March 27, 2018

In February, Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) released three proposed policy changes impacting post-secondary education. One proposal, withdrawn on March 8, dealt with specialty schools for students who are deaf. Another recommended policy change stipulates that post-secondary education students, to be eligible for financial assistance, must purse a degree, diploma, credential or other certification from a Certified Training Program (CTP). Currently, some college and university Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) Programs do not meet the criteria as it would have been defined in the proposed policy. A third proposed change states that Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) clients must, for their first two years of post-secondary training, attend an institution within 35 miles of their home.

Since the beginning of our public hearings on the changes, many of our partners, stakeholders, parents and most importantly, the students expressed concern. We have listened to all of the comments from those who spoke at the hearings. We have read each email submitted through our website and sent to our inboxes. And I am pleased that the process, designed to engage those we serve, has worked. The purpose of a public hearing is to put the client at the center of every policy decision. With those clients and their family members in mind, I am revoking the proposal to implement new restrictions as they relate to post-secondary academic and vocational training. This revocation includes the change pertaining to IPSE as well as the proposed mileage limitation. In light of this decision, the remaining public hearing slated for Albany will be canceled. While ongoing policy improvements are a part of how we do business as we seek to deliver better services to the transition-age population, our commitment to our stakeholders is to ensure those most directly impacted are at the table for future conversations. 

Over the past several weeks, I have been honored to read very personal stories from families impacted by access to higher education. We always want to ensure the policies we implement are designed to create opportunities, improve processes and provide support. Please know that we are thankful and are grateful for your time, comments and the opportunity to serve you.