7/2/2008

Ticket to Work Presentation 

Sue Suter, Associate Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, came to Chicago on June 19 to make a presentation on the new Ticket to Work Regulations. These regulations will go into effect on July 21, 2008. This presentation was held at Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago; it was hosted by SSA, Health & Disability Advocates, and the Division of Rehabilitation Services. DRS is particularly interested in working with Employment Networks in Illinois to help more of our Vocational Rehabilitation Customers go to work at a substantial gainful activity level.

Violence Acquired Disability Resource Fair 

On June 20 there was a resource fair held at the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education- Roosevelt. It was an effort designed to outreach to individuals with disabilities who were adversely affected by gun violence. There were a number of booths, including resources available through the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, Dorothy Brown's Cook County Office, Work Incentive Organizations, the Social Security Administration, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the Secretary of State's Office, and most of the Chicagoland DRS Offices. Workshops were held throughout the day of interest to people with violence-acquired disabilities. More than 80 individuals attended this event, which will be held annually somewhere in the City of Chicago and elsewhere.

Teri Dederer Retires 

After a long career with agency, Teri Dederer, most recently the Bureau Chief of the Home Services Program, retired from state government effective May 30, 2008. She had a tremendous career with DRS, and we will miss working with her in this capacity. DRS remains hopeful that we will be able to utilize Teri's skills in a new and different role with HSP. Stay tuned...

Platinum Customer Service Launch 

DHS is participating in a number of Platinum Customer Service events to recognize its employees for their dedication and to encourage enhanced customer service at the agency. The first of these events were held in Chicago, with others more recently held in Champaign, Downers Grove, Jacksonville, Mt. Vernon, and Springfield. Look forward to a PCS event coming to your office soon!

State Legislation

Of the measures the Division monitored during the Legislative process, the following bills represent the ones that passed both chambers and are awaiting the Governor's signature. Information regarding these measures can be found on the Illinois General Assembly's website at http://www.ilga.gov.

HB 4252 (Dan Brady)

Amends the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act. If a school district employee has made a DCFS report or caused a report to be made about the conduct of a current or former employee of the school district; and another school district requests information about the job performance/qualifications of that person because he/she is applying for employment, the general superintendent of the reporting school district must disclose that such a report was made. Provides other provisions related to such disclosure of information.

SB 773 (Jeff Schoenberg)

Among other changes, requires that subject to appropriation, the Department of Public Health (IDPH) shall establish a home services program for persons with multiple sclerosis (MS). To be eligible for the program, a person must have applied for benefits under DHS' Home Services Program (HSP) and must have been found ineligible for HSP because his/her retirement or life insurance assets exceeded the applicable limits. Provides for an asset limit of $17,500 for the IDPH program, but exempts all life insurance assets, and retirement assets up to $500,000. Requires the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to apply for a federal Medicaid waiver for persons with MS, 60 years and older who have retirement or life insurance assets up to $500,000.

SB 2482 (Kimberly A. Lightford)

Repeals various language and clean up of the School Code.

HR 1357 (Julie Hamos)

Congratulates organizers and participants of the Disability Pride Parade

HJR 89 (Donald L. Moffitt)

Urges the Department of Human Services to consult with legislators, recipients of in-home personal care services, and caregivers in determining whether to change the Department's rules to allow payment to spouses for providing those services.

Federal Legislation

At the Congressional level, Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY) has introduced a measure to amend the Javits-Wagner-O'Day and Randolph-Sheppard Acts. This legislation, if passed, would have an adverse impact on the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind. Information regarding S.3112, the Javits-Wagner-O'Day and Randolph-Sheppard Modernization Act of 2008 can be found on the Library of Congress' legislative home page at http://thomas.loc.gov/

ISD, ISVI and ICRE-R News

Graduation at ISD and ISVI was held on May 22nd with 35 high school students graduating from ISD and 15 high school students graduating from ISVI. ICRE-R's graduation was on May 23rd and six high school students graduated.

The parent-infant institutes were held at ISVI and ISD in June. Twenty-eight families attended the ISVI institute and 13 families attended the ISD institute. Parents receive in depth information about their infant/toddler's disability while the infant/toddler undergo intensive testing. Siblings are included in the programs.

Summer camps were held the week of June 15th through June 21st at ISD and ISVI. These camps are for students who do not attend ISD or ISVI during the regular school year. Specific programs included technology, sports, fine arts, and young explorers. An exceptional number of students attended the camps.

The Deaf Blind Retreat was held June 25th through 29th on the campus of ISVI. Mindy Mayer, from the Chicago Lighthouse and fellow Deaf Blind retreat organizers presented ISVI with the framed original copy of the State of Illinois - Proclamation designating June 22 - 28th as Hellen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week in Illinois. The proclamation is signed by Governor Rod Blagojevich, dated April 4, 2008.

The proclamation "encourages all citizens to recognize the abilities and talent that people with vision and hearing disabilities can bring to our communities across this great state." Sixty participants were on campus for the four day retreat.

U.S. Census Bureau Facts: On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), guaranteeing equal opportunity for people with disabilities in public accommodations, commercial facilities, employment, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications.

As we approach the celebration of the 18th anniversary of the ADA, here are some interesting facts from the Americans with Disabilities report: Of the 41.3 million people who have some level of disability, 56% [ages 21 to 64] were employed in the past year. (The rate ranged from 82% of those with a non-severe disability to 43% with a severe disability.) In comparison, for those people without disabilities, 88% were employed. The median income for people with a non-severe disability was $22,000; their non-disabled peers earned $25,000 while those with severe disabilities earned a mean income of $12,800.

The poverty rate for people ages 25 to 64 with a non-severe disability was 11%. This compares with 26% for those with a severe disability, and 8% of those reporting without a disability.

Twenty-three percent of people with a non-severe disability live alone or with relatives; 28% with a severe disability live alone or with relatives; and 19% without a disability live alone or with relatives.

Thirty-three percent of people, ages 25 to 64, who have a non-severe disability are college graduates. This compares with 43% of those with no disability and 22% who reported a severe disability.

Transit buses that were ADA lift or ramp-equipped in 2005 was 96.5%. In 1995, only 61.7 % were accessible.

The Exceptional Latino Family

A conference that provided information to families on advocacy, special education, transition (school to work) and financial planning/taxes for people with developmental disabilities and their families, was held at the Proviso Area for Exceptional Children, 1000 Van Buren, Maywood, Illinois, from 8:00 am and 3:00 pm on June 28th.

PACE Blue Ribbon Committee

On June 27th, PACE convened a Blue Ribbon Committee on Paratransit Services, chaired by Mr. Tony Paulauski of the Arc of Illinois. This ad hoc committee will make recommendations to the Regional Transit Authority regarding ADA paratransit services in the Chicago metropolitan and suburban areas.

Home Services Program

HSP is in the process of developing a new pilot program to be initiated this summer. Rapid Hospital to Home/Reintegration will focus on the provision of immediate and intensive case management services to persons with disabilities while hospitalized. The pilot is designed to focus on customer choice and returning people with disabilities to their respective homes at the time of hospital discharge. For those individuals who require nursing facility placement, immediate referrals to the Centers for Independent Living will begin the assessment and discharge planning process at the time of facility admission. Early intervention after nursing facility placement is believed to be the key to increasing the numbers of people with disabilities who live in communities with an enhanced quality of life rather than in institutions. The locations selected to participate in the pilot are Rockford and Springfield.

Home Services field office staff and case management agencies recently attended training for cultural competency when working with brain injury customers. The training, developed by the University of Illinois at Chicago staff, was a two-day program designed to teach awareness of cultural competency and its relationship to individuals with brain injury.

State Plan Public Meetings

DRS held four public meetings in June to discuss the draft FY2009 State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation, which will be submitted to the U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration in July. Public meetings were held in Mt. Vernon, Springfield, Chicago and Rockford. Participants included individuals with disabilities as well as representatives of advocacy organizations, independent living centers, community rehabilitation programs and other social service organizations. In addition to discussion of State Plan goals, each meeting included a general discussion of the operation of the DRS VR program and how services could be improved.

Bureau of Blind Services

BBS has developed an RFP to market the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind, with the goal of developing new facilities and additional satellites to increase the income of vendors who are under the program average.

Over the years there has been a drop in sales in the program (from $20,236,880 in FFY2003 to $18,838,066 in FFY2007) and a commensurate drop in average income for the blind vendors. In addition, trainees who have graduated from our training center have been unable to secure work due to a lack of facilities. The Randolph-Sheppard Act gave a preference on federal property for blind vendors to operate vending facilities. The RFP will be posted to the Illinois Procurement Bulletin in early July. Once it is posted, there will be a date given for a mandatory pre-bid meeting. Anyone interested in bidding on the proposal must attend that meeting and return their response by the deadline. Both dates will be given in the posted solicitation.

Money Follows the Person (MFP)

Illinois DRS is gearing up with our Center for Independent Living Partners for the beginning of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. CIL staff will be meeting with DRS Community Reintegration Staff in July to be trained on the program, enrollment of participants, and program requirements. Several state agencies have been involved with the design of the program. Participants include DHS-Division of Mental Health, DHS- Division of Developmental Disabilities, DHS-Division of Rehabilitation Services, Department on Aging, Illinois Housing Development Authority with Healthcare and Family Services taking the lead. The Operational Protocol has been submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for review and feedback. The program will begin upon final approval from CMS. Training topics include the Role of Being Medicaid Provider, Qualifications of MFP Participants, Risk Assessment and Mitigation, 24 hour Backup Plans and Monitoring of cases. All of the CILs will be involved in this program.