Abbey Goers UW-Stout
The University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Vocational Rehabilitation Institute offers a new nationally certified vocational training program: the National Training Center for Transformational Rehabilitation Leadership.
The six-month online TRLT program prepares leaders of vocational rehabilitation agencies to support counseling professionals and improve services that help people with disabilities develop their careers and integrate into the community.
“The training program is designed to develop leaders who have the ability to transform organizations to advance the rehabilitation counseling profession and improve system outcomes,” said Kyle Walker, Executive Director of SVRI.
The first batch of program professionals, 18 from 10 states, began classes in January.
A national partnershipTRLT was designed in partnership with SVRI, University of Massachusetts-Boston Institute for Community Inclusion, Commission on Certification of Rehabilitation Counselors, in conjunction with the Board of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation . SVRI serves as the program house.
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“This partnership with ICI and CRCC will go a long way in advancing the rehabilitation counseling profession,” Walker said.
“We recognize the importance of committed leadership in rehabilitation programs aimed at deliberate, conscious, and inspired change,” added TRLT co-founder Russ Thelin, Senior Policy Fellow at UMass-Boston HERE.
“Transformational leadership skills, when learned and applied, enable leaders and those they lead to work and advance each other to higher levels of success. Such leadership fosters cultures that inspire greater success for rehabilitation professionals, which in turn creates greater success for those they serve,” he said. “Professionals in this field are clearly hungry for this kind of leadership, as are those this profession serves. TRLT and the credentials it leads are a natural next step in providing additional resources and connection points to meet this important need.
Essential Leadership Skills and Acquired Degrees
Led by a group of experienced instructor-mentors, the program focuses on six core leadership areas: collaborative, mindful, creative, cultural, inspirational and goal-oriented leadership.
Walker and Erin Nierenhausen, Senior Education Specialist at SVRI, are TRLT instructors. Walker also serves as a peer mentor, providing leadership to state virtual reality agencies in South Carolina and Utah.
TRLT focuses on researching rehabilitation leadership, publishing evidence-based practice, creating and implementing toolkits, and assisting with federal and state grant-funded projects.
Applied learning activities allow participants to explore real-world concepts and tools and discuss findings within their cohort for feedback and support. Participants also work on a final project that can have an immediate impact on their agency.
The program leads to an industry-recognized, national Certified Rehabilitation Leader credential administered by the CRCC. It also counts in continuing education units to maintain the CRL and offers a peer mentoring program for alumni.
“The second cohort will begin in June, and we have already reached our minimum enrollment with eight registrants from New Jersey and California. West Virginia has requested a six-person private cohort group to begin the course in April,” Walker said.
There are 78 public vocational rehabilitation organizations. Federal law allows states to have a single agency or have an agency that specializes in serving people with visual impairments and an agency that serves people with all other types of disabilities, Walker explained. There are also virtual reality agencies in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The state and federal virtual reality program serves an average of 400,000 people with disabilities each year.
The SVRI was established in 1966 with federal grants from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Located in the Vocational Rehabilitation Building on campus, it generates more than $4 million annually through grants, contracts, and other federal, state, and local partnerships. SVRI provides solutions to positively impact the future of people with disabilities through services, research and education programs that prepare virtual reality professionals.