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Vocational Rehab Is Healthcare Provider Of Last Resort, Says Director

Florida Channel

Florida lawmakers are taking another look at the office of Vocational Rehab. A proposal to overhaul the office amid low job placement rates, failed last year. According to a state report, the office that helps disabled Floridians find jobs, succeeds less than half the time.

Republican Senator Don Gaetz of Niceville says Florida’s Vocational Rehab office is spending a lot of money on non-job expenses, like healthcare:

“We’re spending money for surgical services, and medical diagnostic services, medical testing, just so you know, just so you know, that’s in the education budget.”

But Vocational Rehab Director Aleisa McKinlay says there’s a reason for that. McKinley took over the office in 2011 after previously working in mental health at the Department of Children and Families.

“People who don’t qualify for funding and services under the public mental health system and have don’t have a third party payer have nowhere else to go. And they know about us, they’re eligible—they’re legitimately eligible clients, so we try to serve them," she said.

The office has faced questions about job-placement performance. During the last legislative session Gaetz  sponsored a bill that mandated it improve or face changes.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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