Community Spotlight: Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is a treasure trove of resources for young adults to obtain the skills necessary to earn a job. Today, I sat down with Jennifer Scilacci, Manager of Communications and Partner Engagement, to learn more about this organization.

CINDY: What clientele does DVR serve?

JENNIFER: We work with individuals who have a documented disability(ies) that is a barrier to employment. Disabilities could include behavioral health (such as major depression, bi-polar, schizophrenia), learning disability, autism, physical impairments, Deaf, blind or low vision. We also work with students with disabilities and adults.

CINDY: At what age should clients first start meeting with DVR?

JENNIFER: We can begin working with students or youth with disabilities starting at 15.

CINDY: What is the role of a DVR case manager?

JENNIFER: We call our case managers Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, they have master’s degrees that specialize in working with individuals with disabilities and employment. They take a holistic approach to services, provide counseling and guidance, career counseling, referrals to other agencies, and connection with services necessary to help the people we serve reach their employment goals.

CINDY: What does a service plan from DVR entail?

JENNIFER: Each Individualized Plan for Employment is just that, individualized. We take a holistic approach to our services, and each IPE varies to ensure that the necessary and appropriate services are available.

CINDY: What are typical types of job training programs out there?

JENNIFER: DVR can assist individuals with disabilities to attend training programs if those programs are necessary to reach the employment goal. There are as many different training programs out there as you can think of! Some of the programs we have supported include nursing, certified nursing assistant, welding, teaching, counseling, addictions counseling, self-employment courses and more.

CINDY: How are DVR services funded?

JENNIFER: DVR is funded 72% by federal funds and the remaining come from state and local funds.

CINDY: Can you explain job shadowing?

JENNIFER: Job shadowing is just that – talking with and observing another individual conduct their day to day tasks so that the job shadower can learn more directly what that job is like.

CINDY: Why types of jobs do your clients land?

JENNIFER: Many different types! Teachers, computer analysts, business, event and conference managers, customer service, restaurant, chefs, and many of the people we serve are self-employed.

CINDY: In some cases, does DVR pay for college tuition?

JENNIFER: Yes, we can support college tuition as long as it is necessary to reach the agreed upon employment goal.  Any pell grants must go to the tuition and fees first.

CINDY: Where should a family get started who has yet to connect with DVR?

JENNIFER: We’d love to connect with you! You can visit our website here: https://dvr.colorado.gov/ and watch our orientation video, learn about our different programs and services, and then connect with a local office, either by completing our Interest Form, or directly contacting a local office.