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Commission on Disability and Employment MeetingJuly 17, 2008:
Maine Jobs Council COMMISSION ON DISABILITY AND EMPLOYMENT (CDE)
July 17, 2008 MINUTES
Present: Mel Clarrage, Chair, Dennis Bouley, Michael Ashmore, Norb Nathanson, Gayla Dwyer, Rachel Dyer (for Julia Bell), Nadine Edris, Libby Stone-Sterling, Karen Fraser, Garret Oswald, Eric Dibner, and Nancy Labbe Absent: Julia Bell, Larry Glantz, Betsy Hopkins, Jenn Kimble, Alan Brigham, Butch Dawbin, Zahira DuVall, Richard Sterrs, and Jill Duson
I. Annual Report
Norb Nathanson provided an update on the status of the 2008 Annual Report. A draft will be sent to Mel Clarrage and Karen Fraser for review, and then it will be sent to Larry’s staff.
II. Annual Meeting
Mel explained that, although the CDE doesn’t normally have a formal annual meeting, he thought it might be beneficial to have one at some time during the fall conference. Following discussion, it was agreed to hold a one-hour breakfast meeting on Day 2 of the conference. A couple of topics to be discussed include determining the CDE Chair for the next term and reviewing the By-laws. Members were asked to send Mel any other suggested topics they may have.
September 23 – 24 Fall Conference: Karen Fraser reported that Vanessa Bell has been very helpful with the conference planning. Gayla Dwyer briefed the group on progress made and provided a handout summarizing Day 1 plans to date. The target audience will be providers of employment services to people with disabilities, including Community Rehab. Providers, DHHS staff, vocational rehabilitation counselors, CareerCenter staff, SSA Employment Networks, Day Hab. staff, and school/transition staff.
The conference focus will be:
• Re-energize the message and emphasis that people, regardless of their individual barriers, CAN work. • Tools and resources for providers to help people obtain/sustain employment. • Trends in the field.
A survey form is being sent out with the “Save the Date” notice to get an idea of which topic areas will be of the most interest. A wrap-up raffle give-away is being planned for the end of the day.
Gayla asked for members’ input on a conference name. Two suggestions were proposed by the planning group: “Power of Work,” and “To Employment…and Beyond.” Following discussion, members agreed the conference name would be “Power of Work,” but that Day 1 and Day 2 will have separate subheadings to best get the interest of the target audiences.
The group is also working with Denise Bissonette to coordinate her presentation with audience needs. There was a little discussion about whether video-conferencing should be offered to provide pieces of the conference to those who will be unable to come to Augusta. Norb Nathanson has been looking into the university’s system and there is potential to use that. Nadine Edris also asked about taping Denise’s remarks for stream videoing later and she’ll check with Larry Glantz about whether it would be allowed by Denise’s contract.
The Day 2 group will have its next teleconference on Monday, the 21st. As part of that day’s focus on job seekers, a WISE seminar is being planned for the morning, followed by Denise Bissonette as a luncheon speaker and a rotating series of three workshops in the afternoon. The WISE (Work Incentive Seminar Event) will offer information on Social Security work incentives, Community Work Incentive Coordinators, and opportunities under Ticket to Work – geared to SSI/DI beneficiaries. Local Employment Networks under Ticket to Work will also be invited to participate. The SSA’s Area Work Incentive Coordinator who covers Maine (James Pontbriand) plans to attend the conference and lead the WISE workshop.
Discussion was then held concerning how people with a disability perceive themselves as workers and how society perceives them as not able to work. In response, Karen gave an example of the history of Social Security’s disability programs, which require that individuals prove that they are too disabled to work before they can get assistance. The current Ticket to Work Program is an effort to change this paradigm by providing incentives and support for people with disabilities who want to work.
Disability Mentoring Day 2008: Libby Stone-Sterling reported that planning is continuing to move along. In each region, committees have been formed to plan local events. A conference call is planned for all stakeholders next week. A core group is meeting regularly. In Portland, the DMD group is planning a full day of activities ranging from job shadows and speakers to a proclamation from the Mayor. Tentatively the events will be held on the USM Portland campus. The group would also like to have a statewide Proclamation made by the Governor and will work with Mel Clarrage and Larry Glantz’s office to assist in moving this along. Michael Ashmore spoke on the importance of having students get released from school (with credit) to attend DMD events. As he has an upcoming meeting with the Commissioner of Education, Mel asked him to please bring the issue to her attention. Michael stated that it would be very helpful if she was to issue an informational letter encouraging schools to participate and award credit.
Accessibility Work Group: Rachel Dyer and Eric Dibner, State ADA Accessibility Coordinator, met this week to discuss the Commission’s role on accessibility issues. Eric distributed copies of proposed legislative amendments.
Members discussed organizing a conversation with other groups to determine who would be willing to participate in a coalition in order to promote accessibility.
Michael Ashmore made a motion to request that absent members vote on moving forward with legislation to update the statute. This was seconded by Norb and was accepted without objection. Mel will send out to members for feedback.
Eric also reported that he met with staff at the Bureau of Human Resources, who have agreed to make revisions to the direct hire state application so that it will be accessible for on-line completion.
Reapplication of Choices CEO II Grant: Mel reported that the grant has been submitted. As part of the grant, an advisory committee is being recommended which will include representatives from the CDE, MDOL and DHHS. The committee will be meeting in the near future.
Policy Committee: Mel reported that the 10% funds under the Workforce Investment Act were discussed at the last MJC Policy Committee meeting. Garret Oswald described incentive funds that would be available to the Local Workforce Investment Boards for special projects targeting various groups, such as people with disabilities, older workers, women, or youth.
Meetings with DECD and DAFS: Mel reported that we are not going to get the disability coordinator position reinstated or funded in the Bureau of Human Resources. He explained that in his meeting with the DAFS Commissioner made it clear that she felt a cultural shift needs to happen with all Human Resource staff and with all supervisors. The push now becomes for the CDE to make sure that steps are being taken to change the culture. The CDE needs to discuss how it can work with Department of Administrative and Financial Services to move this effort forward. One piece is that biennial reports need to be submitted by departments to the Legislature on their hiring practices, and another is the task force being headed by Laurel Shippee in Human Resources.
Mel reported the DECD Commissioner did not attend the scheduled meeting, but department representatives said that they have very limited resources and all they can offer related to the employment of people with disabilities is assistance with some marketing and media tools. Elaine Scott was named as the DECD point person for this.
Executive Committee: Mel requested at least three members volunteer to be on a group to examine the CDE’s need and purpose for an Executive Committee. According to Garret Oswald, other MJC committees do not have such a committee, but there is nothing that would prevent it from being established. As Vice Chair, Norb agreed to participate in the work group. Michael Ashmore expressed an interest in helping to review and revise the bylaws. A brief discussion was held on the nature and role of an Executive Committee as part of the CDE and its decision-making, but further work is needed, which Nadine Edris agreed to facilitate. Karen Fraser and Rachel Dyer will also participate. Mel will convene a meeting of the volunteers for some time in August.
Next Meeting: Thursday, August 21 Central Maine Commerce Center Francis Perkins Room 9:00 am – 11:00 am