BESB: BESB Board Annual Report and Agency Performance Benchmarks
News

BESB Board Annual Report and Agency Performance Benchmarks

Department of Rehabilitation Services

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind

*******************************************************************************

 

NOTE- PLEASE REFER TO THE ADVISORY BOARD SECTION OF THIS WEBSITE TO FIND PROGRAM PERFORMANCE DATA AND INFORMATION AFTER DECEMBER, 2012. THIS INFORMATION IS NOW LOCATED WITHIN THE MINUTES OF EACH ADVISORY BOARD MEETING FROM MARCH, 2013 FORWARD.

 

Department of Rehabilitation Services

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind

Benchmark Update Report

December, 2012

 

Adult Services:

 

·       BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

 

Update:    This benchmark was achieved for calendar year 2012.  During 2012, five groups (four Hartford area and one New Haven area) of new Connecticut Transit bus drivers were trained in blindness awareness. Staff in Adult Services trained four groups of Money Follows the Person (MFP) transition coordinators on eligibility criteria and rehabilitation services offered to BESB clients. The division sent a letter to all adult BESB clients residing in West Hartford to help facilitate the successful re-launch of the Elmwood Low Vision Support Group.  One staff member facilitated the Low Vision Support Group at BESB in Windsor and one co-facilitated the support group at the Rose City Senior Center in Norwich. BESB Adult Services staff presented programs at a total of seventeen meetings of seven low vision support groups (at the Rose City Senior Center in Norwich, at Elmwood/West Hartford, at New Milford, at Duncaster in Bloomfield, at Masonicare in Wallingford, at Whitney Center in Hamden, at BESB in Windsor, and once when the BESB/Windsor Support Group hosted the New Milford Support Group in a joint meeting at BESB).  Two staff members worked with multiple clients during most months at the South East Connecticut Community Center of the Blind.   Two staff members participated in two presentations, one at the Rockville Senior Center and one at Pitkat Congregate Housing (both in Vernon), while two other staff held a two-part orientation at Arbor Rose assisted/independent living center in New Britain (AM for residents, PM for staff).  A similar event with combined attendance took place at The Orchards in Southington, an assisted living center seeking to launch a low vision support group, and three staff held an outreach event at White Oaks assisted living center in Manchester. Adult Services staff attended Senior Health Fairs in Bloomfield (twice), Fairfield, Middletown, New Fairfield, Newington, and South Windsor. The Legislative Office Building displayed an exhibit assembled by BESB staff, clients and supporters on deafblindness among seniors for eight weeks this summer. One Orientation and Mobility staff member conducted a training for  Brookfield High School students enrolled in a Braille class and also made a presentation to a group of job-ready Vocational Rehabilitation clients on accessing transportation options. Several staff provided an orientation to blindness for the leadership group at the First Baptist Church in West Hartford, who are welcoming a BESB client to their congregation in an active role. The Volunteer Program Manager participated in a training for the combined leadership teams of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), the Foster Grandparents program, the AARP Money Management Program and Senior Companions.  Finally, the agency eye doctor reporting form was revised, as was the Explanation of Services delivered to all Adult Services clients, in preparation for the periodic mailing to all eye doctors in the state of Connecticut.  This mailing will go out in early January.

 

Business Enterprises:

 

·       BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

 

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved for Fiscal Year 2012. The information has been posted on the BESB web site and is listed below.

 

BESB Business Enterprises Program Budget Summary

 

 

FY 2012  

 

For the Business Enterprises Program, in fiscal year 2012, the total

gross program income from all sources was $1,993,693. Of that amount, the gross Coca-Cola income was $1,255,232. Carry over funding from the prior fiscal year was $579,550, making $2,573,243 available during FY 12. Total expenses in the Program for FY 12 were $2,279,034. The fiscal year end balance was $294,209.  This reflects an overall decrease of $285,340 from the prior fiscal year.

 

 Major expenses in FY 12 were as follows:

 

1. Program Trainers and Administrative/Support Staff: $1,480,055

 

2. Purchases for existing locations: $26,503*

 

3. Purchases and build outs for new locations: $0*

 

4. Client placements from BESB Industries: $0

 

5. Commissions and permits for BEP Operators: $116,235*

 

6. Maintenance services for BEP locations: $93,095*

 

7. Initial Inventory and Stock for BEP Operators: $7,621*

 

8. Health Insurance and Retirement for BEP Operators: $331,691*

 

9. Shared commissions with agencies/colleges: $33,124

 

10. Training stipends for BEP trainees:  $0

 

11. Temporary facility coverage services: $0

 

12. Utility Costs for BEP locations: $50,629*

 

13. Storage Rentals for BEP locations: $3,917*

 

14. Incentive Plan for BEP Managers: $54,496*

 

15. Miscellaneous Expenses: $81,670

 

In total, $684,186 (cumulative total of categories with asterisks in the above analysis), or 34.3% of the overall program income in 2012 (54.5% of the Coca-Cola revenues) was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program.

 

·       Two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers. Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

 

Update:   This benchmark was achieved for calendar year 2012. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors at their March 13, 2012 meeting chose the following topics for the 2012 in-service trainings:

1.   Employee Policies and Job Descriptions for Facility Employees

2.   ServeSafe Update and Reporting Responsibilities including how Facility Reports factor into Program Reports

 

Training topic 1 was presented at a teleconference meeting on June 12, 2012. Training topic 2 was presented at the annual meeting held on September 15, 2012.

 

Children’s Services:

 

·       Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1, 2011, the agency will reduce the average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points.

 

Update: This benchmark was implemented in July, 2011 and is currently in progress. The current caseload point value is at 30.6, up slightly from 30.4 points at the start of the school year in September. This is due to an increase of five non-Braille learning students being served since the school year began.

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

 

Update:   For school year 2012-13, this benchmark is in progress.  Children’s Services, in collaboration with the Vocational Rehabilitation Program hosted a Career and Transition seminar for parents and students on October 20, 2012.  There are several other parent events planned for the current school year, including a Literacy Skills “Make and Take” workshop for January, 2013.

 

·       Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

 

Update:   This benchmark is in progress for school year 2012-13. The fall newsletter was recently distributed via e-mail and is currently being printed for regular mail. This and prior newsletters can be viewed on the BESB website (www.ct.gov/besb). 

 

 

·       To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

 

Update:  This benchmark is in progress for school year 2012-13. During this quarter, three student events have been held including the following:  1) On November 3-4, 2012 a Theater Weekend program in coordination with the Odd Fellows Playhouse, was held at Channel 3 Kid’s Camp in Andover, CT. Twelve students participated along with nine staff and three interns. The weekend focused on self advocacy skills, physical awareness, role-playing, and shared experiences through theater/acting;  2) College Day at the University of St. Joseph, November 6, 2012. Ten students and six parents attended the all day program which included modules on mobility, independent living skills, transition, mentorship opportunities, and social skills;  3) Girl’s Sports and More Weekend, December 8-9, 2012 at Channel 3 Kid’s Camp. Nineteen female students participated in activities including sports and fitness, independent living skills and interpersonal skills development. Additionally, the Student Advisory Council held an Open House for interested students on October 13, 2012 at the Rocky Hill Library.  The US Association of Blind Athletes Fitness Challenge was also renewed for this year, and student participants for the year are being finalized.

 

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Starting January 1, 2010, provide a group Job Seeking Skills class twice a year, focusing on skills such as networking, interviewing skills, and resume writing, culminating in attendance at a job fair.

 

Update:   This goal has been achieved. The first job seeking skills class for the year took place in June and July. This job seeking skills class had 9 transition-age clients that participated. The agenda had guest speakers that talked about the transition process, social media “dos and don’ts,” assistive technology and disability disclosure.  Also part of the agenda for this class were field trips to two employer sites and hands-on training on how to access services at the One Stop Career Centers. The class concluded with attendance at a job fair in Cromwell.   The second job seeking skills class  took place in September at WOW/NRZ Community Learning Center in Waterbury. There were 8 active participants from underserved populations in the Waterbury area that attended in this class. This job seeking skills class provided many presenters that discussed assistive technology, disclosure, and interviewing techniques. The group participated in a job fair in the New Britain area. Additionally, there is a Job Club support group that began in August for clients that have been displaced from employment. Two Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors facilitate this initiative that and has been held via teleconference. Four to six clients have been participating so far.

 

·       With a goal of increasing employment outcomes, starting January 1, 2010 all VR Counselors will increase community outreach activities focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers, with a minimum of two hours a week on these activities using the new marketing materials for the division.

 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for this reporting period (September through November, 2012). For the 9 counselors that participated in this benchmark over the 13 week period, a total of 304.5 hours of outreach were provided, representing an average of 2.6 hours per counselor per week.

 

 

·       Starting January 1, 2010 all VR field staff will participate in 2 trainings a year, with a focus on Assistive Technology or Job Development.

 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  Out of the 15 eligible Vocational Rehabilitation staff, all have participated in two trainings each in the category of Assistive Technology or Job Development.

 

A list of the trainings are:

 

1.   Assistive Technology Industry Association (January 26-28, 2012).

2.   The National Assistive Technology Conference at California State University at Northridge in California.  (February 29- March 3, 2012).

3.   Race Ethnicity and Disability: State of the Science Conference (March 1, 2012)

4.   Accessibility and Review of Google Applications (March 20, 2012)

5.   In-service on What’s new in Technology (April 12, 2012)

6.   Learning Disabilities Training through CREC (April 26, 2012)

7.   NEAT Seating and Mobility Exposition and Seminar (May 18, 2012)

8.   IPad and Accessibility at NEAT (May 24, 2012)

9.   National Transition Conference (May 30- June 1, 2012)

10.                     In-service on Adaptive Technology for Transition Students. (June 7, 2012)

11.                     National Rehabilitation Association Conference on employing individuals with disabilities.  (August 23-26, 2012).

 

 

·       For every VR school aged client there shall be at least one annual contact between the counselor and the client (with their guardian).  Contact will increase to at least twice during the last scheduled year of school.

 

Update:  This benchmark is in progress for the school year that began in September, 2012. Of the 70 transition-age students tracked for this school year, contact has been made to 22 students and their guardian so far. 

 

 

 

*********************************************************************************

Department of Rehabilitation Services

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind

Benchmark Update Report

September, 2012

 

Adult Services:

 

·       BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

 

Update:    This benchmark is in progress.  During this reporting period, one group of new Connecticut Transit (New Haven area) bus drivers was trained in blindness awareness in August.  Staff in Adult Services presented programs at a total of three meetings of two low vision support groups (Rose City Senior Center in Norwich, and BESB/Windsor), and two staff worked with multiple clients every month during this period at the South East Connecticut Community Center of the Blind.  Three staff attended the NEAT Center Open House in June.  Also in June, two staff held a two-part outreach event at the Arbor Rose assisted/independent living center in New Britain, in the morning for residents and in the afternoon for staff.  A similar event with one presentation for both residents and staff was held in July at the Orchards in Southington, an assisted living center where a low vision support group is being planned.  Three staff conducted a training and outreach event at the White Oaks assisted living center in Manchester in June, and two staff attended the Senior Fair at the Bloomfield Senior Center in July.  A very professional display was mounted for Deafblind Awareness month, with the theme of deafblindness among seniors, at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, where it was displayed for nearly eight weeks.  One of the Orientation and Mobility instructors made a presentation to a group of job-ready clients of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program on accessing transportation options.

 

Business Enterprises:

 

·       BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

 

Update:  This benchmark is in progress for Fiscal Year 2012 and nearing completion. The information will be posted on the web site in the coming weeks and upon posting, notification will be sent out.

 

·       Two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers. Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

 

Update:   This benchmark is in progress for calendar year 2012. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors at their March 13, 2012 meeting chose the following topics for the 2012 in-service trainings:

1.   Employee Policies and Job Descriptions for Facility Employees

2.   ServeSafe Update and Reporting Responsibilities including how Facility Reports factor into Program Reports

 

Training topic 1 was presented at a teleconference meeting on June 12, 2012. Training topic 2 will be presented at the annual meeting to be held on September 15, 2012.

 

Children’s Services:

 

·       Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1, 2011, the agency will reduce the average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points.

 

Update: This benchmark was implemented in July, 2011 and is currently in progress. Although two teachers were hired (one in December, 2011 and one in June, 2012) to fill vacancies, the caseload points have actually increased slightly to 30.4.  This is due in part to the increased number of students in Children’s Services who are Braille-learning.

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

 

Update:   For 2012, this benchmark was achieved.  The first parent event of the year occurred on June 9, 2012 at Lufberry Park in Wallingford. A total of 15 families (46 family members) attended. Opportunities for family networking, facilitated by Children’s Services staff, as well as group activities such as sports events organized by the students of the Student Advisory Council were part of this event. Two additional days of parent education were held on June 26 and 27, 2012 in coordination with the Essential Skills Program for students. Eight (8) parents attended each day, receiving information and training in Orientation and Mobility and simulation experiences involving cooking, cleaning, eating skills, money transactions, systematic search patterns and social skills.

 

·       Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

 

Update:   This benchmark was achieved for school year 2011-12.  The spring newsletter was printed and distributed via e-mail and regular mail at the end of April. This and prior newsletters can be viewed on the BESB Program website (www.ct.gov/besb). 

 

 

·       To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for 2012. In addition to the events in February (ice-skating and skiing) and May (Spring Paws, pre-school Farm Day, Friends Weekend and Outdoor Education) that were reported on in prior benchmark update reports, three summer programs also took place.  The Life Program was held from July 9-13, 2012 at the University of Hartford. Twelve (12) students attended the overnight program that covered all areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum. Students did a community project and experienced train travel as well.  The Skills for Life Program was held from July 30-August 3, 2012 in West Haven. Ten (10) students attended this program, learning skills in Orientation and Mobility including complex street crossing, introduction to compass direction, tactile maps, using public transportation and independent living skills of money handling, food shopping and preparation. Camp Abilities was held in Andover from August 13-17, 2012. The program served 33 students with vision impairments with 6 student interns. Daily rotations included swimming, judo, track & field, goalball, tandem biking, and beep baseball.

 

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Starting January 1, 2010, provide a group Job Seeking Skills class twice a year, focusing on skills such as networking, interviewing skills, and resume writing, culminating in attendance at a job fair.

 

Update:   This goal is in progress. The first job seeking skills class for the year took place in June and July. This job seeking skills class had 9 transition-age clients that participated. The agenda had guest speakers that talked about the transition process, social media “dos and don’ts,” assistive technology and disability disclosure.  Also part of the agenda for this class were field trips to two employer sites and hands-on training on how to access services at the One Stop Career Centers. The class concluded with attendance at a job fair in Cromwell.   The second job seeking skills class is commencing in September at WOW/NRZ Community Learning Center in Waterbury. There are 8 clients from underserved populations in the Waterbury area scheduled for this class. Additionally, there is a Job Club support group that began in August for clients that have been displaced from employment. Two Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors facilitate this initiative that and has been held via teleconference. Six clients have been participating so far.

 

 

·       With a goal of increasing employment outcomes, starting January 1, 2010 all VR Counselors will increase community outreach activities focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers, with a minimum of two hours a week on these activities using the new marketing materials for the division.

 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for this reporting period (June through August, 2012). For the 9 counselors that participated in this benchmark over the 13 week period, a total of 299 hours of outreach were provided, representing an average of 2.6 hours per counselor per week.

 

·       Starting January 1, 2010 all VR field staff will participate in 2 trainings a year, with a focus on Assistive Technology or Job Development.

 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  Out of the 15 eligible Vocational Rehabilitation staff, all have participated in two trainings each in the category of Assistive Technology or Job Development.

 

A list of the trainings are:

 

1.   Assistive Technology Industry Association (January 26-28, 2012).

2.   The National Assistive Technology Conference at California State University at Northridge in California.  (February 29- March 3, 2012).

3.   Race Ethnicity and Disability: State of the Science Conference (March 1, 2012)

4.   Accessibility and Review of Google Applications (March 20, 2012)

5.   In-service on What’s new in Technology (April 12, 2012)

6.   Learning Disabilities Training through CREC (April 26, 2012)

7.   NEAT Seating and Mobility Exposition and Seminar (May 18, 2012)

8.   IPad and Accessibility at NEAT (May 24, 2012)

9.   National Transition Conference (May 30- June 1, 2012)

10.                     In-service on Adaptive Technology for Transition Students. (June 7, 2012)

11.                     National Rehabilitation Association Conference on employing individuals with disabilities.  (August 23-26, 2012).

 

 

·       For every VR school aged client there shall be at least one annual contact between the counselor and the client (with their guardian).  Contact will increase to at least twice during the last scheduled year of school.

 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for the school year that concluded in June. Of the 79 transition-age students tracked for this benchmark, 18 students were scheduled for graduation. For these graduating students, all 18 students had two contacts prior to graduation. For the 61 students who were not graduating, contacts were made to 57 students. Of the remaining 4 students, 3 did not pursue services and the fourth situation had services deferred due to personal circumstances.

 

 

 

********************************************************************************

 

Bureau of Rehabilitative Services

BESB Program Benchmark Update Report

June, 2012

 

Adult Services:

 

·       BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

 

Update:    This benchmark is in progress.  During this reporting period, one group of new Connecticut Transit bus drivers was trained in blindness awareness.  Staff in Adult Services presented programs at two low vision support groups (three presentations at Rose City Senior Center in Norwich and three at BESB support group in Windsor).  Staff from the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program received a comprehensive training at BESB on eligibility criteria and rehabilitation services offered to agency clients.  Three times, a BESB Program rehabilitation teacher assisted groups of clients at the South East Connecticut Community Center of the Blind in New London.  BESB Program staff conducted an Orientation and Mobility training for 20 students at a Braille class at Brookfield High School, attended the Coping with Low Vision Technology Fair at the Fairfield Senior Center, and provided an orientation to blindness for the leadership group at the First Baptist Church in West Hartford.

 

 

Business Enterprises:

 

·       BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress for Fiscal Year 2012. The information will be posted on the web site after the close of this fiscal year. The BEP financial information for Fiscal Year 2011 was included in the September, 2011 benchmark update and was posted on the BESB website.

 

·       Two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers. Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

 

Update:   This benchmark is in progress for calendar year 2012. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors at their March 13, 2012 meeting chose the following topics for the 2012 in-service trainings:

1.   Employee Policies and Job Descriptions for Facility Employees

2.   ServeSafe Update and Reporting Responsibilities including how Facility Reports factor into Program Reports

Training topic 1 was presented at a teleconference meeting on June 12, 2012.

 

 

Children’s Services:

·       Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1, 2011, the agency will reduce the average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points.

 

Update: This benchmark was implemented in July, 2011 and is currently in progress. Caseload point values, calculated as of August 28, 2011 were 29 points per caseload.  With the addition of a new teacher who was hired in December, caseload point values reduced to 28.3 points.  An additional teacher has been hired to begin on June 18, 2012. Caseload point values will be re-calculated in August, 2012, after caseload assignments for the upcoming school year are finalized.

 

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

 

Update:   For 2012, this benchmark is in progress.  The first parent event of the year occurred on June 9, 2012 at Lufberry Park in Wallingford. A total of 15 families (46 family members) attended. Opportunities for family networking, facilitated by Children’s Services staff, as well as group activities such as sports events organized by the students of the Student Advisory Council were part of this event.  Additional parent education events are scheduled for the end of June as part of the Essential Skills Program for students.

 

·       Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

 

Update:   This benchmark was achieved for school year 2011-12.  The spring newsletter was printed and distributed via e-mail and regular mail at the end of April. This and prior newsletters can be viewed on the BESB Program website (www.ct.gov/besb). 

 

 

·       To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for 2012. Since the two earlier events of ice-skating and skiing in February, several Expanded Core Curriculum events have occurred.  On May 12, 2012, 8 students and their families (total of 35 people) participated in Spring Paws at the Fidelco Guide Dog Training Facility in Bloomfield. Students learned about the myths and realities of owning a guide dog and had a hands-on experience of walking with one.  On May 14, 2012 the pre-school staff held a Farm Day at Hampton Hills Farm with 4 students and 4 parents. It included time with the horses, a ride in the ring and music activities.  On May 19-20, 2012 a Friends Weekend program was held at Channel 3 Kids Camp. Fifteen students with visual impairments and 14 friends participated. The program was overnight and included a variety of sports activities.  Four student interns also participated.  On June 9-10, 2012 an Outdoor Education program was held at Channel 3 Kids Camp. Nine students with visual impairments participated in the overnight program that included learning how to set up and take down a tent and preparation for an obstacle course race that was held on the last day of the event. 

 

 

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Starting January 1, 2010, provide a group Job Seeking Skills class twice a year, focusing on skills such as networking, interviewing skills, and resume writing, culminating in attendance at a job fair.

 

 

Update:   This goal is in progress. The first job seeking skills class for the year will begin on June 18, 2012. This job seeking skills class has 8 transition-age clients scheduled to participate.  The second job seeking skills class will begin in the fall and will focus on clients from underserved populations within the greater Waterbury area. Additionally, there is a Job Club support group beginning this summer for clients that have been displaced from employment. Two Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors will facilitate this initiative that will be held via teleconference.

 

·       With a goal of increasing employment outcomes, starting January 1, 2010 all VR Counselors will increase community outreach activities focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers, with a minimum of two hours a week on these activities using the new marketing materials for the division.

 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for this reporting period (March through May, 2012). For the 8 counselors that participated in this benchmark over the 13 week period, a total of 330 hours of outreach were provided, representing an average of 3.1 hours per counselor per week.

·       Starting January 1, 2010 all VR field staff will participate in 2 trainings a year, with a focus on Assistive Technology or Job Development.

 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  Out of the 15 eligible Vocational Rehabilitation staff, all have participated in two trainings each in the category of Assistive Technology or Job Development.

 

A list of the trainings are:

 

1.   Assistive Technology Industry Association (January 26-28, 2012).

2.   The National Assistive Technology Conference at California State University at Northridge in California.  (February 29- March 3, 2012).

3.   Race Ethnicity and Disability: State of the Science Conference (March 1, 2012)

4.   Accessibility and Review of Google Applications (March 20, 2012)

5.   In-service on What’s new in Technology (April 12, 2012)

6.   Learning Disabilities Training through CREC (April 26, 2012)

7.   NEAT Seating and Mobility Exposition and Seminar (May 18, 2012)

8.   IPad and Accessibility at NEAT (May 24, 2012)

9.   National Transition Conference (May 30- June 1, 2012)

10. In-service on Adaptive Technology for Transition Students. (June 7, 2012)

 

·       For every VR school aged client there shall be at least one annual contact between the counselor and the client (with their guardian).  Contact will increase to at least twice during the last scheduled year of school.

 

Update:  This benchmark is in progress for the school year. Of the 79 transition-age active cases being tracked for this benchmark, 18 students are scheduled for graduation this year. For these graduating students, 15 of the 18 students have had two contacts made so far. For the 61 students who will not be graduating this year, so far contacts have been made to 39 students.

 

*******************************************************************************

Bureau of Rehabilitative Services

BESB Program Benchmark Update Report

March, 2012

Adult Services:

·    BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

 

Update:    This benchmark is in progress.  During this reporting period, one group of new Connecticut Transit bus drivers was trained in blindness awareness.  Staff in Adult Services presented programs at four low vision support groups (Duncaster in Bloomfield, Whitney Center in Hamden, Masonicare in Wallingford, and BESB in Windsor).  Staff from the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program received a comprehensive training at BESB on eligibility criteria and rehabilitation services offered to agency clients.  The Volunteer Program Manager participated in a training program for the combined management team of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), the Foster Grandparent Program, the AARP Money Management Program, and Senior Companions which outlined services BESB provides to clients.  A mailing was sent to all adult BESB clients residing in West Hartford inviting their attendance at a breakfast presentation on low vision at the Elmwood Community Center as they attempt to recruit enough participants to revive the low vision support group there. 

 

 

Business Enterprises:

·    BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress for Fiscal Year 2012. The information will be posted on the web site after the close of this fiscal year. The BEP financial information for Fiscal Year 2011 was included in the September, 2011 benchmark update and was posted on the BESB website.

·    Two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers. Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update:   This benchmark is in progress for calendar year 2012. A mailing was sent to all BEP Managers requesting their input on training topics.  The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors will be selecting this year’s topics at their upcoming quarterly meeting.   

Children’s Services:

·   Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1,   2011, the agency will reduce the average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points.

Update: This benchmark was implemented in July, 2011 and is currently in progress. Caseload point values, calculated as of August 28, 2011 were 29 points per caseload.  With the addition of a new teacher who was hired in December, caseload point values reduced to 28.3 points. 

 

·  BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:   For 2012, this benchmark is in progress.  The next parent event is scheduled for early June. It is being structured around a recreation setting, with activities planned for both the parents and their children, facilitated by Children's Services staff.  Professional staff will be available to speak to parents and answer questions one-on-one.  Additional parent education events are scheduled for the end of June as part of the Essential Skills program for students.

·    Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

Update:   This benchmark is in progress for 2012.  The Program is beginning to collect articles for the spring newsletter, with a target for distribution before the end of April. Prior newsletters can be viewed on the BESB Program website (www.ct.gov/besb). 

·    To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress for 2012.  The first event for 2012 was an ice skating program on February 4, 2012 to support the USABA Fitness Challenge in which many BESB students are participating.  Ten students from grades 2 through high school (including some who had additional disabilities) took advantage of this opportunity.   A second event was a ski trip and weekend retreat for 9 Student Advisory Council members, that took place at Ski Sundown on February 4-5, 2012.  The program involved team-building challenges and leadership development for the group.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·    Starting January 1, 2010, provide a group Job Seeking Skills class twice a year, focusing on skills such as networking, interviewing skills, and resume writing, culminating in attendance at a job fair.

Update:   This goal is in progress. The four Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors that will be conducting the classes have been identified and planning is underway. One of the Job Seeking Skills classes will focus on clients from traditionally underserved populations in the Waterbury area. The other class will have a focus for transition-age clients ages 18-24.

·     With a goal of increasing employment outcomes, starting January 1, 2010 all VR Counselors will increase community outreach activities focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers, with a minimum of two hours a week on these activities using the new marketing materials for the division.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved for this reporting period (December, 2011 through February, 2012). For the 8 counselors that participated in this benchmark over the 12 week period, a total of 254.28 hours of outreach were provided, representing an average of 2.65 hours per counselor per week.

·    Starting January 1, 2010 all VR field staff will participate in 2 trainings a year, with a focus on Assistive Technology or Job Development.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress.  Out of the 14 eligible Vocational Rehabilitation staff, 2 staff have participated in one training each in the category of Assistive Technology.

A list of the trainings are:

1.  Assistive Technology Industry Association (January 26-28, 2012). One Rehabilitation Technologist participated in this 3 day conference.

2.  The National Assistive Technology Conference at California State University at Northridge in California.  (February 29- March 3, 2012). One Rehabilitation Technologist participated in this 4 day conference.

·    For every VR school aged client there shall be at least one annual contact between the counselor and the client (with their guardian).  Contact will increase to at least twice during the last scheduled year of school.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress for the new school year. Of the seventy-one transition-age active cases being tracked for this benchmark, 31 clients have been contacted so far. For the high school seniors, there are 6 clients out of 9 who have already had two contacts made, in accordance with this benchmark. 

  

******************************************************************************

Bureau of Rehabilitative Services

BESB Program Benchmark Update Report

December, 2011

Adult Services:

·   BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

Update:    This benchmark was achieved for 2011, with updates provided to the board in each quarterly benchmark report for the year. During this reporting period, three groups of Connecticut Transit bus drivers (one in Hartford and two in New Haven) were trained in blindness awareness.  Staff in Adult Services presented two programs at low vision support groups (in Stamford and Windsor).  One dozen Aging & Disability Resource Center counselors received a comprehensive training at BESB on eligibility criteria and rehabilitation services offered to agency clients.  Approximately fifty students, faculty, and staff members at Central Connecticut State University participated in simulation activities with four BESB staff members at the inaugural (and extremely well-organized) Challenges to Human Existence program.  There was a training for more than one dozen group home managers in eastern Connecticut’s Network, Inc. for People with Disabilities.  Over 150 attendees received information on BESB services at the Davenport-Dunbar Senior Health Fair in Hamden.  Coping with Low Vision seminars were presented at two senior centers (in Stratford and Hartford) to those most at risk of age-related eye disease.

Business Enterprises:

·   BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2011. The BEP financial information for Fiscal Year 2011 was included in the September, 2011 benchmark update and has also been posted on the BESB website and may be accessed at www.ct.gov/besb.

·   Two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers. Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update:      This benchmark was achieved for calendar 2011. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors had chosen the topics of “Developing Good Customer Relations” and “ServSafe - Serving Safe Food” for a June 7, 2011 training. The second training was held as a part of the Annual Meeting on September 17, 2011 on the topic of “Pricing and Effective Purchasing.”   

Children’s Services:

· Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1, 2011, the agency will reduce the average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points.

Update: This benchmark was implemented in July, 2011 and is currently in progress. Current caseload point values, calculated as of August 28, 2011 are 29 points per caseload.  Recruitment is currently underway to add one additional teacher with a preference for a candidate with expertise in the field of deafblindness.

 

· BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update: For 2011, this benchmark was achieved.  The first parent education event was held on April 9, 2011.  Sharon Sacks from California School for the Blind spoke to 37 parents and other family members about fostering the social skills development of their children.  A second parent education event was held June 28, 29, and 30, 2011.  Parents were encouraged to attend one of three scheduled Essential Skills Programs with their child.   They were able to observe their children as the students were learning and practicing skills.  Parents also received their own training related to the topic of the day, as well as participating in vision simulation activities, and orientation and mobility instruction.  Twenty-one parents took advantage of this opportunity to increase their knowledge of daily living skills training.

 

·   Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for 2011.  The first newsletter for this year was distributed in April.  It is available for viewing on the BESB Program website (www.ct.gov/besb.) The Fall 2011 newsletter was posted on the website in early December and print copies are being mailed as well. 

·   To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for this year.  The first Expanded Core Curriculum activity for 2011 was Sports Adventure Weekend which was held on March 26-27 for 16 students in grades 4-8.  There were also five student interns who had an opportunity to learn leadership skills.  Students participated in beep baseball, fitness, yoga, team building/low ropes, goal ball and recreational group game activities.  The second event was a partnership with Fidelco.  It was a program for students of all ages and abilities during the two weeks of April vacation (April 18-28).  Twenty-eight children (9 preschool, 12 middle school, and 7 children with multiple disabilities) learned about proper care and feeding of dogs, and basic obedience tips and techniques.  The third Expanded Core Curriculum event was completed on May 13, 2011.  Twenty-three students between the ages of 9-16 attended an event co-sponsored by the Vernon Greenway Volunteers.   Students gathered at Valley Falls Park in Vernon for a day of bait fishing and fly fishing.  They were also able to explore the Braille trail on site.  There were sensory stations along the trail so students could touch, smell and taste some of the products that were produced by the old mill. Additional activities were completed during the summer.  In July, 12 high school students identified as potentially college bound participated in the weeklong residential LIFE program held at Wesleyan University.  The annual Skills for Life mobility camp was a weeklong day program for 11 students held in West Haven.  Camp Abilities was a weeklong residential program focusing on sports and recreation, which was held in Andover in August.  A total of 49 students attended Camp Abilities.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·   Starting January 1, 2010, provide a group Job Seeking Skills class twice a year, focusing on skills such as networking, interviewing skills, and resume writing, culminating in attendance at a job fair.

Update:   This goal has been achieved.  Two of the BESB Program’s VR Counselors in collaboration with Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) staff organized a total of five different “Prep Rally” (Job Seeking Skills) seminars. These Prep Rallies were held in Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury, Hartford and Norwich. They were all day seminars with the morning session consisting of job seeking skills, interview skills, self-advocacy, and dressing for success. The afternoon sessions consisted of resume writing and mock interviews. Part of the afternoon was a separate job fair with employers. Out of the job fair, four clients were called for interviews.  BESB staff participated in the entire event to ensure all materials were presented in accessible format. There were a total of 20 clients and 10 VR staff that participated in these Prep Rallies.

·   With a goal of increasing employment outcomes, starting January 1, 2010 all VR Counselors will increase community outreach activities focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers, with a minimum of two hours a week on these activities using the new marketing materials for the division.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved for this reporting period (September through November, 2011). For the seven counselors that participated in this benchmark, over the 13 week period a total of 237 hours of outreach were provided, representing an average of 2.6 hours per counselor per week.

·   Starting January 1, 2010 all VR field staff will participate in 2 trainings a year, with a focus on Assistive Technology or Job Development.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved.  Out of the 14 eligible VR staff, all 14 staff achieved this goal by participating in at least 2 trainings that had a focus of Assistive Technology or Job Development.

A list of the trainings are:

1. The National Assistive Technology Conference at California State University at Northridge in California.  

2. Seminar on Window Eyes and Open Book at NEAT. 

3. All day training sponsored by BRS and DMHAS on Employment for Individuals with Mental Illness and a collaborative approach for Connecticut state and private agencies.

4. Conference on Employment for Adults with Disabilities. 

5. Online trainings on Ethics- Ethical Workplace Culture and Rehabilitation Counseling Practice Ethics- Ethics and Law in the Real World.

6. Two trainings through CTAHEAD, Creating Work Situations for Adults with Disabilities and Internships. 

7. All day training on Employment strategies for Individuals with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder by David Nowell.

8. Half-day training on Ethics and Employment for VR Counselors by Assumption College.

9. Technology Fair held at BESB, many different Vendors that sell adaptive technology participated and training sessions were held on accessible IPhones and IPads.

·   For every VR school aged client there shall be at least one annual contact between the counselor and the client (with their guardian).  Contact will increase to at least twice during the last scheduled year of school.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress for the new school year. In total, there are 71 applicable students in the transition school-to-work category, with 15 students identified as being in their last year of school. Counselors are actively working on this benchmark by contacting parents/guardians and the client. For the time period from September, 2011 through November, 2011, 16 students or 22.5% of the students have been contacted for this benchmark.  This benchmark has already been achieved for eight (11%) of the High School students.

 

*******************************************************************************

Bureau of Rehabilitative Services

BESB Program Benchmark Update Report

September, 2011

Adult Services:

·       BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

Update:    This benchmark is in progress.  During this reporting period, Orientation and Mobility staff trained ten Fidelco trainers in an all-day session held at BESB and in the field.  Staff in Adult Services also presented two programs at low vision support groups in Southbury, and Windsor.  There were also two presentations to residents of an assisted living/continuous care facility in Hamden (Whitney Center) and one at a retirement facility in Bloomfield (Interfaith Homes).  A staff member presented information at the Windham Healthy Living Expo in Mansfield.  Staff at Martin House in Norwich (a transitional living residence for persons with mental illness) were trained by Adult Services staff.  Two staff members assisted the Communication Advocacy Network (for persons with deafness) in an evening session to recruit and train service support providers to assist BESB clients with deafblindness achieve greater community involvement through the Deafblind Grant Program. Planning is currently underway for Coping with Low Vision seminars, to be presented at senior centers to those most at risk of age-related eye disease.  Two seminars have been scheduled for the coming quarter.

Business Enterprises:

·       BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2011. The BEP financial information for Fiscal Year 2011 is immediately below. It has also been posted on the BESB website and may be accessed at www.ct.gov/besb.

BESB Business Enterprises Program Budget Summary

FY 2011

For the Business Enterprises Program, in fiscal year 2011, the total gross program income from all sources was $2,060,644. Of that amount, the gross Coca-Cola income was $1,313,522. Carry over funding from the prior fiscal year was $989,814, making $3,050,458 available during FY 11. Total expenses in the Program for FY 11 were $2,470,908. The fiscal year end balance was $579,550.  This reflects an overall decrease of $410,264 from the prior fiscal year.

 Major expenses in FY 11 were as follows:

1. Program Trainers and Administrative/Support Staff: $1,509,948

2. Purchases for existing locations: $35,274*

3. Purchases and build outs for new locations: $0*

4. Client placements from BESB Industries: $61,796

5. Commissions and permits for BEP Operators: $118,414*

6. Maintenance services for BEP locations: $73,437*

7. Initial Inventory and Stock for BEP Operators: $0*

8. Health Insurance and Retirement for BEP Operators: $364,905*

9. Shared commissions with agencies/colleges: $84,646

10. Training stipends for BEP trainees:  $9,248

11. Temporary facility coverage services: $0

12. Utility Costs for BEP locations: $45,584*

13. Storage Rentals for BEP locations: $840*

14. Incentive Plan for BEP Managers: $89,098*

15. Miscellaneous Expenses: $77,718

In total, $727,552 (cumulative total of categories with asterisks in the above analysis), or 35.3% of the overall program income in 2011 (55.3% of the Coca-Cola revenues) was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program.

Note: A correction to FY 10 income resulted in a $60 increase in the FY 10 carryover.

·       Two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers. Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update:  This benchmark is in progress. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors has chosen the topics of “Developing Good Customer Relations” and “ServSafe - Serving Safe Food” for a June 7, 2011 training. The second training will be held as a part of the Annual Meeting on September 17, 2011 on the topic of “Pricing and Effective Purchasing.”   

Children’s Services:

·       Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1, 2011, the agency will reduce the average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points.

Update: This benchmark was implemented in July, 2011 and is currently in progress. Current caseload point values, calculated as of August 28, 2011 are 29 points per caseload.  Due to the fiscal situation and the accompanying hiring freeze, the BESB Program does not anticipate being able to add additional staff to address this benchmark in the immediate future.

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update: For 2011, this benchmark was achieved.  The first parent education event was held on April 9, 2011.  Sharon Sacks from California School for the Blind spoke to 37 parents and other family members about fostering the social skills development of their children.  A second parent education event was held June 28, 29, and 30, 2011.  Parents were encouraged to attend one of three scheduled Essential Skills Programs with their child.   They were able to observe their children as the students were learning and practicing skills.  Parents also received their own training related to the topic of the day, as well as participating in vision simulation activities, and orientation and mobility instruction.  Twenty-one parents took advantage of this opportunity to increase their knowledge of daily living skills training.

 

·       Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

Update: This benchmark is in progress.  The first newsletter for this year was distributed in April.  It is available for viewing on the BESB Program website (www.ct.gov/besb.) The Fall 2011 newsletter will be distributed by early December. 

·       To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for this year.  The first Expanded Core Curriculum activity for 2011 was Sports Adventure Weekend which was held on March 26-27 for 16 students in grades 4-8.  There were also five student interns who had an opportunity to learn leadership skills.  Students participated in beep baseball, fitness, yoga, team building/low ropes, goal ball and recreational group game activities.  The second event was a partnership with Fidelco.  It was a program for students of all ages and abilities during the two weeks of April vacation (April 18-28).  Twenty-eight children (9 preschool, 12 middle school, and 7 children with multiple disabilities) learned about proper care and feeding of dogs, and basic obedience tips and techniques.  The third Expanded Core Curriculum event was completed on May 13, 2011.  Twenty-three students between the ages of 9-16 attended an event co-sponsored by the Vernon Greenway Volunteers.   Students gathered at Valley Falls Park in Vernon for a day of bait fishing and fly fishing.  They were also able to explore the Braille trail on site.  There were sensory stations along the trail so students could touch, smell and taste some of the products that were produced by the old mill. Additional activities were completed during the summer.  In July, 12 high school students identified as potentially college bound participated in the weeklong residential LIFE program held at Wesleyan University.  The annual Skills for Life mobility camp was a weeklong day program for 11 students held in West Haven.  Camp Abilities was a weeklong residential program focusing on sports and recreation, which was held in Andover in August.  A total of 49 students attended Camp Abilities.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Starting January 1, 2010, provide a group Job Seeking Skills class twice a year, focusing on skills such as networking, interviewing skills, and resume writing, culminating in attendance at a job fair.

Update:   This goal has been achieved.  Two of the BESB Program’s VR Counselors in collaboration with Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) staff organized a total of five different “Prep Rally” (Job Seeking Skills) seminars. These Prep Rallies were held in Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury, Hartford and Norwich. They were all day seminars with the morning session consisting of job seeking skills, interview skills, self-advocacy, and dressing for success. The afternoon sessions consisted of resume writing and mock interviews. Part of the afternoon was a separate job fair with employers. Out of the job fair, four clients were called for interviews.  BESB staff participated in the entire event to ensure all materials were presented in accessible format. There were a total of 20 clients and 10 VR staff that participated in these Prep Rallies. The five Prep Rallies will be held again at the same locations in the fall. BESB staff will also help organize these seminars and will participate as well.

·       With a goal of increasing employment outcomes, starting January 1, 2010 all VR Counselors will increase community outreach activities focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers, with a minimum of two hours a week on these activities using the new marketing materials for the division.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved for this reporting period (June, 2011 through August, 2011). For the eight counselors that participated in this benchmark, over the 13 week period a total of 234 hours of outreach were provided, representing an average of 2.3 hours per counselor per week.

·       Starting January 1, 2010 all VR field staff will participate in 2 trainings a year, with a focus on Assistive Technology or Job Development.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved.  Out of the 14 eligible VR staff, all 14 staff achieved this goal by participating in at least 2 trainings that had a focus of Assistive Technology or Job Development.

A list of the trainings are:

1. The National Assistive Technology Conference at California State University at Northridge in California.  

2. Seminar on Window Eyes and Open Book at NEAT. 

3. All day training sponsored by BRS and DMHAS on Employment for Individuals with Mental Illness and a collaborative approach for Connecticut state and private agencies.

4. Conference on Employment for Adults with Disabilities. 

5. Online trainings on Ethics- Ethical Workplace Culture and Rehabilitation Counseling Practice Ethics- Ethics and Law in the Real World.

6. Two trainings through CTAHEAD, Creating Work Situations for Adults with Disabilities and Internships. 

7. All day training on Employment strategies for Individuals with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder by David Nowell.

8. Half-day training on Ethics and Employment for VR Counselors by Assumption College.

9. Technology Fair held at BESB, many different Vendors that sell adaptive technology participated and training sessions were held on accessible IPhones and IPads.

·       For every VR school aged client there shall be at least one annual contact between the counselor and the client (with their guardian).  Contact will increase to at least twice during the last scheduled year of school.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved. In total, there were 99 applicable students in the transition school-to-work category, with 17 students identified as being in their last year of school. All of these clients have been contacted in accordance with this benchmark.

 ********************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

June, 2011

Adult Services:

·       BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

Update:    This benchmark is in progress. During this reporting period (March through May, 2011), staff in Adult Services presented five programs at low vision support groups in Bloomfield (at two different groups), New Milford, Southbury, and Wallingford, and conducted outreach presentations at two senior centers (South Windsor and Waterbury, the latter to train senior companions) and one retirement facility (in East Hartford). Adult Services staff also were a regular presence at the South East Connecticut Community Center of the Blind (meeting with clients there several times each month), presented at two health fairs (at the Senior Disability Expo held in New Haven and sponsored by the South Central Area Agency on Aging, and at the Community Service Fair of the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain), and trained new bus drivers in blindness awareness in Hartford.

Business Enterprises:

·       BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2010 and is  in progress for 2011. The BEP financial information for Fiscal Year 2010 is posted on the BESB website. It may be accessed at www.ct.gov/besb. Data for 2011 will be posted subsequent to the close of this fiscal year.

·       Two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers. Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update:  This benchmark is in progress. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors has chosen the topics of “Developing Good Customer Relations” and “ServSafe - Serving Safe Food” for a June 7, 2011 training. The second training will be held in September on the topic of “Pricing and Effective Purchasing.”

 Children’s Services:

·       Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1, 2011, the agency will reduce the average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points. 

Update: This benchmark is not scheduled for implementation until July of this year. However, given budget considerations, it is likely that reconsideration will be necessary.

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  For 2011, this benchmark is in progress.  The first parent education event was held on April 9, 2011.  Sharon Sacks from California School for the Blind spoke to 37 parents and other family members about fostering the social skills development of their children.  A second parent education event will be held at the end of June.  Parents will have the opportunity to attend one of three scheduled Essential Skills Programs on June 28, 29, or 30.  Parents will observe their children as they are learning and practicing skills.  They will also receive their own training related to the topic of the day, as well as participating in vision simulation activities, and orientation and mobility instruction. 

 

·       Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

Update: This benchmark is in progress.  The first newsletter for this year was distributed in April.  It is available for viewing on the BESB website www.ct.gov/besb.

·       To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

Update:  This benchmark is achieved.  The first Expanded Core Curriculum activity for 2011 was Sports Adventure Weekend which was held on March 26-27 for 16 students in grades 4-8.  There were also five student interns who had an opportunity to learn leadership skills.  Students participated in beep baseball, fitness, yoga, team building/low ropes, goal ball and recreational group game activities.  The second event was a partnership with Fidelco.  It was a program for students of all ages and abilities during the two weeks of April vacation (April 18-28).  Twenty-eight children (9 preschool, 12 middle school, and 7 children with multiple disabilities) learned about proper care and feeding of dogs, and basic obedience tips and techniques.  The third Expanded Core Curriculum event was completed on May 13, 2011.  Twenty-three students between the ages of 9-16 attended an event co-sponsored by the Vernon Greenway Volunteers.   Students gathered at Valley Falls Park in Vernon for a day of bait fishing and fly fishing.  They were also able to explore the Braille trail on site.  There were sensory stations along the trail so students could touch, smell and taste some of the products that were produced by the old mill.  Other activities are being planned.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Starting January 1, 2010, provide a group Job Seeking Skills class twice a year, focusing on skills such as networking, interviewing skills, and resume writing, culminating in attendance at a job fair.

Update:   This goal has been achieved.  Two of BESB’s VR Counselors in collaboration with Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) staff organized a total of five different “Prep Rally” (Job Seeking Skills) seminars. These Prep Rallies were held in Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury, Hartford and Norwich. They were all day seminars with the morning session consisting of job seeking skills, interview skills, self-advocacy, and dressing for success. The afternoon sessions consisted of resume writing and mock interviews. Part of the afternoon was a separate job fair with employers. Out of the job fair, four clients have been called for an interview.  BESB staff participated in the entire event to ensure all materials were presented in accessible format. There were a total of 20 clients and 10 VR staff that participated in these Prep Rallies. The five Prep Rallies will be held again at the same locations in the fall. BESB staff will also help organize these seminars and will participate as well.

·       With a goal of increasing employment outcomes, starting January 1, 2010 all VR Counselors will increase community outreach activities focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers, with a minimum of two hours a week on these activities using the new marketing materials for the division.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved for this reporting period (March, 2011 through May, 2011). For the ten counselors that participate in this benchmark, over the 13 week period a total of 353.48 hours of outreach were provided, representing an average of 2.72 hours per counselor per week.

·       Starting January 1, 2010 all VR field staff will participate in 2 trainings a year, with a focus on Assistive Technology or Job Development.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress.  Out of the 14 eligible VR staff, 7 staff achieved this goal by participating in at least 2 trainings that had a focus of Assistive Technology or Job Development. Five staff attended one training so far, and 2 have not attended any training as of yet. 

One of the Rehabilitation Technologists attended and presented at the National Assistive Technology Conference at California State University at Northridge in California.  One of Rehabilitation Teachers attended a training seminar on Window Eyes and Open Book at NEAT.  Eight VR Counselors and the Education Projects Coordinator attended an all day training sponsored by BRS and DMHAS on Employment for Individuals with Mental Illness and a collaborative approach for CT state and private agencies. One of the Rehabilitation Technologists, Education Project Coordinator and five VR Counselors participated in an all day conference on Employment for Adults with Disabilities.  One VR Counselor participated in two online trainings on Ethics- Ethical Workplace Culture and Rehabilitation Counseling Practice Ethics- Ethics and Law in the Real World. One VR Counselor and the Education Project Coordinator participated in two trainings through CTAHEAD, Creating Work Situations for Adults with Disabilities and Internships.  

·       For every VR school aged client there shall be at least one annual contact between the counselor and the client (with their guardian).  Contact will increase to at least twice during the last scheduled year of school.

Update: This benchmark is in progress. Each Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor has an individual list of the transition students that are on their caseload, highlighting the clients that are anticipated to graduate this June. The Counselors are actively working on making contact with each of their clients and the client’s guardian. In total, there are 105 students, with 20 identified as in their last year of school.  Currently 92 out of 105 students or 88% have been contacted in accordance with this benchmark.

 ********************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

March, 2011

Adult Services:

·     BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

Update:    This benchmark is in progress. During this reporting period (December, 2010 through February, 2011), staff in Adult Services presented programs at the low vision support groups in Southbury and Windsor, conducted outreach presentations at four senior centers (North Stonington, Hamden, Wallingford, and West Haven) and two retirement facilities (Plantsville-Southington and Brooklyn). Adult Services staff also gave a presentation at the South East Connecticut Community Center of the Blind, presented two trainings on working with low vision clients (to staff at the Bradley Home in Meriden and to newly-hired transition coordinators for the Money- Follows-the-Person program), and trained new bus drivers in blindness awareness in New Haven and Hartford.

Business Enterprises:

·    BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2010. The BEP financial information for Fiscal Year 2010 is posted on the BESB website. It may be accessed at www.ct.gov/besb.

·   Two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers. Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update:  This benchmark is in progress. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors has requested input from all Business Enterprise Program Managers on suggested topics for 2011. The Committee will review this information and choose the topics at their March 15, 2011 meeting.

Children’s Services:

·  Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1, 2011, the agency will reduce the average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points.

Update: This benchmark is not scheduled for implementation until July of this year. However, given budget considerations, it is likely that reconsideration will be necessary.

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  For 2011, this benchmark is in progress.  The first parent education event is scheduled for April 9, 2011.  Sharon Sacks from California School for the Blind will be the speaker.  She will be addressing approaches that help families to foster social skills development for their children.  The event is scheduled to follow a two-day in-service training that she is presenting as a professional development activity for Connecticut Teachers of the Visually Impaired. 

·       Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

Update: This benchmark is in progress.  The first newsletter for this year is anticipated for an April distribution.

·       To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress.  The first Expanded Core Curriculum activity for 2011 is Sports Adventure Weekend, scheduled for March 26-27 for students in grades 4-8.  This is building on the successful Camp Abilities program offered in the summer of 2010, and the Sports Adventure Weekend for high school students that was held last December.  Children's Services has also partnered with Fidelco to present a program for students of all ages and abilities during the two weeks of April vacation (April 18-28).  To best meet the needs of the students, specific days are assigned to preschool, school age, and children with multiple impairments.  They will learn proper care and feeding of dogs, and basic obedience tips and techniques.  This program is also designed to address the fear of dogs many students experience.  Additional programs are in the planning stages.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Starting January 1, 2010, provide a group Job Seeking Skills class twice a year, focusing on skills such as networking, interviewing skills, and resume writing, culminating in attendance at a job fair.

Update:   This benchmark is in progress. One of the Job Seeking Skills classes will be held in the early summer in New Haven, geared towards transition-age students. The second Job Seeking Skills class for the year is under development, and details will be reported in a future benchmark update report.  

·       With a goal of increasing employment outcomes, starting January 1, 2010 all VR Counselors will increase community outreach activities focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers, with a minimum of two hours a week on these activities using the new marketing materials for the division.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved for this reporting period (December, 2010 through February, 2011). For the ten counselors that participate in this benchmark, over the 12.5 week period, a total of 281 hours of outreach were provided, representing an average of 2.25 hours per counselor per week.

·       Starting January 1, 2010 all VR field staff will participate in 2 trainings a year, with a focus on Assistive Technology or Job Development.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress. Upcoming, one staff member will be attending the week-long National Assistive Technology Conference at California State University at Northridge beginning March 14, 2011, and another staff member is participating in a training at the end of March at NEAT Marketplace.

·       For every VR school aged client there shall be at least one annual contact between the counselor and the client (with their guardian).  Contact will increase to at least twice during the last scheduled year of school.

Update: This benchmark is in progress. Each Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor has an individual list of the transition students that are on their caseload, highlighting the clients that are anticipated to graduate this June. The Counselors are actively working on making contact with each of their clients and the client’s guardian. In total, there are 100 students, with 22 in their last year of school.

 

*******************************************************************************

Connecticut State Board of Education

and Services for the Blind

BESB Board of Directors

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, CT  06095

Annual Report to the Governor and

General Assembly January 1, 2011

Members

Alan Sylvestre (Chair), Eileen Akers, Christine Boisvert, Carolyn Dodd, Carol Gillispie, Patrick Johnson, Jay Kronfeld, Chris Kuell, Stephen Thal, Randa Udder, Betty Woodward and Michael Starkowski, Ex-Officio, Commissioner of the Department of Social Services.

Introduction

The Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) is the oldest agency in the United States dedicated to serving people who are blind, deafblind, and visually  impaired. For state fiscal year 2010, BESB had 12,426 registered consumers. BESB strives to provide or secure the necessary services to enable every person who is legally blind or deafblind in Connecticut, in addition to children who are visually impaired, to become valuable, fulfilled, and contributing members of society.

BESB provides a wide array of services for all people in Connecticut who are legally blind, including persons with multiple-disabilities. BESB consists of four divisions in addition to administration.  These are Children's Services, which provides educational, technology, and life skills training to children from birth through age 21; Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services, which serves working-age consumers as well as college students; Adult Services (Independent Living Services), which serves seniors and non-VR adults, and the Business Enterprise Program.


 

In calendar year 2010, the BESB Board of Directors focused attention on establishing Benchmarks for the various divisions, discussed how BESB can best provide services despite dwindling fiscal resources and approved  policy changes and requests for legislative action.

Benchmarks Committee

BESB has continually met or exceeded each of the 18 benchmarks established by the BESB Benchmarks Committee. In 2008, the Board established a standing committee to review, evaluate, retire and institute new benchmarks to ensure BESB strives to continually improve.

Business Enterprise Program

The Business Enterprise Program is responsible for the development of high quality business ventures for participants who desire to become entrepreneurs. Under permits with host agencies federal, state, and municipal entrepreneurs operate businesses that range from gift shops to full-scale cafeterias. The entrepreneurs derive the full profits from their operations.

BEP also manages a large vending machine operation, utilizing aspects of the Randolph-Sheppard Act to obtain funding from vending sales. These funds are intended to create and maintain independent employment opportunities and help expand the program. In addition, BESB staff working in the BEP program are paid through these funds—no state money is used to support this valuable program.

As of November 2010, there are 46 BEP facilities in the state of Connecticut, employing 45 operators who are blind. Gross sales for these facilities were approximately 5.1 million dollars in federal fiscal year 2009.

Benchmarks:

1.  The BEP Training Manual shall be updated by the end of calendar year 2009.  (retired)

2. Two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers.  Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors.

3. BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

4. By January 1, 2010, BEP will develop, distribute, and assess a satisfaction survey to be completed by BEP Operators.  The results will be distributed to the Board, Strategic Planning Committee, and the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors.  (retired)

Adult Services

The mission of the Adult Services Division is to improve the overall quality of life for adults who are legally blind. BESB does this by implementing specialized social, educational, orientation and mobility and rehabilitation teaching services. These services assist consumers in achieving and maintaining high levels of independence and productivity.

Benchmarks:

1. By July 2010, deliver “New Independence Training Programs for Older Persons with Vision Loss in Assisted Long-term Care Facilities” in a minimum of 3 (three) assisted living and/or intermediate rehabilitation care facilities around the state. (retired)

2. By January 1, 2010, BESB shall produce a baseline

measurement for client satisfaction and functional gains in the delivery of independent living services. (retired)

3. To increase the available pool of volunteers for clients awaiting a match by increasing outreach efforts:

(a) Participate in at least two community service focused outreach events, one each in Hartford County and New Haven County.

(b) Establish an Internet presence by expanding use of the Volunteer Match.com website to move from one zip code to a statewide exposure. (retired)

4. BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

5. By July, 1, 2010, BESB shall pilot two models of computer training for independent living for individuals age 55 and over, with one model in a group setting, and the other an individualized instructional model.  Pre- and post-test analysis will provide data on the effectiveness of each approach. (retired)

6. Beginning October 1, 2009, all referrals in Adult Service for social work, rehabilitation teaching or mobility services shall have an initial contact to the client from the respective field staff professional occur within an average of ten business days.

Children’s Services

The purpose of the Children’s Services Division of BESB is to deliver educational services to children who are legally blind, deafblind, and visually impaired by establishing partnerships among children, families, schools, and communities; ensure accessibility to educational curriculum through the provision of adapted materials, equipment, and books; to teach compensatory skills such as Braille and cane travel; to promote individual choice, independence, and life-long learning; and to create an accurate perception of blindness through community outreach and education.

Benchmarks: 

1.  Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1, 2011, the agency will reduce average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points.

2.  BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

3.  Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

4.  To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

Vocational Rehabilitation

The purpose of the Vocational Rehabilitation Division of BESB is to help blind and deafblind persons in Connecticut achieve independence through employment and job retention. They provide training and adaptive equipment, outreach and education to potential employers, job coaching, as well as assistance in finding internships, part-time and full-time positions.  Students qualify for VR services beginning at age 14.

Benchmarks:

1. Starting January 1, 2010, provide a group Job Seeking Skills class twice a year, focusing on skills such as networking, interviewing skills, and resume writing, culminating in attendance at a job fair.

2.  With a goal of increasing employment outcomes, starting January 1, 2010, all VR Counselors will increase community outreach activities focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers, with a minimum of two hours a week on these activities using the new marketing materials for the division.

3.  Starting January 1, 2010, all VR field staff will participate in 2 trainings a year, with a focus on Assistive Technology or Job Development.

4. For every school-aged VR client there shall be at least one annual contact between the counselor and the client (with their guardian). Contact will increase to at least twice during the last scheduled year of school.

  

For full reporting on Benchmark performance, please visit: http://www.ct.gov/besb

Legislative


During these times of budget deficits and constraints at the State and Federal level of government, BESB has been able to keep a fairly stable allocation of operating and program funds. In the Fiscal Year 2010 budget for BESB there has been funding available to serve this year and next year's Vocational Rehabilitation clients. Funding for the Deafblind program and the Enhanced Employment program have been available at the levels anticipated.  However, there have been concerns about the federal Older Blind account. 

During adjustments to the Fiscal year 2011 budget, cuts were made to the Personal Services, Other Expenses, and the Education Aid to the Blind and Visually Impaired Children accounts.  


State agencies were asked to submit a fiscal year 2012 budget option proposal that would have a 15% reduction in state appropriated funding levels.  The federal stimulus funding from last year was a one-time infusion and can not be expected for additional funding. BESB has utilized these funds to assist current and new clients of the agency. Additional funding was obtained through a transfer of funds from the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services.

The Connecticut Legislature acted favorably on some laws related to persons with blindness such as permitting individuals who wish to renew their non-driver identification cards to do so at AAA locations.  A law was also passed during the 2010 legislative session that exempts certain types of membership-based transportation services from the requirement to obtain a livery license for the transporting of people who are blind.  The prior law had exempted this requirement only for transporting the elderly. Another law passed in the 2010 Legislative Session was The Jobs Bill to give incentives to employers to retain and hire blind or disabled workers.  This bill created an employer tax credit of $200 a month for up to three years for the hiring of any person with a disability. 

Administrative

The staff of BESB met all expectations of the Board during 2010.  Specialized services for children increased significantly as did services in general. Volunteer services also increased during the past year, with approximately 300 volunteers giving over 22,000 hours of their time. The Board is gratified by VR employment outcomes resulting from federal stimulus (ARRA) funds. A Consumer Satisfaction Survey of VR clients reflects positively on the division.  Demand for services from senior citizens continues to increase and BESB staff have worked hard this past year to increase independent living skills for blind seniors.  Overall consumer satisfaction remains high.  We are very pleased with the introduction of increased efficiencies in the face of declining financial resources and will work with staff to assure that the focus on our mission continues.

OPM has approved BESB requests for revisions to update the Children’s Services Regulations to incorporate statutory changes and best practices; update the Income Incentive regulations in the Business Enterprise Program; and update the BEP regulations regarding the provision of health insurance to operators and former workshop employees.

The Board approved a new low-vision policy for the Adult Services division which establishes a cap of $200 (BESB expenditure) for low vision devices (such as glasses and magnifiers) prescribed by eye doctors; clarifies the role that third party insurance plays as the first payer of low vision examinations and devices (where applicable); and clarifies that CCTV’s are not considered low vision aids. The Board also approved policy updates to the definition of Order of Selection and the composition of the Deafblind Advisory Committee, as well as the Vocational Rehabilitation State Plan. 

The Board agreed to move forward with a legislative proposal on the Children’s Services and Adult Services caseload model for orientation and mobility services, with the longer term goal of reducing caseloads and optimizing this critical area of training. 

Future Challenges

As with all state agencies, BESB will have to continue to adapt to the challenge of providing timely and quality services during increasingly difficult economic times. BESB lost approximately 3.2 million dollars of state funding between SFY 2009 and 2011 (a 22% overall reduction, primarily from Children’s Services). However, the executive director has encouraged BESB employees to always consider ways to conserve and reduce costs, and has managed to meet the challenges without adversely affecting service delivery. It is hard to imagine how service delivery can be maintained if future cuts are instituted.

The Benchmarks Committee had to defer a benchmark for the Children's Services division to reduce caseload size for teachers, which would ensure more time spent with blind students who need it. If blind students are going to compete effectively for future jobs with their sighted peers, a sound education is essential. BESB cannot achieve this reduction if new teachers cannot be hired.

Although seniors who are blind make up approximately 75% of BESB’s annually registered new consumers, the Adult Services division receives only 13% of BESB's overall annual budget. Providing quality services and training to this population is a continual challenge. Consumer requests for low vision services and expensive technology, such as computers, CCTVs and other adaptive equipment are on the rise, as are requests for training, yet resources are diminishing. Despite the new low-vision policy, projected funding for low-vision services will not be sufficient beyond SFY 2012.  

Employment for the blind job-seeker is always a challenge, and this stagnant economy is not helping. Despite a leaner budget, BESB has to continue outreach to employers while giving job-seekers the skills, training and confidence they need. If further cuts are made to VR, BESB will have to shift to a Federal (Rehab Act) order of selection, where the agency must serve people with most significant disabilities first. This move would undoubtedly be deleterious to the overall employment outlook for people who are blind.

  

During the past few years, BESB has gained increased recognition and has found new ways to assist the lives of Connecticut's citizens who are blind by partnering with other state agencies, community service organizations, and consumer groups. The Board would like to see this trend continue.

The Board wants to thank the Executive Director and supervisors of BESB for the spirit of cooperation they have brought to our meetings, and to voice our appreciation for the hard work done by the BESB staff.  The Board of Directors believes that the Board of Education and Services for the Blind is successfully achieving its mission to provide quality educational and rehabilitative services to all people who are legally blind or deafblind and to children who are visually impaired in Connecticut.

 

*******************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

December, 2010

Adult Services:

·    BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved for 2010.

The agency board adopted this benchmark at the March, 2009 meeting.  During the first week of September, 2009, BESB completed a mailing of two different outreach posters, a new eye report form, a new referral form for doctors or clients to use in contacting BESB to obtain specific services, and a cover letter from the Executive Director.

In collaboration with the BESB Vocational Rehabilitation division, a BESB intern followed up on this mailing, contacting over 175 eye doctors and sending out over 140 information packets during the spring and summer of 2010.  With Connecticut being a state requiring mandatory reporting by eye doctors of their patients with blindness, the agency engages in ongoing efforts to identify opportunities to reach members of the medical community.

The Adult Services division continues to conduct public awareness events, as itemized on the 2010 Outreach Report (immediately below).  The staff in Adult Services participated in thirty-one (31) outreach events, including bus driver trainings, and blindness awareness trainings for staff in assisted living facilities.  The division presented to the statewide meeting of the Resident Service Coordinators of HUD-subsidized housing complexes for seniors and persons with disabilities.

There were also presentations to low vision support groups and senior centers. Additionally, the division conducted a training on BESB services for staff involved in the state’s “Money Follows the Person” program, and another training on the use of the Deafblind Communicator for partner agencies. The division also raised community awareness of BESB services at health fairs, disabilities awareness programs at churches and civic organizations, and through attendance at disability fairs.

2010 COMMUNITY OUTREACH AND COLLABORATION REPORT

Listed by:  Date/Agency, Organization or Program/Description/ BESB Staff Presenters/Number of Attendees/Collaboration Partners

1) 2/17/2010/Arbor Rose-Jerome Home/low vision aids demonstration to residents/Myerson/15 attendees/Arbor Rose-Jerome Home, New Britain

2) 3/15/2010/low vision support group at Duncaster in Bloomfield/ information on BESB orientation and mobility services/Waiculonis/ 10 attendees/Duncaster Retirement Home, Bloomfield

3) 3/25/2010/low vision support group, Jewish Community Center in Stamford/information on BESB services/Brown/10 attendees/Jewish Community Center, Stamford

4) 4/12/2010/low vision support group, Jewish Community Center of West Hartford/information on BESB services/Rafferty, Waiculonis/9 attendees/Jewish Community Center, West Hartford

5) 4/15/2010/Elmwood Senior Fair/information on BESB services and volunteer opportunities/St. Amand/100 attendees/Elmwood Senior Center

6) 4/28/2010/Seniors of Simsbury Volunteer Exposition/information on BESB services/Myerson/100 attendees/Seniors of Simsbury

7) 5/21/2010/New Haven Senior Fair/information on BESB services and volunteer opportunities/St. Amand/300 attendees/New Haven Senior Center

8) 5/26/2010/Avery Heights Assisted Living/low vision aids demonstration to residents/Myerson/50 attendees/Avery Heights Assisted Living Center

9) 5/27/2010/Chelsea Place Skilled Nursing Facility/blindness awareness training for staff/Lassen, Rafferty/15 attendees/Chelsea Place Skilled Nursing Facility

10) 6/13/2010/Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church/blindness awareness information for congregants/Webb/75 attendees/Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Bloomfield

11) 6/29/2010/Department of Social Services, Money Follows the Person/training staff on BESB services/Brown, Webb, Rafferty/3 attendees/Department of Social Services, North Central Agency on Aging, Independence Unlimited

12) 8/15/2010/Litchfield Association for Retarded Citizens/ orientation and mobility training for agency staff/Waiculonis/10 attendees/Litchfield Association for Retarded Citizens, Torrington

13) 8/26/2010/CT Transit/bus driver training/Doody, Waiculonis/3 attendees/CT Transit, Hartford

14) 8/28/2010/Disability Collaborative Exposition/information on BESB services/Ross, Lassen/Rafferty/300 attendees/State Independent Living Council, Disability Collaborative

15) 8/31/2010/Apple Rehabilitation/staff training on orientation and mobility services/Waiculonis/9 attendees/Apple Rehabilitation, Farmington

16) 9/13/2010/The Lodge, Rocky Hill/training on visual impairments/Ross, Foley, Rafferty/50 attendees/The Lodge Assisted Living, Rocky Hill

17) 9/16/2010/Colchester Senior Center/information on BESB services/Konicki/15 attendees/Colchester Senior Center

18) 9/22/2010/Bolton Senior Center/information on BESB services/ Konicki/30 attendees/Bolton Senior Center

19) 9/22/2010/Virginia Connelly Senior Housing/low vision aids demonstration to residents/Myerson/15 attendees/Virginia Connelly Senior Housing, Simsbury

20) 9/24/2010/Davenport/Dunbar Senior Fair/information on BESB services and volunteer opportunities/St. Amand/300 attendees/ Davenport/Dunbar Senior Housing, New Haven

21) 9/25/2010/Internal Revenue Services, Hartford/Disability Fair and Open House/Ross/25 attendees/Internal Revenue Service

22) 9/28/2010/CT Transit/bus driver training/Webb/6 attendees/CT Transit, New Haven

23) 10/14/2010/Crosby Commons & Bishop Wickie Senior Housing, Shelton/blindness awareness training for staff/Rafferty/40 attendees/Crosby Commons & Bishop Wickie Senior Housing, Shelton

24) 10/18/2010/low vision support group, New Milford/information on BESB services/Myerson/10 attendees/New Milford Senior Center

25) 10/21/2010/low vision support group, Wallingford/information on BESB services/Lassen/8 attendees/Wallingford Senior Center, Wallingford

26) 10/26/2010/low vision support group, Seabury Assisted Living, Bloomfield/information on BESB services/Myerson/10 attendees/Seabury Assisted Living, Bloomfield

27) 11/2/2010/Northeast Health Exposition health fair/information on BESB Services/Ross/200 attendees/Ellis Technical High School

28) 11/7/2010/Lions Club District 23B meeting/information on BESB services/Lassen/75 attendees/New Britain Senior Center

29) 11/11/2010/Deafblind Review Team/Deafblind Communicator training/Brown, Doody, Myerson, Webb, Lassen, Williams/12 attendees/Communication Advocacy Network, Marrakech

30) 11/18/2010/Senior Housing Resident Services Coordinators meeting/information on BESB services/Lassen/35 statewide network of resident services coordinators for HUD-subsidized senior housing

31) 12/8/2010/United Children and Family Services/information on BESB services/Ross, Konicki/United Children & Family Services, Norwich

Business Enterprises:

·    BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved for fiscal year 2010. The information was distributed with the September, 2010 benchmark report and was also posted on the BESB Website in the Business Enterprise Program section, under Budget Summary 2010.

·     Two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers. Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update:  This Benchmark was achieved for 2010. An in-service training was held on June 23, 2010 on the topic of “Best Facility Practices.” The second in-service training was held on November 16, 2010 on the topic of the “Importance of Business Reports and How Each Facility is a Part of a Much Larger Picture.”

Children’s Services:

·Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1, 2011, the agency will reduce the average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points.

Update: The effective date for implementing this benchmark is July, 2011.

 

·BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This Benchmark has been achieved for 2010. The Children’s Services Division held a parent education program on March 13, 2010.  The program was titled: “How to Address Issues of Sexuality with your Child: Preparing parents to face the challenges of adolescence with a child who is visually impaired.” A second event for parents of children from birth through second grade was held on October 16, 2010 at the Connecticut Children’s Museum in New Haven.  Susan Laventure, Executive Director of the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI) was the featured speaker.  Robbin Keating also provided a workshop on the use of theme boxes and how parents can use them to help young children, or children with multiple disabilities, with concept development. 

In addition, Children's Services added a parent workshop to two student programs held during 2010.  Parents were invited to attend the Essential Skills program with their child on June 22, 23, and 25, 2010.  They were given mobility training, observed the students working on daily living skills, and participated in discussion groups facilitated by BESB staff.  On November 2, 2010, Children's Services hosted a student program entitled “Skills Day for College Life.”  Parents were given guidance on issues involving successful transition into college.  Incorporating a parent education component into student events has been a successful venture, and has resulted in reaching more parents through smaller, more focused events.

·   Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for 2010. Newsletters were distributed in April and December of this year, and also were posted on the agency website (www.ct.gov/besb). The newsletters can be viewed in the Children’s Services section. 

·   To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for 2010. Children's Services hosted three events in the Spring of 2010. A gymnastics event was held on April 30, 2010 for students in grades K-3. A fishing event was held on May 21, 2010 for middle school students. A zip-lining challenge course event was held on May 21, 2010 for students in grades 9-12.  Three days of ‘Essential Skills’ were presented on June 22, 23, and 25, 2010.  Activities over the course of the three days included clothing care, banking, check-writing, personal hygiene, first aid, and kitchen skills.  BESB also hosted a week-long program called “LIFE” at Wesleyan University for transition-age students from July 11 through 17, 2010. A recreation program called “Camp Abilities” for students in grades 5 through 9 was held on August 15 through 20, 2010. Two “Skills for Life” mobility day programs were held from August 2 through 6, 2010 (West Haven location) and August 9 through 11, 2010 (Manchester location). A technology event was held July 21, 2010.  On November 2, 2010, BESB hosted a program for college-bound students.  Areas addressed were daily living skills specific to college life, such as roommate etiquette, dorm life and eating in the dining hall.  Also included were tips on money management and organizational skills. Staff from the VR division assisted with this event.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Starting January 1, 2010, provide a group Job Seeking Skills class twice a year, focusing on skills such as networking, interviewing skills, and resume writing, culminating in attendance at a job fair.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved for 2010. The first job seeking skills class (a six-week program) ended with a graduation ceremony for the five participants on May 13, 2010. All participants attended a job fair, organized through the Connecticut Business Leadership Network on May 7, 2010.

The second job seeking skills class started on Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at the Ansonia Town Hall, with 9 participants, and was completed on November 16, 2010. This class had participants from Bridgeport, Ansonia, and Waterbury. Each week, the class had a guest speaker present to the group on job search and employment topics. All participants attended a job fair at Goodwill Industries in Bridgeport.

·     With a goal of increasing employment outcomes, starting January 1, 2010 all VR Counselors will increase community outreach activities focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers, with a minimum of two hours a week on these activities using the new marketing materials for the division.

Update:  For the reporting period between September 1, 2010 and November 30, 2010, there were 372 hours of field activity in the benchmark categories by the ten applicable staff during the thirteen-week time period. This represents an average of 2.86 hours per week, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period.

  

·     Starting January 1, 2010 all VR field staff will participate in 2 trainings a year, with a focus on Assistive Technology or Job Development.

Update:  As detailed in prior benchmark reports, this benchmark has been achieved for this year. There are 16 staff covered under this benchmark, and all of the staff has participated in at least two trainings for the reporting period.

·     For every VR school aged client there shall be at least one annual contact between the counselor and the client (with their guardian).  Contact will increase to at least twice during the last scheduled year of school.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved for 2010.  Seventy-two students were identified as school-aged. Initial contacts have been made with all 72 students, including the five students who exited the Children’s Services Program in June, 2010. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors have an updated student list for the new school year. There are a total of 101 students on the list.

 

***************************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

September, 2010

Adult Services:

·       By July 2010, deliver “New Independence Training Programs for Older Persons with Vision Loss in Assisted Long-term Care Facilities” in a minimum of 3 (three) assisted living and/or intermediate rehabilitation care facilities around the state.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved.  Three programs were delivered. The first program was at an assisted living long-term care facility in Hamden. That training included first and second shift personnel and was delivered separately to each group at the request of the facility. A second training session was held on June 15, 2010 at Torrington Health and Rehabilitation Center, and included clinical staff as well as representatives from the first and second shift.  A third session was held on June 28, 2010 at Chelsea Place in Hartford, and included clinical staff as well as representatives from the first and second shift.

·       By January 1, 2010, BESB shall produce a baseline

measurement for client satisfaction and functional gains in the delivery of independent living services. 

Update:    This benchmark was achieved.  The UConn Center on Aging completed a comprehensive survey of clients, age 55 and older, who received services from the agency in the past year. The full report can be viewed on the BESB website (www.ct.gov/besb).
A summary of the results was also included in the March, 2010 benchmark report. The agency is utilizing the results from this survey in the ongoing strategic planning committee activities.

·       To increase the available pool of volunteers for clients awaiting a match by increasing outreach efforts: 

1) Participate in at least two community service focused outreach events, one each in Hartford County and New Haven County.  

Update:  This benchmark was achieved. On May 21, 2010, the volunteer program attended the Area Agency on Aging Health Fair in New Haven. The Volunteer program was also represented at a well-attended Community Service Organization Fair in April, 2009 sponsored by the Hospital of Central Connecticut, New Britain. 

The agency also participated in two additional Hartford County events in September, 2009. One was at a local insurance company’s health fair, and the other was at Goodwin College.    Volunteer services applications were given out at each event.  Continuing with the spirit of this benchmark, the volunteer program will be present to recruit at the Davenport Dunbar Senior Residences Health & Wellness Day on September 24, 2010.  This Hamden event is expected to reach 350 residents and will also be open to the public. The volunteer program will also be recruiting at the Mid-state Senior Living Expo on October 7, 2010.  This Middletown event is expected to draw from the senior population within Middlesex County.

2)  Establish an Internet presence by expanding use of the Volunteer Match.com website to move from one zip code to a statewide exposure.

Update: This benchmark was achieved. The Volunteer Match website’s statewide zip code option was put in place for BESB in December, 2009.  Volunteer Match.org is a national volunteer recruitment database. Use of the enhanced zip code feature allows a volunteer to find an opportunity based on distance from their preferred zip code.  Therefore, having a BESB volunteer posting in every Connecticut zip code increases the potential for a volunteer to find BESB’s volunteer program.  The value of this expanded search option to statewide zip codes is evident in the increase of new volunteer referrals through Volunteer Match.org received in fiscal year 2010 (121) compared to the number of volunteer referrals in 2009 (75) when only one zip code was registered.

·       BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

Update:  The benchmark was achieved for 2009, with a detailed summary provided in the December, 2009 benchmark update report.  The benchmark is in progress for 2010. Outreach phone calls to more than 300 eye doctors have occurred to ask them if they have utilized the posters previously mailed to them for display in their office and waiting areas, and to also remind the doctors of the statutory reporting requirements to BESB. Posters and referral information has been resent to nearly 200 of these eye doctors subsequent to the phone calls.

·       By July, 1, 2010, BESB shall pilot two models of computer training for independent living for individuals age 55 and over, with one model in a group setting, and the other an individualized instructional model.  Pre- and post-test analysis will provide data on the effectiveness of each approach.

Update: This benchmark could only be partially achieved. A model for individualized and group training was developed, that included a curriculum with pre-test and post-test analysis and it was piloted in June.  Unfortunately, this benchmark was not able to fully achieve the intended outcome due to the lack of a sufficient client sample size to participate in either the individualized or the group training. It proved very difficult to identify clients who possessed similar training needs, skill levels and independent living goals.  Three individuals participated in the pilot project and they were trained in the use of GUIDE computer software, two in a small group setting by NEAT Marketplace and one on an itinerant basis by Vision Dynamics.  All three individuals were able to demonstrate that they could use email and access the internet after 12 hours of training.  The agency recognizes the need to develop alternative approaches to adaptive computer training that are more cost efficient than individualized training, but unfortunately found that this type of group training approach does not appear to be the solution.

·       Beginning October 1, 2009, all referrals in Adult Service for social work, rehabilitation teaching or mobility services shall have an initial contact to the client from the respective field staff professional occur within an average of ten business days.

Update: A new tracking system became operational on October 1, 2009. This report yields data in calendar days and counts the date of the referral as one day. Therefore, ten business days would be the equivalent of thirteen calendar days based upon this report structure. From the start date of this benchmark on October 1, 2009, through the reporting period ending on August 31, 2010, the average number of calendar days from referral date to completed initial contact was 8.7 days for the division, achieving the benchmark. The tracking report also makes it possible to measure the time frame for contacts by type of service. During the same time period, the average time from referral to contact for Orientation and Mobility services was 2.0 days. For Social Work services, the average was 7.6 days for this time period. For Rehabilitation Teaching, the average was 13.9 days.

Business Enterprises:

·       The BEP Training Manual shall be updated by the end of calendar year 2009.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in December, 2009.  The updated training manual has 20 chapters. The 10 classroom chapters are: The Randolph-Sheppard Act, CT State Statute, Safety, Business Relationships, Business Math, Federal and State Tax Forms and Regulations, Financial Records, Display, Inventory, and Food Service. The 10 on-the job training chapters are: Salad Preparation, Sandwiches, Slicer Knowledge, Weekly Reports, Menu and Pricing, Fryer, Grill, Knives, Cash Register and Par (inventory) Levels.

·       Beginning in calendar year 2009, two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers.  Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for 2009.  The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors formed a sub-committee to develop topics for the in-service trainings. The first training occurred at the annual meeting of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors in October, focusing on ethics policy requirements, workplace violence prevention and anti-harassment.  An additional training occurred in December, 2009, covering the Servsafe sanitation requirements. For 2010, this benchmark is in progress, with the first training taking place on June 16, 2010 on the topic of best merchandizing practices.  The second training for 2010 is scheduled for November on facility reporting requirements.

·       BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2008, 2009 and 2010.  The summary report for 2010 is immediately below and can also be viewed by selecting the “Budget Summary 2010” link under the Business Enterprise Program section of the web site (www.ct.gov/besb).  The budget summary reports for 2008 and 2009 are also available for review under the Business Enterprise section of the BESB website.

BESB Business Enterprises Program Budget Summary

FY 2010

For the Business Enterprises Program, in fiscal year 2010, the total gross program income from all sources was $2,737,589. Of that amount, the gross Coca-Cola income was $1,816,778. Carry over funding from the prior fiscal year was $620,956, making $3,358,545 available during FY 10. Total expenses in the Program for FY 10 were $2,368,791. The fiscal year end balance was $989,754.  This reflects an overall increase of $368,831 from the prior fiscal year.

 Major expenses in FY 10 were as follows:

1. Program Trainers and Administrative/Support Staff: $1,390,122

2. Purchases for existing locations: $11,133 *

3. Purchases and build outs for new locations: $0*

4. Client placements from BESB Industries: $17,552

5. Commissions and permits for BEP Operators: $176,805*

6. Maintenance services for BEP locations: $142,584*

7. Initial Inventory and Stock for BEP Operators: $7,769*

8. Health Insurance and Retirement for BEP Operators: $330,676*

9. Shared commissions with agencies/colleges: $108,396

10. Training stipends for BEP trainees:  $1,424

11. Temporary facility coverage services: $0

12. Utility Costs for BEP locations: $59,171

13. Storage Rentals for BEP locations: $980*

14. Incentive Plan for BEP Managers: $61,436*

15. Miscellaneous Expenses: $60,743

In total, $790,554 (cumulative total of categories with asterisks in the above analysis), or 29% of the overall program income in 2010 (44% of the Coca-Cola revenues) was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program.

·       By January 1, 2010, BEP will develop, distribute, and assess a satisfaction survey to be completed by BEP Operators.  The results will be distributed to the Board, Strategic Planning Committee, and the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update: This benchmark was achieved.  The survey results can be viewed by selecting the “BEP Facility Manager Survey” link under the Business Enterprise Program section of the BESB web site (www.ct.gov/besb). A detailed summary of the report was also included in the September, 2009 benchmark report.

Children’s Services:

·       Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1, 2011, the agency will reduce average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points.

Update: This is a new benchmark, established by the board in September, 2009. The effective date for reporting on this benchmark is July 1, 2011.

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.  For 2010, this benchmark is in progress. Children’s Services held a parent program on March 13, 2010. Registration information was sent to all Teachers of the Visually Impaired for distribution to families.  The event was also included in the agency Fall newsletter to parents.  The program was titled: “How to Address Issues of Sexuality with your Child: Preparing parents to face the challenges of adolescence with a child who is visually impaired.” A second event for parents of children from birth through second grade has been scheduled for October 16, 2010.  It will be held at the Connecticut Children’s Museum in New Haven.  Children will attend a story hour and parents will have an education program.  Susan Laventure from the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI) will be there to talk about resources available to parents.   

·       Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for 2009. A Spring and Fall newsletter were electronically distributed to community partner organizations, posted to the agency website and mailed in print format to the parents of children served by the agency.  This benchmark is in progress for 2010.  The first newsletter for 2010 was mailed to families in April.  It was sent electronically to all parents who had provided the agency with an email address to reduce printing costs.  The newsletter was also posted on the BESB website.  Children's Services is in the process of gathering and editing articles for the fall newsletter, which will be distributed in the late autumn of 2010.

·       To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved for 2009 and 2010.  Children's Services hosted three events in the spring of 2010; a gymnastics event on April 30, 2010 for students in grades K-3; a fishing event on May 21, 2010 for middle school students; and a zip-lining challenge on May 21, 2010 for students in grades 9-12. Three days of “Essential Skills” were presented on June 22, 23, and 25, 2010.  Activities over the course of the 3 days included clothing care, banking, check-writing, personal hygiene, first aid, and kitchen skills.  BESB hosted a weeklong program called “LIFE” at Wesleyan University for transition age students from July 11-17, 2010, a recreation program called “Camp Abilities” for students in grades 5-9 on August 15-20, 2010, two “Skills for Life” mobility day programs from August 2-6, 2010 (West Haven location) and August 9-11, 2010 (Manchester location), as well as a one day technology event on July 21, 2010.  Programs addressed all areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum. 

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Starting January 1, 2010, provide a group Job Seeking Skills class twice a year, focusing on skills such as networking, interviewing skills, and resume writing, culminating in attendance at a job fair.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress. The first job seeking skills class (a six-week program) ended with a graduation ceremony for the five participants on May 13, 2010. The classes were held at the New England Assistive Technology Center through the Connecticut Institute for the Blind in Hartford.  There were hands on exercises using the computer to complete assignments and a visit to the Capital Region’s One Stop Career Center in Hartford. 

All participants attended a job fair, organized through the Connecticut Business Leadership Network on May 7, 2010. Out of the five participants, four have been placed in paid internships. The second job seeking skills class started on Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at the Ansonia Town Hall, with 10 participants. This class has participants from Bridgeport, Ansonia, and Waterbury. This is an eight-week class, being held once a week. The first class had a guest Speaker, the President of Career TEAM and author of “ The Career Guarantee, Take Control of Your Future!”, Christopher Kuselias.

·       With a goal of increasing employment outcomes, starting January 1, 2010 all VR Counselors will increase community outreach activities focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers, with a minimum of two hours a week on these activities using the new marketing materials for the division.

Update:  For the reporting period between June 1, 2010 and August 31, 2010, there were 292.98 hours of field activity in the benchmark categories by the ten applicable staff during the thirteen-week time period. This represents an average of 2.25 hours per week for the thirteen-week period, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period.

·       Starting January 1, 2010 all VR field staff will participate in 2 trainings a year, with a focus on Assistive Technology or Job Development.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved. There are 16 staff covered under this benchmark, and all of the staff have achieved this training goal for the year. Staff attended a training seminar in July on the topic of assistive technology, held at the agency. Staff continue to participate in training programs. In September, three staff attended “Telling is not Selling” presented by Career TEAM. Additionally, four staff are attending a national employment conference in September, sponsored by Rehabilitation Services Administration. 

·       For every VR school aged client there shall be at least one annual contact between the counselor and the client (with their guardian).  Contact will increase to at least twice during the last scheduled year of school.

Update:  This benchmark became effective in January, 2010 and is in progress.  Seventy-three students were initially identified as school-aged (now 72 with one student who moved out of state). Initial contacts have been made thus far with 69 students, including three of the five students who exited the Children’s Services Program in June. The agency is currently updating the student list for the new school year and will report on the number of students in each category in the next benchmark report.

 

******************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

June, 2010

Adult Services:

·    By July 2010, deliver “New Independence Training Programs for Older Persons with Vision Loss in Assisted Long-term Care Facilities” in a minimum of 3 (three) assisted living and/or intermediate rehabilitation care facilities around the state.

Update: This benchmark is currently in progress. One program has been delivered to date, at an assisted living long-term care facility in Hamden. The training included first and second shift personnel and was delivered separately to each group at the request of the facility. A training session at a second location was held on June 15, 2010 at Torrington Health and Rehabilitation. Another session will be held on June 28 at Chelsea Place in Hartford. The agency anticipates achieving this benchmark with the completion of the two June programs.

·    By January 1, 2010, BESB shall produce a baseline

measurement for client satisfaction and functional gains in the delivery of independent living services. 

Update:    This benchmark was achieved.  The UConn Center on Aging completed a comprehensive survey of clients, age 55 and older, who received services from the agency in the past year. The full report can be viewed on the BESB website (www.ct.gov/besb).  A summary of the results was also included in the March, 2010 benchmark report. The agency is utilizing the results from this survey in the ongoing strategic planning committee activities.

  

·       To increase the available pool of volunteers for clients awaiting a match by increasing outreach efforts: 

1) Participate in at least two community service focused outreach events, one each in Hartford County and New Haven County.  

Update:  This benchmark was achieved. On May 21, 2010, the volunteer program attended the Area Agency on Aging Health Fair in New Haven. The Volunteer program was also represented at a well-attended Community Service Organization Fair in April, 2009 sponsored by the Hospital of Central Connecticut, New Britain.  

The agency also participated in two additional Hartford County events in September, 2009. One was at a local insurance company’s health fair, and the other was at Goodwin College.    Volunteer services applications were given out at each event.

2)  Establish an Internet presence by expanding use of the Volunteer Match.com website to move from one zip code to a statewide exposure.

Update: This benchmark was achieved. The Volunteer Match website’s statewide zip code option was put in place for BESB in December, 2009.  Volunteer Match.org is a national volunteer recruitment database. Use of the enhanced zip code feature allows a volunteer to find an opportunity based on distance from their preferred zip code.  Therefore, having a BESB volunteer posting in every Connecticut zip code increases the potential for a volunteer to find BESB’s volunteer program. 

·     BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

Update:  The benchmark was achieved for 2009, with a detailed summary provided in the December, 2009 benchmark update report.  The benchmark is in progress for 2010. Outreach phone calls to more than 300 eye doctors have occurred to ask them if they have utilized the posters previously mailed to them for display in their office and waiting areas, and to also remind the doctors of the statutory reporting requirements to BESB. Posters and referral information has been resent to nearly 200 of these eye doctors subsequent to the phone calls.

·    By July, 1, 2010, BESB shall pilot two models of computer training for independent living for individuals age 55 and over, with one model in a group setting, and the other an individualized instructional model.  Pre- and post-test analysis will provide data on the effectiveness of each approach.

Update: This benchmark is currently in progress.  A small group training and an individualized training in the use of email and internet access are both occurring in June, 2010 and the results of these trainings will be reported in the September, 2010 benchmark report.

·     Beginning October 1, 2009, all referrals in Adult Service for social work, rehabilitation teaching or mobility services shall have an initial contact to the client from the respective field staff professional occur within an average of ten business days.

Update: A new tracking system became operational on October 1, 2009. This report yields data in calendar days and counts the date of the referral as one day. Therefore, ten business days would be the equivalent of thirteen calendar days based upon this report structure. From the start date of this benchmark on October 1, 2009, through the reporting period ending on May 31, 2010, the average number of calendar days from referral date to completed initial contact was 10.7 days for the division, achieving the benchmark. The tracking report also makes it possible to measure the time frame for contacts by type of service. During the same time period, the average time from referral to contact for Orientation and Mobility services was 6.1 days. For Social Work services, the average was 9.8 days for this time period. For Rehabilitation Teaching, the average was 15.3 days.

Business Enterprises:

·    The BEP Training Manual shall be updated by the end of calendar year 2009.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in December, 2009.  The updated training manual has 20 chapters. The 10 classroom chapters are: The Randolph-Sheppard Act, CT State Statute, Safety, Business Relationships, Business Math, Federal and State Tax Forms and Regulations, Financial Records, Display, Inventory, and Food Service. The 10 on-the job training chapters are: Salad Preparation, Sandwiches, Slicer Knowledge, Weekly Reports, Menu and Pricing, Fryer, Grill, Knives, Cash Register and Par (inventory) Levels.

·    Beginning in calendar year 2009, two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers.  Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for 2009.  The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors formed a sub-committee to develop topics for the in-service trainings. The first training occurred at the annual meeting of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors in October, focusing on ethics policy requirements, workplace violence prevention and anti-harassment.  An additional training occurred in December, 2009, covering the Servsafe sanitation requirements. For 2010, this benchmark is in progress, with the first training scheduled to take place in June on the topic of best merchandizing practices.  

·    BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2008.  The summary report can be viewed by selecting the “Budget Summary 2008” link under the Business Enterprise Program section of the web site (www.ct.gov/besb).  The benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2009 and the report can be viewed by selecting the “Budget Summary 2009” link under the Business Enterprise section of the BESB website. It was also included in the September, 2009 benchmark report.  For fiscal year 2010, this benchmark is in progress. Financial figures will be posted to the agency website after the conclusion of the fiscal year.

·     By January 1, 2010, BEP will develop, distribute, and assess a satisfaction survey to be completed by BEP Operators.  The results will be distributed to the Board, Strategic Planning Committee, and the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update: This benchmark was achieved.  The survey results can be viewed by selecting the “BEP Facility Manager Survey” link under the Business Enterprise Program section of the BESB web site (www.ct.gov/besb). A detailed summary of the report was also included in the September, 2009 benchmark report.

Children’s Services:

·   Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1, 2011, the agency will reduce average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points.

Update: This is a new benchmark, established by the board in September, 2009. The effective date for reporting on this benchmark is July 1, 2011.

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.  For 2010, this benchmark is in progress. Children’s Services held a parent program on March 13, 2010. Registration information was sent to all Teachers of the Visually Impaired for distribution to families.  The event was also included in the agency Fall newsletter to parents.  The program was titled: “How to Address Issues of Sexuality with your Child: Preparing parents to face the challenges of adolescence with a child who is visually impaired.” A second event for parents of children from birth through second grade was scheduled for June 12, 2010.  Due to low registration (6 people representing 3 families) the event has been canceled.  Children's Services is in the process of creating a needs assessment to better determine what topics, times and locations would better suit parents.    

  

·     Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for 2009. A Spring and Fall newsletter were electronically distributed to community partner organizations, posted to the agency website and mailed in print format to the parents of children served by the agency.  This benchmark is in progress for 2010.  The first newsletter for 2010 was mailed to families in mid-April.  It was sent electronically to all parents who had provided the agency with an email address to reduce printing costs.  The newsletter was also posted on the BESB website. 

·     To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved for 2009 and 2010.  On April 30, 2010, Children's Services hosted a gymnastics event for students in grades K-3.  The event was run as a ‘mini-Olympics’ and included making international flags, a torch run, and a medal ceremony following the activities on the uneven bars, balance beam, parallel bars and tumbling mats.  On May 5, 2010 eleven students in grades 9-12 experienced zip-lining through a treetop course in Middletown.  Navigating rope bridges proved challenging for many of the students, but all succeeded in completing the course.  On May 21, 2010, the third event was held, with 20 middle school students experiencing bait and fly fishing, and the new Braille Trail at the Valley Falls Park in Vernon.   Three days of ‘Essential Skills’ will be presented on June 22, 23, and 25, 2010.  Activities over the course of the 3 days will include clothing care, banking, check-writing, personal hygiene, first aid, and kitchen skills.  Over 20 students are pre-registered for the course.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·    Starting January 1, 2010, provide a group Job Seeking Skills class twice a year, focusing on skills such as networking, interviewing skills, and resume writing, culminating in attendance at a job fair.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress. The first job seeking skills class (a six-week program) ended with a graduation ceremony for the five participants on May 13, 2010. The classes were held at the New England Assistive Technology Center through the Connecticut Institute for the Blind in Hartford.  There were hands on exercises using the computer to complete assignments and a visit to the Capital Region’s One Stop Career Center in Hartford.  All participants attended a job fair, organized through the Connecticut Business Leadership Network on May 7, 2010. Out of the five participants, four have been placed in paid internships. The fifth participant is under consideration for a permanent position.

·    With a goal of increasing employment outcomes, starting January 1, 2010 all VR Counselors will increase community outreach activities focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers, with a minimum of two hours a week on these activities using the new marketing materials for the division.

Update:  Staff are utilizing an electronic schedule tracking report to document fieldwork and casework activities. For the thirteen weeks between March 1, 2010 and May 31, 2010, there were 409 hours of field activity in the benchmark categories for the ten applicable staff. The average was 3.1 hours per week per staff person, thereby achieving this benchmark for the reporting period.

·     Starting January 1, 2010 all VR field staff will participate in 2 trainings a year, with a focus on Assistive Technology or Job Development.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress. There are 16 staff that are required to work on this benchmark. Out of the 16 staff, 13 have attained this benchmark. The remaining 3 have participated in at least one training on either Assistive Technology or Job Development.

Examples of the trainings that staff have participated in over the last three months are:

1.   A full day Conference on Employment for Individuals with Learning Disabilities through the Capitol Region Education Council.

2.   A full day Window Eyes Scripting class, and a full day Zoomtext training class through the New England Assistive Technology Marketplace.

3.   A three hour In-service put on by the Children Services/ Vocational Rehabilitation Technology committee on the various products available for individuals who are blind, including a demonstration of the different CCTVs available and an introduction to tandem teaching of JAWS.

4.   Five Day National Assistive Technology Conference in San Diego sponsored by the California State University at Northridge. 

5.   Demonstrations on various Assistive Technology products demonstration by Vision Dynamics and the Disability Resource Center of Fairfield County. 

·    For every VR school aged client there shall be at least one annual contact between the counselor and the client (with their guardian).  Contact will increase to at least twice during the last scheduled year of school.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress. Earlier in the year, the VR Counselors were provided a list of students on their caseloads, and the clients that are graduating this year. The Counselors were also provided the name of the Teacher the client is assigned to.  A query was designed in the case management system to track case note contacts. Out of 73 total clients in this benchmark category, contacts have been made so far with 60 students. The division anticipates achieving this benchmark by the end of the reporting period.

 

********************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

March, 2010

Adult Services:

·       By July 2010, deliver “New Independence Training Programs for Older Persons with Vision Loss in Assisted Long-term Care Facilities” in a minimum of 5 (five) assisted living and/or intermediate rehabilitation care facilities around the state.

Update: This benchmark is currently in progress. One program has been delivered to date, at an assisted living long-term care facility in Hamden. The training included first and second shift personnel and was delivered separately to each group at the request of the facility.   Another facility in Bridgeport has agreed to participate in training, and that program is being scheduled. The Adult Services Supervisor has offered the training program to an additional facility in Hamden and one in South Windsor. The agency is awaiting commitments to proceed.

·       By January 1, 2010, BESB shall produce a baseline

measurement for client satisfaction and functional gains in the delivery of independent living services. 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  The UConn Center on Aging completed a comprehensive survey of clients, age 55 and older, who received services from the agency in the past year. The full report can be viewed on the BESB website (www.ct.gov/besb) in the Adult Services Section. In summary, the results show:

Mobility Instruction: Satisfaction level of 8.64 out of 10. Functional gains in the use of a white cane reported by 73% of clients who received the service. Functional gain in the use of public transportation subsequent to mobility services was reported by 27% of the clients.

Rehabilitation Teaching: Satisfaction rating of 8.34 out of 10. Functional gains in handling household activities and personal care noted by 92% of clients who received the service. Functional gain in communication techniques (classified in this report as use of Braille, writing signature guides, tape recorders, phone) reported by 74% of clients who received this service.

Low Vision Services and adaptive technology: Satisfaction rating of 7.89 out of 10.

For clients who received low vision glasses, 59% reported no functional gain, 34% noted some level of gain, and 7% reported a significant gain.

For clients who received adaptive technology devices, 65% reported a functional gain.

Low Vision and adaptive technology represent the categories of service delivery where the greatest level of expenditure is incurred in the Older Blind Grant. The level of functional gain as a result of these services was lower than anticipated. The agency is addressing these results through the Strategic Planning Committee.

·       To increase the available pool of volunteers for clients awaiting a match by increasing outreach efforts: 

1) Participate in at least two community service focused outreach events, one each in Hartford County and New Haven County.  

Update:  This benchmark is in progress. The Volunteer program was represented at a well-attended Community Service Organization Fair in April, 2009 sponsored by the Hospital of Central Connecticut, New Britain. The agency also participated in two additional Hartford County events in September, 2009. One was at a local insurance company’s health fair, and the other was at Goodwin College.  Volunteer services applications were given out at each event. An outreach event in New Haven County is being planned by the Area Agency on Aging for May 21, 2010.  BESB is planning to participate in this event.

2)  Establish an Internet presence by expanding use of the Volunteer Match.com website to move from one zip code to a statewide exposure.

Update: This benchmark was achieved. The Volunteer Match website’s statewide zip code option was put in place for BESB in December, 2009.  Volunteer Match.org is a national volunteer recruitment database. Use of the enhanced zip code feature allows a volunteer to find an opportunity based on distance from their preferred zip code.  Therefore, having a BESB volunteer posting in every Connecticut zip code increases the potential for a volunteer to find BESB’s volunteer program. 

·       BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

Update:  The benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2009, with a detailed summary provided in the December, 2009 benchmark update report.  The benchmark is in progress for 2010. Plans are underway to contact the eye doctors across the state to ask them if they have utilized the posters previously mailed to them for display in their office and waiting areas, and to also remind the doctors of the statutory reporting requirements to BESB.

·       By July, 1, 2010, BESB shall pilot two models of computer training for independent living for individuals age 55 and over, with one model in a group setting, and the other an individualized instructional model.  Pre- and post-test analysis will provide data on the effectiveness of each approach.

Update: This benchmark is currently in progress.  Agency staff has finalized the training curriculum with two state-approved vendors for computer training. The training sessions will focus on teaching clients how to use email with adaptive devices. The training modules will be held in Stratford, Hartford and Cheshire during the months of April and May.  

·       Beginning October 1, 2009, all referrals in Adult Service for social work, rehabilitation teaching or mobility services shall have an initial contact to the client from the respective field staff professional occur within an average of ten business days.

Update: A new tracking system became operational on October 1, 2009. This report yields data in calendar days and counts the date of the referral as one day. Therefore, ten business days would be the equivalent of thirteen calendar days based upon this report structure. From the start date of this benchmark on October 1, 2009, through the reporting period ending on February 28, 2010, the average number of calendar days from referral date to completed initial contact was 11.1 days for the division, achieving the benchmark. The tracking report also makes it possible to measure the time frame for contacts by type of service. During the same time period, the average time from referral to contact for Orientation and Mobility services was 6.5 days. For Social Work services, the average was 9.9 days for this time period. For Rehabilitation Teaching, the average was 17.9 days. This data is very useful for identifying areas where caseload adjustments may be necessary, and the agency is reviewing the rehabilitation teaching category to assess if refinements in territory assignments would result in more timely contacts within that category.

Business Enterprises:

·       The BEP Training Manual shall be updated by the end of calendar year 2009.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in December, 2009.  The updated training manual has 20 chapters. The 10 classroom chapters are: The Randolph-Sheppard Act, CT State Statute, Safety, Business Relationships, Business Math, Federal and State Tax Forms and Regulations, Financial Records, Display, Inventory, and Food Service. The 10 on-the job training chapters are: Salad Preparation, Sandwiches, Slicer Knowledge, Weekly Reports, Menu and Pricing, Fryer, Grill, Knives, Cash Register and Par (inventory) Levels.

·       Beginning in calendar year 2009, two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers.  Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for 2009.  The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors formed a sub-committee to develop topics for the in-service trainings. The first training occurred at the annual meeting of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors in October, focusing on ethics policy requirements, workplace violence prevention and anti-harassment.  An additional training occurred in December, 2009, covering the Servsafe sanitation requirements. For 2010, this benchmark is in progress, with the first training scheduled to take place in June on the topic of best merchandizing practices.  

·       BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2008.  The summary report can be viewed by selecting the “Budget Summary 2008” link under the Business Enterprise Program section of the web site (www.ct.gov/besb).  The benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2009 and the report can be viewed by selecting the “Budget Summary 2009” link under the Business Enterprise section of the BESB website. It was also included in the September, 2009 benchmark report.  For fiscal year 2010, this benchmark is in progress. Financial figures will be posted to the agency website after the conclusion of the fiscal year.

·       By January 1, 2010, BEP will develop, distribute, and assess a satisfaction survey to be completed by BEP Operators.  The results will be distributed to the Board, Strategic Planning Committee, and the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update: This benchmark was achieved.  The survey results can be viewed by selecting the “BEP Facility Manager Survey” link under the Business Enterprise Program section of the BESB web site (www.ct.gov/besb). A detailed summary of the report was also included in the September, 2009 benchmark report.

Children’s Services:

·       Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1, 2011, the agency will reduce average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points.

Update: This is a new benchmark, established by the board in September, 2009. The effective date for reporting on this benchmark is July 1, 2011.

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in school year 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.  For school year 2010, this benchmark is in progress. Children’s Services held a parent program on March 13, 2010. Registration information was sent to all Teachers of the Visually Impaired for distribution to families.  The event was also included in the agency Fall newsletter to parents.  The program was titled: “How to Address Issues of Sexuality with your Child: Preparing parents to face the challenges of adolescence with a child who is visually impaired.” A second event for parents of preschoolers is scheduled for June 12, 2010.  Parents will hear the student perspective on being a child with a visual impairment from members of the Student Advisory Council (SAC).  A representative from NAPVI (National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments) will talk about the importance of parents as advocates for their children, and the resources that are available to them. 

·       Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for calendar year 2009. A Spring and Fall newsletter were electronically distributed to community partner organizations, posted to the agency website and mailed in print format to the parents of children served by the agency. The first newsletter for 2010 is in progress and will be distributed in the Spring.  The agency plans to send the next newsletter electronically to as many parents as possible to reduce printing costs.  For families who do not have email, a print copy will be sent as in the past.  

·       To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved for 2009.  In July 2009, Children's Services staff organized and implemented a weeklong program at Southern CT State University, called LIFE.  Eleven high school students lived on campus, and participated in extensive training on independent living, orientation and mobility, technology, and recreation.  In August, the agency mobility team led a 5 day program for 11 students, which focused on advanced orientation and mobility skills in commercial and residential travel.    On August 25, 2009 Children's Services presented a workshop entitled ‘Tech for Me’.  Eight students and two parents attended the event, where they learned how to navigate screen reader accessible websites with adaptive devices such as the Victor Reader Stream and Braille notetakers.  Plans for programs in the Summer of 2010 are in progress, and include the addition of a new program, Camp Abilities.

·       By January 1, 2010 BESB shall produce and distribute to school districts and the general public a Best Practice Handout for paraprofessionals to use when working with children who are blind, deafblind, or visually impaired. 

Update: This benchmark was achieved.  Children's Services staff collaborated to develop the Best Practice handout for paraprofessionals, which was added to the BESB website in December, 2009.  The document was also distributed to all special education directors statewide at that time. 

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Provide a group Job Seeking Skills class twice a year, focusing on skills such as networking, interviewing skills, and resume writing, culminating in attendance at a job fair.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress.  The first job seeking skills class, a six-week program, is planned to begin on March 22, 2010. There are eight clients scheduled to participate in this class. A job fair, organized through the Connecticut Business Leadership Network, will be held on May 7, 2010. It is anticipated that the participants from this job seeking skills class will attend that job fair.

·       All VR Counselors will increase community outreach activities focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers, with a minimum of two hours a week on these activities using the new marketing materials for the division.

Update:  Staff utilize an electronic schedule tracking report to document fieldwork and casework activities. For the eight weeks between January 1, 2010 and February 28, 2010, there were 169 hours of field activity in the benchmark categories for the eight applicable staff. The average was 2.6 hours per week per staff person, thereby achieving this benchmark for the reporting period.

·       All VR field staff will participate in 2 trainings a year, with a focus on Assistive Technology or Job Development.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress. On January 21, 2010, there was an In-service training held at the agency by Carol Taylor, Director of the Library for the Blind. She provided a demonstration of the new digital talking book machine and digital books available from the Library for the Blind.  Ten Vocational Rehabilitation staff participated in this training.

·       For every VR school aged client there shall be at least one annual contact between the counselor and the client (with their guardian).  Contact will increase to at least twice during the last scheduled year of school.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress. A list of all school-aged clients was provided to the Counselors and they have started to contact these clients. The Counselors were also provided a list of all the Teachers of the Visually Impaired and the name of the Teacher the client is assigned to.

 

********************************************************************************

Connecticut State Board of Education

and Services for the Blind

Board of Directors

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

Annual Report to the Governor and

General Assembly 1 January, 2010

Members

Alan Sylvestre (Chair), Eileen Akers, Christine Boisvert, Carolyn Dodd, Betty Woodward, Carol Gillispie, Chris Kuell, Patrick Johnson, William DeMaio, Randa Nesman, Jay Kronfeld, and Michael Starkowski, Ex-Officio, Commissioner of the Department of Social Services.

Introduction

The Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) is the lead state agency for the acquisition, provision and integration of appropriate quality services in a timely and effective manner to Connecticut residents who are legally blind.  Founded in 1893, BESB is the oldest state agency in the nation for people who are blind and that proud heritage is reflected in the agency's dedication to public service.

The agency has continued to deliver a large amount of direct services which have increased by 10 percent compared to the last fiscal year.  BESB Executive Director Brian Sigman has praised agency staff for ongoing initiatives for creative ways to deliver services during this difficult economic time.  Furthermore, other resources such as grants, private insurance, or other funding sources that are available continue to be implemented.

The agency and the Board of Directors have continued to redesign, update and monitor benchmarks to meet the agency's strategic priorities for timely and effective service delivery.

Benchmarks Committee

The Benchmarks Committee is chaired by Dr.  Chris Kuell.  Throughout this report, benchmarks have been integrated into descriptions of the activities of each division; benchmarks are not specifically cited.  In addition, Board members are actively involved in all intra-agency committees and councils as well as related advisory committees.  The Board of Directors commends BESB personnel who demonstrate, by their daily efforts, their dedication to the people we serve.

The mission of Connecticut's Board of Education and Services for the Blind reads as follows:  to be "responsible for initiating, coordinating and implementing the education and training of Connecticut's children with blindness and visual impairment in order to maintain their academic, physical, emotional and social progress at age level, grade level or diagnosed ability level.  BESB also serves Connecticut's adults with blindness through ongoing educational, vocational and daily living skills programs in order to empower them to achieve employment success in their chosen profession and to enhance their independence and self-sufficiency.

Within BESB, there is an Administrative Division to oversee the overall operation of the Agency.  A Children's Services Division offers Braille instruction and support to children who are blind or visually impaired and technical assistance to school districts.  An Adult Services Division performs the central intake for clients and provides independent living training and related services to adults.  A Vocational Rehabilitation Division helps adults who are legally blind to obtain and retain employment.  The Business Enterprises Division offers entrepreneurial opportunities to people who are blind.

This report is based upon excerpts from numerous documents.  It will highlight the importance of communication, collaboration and coordination in carrying out BESB's mission.  The specialized nature of services will also be emphasized.

A significant change in state regulations transfers any adaptive equipment provided by the agency for education or rehabilitation as the client's property.  The cost of maintenance or repair of the equipment shall rest with the client.  In circumstances where a client requests, the agency shall reimburse the client for the documented cost of the repair and applicable shipping of said equipment to and from the repair location.  Provisions have also been made for the temporary loan of equipment to clients to address short-term needs (such as a loan while the client's equipment is being repaired.)

Several forms of media are used to fill the vital need for communication.  The BESB website www.ct.gov/besb is a comprehensive resource containing specific information about BESB.  It also includes a variety of other resources and information about blindness and visual impairment.  The BESB telephone system, as an alternative means of communication is also accessible to persons who are deafblind.  It is also essential to continue the policy of providing all written materials to clients in their preferred mode of communication and preferred language.

BESB operates under the authority of Chapter 174 of the Connecticut General Statutes and maintains a confidential registry of people who are blind in Connecticut as required by statute.  For fiscal year 2009, the registry for the agency grew to 12,166 clients.  A total of 821 newly blind individuals were added to the registry, 572 of whom, or 70 percent, were age 65 or older.  Of that total number of new clients, 106 were children, bringing the total number of children on the registry to 1,071.

Results of the most recently completed independent client satisfaction survey show that Vocational Rehabilitation clients remain very satisfied with agency services, with an overall rating of 8.02 on a scale of 1 to 10.  In the Business Enterprise program, overall client and customer satisfaction with the level of services and support remains high.

Children's Services: Direct instruction and consultation services to children are provided by Teachers of the Visually Impaired.  TVI's employed by BESB are currently serving 114 school districts; 21 school districts directly hire or contract for their own TVI's.  Caseload size continues to be a concern.  Services to students often include the provision of large print or Braille textbooks, adaptive note taking devices and low vision magnifying aids to facilitate participation in classroom learning.

Through collaboration with the Department of Correction for inmate volunteers, textbooks were transcribed into Braille for use by school children.

Examples of the use of co-ordination to enhance the education of children include training sessions for classroom teachers that provided information on instructing children who read Braille, children who read large print and children who are nonverbal due to additional disabilities.  Ongoing Braille instruction classes are also taught primarily for para-educators who work with students served by BESB.  A best-practices handout for these para-educators is also being prepared.

Examples of communication and collaboration with parents include parent education programs and a newsletter for parents published semi-annually.

A student Advisory Council not only is empowering students but is also promoting socialization and ongoing communication that may often prove to be extremely beneficial among peers who are blind.  Other events for students are scheduled throughout the school year.

In collaboration with Southern Connecticut University, BESB conducted a residential independent living training summer program for transition-age students to experience college life.  The program provided the students with opportunities to live in a dormitory, prepare meals, travel independently on the campus and explore career options.

Adult Services: Under Connecticut General Statutes 10-295(c), BESB "may provide for the instruction of the adult blind in their homes, expending annually for this purpose such sums as the General Assembly may appropriate." The Adult Services Division works with adults who are legally blind.  The agency also receives federal funding for the provision of services to maximize the independent living skills and abilities of adults, age 55 or older who are legally blind.  BESB's acceptance of funding under the Rehabilitation Act obligates the agency to undertake significant vision-related rehabilitation outreach to underserved populations in Connecticut.  Through specialized social, educational, and rehabilitation teaching services, clients are enabled to achieve and maintain their highest level of productivity and independence in their place of residence.  In addition, these services are provided to enable the client to live in the least restrictive setting possible, thus preventing unnecessary institutionalization, including nursing home placement.  These services are provided by highly trained social workers, rehabilitation teachers and orientation and mobility instructors and may be provided in the residence, in the community, in a group setting or at the agency as part of a centralized model of service delivery.  Timely follow-up to referrals has been given high importance.

Social Workers through the Adult Services Division are assigned as the primary case managers and service coordinators for recipients of services through the Division.  In addition to case management activities, Social Workers also give short-term guidance and counseling to clients who may include such activities as crisis intervention, housing assistance, benefit coordination assistance, and health care information.

Core independent living rehabilitation services provided by Adult Services include the following: A) Intake, information, and referral services B) Assessment of rehabilitation service needs C) Adjustment to blindness counseling D) Case management E) Instruction in the use of techniques and devices to maximize residual vision or compensate for the loss of functional vision F) Activities of daily living training to maximize independence G) Orientation and Mobility H) Independent living skills training programs, to eligible individuals, and to community organizations.  I) Peer support groups and self-advocacy skills training.  J) Consultation and referral services through the use of specialists with expertise in blindness and vision-related rehabilitation.  K) Volunteer services, including assistance with reading mail, transportation assistance into the community and peer support.  L) Referral services to community based organizations and social networks of and for the blind.

First priority for the provision of rehabilitation teaching services is for adults who are at extreme risk of injury as determined by the Social Worker or Rehabilitation Teacher, and for whom there is no other resource for this service available.  Examples of instruction in daily living skills may include self-care training in grooming and hygiene, medication identification and measurement, safety strategies, or training in the use of daily living aids and devices.  Home management techniques may include areas such as cooking, laundry and sewing, grocery shopping, money identification techniques and bill paying, house cleaning, and repairs.  Communication skills training may include Braille, handwriting, use of tape recording, use of low vision magnifying devices and aids, use of adaptive technology devices, and computer access technology and socialization skills.  Leisure time activity consultation may be offered to increase participation in hobbies, sports and recreation.  Clients may also be provided with information about additional products and services available for all activities of daily living.

BESB employs Orientation and Mobility Specialists whose function is to assist and train clients to move more confidently and safely through the residential environment and in the community.  Services provided by Orientation and Mobility Instructors include: training for safe and independent travel in the residence and in the community; training in the use of a long white cane, short white support cane, or other device for identification and safety; developing the ability to use multiple devices where ambulation requires the use of supports; teaching the ability to relate to the environment non-visually or developing the use of residual vision to facilitate safe and independent travel; training in the use of low vision devices that enhance access to visual cues, such as utilization of monocular telescopes to identify pedestrian signals; instructing in the use of other sensory modalities, such as auditory and tactual cues; teaching a client to utilize public transportation options including teaching travel routes to bus stops, teaching techniques for identifying the correct bus stop and how to orient to a location; providing information on other transportation options that are available such as ADA para-transit, Dial-A-Ride, senior volunteers, etc.; providing training and orientation to transit district drivers of buses and para-transit vehicles on blindness-related topics; representing the agency at Transit District meetings within assigned geographic territories, to bring forward concerns related to transportation for individuals who are blind; consultation, follow up and community education assistance for guide dog users; providing information about schools and training programs to clients who desire to obtain a guide dog.  Working with the Department of Transportation, town planners, and traffic engineers, BESB Orientation and Mobility specialists demonstrated how clients are taught to cross streets and how intersection design affects this process.

Under Connecticut General Statute 10-295(d), the agency may expend up to ten thousand dollars per fiscal year per person twenty-one years of age or over who is both blind or visually impaired and deaf for the purpose of providing services through specialized public and private entities from which such person can benefit.  Funds may be used to create opportunities for recreation, communication, socialization and other services that further community inclusion for these adults.  The Deafblind Advisory Committee plays a key role in program planning and implementation.

BESB collaborated with the Commission on the Deaf and Hearing Impaired to design and produce an Emergency Communicator for hospital staff to utilize when persons with deafblindness seek emergency room care.  These tactile booklets will help these patients overcome significant communication barriers with medical staff at times of urgent medical need.  The Communicators have been distributed to hospitals across the state.

For individuals who have some degree of functional vision, it is important that maximum benefit from that vision be obtained for performing independent living tasks.  The Board of Education and Services of the Blind can cover the cost of low vision eye care in the form of a complete low vision evaluation, including an initial visit to a BESB-approved ophthalmologist or optometrist, one follow-up training visit, and the optical aids prescribed, at a frequency of every two years, unless a degenerative eye condition or significant, noticeable reduction in functional vision within the residential or community setting requires an interim visit.  Low vision devices enable an individual to enhance remaining functional vision for activities of independent living.  Aids and devices include items such as prescription lenses, telescopic lenses, hand held magnifying devices, table mounted magnifying devices, and special lighting used in combination with magnification devices.  Training in the use of these low vision devices is available to ensure the maximum level of benefit is achieved.

Examples of collaboration with the Department of Motor Vehicles follow.  Public Act 06-130 requires the agency to provide to the Department of Motor Vehicles the names of all individuals sixteen years of age or older who, on or after October 1, 2005, have been determined to be blind by a physician or optometrist, as provided in section 10-305 of the Connecticut General Statutes.  The agency is further required to provide simultaneous written notification to any individual whose name is being provided to the Department of Motor Vehicles.  A Memorandum of Understanding between the agency and the Department of Motor Vehicles ensures the confidentiality of the information and that it shall only be used for purposes of enabling the Department of Motor Vehicles to notify individuals who are still in possession of a Connecticut Drivers license.

Public Act 09-187, a DMV bill, sought, in part, to tighten up the distribution and use of handicapped parking permits.  Based on information provided by BESB, language was inserted into the bill making it clear that applicants for such a parking permit who are blind may submit a Certificate of Legal Blindness (CLB) from BESB as proof of eligibility.

Vocational Rehabilitation: Services, including the sponsoring of post-secondary education and training where applicable, are available to enable eligible clients to achieve gainful employment.  BESB is committed to increasing employment opportunities through the provision of vocational, rehabilitation, and supported employment services.  An overriding goal is for individuals who are blind to obtain or retain quality jobs or to advance in employment.  The VR State Plan (which is updated annually and is preceded by public hearings throughout the state) consists of the goals, priorities and updates to policy for the Vocational Rehabilitation division as well as summaries of activities from the past fiscal year.  The agency works with employers in job placement activities and also to implement strategies that result in the retention of employment for clients who are experiencing vision-related impediments on the job.  The agency utilizes partnerships to maximize access to training, paid internships and job opportunities.  Through the provision of Vocational Rehabilitation services, authorized under Title I and Title 6, Part B of the federal Rehabilitation Act, as amended, the past federal fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, saw the total number of individuals who achieved successful employment outcomes increase to 130.  Cumulative annualized earnings for all vocational rehabilitation clients reached $3.28 million, reflecting a 26 percent increase over the prior federal fiscal year.  The program served 972 participants, with 164 new applicants for services during the year.  Vocational Rehabilitation staff provided direct vocational counseling services to clients and conducted employer outreach and education activities.  Vocational Rehabilitation counselors will be increasing community outreach activities, focusing on employment, referrals, minorities and community rehabilitation providers.

Transition school-to-work initiatives to prepare high school students for employment and post-secondary education included seven summer programs in state fiscal year 2009, providing 75 opportunities in activities such as career exposure, mentoring, independent living skill development and leadership training.

Federal stimulus funds are being used for on-the-job training and internship opportunities for clients as well as for a model developed to offset the employer cost to hire a client in a job tryout.  Six adults have utilized this model with four job hires to date.  Nine additional job placement situations have utilized the stimulus funds for services such as job coaching and adaptive technology.  Forty youth in transition were placed in summer jobs with 27 of these placements utilizing stimulus funds available through the regional workforce boards.

The State Rehabilitation Council, SRC, for the Vocational Rehabilitation program, continues to be a valuable and actively contributing partner to the division and to the agency as a whole.

Business Enterprise Program: Entrepreneurial opportunities are available through the Business Enterprise Program, providing eligible clients who are blind with the ability to operate businesses at newsstands and gift shops and in the food services industry at government locations throughout the state.  Examples of opportunities for entrepreneurial employment in food service and retail operations include locations such as courthouses, government office buildings, community colleges, postal sorting facilities and such popular tourist locations as Hammonasset Beach, Rocky Neck Beach and Gillette's Castle.  This program is administered under both the federal Randolph-Sheppard Act and Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-303.  The Business Enterprise Program is completely self-funded, with income derived from commissions on vending machine sales at state, federal and municipal buildings and properties throughout Connecticut.  Although, through these commissions, the program has funded the opening of new locations and renovations to existing locations, it is anticipated that maintenance of present levels of operation will be paramount.  Funding from vending machine commissions has been utilized to cover the cost of medical benefits for these entrepreneurs who are blind.  Participants of the program also receive training and support services through Field Representatives from the agency.  Continuing education workshops are being held and a training manual for vendors is currently nearing completion.  The Statewide Committee of Blind Entrepreneurs also plays an essential role.  Forty-six entrepreneurs participated in the program during the past federal fiscal year.  These entrepreneurs employed an additional 75 workers within their operations, 17 percent of whom also had disabilities.

Extended Activities and Outreach: The agency's Strategic Planning Committee serves as an ongoing source of initiatives to expand upon the traditional assistance BESB offers its clients and the broader community.  Under one initiative, the agency, in collaboration with the Department of Administrative Services, created and produced a large print calendar for clients with reduced vision to keep track of medical appointments and upcoming activities.  Since this calendar was produced in-house, it cost far less than commercially available versions, and it was tailored specifically to BESB clients.  The agency also produced an Emergency Planning and Safety Manual to help people who are blind or visually impaired to prepare for fire emergencies and natural disasters.  This manual was produced in large print, Braille, audio cassette, compact diskette in both English and Spanish.  Transportation initiatives have also been a topic of great concern as part of strategic planning.

Public Act 09-154 has created a new Connecticut Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board which will study and report on ways of making Connecticut roads and highways more user-friendly to bicyclists and pedestrians.  BESB Board Chairman Alan Sylvestre has been appointed by the Governor to the seat on that board designated for representing people with visual impairments.

An important outreach activity concerns the approximately twenty support groups throughout the state contacted by Adult Services staff.  Although these groups are not supported by BESB, group coordinators are updated about BESB services.  Annual training days for support group leaders are also held.

Public education activities on topics related to blindness are offered on an ongoing basis to senior centers, local education agencies, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, community rehabilitation providers, civic groups, service provider networks and employers.  The agency undertook a public information radio campaign last year which educated Connecticut residents on the availability of BESB services for persons age 55 and over who are experiencing the later onset of blindness.  In addition, the awareness effort alerted motorists to the presence of pedestrians with blindness and the need for driver caution and also included outreach for potential agency volunteers.

This report has detailed the work of the Board of Education and Services for the Blind and the importance of communication, collaboration and coordination in the success of its mission.  The highly specialized programs and services offered have also been described.  However, the true meaning of the agency cannot be written here; it is the story of the life of each individual, from preschool child to senior citizen, and the part in it served by BESB, that is the most important measure of all.

 

********************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

December, 2009

Adult Services:

·    By July 2010, deliver “New Independence Training Programs for Older Persons with Vision Loss in Assisted Long-term Care Facilities” in a minimum of 5 (five) assisted living and/or intermediate rehabilitation care facilities around the state.

Update: This benchmark is currently in progress. One program has been delivered to date, at an assisted living long-term care facility in Hamden. The training included first and second shift personnel and was delivered separately to each group at the request of the facility.   The Adult Services Supervisor has offered the training program to additional facilities and is awaiting commitments to proceed.

·       By January 1, 2010, BESB shall produce a baseline

measurement for client satisfaction and functional gains in the delivery of independent living services. 

Update:  This benchmark is currently in progress.  The UConn Center on Aging is currently conducting a telephone survey of approximately 600 clients served in the Older Blind Program (age 55 and over). They will be analyzing the data upon completion of the survey, and forwarding the results to the agency later in December. The agency anticipates achievement of this benchmark within the specified timeframe.


 

·         To increase the available pool of volunteers for clients awaiting a match by increasing outreach efforts: 

1)    Participate in at least two community service focused outreach events, one each in Hartford County and New Haven County.

2)    Establish an Internet presence by expanding use of the Volunteer Match.com website to move from one zip code to a statewide exposure.

Update:  This benchmark is in progress. The Volunteer Program was represented at a well-attended Community Service Organization Fair in April, sponsored by the Hospital of Central Connecticut, New Britain. The agency also participated in a second Hartford County event on September 9, 2009 at a local insurance company’s health fair, and a third event at Goodwin College on September 30, 2009.  Volunteer services applications were given out at each event. An outreach event in New Haven County is being planned by the Area Agency on Aging for Spring, 2010. BESB is planning to participate in this event.  The Volunteer Match website’s statewide zip code option is scheduled to be available for utilization in January, 2010.   

·       BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

Update:  The benchmark is achieved for fiscal year 2009.  During the first week of September, BESB completed a mailing to approximately 1,100 eye doctors that included two different outreach posters, a new eye report form, a new Request for Information Form for the doctors to place in their waiting rooms, and a cover letter from the Executive Director.  The Adult Services division also provided training to new CT Transit bus drivers in May and August, delivered presentations about BESB services to assisted living facilities in Avon and Hartford in May, participated in the West Hartford Disability Commission meeting regarding audible crosswalks in August, and participated in a service provider exposition at a senior center in Bloomfield in September. The agency also participated in a statewide outreach event for veterans in September.

·       By July, 1, 2010, BESB shall pilot two models of computer training for independent living for individuals age 55 and over, with one model in a group setting, and the other an individualized instructional model.  Pre- and post-test analysis will provide data on the effectiveness of each approach.

Update: This benchmark is currently in progress.  Agency staff met with two state-approved vendors for computer training. They have jointly developed and submitted a training curriculum to the agency. The training sessions will focus on teaching clients how to use email with adaptive devices. Both vendors will offer group and individual training options using the curriculum. The agency is currently identifying the clients who will participate in the training program.

·       Beginning October 1, 2009, all referrals in Adult Service for social work, rehabilitation teaching or mobility services shall have an initial contact to the client from the respective field staff professional occur within an average of ten business days.

Update: This benchmark is in progress.  A new tracking system became operational on October 1, 2009. This report yields data in calendar days and counts the date of the referral as one day. Therefore, ten business days would be the equivalent of thirteen calendar days based upon this report structure. For the time period from October 1, 2009 through November 23, 2009, the average number of calendar days from referral date to completed initial contact was 3.4 days for Orientation and Mobility services, 10.1 days for Rehabilitation Teaching, and 9.0 days for Social Work.

Business Enterprises:

·       Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For Fiscal Year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2007. The total gross program income from all sources was $2,334,652.  In total, $883,373 of the overall program income in 2007 was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. This represented 38% of the program income for the year. A detailed analysis of these categorical expenditures was included within the September, 2007 benchmark report.  This benchmark was also achieved for fiscal year 2008. The total income was $2,411,724. Expenditures in benchmark categories were $1,490,489 or 62% of the income for the year. A detailed summary of these expenditures was included in the September, 2008 benchmark report.  For fiscal year 2009, this benchmark was achieved. The total income was $2,298,346. Expenditures in the benchmark categories were $1,055,185 or 46%. The detail of these expenditures was included in the September, 2009 benchmark report and also was posted on the BESB website.  This benchmark is in progress for fiscal year 2010.


 

·       The BEP Training Manual shall be updated by the end of calendar year 2009.

Update:  This benchmark is currently in progress.  The BEP training manual is comprised of 12 sections which include:  Program Eligibility Requirements, Initial Meeting, Observation Period, Training Period, Classroom Training, On-the- Job Dry Stand Training, On-the-Job Wet Stand Training, On-the-Job Cafeteria Training, Site Placement, Site Visit, Program Exit and Training Survey.  The draft manual is nearly complete and the agency anticipates achieving this benchmark by the end of December, 2009.

·       Beginning in calendar year 2009, two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers.  Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors.

Update: This benchmark is currently in progress.  The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors named a sub-committee to develop topics for the in-service trainings. “Facility Policies as They Pertain to the Operation of a Business Enterprise Location” was agreed upon as the topic for the first training. This topic area contains multiple components.  The first training occurred at the annual meeting of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors in October, focusing on ethics policy requirements, workplace violence prevention and anti-harassment.  An additional training, scheduled for December 9, 2009, will cover the Servsafe sanitation requirements.   


 

·       BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2008.  The summary report can be viewed by selecting the “Budget Summary 2008” link under the Business Enterprise Program section of the web site (www.ct.gov/besb).  The benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2009 and the report can be viewed by selecting the “Budget Summary 2009” link under the Business Enterprise section of the BESB website. It was also included in the September, 2009 benchmark report.  For fiscal year 2010, this benchmark is in progress. Financial figures will be posted to the agency website after the conclusion of the fiscal year.

·       By January 1, 2010, BEP will develop, distribute, and assess a satisfaction survey to be completed by BEP Operators.  The results will be distributed to the Board, Strategic Planning Committee, and the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update: This benchmark was achieved.  The survey results can be viewed by selecting the “BEP Facility Manager Survey” link under the Business Enterprise Program section of the BESB web site (www.ct.gov/besb). A detailed summary of the report was also included in the September, 2009 benchmark report.


 

Children’s Services:

·       Based upon the average caseload point value in effect on July 1, 2011, the agency will reduce average point value by at least 10% per year, until achieving and maintaining 25 points.

Update: This is a new benchmark, established by the board in September, 2009. The effective date for reporting on this benchmark is July 1, 2011.

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in school year 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. The first parent education event for school year 2009 occurred on November 8, 2008.  The featured speaker was Mike May, a leader in developing accessible global positioning systems for the blind.  Mike was blinded at the age of 3, and has been active in outdoor sports throughout his life.  He was the subject of the book Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure and the Man Who Dared to See.   In June, 2009 the agency held the second parent education event for the school year, on the topic of Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI).  Presenters included BESB staff that has spent four years in an intensive training program on CVI under the direction of a leading expert in the field, Dr. Christine Roman. Forty family members of children with multiple disabilities attended the event.  They received information on CVI, as well as strategies they could use at home with their children.  For school year 2010, this benchmark is in progress. Children’s Services is planning a parent program for March 13, 2010. The program is titled: “How to Address Issues of Sexuality with your Child: Preparing parents to face the challenges of adolescence with a child who is visually impaired.” A second event for parents of preschoolers is in the planning stage.


 

·       Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

Update: The agency board adopted this new benchmark at the June, 2009 meeting and it is in progress for calendar year 2009. A Spring newsletter has been electronically distributed to community partner organizations, posted to the agency website and mailed in print format to the parents of children served by the agency. The Fall newsletter has also been electronically distributed to community partner organizations and posted to the agency website. The printed version of the newsletter will be mailed to parents during the month of December.   

·       To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

Update: This benchmark was established at the June, 2009 BESB board meeting. In July 2009, Children's Services staff organized and implemented a weeklong program at Southern CT State University, called LIFE.  Eleven high school students lived on campus, and participated in extensive training on independent living.  In addition to activities of daily living, orientation and mobility, technology, and recreation, the participants spent one afternoon on a community service project to benefit young children who are blind.  In August, the agency mobility team led a 5 day program for 11 students, which focused on advanced orientation and mobility skills in commercial and residential travel.  Students learned simple and complex street crossings and were introduced to electronic travel aids.  Money handling, grocery shopping, and meal preparation were also incorporated.  On August 25, 2009 Children's Services presented a workshop entitled ‘Tech for Me’.  Seven students and two parents attended the event, where they learned how to navigate screen reader accessible websites with adaptive devices such as the Victor Reader Stream and Braille notetakers.  Low vision students also were introduced to the Live Scribe pen, an electronic recording device for taking notes in the classroom.  This benchmark has been achieved.  Additional events are being planned for the current school year.

·       By Jan 1, 2010 BESB shall produce and distribute to school districts and the general public a Best Practice Handout for paraprofessionals to use when working with children who are blind, deafblind, or visually impaired. 

Update: This benchmark is in progress.  Children's Services staff are reviewing recommendations for paraprofessionals working with students who are blind or visually impaired, as presented in the BESB annual fall in-service training.  These recommendations will be revised based on a review of guidelines recommended by Texas School for the Blind, along with other national sources.  A final Best Practice document will be completed by January 1, 2010.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

Prior benchmarks for the Vocational Rehabilitation Division have been retired. The board will be voting on the establishment of new benchmarks for this Program at the December, 2009 meeting.

 

*******************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

September, 2009

Adult Services:

·    By July 2010, deliver “New Independence Training Programs for Older Persons with Vision Loss in Assisted Long-term Care Facilities” in a minimum of 5 (five) assisted living and/or intermediate rehabilitation care facilities around the state.

Update: The agency board adopted this new benchmark at the March, 2009 meeting and it is currently in progress. One program has been delivered to date, at an assisted living long-term care facility in Hamden. The training included first and second shift personnel and was delivered separately to each group at the request of the facility. A meeting with staff at an assisted living facility in Bloomfield also occurred and the agency anticipates providing a training program at this location in the near future.  

·   By January 1, 2010, BESB shall produce a baseline

measurement for client satisfaction and functional gains in the delivery of independent living services. 

Update:  The agency board adopted this new benchmark at the March, 2009 meeting and it is currently in progress. A draft survey questionnaire has been developed. Proposals from the UConn Center on Aging and the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University to conduct the survey and analyze the data have been received. The agency anticipates achievement of this benchmark within the specified timeframe.

  · To increase the available pool of volunteers for clients awaiting a match by increasing outreach efforts: 

1)    Participate in at least two community service focused outreach events, one each in Hartford County and New Haven County.

2)    Establish an Internet presence by expanding use of the Volunteer Match.com website to move from one zip code to a statewide exposure.

Update:  The agency board adopted this new benchmark at the March, 2009 meeting and it is currently in progress. The Volunteer Program was represented at a well-attended Community Service Organization Fair in April, sponsored by the Hospital of Central Connecticut, New Britain. The agency also participated in a second Hartford County event on September 9, 2009 at a local insurance company’s health fair, with more than 100 attendees.  Volunteer services applications were given out at both events.  The agency is monitoring the new volunteer applications received in order to assess the impact of these outreach activities. An outreach/community fair in New Haven County has not been identified as of this update, but the agency continues to explore options in that region.  The Volunteer Match website is being added to the agency approved vendor list so that BESB can utilize this service.   

·       BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

Update:  The agency board adopted this new benchmark at the March, 2009 meeting, and with the provision of this update, the benchmark is achieved for fiscal year 2009.  During the first week of September, BESB completed a mailing to approximately 1,100 eye doctors that included two different outreach posters, a new eye report form, a new Request for Information Form for the doctors to place in their waiting rooms, and a cover letter from the Executive Director.  The Adult Services division has also provided training to new CT Transit bus drivers in May and August, delivered presentations about BESB services to assisted living facilities in Avon and Hartford in May, participated in the West Hartford Disability Commission meeting regarding audible crosswalks in August, and participated in a service provider exposition at a senior center in Bloomfield in September. The agency will also be participating in a statewide outreach event for veterans later in September.

·       By July, 1, 2010, BESB shall pilot two models of computer training for independent living for individuals age 55 and over, with one model in a group setting, and the other an individualized instructional model.  Pre- and post-test analysis will provide data on the effectiveness of each approach.

Update: This benchmark was established at the June, 2009 board meeting and it is currently in progress.  The agency is in preliminary discussions with two state-approved vendors for these computer training initiatives to assess the options that each vendor provides for individual and group training. The agency is exploring the feasibility of having each vendor offer both training scenarios so that an assessment of effectiveness can be done of the individual versus group training option at two separate locations.

·       Beginning October 1, 2009, all referrals in Adult Service for social work, rehabilitation teaching or mobility services shall have an initial phone contact to the client from the respective field staff professional occur within ten business days.

Update: This benchmark was established at the June, 2009 board meeting and it is currently in progress. The agency has been working with system developers at Libera, the proprietors of the agency case management system, to have a tracking system in place and operational for October 1, 2009, when this benchmark commences.

Business Enterprises:

·       Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For Fiscal Year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2007. The total gross program income from all sources was $2,334,652.  In total, $883,373 of the overall program income in 2007 was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. This represented 38% of the program income for the year. A detailed analysis of these categorical expenditures was included within the September, 2007 benchmark report.  This benchmark was also achieved for fiscal year 2008. The total income was $2,411,724. Expenditures in benchmark categories were $1,490,489 or 62% of the income for the year. A detailed summary of these expenditures was included in the September, 2008 benchmark report.  For fiscal year 2009, this benchmark was achieved. The total income was $2,298,346. Expenditures in the benchmark categories were $1,055,185 or 46%. The detail of these expenditures is included further below in the financial summary section of this benchmark report.

·       The BEP Training Manual shall be updated by the end of calendar year 2009.

Update:  This benchmark is currently in progress.  The BEP training manual will be comprised of 12 sections which include:  Program Eligibility Requirements, Initial Meeting, Observation Period, Training Period, Classroom Training, On-the- Job Dry Stand Training, On-the-Job Wet Stand Training, On-the-Job Cafeteria Training, Site Placement, Site Visit, Program Exit and Training Survey.  To date, sections 1-5 and 9-12 have been completed.  Sections 6-8 are currently being worked on.

  

·    Beginning in calendar year 2009, two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers.  Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors.

Update: This benchmark is currently in progress.  The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors named a sub-committee to develop topics for the in-service trainings. “Facility Policies as They Pertain to the Operation of a Business Enterprise Location” was agreed upon as the topic for the first training. This topic area contains multiple components.  The first training component will occur at the annual meeting of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors in October and will focus on ethics policy requirements. 

·    BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2008.  The summary report can be viewed by selecting the “Budget Summary 2008” link under the Business Enterprise Program section of the web site (www.ct.gov/besb).  The benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2009 and the report can be viewed by selecting the “Budget Summary 2009” link under the Business Enterprise section of the BESB website. It is also included in this benchmark report.

BESB Business Enterprises Program Budget Summary

FY 2009

For the Business Enterprises Program, in fiscal year 2009, the total gross program income from all sources was $2,298,346. Of that amount, the gross Coca-Cola income was $1,479,470. Carry over funding from the prior fiscal year was $1,696,203, making $3,994,549 available during FY 09. Total expenses in the Program for FY 09 were $2,773,593. Additionally, there was a $600,000 rescission to the General Fund to assist in balancing the State FY 09 Budget. The fiscal year end balance was $620,956.  This reflects an overall decrease of $1,075,247 from the prior fiscal year.

 Major expenses in FY 09 were as follows:

1. Program Trainers and Administrative/Support Staff: $1,353,621

2. Purchases for existing locations: $42,774 *

3. Purchases and build outs for new locations: $137,590*

4. Client placements from BESB Industries: $133,288

5. Commissions and permits for BEP Operators: $207,939*

6. Maintenance services for BEP locations: $159,131*

7. Initial Inventory and Stock for BEP Operators: $23,185*

8. Health Insurance and Retirement for BEP Operators: $328,218*

9. Shared commissions with agencies/colleges: $140,683

10. Training stipends for BEP trainees:  $10,865

11. Temporary facility coverage services: $4,194

12. Utility Costs for BEP locations: $104,592*

13. Storage Rentals for BEP locations: $910*

14. Incentive Plan for BEP Managers: $50,846*

15. Miscellaneous Expenses: $75,757

In total, $1,055,185 (cumulative total of categories with asterisks in the above analysis), or 46 % of the overall program income in 2009 (71% of the Coca-Cola revenues) was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program.

·    By January 1, 2010, BEP will develop, distribute, and assess a satisfaction survey to be completed by BEP Operators.  The results will be distributed to the Board, Strategic Planning Committee, and the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update: This benchmark was achieved.  It can be viewed by selecting the “BEP Facility Manager Survey” link under the Business Enterprise Program section of the BESB web site (www.ct.gov/besb).

A summary of the average level of satisfaction for each category of the survey follows. The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10, where ratings of 1-3 represent lower levels of satisfaction, ratings of 4-7 represent average levels of satisfactions and ratings of 8-10 represent the highest levels of satisfaction.

Category                                                                         Rating

Your involvement in your business                              9.17

Business Enterprise Program at BESB                         8.55

Time it takes to resolve/repair equipment issues       8.36

Field Representative’s responsiveness to needs       8.31

Field Representative’s communication skills              8.29

Trainer met specific needs                                             8.26

Field Representative’s understanding of business     8.14

Technology provided                                                       8.00

Operator training program                                               7.95

Field Representative’s ability to settle disputes          7.90

Cleanliness and organization of facility                         6.85

Time it takes to receive equipment                               6.24

Ninety-five (95) percent of the BEP Managers would recommend the Business Enterprise Program to a friend.

Children’s Services:

·       Given average point value for an education consultant caseload of 47 in 2004, will reduce average point value of caseloads by at least 10% a year until achieving/maintaining 25 points.

Update: For fiscal year 2005, the target was 42 points. A caseload point average of 39.5 was reached. The benchmark for that year was achieved. For fiscal year 2006, the target was 38 points. A caseload point average of 36.5 was reached. The benchmark for fiscal year 2006 was achieved. For fiscal year 2007, the target was 34 points.  With the addition of new teacher hires, the average caseload points dropped to 32.3, achieving the benchmark in 2007. For fiscal year 2008, the target was 30.6 points. With the additional hiring of two teachers, this benchmark was achieved with the average caseload points at 29.5. For fiscal year 2009, this benchmark was not achieved. The target was 27.5 points. Factoring in the new caseload assignments, combined with two staff not returning for the new school year, the caseload point average in September had risen to 31.7.  Despite a statewide hiring freeze, BESB was able to obtain permission from the Governor’s office, and the Office of Policy and Management to complete the hiring of one new Education Consultant to serve preschool children.  The new consultant began work on December 5, 2008.  This reduced the caseload points to 30.7. However, in May, one teacher left the agency (and the state), returning the caseload point average to 31.7. As the difficult economic situation in the state has continued, the agency was unable to recruit for additional staffing.

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in school year 2006, 2007,  2008 and 2009. The first parent education event for school year 2009 occurred on November 8, 2008.  The featured speaker was Mike May, a leader in developing accessible global positioning systems for the blind.  Mike was blinded at the age of 3, and has been active in outdoor sports throughout his life.  He was the subject of the book Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure and the Man Who Dared to See.   In June, 2009 the agency held the second parent education event for the school year, on the topic of Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI).  Presenters included BESB staff who have spent four years in an intensive training program on CVI under the direction of a leading expert in the field, Dr. Christine Roman. Forty family members of children with multiple disabilities attended the event.  They received information on CVI, as well as strategies they could use at home with their children. 

·    Children’s Services will twice annually publish and disseminate a newsletter for parents.

Update: The agency board adopted this new benchmark at the June, 2009 meeting and it is currently in progress. Plans for the fall 2009 newsletter are underway. 

·     To increase access to the Expanded Core Curriculum for BESB-eligible children, Children’s Services will offer at least 3 student events annually.

Update: This benchmark was established at the June, 2009 BESB board meeting. In July 2009, Children's Services staff organized and implemented a weeklong program at Southern CT State University, called LIFE.  Eleven high school students lived on campus, and participated in extensive training on independent living.  In addition to activities of daily living, orientation and mobility, technology, and recreation, the participants spent one afternoon on a community service project to benefit young children who are blind.  In August, the agency mobility team led a 5 day program for 11 students, which focused on advanced orientation and mobility skills in commercial and residential travel.  Students learned simple and complex street crossings and were introduced to electronic travel aids.  Money handling, grocery shopping, and meal preparation were also incorporated.  On August 25, 2009 Children's Services presented a workshop entitled ‘Tech for Me’.  Seven students and two parents attended the event, where they learned how to navigate screen reader accessible websites with adaptive devices such as the Victor Reader Stream and Braille notetakers.  Low vision students also were introduced to the Live Scribe pen, an electronic recording device for taking notes in the classroom.  This benchmark has been achieved, although additional events will be planned throughout the upcoming school year.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Rehabilitation Teachers, Rehabilitation Technologists, and Education Project Coordinator will participate in at least 2 trainings on assistive technology each year.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006, achieved for federal fiscal year 2007, and achieved for federal fiscal year 2008. For fiscal year 2009, this benchmark is in progress.  

There was an in-service training organized by the Technology Committee at BESB, which consisted of a panel discussion, and demonstrations of eleven different assistive technology devices. Fifteen staff participated in this training in May.

One staff member has attended the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference in January, and four staff attended a training on Humanware adaptive devices in February. One staff member attended the National Technology Conference at California State University at Northridge (CSUN). Five staff participated in a technology training/demonstration at the NEAT Marketplace in May.  One staff member participated in advanced Zoomtext training at the Neat Marketplace.

An additional technology training will occur in September. With the completion of this training, the all of the sixteen staff within the benchmark category will have participated in two technology trainings for the federal fiscal year.

·   Implement a formalized mentoring program that includes a training seminar on “how to be a Mentor.”  One activity for the mentors planned each year, beginning in 2006.

Update:    This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006, achieved for federal fiscal year 2007, achieved for federal fiscal year 2008, and achieved for federal fiscal year 2009. On November 4, 2008, BESB held a mentor event that was part of a transition seminar for students preparing for college in the fall of 2009. Three Vocational Rehabilitation Program mentors who are participating in college studies shared information with transition age High School seniors about college and their experiences as students who are blind. Self advocacy with professors was a major focus of the question and answer session.  On April 17, 2009 BESB held a similar mentoring activity, attended by transition age students who are seeking to enter the workforce after graduation from High School. Two adult mentors talked about career choices, the changing landscape of job opportunities in a difficult economy, and interviewing techniques. There are currently 32 individuals on the mentor list with 6 new mentors added this fiscal year. Each mentor is individually trained in “how to be a mentor.”

·   BESB will achieve 100 competitive (non-homemaker) status 26 closures for FY 2006, increasing to 107 for FY 2007, and 112 for FY 2008.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2006, with 101 competitive employment outcomes occurring, achieved for fiscal year 2007, with 107 competitive employment outcomes occurring, and achieved in federal fiscal year 2008, with 113 competitive employment outcomes, completing the benchmark.

 

*******************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

June, 2009

Adult Services:

·       Maximum time frame from new referral to completed intake for services not to exceed one month. 

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from September through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 28.34 days. For the time period between March and May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 26.52 days. For the time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29.36 calendar days. For the reporting period from September through November, 2007 the average time was 23 calendar days, achieving the benchmark for the reporting period.  For the reporting period from December, 2007 through February, 2008, the average time was 20 calendar days, achieving the benchmark. For the reporting period from March through May, 2008 the average time was 22.31 calendar days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period. . For the reporting period from June through August, 2008 the average time was 19 days, achieving the benchmark for the time period. For the reporting period from September through November, 2008 the average time was 17 days, achieving the benchmark for this time period.  For the reporting period from December, 2008, through February, 2009, the average time was 23 days, achieving the benchmark. For the new reporting period from March through May, 2009, the average time was 18 days, achieving the benchmark for this time period.

·       By July 2010, deliver “New Independence Training Programs for Older Persons with Vision Loss in Assisted Long-term Care Facilities” in a minimum of 5 (five) assisted living and/or intermediate rehabilitation care facilities around the state.

Update: The agency board adopted this new benchmark at the March, 2009 meeting. The Supervisor of Adult Services has met with the president of the Connecticut Continuous Care Residence Association, representing thirteen continuing care retirement communities in the state. Discussions are underway regarding the implementation of training at selected locations.

 ·      By January 1, 2010, BESB shall produce a baseline

measurement for client satisfaction and functional gains in the delivery of independent living services. 

Update:  The agency board adopted this new benchmark at the March, 2009 meeting. The agency is presently exploring options for contracting with an outside entity that would conduct a statistically valid survey on behalf of the agency to measure client satisfaction and collect data on functional gains in independent living services.

 ·     To increase the available pool of volunteers for clients awaiting a match by increasing outreach efforts: 

1)    Participate in at least two community service focused outreach events, one each in Hartford County and New Haven County.

2)    Establish an Internet presence by expanding use of the Volunteer Match.com website to move from one zip code to a statewide exposure.

Update:  The agency board adopted this new benchmark at the March, 2009 meeting. The Volunteer Program was represented at a well-attended Community Service Organization Fair in April, sponsored by the Hospital of Central Connecticut, New Britain.  Research is underway for a suitable venue in New Haven County.  The agency anticipates implementing the internet component of this new benchmark in fiscal year 2010.

·       BESB shall report annually to the Board of Directors on Agency Outreach Efforts to the Medical community and the Public Regarding BESB Services.

Update:  The agency board adopted this new benchmark at the March, 2009 meeting.  The agency has two outreach posters and a request for services form at the DAS Print Shop, along with a list of over 1,000 doctors who will receive the mailing.  Unfortunately, with the state fiscal crisis, all printing of materials that is not mandated in state or federal law or regulation has been put on hold for the remainder of this fiscal year. When the printing restriction is lifted, the DAS Print Shop is ready to complete this assignment expediently.

Business Enterprises:

·       Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For Fiscal Year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2007. The total gross program income from all sources was $2,334,652.  In total, $883,373 of the overall program income in 2007 was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. This represented 38% of the program income for the year. A detailed analysis of these categorical expenditures was included within the September, 2007 benchmark report.  This benchmark was also achieved for fiscal year 2008. The total income was  $2,411,724. Expenditures in benchmark categories were $1,490,489 or 62% of the income for the year. A detailed summary of these expenditures was included in the September, 2008 benchmark report.  For fiscal year 2009, this benchmark is in progress.  Income posted through April 30, 2009 was $1,549,908. Expenditures in the benchmark categories for this time period were $608,977, or 39%. With the passage of Public Act 09-111, the agency is losing $600,000 of the program income from this account for the current fiscal year. With this rescission, the percentage of current expenditures in benchmark categories will increase proportionally, achieving the percentage requirement for the current year.

·       The BEP Training Manual shall be updated by the end of calendar year 2009.

Update:  This benchmark is currently in progress.  A field representative was assigned to coordinate this process. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors named a sub-committee to work with the Agency on this training manual update. Additional members, both agency staff and BEP Entrepreneurs have been added to the review committee for additional input. The project is progressing steadily. The agency anticipates achievement of this benchmark within the specified timeframe.

·       Beginning in calendar year 2009, two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers.  Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors.

Update: This benchmark is currently in progress.  The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors named a sub-committee to develop topics for the in-service trainings. “Building Policies as They Pertain to the Operation of a Business Enterprise Facility” was agreed upon as the topic for the first training. The agency is working on identifying available locations in which to hold the trainings. 

·       BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2008. In September, the financial information was distributed to organizations, individuals, consumer groups, the co-chairs of the Human Services Committee, and also posted on the agency web site. It can be viewed by selecting the “Budget Summary 2008” link under the Business Enterprise Program section of the web site (www.ct.gov/besb).  The benchmark is in progress for fiscal year 2009.

·       By January 1, 2010, BEP will develop, distribute, and assess a satisfaction survey to be completed by BEP Operators.  The results will be distributed to the Board, Strategic Planning Committee, and the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update: This benchmark is in progress.  The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors named a sub-committee to work with a survey company to develop questions to be included in the survey. The sub-committee developed draft survey questions that were forwarded to the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut (CSRA).  CSRA conducted the survey and recently submitted the results to the agency. Distribution of the survey results pursuant to this benchmark will be occurring in the very near future. Forty-one of 45 BEP Entrepreneurs participated in the survey, which reflects a 91% participation rate.

Children’s Services:

·       Given average point value for an education consultant caseload of 47 in 2004, will reduce average point value of caseloads by at least 10% a year until achieving/maintaining 25 points.

Update: For fiscal year 2005, the target was 42 points. A caseload point average of 39.5 was reached. The benchmark for that year was achieved. For fiscal year 2006, the target was 38 points. A caseload point average of 36.5 was reached. The benchmark for fiscal year 2006 was achieved. For fiscal year 2007, the target was 34 points.  With the addition of new teacher hires, the average caseload points dropped to 32.3, achieving the benchmark in 2007. For fiscal year 2008, the target was 30.6 points. With the additional hiring of two teachers, this benchmark was achieved with the average caseload points at 29.5. For fiscal year 2009, this benchmark is in progress. The target is 27.5 points. Factoring in the new caseload assignments, combined with two staff not returning for the new school year, the caseload point average in September had risen to 31.7.  Despite a statewide hiring freeze, BESB was able to obtain permission from the Governor’s office, and the Office of Policy and Management to complete the hiring of one new Education Consultant to serve preschool children.  The new consultant began work on December 5, 2008.  This reduced the caseload points to 30.7. However, in May, one teacher left the agency (and the state), returning the current caseload point average to 31.7. As the difficult economic situation in the state has continued, the agency is unable to recruit for additional staffing at this time.

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in school year 2006, 2007 and 2008. The first parent education event for school year 2009 occurred on November 8, 2008.  The featured speaker was Mike May, a leader in developing accessible global positioning systems for the blind.  Mike was blinded at the age of 3, and has been active in outdoor sports throughout his life.  He was the subject of the book Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure and the Man Who Dared to See.   In June, 2009 the agency will be holding the second parent education event for the school year, on the topic of Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI).  Presenters include BESB staff who have spent four years in an intensive training program on CVI under the direction of a leading expert in the field, Dr. Christine Roman.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

 

·       Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Rehabilitation Teachers, Rehabilitation Technologists, and Education Project Coordinator will participate in at least 2 trainings on assistive technology each year.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006, achieved for federal fiscal year 2007, and achieved for federal fiscal year 2008. For fiscal year 2009, this benchmark is in progress. To date, 11 of the 17 eligible staff members have achieved this goal, and the remaining 6 staff have attended one training.

There was an in-service training organized by the Technology Committee at BESB, which consisted of a panel discussion, and demonstrations of eleven different assistive technology devices. Fifteen staff participated in this training in May.

One staff member has attended the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference in January, and four staff attended a training on Humanware adaptive devices in February. One staff member attended the National Technology Conference at California State University at Northridge (CSUN). Five staff participated in a technology training/demonstration at the NEAT Marketplace in May.  One staff member participated in advanced Zoomtext training at the Neat Marketplace.

·       Implement a formalized mentoring program that includes a training seminar on “how to be a Mentor.”  One activity for the mentors planned each year, beginning in 2006.

Update:    This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006, achieved for federal fiscal year 2007, achieved for federal fiscal year 2008, and achieved for federal fiscal year 2009. On November 4, 2008, BESB held a mentor event that was part of a transition seminar for students preparing for college in the fall of 2009. Three Vocational Rehabilitation Program mentors who are participating in college studies shared information with transition age High School seniors about college and their experiences as students who are blind. Self advocacy with professors was a major focus of the question and answer session.  On April 17, 2009 BESB held a similar mentoring activity, attended by transition age students who are seeking to enter the workforce after graduation from High School. Two adult mentors talked about career choices, the changing landscape of job opportunities in a difficult economy, and interviewing techniques. There are currently 32 individuals on the mentor list with 6 new mentors added this fiscal year. Each mentor is individually trained in “how to be a mentor.”

·       BESB will achieve 100 competitive (non-homemaker) status 26 closures for FY 2006, increasing to 107 for FY 2007, and 112 for FY 2008.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2006, with 101 competitive employment outcomes occurring, achieved for fiscal year 2007, with 107 competitive employment outcomes occurring, and achieved in federal fiscal year 2008, with 113 competitive employment outcomes, completing the benchmark.

 

*******************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

March, 2009

Adult Services:

·       Authorization for low vision aids and devices to be issued by BESB within two weeks of receipt of evaluation report from doctor.  

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from October through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from the receipt of the request for low vision devices, to the time of authorization issuance at 9.88 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 11.43 calendar days. For the time period from March through May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 12.89 calendar days. For the time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 9.71 calendar days. For the reporting period from September through November, 2007, the average time was 11.42 calendar days, achieving this benchmark for that reporting period.  For the reporting period, from December, 2007 through February, 2008, the average time was 8.96 days, achieving the benchmark for that reporting period. For the reporting period from March, 2008 through May, 2008, the average time was 4.2 days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period. For the reporting period from June through August, 2008, the average time was 6 days, achieving the benchmark for the reporting period. For the reporting period from September through November, 2008, the average time was 9 days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period. For the new reporting period from December, 2008, through February, 2009, the average time was 9 days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period.

·       Maximum time frame from new referral to completed intake for services not to exceed one month. 

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from September through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 28.34 days. For the time period between March and May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 26.52 days. For the time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29.36 calendar days. For the reporting period from September through November, 2007 the average time was 23 calendar days, achieving the benchmark for the reporting period.  For the reporting period from December, 2007 through February, 2008, the average time was 20 calendar days, achieving the benchmark. For the reporting period from March through May, 2008 the average time was 22.31 calendar days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period. . For the reporting period from June through August, 2008 the average time was 19 days, achieving the benchmark for the time period. For the reporting period from September through November, 2008 the average time was 17 days, achieving the benchmark for this time period.  For the new reporting period from December, 2008, through February, 2009, the average time was 23 days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period.

·       The agency will commit adequate funding to carry out a media campaign for the purpose of informing doctors and the public about registering and receiving services from BESB. 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  BESB co-sponsored the “Able-Lives” television program on Connecticut Public Television. Every episode featured a commercial on BESB services, including a statement in the commercial on the reporting requirement for doctors to refer individuals determined to be blind to BESB.  In addition, a mass mailing to eye doctors within Connecticut was completed, with posters and information on the statutory reporting requirements provided.  The agency further developed two radio advertisements that aired on radio stations in Greater Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport in October and November, 2008. One of the advertisements focused on expanding referrals of potentially eligible consumers to the agency and the second advertisement sought to increase the pool of volunteers. The agency is proceeding with another mailing to eye doctors in the state. New outreach posters for the doctor’s offices have been finalized and are awaiting a price quote through the Department of Administrative Services printing services. 

Business Enterprises:

·       Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For Fiscal Year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2007. The total gross program income from all sources was $2,334,652.  In total, $883,373 of the overall program income in 2007 was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. This represented 38% of the program income for the year. A detailed analysis of these categorical expenditures was included within the September, 2007 benchmark report.  This benchmark was also achieved for fiscal year 2008. The total income was  $2,411,724. Expenditures in benchmark categories were $1,490,489 or 62% of the income for the year. A detailed summary of these expenditures was included in the September, 2008 benchmark report.  For fiscal year 2009, this benchmark is in progress.  Income posted through 2/28/09 was $1,549,908. Expenditures in the benchmark categories for this time period were $374,170, or 24.1%. There are additional funding commitments within the benchmark categories that will factor in to the final expenditure report for the fiscal year. Based upon these projections, the agency is anticipating achievement of this benchmark for the reporting period.

·       The BEP Training Manual shall be updated by the end of calendar year 2009.

Update:  This benchmark is currently in progress.  A field representative has been assigned to coordinate this process. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors has named a sub-committee to work with the Agency on this update. The committee has obtained examples of training materials used by other Business Enterprise programs in the country. An initial draft of eight topic areas has been completed to date.

·       Beginning in calendar year 2009, two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers.  Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors.

Update: This benchmark is currently in progress.  The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors has named a sub-committee to develop topics for the in-service trainings. This sub-committee has considered a number of topics for the first training. “Building Policies as They Pertain to the Operation of a Business Enterprise Facility” was agreed upon as the topic for the first training. When the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors meets on March 28, 2009, the sub-committee will present this recommendation for action and the selection of a date for the training to occur.

·       BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2008. In September, the financial information was distributed to organizations, individuals, consumer groups, the co-chairs of the Human Services Committee, and also posted on the agency web site. It can be viewed by selecting the “Budget Summary 2008” link under the Business Enterprise Program section of the web site (www.ct.gov/besb).  The benchmark is in progress for fiscal year 2009.

·       By January 1, 2010, BEP will develop, distribute, and assess a satisfaction survey to be completed by BEP Operators.  The results will be distributed to the Board, Strategic Planning Committee, and the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update: This benchmark is in progress.  The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors named a sub-committee to work with a survey company to develop questions to be included in the survey. The sub-committee is developing draft survey questions to be forwarded to the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut. It is anticipated that the survey will be completed by June 30, 2009.

Children’s Services:

·       Given average point value for an education consultant caseload of 47 in 2004, will reduce average point value of caseloads by at least 10% a year until achieving/maintaining 25 points.

Update: For fiscal year 2005, the target was 42 points. A caseload point average of 39.5 was reached. The benchmark for that year was achieved. For fiscal year 2006, the target was 38 points. A caseload point average of 36.5 was reached. The benchmark for fiscal year 2006 was achieved. For fiscal year 2007, the target was 34 points.  With the addition of new teacher hires, the average caseload points dropped to 32.3, achieving the benchmark in 2007. For fiscal year 2008, the target was 30.6 points. With the additional hiring of two teachers, this benchmark was achieved with the average caseload points at 29.5. For fiscal year 2009, this benchmark is in progress. The target is 27.5 points. Factoring in the new caseload assignments, combined with two staff not returning for the new school year, the caseload point average in September had risen to 31.7.  Despite a statewide hiring freeze, BESB was able to obtain permission from the Governor’s office, and the Office of Policy and Management to complete the hiring of one new Education Consultant to serve preschool children.  The new consultant began work on 12/5/08.  This reduced current caseload points to 30.7.  Three qualified candidates have submitted letters of interest to work for this agency. However, with the current fiscal situation in the state, the agency is unable to proceed with filling additional vacancies at the present time.

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in school years 2006, 2007 and 2008. The first parent education event for school year 2009 occurred on November 8, 2008.  The featured speaker was Mike May, a leader in developing accessible global positioning systems for the blind.  Mike was blinded at the age of 3, and has been active in outdoor sports throughout his life.  He was the subject of the book Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure and the Man Who Dared to See.  A second parent education event will be held on March 28, 2009.  This event is for parents of children with Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI).  Presenters will be BESB education consultants who have spent four years in an intensive training program on CVI under the direction of a leading expert in the field, Dr. Christine Roman. This benchmark will be achieved for the year with the completion of this event.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Rehabilitation Teachers, Rehabilitation Technologists, and Education Project Coordinator will participate in at least 2 trainings on assistive technology each year.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal years 2006, 2007 and 2008, as noted in prior benchmark reports. This benchmark is in progress for federal fiscal year 2009. Thus far, one staff member has attended the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference in January, and four staff attended a training on Humanware adaptive devices in February.

·       Implement a formalized mentoring program that includes a training seminar on “how to be a Mentor.”  One activity for the mentors planned each year, beginning in 2006.

Update:    This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal years 2006, 2007 and 2008. This benchmark is in progress for federal fiscal year 2009.  On November 4, 2008, the Children’s Services Division held an “Essential Skills” program for college bound high school seniors. Three mentors presented their experiences as college students to the attendees. Another “Essential Skills” program will occur in April. That session will be geared to high school students who are seeking to transition directly into employment after high school graduation. Mentors through the Vocational Rehabilitation Program will be featured speakers at this activity as well.

·       BESB will achieve 100 competitive (non-homemaker) status 26 closures for FY 2006, increasing to 107 for FY 2007, and 112 for FY 2008.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for all three federal fiscal years addressed in the benchmark. In 2006, there were 101 competitive employment outcomes achieved. In  2007, there were 107 competitive employment outcomes, and in 2008, there were 113 competitive employment outcomes. 

 

 ********************************************************************************

Board of Directors

184 Windsor, Connecticut 06095

Annual Report to the Governor and

General Assembly 1 January 2009

Members

Alan Sylvestre (Chair), Eileen Akers, Christine Boisvert, Carolyn Dodd, Betty Woodward, Carol Gillispie, Chris Kuell, Patrick Johnson, William DeMaio, Maria Russo, Randa Nesman, Jay Kronfeld, and Michael Starkowski, Ex-Officio, Commissioner of the Department of Social Services.

Introduction

The Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) is the oldest agency in the United States dedicated to serving people who are blind and visually  impaired. For fiscal year 2008, BESB had 11,929 registered consumers. BESB strives to provide or secure the necessary services to enable every person who is legally blind or deaf-blind in Connecticut, in addition to children who are visually impaired, to become valuable, fulfilled, and contributing members of society.

BESB provides a wide array of services for all people in Connecticut who are legally-blind, including persons with multiple-disabilities. BESB consists of four divisions in addition to administration. These are Children's Services, which provides educational/technology/life skills training to children from birth through age 21; Vocational Rehabilitation Services, which serves working-age consumers as well as college students; Adult Services (Independent Living Services), which serves seniors and non-VR adults, and the Business Enterprise Program.

In calendar year 2008, the BESB Board of Directors focused attention on creating by-laws, establishing a Benchmarks Committee, and approving policy changes and requests for legislative action.

Benchmarks Committee

BESB has continually met or exceeded each of the 21 benchmarks established by the BESB Monitoring Council (Public Act 03-217; final report January 1, 2006). In 2008, the Board established a standing committee to review, evaluate, retire and institute new benchmarks to ensure BESB strives to continually improve. The committee is currently studying each division of BESB, beginning with the Business Enterprise Program (BEP).

The Business Enterprise Program is responsible for the development of high quality business ventures for participants who desire to become entrepreneurs. Under permits with host agencies, entrepreneurs operate businesses that range from gift shops to full-scale cafeterias. The entrepreneurs derive the full profits from their operations.

BEP also manages a large vending machine operation, utilizing aspects of the Randolph-Sheppard Act to obtain funding from vending sales. These funds are intended to create and maintain independent employment opportunities and help expand the program. In addition, BESB staff working in the BEP program are paid through these funds.


 

As of November, 2008, there are 50 BEP facilities in the state of Connecticut, employing 45 operators who are blind. Gross sales for these facilities were approximately 5.1 million dollars in federal fiscal year 2007.

Benchmarks

Business Enterprise Program

               

1.   Starting in state fiscal year 2007, at least 35 percent of the programs income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For fiscal year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45 percent.

2.   The BEP Training Manual shall be updated by the end of calendar year 2009.

3.   Beginning in calendar year 2009, two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers. Training topics to be selected with active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors.

4.   BESB will annually prepare and publicize detailed financial and budgetary information on the BEP Program in a user-friendly format for BESB consumers and the general public.

5.   By January 1, 2010, BESB will develop, distribute, and assess a satisfaction survey to be completed by BEP operators. Results of the survey will be distributed to the BESB Board, the Strategic Planning Committee, and the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors.

Benchmarks for the Adult Services, Children’s Services, and VR Services divisions of BESB will be addressed in calendar year 2009. For full reporting on Benchmark performance, please visit: www.ct.gov/besb.

Legislative

The Board endorses pursuing regulatory and policy changes regarding adaptive equipment ownership. Currently, BESB is required to keep an inventory (approximately 5,100 controlled and fixed assets assigned to clients) while the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services (BRS) allows clients to own the equipment. Changing regulations is a multi-step process, and thus far, BESB has published the proposal in the Connecticut Law Journal, held two public hearings, and the proposed change has been approved by OPM and the governor's office.

BESB drafted and helped pass two bills through the 2008 Connecticut General Assembly. The first, Public Act 08-150, An Act Concerning the Department of Motor Vehicles, raises the fine from $50 to $181 (effective fine) for not yielding to a legally blind pedestrian with a white cane or dog guide, in addition to clarifying the statute.

Public Act 08-133 allows the agency to use the Children's Education Account to hire Special Assistants to the Blind and clerical support staff for the Children's Services division.

Administrative

The staff of BESB met all expectations of the Board during FY 2008. Specialized services for children increased significantly as did services in general. Volunteer services increased dramatically by 32% during the past year. The Board is gratified by the growth of vendor services and employment and recognizes that more work always needs to be done to increase employment opportunities. Demand for services from senior citizens continues to increase and BESB staff has worked hard this past year to increase independent living skills for blind and some visually impaired seniors. Overall consumer satisfaction remains very high at the 87% level. We are very pleased with the introduction of increased efficiencies in the face of declining financial resources and will work with staff to assure that the focus on our mission continues despite the potential for a few very challenging years ahead.

Several policy changes have been made, including changes to the requirements to become a BESB Low Vision Specialist; clarification of services provided to consumers who are deaf-blind; and elevation of the FY '09 minimum income for BEP Operators to $20,000.

Future Challenges

As with all state agencies, BESB will have to adapt to the challenge of providing timely and quality services during increasingly difficult economic times.  Being a peripatetic service-delivery agency, it has proven difficult to meet the governor's request for a ten percent reduction in transportation costs for 2008.  However, the executive director has rallied BESB's employees to always consider ways to conserve and reduce costs, and has managed to meet the new requirement without adversely affecting service delivery. It is hard to imagine how service delivery can be maintained if future cuts are instituted.

The BESB Monitoring Council instituted a benchmark for the Children's Services Division to reduce caseload size for teachers, ensuring more time spent with blind students who need it. If blind students are going to compete effectively for future jobs with their sighted peers, a sound education is essential. BESB has consistently achieved this reduction as outlined in the benchmarks, but will not be able to if new teachers can't be hired.

Although seniors who are blind make up approximately 75% of BESB’s annually registered new consumers, the Adult Services division receives only 12% of BESB's annual budget. Providing quality services and training to this population is a continual challenge. Consumer requests for expensive technology, such as computers, CCTVs and other adaptive equipment is on the rise, yet resources are diminishing. Adequate training is an especially difficult challenge.


 

During the past few years, BESB has gained increased recognition and has found new ways to assist the lives of Connecticut's citizens who are blind by partnering with other state agencies, community service organizations, and consumer groups. The Board would like to see this trend continue.

Although the Vocational Rehabilitation division of BESB had a record-setting year for employment outcomes for 2008, there are still far too many consumers in need of work.

BESB, its partners, consumer groups, and concerned individuals need to help change the misconceptions of employers so they'll take on more blind candidates.

Historically, the Office of Policy and Management has waived VR's indirect costs, which cover the administrative costs for the states management of the federal grant. This waiver frees upwards of $750,000 for training and adaptive equipment for blind consumers. If this waiver is removed, BESB may have to shift to a Federal (Rehab Act) order of selection, where the agency must serve people with most significant disabilities first. This move would undoubtedly be deleterious to the overall employment outlook for people who are blind.

The Board wants to thank the Executive Director and supervisors of BESB for the spirit of cooperation they have brought to our meetings, and voice our appreciation for the hard work done by the BESB staff.  Change is hard in any organization, and the Board of Directors believes that the Board of Education and Services for the Blind is successfully achieving its mission to provide quality educational and rehabilitative services to all people who are legally blind or deaf-blind, and to children who are visually impaired in Connecticut.

 

*****************************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

December, 2008

Adult Services:

·       Authorization for low vision aids and devices to be issued by BESB within two weeks of receipt of evaluation report from doctor.  

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from October through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from the receipt of the request for low vision devices, to the time of authorization issuance at 9.88 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 11.43 calendar days. For the time period from March through May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 12.89 calendar days. For the time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 9.71 calendar days. For the reporting period from September through November, 2007, the average time was 11.42 calendar days, achieving this benchmark for that reporting period.  For the reporting period, from December, 2007 through February, 2008, the average time was 8.96 days, achieving the benchmark for that reporting period. For the reporting period from March, 2008 through May, 2008, the average time was 4.2 days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period. For the reporting period from June through August, 2008, the average time was 6 days, achieving the benchmark for the reporting period. For the new reporting period from September through November, 2008, the average time was 9 days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period.


 

·       Maximum time frame from new referral to completed intake for services not to exceed one month. 

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from September through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 28.34 days. For the time period between March and May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 26.52 days. For the time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29.36 calendar days. For the reporting period from September through November, 2007 the average time was 23 calendar days, achieving the benchmark for the reporting period.  For the reporting period from December, 2007 through February, 2008, the average time was 20 calendar days, achieving the benchmark. For the reporting period from March through May, 2008 the average time was 22.31 calendar days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period. . For the reporting period from June through August, 2008 the average time was 19 days, achieving the benchmark for the time period. For the new reporting period from September through November, 2008 the average time was 17 days, achieving the benchmark for this time period.

·       The agency will commit adequate funding to carry out a media campaign for the purpose of informing doctors and the public about registering and receiving services from BESB. 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  BESB co-sponsored the “Able-Lives” television program on Connecticut Public Television. Every episode featured a commercial on BESB services, including a statement in the commercial on the reporting requirement for doctors to refer individuals determined to be blind to BESB.  In addition, a mass mailing to eye doctors within Connecticut was completed, with posters and information on the statutory reporting requirements provided.  The agency further developed two radio advertisements that aired on radio stations in Greater Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport in October and November, 2008. One of the advertisements focused on expanding referrals of potentially eligible consumers to the agency and the second advertisement sought to increase the pool of volunteers. This second advertisement yielded eight calls from people interested in volunteering.  The agency is also proceeding with another mailing to eye doctors in the state. New outreach posters for the doctor’s offices are being finalized and will be sent out along with a copy of the agency referral form. 

Business Enterprises:

·       Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For Fiscal Year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2007. The total gross program income from all sources was $2,334,652.  In total, $883,373 of the overall program income in 2007 was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. This represented 38% of the program income for the year. A detailed analysis of these categorical expenditures was included within the September, 2007 benchmark report.  This benchmark was also achieved for fiscal year 2008. The total income was  $2,411,724. Expenditures in benchmark categories were $1,490,489 or 62% of the income for the year. A detailed summary of these expenditures was included in the September, 2008 benchmark report.  For fiscal year 2009, this benchmark is in progress.  Income posted through 11/30/08 was $788,856. Expenditures in the benchmark categories were $183,906, or 23%.

·       The BEP Training Manual shall be updated by the end of calendar year 2009.

Update:  This benchmark is currently in progress.  A field representative has been assigned to coordinate this process. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors has named a sub-committee to work with the Agency on this update. Preliminary information has been reviewed.

·       Beginning in calendar year 2009, two in-service trainings shall be provided annually to the BEP Facility Managers.  Training topics to be selected with the active participation of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors.

Update: This benchmark is currently in progress.  The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors has named a sub-committee to develop topics for the in-service trainings. Topics, dates and locations are to be discussed at the next committee meeting.

·       BESB will annually Prepare and Publicize Detailed Financial and Budgetary Information on the BEP Program in a User Friendly Format for BESB Consumers and the General Public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2008. In September, the financial information was distributed to organizations, individuals, consumer groups, the co-chairs of the Human Services Committee, and also posted on the agency web site. It can be viewed by selecting the “Budget Summary 2008” link under the Business Enterprise Program section of the web site (www.ct.gov/besb).  The benchmark is in progress for fiscal year 2009.

·       By January 1, 2010, BEP will develop, distribute, and assess a satisfaction survey to be completed by BEP Operators.  The results will be distributed to the Board, Strategic Planning Committee, and the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors. 

Update: This benchmark is in progress.  The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors has named a sub-committee to work with a survey company in the development of questions to be included in the survey.

Children’s Services:

·       Given average point value for an education consultant caseload of 47 in 2004, will reduce average point value of caseloads by at least 10% a year until achieving/maintaining 25 points.

Update: For fiscal year 2005, the target was 42 points. A caseload point average of 39.5 was reached. The benchmark for that year was achieved. For fiscal year 2006, the target was 38 points. A caseload point average of 36.5 was reached. The benchmark for fiscal year 2006 was achieved. For fiscal year 2007, the target was 34 points.  With the addition of new teacher hires, the average caseload points dropped to 32.3, achieving the benchmark in 2007. For fiscal year 2008, the target was 30.6 points. With the additional hiring of two teachers, this benchmark was achieved with the average caseload points at 29.5. For fiscal year 2009, this benchmark is in progress. The target is 27.5 points. Factoring in the new caseload assignments, combined with two staff not returning for the new school year, the caseload point average in September had risen to 31.7.  Despite a statewide hiring freeze, BESB was able to obtain permission from the Governor’s office, and the Office of Policy and Management to complete the hiring of one new Education Consultant to serve preschool children.  The new consultant began work on 12/5/08.  This reduces current caseload points to 30.7.

 

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in school year 2006, 2007 and 2008. The first parent education event for school year 2009 occurred on November 8, 2008.  The featured speaker was Mike May, a leader in developing accessible global positioning systems for the blind.  Mike was blinded at the age of 3, and has been active in outdoor sports throughout his life.  He was the subject of the book Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure and the Man Who Dared to See.   Planning is currently underway for the second parent education event to be held in the Spring of 2009.  This event will be for parents of children with Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI).  Presenters will be BESB staff who have spent four years in an intensive training program on CVI under the direction of a leading expert in the field, Dr. Christine Roman.  

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Rehabilitation Teachers, Rehabilitation Technologists, and Education Project Coordinator will participate in at least 2 trainings on assistive technology each year.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006 and achieved for federal fiscal year 2007.  For federal fiscal year 2008, this benchmark was achieved.  All 17 eligible staff members have participated in at least two trainings, attaining the goal.  One staff member attended a national conference on technology at  California State University at Northridge (CSUN) in March.  Another staff member participated in a national conference on assistive technology at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) in January. Two staff members participated in training by Freedom Scientific on the new features of the Pacmate Omni, among other products. Five staff participated in an in-service training held in February on electronic books, the latest technology to access books for college and high school.  One staff member participated in Zoomtext training at the NEAT Marketplace and Open Book Training at the NEAT Marketplace. One staff participated in Adaptive Technology Consulting training on new adaptive technology options. One staff member participated in training on the Victor Reading System.  Three staff members participated in a technology fair at the Neat Marketplace, learning about digital talking books, electronic reading devices and features of various CCTV’s. Two staff participated in a training at NEAT Marketplace on Microsoft Accessibility. Four staff participated in a Learning Disabilities Conference, sponsored by Capitol Region Education Council, which featured demonstrations and training sessions on various assistive technology devices by Vision Dynamics and NEAT Marketplace. Five staff participated in a Technology Fair at NEAT Marketplace, with trainings and demonstrations on various CCTVs and new scanning systems among other devices.  Six staff participated in an in-service training by the technology committee of the agency on the new features of Open Book 8 and Kurzweil.

·       Implement a formalized mentoring program that includes a training seminar on “How to be a Mentor.”  One activity for the mentors planned each year, beginning in 2006.

Update:    This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006, and achieved for federal fiscal year 2007. For federal fiscal year 2008, this benchmark has been achieved.  The Education Projects Coordinator held three different activities throughout the month of October in recognition of Disability Mentor Day on October 17 and National Disability Employment Month throughout October. Each event involved a student mentee presenting the Employer Mentor with a certificate of appreciation. Formalized training has occurred for 5 new mentors in the fiscal year.  There have been follow up contacts made to clients who achieved competitive employment in the prior fiscal year to offer each of them the opportunity to become a mentor. There are currently 43 mentors participating in the program.

·       BESB will achieve 100 competitive (non-homemaker) status 26 closures for FY 2006, increasing to 107 for FY 2007, and 112 for FY 2008.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2006, with 101 competitive employment outcomes occurring, and achieved for fiscal year 2007, with 107 competitive employment outcomes occurring.  For federal fiscal year 2008, this benchmark was achieved, with 113 competitive employment outcomes.

 

****************************************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

September, 2008

Adult Services:

·       Authorization for low vision aids and devices to be issued by BESB within two weeks of receipt of evaluation report from doctor.  

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from October through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from the receipt of the request for low vision devices, to the time of authorization issuance at 9.88 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 11.43 calendar days. For the time period from March through May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 12.89 calendar days. For the time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 9.71 calendar days. For the reporting period from September through November, 2007, the average time was 11.42 calendar days, achieving this benchmark for that reporting period.  For the reporting period, from December, 2007 through February, 2008, the average time was 8.96 days, achieving the benchmark for that reporting period. For the reporting period from March, 2008 through May, 2008, the average time was 4.2 days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period. For the new reporting period from June through August, 2008, the average time was 6 days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period.

·       Maximum time frame from new referral to completed intake for services not to exceed one month. 

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from September through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 28.34 days. For the time period between March and May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 26.52 days. For the time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29.36 calendar days. For the reporting period from September, through November, 2007 the average time was 23 calendar days, achieving the benchmark for the reporting period.  For the reporting period from December, 2007 through February, 2008, the average time was 20 calendar days, achieving the benchmark. For the reporting period from March through May, 2008, the average time was 22.31 calendar days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period. For the new reporting period from June through August, 2008 the average time was 19 days, achieving the benchmark for this time period.

·       The agency will commit adequate funding to carry out a media campaign for the purpose of informing doctors and the public about registering and receiving services from BESB. 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  BESB co-sponsored the “Able-Lives” television program on Connecticut Public Television. Every episode featured a commercial on BESB services, including a statement in the commercial on the reporting requirement for doctors to refer individuals determined to be blind to BESB.  In addition, a mass mailing to eye doctors within Connecticut was completed, with posters and information on the statutory reporting requirements provided.  The agency has developed two radio advertisements that will be airing on radio stations in Greater Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport in October and November, 2008. One of the advertisements focuses on expanding referrals of potentially eligible consumers to the agency and the second advertisement seeks to increase the pool of volunteers. The agency is also planning on another mailing to eye doctors during the fiscal year to remind the doctors of the statutory reporting requirements.

Business Enterprises:

·       BESB will continually comply with LPRIC report on Vending operations.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved.  BESB uses Business Enterprise Program funds primarily for the development and support of vending facilities and operators. Approximately

$55,000 in current year funding is reserved to supplement the cost of vocational support for consumers formerly served at BESB Industries to remain in supported and extended employment at alternate locations. Although the authority exists within statutes to also utilize program funds for independent living services, the agency is not using these funds for this purpose any longer. The agency has provided detailed information regarding the program in the annual report that was distributed to the Governor, and to the agency board.  This information is also posted on the BESB website. An automated vending machine accounting system is in place, and is audited monthly by BESB staff. The annual audit by an independent auditing firm was completed and the results shared with representatives from Coca-Cola.  Written waivers are issued for any location that BESB chooses to decline. Permits are signed for all new vending facilities.  Staff from Coca Cola and BESB affix identification stickers onto vending machines operated through the Business Enterprise Program. 

·       Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For Fiscal Year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2007. The total gross program income from all sources was $2,334,652.  In total, $883,373 of the overall program income in 2007 was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. This represents 38% of the program income for the year. A detailed analysis of these categorical expenditures was included within the September, 2007 benchmark report.  This benchmark was also achieved for fiscal year 2008. The total income was  $2,411,724. Expenditures in benchmark categories were $1,490,489 or 62% of the income for the year. A detailed summary of these expenditures appears further into this report.

·       A minimum of 8 legally blind people will be trained and placed in economically viable, full-time positions working in new or existing BEP locations, from April, 2004 through January, 2006. These placements must be with people new to the BEP program, and do not include transfers. A minimum of 5 new placements of blind people into the Business Enterprise Program must follow annually through 2008.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for the time period between April, 2004 and January, 2006, with 12 new operators being placed. The benchmark was also achieved for calendar year 2006 with five new placements for the year.  In calendar year 2007, 5 new operators were placed, achieving the benchmark for the year. Calendar year 2008 began with the opening of 5 new locations. With these new opportunities, as well as a vacancy created by a retirement at an existing location, there have already been 5 new placements for the year, achieving the benchmark in 2008. 

·       Prepare and make available detailed financial information on the uses of BEP resources to BESB consumers and the public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.  

For the Business Enterprises Program, in fiscal year 2008, the total gross program income from all sources was $2,411,724. Of that amount, the gross Coca-Cola income was $1,469,337. Carry over funding from the prior fiscal year was $2,369,328, making $4,781,052 available during FY 08. Total expenses in the Program for FY 08 were $3,084,849. The fiscal year end balance was $1,696,203.  This reflects an overall decrease of $673,125 from the prior fiscal year.

 Major expenses in FY 08 were as follows:

1. Program Trainers and Administrative/Support Staff: $1,313,447

2. Purchases for existing locations: $155,127 *

3. Purchases and build outs for new locations: $417,221 *

4. Client placements from BESB Industries: $36,610

5. Commissions and permits for BEP Operators: $193,084*

6. Maintenance services for BEP locations: $197,192*

7. Initial Inventory and Stock for BEP Operators: $51,162*

8. Health Insurance and Retirement for BEP Operators: $340,199*

9. Shared commissions with agencies/colleges: $111,602

10. Training stipends for BEP trainees:  $19,302

11. Temporary facility coverage services: $30,154

12. Utility Costs for BEP locations: $111,178*

13. Storage Rentals for BEP locations: $980*

14. Incentive Plan for BEP Managers: $24,346*

15. Miscellaneous Expenses: $83,245

In total, $1,490,489 (cumulative total of categories with asterisks in the above analysis), or 62 % of the overall program income in 2008 (101% of the Coca-Cola revenues) was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program.

Children’s Services:

·       Given average point value for an education consultant caseload of 47 in 2004, will reduce average point value of caseloads by at least 10% a year until achieving/maintaining 25 points.

Update: For fiscal year 2005, the target was 42 points. A caseload point average of 39.5 was reached. The benchmark for that year was achieved. For fiscal year 2006, the target was 38 points. A caseload point average of 36.5 was reached. The benchmark for fiscal year 2006 was achieved. For fiscal year 2007, the target was 34 points.  With the addition of new teacher hires, the average caseload points dropped to 32.3, achieving the benchmark in 2007. For fiscal year 2008, the target was 30.6 points. With the additional hiring of two teachers, this benchmark was achieved with the average caseload points at 29.5.  For fiscal year 2009, this benchmark is in progress. The target is 27.5 points.  Factoring in the new caseload assignments, combined with two staff not returning for the new school year, the current caseload point average has risen to 31.7.  Four UMass-Boston students are currently completing their practicum under the mentorship of BESB consultants.

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in school year 2006, 2007 and 2008. The benchmark is in progress for school year 2009. The first parent education event for school year 2009 will be on November 8, 2008.  The featured speaker will be Mike May, a leader in developing accessible global positioning systems for the blind.  Mike was blinded at the age of 3, and has been active in outdoor sports throughout his life.  He is the subject of the book Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure and the Man Who Dared to See.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Rehabilitation Teachers, Rehabilitation Technologists, and Education Project Coordinator will participate in at least 2 trainings on assistive technology each year.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006 and achieved for federal fiscal year 2007.  For federal fiscal year 2008, this benchmark is in progress.  As of mid-September, 11 out of 17 eligible staff members have participated in two trainings, attaining the goal.  Six other staff members have participated in one training thus far. There is a training session on the new features of Open Book 8 and Kursweil scheduled at the agency later in September. With many staff planning on participating, it is anticipated that this benchmark will be achieved for the fiscal year.

One staff member attended a national conference on technology at California State University at Northridge (CSUN) in March.  Another staff member participated in a national conference on assistive technology at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) in January. Two staff members participated in training by Freedom Scientific on the new features of the Pacmate Omni, among other products. Five staff participated in an In-service training held in February on electronic books, the latest technology to access books for college and high school.  One staff member participated in Zoomtext training at the NEAT Marketplace and Open Book Training at the NEAT Marketplace. One staff participated in the Adaptive Technology Consulting training on new adaptive technology options. One staff member participated in training on the Victor Reading System.  Three staff members participated in a technology fair at the Neat Marketplace, learning about digital talking books, electronic reading devices and features of various CCTV’s. Two staff participated in a training at the NEAT Marketplace on Microsoft Accessibility. Four staff participated in a Learning Disabilities Conference, sponsored by Capitol Region Education Council, which featured demonstrations and training sessions on various assistive technology devices by Vision Dynamics and NEAT Marketplace. Five staff participated in a Technology Fair at the NEAT Marketplace, with training and demonstrations on various CCTVs and new scanning systems among other devices.

·       Implement a formalized mentoring program that includes a training seminar on “how to be a Mentor.”  One activity for the mentors planned each year, beginning in 2006.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006, and achieved for federal fiscal year 2007. For federal fiscal year 2008, this benchmark has been achieved.  The Education Projects Coordinator held three different activities throughout the month of October in recognition of Disability Mentor Day on October 17 and National Disability Employment Month throughout October. Each event involved a student mentee presenting the Employer Mentor with a certificate of appreciation. Formalized training has occurred for 5 new mentors in the current fiscal year.

·       BESB will achieve 100 competitive (non-homemaker) status 26 closures for FY 2006, increasing to 107 for FY 2007, and 112 for FY 2008.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2006, with 101 competitive employment outcomes occurring, and achieved for fiscal year 2007, with 107 competitive employment outcomes occurring.  For federal fiscal year 2008, this benchmark is in progress.   To date, there are 106 non-homemaker employment outcomes. The agency anticipates achievement of this benchmark for the fiscal year.

 

********************************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

June, 2008

Adult Services:

·       Increase the number of Eye Opener conferences from 1 (one) in calendar year 2004 to 3 (three) in 2005. 

Update:   This benchmark was achieved. For calendar year 2005, conferences were conducted in East Hartford, North Haven and Mystic. The agency chose to continue this benchmark, and achieved it in calendar year 2006  (Bridgeport, Southbury, Litchfield). This benchmark was carried forward and achieved for calendar year 2007 as well, with conferences conducted in Windsor, Norwich and Norwalk.  This benchmark is in progress for 2008.  So far in 2008, BESB has conducted one Eye Opener conference, in June in Farmington.  Planning for another event, with a broader focus on aging and disability issues is underway for the autumn of 2008.

 

·       Register 100 consumers for NFB News Line in 2005.

Update: This benchmark was achieved, with 145 new registrants in 2005. The agency has continued to promote the NFB News Line service. To date, there are 973 subscribers to the service in Connecticut.

·       By January, 2006, deliver Independent Living Support Group Training Programs in a minimum of 10 towns around the state, 3 of which must be in towns where the service has not been previously provided.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for the reporting period, with 10 Independent Living Support Groups held, and 7 of those groups in new towns (Waterbury, Bloomfield, New Haven (new), Milford (new), Manchester, Danbury (new), Waterford (new), Newington (new), Portland (new), and Glastonbury (new). The agency continued this benchmark into 2006, and again achieved it, with Independent Living Support Groups being held in 11 towns, of which 6 were in new locations (Wethersfield (new), Stamford, Guilford (new), Bridgeport (new), East Haven (new), Bloomfield, Willimantic (new), Groton (new), Glastonbury, Portland, Newington). In 2007, this benchmark was achieved with 10 Independent Living Support Group Training Programs held in Bloomfield, Fairfield, Manchester, New Milford (new), Norwalk, Tolland (new), Trumbull (new), Wallingford, West Hartford, and West Haven.  For 2008, this benchmark is in progress. The agency has completed programs in Waterbury, Norwich (new), Stratford (new), and Meriden (new). Programs in Hartford (new) and Hamden (new) are nearing completion.

·       Authorization for low vision aids and devices to be issued by BESB within two weeks of receipt of evaluation report from doctor.  

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from October through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from the receipt of the request for low vision devices, to the time of authorization issuance at 9.88 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 11.43 calendar days. For the time period from March through May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 12.89 calendar days. For the time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 9.71 calendar days. For the reporting period from September through November, 2007, the average time was 11.42 calendar days, achieving this benchmark for that reporting period.  For the reporting period, from December, 2007 through February, 2008, the average time was 8.96 days, achieving the benchmark for that reporting period. For the new reporting period from March, 2008 through May, 2008, the average time was 4.2 days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period.

·       Maximum time frame from new referral to completed intake for services not to exceed one month. 

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from September through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 28.34 days. For the time period between March and May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 26.52 days. For the time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29.36 calendar days. For the reporting period from September through November, 2007 the average time was 23 calendar days, achieving the benchmark for the reporting period.  For the reporting period from December, 2007 through February, 2008, the average time was 20 calendar days, achieving the benchmark. For the new reporting period from March through May, 2008 the average time was 22.31 calendar days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period.

·       BESB will develop a Policy Manual for Adult/Independent Living Services and post it on their web page by September, 2006. 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in September, 2006. The policy manual for Adult Services has been available on the BESB website since that time.

·       The agency will commit adequate funding to carry out a media campaign for the purpose of informing doctors and the public about registering and receiving services from BESB.

Update: This benchmark was achieved.  BESB co-sponsored the “Able-Lives” television program on Connecticut Public Television. Every episode featured a commercial on BESB services, including a statement in the commercial on the reporting requirement for doctors to refer individuals determined to be blind to BESB.  In addition, a mass mailing to eye doctors within Connecticut was completed, with posters and information on the statutory reporting requirements provided.

Business Enterprises:

·       BESB will continually comply with LPRIC report on Vending operations.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved.  BESB uses Business Enterprise Program funds primarily for the development and support of vending facilities and operators. Approximately $115,000 in current year funding is reserved to supplement the cost of vocational support for consumers formerly served at BESB Industries to remain in supported and extended employment at alternate locations. Although the authority exists within statutes to also utilize program funds for independent living services, the agency is not using these funds for this purpose any longer. The agency has provided detailed information regarding the program in the annual report that was distributed to the Governor, and to the agency board.  This information is also posted on the BESB website. An automated vending machine accounting system is in place, and is audited monthly by BESB staff. The annual audit by an independent auditing firm was completed and the results shared with representatives from Coca-Cola.  Written waivers are issued for any location that BESB chooses to decline. Permits are signed for all new vending facilities.  Staff from Coca Cola and BESB affix identification stickers onto vending machines operated through the Business Enterprise Program.

·       Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For Fiscal Year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2007. The total gross program income from all sources was $2,334,652.  In total, $883,373 of the overall program income in 2007 was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. This represents 38% of the program income for the year. A detailed analysis of these categorical expenditures was included within the September, 2007 benchmark report.  This benchmark is in progress for fiscal year 2008. To date, the total income has been $2,035,147. Expenditures in benchmark categories so far is $1,285,932 or 63% of the income to date.

·       A minimum of 8 legally blind people will be trained and placed in economically viable, full-time positions working in new or existing BEP locations, from April, 2004 through January 2006. These placements must be with people new to the BEP program, and do not include transfers. A minimum of 5 new placements of blind people into the Business Enterprise Program must follow annually through 2008.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for the time period between April, 2004 and January, 2006, with 12 new operators being placed. The benchmark was also achieved for calendar year 2006 with five new placements for the year.  In calendar year 2007, 5 new operators were placed, achieving the benchmark for the year. Calendar year 2008 began with the opening of 5 new locations. With these new opportunities, as well as a vacancy created by a retirement at an existing location, there have already been 5 new placements for the year, achieving the benchmark in 2008.

·       Establish a business plan review committee in conjunction with the BEP Operators Committee.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved. The committee is in place. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors reviews all potential locations prior to the agency accepting an opportunity. In addition, all seven members of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors have been approved by the State Rehabilitation Council to serve on the Business Advisory Committee for the agency Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Since January, 2008, the committee has reviewed 3 business plans for consumers of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

·       Prepare and make available detailed financial information on the uses of BEP resources to BESB consumers and the public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2005, 2006 and 2007. The financial information for fiscal year 2007 has been posted on the agency web site and distributed to the agency board, State Rehabilitation Council, Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors, Agency Consumer Advisory Committee, Co-chairs of the Human Services Committee and organizations of and for the blind in Connecticut. The full report was also detailed in the September, 2007 benchmark report to the board.  Upon completion of the current state fiscal year, a report detailing expenditures for this reporting period will also be distributed and posted on the agency web site.

Children’s Services:

·       Given average point value for an education consultant caseload of 47 in 2004, will reduce average point value of caseloads by at least 10% a year until achieving/maintaining 25 points.

Update: For fiscal year 2005, the target was 42 points. A caseload point average of 39.5 was reached. The benchmark for that year was achieved. For fiscal year 2006, the target was 38 points. A caseload point average of 36.5 was reached. The benchmark for fiscal year 2006 was achieved. For fiscal year 2007, the target was 34 points.  With the addition of new teacher hires, the average caseload points dropped to 32.3, achieving the benchmark in 2007. For fiscal year 2008, the target was 30.6 points. With the additional hiring of two teachers in June, this benchmark been achieved for this fiscal year. However, it should be noted that while the addition of these new teachers has brought the caseload point average down to 29.5 points, their arrival so late in the school year had a marginal impact on service delivery to students. 

·       Within statutory authority, develop incentive programs to facilitate paraprofessional participation in Braille training classes sponsored by BESB.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved.  The agency now offers mileage reimbursement to paraprofessionals who attend the classes, provides a salary reimbursement to paraprofessionals who must attend the class on their own time, as well as a reimbursement to school districts for costs incurred when substitute paraprofessionals are needed.  This year, the agency increased the number of locations the classes are being taught from 3 to 4, with programs in Norwich, Windsor, Cheshire, and Trumbull.  Nineteen paraprofessionals participated in this initiative this year.

·       Pursue statutory language changes to increase the access of children who are blind or visually impaired to mobility instruction, rehabilitation teaching and rehabilitation technology through the “Educational Aid for the Blind and Visually Handicapped Account”

Update:  This benchmark was achieved with the passage of Public Act 05-156 in 2005.  The agency subsequently received approval to establish 3 Orientation and Mobility Instructor positions and 5 Rehabilitation Teacher positions (2 of which would be dedicated to adaptive technology). After national recruitment efforts, the Children's Services Division has filled all 3 Orientation and Mobility positions.  A Rehabilitation Teacher specializing in adaptive technology was added in February, 2007.  A second Rehabilitation Teacher was hired in January, 2008. This teacher works with children in the area of activities of daily living, and has been actively developing group activities for students.

·       Provide a standardized reading rate assessment tool for all school districts to utilize for documentation of annual student progress as part of the school district request for funding disbursements annually.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  BESB purchases the Jerry Johns Basic Reading Inventory materials for all teachers of the visually impaired in the state.  Additional materials are always available on loan from the BESB professional resource library.  Reporting on reading rates is required on the Annual Education Report submitted for each child who is age 7 and over, who has been identified as a reader by their Teacher of the Visually Impaired.  The Education Supervisor provides follow up training as requested.

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in school year 2006, 2007 and now, once again achieved in 2008. The first parent education event was held on Saturday, November 3, 2007.  The topic of the event was the Expanded Core Curriculum.  A speaker from Texas School for the Blind presented to 29 family members.  In addition to the featured speaker, representatives from a number of summer programs were available to explain their programs and answer questions.  Program representatives from New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire were in attendance, as well as BESB staff who presented on summer programs organized by the agency.  Jo-Ellen Wickwire, from the Department of Developmental Services, along with BESB staff, addressed the needs of children with multiple disabilities.  The second event occurred on April 5, 2008 in collaboration with the Vocational Rehabilitation Division of the agency. The focus of this event was transition planning for post high school.  Seventeen family members were in attendance.  Panel discussions focused on the transition from school to work or secondary education, and on transition to supported programs involving sheltered work or community experience.  Parents then met in smaller groups facilitated by BESB staff and panel members, to further the discussions and answer questions.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Rehabilitation Teachers, Rehabilitation Technologists, and Education Project Coordinator will participate in at least 2 trainings on assistive technology each year.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006 and achieved for federal fiscal year 2007.  For federal fiscal year 2008, this benchmark is in progress.  To date 5 out of 17 eligible staff members have participated in two trainings, attaining the goal. Four other staff members have participated in one training. One staff member attended a national conference on technology at  California State University at Northridge (CSUN) in March.  Another staff member participated in a national conference on assistive technology at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) in January. Two staff members participated in a training by Freedom Scientific on the new features of the Pacmate Omni, among other products. Five staff participated in an In-service training held in February on electronic books, the latest technology to access books for college and high school.  One staff member participated in Zoomtext training at the NEAT Marketplace and Open Book Training at the NEAT Marketplace. One staff participated in Adaptive Technology Consulting training on new adaptive technology options. One staff member participated in a training on the Victor Reading System.  Three staff members participated in a technology fair at the Neat Marketplace, learning about digital talking books, electronic reading devices and features of various CCTV’s.

  

       ·       Seek approval to establish 1 new rehab teacher position that specializes in assistive technology training in speech, large print and Braille devices.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved. A new Rehabilitation Teacher specializing in assistive technology training in speech, large print and Braille devices began working at BESB in October, 2007.

·       Implement a formalized mentoring program that includes a training seminar on “how to be a Mentor.”  One activity for the mentors planned each year, beginning in 2006.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006, and achieved for federal fiscal year 2007. For federal fiscal year 2008, this benchmark has been achieved.  The Education Projects Coordinator held three different activities throughout of the month October in recognition of Disability Mentor Day on October 17 and National Disability Employment Month throughout October. Each event involved a student mentee presenting the Employer Mentor with a certificate of appreciation. Formalized training has occurred for 5 new mentors in the current fiscal year. An additional mentoring event is in the planning stages for later in the fiscal year.

·       BESB will achieve 100 competitive (non-homemaker) status 26 closures for FY 2006, increasing to 107 for FY 2007, and 112 for FY 2008.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2006, with 101 competitive employment outcomes occurring, and achieved for fiscal year 2007, with 107 competitive employment outcomes occurring.  For federal fiscal year 2008, this benchmark is in progress.   To date, there are 59 non-homemaker employment outcomes.

*************************************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

March, 2008

  

Adult Services:

·       Increase the number of Eye Opener conferences from 1 (one) in calendar year 2004 to 3 (three) in 2005. 

Update:   This benchmark was achieved. For calendar year 2005, conferences were conducted in East Hartford, North Haven and Mystic. The agency chose to continue this benchmark, and achieved it in calendar year 2006  (Bridgeport, Southbury, Litchfield). This benchmark was carried forward and achieved for calendar year 2007 as well, with conferences conducted in Windsor, Norwich and Norwalk.  For calendar year 2008, the agency is exploring a modification to this benchmark, with a focus on training nursing home staff to work with residents who are legally blind.  

   

·       Register 100 consumers for NFB News Line in 2005.

Update: This benchmark was achieved, with 145 new registrants in 2005. The agency has continued to promote the NFB News Line service. To date, there are 960 subscribers to the service in Connecticut.

·       By January, 2006, deliver Independent Living Support Group Training Programs in a minimum of 10 towns around the state, 3 of which must be in towns where the service has not been previously provided.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for the reporting period, with 10 Independent Living Support Groups held, and 7 of those groups in new towns (Waterbury, Bloomfield, New Haven (new), Milford (new), Manchester, Danbury (new), Waterford (new), Newington (new), Portland (new), and Glastonbury (new). The agency continued this benchmark into 2006, and again achieved it, with Independent Living Support Groups being held in 11 towns, of which 6 were in new locations (Wethersfield (new), Stamford, Guilford (new), Bridgeport (new), East Haven (new), Bloomfield, Willimantic (new), Groton (new), Glastonbury, Portland, Newington). In 2007, this benchmark was achieved with 10 Independent Living Support Group Training Programs held in Bloomfield, Fairfield, Manchester, New Milford (new), Norwalk, Tolland (new), Trumbull (new), Wallingford, West Hartford, and West Haven.  For 2008, the agency has programs underway in Waterbury and Norwich (new), with additional programs planned for Stratford (new), Hartford (new), Waterford and Meriden (new).

·       Authorization for low vision aids and devices to be issued by BESB within two weeks of receipt of evaluation report from doctor.  

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from October through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from the receipt of the request for low vision devices, to the time of authorization issuance at 9.88 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 11.43 calendar days. For the time period from March through May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 12.89 calendar days. For the time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 9.71 calendar days. For the reporting period from September through November, 2007, the average time was 11.42 calendar days, achieving this benchmark for that reporting period.  For the new reporting period, from December, 2007 through February, 2008, the average time was 8.96 days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period.

·       Maximum time frame from new referral to completed intake for services not to exceed one month. 

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from September through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 28.34 days. For the time period between March and May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 26.52 days. For the time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29.36 calendar days. For the reporting period from September through November, 2007 the average time was 23 calendar days, achieving the benchmark for the reporting period.  For the new reporting period from December, 2007 through February, 2008 the average time was 20 calendar days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period.

·       BESB will develop a Policy Manual for Adult/Independent Living Services and post it on their web page by September, 2006. 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in September, 2006. The policy manual for Adult Services has been available on the BESB website since that time.

·       The agency will commit adequate funding to carry out a media campaign for the purpose of informing doctors and the public about registering and receiving services from BESB.

Update: This benchmark was achieved.  BESB co-sponsored the “Able-Lives” television program on Connecticut Public Television. Every episode featured a commercial on BESB services, including a statement in the commercial on the reporting requirement for doctors to refer individuals determined to be blind to BESB.  In addition, a mass mailing to eye doctors within Connecticut was completed, with posters and information on the statutory reporting requirements provided.

Business Enterprises:

·       BESB will continually comply with LPRIC report on Vending operations.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved.  BESB uses Business Enterprise Program funds primarily for the development and support of vending facilities and operators. Approximately $115,000 in current year funding is reserved to supplement the cost of vocational support for consumers formerly served at BESB Industries to remain in supported and extended employment at alternate locations. Although the authority exists within statutes to also utilize program funds for independent living services, the agency is not using these funds for this purpose any longer. The agency has provided detailed information regarding the program in the annual report that was distributed to the Governor, and to the agency board.  This information is also posted on the BESB website. An automated vending machine accounting system is in place, and is audited monthly by BESB staff. The annual audit by an independent auditing firm was completed and the results shared with representatives from Coca-Cola.  Written waivers are issued for any location that BESB chooses to decline. Permits are signed for all new vending facilities.  Staff from Coca Cola and BESB affix identification stickers onto vending machines operated through the Business Enterprise Program.

·       Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For Fiscal Year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2007. The total gross program income from all sources was $2,334,652.  In total, $883,373 of the overall program income in 2007 was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. This represents 38% of the program income for the year. A detailed analysis of these categorical expenditures was included within the September, 2007 benchmark report.  This benchmark is in progress for fiscal year 2008. To date, the total income has been $1,722,198. Expenditures in benchmark categories so far is $990,127 or 57% of the income to date.

·       A minimum of 8 legally blind people will be trained and placed in economically viable, full-time positions working in new or existing BEP locations, from April, 2004 through January 2006. These placements must be with people new to the BEP program, and do not include transfers. A minimum of 5 new placements of blind people into the Business Enterprise Program must follow annually through 2008.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for the time period between April, 2004 and January, 2006, with 12 new operators being placed. The benchmark was also achieved for calendar year 2006 with five new placements for the year.  In calendar year 2007, 5 new operators were placed, achieving the benchmark for the year. Calendar year 2008 began with the opening of 5 new locations. With these new opportunities, as well as a vacancy created by a retirement at an existing location, there have already been 5 new placements for the year, achieving the benchmark in 2008.

·       Establish a business plan review committee in conjunction with the BEP Operators Committee.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved. The committee is in place. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors reviews all potential locations prior to the agency accepting an opportunity. In addition, all seven members of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors have been approved by the State Rehabilitation Council to serve on the Business Advisory Committee for the agency Vocational Rehabilitation Program. In the past month, this committee has reviewed 2 business plans for consumers of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

·       Prepare and make available detailed financial information on the uses of BEP resources to BESB consumers and the public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2005, 2006 and 2007. The financial information for fiscal year 2007 has been posted on the agency web site and distributed to the agency board, State Rehabilitation Council, Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors, Agency Consumer Advisory Committee, Co-chairs of the Human Services Committee and organizations of and for the blind in Connecticut. The full report was also detailed in the September, 2007 benchmark report to the board. 

Children’s Services:

·       Given average point value for an education consultant caseload of 47 in 2004, will reduce average point value of caseloads by at least 10% a year until achieving/maintaining 25 points.

Update: For fiscal year 2005, the target was 42 points. A caseload point average of 39.5 was reached. The benchmark for that year was achieved. For fiscal year 2006, the target was 38 points. A caseload point average of 36.5 was reached. The benchmark for fiscal year 2006 was achieved. For fiscal year 2007, the target was 34 points.  With the addition of new teacher hires, the average caseload points dropped to 32.3, achieving the benchmark in 2007. For fiscal year 2008, the target is 30.6 points. This benchmark is in progress for this fiscal year, with ongoing recruitment occurring.  A new Teacher of the Visually Impaired was hired in February, 2008, bringing the current caseload point average to 31.3.   Additional interviews are anticipated based upon applications currently under review.

BESB works closely with the UMass-Boston program to ensure that Connecticut is represented in the recruitment process, and that the graduate students have pre-practicum and practicum opportunities in this state.  BESB also collaborates with the CCSU special education program, presenting to special education undergraduates to raise awareness of career opportunities in the field of vision loss. 

·       Within statutory authority, develop incentive programs to facilitate paraprofessional participation in Braille training classes sponsored by BESB.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved.  The agency now offers mileage reimbursement to paraprofessionals who attend the classes, provides a salary reimbursement to paraprofessionals who must attend the class on their own time, as well as a reimbursement to school districts for costs incurred when substitute paraprofessionals are needed.  This year, the agency increased the number of locations the classes are being taught from 3 to 4, with programs in Norwich, Windsor, Cheshire, and Trumbull.  Nineteen paraprofessionals participate in this initiative in the current year.

·       Pursue statutory language changes to increase the access of children who are blind or visually impaired to mobility instruction, rehabilitation teaching and rehabilitation technology through the “Educational Aid for the Blind and Visually Handicapped Account”

Update:  This benchmark was achieved with the passage of Public Act 05-156 in 2005.  The agency subsequently received approval to establish 3 Orientation and Mobility Instructor positions and 5 Rehabilitation Teacher positions (2 of which would be dedicated to adaptive technology). After national recruitment efforts, the Children's Services Division has filled all 3 Orientation and Mobility positions.  A Rehabilitation Teacher specializing in adaptive technology was added in February, 2007.  A second Rehabilitation Teacher was hired in January, 2008. This teacher works with children in the area of activities of daily living.

·       Provide a standardized reading rate assessment tool for all school districts to utilize for documentation of annual student progress as part of the school district request for funding disbursements annually.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  BESB purchases the Jerry Johns Basic Reading Inventory materials for all teachers of the visually impaired in the state.  Additional materials are always available on loan from the BESB professional resource library.  Reporting on reading rates is required on the Annual Education Report submitted for each child who is age 7 and over, who has been identified as a reader by their Teacher of the Visually Impaired.  The Education Supervisor provides follow up training as requested.

·       BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in school year 2006, and was achieved for school year 2007. For school year 2008, this benchmark is in progress. The first parent education event was held on Saturday, November 3, 2007.  The topic of the event was the Expanded Core Curriculum.  A speaker from Texas School for the Blind presented to 29 family members.  In addition to the featured speaker, representatives from a number of summer programs were available to explain their programs and answer questions.  Program representatives from New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire were in attendance, as well as BESB staff who presented on summer programs organized by the agency.  Jo-Ellen Wickwire, from the Department of Developmental Services, along with BESB staff, addressed the needs of children with multiple disabilities.  The second event will be occurring on April 5, 2008, in collaboration with the Vocational Rehabilitation Division of the agency. The focus of this event will be transition planning for post high school. 

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·       Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Rehabilitation Teachers, Rehabilitation Technologists, and Education Project Coordinator will participate in at least 2 trainings on assistive technology each year.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006 and achieved for federal fiscal year 2007.  For federal fiscal year 2008, this benchmark is in progress.  To date 3 out of 16 eligible staff members have participated in two trainings, attaining the goal. Seven other staff members have participated in one training. One staff member attended a national conference on technology at  California State University at Northridge (CSUN) in March.  Another staff member participated in a national conference on assistive technology at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) in January. Three staff members participated in a training by Freedom Scientific on the new features of the Pacmate Omni, among other products. Five staff participated in an In-service training held in February on electronic books, the latest technology to access books for college and high school.     

·       Seek approval to establish 1 new rehab teacher position that specializes in assistive technology training in speech, large print and Braille devices.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved. A new Rehabilitation Teacher specializing in assistive technology training in speech, large print and Braille devices began working at BESB in October, 2007.

·       Implement a formalized mentoring program that includes a training seminar on “how to be a Mentor.”  One activity for the mentors planned each year, beginning in 2006.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006, and achieved for federal fiscal year 2007. For federal fiscal year 2008, this benchmark has been achieved.  The Education Projects Coordinator held three different activities throughout of the month October in recognition of Disability Mentor Day on October 17 and National Disability Employment Month throughout October. Each event involved a student mentee presenting the Employer Mentor with a certificate of appreciation. Formalized training has occurred for 4 new mentors in the current fiscal year. An additional mentoring event is in the planning stages for later in the fiscal year.

·       BESB will achieve 100 competitive (non-homemaker) status 26 closures for FY 2006, increasing to 107 for FY 2007, and 112 for FY 2008.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2006, with 101 competitive employment outcomes occurring, and achieved for fiscal year 2007, with 107 competitive employment outcomes occurring.  For federal fiscal year 2008, this benchmark is in progress.   To date, there are 30 non-homemaker employment outcomes.

*******************************************************************************************

Connecticut State Board of Education and Services for the Blind

Board of Directors

184 Windsor, Connecticut 06095

Annual Report to the Governor and

General Assembly 1 January 2008

Introduction

The Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) is responsible for initiating, coordinating, and implementing the education and training of Connecticut's blind and visually impaired children to help them maintain their academic, physical, emotional, and social progress at age-level, grade level, or diagnosed ability level. BESB serves Connecticut's blind adults through educational, vocational, and living skills programs to empower them to achieve success as they define it in their chosen profession and to enhance their self-sufficiency.

Beginning in January 2007, the 13-member BESB Board of Directors was charged with overseeing BESB’s accomplishment of its mission paraphrased above. The annual report that follows offers a brief overview of the steps BESB has taken and milestones it has reached in the past year. The agency works with the Board of Directors, community organizations, and advocacy groups to ensure the blindness community is aware of and exercises its rights.

Services

Since its inception in 1893, BESB has been the lead state agency for the coordination and provision of services to people in Connecticut who have legal blindness. BESB’s dedication to public service is reflected in its proud heritage as the oldest state agency in the nation that serves people who are blind.

For state fiscal year 2007, 896 newly-blind individuals joined the agency’s registry of 11,645 consumers. Seventy-three percent of 2007’s new registrants are age 65 or older. Ninety-nine of the new consumers were children, bringing the total number of children on the registry to 1,130.

BESB provided more than 23,000 hours of rehabilitative services to its consumers in fiscal year 2007, reflecting an increase of 9 percent over fiscal year 2006. Additionally, BESB gave more than 6,500 hours of outreach, consultation and public education service to educators, community providers, employers, and vending locations in fiscal 2007.

The Adult Services Division received nearly 700 requests for orientation and mobility services to teach safe travel techniques resulting in the provision of nearly 1,000 hours of direct services. Additionally, BESB fulfilled more than 450 requests for rehabilitation teaching services for independent daily living tasks such as safe cooking techniques. Beyond completed intakes for 896 new consumers, Adult Services staff processed 341 follow up requests for service from consumers whose life circumstances resulted in further assistance needs. Through collaboration with the National Federation of the Blind and the Connecticut Radio Information System, services through NFB Newsline grew to more than 930 subscribers who gain access to state and national newspapers through touchtone telephones.

The Business Enterprises Program administers the federal Randolph-Sheppard Act, combined with accompanying authorizing state statutes that enable individuals who are blind to achieve career success as entrepreneurs, managing food service and retail operations at federal, state, and municipal locations. Vending machine sales commissions at state, federal, and municipal locations in Connecticut make the BEP a self-funded program. BEP uses a portion of its income to fund new locations and renovations to existing locations. BEP also uses part of its income to cover the cost of entrepreneur’s medical benefits. BESB field representatives provide training and support services to BEP operators. The agency provided more than 5,000 hours of training and support during fiscal year 2007. Forty-one individuals who are blind participated in the program during the past federal fiscal year. These entrepreneurs employed an additional 66 workers within their operations, 12 percent of whom also have disabilities. Combined gross sales for these business ventures exceeded $4.8 million, with the entrepreneurs achieving combined total earnings in excess of $1.2 million, reflecting an increase of 30 percent from the prior federal fiscal reporting period.

Within the Children’s Services Division, the agency provided support through teachers of the visually impaired to 114 school districts at no cost, for direct instruction to children and consultation services to school staff to maximize the participation of children who are blind or visually impaired in public education. BESB provided more than 8,000 hours of educational instruction--with half of those hours in Braille assessment and training--to students served by the agency in fiscal year 2007. For the 22 school districts that directly hired or contracted for teachers of the visually impaired, the agency provided $1.5 million in funding reimbursements. In accordance with state law, the agency disbursed an additional $2.9 million to the school districts at the completion of the fiscal year to apply toward the public education costs of 109 Braille learning students and 760 non-Braille learning students that received services under agency guidelines.

BESB’s Vocational Rehabilitation Division administers the federal programs authorized under Title I and Title 6, Part B of the Rehabilitation Act. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program achieved 107 integrated employment outcomes in FY 2007, achieving a performance benchmark established by the BESB Monitoring Council. Average hourly earnings for consumers exiting the program rose by 5 percent from the prior year, achieving $16.34 per hour. Eighty percent of consumers exiting the Vocational Rehabilitation Program in FY 2007 after employment plan development achieved their employment goals. Vocational Rehabilitation Program staff delivered over 1400 hours of employer education and outreach activities during the year. In total, nearly 4,000 hours of direct services to consumer were delivered in categories that included vocational rehabilitation counseling, rehabilitation teaching, adaptive technology services and mobility instruction. Transition school to work programs for youth with legal blindness were provided in leadership development, employment, career exploration, and independent living training, with a 13 percent increase in participation from the prior year. Results of the consumer satisfaction survey that the University of Connecticut, Center for Survey Research and Analysis conducted for the Vocational Rehabilitation Program found that consumers "continue to be highly satisfied with services they receive from BESB….the overwhelming majority (92%) would recommend BESB Vocational Rehabilitation services to a friend." Through consumer achievement of self-sufficiency in employment subsequent to participation in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, the Social Security Administration awarded BESB $181,000 in funding to utilize toward rehabilitative services to consumers.

 

Improvements and Achievements

1. To provide timely services and reduce staff travel time, the agency launched a pilot model for centralized service delivery, providing low vision examinations, rehabilitation teaching, mobility instruction, and social work services at the agency. Results included the delivery of 158 services and 157 adaptive aids dispensed over six sessions.

2. BESB staff developed and distributed a comprehensive transportation guide to help consumers identify Connecticut’s public and private transportation service providers. This guide is posted on the BESB Web site.

3. Through the addition of three new direct service instructors within the Children’s Services Division, the agency significantly expanded the option for children who are blind or visually impaired to receive orientation and mobility instruction.

4. Individuals and organizations provided over 27,000 volunteer service hours to the agency and consumers during fiscal year 2007--more than double the prior year’s volunteer hours. Assisting consumers with shopping, driving, reading mail, and transcription services of books and materials into Braille were among the services provided by volunteers. Savings to consumers totals more than $500,000 for these services that would otherwise be paid for privately, out of pocket at personal service and per diem rates.

5. Combined efforts from agency volunteers, including the continued collaboration with the Department of Correction for inmate volunteers, resulted in a total of 146 textbooks being transcribed into Braille for children who are blind to use in school, with a resulting savings to the state for the production of these Braille texts through volunteers in excess of $75,000.

6. BESB provided adaptive technology devices such as speech to text software, large print magnifying software, Braille note-takers and peripherals to 539 consumers.

7. The agency provided specialized services to help 1,267 consumers maximize the use of their remaining vision.

8. The placement of vending machines to support entrepreneurial employment for consumers of the agency rose to 832 locations during fiscal year 2007, with a total of 1,789 vending machines now in service. Overall satisfaction with the level of vending services and support remains high, averaging 84 percent.

9. The agency provided group independent living and self-advocacy training to 101 older adults with low vision. BESB provided these Independent Living Groups through a cooperative effort with senior centers or assisted living facilities in Willimantic, Bloomfield, East Haven, Bridgeport, Guilford, Stamford, Wethersfield, West Hartford, Trumbull, Tolland, and Wallingford.

10. The agency purchased 400 Braille books and 1,009 large print books for children and loaned through the agency library, an additional 88 Braille and 293 large print books to students to enable full participation in classroom learning. The agency library now has more than 43,000 volumes available to lend to school districts at no cost.

11. The agency organized and conducted seven full days of training throughout the year for classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, and other service providers who work with children who are blind or visually impaired in schools. Ongoing Braille instruction classes were also taught, with 20 paraprofessionals participating.

Benchmarks

Adult Services

-Increase the number of Eye Opener conferences from 1 (one) in calendar year 2004 to 3 (three) in 2005.

                Update: This benchmark was achieved.

-Register 100 consumers for NFB News Line in 2005.

Update: This benchmark was achieved, with 145 new registrants in 2005.

-By January 2006, deliver Independent Living Support Group Training Programs in a minimum of 10 towns around the state, 3 of which must be in towns where the service has not been previously provided.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for the reporting period, with 10 Independent Living Support Groups held, and 7 of those groups in new towns.

-Authorization for low vision aids and devices to be issued by BESB within two weeks of receipt of evaluation report from doctor.

Update: For the time from October through November 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from the receipt of the request for low vision devices, to the time of authorization issuance at 9.88 calendar days. For the time from December 2006 through February 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 11.43 calendar days. For the time from March through May 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 12.89 calendar days. For the reporting period from June through August 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 9.71 calendar days.

-Maximum time frame from new referral to completed intake for services not to exceed one month.

Update: For the time from September through November 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29 calendar days. For the time from December 2006 through February 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 28.34 days. For the time between March and May 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 26.52 days. For the time period from June through August 2007, this benchmark was achieved with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29.36 calendar days.

-BESB will develop a Policy Manual for Adult/Independent Living Services and post it on their web page by September 2006.

               Update: This benchmark was achieved in September 2006.

-The agency will commit adequate funding to carry out a media campaign for the purpose of informing doctors and the public about registering and receiving services from BESB.

Update: This benchmark was achieved. BESB co-sponsored the "Able-Lives" television program on Connecticut Public Television. Every episode featured a commercial on BESB services, including a statement in the commercial on the reporting requirement for doctors to refer individuals determined to be blind to BESB. In addition, a mass mailing to eye doctors within Connecticut was completed, with posters and information on the statutory reporting requirements provided.

Business Enterprises

-BESB will continually comply with LPRIC report on Vending operations.              

                Update: This benchmark has been achieved.

-Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For fiscal year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.

Update: This benchmark was achieved. For the Business Enterprises Program, in fiscal year 2007, the total gross program income from all sources was $2,334,652. In total, $883,373 of the overall program income in 2007 was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. This represents 38% of the program income for the year.

-A minimum of 8 legally blind people will be trained and placed in economically viable, full-time positions working in new or existing BEP locations, from April 2004 through January 2006. These placements must be with people new to the BEP program, and do not include transfers. A minimum of 5 new placements of blind people into the Business Enterprise Program must follow annually through 2008.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for the time between April 2004 and January 2006, with 12 new operators being placed. The benchmark was also achieved for calendar year 2006 with five new placements for the year. Thus far, in calendar year 2007, 5 new operators were placed, achieving the benchmark for this year as well. As of August 2007, there were 49 vending facilities.

-Establish a business plan review committee in conjunction with the BEP Operators Committee.               

                  Update: This benchmark has been achieved.

-Prepare and make available detailed financial information on the uses of BEP resources to BESB consumers and the public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Children’s Services

-Given average point value for an education consultant caseload of 47 in 2004, will reduce average point value of caseloads by at least 10% a year until achieving/maintaining 25 points.

Update: For fiscal year 2005, the target was 42 points. A caseload point average of 39.5 was reached. The benchmark for that year was achieved. For fiscal year 2006, the target was 38 points. A caseload point average of 36.5 was reached. The benchmark for fiscal year 2006 was achieved. For fiscal year 2007, the target was 34 points. With the addition of new teacher hires, the average caseload points dropped to 32.3, achieving the benchmark in 2007. For fiscal year 2008, the target is 30.6 points. This benchmark is in progress for this fiscal year, with ongoing recruitment occurring.

-Within statutory authority, develop incentive programs to facilitate paraprofessional participation in Braille training classes sponsored by BESB.                

                 Update: This benchmark has been achieved.

-Pursue statutory language changes to increase the access of children who are blind or visually impaired to mobility instruction, rehabilitation teaching and rehabilitation technology through the "Educational Aid for the Blind and Visually Handicapped Account."

Update: This benchmark was achieved with the passage of Public Act 05-156 in 2005.

-Provide a standardized reading rate assessment tool for all school districts to utilize for documentation of annual student progress as part of the school district request for funding disbursements annually.

Update: This benchmark was achieved.

-BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update: This benchmark was achieved in school year 2006, and was achieved for school year 2007.

Vocational Rehabilitation

-Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Rehabilitation Teachers, Rehabilitation Technologists, and Education Project Coordinator will participate in at least 2 trainings on assistive technology each year.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006 and achieved for federal fiscal year 2007.

-Seek approval to establish 1 new rehab teacher position that specializes in assistive technology training in speech, large print, and Braille devices.

Update: This benchmark was achieved.

Implement a formalized mentoring program that includes a training seminar on "How to be a Mentor." One activity for the mentors planned each year, beginning in 2006.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006, and achieved for federal fiscal year 2007.

BESB will achieve 100 competitive (non-homemaker) status 26 closures for FY 2006, increasing to 107 for FY 2007, and 112 for FY 2008.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2006, with 101 competitive employment outcomes occurring. For fiscal year 2007, this benchmark was also achieved. One hundred and seven (107) individuals who are blind achieved their employment goals by entering or retaining employment in the integrated, competitive labor market. An additional 20 consumers achieved employment goals in the category of homemaker, with primary responsibility for managing a household.

---

Conclusion

In addition to providing oversight and policy guidance to facilitate the provision of services listed above, the BESB Board, whose members include Alan Sylvestre (Chair), Eileen Akers, Christine Boisvert, M. Carolyn Dodd, Betty Woodward, Carol Gillispie, Dr. Chris Kuell, Patrick Johnson, William DeMaio, Maria Russo, Randa Nesman, Jay Kronfeld, and Michael Starkowski, Ex-Officio, Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, held four regular meetings and three special meetings. The special meetings were held to develop the bylaws that govern the conduct of the Board’s business. The Board accomplished much in 2007 and is excited about the opportunity it has to contribute the combined time, talents, effort, and experience of its members to maintain and continue improving BESB’s status as a high performing agency.

 
 
***************************************************************************************************
 

BESB Benchmark Update Report

December, 2007

Adult Services:

·        Increase the number of Eye Opener conferences from 1 (one) in calendar year 2004 to 3 (three) in 2005. 

Update:   This benchmark was achieved. For calendar year 2005, conferences were conducted in East Hartford, North Haven and Mystic. The agency chose to continue this benchmark, and achieved it in calendar year 2006  (Bridgeport, Southbury, Litchfield). This benchmark was achieved for calendar year 2007, with conferences conducted in Windsor, Norwich and Norwalk.

 

·        Register 100 consumers for NFB News Line in 2005.

Update: This benchmark was achieved, with 145 new registrants in 2005. The agency has continued to promote the NFB News Line service. To date, there are 949 subscribers to the service in Connecticut.

·        By January, 2006, deliver Independent Living Support Group Training Programs in a minimum of 10 towns around the state, 3 of which must be in towns where the service has not been previously provided.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for the reporting period, with 10 Independent Living Support Groups held, and 7 of those groups in new towns (Waterbury, Bloomfield, New Haven (new), Milford (new), Manchester, Danbury (new), Waterford (new), Newington (new), Portland (new), and Glastonbury (new). The agency continued this benchmark into 2006, and again achieved it, with Independent Living Support Groups being held in 11 towns, of which 6 were in new locations (Wethersfield (new), Stamford, Guilford (new), Bridgeport (new), East Haven (new), Bloomfield, Willimantic (new), Groton (new), Glastonbury, Portland, Newington). In 2007, this benchmark was achieved with 10 Independent Living Support Group Training Programs held in Bloomfield, Fairfield, Manchester, New Milford (new), Norwalk, Tolland (new), Trumbull (new), Wallingford, West Hartford, and West Haven.

·        Authorization for low vision aids and devices to be issued by BESB within two weeks of receipt of evaluation report from doctor.  

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from October through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from the receipt of the request for low vision devices, to the time of authorization issuance at 9.88 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 11.43 calendar days. For the time period from March through May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 12.89 calendar days. For the time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 9.71 calendar days. For the new reporting period, from September through November, 2007, the average time was 11.42 calendar days, achieving this benchmark for this reporting period.

·        Maximum time frame from new referral to completed intake for services not to exceed one month. 

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from September through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 28.34 days. For the time period between March and May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 26.52 days. For the time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29.36 calendar days. For the new reporting period from September through November, 2007 the average time was 23 calendar days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period.

·        BESB will develop a Policy Manual for Adult/Independent Living Services and post it on their web page by September, 2006. 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in September, 2006. The policy manual for Adult Services has been available on the BESB website since that time.

·        The agency will commit adequate funding to carry out a media campaign for the purpose of informing doctors and the public about registering and receiving services from BESB.

Update: This benchmark was achieved.  BESB co-sponsored the “Able-Lives” television program on Connecticut Public Television. Every episode featured a commercial on BESB services, including a statement in the commercial on the reporting requirement for doctors to refer individuals determined to be blind to BESB.  In addition, a mass mailing to eye doctors within Connecticut was completed, with posters and information on the statutory reporting requirements provided.

Business Enterprises:

·        BESB will continually comply with LPRIC report on Vending operations.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved.  BESB has been using Business Enterprise Program funds for the direct purpose of developing and supporting vending facilities and operators. The agency does not use these funds for activities outside of the scope of the program. The agency has provided detailed information regarding the program in the annual report that was distributed to the Governor, and to the new agency board.  This information is also posted on the BESB website. An automated vending machine accounting system is in place, and is audited monthly by BESB staff. The annual audit by an independent auditing firm was recently completed and is under review by the agency.  Written waivers are issued for any location that BESB chooses to decline. Additionally, the agency worked with the Attorney General’s Office to finalize a template that is now in use as a permit/agreement for all new vending facilities.  Staff from Coca Cola and BESB affix identification stickers onto vending machines operated through the Business Enterprise Program. There are 1,789 vending machines that support the Business Enterprise Program.

·        Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For Fiscal Year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2007. The total gross program income from all sources was $2,334,652.  In total, $883,373 of the overall program income in 2007 was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. This represents 38% of the program income for the year. A detailed analysis of these categorical expenditures was included within the September, 2007 benchmark report.  For the first 5 months of FY 08, the total income was $1,003,659. Expenditures in benchmark categories was $726,813 or 72% of the income to date. Expenditures were made early in the fiscal year for the opening of new facilities.

·        A minimum of 8 legally blind people will be trained and placed in economically viable, full-time positions working in new or existing BEP locations, from April, 2004 through January 2006. These placements must be with people new to the BEP program, and do not include transfers. A minimum of 5 new placements of blind people into the Business Enterprise Program must follow annually through 2008.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for the time period between April, 2004 and January, 2006, with 12 new operators being placed. The benchmark was also achieved for calendar year 2006 with five new placements for the year.  Thus far in calendar year 2007, 5 new operators have been placed, achieving the benchmark for this year as well.

·        Establish a business plan review committee in conjunction with the BEP Operators Committee.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved. The committee is in place. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors reviews all potential locations prior to the agency accepting an opportunity. In addition, all seven members of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors have been approved by the State Rehabilitation Council to serve on the Business Advisory Committee for the agency Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

·        Prepare and make available detailed financial information on the uses of BEP resources to BESB consumers and the public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2005, 2006 and 2007. The financial information for fiscal year 2007 has been posted on the agency web site and distributed to the agency board, State Rehabilitation Council, Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors, Agency Consumer Advisory Committee, Co-chairs of the Human Services Committee and organizations of and for the blind in Connecticut. The full report was also detailed in the September, 2007 benchmark report to the board. 

Children’s Services:

·        Given average point value for an education consultant caseload of 47 in 2004, will reduce average point value of caseloads by at least 10% a year until achieving/maintaining 25 points.

Update: For fiscal year 2005, the target was 42 points. A caseload point average of 39.5 was reached. The benchmark for that year was achieved. For fiscal year 2006, the target was 38 points. A caseload point average of 36.5 was reached. The benchmark for fiscal year 2006 was achieved. For fiscal year 2007, the target was 34 points.  With the addition of new teacher hires, the average caseload points dropped to 32.3, achieving the benchmark in 2007. For fiscal year 2008, the target is 30.6 points. This benchmark is in progress for this fiscal year, with ongoing recruitment occurring.  An eligible candidate has been identified, and the interview process is underway.  The addition of one more teacher would change the caseload point values to 31.7.

BESB works closely with the UMass-Boston program to ensure that Connecticut is represented in the recruitment process, and that the graduate students have pre-practicum and practicum opportunities in this state.  BESB also collaborates with the CCSU special education program, presenting to special education undergraduates to raise awareness of career opportunities in the field of vision loss. 

·        Within statutory authority, develop incentive programs to facilitate paraprofessional participation in Braille training classes sponsored by BESB.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved.  The agency now offers mileage reimbursement to paraprofessionals who attend the classes, provides a salary reimbursement to paraprofessionals who must attend the class on their own time, as well as a reimbursement to school districts for costs incurred when substitute paraprofessionals are needed.  This year, the agency increased the number of locations the classes are being taught to 4, Norwich, Windsor, Cheshire, and Trumbull.  Nineteen paraprofessionals are currently participating in this initiative.

·        Pursue statutory language changes to increase the access of children who are blind or visually impaired to mobility instruction, rehabilitation teaching and rehabilitation technology through the “Educational Aid for the Blind and Visually Handicapped Account”

Update:  This benchmark was achieved with the passage of Public Act 05-156 in 2005.  The agency subsequently received approval to establish 3 Orientation and Mobility Instructor positions and 5 Rehabilitation Teacher positions (2 of which would be dedicated to adaptive technology). After national recruitment efforts, the Children's Services Division has filled all 3 Orientation and Mobility positions.  A Rehabilitation Teacher specializing in adaptive technology was added in February, 2007.  A second Rehabilitation Teacher is scheduled to begin work on January 4, 2008.  This teacher will work with children in the area of activities of daily living.

·        Provide a standardized reading rate assessment tool for all school districts to utilize for documentation of annual student progress as part of the school district request for funding disbursements annually.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  BESB purchases the Jerry Johns Basic Reading Inventory materials for all teachers of the visually impaired in the state.  Additional materials are always available on loan from the BESB professional resource library.  Reporting on reading rates is required on the Annual Education Report submitted for each child who is age 7 and over, who has been identified as a reader by their Teacher of the Visually Impaired.  The Education Supervisor provides follow up training as requested.

·        BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in school year 2006, and was achieved for school year 2007. The first parent education event for the 2008 school year was held on Saturday, November 3rd.  The topic of the event was the Expanded Core Curriculum.  A speaker from Texas School for the Blind presented to 29 family members.  In addition to the featured speaker, representatives from a number of summer programs were available to explain their programs and answer questions.  Program representatives from New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire were in attendance, as well as BESB staff who presented on summer programs organized by the agency.  Jo-Ellen Wickwire, from the Department of Developmental Services, along with BESB staff, addressed the needs of children with multiple disabilities. 

Planning is under way for a spring event.  This benchmark is in progress, and is expected to be achieved by June, 2008. 

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·        Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Rehabilitation Teachers, Rehabilitation Technologists, and Education Project Coordinator will participate in at least 2 trainings on assistive technology each year.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006 and achieved for federal fiscal year 2007.  A total of 15 staff in the applicable job titles noted in the benchmark participated in 2 trainings on assistive technology during the reporting period. For fiscal year 2008, three staff have participated in one training to date. 

·        Seek approval to establish 1 new rehab teacher position that specializes in assistive technology training in speech, large print and Braille devices.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved. A new Rehabilitation Teacher specializing in assistive technology training in speech, large print and Braille devices began working at BESB on October 12th, 2007.

·        Implement a formalized mentoring program that includes a training seminar on “how to be a Mentor.”  One activity for the mentors planned each year, beginning in 2006.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006, and achieved for federal fiscal year 2007. On National Disability Mentor Day, October 18, 2006, an event was held at a Business Enterprise site in Bridgeport to recognize the contributions made to the agency summer career exposure/mentor program by one of the BEP Operators. Additionally, the Education Projects Coordinator held a training on “How to be a Mentor” for the new mentors in June, 2007. All mentors now receive a training manual on how to be a mentor.  For the new reporting period, the Education Projects Coordinator held three different activities during the month of October in recognition of National Disability Mentoring Day on October 17th,  and National Disability Employment Month. Each event involved students presenting employer mentors with certificates of appreciation.

·        BESB will achieve 100 competitive (non-homemaker) status 26 closures for FY 2006, increasing to 107 for FY 2007, and 112 for FY 2008.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2006, with 101 competitive employment outcomes occurring, and achieved for fiscal year 2007, with 107 competitive employment outcomes occurring. For fiscal year 2008, there are 11 competitive employment outcomes so far.

 

 
********************************************************************************

BESB Benchmark Update Report

September, 2007

Adult Services:

·        Increase the number of Eye Opener conferences from 1 (one) in calendar year 2004 to 3 (three) in 2005. 

Update:   This benchmark was achieved. For calendar year 2005, conferences were conducted in East Hartford, North Haven and Mystic. The agency chose to continue this benchmark, and achieved it in calendar year 2006  (Bridgeport, Southbury, Litchfield). This benchmark is in progress for calendar year 2007, with two conferences conducted to date (Windsor, Norwich) and one more in the planning stages.

·        Register 100 consumers for NFB News Line in 2005.

Update: This benchmark was achieved, with 145 new registrants in 2005. The agency has continued to promote the NFB News Line service. To date, there are 946 subscribers to the service in Connecticut.

·        By January, 2006, deliver Independent Living Support Group Training Programs in a minimum of 10 towns around the state, 3 of which must be in towns where the service has not been previously provided.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for the reporting period, with 10 Independent Living Support Groups held, and 7 of those groups in new towns (Waterbury, Bloomfield, New Haven (new), Milford (new), Manchester, Danbury (new), Waterford (new), Newington (new), Portland (new), and Glastonbury (new). The agency continued this benchmark into 2006, and again achieved it, with Independent Living Support Groups being held in 11 towns, of which 6 were in new locations (Wethersfield (new), Stamford, Guilford (new), Bridgeport (new), East Haven (new), Bloomfield, Willimantic (new), Groton (new), Glastonbury, Portland, Newington). In 2007, the agency has again renewed this benchmark, which is in progress.  To date, Independent Living Support Groups have been held in 7 locations (Trumbull (new), Tolland (new), West Hartford, West Haven, Wallingford, New Milford (new), and Fairfield). Additional groups are scheduled for the year.

·        Authorization for low vision aids and devices to be issued by BESB within two weeks of receipt of evaluation report from doctor.  

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from October through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from the receipt of the request for low vision devices, to the time of authorization issuance at 9.88 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 11.43 calendar days. For the time period from March through May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 12.89 calendar days. For this new reporting period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with an average time span of 9.71 calendar days.

·        Maximum time frame from new referral to completed intake for services not to exceed one month. 

Update: As summarized in prior benchmark reports, for the time period from September through November, 2006, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29 calendar days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time at 28.34 days. For the time period between March and May, 2007, this benchmark was achieved, with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 26.52 days. For the new time period from June through August, 2007, this benchmark was achieved with the average time from new referral to completed intake at 29.36 calendar days.

·        BESB will develop a Policy Manual for Adult/Independent Living Services and post it on their web page by September, 2006. 

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in September, 2006. The policy manual for Adult Services has been available on the BESB website since that time.

·        The agency will commit adequate funding to carry out a media campaign for the purpose of informing doctors and the public about registering and receiving services from BESB.

Update: This benchmark was achieved.  BESB co-sponsored the “Able-Lives” television program on Connecticut Public Television. Every episode featured a commercial on BESB services, including a statement in the commercial on the reporting requirement for doctors to refer individuals determined to be blind to BESB.  In addition, a mass mailing to eye doctors within Connecticut was completed, with posters and information on the statutory reporting requirements provided.

Business Enterprises:

·        BESB will continually comply with LPRIC report on Vending operations.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved.  BESB has been using Business Enterprise Program funds for the direct purpose of developing and supporting vending facilities and operators. The agency does not use these funds for activities outside of the scope of the program. The agency has provided detailed information regarding the program in the annual report that was distributed to the Governor, and to the new agency board.  This information is also posted on the BESB website. An automated vending machine accounting system is in place, and is audited monthly by BESB staff. The annual audit by an independent auditing firm is again being conducted to confirm the accuracy of the monthly deposit data.  Written waivers are issued for any location that BESB chooses to decline. Additionally, the agency has worked with the Attorney General’s Office to finalize a template that is now in use as a permit/agreement for all new vending facilities.  Staff from Coca Cola and BESB affix identification stickers onto vending machines operated through the Business Enterprise Program. There are now 1,789 vending machines that support the Business Enterprise Program.

·        Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For Fiscal Year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.

Update: This benchmark was achieved.  For the Business Enterprises Program, in fiscal year 2007, the total gross program income from all sources was $2,334,652.  In total, $883,373 of the overall program income in 2007 was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. This represents 38% of the program income for the year. A detailed analysis of these categorical expenditures is included within this report.

·        A minimum of 8 legally blind people will be trained and placed in economically viable, full-time positions working in new or existing BEP locations, from April, 2004 through January 2006. These placements must be with people new to the BEP program, and do not include transfers. A minimum of 5 new placements of blind people into the Business Enterprise Program must follow annually through 2008.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for the time period between April, 2004 and January, 2006, with 12 new operators being placed. The benchmark was also achieved for calendar year 2006 with five new placements for the year.  Thus far in calendar year 2007, 5 new operators have already been placed, achieving the benchmark for this year as well. As of August, 2007 there are 49 vending facilities.

·        Establish a business plan review committee in conjunction with the BEP Operators Committee.

Update: This benchmark has been achieved. The committee is in place. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors reviews all potential locations prior to the agency accepting an opportunity. In addition, all seven members of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors have been approved by the State Rehabilitation Council to serve on the Business Advisory Committee for the agency Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

·        Prepare and make available detailed financial information on the uses of BEP resources to BESB consumers and the public.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2005, 2006, and 2007. The financial information for fiscal year 2007 has been posted on the agency web site and distributed to the agency board, State Rehabilitation Council, Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors, Agency Consumer Advisory Committee, Co-chairs of the Human Services Committee, and organizations of and for the blind in Connecticut. The report for fiscal year 2007, as distributed:

  

BESB Business Enterprises Program Budget Summary,  FY 2007

For the Business Enterprises Program, in fiscal year 2007, the total gross program income from all sources was $2,334,652. Of that amount, the gross Coca-Cola income was $1,431,912. Carry over funding from the prior fiscal year was $2,221,987, making $4,556,639 available during FY 07. Total expenses in the Program for FY 07 were $2,187,311. The fiscal year end balance was $2,369,328.  This reflects an overall increase of $147,341 from the prior fiscal year.

Major expenses in FY 07 were as follows:

1. Program Trainers and Administrative/Support Staff: $1,091,598

2. Purchases for existing locations: $209,299 *

3. Purchases and build outs for new locations: $6,724 *

4. Client placements from BESB Industries: $23,871

5. Commissions and permits for BEP Operators: $213,664*

6. Maintenance services for BEP locations: $156,576*

7. Initial Inventory and Stock for BEP Operators: $36,029*

8. Health Insurance for BEP Operators: $237,262*

9. Shared commissions with agencies/colleges: $62,710

10. Training stipends for BEP trainees:  $44,379

11. Temporary facility coverage services: $60,372

12. Utility Costs for BEP locations: $19,289*

13. Storage Rentals for BEP locations: $4,530*

14. Miscellaneous Expenses: $21,007

In total, $883,373 (*cumulative total of categories with asterisks in the above analysis), or 38 % of the overall program income in 2007 (62% of the Coca-Cola revenues) was spent on Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program.

 Children’s Services:

·        Given average point value for an education consultant caseload of 47 in 2004, will reduce average point value of caseloads by at least 10% a year until achieving/maintaining 25 points.

Update: For fiscal year 2005, the target was 42 points. A caseload point average of 39.5 was reached. The benchmark for that year was achieved. For fiscal year 2006, the target was 38 points. A caseload point average of 36.5 was reached. The benchmark for fiscal year 2006 was achieved. For fiscal year 2007, the target was 34 points.  With the addition of new teacher hires, the average caseload points dropped to 32.3, achieving the benchmark in 2007. For fiscal year 2008, the target is 30.6 points. This benchmark is in progress for this fiscal year, with ongoing recruitment occurring.

·        Within statutory authority, develop incentive programs to facilitate paraprofessional participation in Braille training classes sponsored by BESB.

Update:  This benchmark has been achieved.  The agency now offers mileage reimbursement to paraprofessionals who attend the classes, provides salary reimbursement to paraprofessionals who must attend class on their own time, as well as reimbursement to school districts for costs incurred when substitute paraprofessionals are needed.  All school districts were notified in writing of the change in the Children’s Services Policy Manual.  Individual letters were also sent to target districts that have underutilized the classes in the past. Currently, 25 para-professionals are registered for training at 4 sites (Trumbull, Windsor, Cheshire, and Norwich).  This is the highest registration since the program started.  A fourth training site was added to accommodate the increase.  Five paraprofessionals are from districts that have been underrepresented in the past.

·        Pursue statutory language changes to increase the access of children who are blind or visually impaired to mobility instruction, rehabilitation teaching and rehabilitation technology through the “Educational Aid for the Blind and Visually Handicapped Account.”

Update:  This benchmark was achieved with the passage of Public Act 05-156 in 2005.  The agency subsequently received approval to establish three Orientation and Mobility instructor positions and five Rehabilitation Teacher positions (two of which would be dedicated to adaptive technology).  After national recruitment efforts, the Children's Services Division has filled all three Orientation and Mobility instructor positions.  A Rehabilitation Teacher specializing in adaptive technology began work on February 16, 2007.  Recruitment continues for the 4 additional rehabilitation teachers.  Despite national recruitment, the applicant pool remains extremely limited for this area of specialty.

·        Provide a standardized reading rate assessment tool for all school districts to utilize for documentation of annual student progress as part of the school district request for funding disbursements annually.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  BESB purchases the Jerry Johns Basic Reading Inventory materials for all teachers of the visually impaired in the state.  Additional materials are always available on loan from the BESB professional resource library.  Reporting on reading rates is required on the Annual Education Report submitted for each child who is age 7 and over, who has been identified as a reader by their Teacher of the Visually Impaired.  The Education Supervisor provides follow up training as requested.

·        BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved in school year 2006, and was achieved for school year 2007. A Career Day event was held on December 2, 2006.  BESB Vocational Rehabilitation staff presented, along with staff from the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, Department of Labor, Department of Mental Retardation, Department of Education, Yale University and Manchester Community College.  Parents received information to assist with planning for their child’s future after high school.  Issues covered were benefits, training and job opportunities, support services leading to work, financial planning, and preparing for college.  Twenty-four families attended the event.  The second parent education event of the school year, “Parents as Partners” Conference, was held on May 12, 2007.  Robbie Blaha from Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Veronika Bernstein from Perkins School for the Blind, were the featured speakers.  There were 26 parents and guardians in attendance at that event.  The first parent education event for school year 2008 is scheduled for Saturday, November 3rd.  The topic is the Expanded Core Curriculum.  A speaker from Texas School for the Blind will be presenting.

Vocational Rehabilitation:

·        Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Rehabilitation Teachers, Rehabilitation Technologists, and Education Project Coordinator will participate in at least 2 trainings on assistive technology each year.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006 and is in progress for federal fiscal year 2007. In fiscal year 2006, all 17 program staff reflected within the benchmark job title categories, participated in at least two trainings on assistive technology.  The staff filled out a form or sent an email verifying attendance and a brief description of the training. A list of the 13 training programs that staff attended was provided with the June, 2006 benchmark update report provided to the prior agency board. For federal fiscal year 2007, that ends on September 30, 2007, to date, 14 of the 16 applicable staff within the benchmark job title categories have completed this goal. The remaining two staff will achieve this training goal by the completion of the fiscal year.

·        Seek approval to establish 1 new rehab teacher position that specializes in assistive technology training in speech, large print and Braille devices.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  A candidate has been hired and will be starting on October 12, 2007.

·        Implement a formalized mentoring program that includes a training seminar on “How to be a Mentor.”  One activity for the mentors planned each year, beginning in 2006.

Update: This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006, and achieved for federal fiscal year 2007. On National Disability Mentor Day, October 18, 2006, an event was held at a Business Enterprise site in Bridgeport to recognize the contributions made to the agency summer career exposure/mentor program by one of the BEP Operators. Additionally, the Education Projects Coordinator held a training on “How to be a Mentor” for the new mentors in June, 2007. All mentors now receive a training manual on how to be a mentor.

·        BESB will achieve 100 competitive (non-homemaker) status 26 closures for FY 2006, increasing to 107 for FY 2007, and 112 for FY 2008.

Update:  This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2006, with 101 competitive employment outcomes occurring. For fiscal year 2007, this benchmark is in progress. As of early September, there were 94 non-homemaker employment outcomes achieved. The fiscal year ends on September 30, 2007.

********************************************************************************
 
BESB Benchmark Update Report for June, 2007
Adult Services:
 
*Increase the number of Eye Opener conferences from 1 (one) in calendar year 2004 to 3 (three) in 2005. 
 
Update: As detailed in the December, 2006 update report to the former agency board, this benchmark was achieved. The agency chose to carry forward this goal into calendar year 2006, conducting additional Eye Opener conferences in Bridgeport on October 3rd, Southbury on November 21st,  and Litchfield on December 6th.  In 2007, one conference was held on June 15th in Windsor. Another Eye Openers conference will be held on June 28th in Norwich, and a third is in the planning stages.  
 
*Register 100 consumers for News Line in 2005.
 
Update:  This benchmark was achieved. There were 145 newly registered users in 2005.  BESB continues to promote this service to consumers. There are presently 934 registered NFB Newsline participants in Connecticut.
 
*By January, 2006, deliver Independent Living Support Group Training Programs in a minimum of 10 towns around the state, 3 of which must be in towns where the service has not been previously provided.
 
Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  As reported in the December, 2006 update to the prior board, a total of 10 groups were run, with 7 in new towns within the benchmark time period.  Beyond the benchmark, in calendar year 2006, Independent Living Support Groups were held in 11 towns, with 6 of those in new locations (Groton, Willimantic, East Haven, Bridgeport, Guilford, and Wethersfield).  For calendar 2007, groups to date have been held in West Hartford, West Haven, Wallingford, Trumbull (new), and Tolland (new).  Additional groups are in the planning stages for New Milford (new), Fairfield and Torrington.    
 
*Authorization for low vision aids and devices to be issued by BESB within two weeks of receipt of evaluation report from doctor.  
 
Update: This benchmark continues to be achieved.  For this three-month reporting period from March through May, the average time from receipt of report to issuance of the authorization was 12.89 calendar days.
 
*Maximum time frame from new referral to completed intake for services not to exceed one month. 
 
Update: This benchmark continues to be achieved.  For the three- month reporting period covered since the prior benchmark report, the average time for a new referral to enter completed intake status was 26.52 days. 
 
*BESB will develop a Policy Manual for Adult/Independent Living Services and post it on their web page by September, 2006. 
 
Update:  This benchmark has been achieved. After conducting public hearings, the former agency board approved the implementation of a new policy manual at the September, 2006 board meeting.  Subsequent to approval, the manual was posted on the agency web site and also distributed to organizations of and for the blind in Connecticut.
 
*The agency will commit adequate funding to carry out a media campaign for the purpose of informing doctors and the public about registering and receiving services from BESB. 
 
Update:  This benchmark has been achieved.  BESB co-sponsored  the “Able-Lives” television program on Connecticut Public Television. Every episode featured a commercial on BESB services, including a statement in the commercial on the reporting requirement for doctors to refer individuals determined to be blind to BESB.  In addition, a mass mailing to eye doctors within Connecticut was completed, with posters and information on the statutory reporting requirements provided.
 

Business Enterprises:
 
*BESB will continually comply with LPRIC report on Vending operations.
 
Update: This benchmark has been achieved.  BESB has been using BEP funds primarily for the direct purpose of developing and supporting vending facilities, and is no longer using these funds for independent living services (although the statutory authority exists). The agency has provided detailed information regarding the program in the annual report that was distributed to the Governor, the prior agency board, and to the Co-Chairs of the Human Services Committee.  Information is also posted on the BESB website. An automated vending machine accounting system is now in place and is audited monthly by BESB staff. The annual audit by an independent auditing firm is again being conducted to confirm the accuracy of the monthly deposit data.  Written waivers are issued for any location that BESB chooses to decline. Additionally, the agency has worked with the Attorney General’s Office to finalize a template that is now in use as a permit/agreement for all new vending facilities.  New vending machine stickers have been printed and both Coca-Cola and BESB staff continue to affix these stickers on vending machines.
 
*Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For Fiscal Year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.
 
Update: This benchmark began in July, 2006 and is currently in progress. For the first eleven months of fiscal year 2007, the Business Enterprise Program has expended $799,850 in the applicable categories noted in the benchmark.  Based on a 12 month pro-ration, the expected expenditure for the entire fiscal year will reach $872,500. Based upon a year-to-date review of vending machine commissions, projected program income is $2,218,492 for fiscal year 2007.  Utilizing this projection, the program would expend approximately 39% of income in total for the identified categories, anticipating achievement of the benchmark.
 
*A minimum of 8 legally blind people will be trained and placed in economically viable, full-time positions working in new or existing BEP locations, from April, 2004 through January 2006. These placements must be with people new to the BEP program, and do not include transfers. A minimum of 5 new placements of blind people into the Business Enterprise Program must follow annually through 2008.
 
Update: This objective was achieved for the time period between April, 2004 and January, 2006, with 12 new operators being placed and was achieved for calendar year 2006 with five new placements for the year.  Thus far in calendar year 2007, 4 new operators have been placed. There are 3 additional candidates in training. As of June 2007 there are 47 facilities.
 
*Establish a business plan review committee in conjunction with the BEP Operators Committee.
 
Update: This objective has been achieved. The committee is in place. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors reviews all potential locations prior to the agency accepting an opportunity. In addition, all seven members of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors have been approved by the State Rehabilitation Council to serve on the Business Advisory Committee for the agency Vocational Rehabilitation Program.
 
*Prepare and make available detailed financial information on the uses of BEP resources to BESB consumers and the public.
 
Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2005, and achieved for fiscal year 2006. Documentation of expenditures in fiscal year 2006 have been placed on the BESB web site and notification of this posting was distributed to organizations of and for the blind in Connecticut. The fiscal year end report was also included in the December 2006 benchmark report. Once completed, financial data for fiscal year 2007 will also be distributed and placed on the agency website.
 
Children’s Services:
 
*Given average point value for an education consultant caseload of 47 in 2004, will reduce average point value of caseloads by at least 10% a year until achieving/maintaining 25 points.
 
Update:  For fiscal year 2005, the target was 42 points. A caseload point average of 39.5 was reached. The benchmark for that year was achieved. For fiscal year 2006, the target was 38 points. A caseload point average of 36.5 was reached. The benchmark for fiscal year 2006 was achieved. For fiscal year 2007, the target was 34 points. The agency conducted a national recruitment during the spring of 2006 and has added six new teachers of the visually impaired, all of whom started work on September 1st.  With the addition of these new teachers, the average caseload points dropped to 32.3, achieving the benchmark in 2007.  Recruitment is now underway to add new teachers for the 2007-2008 school year.
 
*Within statutory authority, develop incentive programs to facilitate paraprofessional participation in Braille training classes sponsored by BESB.
 
Update: This benchmark was achieved.  The agency now offers mileage reimbursement to paraprofessionals who attend the classes, provides salary reimbursement to paraprofessionals who must attend class on their own time, as well as reimbursement to school districts for cost incurred when substitute paraprofessionals are needed.  All school districts were notified in writing of the change in the Children’s Services Policy Manual.  Individual letters were also sent to target large school districts who have underutilized the classes in the past.  The agency did receive a response to our letter from one large school district and their first paraprofessional began attending classes in February.  Six additional paraprofessionals have been registered for 07-08.  BESB currently runs classes in Trumbull, Windsor, and Old Saybrook.  Current class enrollments are 6 paraprofessionals in the Trumbull location, 9 in Windsor and 4 in Old Saybrook.
 
*Pursue statutory language changes to increase the access of children who are blind or visually impaired to mobility instruction, rehabilitation teaching and rehabilitation technology through the “Educational Aid for the Blind and Visually Handicapped Account”
 
Update: This benchmark was achieved with the passage of Public Act 05-156.  The agency subsequently received approval to establish three new Orientation and Mobility Instructor positions and five Rehabilitation Teacher positions (two of which would be dedicated to adaptive technology).   After national recruitment efforts, Children's Services currently has three Orientation and Mobility Instructors dedicated to working with children full time, year round.  A Rehabilitation Teacher specializing in adaptive technology began work at BESB in February.  Recruitment continues for the 4 additional Rehabilitation Teacher vacancies.  Despite national recruitment, the applicant pool remains extremely limited for this area of specialty. 
 
*Provide a standardized reading rate assessment tool for all school districts to utilize for documentation of annual student progress as part of the school district request for funding disbursements annually.
 
Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  BESB purchases the Jerry Johns Basic Reading Inventory materials for all teachers of the visually impaired in the state.  Additional materials are available on loan from the BESB professional resource library.   Reporting on reading rates is required on the Annual Education Report submitted for each child who is age 7 and over, who has been identified as a reader by their Teacher of the Visually Impaired.  The Education Supervisor provides follow up training as requested by specific teachers.
 
*BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.
 
Update:  This benchmark was achieved in school year  2006 and is achieved for school year 2007. A Career Day event was held on December 2, 2006.  BESB Vocational Rehabilitation staff were presenters, along with staff from the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, Department of Labor, Department of Mental Retardation, Department of Education, Yale University and Manchester Community College.  Parents received information to assist with planning for their child’s future after high school.  Issues covered were benefits, training and job opportunities, support services leading to work, financial planning, and preparing for college.  Twenty-four families attended the event.  The second parent education event of the school year, “Parents as Partners” Conference, was held on May 12, 2007.  Robbie Blaha from Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Veronika Bernstein from Perkins School for the Blind, were the featured speakers.  26 parents and guardians attended the event.
 

Vocational Rehabilitation:
 
*Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Rehabilitation Teachers, Rehabilitation Technologists, and Education Project Coordinator will participate in at least 2 trainings on assistive technology each year.
 
Update: This benchmark was achieved in federal fiscal year 2006 and is in progress for fiscal year 2007.  To date, six Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, one Rehabilitation Technologist, one Rehabilitation Teacher and the Education Projects Coordinator have achieved this benchmark by participating in two adaptive technology trainings.  Five Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and one Rehabilitation Teacher have each participated in one adaptive technology training to date.
 
*Seek approval to establish 1 new rehab teacher position that specializes in assistive technology training in speech, large print and Braille devices.
 
Update: This benchmark has been partially achieved to date. The agency did obtain approval to establish a rehabilitation teacher position as specified within the benchmark. However, despite ongoing national recruitment efforts, there has not been a candidate pool sufficient to result in a hiring decision. Recruitment efforts are continuing.
 
*Implement a formalized mentoring program that includes a training seminar on “how to be a Mentor.”  One activity for the mentors planned each year, beginning in 2006.
 
Update: This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006 and is in progress for fiscal year 2007.  Three additional individuals are interested in becoming a Mentor. The Education Project Coordinator is planning a training for the new Mentors within the next month. This training will include providing each candidate with a Handbook and guidance on the mentor program at BESB.
 
*BESB will achieve 100 competitive (non-homemaker) status 26 closures for FY 2006, increasing to 107 for FY 2007, and 112 for FY 2008.
 
Update: This benchmark was achieved for federal fiscal year 2006 and is in progress for fiscal year 2007. To date, there are 61 competitive (non-homemaker) employment outcomes in the current fiscal year the ends on September 30th.
 
****************************************************************************************
BESB Benchmark Update Report for March, 2007
Adult Services:
 
· Increase the number of Eye Opener conferences from 1 (one) in calendar year 2004 to 3 (three) in 2005. 
 
Update:  As detailed in the December, 2006 update report to the former agency board, this benchmark was achieved.  The agency carried forward this goal in calendar year 2006, conducting additional Eye Opener conferences in Bridgeport on October 3rd, Southbury on November 21st, and Litchfield on December 6th.  In FY 2007 two conferences are under development in the North Central and Eastern Regions.  
 
· Register 100 consumers for NFB Newsline in 2005.
 
Update:  This benchmark was achieved. There were 145 newly registered users in 2005.  BESB continues to promote this service to consumers. There are presently 918 registered NFB Newsline participants in Connecticut.
 
· By January, 2006, deliver Independent Living Support Group Training Programs in a minimum of 10 towns around the state, 3 of which must be in towns where the service has not been previously provided.
 
Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  As reported in the December, 2006 update to the prior board, a total of 10 support groups were run, with 7 in new towns within the benchmark time period.  Beyond the benchmark, in calendar year 2006, Independent Living Support Groups have been held in 11 towns, with 6 of those in new locations (Groton, Willimantic, East Haven, Bridgeport, Guilford, and Wethersfield).  A total of 8 support groups are developing for 2007, with two in new towns (Tolland and Trumbull) and others in Fairfield, Thompson, Torrington, Wallingford, West Hartford (Elmwood section), and Waterbury.  
 
· Authorization for low vision aids and devices to be issued by BESB within two weeks of receipt of evaluation report from doctor.  
 
Update:  As noted in the December, 2006 benchmark update, for the time period from October 1st through November 30, 2006, the turn around time from receipt of a request for low vision devices to the time of authorization issuance was 9.88 days, achieving the benchmark for that time period.  For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, the average processing time was 11.43 days, achieving the benchmark for this reporting period as well.
 
· Maximum time frame from new referral to completed intake for services not to exceed one month. 
 
Update: This benchmark continues to be achieved. Past benchmark reports have noted that for the time period of July and August, 2006, the average time from referral to completed intake was 21 days.  For the time period from September through November, 2006, the average number of days for new referral to have a completed intake was 29 days. For the time period from December, 2006 through February, 2007, the average time for a new referral to have a completed intake was 28.34 days.
 
· BESB will develop a Policy Manual for Adult/Independent Living Services and post it on their web page by September, 2006. 
 
Update:  This benchmark has been achieved. After conducting public hearings, the agency board approved the implementation of a new policy manual at the September board meeting.  Subsequent to approval from the prior board, the manual was posted on the agency web site and also distributed to organizations of and for the blind in Connecticut.
 
· The agency will commit adequate funding to carry out a media campaign for the purpose of informing doctors and the public about registering and receiving services from BESB. 
 
Update:  This benchmark has been achieved.  BESB co-sponsored the “Able-Lives” television program on Connecticut Public Television.  Every episode featured a commercial on BESB services, including a statement in the commercial on the reporting requirement for doctors to refer individuals determined to be blind to BESB.  In addition, as noted in the December, 2006 update report to the prior agency board, a mass mailing to eye doctors within Connecticut was completed, with posters and information on the statutory reporting requirements provided.
 

Business Enterprises:
 
· BESB will continually comply with LPRIC report on Vending operations.
 
Update:  This benchmark has been achieved.  BESB has been using BEP funds primarily for the direct purpose of developing and supporting vending facilities, and is no longer using these funds for independent living services (although the statutory authority exists).  The agency has provided detailed information regarding the program in the annual report that was distributed to the Governor, the prior agency board, and to the Co-Chairs of the Human Services Committee.  An automated vending machine accounting system is now in place and is audited monthly by BESB staff.  An annual audit by an independent auditing firm has also been conducted to confirm the accuracy of the monthly deposit data.  Written waivers are issued for any location that BESB chooses to decline.  Additionally, the agency has worked with the Attorney General’s Office to finalize a template that is now in use as a permit/agreement for all new vending facilities.  New vending machine stickers have been printed and both Coca-Cola and BESB staff continue to affix these stickers on vending machines. 
 
· Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program.  For Fiscal Year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.
 
Update: This benchmark began in July, 2006 and is currently in progress.  For the first eight months of fiscal year 2007, the Business Enterprise Program has expended $652,392 in the applicable categories noted in the benchmark.  Based on a 12 month pro-ration, the expected expenditure for the entire fiscal year will reach $978,588.  Based upon a year-to-date review of vending machine commissions, projected program income is $2,372,780 for fiscal year 2007.  Utilizing this projection, the program would expend approximately 41% of income in total for the identified categories, anticipating achievement of the benchmark.
 
· A minimum of 8 legally blind people will be trained and placed in economically viable, full-time positions working in new or existing BEP locations, from April, 2004 through January 2006.  These placements must be with people new to the BEP program, and do not include transfers. A minimum of 5 new placements of blind people into the Business Enterprise Program must follow annually through 2008.
 
Update: This objective was achieved for the time period between April, 2004 and January, 2006, with 12 new operators being placed and was achieved for calendar year 2006 with five new placements for the year.  Thus far in calendar year 2007, 3 new operators have been placed. There are 3 additional candidates in training. As of March, 2007 there are 46 facilities.
 
· Establish a Business Plan Review Committee in conjunction with the BEP Operators Committee.
 
Update:  This objective has been achieved.  The committee is in place. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors reviews all potential locations prior to the agency accepting an opportunity. In addition, two members of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors also serve on the Business Advisory Committee for the agency Vocational Rehabilitation Program.
 
· Prepare and make available detailed financial information on the uses of BEP resources to BESB consumers and the public.
 
Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2005, and achieved for fiscal year 2006.  Documentation of expenditures in fiscal year 2006 has been placed on the BESB web site and notification of this posting was distributed to organizations of and for the blind in Connecticut.  The fiscal year end report was also included in the December, 2006 benchmark report.
 

Children’s Services:
 
· Given average point value for an education consultant caseload of 47 in 2004, will reduce average point value of caseloads by at least 10% a year until achieving/maintaining 25 points.
 
Update:
-2005 benchmark: 42 points
achieved: 39.5 points
 
-2006 benchmark: 38 points
achieved:  36.5 points
 
-2007 benchmark: 34 points
achieved:  32.3 points
 
There are currently 33 education consultants at BESB.  Six of these teachers are new hires that started on September 1, 2006.  Recruitment is now underway to add new teachers for the 2008 school year.
 
· Within statutory authority, develop incentive programs to facilitate paraprofessional participation in Braille training classes sponsored by BESB.
 
Update:  This benchmark has been achieved.  The agency now offers mileage reimbursement to paraprofessionals who attend the class, provides salary reimbursement to paraprofessionals who must attend class on their own time, as well as reimbursement to school districts for costs incurred when substitute paraprofessionals are needed.  All school districts were notified in writing of the change in the Children’s Services Policy Manual. 

Individual letters were also sent to target districts that have underutilized the classes in the past.  Subsequent to this mailing, a previously unrepresented city did permit the first enrollment of a paraprofessional from that city to attend Braille training classes that began in February.
 
Current class enrollments: 
Trumbull—6 paraprofessionals
Windsor—9 paraprofessionals
Old Saybrook—4 paraprofessionals
 
· Pursue statutory language changes to increase the access of children who are blind or visually impaired to mobility instruction, rehabilitation teaching and rehabilitation technology through the “Educational Aid for the Blind and Visually Handicapped Account”
 
Update:  This benchmark was achieved with passage of Public Act 05-156 on October 1, 2005.  The agency subsequently received approval to establish three Orientation and Mobility instructor positions and five Rehabilitation Teacher positions (two of which would be dedicated to adaptive technology).  After national recruitment efforts, Children's Services currently has two Orientation and Mobility instructors on staff, who is dedicated to working exclusively with children.  A third instructor, recruited from Ohio, will begin work on April 13th.  A Rehabilitation Teacher specializing in adaptive technology began work on February 16, 2007.  Recruitment continues for the 4 additional rehabilitation teachers.  Despite national recruitment, the applicant pool remains extremely limited for this area of specialty. 
 
· Provide a standardized reading rate assessment tool for all school districts to utilize for documentation of annual student progress as part of the school district request for funding disbursements annually.
 
Update:  This benchmark is achieved.  BESB purchases the Jerry Johns Basic Reading Inventory materials for all teachers of the visually impaired in the state.  Additional materials are always available on loan from the BESB professional resource library.  Reporting on reading rates is required on the Annual Education Report submitted for each child who is age 7 and over, who has been identified as a reader by their Teacher of the Visually Impaired.  The Education Supervisor provides follow up training as requested by specific teachers.
 
· BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.
 
Update:  This benchmark was fully achieved for school year 2005-6 and to date, partially achieved for school year 2006-7.  It is currently in progress. The first parent education event of school year 2006-7 was a Career Day event, held on December 2, 2006.  In addition to presenters from the Children’s Services Division, BESB Vocational Rehabilitation staff presented, along with staff from the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, Department of Labor, Department of Mental Retardation, Department of Education, Yale University, and Manchester Community College.  Parents received information to assist with planning for their child’s future after high school.  Issues covered were benefits, training and job opportunities, support services leading to work, financial planning, and preparing for college.  Twenty-four families attended the event. 
 
The second parent education event, the annual Parents as Partners Conference, is scheduled for March 17, 2007.  Robbie Blaha from Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is the featured speaker.  There will also be representatives from a number of programs whose goals address the expanded core curriculum—Carroll Center, Perkins Outreach, Adirondack Experience, Camp Inter-Actions, as well as BESB sponsored summer programs focused on employment exposure and independent living.  Currently, approximately 40 family members have registered for the Parents as Partners Conference.
 

Vocational Rehabilitation:
 
· Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Rehabilitation Teachers, Rehabilitation Technologists, and Education Project Coordinator will participate in at least 2 trainings on assistive technology each year.
 
Update: For federal fiscal year 2007 that began on October 1st, to date, two Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors have achieved this benchmark and participated in two adaptive technology trainings. 
 
Four Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, 1 Rehabilitation Technologist, 1 Education Projects Coordinator and 1 Rehabilitation Teacher have each participated in one adaptive technology training.
 
Six Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and 1 Rehabilitation Teacher participated in an In-service training focusing on how to Use the Microsoft Outlook Software with JAWS, presented by a Rehabilitation Technologist.  A training on the new features available in JAWS was also presented by a Rehabilitation Technologist at Housatonic Community College, with one Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor participating in this event.
 
An In-service training on the Goodfeel Application, a software program that converts music into Braille was held at the agency and presented by Dancing Dots, the manufacturer of the Application.  Two Rehabilitation Technologists and one Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor participated in this training.
 
An In-service training on how to use PowerPoint with the screen readers Windoweyes and JAWS was also conducted by a Rehabilitation Technologist, with one Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and the Education Project Coordinator participating.
 
The National Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference in Orlando, Florida was attended by one Rehabilitation Technologist.
 
· Seek approval to establish 1 new rehab teacher position that specializes in assistive technology training in speech, large print, and Braille devices.
 
Update:  This benchmark has been partially achieved in that the agency was successful in obtaining approval to establish a new Rehabilitation Teacher position within the program.  Recruitment efforts commenced subsequent to obtaining approval for the position.  However, the benchmark remains in progress, as the position has not been filled.  This position continues to be advertised nationally in an effort to find a suitable candidate.
 
· Implement a formalized mentoring program that includes a training seminar on “How to be a Mentor.”  One activity for the mentors planned each year, beginning in 2006.
 
Update:  This benchmark was achieved for calendar year 2006 and is in progress for 2007.  All mentors in 2006 participated in a formal training program last May.  A “How to be a Mentor” handbook was developed and provided to all of the mentors.  Security background checks are now part of the mentor registration process. The total number of mentors is twelve. Events for 2007 are being developed.
 
· BESB will achieve 100 competitive (non-homemaker) status 26 closures for FY 2006, increasing to 107 for FY 2007, and 112 for FY 2008.
 
Update:  This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2006 with 101 competitive outcomes achieved.  For fiscal year 2007, beginning October 1, this benchmark is in progress.  There are 42 competitive employment outcomes already in place as of March, 2007.

 
************************************************************************************
 
December, 2006 Update
 

Adult Services:
 
· Increase the number of Eye Opener conferences from 1 (one) in calendar year 2004 to 3 (three) in 2005. 
 
Update:  As detailed in the September, 2006 update report to the agency board, this benchmark was achieved. The agency has nonetheless continued with planning for additional Eye Opener conferences.  During the fall, Eye Opener conferences were held in Bridgeport on October 3rd, Southbury on  November 21st,  and Litchfield on December 6th. This completes the additional goal established in the State Plan of Independent Living for FY 2004-2005 to sponsor at least five regional trainings for staff and volunteers of the elderly service provider network on low vision services.
 
 
· Register 100 consumers for NFB News Line in 2005.
 
Update: This benchmark was achieved. There were 145 newly registered users in 2005.  BESB continues to promote this service to consumers. There are presently 896 registered NFB Newsline participants in Connecticut.
 
· By January, 2006, deliver Independent Living Support Group Training Programs in a minimum of 10 towns around the state, 3 of which must be in towns where the service has not been previously provided.
 
Update: This benchmark was achieved. As reported in the September, 2006 update to the board, a total of 10 support groups were run, with 7 in new towns within the benchmark time period.  Beyond the benchmark, in calendar year 2006, Independent Living Support Groups have been held in 11 towns, with 6 of those in new locations (Groton, Willimantic, East Haven, Bridgeport, Guilford, and Wethersfield).
 
· Authorization for low vision aids and devices to be issued by BESB within two weeks of receipt of evaluation report from doctor.  
 
Update: Through the utilization of dedicated staffing specifically to address this benchmark, for the time period from October 1st through November 30, 2006, the turn around time from receipt of the request for low vision devices to the time of authorization issuance was 9.88 days, achieving the benchmark for this time period.  The agency does need to note that due to the backlog of prior low vision requests, that was compounded by the need to recreate requisitions for low vision devices that were not paid prior to June 30th, there has been considerable staff time dedicated to working with the doctor’s offices to confirm the status of many prior requests for low vision devices. Therefore, while the benchmark is achieved at present for new requests for devices, the agency is also focusing on resolving the status of earlier requests. Toward that end, dedicated staff at this agency and at the Department of Administrative Services, have been working closely with the low vision doctors to ensure that any outstanding service requests are reissued and that any outstanding payments are processed in a timely manner. BESB continues to use blanket purchase orders to low vision doctors to expedite the processing of requests for low vision devices.  These blanket purchase orders eliminate the need to create a separate purchase order in CORE-CT for each low vision request. The agency has also implemented new policies to utilize a credit card to purchase low vision devices from doctors for BESB clients as well. This new process went into effect in October. 
 
· Maximum time frame from new referral to completed intake for services not to exceed one month. 
 
Update: This benchmark continues to be achieved. The September, 2006 benchmark update noted that for the reporting period that began with June 30, 2005, the average time from referral to completed intake for active clients was 29 days.  For July and August, 2006, the average time from referral to completed intake was 21 days. For the time period between September and November, 2006, the average number of days from new referral to completed intake was 29 days.
 
· BESB will develop a Policy Manual for Adult/Independent Living Services and post it on their web page by September, 2006. 
 
Update:  This benchmark has been achieved. After conducting public hearings, the agency board approved the implementation of a new policy manual at the September board meeting. Subsequent to board approval, the manual was posted on the agency web site and also distributed to organizations of and for the blind in Connecticut.
 
· The agency will commit adequate funding to carry out a media campaign for the purpose of informing doctors and the public about registering and receiving services from BESB. 
 
Update:  This benchmark has been achieved. BESB is a co-sponsor of the “Able-Lives” television program on Connecticut Public Television. Every episode aired features a commercial on BESB services, including a statement in the commercial on the reporting requirement for doctors to refer individuals determined to be blind to BESB.  In addition, as noted in the September, 2006 update report to the agency board, a mass mailing to eye doctors within Connecticut was completed, with posters and information on the statutory reporting requirements provided.
 
Business Enterprises:
 
· BESB will continually comply with LPRIC report on Vending operations.
 
Update: This benchmark has been achieved. BESB has been using BEP funds primarily for the direct purpose of developing and supporting vending facilities, and is no longer using these funds for independent living services (although the statutory authority exists). The agency has provided detailed information regarding the program in the annual report that was distributed to the Governor, the agency board and to the Co-Chairs of the Human Services Committee.  The annual report noted that over the past federal fiscal year, 40 individuals who are blind participated in the program. These entrepreneurs employed an additional 69 workers within their operations, 13 percent of whom also had disabilities.  Combined gross sales for these locations exceeded $4.5 million during the reporting period, with the entrepreneurs achieving a combined total of $862,185 in net profit.  With the placement of 148 new vending machines during the year, 1,650 machines now exist at 644 locations.  Facility satisfaction with the level of service and support remains high, averaging 80 percent.
 
An automated vending machine accounting system is now in place and is audited annually by an independent firm retained by BESB to verify accuracy. Internal audit functions are also in place, and have also confirmed the accuracy of the monthly deposit data for the past fiscal year.  Written waivers are issued for any location that BESB chooses to decline. Additionally, the agency has worked with the Attorney General’s Office to finalize a template that is now in use as a permit/agreement for all new vending facilities.  New vending machine stickers have been printed and both Coca-Cola and BESB staff continue to affix these stickers on vending machines. 
 
· Starting in State Fiscal Year 2007, at least 35 percent of the program income received during the fiscal year will be applied for the direct benefit of Business Enterprise Program ventures at new and/or existing locations, for facility improvements, maintenance, expansion, and for the betterment of income and incentives to operators in the program. For Fiscal Year 2008, this amount will grow to 40 percent of program income for that year, increasing in 2010 to 45%.
 
Update: This benchmark began in July, 2006 and is currently in progress. For the first five months of fiscal year 2007, the Business Enterprise Program has expended $404,000 in the applicable categories noted in the benchmark.  Based on a 12 month pro-ration, the expected expenditure for the entire fiscal year will reach $969,800. Projected program income is $2,421,357 for fiscal year 2007 (reflecting an increase of 2% over fiscal year 2006 income). Utilizing this projection, the program would expend approximately 40% of income in total for the identified categories, achieving the benchmark. This will continue be monitored.
 

· A minimum of 8 legally blind people will be trained and placed in economically viable, full-time positions working in new or existing BEP locations, from April, 2004 through January 2006. These placements must be with people new to the BEP program, and do not include transfers. A minimum of 5 new placements of blind people into the Business Enterprise Program must follow annually through 2008.
 
Update: This objective was achieved for the time period between April, 2004 and January, 2006, with 12 new operators being placed and will be achieved for calendar year 2006 as of December 18th when the fifth new placement for the year will occur at the New London Courthouse.  There are 6 additional candidates in training. As of December, 2006 there are 45 facilities.
 
· Establish a business plan review committee in conjunction with the BEP Operators Committee.
 
Update: This objective has been achieved. The committee is in place. The Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors reviews all potential locations prior to the agency accepting an opportunity. In addition, two members of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors also serve on the Business Advisory Committee for the agency Vocational Rehabilitation Program.
 
· Prepare and make available detailed financial information on the uses of BEP resources to BESB consumers and the public.
 
Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2005, and achieved for fiscal year 2006. Documentation of expenditures in fiscal year 2006 have been placed on the BESB web site and notification of this posting was distributed to organizations of and for the blind in Connecticut. The fiscal year end report for 2006 follows:
 
FY 2006 Budget Summary Report:
 
For the Business Enterprises Program, in fiscal year 2006, the total gross program income from all sources was $ 2,373,879. Of that amount, the gross Coca-Cola income was $ 1,478,970. Carry over funding from the prior fiscal year was $ 2,621,119, making $ 4,994,998 available during FY 06. Total expenses in the Program for FY 06 were $ 2,773,011 representing a deficit of $ 399,132 in FY 06 funds. This impacted carry over funding, leaving a balance of $ 2,221,987 at the end of the fiscal year.
Major expenses in FY06 were as follows:
 
1. Salaries and fringe benefits: $ 937,425
2. Purchases for existing locations: $ 446,937. (Of this amount $ 212,410 was spent in renovations for 2 of the locations. The remainder was used to update equipment and a myriad of other items and services for all locations).
3. BESB Industries liquidation of materials: $ 0
4. Purchases and build-outs for 4 new locations: $327,894
5. BESB Industries clients [new] placements: $ 71,489
6. Commissions and permits for BEP operators: $ 210,009
7. Low vision exams, aids and adaptive devices: $0
8. Maintenance services for BEP locations: $ 180,097
9. Set up of new operators in existing locations: $46,509.
10. All other expenses: $ 552,650
 
Approximately 14 % of the total vending operations 2006 funding (gross revenue) was spent on establishing new locations, or 22 % of the 2006 Coca-Cola gross revenues. In terms of net monies, there were none, as expenditures for the program ran $399,132 greater than the $2,373,879 million brought in.
 
 
 
Children’s Services:
 

· Given average point value for an education consultant caseload of 47 in 2004, will reduce average point value of caseloads by at least 10% a year until achieving/maintaining 25 points.
 
Update:  For fiscal year 2005, the target was 42 points. A caseload point average of 39.5 was reached. The benchmark for that year was achieved. For fiscal year 2006, the target was 38 points. A caseload point average of 36.5 was reached. The benchmark for fiscal year 2006 was therefore achieved. For fiscal year 2007, the target is 34 points. The agency conducted a national recruitment during the spring of 2006 and has added six new teachers of the visually impaired, all of whom started work on September 1st. All students who had been served by CREC contractors have now been assigned to BESB Education Consultants.  With the addition of the newly hired Education Consultants, the caseload for fiscal year 2007 has dropped to 32.3 points, achieving the benchmark for this school year as well as prior years.
 
· Within statutory authority, develop incentive programs to facilitate paraprofessional participation in Braille training classes sponsored by BESB.
 
Update: This benchmark has been achieved. At the June, 2006 meeting, the Board approved the incentive program proposed by BESB.  The agency now offers mileage reimbursement to paraprofessionals who attend the class, provides salary reimbursement to paraprofessionals who must attend class on their own time, as well as reimbursement to school districts for costs incurred when substitute paraprofessionals are needed.   All School Districts were notified in writing of the change in the Children’s Services Policy Manual.   Education Consultants from Children’s Services are presently conducting classes at three 3 locations (Norwich, Trumbull and Windsor). Current enrollment is 18 paraprofessionals. There have been no requests for reimbursement to date. 
 
· Pursue statutory language changes to increase the access of children who are blind or visually impaired to mobility instruction, rehabilitation teaching and rehabilitation technology through the “Educational Aid for the Blind and Visually Handicapped Account”
 
Update:  This benchmark was achieved. Statutory change took effect October 1, 2005 with the passage of Public Act 05-156. The agency subsequently received approval to establish three Orientation and Mobility Instructor positions and five Rehabilitation Teacher positions (two of which will be dedicated to adaptive technology).  Recruitment has occurred and the agency has conducted interviews. One Orientation and Mobility Instructor for Children’s Services began in October. The interview committee has made additional recommendations for the remaining vacancies to the Human Resources Unit at the Department of Administrative Services. Unfortunately, in the categories of Rehabilitation Teaching and Technology, the agency has not yet filled vacancies, despite two national recruitments. Response to the postings has been limited. The agency is considering other options at this point for increasing the applicant pool in this category.
 
· Provide a standardized reading rate assessment tool for all school districts to utilize for documentation of annual student progress as part of the school district request for funding disbursements annually.
 
Update:  This benchmark was achieved.  A copy of the reading rate form was attached to the benchmark update provided to the agency board at the June, 2006 meeting. BESB purchases the Jerry Johns Basic Reading Inventory materials for each Teacher of the Visually Impaired in the state.  Additional materials are always available on loan from the professional resource library maintained at the agency.  Reporting on reading rates is required on the Annual Education Report submitted for each child who is age 7 and over, who has been identified as a reader by their Teacher of the Visually Impaired.  The Education Supervisor provides follow up training as requested by specific teachers.
 

· BESB will offer at least two Parent Education events per year, actively publicizing and encouraging attendance.
 
Update:  This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2006 and is in progress for fiscal year 2007. A Career Day event was held on December 2, 2006.  BESB Vocational Rehabilitation staff were presenters, along with staff from the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, Department of Labor, Department of Mental Retardation, Department of Education, Yale University and Manchester Community College.  Parents received information to assist with planning for their child’s future after high school.  Issues covered were benefits, training and job opportunities, support services leading to work, financial planning, and preparing for college.  Twenty-four families attended the event.  Planning is currently underway for the Parents as Partners Conference to be held in the spring of 2007.
 

Vocational Rehabilitation:
 

· VR counselors, Rehabilitation Teachers, Rehabilitation Technologists, and Education Project Coordinator will participate in at least 2 trainings on assistive technology each year.
 
Update: This benchmark has been achieved for fiscal year 2006 and is in progress for fiscal year 2007. All seventeen staff participated in at least two trainings on assistive technology during fiscal year 2006.  The staff filled out a form or sent an email verifying attendance and a brief description of the training. A list of the 13 training programs that staff attended was provided with the June, 2006 benchmark update report provided to the agency board. For federal fiscal year 2007 that began on October 1st, so far six Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors and 1 Rehabilitation Teacher have each participated in one adaptive technology training. This training focused on how to Use the Microsoft Outlook Software with JAWS. One of the six Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors also participated in a  training at Housatonic Community College on the new features available in JAWS.
 

· Seek approval to establish 1 new rehab teacher position that specializes in assistive technology training in speech, large print and Braille devices.
 
Update:  This benchmark is in progress. This position has been approved for recruitment, and it is anticipated that advertisements will occur in the near future.
 

· Implement a formalized mentoring program that includes a training seminar on “how to be a Mentor.”  One activity for the mentors planned each year, beginning in 2006.
 
Update: This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2006 and is in progress for fiscal year 2007.   A Mentor training took place on May 31st.  Eleven mentors participated in the training. The Education Projects Coordinator presented on the BESB process for being a mentor and reviewed the new mentor manual that was developed.  All new mentors now go through a security background check.  A number of the mentors participated in the summer youth transition school to work activities that included a residential component as well as tours of employment locations where BESB clients are working. On National Disability Mentor Day, October 18, 2006, an event was held at a Business Enterprise site in Bridgeport to recognize the contributions made to the agency summer career exposure/mentor program by one of the BEP Operators. Two of the mentees presented the mentor with a certificate of appreciation and discussed the experience they had.  Planning is underway for the next mentor training program that will occur in this fiscal year.
 
· BESB will achieve 100 competitive (non-homemaker) status 26 closures for FY 2006, increasing to 107 for FY 2007, and 112 for FY 2008.
 

 Update:  This benchmark was achieved for fiscal year 2006, with 101 competitive employment outcomes occurring. For fiscal year 2007, there are 22 competitive employment outcomes already in place as of December 5, 2006.
 
 
 

 




Content Last Modified on 3/19/2013 1:02:14 PM