitation Counselor I’s and 8 Rehabilitation Assistants) will be to perform outreach activities, such as contacting clients who have been on a waiting list or have lost contact with our agency, for the purpose of engagement in services and ultimate employment. After receiving many well qualified applicants, we have hired 9 Rehabilitation Counselor I’s and 7 of the 8 Rehabilitation Assistants. In addition to the 16 direct service positions, we have hired two consultants in our central office. One is a ten hour per week position to assist us with following the strict reporting guidelines that the Federal Government has put in place to keep track of this funding, and the other is a half-time program analyst position to work with our Office of Information Technology to help us develop a plan for moving to a better statewide data collection system.

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Steering Committee Members

Jill Duson-Leader
John Shattuck
Karen Fraser
Betsy Hopkins
Paul Cote
Chris Littlefield
Dale Roupp
Mary Borelli-Bean
Catherine Singleton
Louise Sidelinger
Barbara Michaud
Peter Diplock
Samantha Fenderson
Beth Lehning
Joshua Howe
Drew Bolduc

Working Group: Entering the VR System

Goal of this group: This particular initiative has reviewed the way in which applicants enter into our system, how eligibility is determined, how Order of Selection classification is made, how work readiness is determined, how Trial Work Experiences are utilized and whether Extended Evaluation should be reinstituted. To date, the following decisions/initiatives have been determined as changes that will help streamline this part of the VR process: 1) Improve how we orient clients to our program by developing a comprehensive, user friendly orientation program that will be available in a variety of accessible formats. We have started the development of this program and hope to be able to use it consistently with clients by March, 2010. Some of the orientation formats will include a web based format, DVD format, as well as presented in a group format. The goal will be to improve entry to the VR system which will enable work ready clients to be served more quickly and appropriately. 2) Reinstitute the use of Status 06 when counselors need additional testing and evaluation to more accurately determine eligibility. In addition to this, an updated procedural directive regarding the use of Trial Work as part of eligibility determination has been drafted; edits made, and sent out to staff in early January. 3) Recommended a rule change to our order of selection eligibility requirement, so that we are more in compliance with our rules and serving the most significantly disabled people who apply for our services first. Initial training for all of the above was completed for staff, and the new Order of Selection changes are implemented in our data collection tool ORSIS effective January 11th, 2010.

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Chris Littlefield - Leader
Peter Diplock
Kathy Despres (CARES)
Abbie Miller
Angel McInnis
Linda Besore
David Utter
Anita Hesketh
Rosie Hartzler
Audrey L’Heureux
Beth Coombs
Barbara Greenstein
Jackie Healy
Stephen Crate
Carol Mitchell

Working Group: VR Plan Development - Status 10

This group's goal was to address the specific process of vocational goal development and plan writing. This team has reviewed current activities and counselor practice in developing vocational goals and identifying services needed to achieve employment outcome for clients, as well as considered alternative tools and tracking systems. The Career Exploration Workshop has been run at least once in most offices. Training for two tools used in this workshop, the Employment Readiness Scale and the World of Work Inventory, has been offered and attended by all staff across the state throughout the past three months. Bill Webb, a consultant who developed the curriculum for the Career Exploration Workshops, has trained the counselors who have expressed an interest in facilitating these workshops, and they are continuing to offer them for clients at designated office sites. Other recommendations from this group include an updated procedural directive regarding use of the comprehensive assessment process and form – this includes a recommendation for significant training for counselors, so that in conjunction with the career exploration workshops, clearer vocational goals will be the result. This should improve time and use of resources throughout the VR process for both clients and counselors. A best practice protocol has been developed regarding how to successfully move clients into employment plans, which may include a better use of situational assessments. Training for staff on these topics is scheduled for January 26 and 27 in conjunction with the training on Exiting VR. Once the training has occurred, the new processes will be available on our web page.

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Dale Ruopp - Leader
Melissa Caron
Susan Chesler-Doherty
Joshua Howe
David Nadeau
Joseph Roquebecil
Mike Shirley
Sheryl Smith
Anne Wheeler
Frank Zeller

Working Group: Plan Accomplishment

The focus of this team has been on the provision of services deemed necessary for a person to reach their vocational goal. The team has looked at how cost services are currently being provided and has made recommendations for how to improve the quality and cost of some of these services. Specifically, they are proposing that Maine revise its procedures when purchasing hearing aids for clients across the state. Two different models are being looked at, including one that was developed by Connecticut around the purchase of hearing aids. We are also working with John Shattuck, Director of the Division for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late Deafened about another possible service model. In addition, they have developed an updated protocol for referring for job development services, and a computer purchase decision tree. There is also a recommendation to run a results-based funding pilot with a community rehabilitation provider. Training on these topics will be offered to staff in March, 2010.

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Mary Borelli Bean - Leader
Amy LeVasseaur
Barbara Michaud
Rebecca Pappas-Jones
Valerie Oswald

Working Group: Exiting VR

This subsection reviewed the way in which our clients exit the VR program. This group has explored other State models and made recommendations for needed changes regarding how we will improve our current process. Specifically, they have developed unsuccessful and successful closure forms with a written protocol for each. They have provided a group of best practice sample closure letters for counselors to choose from, and they have updated the case review form, which will provide more consistent feedback to counselors regarding their case work practices. Improving how people exit the VR system from whichever Status it occurs will improve the flow of cases, so that individuals will be served more effectively once the wait list is eliminated. Training in the use of these new protocols will happen with counselors on January 26th and 27th.

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Cathy Singleton - Leader
Chris Bean
James Howard
Priscilla Coffin
Allison Trussell
Beth Lehning
Kim Waite
Sue Primiano
Sharon Lowrey
Janet Schlegel

Working Group: Transition from School to Work

The focus of this team has been to look at the recommendations from all four groups to improve the VR rehabilitation process for the general population and determine how they can best be adapted to working with transition students. This group has completed their meetings and made some specific recommendations, including when and how a student is referred to VR, adaptations in the use of the client/counselor agreement form, and offering input into the new orientation product that is being developed for best use in the school systems. Additionally, a new Regional Director will be hired in Augusta to help oversee the development of the career exploration curriculum for use in schools, hopefully by next fall. The notes from these meetings can be found on the website, and once the recommendations have been presented to and accepted by the steering committee, they will be shared with staff. The plan will be to provide the initial training for transition counselors at the March quarterly statewide transition meeting.

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Anne Wheeler / Wendy Warren- Leaders
Samantha Fenderson
Frank Zeller
James Howard
Priscilla Coffin
Helen Corriveau.
Monica Mitchell
Tom Van Tassel
Stephen Conroy
Janet Schlegel
Mary Knowlton
Sandra Lamb-Mickel
Clarissa Gates
Nancy Cronin

Working Group: Data and Technology

The Data and Technology group has been working hard to make sure that materials are prepared in advance of trainings for the NoQ4U project. These include new forms, procedural directives and ensuring they’re available to staff via the intranet. The Daily Operations Group (DOG) has been working to ensure that the transition from the old OOS to the new one will be seamless for staff and clients.

The Next Gen project for an electronic case management system to replace ORSIS, our current system, has wrapped up its initial phase. This involved solidifying high level requirements for a successor and doing an initial evaluation of potential new systems. For the last two months, Dave Poulin and Joshua Howe have been working with business consultant Bill Moore defining the technical and system requirements needed. This work built upon the many months of work by Dave and Josh in talking to other states regarding their systems, as well as commercial vendors, and updating old requirement specifications with the new business rules and information from the OPEGA audit. Using these new requirements, we were able to rule out updating ORSIS, developing a new system in-house, and adapting the Washington State System, (STARS) for BRS use. All were determined as being too costly for development and technological modifications. The next phase of the project will involve initiating a Request for Proposals (RFP) and having vendors bid on the project based on our requirements, which will include our evaluation of their systems. This process will likely take several months, and we will be seeking input and participation from staff and stakeholders as we move through the phases of evaluation and development of a replacement system.

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Joshua Howe- Leader
Karen Fraser
Anita Oliver
Mary Borelli Bean
Jeremy Barnard
David Poulin
Scott McNeil

Picture: New Directions in VR