64 James Anderson Road
Box W-102, P.O. Box 1500
Fishersville, Va. 22939-1500
District Director, WWRC
Designated COE Chief Administrative Officer
Director of the Career and Workforce Development Division, WWRC
800-345-WWRC (9972), ext. 540-332-7265 (Administration)
800-345-WWRC (9972), ext. 540-332-7232 (Vocational Training)
(540) 332-7132 (Main Administrative Office)
(540) 332-7441 (Vocational Training Office)
In the aftermath of World War II, new concepts and techniques for the rehabilitation of soldiers with severe disabilities were developed. Colonel John Smith, a Virginia native, is credited with first developing a comprehensive plan for providing medical, vocational, social, and supportive services in one facility. His investigations revealed that the rehabilitative process was greatly enhanced by setting a vocational goal. Colonel Smith described this new rehabilitation program as a composite science combining the skills of various professions into a coordinated approach to address the many challenges faced by individuals with disabilities.
This idea inspired other Virginians, notably R.N. Anderson, W.K. Barnett, Dr. Roy M. Hoover, and Corbett Reedy, who subsequently searched for a facility where this plan could take shape. When the Woodrow Wilson General Hospital, built as a facility for the war-injured, was declared surplus, the War Assets Administration agreed to transfer the property to the Commonwealth of Virginia, with legislation adopted to complete this transaction.
In November, 1947, the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center (WWRC), then known as the Woodrow Wilson Technical School, opened its doors to a client body of one person, with the first graduating class in spring, 1948. Effective June 30, 1958, WWRC's scope and mission was broadened and it became the first facility in the United States dedicated to the comprehensive physical and vocational rehabilitation needs of people with disabilities. Since 1947, WWRC has served over 80,000 individuals with disabilities. Through the years, changes in public perception and federal and state laws have broadened the definition of "disability".
Originally serving only individuals with physical disabilities, the Center now offers workforce assessment, transition, and training services to persons with a wide diversity of disabilities in a residential living and learning environment -- a growing population profile of individuals for whom multiple disabilities and functional limitations present significant barriers to successful independent living and durable employment outcomes. WWRC's vocational rehabilitation services and medical to work programs prepare clients for the workforce and successful employment. In recent years, WWRC has strengthened its rehabilitation team processes and expanded the scope and intensity of its 'wrap-around supports' to improve retention, graduation, and employment rates for persons served. The fastest growing disability group served by WWRC is that of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) which has more than doubled since 2013. The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), Division of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) as WWRC's "parent" agency, is the Center's primary referral source; however WWRC has the capacity to provide a limited number of rehabilitation programs for individuals with disabilities referred and funded by sources outside the Agency.
In the summer of 2012, the WWRC refocused its vision to align and clarify standards and expectations in fulfilling the Center's mission, at both organizational and individual employee levels. This process followed a period of deep reflection, considering challenges withstood, successes realized, and "lessons learned" over the past decade vis-à-vis the emergence of DARS (formerly codified as the Department of Rehabilitative Services), the Center's future and opportunities for strengthened service to its consumers – Virginians with disabilities. Perspectives represented by the DARS Commissioner, the DRS Director and District Manager Team, the State Rehabilitation Council, and the National Consortium of State Operated Comprehensive Rehabilitation Centers (NCSOCRC) provided valuable insights and benchmarks. Most importantly, ongoing formal and informal feedback obtained from WWRC's consumers and their families regarding their "WWRC experience" as it relates to attainment of vocational rehabilitation goals and fulfilling the Center's mission established the framework for changes implemented.
Over the past four years, WWRC has made significant progress in automating and streamlining its admissions processes, providing clarity with key partners regarding its scope of services, and evolving workforce-driven training programs that respond to rapidly changing job markets across the Commonwealth and result in successful employment outcomes for Agency consumers served. WWRC operates under written governance, with corresponding metrics and business processes that define, measure, and evaluate the implementation of its vision. In July, 2015, WWRC was officially re-named as the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center to more accurately reflect its alignment with state and federal workforce development initiatives serving individuals with multiple and complex disabilities while retaining its vocational and medical rehabilitation legacy. The Center's name change was accomplished in accordance with revised state code that was enacted into law July 1, 2015.
WWRC held a ceremony on campus, July 1, 2015, to recognize this significant change. Elizabeth Creamer, Commonwealth of Virginia Office of Secretary of Commerce and Trade and Workforce Advisor, was the keynote speaker for the event. She described the Center's legacy of service and acknowledged the exceptional performance and service of WWRC to individuals with disabilities. Among the highlights was her emphasis on WWRC's Career Pathways Award, the outstanding performance of WWRC students in completion of the Career Readiness Certification, and the degree to which WWRC has become a leader in offering training that is "business driven." She cited the accomplishments of the Hershey Company's HEROS program (Hershey Extends Real Opportunities to Succeed) as an example of collaboration between workforce development and Virginia business/industry.
As a leader in the field of medical and vocational rehabilitation, WWRC is proud of its record and proud that its successes have served as a template for establishment of eight other comprehensive rehabilitation centers across America, seven of which are still in operation. WWRC is a charter member of the National Consortia for State Operated Comprehensive Rehabilitation Centers (NCSOCRC), a consortia supported by the Federal Rehabilitation Services Administration. Today, as throughout its history, WWRC is dedicated to returning clients to an autonomous life. Successful rehabilitation clients work at full-time jobs in their home communities, support themselves, and require little or no financial support from public funds. In general terms, the cohort of individuals successfully rehabilitated in any given year generates tax revenues that develop Virginia's workforce with qualified employees. Without rehabilitation, those served by WWRC would likely not work and would impose substantial costs to the Commonwealth in terms of public assistance and other social services.
For more information:
WWRC Administrative Governance Manual (AGM), Section 1: WWRC Overview
Summary of Programs and Services Accredited through the Council on Occupational Education
WWRC's Vocational Training Department is housed in the Career and Workforce Development Division (CWDD) which provides hands-on, authentic assessment, transition, workforce preparation, and workforce training services for eligible Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) consumers served through the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services' (DARS) Division of Rehabilitative Services (DRS). Workforce preparation and demand-driven training services are delivered in accordance with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), federal and Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Special Education laws and regulations, and quality standards and expectations of the Accrediting Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
WWRC Vocational Training services include workforce training, education and other supports that result in industry-recognized credentials, workplace certifications, and competitive employment outcomes for persons served. This is achieved in partnership with DARS and through continuous employer engagement.
Students enrolled in WWRC's Vocational Training Programs also have access to 'wrap-around supports' of the Community Services Support Team (CSST) coordinated through the assigned Rehabilitation Team. These 'wrap-around supports' are designed to provide proactive behavioral education and interventions that teach and reinforce 'soft skills' (interpersonal, communication, social, problem-solving, etc.) needed for successful independent living and employment acquisition/retention.
The Vocational Training Department operates on a year-round basis, 50 weeks per year, closing during a 2-week period in December annually. In-service and professional development days are built into the annual calendar which also allows time for industry site visits and employer contacts.
While some services are provided in community-based settings within the Commonwealth of Virginia through the External Training Option (ETO), there is only one (1) main campus.
WWRC's Vocational Training Department currently offers eight (8) post-secondary training programs accredited through the Council on Occupational Education (COE). These training programs are offered across three departments within the WWRC Vocational Training Department of the Career and Workforce Development Division: Business/Information Technology; Manufacturing/Production; and, Services/Trades, as reflected in Table 1.
The External Training Option Program (ETO), accredited through COE since June 16, 1997, provides training in over 100 occupational areas in the local community surrounding WWRC, as well as in select statewide communities. Through ETO, employers serve as community-based trainers in a realistic work environment. The ETO Training Program is operated under the BIT Department for consolidated supervision and administrative oversight – see ETO Individual Program Supplement for more details. All WWRC training programs are taught through traditional instructional delivery.
Table 1: COE-Accredited WWRC Training Programs
WWRC training programs offer a combination of workforce credentials and workplace certifications (below). Validated workforce credentials are issued by a specific industry or workforce sector and are required for entry to employment and/or employment advancement/career pathways within that industry or workforce sector. Workplace certifications are defined as documentation of knowledge, skills, and/or performance levels attained that may or may not lead to employment or employment advancement but are indicators of competencies for successful employment in a specific occupational area. Note: Because actual training programs within ETO vary across industries, specific workforce credentials and workplace certifications are not listed in Table 2 for the ETO Training Program; however, they are offered, as relevant. For example, an ETO student training as a cosmetologist will be required to take and pass the licensing exam offered by the Virginia Board for Barbers and Cosmetology within the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR).
2020 Workforce Credentials and Certificates
Table 2 illustrates enrollment trends over a six-year period for each of the training programs accredited during that time period (as of 4/3/2017). Training programs shown in bold, black print are currently accredited by COE; other programs listed in black have been discontinued as indicated. The training programs in red, bold print are currently in TEACH OUT status. Trending information is not yet available for the Production and Assembly Worker Training Program initially approved in April, 2017 (not listed on the table below), and for the Manufacturing Technology Training Program whose first cohort of participants was enrolled in SFY 2017 (listed on the table below).
Table 2: Six Year Enrollment Trends (SFY 2012 – 2017) *add an attachment from Kurt, instead of a table?
WWRC's Vocational Training Department employs a combination of full and part-time administrative, instructional/faculty, and instructional/office support staff to provide quality educational and workforce education support programs as well as to ensure quality leadership and oversight to daily operations (Table 3).
Table 3: Staffing Information*
* Note that Table 3 only reflects staffing levels for the WWRC Vocational Training Department, the component of WWRC whose training programs are accredited through COE. See Roster of Instructional Staff, and Roster of Administrative and Supervisory Staff, Standard 8, for more details.
Graduates are awarded a "Certificate of Attainment" upon satisfactory completion of all course requirements. For anyone who completes a minimum of 80% of course requirements, but leaves the Center prior to graduation for any reason, a Vocational Skills Record is provided, indicating areas of curriculum mastery; within a year post-exit, if the former student is able to obtain and maintain employment for a minimum of 90 days in the field for which trained and written verification is provided by the DRS Field Counselor and employer, a "Summary of Skills Certificate of Attainment" is earned as an alternate route to graduation. Graduations are conducted quarterly. Transcripts are available, upon request, through the WWRC Records Management Services Department.
An annual academic/school calendar is developed and disseminated by the beginning of each state fiscal year (e.g. July 1). Enrollment is "open" and year-round. All instruction is individualized, although where feasible and appropriate, group instruction and team building instruction is provided. Students participate in training for 6.25 hours/day or an approximate 125 hours of instruction/month (based on an average of 20 training days per month). WWRC's Pre-Employment Readiness and Education Program (PREP), formerly known as the Life Skills Transition Program, is an introductory program to employment including pre-employment, interpersonal and personal management skills. PREP is divided into three week modules. Students participate in classes designed to provide a foundation of soft skills as part of their transition to employment. Goals include an introductory exposure to soft skills that support a student's ability to seek and secure employment, increase awareness of interpersonal interactions that may impact employment, and expand and enhance personal management skills that will increase potential for successful employment. The assigned WWRC Rehabilitation Counselor is accountable for the coordination of services across programs, as needed, to assist each individual in timely attainment of vocational and other skills that will result in successful employment and independent living outcomes.
Current COE-accredited training programs range in length from 375 clock hours to 1200 clock hours, with a mean length of stay for most students as six (6) months. For some students, particularly those with severe and/or multiple disabilities requiring simultaneous medical and vocational rehabilitation services over time, the length of stay may be increased to accommodate these combined services. More detailed information specific to training programs is contained under Standard 2, within individual "Program Supplements" to this Self-Study, and in corresponding exhibits.
Geographic Areas Served through WWRC
WWRC, located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, between the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, serves individuals with disabilities throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, with the majority of referrals made through the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), Division of Rehabilitative Services (DRS). DRS services are delivered across seven (7) districts within a network of over thirty field offices located throughout the state. An approximate 1% of all annual referrals are from out-of-state.
WWRC is easily accessible from I-64 and I-81. Distances and travel times to Fishersville from selected communities are illustrated below:
Table 4: Distance and Travel Times to WWRC
Population Description, Characteristics, and Rural/Urban Distribution
According to the United States Census Bureau (2016), Virginia's aggregate population has grown from 8,001,024 in 2010 to an estimated 8,411,808 in 2016 representing an approximate five percent increase over this six year time period. However, actual population trends have varied from region to region within Virginia across this time period, as illustrated in Table 5 (Source: University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service).
Table 5: Population Change in Virginia (2010 – 2016) *change map below too
Virginia is currently the nation's 12th largest state. Virginians living in metropolitan areas consisted of 87% of the total population in 2016 (estimated). Nationally the proportion of the U.S. population with disabilities has risen markedly during the past quarter century, due largely to demographic shifts associated with an aging population, greater numbers of children and young adults diagnosed with disabilities, and improved survival rates. In 2015, the number of Virginians with disabilities was 11.4% (compared to the national percentage of 10.7) of the population (Source: 2015 American Community Survey).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2015:
Although in positive territory from 2011 to 2014, job growth in the Commonwealth continued to lag behind both overall U.S. growth and that found in our peer states. Many economists attribute the overall sluggish increase in the employment rate in part to the federal sequestration implemented at the start of 2012, where significant across-the-board cuts in spending have affected many state economies. Given its extensive military infrastructure and the Northern region's role as part of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Virginia is seen as especially vulnerable. However, with the passage of the bipartisan Budget Acts of 2013 and 2015, these sequestration cuts have eased somewhat. Regionally speaking, employment growth rates in 2015 were finally all in positive territory, but with wide variations. The Central region again outpaced the rest of the state (3.20%), followed by the Northern (2.01%), Hampton Roads (1.80%), Valley (1.60%), and Southside (1.57%) regions. This marks the first time in over 16 years that the Southside region has seen positive job growth (Source: Virginia Performs).
Another important measure of labor market health is the level of wages earned by a typical worker. The good news is that average weekly wages per employee in the Commonwealth have been increasing. The average weekly wage paid a Virginia worker in 2015 was $918, a 4 percent increase over 2014. This easily exceeded the 0.8 percent growth in the Consumer Price Index between December 2014 and December 2015, resulting in growth of real incomes and spending power for workers. Indeed, since the end of the Great Recession, the average weekly wage of a Virginia worker has risen 18 percent (from $779.88 to $918.41). It appears as if 2016 will continue this trend; wage data through 2016-Q2 show a 2 percent growth over 2015-Q2 (Source: 2016 State of the Commonwealth Report).
Virginia ranked 11th among the states with an average per capita personal income of $52,052 (in 2015 dollars); this was a significant increase from the previous year's average income of $50,164. Virginia's relation to its peer states with per capita income has stayed the same for well over a decade. Within Virginia, the Northern region again had the highest per capita personal income in 2015 at $67,548 (in 2015 dollars), though it has yet to regain the peak ($69,891 in 2015 dollars) attained in 2007. No other region came close to this figure, or even bested the state average, even though every region saw a modest increase over the previous year. The Southside and Southwest regions had the lowest per capita personal income at $33,433 and $33,522, respectively (Source: Virginia Performs).
Impact of Statewide Population Characteristics on WWRC Services and Programs
The field of rehabilitative services in Virginia is changing rapidly, primarily due to a general increase in Virginia's population, improved survival rates, and the number of people with multiple and complex disabilities applying for DARS services. Medical services now routinely save lives that would have been lost in the past. Survivors often need rehabilitation before they can successfully return to mainstream society as a contributing member. These factors combine to create a variety of single treatment approaches for rehabilitative services in Virginia. Private service providers have established local rehabilitation services but usually focus on specific conditions. While these local providers give excellent care, they often do not have the range of services, on-site expertise, or technologies to fully evaluate and address a wide range of clients' needs, particularly for those with multiple and/or severe disabilities whose goal is employment and/or return to work.
As a comprehensive rehabilitation center, WWRC can uniquely provide an alternative "single location" to address the needs of those persons with disabilities requiring multiple vocational and medical rehabilitation services over time. In addition, coordination of services for VR clients with WWRC's parent agency, DARS, provides further assistance to persons served who are from low income and rural areas of the state where resources are more limited and who may be from families where English is a second or other language, creating more complex barriers to employment. WWRC has been, is, and will continue to be, part of the statewide rehabilitation continuum through ongoing and continuous strategic planning processes, reflective of the needs of persons with disabilities throughout the Commonwealth, consistent with its federal and state mandates. Increasing challenges facing people with disabilities in Virginia, coupled with rapidly changing workforce demands, technology standards, and expectations of business and industry, will require ongoing flexibility and responsiveness of WWRC's vocational services.
WWRC has experienced an increase in enrollment for school-aged youth and young adults over the past 10 years, with disabilities served mirroring their prevalence in the schools (e.g. largely learning disabilities; emotional and/or mental illness; intellectual disabilities; and growing numbers of youth with Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders). Data available from the Virginia Department of Education for the 2015-2016 school year shows 165,555 students with disabilities (ages 0-22) enrolled in Virginia's public school systems across the Commonwealth. Of this total enrollment, 58,754 are individuals aged 14-22 receiving special education and school-to-work transition services under an Individual Education Program (IEP). Since SFY 2012, data reflects an average 83% of persons served through WWRC were under the age of 24 at time of VR application. This population typically has little to no prior work experience prior to entering a training program.
Over the past ten years, and increasingly over the past five years, WWRC has also experienced a significant increase in youth and adult clients served with more complex and multiple disabilities, combined with below proficiency basic reading and math literacy skills (on average below the 5th grade level) that impact the individual's general problem-solving and other cognitive abilities, thus having a major impact on the rehabilitation process leading towards successful employment and independent living outcomes. Since SFY 2012, over 39% of all WWRC training graduates received Job Coach Training Services (JCTS) or Supported Employment to obtain and/or maintain employment as part of their VR Program. The largest growing disability populations for WWRC in recent years are autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Table 6 illustrates growth for the five-year period (SFY 2013-SFY 2017). Combined age, literacy, and disability trending population patterns have resulted in an increased need for a balanced "hands-on", experiential programming, staffing and structure combined with effective classroom instruction. An analysis of the impact of this population profile on individual WWRC training programs is contained in Standard 2 Program Supplements, under the "Challenges and Solutions" subsection.
Table 6: Average Daily Census Trends for WWRC Consumers with Autism/ASD
In summary, WWRC's services and programs have been, and will continue to be, influenced by diverse economic development and population shifts over time. The key to WWRC's stability through these shifts will be its continued responsiveness to these trends through ongoing strategic planning, implementation, and evaluative processes. WWRC's leadership, and that of the DARS Commissioner, has demonstrated a strong commitment to these processes which will be evidenced during the accreditation site visit through a review of exhibits and other documentation, interviews with administrative and direct service personnel, interactions with students, and observations by Visiting Team members.