It has been a year since the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission changed its name to Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD), and the agency has begun to see gains in awareness and understanding, according to OOD Director Kevin Miller. He stated, “The reason why we felt it was important to change our name is that people need to understand that we are a jobs program. We connect Ohioans with disabilities to quality employment opportunities.”
OOD has reported that, as of August, more than 4,000 Ohioans had received vocational rehabilitation services and were job-ready, compared to the 2,291 who were job ready one year ago. In addition, when compared to last year at this time, OOD has written 917 more Individualized Plans for Employment, successfully employed and closed 775 more disability determination cases, and increased the total number of Ohioans served by 1,938.
During the past 12 months, DODD partnered with OOD to improve employment options for people with developmental disabilities via a new program designed to move individuals with DD out of sheltered workshops and other more segregated settings, and into jobs in the community (See Pipeline, July 31, 2013). The effort matches adults with community-based jobs, and provides training and support services to help them keep those jobs.
According to DODD Director John Martin, the service model is groundbreaking — with OOD job counselors placed in County Board of DD sheltered workshops, working closely with individuals to learn about their skills and interests. The program targeted about 5.5 percent of the people currently employed in these settings to receive the new vocational services during the first year. “I’m not aware of anybody else doing this in the country,” he said.
Funded by about $1.75 million in state dollars, along with federal matching money through OOD, the total financial support for the partnership is about $7 million per year.
The plan, along with other OOD and DODD efforts, reflects Ohio’s Employment First initiative, supporting community employment for people with disabilities as a preferred outcome for adults in the service system.