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Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Rehabilitation Services

Volume1,
Number 3
Project Timeline, click image for text only version

Welcome

Welcome to the 3rd bi-monthly Eliminate the Waitlist newsletter. As most of you know, this is written in an effort to provide information and updates about this project to staff and our partners. If you missed it, you can get some background information about this project by checking out our first two newsletters, as well as detailed information about the project plans on NoQ4U Website. No waiting in queue
Our September 15th roll out by the individual project team leaders was well presented and well received. There were excellent comments and helpful suggestions made. The team leaders have since reconvened their work groups to address the comments and the newest changes will be reflected in the final products which have been presented to the steering committee and will be incorporated in the training we have planned for staff over the next few months.
As always we welcome your feedback and any concerns or comments you may have. If you want, you can ask questions, or provide feedback by using the NoQ4U Feedback Form. If you are reading this outside the state system, please feel free to contact me through e-mail – Elizabeth.Hopkins@maine.gov. Please enjoy reading about our updates from the work groups!

Betsy Hopkins
Assistant Director
DOL
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

November 2009

Maine Department of Labor logo

In This Issue

Welcome
Message from the Director
Project Overview

Working Groups:
 . Entering the VR System
 . Plan Development
 . Plan Accomplishment
 . Exiting VR
 . Transition
 . Data and Technology

BRS Director Scribbles

The project to eliminate the DVR waitlist by October, 2010 is on-track and gathering steam!! The September 15th roll out day was a great success. According to feedback, staff who have been working so diligently on this project left feeling rejuvenated. We are all excited to implement the next steps of sharing the work with our peers and partners. The remaining dates of the system wide project feedback sessions are available here: Schedule of Feedback Sessions. I have enjoyed facilitating these sessions in partnership with the team leader from each work group. These are open to all Bureau staff as well as outside partners who are interested in learning how these changes might affect them. Please join me in welcoming new staff hired to help us with this important project. Everyone in our organization will play a crucial role as we move forward along a very ambitious and doable project timeline. The next phase of this project will focus on training for all staff and for our partners as we move to adapt program services to these changes. I realize that fitting yet one more thing in your schedules will be challenging, however in order for the message to be given clearly statewide, I ask that you make every effort to attend these important trainings. Thank you again, to all staff for your openness, commitment and flexibility during the design and implementation phases of this critically important work.

Jill Duson
Bureau Director
DOL
Bureau of Rehabilitation Services

Project Overview

Maine's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is in the process of embarking on a major initiative to eliminate the wait list and provide the "right service at the right time" to its consumers. Maine DVR plans to go "back to the basics" by evaluating each major process point with consumers. DVR has identified these points as: "Entering the VR System", "VR Plan Development", "VR Plan Accomplishment" and "Exiting the VR System". The goal is to provide services to all eligible clients at the time that they need them to achieve competitive, community-based employment. Use of Recovery Act money for the project: Maine Bureau of Rehabilitation Services American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 money has regulations that will allow for the department to hire limited-period positions providing they offer support to Title I applicants/clients. The focus of these positions (9 Rehabilitation Counselor I's and 8 Rehabilitation Assistants) will be to perform outreach activities contacting clients who have been on a waiting list or have lost contact with our agency, for the purpose of engagement in services and ultimate employment. After receiving many well qualified applicants, we have hired 9 Rehabilitation Counselor I's and 7 of the 8 Rehabilitation Assistants. In addition to the 16 direct service positions, we have hired two consultants in our central office. One is a ten hour a week position to assist us with following the strict reporting guidelines that the Federal Government has put in place to keep track of this funding, and the other is a half time business analyst position to work with our Office of Information and Technology department to help us move to a better electronic data collection and reporting system.

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Steering Committee Members

Jill Duson-Leader
John Shattuck
Karen Fraser
Betsy Hopkins
Paul Cote
Chris Littlefield
Dale Roupp
Mary Borelli-Bean
Catherine Singleton
Louise Sidelinger
Barbara Michaud
Peter Diplock
Samantha Fenderson
Beth Lehning
Joshua Howe
Drew Bolduc

Working Group: Entering the VR System

Goal of this group: This particular initiative has reviewed the way in which applicants enter into our system, how eligibility is determined, how Order of Selection classification is made, how work readiness is determined, how Trial Work Experiences are utilized and whether Extended Evaluation should be reinstituted. To date, the following decisions/initiatives have been determined as changes that will help streamline this part of the VR process: This group has made specific recommendations for how we orient clients to our program by developing a comprehensive, user friendly orientation program that will be available in a variety of accessible formats. We have started the development of this tool? and hope to be able to use it consistently with clients by January, 2010. Some of the orientation formats will include a web based format, DVD format, as well as presented in a group format. At the end of orientation, our goal is to eventually provide the ability to access an application for VR services through the internet, or by requesting a paper application to be sent from their nearest VR office. The intent is to improve entry to the VR system, which will enable work ready clients to be served more quickly and appropriately. This group has made recommendations to reinstitute the use of Status 06 Extended Evaluation, which will be used when counselors need additional testing and evaluation to accurately determine eligibility. In addition to this, an updated procedural directive regarding the use of Trial Work when assisting with eligibility has been drafted. As part of this group’s work, they have made a recommendation to adjust our order of selection eligibility requirement so that we are more in compliance with our rules and serving the most significantly disabled people who apply for our services first. A public hearing regarding the proposed rule change was held on October 22nd and approximately 20 people attended. The comments from the hearing, as well as VR’s responses, can be found on our website at (put in website link here). VR is moving ahead with the goal of implementing the new Order of Selection by January 1st, 2010. Staff will have the opportunity and be encouraged to sign up for one of three trainings about Order of Selection (offered in 3 areas of the state) being provided for them in early December.

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Membership

Chris Littlefield - Leader
Peter Diplock
Kathy Despres (CARES)
Abbie Miller
Angel McInnis
Linda Besore
David Utter
Anita Hesketh
Rosie Hartzler
Audrey L'Heureux
Beth Coombs
Barbara Greenstein
Jackie Healy
Stephen Crate
Carol Mitchell

Working Group: VR Plan Development - Status 10

This group's goal was to address the specific process of vocational goal development and plan writing. This team has been reviewing current activities and counselor practice in developing vocational goals and identifying services needed to achieve employment outcome for clients, as well as considering alternative tools and tracking systems. By the end of this year, the Career Exploration Workshop will have been run at least once in most offices. Training for two tools used in this workshop, the Employment Readiness Scale and the World of Work Inventory has been offered to counselors and supervisors across the state throughout the past three months. Bill Webb, a consultant who developed the curriculum for the Career Exploration Workshops, has also trained the counselors who have expressed an interest in facilitating these workshops, and they will continue to offer them for clients at outlying offices. Other recommendations from this group include an updated procedural directive regarding use of the comprehensive assessment process and form – this includes a recommendation for significant training for counselors so that in conjunction with the career exploration workshops, clearer vocational goals will be the result. This should improve time and use of resources throughout the VR process for both clients and counselors. A best practice protocol regarding how to best move clients into work plans, which may include a better use of situational assessments, has also been developed.

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Membership

Dale Ruopp - Leader
Melissa Caron
Susan Chesler-Doherty
Joshua Howe
David Nadeau
Joseph Roquebecil
Mike Shirley
Sheryl Smith
Anne Wheeler
Frank Zeller

Working Group: Plan Accomplishment

The focus of this team is on the provision of services deemed necessary for a person to reach their vocational goal. The team has been looking at how cost services are currently being provided and is making some recommendations for how to improve quality and cost of some of these services. Specifically, they are proposing that Maine revise its procedures when purchasing hearing aids for clients across the state. Two different models are being looked at, including one that was developed by Connecticut around the purchase of hearing aids. We are also working with John Shattuck, Division Director of the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late Deafened Department about another possible service model. In addition, they have developed an updated protocol for referring for job development services, and a computer purchase decision tree. There is also a recommendation to run a results based funding pilot with community rehabilitation providers.

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Membership

Mary Borelli Bean - Leader
Amy LeVasseaur
Barbara Michaud
Rebecca Pappas-Jones
Valerie Oswald

Working Group: Exiting VR

This subsection reviewed the way in which our clients exit the VR program. This group has explored other State models and made recommendations for needed changes regarding how we will improve our current process. Specifically, they have developed unsuccessful and successful closure forms with a written protocol for each. They have provided a group of best practice sample closure letters for counselors to choose from, and they have updated the case review forms, which will provide more consistent feedback to counselors regarding their case work practices. Improving how people exit the VR system from whichever status it occurs will improve the flow of cases, so that individuals will be served more effectively once the wait list is eliminated. Training in the use of these new protocols will happen with counselors in late January and early February.

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Membership

Cathy Singleton - Leader
Chris Bean
James Howard
Priscilla Coffin
Allison Trussell
Beth Lehning
Kim Waite
Sue Primiano
Sharon Lowrey
Janet Schlegel

Working Group: Transition from School to Work

The focus of this team is to look at the recommendations from all four groups and focus on how these recommendations can be adapted to working with transition students. The group has met three times so far and made some specific recommendations regarding Entering the VR system. They have made recommendations to have a separate referral form for transition students, and to add a portion on the proposed orientation product that is being developed that is specifically geared to students, their families and the school systems. They will continue to meet over the next month and a half, and plan to share their recommendations and ask for feedback from the Transition Counselor Group.

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Membership

Anne Wheeler / Wendy Warren- Leaders
Samantha Fenderson
Frank Zeller
James Howard
Priscilla Coffin
Helen Corriveau.
Monica Mitchell
Tom Van Tassel
Stephen Conroy
Janet Schlegel
Mary Knowlton
Sandra Lamb-Mickel
Clarissa Gates
Nancy Cronin

Working Group: Data and Technology

The Data and Technology group works to support the Wait List Project teams by providing technical consultation, research, and data and is leading the project to replace the existing case management system, ORSIS. A draft data report was presented to the steering group. The report will be available to staff and updated on a regular basis, and contain data points that will help measure the impact and effectiveness of the changes of the NoQ4U project. Summaries of the data will be available in the NoQ4U newsletter. A Business Analyst has started as part of SIQA on a 2 month contract to assist the Bureau with identifying the next steps in securing a product to replace ORSIS. His primary task will be to review and synthesize the information that has been gathered regarding the various options including the surveys done with other states, vendor demonstrations, and compare it to the updated specifications for a new system, and come up with a recommendation as to which option best suits the Bureau. The work will run through December.

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Membership

Joshua Howe- Leader
Karen Fraser
Anita Oliver
Mary Borelli Bean
Jeremy Barnard
David Poulin
Scott McNeil

Picture: New Directions in VR