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Commission on Disability & Employment Annual MeetingSeptember 29, 2009: 1:30 PM Central Maine Commerce Center, Francis Perkins Room
Maine Jobs Council COMMISSION ON DISABILITY AND EMPLOYMENT (CDE)
September 29, 2009 ANNUAL MEETING MINUTES
Present: Mel Clarrage, Chair, , Karen Fraser, Larry Glantz, Jenn Kimble, Susan Giguere, Rachel Dyer, Norb Nathanson, Mary Redmond Luce, Jean Coltart, Libby Stone-Sterling, Garret Oswald and Nancy Labbe Absent: Dennis Bouley, Michael Ashmore, Jill Duson, and Gayla Dwyer
The meeting began with introductions.
Maine Transition Network’s AmeriCorps Grant
Mary Redmond Luce provided an update on the Maine Transition Network’s AmeriCorps Grant, which has recently been approved. The grant comes to about $252,000. The goal of the grant is that youth with disabilities, ages 14 – 21, in public education will do a job club in school with an AmeriCorps member, and will work closely with Vocational Education for clear objectives.
The plan is that youth with disabilities will lead their IEP meetings and leave school knowing what they want to do in education and employment, and when applicable, independent living.
They will have a total of 20 AmeriCorps members starting in January. The RFP process will be broadcasted today to the 300 various high schools who might want to attend. They are hoping to get more schools than what they can fund because that will help them next year to prove to AmeriCorps that there are schools really in need of this.
What is hindering them is the state budget, especially around education and how much will be cut. Hopefully schools have local entitlement dollars, as well as stimulus dollars, set aside.
Part of AmeriCorps is that people are volunteering a year of service. Individuals do not receive a paycheck but rather a monthly stipend, healthcare, and childcare reimbursement if needed. AmeriCorps members are going to that they are willing to give 900 hours of their time for an education award, which will equal for half a year just under $3,000. Because of the Heart Act, which was passed last year, if you are an AmeriCorps member and you receive SSI, you will not be penalized.
They have partnered with Dept. of Education to track all kids who have exited school a year out, allowing them to keep track and compare kids with disabilities.
Schools must have a minimum of 15 kids who participate, 75 percent of the kids must spend less than 60 percent of their time in self-contained classrooms. It has been agreed that as long as objectives are met, they will get three years of funding. Maine is the only AmeriCorps grant in the nation that has youth with disabilities as a target group.
AmeriCorps will be looking to us to market this after the first year because it is so unique. Twenty AmeriCorps sites are planned. Each site will receive a 900 hour AmeriCorps member, but they need to have a $7,000 cash match for it, as well as being able to provide in-kind space. The Maine Transition Network (MTN) will provide a $2,000 stipend for an adult anchor (e.g., a teacher, special education director) who can support that member and keep them connected with the kids. Agency and other programs that work directly with school personnel may also apply for an AmeriCorps member. For more information please go to www.mainetransition.org and go to the AmeriCorps information key.
October 16 is the deadline for schools to apply. Mary requested an opportunity to provide periodic updates to the CDE to obtain feedback and suggestions.
It was suggested that Mary connect with members of the Maine Jobs Council, as well as the local Boards, which are comprised of employers. The MTN is hoping that the DVR will find that the work that the AmeriCorps member is doing has enough validity for them to financially support them as well.
Mel reported that he would be looking at updating the CDE membership list and will then send it out to members. Norb Nathanson stated he is resigning from his position as Vice Chair of the CDE.
Overview of CDE Activity in 2008-2009
Mel provided an update on the major activities that the CDE was involved in during the past years, which include:
• The Disability Program Navigator project, which has received additional funding. • In the area of data collection, we were trying to get Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, DHHS Office of Developmental Services and Office of Mental Health Services to pull together shared employment outcome information. A lot of work is being done in this area. The Muskie Institute has also been assisting in this area. • The State as a Model Employer initiative did not get a lot of traction, but at least a workgroup has been put together that Laurel Shippee provided an update on. • Continued energy was seen around the benefits counseling system.
Mel stated that in tangible, direct outcomes, he is not sure that we can say that we accomplished what our recommendations were, but because we had these items in our annual report, it created visibility in the Administration that it couldn’t be ignored.
The Executive Committee did a lot of work on a Work Plan, looking at a variety of different areas, such as employer outreach, membership, resource capacity with the state, maximizing federal resources. Toward the end of the year, it was decided that without a formal Executive Committee, it would be difficult for us to fully implement some of the work plan activities. A lot of foundation work has taken place in the past year.
Our presence with the Maine Jobs Council, with Garret’s assistance, has allowed for us to educate a number of members that persons with disabilities are key members of the workforce.
Mel also reported that October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and with the assistance of Libby and Larry, the Commission was able to work on a Proclamation and, through the Department of Labor, get the Governor to sign it.
Larry asked if we were going to limit those items on the next annual report to the four major areas listed last year. Mel stated that those items are also listed in the Strategic Plan. He believed that we should not limit our work to four specific things.
Norb mentioned that a work plan was developed, and at the same time the Executive Committee was developed. He doesn’t think it was ever approved by the full Committee. It listed a variety of objectives, and he wonders if any of those should be included in what we are trying to do. In the development of potential activities, there was little discussion as to what the resources were that would be needed to implement them, and to what extent we had access to those resources. This would be something for the new Executive Committee to discuss.
Mel reminded members that part of the charge of the CDE is not necessarily doing all of these activities, but ensuring that Maine somehow is. Progress is sometimes slow, but it is being made.
Mel stated that he has a responsibility to get a short snippet to Garret for the Maine Jobs Council Annual Report and will work on that soon.
Disability Program Navigator (DPN) Funding
Garret asked what additional funding has been found to sustain the DPN Program. Libby responded that federal funding did come in at a lower level than previous years, but it was a higher level than was expected. They also received funding from the Bureau of Employment Services and the CHOICES CEO grant, which will sustain the grant until June 30, 2010. It was agreed that methods needed to be developed to sustain the program. Garret stated that strategies needed to be developed now to sustain the project. Libby suggested that DPN funding be revisited at the November meeting.
Jennifer Kimble reported that their federal funding was authorized through September, 2010. Their contracts go through March or April. She expects to get another extension. A small cut was made to mental health funding, which was easily absorbed and was reinstated this year. They also have gotten support from BRS. They transitioned to a new data collection system effective January 1, and there was very little guidance on how much data to enter retroactively. It is possible that a glitch in the reporting system may be under-representing outcomes for the program. Jenn is working with federal partners on this and will keep the CDE updated.
Mel stated that this is an example of the type of thing that the Executive Committee and focus groups can address and deal with.
Election of Officers Mel explained that the Secretary and Treasurer are new positions recently put into the bylaws. The Executive Committee would include the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer.
A motion was made by Norb Nathanson to nominate Jennifer Kimble to be Treasurer of the CDE. Larry Glantz seconded the motion. Members voted unanimously in favor, and the motion carried. Garret Oswald reminded members that each Committee has $2,000 available to them that can be used for such things as printing, travel, and coffee and donuts.
Discussion followed on whether this Commission can, in and of itself, apply for a grant and accept an award.
Mel explained that the Secretary position would be responsible to disseminate information to the other joint councils or to assist in getting correspondence to the Chair. A motion was made by Susan Giguere to nominate Rachel Dyer to be Secretary of the CDE. Norb Nathanson seconded the motion. Members voted unanimously in favor, and the motion carried.
Mel explained that the person elected to the Vice Chair position would serve for the one year remaining in Norb’s term. The key role for this position would be to try to move the activities of the Executive Committee forward. A motion was made by Norb Nathanson to nominate Susan Giguere to be Vice Chair of the CDE. Larry Glantz seconded the motion. Members voted unanimously in favor, and the motion carried. Susan explained that she often had meeting conflicts, and Mel responded that most of the Executive Committee meetings were done by phone, and the group would work with her to find available times.
Mel felt that a full meeting in October did not make sense, given all the activities that are going on with Disability Employment Awareness month. It would also give the Executive Committee time to regroup and map out some strategies to move forward. Members agreed. The Executive Committee, in the meantime, will discuss the pros and cons of moving to quarterly meetings. Members were asked to notify Nancy Labbe if they wanted to weigh in on this.
Maine Jobs Council
As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars that came in through the workforce development system, there was a need to do a plan modification. The MJC went through that process, and recommendations were made. The Policy Committee met several times and made a number of suggestions. They also ensured that all local workforce boards were engaged in that activity. At their last meeting, a recommendation was made by the Administration that a specific recommendation of one of the subcommittees be included in the plan modification (30% for nontraditional occupations). Mel voiced concern about these results and access to resources for people with disabilities, especially as it relates to the CDE’s advisory role to the Governor.
Mel Clarrage requested feedback from members on what they thought of this morning’s joint meeting with other disability-related councils and asked what directions are most important. Is it the collaboration with the disability committees? Is it workforce investment? Is it both? Larry responded that the more numbers involved with a number of issues, the better overall understanding will be for all of the overall stakeholders we are trying to educate and influence. Collaboration with other groups should be one of the top priorities with this group. Accessing the minutes of other groups will help.
Garret mentioned that one of the responsibilities of the chairs will be to figure out what the structure is to bring the separate groups together. This can be done in several ways, such as inviting them to the CDE meetings. When talking about chairs being invited, please don’t forget the other subcommittees of the MJC – such as the Women’s Subcommittee, Veteran’s Subcommittee, and Older Worker’s Subcommittee.