CONCORD — A year after a major reorganization, the New Hampshire Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) announced a significant milestone in helping Granite Staters with disabilities find work. Last year, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut ordered an overhaul of the bureau’s operations after finding major financial problems. This reorganization required the department to create a waitlist for new customers to receive services. This week, Bureau Director Lisa Hinson-Hatz announced that an additional 100 VR customers have been released from the waitlist, bringing the total to over 1,000 customers removed from the waitlist since September. Over the past year, the VR Bureau has helped 622 customers successfully find a job.
“The bureau is committed to ending the waitlist for services and I am so proud of the progress we have made this last year,” Hinson-Hatz said. “We want to help move our customers from the waitlist to work.”
The reorganization included reducing staff, transferring the bureau’s headquarters to a state-owned building to save on rent, and consolidating field offices while expanding partnerships with community VR service providers. In April, the VR Bureau announced that it had cleared all Category I clients, those with the most significant disabilities, from the waitlist. Federal law requires that individuals with the most significant disabilities be served first. Currently, 492 customers in Category II (significant disabilities) and 66 in Category III (less significant) are on the VR waitlist. Eliminating the waitlist entirely remains Edelblut’s top priority for the VR Bureau.
“When we discovered last year that the VR Bureau was operating in an unsustainable manner, we took swift action to correct it and have made great progress toward that goal,” said Edelblut. “I am extremely proud of the VR Bureau and the community groups that help provide VR services for tackling this challenge, and succeeding. I am also very proud of our customers who have been more than gracious during this reorganization. We have high aspirations for every one of our VR customers and know that they contribute greatly as an integral part of the success of New Hampshire.”