BESB: STATE REHABILITATION COUNCIL 2005 ROSTER

STATE REHABILITATION COUNCIL (SRC)

2014 ROSTER
 

Concettina Rafala  (Chair)
 
Marisel DeCordova
 
Brian Sigman, Ex Officio
 
Diane Weaver Dunne
 
Mary Silverberg (Vice Chair)
 
Nyema Pinkney
 
Michael Ferris, Ex Officio
 
Ellen Telker
 
Diann Murray (Treasurer)
 
Carl Noll
 
Billie Alban
 
William Baiocchi
 
Colleen Hayles
 
Michelle Bidwell
 
Steven Famiglietti
 
Kimberly Tindall
 
Silvermoon LaRose
 
Alan Gunzburg
 
Kathleen Marioni
 
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BESB State Rehabilitation Council meeting dates for 2014 are:
 
March 12, 2014
June 11, 2014
September 17, 2014
December 17, 2014
 
All meetings begin at 9:30 a.m. at the agency
 
BESB State Rehabilitation Council meeting dates for 2015 are:
 
March 11, 2015
June 10, 2015
September 16, 2015
December 16, 2015
 
All meetings begin at 9:30 a.m. at the agency
 
 
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State of Connecticut

Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB)

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

 

State Rehabilitation Council to BESB

DRAFT MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

September 17, 2014

 

Members Present:  Ms.Tina Rafala, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Diann Murray, Ms. Marisel DeCordova, Mr. Michael Ferris, Ms. Diane Weaver-Dunne, Ms. Nyema Pinkney, Ms. Ellen Telker, Mr. Alan Gunzburg, Ms. Kimberly Tindall, Ms. Silvermoon LaRose, Mr. Steve Famiglietti, and Ms. Mary Silverberg

 

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, BESB VR Supervisor, Cecilia Gandolfo, Linda Mock, Jennifer Bose, Judy Ullmann, and Michael Bartley.

 

Members Absent: Mr. William Baiocchi, Ms. Billie Alban, Mr. Carl Noll, Ms. Michelle Bidwell, Ms. Colleen Hayles, and Ms. Kathleen Marioni.

 

Call to Order: Ms. Rafala, Chair of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), called the meeting to order at 9:38 a.m.

 

Old Business 

 

June 11, 2014 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes of June 11, 2014.

 

Committee Reports

Membership Committee:  As Ms. Pinkney’s arrival to the meeting was delayed, Mr. Sigman presented Ms. Pinkney’s membership status update. Since the last meeting, there are four new members to the Council: Mr. Alan Gunzburg, Ms. Kathy Marioni, Ms. Silvermoon LaRose, and Ms. Kimberly Tindall.  Vacancies exist in the categories of Statewide Independent Living Council and Labor. Mr. Bartley has been identified as a candidate from the Department of Labor for appointment consideration to the SRC.

 

Finance Committee:  Ms. Murray reported that there are no financial commitments to report on since the June SRC meeting.           

 

Consumer Satisfaction: Mr. Sigman discussed the preliminary results of the Consumer Satisfaction Survey that was completed by the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University. In regards to frequency of services,   Rehabilitation and Adaptive Equipment and Low Vision were the two most widely-used BESB services in FY2014.   Skills Training registered the largest decrease in use, followed by transportation services. In the satisfaction categories, four services experienced an increase in mean satisfaction ratings, while four saw a decline in ratings.  Reader Services, Personal Care Attendant Services, Higher Education Services and Small Business Services all had an increase in reported satisfaction. Among the services experiencing a decline in satisfaction ratings, Low Vision Services, Transportation Services, Skills Training Services and  Rehabilitation and Adaptive Equipment Services registered declines. 

 

Four dimensions of Counselor satisfaction ratings increased from the prior year, one remained unchanged, and four declined in mean ratings. The dimension of Counselor ratings that had increases in satisfaction were the ability to provide information in a format that clients could use, Counselors’ ability to help clients understand the process for complaint resolution, professionalism of Counselors, and the  Counselors’ ability to identify career goals. The ability of Counselors to help clients understand their vocational rehabilitation rights remained unchanged from last year. The four dimensions of Counselors that experienced declines in mean satisfaction ratings were the Counselors’ ability to develop an IPE, the knowledge of BESB Counselors, ability to recognize the special needs of their clients, and satisfaction with referrals. 

 

Client satisfaction with the services provided by the Vocational Rehabilitation Program of BESB experienced a small decline in 2014.  Nearly seven-in-ten clients issued a high satisfaction rating.  Neutral ratings were given by 24% of clients and a dissatisfied rating was provided by 8% of the clients.  The percentage of clients who would recommend BESB to a friend remained high, with nine-in ten

clients stating that they would recommend BESB to a friend. 

 

Mr. Sigman indicated that the complete survey results document will be posted on the agency website when it is received. The satisfaction survey, in combination with the Comprehensive Needs Assessment results will be used as a starting point for the identification of goals and strategies in the upcoming state plan development process.

   

New Business

Meeting Dates for 2015: Discussion took place on the SRC meeting dates for 2015. The dates agreed upon were March 11, June 10, September 16, and December 16, 2015. Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously. 

 

Slate of Officers for 2015:  Mr. Sigman reviewed membership term expiration dates of the members, noting that three members, including the Chair and Vice Chair have second terms of appointment that will expire in June, 2015. Ms. Rafala will call members individually to seek candidates for each of the positions of Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer to forward to Ms. Pinkney so that a slate of officers can be presented at the December SRC meeting for election.

 

Report from BESB State Director Mr. Sigman reported that through the re-allotment process made available annually by Rehabilitation Services Administration, the Bureau received $1 million in new funding for the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Mr. Sigman reported on some of the provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that are pertinent to Vocational Rehabilitation. Among the provisions of this new law, there is a set aside requirement of 15 percent of the federal Vocational Rehabilitation allotment that must be used for specific services to transition-age youth. There are changes in the category of supported employment, with longer time frames for Vocational Rehabilitation funding to cover the cost of services to clients placed into competitive and integrated settings with supports.  There will also be a new state plan process that will be a unified state plan for all of the workforce partner agencies that had previously developed separate state plans. There will also be common performance measures across all of the workforce partner programs. There is now a timeframe of 90 days within the law for the development of the individualized plan for employment after an eligibility determination has been reached.  There will need to be new federal regulations drafted, and these regulations are expected to be released for public comment early in 2015. Mr. Sigman noted that until these regulations are finalized, it is not known what specific case services expenditures would be included within the 15 percent set-aside for services to transition age youth.

 

 

Report from Chair: Ms. Rafala asked the Council members to anticipate her call for the upcoming slate of Officers. Next SRC meeting is December 17.    

 

Adjournment: Motion made, seconded and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 10:44am.

 

Subsequent to adjournment of the Business meeting of the SRC, Ms. Linda Mock and Ms. Cecilia Gandolfo from the Region I Technical Assistance Center conducted a training session on the history of the Rehabilitation Act and the role and functions of the State Rehabilitation Council.  

 

 

The next Council meeting is scheduled for December 17, 2014 from 9:30am to 12:00 noon at BESB.

 

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State of Connecticut

Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB)

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) to BESB

MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

June 11, 2014

Members Present:  Ms.Tina Rafala,  Ms. Billie Alban, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Diann Murray, Ms. Marisel DeCordova, Mr. Michael Ferris, Ms. Michelle Bidwell, Ms. Diane Weaver-Dunne,  Ms. Nyema Pinkney, Ms. Ellen Telker, Ms. Colleen Hayles, Mr. Carl Noll, Mr. Robert Gorman and Ms. Mary Silverberg

Others Present: Mr. Andrew Norton, BESB Legislative Liaison, Ms. Mary Burgard, BESB VR Supervisor, and Mike Cordero, BESB VR Counselor

Members Absent: Mr. William Baiocchi, Mr. Steven Famiglietti, and Ms. Christine Ford

Call to Order: Ms. Rafala, Chair of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), called the meeting to order at 9:42 a.m.

March 12, 2014 Minutes: A word in a sentence under Program Update was changed to “impairments” from “impaired”….children with vision impairments (was “impaired”) that are served by the Children’s Services department…..The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes of March 12, 2014 with this correction.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee:  Ms. Pinkney, on behalf of Mr. Baiocchi, presented the membership report and updated the Council on the current open positions, pending appointments, and membership status overall. The terms of Christine Ford and Robert Gorman will be ending after this meeting which will create vacancies in the category of Recipient of Services and Independent Living Council.  Candidate names for the Recipient of Services vacancy have been identified. Mr. Gorman will seek out the name of a nominee to replace him as the representative from the Independent Living Council. With the loss of Mr. Gorman, the position of Secretary of the SRC will be vacant.

  

Finance Committee:  Ms. Murray updated the members on financial commitments that have occurred so far in the new federal fiscal year that began in October. The renewal to NFB Newsline, a replacement computer monitor for BESB’s Training Lab at Southeastern Connecticut Community Center of the Blind, NCSAB dues, the Consumer Survey and Needs Assessment, the Youth Leadership Forum, and the Governor’s Coalition for Youth with Disabilities were the categories covered.          

Consumer Satisfaction: Mr. Sigman discussed the Consumer Satisfaction Survey which will be starting in July. A draft of the results should be available for the September SRC meeting.         

 

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Erik Jones, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at BESB, introduced Ms. Angela Russell who is the mother of a transition-age student served by BESB who sought out services from the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind for BESB’s Summer Youth at Work Program. She thanked BESB for not only the service and support, but also for the job placement of her daughter in her area of career interest.

Public Comments for State Plan and Proposed Policy Modifications for Action: Mr. Sigman reported to the Council that there was one commenter regarding the Vocational Rehabilitation State Plan and four commenters regarding the proposed policy revisions. Commenters represented the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut, the Connecticut Association of Blind Students, Bureau staff, and recipients of services.

For the State Plan, the commenter noted that the proposed Strategy and Measure for providing a seminar for clients on how to use Social Media to seek employment was too vague and needed more specificity. After discussion, the SRC members decided to amend the Strategy to read:

“The Vocational Rehabilitation Program will sponsor a seminar for clients on how to use Linked In and Facebook to seek employment and market their skills to potential employers and customers (for those clients in self-employment).

The SRC members further recommended that the Measure be modified to read:

“One seminar on how to use Linked In and Facebook to identify and pursue career opportunities or support a business owner will be provided to clients.”

Motion introduced, seconded and passed unanimously.

Mr. Sigman detailed the public comments that were received regarding the draft policy revisions. One commenter asked that the language regarding commensurate wages for individuals in supported employment be reworded to make it clear that the job had to pay at least the minimum wage. Three commenters indicated that adding in a market survey requirement for consideration prior to developing an Individualized Plan for Employment or Amendment that included graduate school was an unreliable approach to utilize to accurately reflect the advantages for a person who is blind obtaining such a degree in order to compete for job openings. Three commenters stated that the wording regarding funding availability for clients with Individualized Plans for Employment that includes higher education was inconsistent with the Rehabilitation Act and federal regulatory language that addresses how an Order of Selection is applied when insufficient funding to serve all eligible individuals becomes necessary. Four commenters indicated that counting merit scholarships and student loans as comparable benefits toward the cost of higher education was not consistent with recent policy guidance from Rehabilitation Services Administration and should be removed from BESB policy. Four commenters stated that BESB’s utilization of a family contribution towards the cost of higher education should be removed from policy.

The SRC took up each of these topic areas for discussion along with an observation that Mr. Sigman brought forth regarding the proposed age-range for serving individuals who are visually impaired.

On pages 5-6 of the “Proposed VR Policy Revisions FFY2015 State Plan” document, in the section on “Administration of Vocational Rehabilitation Services”, proposed new language states:

 Additionally, children who are or were served by the Bureau’s Children’s Services Program and who meet the statutory definition of visually impaired may be served by the Bureau’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program.”

Similar proposed new language also appears on page 22 in the section titled “Assessment for Determining Eligibility and Priority for Services” where it states:

Individuals who are or were served by the Bureau’s Children’s Services Program and who meet the statutory definition of visually impaired, with best corrected distance acuity of no better than 20/70 in the better eye as determined by qualified personnel licensed or certified in accordance with state law or regulation may be determined to have a physical impairment.”

Mr. Sigman pointed out that the intent of this draft language was to enable current recipients and recent graduates of Children’s Services who are visually impaired to be served by BESB Vocational Rehabilitation. However, this proposed language would open the possibility for every client who is visually impaired and who was ever served by Children’s Services, regardless of current age to come to BESB Vocational Rehabilitation for services. The SRC members affirmed that this proposed policy change was intended to allow transition-age students who are visually impaired to enter the same Vocational Rehabilitation Program that students who are legally blind enter, but that it was not intended to serve every person who is visually impaired who ever received services through Children’s Services. Modified language to both sections was proposed to indicate that students who are or were served by Children’s Services on or after January 1, 2010 could be served by BESB’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program. This would allow for clients who recently graduated from high school to be served.

On page 21, in the section titled “Time in Status,” Mr. Sigman noted that the newly proposed bill in Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act contains language that would require the Individualized Plan for Employment to be developed within 90 days, while the proposed policy update has 6 months as the new time frame. If the current version of the reauthorization bill becomes federal law, this policy would need to be changed. SRC members proposed changing the language of this sentence to read as follows:

The IPE shall be developed as expeditiously as possible. Under normal circumstances, sufficient data should be available or gathered to enable the completion of IPE development within a period not to exceed six months or whatever federal law or regulation otherwise requires.”

A similar sentence referencing the new proposed timeline of 6 months for development of the Individualized Plan for Employment appears on page 28 in the section titled “Planning and IPE Development.” The SRC members recommended adopting the same wording that defers to federal law or regulation.

On page 43, in the section titled “Post-Secondary Training” there is a sentence that reads in subsection (a):

No training in institutions of higher education shall be paid for by the Vocational Rehabilitation Services [Division] *Program* unless maximum efforts have been made to secure comparable benefits or grant assistance, in whole or in part, from other sources to pay for such training. Grant assistance, for purposes of this policy, refers to basic grant entitlement under student financial aid programs.”

Based on recent guidance from Rehabilitation Services Administration and the public comments received, the SRC members recommended that this sentence should be modified to read:

“No training in institutions of higher education shall be paid for by the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program unless maximum efforts have been made to secure comparable benefits or grant assistance, in whole or in part, from other sources to pay for such training. Grant assistance, for purposes of this policy, refers to basic grant entitlement under student financial aid programs. Merit scholarships are not defined as grant assistance and shall not be included in any calculation of unmet need. Where such scholarships are designated to a specific category such as tuition and fees or room and board, Vocational Rehabilitation funding may cover the unpaid balance of that category, up to the remaining unmet need and the allowable fee schedule rate as defined in subsection (h) of this section.”

In subsection (e) on page 44, there is a sentence that currently states:

 

A client will not be required to apply for funds available to him/her through student loans to meet the costs of training.”

The SRC members recommend this sentence be changed to read as follows:

“A client will not be required to apply for funds available to him/her through student loans to meet the costs of training, nor will the value of the student loan be included in any calculation of unmet need. In cases where a student voluntarily applies a student loan to the cost of a specific category such as tuition and fees or room and board, Vocational Rehabilitation funding may cover the unpaid balance of that category, up to the remaining unmet need and the allowable fee schedule rate as defined in subsection (h) of this section”.

With these modifications, the SRC members recognized that it may be necessary to modify the current form that BESB sends to Financial Aid Offices for completion or, at the very least, that it will be necessary for Vocational Rehabilitation to adjust the calculations of the Financial Aid Officer to reflect these two scenarios. The SRC members therefore recommended that in subsection (f) on page 44 the words “as determined by the FAO” be removed so the sentence would read:

“Financial participation by the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program in the provision of such training will be limited to the amount of the client's unmet need.”

In regards to proposed new section (m) on page 46, the SRC members recommended removing the reference to a labor market survey so that this section would now read:

(m) Prior to the development of an IPE or amendment that includes graduate or doctorate level education, the Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor shall review and approve the IPE or amendment prior to implementation.

In the Procedures Section, for subsection (iii) on page 50 “Bureau Financial Participation,” the SRC members recommend removing the sentence that states “The amount of financial participation under the Vocational Rehabilitation Program is contingent upon:” and also remove references in item number “1”  to funding levels so that it would now read:

“Authorizations should be made for only one semester at a time.”

On page 51, in subsection (c)(5) on Supported Employment, the SRC members recommended that sentence 1.(A) be modified to read as follows:

“1. Supported Employment means:

(A)       employment in an integrated, work setting typically found within a community, with ongoing support services for individuals with the most significant disabilities, where the individual is compensated at or above the minimum wage, but not less than the customary wage and level of benefits paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by individuals who are not disabled, and:”

On page 53, in the “Requirements” subsection, item “b.” it is recommended by the SRC members to read as follows:

“The client is to be compensated at or above the minimum wage, but not less than the customary wage and level of benefits paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by individuals who are not disabled.”

On page 65 in Section 14(c) , “Additional Requirements for Case Records of Individuals in Supported Employment,” the SRC members recommended changing the language to read in subsection (b):

“(b) the individual has achieved earnings at or above the minimum wage, but not less than the customary wage and level of benefits paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by individuals who are not disabled, and has maintained employment for at least ninety (90) days after the completion of substantial services and the transition to extended services; and”

On pages 65-66, the SRC members recommended that wording for Section 14 (f) “Supported Employment Closure (Status 26)” be modified to read:

“Cases may be closed with this employment outcome for clients with most significant disabilities if the client is working in an integrated employment setting typically found in the community, with extended support services being provided. The individual will have been found eligible for Supported Employment services (see Section 10). The employment goal will be consistent with the individual’s unique strengths, aptitudes, resources, priorities and interests. The client is compensated at or above the minimum wage, but not less than the customary wage and level of benefits paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by individuals who are not disabled. The client will be working the number of hours that is consistent with their informed choice. The need for extended supports will be of a nature that at least two follow up visits per month are necessary by the provider of extended services to ensure a continued, successful placement. The person will be in an integrated setting where the majority of coworkers are not persons with disabilities and are not paid caregivers. The employment setting must be typically found in the community and the level of integration with nondisabled coworkers must be at the same level that would otherwise be found within the employment setting.”

The SRC members sought a motion to put forth these recommended changes for the DORS-BESB Advisory Board and the Bureau to consider. Motion made, seconded and passed unanimously.

The SRC members then discussed the recommendation to modify existing policy to remove references to the family contribution toward the cost of higher education. Mr. Sigman explained that language regarding the family contribution appears in both policy and state regulations. The regulatory language exists in both the BESB and the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) sections of the regulations for the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS). SRC members asked what other state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies across the country do in regards to family contribution. Mr. Sigman referenced a survey that he had conducted previously when the SRC deliberated on this matter and that survey found that out of the 18 (out of 80) agencies that responded, there were 12 agencies that utilize a family contribution calculation and 6 that did not. SRC members asked for clarification as to how the family contribution dollar amounts are arrived at. Mr. Sigman explained that a formula is utilized through the FAFSA application process and it is not a BESB formula for reaching this amount. There are two dollar figures that are likely to show up in the family contribution section, one for the student and the other for the parents. Occasionally, there are spouse earnings that also appear on the form if the client is married and the spouse has income. The student earnings would be based on whether the student has income. SSI and SSDI are not considered income and would not be reported on the form. The parental contribution will show up on the form based on their income if the parents of the student are declaring him or her as a dependent on their income taxes.

SRC members asked what the cost would be to the Vocational Rehabilitation Program if the student and family contribution calculations were removed. Would it put the Bureau into an Order of Selection? Mr. Sigman indicated that for existing clients of the Program, projections estimate that it would cost an additional $100,000 and this would not put the Bureau into an Order of Selection. Mr. Sigman indicated that for the incoming clients with vision impairments, he had projected an increased cost of $206,000 to bring these students into the BESB Vocational Rehabilitation Program but it is difficult to provide precise numbers based on this population as there is limited existing data to project from. In total, factoring in the inclusion of students with vision impairments, if the family contribution was to be waived, Mr. Sigman estimated that at least $150,000 in additional costs would need to be anticipated. But Mr. Sigman stressed that exact projections are not possible at this point given the inclusion of students with visual impairments in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program as of October, 2014.

SRC members asked what the potential implication would be across DORS if BESB sought to change regulations that would waive the family contribution for clients of DORS who are blind and visually impaired. Would advocacy groups for other disabilities seek a similar change in the BRS regulations and if so, what is the impact on the costs of services at BRS if this were to occur? The members also asked what the stance of the BRS State Rehabilitation Council is on this since such a change of regulations could impact on BRS as well. Mr. Sigman was not aware if the SRC for BRS had taken up this issue previously.

Based upon these concerns, the SRC members asked that Mr. Sigman return to the SRC with detailed financial information based on actual client counts once students with visual impairments are being served by BESB Vocational Rehabilitation. Mr. Sigman agreed to bring this information to the SRC when it becomes available. The SRC would further like to explore with the BRS State Rehabilitation Council and the Commissioner of DORS what the implications would be if such a change were to occur at BESB.  

Report from BESB State Director 

 

Program Update: Mr. Sigman informed the SRC members of a recent training that Vocational Rehabilitation staff participated in on job development strategies that utilize the development of lasting employer relationships to create more job opportunities for our clients.   

 

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman stated that projections show there are sufficient funds available to serve all eligible individuals of BESB Vocational Rehabilitation in the upcoming federal fiscal year.          

 

Legislative Update:  Mr. Sigman reported that compromise on the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act has been reached in Congress and action on this compromise bill is expected in the near future.

  

Report from Chair:  Ms. Rafala thanked the members for their participation in the discussions regarding the State Plan and the proposed policy updates. The next SRC meeting is September 17, 2014.   

 

Adjournment: Motion made, seconded and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 12:01 p.m.

 

The next Council meeting is scheduled for September 17, 2014 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at BESB.


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State of Connecticut

Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB)

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council to BESB

 MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

March 12, 2014

Members Present:  Ms.Tina Rafala,  Ms. Billie Alban, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Diann Murray, Ms. Marisel DeCordova, Mr. Michael Ferris, , Mr. Steven Famiglietti, , Ms. Christine Ford, Ms. Michelle Bidwell, Ms. Diane Weaver-Dunne, and Ms. Nyema Pinkney

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, BESB VR Supervisor

Members Absent: Mr. William Baiocchi, Ms. Ellen Telker, Mr. Carl Noll, Ms. Mary Silverberg, Ms. Colleen Hayles, and Mr. Robert Gorman

Call to Order: Ms. Rafala, Chair of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), called the meeting to order at 9:41 a.m.

December 18, 2013 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes of December 18, 2013.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee:  Ms Pinkney, on behalf of Mr. Baiocchi, presented the membership report and updated the Council on the current open positions and membership status. The terms of Christine Ford and Robert Gorman will be ending after the June meeting and nominees in the categories of recipient of services and state independent living council will be needed to replace them. Ms. Pinkney has reached out to the International Association of Machinists and the Statewide Workforce Investment Board to seek out nominees to serve on the Council as representatives of those appointment categories. 

  

Finance Committee:  Ms. Murray, updated the members on financial commitments that have occurred so far in the new federal fiscal year that began in October: 1) renewal of NFB Newsline; 2) a replacement computer monitor for the training lab at the Southeastern Connecticut Center for the Blind; 3) NCSAB membership dues; 4) Consumer Satisfaction Survey and Comprehensive Needs Assessment.         

Consumer Satisfaction: Mr. Sigman discussed the Consumer Satisfaction Survey and proposed state plan goals based on the survey results. Focusing on adaptive technology, specifically as it relates to the use of social media to seek employment, and business plan development support are being proposed as strategies to increase employment opportunities. Mr. Sigman also summarized how results from the prior year’s survey were utilized to develop new initiatives for college students around mentoring and the recent distribution of a document on downloadable accessible applications for smart phones and tablet devices.       

New Business

VR Success Story: Ms. Yesenia Rodriguez, Assistant Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at BESB, introduced Ms. Amanda Lovar who sought out services from the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind to become employed in a new career that would be accessible to her.  With the provision of low vision aids through Vocational Rehabilitation and job placement assistance, she was hired at Webster Bank Arena and the Ballpark at Harbor Yards in Bridgeport. She thanked BESB for the services and support which were very important to the success of getting this job.

State Plan Subcommittee for FY 2015 Update: Mr. Sigman updated the Council in detail about the Employment Goals and Innovation and Expansion Goals proposed for the federal fiscal year 2015 state plan. These proposed goals will be discussed with the Advisory Board at their meeting in April and then will be presented for public feedback. There are also proposed policy updates in the categories of Licenses, Tools, Equipment and Stock, Timeframe for IPE Development, and Higher Education that will be brought before the Advisory Board and then presented for public feedback.

Discussion of RSA Monitoring Findings:  Mr. Sigman discussed the most recent Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) monitoring report and informed the SRC that in the area of higher education and IPE development timeframes, there are corrective actions that are being required of BESB. The policies in both of these categories will need to be modified as part of the corrective action plan with RSA.

State Plan Goals  for Current Year :  Mr. Sigman reviewed the current State Plan goals that include the provision of co-sponsorship for leadership development for transition-age youth. The SRC motioned to provide the Youth Leadership Forum with $7,500 in funding from the SRC with an equal BESB VR match and also to provide $1,500 in funding to support the activities of the Governor’s Coalition for Youth with Disabilities (GCYD). Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously on both items.

Proposed TACE Training for June Meeting:  It was agreed that the September 17, 2014 SRC meeting would be the best time to have this training on the role and functions of the SRC through the Region One Technical Assistance Center (TACE). Mr. Sigman will let the TACE know of this request for training.   

Report from BESB State Director 

Program Update: Mr. Sigman discussed the Strategic Plan for DORS, regarding the proposed organizational structure and reported that BESB continues to remain as a bureau within the agency under this proposal. Also, children with vision impairments that are served by the Children’s Services department at BESB would transition into the BESB Vocational Rehabilitation Program and not to BRS under this proposed organizational structure. The final roll out of the organizational structure will occur in the coming months.   

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman stated that current projections continue to indicate that the Vocational Rehabilitation Division will be able to serve all eligible clients throughout the current and next federal fiscal years, without the need to implement an order-of-selection.          

Legislation Update:  Mr. Sigman reported on Congressional Senate Bill 1356 that would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, which includes the Rehabilitation Act. It is still on the Senate Calendar awaiting action.  At the state level, House Bill 5279 was discussed which effects people with disabilities earning less than minimum wage. The bill proposes to eliminate that option. The SRC membership reaffirmed their position that people with disabilities should be entitled to the same wage protections as everyone else and that sub-minimum wages jobs should not be allowable. 

  

Report from Chair: Ms. Rafala talked about the upcoming NCSAB and CSAVR conferences next month in Washington D.C. and how much she is looking forward to attending both of them to represent the SRC.   

Adjournment: Motion made, seconded and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:16 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for June 11, 2014 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at BESB.

 

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State of Connecticut

Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB)

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council to BESB

MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

December 18, 2013

Members Present: Ms. Ellen Telker,  Mr. Robert Gorman,  Ms. Billie Alban, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Diann Murray, Ms. Marisel DeCordova, Mr. Michael Ferris, Ms. Mary Silverberg, Mr. Steven Famiglietti, Ms. Colleen Hayles, Ms. Christine Ford, and Ms. Michelle Bidwell

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, BESB VR Supervisor

Members Absent: Mr. William Baiocchi, Ms. Tina Rafala, Mr. Carl Noll, Ms. Nyema Pinkney, Ms. Diane Weaver-Dunne, and Mr. Roberto Diaz

Call to Order: Ms. Mary Silverberg, Vice-Chair of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), called the meeting to order at 9:58 a.m.

September 25, 2013 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes of September 25, 2013.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Mr. Sigman, on behalf of Mr. Baiocchi, presented the membership report and updated the Council on current open positions and membership status. The remaining Council vacancies are in the categories of Labor, Native American Vocational Rehabilitation, Workforce Investment Board, and Consumer Organization. The National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut has put forth a nominee to fill the Consumer Organization vacancy and the appointment is in process.   

  

Finance Committee: Mr. Sigman, on behalf of Ms. Murray, updated the members on the two financial commitments that have occurred so far in the new federal fiscal year that began in October: one for the renewal commitment to NFB Newsline, and two, a replacement computer monitor for the adaptive technology training lab at the Southeast Connecticut Community Center of the Blind.         

Consumer Satisfaction: Mr. Sigman reported that the Consumer Satisfaction Survey was distributed and is posted on the DORS-BESB website. A review of the survey results was discussed and overall the Vocational Rehabilitation Program received high satisfaction ratings. A new Customer Satisfaction Survey will start in July 2014.

New Business

VR Success Story: Ms. Jeannette Rodriguez-Perez, Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselor at BESB introduced Ms. Kasey Negron, a young Latina with deafblindness who relocated to Connecticut from Puerto Rico about five years ago. With the provision of low vision aids and hearing aids through Vocational Rehabilitation, Ms. Negron was ready to enter the labor market once again. Funding available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and Vocational Rehabilitation funds made it possible for her to participate in working interviews and internships that prepared her for employment. The success of her most recent placement resulted in her being hired as the Assistant Property Manager of the Sigourney Mews Apartments. She thanked BESB for the services and support which were very important to the success of this job placement.

Election of Officers for 2014: Ms. Silverberg presented the Council with the slate of officers for 2014: Tina Rafala for Chairperson; Mary Silverberg for Vice-Chair, Robert Gorman for Secretary, and Diann Murray for Treasurer. There were no nominations from the floor.    

Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to vote in this slate of officers for 2014.

SRC Annual Report: Mr. Sigman announced that the Chair is finalizing the annual report and it will be submitted to the Governor and the Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration by January 1, 2014.

SRC Training Opportunity: Mr. Sigman informed the Council about a training opportunity through the Region One Technical Assistance Center. The Council members are interested and requested a course outline to review before making a decision. More discussion will take place at the March meeting.

State Plan Subcommittee for FY2015: Mr. Sigman reported that a subcommittee needs to be formed for the development of the state plan draft for fiscal year 2015. The members who agreed to be part of this subcommittee are: Tina Rafala, Mary Silverberg, Billie Alban, Christine Ford, Marisel DeCordova, and Diann Murray.    

Consumer Survey Findings and Goals: Mr. Sigman reviewed in detail the findings from the consumer satisfaction survey and the possible goals that could be developed to address the areas where additional improvements would be beneficial. The decreased rating level for assisting consumers with identifying career goals was an area that paralleled the recent Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) monitoring, where the timeframe from eligibility to career goal development was also a topic of discussion. Mr. Sigman indicated that he has requested technical assistance from RSA on this subject with a goal of moving the program toward more timely and effective career goal development. Mr. Sigman also referenced a recommendation that was presented to him at the state convention of the National Federation of the Blind in November regarding informed choice for residential independent living programs across the country. Mr. Sigman is compiling a list of programs that are utilized successfully by other state VR programs for the blind across the country and that will become a document to be shared with consumers during the rehabilitation process to better inform consumers about the options that are available to them.

Report from BESB State Director 

Program Update: Mr. Sigman reported that the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Coordinator position has been filled by Jonathan Richmond. The VR Counselor position vacated by Mr. Richmond has been requested for refill and BESB is awaiting this approval to proceed with recruitment. In the meantime, Mr. Richmond will maintain his caseload in addition to his new duties until the Counselor vacancy is filled. Also, Mr. Sigman reported that in January, Commissioner Porter is planning to distribute draft organizational structures for DORS for review and public comment before the structure is finalized.    

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman stated that $900,000 was brought in through the most recent re-allotment process. Through re-allotment funds brought in the previous year, significant improvements and upgrades to existing Business Enterprise locations were made possible and the program will be opening a new location in 2014.         

Legislation Update:  Mr. Sigman reported on Congressional Senate Bill 1356 that would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, which includes the Rehabilitation Act. The bill is on the Senate Calendar in Congress, with no date known as to when or whether it will come up for a vote. As the Senate version and House version of the Workforce Investment Act reauthorization are different, a conference committee would need to be formed to reconcile the differences if Senate Bill 1356 passes in the Senate.

  

Report from Chair: Ms. Silverberg, in the absence of Ms. Rafala, reminded everyone of the meeting dates for 2014: March 12, June 11, September 17, and December 17.

Adjournment: Motion made, seconded and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:18 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for March 12, 2014 from 9:30am to 12:00 noon at BESB.

 
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State of Connecticut

Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB)

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council to BESB

 MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

September 25, 2013

Members Present: Ms. Ellen Telker, Mr. William Baiocchi, Mr. Robert Gorman,  Ms. Billie Alban, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Tina Rafala, Ms. Diann Murray, Ms. Marisel DeCordova, Mr. Carl Noll, Ms. Nyema Pinkney, Mr. Michael Ferris, Ms. Mary Silverberg, Mr. Steven Famiglietti, and Ms. Michelle Bidwell

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, BESB VR Supervisor

Members Absent: Ms. Colleen Hayles, Ms. Christine Ford, Ms. Diane Weaver-Dunne and Mr. Roberto Diaz

Call to Order: Ms. Mary Silverberg, Co-Chair of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), called the meeting to order at 9:40 a.m.

June 12, 2013 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes of June 12, 2013.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Mr. Baiocchi presented the membership report and updated the Council on current open positions and membership status. With the appointment of three new members, the remaining Council vacancies are in the categories of Labor, Native American Vocational Rehabilitation Program, Workforce Investment Board, and Consumer Organization. Mr. Baiocchi has a nominee for Labor and will have an update at the next meeting.  

  

Finance Committee: Ms. Murray updated the members on expenses for the SRC Chairperson’s travel to CSAVR, Consumer Satisfaction Survey 2013, and Camp Harkness Transition Youth Camp.       

Consumer Satisfaction: Mr. Sigman reported that he just received the Executive Summary from the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) for the 2013 Consumer Satisfaction Survey. The complete report will follow. A review of the survey results was provided and overall the Vocational Rehabilitation Program received high satisfaction ratings. The final report will be distributed and posted on the DORS-BESB website. Council members who had participated in prior surveys done by CCSU praised their professionalism. Mr. Sigman mentioned that the Council will need to make a decision about the process for completing the 2014 Consumer Satisfaction Survey as well as the Comprehensive Needs Assessment that has to be completed for the upcoming state plan cycle. CCSU completed the previous Comprehensive Needs Assessment.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to have the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at CCSU conduct the Comprehensive Needs Assessment as well as the Consumer Satisfaction Survey for 2014.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at BESB, introduced Mr. Michael Robinson who detailed for the Council members how BESB provided vocational training and mobility instruction to assist him with his career over the years. Mr. Robinson was hired as the Receptionist in the Administrative Office at MARC of Manchester. His supervisor at MARC, Dawn Russell, spoke of how BESB provided On-the-Job training funds, Rehabilitation Technology training, Daily Living Aids and Orientation and Mobility instruction. She said BESB’s services and support were very important to the success of this job placement.

Review of RSA Monitoring Visit:  Mr. Sigman reviewed RSA’s monitoring visit from this past June. Their monitoring report has not yet been completed but from their feedback they mentioned that BESB’s transition school-to- work model with a Children’s Services Program is unique and they may reference this model as a promising practice in their report. During the monitoring visit, a discussion with RSA took place regarding BESB’s new policy for diagnostic college courses to support the development of the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). RSA was questioning if these services could be done prior to IPE development. RSA recommended that BESB should again revisit the policy on IPE development that presently permits up to nine months for the IPE to be developed after an eligibility determination is made. RSA is recommending a much shorter timeline, with diagnostic services to affirm the selection of the career goal occurring after the IPE is in place. Mr. Sigman informed the Council that the Senate version of the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act included a three-month timeframe for IPE development but it has yet to be seen if this bill will pass in Congress. Regardless of that outcome, Mr. Sigman did recommend that the Council consider RSA’s perspective on this and recognize the potential for making a positive impact on the rehabilitation process if the timeframe from eligibility to IPE was shortened.

Meeting Dates for 2014: Discussion took place on the SRC meeting dates for 2014. The dates agreed upon were March 12, June 11, September 17, and December 17. Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously.

Slate Of Officers for 2014: Mr. Sigman reminded the Council that the slate of officers needs to be introduced at December’s SRC meeting. Chairwoman Rafala, will call members individually to gauge interest in running for Council positions and forward this information to Membership Committee Chair Bill Baiocchi.

Report from BESB State Director 

Program Update: Mr. Sigman reported that a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Coordinator position has been re-opened to fill that vacancy in the VR division through the merit promotion process. Also, the BEP program held their annual meeting recently and completed a training on Wage and Hour laws, taught by the Department of Labor. Lastly, Mr. Sigman reported that the Strategic Plan for DORS is progressing and that Commissioner Porter will be distributing a detailed map of the focus areas and action steps in the near future.    

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman stated that VR, BEP, and the Older/Blind Independent Living Program are adequately funded and could continue for some time if the federal government were to have a shutdown in October. The Children Services budget is very tight for this year.        

Legislation Update: Mr. Sigman reminded everyone that September 26 is the 40th Anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Mr. Sigman reported on Congressional Senate Bill 1356 that would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, which includes the Rehabilitation Act. There are concerns with some of the contents of the proposed bill as well as concern that no public comment period was provided before the Senate HELP Committee passed the bill out of their Committee. The National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) and the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) are both in opposition to the bill, which among other provisions would move the Rehabilitation Services Administration from the United States Department of Education to the Department of Labor.

  

Report from Chair: Ms. Rafala thanked Mr. Sigman and Ms. Burgard for their leadership that was apparent in the positive comments that RSA had about the Vocational Rehabilitation Program during their monitoring visit. Ms. Rafala informed the members that she attended a national conference for State Rehabilitation Councils in June and she found the conference very informative. There is an online training course for SRC members available and members should contact Ms. Rafala for more information on this if interested. Lastly, Ms. Rafala asked the Council members to anticipate her call for the upcoming slate of Officers.

Adjournment: Motion made, seconded and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:16 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for December 18, 2013 from 9:30am to 12:00 noon at BESB.

 

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State of Connecticut

Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB)

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council to BESB

MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

June 12, 2013

Members Present: Ms. Ellen Telker, Mr. William Baiocchi, Mr. Robert Gorman, Ms. Diane Weaver-Dunne, Ms. Billie Alban, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Tina Rafala, Ms. Diann Murray, Ms. Marisel Mandry, Mr. Carl Noll, Ms. Colleen Hayles

Others Present: Mr. Andrew Norton, Legislative and Administrative Advisor, Michelle Bidwell.

Members Absent: Ms. Mary Silverberg, Ms. Nyema Pinkney, Mr. Michael Ferris, Ms. Christine Ford, and Mr. Roberto Diaz

Call to Order: Ms. Tina Rafala, Chair of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), called the meeting to order at 9:39 a.m.

March 20, 2013 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes of March 20, 2013.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Mr. Baiocchi presented the membership report and updated the Council on current open positions and membership status. Ms. Hayles and Mr. Diaz are newly appointed since the March meeting. Ms. Bidwell’s appointment as a representative of the Statewide Parent Organization is pending and there are three remaining Council vacancies to fill in the categories of Labor, Native American Vocational Rehabilitation Program, and Workforce Investment Board.

  

Finance Committee: Ms. Murray updated the members on three expenses for MicroSoft Office, a Windows 8 computer for the BESB VR Tech lab that will both help train VR clients, and membership renewal for CSAVR.      

Consumer Satisfaction: Mr. Sigman reported that the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University will be conducting the 2013 Consumer Satisfaction Survey, based on the prior recommendation of the Council. The surveying of clients will begin in August. Clients will receive written notification from the bureau in advance of the survey calls.

New Business

VR Success Story: Ms. Marion Lynch, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at BESB introduced Ms. Eileen Rose and detailed for the Council members how BESB assisted with funding for college and vocational training to assist Ms. Rose with her career goals. Ms. Rose was recently hired as the Director of the Southeast Connecticut Community Center of the Blind. She discussed the Center’s growth and the programs that are offered there. Ms. Rose also discussed how she overcame barriers that she experienced while in college through self-advocacy and a strong determination to succeed.

Review of Public Comments for State Plan and Proposed

Higher Education Policy Modification:  Mr. Sigman reviewed the four public comments that were received during the public comment period. One comment was in regards to State Plan Attachment 4.11(c)(4) on the subject of utilizing Supported Employment funds. The commenter, who submitted the comment on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut, asked that a statement be added affirming the priority of employment for competitive wages. Mr. Sigman proposed to the Council that the phrase “at or above the state minimum wage” be added. The three other comments received were all in regards to the proposed goals in State Plan Attachment 4.11(e)(2) for the coming fiscal year. One commenter acknowledged the importance of technology for people with vision impairments, but requested no change to the goals. One commenter asked that the bureau establish an objective to develop a presence on Twitter to communicate information. The Council discussed this recommendation but concluded that Twitter is more of a social networking site than a professional organization website. The Council members felt that it would be time consuming to maintain the site, and that other options such as posting training documents on the agency website could meet the need of sharing information. The Council members also preferred that staff direct their energies toward the employment specific networking sites such as Linked-In rather than expanding to social networking. The last public comment received was submitted by the Rehabilitation Technology staff at this bureau. Their comment recommended changing the measure of success for the objective that addresses training clients in the use of internet-based job search engines. Rather than offering two group training sessions, the commenter recommended shifting to a measure that would include two informational group sessions, followed by individualized training. The Council agreed but felt that the measure should include the number of clients that would be trained individually. After some discussion, the membership concluded that ten clients would be an achievable measure.

The Council motioned, seconded and unanimously passed approval to submit the Vocational Rehabilitation State Plan for fiscal year 2014 with these changes included.

Mr. Sigman informed the Council that no public comments were received in regards to the two proposed changes to the policy on higher education. The Council motioned, seconded and unanimously passed a recommendation that the policy changes for higher education become effective on July 1, 2013.

RSA Monitoring Visit and SRC Involvement: Mr. Sigman discussed the agenda items that will be covered by staff from Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) during their onsite visit to BESB coming up in late June. One agenda item will be the timeline between a client becoming eligible and the career goal of the client being finalized. The recommendation of RSA is to consider shortening the current timeframe from up to nine months to up to six months. The Council had previously taken up this issue when it was raised at the prior monitoring visit several years back. At that time, the Council did agree to go from one year to nine months but did not concur that shortening the timeframe to less than nine months would be beneficial to the clients. At that time, Council members stated concern that setting a timeframe that was shorter than nine months would pressure the clients and the counselors to settle on a goal that may not be appropriate, merely for the sake of satisfying the timeframe set in policy.

At the meeting on this date, the Council members discussed the possibility of returning to the time frame of up to one year to factor in adjustment to blindness assessments and on-the-job assessments to facilitate a thorough career decision making process, but ultimately decided to recommend that the bureau retain the current standard of up to nine months from eligibility determination to Individualized Plan for Employment. The motion was made, seconded and passed unanimously to retain the current timeframe of nine months.

Report from BESB State Director 

Program Update: Mr. Sigman reported that DORS has continued to build the central office infrastructure to support functions that were previously performed by the Department of Administrative Services for BESB and that contracting is now being performed at DORS. Mr. Sigman indicated that contract amendments for the clients previously served at BESB Industries are being completed. One significant development for some of these clients who are working at a community rehabilitation facility in Trumbull is the decision of that facility to transition away from offering sheltered employment. The plan is to transition these clients into supported employment with competitive wages.    

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman talked about sequestration and the impact it had on the federal programs administered by BESB. Three percent has been reduced from Vocational Rehabilitation Program, which should not have much of an impact due to the amount of funding the bureau acquired through the re-allotment process last fiscal year. The Older Blind grant received a five percent reduction. However, a sizeable donation from the estate of a former client of BESB made to the Independent Living Program will offset the reduction to the Independent Living Older Blind federal grant.      

Legislation Update: Mr. Norton reported that the language originally contained in House Bill 6654 pertaining to the operation of vending facilities at state parks did not move forward in the legislative session that ended earlier in June. This proposal would have removed from this agency the first right of refusal to operate the food service and gift store concessions at state parks. BESB currently has operations in three state parks that provide entrepreneurial employment to three individuals who are blind.  

Report from Chair: Ms. Rafala talked about her visit this past April to the national meetings of CSAVR and NCSAB in Washington D.C. and how she had the opportunity to share her personal success story with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Congressman Joe Courtney.

Also, Ms. Rafala is looking forward to the upcoming national SRC forum on June 24, 2013 in Virginia to represent our SRC. She thanked everyone for the letters and phone calls made to Legislators to educate them on how certain provisions of House Bill 6654 would have negatively impacted on the employment of people who are blind.

Adjournment: Motion made, seconded and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:28 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for September 18, 2013 from 9:30am to 12:00 noon at BESB.

 
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State of Connecticut

Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB)

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council to BESB

MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

March 20, 2013

Members Present: Ms. Ellen Telker, Mr. William Baiocchi, Mr. Robert Gorman, Ms. Diane Weaver Dunne, Ms. Billie Alban, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Tina Rafala, Ms. Nyema Pinkney, Ms. Christine Ford, Mr. Bruce Stovall, Ms. Diann Murray, and Mr. Mike Ferris.

Others Present:  Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor, Mr. Andrew Norton, Legislative and Administrative Advisor, and Steve Famiglietti from NEAT Market Place.

Members Absent: Ms. Marisel Mandry, Ms. Mary Silverberg, and Mr. Carl Noll.

Call to Order: Ms. Tina Rafala, Chair of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), called the meeting to order at 9:35 a.m.

December 19, 2012 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes of December 19, 2012.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Mr. Baiocchi and Mr. Sigman presented the membership report and updated the Council on pending appointments, current open positions, and membership status. Bruce Stovall has completed his second term and he introduced Mr. Steve Famiglietti, who will be seeking an appointment as Mr. Stovall’s replacement. There are three candidates who have submitted their applications to the Governor’s Office to fill vacancies in the positions of recipient of services, representative from the State Department of Education, and  representative from the statewide parent organization for students with disabilities.

Finance Committee: Ms. Murray updated the members on the financial report. A recent mailing to eye doctors that included information on incentives for hiring clients referred from BESB was sent out in February to coincide with Low Vision Awareness month.  So far this year, there has been $60,422 in funds obligated for innovation and expansion activities.

Consumer Satisfaction: Mr. Sigman again reported that the 2012 consumer satisfaction survey was completed by the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University.    The survey results have been posted on the agency website (www.ct.gov/besb). Mr. Sigman reported that the Council needs to make a determination regarding the 2013 Consumer Satisfaction Survey that needs to be completed. A motion was made and seconded to have the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University perform the 2013 survey. The motion carried unanimously.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Erik Jones, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at BESB detailed for the Council members the services that were coordinated to bring about a successful job placement for his client, Mr. Gordon Landau. Mr. Jones shared that through a referral to a community rehabilitation provider, a work evaluation was provided. The work evaluation demonstrated to the employer the capabilities and reliability of the client. He was hired by Whalley Avenue Services in their business development area. The client and his employer informed the Council members how well the job is going and that it was an ideal match.

VR FFY 2013 + 2014 State Plan Updates: Mr. Sigman reported on the FFY 2013 State Plan goals. One of the goals discussed involves developing job opportunities for clients through the use of internships and durational employment, an approached that proved to be very successful when previously used extensively with the ARRA funds. A second goal discussed was to develop and implement strategies that will make it easier for clients to understand the types of services that can be offered and what BESB’s role is in the funding of these services. Mr. Sigman announced that in response to this goal, a guide to vocational rehabilitation services was developed and posted on the agency website. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors are distributing this guide to clients. The guide explains services in a concise manner.

    

The State Plan Committee for the FFY2014 plan has met via teleconference on three occasions and developed proposals for the Council to consider for development as initiatives for FFY 2014. These proposed goals include teaching clients how to use internet job networking sites, providing training to clients in the use of new adaptive technologies, conducting focused job seeking skills training on resume writing and interviewing strategies, and focusing on strategies that will increase participation and success in college. Mr. Sigman reported that the Committee spent considerable time discussing revisions to existing policies for higher education, such as looking at the financial aid funding process with a consideration of waiving the student contribution portion of the unmet need in some situations. However, after considering this option and recognizing that it would only benefit a limited number of students, the members felt a better approach was to consider ways to encourage clients to try out college level courses. Toward that end, the Committee is recommending to the Council that the VR Program consider the first year of college at a Connecticut Community College to be a “diagnostic” year, not subject to the financial aid process. The Committee is also recommending that the current funding level of $60.00 for books and supplies per course be increased to $100 per course. The Council members expressed their support for these concepts.

Mr. Sigman indicated that he would prepare for the Council’s review the State Plan documents for FFY 2014. The documents would have a public comment period, after which the Council will have an opportunity to review the comments received, and finalize the draft State Plan and proposed policy revisions for submission to the Rehabilitation Services Administration.        

Report from BESB State Director 

Program Update: Mr. Sigman updated the members on a federal grant award that will assist the Department of Rehabilitation Services with a strategic planning initiative that is focused on identifying strategies to improve efficiencies and streamline processes across the agency. Board Chair Alan Sylvestre is participating in an initial meeting of all of the grant recipients.     

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman talked about sequestration and the impact it had on the federal programs administered by BESB. Approximately 5 percent has been reduced from the FFY 2013 federal base award to each state, but after the distribution formula is applied, for Connecticut the amount for the Vocational Rehabilitation Program was somewhat less than that. There is sufficient funding, even with the reductions in the Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living allotments to maintain the current levels of services.  

Legislation Update: Mr. Sigman reported that our SRC Chair will have the opportunity in April to attend Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) and the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB) conferences in Washington to discuss, among other items, federal bills H.R.803 (reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act), H.R.164 (a bill that would provide to disabled veterans the same opportunity to fly “space available” on military aircraft that is currently available to non-disabled veterans), and H.R.831 (the fair wages for workers with disabilities act that would eliminate the option for certain employers and community rehabilitation providers to pay workers with disabilities less than the minimum wage).

Mr. Norton discussed current bills in the State legislature that have relevance to people with blindness. These include Senate Bill 853 that makes technical changes to the statutes governing the Department of Rehabilitation Services, House Bill 5276 that would impose a fine on doctors who failed to report a person who is legally blind to this agency, and House Bill 6654 which pertains to vending services at state parks.

Report from Chair: Ms. Rafala expressed concern that House Bill 6654 would be detrimental to the employment of people who are blind as it would remove from this agency the first right of refusal to operate the food service and gift store concessions at state parks. BESB currently has operations in three state parks that provide entrepreneurial employment to three individuals who are blind. Council members agreed with the Chair’s concern that passage of this bill would likely result in the loss of employment for these three individuals and remove the opportunity for future clients to manage these locations. Ms. Rafala thanked the agency for granting her an opportunity to represent the SRC at the upcoming national meetings of CSAVR and NCSAB.

Adjournment: Motion made, seconded and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:30 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for June 12, 2013 from 9:30am to 12:00 noon at BESB.

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State of Connecticut

Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB)

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council to BESB

 MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

December 19, 2012

Members Present: Ms. Ellen Telker, Mr. William Baiocchi, Mr. Robert Gorman, Ms. Mary Silverberg, Ms. Diane Weaver-Dunne, Ms. Marisel Mandry, Ms. Billie Alban, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Tina Rafala, Mr. Carl Noll, Ms. Nyema Pinkney, Ms. Christine Ford, and Mr. Mike Ferris.

Others Present: Ms. Michelle Bidwell, Ms. Andrea Giudice, and Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor.

Members Absent: Ms. Diann Murray and Mr. Bruce Stovall.

Call to Order: Ms. Tina Rafala, Chair of the SRC called the meeting to order at 9:36 a.m.

September 19, 2012 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes of September 19, 2012.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Ms. Giudice presented the membership report and updated the Council on pending appointments, current open positions, and membership status.  There are currently 15 members on the Council. There are two candidates who have submitted their applications to the Governor’s Office, one representing the State Department of Education and one representing the statewide parent organization. Potential candidates have been identified to nominate as representatives from a consumer organization and the Department of Labor. Still needed are the names of candidates for the Workforce Investment Act and Native American Vocational Rehabilitation.

Finance Committee: Mr. Sigman reviewed the three commitments to date in the category of state plan goals that have occurred since the fiscal year began in October. These included a conference that BESB held for transition age students and their parents in October, renewal of membership in the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, and membership enrollment in the Association for Persons in Supported Employment.

Consumer Satisfaction: Mr. Sigman reported that the 2012 consumer satisfaction survey was completed by the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University. The survey results have been posted on the agency website ( www.ct.gov/besb ). Notable findings for the 2012 survey include increases in the levels of satisfaction with rehabilitation equipment, skills training, low vision services and small business services. Satisfaction with the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors also increased in 2012.

New Business

VR Success Story: Ms. Yesenia Rodriguez, Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselor at BESB, talked about her client who was unfortunately unable to join the meeting to personally describe his success due to an unanticipated change in his availability. Ms. Rodriguez shared that through a referral to a community rehabilitation provider, a work evaluation was put in place for the client at Marshalls in Bridgeport. The work evaluation demonstrated to the employer the capabilities and reliability of the client. He was hired by the company and is working successfully as a stock clerk.

Nomination Status for SRC Officers: Ms. Giudice presented the names of members who had expressed an interest in serving as officers on the Council that included Tina Rafala as Chair, Mary Silverberg as Vice Chair, Diann Murray as Treasurer, and Robert Gorman as Secretary. Ms. Giudice asked for nominations from the floor. Receiving none, she sought and received a motion and second to close the nominations and accept the slate of officers for a vote. Motion carried unanimously. Ms. Giudice then sought and received a motion and a second to vote in this slate of officers into their respective offices and the motion passed unanimously.

SRC Letter Regarding Doctor’s Office Forms: Ms. Rafala updated the Council on two letters that she sent out regarding the inaccessibility of forms at eye doctor offices. One letter went to the President of the Connecticut Society of Eye Physicians and the other letter was sent to a printing company in Massachusetts that had been identified as a major supplier of patient information forms used at doctor offices in Connecticut. Both letters asked for patient forms to be made available in large print at doctor’s offices.

Ms. Alban stressed that it is very important for the Council members to bring this issue up when going to doctor’s appointment to educate office staff on the need and requirement to make these patient forms accessible.

  

SRC Annual Report: Prior to the meeting, Ms. Rafala had distributed a draft of the annual report to the membership for review. During the meeting, Ms. Rafala asked if there were any desired changes to the draft. Hearing none, she indicated that she will submit the report to the Governor and to the Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration this week. 

Review of Responses-VR Agency Funding For College: Mr. Sigman reported to the Council on the results of a survey that he has sent to all of the public Vocational Rehabilitation programs across the country asking about their policies pertaining to funding for college. Specifically, the survey asked the other programs if they substitute Vocational Rehabilitation funds for the family contribution portion of the financial aid calculation that is provided by the school or university and also if the program covers the full cost of college or is there a limit on the cost. There were a total of 18 agencies that responded to the survey. Of that number, the family contribution calculation is not counted at 4 agencies. Of the 13 agencies that do consider the family contribution, 1 responded that the student’s portion of the family contribution is waived, and 5 indicated that their policy permits for a waiver due to financial hardship. Common amongst most of the responders was a fee schedule to pay up to the in-state school rate with a provision for the client to cover the difference if choosing to attend a school that had a higher rate. Mr. Sigman asked the Council for their perspective on whether the policy of this agency should be considered for revision, including possibly waiving some or all of the student contribution portion.  Council members expressed concern about the long-range fiscal implications on the budget and the ability to serve all clients if a change was made to this policy. Further concern was expressed about disregarding the calculations of the financial aid officer. Mr. Gorman commented that he is aware of situations where students have successfully appealed the family contribution amount by contacting the school’s financial aid office and asking for a review of the calculation. After considerable discussion among the membership, it was decided that this topic would be a charge of the State Plan Committee to discuss and bring recommendations back to the SRC at the March, 2013 meeting.     

SRC Co-Sponsorships:  Chairwoman Rafala brought forth information on three initiatives that the SRC had co-sponsored in prior years, asking if the membership would like to continue with co-sponsorship of these events once more this year. The Youth Leadership Forum provides a weeklong leadership development camp to high school students with disabilities. In the past year, the SRC committed $7,500 in funding towards the cost of running this camp and asked BESB Vocational Rehabilitation to match that pledge. The Governor’s Coalition for Youth with Disabilities awards scholarships to college bound freshmen with disabilities. The SRC provided $4,000 in funds for scholarships to clients from BESB in the past year. The Annual Conference on Serving Adults with Disabilities has been co-sponsored by the SRC at a level in the past that covered the registration cost of ten participants from BESB. A motion was made and seconded to continue co-sponsorship of all three of these initiatives at the same level of sponsorship that was provided last year. The motion carried unanimously.

Report from Director

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman reported that based on current budget projections, the Vocational Rehabilitation Program will be able to serve all eligible clients for the remainder of this federal fiscal year, as well as next federal fiscal year. Mr. Sigman provided an update on funding rescissions that have occurred at BESB due to the budget shortfall. The Connecticut Legislature will be going into Special Session to further address the budget shortfall.    

Position Refills Update: Mr. Sigman reported that the only vacancy is the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Coordinator. There are no plans at this time to re-fill this position.

National Update: Mr. Sigman stated his concern that there is still no resolution on balancing the federal budget for the current fiscal year. The agency has so far received 50 percent of the fiscal year 2013 allotment award and there may be an overall reduction to federal grants after January if Congress is not able to reach an agreement on the balancing of the budget.

Report from Chair: Ms. Rafala thanked the members for their assistance over this past year and said that she is looking forward to the State Plan Committee discussions.

Adjournment: Motion made, seconded and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:40 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for March 20, 2013 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at BESB.

 

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State of Connecticut

Department of Rehabilitation Services

Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council to BESB

MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

September 19, 2012

Members Present: Ms. Ellen Telker, Mr. William Baiocchi, Mr. Robert Gorman, Ms. Diann Murray, Ms. Mary Silverberg, Ms. Diane Weaver Dunne, Ms. Marisel Mandry, Ms. Billie Alban, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Tina Rafala, and Mr. Mike Ferris.

Others Present: Ms. Michelle Bidwell, Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor; and Mr. Mark Ward, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.

Members Absent: Mr. Brian Cunnane, Ms. Christine Ford, Mr. Carl Noll, Ms. Nyema Pinkney, and Mr. Bruce Stovall.

Call to Order: Ms. Tina Rafala, Chair of the SRC called the meeting to order at 9:34 a.m.

June 20, 2012 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes of June 20, 2012.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Mr. Sigman presented the membership report on behalf of Andrea Giudice, the designated coordinator of the Membership Committee. Of the thirteen people seeking a first term appointment to the SRC, seven have been appointed so far. Of the four members seeking a second term of appointment, three have been reappointed so far. There are six additional individuals who have been invited to submit applications to serve on the SRC, but for whom appointments are pending. At present, there are fourteen voting members on the SRC. Of that number, two members will complete their second term this year and will need to be replaced. Ms. Giudice has been working closely with the Governor’s Office to ensure that information is being provided to facilitate the review of the appointment requests and she will follow-up.

Finance Committee: Mr. Sigman presented a summary for the innovation and expansion activities to date, with commitments totaling nearly $79,000. These include funding for co-sponsorship of the disability conference held this past spring, sponsoring an ad for the anniversary of Independence Unlimited and their IL Center, the SRC Survey through CCSU, and equipment for the agency technology laboratory.

Consumer Satisfaction: Mr. Sigman reported that the consumer satisfaction survey is being conducted by the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University. The survey process is complete and it is anticipated the results will be available at the end of September.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Mark Ward, VR Counselor at BESB, introduced Mr. Greg Hadley the supervisor of VR client Erika Cooper. Mr. Ward has been working with Ms. Cooper since April, 2011 and he assisted her in finding employment with WOW/NRZ Center in Waterbury as an Office Assistant. With this agency’s assistance, she received low vision aids and adaptive technology to perform her job. Mr. Hadley complimented Ms. Cooper on her dependability and independence in her job duties. SRC members and staff thanked Mr. Hadley for his involvement.

Nomination Status for SRC Officers: A motion was made and seconded for Ms. Rafala to call current members to inquire if anyone would be interested in serving as an Officer and present those names at the December meeting. All voted in favor.

SRC Priorties for Fiscal Year 2013: Mr. Sigman reviewed the goals and objectives that are within the state plan for fiscal year 2013. Mr. Sigman further reviewed the measures of achievement that are associated with each of the goals. The SRC designated Ms. Murray, Ms. Silverberg, Ms. Alban, and Ms. Rafala to serve on the State Plan Committee for fiscal year 2013 and for the development of draft goals for fiscal year 2014’s state plan.

Ms. Alban suggested that two areas of concern that the SRC should consider for future goals are accessible websites and accessible medical forms at eye doctor offices. After discussion among the membership, it was motioned and seconded that a letter would be drafted for the Chair to send out to the companies that print the medical forms requesting that large print versions be made available to doctor offices. Ms. Alban agreed to prepare an initial draft for the Chair to review. Motion passed unanimously.

SRC Annual Report: Mr. Sigman reported that the SRC Annual Report is due on December 31, 2012 and requested members who are serving their second term to assist Ms. Rafala in providing information in order for her to submit the report.

SRC Meeting Dates for 2013: Motion was made, seconded and approved unanimously to add this as a new item on the agenda. SRC meeting dates for 2013 will be March 20, June 12, September 18, and December 18. Motion was made and seconded to accept these dates for the 2013 SRC meetings and the motion passed unanimously.

Report from Director

Organization Update: Mr. Sigman detailed the current structure of the Department of Rehabilitation Services, which includes the continuation of BESB and its designated state vocational rehabilitation unit for individuals who are blind into fiscal year 2013. During the recent Special Session of the Legislature, the name of the Bureau was changed to the Department of Rehabilitation Services and the title of the agency head was changed to Commissioner. Both changes became effective July 1, 2012. Dr. Amy Porter, Commissioner, will be convening focus groups and conducting outreach to consumer groups in town meetings over the next fiscal year to assist with determining what the long-range structure of the new agency will be.

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman reported that the Vocational Rehabilitation Program received an additional $2.4 million dollars from the federal government through a reallotment process. This funding will be used to assist the program in avoiding the need for an order of selection in federal fiscal year 2014 and also to assist the Business Enterprise Program with meeting current expenses.

Position Refills Update: Mr. Sigman reported that a new Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselor was hired in January. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and is assigned to the Southwestern region of the state. Two Rehabilitation Teaching vacancies were filled in Adult Services along with a Special Assistant. Also an Education Consultant was hired in Children’s Services.

National Update: Mr. Sigman reminded everyone that September is National Emergency Preparedness month. Mr. Sigman informed the SRC about federal bill HR3086, the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2011. The bill proposes to phase out special wage certificates permitted under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 under which individuals with disabilities may be employed at subminimum wage rates. Also, Mr. Sigman informed everyone about the budget in Congress due out detailing sequestration cuts potentially in domestic programs in 2014.

Report from Chair: Ms. Rafala reminded everyone about the Career Fair on October 20 for students and parents at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in Meriden. She had positive comments on the recently completed Youth Leadership Forum and reinforced continued support from this Council.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:44 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for December 19, 2012 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at BESB.

 
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State of Connecticut

Bureau of Rehabilitative Services

BESB Program

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council to the BESB Program

MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

June 20, 2012

Members Present: Ms. Mary Silverberg, Ms. Marisel Mandry, Mr. Stephen Dombrowski, Mr. Carl Noll, Ms. Billie Alban, Ms. Christine Ford, Ms. Diann Murray, Mr. William Baiocchi, Ms. Nyema Pinkney, Ms. Diane Weaver Dunne, Mr. Brian Sigman and Mr. Mike Ferris.  Mr. Robert Gorman and Ms. Randa Utter attended the meeting by teleconference.

Others Present: Ms. Michelle Bidwell, Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor; Ms. Charlotte Copenhaver, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, and Mr. Andrew Norton, Legislative and Administrative Advisor.

Members Absent: Mr. Brian Cunnane, Ms. Tina Rafala, Mr. James Schwarzhaupt, Mr. Bruce Stovall, Ms. Ellen Telker.

Call to Order: Ms. Mary Silverberg, vice chair of the SRC called the meeting to order at 9:40 a.m.

March 21, 2012 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes of March 21, 2012.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Mr. Sigman presented the membership report on behalf of Andrea Giudice, the designated coordinator of the Membership Committee.  Of the thirteen people seeking a first term appointment to the SRC, seven have been appointed so far.  Of the four members seeking a second term of appointment, three have been reappointed so far.  There are six additional individuals who have been invited to submit applications to serve on the SRC, but for whom appointments are pending.  At present, there are seventeen voting members on the SRC. Of that number, four members will complete their second term this year and will need to be replaced. Ms. Giudice has been working closely with the Governor’s Office to ensure that information is being provided to facilitate the review of the appointment requests. 

Finance Committee: Mr. Dombrowski presented a summary for the innovation and expansion activities to date, including funding for NFB Newsline, co-sponsorship for the Governor’s Coalition for Youth with Disabilities scholarship program, co-sponsorship for the Youth Leadership Project, and equipment for the agency technology laboratory.

Consumer Satisfaction:  Mr. Sigman reported that the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University has been invited to conduct the Vocational Rehabilitation consumer satisfaction survey for fiscal year 2012. The survey process will start in late July or early August. It is anticipated that preliminary findings will be available for the September meeting of the SRC.

New Business

VR Success Story: Ms. Charlotte Copenhaver, VR Counselor at BESB introduced Ms. Elizabeth Nieves.  Ms. Copenhaver has been working with Ms. Nieves for about two years.  Ms. Nieves detailed how Ms. Copenhaver has assisted her to find employment and obtain adaptive technology to perform her current job as a Certified Nurses Aide (CNA).  Ms. Nieves expressed her appreciation for the services that were provided to her.  SRC members and staff members complimented Ms. Nieves on her determination and self-advocacy skills that were important for her success in demonstrating to professors and employers that she was capable of performing the job duties of a CNA.

State Plan for FFY 2013: Mr. Sigman explained that there were two calls from the public hearing held on Monday, June 11, 2012 for the purpose of updating the State Plan that governs the administration of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program for individuals who are blind for federal FY 2013. A motion was made and seconded to accept the State Plan as amended with the inclusion of the public comments and recommendation to conduct a survey of the policies in place for higher education funding at other state vocational rehabilitation agencies across the country.  Mr. Gorman and Mr.  Baiocchi abstained.  All other members voted in favor.

Report from Director

Organization Update: Mr. Sigman detailed the current structure of the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services, which includes continuation of the BESB Program and designated state unit for individuals who are blind into fiscal year 2013.  During the recent Special Session of the Legislature, the name of the Bureau was changed to the Department of Rehabilitation Services and the title of the agency head was changed to a Commissioner. Both changes become effective on July 1, 2012. Dr. Amy Porter, the agency head, will be convening focus groups and conduct outreach to consumer groups over the next fiscal year to assist with determining what the long-range structure of the new agency will be.

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman reported that based upon current information and financial projections, he is projecting that the BRS- BESB Vocational Rehabilitation Program would have sufficient funding to serve all eligible clients in federal fiscal year 2013. However, current projections for FFY 2014 indicate that it may be necessary to enter into an order of selection for that year. Mr. Sigman will continue to monitor the budget closely and keep the SRC up to date on the status of the FFY2014 funding projections.

Position Refills Update: Mr. Sigman reported that a new Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselor was hired in January. She is bilingual in English and Spanish. She is assigned to the Southwestern region of the state.   There are two vacancies at present in the Program. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Coordinator and a Special Assistant to the Blind are the two vacancies. Based on budget projections for FFY2014, there are no plans to fill these vacancies at present.

National Update: Mr. Sigman informed the SRC about federal bill HR4297 that includes reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act. The Rehabilitation Act is part of the Workforce Investment Act. The bill includes authority for states to have greater flexibility in the allowable uses of the funds received through the Act. In the mark up process in Congress, an amendment was passed to require that Rehabilitation Act Program funds could only be used for the programs covered in the Rehabilitation Act, and not for other purposes. It is not certain that HR4297 will pass in the US House of Representatives in this session of Congress.

Report from Vice Chair

Mary Silverberg thanked the members and looked forward to the September meeting.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:28 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for September 19, 2012 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at BESB.

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State of Connecticut

Bureau of Rehabilitative Services

BESB Program

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council to the BESB Program

 MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

March 21, 2012

Members Present: Ms. Tina Rafala, Ms. Marisel Mandry, Mr. Stephen Dombrowski, Mr. Brian Cunnane, Mr. Bruce Stovall, Ms. Mary Silverberg, and Mr. Brian Sigman.

Others Present: Mr. Mike Ferris, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor; Ms. Michelle Bidwell, Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor; and Ms. Charlotte Copenhaver, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.

Members Absent: Mr. James Schwarzhaupt, Ms. Randa Utter.

December 7, 2011 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes of December 7, 2011.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Mr. Sigman presented the membership report on behalf of Andrea Giudice, the designated coordinator of the Membership Committee.  There are presently 8 voting members. Of that number, 3 members will have their second term expire during the current calendar year. Two of the current members will have their first term expire this calendar year. There are 4 former members who are seeking reappointment to a second term and there are thirteen additional individuals who are seeking appointment to the Council as a new member. Ms. Giudice has been working closely with the Governor’s Office to ensure that information is being provided to facilitate the review of these appointment requests. 

Finance Committee: Mr. Dombrowski presented a summary for the innovation and expansion activities to date, including funding for NFB Newsline, membership dues to rehabilitation organizations, co-sponsorship for the Governor’s Coalition for Youth with Disabilities and equipment for the agency technology laboratory.

Consumer Satisfaction: Mr. Sigman mentioned that the Vocational Rehabilitation Program staff have met to discuss the results of the 2011 consumer satisfaction survey with a goal of developing strategies for continuous improvement. The staff have developed an updated guide for self-employment to assist clients with understanding the process of how to request funds from the agency to start a business.  Mr. Sigman also noted that the staff will be developing a set of one-page handouts on each of the services offered to provide to clients at the time of vocational plan development.

Discussion took place as to whether the Council wanted to continue with the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University for the FFY 2012 consumer satisfaction survey.  All voted in favor of continuing with their services for the FFY2012 consumer survey.

New Business

VR Success Story: Ms. Charlotte Copenhaver, VR Counselor at BESB introduced Mr. Sean Henry.  Ms. Copenhaver has been working with Mr. Henry for about a year.  Mr. Henry detailed how Ms. Copenhaver and Mr. Ferris have assisted him to find employment and obtain adaptive technology to perform his current job in human services, and his prior job in retail. Mr. Henry expressed his appreciation for the services that were provided to him. 

State Plan for FFY 2013: Mr. Sigman indicated that he would arrange for a series of teleconference meetings amongst the membership to develop the state plan for FFY2013. Mr. Sigman explained that establishing goals and priorities was a primary focus of the state plan.

Youth Leadership Program (YLP) Sponsorship: In previous years, the SRC co-sponsored this program with funds of $7,500 and also asked that the Vocational Rehabilitation Program match this level of co-sponsorship.  A motion was made and seconded to support the program again this year at the same level of $7,500 in SRC co-sponsorship and $7,500 in Vocational Rehabilitation Program co-sponsorship.  Mr. Stovall abstained from voting as he serves on the board of YLP. All other members voted in favor.

Report from Director

Organization Update: Mr. Sigman commended Ms. Giudice for her diligence in working to have new members appointed to the SRC. He acknowledged that other states have shared similar experiences of losing much of their current membership as a result of the RSA policy guidance that came out in October, 2011. Mr. Sigman reiterated to the members that the policy guidance made it clear that the remaining members are authorized to carry forth the full duties of the Council. He also reviewed the provisions and options detailed within the Rehabilitation Act pertaining to the Council’s composition and duties so the members were aware of the various approaches available to them for fulfilling their required duties.

Mr. Sigman also detailed the current structure of the new Bureau of Rehabilitative Services. The BESB Program continues to operate a designated state unit for vocational rehabilitation under the current structure of the bureau. The new director of the bureau, Dr. Amy Porter, will be meeting with consumer groups and the various boards and commissions of the bureau to obtain their perspective before making long-range decisions on the structure of the bureau. 

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman reported that based upon current information and financial projections, he is projecting that the BRS- BESB Vocational Rehabilitation Program would have sufficient funding to serve all eligible clients in federal fiscal year 2013.  The Governor’s proposed budget includes several new positions for the business office functions of the new bureau.

Position Refills Update: Ms. Burgard reported that a new Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Counselor has been hired. She is bilingual in English and Spanish. She is assigned to the Southwestern region of the state. Mr. Sigman announced that Ms. Karen Olsen was hired as the Supervisor of Children’s Services, replacing Jeanette Haines who retired in February.

National Update: Mr. Sigman reported on a bill within the Senate of Congress that would have allowed for the commercialization of rest areas on highways. In many states, including Connecticut, vending machine income from these locations helps to sustain the Randolph-Sheppard program. In some states, there are blind entrepreneurs who operate food service and concession stores at these rest areas. After members of Congress heard from advocates and consumer groups, the commercialization provision of the bill was defeated. It is still unknown if the Rehabilitation Act will be reauthorized during this session of Congress.

Report from Chair

Ms. Rafala thanked the members for their commitment to the Council and looked forward to the June meeting.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 10:38 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for June 20, 2012 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at BESB.

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State of Connecticut

Bureau of Rehabilitative Services

BESB Program

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council to the BESB Program

MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

December 7, 2011

Members Present: Mr. David Gregoire, Ms. Andrea Giudice, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, Mr. Stephen Dombrowski, Mr. Ian Rickard, Mr. Bruce Stovall, Mr. Jim Schwarzhaupt, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Ms. Marisel Mandry, Ms. Janette Peracchio, Ms. Mary Silverberg, Ms. Randa Utter, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Tina Rafala, Ms. Judy Tencza, and Mr. Robert Gorman by teleconference.

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor; Mr. Mike Ferris, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor; and Mr. Mark Ward, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.

September 28, 2011 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Ms. Giudice submitted to the Governor’s Office the names of those members whose first term has expired and their reappointment requests are under review.  For all of the members whose second term expired, Ms. Giudice has contacted potential successors to explain the appointment process to them.  She will remain in contact with the Governor’s office to try to obtain approvals for all of the reappointments by the next council meeting in March.

Finance Committee: Mr. Schwarzhaupt presented a summary for fiscal year 2012’s innovation and expansion activities, with commitments totaling $9,526.

Consumer Satisfaction: Mr. Sigman reported the survey was completed by Central Connecticut State University and it will be posted on the agency’s website.  The overall outcome is that more than 90 percent of clients surveyed would recommend vocational rehabilitation services to a friend.  Many categories of service received lower satisfaction ratings than in prior years and the Vocational Rehabilitation Program staff have been reviewing the results and discussing ideas for increasing satisfaction ratings for next year. Mr. Rickard suggested that in the future, the survey caller should give an example of what the service is when they ask the questions about satisfaction with the particular service.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Mark Ward, VR Counselor at BESB introduced Mr. Richard Cognata.  Mr. Cognata started receiving services in 2005 when he lost his sight.  He received mobility services with Mr. Matt Cornelius and Ms. Julie McLean, Rehabilitation Teacher, taught him how to maintain his home and later on, taught him how to use a computer.  Mr. Ward became his new VR Counselor in 2008.  Mr. Cognata received training and adaptive technology assistance and he is now employed as a freight broker.  He reported that he is very pleased with the assistance that he received from Mr. Ward and the VR Program.

RSA Guidance on SRC Membership: In late October, Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) issued a Technical Assistance Circular addressing the topic of appointments to the SRC. In the circular, RSA noted that they have become aware of numerous states that are using state regulations, policies or other approaches to maintain the appointment status of SRC members beyond the maximum of two consecutive three-year terms. In the Technical Assistance Circular, RSA stated that such approaches are not consistent with the appointment requirements in the Rehabilitation Act. Even if a state’s Governor has appointed a person to the SRC to serve until their successor is named, the federal law does not permit that appointee to serve beyond the expiration date of their appointment and also not beyond the maximum time permitted in the federal law (except in the case of the representatives of the Client Assistance Program or the Native American VR program). Additionally, no member can represent two categories of appointment at the same time (such as employer and recipient of services for example).  If a member did not finish their term, their successor must be appointed for the remainder of the vacated term, not a full 3 year term.  When a member’s term expires, he/she can no longer serve on the Council unless he/she is reappointed to a second term.  As a result of this RSA Technical Assistance Circular,  Mr. Sigman reported that for many of the members in attendance, this would need to be their last meeting as appointed members of the SRC.  Although Ms. Giudice’s circumstances fall within this category, she offered to continue to assist the SRC with membership outreach.

Annual Report: Mr. Gregoire is in the process of preparing the annual report for submission to the Governor’s Office.

Old Business

Call for Nominations of Officers for 2012: The floor was opened for nominations.  From the membership of individuals whose terms are still current, Ms. Rafala was nominated for the position of Chair; Ms. Silverberg as Vice Chair; Mr. Stovall as Secretary and Mr. Dombrowski as Treasurer.

Election of Officers for 2012: The slate of officers was presented with Ms. Rafala to serve as Chair; Ms. Silverberg as Vice Chair; Mr. Stovall as Secretary and Mr. Dombrowski as Treasurer.  As no further nominations were given, a motion was made, seconded and approved unanimously to close the floor for nominations and put this Slate of Officers to a vote.  A motion was made, seconded and approved unanimously to vote the slate of officers collectively and the membership unanimously voted this slate of officers into office.

Report from Director

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman reported that based upon current information and financial projections, he is projecting that the BRS- BESB Program would have sufficient funding to serve all eligible clients in both federal fiscal years 2012 or 2013.

Position Refills Update: The BRS- BESB VR Program has recruited and received  applications for a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor position.  The preference is an individual who is bilingual in English and Spanish who will cover the southeast portion of the state.  Ms. Burgard is reviewing applications to see if any candidates meet that criteria.  The agency also recruited for an Education Consultant in Children’s Services and their preference is to hire an individual with expertise in deaf-blindness.

National Update: Mr. Sigman reported that a committee had been developed to look at the issue of accessible textbooks for college students.  They have completed their review and come up with a number of recommendations for Congress to consider, including that there should be a uniform set of standards for providing accessible materials to college students.  It is still unknown if the Rehabilitation Act will be reauthorized during this session of Congress.

Report from Chair

Mr. Gregoire thanked the Council members for serving and stated he is always available for assistance.

In her role as the new Chair, Ms. Rafala accepted Mr. Giudice’s offer to continue to assist with recruiting new members to the SRC.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:04 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for March 21, 2012 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at BESB.

 
 
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State of Connecticut

Bureau of Rehabilitative Services

BESB Program

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council to the BESB Program

 MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

September 28, 2011

Members Present: Mr. David Gregoire, Ms. Tina Rafala, Mr. William Baiocchi, Mr. Stephen Dombrowski, Mr. Al Thompson Jr., Mr. Brian Cunnane, Ms. Randa Utter, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Ms. Mary Silverberg, Mr. Ian Rickard, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Christine Ford,

Ms. Janette Peracchio, Mr. David Figley, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, and Ms. Andrea Giudice.

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor; and Mr. Andrew Norton, Legislative and Administrative Advisor.

June 29, 2011 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Ms. Giudice reported that many Council members’ terms have expired.  For those whose first term expired, she will contact the Governor’s Office to resubmit those names to renew their membership.  For those whose second term expired, successors are needed.  She requested members suggest possible successors and she will also contact Mr. Barry Rita of BESB’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) to see if some mentors might be interested in becoming a member.

Finance Committee: Mr. Sigman provided an update. Since the last quarterly reporting period, a closed circuit television was purchased for the Southeast Connecticut Community Center of the Blind’s adaptive technology lab and software was purchased for the adaptive lab at BESB.  The first installment to Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) for conducting the consumer satisfaction survey has been committed.

Consumer Satisfaction: Mr. Sigman reported the survey is currently being conducted by the Center for Policy and Research at Central Connecticut State University.  A few members of this Council received calls from them and stated the survey was very comprehensive, and it was handled professionally by the caller.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Michael Cordero, VR College Counselor at BESB introduced Ms. Courtney Tabor.  Mr. Cordero provided an overview of the transition process from high school to college. 

Mr. Cordero has worked with Ms. Tabor since her sophomore year by attending PPTs and assisting her through her college transition.  She expressed her gratitude to Mr. Cordero and the BESB Program.  Ms. Tabor said she has had a very positive experience with the VR Program and received financial and technology assistance and equipment.  She attended Middlebury College in Vermont and then transitioned to the University of New England School of Social Work and graduated.  She is currently seeking employment in the area of disability advocacy.

SRC Meeting Dates for the Upcoming Year: Next year’s calendar was reviewed and the following dates were chosen: March 21, 2012; June 20, 2012; September 19, 2012; and December 19, 2012.

Additional Members for the Business Plan Review Committee: Mr. Sigman provided an overview of the responsibilities of this committee and stated that 3 members of the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors are interested in becoming members on this committee.  Ms. Ford, Mr. Thompson and Mr. Figley from this Council also expressed interest.  After a review of the backgrounds of the candidates, a motion was made and seconded to accept the 3 members from the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors and also the 3 members of this Council to be on the committee as well and the continuation of Mr. Gregoire and Mr. Schwarzhaupt.  All voted in favor.

Mr. Sigman then asked the SRC for their advisory opinion regarding a current business plan that has been approved by two of the three members of the Business Plan Review Committee, but the third member has voted no. After discussion of the policy language, a motion was made and seconded that this Council’s interpretation of wording of the policy is that approval by a simple majority of the members (two of the three members) would represent approval of a business plan by the Committee.  All voted in favor.

A second motion was then made and seconded that this Council is advising the VR Program that the interpretation of the word “approved” should be adopted as meaning a simple majority for all business plans. All voted in favor.

Annual Report Assignments: Mr. Gregoire will prepare the annual report for submission to the Governor’s Office.

Old Business

Call for Nominations of Officers for 2012: Due to the expiration of so many Council members’ terms, the nomination process has been tabled so that Ms. Giudice can contact the Governor’s office to resubmit for renewal the names of those members whose first term expired.  A motion was made and seconded that the current slate of officers hold their positions for another 90 days to give this Council continuity of leadership until new members are appointed. All voted in favor.

Election of Officers for 2012: This is tabled until the nomination of officers is put forth.

Report from Director

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman provided an overview of the new organizational structure of the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services.  He stated that there would be sufficient funding to continue to serve all eligible individuals in Vocational Rehabilitation in federal fiscal year 2012.

Position Refills Update: Mr. Sigman stated the VR Program has one Rehabilitation Counselor vacancy that the Program is hoping to fill in the coming fiscal year.

National Update: Mr. Sigman stated that it is still uncertain if the Rehabilitation Act will be reauthorized during this session of Congress.  The federal government is focusing on reducing spending and it is also not known at this time as to whether any of the proposed spending reduction plans will have a direct impact of the Vocational Rehabilitation grants.

Report from Chair

Mr. Gregoire attended the graduation at the Youth Leadership Forum at UConn and found it to be enlightening and enriching to hear the different success stories from the students.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:39 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for December 7, 2011 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at BESB.

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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council

 MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

June 29, 2011

Members Present: Mr. David Gregoire, Ms. Andrea Giudice, Mr. William Baiocchi, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, Mr. Ian Rickard, Mr. Al Thompson Jr., Ms. Janette Peracchio, Ms. Randa Utter, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Mr. Jim Schwarzhaupt, Ms. Mary Silverberg, Mr. Robert Gorman, Ms. Christine Ford, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Tina Rafala, and Mr. Stephen Dombrowski.

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor; and Mr. Andrew Norton, Legislative and Administrative Advisor.

March 30, 2011 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Ms. Giudice reported there are 8 members, 3 of them being Officers, whose terms expire June 30, 2011 and will need to have successors.  Ms. Giudice will contact each Council member to review their contact and term information and present this information at the September meeting.

Finance Committee: Mr. Schwarzhaupt presented a breakdown for FY 11’s innovation and expansion activities of commitments totaling $63,316.42.

Consumer Satisfaction: A motion was made and seconded to retain Central Connecticut State University for the FFY 2011 consumer satisfaction survey, but that they will not perform any work on this project until it is determined if BESB will continue to have a separate vocational rehabilitation unit under the new Bureau of Rehabilitative Services.  All voted in favor.

New Business

VR Success Story: Ms. Julie McLean, VR Counselor at BESB introduced Mr. Ivan Hincapie.  Ms. McLean began by providing an overview of the homemaker program.  Mr. Hincapie lost his vision suddenly in December, 2010. Ms. McLean stated he has accomplished a great deal in the last six months. Mr. Hincapie expressed his gratitude for all of the services he received from this Agency and he is now able to do so much more independently than he had imagined to be possible.  He thinks of this Agency as a bridge that brought him to feeling alive again and able to contribute to his family and the community.  Before being blinded, he was going to start a limousine service and in the future, with BESB’s assistance, he would like to proceed with those plans.

Review & Approval of State Plan for 2012: A motion was made and seconded to authorize the current state plan draft to go forward for public comment if the new BRS has a separate vocational rehabilitation unit for the blind. The Council authorized the State Plan Subcommittee to work with the staff in reviewing any public comments received and to make minor adjustments to the plan that considers the public comments prior to submission to RSA.  All voted in favor.

Call for Nominations for Officers for 2012 (to be voted on in September): Motion was made and seconded to carry forward the nominating process until the September meeting.  All voted in favor.

Old Business

SRC Annual Report: The Council discussed the need for an annual report if there is a designated unit for the blind in the new Bureau of Rehabilitative Services. The Council will revisit this agenda item at the September meeting.

Report from Director

Budget Update: Looking at current funding projections, if there continues to be a separate state unit for individuals who are blind in the new BRS, there would be sufficient funding to continue to serve all eligible individuals in federal fiscal year 2012.

National Update: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee released their draft proposals to move the Workforce Investment Act to reauthorization.  The Rehabilitation Act is Title 4 of this reauthorization bill.  At this point, the draft reauthorization proposal has not gone out to public hearing, but it was distributed to organizations including the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind and the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation.  There are some provisions in the draft reauthorization that are concerning to both organizations. SRC members were encouraged to visit the websites of both organizations to read their position papers on the proposed reauthorization (www.ncsab.org and www.rehabnetwork.org).

Position Refills Update: Mr. Sigman reported that there are 3 vacant positions in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program but due to the hiring freeze, there is presently no recruitment underway.

Report from Chair

Mr. Gregoire stated that the success story at this meeting described so eloquently the reasons why this Agency and this Council exists.  Mr. Gregoire stated that despite all of what is currently occurring, there is still a job that needs to be done, particularly in the area of advocating for services for people who are blind.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:27 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for September 28, 2011 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at BESB.

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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council

 MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

March 30, 2011

Members Present: Mr. David Gregoire, Ms. Andrea Giudice, Mr. Robert Gorman, Ms. Anne Fortunato, Mr. Brian Cunnane, Mr. Al Thompson Jr., Ms. Brenda Sullivan, Ms. Randa Utter, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Mr. Ian Rickard, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, Mr. Jim Schwarzhaupt, Ms. Mary Silverberg, Mr. Brian Sigman, Mr. David Figley, Ms. Tina Rafala, and Ms. Christine Ford.

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor; Mr. Andrew Norton, Legislative and Administrative Advisor; Ms. Marion Lynch, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor; and Ms. Jolene Nemeth, Vocational Rehabilitation Technologist.

December 1, 2010 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Ms. Giudice will contact each Council member to review their contact and term information and present this information at the June meeting.

Finance Committee: Mr. Schwarzhaupt presented a summary for FY 11’s innovation and expansion activities with commitments including CSAVR dues, CCSU Needs Assessment, GCYD scholarship and Newsline.  The Youth Leadership Forum will also be sponsored.

Consumer Satisfaction: The decision as to who will be conducting the next consumer satisfaction survey will be deferred to the next Council meeting in June.

New Business

Youth Leadership Forum Sponsorship: The SRC previously committed at the December meeting to fund $7500 for co-sponsorship and also for the Vocational Rehabilitation Program to match this level of $7500 funding for co-sponsorship.  Some Council members expressed interest in participating in this event as mentors or helpers.

Consolidation of BESB: Mr. Rickard attended one of Governor’s town meetings with the hope of speaking about the dissatisfaction amongst the blind community with the proposed consolidation of BESB, but he did not have an opportunity to raise this concern.  Ms. Dodd, Mr. Rickard and Ms. Sullivan volunteered to conduct research as to dates, times and locations of upcoming town meetings and the best procedures for having an opportunity to speak at them.  They will disseminate this information to the Council membership.

Mr. Norton explained that the merging of BESB involves Senate Bill 1012 that contains the implementer language for shifting current agency responsibilities over to the Departments of Social Services and Education.  The Appropriations Committee now has this bill, as well as the budget bill for BESB.

VR Success Story: Ms. Marion Lynch, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at BESB introduced Ms. Jolene Nemeth, Rehabilitation Technologist at BESB.  Ms. Lynch started working with Ms. Nemeth in 2007.  Through funding provided by BESB, Ms. Nemeth went to Eastern Conn. State University, the Carroll Center for independent living training, and Lions World Services for assistive technology instructor training.  As she was completing her 9 month internship at Lions World, an opening for a rehabilitation teacher at BESB in Vocational Rehabilitation became available.  Ms. Nemeth applied for the position and she was hired to teach others who are blind how to use adaptive technology. Ms. Lynch added that she is an excellent teacher and a great resource for clients and agency staff.  She teaches students how to use computers, note taking devices and similar products. Ms. Nemeth is always looking for new things to learn and keeps current with the latest technological advances. Ms. Nemeth described how BESB services enabled her to achieve independence in her career as well as in her personal life.

FY 2011 State Plan Subcommittee Recommendations:   Mr. Sigman reported that the state plan subcommittee held several meetings to develop measures for the current state plan that pertain to the results of the comprehensive needs assessment and the consumer satisfaction survey. The subcommittee consisted of David Gregoire, Tina Rafala, Randa Nesman and Ian Rickard. Mr. Sigman reviewed each of the state plan goals that required action by the SRC:

·       BESB funds SRC participation in two training programs/conferences and the SRC cosponsors two rehabilitation events during the fiscal year. Documentation of these activities is on file.

Mr. Sigman noted that at the prior SRC meeting, there was a vote for the SRC to be a sponsor of the Youth Leadership Forum, the Governor’s Coalition for Youth with Disabilities and the Disability Employment Conference coming up in April. 

·       The results of comprehensive needs assessment, as conducted by a professional surveying organization is reviewed with the SRC and two measureable strategies are developed for outreach to underserved populations.

Subsequent to reviewing the results of the comprehensive needs assessment at the prior SRC meeting, the state plan subcommittee has developed the following proposed measures for the SRC to consider:

1.    For the upcoming technology fair to be held at BESB on June 1, 2011, the Counselors that work closest with community based organizations that serve individuals from underserved populations will personally invite their staff to attend the fair.

2.    The Counselors who work closest with the community based organizations that serve individuals from underserved populations will outreach to a faith-based organization to register as an exhibitor at one of their upcoming conferences, and seek to be a speaker on the conference agenda regarding BESB services. 

·       The results of the client satisfaction survey are reviewed with the SRC and two measureable strategies for improving on the delivery of services are implemented.

Subsequent to reviewing the results of the consumer satisfaction survey at the prior SRC meeting, the state plan subcommittee has developed the following proposed measures for the SRC to consider:

1.    Under the category of small business ventures, the subcommittee concluded that the new policy for this service adds clarity to the types of funding that are available and also clarifies the expectations of the client and the agency. It was concluded that removing ambiguity from the process of applying for agency funding would be beneficial. Additionally, the subcommittee recommends that a business plan template be developed to provide to clients so that there will be clear expectations for the content, format and length of each business plan.

2.    The second vocational rehabilitation service that the state plan subcommittee reviewed was higher education training. For this past year’s survey, the level of satisfaction dropped by half, compared to prior years. Unfortunately, the “drill-down” question asked by the survey group only yielded one comment from the sample of clients, and the response was insufficient to explain why the level of satisfaction was so much lower this year. The subcommittee is recommending that additional “drill-down” questions be added to this year’s survey to ascertain if the client was a full-time or part-time student; if the student attended a traditional college or other type of post-secondary training program; and in situations where there are low levels of satisfaction reported, the third “drill-down” question will be open-ended, so that the survey group can get a better understanding of the reason(s) for dissatisfaction.

·       BESB and the SRC cosponsor the Connecticut Community Providers (CCPA) conference, addressing employment with long-term supports for individuals with multiple barriers to employment.

If CCPA does hold their annual conference, the state plan subcommittee recommends that the SRC be a cosponsor.

A motion was made and seconded to adopt these recommendations of the subcommittee as the state plan strategies that will be implemented based on these state plan goals.  All voted in favor.

In regards to the state plan that will become effective on October 1, 2011, Mr. Sigman spoke with Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) in regards to the proposed consolidation of BESB that would become effective on July 1, 2011. RSA recommended that development of the new state plan proceed. If the agency does get consolidated, then the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services would need to amend their state plan since BESB would no longer have a separate state unit for Vocational Rehabilitation.

Old Business

SRC Annual Report: The report has been submitted and is now on the BESB website.

Small Business Policy Approved by Board: Mr. Gregoire stated the new policy which this Council charged him to take to the Board of Directors was approved with minor modifications by the Board at their March 17, 2011 meeting. It becomes effective on April 1, 2011.

Report from Director

National Update: Congress has not yet passed a budget for the current federal fiscal year. As a result, the agency does not know what the level of federal funding will be for Vocational Rehabilitation, Independent Living, and Independent Living Older Blind. It is not known at this time if the Congress will recommend reductions to the Rehabilitation Act grants. President Obama’s budget recommends consolidating Supported Employment, Inservice Training and Projects with Industry into the Vocational Rehabilitation grant. If this were to occur, then these funds would need to be matched by the state, and then the state VR agency would need to allot funds for each of these other programs.    Based upon current information and financial projections, Mr. Sigman is projecting that the BESB Vocational Rehabilitation Program would not need to enter into an order of selection for the federal fiscal year that begins October 1, 2011. However, if BESB’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program is consolidated into BRS, then clients currently served by BESB would be rolled into the BRS program, which is operating under an order of selection.

Budget Update: The Governor’s proposed budget retains the current levels of state funding for Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living. If consolidation were to occur, all current monies for the adult programs here at BESB would be transferred to BRS without any funding reduction.    

Position Refills Update: Mr. Sigman reported there are 3 positions that are either vacant now or will be vacant shortly. A Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who has been doing outreach to underserved populations has resigned; the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Coordinator is retiring effective April 1, and a Vocational Rehabilitation  Special Assistant vacancy was advertised for already.  For the Special Assistant vacancy, the interview committee will begin screening the high volume of applications to determine who will be granted an interview. With the Counselor and Coordinator vacancies, the agency is holding off for now on seeking refills until it is known if the agency will be consolidated.

Report from Chair

Mr. Gregoire reminded the Council members of their advocacy role and encouraged the membership to express their views on the need for dedicated services for people who are blind.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:29 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for June 29, 2011 from 9:30 to 12:00 noon at BESB.

 
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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council

 MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

December 1, 2010

Members Present: Mr. Ian Rickard, Mr. Jim Schwarzhaupt, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Ms. Randa Utter, Ms. Mary Silverberg, Ms. Tina Rafala, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Andrea Giudice, Mr. William Baiocchi, Mr. Robert Gorman, Mr. Brian Cunnane, Ms. Judy Tencza, Ms. Marisol Mandry, Mr. David Figley, Ms. Christine Ford, and Mr. David Gregoire.  By teleconference was Mr. Steve Dombrowski.

Others Present: Mr. Raymond DeBlasio; Ms. Roberta Hurley, Chair of the Business Partnership Committee at BRS and also a member on their State Rehab. Council; Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor, and Mr. Barry Rita, Education Projects Coordinator.

September 8, 2010 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Ms. Giudice introduced Mr. Ray DeBlasio who is interested in becoming a Council member.  She requested Council members contact her if they are not receiving materials in their preferred format or if they need to change their contact information.

Finance Committee: Mr. Schwarzhaupt presented a summary for FY 11’s innovation and expansion activities, with commitments totaling $8,910 so far for the comprehensive needs assessment and NCSAB membership.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Barry Rita, Education Projects Coordinator at BESB introduced Ms. Heather Walton who had served as a delegate in the Youth Leadership Forum (YLF).  Mr. Rita began working with Ms.  Walton through the Youth Leadership Forum and she has told him that the program changed her life.  She is now in college and using what she has learned in YLF to help other students.  With the assistance of the Workforce Board, she became employed at Griffin Hospital in Derby for two summers.  The hospital offered her a job after the summer, but she already had already committed to college.  Ms. Walton stated that her experiences with the Workforce Board and Griffin Hospital were extremely positive and she hopes to be able to go back to Griffin Hospital this summer.  Mr. Leone from the Workforce Board provided a brief overview of their program that creates employment opportunities for youth in the southwest region of the state.

Measures and goals per BESB’s Voc Rehab State Plan: Mr. Sigman gave an overview of goals in the VR State Plan that involves the Council for implementation. Two of the state plan goals directly involve the SRC co-sponsoring training programs/conferences as well as rehabilitation events. In the past, the SRC has cosponsored the Governor’s Coalition for Youth with Disabilities (GCYD) at the $4,000 level and the Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) at $7,500, with BESB Vocational Rehabilitation matching that funding level for YLF.  Mr. Sigman also mentioned an upcoming conference on services available to people with disabilities that will be held in April. A motion was made, seconded and approved unanimously to co-sponsor the GCYD and YLF at the prior year’s level and to be a co-sponsor of the disability conference at $2,000.

An overview of the findings of the comprehensive needs assessment and the consumer satisfaction survey was provided and discussion took place on the VR State Plan goals that involve the SRC in developing two measurable strategies for outreach to underserved populations, and two measurable strategies for improving the delivery of services.  A motion was made, seconded, and approved unanimously for the State Plan Subcommittee to reconvene, review the results of the reports, and make proposed recommendations for implementation at the March SRC meeting.

Old Business

Subcommittee on Business Plan Policy Revisions: The Council reviewed the proposed draft revisions to the agency policy for self-employment and small business funding.  A motion was made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to move forward with the proposed revisions as drafted and submit the proposal to the Board of Directors for consideration.  Mr. Gregoire will be attending the Board of Directors meeting and the SRC members recommended that if the Board seeks to make substantive changes that alter the intent of the proposed policy revisions, that Mr. Gregoire request that the board table the matter so that the Council can reconvene on the policy change.

SRC Annual Report: Mr. Gregoire is working on the report and will notify the Council when it has been completed.

Report from Director

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman stated that the agency received an additional $125,000 from the federal government through their reallotment process.  Additionally, the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services transferred $400,000 of their ARRA funding to BESB.  With this additional funding, based upon current information, preliminary projections indicated that Vocational Rehabilitation could continue to serve all eligible individuals through the completion of federal fiscal year 2012.

Position Refills Update: Mr. Sigman reported there is a Special Assistant vacancy in Vocational Rehabilitation.

National Update: Mr. Sigman reported that the new Congress will be coming into office in January and that he is not aware of any discussions at present about passing the Workforce Investment Act (which contains the Rehabilitation Act) before the adjournment of the current Congress.

Report from Chair

Mr. Gregoire will report to Council members on what occurred at the Board of Directors meeting with regards the Small Business Plans.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:03 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for March 30, 2011 from 9:30 to 12:00 noon at BESB.

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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council

 MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

September 8, 2010

Members Present: Ms. Andrea Giudice, Mr. William Baiocchi, Ms. Mary Silverberg, Mr. Brian Cunnane, Ms. Randa Utter, Ms. Christine Ford, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Mr. Al Thompson Jr., Mr. David Figley, Ms. Janette Peracchio, Ms. Tina Rafala, Mr. Brian Sigman and Mr. David Gregoire.  By teleconference were Ms. Brenda Sullivan and Mr. Robert Gorman.

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor and Mr. Mike Ferris, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.

June 9, 2010 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Ms. Giudice introduced Mr. Baiocchi as the latest Council member.  She requested Council members contact her

if they are not receiving materials in their preferred format or if they want to change their contact information.  She can be reached at 

dawgmawm@gmail.com.

Finance Committee: Mr. Sigman reported there were no new funding commitments since the last Council meeting.  The last installment to Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) for conducting the consumer satisfaction survey and the needs assessment will be committed in October.

Consumer Satisfaction: Central Connecticut State University’s Center for Public Policy and Social Research is currently conducting the satisfaction survey and will incorporate the information from that survey into a final report.  Ms. Giudice and Mr. Baiocchi informed the Council that they received calls for the survey and both were very impressed with the professionalism of the CCSU staff who contacted them.

New Business

Policy for Client Business Plans: Mr. Sigman reported on the increase in volume and funding level requests for Small Business Plans. Existing policy does not factor in a cost limit on agency funding and Mr. Sigman indicated that federal regulations prohibit the establishment of finite cost caps on VR services. In consulting with   Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), it was found that an agency can put in place policies that have specific threshold requirements to access levels of funding, such as establishing higher matching requirements for larger funding requests from the agency. The second issue is there needs to be a methodology for measuring the viability of the proposals so that if approved, then after a certain amount of time, there is income being generated that substantiates the achievement of gainful employment.  A subcommittee was formed to review the current policy and make proposed revisions.  Mr. Gregoire, Ms. Giudice, Ms. Ford and Mr. Thompson volunteered to serve on this subcommittee.  They will bring their proposed revisions to the December meeting.  A teleconference will be set up in October.

VR Success Story: Mr. Mike Ferris, VR Counselor at BESB introduced Mr. Tim Cooper who set up a nonprofit organization called March for Education. He has been in this endeavor for the past 2 years and he has developed his own website, marchforeducation.com.  Prior to this, he was a recipient of a business plan and currently runs a small business videotaping weddings, etc.  March for Education is a non-profit organization that reaches out to children who need resources and supports for education.  His organization has yearly motivational parades and festivals.  This year the Mayor of Bridgeport will be in attendance as well as members of the Board of Education and local politicians.  BESB’s Children’s Services will have a booth at the upcoming event. His organization stresses the importance of motivating children to maintain their education and values.  He wants to develop college scholarships for students.  Through BESB, Mr. Cooper attended a series of training classes at the Connecticut Non Profit Association in Hartford and learned about fund raising and setting up a board of directors.  BESB funding was also used to provide Mr. Cooper with reading glasses and equipment for his business.

Election of Officers for 2011: Ms. Giudice presented the slate of officers from the June meeting with Mr. Gregoire for Chair, Mr. Rickard for Vice Chair, Ms. Peracchio for Secretary, and Mr. Schwarzhaupt for Treasurer.  Ms. Giudice opened the floor for nominations, but

there were none.  As no further nominations were given, a motion was made, seconded and accepted unanimously to close the floor for nominations and put this Slate of Officers to a vote.  A motion was made, seconded and approved unanimously to vote the slate of officers collectively.  The membership unanimously voted this Slate of Officers into office.

Meeting Dates for 2011: Next year’s calendar was reviewed and the following dates were chosen: March 30, 2011; June 29, 2011; September 28, 2011; and December 7, 2011.

Annual Report – Assignment of Sections: Mr. Gregoire will prepare the annual report for submission to the Governor’s Office.

Report from Director

Budget Update: Due to the state’s deficit, state agencies are being 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 the agency has utilized approximately 85% of the funds so far, providing for more than 70 internships and on-the-job training situations.  Based upon information presently available, Mr. Sigman reported that VR is projecting to serve all eligible VR clients in federal fiscal year 2011, avoiding the need for an order of selection in that year. However, in carrying fiscal projections into federal fiscal year 2012, it does not appear at present that the agency would be able to serve all eligible clients during that year. This will require the agency and the State Rehabilitation Council to prepare for the implementation of an order of selection for federal fiscal year 2012.

There is a new Connecticut Tax Credit for employers who hire a client of this agency.  A fact sheet was developed detailing this credit as well as the Federal Tax Credit program which will allow employers to receive two tax credits.

Position Refills Update: Mr. Sigman reported in VR there are no open positions.

National Update: Mr. Sigman reported the agency will be exploring if there are plans for the federal health care reform regulations to include any provisions for the coverage of low vision devices.

There was also an agreement reached between Congress and automobile manufacturers to add an audible feature to hybrid cars within 3 years. These vehicles currently are nearly soundless and pose a significant safety concern to people with vision impairments.

Regarding state matters, there are 3 things that will be discussed at the upcoming strategic planning meeting and then brought to the agency Board.  One topic has to do with voting machine privacy.  The accessible voting machines used in this state segregate the paper ballot into a separate bin from the rest of the paper ballots cast at the polling location. This has raised privacy concerns that need to be addressed.

Another area of concern has to do with the quarantining of guide dogs that bite a person. There is a provision exempting police dogs that bite from quarantining and the agency would like to explore if a similar provision could be included for guide dogs that are current on their rabies vaccine and that are under veterinarian care. Since a guide dog is used a person who is blind to access the community, quarantining a guide dog is a safety concern.

BESB is also exploring the development of a best practice formula that would identify the optimal staff level for mobility services to adults and children. A subcommittee of mobility instructors was formed and will be coming forth with a proposal at the strategic planning meeting.

There is a public hearing on Monday, September 13, 2010 on the proposed revision to the Adult Services Independent Living Program’s low vision policy.  The Adult Services program is unable to sustain the current level of low vision purchased services through eye doctors.  The federal Older Blind Grant is taken up entirely in salary, fringe benefits and indirect charges.  Older Blind Stimulus funding has almost been fully used up and it is not uncommon for low vision requests to exceed $500.  The proposed policy revision would place a cost ceiling of $200 on the purchase of low vision devices from eye doctors for clients served in the Independent Living Program.  Rehabilitation Teachers are already in the process of providing non-prescribed magnifiers and high intensity lighting to clients through agency inventory in an effort to reduce the number of referrals to eye doctors for non-prescription low vision services.

Report from Chair

Mr. Gregoire went to the Youth Leadership Forum luncheon and reported that he was very grateful to go and listen to students talk about their leadership development experiences at the camp. Mr. Gregoire noted that sponsorship of this camp by the SRC was funding well spent.  Some students received scholarships for college.  He stated he was going next year to volunteer for the camp in some capacity and encouraged other SRC members to contact Barry Rita about the program. 

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:31 a.m.

The next council meeting is scheduled for December 1, 2010 from 9:30 to 12:00 noon at BESB.

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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut 06095

State Rehabilitation Council

MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

June 9, 2010

Members Present: Ms. Judy Tencza, Mr. Jim Schwarzhaupt, Ms. Mary Silverberg, Ms. Janette Peracchio, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Andrea Giudice, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, Mr. Al Thompson Jr., Mr. Ian Rickard, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Ms. Anne Fortunato and Mr. Stephen Dombrowski. By teleconference were Mr. David Gregoire and Ms. Randa Utter.

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor; Mr. Andrew Norton, Legislative and Administrative Advisor; and Mr. Mark Ward, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.

March 10, 2010 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Mr. Sigman reported that Mr. Dombrowski has been designated to represent the Workforce Investment Board by their Chair.  Mr. Dombrowski also represents Business/Industry/Labor, so now he will have a dual role on the State Rehabilitation Council.

Finance Committee: Mr. Schwarzhaupt reported on the funding commitments to Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) for conducting the consumer satisfaction survey and the needs assessment, bringing the total commitments for all innovation and expansion activities in federal fiscal year 2010 to $74,179.

Consumer Satisfaction: CCSU’s Center for Public Policy and Social Research has begun the comprehensive needs assessment and the gathering of information for the consumer satisfaction survey.  Mr. Sigman stated that the Agency Consumer Advisory Committee (ACAC) has identified a need for adults who are served through the Independent Living Program to receive adaptive computer training beyond what the Agency is currently able to do, so that will likely come out as a recommendation in the needs assessment.  The consumer survey will occur later this summer.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Mark Ward, VR Counselor at BESB introduced Mr. Joshua Halle who works at Hometown Buffet in Waterbury.  He has been employed there for 6 months working in the dish room and assisting with food preparation.  He loves working with food and feels that working there is a good match for him.  Through BESB funding, Mr. Halle received low vision services, participated in a work assessment and received job coaching services through Easter Seals of Waterbury.  During his work assessment, Hometown Buffet liked his work and hired him. 

Guest Speaker-Transportation Issues: Ms. Pat Williams, Director of Greater Hartford Paratransit provided an overview of their services.  They follow CT Transit routes and are able to go 3/4 mile beyond their routes.  They provide transportation as far north as the airport, south to Middletown, west to Farmington and east to the Vernon, Rockville area and it is door to door service if needed.  Each fare is $2.50 one way or a book of tickets for 10 rides is $22.50 which can be purchased on line, at Stop & Shop or by mail.  They have 113 vehicles, serving 8,000 people and providing trips daily to over 1,000 people.  Applicants must go through an application process.  They do coordinate services with other ADA Paratransits both in and out of state, but they must be notified in advance of the need. 

Review & Approval of State Plan for 2011: As no public comments were received from any of the five public hearings, Mr. Sigman requested approval to submit the State Plan to the Board of Directors.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to approve the State Plan and forward it to the Board for approval and subsequently be submitted to Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).

Order of Selection Policy:  The State Plan Subcommittee reviewed BESB’s current policy language regarding order of selection and developed a document that refines the definition.  This document went to public hearings and no public comments were received.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to submit the changes to the Board of Directors and then submit it to RSA.

Call for Nominations for Officers for 2011 (to be voted on in September): Ms. Giudice opened the floor for nominations.  Mr. Gregoire was nominated to serve as Chair; Mr. Rickard was nominated for Vice Chair; Ms. Peracchio was nominated to continue as Secretary; and Mr. Schwarzhaupt was nominated for Treasurer.  This slate of officers will be presented at September’s meeting for a vote.

Report from Director

Budget Update: Based upon information presently available, Mr. Sigman reported that VR is projecting enough available funding to serve all eligible individuals in fiscal year 2011.

Legislative Update – Federal Perspective: Mr. Sigman reported on three bills before Congress. The first is the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009.  Auto manufacturers agreed to implement some type of noise generating device on hybrid vehicles to alert pedestrians of their presence.  The second is the Technology Bill of Rights for the Blind which would require manufacturers of appliances and electronics to provide accessible buttons and features to new products.  The third bill is the Blind Persons Return To Work Act that would eliminate the cliff on earnings for recipients of Social Security Disability income for individuals who are blind.

Legislative Update - State Perspective: Mr. Sigman reviewed the Jobs Bills which has incentives for employers to generate jobs in the state.  One incentive was a tax credit for employers who hire a person with a disability.  The bill passed, but it contains a statutory reference to the definition of a person with a disability as is used by the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS). Since BRS does not serve individuals who are legally blind, the unintentional consequence of using the BRS statutory definition was the exclusion of blindness as a qualifying disability. Legislative leaders are working to correct this and it is possible that resolution will occur during the upcoming special session.

A law was passed during the legislative session that will permit individuals to renew non-driver identification cards at AAA locations. Previously, only driver’s licenses could be renewed at AAA facilities.

Mr. Norton discussed the potential for the consolidation of state agencies to help reduce the State budget deficit.  One comprehensive consolidation proposal put forth in the legislative session included among many other mergers, the consolidation of BESB into the Department of Education.  Even though this proposal did not move forward, people who are concerned about the integrity of the stand alone agency for the blind should be aware that during difficult economic times, this issue may arise again in the next legislative session.

A law was also passed during the 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 for transporting the elderly.

Ms. Dodd spoke of the value of membership based transportation services such as the Independent Transportation Network (ITN) and mentioned the need for more drivers to help build the ITN transportation services.

Position Refills Update: Mr. Sigman reported that all counselor positions are filled.  The only vacancy is a clerical vacancy.

National Update: Mr. Sigman stated that there is a new RSA Commissioner, Ms. Lynnae Ruttledge, who was previously the director of the general agency in Washington.  When she recently spoke at CSAVR Spring conference, she reaffirmed that sheltered employment is not an employment outcome in the Rehabilitation Act and she does not envision bringing it back.  She is looking for ideas to modernize the Randolph-Sheppard Program to get more people who are blind to choose it as a career.  She is conducting a teleconference in July with the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind.

Report from Chair

Mr. Gregoire suggested the Council has to be very diligent in advocacy for the clients and for advocacy for BESB to remain independent.  The Council needs to be proactive in putting together a position stating why BESB should remain independent.  He requested the Council remain focused in connecting resources as the future appears to be very challenging.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:44 a.m.

The next council meeting is scheduled for September 8, 2010 from 9:30 to 12:00 noon at BESB.

 
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State of Connecticut
Board of Education and Services for the Blind
184 Windsor Avenue
Windsor, Connecticut 06095
 
State Rehabilitation Council
MINUTES WITH MOTIONS
March 10, 2010

Members Present: Mr. David Gregoire, Mr. Ian Rickard, Mr. Bob Gorman, Mr. Steve Dombrowski, Mr. Al Thompson Jr., Ms. Randa Utter, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Ms. Christine Ford, Ms. Judy Tencza, Mr. Jim Schwarzhaupt, Mr. Brian Cunnane, Ms. Mary Silverberg, Ms. Tina Rafala, Mr. Brian Sigman, Mr. David Figley, and Ms. Susan Werboff.

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor; Mr. Andrew Norton, Legislative and Administrative Advisor; and Ms. Wendy Andino, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.

December 16, 2009 Minutes: The Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: The Council welcomed Ms. Silverberg and Ms. Rafala as new members.  Mr. Sigman reported a successor is still needed to represent the Workforce Investment Board to replace Mr. Koutas.  Mr. Dombrowski will be able to fill that role once the paperwork is received designating him as such, and then he would have a dual role and also represent Business/Industry/Labor.

Finance Committee: Mr. Schwarzhaupt presented a breakdown for FY 10’s innovation and expansion activities of commitments totaling $56,361 and future anticipated obligations totaling $36,300 resulting in an anticipated total of $92,661 for the full year.

New Business

VR Success Story: Ms. Wendy Andino, VR Counselor at BESB introduced Mr. Emilio Ortiz who is a Case Manager working at Clinical Support Inc. in Bridgeport which is an alternative incarceration program.  He conducts intakes and provides updates of clients coming through the court system.  BESB has provided Mr. Ortiz with glasses, a magnifier and ZoomText which is screen reading software.  Mr. Ortiz’s supervisor stated that Mr. Ortiz has done a wonderful job since his first day and the support he received from BESB has made his performance flawless.

Youth Leadership Forum Sponsorship: The Youth Leadership Forum is an annual, weeklong leadership training for transition age youth with disabilities.  The Council and the VR program were co-sponsors of this event last year, each at the $7500 level.  Mr. Sigman stated that VR will match what this Council sponsors.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted for the Council to continue to support the Youth Leadership Forum in the amount of $7500 with the VR Program matching it.

FFY 2011 State Plan Subcommittee: The State Plan is developed with the joint participation of the Council. One attachment addresses goals and priorities for the upcoming year.  All attachments will go out to public hearing in early June and then to this Council and the Board of Directors in mid-June, and the final document submitted to Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) by July 1, 2010.  Mr. Gregoire, Mr. Rickard, Ms. Rafala and Ms. Silverberg volunteered to serve on the state plan subcommittee.  A teleconference will be set up for this purpose. The subcommittee will also review the current policy language regarding order of selection, and consider refinements that may be necessary based upon recent guidance provided by RSA.

Connecticut Association for Community Transportation Membership (CACT): A brief overview was provided of what the organization does to improve public transportation options.  They are requesting this Council continue their annual membership.  Motion made, seconded, and passed unanimously to continue the annual membership of $100.

Mr. Rickard spoke about his daughter’s experience with ParaTransit to get recertified for 3 years and their policy changes regarding limitations for recertification. The Council decided to ask someone from CACT and the Greater Hartford ParaTransit to speak at a future meeting to answer concerns.

Old Business

Comprehensive Needs Assessment and Consumer Satisfaction Survey Proposal from CCSU: At the last meeting it was decided BESB would contact CCSU to investigate the possibility of having the Center for Public Policy and Social Research conduct the needs assessment as well as the Consumer Satisfaction Survey.  CCSU has submitted a proposal for $25,000 to complete both and submit written reports with their findings.  Motion was made and seconded to accept CCSU’s proposal for $25,000 for both the satisfaction survey and the needs assessment complete with both reports, with the proviso that we ask them to amend the payment schedule to reflect $17,000 for the current fiscal year and the remaining $8,000 to be paid upon completion of the project in October, 2010 if agreeable to CCSU.  All voted in favor unanimously.

Report from Director

Budget Update: Based upon information presently available, Mr. Sigman reported that VR is projecting enough available funding to serve all eligible individuals into fiscal year 2011.  The Agency is not anticipating any increases in federal or state funding in the next fiscal year.

Legislative Update- Federal Perspective: Mr. Sigman stated there is a bill in Congress that addresses the dangers that silent cars pose to pedestrians who are blind. The two raised bills (one in the House and one in the Senate) would require automobile manufacturers to install a sound feature into electric and hybrid vehicles to alert pedestrians of their presence on the road.  There is also a Technology Bill of Rights for the Blind that would require manufacturers of appliances and electronics to provide accessible buttons and features to new products. Ms. Ford brought up concerns about cell phones as new ones do not have buttons, they are all touch pad.  Mr. Sigman stated that he will bring up these concerns during the upcoming national CSAVR meeting with members of Congress.

State Perspective: Mr. Norton gave an overview of introduced bills that have relevance to people who are blind.  One bill proposes that the Department of Transportation set aside funding for grants to enhance the infrastructure of pedestrian and cyclist routes.  Another bill would extend tax credits to employers who hire people with disabilities.  Another bill would give a sales tax exemption for talking prescription drug containers.  However, given the state fiscal situation, the outlook for bills that have a fiscal impact is uncertain.

National Update: Mr. Sigman stated that once again, there has been speculation that Congress will renew efforts to pass this year the Workforce Investment Act, which includes the Rehabilitation Act.

Report from Chair

Mr. Gregoire suggested that the Council submit letters to some of the large corporations that manufacture cell phones to alert them of the inaccessibility issues.  Ms. Ford will conduct some research to bring to the next Council meeting. 

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:41 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for June 9, 2010 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at BESB.

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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind
184 Windsor Avenue
Windsor, Connecticut  06095 
 
State Rehabilitation Council
MINUTES WITH MOTIONS
December 16, 2009

Members Present: Mr. David Gregoire, Mr. Bob Gorman, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, Ms. Anne Fortunato, Mr. Al Thompson Jr., Ms. Randa Utter,

Mr. David Figley, Ms. Christine Ford, Mr. Jonathan Richmond,

Mr. Ian Rickard, Ms. Judy Tencza, Mr. Brian Sigman, Mr. Bruce Stovall, Ms. Janette Peracchio, and Mr. Steven Dombrowski.

Others Present: Ms. Tina Rafala from TD Bank; Mr. Andrew Norton, Legislative and Administrative Advisor; Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor; Mr. Mike Ferris, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.

September 16, 2009 Minutes: Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Mr. Cunnane has been reappointed to serve a second term.  Mr. Sigman reported that this Council has a vacancy in the employer category. He introduced Ms. Tina Rafala, who is a Branch Manager for TD Bank, and is also a former consumer of this agency.  Ms. Rafala presented a brief overview of her background and stated that she is very interested in serving on this Council. Mr. Gregoire asked that she be sent a membership application.

Finance Committee: Mr. Sigman reported that the only additions to the end of the fiscal year commitments are the consumer satisfaction survey and co-sponsorship of the Employment Supports Conference run through the CT Community Providers Association.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee Survey: Ms. Sigman reported the survey is done, circulated and posted on BESB’s website. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program had very positive satisfaction results from consumers. Counselor ratings are in the 80 percent range and 90 percent of clients would recommend BESB to a friend.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Mike Ferris, VR Counselor at BESB introduced Mr. Larry Stoler who is working as a Rehabilitation Intern at Always Reaching for Independence (ARI) of Stamford.  Mr. Stoler’s supervisor, Dr. Bob DiDomenico hired Mr. Stoler and BESB helped to pay his wages through the internship program utilizing federal stimulus funds.  Mr. Stoler conducts intake interviews of people who are seeking job placement assistance from ARI.  He assists with the Business Advisory Committee that meets with local businesses to encourage the hiring of people with disabilities.  He assists with Job Club meetings, conference planning and organizing legislative breakfasts. On the job, he utilizes screen reading software and a scanner. Mr. Stoler expressed his appreciation for the assistance he received from Ms. Michelle Laramie, Rehabilitation Technologist, and Ms. Jolene Nemeth, Rehabilitation Teacher.

Time Frame for Development of IPE: Based on Rehabilitation Services Administration’s (RSA) recommendation, this Council previously shortened the time frame from eligibility determination to development of a vocational plan from one year to nine months.  At RSA’s recommendation, the agency had agreed to revisit this timeframe with the Council. Over the past two years, since the policy was changed, the average time from eligibility to vocational rehabilitation plan development was approximately 6.5 months, similar to the timeframe that existed prior to the policy change. After discussion on this matter, the Council decided to not recommend a change to the current policy.

Comprehensive Needs Assessment: Mr. Sigman stated that RSA has issued a VR needs assessment guide and they are recommending a particular set of strategies for conducting a statewide needs assessment.  Part of this Council’s role is to work in conjunction with VR Division in conducting a statewide needs assessment every 3 years.  In the past, BESB was able to complete this survey internally. However, the new RSA guide relies heavily on statistical analysis that would require the expertise of an organization that is skilled in these types of reports. The needs assessment would incorporate a satisfaction survey component such as the one recently completed for VR by Central Connecticut State University. A motion made, seconded and accepted unanimously for BESB to contact CCSU to investigate the possibility of having the Center for Public Policy and Social Research conduct this needs assessment.

Approval of Mediators and Hearing Officers: Mr. Sigman stated that the Rehabilitation Act requires this Council to approve the mediators and impartial hearing officers that this agency would utilize in the event of a request by a consumer for mediation or a hearing by an impartial hearing officer.  In the past, the Council had approved that BESB utilize the mediators and hearing officers that the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) utilizes. Motion made, seconded and approved unanimously to continue to utilize the mediators and impartial hearing officers that BRS utilizes.

Old Business

Annual Report: Mr. Gregoire reported the annual report is done and will be submitted to the Governor and all of the parties it has to go to.  After it is issued, Mr. Sigman will post the report on the agency website.

Subcommittee Reports Advanced Dissemination: Mr. Gregoire would like to have all subcommittee reports to be disseminated in advance of the SRC meetings so that when the SRC meetings are held, the reports can be quickly reviewed for approval or questions to be asked. Chairman Gregoire will contact all subcommittee Chairs to ensure that this occurs before the March meeting so that Council members can read and review the reports before the meeting date. 

Report from Director

Budget Update: Mr. Norton provided an overview of the fiscal year 2010 budget for the state. The current year budget is out of balance. The Governor has called for a Special Session of the Legislature to address the shortfall. The Governor has proposed additional reductions to balance the budget. The Republican and Democratic caucuses of the House and Senate have each introduced separate recommendations for balancing the current year budget.

Mr. Sigman reviewed BESB’s current line item budget and detailed the impact that each of the budget proposals would have on this agency.  Vocational Rehabilitation’s state matching budget for FY09 was $989,000. For FY10, it was reduced to $890,000. This reduction will have an impact on the Maintenance of Effort requirement that mandates the agency to maintain levels of state matching funds expended two years prior in order to maintain the same level of federal funding.

Based upon information presently available, it is still projected that VR will be able to serve all eligible individuals during the current federal fiscal year which ends September 30, 2010.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a study of the formula used to determine the level of funding that each state receives from Congress each year for the Title I Vocational Rehabilitation Program. The study concluded that the current formula is out of date and inequitable.  GAO has made recommendations for modification to the formula that would be beneficial to states such as Connecticut, where a high per capita income and stable population size result in less funding under the current formula.  However, the GAO study is not recommending the infusion of new funding to solve the funding inequity. Rather, the recommendation would be to redistribute existing funding, resulting in some states getting less funding while other states would receive more. It is uncertain if Congress will act upon these recommendations.

Position Refills Update: A VR Counselor was hired and interviews recently conducted for another hire.  An Orientation and Mobility Instructor was hired in the Adult Services Department.

National Update: Mr. Sigman indicated that Congress has passed a budget for federal fiscal year 2010 and it contains a 3.7% cost of living increase for the Title I Vocational Rehabilitation Program. However, given the disbursement formula utilized for funding, Mr. Sigman anticipates that the Vocational Rehabilitation Program at BESB will receive approximately 2.5 percent more than last year’s federal allotment. This increase will help to offset the Maintenance of Effort penalty.

Fall NCSAB/CSAVR Meeting Update: Ms. Burgard provided an overview of the presentation that she and Barry Rita gave at the CSAVR conference pertaining to BESB’s use of the federal stimulus funds. Ms. Burgard explained how VR was utilizing these funds for extended services, such as job coaching for clients who do not fit the criteria for supported employment, but who have other barriers to employment.  VR has used the funding for job creation, offering internships and on-the-job training to encourage employers to grant job tryouts for consumers. During the summer, the agency worked with the Workforce Development Boards to develop summer work experiences for transition age high school students.

Report from Chair

Mr. Gregoire expressed his concern for the current economic situation and the impact it could have on necessary services for people who are blind.  He indicated that a subcommittee may be necessary to explore cost saving proposals.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:56 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for March 10, 2010 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at BESB.

 
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State Rehabilitation Council
MOTIONS
September 16, 2009

June 17, 2009 Minutes: Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Election of Officers for 2010: The partial slate of officers from the June meeting was presented with Mr. Gregoire as Chair, Ms. Peracchio as Secretary, and Mr. McMillan as Treasurer.  However, as Mr. McMillan is resigning, nominations were needed for Treasurer and Vice Chair.  With the floor open for nominations, Ms. Ford nominated Mr. Schwarzhaupt to serve as Treasurer and Ms. Giudice nominated Ms. Sullivan to serve as Vice Chair.  A motion was made, seconded and approved unanimously to accept Mr. Schwarzhaupt’s and Ms. Sullivan’s nominations.  Ms. Giudice put forth the full slate of officers as Mr. Gregoire as Chair, Ms. Sullivan as Vice Chair, Ms. Peracchio as Secretary, and Mr. Schwarzhaupt as Treasurer.  As no further nominations were given, a motion was made, seconded and accepted unanimously to close the floor for nominations.  Ms. Giudice again put forth the slate of officers above and a motion was made, seconded, and approved unanimously to accept the Slate of Officers.  A motion was made, seconded and approved unanimously to vote the slate of officers collectively as opposed to individual votes.  Motion was made, seconded, and unanimously approved to accept the Slate of Officers.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:56 a.m.

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State Rehabilitation Council

MOTIONS

June 17, 2009

March 18, 2009 Minutes: Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee Survey: A motion was made in March 18, 2009 that was accepted unanimously to put out the survey to competitive bid and also investigate Central CT State University.  The Agency has since received a proposal from Central CT State University to conduct the survey and it was presented and discussed.  A motion to supplant the previous one was made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to have Central CT State University conduct the survey using the UConn instrument.

Review and Approval of State Plan for 2009: Comments were made at one of the public hearings and Mr. Sigman received an e-mail.  The State Plan contained a couple of spelling errors and some wording changes needed to take place.  A recommendation to include teachers of the visually impaired that work in school districts as referral sources was added into the section dealing with referrals from Children’s Services to VR.  The VR Quality Control Reviewer had discovered some sections that needed expansion and Mr. Sigman reviewed these areas and presented his proposed changes to the Council.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to keep the document as presented with the few adjustments mentioned and forward it to the Board as written for approval.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:21 a.m.

 
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State Rehabilitation Council

MOTIONS

March 18, 2009

December 10, 2008 Minutes: Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee: As UConn is no longer available to conduct the survey, discussion was held as to other possible vendors with Central CT State University as an option.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously for the Council, with the Benchmark Committee as a partner, to put out the survey to competitive bid and also investigate Central CT State University as well attempting to keep it in state, if possible.

Review VR Business Plan Guidelines Draft: The document was reviewed and discussed.  As new policy exists regarding the transfer of equipment ownership to the clients, the fourth bulleted item on page 2 needs to be removed as it states the Agency retains ownership of equipment valued at $600 or more.  There was also discussion regarding the use of some punctuation and a couple of misspelled words that needs to be corrected.    Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to keep the document as presented with the few minor adjustments mentioned.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 12:09 p.m.

 
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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut  06095

State Rehabilitation Council

MOTIONS

December 10, 2008

September 17, 2008 Minutes: Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to adopt the meeting minutes.

Youth Leadership Forum Sponsorship for FY 09: The Youth Leadership Forum is an annual, weeklong leadership training for transition age youth with disabilities.  Council and the VR program sponsored this event last year, each at the $7500 level.  VR has committed $7500 again this year.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted (with one abstention) for the Council to co-sponsor the Youth Leadership Forum for FY09 in the amount of $7500.

Draft Business Plan Guidance Document: Decisions were made to make the document more structured and succinct.   Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously that the subcommittee revamp the existing document with the framework of current policy to incorporate the changes Council has made and also to be prepared to bring to the March meeting the BRS policy so that the Council can discuss it.

Connecticut Association for Community Transportation: This association endeavors to improve transportation within Connecticut and has been leading discussions on transportation on a statewide basis.  Motion made, seconded, and passed unanimously to continue the annual membership of $100.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:45 a.m.

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State of Connecticut
Board of Education and Services for the Blind
184 Windsor Avenue
Windsor, Connecticut  06095
 
State Rehabilitation Council
 
MOTIONS
 
September 17, 2008

June 18, 2008 Minutes: Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to adopt the meeting minutes.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee: The survey has been completed and an overview of the draft report was presented by Ms. Christine Kraus from UConn.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to accept the report as written.  The report will be posted onto the BESB website.

Election of Officers for 2009: Ms. Giudice reviewed the nominations from the June meeting.  Mr. Gregoire had been nominated to serve as Chair; Ms. Sullivan was nominated for Vice Chair, Ms. Peracchio volunteered to continue as Secretary; and Mr. McMillan volunteered to continue as Treasurer.  Ms. Giudice opened the floor for any new nominations and none were received.  Motion was made, seconded and accepted unanimously to close the floor for nominations.  Ms. Giudice put forth the slate of officers as above.  Motion was made, seconded, and unanimously accepted to accept the slate of officers.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 12:22 p.m.

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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut  06095

State Rehabilitation Council

MOTIONS

June 18, 2008

March 19, 2008 Minutes: Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to adopt the minutes with the following changes: page 3,  second paragraph, first line, “Mr. Collins i has” the “i” needs to be deleted.  On page 7, first paragraph, line 13 “Keilly” needs to be changed to “Keeley”.

Proposed Bylaws Change for Membership: Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to amend the Council’s bylaws to have a voting membership of a maximum of 25 and a minimum of 15 with 51 percent being blind or visually impaired.

Update of State Plan for 2008: Discussion was held regarding one of the State Plan attachments dealing with the Agency’s Vocational Rehabilitation budget and the high possibility of entering into an order of selection for fiscal year 2010.  A motion was made, seconded, and accepted unanimously for this Council’s Chair to submit a letter for another waiver of indirect costs to assist Vocational Rehabilitation in order to try to delay an order of selection.

As no public comments were received from any of the five public hearings regarding the State Plan, Mr. Sigman requested approval to submit the State Plan to the Board of Directors as they have the final say as to whether or not the State Plan is amended.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to approve the State Plan and forward it to the Board as written.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 12:08 p.m.

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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut  06095

State Rehabilitation Council

 MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

September 16, 2009

Members Present: Mr. David Gregoire, Ms. Andrea Giudice, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, Mr. Al Thompson Jr., Ms. Christine Ford, Ms. Janette Peracchio, Mr. James Schwarzhaupt, Mr. Christopher McMillan, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Ms. Mary Burgard, Mr. Bob Gorman, Mr. Ian Rickard, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Brenda Sullivan, Mr. David Figley and Ms. Susan Werboff.

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor; Mr. Andrew Norton, Legislative and Administrative Advisor; and Mr. Barry Rita, Transition School to Work Coordinator.

June 17, 2009 Minutes: Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Ms. Giudice reported that some of the members first terms have or will expire and she will contact them to see if they want to serve a second term.  A potential member has her application packet to complete and submit to the Governor’s Office.  Ms. Giudice will be sending each member their roster information requesting any corrections and seeking the best way to contact them.  Mr. McMillan announced that he will be relocating out of state and he has submitted his resignation. Mr. McMillan thanked all members of this Council and expressed his gratitude to BESB for all of the assistance the agency provides to clients. Mr. Sigman reported that Mr. Dombrowski, Ms. Utter and Mr. Schwarzhaupt have been reappointed for a second term.

Finance Committee: Mr. McMillan presented a breakdown of the commitments for FY 09, totaling $88,599 for innovation and expansion activities. Mr. McMillan had previously distributed the report to the membership for review in advance of the meeting.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee Survey: Ms. Sullivan reported that Central Connecticut State University completed the survey and they are currently working on completing the report.  Mr. Sigman stated the survey results will be distributed and posted on the agency website.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Erik Jones, VR Counselor at BESB introduced Ms. Kelsey MacGillivray and her supervisor, Mr. Matt Tietjen from Chapel Haven.  Mr. Jones felt it was important that Ms. MacGillivray speak to this Council as she has overcome a number of challenges to get to where she is today.  Through research, Ms. MacGillivray discovered a facility called Chapel Haven, which offers programs to teach people to live independently in the community. She attended their program and learned how to do laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, and budgeting.  Her motivation and determination so impressed staff at Chapel Haven that she was hired as a receptionist. Ms. MacGillivray also spoke of her fund raising efforts for the Special Olympics. She is now a member of their Board.  Mr. Tietjen stated it has been a wonderful learning experience for Chapel Haven to work with Ms. MacGillivray and BESB.  Ms. MacGillivray was the first visually impaired student in their program and she taught the Chapel Hill staff about blindness.  Through Ms. MacGillivray’s hard work and persistence with classes she took, Chapel Haven saw her strengths and talent.  He reported Ms. MacGillivray has good customer service skills and business skills and as a result, when their receptionist retired, she was selected to fill the vacancy.

Election of Officers for 2010: The partial slate of officers from the June meeting was presented with Mr. Gregoire for Chair, Ms. Peracchio for Secretary, and Mr. McMillan for Treasurer.  However, as Mr. McMillan is resigning, nominations were needed for Treasurer as well as for Vice Chair.  With the floor open for nominations, Ms. Ford nominated Mr. Schwarzhaupt to serve as Treasurer and Ms. Giudice nominated Ms. Sullivan to serve as Vice Chair.  A motion was made, seconded and approved unanimously to accept Mr. Schwarzhaupt’s and Ms. Sullivan’s nominations.  Ms. Giudice put forth the full slate of officers with Mr. Gregoire for Chair, Ms. Sullivan for Vice Chair, Ms. Peracchio for Secretary, and Mr. Schwarzhaupt for Treasurer.  As no further nominations were given, a motion was made, seconded and accepted unanimously to close the floor for nominations and put this Slate of Officers to a vote.  A motion was made, seconded and approved unanimously to vote the slate of officers collectively and the membership unanimously voted this Slate of Officers into office.

Meeting Dates for 2010: Next year’s calendar was reviewed and the following dates were chosen: March 10, 2010; June 9, 2010; September 8, 2010; and December 1, 2010.

Annual Report – Assignment of Sections: Mr. Gregoire will contact the chairs of the different subcommittees within the next week regarding the submission of their reports to him.

Reporting Requirements to Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Ms. Werboff from the Client Assistance Program and the Office of Protection and Advocacy received two complaints from visually impaired individuals who lost their drivers licenses subsequent to applying to BESB for services.  Ms. Werboff’s is aware of the statutory reporting requirement that BESB must notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) when a person is declared legally blind. Her concern was that the clients told her that they were not notified of this reporting requirement. Mr. Sigman stated that BESB notifies each client in writing of the reporting requirement before transmitting their names to DMV.  BESB maintains records of this written notification.  Mr. Sigman does not transfer the list to DMV until he receives confirmation that the notification letters have actually gone in the mail to the clients.

Report from Director

Program and Budget Update: Mr. Sigman introduced Mr. Barry Rita, Transition School to Work Coordinator, who provided a summary of initiatives that were provided over the summer months with the federal stimulus funds.  In collaboration with the five Regional Workforce Boards, 27 BESB students obtained jobs directly through the Workforce Boards.  Services such as job coaching, job modifications, screen reading software, magnification devices, and mobility training were provided by BESB.  In Niantic and Meriden, the BEP Career Exposure Program worked with the Workforce Boards to secure funding for two internships.  Among the other summer employment opportunities arranged, Mr. Figley of this Council provided a work experience for a BESB student at his business. 

Ms. Burgard stated that an on-the-job training internship model for temporary placements was also developed and clients have been placed in this model using stimulus funds.  The purpose of this model is to offer clients an opportunity to gain current work experience that increases marketability. 

Mr. Sigman stated that BESB did incur some budget reductions across programs, including the Vocational Rehabilitation Program that experienced a ten percent reduction in the state fiscal year matching fund allotment. This reduction will have an impact on the federal grant the agency receives for Vocational Rehabilitation due to the Maintenance of Effort requirements.  Based upon information presently available, it is still projected that VR will be able to serve all eligible individuals during the upcoming federal fiscal year.

Position Refills Update: Mr. Sigman reported that VR had two counselors retire.  These were previously budgeted positions and given the economic challenges, these counselor positions are necessary to help BESB clients obtain employment.  Permission was received to refill both of these positions and the interviews will begin shortly.

National Update: Mr. Sigman stated that the Workforce Investment Act, which includes the Rehabilitation Act, is still being discussed for Reauthorization to occur this year, but it appears that the Health Care Reform Act will take priority. So it remains uncertain if action on the Workforce Investment Act will occur this year.

Report from Chair

CT Youth Leadership Forum Letter: Mr. Gregoire received a thank you letter from the CT Youth Leadership Forum for this Council’s sponsorship.

Subcommittee Reports Advanced Dissemination: Mr. Gregoire requested that subcommittee Chairs submit their reports to him in advance of each SRC meeting so the reports can be disseminated to all Council members prior to the meeting.  Each Council member will have the information from the reports beforehand and can bring to the meeting any comments or questions.  These reports can be handled like the previous meeting’s minutes where they are quickly reviewed in order to get into other items on the agenda.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:56 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for December 16, 2009 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon at BESB.

 
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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut  06095

State Rehabilitation Council

 MINUTES WITH MOTIONS

June 17, 2009

Members Present: Mr. David Gregoire, Ms. Janette Peracchio, Mr. Ian Rickard, Mr. Brian Cunnane, Mr. Bruce Stovall, Mr. David Figley, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Ms. Randa Utter, Ms. Judy Tencza, Mr. Brian Sigman, Mr. Christopher McMillan, Ms. Andrea Giudice, Mr. James Schwarzhaupt, Mr. Robert Gorman (teleconference).

Others Present: Mr. Al Sylvestre attending on behalf of Mr. Dombrowski, and Ms. Sandra Kush, member of the public.

March 18, 2009 Minutes: Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Successors are needed for Ms. Paula deSilva who represented CRIS Radio, Mr. Sam Koutas who represented the Statewide Workforce Investment Board, and for Ms. Felicia Wilkins-Turner, who represented the Native American Vocational Rehabilitation Program.  Mr. McMillan was reappointed in April for a second term and Mr. Jim Schwarzhaupt will be seeking reappointment.

Finance Committee: Mr. McMillan presented a breakdown of the commitments for FY 09, totaling $61,857 for innovation and expansion activities.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee Survey: A motion was made at the March 18, 2009 SRC meeting that was accepted unanimously to put out the survey to competitive bid and also investigate Central CT State University conducting the survey.  The Agency has since received a proposal from Central CT State University to conduct the survey and it was presented and discussed.  A motion to supplant the previous one was made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to have Central CT State University conduct the survey using the UConn survey instrument.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Richmond introduced Ms. Nyema Pinkney who works as an Operations Leadership Associate with Hamilton Sundstrand in Windsor Locks, and her supervisor, Ms. Demetriah Webster who is a Program Manager.  Ms. Pinkney learned about BESB though her sister and her first meeting was with Mr. Jerry Doody, agency Social Worker.  Meeting Mr. Doody gave her a renewed hope for life as he was the first person she ever met who served as an example of a return to work success story.  Mr. Richmond is her VR Counselor and he assisted her with returning to work.  BESB provided Ms. Pinkney with mobility training, rehabilitation teaching, and rehabilitation technology services including computer training, and using JAWS speech access software.  She now use JAWS commands daily on her job for Word, Excel, Powerpoint, ACCESS, Pivot Table and other software.  She expressed her gratitude with BESB for all of the guidance and assistance she has received.

 

Ms. Webster stated that Ms. Pinkey is very capable and an inspiration as she has shown coworkers that people can get through any adverse situation.  Ms. Webster thanked this Agency for all of technology and training support.

Review and Approval of State Plan for 2009: Comments were made at one of the public hearings and Mr. Sigman received an e-mail.  The State Plan contained some spelling errors and some wording changes needed to take place.  A recommendation to include teachers of the visually impaired that work in school districts as referral sources was added into the section of the State Plan dealing with referrals from Children’s Services to VR.  The VR Quality Control Reviewer had discovered some sections that needed expansion and Mr. Sigman reviewed these areas and presented his proposed changes to the Council.  Motion made, seconded, and passed unanimously to accept the State Plan as amended with the changes detailed by Mr. Sigman, and forward the State Plan to the Board for approval.

Call for Nominations for Officers for 2010: With the exception of Ms. Sullivan who was not in attendance, all current officers offered their interest in continuing to serve in their present positions for an additional year, if nominated. Members were informed to contact Ms. Giudice if they wish to run for an officer position or nominate another member. The slate of officers will be brought to September’s meeting for a vote.

Report from Director

Budget Update:  The combined projected deficit for state fiscal years 2010 and 2011 is approximately 8 billion dollars. There is currently no budget in place for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2009. Proposed budgets for the next two years do include recommendations to reduce the Vocational Rehabilitation state match by $99,000. This reduction would have an impact on the federal grant the agency receives for Vocational Rehabilitation due to the Maintenance of Effort requirements in the Rehabilitation Act. Based upon information that is presently available, and factoring in the projected costs for the operation of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program in federal fiscal year 2010, Mr. Sigman is still anticipating that the program will be able to serve all eligible individuals during the upcoming year. However, until there is a budget in place for 2010-2011, it is not possible to know what the final impact would be on the Vocational Rehabilitation account.

Position Refills Update: Mr. Jack Whitham will be retiring as of June 30, 2009.  The VR counselor position is federally funded, so there is a possibility of refilling the vacancy. However, at this time Mr. Sigman is not requesting to refill the position until the budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 is passed and the full extent of reductions is known.  Mr. Whitham’s caseload is being redistributed to the other counselors.

National Update: There is ongoing discussion in Congress on reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act (which includes the Rehabilitation Act) during this session.  At present, there has been no introduction of a bill to renew the law.  At the Spring CSAVR meeting, the focus was on utilization of federal Vocational Rehabilitation stimulus funds for job creation.  The intent of Congress is for states to utilize this money to create opportunities for people with disabilities to become successfully employed.  This Agency has begun using these funds for exactly this purpose.  In addition to marketing to major employers across the State, this funding is being utilized for extended job coaching services.

Report from Chair

Mr. Gregoire thanked everyone for attending and stated that challenging times are ahead.  He also suggested that the different subcommittees submit their reports in writing before the SRC meetings in order for members to be prepared to vote at the meeting.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:21 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for September 16, 2009 from 9:30 to 12:00 at BESB.

 
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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut  06095

State Rehabilitation Council

 MINUTES

March 18, 2009

Members Present: Mr. David Gregoire, Ms. Randa Utter (formerly Nesman), Mr. Robert  Gorman, Mr. Ian Rickard, Ms. Susan Werboff, Mr. Christopher McMillan, Mr. Al Thompson, Jr., Mr. David Figley, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Mr. James Schwarzhaupt, Ms. Brenda Sullivan, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, Mr. Brian Sigman and Ms. Christine Ford.

Others Present: Ms. Susan Monteleone, VR Counselor Coordinator.

December 10, 2008 Minutes: Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Mr. McMillan has been reappointed for a second term.  Mr. Sigman advised that Ms. Maryann Handley from the Office of Workforce Competitiveness is actively seeking a representative from the statewide Workforce Investment Board to replace Mr. Sam Koutas on the SRC.

Finance Committee: Mr. McMillan presented a breakdown of the commitments for FY 09, totaling $58,292.39 for innovation and expansion activities.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee: Ms. Sullivan reported that UConn’s survey department lost their funding.  As UConn is no longer available to conduct the survey, discussion was held as to other possible vendors with Central CT State University mentioned as a possible option.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously for the Council, with the Benchmark Committee as a partner, to put out the survey to competitive bid and also investigate Central CT State University as well, attempting to keep it in state, if possible.

New Business

Status of VR Marketing Materials: Ms. Monteleone distributed the  marketing folders and reviewed the materials contained in them.  These folders will be presented to an employer when VR Counselors meet with them for the first time.  Not in the folder, but currently being developed, are individualized inserts that the VR Counselors can tailor to each employer with very specific targeted topics such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodations, and the types of jobs that blind people in Connecticut are already doing.  Ms. Monteleone will bring these inserts to the next Council meeting in June.  The Council members suggested that VR keep statistical data of the brochures’ effectiveness.  Ms. Monteleone will share this with the VR Supervisor and discuss it at the next VR meeting.

State Plan Subcommittee: Ms. Dodd volunteered to serve as a delegate from BESB’s Board of Directors on this joint committee to develop the state plan.  One attachment is specifically developed by this Council’s Chair dealing with recommendations of this Council and the agency’s response to the recommendations.  All attachments will go out to public hearing in early June; to this Council and Board of Directors in mid June, and the final document submitted to RSA by July 1.  Mr. Gregoire, Mr. Rickard and Ms. Ford will serve on this subcommittee.

Economic Stimulus Initiatives: VR agencies will be receiving stimulus funds and BESB will receive approximately half a million dollars of new money for Title I to facilitate job creation for clients of the agency, and a little over $400,000 for the Older Blind Independent Living Program (age 55 and up).  The money for Title I does not have a state match requirement and will not impact on the maintenance of effort.  The money will need to be tracked as to results of how many people received jobs because of this funding.  BESB and BRS developed a joint announcement informing employers of this stimulus funding and it was mailed through the Department of Labor's quarterly mailing that goes out to 100,000 Connecticut employers.  The calls are already coming in from interested employers.  Mr. Sigman will mail the Council the announcement that went out.

For the Older Blind Program, Mr. Sigman presented transportation and medical stabilization as areas for the Board of Directors to consider.  As blindness occurs frequently later in life and transportation in rural parts of this state is minimal, the concept would be to grow a grassroots effort working with senior centers in towns where this funding could provide time limited stipends to people willing to drive clients to medical appointments, grocery shopping, employment, etc, and have senior centers advertise the stipend program.  Diabetes management funding for seniors was also discussed as a possibility. Providing short-term home health services to stabilize diabetes would assist consumers to remain independent in their homes in the long-term.

Implementation of Equipment Ownership Transfer: BESB’s new regulations became official February, 2009 in that all equipment the agency provides to clients for rehabilitation, independent living or education is now owned by the client.  Two draft documents have been created.  The first being a letter to every consumer possessing equipment, notifying them of the change of ownership.  A section is included informing them that if they no longer want the equipment, they can donate it or dispose of it as they choose.  Also included will be a statement that BESB can reimburse the client for any repairs, along with a vendor list for repairs.  The second document is an ownership agreement that clients will receive for all new equipment.  These documents are in the process of being finalized.  VR, Children’s Services and the Older Blind program will be researching their respective policies dealing with equipment that will need to be modified through public hearing. The policy will remove language about loaning equipment and replace it with the language that was in the approved regulations.

VR Success Story: Mr. Richmond introduced Ms. Kathy Plunge who works as a receptionist at CW Resources and her supervisor, Mr. Matthew Dennis.  Ms. Plunge lost her vision later in life.  She applied to BESB and through VR, gained independent skills and began work at BESB Industries as a sewer.  She later changed her vocation and became a receptionist there after receiving computer and JAWS training with BESB’s assistance.  When BESB Industries closed, with VR assistance, Ms. Plunge began employment as a receptionist at CW Resources and received training to learn the job, and adaptive technology.  She has been there 5 years and feels part of the team.

Mr. Dennis stated that Ms. Plunge really helps out everyone at the facility and is a great asset.

Old Business

Indirect Costs: The rate of indirect costs was established at 14.55% and became effective October 1, 2008.  Calculating out the categories that would be impacted for the current federal fiscal year, Mr. Sigman projected it is approximately $404,000 of the $2.99 million BESB received from the federal government for federal fiscal year 2009.  Mr. Sigman spoke with the Office of Policy & Management and they are still reviewing the waiver of indirect costs request that Mr. Rickard had submitted during his term as Chair of this Council.

Review VR Business Plan Guidelines Draft: The document was reviewed and discussed.  As new policy exists regarding the transfer of equipment ownership to the clients, references to loaning equipment will be removed from the document.  There was also discussion regarding the use of some punctuation and a couple of misspelled words that needs to be corrected.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to keep the document as presented with the few minor adjustments mentioned.

Ms. Ford volunteered to serve on the Business Plan Review Committee.

Report from Director

Budget Update: Expenditures have started to slow down and at the end of this federal fiscal year, the projection indicates approximately $1.8 million will carry into federal fiscal year 2010. At this time, the agency remains optimistic that an order of selection can be avoided in 2010.  This year since October, VR has spent almost $118,000 on brailling high level science and math books for clients attending college.  Mr. Cordero, VR Counselor has worked with schools and colleges to recoup some of the money but with the economy, schools have not been able to assist as much as had been hoped.

National Update: CSAVR will be having their spring meeting in April which will focus heavily on utilizing the stimulus funds.  Due to out of state travel restrictions, only in-service training grant funds can be used, but they can only be used for state agency staff.

Report from Chair

Mr. Gregoire thanked everyone for attending and was pleased to learn about not needing an order of selection.

Mr. McMillan questioned the Freedom of Information request regarding this Council’s members.  Mr. Sigman stated the request is questioning the transportation of Board, SRC, ACAC members to meetings at the agency.  The requestor is also seeking to obtain records of the services these individuals are receiving as clients, including how much was spent on each client.  The agency has provided documents  regarding transportation of these blind board, SRC and ACAC committee members, but will not release information on any case records of members who are clients, since those records are protected by state statute. 

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 12:09 p.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for June 17, 2009 from 9:30 to 12:00 at BESB.

 
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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut  06095

State Rehabilitation Council

MINUTES

December 10, 2008

Members Present: Mr. David Gregoire, Ms. Andrea Giudice, Ms. Randa Nesman, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, Mr. Ian Rickard, Ms. Anne Fortunato, Mr. Bruce Stovall, Mr. Al Thompson, Jr., Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Mr. Brian Cunnane, Mr. James Schwarzhaupt, Ms. Janette Peracchio, Ms. Brenda Sullivan, Ms. Christine Ford, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Judy Tencza, Mr. Stephen Dombrowski and Ms. Susan Werboff.

Others Present: Ms. Susan Monteleone, VR Counselor Coordinator.

September 17, 2008 Minutes: Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to adopt the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Mr. Richmond, Ms. Giudice, and Ms. Dodd have been reappointed for second terms.  Successors are needed for Ms. Felicia Wilkins-Turner, Mr. Charles Collins and Mr. Sam Koutas.  Mr. Schwarzhaupt’s first term expired in July 2008.

Finance Committee: Mr. Sigman presented a breakdown of the commitments for FY 08, totaling just under $57,000 for innovation and expansion activities.  No funds have been committed against FY 09 to date.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee: Mr. Sigman reported that a benchmark was established for BEP to have a satisfaction survey of the operators to identify what they see as priorities for the program and what their level of satisfaction is with the services that have been delivered to train the operators.  There was also discussion to conduct a survey of Adult Services’ clients to establish baselines of consumer satisfaction and of service delivery gains.  The Council is considering joining in with the other two surveys to see how VR clients compare to other clients in Independent Living and in Randolph-Sheppard.  Ms. Sullivan, Chair of this subcommittee, and Mr. Gregoire will contact Mr. Chris Kuell, Chair of the BESB Board Benchmark Committee, to discuss the possibility of pooling the surveys and come back in March’s meeting with recommendations.  The Council’s major concern is if they choose a vendor other than UConn, that all of the data would need to be transferred to the new vendor to compare data previously gathered over the years.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Richmond introduced Mr. William Baiocchi and Ms. Jeannette Rodriguez who is his VR Counselor.  Ms. Rodriguez has been working with Mr. Baiocchi since 2004.  Mr. Baiocchi had been employed as a full-time history teacher and sports coach, but became unemployed subsequent to losing his vision. With assistance from BESB, he established a small business as a motivational speaker, conducting basketball clinics for young people to motivate them and give them self-confidence.  He now has contracts with multiple towns.  Mr. Baiocchi feels that if he had not met Ms. Rodriguez, he would not be where he is today. 

Youth Leadership Forum Sponsorship for FY 09: The Youth Leadership Forum is an annual, weeklong leadership training for transition age youth with disabilities.  The Council and the VR program co-sponsored this event last year, each at the $7500 level.  VR has committed $7500 again this year.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted (with one abstention) for the Council to co-sponsor the Youth Leadership Forum for FY 09 in the amount of $7500.

Draft Business Plan Guidance Document: Decisions were made to make the document more structured and succinct.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously that the subcommittee revamp the existing document within the framework of current policy to incorporate the changes the Council has made and also to be prepared to bring to the March meeting the BRS policy so that the Council can discuss it.

Involvement with the Red Cross to Provide Adaptive Solutions for People with Visual Impairments to Donate Blood: Mr. Gregoire spoke to an employee at the Red Cross who expressed interest in coming up with adaptive technology to have available for donors who are visually impaired.  Ms. Fortunato suggested that Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic can record the information needed to present to donors on a compact disk in a commercial format, and the Red Cross would need to have a CD player on hand.  Training for employees should be provided so they know what to do when they meet a blind person.  Ms. Fortunato suggested that the article, “What You Do When You Meet a Person Who is Blind” can also be recorded on the same CD.  Ms. Giudice has a contact at Red Cross headquarters that she will call to see about volunteering to provide sensitivity training to staff that run the blood drives.

Old Business

Connecticut Association for Community Transportation (Membership - $100): This association endeavors to improve transportation within Connecticut and has been leading discussions on transportation on a statewide basis.  Motion made, seconded, and passed unanimously to continue the annual membership of $100.

Report from Director

Status of VR Marketing Materials: In combination with Connect-Ability, VR developed marketing materials for employers.  Ms. Susan Monteleone explained that this is part of a statewide initiative involving all state agencies and groups that work with individuals with disabilities to have a common message to go out to employers.  Connect-Ability has committed $50,000 to BESB to help defray the costs for this project.  Ms. Monteleone will bring the materials to the March Council meeting. 

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman projected VR could end FY 09 with roughly $2.1 million to carry into FY10, and the projection right now is that FY 10 would end with a surplus of roughly $1.1 million.  Current projections indicate that an order of selection can be avoided in FY 10, but not FY 11.  The agency is closely monitoring commitments and expenditures and will keep the Council informed of any changes to these projections. 

Position Refills – Update: VR has a vacant counselor and a vacant clerical position. However, considering the hiring freeze and the potential need to enter into an order of selection, Mr. Sigman is choosing not to request refills at this time.

National Update: It is still unknown as to whether the Rehabilitation Act Reauthorization will pass in the next Congress.  The Department of Defense (DOD) is drafting new regulations on how they will define their military dining contracts.  Although BESB does not have any Randolph-Sheppard vending facilities on military bases, the states that do have such operations are very concerned about the potential impact that changes in DOD regulations could have upon opportunities for people who are blind to manage cafeterias at military bases. 

VR Benchmarks Update: Mr. Sigman stated that VR achieved all of their benchmarks for the fiscal year. There were 113 competitive employment outcomes.

Fall NCSAB/CSAVR Meeting Update: At the CSAVR meeting, there was discussion of the potential that Congress may not pass a new budget for FY 09 and that the entire year could end up being covered by continuing resolutions. There is no COLA built into the continuing resolution, so BESB is presently operating with funding at the FY08 level for the Vocational Rehabilitation program.

RSA has issued draft strategic plan goals and measures that place particular priorities on service delivery categories, such as transition school to work and job placement for consumers unemployed at application. The member agencies of the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) expressed concerns to RSA that although the measures are important, they appear to be placing priority on sub-categories of individuals that are not consistent with the Rehabilitation Act provisions. CSAVR is encouraging RSA to consider issuing “intent to regulate” notification so that consumer groups and interested parties can comment on the proposed measures before RSA finalizes them. Mr. Alan Sylvestre, Chair of BESB’s Board of Directors, expressed this particular concern to RSA during the recent CSAVR fall conference.

Report from Chair

Annual Report: The annual report is due December 31 and Mr. Gregoire is in the process of finalizing the report for submission.

New Member Training (March 2009): Mr. Rickard stated that RSA has an online computerized training program for new Council members, but was informed it could take many hours to complete.  He suggested that a sighted and a non-sighted Council member evaluate the program, which is available for use with screen readers.  If the findings are not favorable, then the Council may choose to go back to this Council’s original training.  Mr. Rickard, Ms. Nesman and Mr. Gregoire volunteered to “field test” it and come back in March with recommendations.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:45 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for March 18, 2009 from 9:30 to 12:00 at BESB.

 
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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut  06095

State Rehabilitation Council

MINUTES

September 17, 2008

Members Present: Mr. Ian Rickard, Ms. Andrea Giudice, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, Mr. Al Thompson, Jr., Mr. David Gregoire, Mr. Brian Sigman, Mr. Christopher McMillan, Ms. Felicia Wilkins-Turner, Ms. Anne Fortunato,

Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Mr. Brian Cunnane, Ms. Randa Nesman, Ms. Christine Ford, Mr. Robert Gorman, Ms. Janette Peracchio, Mr. Charles Collins, Ms. Judy Tencza, Mr. Stephen Dombrowski and Mr. David Figley.

Others Present: Ms. Gloria Mills from CT Association for Community Transportation; Ms. Christine Kraus from UConn; Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor, Mr. Andrew Norton; Mr. Charles Trombetta via teleconference.

June 18, 2008 Minutes: Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to adopt the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: All Council members seeking reappointments have been sent their reappointment packets.  Ms. Giudice requested that upon completion, they be submitted back to the Governor’s Office as soon as possible.  She also requested she be notified if anyone has someone interested in becoming a member.

Finance Committee: Mr. McMillan presented breakdown of the finance report with the commitments for FY 08 totaling $56,958.98.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee: The survey has been completed and an overview of the draft report was presented by Ms. Christine Kraus from UConn.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to accept the report as written.  The report will be posted onto the BESB website.

There were 121 consumers who achieved successful employment  outcomes between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008 and 95 completed the survey.  Overall, VR received high marks for their services and the counselors.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Jonathan Richmond introduced Mr. Charles Trombetta who attended the meeting by teleconference.  Mr. Trombetta owns one of the top Allstate insurance agencies in the state and has five agents working for him.  Mr. Trombetta stated his appreciation for  the portable cctv provided by BESB that enables him to visit client’s homes to review insurance policies and documents.  With it, he also  remains current with new insurance legislation.  His staff is secure in knowing that he is up to date with changes in the insurance industry.  He feels that he has achieved personal and professional growth with services he received from BESB and has learned to adapt and overcome obstacles.

Status of VR Marketing Plans: VR Department’s marketing brochures are being updated with the assistance of Mintz and Hoke, a marketing firm on state contract.  Mr. Richmond stated that VR staff came up with a tagline of “Envision Employment” for the marketing materials to help communicate the outreach message to employers.  Target date is to have new materials available this fall.  Brochures will provide overview of BESB services and a success story.  Coasters, key chains, magnifier lights and mouse pads with the outreach message will also be available to give to employers.

Election of Officers for 2009: Ms. Giudice reviewed the nominations from the June meeting.  Mr. Gregoire had been nominated to serve as Chair; Ms. Sullivan was nominated for Vice Chair, Ms. Peracchio volunteered to continue as Secretary; and Mr. McMillan volunteered to continue as Treasurer.  Ms. Giudice opened the floor for any new nominations and none were received.  Motion was made, seconded and accepted unanimously to close the floor for nominations.  Ms. Giudice put forth the slate of officers as above.  Motion was made, seconded, and unanimously accepted to accept the slate of officers.

Annual Report – Assignment of Sections: The annual report is due the end of December and Mr. Rickard requested the chairs of the different  subcommittees submit their reports by the beginning of December.  Mr. Rickard will do the summary of what the Council has achieved for the year and will send it to members for feedback.

Old Business

Connecticut Association for Community Transportation (CACT): Ms. Gloria Mills, Executive Director of CACT presented an overview of their organization.  They are committed to promoting and improving public transportation.  Their membership includes Dept. of Transportation, a diverse group of transportation organizations, public transit operators, private and public vendors, social services, and individuals with disabilities.  The budget for the organization is $27,500, geared toward advocacy through education.  They provide a statewide forum for exchange of public transportation information and are advocates for public transportation and for the customers at local, state and federal levels.  The federal government provides some funding, but little to no operating funds.  The CACT website is www.cact.info.  Their next quarterly meeting is October 16 at 1:00 at the Greater Hartford Transit District at 1 Union Place in their conference room.

A discussion about this Council’s relationship with CACT and possibly renewing membership will occur at the December SRC meeting.

Letter to Office of Policy and Management (OPM) on Indirect Costs: Mr. Rickard sent a letter by email and a hard copy to OPM seeking a waiver of indirect costs to assist Vocational Rehabilitation in delaying the need to enter into an order of selection, but has not received any response.

Report from the Director

Budget Update: As all agencies must reduce travel costs by 10%, which includes personal mileage reimbursements and fuel and mileage on all state vehicles, Mr. Sigman requested Council members explore carpooling or utilizing Para transit to attend SRC meetings.  Executive Branch agencies are also preparing budget reduction options of 10% for state fiscal years 2010 and 2011.  Client purchased service costs are lower that projected, and current projections indicate a carryover of roughly $1,850,000 into Federal fiscal year 2010.  A subcommittee was formed consisting of Mr. Rickard, Ms. Nesman, Ms. Giudice, and Ms. Peracchio to work with the Chair of this Council and Mr. Sigman on the planning for the implementation of an order of selection. Current projections suggest that an order of selection may not be necessary until federal fiscal year 2011.

BESB Voc Rehab Revised Policy for Books and Supplies: As there were no comments from the public hearings, Mr. Sigman stated the revised policy went into affect in July and the VR Policy Manual has been updated to include that change.

RSA Section 107 Report: Mr. Sigman and Mr. Rickard received the  report from RSA.  Mr. Sigman pointed out the report is requesting this Council revisit the policy of allowing nine months between determination of eligibility and development of the Individualized Plan for Employment.  Reluctantly, this Council previously changed the time requirement from one year to nine months.  RSA is asking for the Council to consider reducing the time frame again, perhaps to 6 months. In the report, RSA is also instructing the agency to modify federal financial reports dating back several years, to reflect the value of administrative charges. The agency has advised RSA that a waiver of administrative costs has been in effect for years and the agency did not pay administrative costs. RSA was aware of this waiver as it was reflected on the federal reports. Regardless, RSA wants BESB to go back 5 years to recalculate and report on the value of the waived administrative costs and once completed, RSA will reassess if the agency met its Maintenance of Effort requirements. Failure to meet maintenance of effort requirements results in a reduction of $2.00 in federal funds for every $1.00 in state funds that the maintenance of effort falls short. Mr. Sigman agreed to amend the reports, but advised RSA that any discussion that involves the potential removal of federal funding necessary for the provision of services to consumers of BESB would need to involve the Attorney General’s Office.

BESB Strategic Planning Committee: Ms. Giudice volunteered to replace Ms. Killian in representing this Council on the BESB Strategic Planning Committee.

Ms. Burgard stated a goal of the VR Strategic Plan is to streamline the process of the Small Business Plan Committee.  Documents have been developed and will be sent out to this Council before the next meeting for review.  One document consists of the stages in the process and the roles of the VR counselor and committee and is for the VR counselor, client and Business Plan Committee.  The next document is specifically for clients, and outlines policies and procedures for the business plan. 

Position Refills Update: VR has vacancies for a VR Counselor and a Clerk Typist.  Mr. Sigman and Ms. Burgard discussed the counselor position possibly seeking a refill in a similar position to VR counselor.

Information regarding accessible voting is on agency website.  The Secretary of State’s Office is very concerned about ensuring that people who are blind have a positive experience at the voting booth this fall and they want feedback.  The name of the contact person can be found on the website.  Ms. Giudice attended a presentation about accessible voting and provided a contact name of Mr. Lucien Pawlak at 860 509-6202 for any encountered while voting.

National Update: The Senate has passed their version of the ADA extension act and the House already passed theirs.  They will be meeting to try to reconcile their differences.

Report from the Chair

CT-Youth Leadership Program: Mr. Rickard and Mr. Sigman attended the awards presentation and found it to be very inspiring.  He encouraged this Council to continue sponsorship of this program.

Ms. Monteleone spoke to Mr. Randy Lewis from Walgreen’s as he is equally concerned that the jobs presently identified for consumers of our agency do not appear to be accessible, except for someone who is  legally blind with a very high degree of remaining vision.  Ms. Monteleone requested they consider identifying other job categories that are in the Walgreen’s family of jobs for our clients.

Mr. Dombrowski at DOL stated the fall job fair program starts next week and distributed flyers.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 12:22 p.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for December 10, 2008 from 9:30 to 12:00 at BESB.

 
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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut  06095

State Rehabilitation Council

MINUTES

June 18, 2008

Members Present: Mr. Robert Gorman, Mr. Charles Collins, Ms. Felicia Wilkins-Turner, Mr. David Gregoire, Mr. Bruce Stovall, Ms. Christine Ford, Ms. Susan Werboff, Mr. Christopher McMillan, Mr. Stephen Dombrowski, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Mr. Jim Schwarzhaupt, Mr. Brian Cunnane, Ms. Janette Peracchio, Ms. Brenda Sullivan, Mr. Brian Sigman, Mr. Ian Rickard, Ms. Andrea Giudice, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, and Ms. Paula deSilva.

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor.

March 19, 2008 Minutes: Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to adopt the minutes with the following changes: page 3, second paragraph, first line, “Mr. Collins i has” the “i” needs to be deleted.  On page 7, first paragraph, line 13 “Keilly” needs to be changed to “Keeley”.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Mr. Sigman has received two membership packets: one from Ms. Anne Fortunato from Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic and one from Mr. Alfred Thompson, Jr., a former consumer of this agency.  As Ms. Fortunato is not legally blind and the Council needs to have 51% voting members who are blind, her application must be taken into consideration.  Mr. Sigman’s question is whether bylaws are going to be amended to clarify whether the 25 members are voting members as Mr. Sigman and Mr. Richmond cannot vote but occupy two spots.  There are also members whose second term has/will expire and successors are needed for Mr. Collins, Ms. Killian and Mr. Koutas.  Another request was submitted to Workforce Investment Board for successor for Mr. Koutas.  First terms expiring/expired are Ms. Giudice, Mr.  Richmond, Mr. McMillan, and Ms. Wilkins-Turner.  Mr. Sigman asked the Council to conduct a membership  meeting as soon as possible  to decide on what to do with the two new applicants.

Finance Committee: Mr. McMillan presented breakdown of the finance report with the commitments for FY 08 totaling $49,226.66.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee: Ms. Sullivan reported UConn is currently working on the proposal that will be submitted to Ms. Sullivan, Mr. Sigman and Mr. Rickard for review.  The format will remain the same and they will be conducting “drill down” questions for the VR Counselors that they omitted last year.

New Business

Proposed Bylaws Change for Membership: Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to amend the Council’s bylaws to have a voting membership of a maximum of 25 and a minimum of 15, with 51 percent of the voting members being blind or visually impaired.

Update of State Plan for 2009: Discussion was held regarding one of the State Plan attachments dealing with the Agency’s Vocational Rehabilitation budget and the high possibility of entering into an order of selection for fiscal year 2010.  Although the Council understands that waivers of indirect costs are no longer being granted, a motion was made, seconded, and accepted unanimously for this Council’s Chair to submit a letter to OPM to seek another waiver of indirect costs to assist Vocational Rehabilitation in delaying the need to enter into an order of selection.

As no public comments were received from any of the five public hearings regarding the VR 2009 State Plan, Mr. Sigman requested approval to submit the State Plan to the Board of Directors as they have the final say as to whether or not the State Plan is amended.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to approve the State Plan and forward it to the Board as written.

Call for Nominations for Officers for 2009: Mr. Rickard opened the floor for nominations.  Mr. Gregoire was nominated to serve as Chair; Ms. Sullivan was nominated for Vice Chair; Ms. Peracchio volunteered to continue as Secretary; and Mr. McMillan volunteered to serve again as Treasurer.  Council will vote on this slate in September.

VR Success Story: Ms. Tina Walts-Gilmore is the VR Counselor for Mr. Joshua Eaton who is successfully employed at a car dealership.  Ms. Linda Lataille, who is Mr. Eaton’s supervisor, was on the speakerphone as she could not attend this meeting in person.  Mr. Eaton’s primary task is to file rental car records in numeric order.  This job has been a very good match, and his employer is very pleased with his performance.  Mr. Eaton works 20 hours per week.  His employer provides transportation to work and has a support group with the employees and volunteers who transport him.  He uses a closed circuit television on the job. 

Old Business

Connecticut Association for Community Transportation (Membership - $100): This is being tabled to September as Ms. Giudice did not get a chance to have someone from their agency come to talk about the organization.  It is planned to have someone come in at the next meeting in September.

Report from the Director

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman provided an overview of the budget and the high probability of VR entering into order of selection in FY 10.  There are sufficient funds to serve all eligible individuals in FY 09.

Position Refills Update: VR has vacancies for a VR Counselor and a Clerk Typist. Given the budget projections for order of selection, and the hiring freeze, Mr. Sigman is not proceeding with a request to fill these vacancies at this time.  At the last meeting, it was reported that Ms. Wendy Andino was hired as a VR Counselor and recently a second VR Counselor position was filled by Mr. Mark Ward who is covering northwestern Connecticut.  They replace two VR Counselors, John Farrington and Michele Paquet, who are no longer with this agency.

National Update: The Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has reviewed the Randolph-Sheppard Program and the Javitts-Wagner O’Day Program (JWOD) that allows community rehabilitation providers to have contracts with the federal government.  JWOD may have contracts where multiple people with significant disabilities work at a contracted location, with some workers at minimum wage or above and some at a lower rate.  Randolph-Sheppard has locations that have entrepreneurs who are blind managing the locations, and these entrepreneurs then hire workers to assist at the location.  Sometimes there is a teaming partner to assist the state agency and entrepreneur in administering the large operation of military cafeterias.  A senator from the Senate HELP Committee has introduced legislation to reauthorize both programs.  There are some positive provisions to this proposal, including mechanisms for looking at business ownership in the private sector for blind entrepreneurs and creating stronger requirements for federal agencies to create additional Randolph-Sheppard sites.  There is also proposed language about a mechanism for blind entrepreneurs to bid on a contract even if state agency declines to bid.  Concerns with this legislation include giving the existing Committee of Purchase the administration of both RSA and JWOD. State-licensing agencies for the blind would be required to train other people with disabilities in addition to those who are blind, which removes the priority of Randolph-Sheppard to work exclusively with people who are blind.  It would also merge the state VR self-employment program with the Randolph-Sheppard entrepreneurial program to create one entrepreneurial self- employment program for all persons who have significant disabilities.  State licensing agencies would also loose the exclusive priority in bidding competitions for food service contracts at federal locations. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is holding a public meeting on June 23, 2008 in Washington, DC to discuss the safety of blind pedestrians encountering quiet cars such as hybrids, electrical and quiet internal combustion engine vehicles.  Attending will be  government policy makers, stakeholders, industry representatives and public interest groups.  The public can submit comments by email with any ideas to solve this issue.  The deadline is August 1, 2008.

On the State level, BESB had two bills this session that became laws.  One was the authority to hire special assistants to the blind and clerical staff in Children’s Services.  There is a hiring freeze at present, so the agency will not be requesting establishment of new positions under the authority of this new statute at the present time.  The second law deals with the fine for failing to yield to a blind pedestrian, which was less than failure to yield to a sighted pedestrian.  Now, if you fail to yield for blind pedestrian, between the fine & associated court fees, it is $181.

Mr. Rickard pointed out that in Windsor center, the town installed containers on each side of the pedestrian crossings that hold orange flags.  Before pedestrians cross the street, they take a flag and wave it while crossing, and then place the flag in the container on the other side of the street.  This seems to be working in that the pedestrian is  more visible.

Report from the Chair

Spring CSAVR Meeting (April 20-23): Mr. Rickard attended this meeting and had the opportunity to meet staff at the offices of Senator Dodd and Senator Lieberman, but did not get to speak to the Senators directly.  They were welcomed and the staff was made aware of BESB and what they do.  The Walgreen’s project in Connecticut was highlighted. Walgreen’s has a very strong commitment to hire a significant number of people with disabilities.  From the CSAVR meeting, it was learned that the Rehabilitation Act will most likely not be reauthorized in the current session of Congress.

National Association of State SRCs: This meeting was very useful in that everyone had the opportunity to learn what other state SRCs are doing.  Training new members was discussed as RSA has promised to bring out new online training consisting of four self-directed training modules.  First module covers the history and overview of SRCs; second module discusses state plan and SRCs input into it; third module is operationalizing the state plan and what is the SRC expected to do in terms of putting the aims and objectives of the state plan into reality; and fourth module discusses the SRC such as membership requirements, etc.  Mr. Rickard will inform Council members when this training becomes available.

Mr. McMillan asked if RSA provided feedback after their visit to BESB.  Mr. Sigman said it was very preliminary and a teleconference will happen in early July with the remainder of their recommendations.  They will submit a draft to Mr. Sigman for review and comment and then it will be posted on their website.  All state agencies are hearing recommendations in quality assurance models as to the correlation between dollars spent and the outcomes.  Strategic plans are being reviewed for more long-range periods and RSA also has a very strong focus on transition from school to work.

Mr. Sigman reviewed the State Code of Ethics and reminded Council members that as appointees of the Governor, they are duly bound by ethics rules.  If any member of BESB Boards, councils, or committees are serving in a capacity to shape policies that could have a direct financial benefit to the member or their family, then a potential conflict of interest exists. The member would be expected to not participate in discussions or policy making decisions in these circumstances.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 12:08 p.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for September 17, 2008 from 9:30 to 12:00 at BESB.

 
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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut  06095

State Rehabilitation Council

MINUTES

March 19, 2008

Members Present: Mr. Ian Rickard, Ms. Andrea Giudice, Ms. Candace Low, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, Ms. Susan Werboff, Mr. Brian Sigman, Mr. Brian Cunnane, Ms. Janette Peracchio, Mr. Christopher McMillan, Mr. David Gregoire, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Mr. Jim Schwarzhaupt, Ms. Randa Nesman, Mr. Bruce Stovall, Ms. Brenda Sullivan, Mr. Stephen Dombrowski, Mr. David Figley, Mr. Robert Gorman, Ms. Christine Ford, and Mr. Charles Collins.

Others Present: Mr. Al Thompson, consumer; Ms. Mary Burgard, Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor; and attendees from RSA are Mr. Jeff Clopein, Mr. Steve Zwillinger, Mr. Joe Doney, and Ms. Joan Ward.

December 12, 2007 Minutes: Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: Ms. Giudice reported new appointments are Ms. Paula deSilva, Mr. David Figley, Mr. Robert Gorman, and Ms. Christine Ford.  Reappointments are Mr. Ian Rickard, Mr. David Gregoire, Ms. Janette Peracchio, Ms. Brenda Sullivan and Ms. Judy Tencza.  Each will be receiving a letter from the Governor’s Office.  Ms. Anne Fortunato from Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) is very interested in becoming a member and has submitted her packet to the agency.  Ms. Giudice requested the Council consider having RFB&D represented on this Council with Ms. Fortunato being their first representative.  Ms. Low requested that  Connecticut Association for Centers for Independent Living be represented and she is willing to serve as their representative.  Federal legislation requires representation from specific categories and fifty-one percent must be people who are blind.  Ms. Fortunato is not legally blind and this must be taken into consideration as currently the Council has 24 appointed members of which 22 are voting members and 11 are legally blind, which is below the 51% required.  Successors are needed for Mr. Charlie Collins, Mr. Sam Koutas, and Ms. Eileen Rose who recently resigned.  Mr. Rickard, Ms. Giudice, and Mr. Sigman will form a subcommittee and bring forth a recommendation to the next Council meeting for a person who is blind to join in order to be in compliance with the federal regulations. 

Finance Committee: Mr. McMillan presented breakdown of the finance report with the commitments for FY 08 totaling $44,811.66.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee: Ms. Sullivan recommended Council continue with UConn as they did an outstanding job and there was a good working relationship.  Only disappointment was they did not do the “drill down” questions for the VR Counselors and will be sure to include them in next year’s survey.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously for the Council to continue using UConn as the subcontractor for doing the satisfaction survey.

New Business

VR Success Story: Ms. Susan Monteleone, Lead Counselor introduced Ms. Nancy Hays with her guide dog Simon, Ms. Tracy Andrews and Mr. Charlie Collins.  Ms. Hays and Ms. Andrews work for Mr. Collins at Vision Dynamics and today’s presentation includes all three, all of whom have received BESB services.  Mr. Collins showed a  presentation of a portion of Able Lives that spotlighted Vision Dynamics.

Ms. Hays extended her heartfelt appreciation for all of the BESB  services she received over many years.  BESB services that assisted her through school and college included aides, large print books, and low vision equipment.  With BESB services, she acquired a job at Vision Dynamics. 

Ms. Tracy Andrews stated she has been a recipient of BESB services for over 35 years, starting at eight in elementary school when she became legally blind with macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.  She stressed how important agency services are for children.  About a year ago, she was in contact with Erik Jones of BESB and with services she received, she now works at Vision Dynamics.  She stated it has been amazing this past year to work at Vision Dynamics and she has learned many things. 

Mr. Collins has received agency services since the 1970’s. Mr. Collins thanked BESB for all their assistance and thanked the Council for allowing him to be a part of it and be the treasurer.  He demonstrated his cell phone and explained some of its added features.

Connecticut Association for Community Transportation Membership: It is time to renew the membership and Mr. Rickard provided an overview of what the organization does to improve transportation and have done a very good job of bringing to the attention of the legislature, the limitations in availability of transportation for people with disabilities.  Mr. Rickard requested Council continue sponsorship.  Before continuing sponsorship, it was suggested by Mr. Schwarzhaupt to have someone from their organization speak at a future Council  meeting to answer some of the Council’s concerns.  Ms. Giudice agreed to contact them to extend an invitation. Their web address is www.cact.info.

Annual Plan for 2008: Mr. Clopein from RSA provided an overview of RSA and their purpose and objectives for being at the Agency.  They review each agency’s state plan for any changes needed that will lead to successful outcomes.  It is reviewed carefully to make sure the goals and priorities are consistent throughout.   RSA is mandated in the Rehab Act to conduct an onsite review to analyze and gather information about BESB and its performance in all areas relating to standards and indicators, type and timeliness of services being provided, employment outcomes, etc.  Their approach is to learn how BESB operates.  They are trying to meet as many people as possible including staff, strategic plan committee, consumers, this Council.  They have a lot of new and different information they are collecting.  They will be following up with Mr. Sigman and the leadership team to follow up with the visit, see what we all learned from this process, and continue to seek information.  By August there will be a public document written by this RSA team on their website that explains what BESB is doing well and any areas needing improvement.  A survey is being done at the end of this review that anyone can have access to.  Mr. Sigman stated he really appreciates this new approach and is looking forward to RSA’s next component, which is technical assistance.  They are going to find areas where BESB might model what some other states are doing which is also new and very important.

Mr. Sigman stated a subcommittee is needed to do the state plan.  Mr. Gregoire, Mr. McMillan, Mr. Schwarzhaupt and Ms. Ford volunteered to assist Mr. Rickard and Mr. Sigman.  A teleconference will be set up in couple of weeks.

Resolution of Support for the National Coalition of State Rehab Councils (NCSRC): Mr. Rickard stated NCSRC is a national group to share experiences of state rehab councils throughout the country with their focus being better communication between the SRCs and RSA and also to influence Congress when it comes to issues related to VR.  This organization is needed to share best practices and training materials, and also to bring everyone’s efforts together to promote the various state programs.  Its mission is to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities to enhance the employment opportunities for them through the public VR system.  They have asked each SRC to provide  support so that representatives of the SRCs can vote in meetings of the national coalition.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously that this Council supports the mission, vision, core values, and goals of the NCSRC, and our council’s participation, which includes decision-making when representing our council at scheduled meetings, for the purpose of increasing the effectiveness of individual councils and strengthening the public vocational rehabilitation system in our country.

Old Business

Responsibilities of the SRC: Mr. Rickard received a letter from Governor Rell asking all chairpersons of state appointed councils to remind their membership of the responsibilities associated with their position.  Mr. Rickard previously emailed to Council members the relevant sections from the Rehab Act of 1973 as amended in 1998.  He urged everyone to review this document and if any questions, call Mr. Rickard or Mr. Sigman.

Report from the Director

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman provided an overview of the budget and the waiver of indirect costs expired September 30, 2007.  Money was  reserved in order to anticipate the loss of those dollars.  With that and  looking at what the program anticipates spending in all other services, for FY 08, VR could exit the year with approximately $1.9 million in carryover.  In FY 09, assuming level funding, VR would exit FY 09 with a carryover of about $675,000.  If all of this occurs, in FY 10 this agency may have to go into order of selection and would need some serious planning by this October to begin preparing for its implementation.

Position Refills Update: VR has a new VR Counselor who is bilingual and will be carrying a bilingual/bicultural caseload.  She will also be focusing on minority outreach particularly in Waterbury, Bridgeport and in the southwest.  She worked previously at the Massachusetts  Rehab Commission so she has VR background.  With this recent hire, it fulfills a State Plan goal.  A counselor left, so VR currently is down one counselor position.  The vacancy has already advertised and recruited.  VR just hired two new Special Assistants and they started in December.  In addition, our clerk typist was promoted to an Office Assistant, which leaves a vacancy.  The agency has requested approval for a refill.

Mr. Sigman showed a commercial that will be on the Able Lives television program on Connecticut Public Television.

National Update: Mr. Sigman has been asked if there will be reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act in this Congress.  He reported that at one point, there was speculation that it looked imminent, and that efforts were underway to pass the Rehabilitation Act separate from the Workforce Investment Act, but it did not happen.  It is getting closer to the presidential election and current perspectives being shared are that it is unlikely that the Rehabilitation Act will be reauthorized before the new Congress begins in January, 2009.

 

Mr. Sigman stated an initiative was started through the BESB strategic planning committee to increase awareness of the law for drivers to yield for pedestrians who are blind.  He has bumper stickers available for this purpose.  They are on some of BESB’s state vehicles and as state cars go in for service at Fleet Operations, they are coming out with a sticker.  There is also a bill before the legislature to equalize the fine for failing to yield to a blind pedestrian to match the fine for failure to yield to a pedestrian in general.

Report from the Chair

Spring NCSAB and CSAVR Meeting (April 20-23): Mr. Rickard plans to attend and represent the SRC at this meeting and also attend the National Coalition of State Rehab Councils meeting.

Mr. Gregoire stated he and Mr. Schwarzhaupt are on the Business Development Committee and they vote on grants for clients who wish to start their own business.  They met with three VR Counselors and they are trying to fine tune and enhance the process so that from start to finish, it is more user friendly for the consumer and does not take as long.  He would like this on the agenda for the next meeting to discuss the program to find time and energy saving initiatives.  Mr. Gregoire presented a list of items to the counselors and when it is in a finalized form, he will send it to Mr. Schwarzhaupt.

Mr. McMillan is meeting with Mr. Sigman and Ms. Burgard on a pilot program that he is introducing for blind individuals who would like to be network engineers.  The training program is in Australia and he is here to educate and train more people to become network engineers who are blind or visually impaired.  He would like to get the opportunity at one of the upcoming meetings to present this project to the Council.

Ms. Low stated Independence Unlimited transitions individuals from nursing facilities into the community and they have several people coming out very soon.  Most of the people that go into the nursing facilities have no belongings.  Three of the people who will be coming out soon have visual disabilities and one has never lived in the community independently.  They do not have enough money to get personal items or furniture.  Ms. Low is asking for any donations of money, gift cards, furniture that will fit in a small apartment, pots and pans, small coffee pots, etc. that is in good condition and useable.  They are running out of resources for transitioning people and they have a waiting list of 26 that will be coming out in a few months.  Anyone interested in assisting can contact the office and ask for Claudia Keeley.  She concluded by saying she enjoyed serving her 2 terms on this Council and learned a lot.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 12:25 p.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for June 18, 2008 from 9:30 to 12:00 at BESB.

 
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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut  06095

State Rehabilitation Advisory Council

MOTIONS

March 19, 2008

December 12, 2007 Minutes: Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee: Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously for the Council to continue using UConn as their subcontractor for doing the satisfaction survey.

Resolution of Support for the National Coalition of State Rehab Councils (NCSRC): Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously that this Council supports the mission, vision, core values, and goals of the NCSRC, and our council’s participation, which includes decision making when representing our council at scheduled meetings, for the purpose of increasing the effectiveness of individual councils and strengthening the public vocational rehabilitation system in our country.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 12:25 p.m.

 

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MINUTES FROM PRIOR STATE REHABILITATION COUNCIL MEETINGS:

State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut  06095

State Rehabilitation Council

MINUTES

December 12, 2007

Members Present: Mr. Ian Rickard, Ms. Randa Nesman, Ms. Susan Werboff, Mr. Charles Collins, Ms. Candace Low, Ms. Felicia Wilkins-Turner, Ms. Janette Peracchio, Mr. Brian Sigman, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Mr. Schwarzhaupt, Mr. Brian Cunnane, Mr. Sam Koutas,

Ms. Brenda Sullivan, Ms. Judy Tencza.  By teleconference were Ms. Andrea Giudice and Mr. Chris McMillan.

Others Present: Mr. David Figley, consumer; Ms. Paula deSilva, Executive Director of CRIS Radio; and Mr. Robert Gorman, independent living advocate from Independence Northwest.

September 26, 2007 Minutes: Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Consumer Satisfaction Committee: Ms. Sullivan had distributed UConn’s revised, reformatted report and there were no difficulties with reading the report with computer screen readers.  Mr. Sigman thanked Ms. Sullivan for all of her work.  Council felt it was a very good report and the results were impressive.  Next year’s survey should include the “drill down” questions for the VR Counselors that UConn omitted this year.

Finance Committee: Mr. McMillan presented breakdown of the finance report with the commitments totaling $69,253.32.  The consumer satisfaction survey shows up twice as last year’s commitment came in very late and was applied to this year’s funding.

Membership Committee: Ms. Giudice welcomed Ms. Paula deSilva, Mr. Robert Gorman, Mr. David Figley, and Mr. William Schiavo (not in attendance) who may become new members.  If so, they need to submit their packets.  Reappointment packets need to be submitted from Mr. Gregoire, Ms. Peracchio, Ms. Tencza, Mr. Rickard, Ms. Sullivan and Ms. Rose.  Everyone listed should submit their packets to Mr. Sigman by Friday, January 4 and let Ms. Giudice know they have done so by email to dawgmawm@sbcglobal.net or by calling her at 860 561-2107.  RSA has notified BESB that this Council is not in compliance for membership requirements.  Mr. Sigman has emailed the Office of Workforce Competitiveness for a successor for Mr. Koutas and requested Mr. Koutas to contact them as well.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Richmond introduced Ms. Christine Pasciolla- Ford who is a self-employed massage therapist.  Ms. Ford stated that she was interning in her third year as a photographer when she was diagnosed at age 21 and slowly lost her vision.  It was very important to her that her children are able to look up to her as a functioning mother, so she contacted this Agency (BESB) and at first, started receiving mobility services.  She went back to college as a blind woman and learned how to study that way.  BESB provided adaptive technology devices, which she demonstrated to the group.  Ms. Pasciolla-Ford was chosen out of over 500 applicants to be a part of the first international massage therapy team that went to Greece to work on the athletes from every country.  She was the only blind massage therapist.  Ms. Pasciolla-Ford detailed for the SRC members the prejudices that she has encountered in employment and community living as a person who is blind. Ms. Ford’s massage therapy business website is www.syzygywithin.com.

Youth Leadership Forum Sponsorship for FY 08: The Youth Leadership Forum is an annual, weeklong leadership training for transition age youth with disabilities.  Council sponsored this event last year at the $5000 Gold level.  They have requested this Council and this Agency to consider increasing their contributions due to loss of funding from other organizations.  Mr. Sigman stated VR will match the Council’s commitment.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously for the Council to co-sponsor the Youth Leadership Forum for FY 08 in the amount of $7500.

Report from the Director

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman is projecting there will not be a need for an order of selection in federal fiscal year 2008 as there are sufficient funds available to serve all eligible individuals. The waiver of indirect costs expired September 30, 2007. BESB is working with OPM and DAS to identify the specific costs that the Vocational Rehabilitation Program will incur.  An estimate of 20% of federal dollars, roughly $600,000, has been put aside to cover the indirect costs.  At this point, FY 09 does not appear to be at risk for order of selection, but FY 10 is a concern.

Position Refills Update: VR is currently recruiting for another VR Counselor who is bilingual for the Hispanic population.  A Rehabilitation Teacher to provide adaptive technology training has been hired and needs a special assistant.  The Rehabilitation Teacher’s salary with fringe rate was built in, but not the Special Assistant and this will have an impact on the budget.  Two refills for VR Special Assistants will be starting this month.

National Update: Because Randolph-Sheppard competes with NISH (contract representing people with other disabilities) for military cafeterias that are high income vending facilities, there has been some national focus on both programs in how they gain access to vending facilities.  The Government Accountability Office issued a report that seems favorable to the perspective of Randolph-Sheppard in illustrating how a blind entrepreneur benefits directly from running a military facility; whereas a NISH contract, the contract goes to the NISH organization and they hire individual workers to fill mostly entry level jobs that are at the military facility.

The Department of Defense is working with RSA on language of proposed regulations on the definition of what is a cafeteria so in the future, there will be some clarification added as to what is a Randolph-Sheppard location and what is considered not to be a cafeteria.

VR Benchmarks Update: VR met all of its benchmarks for FY 07, which were established by the BESB Monitoring Council.  They included the goal of 107 non-homemaker-integrated outcomes; hire a Rehabilitation Teacher to focus on adaptive technology; insuring all direct service staff get at least 2 trainings for the FY in adaptive technology; and the mentoring program.  Mr. Barry Rita developed a booklet on how to be a mentor and provides training to new mentors.

Report from the Chair

Fall NCSAB and CSAVR Meeting Update: Mr. Rickard attended on behalf of the Council.  The members of the different State Rehabilitation Councils (SRCs) are very close to forming a national organization with their focus being better communication between the SRCs and RSA and also to influence Congress and other decision makers when it comes to issues related to VR.  This organization is needed to share best practices and training materials, and also to bring everyone’s efforts together to promote the various state programs.

New Member Training: Mr. Rickard would like to postpone this training to June 2008 as the Council will have new members and RSA is developing and making available its own SRC training materials by March 2008 so is hoping to take advantage of the RSA materials and have some training at that time.

RSA will be here the week of March 17, 2008 to monitor VR and to attend this Council’s meeting on March 19.  Mr. Sigman will look into

whether RSA could make a presentation at that meeting.

Annual Report: The draft report has been sent and Mr. Rickard requested any comments, corrections or additions be forwarded to him.  A success story has been received and will be added to the back of the report.  By the end of December, the final report will be submitted electronically to the Governor and RSA.

Mr. Collins stated that Vision Dynamics has hired two blind people that received services and on-the-job training from BESB and it has been a huge success.  Mr. Collins will be speaking to companies relaying the message of what they are missing by not hiring people with vision impairments.

Ms. Wilkins-Turner works for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and their RSA program is grant supported and has received funding again this year.  She is proud to announce that her tribe, the Lumby Tribe of North Carolina, was also funded.  There were only eight awards given out of 23 applicants.  A lot of work is going on with Native Americans with disabilities.  Mr. Sigman is on their Advisory Board and Ms. Marion Lynch attends in his absence.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:36 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for March 19, 2008 from 9:30 to 12:00 at BESB.

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State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut  06095

State Rehabilitation Advisory Council

 MINUTES

September 26, 2007

  

Members Present: Mr. Ian Rickard, Ms. Brenda Sullivan, Mr. Brian Sigman, Mr. Bruce Stovall, Ms. Andrea Giudice, Mr. Charles Collins, Mr. Steve Dombrowski, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Mr. Chris McMillan, Mr. Sam Koutas, Ms. Janette Peracchio, and Mr. David Gregoire.  By teleconference were Mr. Schwarzhaupt and Ms. Tencza.

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, VR Supervisor at BESB.

June 20, 2007 Minutes: Council unanimously adopted the meeting minutes.

Committee Reports

Council Minutes and Motions: An issue came up at the Agency’s Board Meeting from Connecticut General Statutes Section 1-225 that minutes from meetings of government agencies to the public must have motions posted within 48 hours and the minutes within 7 days of the meeting, even if they are in draft form.

Membership Committee: Ms. Giudice was not able to contact Mr. Morton Romano, but has a name from Mr. Richmond and will be following up with that person.  Second terms of some members have or will expire and replacements are needed for representation for  blind/legally blind business owners, Independent Living Councils, and CRIS Radio.  Reappointments should go through the Council for review.  Mr. Sigman has a possible candidate for appointment.

Finance Committee: Mr. Collins presented breakdown of the finance report with the commitments totaling $61,253.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee: Ms. Sullivan reported the survey has been completed and UConn submitted their report.  It was discovered that due to time constraints, UConn made an executive decision on their own to only question consumers with the drill down questions on services only, not on counselors.  Overall, the results are very positive and the mean data was compared to last year’s results.  The report is being reformatted as it is very difficult to read and upon receipt, it will be forwarded to all Council members.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Richmond introduced Ms. Juanita Collazo who works as a receptionist at CW Resources and her supervisor, Ms. Jacqueline French-Johnson.  Mr. Richmond has been Ms. Collazo’s counselor since 2001 and provided an overview of supported employment, as this is the type of assistance BESB provided Ms. Collazo.  Ms. Collazo stated that before CW Resources, she worked at BESB Industries and received some training there, as she has wanted to be a receptionist for a long time.  Her employment with CW Resources began October 14, 2003 and she required several job coaches for one-to-one training for the first month or so.  Whenever she receives any new tasks, she can receive more training if needed.  She works Tuesdays and Thursdays and alternates with another receptionist.  She assists with transportation needs and client meetings.

Ms. French-Johnson stated that Ms. Collazo is a great worker, very helpful, accommodating, and follows through on tasks.  She organizes and assists with client meetings, answers and makes phone calls, and is very knowledgeable about transportation issues and community outreach.  Ms. French-Johnson considers Ms. Collazo to be a great asset and is very grateful for her assistance.

Election of Officers for 2008: Mr. Rickard opened the floor for nominations.  Mr. Rickard volunteered to serve as Chair for another year; Mr. Gregoire volunteered as Vice Chair, Ms. Peracchio volunteered as Secretary; and Mr. Collins nominated Mr. McMillan as Treasurer.  Motion made and accepted unanimously to close the floor for nominations.  Ms. Giudice put forth the slate of officers as above.  Motion was made and unanimously accepted.

Annual Report – Assignment of Sections: The annual report is due the end of December and Mr. Rickard requested Ms. Sullivan and Ms. Giudice submit their subcommittee reports by the beginning of December.  Percentages of the Council’s representations are required to confirm the statutory requirements for the membership.  Mr. Rickard will do the summary of what the Council has achieved for the year and will send it to members for feedback.

Quorums for Council Meetings: According to Robert’s Rules, in the future, a count should be done 2 weeks before a meeting to be sure enough members will attend the meeting for a quorum.  If there is no quorum, the Chair of this Council will be contacted and a decision made to either teleconference or reschedule.  Mr. Sigman requested Ms. Giudice contact Council members who left or have not attended for a while and request them to submit a letter of resignation that would remove them from the count of voting members.

Meeting Dates for 2008: Motion made and accepted unanimously to accept the following dates: March 19, 2008; June 18, 2008, September 17, 2008, and December 10, 2008.

Old Business

Cost of Braille Textbooks: The Board of Directors approved the policy as written and now has to go to public hearing.  Discussion ensued as to whether to conduct separate public hearings for this matter.  Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously to table the public hearings until the Agency holds the public hearings for the State Plan next May.

Meeting Accessibility: As Ms. Low who raised this issue could not attend the last Council meeting in June, this had been tabled for today with the understanding that there would be a final vote.  As she is not in attendance today, it was decided to drop this.  Motion unanimously adopted to drop this item from the agenda.

Report from the Director

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman reported projections were done and no risk of order of selection for fiscal year 2008.

Position Refills Update: VR is currently recruiting for two Special Assistants and the Rehabilitation Teacher vacancy in VR has been filled and will start in October.  VR did lose a secretary and an assessment is being done for her refill.

National Update: Department of Treasury of Internal Revenue Services reports many people who have disabilities do not claim a credit.  Mr. Sigman asked it to be available in accessible format but wants to let people know there is contact information and will be sending it out.

There is a federal bill that was introduced by Representative Paul Hodes of New Hampshire that would require health insurance to remain in place for college students with a disability who take a leave of absence from college.

There has been some movement in Congress to look at the issue of accessible textbooks for college students. 

Senate has proposed language on the Authorization of the Rehab Act for the transition school to work, but does not include the money to go with it giving new responsibilities on VR agencies to provide these services.  CSAVR is bringing these issues to the forefront.

Report from the Chair

Mr. Rickard did not have anything to report.

Mr. Gregoire reported that the film crew went out last week for the commercial and it should be out in October.

Adjournment: Motion made and accepted unanimously to adjourn at 11:47 a.m.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for December 12, 2007 from 9:30 to 12:00 at BESB.

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

State of Connecticut

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, Connecticut  06095

State Rehabilitation Advisory Council

MINUTES

June 20, 2007

Members Present: Mr. Ian Rickard, Mr. Brian Sigman, Ms. Janette Peracchio, Ms. Felicia Wilkins-Turner, Mr. Jonathan Richmond, Ms. Eileen Rose, Mr. David Gregoire, Mr. Brian Cunnane, Mr. James Schwarzhaupt, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, Ms. Randa Nesman, Mr. Chris McMillan, Mr. Charles Collins, Ms. Brenda Sullivan, and Ms. Judy Tencza.

Others Present: Ms. Mary Burgard, VR Supervisor at BESB.

March Minutes: A motion was made and seconded to adopt the minutes with the following changes: page 5, under Cost of Braille Textbooks, fifth line, “secondary educational materials” should be “post-secondary educational materials” and the last sentence in that same paragraph, “Ms. Pasquale will call” should be “Ms. Giudice will call”.  On page 6, under Meeting Accessibility, 2nd paragraph, first line, “Ms. Pasquale

requested” should be “Ms. Giudice requested”.  All voted in favor with the changes mentioned.

Committee Reports

Membership Committee: In Ms. Giudice’s absence, Mr. Rickard read overview she provided stating there has been no headway to fill this Council’s vacancies for blind/legally blind business owners.  Ms. Giudice will be asking VR Counselors and Mr. Morton Romano for possible candidates.  Mr. Sigman suggested perhaps the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors might have someone interested.

Mr. Sigman reported that Ms. Nesman and Ms. Dodd have been appointed to serve on the BESB Board of Directors.

Finance Committee: Mr. Collins presented breakdown of the finance report with the commitments totaling $57,500.  Motion made and unanimously passed to adopt the finance report.  Mr. Rickard inquired as to what the commitment total should be compared against.  Mr. Sigman stated the goal is at least 1.5% each fiscal year of VR’s budget needs to be committed for strategic planning purposes, which would be $43,000 for this year, so the Council is within plan.

Both this Council and the Statewide Committee of Blind Vendors cosponsored $5000 each for the “Able Lives” program entitled “Working in Connecticut, The Untapped Labor Pool”.  One program focusing on workers with disabilities will include a person who is blind or legally blind.  A part of the sponsorship includes a 30 second commercial to run 8 times around the program and Mr. Sigman requested input as to its focus.  Decision was made to show a white cane traveler crossing at an audible crosswalk on their way to work and then in work using adaptive technology.  The employer would also provide a brief statement on how valuable the employee is to the company.

Consumer Satisfaction Committee: Ms. Sullivan reported Ms. Christine Kraus, Associate Director at UConn has replaced Mr. Chris Barnes and Mr. Andrew Magda has been assigned as Project Coordinator.  His role will be drafting the questions and conducting the survey.  The subcommittee will meet with them later today to review and draft follow-up questions.  Mr. Magda has requested a list of the most common reasons for positive and negative responses and will incorporate these into drill down questions for the 3 highest and 3 lowest scores.  It is anticipated the survey will be up and running by September.

New Business

VR Success Story: Mr. Rickard announced there would not be a success story today as the employee was unexpectedly laid off this past Monday.

Update of State Plan for 2007: Mr. Sigman reported BESB had to do a full state plan this year that includes a preprint and attachments that describe the agency’s plan to implement goals and priorities for next fiscal year as well as summarizing activities in the prior fiscal year.  This Council’s State Plan Subcommittee consisting of Ms. Killian, Mr. Rickard and Mr. Gregoire developed the goals and priorities attachment and provided input that went in other attachments.  Feedback received last year was utilized in that 5 public hearings were held instead of 3 and public service announcements were placed on some radio stations about the public comment period.  As no public comments were received, Mr. Sigman is requesting any modifications from Council and seeking approval to submit the State Plan.  New this year is that the Board of Directors has policy-making authority for the agency, whereas this Council has advisory authority.  The Board will have the final say as to whether or not the State Plan is amended.  Motion made and seconded to approve the State Plan and forward it to the Board as written.  All voted in favor.

Call for Nominations for Officers for 2008: Mr. Rickard opened the floor for nominations.  Mr. Rickard volunteered to serve as Chair for another year; Mr. Gregoire volunteered to be Vice Chair; and Ms. Peracchio volunteered as Secretary.  No name was received for the Treasurer.

Old Business

Cost of Braille Textbooks: In Ms. Giudice’s absence, Mr. Rickard read the Subcommittee’s proposal to put in place a cost-sharing arrangement with institutions of higher education when the combined cost of the textbook or educational material(s) and any required adaptations to make the textbook or other educational material(s) accessible are in excess of $1,000.  Motion made and seconded to adopt the proposal with the following minor underlined addition and for it to be forwarded to the Board of Directors: “If a cost-sharing arrangement or a satisfactory response cannot be obtained in a timely manner, VR will purchase the textbook or educational materials, provided that documentation of such refusal to enter into a cost-sharing partnership by the college, university or other institution of higher education is provided.”  All voted in favor.

As the Board of Directors meets tomorrow, Mr. Sigman did not anticipate this policy to go before them until their September meeting.

Meeting Accessibility: As Ms. Low was not in attendance and Mr. Gregoire reported he and Ms. Low did not meet, this was tabled.  A motion was made and seconded to table this issue to the next meeting with the understanding that there is a final vote on this at the next meeting.  All voted in favor.

Report from the Director

Budget Update: Mr. Sigman reported projections were done through next fiscal year and there is sufficient funding to complete fiscal year 2008 without an order of selection.

Position Refills Update: There is one counselor vacancy and there is a proposal within the State Plan to add another bilingual VR Counselor to serve the Hispanic population.  It is planned that after RSA approves the State Plan, the agency will request to refill the vacancy using federal dollars for a bilingual Counselor.  Another position is for a Rehabilitation Teacher for adaptive technology.  It has been extremely difficult finding candidates for the position.  Ms. Burgard stated there are currently 3 applicants.  Mr. Cunnane knows an individual who applied back in March, but never heard anything.  Mr. Sigman suggested he advise the person to call the Department of Administrative Services.

National Update: CSAVR had a national strategic planning initiative meeting where they covered two interrelated topics.  First being whether there should be a national definition of “most significant disability” which is the criteria by what state agencies determine who gets services first in an order of selection.  The second topic is the order of selection itself and should there still be an order of selection provision in the Rehab Act or should there be something else.  In order of selection, some individuals will never receive services because their disability is not significant enough to be high on a waiting list that when new funds become available, they will never access those services.

The General Accountability Office (GAO) is conducting a study of the Randolph-Sheppard Program in military dining facilities with a very high level of interest in understanding how blind vendors through the Randolph-Sheppard Program are operating in military dining facilities.  Some states have a partnering agency, typically a very experienced food service entity that has already demonstrated the ability to fulfill military feeding contracts, that enters into an agreement with a state agency and then a blind individual runs the location in partnership with the partnering agency.  GAO is taking interest in those arrangements and they are collecting data to make recommendations to Congress.  The issue of opening up the Randolph-Sheppard Act to other priorities was a focus on the Senate HELP committee last session, but not in recent months as their focus now is getting the Rehab Act renewed.

CSAVR feels the transition school to work language within the senate bill should not be passed without new funding to go with it so states could focus transition activities for youth age 16 on up.  Originally, $300 million was to go into the Rehab Act.  It was later reduced to $100 million, and then down to zero, but mandate language is still there making it an unfunded mandate.  The National Governors Association has gone on record that they cannot support an unfunded mandate.  Language in current senate version states that when the VR appropriation reaches a percentage higher beyond its 2008 allotment, this new transition language will kick in.  This means states will have to dedicate funding from their current allotment.  For states in order of selection, it could mean consumers in job retentions will not be served because of this new mandate to serve the transition from 16 on up.  CSAVR is hopeful that something will come out of this.

Report from the Chair

Spring NCSAB and CSAVR Meeting: As Mr. Dombrowski attended this conference, but was not present today, Mr. Rickard read his written comments.  Mr. Dombrowski found it to be a very educational experience for him and met people from all around the country.

A special achievement award was presented to Senator Christopher Dodd by his sister, Ms. Carolyn Dodd, who is a member of this Council.  The Senator’s web page has a photograph showing him receiving the award.  Mr. Sigman was elected President of CSAVR.

National Association of State SRCs: Mr. Rickard reported that SRCs have been conducting conference calls over the last year and are moving toward a national coalition of state rehab councils with their focus being to obtain better communication between the state rehab councils and RSA.  Mr. Rickard is participating in the conference calls whenever possible and feels it is a good idea due to the tremendous variations between what the different SRCs do.

A movie was previewed at the conference called, “Music Within” about Mr. Richard Pimentel who is a hearing impaired Vietnam vet who is a national speaker on disability rights and on hiring people with disabilities.  Mr. Sigman reported that BESB brought him into Connecticut years ago to speak to the VR Department and BRS.  His presentation was on how to market to employers.  A movie has been made on his life.

Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 11:50 AM.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for September 26, 2007 from 9:30 to 12:00 at BESB.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




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