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DARS Division of Rehabilitative Services

Our division offers vocational rehabilitation programs and services to assist people with disabilities to prepare for, secure, retain or regain employment.

Our team is committed to ensuring that individuals with disabilities have opportunities to compete for and enjoy high quality employment. We collaborate with individuals with disabilities and community partners to empower individuals to maximize their employment, working towards economic self-sufficiency and independence.

Do you have questions? Contact your local DRS Office to connect with staff.
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What can DRS do for you?

Learn about the various programs and services we offer.

Autism Services - This program helps individuals on the autism spectrum prepare for the world of work through a comprehensive model that incorporates effective VR practices, evidence based services, meaningful collaboration, and access to providers with essential expertise, knowledge and skills for working with persons with autism.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services - The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program helps individuals who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late Deafened or DeafBlind get ready for work, find a job or keep a job.

Employment Services & Special Programs - The office partners with community rehabilitation providers to provide employment and vocational services throughout the state. We provide long-term support fund management; standards oversight of Employment Services Organizations (ESOs); administration of the Economic Development Fund, and coordination and support of special programs.

Pre-ETS and Transition Services - DRS works together with students, youth, families, schools and community agencies and organizations to provide services that promote successful transitions from school to work and adult life.

Rehabilitation Technology Services (RTS) - DARS provides a variety of assistive technology (AT) services to agency clients, staff, and employers who hire DARS clients. The RTS team is comprised of AT Specialists (ATS) and Rehabilitation Engineering (RE) professionals who look for AT solutions that remove barriers to employment.

Self-Employment Enterprise - Self-employment is an option that may be considered for any DRS customer when it is determined through the IPE (Employment Plan) process that this is an appropriate method for that individual to reach the established employment goal.

Serious Mental Illness - The program enhances consumer community and vocational successes by providing vocational development, placement, and job retention services, primarily in conjunction with 10 CSBs/BHAs located throughout the Commonwealth.

Substance Abuse Services - DRS work in conjunction with DBHDS to address job entry and maintenance problems experienced by people with Substance Abuse Disorders (SUD) by focusing on vocational development, work habits, job readiness, and employment follow-along services along with collaborative CSB/BHA clinical and social supports.

Supported Employment - This service is one of many effective ways of assisting persons with disabilities in gaining and maintaining employment. DARS partners with over 75 Employment Service Organizations in providing situational assessment, job development, placement and training services and long term follow along.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - DARS partners with Employment Advancement TANF grant recipients throughout the Commonwealth to maximize opportunities to share resources and provide appropriate employment Service for these consumers in collaboration with their local Departments of Social Services.

Ticket to Work - Ticket to Work is a free and voluntary program that can help Social Security beneficiaries go to work. Individuals who receive Social Security benefits because of a disability and are age 18 through 64 probably already qualify for the program. If you know you have a TTW (Ticket to Work), notify your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for proper ticket assignment. For more information, contact David Leon.

Work Incentives Specialist Advocates (WISA’s) - WISA’s are individuals who have been certified to provide work incentives counseling services to DARS clients who are receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Virginia WISAs use WorkWORLD for the Web (WW), an online, Virginia specific program that provides accurate information on how a SSI/SSDI client's financial circumstances will change once they go to work. For more information, contact David Leon.
Resources: WISA Billable Services | WISA-VR Manual

Special Projects

ABLEnow - DARS has received a 5-year grant in partnership with the National Disability Institute to study how opening ABLEnow accounts combined with financial coaching and planning for the future positively impacts the lives of those with cognitive disabilities, ideally through increased employment, independence and community participation. The project entails recruiting and tracking up to 300 participants ages 18 - 24 and providing targeted interventions to the study group..

Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities - In our highly technical world, knowledge and skills are critical to employers. Virginia’s vocational rehabilitation agencies offer individuals with disabilities a new way to navigate their career. CPID encourages people to attain marketable career credentials, qualify for skilled jobs and earn a livable wage. For more information, visit the project website or contact Kate Kaegi.

Disability Employment Initiative - DARS is the sub recipient responsible for implementing a fourth round of the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) grant awarded the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). Funded by the Employment and Training Administration in coordination with the Office of Employment Policy, the purpose of the grant is to develop flexible and innovative strategies to increase the participation of people with disabilities in federally funded employment and training programs. DARS has been responsible for implementation of all four DEI awards. For more information, visit the project website or contact Sinclair Hubard.

Our Services in Action

Designing Devices & Breaking Barriers: DARS Fabrication Shop

Tom Rybak and Ronnie Childs of DARS' Richmond fabrication shop talk about the process for designing AT devices that help DARS consumers who need accommodations at home or in the workplace and the opportunities they provide, including greater independence and employment.

Regina Root: Road to Recovery and Return to Employment

Regina Root is a professor of Hispanic studies at the College of William and Mary. But after a brain tumor diagnosis in 2014, and surgery that required her to learn how to walk, talk and perform basic tasks all over again, she wasn't sure if she would ever be able to return to work.

Working with Lowe's to hire individuals with disabilities

DARS has partnered with Lowe's Home Improvement stores throughout Virginia to hire more people with disabilities. With the help of a DARS business development manager and Lowe's HR manager, a Lynchburg area store successfully hired Nathan Christ, who is deaf, to a permanent part-time position. Learn more from the Lowe's newsroom.

Project SEARCH offers hands-on training to students with disabilities during senior year

Project SEARCH logoNearly 190 high school students in Virginia with intellectual and developmental disabilities participated in a national career program during the 2017-2018 school year to gain skills and work experience through internships in health care or business. The program, funded by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, began in Virginia in 2008 and is coordinated by DARS, the Virginia Department of Education, and several local hospitals and public school systems. Learn more in a news release from our Communications Department.

Celebrating Champions of Disability Employment

Champions group photo Nine DRS offices around the Commonwealth celebrated National Disability Employment Awareness Month, held each October. This year's theme, "Inclusion Drives Innovation," was reflected in keynote speeches and remarks by nearly 50 businesses, partners and employees who were honored.

Watch news coverage of Lynchburg event.