​​​​​​CHAPTER 16 Individuals Jointly Served by DARS and the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI).

Chapter 16 Contents:​​​

DRS Policy Manual Main


1.  Jointly Served Cases by DARS and DBVI​

[REVISED: 12/3/18]

A.  ​Per 2016 Federal Regulation 34 CFR 361.24(e), if there is a separate designated State unit for individuals who are blind, the two designated State units (general and blind) must establish reciprocal referral services, use each other's services and facilities to the extent feasible, jointly plan activities to improve services in the State for individuals with multiple impairments, including visual impairments, and otherwise cooperate to provide more effective services, including, if appropriate, entering into a written cooperative agreement. The Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI) and  the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) entered into a Cooperative Agreement effective July 1, 2018 providing for reciprocal (joint) services, including transition and pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) to students and youth with disabilities. Referral to each agency may occur at any point.


2.  Criteria for Jointly Served Cases

​[REVISED: 12/3/18]

A.  Criteria for jointly served cases are as follows: 


  1. The individual meets the eligibility criteria for each agency;
  2. Each agency has the necessary expertise to address the disability related barriers to employment that the other agency does not have;
  3. Each agency provides a service that the other agency does not normally provide to the individuals it serves; and
  4. Each agency's service is a substantial contribution to removing limitations to employment.

B.  Written consent by the individuals being referred or served is required for each agency to exchange, release and obtain information from the other agency. Active communication, shared planning, and coordinated service delivery are critical. 


3. Referral to DARS by DBVI​
[REVISED: 12/3/18]

A.  DBVI shall refer to DARS, all individuals who have a disability other than blindness, vision impairment, or deafblindness that result in a substantial impediment to competitive integrated employment, including students and youth with disabilities and those students who may be potentially eligible. Individuals referred to DARS by DBVI are considered new referrals for DARS. With the individual's written consent, DARS shall request case information from the referring DBVI counselor.


4. Referral to DBVI by DARS​

​[REVISED: 12/3/18]

A.  DARS shall refer to DBVI all individuals who are blind, vision impaired, or deafblind and whose visual impairment results in a substantial impediment to employment, including students and youth with disabilities and those students who may be potentially eligible. Individuals referred to DBVI by DARS are considered new referrals for DBVI. With the individual's written consent, DBVI shall request case information from the referring DARS counselor.


5. Eligibility Criteria​

[REVISED: 12/3/18]

A.  Each agency will make independent determinations of eligibility for their respective vocational rehabilitation programs based on their agency's determination of eligibility policy. With the written consent of the individual, DARS and DBVI will share diagnostic and assessment information pertinent to eligibility determination to minimize duplication of effort. In the event that the development of a Trial Work Plan becomes necessary for eligibility determination, then shared planning between the agencies shall occur. 

For additional information about DRS Eligibility, see Chapter 4.01, ELIGIBLITY, Policy 1, Section A3.


6. Order of Selection​

[REVISED: 12/3/18]

A.  Each agency will apply its own policies regarding Order of Selection.  

B.  Should an individual be determined eligible for services by both agencies but due to Order of Selection, the case is placed in Delayed Status by one agency but not the other, then the agency where the individual is not in delayed status assumes lead responsibility for the case. When/if the other agency moves the case out of Delayed Status, the VR counselors from both agencies shall determine, in consultation with the individual, if serving the individual jointly with DARS or DBVI is still appropriate. If not, the latter agency closes the individual's case. If jointly serving the case is still appropriate, that agency includes the VR counselor of the agency already serving the individual in the IPE planning process.


For additional information about Order of Selection, see Chapter 2.2, ORDER OF SELECTION, Policy 1, Section C.


7. Coordination of Services​

[REVISED: 12/3/18]

A.   Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE)​


  1.  Each agency develops an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) with the individual.  For additional information, see Chapter 5, Individualized Plan for Employment. The vocational goal should be consistent for both agencies, with no duplicated services except C&G. For deafblind individuals, DBVI assumes the lead responsibility per the DARS-DBVI Cooperative Agreement (July 1, 2018). For all other mutually served individuals, the VR counselors shall confer on a regular basis to plan and provide services consistent with their expertise and/or services the other agency does not provide. However, each agency should include in their IPE’s all services to be provided to the individual, including services to be provided/funded by the other agency (shown as a comparable benefit). For additional information about comparable benefits, see Chapter 14.2, COMPARABLE BENEFITS, Policy 1, Section 3.
  2.  When the VR counselor performs a service/action, the VR counselor promptly notifies the other agency’s VR counselor.
  3.  If the VR counselors from the two agencies cannot come to an agreement, supervisory consultation and involvement should occur.
  4.  If the VR counselor discovers after IPE implementation that an individual is already receiving services from the other agency, the VR counselors and the individual determine if the case meets the criteria for reciprocal service and whether IPE amendments are needed or whether one case should be closed.

B.  Students Who Are Potentially Eligible​

  1. For students with disabilities who are potentially eligible, each agency identifies Pre-ETS needs with the individual and shall work in consultation with the other agency to coordinate Pre-ETS activities and avoid duplicative services.

8. Financial Sponsorship of Services​

[REVISED: 12/3/18]

A.   Each agency applies its own financial participation policies where financial sponsorship of services is involved. 

B.   Where disability-specific service needs exist, the agency that possesses the unique knowledge and expertise necessary to provide that service to the individual will be the provider or funder of that service or services (e.g., low vision services). Otherwise, when both agencies agree on services (e.g., college, supported employment, etc.) that are necessary to support the individual's vocational goal, both agencies can share in the cost of the service in keeping with their respective policies, only to the extent that the authorizations do not exceed the service cost less comparable benefit and the individual's financial participation in cost of services. For example, the two agencies could split the cost of college (one pays fall semester, one pays spring), agree on a set number of hours of supported employment (SE) services and each authorize half per month, and so on. 

C.  In no case shall services provided by one agency be duplicated by the other.

For additional information about DRS Financial Participation, see Chapter 14.3, FINANCIAL PARTICIPATION, Policy 1, Section 10.


9. Case Closure​​

[REVISED: 12/3/18]

A.   For closure of DRS cases that are jointly served with DBVI, follow Chapter 11, CLOSURE. Each agency applies its own policies regarding case closure, including each agency VR counselor providing the required notification to the individual.

B.   If the individual becomes employed in a competitive integrated setting, both agencies may close the case as Closed-Rehabilitated (even during the same federal fiscal year) provided each agency determines that all of their agency's criteria for successful case closure have been met.

C.   If at any point after IPE implementation, it is determined that services from one of the agencies are no longer required, then the agency may keep the case open, be available for any necessary follow-up and/or coordination of services, allow the other agency to continue with their necessary services, and then both agencies may close the case simultaneously. For example, after DBVI low vision and assistive technology (AT) services, are completed the DBVI case may remain open while DRS continues to provide SE services and 90-day employment follow-along.

D.  A decision to close the individual's case (either successfully or not) should be discussed with the other agency's VR counselor before notifying the individual.



10. Appeals​

[REVISED: 12/3/18]

​A.  For jointly served cases (where client permission to release information should have been obtained), DBVI and DRS may coordinate and share information necessary to address informal administrative reviews, mediations, fair hearings, and formal administrative reviews when necessary.

​For additional information about DRS Appeals, see Chapter 15, APPEALS, Policy 5.