Some years ago the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) funded a grant to the Virginia Department of Rehabilitation for the creation of a model program for the recruitment, training, and professional development of rehabilitation counselors. The results of the research were presented in a national conference in Chicago, Illinois in April 1980, under the sponsorship of the Office of Rehabilitation Services, Region V, and the Regional Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program, Region V. The research was published in book form as Shaping the Future: A Systems Approach to Human Resources Development in Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (1981). I was the Director of the Regional Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program (RRCEP) for Region III at the time and lead author of the publication.
The model program was the “brain child” of Corbett Reedy, former Acting Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration to whom Shaping the Future is dedicated. Corbett Reedy long felt that there were significant gaps between the pre-employment education of rehabilitation providers in colleges and universities and the professional practice in state agencies. As a result, following employment, the state agencies, in his words, had to “grow their own”. Corbett Reedy envisioned the creation of a model program where higher education and state agencies would share information and create educational experiences more closely related to the actual professional practice. The results, he believed, would provide better educated and trained professionals for service to persons with disabilities.
Shaping the Future provided the structure for the administration of a human resources program within a rehabilitation agency, including the recruitment, training, and career development of rehabilitation counselors. What is known is that the research was used by several agencies in the restructuring of their human resources programs. Shaping the Future was, however, just a beginning, a blueprint, so to speak; what was also needed, it was felt, was practical research into current practices in the field, such as job placement, and teaching content in vocational areas specifically related to work and disability. The Rehabilitation Counselor in Professional Practice directly addresses the concern for education and training in work-related issues in a text; and, hopefully, provides a partial answer for narrowing the distance between academe and the pre-employment needs of the practicing professional. – Gerald K. Wells, Ph.D., CRC
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