Community Partner Update: February 2008

FY2008 "Half Way Home" Scorecard Update

For the first half of fiscal year 2008, the DRS vocational rehabilitation program showed improvements in several areas, and was maintaining a consistent level of performance in others. In the first six months of FY2008, compared to totals for FY2007, DRS reported 2,281 competitive outcomes, about 7 percent less than the previous year; increased the average hourly wage earned by customer from 9.41 to $9.66; increased the average number of hours worked per week from 29.3 to 29.6; showed a slight decrease in workers with employer-paid health insurance, from 31 to 30 percent; increased the percentage of workers placed directly by DRS staff from 35 to 40 percent; completed 86 percent of service plans on time (with a target of 90%); completed 77 percent of eligibility determinations on time (also with a target of 90%); increased the number of individuals jointly served by the VR and Home Services programs from 1,301 to 1,333.

Rehabilitation Services Administration Monitoring Visit

April 28th through May 2nd, RSA will be coming to Illinois to monitor our Vocational Rehabilitation program. They have scheduled a number of visits with various advocacy groups and community partners; we have provided them with many materials in preparation for their site visit. Much of RSA's emphasis will be ensuring that we are implementing the program consistent with what is in our VR State Plan, our administrative rules, and the federal Rehabilitation Act and regulations.

Calendars/Annual Reports 

The calendars arrived in early January and have been widely distributed. Many folks have already requested extra copies, and we still have more available for distribution. Please contact Marjorie Olson at 217-524-1379 [Voice] or 888-532-4146 [TTY] if you are interested in receiving a supply of calendars while they are still available.

DRS Budget

We have submitted several budget scenarios to the Governor's Office of Management and Budget in anticipation of the Governor's Budget address, which is scheduled for noon on February 20th at the State House. We anxiously await Governor Blagojevich's Budget Address in three weeks.

Federal Update 

With the 2008 campaign for President of the United States ramping up big time, there seems little chance that the Workforce Investment Act will be reauthorized until 2009 at the earliest. There also is little chance that Congress will appropriate additional funding for transition funding for Vocational Rehabilitation in what appears to be very gloomy economic times federally.

Westchester DRS Office Opens

DRS has a presence in western Cook County again, with the opening of the new Westchester DRS Office. This newly renovated, fully accessible office is supervised by Edwin Negron, who previously supervised the same staff in their Oak Park and subsequently N. Pulaski Street locations. The Westchester Office mailing address is 2215 Enterprise Drive, Suite 1502-1503, Westchester, IL, 60154. Telephone number is 708-409-8818 (Voice), 888-472-0963 (TTY).

Lt. Governor Delivers 

On Wednesday, January 23rd, forty elementary school students at the Illinois School for the Deaf received brand new, cutting-edge, laptop computers. The Lt. Governor's Office teamed up with the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University to purchase the 40 XO Laptops from One Laptop Per Child, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving education to students everywhere. We sincerely appreciate the leadership of Lt. Governor Pat Quinn and his staff for this noteworthy gift to ISD!

Supt. Reggie Clinton Hired at ISVI

Mr. Clinton was welcomed with enthusiasm and warmth on January 2nd when he assumed the Superintendent position at the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired. A special reception welcoming Clinton was sponsored by students and staff on January 9th.

Upcoming Events 

The Connections Conference is scheduled for March 5th and 6th at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL. This conference focuses on needs of students, both special and regular education, to succeed in the world of work. The conference is geared for the student who is not going on to college.

SDHH Activities

During January, staff of the Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Unit met in Bloomington to set goals for FY08 concerning providing better services to their customers. Interestingly, RCDs had some of the highest number of successful employment placements as well as the having the highest paid wages and benefits among DRS customers who found work. On March 7, SDHH is co-hosting an employment event with Harper College in Palatine, in an effort to outreach to adults who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Business Enterprise Program for the Blind Update

DRS welcomes Raven Pulliam back to the BEPB. He assumed the duties of Manager of the BEPB on January 16th. BBS Bureau Chief Bettye Odem-Davis and the disability community look forward to working with Mr. Pulliam in his new role. A number of meetings have already been scheduled for the myriad of issues this program is involved in. RSA recently completed a monitoring review of the BEPB, and we look forward to their findings in order to continue to fine-tune this important Randolph-Sheppard program.

DRS Training Unit

The training unit has added two new employees with extensive counseling experience. Mr. John Marchioro and Ms. Ovelia Smith-Barton are great additions to an already dynamic group of trainers. The training staff are always open to new ideas and suggestions for innovative learning ideas.