What You Missed at the CSAVR Fall Conference
Fall CSAVR 2015 in Seattle WA
The Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) fall conference was held on November 2 - 4, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. CSAVR provides a forum for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) directors and administrators to meet in order to obtain updates, to network, and to conduct CSAVR committee business. The conference was well attended with representation from VR professionals across the nation.
As expected, the main theme of the conference centered on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) planning and implementation. Various VR agency staff shared their experiences, particularly those staff that may have moved further along with creating workforce partner agreements or those that have launched initiatives related to Pre-Employment Transition Services (PETS). While there wasn’t a lot of new information related to final regulations or guidance from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), the information exchange was valuable.
General Sessions of the conference included:
- A welcome and update provided by Mark Schultz, CSAVR President, Andres Aguirre, State Director, Washington General, Lou Oma Durand, State Director, Washington Bind and Steve Wooderson, CEO, CSAVR.
- Implementation of WIOA in The 21 Century Workforce from the Perspective of Business Customers, which included a panel from the business industry. The WIOA Core Federal Partners – Vision for Collaboration and Coordination, which included facilitation from Frank Sesno, former CNN correspondent as well as representatives from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, Administration of Developmental Disabilities, US Department of Labor, Office of Special Education Program, and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (Commissioner Janet LaBreck).
- A State and Federal Partnership Panel discussing the challenges and opportunities in implementing WIOA.
- WIOA Vision for Consumer Services.
- Implementation of the WIOA from various state perspectives.
- Social Security Administration updates.
- A Consumer Panel.
This conference included a special luncheon keynote, which featured an inspiring presentation by Derek Coleman Jr., Fullback for the Seattle Seahawks. Derrick is the first professional football player with deafness. He shared some of his experiences and challenges in navigating college and professional sports.
Rounding out the conference were numerous breakout sessions and committee meetings. The conference wrapped up with anticipation about upcoming milestones including the submission of state unified/combined state plans on March 1, 2016, planning around data sharing, and the anticipated final regulations to be released sometime in the spring of 2016. Ultimately, information exchange was one of the main highlights of the conference. Stay tuned for future blogs that will focus on General Session topics.
About the Author
Ralph has over 30 years of experience in managing vocational rehabilitation programs. He also served the national VR program, via the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation as co-chairman of the Employment Committee and the Region 6 Representative.
Ralph had a hugely impactful career with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in New Mexico. He was a member of the original Aware Implementation team and has extensive experience as a field service manager. Ralph also served as the Director of New Mexico’s agency.
Currently, Ralph works at Alliance as a Strategic Account Manager and serves as an essential part in serving their VR customers.