OVR continues to provide services during pandemic

Posted on Apr 21 2020


To help ensure the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation continues to provide access for individuals seeking VR services during the COVID-19 pandemic, it established the following process in order to continue to provide orientations/intakes.

Individuals needing to apply for OVR services are encouraged to reach out to OVR via phone at 322-6537/38 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9am to 1pm, or at 287-6538/48 and via email at maryann@ovrgov.net.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, OVR offices are currently closed to the public. If you have access to the internet and would like more information, visit www.ovrgov.net to view OVR requirements. If you do not have access to the internet, contact the OVR office and they will mail you an information/ referral/orientation packet.

After determining how to best provide you with an orientation to OVR services, you will then be scheduled for a telephone/virtual-orientation/pre-assessment with a VR counselor. During your orientation/pre-assessment meeting, you will be informed of the current status of how services are being delivered. In light of so many changes in our islands and communities, we will remain flexible and creative when it comes to service delivery. We will determine how to best communicate with you going forward, whether that is through phone, email, or mail. We are encouraging that consumers who have smartphones download WhatsApp. WhatsApp is essentially a communication medium that allows for encryption on all messages sent. WhatsApp will also be used to share any important pandemic updates as well as communications from staff. If you are unable to email or message documents and you need to drop off documents, OVR staff will provide you with the procedure for drop offs. If you choose to apply for services, you will need to fill out paperwork, which we can send to you through email or mail. You will be asked who your providers are so we can send you Releases of Information to sign in order to get information about your disability. Once you get the packet of paperwork, please call us so we can go over it with you to address any questions or concerns. You can return the paperwork in whatever way works best for you (mail, email, drop-off). If additional paperwork is needed (such as guardianship paperwork), we may ask you to provide us with the originals, which we will immediately return once copies are made. You might be able to take pictures of paperwork and send things to us that way too. Once we get your paperwork back, it will be date stamped and you will then be scheduled for a full intake interview.

During the intake, we will gather information about you, your disability, and your goals. The OVR staff person will tell you about any limitations of services during the COVID-19 pandemic, plus any limitations to our assessment activities. Any additional documentation that is determined to be needed at the time of the intake may require a physical hand off. If it is unavoidable, OVR staff will practice social distancing to the maximum extent possible.

OVR has 60 days from the date of your application to determine eligibility, however due to COVID-19, some hospitals and provider offices have temporarily closed their records departments. If we are having a hard time getting your records, we will let you know if eligibility might take longer. If you have a parent or guardian that helps you make decisions, please make sure you let us know so we can all be involved in the above process together!

Current OVR consumers

Current consumers who have not been contacted by their assigned OVR staff person can contact the office by phone at 287-6548 or 287-6538, or email at maryann@ovrgov.net, or they can call the office main phone line on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9am to 1pm at 322- 6537/38, with any questions or concerns. Members of the public seeking disability employment resources or information about OVR services may visit the OVR website (www.ovrgov.net). Again, we are encouraging that consumers who have smartphones to download WhatsApp.

It will also be used to share any important pandemic updates as well as communications from staff.

We also continue to encourage employers to review the recent U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission bulletin on steps employers should take related to provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act in response to COVID-19. OVR will be working with the CNMI Department of Labor-WIOA regarding the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, to ensure consumers receive necessary information to avail of needed services. OVR will work with consumers needing assistance with the PUA program. As recommended by the CNMI-DOL, prepare your documents if you plan on applying for the PUA program (certification letter from employer, a valid photo ID, latest pay stubs and Social Security number). The certification letter must state the employee’s name, title, wages, and schedule of the regular working hours, and the number of reduces hours, before the layoff or termination. OVR will provide additional details as soon as they are available. (PR)

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