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Meetings & Minutes
Commission on Disability & Employment MeetingJanuary 21, 2010: 9:00 AM Central Maine Commerce Center, Francis Perkins Room, Augusta, ME
• Executive Committee
• Disability Program Navigator
o Video: “Welcome to the Career Center for Customers who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing”
Present: Mel Clarrage, Chair, Susan Giguere, Gayla Dwyer, Rachel Dyer, Larry Glantz, Jenn Kimble, Norb Nathanson, Jean Coltart, , Libby Stone-Sterling, Karen Fraser, and Nancy Labbe Absent: Mary Redmond Luce, Michael Ashmore, and Jill Duson
The meeting began with introductions.
AmeriCorps & Disability Program Navigator
Mel explained that there would not be an update on these two programs today because Mary Redmond Luce and Libby Stone-Sterling could not make the meeting. The video entitled “Welcome to the Career Center for Customers who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing” will be moved to next month’s meeting.
Mel stated that about a year ago, when VR dollars were being cut, he began to ask questions as to whether there were other state dollars to help leverage those funds. Over the past few months, there have been conversations that possibly some DHHS dollars through adult mental health may be able to be utilized. This topic was heard at the DHHS and Appropriations Committee meeting. Jean Coltart stated that she attended and provided testimony at the hearing.
The recommendation was made that some of those dollars be transferred from DHHS to BRS, so that BRS could use them for federal match. Karen responded that it looks like this is moving forward and when the Department of Labor’s Commissioner was before Appropriations a few weeks ago, little was asked about this transfer. She noted that the bulk of that discussion revolved around Unemployment issues.
Mel explained that there were dual funding mechanisms, which meant we were not able to fully maximize federal dollars. This transfer means that we won’t lose almost a $1 million in funds for employment services. He also reiterated that this is a big part of what the Commission’s role is: to advise and make recommendations for the maximum use of all dollars to benefit people with disabilities to go to work.
Maine Jobs Council:
There has been no Policy Committee meeting or full Maine Jobs Council meeting since our last meeting.
Rachel, Susan, Jennifer, and Mel met last week. Rachel summarized what the group talked about:
• Involvement of members, particularly around new members and recruitment.
• Conflicts with peoples’ other roles and the importance of having some people who don’t have another hat to wear, who can act independently. Jean mentioned that she spoke with Garret Oswald about implementing an immunity clause for people whereby their jobs are protected.
• Joint Councils: they discussed the possibility of revisiting this to see if we can re-engage people around employment. Mel stated that he is on the State Independent Living Council, and they will be looking at people with disabilities who are living in poverty due to a lack of work.
• Areas of focus, such as employer outreach. For example, who else is doing this work, and how are these entities coordinating their work. • Accessibility, service delivery and advocacy: some of the things we had asked for over a year ago, such as data sharing, we have no information on. • They developed a list of goals and objectives. • They recognize that people having jobs are the most important thing, but what aspect of that needs our attention.
Mel will be drafting a follow-up letter regarding the recommendation about shared data collection between departments; this letter will be requested of both Commissioner Harvey and Commissioner Fortman, with a copy to Matt Peterson, who was also at that joint council meeting. Mel hopes to get some solid movement on what’s being done in terms of collecting common data.
Susan was recruited to delve into figuring out what is being done in terms of employer outreach through some of the state agencies and grants, and how it’s being connected and collaborated. Karen suggested that Susan connect with Valerie Oswald, who is responsible for employer relations.
Susan asked if a flow chart (similar to the organizational chart that Norb is working on) might be developed that would bring to the surface where there might be more collaboration going on between state departments than is going on currently. Norb requested that the group make up a list of every program that you are aware of, have contact with, or know about, that serves people with disabilities. He offered to compile a list of every program that is serving disabled people. He would like to have (1) what the program is, (2) what agency it is in, and (3) what it is serving, for both state agencies and for contracted services.
Susan asked what state has a great standard for how they are dealing with people with disabilities. Jean mentioned that Cornell University has done a study that has a lot of data on this topic. Karen agreed to send Susan that website.
Discussion was then held on inviting various speakers to do brief orientations on different topics of interest to members. One priority area would be workforce development. Being included during the developmental phase is also important. It was agreed that information from speakers should be received well before the meeting so that it can be reviewed in advance. These sessions should be limited to 20-30 minutes.
Karen said website, workforce development and employment data are the three biggest areas being worked on. Larry stated that his organization would be happy to help in organizing the information so that it is concise.
Jill Duson did a presentation several months ago on BRS initiatives; it was agreed to invite her back to do an update for the April meeting. Rachel suggested that the group might want to pull out the notes from her previous presentation and come up with questions that we may want addressed.
Mel mentioned that because the CDE is the steering committee for both the AmeriCorps Grant and the Disability Program Navigator Program, we should continue to have both topics on the agenda for every CDE meeting.
Karen reported that things continue to not look good for the Maine Transition Network to exist beyond July 1 because of their General Funds. The challenge has been in finding a place for the AmeriCorps Grant. Mary has been in conversations with various people to try to figure out the details.
Mel will be in contact with Mary to get an update for the February meeting, in case she can’t make the meeting.
Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP):
Jennifer distributed copies of an ODEP paper announcing a series of six Listening Sessions across the country on disability employment. Each session is an opportunity for the public to provide input to Federal officials on their ideas for more effective ways to employ women, veterans and minorities with disabilities and what is currently working in their regions to increase employment of people with disabilities. A session will be held in Boston on March 3. The Executive Committee agreed that the CDE should participate in some way by providing recommendations.
The group agreed to have a workgroup develop a list for the next meeting. Members were asked to send their ideas to Nancy Labbe, who will get them to the workgroup by February 1. The workgroup will include Susan, Jean, Jennifer and Larry. Karen will work with Nancy to send out a “Call to Action” email to the CDE email groups. The email will request ideas on what’s working in regard to interpersonal relationships with different departments, as well as what might be happening in the general public that is helping people with disabilities in regard to employment.
National Media Campaign:
Larry provided an update on what’s been happening with the national media campaign, which targets CEOs of big businesses. It will be launched next week, with a limited print run in Fortune magazine, followed by television and radio coverage. The name of the campaign is “Think Beyond the Label,” and their website can be found at www.thinkbeyondthelabel.com. Larry encouraged the group to visit the website and provide him with their thoughts.
Norb mentioned that we don’t have a mechanism by which the CDE can utilize the media. Susan agreed to email the Governor to find out how to access or use WhatCanYouDo.org.
Norb also mentioned that Husson College has a complete television production facility, including a remote unit that can handle six live cameras. He wondered if this might be a mechanism by which this committee might raise its visibility.
He also suggested perhaps as we do things such as the job club last year, there might be a way to have a student at Husson to do a short documentary of that, it might be the kind of piece that could be aired on public television or commercial television.
Larry explained that Snapshots 2010 should be ready next month. Some good input was received from Libby and Karen.