University of Arkansas CURRENTS
CURRENTS manages and contributes to a number of grant-funded projects directly related to creating an inclusive world and empowering individuals to make their unique and valuable contributions. As projects are completed, we may take on new ones or collaborate with other organizations to address emerging needs. Below are links to our current projects.
Job-Driven Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Technical Assistance Center
The Job-Driven VR Technical Assistance Center (JDVRTAC) is a collaborative national project coordinated by the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts. UA CURRENTS, the Center for Continuing Education in Rehabilitation (CCER) at the University of Washington and Jobs for the Future are the primary partners in this initiative funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration. Other partners include the United States Business Leadership Network; Robert Silverstein at Powers, Pyles, Sutter, & Verville; John Dorrer; Andrew Imparato and Kim Musheno at the Association of University Centers on Disability; and the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation.
The JDVRTAC, or the Job Driven Center for short, was established to support State VR agencies in four main areas -- Business Engagement, Employer Supports, Labor Market Information and Customized Training – through general, targeted and intensive technical assistance (TA). The team at UA CURRENTS is involved in developing resources and webinars in the four topic areas, providing intensive TA in several states and participating in a national Learning Collaborative.
The Job Driven Center’s web portal, www.ExploreVR.org, houses a publicly available, searchable, and indexed catalogue of emerging and best practices in job-driven strategies.
WORKFORCE INNOVATION TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE CENTER
The Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC) provides training and technical assistance to State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies to help them develop the skills and processes needed to meet the requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). CURRENTS is a partner in this Center coordinated by San Diego State University and funded by the U.S. Department of Education/Rehabilitation Services Administration. WINTAC TA and training focuses on the following areas:
- Provision of pre-employment transition services (PETS) to students with disabilities and supported employment services to youth with disabilities;
- Implementation of the requirements in section 511 of the Rehabilitation Act regarding the use of sub-minimum wage that are under the purview of the Department of Education;
- Provision of resources and strategies to help individuals with disabilities achieve competitive integrated employment, including customized employment and supported employment;
- Integration of the State VR program into the workforce development system; and
- Transition to the new common performance accountability system under section 116 of WIOA, including the collection and reporting of common data elements.
CURRENTS has primary responsibility concerning item #3 above, provision of resources and strategies to help individuals with disabilities achieve competitive integrated employment, including customized employment and supported, and secondary responsibility regarding item #4, integration of the State VR program into the workforce development system. As a member of the Leadership Team for the project, CURRENTS is also involved overall implementation of the Center. The project is designed to provide TA and training to at least 23 State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (SVRAs) and hopes to provide these services to all SVRAs that request assistance.
Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE), a joint initiative of the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Labor and the Social Security Administration, was created to foster improved health, education, and post-secondary outcomes for children ages 14-17 who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), as well as their families. The underlying premise of PROMISE is that improved coordination between services can improve outcomes for youth on SSI and their families.
CURRENTS led the development of Arkansas’ PROMISE model demonstration project, which involves a partnership between the Arkansas Department of Career Education, Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas Department of Health, Sources for Community Independent Living Services, the Clinton Foundation and the University of Arkansas. Arkansas’ model provides intensive case management, training for youth SSI recipients and their families, and paid work experiences for youth SSI recipients. CURRENTS manages the training intervention, which includes monthly training opportunities during the school year on topics such as financial literacy, healthy eating and lifestyle, and dealing with conflict. An intensive two-week session will be offered during the summer on the campus of one of the state’s institutions of higher education.
Institute on Rehabilitation Issues (IRI)
For more than fifty-five years, the IRI has been a national forum for discussing the important challenges facing the State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services Program. The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) sponsors the IRI in collaboration with representatives from the State VR agencies, consumer groups, the Technical Assistance and Continuing Education (TACE) Centers, and other stakeholders in the VR program, in order to facilitate the link between research findings and practitioners in the field. A primary study group of practitioners, educators, consumers, and partners is nominated to review the research and literature on a question or challenge faced by VR agencies. Sharing their various perspectives, experience, and lessons learned, the Primary Study Group develops a monograph which is published and distributed to the state VR agencies to use in staff training and program development.
All of the IRI documents from the 25th IRI to the 36th are available online http://www.iriforum.org/books.aspx and can be downloaded at no charge.
Beginning with the 29th IRI, documents contain questions for self-study at the end of each chapter. After reading the document and reviewing the self-study questions, VR professionals are encouraged to take the online exam http://www.iriforum.org/onlinecrc.aspx for that document. there is a small registration fee for the online exam, and crcs are awarded upon successful completion of the exam.