Weekly Focus, December 18, 2015

An update and information report for doctors who provide consultative exams for OOD’s Division of Disability Determination
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities

Kevin L. Miller, Executive Director

December 18, 2015

The mission of the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Agency is to ensure individuals with disabilities achieve quality employment, independence and disability determination outcomes.

What's Inside:

holiday wishes

NOTE: Due to the Holidays, there will be no Weekly Focus the next two Fridays (12/25 and 1/1).  Look for the next Weekly Focus on January 8.


Reflecting on the Success of 2015

As 2015 comes to a close, it is appropriate to look back on the progress we have made and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead.  This year featured a number of significant accomplishments and milestones for OOD and I want to say thank you to our staff and partners whose hard work made this success possible. 


I am also grateful for the support of the Ohio General Assembly and for the leadership of Governor John Kasich.  Without their support and leadership, we would not have been able to reach our goals and have the impact we have had this year.


2015 Accomplishments and Milestones

  • Elimination of the Waiting List:  OOD eliminated the waiting list for individuals with significant disabilities (SD) and individuals with disabilities (D).  As a result, all eligible individuals are now immediately provided services; and individuals in the D category are being served for the first time since 1991. All told, 17,000 people were released from waiting lists during this process.
  • DisAbility Job Fairs:  In October, OOD held four regional job fair events (Columbus, Independence, Maumee and Cincinnati) connecting 850 individuals with disabilities with 170 employers. The events also featured training for employers seeking to more effectively integrate individuals with disabilities into their workforce.  To date, 62 individuals have found integrated community employment (many for the first time) as a direct result of a job fair.  Additionally, 86 individuals are now in employed status after having attended a job fair.
  • Launch of the Ohio Transition Services Partnership:  The state budget funded a partnership between OOD and ODE, the Ohio Transition Support Partnership (OTSP).  It's mission is to improve post-secondary outcomes for students with disabilities, beginning at age 14.  This innovative collaboration will change the nature and impact of transition services for students with disabilities in Ohio.  OTSP is now fully implemented with 26 dedicated counselors and 13 caseload assistants working with more than 1,100 students with disabilities throughout the state.  Since October 1, more than 281 students with disabilities have applied for services, more than 132 eligibility determinations have been made and 62 Individualized Plans for Employment (IPEs) have been written.  To date, 21 students have found jobs in competitive integrated employment.
  • Division of Disability Determinations Accomplishments:  DDD exceeded all federal goals including: 100% Decision Accuracy; 191,607 Decisions; 31,588 Continuing Disability Reviews; $40 Million in Fraud Detection. 
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Accomplishments:  Increased employment outcomes by 21% (5,562); Wrote 12,875 service plans; Reduced cost per employment outcomes by 10%; Made eligibility decisions, on average, in 36 days.  

I look forward to building on these successes and achieving even greater things in 2016.

Going Above and Beyond Expectations

I noted last week that one of the best parts of my job is hearing the inspiring stories of the people we serve.  The stories of how individuals with disabilities overcome challenges to achieve quality employment and increased independence are a reminder of the impact we can have on peoples’ lives.  Of course, I also appreciate positive feedback from the individuals we serve, particularly when it highlights the outstanding service and professionalism of our staff.


I recently received an email that highlights such feedback.  Mr. William Wilson wrote to me about his daughter, Cassandra.  Cassandra has a condition known as absence epilepsy and experiences seizures in her brain hundreds of times a day.  However, she is rising above these challenges and finding success.


Mr. Wilson’s email reads, in part:


My daughter, Cassandra Marie Wilson, is a recipient of an OOD scholarship to be applied to her first year at Owens Community College.  To our family this event has been miraculous, a long hard climb with extraordinary obstacles along the way.  Our daughter never gave up on the journey and we have been so blessed that she has risen above her disabilities with the assistance of some amazing, dedicated, professionals who went above and beyond everyone's hope and expectations to make this outcome a reality. The collaboration between the Lucas County DD professionals, particularly Jenny Leiman, LPCC-S - Behavior Support Specialist, and Deetra Mitchell, our new SASS, and your wonderful ladies is truly worth telling you about.


Particularly Tonya Mortimer, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, MRC, CRC  and her incredible colleagues, Uzy Achufusi, Transition Specialist for the Bridges to Transition program, and Cheryl Rosebrook, Account/Examiner II, Toledo BVR/OOD, teamed together to make our daughter's dreams a reality.  We watched as these dedicated professionals lifted our daughter up from her disabled homeschool world into the next step of her journey into adulthood and college. 


What was so amazing to me as Cassandra's dad/guardian was that not once did these women ever stop moving forward, removing obstacles, and making this event seamless. 


Mr. Wilson’s closing sentence, however, was particularly gratifying:


As a retired Quality Control Team Supervisor for the Chrysler Corporation, I know work effort that is just acceptable, but then I recognize team effort that is above and beyond expectations.  This is a "Benchmark" group.


Here at OOD we set high standards and work hard at evaluating all of our policies and procedures to ensure they are aligned with these high standards.  We want better than “good enough.”  


Thanks again to our staff and partners who are a part of Cassandra’s team.  Your hard work, dedication and professionalism is being recognized and making a difference.


Employment First Partnership Continues to Shine

The Employment First (EF) Partnership is off to a great start this year and is on track to meet a successful closure goal of 374 for FFY16.  As of this week, EF has successfully assisted 100 individuals in finding competitive integrated employment, which is more than  three times the successful closures than this time last fiscal year.  In addition, the number of individuals in both Job Ready and Employed status more than doubled from this time last year.   


Continued improvements and collaboration through both state and local partnerships have been instrumental to the ongoing success of the EF Partnership.  Most recently, OOD and the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) worked together to develop joint guidance for both Vocational Rehabilitation and County Boards of Developmental Disability staff. 


Employment First Logo

The document provides background information, definitions and guidance about the following:

  • How to utilize vocational rehabilitation & HCBS waiver funding streams for employment services;
  • When to refer an individual to OOD;
  • Important information to include in the referral packet to OOD to expedite eligibility.

The guidance follows the DODD Employment First Rule and the four places on the path to community employment.  In addition to distribution by both OOD and DODD, the guidance is hosted on the Ohio Employment First website http://www.ohioemploymentfirst.org/view.php?nav_id=56.


Delegates from Minnesota who visited the EF Partnership this past fall (see story here) have reached out this week to let us know they have started movement on their “Way to Work” pilot.  They officially started on November 2, 2015.  We are looking forward to hearing about their continued efforts to improve employment outcomes in their state and will be sure to share updates as they work to fully implement their program.     

2015 Creating Opportunity Awards

Pitney Bowes Creating Opportunity 2015
Pitney Bowes Creating Opportunity Award presentation. Pictured: Jenifer Alexander, Assistant Operations Manager of Labor and Staffing; Bob Nicholson, SE Area Manager, David Overley, Vice President/General Manager; and Kelly Jordan, SE Business Sourcing Analyst


OOD Business Sourcing Analysts and area staff have been busy recognizing the 2015 Creating Opportunity Award recipients around Ohio.  For more photos of 2015 Creating Opportunity Award presentations please visit our Facebook photo album: bit.ly/2015CreatingOpportunity For information about the Opportunity Awards visit our website: http://www.ood.ohio.gov/Employers/Opportunity-Awards


Giving Back to Our Communities

SE Region Gives Back
The Whitehall office participated in the City of Whitehall's Adopt-A-Child Holiday Gift Giving Project


At OOD we recognize that our work takes place within community in partnership with families, businesses, non-profits and government.  An important part of community is giving back and supporting those in need. 


With this in mind, the SE Region leadership challenged staff to reach out to the communities where OOD offices are located and provide gifts to individuals in need.  Staff responded generously:

  • The Athens Team provided new blankets to residents at The Laurels of Athens Nursing Center;
  • The Canton Team shopped for a family in need in partnership with The Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family Holiday Project;
  • The Whitehall Office delivered a bevy of presents to City Hall for the 10-year old boy they adopted through the City of Whitehall's Adopt-A-Child Holiday Gift Giving Project;
  • The Zanesville Office participated in the Zanesville Angel Tree Gift Giving Project through the local Salvation Army.

Thank you to staff for their generous giving of time and resources to help individuals in their communities.  For photos and additional information please visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OhioOOD.

Did you know? Disability Style Guide

Earlier this month, The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University released a one-of-a-kind style guide for journalists and professionals who report or write about people living with disabilities.  The guide covers general terms and words on physical disabilities, hearing and visual impairments, mental and cognitive disabilities and seizure disorders. Entries are listed in alphabetical order.  The guide can be found online: http://ncdj.org/style-guide/.

OOD by the Numbers

Vocational Rehabilitation

Individuals in Job Ready Status:                       3,682  

(For county level information

and map visit our website)


Individuals Employed:                                         2,025

(Employed, not yet successfully closed)


Successful Closures:                                           1,557

(Employed for over 90 days,

case closed successfully)


Disability Determination 

(FFY2016 as of 12/11)


Applications Received:                                               41,723


Determinations:                                                           43,385


Productivity Per Work Year (PPWY)                          386.4

(Total number of cases processed divided

by the number of work years funded)


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