May 8, 2001
Mr. Tom Jennings
Council of State Administrators
for Vocational Education
P.O. Box 3776
Washington, DC 20007
Dear Mr. Jennings:
I am writing regarding recently published Department of Education final regulations that revise the scope of employment outcomes under the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program. These final regulations redefine the term "employment outcome, " for purposes of the VR program, to mean outcomes in which an individual with a disability works in an integrated setting.
The new regulations will help individuals with disabilities who participate in the VR program to achieve employment in an integrated setting. This is consistent with President Bush's New Freedom Initiative, which seeks to integrate Americans with disabilities into the workforce and into community life.
While this Administration supports employment in an integrated setting for individuals with disabilities, we understand that some persons with disabilities may prefer to work in extended employment facilities, and that some individuals may be unable to work in an integrated setting. Additionally, we believe that extended employment is a legitimate and valued employment option for people with disabilities who make an informed choice to work in such a facility.
Nothing in this regulation will prevent VR agencies from serving individuals in extended employment in order to prepare them for employment in integrated settings. For those choosing extended employment for the long term, VR agencies will be required to provide a referral to local extended employment providers. The key change is that extended employment, for purposes of participating in the VR program, will represent an interim step in the rehabilitation process rather than an end point of that process.
We appreciate and share your concern that all persons with disabilities receive the highest level of services as they pursue their employment goals.