VRS_Updates 4/3

Vocational Rehabilitation Services header

Dear Community Partners,

Greetings to you from the VRS staff. We know our community partners are facing extreme challenges coming from all angles. We are looking for ways to ease your burdens. VRS has joined with other states asking for flexibilities from the Rehabilitation Services Administration as well as from Congress. We’re also looking at what we can do now that could be helpful.

Who’s working at VRS?

All VRS state staff are working remotely, except for very small number who are taking leave or have been redeployed to other state work. If a counselor is having another staff person cover their caseload, staff will contact individuals and providers with the change.

Is VRS still working with individuals?

VRS is still working with individuals! We continue to work with individuals who have employment plans and we’re still conducting intakes with new participants. Staff are adjusting to doing those intakes virtually. VRS staff do not currently have access to work sites and thus no access to snail mail for the time-being. This will likely cause a short delay in getting necessary documentation for intakes, but it is a short-term issue that we have a plan for fixing. Please be patient with us as we all make adjustments to new ways of doing things.

Who do we contact to send referrals?

If you usually contact the local office to send a referral to VRS, please continue to do so in the same way as before. Staff are covering those phone lines. If you have any issue getting through, contact the local RAM.


VRS has temporarily relaxed the policies regarding pen-to-paper signatures from individuals, community partners, authorized representatives, and VRS staff on VR documents. VRS is urging everyone to do their work virtually, so electronic signatures are welcome during this time for applications, CFP forms, employment plan documents, placement plans. Note: pen-to-paper signatures are still required for the Informed Written Consent for Release of Information forms. Methods for securing signatures in this way can include emailing, scanning, mail, a photo of the signed document, Adobe, etc.

If a signature can’t be obtained virtually, VRS staff are temporarily permitted to accept a written or verbal agreement in place of a signature. Know that VRS staff will need the details of signature approval such as who provided approval and the date of approval. Written approval via text or email is preferred so that can be added to case-notes.

Purchasing Uniforms or Supplies

Uniforms and supplies can still be purchased. It might take a little trouble-shooting, but some teams have had success making it happen.

Pre-ETS Work Experience Wages

For many of you, the pre-ETS “Work Experience-Wages” doesn’t cover all your costs for providing that service. We are looking at increasing that percentage, and will share that new percentage soon.

DEED-VRS Pre-ETS Webinar

The recording of the Provider Pre-ETS Update webinar from March 25 is now posted, along with the PowerPoint slides, on the “Provider Pre-ETS” page on the DEED website. Click here and go to the “Webinars” tab on the page: https://mn.gov/deed/job-seekers/disabilities/youth/pre-ets/contractor/  

During the webinar we also announced that DEED-VRS is able to fund for one-year website subscriptions to the following sites:

P/T contracted providers can request a subscription by filling out the survey at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CN5BPCL. The deadline to request a subscription is Friday, April 17. 

Note that we are also hosting demos of eTrac (on Tuesday, April 7 at 11 a.m.) and Virtual Job Shadow (on Wednesday, April 8 at 2 p.m.). The eTrac announcement was sent out to all of you on March 26 and is also linked again for you at the end of this message. The announcement for the Virtual Job Shadow demo was sent April 1 and is linked at the end of this message.

Pre-ETS Resources: Providing Transition-Focused Activities Online and At Home (NTACT)

The National Transition Technical Assistance Center (NTACT) held a “Providing Transition-Focused Activities Online and At Home” webinar on March 24. Here is a link to that recording: https://mediahub.ku.edu/media/NTACTA+Providing+Trans+Online%26AtHome/0_ygatffrm

NCACT also provided the documents linked below: 

Resources: Providing Services Remotely (WINTAC)

The Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC) has created a list of resources to help VR programs that are operating by distance and providing services remotely during the COVID-19 crisis.  They will be building on these resources daily, so please check back frequently.  Click to access the COVID-19 Resources. Click to access the Resources on Distance Service Delivery.

Resources: Providing Employment Supports Remotely (APSE)

The National APSE hosted a webinar last week titled “Strategies for Providing Remote Employment Supports”. You can access the recording here: https://apse.org/get-educated-online/online-learning/webinars/. You will hear examples of effective strategies for providing virtual job coaching and job development supports, and techniques for training and supporting employment specialists and supported workers to use available tools.


Thank you for all your work and all you do for Minnesotans. We are in this together!

My best,


Kim Babine
Director of Community Partnerships
Direct: 651-259-7349