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Employment Services for Ohioans with Disabilties

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Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) recently released their Annual Report. With similar conclusions to the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities Annual Report , it appears undoubtedly clear that employment for individuals with disabilities, in 2015, is on the rise. In my last article I specifically referenced the DODD Annual Report and how the partnership with Employment First and OOD appeared to be showing significant impact in creating employment for individuals with developmental disabilities. In this article I will focus on the OOD 2015 Annual Report, the employment impact for all Ohioans with disabilities and then re-cap the 2015 numbers regarding the partnership with OOD and Employment First.

Quick OOD Background

OOD is the state of Ohio organization that assists any Ohioan with any disability to achieve employment and independence. This agency differs from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities simply by serving individuals with any type of disability, rather than disabilities that are developmental in nature.  OOD also conducts social security eligibility for disability claims. There are three primary areas of service performed by OOD: Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation; Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired and the Division of Disability Determination.

Waiting Lists

Over the past several years OOD has made a concerted effort to reduce and eliminate any kind of waiting list for services. OOD has traditionally categorized their waiting list into 3 stratifcations: Most Significant Disability (MSD), Significant Disability (SD) and Disability (D). In September 2011 OOD had reported approximately 5,000 people on their waiting lists. In June 2014 they were able to eliminate the waiting list for individuals with Significant Disability (SD) and as of February 2015 they were able to eliminate all waiting lists regardless of stratification.  This is a huge accomplishment for Ohioans!

As a result, there is no longer a waiting list for any category and all eligible individuals have immediate access to services.

Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational Rehabilitation, referred to as BVR, encompasses helping individuals attain and maintain employment through services and supports. BVR counselors provide one on one support with applicants to develop an individualized program leading to competitive employment. And they also assist eligible individuals prepare for or retain a career.

2015 data shows the following:

  • Services for Vocational Rehabilitation were provided to 39,214 Ohioans
  • Since 2011 the average length of time to determine eligibility decreased by 44 days
  • In 2015 the average length of time to determine eligibility is now 48 days versus 92 days
  • 4,580 individuals with disabilities found employment through OOD services and the average wage is $10.07/hr

Employment First Partnership

The partnership with OOD and Employment First has continued to show great success in bridging the gap for individuals with developmental disabilities and their desire to gain community employment. The partnership developed dual certification for DODD-certified providers and existing OOD providers. The dual certification has allowed for a continuity of service and expanded individual choice in the pool of providers.

As of the end of FFY 2014, there are more than 125 agencies with dual certification providing services within the partnership.

Program Results to Date:

  • 27,00 Individuals in Facility Based Settings
  • 2,234 Applicants
  • 1,801 Individuals Receiving Services
  • 364 Placed in a Job
  • 226 Successfully Rehabilitated (=90 days of stable employment)
  • 138 Individuals in Employed Status

Our Employment First Partnership has seen tremendous success.

Wrap Up

The Annual Report continues with other various topics and successes for the agency in 2015. In conclusion, I believe 2015 has seen great strides in employment opportunities for Ohioans with disabilities. I am curious what 2016 holds. Some questions I will be looking to answer over the course of 2016 will be…How will the OOD and Employment First Partnership continue to develop? When and How will the Project Transformation Transition Plans start producing data for review? How will County Boards of DD continue to pull away from the direct service delivery model? All interesting topics and certainly tie into how employment for Ohioans with disabilities will continue to increase.

As the old saying goes, out with the old, in with the new! Happy New Year!

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