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Vol. 47, No. 39

June 14, 2013

Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation Eliminates Waiting List for Services

Individuals with disabilities who are eligible for assistance through Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation no longer have to wait for services to help them enter the work force.

State officials say efforts to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness, coupled with additional federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), have enabled the agency to eliminate a waiting list for individuals seeking career counseling, vocational training, job placement and other services.

An increasing number of applicants, limited federal funding and rising service costs had contributed to the wait.

"I commend our staff for identifying and addressing issues that have allowed them to better serve the citizens of Missouri," said Chris L. Nicastro, commissioner of education at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which houses the state's vocational rehabilitation services.

Since October 2003, Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation has operated under an "order of selection," which requires staff to prioritize applicants when immediate assistance cannot be provided to all eligible individuals. Applicants with the most significant disabilities fall into priority category I and are served first. Those with less significant disabilities are placed in priority categories II and III and are placed on a waiting list, if necessary.

Currently, all categories are open with no delays in service.

The vocational rehabilitation staff cleared a backlog of applications from more than 51,100 individuals with disabilities over the past 10 years.