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Commission on Disability & Employment MeetingMay 21, 2009: 9:00 AM Central Maine Commerce Center, Francis Perkins Room
May 21, 2009 MINUTES
Present: Mel Clarrage, Chair, Rachel Dyer, Susan Giguere, Michael Ashmore, Larry Glantz, Karen Fraser, Jenn Kimble, Norb Nathanson, Libby Stone-Sterling, Gayla Dwyer, Dennis Bouley, Jill Duson, Jean Coltart, Christine Robinson, and Nancy Labbe Absent: Garret Oswald
The meeting began with introductions by everyone.
MJC Policy Committee:
Mel Clarrage reported that with the ARRA funds, the Workforce Investment Board has amended its State Plan. He advocated the inclusion of employment for people with disabilities in the language and will forward a copy of this document for CDE review.
Mel provided an update from the Executive Committee. A copy of the draft bylaws has been sent to voting members. Susan Giguere explained that she had some suggested changes. The vote on the bylaw changes was tabled until final feedback could be gathered. Mel suggested that anyone who had changes to the bylaws get them to him by email by next Friday, May 29. Norb Nathanson pointed out that there seemed to be one paragraph that was duplicated later on in the document and it was agreed that this could be re-stated to better fit the Mission section.
Members were reminded that the Joint Annual Meeting (with the State Rehabilitation Councils and the State Independent Living Council) is scheduled for September 16 and 17. The Joint Chairs group will be meeting on June 4 and more information should be available. Mel, Rachel Dyer, and Jean Coltart will participate in the planning for the CDE, and Susan Giguere offered to participate by telephone.
The Executive Committee also discussed assisting with the Disability Program Navigator statewide assessment and recommended that this is an appropriate role for the CDE as the advisory group to the DPN initiative. Rachel will be the point person to work with Libby on this project.
The Executive Committee has almost completed the CDE Work Plan, which Mel will disseminate to members soon.
Michael Ashmore provided an update on LD 1356 (An Act to Improve the Ability of the Department of Education to Conduct Longitudinal Data Studies). This bill requires the Department of Education to develop and maintain the Maine Statewide Longitudinal Data System. The purpose is to improve the ability of the Department to conduct longitudinal data studies by permitting the use of student social security numbers for tracking individual student enrollment history and achievement data over time. This bill has been voted Ought to Pass by the Committee, approved by the House, but not yet been voted on by the Senate.
As mentioned above in the update from the Executive committee, Libby Stone Sterling reported on a DPN assessment model out of Colorado which offers a survey tool for DPN projects to learn how their efforts are progressing. The assessment will take place over the next couple months, and when it is completed, the findings will be reported on to the CDE.
Libby also mentioned that filming is scheduled for next Wednesday at the Augusta CareerCenter for a video “Orientation to CareerCenter Services.” The target audience for the video is people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The video will be narrated in ASL, with voice over and captioning. She and Eric Dibner will be working with a film crew from the University of Maine at Augusta.
The BES Ticket to Work Employment Network development is on track with Bangor, Machias and Presque Isle services scheduled to become available on July 1, 2009.
In conjunction with the WIPA project, a WISE event is being held in June at the Bangor CareerCenter to offer information on Social Security work incentives along with a disability resources/assistive technology fair.
Michael then provided an update on this year’s Mission Transition events. There were nine events around the state. A total of 903 students, 78 schools, 349 adults, and 145 vendors participated. There were also a total of 89 workshops.
Susan Giguere requested that Michael send her an email with the contact names for each of the sites. She was interest in the outreach to businesses in becoming involved in these regional events
Mel received a lot of feedback on the use of PolyCom and reported that it might be better to enhance membership first and then figure out how to make attendance easier. The Thursday morning time slot currently used for CDE meetings is a high-demand time for the equipment.
Larry Glantz distributed copies of “Save the Date” cards for the November 4 fall conference and requested that members disseminate to as many employers as possible.
II. Report from the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services
Jill Duson distributed copies of a document that described an overview of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services continuous improvement projects for 2009-2010. This document included five-year trend lines in BRS vital signs, such as number of open cases, successful closures vs. unsuccessful closures, and time in plan, to name a few.
Ms. Duson explained that state budget reductions could mean BRS will lose about $1.3 million in combined state and federal matching dollars. Of great concern is the impact of the shutdown days in serving clients and maintaining efforts required federally. BRS is examining all General Fund dollars to see if there are some alternative ways to use them, so that they would quality for the state match. Michael Ashmore asked about the $18,000 in general funds that VR gives for Mission Transition and also mentioned DBVI. Jill will forward these ideas to the Division Directors.
As part of the Recovery Act, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) will receive approximately $2.1 million in federal stimulus funds; the Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI) will receive approximately $480,000, for a total of $2.5 million. The Bureau has three years to spend these funds. There are specific criteria for using these funds. Funds must be spent on innovative ideas and/or systems improvement, but an exit strategy is also needed since these are time limited funds. Half of the funding has already been received and the rest expected in October, 2009.
DVR will focus funds on eliminating the wait list by October 1, 2010. DBVI will focus on improving their competitive employment outcomes by 17%. Project plans are being completed and the Bureau is now at the beginning of the implementation stage. Some new two-year project positions will be on board soon. The goal is to also move out of the Order of Selection and be able to serve people as they request services and not have to prioritize based upon the significance of disability.
Jill agreed to come back to the CDE in six months to provide another update.
III. Report from the Office of Adult Mental Health Services
Christine Robinson provided an update on the Office of Adult Mental Health Services (OAMHS) and distributed copies of a handout showing the number of clients currently receiving long term support as well as length of time current clients have been supported.
Ms. Robinson described long-term supports, which help people keep their jobs. They currently support 222 clients. The OAMHS is always looking for ways to manage this resource as effectively as possible and is in search of a valid evaluation tool to determine needs for long term supports. BRS is helping OAMHS with this effort by putting out an inquiry on the UMass Boston TACE Center’s list serv.
OAMHS funds seven employment specialists throughout the state through a contract with Maine Medical Center Vocational Services. There are a total of 266 people, who have received services from these specialists through the end of March, 2009. They also fund two Community Work Incentive Coordinators through another project there. Additionally, OAMHS funds employment specialists who are on each of the ten Assertive Community (ACT) Teams throughout the state. As of July 1, 2009, their agency contracts will speak more specifically to the percentage of time the employment specialists should be providing employment services, rather than case management.
The Need for Change Scale has been used with clients in the agencies hosting employment specialists from Maine Medical Center, and a handout of these results was provided. There is an interest to expand the use of this scale to other MH providers. The Scale is a way to survey clients to determine how many people are interested in making a change in their employment and/or education.
The OAMHS, OACPD, and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation are continuing to work together on an employment data system, along with staff from the Choices Medicaid Infrastructure grant.
IV. Other Business
Mel reported that Alicia Kellogg, Bureau of Human Resources, has been invited to attend the June meeting to provide an update on the State as a Model Employer.
Jenn Kimble also offered to do an update on the WIPA (benefits counseling) project and Mel will consult with the Executive Committee about this in pulling together the agenda.
Next Meeting: Thursday, June 18, 2009 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Central Maine Commerce Center Francis Perkins Room 45 Commerce Drive, Augusta