Did you know? The California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), established in 1963, administers the largest vocational rehabilitation program in the country.
Its three-pronged mission is to provide services and advocacy that assist people with mental or physical disabilities to live independently, become employed and have equality in the communities in which they live and work. It works in partnership with consumers and other stakeholders to provide services and advocacy resulting in employment, independent living and equality for individuals with disabilities.
With more than 85 locations throughout California (five in San Diego County), the DOR provides services to increase the quality and quantity of employment outcomes for people with a full range of physical and psychiatric disabilities. DOR provides services such as career assessment and counseling, job search and interview skills, independent living skills, career education and training, on-the-job training and assistive technology, and works with community partners to assist the consumers it serves.
Services are tailored to each person—a vocational rehabilitation team works closely with each job seeker to establish the best combination of services and resources necessary to prepare for, find, retain and advance in employment. Only those individuals who meet eligibility requirements and have the most significant disabilities receive services. In addition, the California DOR posts jobs through the Talent Acquisition Portal (TAP), an online portal that will match consumers with business partners who are actively working to diversify their workplace by including opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
This tailored approach produces good results; according to the DOR, nationwide, for every $1 in vocational rehabilitation funds expended to help people with disabilities obtain and retain employment, there is a $6 return on investment. In fiscal year 2015–16, the DOR served approximately 98,000 individuals with disabilities.
Regional Business Specialist for the San Diego Office of the DOR, Virginia Guerra, began working with the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) Program Specialist Mario Becerra after attending SDWP’s Workforce Development Board (WDB) meetings.
SDWP works with DOR in a number of collaborative efforts. Program Specialist Mario Becerra leads the Work Well Initiative, while SDWP’s CONNECT2Careers (C2C) Training Specialist Taryell Simmons has worked with students with disabilities at Sweetwater Union School District through a collaboration with DOR. DOR has also hosted externs under SDWP’s youth employment program, C2C.
At a recent DOR awards luncheon, San Diego District Administrator for the DOR and WDB member Carmencita Trapse took the opportunity to acknowledge SDWP and Becerra’s efforts onstage during her remarks, praising his leadership and hard work on the Work Well Initiative.
“There is excellent collaboration between DOR and the America’s Job Center of California (AJCC),” says Trapse.
DOR also wrote a letter of support for SDWP and the AJCCs’ participation in U.S. Department of Labor Ticket to Work program, which offers beneficiaries with disabilities access to meaningful employment with the assistance of Ticket to Work employment service providers.
“Since DOR and SDWP have common performance goals, the two agencies have been able to combine and maximize resources to better serve clients,” says Trapse.
In addition, DOR’s director Joe Xavier will be participating as a speaker in the upcoming Workforce Conference on Thursday, October 26.