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Commission on Disability & Employment MeetingJanuary 20, 2011: 9:00 AM Central Maine Commerce Center, Francis Perkins Room
COMMISSION ON DISABILITY AND EMPLOYMENT (CDE) January 20, 2011 MINUTES
Present: Mel Clarrage, Chair, Jenn Kimble, Jean Coltart, Karen Fraser, Norb Nathanson, Rachel Dyer, Auta Main, Gail Dyer, and Nancy Labbe Absent: Susan Giguere, Gayla Dwyer, Mary Redmond Luce, and Larry Glantz
The meeting began with introductions.
Executive Committee Update:
Jennifer Kimble provided a summary on recent Executive Committee activity, explaining that an outline of what the group had discussed was emailed to members. Their main discussion revolved around how to encourage movement of the CDE Annual Report recommendations and get more specific information about state agency performance and resources related to the employment of people with disabilities.
They reviewed recommendations to the Governor and Legislature to drive topics for upcoming meetings and determined the following items to be ongoing topics that should be reviewed and updated at each meeting as needed:
• Change reporting/organizational structure of the Commission as it relates to the MJC and the Governor’s Office. • Ensure access to appropriate health care for working people with disabilities.
The outline also included a suggested agenda for the next six months, as follows:
• January: The CDE Chair will meet with the Governor’s Office regarding the work of the CDE; discussion will include the need for increased attention to ensuring continued focus on post-school outcomes for youth with disabilities, and ameliorating transportation issues that prevent people with disabilities from getting to work. • February and/or March: The Executive Committee will invite a representative from the Office of Adult Mental Health Services, Office of Adults with Cognitive and Physical Disabilities Services, and the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, to present information regarding the agency’s budget for employment services, how these budget dollars are used (by category), and the agency’s employment outcome data for individuals served. They will also be asked to outline their progress and plans related to the following CDE recommendation:
o Maintain or increase funding for the provision of employment services for people with disabilities. (The CDE recommends the state make no further cuts to these support systems and instead develop additional funding streams for these services.)
• April: The Executive Committee will invite a representative from the Bureau of Human Resources to outline the Bureau’s progress and plans related to the following CDE recommendation:
o Lead the way for Maine’s business community. (The CDE recommends that the State now demonstrate that individuals with disabilities are a valued and valuable part of Maine’s workforce, with renewed commitment to activities demonstrating its performance as a Model Employer.)
• May: The Executive Committee will invite the Maine Department of Labor Commissioner to outline the Department’s progress and plans related to the following CDE recommendation:
o Ensure that all individuals with disabilities have access to the resources of Maine’s general workforce development services. (The Commission should report to the CDE by June 30, 2011 the mechanism by which Maine’s Workforce Development System tracks disability in its general employment and training programs; a clear explanation of the partnership between job training programs and the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services; and recommendations for needed improvements to ensure that Mainers with disabilities have equal access to all services in Maine’s Workforce Development System.)
• June: The CDE wants to facilitate Maine employers’ recognition of individuals with disabilities as a talented labor pool that is able to meet the needs of businesses, including small business. The Executive Committee will invite members from the Chambers of Commerce in Maine to have an open discussion about the Chamber’s position, policies and practices related to employment of people with disabilities; the Chamber’s awareness/perception of and experiences with programs that support the employment of people with disabilities in Maine; and suggestions the members may have to further employment for people with disabilities in Maine’s small businesses.
Gail Dyer suggested that the CDE consider folding into their discussion a performance report that the MJC Policy Committee Work Group has been working on; it talks about workforce development outcomes across agencies. They are working on a list of measures that agencies have in common. Karen Fraser suggested including this in the May discussion.
Karen also reported that the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services has completed its 2009-2010 Highlights document and distributed copies to members. The document is also available online at http://www.maine.gov/rehab/brs_highlights/index.shtml.
Mel asked members to get back to him or Jenn by next Tuesday if they wanted the Executive Committee to request other data from the offices that will be invited to February’s meeting. Jenn stated that the Executive Committee outline would be revisited after each meeting.
Legislative Bills Update:
Mel Clarrage reported that the Executive Committee had discussed upcoming legislation, in particular LD 28, “Resolve, To Improve Access to Employment Opportunities for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities and Autistic Disorders.” This resolve directs the Department of Health and Human Services to amend the MaineCare Benefits Manual to remove the language that restricts the number of persons with intellectual disabilities and autistic disorders who may work at any given work site or location to 50% of a business’s workforce at that work site or location.
Rachel Dyer explained that this bill would require the department to roll back some rulemaking that it did last year. The 50% number was chosen because it matches what some of the federal guidelines are. The bill affects a relatively small number of people.
Mel requested that the CDE come up with a recommendation that the CDE is in opposition to this change. He also requested that if testimony be submitted and provided, that it be given by somebody who is not representing an agency that is already opposing it. Norb stated he would be happy to do this. Fact sheets are being developed and will be provided to help craft the testimony.
A motion was made by Norb to have the CDE offer testimony in opposition to this bill. Jenn seconded, Jeanie abstained, and the motion carried.
Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) Update:
Auta Main reported that interviews were done in December for the Rehabilitation Counselor positions in Machias and Bangor. In January, a second hiring freeze was put in place by the new Governor; this will slow up the process, but no problems are expected at this time in getting the positions filled.
The Disability Resource Coordinator in Bangor (Gwen LaPointe) has already been hired; interviews for Presque Isle will be done next week. The funds for these positions are contracted out to the Local Workforce Investment Boards (LWIBs) for those areas.
Gwen LaPointe has met with the Tri-County LWIB and established an ad hoc committee of employers that will help to develop/revise/shape LWIB policies for better serving people with disabilities. She also did a survey asking 20 employers that were affiliated with the LWIB specific questions about diversity hiring. Auta looks forward to reviewing the survey responses.
Karen Fraser will be providing a Ticket to Work 101 Training for the full DEI team on March 15. Also, the Bureau of Employment Services (BES) has obtained the assistance of Kevin Nickerson, from the DEI Technical Assistance Team in New York, to create a Ticket to Work Business & Outreach Plan. To date, BES has 15 people who have assigned tickets to their employment network. They hope to increase this by another ten in each region by the end of the year.
Auta also reported that they have completed a “Career Center Staff Guide to Disability Work Incentives.” It is at the print shop now. It was decided that in order to make sure that the document gets into everyone’s hands, the document will be presented at individual staff meetings. Karen requested that the document be made available on the web.
Meeting with the Governor’s Office:
Mel recently met with the Governor’s Chief of Staff and Policy Advisory for the Department of Labor and Economic Development. He basically provided a brief introduction of what the CDE is, its current organizational structure, and he encouraged the Governor to utilize the CDE as an advisory committee (as defined in statute). He talked about the CDE history, the Maine Jobs Council, lack of budget, and provided a copy of the CDE Annual Report.
Norb Nathanson recently sent members a link to a BBC website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/) which deals with all aspects of disabilities. It appears to be a very comprehensive site.
Rachel Dyer will be sending members an electronic copy of a report on national employment services for people with disabilities (regarding segregated and exploited workers), which was recently released by the National Disability Rights Network. It includes discussion on slave labor issues for people with disabilities, especially in the turkey farm arena.
Jean Coltart expressed her concern about the operations of the Executive Committee.
Next Meeting: Thursday, February 17, 2011 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Francis Perkins Room Central Maine Commerce Center, Augusta