Priority Issues: Current
(Ongoing and requiring near-term attention)
The agency’s goals and priorities were developed through interactions among WIOA core partner programs, the agency’s refreshed Strategic Planning process, participant and stakeholder input, and quarterly State Rehab Council meetings.
The agency’s mission is directly tied to the Results Washington goals for a Prosperous Economy and Healthy and Safe Communities. Our priority issues engage directly in fostering and improving diversity, equity and inclusion, both internally within our agency and in support of staff as well as externally, in support of our participants and the business community.
The first set of goals and priorities for the agency is continuing to work towards the successful implementation of systems, processes and relationships that bring the agency, business, and participants enhanced and coordinated services that meet the customer needs.
The second set of goals and priorities concentrate on increasing the agency’s effective reach into the community, refining processes that sharpen the agency’s expertise, and a deepening of the vocational aspects of this vocational and rehabilitation agency.
Agency Strategic Goals
All goals represent ongoing activities through SFY2023.
Goal 1: Refine and enhance outcomes for business and agency participants
- Sub-goal 1.1: Explore, customize and implement a Progressive Employment model of career exploration that provides low risk connections among business and job seekers with visual disabilities
- Sub-goal 1.2: Ensure equal access in the comprehensive American Jobs Centers in order that blind, low vision and deaf blind individuals can benefit from the array of services they are eligible for through the state’s workforce system
- Sub-goal 1.3: Build employer-desired core soft skills (critical thinking, decision making, etc.) throughout vocational rehabilitation skill development process.
Goal 2: Increase agency outreach to individuals and communities that would benefit from vocational rehabilitation services
- Sub-goal 2.1: Revise and update web-based and other modes for public access to agency story
- Sub-goal 2.2: Increase effectiveness and relevance of agency story content
Goal 3: Enhance and maintain DSB capacity & expertise in serving blind Washington residents
- Sub-goal 3.1: Explore ways to stabilize the agency’s fiscal budget and increase revenues in order to minimize delayed VR services and minimize limits to Independent Living services
- Sub-goal 3.2: Enhance awareness among all staff of context, issues, and skills of blindness
- Sub-goal 3.3: Improve systems for universal accessibility, both internally within the agency and externally among partners
- Sub-goal 3.4: Refine and maintain systems for knowledge transfer and leadership development
Stabilization of the agency’s budget and locating revenues is a critical priority.
When the VR program doesn’t have adequate resources to serve all eligible individuals, then the agency is required to establish a waitlist and delay services. As the average time from application to exit with an employment outcome is three years, delaying services creates a deep hardship on the individual and society. To engage as early in the economy, build retirement, seniority, and reduce or eliminate reliance on public assistance is impacted by a delay in services. Many individuals lose momentum when placed on a waitlist, and dependencies on social and family systems can become entrenched. It is critical to enter someone who has lost vision into services as soon as possible. All efforts to avoid a waitlist situation is imperative.
Accessibility of the state workforce system
The accessibility of the state workforce system, including the One-Stops, remains a major barrier to the population we serve. We are actively involved, per the new WIOA State Plan and Workforce Development Strategic Plan in improving access for populations with barriers.
- This was listed as a priority in the 2016 transition document. Some progress has been made; the pace of change is slow, but steady.
- The agency does not have representation on either the state's Workforce & Training Board, nor on the individual regional WDC boards, but are often included in WIOA partner conversations in an unofficial capacity.
- The agency has provided customized assessment, recommendations and technical assistance on programmatic and physical accessibility for local Workforce Development Councils, businesses and state agency partners
- While there is great room and opportunity for increased and improved coordination for DSB's participant base to benefit from services within the broader Workforce Development system, DSB has established a place and potential for that improvement that did not exist in any way before WIOA was implemented.
Older blind and aging population
Our services to the older blind enable the aging population who are losing vision to learn new skills and connect with resources that allow them to remain independent in their homes, and stay out of nursing homes. The services that we are able to provide on their behalf make a big impact per dollar spent. The population and need is increasing, and funding is static.
Visual disability is a low-incidence occurrence, yet visual disability crosses all demographics. The agency and Workforce partners collected feedback and data showing the need to address underserved populations such as homeless individuals, ex-offenders, and rural residents.