RD525 - Vocational Rehabilitation Program SFY 2021 Revenues, Expenditures, and Future Projections – October 1, 2021

Executive Summary:

The Division of Rehabilitative Services (DRS), within the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), administers the Commonwealth’s general vocational rehabilitation (VR) program. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, lays forth the requirements for state vocational rehabilitation programs with the intent that VR services are provided to individuals with disabilities to prepare for, secure, retain, advance in, or regain competitive, integrated employment.

Individuals must meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify for services, with an emphasis on serving individuals with the most significant disabilities first. A variety of services may be provided based upon the individual’s vocational needs, their employment goal, and other factors.

The passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in 2014 brought significant changes to the VR program. The transformation in the provision of services and the allocation of funding precipitated by WIOA along with internal budgetary procedure adjustments led the agency to address structural imbalances and better prepare for future fiscal requirements in State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2020. Addressing this structural imbalance allowed expenditures to remain under revenues for SFY 2021. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the type and number of vocational rehabilitation services that were provided, which is also reflected in VR expenditures. Due to these factors DRS was able to open all categories under the agency’s “order of selection", effectively clearing the waiting list for VR services.

Chapter 552 of the 2021 Acts of Assembly, through budget language in Item 339 A.4., requires DARS to submit an annual report on vocational rehabilitation revenues and expenditures from the prior fiscal year. Spending projections for the current and upcoming fiscal years are to be included in the report which is due by October 1 annually to the Director of the Department of Planning and Budget and the Chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees. The following report is submitted in compliance with this directive.