State Rehabilitation Council Meeting Minutes - July 14, 2017

Members Present: Bryan Dallas (Chair), Homer Bizzle, Kristy Giacomini, Patika Hackleman, LaDonna Henson, Leslie Jenkins, Rahnee Patrick, Consuelo Puente, Shelly Richardson, Matthew Rosenberg and Alyson Slaughter.

Members Absent: Matthew Fred, Matthew Hillen and Melynda McKeever.

DHS/DRS Staff: Quinetta Wade, Director; Francisco Alvarado, Assistant Director; Louis Hamer, BFS Bureau Chief; Doug Morton, Manager - Strategic Management; John Marchioro, Trainer, NET Illinois Point of Contact; Richard Madison, Deputy General Counsel - Bureau of Hearings; and Matt Abrahamson, Staff Liaison.

Guests: Makenzie Hayden, Connie Heinz, Prerak Mehta and Michael Predmore are all awaiting appointment to the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) from the Governor's Office.

Dallas welcomed everyone and asked for introductions. It was noted that several individuals participating in the call were new and waiting for their official appointments to the Council. As such, he asked each of them to tell the group a little bit about themselves.

  • Makenzie Hayden is currently a senior at Eastern Illinois University studying Communication Studies with a concentration in Public Relations and two minors: one in Marketing and another in Health Communication. Hayden replaces Arellano as a representative of the Disability/Advocacy Groups category.
  • Connie Heinz shared that she is a Special Education Principal Consultant for the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and has served on the ISBE Statewide Secondary Transition Team since May of 2014. Heinz replaces Walter as the designated representative of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
  • Prerak Mehta is a Community Liaison at Aetna Better Health of Illinois and has held positions as a Peer Advocate and a Care Manager. Currently, Prerak is responsible for engagement with community stakeholders on various disability rights initiatives, developing community collaborations and providing community education. Mehta replaces Crutcher in the Business, Industry & Labor category.
  • Michael Predmore is the Senior Vice President of Day Programs and Education at Marcfirst in Normal. Marcfirst provides services to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In his role, Michael works with their pediatric therapy, developmental training and employment programs. Predmore replaces Lenis in the Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP) category.

Dallas thanked them for committing to the SRC and expressed the Council's eagerness to begin working with them as they bring a significant amount of knowledge and expertise with them.

Noting a quorum was present, Dallas called the meeting to order:

Motion: Dallas made a motion to approve the agenda for the July 14, 2017 meeting. Rosenberg seconded and the motion carried.

Motion: Dallas made a motion to approve the minutes from the May 11, 2017 meeting. Henson seconded and the motion carried.

Program Updates - Francisco Alvarado, Assistant Director

  • Alvarado explained that he is currently serving as the Acting Manager of the Client Assistance Program (CAP) and provided an update on recent outreach and education activities.
    • Community Engagement: CAP understands that many agencies throughout the State working with individuals with disabilities are unaware of their services. To this end, they have partnered with nine (9) non-profit social service agencies and trained their staff via PowerPoint presentation on CAP, how it interfaces with DRS and potential customers, families and individuals in their communities.
  • He shared that the administration of the CAP program in Illinois has been going through some changes during the past nine months. Specifically, he noted that while CAP is mandated in the VR Rules and Regulations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, it is not a requirement for the Home Services Program (HSP) under DRS.
  • The Illinois Department on Aging (DoA) - Office of the States Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is the advocacy arm for customers in HSP and their oversight became effective July 1, 2017. In addition, Alvarado stated that HSP has been working with them (i.e. explaining Over Time Policy…) in an effort to make a smooth transition and that HSP customer advocates under DRS are being trained as VR advocates.
  • SRC members asked Alvarado if CAP had oversight of the Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and he explained that CAP Advocates are obligated to provide information regarding the program, services and to conduct presentations to stakeholder groups.
  • Council members noted that CAP has been without a Manager for almost two years and asked about the status of hiring a CAP Manager. Alvarado shared that the intent is to fill the position in the near future and once it is approved to be filled, the announcement will be posted.

Action Item: Abrahamson will forward the announcement for the position of CAP Manager to SRC Members once it is posted.

  • Alvarado shared that he recently met with the Stakeholders Committee and reviewed the CAP Community Outreach initiative with them. He noted that the audiences vary and explained they need to strategize on targeting Schools, Doctor's Offices, Health Care Systems, Job & Community Health Fairs etc. To this end, he welcomed input from SRC members on ideas and events and stated he will continue to meet with the committee.

Action Item: Council members need to share their ideas on outreach avenues with Alvarado and let him know when community events are happening.

Bureau of Field Services - Louis Hamer, Bureau Chief, BFS

  • Hamer shared that the agency was unable to reach their Competitive Outcomes goal of 5,600 individuals and ended the FY17 fiscal year with a total of 4,990. He noted that this is the first time in the past five years that DRS has not exceeded the 5,000 Competitive Closure mark and looking at ways to increase referrals will be a high priority.
  • He explained that new contracts will be going out to Latino and Asian markets and new Navigator contracts will reach out to non-traditional entities and populations. In addition, the Assistant Bureau Chiefs (ABCs) will reach out individually with their respect offices to increase community contacts and referrals.
  • Hamer noted that field staff are working hard to provide services to new and existing customers while trying to fill vacancies (i.e. Peoria has 3) at the same time. He shared that a big issue is the fact that counselors are moving from HSP to VR which ultimately results in the agency still needing to fill a vacancy.
  • Hamer took the opportunity to thank Dallas at Northern Illinois University (NIU) and Henson at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale (SIU-C) for their Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling programs and working with their respective graduates to apply for DRS openings.
  • Council members asked about selecting Field Offices for Piloting the VR Best Practices Guide and Hamer said he would work with the Stakeholders Committee to discuss the matter.

Action Item: Henson will meet with Hamer on July 21 to discuss a roll-out plan for Piloting the VR Best Practices Guide.

Updates from other Councils

Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) - (Richardson)

  • Richardson shared that SILC and the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living (INCIL) are hosting a series of webinars designed to enhance patient advocacy for persons with disabilities at hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Each webinar will be held from 1pm - 3pm and focus on a specific disability population.
    • August 23 - Deaf and Hard of Hearing
    • September 20 - Mobility Disabilities
    • October 25 - Developmental Disabilities & Intellectual Disabilities
    • November 15 - Blind and visual Disabilities
  • She added that registration is not necessary and all webinars will be captioned, recorded and archived for future viewing. A flyer will be distributed soon with all of the information.
  • Richardson also noted that the Great Lakes ADA Center will be partnering with CILs across the state to meet with employers and discuss the "Tool Box".
  • The purpose of the "Tool Box" is to assist employers in successful recruitment, hiring, and retention of individuals with disabilities and includes materials necessary to ensure that businesses have the information needed to better serve customers with disabilities.

Blind Services Planning Council (BSPC) - (Slaughter)

  • Slaughter shared that the Council met on July 8th and provided a report prior to the meeting. Specific issues included the following:
  • Bureau of Blind Services (BBS) will be participating in the ADA Celebration on July 28th at the John R. Thompson Center (JRTC) in Chicago. In addition, they are working on updating a brochure featuring ICRE-Wood and the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind (BEPB); and with the implementation of WIOA, 95% of Homemaker Cases have been closed as the focus will be on vocational outcomes for individuals who are Blind.
  • ICRE-Wood has installed Wi-Fi in the student lounge, two technology classrooms and has become a more comprehensive training program for consumers with vocational goals by offering services such as:
    • Job Interviewing Techniques
    • Resume Writing
    • Vocational Evaluation
    • College Preparation
    • Expanded Technology
    which will compliment their current offerings of Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Orientation & Mobility (O&M). ICRE-Wood currently has 27 customers - 16 residents and 11 commuters - participating in their programs.
  • Slaughter also noted that ICRE-Wood still needs to fill vacancies including Admissions Manager, two Mobility Instructors, an Office Coordinator and a Program Supervisor.
  • Illinois Council of the Blind (ICB) will be hosting their Annual Conference in Alton, September 27 - 29. In addition, there will be a fundraiser booth at the State Fair with a raffle for a TV and an Amazon Smile donation
  • National Federation of the Blind of Illinois will host their Annual Convention in Naperville October 27 - 29; will offer two Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) programs this summer:
    • July 17 - 28 in Chicago
    • July 31 - August 4 in Springfield
  • Abrahamson noted that John Gordon, Bureau Chief of Blind Services had provided an update on July activities that included the following highlights regarding the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind (BEPB)
    • Rest area locations are being threatened and at the state level, seven are currently closed for renovations by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). The biggest issue is the renovations are not being completed in a timely manner
    • On the national level, the threat of rest area commercialization is a possibility as the federal administration is looking at ways to generate funds for interstate and bridge improvements
  • Gordon's update also noted the Division has hired three new employees
    • Hanna Lefevre, Rehabilitation Coordinator for Region 5 - Murphysboro Offic
    • Miranda Huffman, Rehabilitation Counselor for Region 3 - Champaign Office
    • Leslie Cully, BBS Supervisor for Region 4 - Springfield Office

Committee Reports

Executive - (Dallas)

  • Dallas shared that the committee met and discussed upcoming meeting dates. He explained that the October in-person meeting will become the Annual Strategic Planning Session with DRS and is scheduled for November 6, 2017.

Action Item: Dallas will send an email to SRC members asking them to notify Abrahamson if they wish to attend.

Operations - (Puente)

  • Dallas noted that Puente is the new Chair of the Operations Committee and that one of their current activities is to review and update the SRC Brochure.
  • He also shared that he will try to attend the National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils/Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (NCSRC/CSAVR) Spring 2018 Conferences in Washington, DC.

Policy/Legislation - (Patrick)

  • Patrick shared that after two-plus years Illinois has a BUDGET! It is the hope that everyone from individuals with disabilities, social service providers, healthcare agencies and universities can get back on track.
  • Members discussed the "Capitol Hill Congressional Visits" PowerPoint developed by the NCSRC as a How-to Guide for both new and seasoned members on how to talk to legislators.

Action Item: Committee members will develop a similar document for SRC members to use by next year's Annual Meeting.

  • In addition, the committee would like to work with Alicia Rentmeister - DRS Policy & Legislative Program Specialist, for training on how to navigate the Illinois General Assembly website before the Spring Session to too far underway.

Impartial Hearing Officers - Richard Madison, Deputy General Counsel, DHS Bureau Chief of Hearings

  • Madison provided FY17 Third & Fourth Quarter (January 1, 2017 - June 30, 2017) data on VR Appeals prior to the meeting and highlighted the following information:
    VR Appeals Data FY17 Third
    FY17 Fourth
    New Appeals Registered 7 13
    To Be Scheduled 0 3
    Dismissed 2 1
    Withdrawn 3 2
    Implemented 1 0
    Scheduled 1 7
    Appeals Closed 7 10
    Dismissed 2 3
    Withdrawn 4 5
    Implemented 1 2
    Reversed 0 1

    * Currently there are 12 Open VR Appeals with the Bureau 

  • Madison also shared FY17 data on the Home Services Program (HSP) Appeals:
    HSP Appeals Data FY17
    Open Appeals 129
    Have Been Heard 27
    Waiting for Implementation 10
    Scheduled for Hearing 77
    To Be Scheduled 15
  • Madison explained that there has been a huge influx in the number of HSP Appeals (430 since January 1, 2017) since they are being reported to the Illinois Department on Aging (DoA) - Office of the States Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

Strategic Planning - Doug Morton, Manager - Strategic Management

  • Morton provided an update on the Customer Satisfaction/Adult and Transition Surveys and noted the data sets total approximately 20,000 cases with 9,000 being of transition age and 11,000 being adult customers.

Action Item: Abrahamson will send the data sets to the Print Shop and Mailing Room once the formatting for the post cards is complete.

  • In addition, Morton shared that two more data sets will be utilized to survey Service Providers and DRS Employees. He stated that the overall progress is good and there will be data to review soon.
  • He explained that Career Counseling Presentations for individuals working for sub-minimum wage were a new requirement of the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) and over 10,000 such individuals participated in them in FY17. This represents roughly 98% of the total in Illinois and DRS Field Offices will be conducting these annually.
  • Morton reiterated that WIOA also made changes to the VR reporting system to make it more comparable to data reported by other Core Partners in the workforce system beginning July 1, 2017.
    • One set of data items deals with Barriers to Employment. Twelve barriers are defined and a YES response to any of them must be addressed in the narrative of the initial interview;
    • Another key change involves how individuals participating in postsecondary training and education are tracked and include Enrollment and Attainment and Measureable Skill Gains.

Action Item: Abrahamson will provide data preview documents from the DHS OneNet site regarding Barriers to Employment and Measureable Skill Gains to SRC members.

Partnering with Employers - John Marchioro, Trainer: Staff Development and National Employment Team (NET) Illinois Point of Contact

  • Marchioro explained that he serves as the Illinois Point of Contact for the National Employment Team (NET). The NET is sponsored by CSAVR and is a one-company approach to serving a variety of businesses through the national network of the 80 publicly funded Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) programs.
  • He also provides Technical Assistance to DRS staff and employers across the state regarding Job Driven Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center (JDVRTAC). Under the direction of the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI), the initiative is designed to improve the capacity of state VR agencies to work with employers as they develop partnerships that lead to increased competitive employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities to engage in.
  • To that end, Marchioro noted that DRS has established a goal of developing 20 New Business Partners and 50 New Employment Outcomes in FY18. To help facilitate this effort, 100 counselors received the JDVRTAC Training in FY17 and have posted 200 businesses reached on the Business Engagement Screen in WebCM.
  • He also shared that he will be providing the JDVRTAC Training to the remaining counselors in FY18; presenting in the Illinois JDVRTAC webinar on July 19; and will be participating in a panel discussion on Best Practices for NET Contacts in Bethesda, MA in August.
  • Council members expressed the need to coordinate outreach efforts to businesses and asked Marchioro how they could assist DRS in reaching their goal. Marchioro noted that each of the 5 Regions has a "Best Team" which consists of those who have received the training and they are meeting regularly.

Action Item: Marchioro recommended that SRC members meet with the Region 3 Best Team and will forward the next meeting time and date; he will also provide copies of Business Contacts; and information regarding the webinar scheduled for July 19.

Director's Report - Quinetta Wade, Director

  • Director Wade shared that she has been traveling around the state meeting with staff in different field offices and is hearing common themes regarding barriers to success for DRS customers. Specifically:
    • Customer and Employer Attitudes
    • Access to Transportation
    • Lack of Technology
    • Time Constraints
    • Not Enough Communication
  • She noted that many agencies and non-profit social service entities are still operating in their independent silo's and suggested that information regarding available programs and services need to be presented in a Person Centered manner. That is, listening to the customer and develop goals with them to maximize their abilities.
  • Wade provided a status update regarding a paid SRC staff position and shared that she has tentative approval to fold such duties into an existing position within DRS and will keep council members apprised of further developments.
  • The Home Services Program (HSP) has been working with independent providers, customers and stakeholder groups to explain the new Over Time Policy as it goes into effect on August 1, 2017. She reiterated that HSP Appeals are being heard by the Illinois Department on Aging (DoA) - Office of the States Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and not by the Client Assistance Program (CAP) as in the past.
  • Members asked Director Wade if there was an update on filling the CAP Manager position as it has been vacant for 2 years. She shared that the position has been posted and interviews should be scheduled soon.

State Plan - (McKeever)

  • McKeever was unable to participate in the meeting and provided a report stating the Committee met July 3rd and discussed the following items:
  • Reviewed the VR Recommendations as outlined in the Combined State Plan and will reach out to DRS as a follow up.

Action Item: Abrahamson will email relevant DRS staff and ask for an update on the agencies activities to date.

  • McKeever shared the Committee wants to work alongside DRS and help reach the goal of 20 new employer partners. She stressed the importance of a coordinated effort to ensure the message is consistent and they look forward to working with Marchioro and discussing next steps.
  • Another goal is to communicate the SRC/DRS partnership and members believe it could be combined with other goals such as utilizing social media. Other initiatives include updating the SRC website ( and posting meeting minutes, survey links and lists of goals.

Action Item: the Committee will look at what other SRCs are doing with social media and adopt any best practices.

Action Item: Dallas will check with students in the Marketing Department at Northern Illinois University (NIU) and see if anyone is interested in assisting committee members in revamping the website and updating the brochure.

Stakeholder - (Henson)

  • Henson shared that the Committee met on June 29th and provided a report to members prior to the meeting. She noted that Francisco Alvarado, Assistant Director of DRS was at their meeting and discussed ways in which the Committee might be able to assist DRS with Marketing and Recruitment of new customers.
  • Alvarado explained to them that most of the recruitment is done through the field offices when they go out into the community and meet with businesses and other non-profit agencies. He added that each office maintains a list of community events in their area and obtains information booths or tables where they can provide information.
  • He also noted that DRS is working on Community Engagement and conducting outreach through the Client Assistance Program (CAP) and asked Committee members to let him know of events in their respective areas that DRS could participate in.
  • Henson reported that the VR Best Practice Guide has been sent to Hamer and the committee is discussing ideas for developing a feedback tool for counselors involved in the Pilot Study to use to organize their comments and concerns. In addition, the committee is working with Dallas and DRS regarding the following satisfaction surveys:
    • Customer Satisfaction and Transition Services: DRS has approved both online surveys and a postcard inviting customers to participate via a direct link to the surveys is being developed and will be mailed to the respective data sets.
    • DRS Employee Engagement: Dallas is working with the committee to finalize the instrument to obtain employee feedback and Director Wade is in the process of reviewing it.
    • DRS Providers: In discussions with Director Wade, it was determined that developing an instrument to gauge DRS service provider satisfaction was a good idea as well.
  • The report also noted that the Illinois WorkNet Center has a Disability Works Video Series posted on their website at to help navigate the job search and employment processes for individuals with disabilities or employers working with individuals with disabilities.
  • This video series was funded by the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) and covers a broad range of topics including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); Reasonable Accommodation; How to Seek Services under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA); Vocational Rehabilitation (VR); Assistive Technology and more.
  • The committee also reported that they are still working with Hillen on finalizing a PowerPoint presentation on Pre-Employment Transition Services that Walter has developed.
  • Hackleman wasn't able to participate in the meeting and provided a report regarding Marketing and Recruitment efforts. She noted that she gave a presentation at the Scott Air Force Base to the Family Support Services Office as they provide services to military families and have a program for dependents with disabilities. In addition, she shared that her office is a member of the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce and she will be presenting to their Healthcare and Community Service Agency Committee in August.

Member Recruitment - (Rosenberg)

  • Rosenberg reviewed the Membership Grid provided prior to the meeting and noted the only vacancy the council currently has is in the Business, Industry & Labor category. He shared that Mehta has forwarded contact information for a potential candidate to fill the position.

Action Item: Rosenberg will follow up on the lead provided by Mehta and schedule an interview with the individual.

  • An updated SRC Membership List/ Contact Information and Bio's for the newest members were also distributed. Abrahamson noted that this information is posted on the SRC website at He explained that updating and enhancing the website is a goal that will serve as an outreach tool and promote the SRC and DRS programs and services.

Action Item: Abrahamson asked council members to provide subject matter input and ideas for inclusion on the website.

Successful Disability Option List - Brandon Singer, Central Management Services, Disabled Workers Program

  • Singer provided a report updating the number of individuals hired from the Successful Disability Option (SDO) and distributed it to council members prior to the meeting. Abrahamson reviewed the information and noted that 20 vacancies had been filled by state agencies utilizing the SDO Eligibility List since July 2016.
  • Below is a list of the State Agencies that participated followed by the number of individuals they hired:
    • Department of Human Services - 11 positions
    • Department of Veterans Affairs - 4 positions
    • Department of Children and Family Services - 2 positions
    • Deaf & Hard of Hearing Commission - 1 position
    • Department of Public Health - 1 position
    • State Fire Marshall - 1 position
  • Abrahamson noted that DHS historically accounts for 50% or more of the SDO hires and the majority of agencies report only 1 or 2 individual hired from the list.
  • Council members discussed the continued need to work with other state agencies and talk about their hiring practices and philosophies regarding the employment of Qualified Individuals with disabilities, the SDO List and Reasonable Accommodations.
  • Richardson shared that SILC has a goal to train businesses on the topic of Reasonable Accommodations and will look to make presentations.

Committee Reports Continued

Executive - (Dallas)

  • Dallas explained that he enjoyed learning first-hand about the new members this morning and is ready to tap into their individual strengths and group dynamics. He added that some of the newer members may not have had a chance to choose or participate on a committee yet either and following are the committee(s) they identified with:
    • Makenzie Hayden - Stakeholder
    • Connie Heinz - State Plan and Stakeholder
    • Prerak Mehta - Stakeholder and Policy/Legislation
    • Michael Predmore - State Plan and Stakeholder
    • Shelly Richardson - State Plan
    • Alyson Slaughter - Policy/Legislation
  • Dallas thanked everyone for participating in the meeting and asked members to begin planning on attending the DRS/SRC Strategic Planning Session in Bloomington on November 6, 2017.


Motion: Bizzle made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Rosenberg seconded and the motion carried.