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Meetings & Minutes
Commission on Disability & Employment MeetingFebruary 18, 2010: 9:00 AM Central Maine Commerce Center, Francis Perkins Room, Augusta, ME
9:00 Welcome & Introductions
9:05 Presentations from DHHS (OACPD and OAMH) and DOL (BRS)
9:50 Disability Program Navigator Project (Executive Committee Recommendation)
10:05 ODEP Listening Session Testimony
10:20 CDE Membership
10:35 AmeriCorps Update
Present: Mel Clarrage, Chair, , Gayla Dwyer, Rachel Dyer, Jenn Kimble, Norb Nathanson, Jean Coltart, Libby Stone-Sterling, Karen Fraser, Chris Robinson, and Nancy Labbe Absent: Susan Giguere, Mary Redmond Luce, Larry Glantz, Michael Ashmore, and Jill Duson
The meeting began with introductions. Norb distributed copies of a matrix he developed to help try to organize things. It includes various issues that the CDE addresses, implementation capabilities, funding possibilities, and priority. Mel stated that the Executive Committee would review it.
Presentations from DHHS (OACPD and OAMHS) and DOL (BRS)
Karen Fraser and Chris Robinson did a presentation on some of the joint work that the two departments are doing together. Highlights of their presentation follow:
Memorandums of Understanding: The BRS has Memorandums of Understanding with both the Office of Adult Mental Health Services (OAMHS) and the Office of Adults with Cognitive and Physical Disabilities (OACPD). The purpose of these MOUs is to implement an aligned service delivery system across the agencies with the following goals:
• Strengthen partnerships in order to improve and expand employment services for our joint consumers.
Ensure ethical best practices, particularly as they relate to consumer rights and meaningful choices.
Maximize the utilization of all employment and training resources and funds to support competitive employment for people with mental illness, developmental disabilities and autism.
Improve the rehabilitation rate and increase the number of individuals with disabilities who are successful in achieving competitive employment goals, including full time work.
Establish consistent practices of operation in BRS, OAMHS and OACPD in order to achieve a seamless transition to work. Special emphasis will be applied to youth in transition.
The MOUs focus specifically upon System Development, Coordination of Services and Quality Assurance.
Current Joint Work Groups:
Employment Outcome Data System:
Project Overview: Currently, the BRS and the DHHS track employment outcomes for service recipients with disabilities separately, utilizing varying elements and methods. There is a need for a unified data system that will provide accurate and reliable information regarding employment outcomes for people with disabilities in Maine, which can be used by policy makers and other stakeholders for quality assurance and system improvement purposes. This project specifically focuses upon the employment outcomes of people with disabilities served by BRS and the OACPD and the OAMHS.
Project Status: The employment data elements collected by each agency have been identified and initial agreement reached as to what common elements and what agency specific elements should be collected. DHHS is taking the lead with their Office of Information Technology to determine how the Enterprise Information System (EIS) could be enhanced in its collection of individual client employment data and accessed by community employment providers across the two departments. This project has been delayed intermittently due to human and financial resource limitations.
Web Site Redesign:
Project Overview: The internet offers a vast array of information for people with disabilities who are seeking employment, but it can often be hard to navigate in finding the specific information needed. When the OACPD Developmental Services made significant changes in its Medicaid Waiver program to increase employment supports, it developed a web site, www.employmentforme.org, to provide helpful resources to individuals with developmental disabilities interested in employment, as well as their supports. This project was conceived to develop the web site further to become a central clearinghouse for cross disability populations.
Project Status: A work group has identified the primary audiences as people with disabilities, employers and providers of services. The group has developed an initial list of core area topics, including ADA/Employment Law, employment resources, training opportunities, and agency-specific information, such as VR and DHHS employment supports. The group has also looked at other sites that provide examples of this type of web site and is aligning its efforts with the national anti-stigma media campaign, called “Think Beyond The Label.” At this point, the group is working with a web designer and developing text. Stakeholder representatives are being sought to review and offer feedback about the site. Projected roll out for this enhanced site is April 2010.
Workforce Development Group:
Project Overview: Over the past year OAMHS, OACPD and BRS have been working together to assess how best to deliver basic and advanced vocational services training statewide. This work was in response to student and provider agency staff requests for easier access to training and portability of certification from state to state; as well as in response to state agency concerns about providing up-to-date training and skill development opportunities in the most cost effective manner. The Workforce Development Group was formed in order to take a look at these issues and develop cost neutral solutions. One of the first steps taken by this workgroup was to focus on ACRE certified web-based training, rather than face-to-face training such as the Maine Employment Curriculum, as our primary vehicle for the delivery of basic vocational services training. This change addresses the access and portability concerns and relies on ACRE to assure up-to-date, quality training content.
Moving forward, the workgroup will develop a new comprehensive workforce development system that encompasses three components: basic certification, a mentoring option and advanced continuing education opportunities. The goal of this system is to develop a training system for employment service providers that is comprehensive, accessible, cost-efficient, timely, flexible, and reflective of best practices and makes optimal use of technology.
In pursuit of this goal, a one-year contract has been written with The Institute of Community Inclusion in Boston (the federal New England TACE Center) to develop a comprehensive, cross disability vocational services work force development system.
Project Status: This design of the workforce development system will begin in late February upon completion of the final contract with ICI, and will proceed with input from constituents. Request for Proposals from potential providers will be sought this Fall, with an intended January 2011 implementation date.
Disability Program Navigator (DPN) Project:
Mel stated that a letter from Commissioner Fortman was forwarded to members recently explaining that funding for the DPN initiative was not included in the DOL/ETA Program Year 2010, and as such, the initiative will come to a close by June 30, 2010. Libby Stone-Sterling reported that grant funding for all Rounds 1, 2 and 3 states would be eliminated; Maine was one of the Round 3 states. Her unit’s focus now will be on working with each region on a work plan so that they can leave with clear recommendations on partnerships and activities that need to continue to ensure ongoing accessibility of CareerCenter programs and services.
Mel stated that the Executive Committee discussed how we might try to ensure that the good work that this project has done will continue. They suggested that Commissioner Fortman be invited to the April Commission meeting to update us on how the Department of Labor plans to address the needs of CareerCenter customers with disabilities in the absence of the DPN grant.
Subsequently, there was a meeting of the Comprehensive Employment Opportunities Grant. They discussed the feasibility of having a point person within the Bureau of Employment Services to be a statewide connection to CareerCenter access, and to possibly look at other funding options. That advisory committee is drafting a letter indicating their level of commitment.
Mel asked the group for permission to take action to secure keeping the issue alive in order to keep the work plan recommendations going. Members agreed.
Mel also mentioned that the Maine Jobs Council will be meeting tomorrow, where he plans to address some of the issues around 10% dollars. He stated that some states have used those funds for DPN programs and other special pilot projects.
Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP):
Nancy distributed a copy of the list of ideas that members suggested be submitted for the ODEP Listen Session scheduled for March 3 in Boston. It was agreed that data sharing and Career Center access and the work of the DPN should be included on the list. Mel will work with Susan and Larry and discuss how to get the testimony drafted and submitted. Jenn mentioned that in the 3rd comment, it doesn’t say it is specific for kids with disabilities; Mel will mention this to Susan. Mel will ask Nancy to send out the final product to members.
The Executive Committee has made a commitment to holding at least one CDE meeting either during an evening or weekend. Discussion was then held on transportation problems for some potential members. Rachel agreed to draft a letter to the Augusta Mayor to discuss the lack of public transportation for disabled individuals. Mel agreed to contact a prospective member to discuss her status on being a member.
The Maine Transition Network was working on trying to identify resources to fill in funding gaps. Proposals went to the DHHS grant; a small contribution was made for the AmeriCorps project. A proposal went to the Maine Jobs Council and the Maine Department of Labor for $35,000; this was rejected because of a lack of funds. Mel plans to bring this topic up at the MJC meeting tomorrow.
As of now, it looks like the AmeriCorps Grant will be staying with the Maine Transition Network. There is discussion on finding other options for it.
Mel stated that the Executive Committee would like to have Larry Glantz and Valerie Oswald be invited to the March meeting to discuss employer outreach and collaborative efforts. They hope that this discussion will help them to determine whether the Commission can play a role in some of that work. Susan will be sending out an invitation on this. Libby suggested that a veterans’ representative might be included to provide an update on what they are doing.