Kansas: Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Returns $15 Million to Federal Government
The Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF), a state agency charged with helping people with disabilities find employment, has returned over $15 million dollars in unspent funds to the Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). According to the agency’s director of rehabilitation services, Michael Donnelly, DCF made this decision because the number of people asking for vocational rehabilitation services from the agency has dropped dramatically since 2011. The $15 million constituted nearly 60 percent of the state’s $25.5 million vocational rehabilitation allotment for that year. No other state has relinquished a higher percentage of the Federal money set aside for its vocational rehabilitation program.
Kansas advocates were surprised and worried by the news. They report that other factors, such as the length of time it takes the Department of Children and Families to determine whether someone is eligible for services, may have contributed to the recent drop-off in the number of applicants. DCF also reported having a difficult time training and retaining the vocational rehabilitation counselors it needs to service applicants for services. Donnelly continues to defend the decision and notes that the state, nonetheless, has enough money in a reserve fund to cover Kansas’ projected costs for this year. He stated that an outreach initiative is “in the works” that will encourage people with disabilities to seek employment. For further information on the actions taken by DCF, read the Salina Post news article.