In a recent visit with the Regional Commissioner of the Social Security Administration James Martin, Secretary Saddler, Assistant Secretary Hou, and DRS Director Rob Kilbury received the following information: During federal Fiscal Year 2009, Illinois Vocational Rehabilitation successfully rehabilitated 385 disabled Social Security clients and was reimbursed $4,420,045 for its services under the general and blind program.
This reflects positively on the Division's emphasis to serve those with the most significant disabilities, as these customers are more likely to be eligible for Social Security disability payments. Illinois was second in the region on this statistic to our neighbors from Ohio, which has a tremendous advantage in terms of their overall base funding for VR.
Centers for Independent Living
The Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois (SILC) has hired as its new Executive Director, William Gorman. Mr. Gorman comes to us from the State of Iowa and started his duties as Executive Director on December 7th. He has been a service provider in three states (Indiana, Colorado and Iowa), has run a local ARC, was the Executive Director of the Colorado Developmental Disability Planning Council, was the Administrator of the Division of MH/MR/DD/BI for the State of Iowa. We look forward to working with Mr. Gorman in planning for the independent living program and service needs of persons with disabilities in Illinois.
On November 11th, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) approved the amended State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL). The significance of this is that it now allows Illinois' Plan for the use of ARRA stimulus funds for the CIL Program to be implemented by RSA.
Platinum Customer Service/Staff Development
The DHS/DRS 2010 Calendar (2009 Annual Report) has been sent to local offices and distributed to community partners and stakeholders. It is also available in Braille and on line. The annual report reflects the mission of the Division and the goal of getting jobs for persons with disabilities.
On November 10th an announcement on OneNet heralded in the availability of the DRS Training Library. The Library was developed as a means of supplying all DRS staff with information related to disabilities and employment and consists of DVDs and books. It is anticipated that we will continue to add resources to this library as funds permit, so that information can be available to staff in working with customers and fulfilling the mission of DRS.
Home Services Checkpoint Modules have been written and are in the review process. The Modules follow the same format as the VR Checkpoint Modules which are used to train VR counselors. The same type of Checkpoint Module System for Rehabilitation Case Coordinators is also in the final stages. It is anticipated that both these Checkpoint Module Systems will be available in the spring for local office use in training HSP and Rehabilitation Case Coordinator staff.
Two ARRA proposals have been written to:
- Work with the Illinois Broadcaster's Association to develop and air a series of informational radio and TV spots regarding DRS on over 200 local media stations throughout the State of Illinois; and
- Invite Bill Santos back to facilitate a spring meeting for VR staff as a follow-up to his presentation in September 2009. These spring meetings will focus on job seeking efforts and employer contacts from local offices.
In addition to the policy and procedure training that is ongoing, SDS will be developing several new training opportunities this year at the request of local offices. This will include: Ethics, Public Speaking (on what DRS does), and motivational interviewing.
Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
As part of the DRS transition initiative, Chicago Public Schools and DRS staff have developed and implemented a procedure to provide transition services to students who are deaf and hard of hearing. Five schools that were selected to participate have established programs for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. This project started during the fall 2009 term and involves four DRS Rehabilitation Counselors for the Deaf and four Transition Specialists. The Rehabilitation Counselors and Transition Specialists will work together to provide transition and vocational rehabilitation services to students who are juniors and seniors and are deaf or hard of hearing. It is anticipated that 65 students will receive services during the 2009 2010 school year.
Bureau of Blind Services
Alvin Roberts, BBS Quality Assurance Administrator and a 1950 graduate of the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired (ISVI), will describe student life at the school in the 1940's as part of the celebration of the 160th anniversary of the school on January 13, 2010. Mr. Roberts' experiences will provide students, staff and parents an opportunity to reflect on some of the changes in education, orientation and mobility, daily living skills, technology, etc., that have occurred over the past sixty years. The school was established with the signing of Senate Bill #19 on January 13, 1849, by Governor Augustus C. French.
Business Enterprise Program for the Blind
Public Law 2421 (The Blind Vendors Act) becomes effective January 1, 2010. This law gives priority to the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind (BEPB) to operate vending operations in state facilities. The BEPB has been diligently working with the Legal Department within DHS to draft Memoranda of Understanding for all agencies that will be affected by this Act. This legislation is something that the blind managers as well as the BEPB have been wanting for many years. The legislation was penned to reflect the Federal Randolph-Sheppard Act which gives priority for blind individuals to operate vending facilities on federal property. The passing of the Public Law will greatly impact the lives of our blind managers and will afford them the opportunity to receive benefits that have never been previously available to them.
Legislative and Administrative Update
The Department of Central Management Services (CMS) has recommended several field office consolidations for the Department of Human Services. The recommendations include the following DRS offices:
- Benton relocate and move into the Family and Community Resource Center (the Human Capital Development field office).
- Business Enterprise for the Blind Program Warehouse The BEPB's equipment warehouse in Springfield has closed and the operation has moved to the Department's central warehouse in Springfield.
- Decatur relocate and move into the Family and Community Resource Center.
- Freeport CMS has signed a lease for new office space near the local one stop. Preliminary discussions regarding office build out have occurred with the landlord.
- Quincy relocate and move into the same building as the Family and Community Resource Center.
The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) approved proposed changes to Part 650, which govern the Business Enterprise for the Blind Program and are being prepared for adoption.
JCAR approved and adopted the repeal of Part 645 Workers' Compensation (VR).
The following administrative rules are currently in the Administrative Rule process:
- Part 520 Authorizations (General) First Notice published 11/20/09 33 Ill. Reg. 15981.
- Part 527 Recovery of Misspent Funds (General) ready to post on Second Notice.
- Part 686 Provider Requirements, Type Services, and Rates of Payment (HSP) Enhanced Rate for Homemaker Health Insurance Costs JCAR lifted their objection with the requirement the agency repeal their emergency filing and process the rules under the regular rule making process.
Money Follows the Person
DRS has completed the revision of the MFP process for submittal to Healthcare and Family Services. Twenty-two Centers for Independent Living have once again been approved to start the process of MFP. Sixteen individuals have been transitioned since the beginning of the program. Forty individuals have been enrolled in the MFP program.
The Community Reintegration program continues to operate providing services to those individuals who do not meet the eligibility criteria under MFP. Year-to-date transitions for CRP total 60.
HSP staff and designated CIL staff located in Sangamon, Boone and Winnebago counties continue to work with Swedish Memorial Hospital, Rockford and Memorial Medical Center, Springfield, to conduct pre-screenings and linkages with the Home Service Program and CIL reintegration services, in an effort to increase community based services for those transitioning from nursing facilities. This is a pilot program.
Vocational Rehabilitation Field Services
Competitive outcomes are lagging somewhat in comparison to last year. However, eligibility determinations are up seven percent. Hopefully the economy will continue its resurgence and more VR customers will move into productive, meaningful jobs the remainder of this fiscal year.
Co location of DRS field offices with our sister Division of Human Capital Development continues to move forward (see Legislative and Administrative Update above). Hopefully, within the next several weeks, DRS will announce these co locations to you. The goal of co location is increased cost-efficiency, while enhancing the Smartpath initiative of one stop "no wrong door" services.
Home Services Program
The debit card initiative, undertaken by DRS-HSP and HCD-Child Care, has now moved into full implementation, with the first deposits onto debit cards occurring this month. With this step, Personal Assistants (PA) working for Home Services customers and Child Care workers can now choose one of three ways to receive their payment.
PAs can now choose to receive a paper check, have their payment direct deposited into their personal bank account, or have the funds loaded onto a debit card offered by ACS State & Local Solutions, Inc. In the upcoming months, DHS and ACS will be working to iron out any wrinkles in the implementation process, as well as to encourage PAs to decide if the program is right for their individual situation.
Illinois School for the Visually Impaired
A celebration of ISVI's 160th birthday will be on January 13th, 2010, beginning at 2:00 p.m. in the ISVI auditorium.
A few highlights of the celebration will include:
- A few former graduates of ISVI will speak about what ISVI meant to them.
- Another former graduate wrote a song about ISVI's 160th birthday and it will be sung by the ISVI Concert Choir.
- The first quilt square of a commemorative quilt will be presented and will be placed in the ISVI museum. It is being made by an ISVI staff member.
- Cake and punch will be served in the ISVI Dining Hall. Sugar cookies may also be available for guests to decorate to look like braille cells.