Regarding Qualified Staff and Separate Status of SSB

A2006-02: Regarding Qualified Staff and Separate Status of SSB

Adopted In : 2006

Topics : State Services for the Blind

WHEREAS, the rehabilitation counselor/customer partnership is at the very core of the public vocational rehabilitation program; and

WHEREAS, the U.S.  Congress recognized the importance of highly trained rehabilitation counselors by requiring that they meet the highest certification standards in the state, and the State Services for the Blind (SSB) division of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has, for several years, required its rehabilitation counselors to have master's degrees, or to get them if they do not; and

WHEREAS, Minnesota's Workforce Center System of DEED is headed by the former SSB Assistant Commissioner, whose tenure at SSB was characterized by a move toward generic services, job placement without blindness training, hiring supervisors with no experience related to blindness, and loss of critical services and funding, leading to picketing by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota and its friends; and

WHEREAS, the current SSB administration appears to be pursuing the same old deceptions: promoting clerical staff to rehabilitation- technician positions without providing them adequate training, replacing highly trained rehabilitation counselors with minimally trained rehabilitation technicians, requiring that SSB counselors use job placement providers who have no experience working with blind people because they already have contracts with the Rehabilitation Services (RS) division of DEED, using the same position descriptions for SSB rehabilitation technicians and rehabilitation counselors as are used for the same job titles at RS, and using service authorizations designed for RS services even though they increase the amount of SSB paperwork; and

WHEREAS, rehabilitation technicians, who are not even required to have bachelor's degrees, are scheduled to replace rehabilitation counselors in the SSB Senior Services unit and the SSB Workforce Development unit when those positions become vacant, and rehabilitation technicians are permitted to perform most of the functions of rehabilitation counselors, with the exception of eligibility determination, Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) development, comprehensive assessment, and case closure; and

WHEREAS, replacing professionally trained rehabilitation counselors knowledgeable about the unique needs of blind people with non-degreed service technicians who have virtually no knowledge of blindness is a false economy and an affront to blind Minnesotans; and

WHEREAS, this organization is concerned that common authorizations, contracts, position descriptions, and computer systems for both SSB and RS will lead to yet another attempt by DEED to combine the two rehabilitation agencies under the umbrella of the Minnesota Workforce Center system, a system which has proven itself useless to blind Minnesotans; now therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota, in convention assembled this first day of October 2006, in the city of New Ulm, Minnesota, that we condemn and deplore the promoting of clerical staff without providing them adequate training, the hiring of SSB supervisors with no experience in the field of blindness, the underhanded attempts to combine DEED's SSB and RS divisions, and the further waste of SSB resources supporting the useless Workforce Center model; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization take whatever steps are necessary to stop these alarming developments, including meeting with the Commissioner of DEED, contacting the Governor and state legislators, testifying in the upcoming DEED budget hearings, introducing protective legislation, contacting the press, picketing DEED offices, and initiating action in the courts.

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