||State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies provide services to a diverse population of approximately one million people with disabilities annually (RSA, 2016) seeking support to achieve their independent living and employment goals. There is growing interest among policymakers and practitioners in improving the delivery of VR services to improve the recipients’ long-term employment outcomes. Reflecting concerns of fiscal responsibility, there is also interest in measuring the return on investment of these services (Dean et al., 2014). The Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA) places a renewed emphasis on the role of state VR agencies in improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. It has several goals that could alter how state VR agencies provide services to eligible applicants, including increased emphases on (1) competitive integrated employment and (2) serving transition-age youth.
One major challenge VR agencies must address when administering their programs in general, and implementing WIOA in particular, is the heterogeneity of their customers. Beyond obvious differences in the nature of their impairments, customers are diverse in terms of their education, skills, and other personal characteristics. In addition, customers’ needs are dynamic; they change as their impairments evolve, as they learn to adapt to their impairments, as their support networks develop, and as they enter or exit other public or private programs. Finally, customers’ needs and how VR agencies may address those needs are shaped by the local environment—the economic, programmatic, and physical features of their states and localities (Honeycutt et al., 2016; Stapleton et al., 2010; U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2005).