Vocational Rehabilitation


Department Contact


Donna Thomas

Vocational Rehab Director
Phone: 701.394.4232
e-mail: dthomas@tm.edu
Office: South Campus


Valerie LaRocque

Vocational Rehab Counselor
Phone: 701.394.4355
e-mail: vlarocque@tm.edu
Office: South Campus

Bergandi Schroeder

Administrative Assistant
Phone: 701.394.3914
e-mail: bergandi.schroeder@tm.edu

Office: South Campus


Gabrielle Azure-Wallette

Vocational Rehab Counselor
Phone: 701.394.4027
e-mail: ibearrunner@tm.edu
Office: South Campus


James Lindgren

Vocational Rehab Counselor
Phone: 701.394.3936
e-mail: james.lindgren@tm.edu
Office: South Campus


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“Vocational Rehabilitation Service Needs Assessment”


Address: P.O. Box 110
Belcourt, ND 58316
Fax: 701.477.7895
Office: South Campus


The Turtle Mountain Chippewa Vocational Rehabilitation Project was established on October 1, 1993 (to current), through a federal grant to meet the needs of local people who have a disability which interferes with their capacity to work. The Turtle Mountain Chippewa Vocational Rehabilitation Project is located on the south campus of the Turtle Mountain Community College which is located at 1022 Chief Little Shell Street NE in Belcourt, ND. The program is not intended to take the place of other vocational rehabilitation services provided by the State of North Dakota and to which Turtle Mountain Chippewa are entitled. There are six staff members within the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Project who are available to help any tribal members who have a disability and are seeking employment.


Purpose & Mission


The purpose of the Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Program is to provide services to individuals with disabilities so they can become and remain employed. The goal is employment and in establishing this goal we have specified the objectives, activities and resources for the project and then for each individual client. The Turtle Mountain Vocational Rehabilitation Project’s mission is to provide vocational rehabilitation services to enrolled Turtle Mountain Indians with disabilities in order to prepare them for suitable employment. This will be accomplished by providing opportunity to the fairest extent possible, as allowed in the laws and regulations with adequate knowledge of an appropriate utilization of resources available, while recognizing our Chippewa culture. The project will guide clients in achieving greater independence and self esteem, to ultimately live a better life through gainful employment achieved through vocational rehabilitation services.


There are three service programs within the 121 Vocational Rehabilitation Project: (A) the Basic Employment Program: (B) the Supported Employment Program; (C) and referral to the Client Assistance Program (CAP).




Eligibility is based on the following criteria:


  • You must be an enrolled member of a federally recognized Indian Tribe living on or near the reservation.
  • You must have a medically or psychologically diagnosed physical or mental impairment(s) which has caused substantial impediment(s) to employment.
  • There must be reasonable expectation that you can benefit in terms of an employment outcome from vocational rehabilitation services.
  • You require vocational rehabilitation services to enter, engage in, or retain gainful employment.

If you think you may be eligible for services, contact the Vocational Rehabilitation Project office. An appointment can be made to begin the Steps to Rehabilitation which are: Step 1: Application; Step 2: Diagnostics; Step 3: Individual Plan of Employment (IPE); Step 4: Service Provision; Step 5: Placement; and the last, Step 6: Follow Up and Closure. These six steps are expedited in as much of a professional manner as possible. In determining eligibility of potential clients and providing rehabilitation services, the activities are explicitly defined in the Department of Education; Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS); Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) policy guidelines.


We begin the six steps as follows:


  1. Initiate & complete application materials
  2. Diagnostic Evaluation & Assessment – in this phase we determine eligibility/ineligibility

a. Gather medical, psychological, educational, employment and other information/documentation

b. Assess obtained information; arrange for further diagnostics or assessment if necessary (all diagnostics requested by the Vocational Rehabilitation Project will be paid for by the Vocational Rehabilitation Project).

If an applicant is determined eligible we move on to Step 3 (see next section).


IPE & Service Provisions


The Vocational Rehabilitation Project provides an array of services designed to equalize employment opportunities for any individual who meets the eligibility criteria.


Step 3 begins with a meeting between the eligible individual and the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to discuss the vocational goal. Once the goal is decided, an Individual Plan of Employment (IPE) is written.


  1. All Vocational Rehabilitation services will be provided according to the IPE which is developed jointly by the Vocational Rehabilitation project counselor and the eligible client with disabilities. Vocational Rehabilitation will only pay for costs which are written in the IPE.
  2. Native Healing services may be used in both diagnostics and physical/mental restoration services.
  3. Below are some of the services that could be provided. (These services are not necessarily in order of importance and are personalized based on the IPE).
  • Transition services (high school & GED Students)
  • Assessments to determine eligibility
  • Counseling and guidance
  • Training and related services
  • Services to family members (if necessary)
  • Physical and mental restoration services
  • Maintenance (if necessary)
  • Note taker services
  • Retraining for appropriate employment
  • Rehab teaching services
  • Occupational license, tools, equipment and initial stocks and supplies
  • Transportation (if necessary)
  • Assistive technology aids
  • Purchasing services from other entities (if similar benefits are exhausted)
  • Personal assistance services (if necessary)
  • Supported Employment
  • Job placement and follow-up services

We also provide public and employer consultation (on a limited basis) if it pertains to our clients. Specifically, we provide information and technical assistance to employers so they may understand how to accommodate individuals with disabilities. We also provide transition services to high school and GED students to enter our program. The project Transition Counselor is available to attend high school IEP/504 meetings or GED student consults (see Transition Counselor section).




The Transition Counselor arranges the following (for students at the 5 high schools in Rolette County which are the Turtle Mountain Community High School, Dunseith High School, St. John High School, Rolla High School and Rolette High School).


  1. Contacts parents/guardians and high schools to set up transition meetings for IEP/504 plans.
  2. Provides Vocational Rehabilitation consultation and guidance to students with disabilities at the request of parents and IEP/504 team members.
  3. Interviews and helps the student complete the transition application to determine the nature and extent of their disability.
  4. Develops and manages a caseload of students; consulting on the arranging and interpreting of assessments for IEP or 504 plans.
  5. Maintains a transition file on the student including documentation of disability and other appropriate items of eligibility.
  6. Refers students to the regular Vocational Rehabilitation Project to begin the development of their IPE (Individual Plan of Employment) for Vocational Rehabilitation services.