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DIVISION OF VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION
[Authorized: NDCC Chapter 50-06]

In 1921 the Board of Administration was authorized to accept federal funds provided by H.R. 4438, "An Act to Provide for the Promotion of Vocational Rehabilitation of Persons Disabled in Industry...and Their Return to Civil Employment." Working through the director of Vocational Education, the Board of Administration channeled funds into the rehabilitation of disabled workers through special schools and classes. The Board of Administration also had responsibility for developing statewide vocational plans and conducting investigations or studies concerning the rehabilitation of the disabled (S. L. 1921, Ch. 115). Under direction of the director of Vocational Education, the state program sought to promote and aid in the establishment of vocational training schools for disabled persons.

In 1947 the State Board of Higher Education was designated the State Board for Vocational Education. A Vocational Rehabilitation Division was established within the State Board of Vocational Education with a division director of vocational rehabilitation to administer the programs vocational education and vocational rehabilitation. The director was selected on the basis of education, training, experience, and demonstrated ability (S. L. 1947, Ch. 170). Another re-organization in 1955 required the State Board of Public School Education to assume the duties of the State Board for Vocational Education (S. L. 1955, Ch. 132).

In 1967 non-profit sheltered workshops were established for the purpose of providing salaried employment for the severely handicapped unable to be competitive in employment due to their disability. The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation appointed a Sheltered Workshop Advisory Committee consisting of eleven members including one representative from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.  The Committee recommended standards for community sheltered workshops and submitted recommendations to the vocational rehabilitation division for approval (S. L. 1967, Ch. 222). 

In 1969 legislation required an evaluation of a handicapped person by the director before vocational rehabilitation services were provided (S. L. 1969, Ch. 167). The State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation was removed from the jurisdiction of the State Board of Public School Education and placed under the Social Service Board of North Dakota in 1973 (S. L. 1973, Ch. 383).

The sheltered workshops program was renamed Vocational Rehabilitation Facilities. There was also a name change to the Board and to the membership which included a representative of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and representatives of other state agencies and at least four members from professional, legislative, or civic groups or other non-public voluntary agencies (S. L. 1979, Ch. 339).   

In 1981 the Department of Human Services was created and replaced the Social Service Board of North Dakota (S. L. 1981, Ch. 486). The Department consisted of a number of state agencies and divisions merged for administrative purposes. It became the official agency for administration of federal and social rehabilitation programs and included within the department's structure the Vocational Rehabilitation Division to provide a rehabilitation program as a service to eligible individuals and families. Other legislation in 1981 acknowledged that inspection of vocational rehabilitation facilities should be undertaken by the Division of Physical Plant Licensing in the State Health Department but the facilities still had to be licensed by the Vocational Rehabilitation Division (S. L. 1981, Ch. 296). 

The Vocational Rehabilitation Division is charged with licensing programs and facilities, encouraging the development of local committee initiatives to broaden the scope of non-institutional care and training programs, reviewing individual programs as they develop, fostering the programs of sheltered workshop to higher levels. The division is to assist individuals with disabilities to achieve competitive employment and increase independence by providing services and training to persons with disabilities.

CHRONOLOGY

1921       Legislation accepted a Congressional Act for funding to provide vocational rehabilitation for disabled persons within the state (S. L. 1921, Ch. 115).

1947       A Vocational Rehabilitation Division was created within the State Board for Vocational Education and the division director was named as administrator of the program (S. L. 1947, Ch. 170).

1955       The State Board of Public School Education assumed the duties of the State Board for Vocational Education. This included the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (S. L. 1955, Ch. 132).

1967       A Sheltered Workshop Advisory Committee was set up. Sheltered workshops were established for those who qualified for training under the vocational rehabilitation program (S. L. 1967, Ch. 222).

1969       Amended and reenacted sections of the Century Code relating to the executive director of the Vocational Rehabilitation Division (S.L. 1969, Ch. 166) and to the administration of vocational rehabilitation division (S. L. 1969, Ch. 167).

1971       Clarification of definitions, custody, and payments of rehabilitative funds and services (S. L. 1971, Ch. 171). Legislation clarified the responsibilities of the State Board of Public School Education, State Board for Vocational Education, and vocational rehabilitation division.  Duties of the division were expanded (S. L. 1971, Ch. 158). The name of the State Board for Public Welfare was changed to the Social Service Board of North Dakota in 1971.

1973       The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation was transferred from the State Board of Public School Education to the Social Service Board North Dakota (S. L. 1973, Ch. 383).

1979       The sheltered workshops program was renamed vocational rehabilitation facilities.  The Advisory Board renamed the Vocational Rehabilitation Advisory Board (S. L. 1979, Ch. 339).

1981       Legislation passed related to the licensing of vocational rehabilitation facilities (S. L. 1981, Ch. 296). The consolidation of a number of state agencies resulted in the creation of the Department of Human Services.

1987       The Department of Human Services appointed a member to the Advisory Board (S. L. 1987, Ch. 570).

1989       A new section of the Century Code replaced the Vocational Rehabilitation Facilities Advisory Committee with “advisory bodies” (S. L. 1989, Ch. 576). The Advisory Committee was repealed in 1989 and the vocational rehabilitation division appointed advisory bodies with emphasis on consumer participants in order to comply with the federal vocational rehabilitation legislation.  Other duties were assigned to the division (S. L. 1989, Ch. 576). Legislation related to qualified service providers (S. L. 1989, Ch. 578).

1995       A Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities was established and consisted of three members appointed by the Governor for three year staggered terms. The Committee was charged to act as a clearing house for information relating to the employment of people with disabilities (S. L. 1995, Ch. 458).

2003       Legislation changed the classification of the director of the Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (S. L. 2003, Ch. 493).

SERIES

31312 Vocational Rehabilitation Division. North Dakota Advisory Committee on Vocational Rehabilitation Files.
31313 Vocational Rehabilitation Division. Vocational Rehabilitation Services Planning Files.
31314 Vocational Rehabilitation Division. Vocational Rehabilitation Services Reports and Evaluations.
31837 Vocational Rehabilitation Division. Scrapbooks.

SOURCES

Gray, David P. Guide to North Dakota State Archives, 1983.
North Dakota Century Code .
North Dakota Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Website.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.

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