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Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Rehabilitation Services

Number 2
Project Timeline, click image for text only version


Welcome to the 2nd bi-monthly Eliminate the Waitlist newsletter. As I stated in the first newsletter, this is written in an effort to keep all staff and our partners updated on our progress with this very exciting project. If you missed it, you can get some background information about this project by checking out the first newsletter which is archived on our website (put address here) There has been a lot of work accomplished over the past two months, and there have been a few staff changes in our central office as well. Barbara Michaud has joined us as our new training coordinator. Arthur Jacobson has retired as our assistant director and most recently as the acting director after 35 years of state service! Penny Plourde will be returning during the month of September as the division director, and I have taken on some of Art’s previous duties as the acting assistant director. No waiting in queueWe have lots of work ahead of us as we continue to finalize the recommendations and proposals from all the work groups and start the process of training staff and informing our partners. 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 clicking on the following form: If you are reading this outside the state system, please feel free to contact me through e-mail – Please enjoy reading about our updates from the work groups!

Betsy Hopkins
Acting Assistant Director
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

September 2009

Maine Department of Labor logo

In This Issue

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

It has been a very demanding summer period, and it is shaping up to be an even busier fall. Thank you, one and all, for the sheer volume of work that has been going on around the state. Continuing with our “business as usual” while attending the numerous trainings and meetings that have been and will be occurring over the next months is a challenge for us all. I appreciate your willingness and openness to adopting best practices and alternate approaches to achieving success with our clients. There will be confusion and discomfort as we become used to new processes. I am confident, however, that in the end we will have achieved a more efficient, client friendly VR program. For over three decades, our system and our clients have been blessed by the tireless efforts and dedication of Arthur Jacobson. He has been a strong leader in this work, and we will miss his dedication and support as we move forward. We wish him well, and hope to have him back from time to time to help us out with special projects if he’s not too busy enjoying his retirement!
Our field offices are in the process of hiring new staff whose presence will take some of the burden off while we finalize and implement changes. I look forward to reviewing the completed recommendations from the five work teams in September. We will continue to use this newsletter and a variety of other tools to keep you all posted about our progress with the Waitlist project.

Any change, even for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts”. Arnold Bennett(british novelist/playwright (1867-1931)

Jill Duson
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. To date, we have received over 120 applications for 16 project positions across the state. Hiring teams have begun interviewing for these project positions and will continue to do so through the middle of September. The goal is to have these positions filled with people by the end of September, so they can start contacting and working with people currently on our wait list.

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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 seeks to review 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 program and hope to be able to use it consistently with clients by December 2009, with some trial runs of the program in late October and November. Some of the orientation formats will include that which is web based, on DVD, as well as presented in a group. At the end of orientation, our goal is to provide the ability to access an application for VR services through the internet, paper format, or by requesting a paper application to be sent from their nearest VR office. The goal will be 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 which will be used when counselors need additional testing and evaluation is required before determining 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. More information about this rule change will become available on our website, as well as at a Public Hearingwhich has been scheduled for October 22nd from 1:00 – 4:00 in Augusta VR Central Office with videoconferencing to sites at the Bangor, Lewiston, and Portland Career Centers. Sign language interpreters will be provided at the Augusta and Bangor locations.

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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 is 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 an employment outcome with clients, as well as considering alternative tools and tracking systems. In June, the Bangor office piloted an Employment Readiness/Career Exploration Workshop to be used with clients after they have been determined eligible for VR, and before they develop an IPE. The pilot was very successful, and plans are in place to pilot this workshop in each of our offices between now and January. Interested VR Counselors are being trained by our consultant, Bill Webb, who developed this curriculum. The goal once they are trained, is that the counselors will continue to offer these workshops at each office site. 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 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 move clients into work plans thatmay include improved use of situational assessments has been developed.

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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 follow a model that was developed by Connecticut around the purchase of hearing aids. This model is being further discussed, and a meeting is scheduled with a group of 9 audiologists around the state, which will be facilitated by John Shattuck, Division of Deafness director. In addition, they have developed an updated protocol for job development services referrals, and a computer purchase decision tree. There is also a recommendation to run a results based funding pilot with community rehabilitation providers. This pilot is slated to start some time in the fall.

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

Working Group: Exiting VR

This work team reviewed the way in which our clients exit the VR program. Other State models were explored and recommendations made 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 form, 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.

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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

Initially all the individual work groups were tasked with determining how to better help High School students with disabilities in the transition from school to work, However it has been determined that a separate transition work group will be convened to look at all the recommendations from all four groups and focus on how these recommendations can be adapted to working with transition students. This group will start its work in mid September with consultation from the state’s transition teams

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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 supports the Wait List Project teams by providing technical consultation, research, data and is leading the project to replace the existing case management system, ORSIS. As the wait list project teams near their wrap-up, the data group has received a number of draft forms to create in fillable and accessible formats in advance of the groups’ September 15th meeting at the Calumet Club in Augusta. These forms are being proposed as replacements, additions or modifications to existing forms. Work continues on pursuing a system to replace the existing ORSIS case management system. A laptop computer was purchased and sent to Washington State to install their STARS system on it. Upon receiving it back, it will be evaluated from technology and user perspectives to determine whether it can be successfully modified or whether other options would be better suited to meet BRS needs. The Daily Operations Group (DOG) continues to monitor servers in the local offices, and is working on methods to combine the data on the different servers into one database, as this will be necessary in implementing a new system.

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

Picture: New Directions in VR