Friday, May 14, 2010

State Success: NJ Chapter Advocacy Network

Administrative Success: Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services

The New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) provides services that enable individuals with disabilities to find jobs or keep their existing jobs. People with MS are a notable group who often require DVR services, but the division has not been meeting their needs. The Greater Delaware Valley Chapter in the south and the New Jersey Metro Chapter in the north both heard from people with MS that DVR did not return their calls and didn’t know how to work with more professionally skilled people with MS.

> Both chapters met with legislators, voiced their concerns and tried to meet with the Department of Labor. They secured an initial meeting, expressed their frustration and subsequently held a more detailed meeting with DVR staff.

> In preparing for the meeting, DVR uncovered the statistic that when clients didn’t have MS, their cases closed within three to six months. For people with MS, it took five to seven years.

> The meeting also highlighted to DVR staff the importance of further education about MS

Result: The findings surprised the DVR staff and helped bring changes to how they handle people with MS who use their service. As a result, both chapters will hold five in-service trainings at local DVR offices to engage in ongoing education with DVR. In general, people with MS under-utilize DVR services, and the chapters will continue to work to build trust with DVR and effect change for people with MS. This progress could only have happened through collaboration between the New Jersey Metro and Greater Delaware Valley chapters.

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