Latest News for Vocational Providers
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Counselor Kudos: Sally Peters, Rainier Case Management
Nov. 28, 2023
L&I’s Counselor Kudos are sent out to recognize the exceptional work of vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs) and interns in the vocational community. Today’s kudo is for Sally Peters from Rainier Case Management:
The worker is a 55-year-old man from Bagdad, Iraq, who injured his right shoulder in 2018 while working as a maintenance technician for a large apartment complex. This highly motivated, Limited English Proficient (LEP) worker has a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Bagdad and taught the subject while in Iraq. His training plan was complex and he needed help. Sally’s hands-on approach was instrumental!
She helped the worker develop a training plan to be a property manager, which included an online training from Ashworth College, as well as Business and English courses at Grays Harbor College. He successfully completed all courses. Sally then referred him to WorkSource and helped him conduct a job search and prepare for interviews. He completed an interview with a large non-profit housing organization and was immediately offered a position as maintenance supervisor. The position pays $29 per hour and has a great benefits package. He was also offered a $2,000 signing bonus if he stays with the employer for 1 year! And now, Sally is currently exploring Preferred Worker benefits for the new employer.
The worker attributes his success largely to the support he received from Sally throughout his training, job search, and interview preparation. The worker said, “Thank you is absolutely not enough.”
Thanks to Sally for helping this worker complete his retraining plan and getting him a new job!
If you have a counselor kudo to share, please email the Vocational Recovery Project.
Action Required: 2024 Annual Vocational Firm Agreement
Nov. 15, 2023
The deadline to submit your 2024 Annual Vocational Firm Agreement is Dec.15, 2023.
Your immediate action is needed. Please do the following:
- Fax all three pages of your signed Annual Vocational Firm Agreement, with all required documentation, to Private Sector Rehabilitation Services at 360-902-6706.
- Redact personal details from all documents before sending. For example, remove personal home addresses.
- You may submit photos or scanned copies of credentials and/or insurance information.
To receive referrals from L&I, firms must meet the requirements outlined in the agreement for each of their service locations. Requirements include providing current proof of insurance and vocational provider credentials.
L&I does not require credential verification if a provider’s credential is current and on file by Dec. 31, 2023. Firms must submit their provider’s credential verification if a provider’s credential is expired or will expire by Dec. 31, 2023. Firms are also encouraged to submit credential verification during the calendar year, if appropriate.
You must submit all required documentation to be in compliance with the requirements in WAC 296-19A-210.
*NOTE: Firms do not need to submit a new signature page to their Quality Assurance Plan.
Questions? Email VocRecoveryProject@Lni.wa.gov.
Return to Work is Good Medicine
Oct. 23, 2023
L&I has developed a new tool to facilitate collaboration between medical providers and vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs).
This educational flyer is called “Return to Work is Good Medicine,” and discusses how a VRC can help in an injured worker’s return to work.
L&I recognizes the challenges in having direct, worker-specific communication with medical providers. With your help, we hope this flyer can help show providers that the VRC plays an integral role in the worker’s care team. We are hopeful that the vocational community will use the information in this flyer to help medical providers understand:
- The benefits of communicating with VRCs.
- That L&I values this communication.
- That L&I compensates medical providers for their time.
This is one part of a much larger effort to educate medical providers about the important role a VRC plays in the worker’s recovery. Vocational firms should provide guidance for VRCs on when and how to properly use this tool to avoid putting undue administrative burden on the provider.
For questions, contact VocRecoveryProject@LNI.wa.gov
Vocational providers invited to Nov. 13 Town Hall meeting on L&I’s new Work Rehabilitation Program
Oct. 10, 2023
Calling all vocational providers! L&I cordially invites you to attend a town hall discussion about the implementation of the new Work Rehabilitation (WR) Program.
Monday, Nov. 13, 2023
12:00pm - 1:00pm
REGISTER ONLINE HERE
- Details about combining L&I’s work hardening and work conditioning programs into a specialized Work Rehabilitation Program.
- Defining the vocational provider’s role in the program.
- How therapists and vocational providers collaborate in the new program.
- Training requirements for clinicians who provide work rehabilitation.
When are the changes happening?
The Work Rehabilitation Program debuts Jan. 1, 2024.
More information is available on the L&I Work Rehabilitation Program webpage.
Questions? Email therapy@Lni.wa.gov
L&I’s website is now bilingual
Oct. 5, 2023
Attention all vocational firm owners and managers: Please share this update with your staff.
You spoke. We listened. The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) no longer has separate Spanish and English websites. Lni.wa.gov is now one unified site – it is “One website. Two languages.”
L&I’s intent and hope is that this improvement will better assist you in helping workers succeed.
Every page is in Spanish and English.
You can view every web page in Spanish or English by simply selecting “Español” or “English” in the top left corner. Pages look and work the same in both languages. New alert notifications help customers easily identify any untranslated material and provides other options.
The new pages are mobile friendly and allow users to search L&I’s Spanish content by using ‘Search L&I’ in the top right corner of every page.
A major improvement for the Spanish-speaking community.
L&I’s Spanish web content is now more comprehensive, better organized, and easier to navigate. Visitors can trust that both Spanish and English site information is current and consistent.
A win for Vocational Providers.
L&I’s Spanish web improvements benefit providers and the workers they serve.
L&I information for providers is now online in Spanish with over 25 web pages available for vocational providers. Vocational providers can now easily find information in Spanish about topics such as
- How to work with L&I
- Tips for working with self-insured employers
- Schools and training programs
The Spanish web improvements can also help vocational providers better assist Spanish-speaking workers by directing them to relevant Spanish web content.
Start engaging today with L&I online in Spanish.
- Read L&I’s Spanish Website Announcement for more information and resources.
- Visit L&I’s website in Spanish.
- Bookmark L&I’s For Vocational Providers page in Spanish.
- Questions or comments? Visit wa.gov/comentarios.
- For issues accessing the site, call (360) 902-5999, option #3.
New retraining resources
Sept. 21, 2023
You can find new information and resources on L&I’s web pages for Schools and Training Programs.
Use these links to find:
- Training Options for Workers
- A brief explanation of Vocational Option 1 and Option 2.
- Choosing a Training Provider
- The Vendor Look up Tool will be updated soon. If you have questions, please contact the SchoolOversightProgram@LNI.wa.gov.
- What’s needed before L&I can pay for retraining services.
- How to find an L&I-approved training provider.
- What to look for when choosing a school or training program.
- Resources for Training Providers
- New Billing Guides to help schools successfully bill L&I.
- How schools manage their provider account in ProviderOne.
- L&I’s expectations, recommendations, and Best Practice Guidelines for schools.
- Become a Training Provider
- A school-specific Enrollment Guide.
- How to find out if a school already has an L&I provider number.
We are grateful to VRCs April Poier, Patti Kacz, and Josie Brown for all their contributions to the School Oversight Program Billing Project and their help in creating the Billing Guides.
Please email SchoolOversightProgram@LNI.wa.gov if you have questions, comments, or concerns about a school, or if a school needs help becoming an L&I training provider.
Aged AWA Report
Sept. 18, 2023
You will be receiving your quarterly “aged” Ability to Work Assessment (AWA) report today. This is the list of AWA referrals that have been open for more than one year.
For some, the list may feel discouraging. However, our intent is to help you identify workers who may be stuck or need some additional support from the claim manager or other resources in our system.
We recognize that some circumstances are beyond the counselor’s control and there isn’t a single solution for moving workers forward in the resolution of their claim. Ultimately, L&I expects the counselor to create a supportive and empathetic environment where workers feel heard, understood, and empowered in their journey towards resolution. VRCs can support workers in overcoming barriers during the entire life of their claim.
Here’s some advice for managing aged referrals that were recently shared by an experienced counselor:
“I would encourage counselors to approach each claim with the same enthusiasm for achieving the best possible outcome under the law. I apply the same empathy to clients who are struggling as I do for clients who are thriving in their recovery.”
“Sometimes it’s easier to work with fresh claims or with workers who haven’t had complicated medical issues. But I believe this is the best opportunity to make a positive impact on the worker.”
“Being a steady resource for workers can offer immense benefits to all stakeholders. And in all cases, never underestimate the fact that people can change.”
For questions, email VocRecoveryProject@lni.wa.gov.
VRC Resource Library
Sept. 13, 2023
We have heard from you that it is often hard to find the resources you need on the L&I website. A reorganization has been completed that has created a one-stop resource page for vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs). This page is called the VRC Resource Library and can be found under Resources for Vocational Providers. Materials include job aids, learning modules, manuals and publications, and frequently used links to programs and services.
Questions? Email the Vocational Recovery Project.
Thank you! Counselor Kudos from the Worker Survey
Sept. 5, 2023
Vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs) are making a difference in workers’ lives!
L&I began conducting worker survey calls in August 2021. Since the calls started, the survey team has connected with over 3,200 workers.
During the survey, workers often offer unsolicited compliments about their VRC. The survey team shares these kudos directly with firm owners and managers. Here are some comments from workers that reinforce the value of VRCs:
- “My counselor has been so helpful. Like talking with a friend. She’s done a great job helping me navigate through the confusion.”
- “My counselor has been an awesome intermediary with the many involved in my recovery.”
- "I didn’t know what to do with all the stuff L&I sent me. My counselor went through all of it with me and answered lots of questions.”
- “My counselor is amazing and is really helping me reach my goals.”
- “Communication with my counselor is better than I could ever expect."
The survey continues to provide valuable insights about the worker experience during the first 30 days of receiving vocational services. In addition to phone calls, L&I is also conducting an online survey of workers who have been in vocational recovery for more than a year or who have recently concluded services. The online survey has generated just over 150 responses, so far.
We appreciate all of the work vocational counselors have done to make a difference for workers in Washington state!
For questions, please email the Vocational Recovery Project.