Over 70 NFB of Colorado members converged on the Colorado Capitol on Friday, February 28 to introduce the concerns of blind Coloradoans to the General Assembly.
We were fortunate enough to meet with many members of the House and Senate. Almost none of them were aware that there was a waiting list for Vocational Rehabilitation services, let alone that the Colorado wating list was not only the largest in the country, but double its closest rival. They know now.
Below is the Fact Sheet from the NFB of Colorado’s 2014 Legislative Memorandum concerning DVR’s waiting list. Every member of the General Assembly received a copy of this full document. It can be found at <a haref=http://www.nfbco.org>www.nfbco.org</a>.
<h3>ELIMINATE DVR’S WAITING LIST</h3>
The Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) under the Colorado Department of Human Services (DHS), aids and assists people with disabilities in procuring skills training, post secondary education, transition services other employment related opportunities, and ultimately competitive employment. DVR receives approximately eighty percent of its funding from the federal government based on a formula which includes approximately a twenty percent state match. If the State does not provide the full amount of match, DVR cannot secure the maximum amount of federal funding. Since April of Last year, DVR has been on an “order of selection.” This means that it has not been accepting new clients and, therefore, not providing the core services which it is mandated to perform. Currently DVR has an active caseload of approximately 7,500 individuals while over 6,100 individuals are on a waiting list. More persons with disabilities are waiting for rehabilitation services in Colorado than any other state in
The Federation believes that past mismanagement of the agency is largely the cause for the historically high numbers on the waiting list. Last year’s legislative audit confirmed these very disturbing past practices of the Division. However, the plan identified to resolve these past issues seemed largely reasonable and achievable during the prescribed time periods. We applaud DHS’s Executive Director, Reggie Bicha, and his team including Vicki Manley, Director, Office of Community Access and Independence and the new Director of DVR, Joelle Brouner, for navigating DVR through the difficult audit period and setting a new course for the agency.
One of our major concerns is that the audit findings are being used to hold DVR back and prevent it from fulfilling its core purpose. As stated above, over 6,100 individuals are on a waiting list due to DVR's order of selection and are not being served. We receive many calls each week regarding blind individuals who are in desperate need of vocational rehabilitation services and are being forced to struggle needlessly.
We have received word that as of February 24th, DVR will be taking 500 individuals off the waiting list. The NFB of Colorado will be meeting with Director Bicha and senior management at DHS very soon to discuss ways DVR can eliminate the remainder of its staggering waiting list as expeditiously as possible. We will keep the General Assembly informed as to the progress made and the need for possible Assembly intervention in some manner including potential supplemental appropriations to capture all federal dollars to serve those in desperate need.
For further information contact:
Scott C. LaBarre, President
National Federation of the Blind of Colorado
Phone: 303 504-5979
Fax: 303 757-3640