graphic of road and rainbow

The Road to Success

The Rehabilitation Services Bureau

February, 2005

State Appropriations Presentation

A HUGE thank you to all staff who quickly obtained release of information agreements from clients so that their stories could be shared with the State Appropriations Committee on February 8th!!!  The stories that were sent in were absolutely inspiring.  The creativity of the staff, the determination of the clients, the resourcefulness of the counselor/client planning team was abundantly clear.  The stories highlighted the many challenges our staff and clients face in working toward their employment goals. 

One client, Donnie Butler, was so appreciative of the work accomplished through the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services that he volunteered to participate in the Legislative Breakfast sponsored by the State Rehabilitation Council.  Marcia Gracey’s positive influence, proactive work, and dedication to helping him achieve success were very much appreciated.  The following story was shared with the legislators:

Donnie Butler of Guthrie Center found himself in a situation where he could no longer perform the physical intense type of work he had done all of his life.   Donnie not only had a bad back he also had a disability called arachnolditis, which is a progressive condition that will eventually result in his use of a wheelchair.  He was advised to perform only light sedentary types of work and decided to apply with Vocational Rehabilitation Services for assistance in setting up his own business. Marcia Gracey, Rehabilitation Counselor, met with Donnie and discussed his idea for operating a hunting preserve as well as resources through the small business center in Audubon and the Entrepreneur’s with Disabilities program.  Ms. Gracey assisted him with completing the EWD application, and he was accepted into the program.  IVRS purchased equipment, supplies, advertising, website design, and birds for his gaming preserve.  Ms. Gracey has assisted Donnie through out the process, meeting regularly to discuss issues of starting a business.  Donnie’s hunting preserve sponsors hunts, works with DNR on special projects, offers gun safety classes, and clay shooting.  He started sponsoring dog challenges, which recruits participants from all over the United States.  Donnie is once again a productive and tax-paying citizen and his business generates income for his local community at a total cost of financial assistance from IVRS of $23,920.

The Quality Assurance Process

The results of the QA process in 2004 demonstrated that The Agency is performing very well in achieving compliance and quality service.  The statewide data was shared with the Quality Assurance Advisory and Leadership Board and I am sure those representatives have shared the overall results with the staff.  Clearly there was a lot for us to celebrate as an organization and a great deal of pride in the performance!  Thank you all for your hard work and dedication. 

The process for the 2005 year is a bit different from the previous year.  Indeed the entire process is a five year progressive model.  It is hoped that by sharing this with you it will give you an idea of the entire process and how the staff progressively become more involved in the process.

Year 1 Education:  The first year was one of education:  All staff was educated on each of the indicators (both compliance and quality) to which The Agency is accountable.  During the first year staff were provided information on the regulations, how it is possible to achieve the expectations, the expectations overall, and how partners perceive the work unit.  These data sets drove the office discussions of planning toward improvement, which resulted in an office action plan.  This not only educated the staff in the offices, but the process also connected the management perceptions and enhanced consistency between managers.  The staff surveys provided information to the management team to consider various areas for improvement.

Year 2:  Planning:  After the education phase was completed, and all were knowledgeable about the requirements and expectations, The Agency could move toward the next level of engagement.  This second year is one in which the data is shared in advance of the meeting so that staff can be familiar with the office performance.  This year clients of the office are contacted for feedback concerning their impressions of our work.  When staff and administration meet together for the report out, it is truly a strategic planning meeting.  Two subcommittees form to focus the local office attention on the major issues impacting the office.  This is the year when staffs develop a five year plan of action and focus not upon individual data points, but rather on global actions of the office to achieve high quality results with the clients.  Each subcommittee is facilitated by a member of the Bureau Management team and staffs decide, based upon the local office values and guiding principles, what most significantly impacts their clients.  From this data and those decision-making points a five year plan is developed that identifies:  local office actions, state level actions, resource needs, and responsibilities.

Year 3 Counselor Involvement:  Prior to the beginning of the third year Charlie Levine and Ralph Childers will train Counselors from each area office on the review process.  It is anticipated that at least two counselors from each office will be involved in the training.  These Counselors will then be involved in the reviews and provide guidance and direction to local staff concerning their perceptions of the review.  Those Counselors will also take a more active role in the report out by learning the methods for strategic planning and reporting, to better prepare themselves for year four.

Year 4 Local Office Presentation:  It is anticipated that by the fourth year the local offices will be prepared to present the results of their reviews, successful action steps, action steps that will be revised based upon local office discussion of the results, and recommendations for progress. 

Year 5 Local Office Driven Process:  It is anticipated that after having gone through one cycle of the QA process the local office will then be able to drive the QA process.  This will include the case reviews, with some involvement from the Administrative Consultant, but overall coordinated and driven by local office decisions.  The local office, with whatever support is identified as necessary, will then prepare for the “Boardroom” presentation to administration.  It is then that the local office will answer the questions posed by administration concerning planning and quality assurance.

This cycle, it is believed, will develop the skills and tools necessary to achieve consistency, strive for quality, and connect all staff to the vision of the organization and the strategic plan.

Mason City Area Office – Connecting to the Vision and QA

Submitted by David Mitchell

As part of the Quality Assurance process, each area office is developing office action plans that are focused on improving the quality of our vocational rehabilitation service delivery system as well as positively impacting employment outcomes for the clients we serve.  The Mason City Area Office has several initiatives being developed and implemented, but one of the newest strategies is impacting VR visibility in the community and improving the office’s relationship with area employers.  A subsequent by-product of these efforts is the changing role of the office support team and how that can positively impact the client’s VR experience and benefit the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in better meeting standards and quality indicators in the areas of Eligibility, Counseling & Guidance, Plan Development and Placement. 

Local committees are teaming together to develop strategies that will work for all.  Some of it includes a trial and error approach, but ideas are being tackled with creativity and enthusiasm as individuals and teams figure out what works best for each staff person and how that impacts the individual client being served.

Some of the ideas being debated, discussed and tried include:

Office Visibility/Employer Development

The value of this process is our ability to generate ideas and strategies that will impact services and outcomes.  Not all ideas work for everyone, but as we continually plan and revise we create a dynamic environment focused on improved services and outcomes for our clients.

If staff have questions or ideas that would enhance the QA process please feel free to drop Kenda a note.  If staff have difficulty connecting the QA process to the Administrator’s vision please contact David Mitchell.  David will set up a time to meet with local staff and facilitate that discussion.


The January Road to Success Newsletter was posted on the web and 167 individuals accessed it.  We assume that means they read it and we are pleased to learn that!!

Future editions:  The Stories Shared with Legislators