Vocational Rehabilitation Affinity Group

Welcome to the Think College Affinity Group on Vocational Rehabilitation. The purpose of this affinity group is to:

  • Create an online community for review and discussion of issues, strategies and results related to the partnership between vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies and colleges & universities,
  • Share promising practices and consider new ideas for programs,
  • Exchange tips, develop intra-/inter-state partnerships, and
  • Form support connections

This Affinity Group is designed for people associated with VR, higher education programs for students with intellectual disability, and allied organizations that would like to become more involved. The activities of the group will be relevant for those working directly to building or enhancing the partnership between VR and higher education programs. A particular focus will be on considering current promising practices and identifying methods of innovation/expansion in the partnerships that advance the results for mutual clients/students of these programs.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Affinity Group holds meetings quarterly and typically includes a short presentation, legislative and policy updates, as well as informal sharing at each meeting.


Future Meetings

Zoom Meeting Registration

August 2, 2023, 2-3:30pm ET

Past Meetings

Vocational Rehabilitation Process Deep-Dive
Date: February 1, 2023
Summary: The group took a deeper dive into VR and what it “is.” This included looking at purpose, legislative mission, capacities, and key components of the public VR program. They then went into how IPSE programs and others work with VR.

How Becoming a CTP (Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary) Program Can Tip the Scale for VR Support of Inclusive Postsecondary Education Programs
Date: November 2, 2022
Summary: Two IPSE programs spoke about their growing relationships with their vocational rehabilitation programs.

Where and How VR and IPSE Programs are Working Together
Date: August 3, 2022
Summary: The group discussed examples of specific states and how they began work with VR that eventually resulted in policies for VR to support IPSE, including tuition and fee assistance for higher education.

Intersection of VR and IPSE Programs
Date: May 4, 2022
Summary: Participants discussed the reoccurring issues that intersect VR and IPSE programs as denial of services, regime changes, the agency funding puzzle (how to fit it all together, who is first payor, etc.) and ways to build relationships with VR.

Building Relationships with VR - Lessons from Groundhog Day
Date: February 2, 2022
Summary: The group discussed experiences and techniques to establish, build, and advance relationships between Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and inclusive post-secondary education (IPSE). The group reviewed the Addressing the Policy Tangle report regarding needed alignment of services and collaboration among agencies and institutions of higher education. The group discussion included the most common reasons cited by VR agencies as to why they cannot or do not support IPSE.

Oklahoma VR and IPSE: History and Evolution
 November 3, 2021
Presenter: Julie Lackey, Oklahoma
Summary: Julie Lackey spoke about the history and evolution of relationships to advance IPSE within Oklahoma, including their VR agency as a critical player. Covering the effort from 2018 to the current time, Julie talked about the skills and effort to build relationships with VR, higher education, legislators, Dept. of Education, and more that have moved VR IPSE support from none to supporting students in three different programs within the state.

Vocational Rehabilitation & University of Iowa REACH Program Collaboration
Date: August 4, 2021
Presenters: Brett Koenig, University of Iowa REACH Program, Program Specialist - Career Team
Summary: Brett shared a number of processes the REACH Program has established with VR to increase collaboration between the two entities. This included establishing liaisons in each VR office, establishing a standard operating procedure, holding PCP meetings with VR, communication with parents, having VR coming to classes to provide education, and more.

PSE Pays Off
Date: May 5, 2021
Presenters: Clare Papay and Meg Grigal
Summary: Meg and Clare presented on employment data for IPSE program participants. Sharing research findings, national data, and TPSID data, the value of IPSE for employment outcomes was presented.

State Differences in VR Support for IPSE
Date: February 3, 2021
Summary: Discussed the varied degrees and ways VR supports IPSE with some states paying a certain amount per semester hour, others funding a certain amount per semester, some funding employment specific activities or classes, with others not funding anything. Some states will support in-state IPSE as well as programs out-of-state and others only support in-state. Some discussion was held on how IPSE were doing some Pre-Employment Transition Services.

Joint meeting of the Think College Vocational Rehabilitation, Public Policy, and Student Credentials Affinity Groups
Date: August 12, 2020
Presenters: Mary Hauff, Lauren Bruno and Jennifer Cremers
Summary: Mary Hauff, advocate and parent from Minnesota, and Lauren Bruno and Jennifer Cremers, University of Iowa REACH program, shared an overview of the program’s use of WorkKeys as a tool to increase access to evidence-based credentials earned by students with ID.

Joint meeting of the Think College Vocational Rehabilitation, Public Policy, and Student Credentials Affinity Groups
Date: April 1, 2020; November 6, 2019; August 7, 2019
Summary: The public policy, vocational rehabilitation, and student credentials groups met together several times to discuss the intersection of these three topics as they relate to inclusive higher education.

Have other ideas for the Affinity Group on Vocational Rehabilitation?