Virginia State Policies & Resources
Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI)
Policy Summary on Self-Employment:
According to the DBVI, a strong Business Plan is the foundation to a successful self-employment venture. Therefore, their policy has several junctures where such a business plan is developed and reviewed. Originally developed by the individual, using a specific Business Plan Outline, the Plan is reviewed by the VR Counselor who presents it to the Regional Manager for another review and approval. If approved at this stage, the Plan is sent to the Director of Vocational Rehabilitation and Workforce Services to conduct their own review. If the Director approves the Plan, a Self-Employment Enterprise (SEE) Screening Committee is formed. Chaired by the Director of Vocational Rehabilitation and Workforce Services, the purpose of this Committee is to thoroughly review the Business Plan for final approval or rejection. At any point in this process additional information can be requested and multiple meetings held to ensure a more likely successful outcome.
The required Business Plan is a very detailed process to gather and analyze pertinent information related to the business venture. For example, components must include the feasibility of the business; projected startup capital; a “blueprint” for the entire operation; a budget, time frame and strategic direction; potential problems and risk assessment; marketing opportunities, and reasons for being involved in the venture.
Once the individual has been determined eligible and has expressed an interested in self-employment the IPE can be developed. Once the Business Plan has been approved the IPE is amended to detail the agreed upon services and supports.
The individual is expected to provide financial investment in the business and be the majority funder of the venture unless they are receiving SSI/SSSDI. This financial investment can be made through in-kind contribution or acquired loans. The SEE Screening Committee makes recommendations for funding through DBVI. Goods and services received as part of the approved SEE Business Plan are not subject to DBVI’s cost participation policies. If the individual is being served by both DVRS and DBVI, the requirement of the individual being the majority funder is lifted. Each Department determines their funding level and for what services and supports.
A SEE case is considered a successful closure when the self-employment enterprise has operated for a minimum of 12 months, showing profit or DBVI services are no longer needed.
Virginia DBVI Policy Manual (see Chapter 7.6: Self-Employment Enterprise (SEE)): https://www.vdbvi.org/documents/DBVI%20VR%20Policy%20and%20Procedure%20Manual%20UPDATED%20August%203%202021.docx
Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services
Division of Rehabilitative Services (DVR)
Policy Summary on Self Employment:
For Virginia Division of Rehabilitative Services (DVR), self-employment or self-employment enterprise (SEE) is an employment outcome where the individual earns income from his/her small business rather than working for wages from an employer. Additionally, this business must be a for-profit entity; adhere to all relevant federal, state and local rules and regulations; and be solely owned and operated by the individual with the expectation that the venture will generally meet the ongoing living and business expenses within the first 12 months. DVR provides assistance for the start-up costs of the business. Such costs typically include marketing or advertising, necessary tools and equipment for operation, initial inventory, mandatory insurance and licenses, initial rent and utilities, and property or building modifications necessary to accommodate the individual’s disability.
The Division uses the Business Assessment Scale on which the individual must score 60 or better. Individuals must complete a Self-Employment Enterprise Proposal which includes a business plan and provides details about: the individual’s projected financial contributions; the requested SEE services; the projected start-up costs and funding sources (including SEE funding); and the financial projections. The Proposal is reviewed by the Counselor and SEE Coordinator. Once the SEE Proposal is approved, the individual’s IPE is amended to reflect the business, trade or profession.
DVR will fund only the start-up costs and those listed in the SEE Proposal and accompanying IPE. A three-step process is used to determine the amount of SEE funding: 1. Determine the individual’s financial participation for IPE cost; 2. Determine the funding necessary for non-SEE services listed in the IPE; and, 3. Fund less than one-half of the SEE cost. The funding decision is determined on a case-by-case basis, but in general, DRS shall not be the primary funder; VR funds shall not equal or exceed the sum of all non-VR funds for the SEE; and VR funds may be much less than half the total needed to fund the SEE.
Stable employment considered for case closure is determined on a case-by-case basis, but for most SEE ventures it occurs within 12 months.
Publications Page: https://www.dars.virginia.gov/publications.htm#pubdocs&gsc.tab=0
VR Policy & Procedure Manual: https://sharepoint.wwrc.net/VRmanual/SitePages/Home.aspx (see Chapter 8.17)
The following downloadable PDF contains statewide self-employment resources and links for people with disabilities.