National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI Submits Testimony in Congressional Hearing on Vocational Rehabilitation

On February 27, 1997, the House Education and Workforce Committee held a hearing on the Rehabilitation Act. NAMI submitted three questions regarding NAMIís Vocational Rehabilitation Report for Dr. Frederic Schroeder, Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), with the support of Rep. Marge Roukema (R-5-NJ), who sits on the committee. Dr. Schroeder is expected to provide written responses to these questions to Rep. Roukema. Rep. Roukemaís office will then forward the responses to NAMI. These questions, reprinted below, are part of an ongoing effort to widely distribute NAMIís report on the failure of the current Voc. Rehab. program. For more information, please contact Ron Honberg or Andrew Sperling at NAMI, (703) 524-7600.



  1. Dr. Schroeder, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) recently released a report which asserts that services provided by state vocational rehabilitation agencies to persons with severe mental illnesses are largely ineffective. Is the RSA prepared to take steps to address the problems highlighted in this report?


  1. Dr. Schroeder, as a follow-up to the first question, NAMIís report concludes that state vocational rehabilitation services for persons with severe mental illnesses are so ineffective that it recommends pulling federal funds used for serving this population out of state vocational rehabilitation programs and rechanneling them in ways that will ensure that the needs of these people are more appropriately addressed. NAMI asserts that since state vocational rehabilitation programs have operated as monopolies for so many years, they have no incentives to change outdated systems and methodologies. Does the RSA have any ideas about how state agencies can be pushed to become more creative and effective in the way that they serve persons with severe mental illnesses?


  1. Dr. Schroeder, one of the most common criticisms of the Federal/State vocational rehabilitation system is that its time-limited approach doesnít work for people with severe disabilities, including people with severe mental illnesses, who may have episodic or long-term needs for vocational supports. Is the RSA working in conjunction with state agencies to devise systems which are more effective in serving people with long-term or episodic needs?