The Road to Success

The Rehabilitation Services Bureau

May, 2005

 

Visiting our Legislators

In April our administration visited with members of the Iowa Congressional Delegation in Washington, D.C. During the visit members of congress were presented information relative to their congressional district on the outcomes Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation accomplished during the 2004 fiscal year. Representative Latham appeared amazed at the challenges that one particular individual in his district faced and seemed to appreciate receiving the report. IVRS Administration shared concerns regarding the WIA Plus legislation as well as some concerns regarding the infrastructure costs in the current WIA legislation. The responses received from the Iowa delegation regarding the IVRS reports, concerns, and questions seemed positive. With that said we will want to continue to educate our congressional delegation, clients, and partners of the impact of this legislation.

 

Good News Stories Shared with Iowas US Congress

Each US Representative and Senator received a packet containing information on the outcomes achieved by the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services for FY 04. In addition to the data stories were shared to give each person an idea of the type of issues our clients face and how our staff work to find solutions. Below are a few of the stories shared with them. Please notice that the story appears under the name of the representative serving the district in which the client lives. We believe these stories truly made a difference. Thank you for your work in gathering the information for us.

 

 

 

Congressman Latham:

Brandy Wagner says she is a self-proclaimed success story from Ames, Iowa, and acknowledges that the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS) helped her get where she is today. She is currently a licensed Occupational Therapist earning $31 per hour with full benefits. But her journey to get there is an amazing story of determination and government doing what it does best.

 

Brandy first came to IVRS in the midst of experiencing severe clinical depression complicated with anorexia. She requested tuition assistance from IVRS so she could study to get her Emergency Medical Technician certificate, which would help her support herself as she progressed through undergraduate studies. She completed her undergraduate degree, with the assistance of IVRS, and then decided she wanted to pursue a degree in Occupational Therapy. IVRS provided tutoring and tuition assistance as she proceeded to take some correspondence coursework. Also during this time she joined the Iowa Army National Guard, but broke both of her feet during training. What seemed to be a misfortune actually was an opportunity as she then began her graduate studies after having been accepted to the only “weekend” OT program available in the Midwest. On weekends she drove to St. Paul, Minnesota, to attend college. IVRS assisted her with tuition, transportation, maintenance, childcare, counseling, and medication assistance. She experienced a set back when she was diagnosed with two herniated discs in her back that required surgery. She graduated in December of 2003 and IVRS assisted her with the licensing exam fees, resume writing and job seeking skills training. She accepted her first job after her one and only interview! Brandy reports that “Vocational Rehabilitation has been INSTRUMENTAL during my academic career. I sincerely believe that I would not have accomplished so much without the assistance I have received from VR. I also received valuable support and motivation as well as praise for my efforts to maintain my 3.5 GPA throughout my education.” Brandy believes she has a better chance at a good future because IVRS was there with $42,105 in assistance.

 

Congressman Leach

Jay Schnoebelen, of Iowa City, reapplied for services for assistance in getting a new wheelchair because his Muscular Dystrophy had deteriorated and posed significant problems for him in seating and positioning. Mr. Schnoebelen was a social security beneficiary due to his disability when he received services from IVRS previously but this time he was requesting services as an employed individual.

 

The first time Mr. Schnoebelen received services through IVRS he was provided tuition and accommodation assistance to attend the University of Iowa. Through IVRS assistance he graduated with a degree in computer science. After graduation a job search for Mr. Schnoebelen was challenging, given his physical limitations, so IVRS partnered with him and he was ultimately hired by Motorola in the Chicago, Illinois, area where he worked for a number of years. As a result of this job he was removed from all public assistance benefits. Mr. Schnoebelen lived in Chicago for a number of years, but then returned to Iowa City with his wife and daughter where he continues to work for Motorola from his home.

 

As the sole bread winner in his family, he knew the costs of a new electric wheelchair and requested assistance from his insurance company. While he was in the appeal process with the insurance company he knew he may not be able to wait out the decision so he approached IVRS for help. As a result of the advocacy of Mr. Schnoebelen, his Rehabilitation Counselor, and the coordination with the insurance company, a wheelchair was purchased with contributions from all involved. Because Mr. Schnoebelen was required to travel to Chicago at times his current transportation was no longer functioning safely and IVRS also agreed to assist in converting his newer van so that it accommodated his needs. The services through IVRS allowed him to remain employed at a level where he can support his family (earning $1,365/week or more with overtime). The case service cost to provide these accommodations was $9,233.21 and it allowed him to remain independent of public assistance.

 

Congressman King

Jacquelyn “Jaci S. Martens of Sheldon was involved in a serious automobile accident, in which her sister was killed.  As a result of the accident she sustained a serious head injury resulting in disabilities of chronic brain syndrome and affective disorders.  Jaci’s disability required her to receive extensive counseling and guidance so that she could better develop skills in handling work place demands so that she would be successful on her next job. Together Jaci and her Rehabilitation Counselor, Abby Rael Evans, identified her job goal to be in the custodial/housekeeping area. Her counselor gave her job leads and she applied for a job as a custodian at the Sheldon High School for which she received an interview and job offer. Her counselor suggested that the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Service arrange for her to have a job coach so that Jaci would have the necessary training support on the job. Ms. Rael Evans authorized for Village Northwest to provide job coaching services to teach her the job specific skills, how to interact and work with her co workers, and to problem solve. Her Rehabilitation Counselor, Ms. Rael Evans, monitored Jaci’s progress and determined that she would require further mental health counseling to adjust to the full time job. On December 16, 2004, it was determined that Jaci was performing well on the job, participating in mental health counseling, and the low tech job accommodation (clip board with job routine) has allowed Jaci to remember and perform her tasks as expected. At a total case service cost of $850, Jaci works full time and earns $8.50 per hour with full benefits. She is not on any public assistance as a result of services.

 

Congressman Boswell

Vicki Hadsell of Oskaloosa has a serious mental illness that affects every aspect of her life. She has trouble with making decisions, demonstrating proper judgment, controlling her emotions, and tolerating stress of a structured work environment. Her decreased memory capacity, speed of learning and attention span had significant implications for training and employment. Vicki’s long term goal had always been to help people through a job in the medical field, and to focus on others that have been mentally challenged. While this was a long term goal, Vicki doubted she would be successful in achieving it. Vicki’s IVRS Counselor, Andrea Tuttle, counseled her to develop a level of confidence and assisted her in exploring employment goals. After identifying a goal and completing training as a Certified Nurse Assistant, Vicki developed some confidence. Ms. Tuttle met with Vicki prior to each test to review notes in a study session, helped her overcome test anxiety and identify and use strategies to develop learning speed. After completing her training Vicki and her Rehabilitation Counselor met weekly to complete job applications, practice interviewing, and develop follow up skills. Vicki successfully obtained a job as a CNA, but struggled with multi-tasking functions and lack of supervision. With Ms. Tuttle’s support the employer agreed to restructure Vicki’s job to one of an auxiliary aide, moved her to the day shift, and provided more supervision and mentoring. IVRS paid $556.25 for Vicki to realize this opportunity.

 

Congressman Nussle

 

Abby Crawford graduated from Independence High School in 2003 and was dependent upon Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through the Social Security Administration. The Iowa Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services determined that Abby would benefit from an evaluation through the Goodwill Vocational Services program. As a result of the evaluation, Abby was recommended to participate in supported community employment. Abby’s Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Mary Ellen Earles, arranged for Abby to participate in an on-the-job training opportunity at the Millennium Therapy Center for 60 hours per week, earning $5.15 per hour. The Millennium staff trained Abby and worked with Mary Ellen in understanding how to handle some work-related issues. Abby has become a very responsible and worthwhile employee and performs support staff assistance and housekeeping tasks for the physical therapy clinic. In March, 2005, Abby will be working full-time earning $6.50 per hour at which time she will no longer receive SSI. Vocational Rehabilitation spent a total of $783.83 so that she could be employed and self sufficient.

 

Observations

Not only do the stories represented above remind us of the extremely important work that we do, but it also gives us some inspiration as we recall the difficulties they faced and the courage with which they responded to those difficulties. As we consider each individual and the cost associated with serving them we should be proud not only of the outcomes but the fact that as an organization we strive to do what is right in a cost effective manner. Our organization is successful because we serve the individual with the disability and we serve the business community by striving to place qualified applicants who will serve them well. Our commitment to changing lives and improving society is clearly evident in these stories.

 

Thank you for your work!!!