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Commission on Disability & Employment MeetingJune 17, 2010: 9:00 AM Central Maine Commerce Center, Francis Perkins Room, Augusta, ME
Welcome & Introductions
• Maine Jobs Council • Americorps • Disability Program Navigator
Present: Mel Clarrage, Chair, Gayla Dwyer, Jenn Kimble, Jean Coltart, Rachel Dyer, Norb Nathanson, Larry Glantz, Karen Fraser, Libby Stone-Sterling, Auta Main, Jessica Wellman, and Nancy Labbe Absent: Susan Giguere, Michael Ashmore, and Jill Duson
Welcome & Introductions
The meeting began with introductions. Mel announced that Mary Redmond Luce was interested in becoming a voting member of the Commission on Disability and Employment, continuing to represent Youth. Larry made a motion to add Mary to the membership. Jennifer seconded the motion, and the motion passed unanimously. Mary will complete the application and submit her resume soon.
Mel reminded members that at the last meeting he mentioned that there was a work group of the Maine Jobs Council that was looking at drafting some recommendations for the future Administration for the overall workforce development system. He had asked this group for a general consensus to try to elevate this group to have closer access to the Governor, with the long-range goal of the whole MJC having closer access. The work group was not in a place to examine where the full MJC was going to be. Mel will send the CDE a copy of the draft recommendations to be presented to the next Administration on behalf of the Workforce Investment Board once he has received them. The document talks about sector strategies, future jobs in Maine, a report card for the entire training system. Mel has spoken with Garret Oswald about creating closer access to the Governor. There would be time to prepare legislation on this in the fall, if the group opts to do it.
Norb Nathanson stated that there should be some external pressure to get our needs heard to those people running for Governor. He felt that communication should be happening now with the candidates. Mel asked if there were any volunteers who would want to be a part of a workgroup to work on that. Jeanne Coltart, Norbert Nathanson, and Mel Clarrage agreed to discuss this further.
Jeanne Coltart mentioned that she is working with Garret Oswald to set up a committee with Equal Justice partners and the Women’s Committee to develop an advocacy workshop to help teach people how to advocate, how to do public speaking. This will include teaching how the legislative process works and having a mock hearing. It is the hope that if people gain confidence in this area, they will play a more active role in advocacy. Jeanne requested the CDE’s help in getting the word out on this opportunity, especially those individuals who may have a disability.
Larry stated that there is training scheduled for October 28 for people who work indirectly on employment with people with disabilities, such as case managers and service providers. There is also a plan to reach out to other groups on the day before that (October 27); space has been reserved at the Augusta Civic Center. Larry mentioned that at last year’s joint meeting, each group expressed frustration at reaching out and reaching out and engaging workers with disabilities. Larry stated that the Choices Grant has funds set aside to support projects such as what Jeanne is doing. He felt that the October meeting may be an ideal time for the advocacy workshop.
Mel requested volunteers to work on pulling together an agenda for October 27, the date for the joint council meeting with the two State Rehabilitation Councils, the Independent Living Council, and the Council for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Late Deafened. He will work at getting the invitation out to all the other committees and will suggest the focus be on employment. Mary suggested that she give the CDE her list of legislators who showed strong support for her program because they may be willing to participate on October 27. Larry suggested inviting APSE.
Norb requested a written history of how it used to be, what caused it to change, and a list of agencies to which we might send a letter to suggest they may contact the gubernatorial candidates. He volunteered to draft a letter, and would be willing to send it under his own signature. Mel will get the information to him early next week.
Mel will have a meeting by conference call with the Executive Committee shortly to discuss their role on this issue.
The Annual Report is due September 1. Mel will work with Norb on some of the bullet points that should be included and will discuss with the Executive Committee.
Mary Redmond Luce distributed copies of an update on the status of the AmeriCorps Program. The Maine Transition Network (MTN) did, in fact, lose its funding. There is still a legislative mandate, but it is unfunded. The MTN will end on June 30. The AmeriCorps grant was picked up by the Maine Parent Federation, a long established program with a strong financial network that involves local, state and other federal grants for greater sustainability of the program.
Of the 16 sites and 17 members, they served 334 students. Of those, only seven dropped out of school, and three of them returned. The students came up with portfolios, so that they were able to tell their parents and teachers what their post school goals were. Also, many of the students signed up for the Summer Youth Program.
Because the money didn’t expand, there will be only twelve sites in Maine. They have partnered with Junior Achievement for the Spring semester. All of their AmeriCorps members will be partnered with a lead teacher. More schools applied this year than available slots.
Mary stated that she could use help with creating web based training on things that professionals need to work with youth with disabilities.
Disability Program Navigator (DPN) Update
Libby Stone-Sterling introduced Auta Main, from the Bureau of Employment Services (BES). The DPN grant officially closes on June 30. The Maine Department of Labor was awarded a small amount of funding from the federal Department of Labor to continue some promising practices that had been identified until a larger solicitation is released in the upcoming months. In addition, the Choices Grant will provide additional funds to build on the work of the DPN grant. Through those funds, BES will have 1.5 staff working as Disability Resource Coordinators on specific identified tasks across the state.
Auta Main will be the connection in BES for these staff. A work plan is being developed and will be circulated to the CDE when final. Mel stated that since the CDE functioned as the steering committee for the DPN three-year grant, if in the future application process the CDE can be of any assistance, please let him know.
Update on Choices Grant
Larry reported that the Choices Grant, which runs on a calendar year basis, is almost halfway through the current year. One additional year of funding will be available. Guidelines have been received on how to apply for additional funding. The guidelines encourage states to continue their comprehensive system level of infrastructure development, but with a stronger focus on sustainability, both in terms of resources as well as leadership.
Larry distributed copies of a brief update on some of the activities that are going on with the grant and highlighted the four major goal activities. He also distributed copies of a document called Snapshot 2010: Maine Workers with Disabilities, as well as a Business Award Nomination Form for the September 29 fall Working Together conference.
The CDE was encouraged to let Larry or Mel know if they had ideas on ways that this final year of the grant can be used.
There is a quick turnaround on the grant because it is due in Washington, DC on July 15.
Mel reminded the CDE of the Executive Committee’s commitment to try to hold a meeting at a nontraditional time, either in the evening or on a weekend. He suggested that maybe doing this on October 27 or 28 might be a possibility.
The Disability Rights Center is coordinating an effort for the Old Hallowell Days parade on July 17 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They are building floats and carrying signs. This is being opened up to any group or committee who would like to participate and attend. Mel will send out flyers on the event when completed.
Jessica Wellman then provided an update on her experiences with being an AmeriCorps member. She responded that she had some really good experiences this year, especially with the electronic portfolio. They did I-movies, and when they showed them, the teachers were incredibly impressed. They learned a lot about the students through those movies (what they cared about, what they wanted for the future, and what their hopes and dreams were).