CTCDD: Proposal Review Meeting 12-8-11

Proposal Review Meeting 12-8-11


CT Council on Developmental Disabilities

Special Proposal Review Committee Meeting

Department of Developmental Disabilities

460 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106

December 8th, 2011



Members Present: Gabriela Freye-Calish, Vice-Chair ; Peter Morrissette; Frank Reed, Ex-Officio; Monica Smyth; Guy Sullivan, Chair.

Staff: Cathy Adamczyk.

Guests: Two Personal Assistants.


Mr. Morrissette was to arrive late due to a mix-up involving his transportation arrangements.  Mr. Sullivan mentioned that at the last meeting of the PRC held at DDS, there was a problem with Mr. Morrissette transportation after the meeting where Mr. Sullivan had to drive around the neighborhood in the vicinity of 460 Capitol Avenue to find the transportation.


A Quorum was Recognized and the Meeting Called to Order at 10:00 a.m.


Mr. Sullivan moved to adjourn no later than 12:00 noon.  Ms. Freye-Calish seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


Mr. Sullivan inquired of Mr. Reed when new members might be expected to joining the Council.  Mr. Reed indicated that the open parent positions from a year ago were yet to be filled, but that the Council was awaiting word as several nominations had been forwarded recently.  Ms. Smyth pointed out the Proposal Review Committee needed agency representation and there was a discussion of the number of terms ending 6-years of service that all occurred in the fall. The Council is responsible for contacting the agencies and reaching out to request representatives to replace the departing members and that apparently occurred in the summer, 2011 according to Mr. Reed. 


Ms. Smyth moved to invite Mr. Mark Keenan to join the Proposal Review Committee as one of the sole remaining agency representatives.  Ms. Freye-Calish seconded, there was no discussion, the motion passed unanimously.  Ms. Smyth will extend an invitation to Mr. Keenan.


Ms. Smyth moved to have Executive Director Cole submit a formal request to the Commissioner of DDS to expedite the approval of new members.  Ms. Freye-Calish seconded, there was no discussion, the motion passed with Mr. Sullivan abstaining.


Mr. Sullivan reminded members of the Proposal Review Committee the need to be scrupulous in their recognition of potential and actual conflicts of interest.  Mr. Sullivan recognized the efforts of members in the past where they carefully observed the rules and regulations regarding conflicts of interest and commended their efforts. As the PRC recommends to the Council the use of federal funds for the benefit of persons with disabilities, this is an important responsibility for members to remind themselves prior to voting on grants.


Ms. Freye-Calish moved to approve the minutes without changes dated August 4th, 2011.  Ms. Smyth seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


Mr. Sullivan canvassed members as to “Old Business” that the Committee should undertake.  The June 8th, 2011 minutes refer to a motion regarding the degree of due diligence the full Council expects the PRC to perform in looking at grants.  


Ms. Smyth moved that this piece of “Old Business” be grouped under the discussion regarding “DD Suite” which has a due diligence reporting function to later in the agenda as the Committee was awaiting Ms. Cole’s arrival. Ms. Freye-Calish seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


Mr. Sullivan moved to have the Proposal Review Committee go into Executive Session for the purpose of discussing Pending Litigation and if the Council should consider creating a reserve as a contingency.  Ms. Smyth seconded, there was no discussion and the motion passed. 


Staff and Mrs. Reed left the room.


The Committee emerged from Executive Session and resumed the meeting.  Staff and Mrs. Reed rejoined the meeting.


Staff-initiated Grant proposals came up for discussion with members speaking to the need for a PSA or an MOU for such proposals.  By way of example, a Wrightslaw conference was submitted by staff to invite 250 people and was voted upon by the Executive Committee. The full Council then voted to fund the conference to include 250 invitees.  As the PRC reviewed documents related to the conference, the flyers reflected that 200 individuals were to be invited.  How would the Council monitor implementation fidelity and measure outcomes in the future?  How would the Council be afforded the same benefit of knowledge that is provided as per requirements in MOU’s and PSA’s that are normally used? For example, a bill was submitted to the Council for a count of 245 books, literature, supplies etc. Yet the Council Wrightslaw flyer invited only 200 people.  Is there a reconciliation of the accounts and have differences been accounted for and reconciled?  Are there materials missing? A letter with these questions will be forwarded to the Executive Director.


A discussion ensued about difficulties that were faced in a similar situation involving a staff developed grant known as “Powerfest”.  Ms. Freye-Calish indicated that the Council should come up with a standard operating procedure so that we don’t fall into the circumstances that have plagued past efforts. Ms. Smyth indicated that staff generated proposal should have a point person from the Council to coordinate.  Ms. Smyth felt that an MOU was an enforceable document and that perhaps it should not be used with staff generated proposals.  Ms. Freye-Calish suggested documentation to enable the council to get feedback on progress made.  Mr. Reed mentioned that there were many problems, some financial and others involving access and accommodations for persons with disabilities, which plagued “Powerfest”.        


Ms. Freye-Calish moved to have staff generated proposals placed in the DD Suite to help address problems learned by the Council from past experience.  Ms. Smyth seconded, there was no further discussion and the motion passed unanimously.


Discussion moved to the Visitability grant which had been voted upon by the Proposal Review Committee with a decision made to recommend to the Council to decline further funding.  That vote was taken at the March 28th, 2011 meeting of the Proposal Review Committee.  The Council was to have met on May 10th, 2011 and it was expected that a vote to confirm or deny that recommendation was placed on the agenda.  The Chairs, Mr. Reed and Ms. Tremarche sent out an email on April 29th, 2011 abruptly cancelling the May 10th, 2011 Retreat and removed the agenda from the website all without explanation.  The PRC Visitabilty decision was not given the opportunity to be heard by the full Council.  Unbeknownst to the Chair or Vice Chair of the Proposal Review Committee, a letter dated June 1st, 2010 from Mr. Preneta to Ms. Low was sent. (the Committee briefly discussed the date and Ms. Cole determined Mr. Preneta’s date in the letter was a typo as the letter was in a file dated 2011).  The letter informed Ms. Low that based upon the recommendation by the Proposal Review Committee, she needed to close out the current grant with the Council.  Ms. Low was left with the understanding that the Council would not fund her project going forward and suspended activity. Since that was not true, Mr. Sullivan inquired how the Council could cure this possible defect.


Ms. Smyth questioned whether all matters put forth before the PRC and voted upon need be put before the full Council.  The Committee then referred back to the By-Laws and minutes of past Council meetings and found that the original plan was for the PRC to be the sole deciding body for grants.  Ms. Smyth objected to that proposed language change in the By-Laws and made a motion that the PRC be restricted to the recommendation of the grants and votes to fund left to the full Council.  (Ms. Molly Cole joined the meeting, Ms. Adamczyk left).  There was concern that absent a vote by the full Council, the grant posed a potential liability given the uncertainty of its status.


Ms. Smyth moved that the Council consider the PRC recommendation of the Visitabilty grant and vote at its scheduled January 2012 meeting. Ms. Freye-Calish seconded, there was no discussion and the motion passed. 


The DD Act makes mention of the need for the recipients of federal funds through the Council comply with all applicable discrimination laws.  Mr. Sullivan pointed out that the PSA spells out that requirement to grantees but that the MOU’s favored by former Director Preneta did not require such a stipulation.  How then to ensure grantees complied with the DD Act?


Ms. Cole felt that the use of the DD Suite would ensure compliance. In part, she explained, the DD Suite will enable the Council to request a strategy as to how the recipients will comply with the requirements as set forth by the DD Act.  Mr. Sullivan thanked Ms. Cole for her update.


A discussion was opened regarding the use of positive reinforcements and recognition conferred by the Council to grantees who hire the developmentally disabled.  This would enable the Council to generate an event that recognizes positive actions by grantees and could be used as means of calling attention to the work of the Council, the positive benefits associated with hiring the developmentally disabled and how other employers could emulate these models of success.


Mr. Sullivan moved that the Proposal Review Committee will present on a semi-annual basis to the Council a grantee that the PRC recommends as deserving of commendation and formal recognition by the Council for proactively hiring the developmentally disabled for real jobs for real pay.  Ms. Freye-Calish seconded.


A discussion ensued.  Ms. Smyth felt it was premature and pointed out that the PRC might not have anyone to commend.  She also expressed the concern that employment perhaps wasn’t the most important issue for the Council.  Discussion turned to how the PRC was uniquely qualified to make the recommendation as the work of the Committee is to monitor and review progress of grantees.     


Mr. Morrisette, Ms. Freye-Calish and Mr. Sullivan voted in favor.  Ms. Smyth voted against.  The motion passed.


WeCAHR came to the floor for discussion.  Ms. Cole reported that the MOU was issued to WeCAHR but that the Council was awaiting a report that addresses the funding stipulations raised and voted upon by the PRC and the Council.  At this time WeCAHR has received 45% of its funding.  Ms. Cole indicated that WeCAHR will not receive the balance unless it complies with the provisions in the MOU to provide the reports requested by the PRC and confirmed in a vote by the full Council.  The 45% figure is an arbitrary figure that was determined at some point in time but that probably required discussion.  Ms. Cole indicated it would be hard to change the rules for grantees mid-stream and that these were the guidelines she inherited.  Ms. Cole pointed out that the PRC should review the arbitrary rules currently in place that determine such issues as what we pay, when we pay, why we pay, what triggers a payment and the frequency of reporting, which she deemed as currently insufficient.


Ms. Cole indicated that the PRC had until April 1st, 2012 to review the WeCAHR program and implementation fidelity.  Ms. Freye-Calish indicated she was satisfied with the actions taken in regard to the WeCAHR proposal.  Mr. Sullivan thanked Ms. Freye-Calish for her review and recommendation.


The discussion then turned to DD Suite.  Ms. Cole described her training, the flexibility of the program, how the program can be used to assist the Council in reviewing grantee activities and implementation, reports that will be generated and the transfer of data from the Councils current files to the DD Suite platform.  Ms. Cole discussed some of the delays are a result of Connecticut being almost the last state Council in the country to adopt DD Suite.  Ms. Cole indicated that the Council paid a one-time fee of $2,000 to use DD Suite and that it will address a broad swath of problems besetting the Council and hindering its ability to carry out its federal mandates.  Overall, DD Suite will help make the work of the Council transparent.  Mr. Sullivan inquired if funds could or should be set aside by the Council to hire a part-time data entry person to speed the process.  Ms. Cole indicated she had assigned the task to staff and was confident it would be completed in a timely fashion.  Mr. Sullivan thanked Ms. Cole for her effort involving DD Suite.


A brief conversation of the 5-Year plan ensued.  Several members inquired as to how DD Suite would support and assist the Council in carrying out the 5-Year plan and the areas of emphasis.      


Mr. Sullivan answered a question regarding the agenda of the Council’s January meeting and the use of small group breakouts.  Mr. Sullivan asked Council Chair Reed to comply with the By-Laws and include the Executive Committee in the development of the agenda for that meeting and all subsequent Council meetings and break from the tradition of excluding the Executive Committee in creating agendas.  Mr. Reed was also requested to make small group break-outs a central part of all full Council meetings because of the positive response of many members who express the feeling that the large Council meetings are overwhelming, at times non-inclusive.  That feeling by members, at times, serves to stifle full participation by those with various developmental disabilities and who point out that many times the Council moves at a pace that makes it both difficult to understand and to therefore meaningfully participate. 


Mr. Sullivan made mention that efforts need be invested by the Council to ensure that Chairs are able to freely post their agendas for upcoming meetings and subsequent minutes without changes or interference.


Mr. Sullivan then canvassed members if there was any new business at hand.  None was raised.


Mr. Morrissette moved to adjourn the meeting. Ms. Freye-Calish seconded and the motion passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 11:55 a.m.


Respectfully Submitted,

Guy Sullivan

Content Last Modified on 5/14/2012 7:31:06 PM