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Dec 6, 2022

Tina Herzik, the Vice President of Operations for Service Source, and Brent McNeal, the Director of the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, join forces with Carol Pankow in the Manager Minute studio to chat about creative staffing solutions in the great State of Florida.

Tina and Brent discuss how the Florida General agency and Service Source are partnering to meet staffing needs with a unique model. With a business relationship that spans over 22 years, the duo shares how their two organizations continue to serve as front runners of innovative staffing practices and transformational leadership.


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Full Transcript


Speaker1: Manager Minute brought to you by the VRTAC for Quality Management, Conversations powered by VR, one manager at a time, one minute at a time. Here is your host Carol Pankow.


Carol: Well, welcome to the manager minute. Joining me in the studio today is Tina Herzik, Service Source vice president of operations for the VR program in Florida, and Brent McNeal, director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Florida. General, I am so happy to have you both with me in the studio today. So, Brent, how are things going in Florida?


Brent: Things are going well, Carol. Thank you. We're definitely happy to see the end of the hurricane season here in Florida and looking forward to going through the homestretch here into the holiday break.


Carol: Yeah, I've seen you've had a lot of weather. We had our own 13 inches of snow on Monday, so at least you don't have that. Holy cow. So, Tina, how about you?


Tina: Same thing. Just getting over trying to lose that word pandemic and getting back to normalcy. But I live in Vero Beach, so happy that last hurricane didn't take us down. But we're standing.


Carol: Strong. Yeah, absolutely. Know all the Florida folks. I really you know, our hearts go out to y'all with everything that happened in that Fort Myers area. That is something else. I don't know how you deal with that all the time. That kind of those terrific weather conditions that can really just devastate a whole area. So I know you're rebuilding and people are working strong. So, Brent, it was really fun meeting you live and in person at the CC VR Leadership Forum before the conference began, and we all heard a pretty sobering message about the state of the national VR program. And we've got to spend the money. Each agency is facing different challenges, but the factor that binds us all together has to do with finding ways to expend funds. So the VR program, much like the rest of business across the country, is in the midst of a staffing crisis and trying to seek solutions to meet customer needs. Now, I know Florida General has a model that's been in place for over 20 years as a result of a legislative change. Now, this model is not really conventional, and I think you're the only people in the country doing something quite like this. But you have worked out all the kinks and have really learned so many lessons. So we thought others could benefit from the work that you all have done. And there's really a unique partnership that really is withstanding the test of time. So let's dig in. So, Brent, why don't you tell us a little about yourself, your background, how you came to VR and a little bit about Florida General?


Brent: Sure. First of all, I'm happy to be here. I echo the statements that you've made, we certainly are in the same boat as other programs around the country. And so this is a way that folks could explore to spend some of those funds and to better provide services to their customers. So my background, I came to VR first in 2009. It was my first job out of law school, actually, and did not know anything about VR or what it was, but quickly became so interested and invested because of the good work that I saw that the division was doing and so really enjoyed getting to learn the program. I also represented our Florida Division of Blind Services, so got to do a lot of interesting work and Randolph Shepherd and in other areas with that unit. So that is how I came to VR. I worked with VR in a legal capacity for around eight years and then took this director's position back in February. So coming up on one year here shortly in terms of Florida General, we're housed within the Florida Department of Education, headquartered in beautiful Tallahassee, Florida. The states broken up into seven geographical areas, and each of those has an area director. Now, we haven't always been here in the Department of Education, and we'll talk a little bit about some of the history and where the division was previously. But yeah, we've been with the Department of Education for a number of years now and are a big component of Florida DOH.


Carol: So your background really positions you nicely for this job because you know, the regs really probably pretty inside and out as being the attorney for the agency for so long.


Brent: You know that part is certainly helpful and I tap into it regularly. I have to resist the urge to just be the lawyer. And we have a very capable and wonderful deputy general counsel that leads our VR legal team. So I defer to Nicole Saunders now on legal matters, but it is nice to have that background as well as those relationships that I was able to build as the attorney, including with folks like Tina.


Carol: Absolutely. So how many people do you serve and how many staff does Florida General have?


Brent: For the past several years, it has varied between around 45000 to 50000 individuals receiving services within a state fiscal year. We have 884 full time equivalent staff that are employees of the division of the state of Florida.


Carol: Wow. That is huge. Are you in the top five programs in the country or something? As far as size, I think.


Brent: I think we must be I know that we're one of the largest. And, you know, Florida is such a diverse state, too. We talk about from the tip of the panhandle, which is where I grew up over in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, all the way down to the Florida Keys. And, you know, those two ends of the state could not be more different in terms of, well, just geography, but also all of the economics, you name it, just really diverse and a lot of different challenges throughout the state for such a big state as Florida.


Carol: Yeah, tough for you to just like we're going to drive to all the offices today. That can't happen. So the model I alluded to, what is this model that Florida general is working under to meet your staffing needs?


Brent: For over 20 years now, Florida VR has been working with Service Source in a successful public private partnership, and that's really added service capacity in our state. And so I'm looking forward to telling everyone more about that today.


Carol: Very cool. So, Tina, I didn't mean to leave you out.. Why don't you tell our listeners about yourself and your background and how you kind of fit into this picture?


Tina: Oh, thank you, Carol, And thanks for inviting us here today. I have been in Florida most of my life here. As I said, I live in Vero Beach. I did live where you are from in Minnesota for five years. So I've enjoyed the Minnesota life as well. I started my career out as a teacher, so working with the youth has always been very close to my heart. I obtained my master's degree while working under this contract over the years and rehabilitation counseling, I have my CRC, my Certified Rehabilitation Counseling license. I was the second employee hired under this original contract with this partnership in 2001 as a vocational rehabilitation counselor. Believe it or not, I took this job under a newspaper advertisement. Does anybody know what that is anymore? So the director that hired me to start up was the startup director for the privatization project, Steve Palumbo. Steve had worked with the state of Florida VR system for many years. He started this privatization. He was a great mentor to me. I was very green, just like Brent talks about coming in. I didn't know that much at all about what I was getting myself into. I had no idea that 20 years later I'd be as excited as I am about what we do. And as he mentored me over the years, I started out as a VRC, so I was a vocational rehabilitation counselor for a few years and then I became a unit supervisor for one of our largest units, which was one of the first units in this partnership on the Treasure Coast. It serves four different counties, and I did that for about 11 years. And then when Steve retired in 2017, I became the director for the program and have held that position ever since. I've worked with Service Source for over 20 years and I've been very excited to be part of what I always say to people, kind of the trailblazer of this type of model. And it's been great because, as Brent said, we also work together very closely when he was the attorney for VR. So it's just been a great partnership.


Carol: So Brent, what happened back in the 1999 legislative session that led to your model for meeting staffing needs?


Brent: Well, I'll give the caveat that obviously I wasn't around at this time, but I've done some research and know anecdotally that there were some similar circumstances to what we're facing now. There are very high caseloads. We had a number of vacancies that were presenting challenges and consequently we had some underserved areas in Florida where folks were having a hard time receiving VR services. In response to that problem, the Florida legislature passed Senate Bill 230 and which directed VR and I'll quote, to enter into local public private partnerships to the extent that it is beneficial to increasing employment outcomes for persons with disabilities and ensuring their full involvement in the comprehensive workforce investment system. So at that time, Florida VR was broken into 24 regions. The division was housed in another state agency at that time and had not made the move to the Department of Education. So there were 24 regions in stark contrast to our seven areas now, and initially contracts were only awarded for three of those 24 regions. Service Source was awarded two of the three contracts that were initially awarded after procurement was conducted in 2000. And just a little bit more about Senate Bill 230. It did include a section on the legislative intent, which I thought might be interesting to listeners, and it basically states the legislature finds that individuals with disabilities experience the highest unemployment rate of any group in society as high as 75%, and that unemployment and poverty go hand in hand. The legislature also finds that persons who complete the vocational rehabilitation program are twice as likely to obtain and maintain employment, and the use of private providers is the readiest way to add service capacity for this population. I'll stop there.


Carol: That's really interesting. You know, we're still facing that issue today with people with disabilities being one of the largest groups that have issues with unemployment and living in poverty. And so the needle has not changed a ton, but you were able to increase capacity. So let me just clear this up. Did the legislature at the same time, did they like freeze your FTEs or you actually lost some FTEs, but you could then use this source to be able to make up the difference?


Brent: I don't know that there was a simultaneous move with respect to FTEs. I know that over the years that has occurred where they have been frozen or we have been permission to expand, but I don't know if that was occurring simultaneous to this effort in 1999. And Tina may be able to speak a little bit more about that because obviously there was some trepidation on the part of division employees to this fairly significant change.


Carol: Well, absolutely. They're thinking we're being eliminated. You're taking our jobs away. So, Tina, why don't we go to you? Because you were around back in 1999. What's your perspective on what happened back then?


Tina: Yeah, absolutely. I actually remember it like it was yesterday. As I said, when I came into the position, I remember, you know, you start your first day on the job with your little box of all your desk items and you're walking in. And state workers at the time, field staff looked very concerned. There was a lot of concern and it wasn't the welcoming that you might have expected on your first day of your new job, because I didn't know that at the time and didn't understand it. But as time went on, I understood that the communication wasn't very clear on why we were there and what we were doing there. But we were brought in. We were brought in to work alongside state employees. So at the time we were working in the same offices right next door and taking over some of the caseloads. And, you know, everybody's very particular about giving up their caseloads. But what I believe happened at that time is VRC caseloads, the vocational rehabilitation counselors were dealing with over 300 plus cases in certain units. There were counties that, as we were talking about, were completely underserved. As I said, I started out here on the Treasure Coast. There are four counties on the Treasure Coast, very large school districts that needed to be served.

And we are about an hour and a half driving distance from the actual area office for the state. So this worked very well and it took a little bit of time. But when the employees started to feel the relief and some of the challenges they were having and they realized we weren't there to take their jobs, I feel like over time it just made things a lot easier when they saw the positive responses and that they still had their jobs and they were able to leave as they retired and there was no difference. In that particular office, those people, those state workers left over time through retirement. And then it became that the Treasure Coast was mainly the private provider inside the state offices. So definitely, as Brent said, it was a very unusual time and communication wasn't very forthright. Nobody really knew why. We knew we had jobs. We were coming in to help, but nobody understood it. But I believe over time those challenges kind of went away and the fear went away when we were helping and it was making a difference. And so that made a big difference. It got better.


Carol: So I'm sure the feds probably wanted to say one or two things about this arrangement. So what do either of you think, Brent, I'll go to you first from a state perspective, if you are able to answer this, what did you guys do to help alleviate federal concern about this arrangement? Because I keep thinking non delegables, you know, in my head.


Brent: Sure. Well, that's the big one. And so that is addressed contractually. And I think it's certainly explicit and clear in our current contractual arrangements, which we'll get into. But I would imagine that that had to be addressed right out of the gate because it would be the obvious challenge or something that we would have to deal with. And I think we have done so well. But I think to go back to the federal response, I do understand that RSA had some pretty significant concerns initially, and I speculate that that led to the decision to only enter the three small contracts initially rather than to try to do the whole state. And I understand they were only one year contracts with a possible renewal for two years. So a limited term and very limited geographically to start out. And I think that probably helped to address some of the concerns.


Carol: So, Tina, do you have any thoughts back then about the federal concern because you were there, you probably heard a little bit about that.


Tina: Sure. Basically what we found or what I saw was that RSA contracted agencies to come in and do quality assurance. We had many, many audits and quality assurance reviews regularly. And what I feel probably alleviated those concerns over time because I was part of them, my cases were pulled for audits and then when I became the supervisor, we were still doing many, many quality assurance desktop audits. And basically once we would get through these audits and they were positive and they could see that we were following processes, we were doing the same work that the state was doing, we were following everything that was laid out in the contract. The audits became less, the quality assurance coming around every few months were less and less. And I believe that just spoke to the kind of work that was happening over time. But there was definitely a lot of concern in the beginning and as Brent said. It started out with short term contracts and now we've gone into more of a three year with three year extensions. And of course, everything is still we're all being we should all be under compliance audits from time to time, but it's more regular now. It's not like it was in the past.


Carol: Gotcha. Okay. That helps clear that up. So, Brent, I know I said something about the non-delegables, so how do you address that to ensure that VR remains in control? Because I'm sure our listeners are thinking, all right, but how does that work exactly?


Brent: As I mentioned, we clearly set forth the definitions within the contract and sort of address that head on. And early on in the language of the contract, for example, in the purpose of the contract, under brief summary of the nature and purpose of the project, it states, the purpose of this contract is to perform delegable VR services to eligible persons with disabilities in Area two, Area three, Area six and seven. Essentially, we're establishing that right out of the gate we define what those terms mean within the definitions, of course, citing to the applicable regulations and laws. And then most importantly, every unit has an assigned position that is a state employee that we call a counselor analyst, and they have the final signing authority for all work in the unit. So that's really essentially how we address this the non-delegable issue. The Service Source unit supervisor reviews the work first and then it's ultimately reviewed and signed off on by the counselor analyst. And so Tina mentioned our Treasure Coast where we have two counselor analysts based just on the size of that unit and the population there. The counselor analyst reports to our area director in each area around the state and those four areas that have the private units. And so, of course, we always have to document customer choice and form choice and working with private or state staff. I think we do a good job of explaining during our intake process that the services will still be the same and that it should appear the same regardless of which selection a customer makes. As to whether they would prefer to work with our state staff or with Service Source staff.


Carol: So that speaks to the question then what steps did you take to integrate staff in the work? And Tina, I'm going to send that to you because you've been there since the very darn start of the whole thing.


Tina: Yes, we wanted this to look seamless, and in the beginning I wasn't part of those decisions, but I can see why we did this. And it worked. Basically, our Service Source staff are on the state system, so we have emails, we're included in all the state correspondence. If you were to pull up myself or Brent, we're both in the system, so are all of the staff, Our Service Source staff, we do take our Service Source trainings like you would do for any company that you work for. But then we also, our staff is part of the mandatory state trainings, including ethics and sexual harassment and all the beginning onboarding, because it's important that our staff understand when they're working inside of a state system. There might be a little bit of differences in how the state system may work to a private agency, so they're held accountable for the same things that the state employees are. The VR staff have some additions. What I had to do is we have a staff handbook for Service Source. I actually had them update the handbook over time to add some things that my staff that are working under this contract need to also abide by because they're under this contract. Our management for Service Source is part of all the bureau meetings. We sit on their task forces. It's been wonderful because over the years that's a big piece. The communication has gotten better and better. And what we found is that if we collaborated together and that we work together on strategic plans, brainstorming ideas for Florida, we work together so our management and our leadership sits with their leadership and we work as one. And really it's seamless. We don't go out into the community and say, we are Service Source, employees, we are VR. So when we're in the office, we get paid by Service Source, we work for our company. But when we are working under this contract, we are working as a VR employee.


Carol: I like that you said seamless. That was the word that popped into my mind because you're explaining this. I'm like, This seems really seamless and I'm sure that took time to get to that point.


Tina: It evolved. It evolved. But I feel like in all the years I've been here, we're at that place. We're at that place where it's the best I've ever seen it. And it's been a lot of collaboration that's brought us there, but definitely seamless at this point.


Carol: Excellent. So I know one thing that buzzes around in my mind because in Minnesota we're a unionized state, several different unions our staff fell under. So Brent, is Florida unionized?


Brent: Florida is a what's known as a Right To Work state. And that essentially means that a person can work in the state, whether they're in a union or not. They can't be compelled to join a union as a condition of keeping their job. I believe a little over half of the states are right to work states. You know, that doesn't present as much of a challenge for us here as it might in other areas.


Carol: Sure, no, thanks for clarifying that. So, Tina, I wanted to look at today how much territory does Service Source cover in Florida and how many employees are on the Service Source side of the house.


Tina: Yes. Brent alluded a little while ago to the fact that we are in four of their contracted seven areas that we covered. We are inside 16 state offices from Jacksonville to Key West we are predominantly in central part of Florida. And on the East Coast, we have 145 employees inside this contract. When we began to kind of give you how we've evolved, we started out with 45 and we only had two offices. So now I would say percentage wise, years ago, it's probably about 18% of what the state is doing. We're involved in, I would say somewhere between 18 and 20%, but we have offices mainly between Jacksonville and Key West.


Carol: Yeah, that helps to give a better picture of what that looks like. So what are some lessons that you've learned along the way? And Brent, I'm going to go to you first on that.


Brent: Sure. And, you know, Tina and I have talked about this as we prepared for this podcast. And I think we both agree that communication is really the key. And Tina alluded to that earlier, that the communication perhaps could have been better and stronger, more robust at the beginning of this process, because any time you have a significant change like this, we all know that there's going to be if there's a vacuum of information that's going to be filled and people are going to fear the worst and they're going to just come up with the sort of 'Parade of Horribles' to use an old legal term of what might go wrong. So I think it's just critically important and has been important to our relationship that we keep those lines of communication open. We need to make sure as the division that we ensure that our partners, that Service Source, receive the same messages and information that our state employees receive and really toward the greatest extent possible work to that seamlessness that we've talked about. And it's interesting that you all focused on that word because that has been sprinkled throughout. But also I think it just does go to that seamlessness that we look for where for all intents and purposes, the work we do is the same and the customer has the same quality experience no matter who their counselor is.


Carol: So how about you, Tina? Are there any other lessons learned that you want to talk about?


Tina: Yes, I totally agree with Brent. Communication has been the biggest key lesson learned over time. Change management would have been a good lesson 22 years ago. We could have used that topic right? How to help people get used to something different. But I guess something that comes to my mind, I think about many, many years ago we tried to do a staff leasing concept many years ago in one of the areas that we serve. We tried the idea of having a state supervisor, supervising Service Source staff in an underserved area, and it worked for a little bit, but I don't think it worked as well as our current model and what we're doing. So I think that was definitely a lesson learned that we should probably stick to what we're doing from the beginning here with this model, because when you're answering to or you're being supervised by somebody in your own company, it still was all the same concept. But I think it definitely worked better when we didn't do that staff leasing. Having the contract the way it is now, but hugely about communication all across the board. It helps with employee retention, it helps with training, it helps with us all following policy and doing things the way we're supposed to do to serve the customers.


Carol: So I'm sure everybody is wondering how you both are dealing with staffing shortages. I was thinking about that. Does staff move between like the two organizations and how do you deal with that? Tina, I'm going to ask you that first.


Tina: Sure. You know, Brent and I even newly working together, we discuss this ourselves, and I've talked about this with every previous director. We definitely discourage poaching. We do not look to take each other. So that's not the whole purpose of this contract. The purpose of this contract is that we're working together. However, we don't discourage it happens very infrequently that the employees go from one side or the other. But it does happen and it happens for good reasons sometimes, you know, some people have to move to another area of Florida and Service Source doesn't have an office there inside the state. So it would naturally make sense that they would stay within our system and they would go to a state unit and vice versa. And also for any kind of possible advancement. We do not have all of the positions that the state of Florida has. We have quite a few of the positions that they have under contract. But there may be an opportunity for one of our staff on both sides to have advancement if they come. So we do want to keep all of these great passionate people inside the system. So we're not looking to do that, but we don't encourage that. But that's the biggest thing, is making sure that we're working together and as a team rather than encouraging anything like that.


Carol: So is the pay similar then?


Tina: Yes, the pay is very similar. The only thing different you have to understand is that state benefits are less expensive. If you really kind of look at the bottom line, sometimes it may appear because we have to add on a little bit of money there to cover benefits and different things that a private company would be different than a state system. But when you really look at the actuality of them, Very similar. Very similar.


Carol: Gotcha. So, Brent, how about you? How are you dealing with just the overall staffing shortages?


Brent: Well, we're certainly thankful for our partnership with Service Source to provide the services that they do and the staff that they do. But bigger picture, I'm pleased to announce that we have put forward as part of the department's legislative budget request some pretty significant raises for our what we call our frontline staff, our counseling positions, our technicians and those folks who are working with the customers. It's frankly long overdue. And we, as many agencies around the country have experienced, have definitely had challenges with staffing. So we have gotten further along in this process than we have. I understand that before I came on board last year, the division was taking a run at this and getting their proposal into the legislative budget request, but it did not happen. So that has occurred this year. We're very excited about that. We have the department's support and we're cautiously optimistic that that will make its way through the legislature and this upcoming session and that we will have a great outcome there.


Carol: Good for you. That is exciting to hear. I'm sure colleagues across the country will be interested in how you pitch that to get into the budget. That's always part of the problem. Just getting it out of the agency.


Brent: Absolutely. And I will say a lot of blood, sweat and tears and a lot of hard work with staff here who really thought deeply and for a long time about the various ways that we could go about this. Yes, I'm proud of the folks here who have helped to make that happen. And as I said, cautiously optimistic. And we've tried to be as transparent as possible with folks around the state as well to let them know what we're doing and that we are we're trying to go to bat there and we're excited about the possibility and looking forward to a good result in the spring.


Carol: Excellent. Well, do keep me posted on that. So, Tina, I'm curious, are there other states that Service Source operates in? And then what kind of services can you provide?


Tina: Yes, we are a leading nonprofit disability resource organization. We have services and prime contract operations located in more than ten states and the District of Columbia. Service Source have five regional offices share a common mission to provide exceptional services to people with disabilities through a range of valued employment training, habilitation, housing and many, many other support services. We have regional offices that are in Florida, Virginia, Delaware, Utah and North Carolina. Our mission aligns with vocational rehabilitation mission. I mean, we are committed to building more inclusive communities.


Carol: Very cool. I had heard mentioned that maybe you guys even get into like being able to provide interpreter services and things like that.


Tina: Yes. Well, from this contract, having this contract for many, many years, you know, as I said, we sat on many bureau meetings and at one point Florida was in need of having a larger interpreter services scope throughout Florida. They already had interpreter services positions throughout Florida, but they were looking for a private organization or a contract. And we had experience in our Florida regional office working with individuals with deaf and hard of hearing. So we immediately jumped in and offered those services. And through that task we have a contract now where we have an interpreter services contract that is based out of our Clearwater, which is our regional office here in Florida. And we have positions throughout the state, again, just like our contract sitting inside state offices, serving right alongside the state interpreters, the state and staff interpreters. And it's been a wonderful program over the last few years.


Carol: Very cool. Yeah, Thanks for sharing that. I know some folks have struggled with the interpreter contracts. I've just heard that as of late across the country. As with anything else, you know, where people are struggling to get staffed. So looking back on all of this and knowing what you both know now, is there anything you would change about what has happened and how it may be happened? Brent, I'll go to you first.


Brent: Well, as I look on the historical record and the documents that I've been able to find about how all this occurred, I think hindsight being 2020, probably some of those initial contracts could have been drafted in a way that might not have raised so many red flags. Now, again, that is hindsight, because this was such a new and different concept. It may have been the case that regardless of how they were drafted, there would have been concerns. But, you know, I think some lessons can be learned from that as to how those have evolved. And again, there was some movement around this time when all this was occurring where VR was sort of moved from one agency to another, and it eventually landed with the Department of Education in 2002. And I think that provided some additional stability for the division, and we've been here ever since. So I think it was probably wise to start small and scale up from there and to focus on underserved areas. Those are, I think, some lessons that were properly implemented and that that would be a good way to get something like this off the ground.


Carol: Tina, how about you? Any thoughts on that? Anything you would change?


Tina: Yeah, I totally agree with Brent. The contracts started out very differently. At one point we had five contracts for this, this one contract. We had five different serving different areas of Florida. And I understand why it happened that way. Looking back now, though, probably with the idea that you can do amendments to contracts, I think if we were to do this again, just amending contracts and having one large contract, because now we do have over the last five years, the most recent contract is one large contract working as a team approach across the state. So all of our goals and deliverables are work together as in anything that you work with and a team approach always works better. I have consistency among managers working together. Everybody has final goals that we're all working for the same mission and concept, but they're working together and they're working as a team rather than working in separate areas of Florida with different guidelines and thought processes and salaries. It wasn't as consistent years ago. So I definitely think that was something that definitely will help all of us in the future when we look at something like this. But we have to, over time, continuously work on streamlining and efficiency based changes. They're necessary and we've done that over time. And I think because we've done that, it's led to the success of the program.


Carol: Well, the lessons that you all have learned and everything that you've gone through can definitely help another state because they don't have to go through the same path. They can start off kind of right where you're at really with learning from you all. So do you have any parting words of wisdom? If somebody is interested in this type of model? How about you, Brent?


Brent: Sure. I will just continue to say how well it's worked for Florida and how much we value the partnership. And I echo the sentiment that the state should all learn from one another and from one another's mistakes and challenges. And that's one of the great things about our collegial body that we share around the country with our colleague. You know, we're certainly willing to talk to folks to share documents, to let them know about how this is historically evolved. And I guess I would just say that it's one of the great benefits is that we're able to learn from one another and to complement each other. A private entity is able to be a little bit more nimble in many ways than a state agency that has layers of bureaucracy and sort of red tape. That's certainly a benefit that can occur with this kind of arrangement. It's something that we would certainly welcome any questions from other folks as to how they might do something like this in their state.


Carol: Excellent. So, Tina, how about you? Any parting words of wisdom?


Tina: You know, I would say just like Brent, it's a great partnership. We've had almost 22 years of experience working to support the state of Florida and their mission that has become our mission. It works successfully because we've cultivated an excellent working relationship with each other. The natural cooperation with our state counterparts has been an influential force in our success. Many years ago, one of the previous directors called it We now are VR one. We're no longer Service Source in State VR, we're VR one. I look to what we've just been talking about over the last year in the CSAVR, especially in the Spring Virtual Conference about transformational change and transformational leadership. You know, I wanted to raise my hand and go, that's like what we did 22 years ago. We were the transformational change that nobody really thought of back then. And so these are the types of ideas I hope that during my career now, I can see us replicate this relationship in other states so we can assist state VR agencies that are in need to help them achieve their goals and better serve their customers.


Carol: Very cool. I love that VR one. That's awesome. So I know you both had mentioned if somebody out there is interested in the idea and there's certainly welcome to contact you. So Brent, what's the best way for them to do that?


Brent: Sure. Number one, I have to get in a plug for our new website that has recently been redesigned. That's at w w w dot rehab works dot org. So that is the Florida general website. But to contact me directly, I'd be happy for folks to shoot me an email. And that is Brent dot McNeal at


Carol: Excellent. And Tina, how about you if somebody wanted to reach out and talk to you?


Tina: Sure. And I'll give you my contact first. That same thing with Brent. You can reach me on the state system at or you can reach me on my service source, which is Tina dot herzik h e r z i k at service source all one word dot org. Please look up our website as well, You'll get to hear and see all the other wonderful things we're doing throughout the country and you can see what's happening with other parts of our business. But we are very unique with this partnership. As far as what service source is doing for what we're talking about today. But that's also in the information when you look it up.



Carol: Excellent. Yeah, I really appreciate both being on. This is very cool to hear about what is. Happen and that it's sustained. It's really lasted the test of time, which is really interesting as well. And Brent, I hope you keep me posted on what's going on with those staff salaries later on. So I wish you both the best and happy holidays.


Tina: You, too. Thank you so much, Carol.


Brent: Thank you so much, Carol. And thanks, Tina, for agreeing to do this. It's been a great experience and happy to spread the word and hope that it's helpful for folks.


Tina: I'm glad we're working together, Brent, This is great, continuing our journey. That's right. Happy holidays, both of you.


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