July 13, 2018

Members Present: Bryan Dallas (Chair), Patika Hackleman, Connie Heinz, LaDonna Henson, Dr. Bruce Himelstein, Melynda McKeever, Rahnee Patrick, Michael Predmore, Matthew Rosenberg, and Kari Wright.

Members Absent: Homer Bizzle, Matthew Fred, Makenzie Hayden, Matthew Hillen, Shelly Richardson, and Alyson Slaughter,

DHS/DRS Staff: Quinetta Wade, Director; Francisco Alvarado, Administrator of Operations; Doug Morton, Manager, Strategic Planning; Richard Madison, Deputy General Counsel, DHS Bureau of Hearings; and Matt Abrahamson, DRS Staff Liaison.

Guests: Tania Morawiec, Employment First Manager, DHS/Office of the Governor; and Tony Arellano, Disability Rights Advocate.

July 13, 2018 SRC Minutes

Video Conference

Dallas welcomed everyone to the video conference and it was noted a that a quorum of nine (9) members was not present. Because voting or binding actions cannot be taken by the Council in absence of a quorum, Dallas tabled approval of the July agenda until a quorum is reached.

That being said, he introduced Tony Arellano, a former member of the SRC and guest presenter.

Tony Arellano - Disability Rights Extraordinaire

  • Arellano thanked Dallas for the opportunity to speak to Council members and shared that he recently retired as an instructor in Special Education, was a former member of SILC, and is currently Chair of the Mayor's Committee on Disability Issues in Joliet and serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of St. Francis where he is Chair of Student Affairs.
  • He expressed his concerns that far too many high school students with disabilities are not connected with the appropriate programs and services they need to be successful after graduation and unfortunately, end up dropping out.
  • Arellano stressed the need for DRS, Stakeholders, Businesses and Schools to work together and bring their expertise in working with individuals with disabilities as great things can happen when everyone is on the same page.
  • As a case in point, Arellano distributed an article to members that appeared recently in the Washington Post titled "Disabled Make for Able Workers" and provided the following highlights:
  • the nation's unemployment rate is nearing the lowest point in 50 years and is pushing companies to tap an overlooked pool of candidates - individuals with mental and physical disabilities - to fill vacancies.
  • in addition, employers are adopting more inclusive practices to support the new employees such as:
    • longer and more hands-on training;
    • adopting "leading practices" in training and technology for staff with disabilities;
    • tailored training during school hours; customizing jobs for those who might have previously been left out; and
    • swapping traditional job interviews for hands-on auditions.
  • This movement is also developing momentum towards inclusive worksites as several States have banned employers from paying individuals with disabilities below the federal minimum wage.
  • Abrahamson noted that the U.S. Department of Labor recently required VR field offices across the country to provide Career Counseling training to workshops in their respective regions that have workers making less than minimum wage. To this end, the DRS Training Unit developed a PowerPoint slideshow and counselors in the field offices are facilitating the sessions annually.

WIGs and DRS Data - Francisco Alvarado, Administrator of Operations; and Doug Morton, Manager - Strategic Management

  • Morton noted that at last year's Strategic Planning session, it was determined that the breakout groups would focus on three (3) Wildly Important Goals (WIGS). Please see table below:
Wildly Important Goal (WIG) Goal Actual Percent Reached
Increase Employment Outcomes 5,600 5,169 92%
Increase Customer Referrals 16,599 14,307 86%
Increase Individual Plans for Employment (IPE) 12,536 10,969 88%
  • Morton also provided an FY18 VR Data Summary and explained that while the final totals for FY18 were less than the stated goals in each of the three (3) categories, it is important to note that each outperformed their FY17 totals by 3 %, 2.7 % & 1.1 % respectively.
  • Morton also noted that they will be following up with the field offices and looking at counselor vacancies.
  • Alvarado shared that the use of social media by DRS is increasing and Dallas asked for assistance in posting to the DHS website.

Action Item: Abrahamson was designated to take the lead in posting information on the DHS website.

  • It was also mentioned that Predmore and Lizette Tripur (Supervisor of the Peoria and Peking field offices), will be working with Lori Zenner (Director Wade's office) to provide updates for the Community Calendar which is shared with stakeholders.
  • Members also asked Alvarado about the status of the VR Quick Reference Guide and he explained that a one-page document to be used as a desk reference would be implemented by August.

Action Item: the policy and procedure manual will be reviewed to ensure consistencies and Walter will provide a draft.

  • Council lead a discussion regarding the needs assessment survey and Morton shared he would be conducting six outreach forums. He also mentioned that Director Wade has been traveling across the state conducting office visits and talking with staff to determine what IS working and what ISNT working.

Committee Reports

Executive - (Dallas)

  • Dallas informed the group that a quorum was present and called for a motion to approve the Agenda for the July 13, 2018 meeting.

Motion: Rosenberg made a motion to approve the agenda for the July 13, 2018 meeting. McKeever seconded and the motion carried.

  • Dallas explained that Director Wade has asked for budget amounts for each committee and a paid Director for the SRC. This will include essential functions and a list of day to day operations and duties.
  • He again noted that the council needs a Secretary and asked for volunteers. Because nobody volunteered, the executive committee position remains vacant.

Policy/legislation - (Patrick/Rosenberg)

  • Patrick stated that there wasn't a report at this time and encouraged members to continue meeting with their local legislators as they are in their home districts over the summer months.

State Plan - (McKeever)

  • McKeever reviewed the state plan and noted little success with providing new referrals per the WIG. The committee goal was 20 new business referrals and they provided three.
  • She also noted that the committee needs a co-chair and looks forward to working with them.

Operations - (Predmore)

  • Predmore reported that ideas for an SRC budget could include the following:
  • ? Travel for the SRC chair or designated member to attend the National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils (NCSRC) and the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) Spring Conferences in Bethesda, Maryland.
  • Funds to contract with a firm to conduct and analyze satisfaction surveys and other data to determine success of programs and progress towards DRS goals. 
  • Other line items could be for a full-time, non-state employee to serve as the Executive Director of the SRC and office supplies.

Action Item: Dallas encouraged members to assist in identifying additional activities the SRC could become involved in with additional funding and share them with Predmore or himself.

  • Predmore also shared that SRC members can submit information regarding local events in their respective communities to Lori Zenner in the Director's office and they will be included in the Community Calendar which is distributed to stakeholders every month.
  • He also provided a handout identifying the five pieces of information (Office, Region, Activity, Contact Person, and Number in Attendance) on the DRS Community Outreach Survey that will be posted on OneNet. The survey and data generated are important for both SRC and DRS to capture and determine the nature and degree of community contacts and outreach events

Stakeholder - (Henson)

  • Henson explained that one of the WIGs is aimed at targeting students with 504 plans and believes the same survey instrument could be used to track outreach of DRS staff at the schools and progress of the students towards graduation and employment opportunities. 
  • From this data, a system to identify where the pitfalls are for these students can be developed and counselors can use the information to increase the students success rate.
  • Henson also noted that Dallas and Walters attended the previous Supervisors Semi-Annual Meeting and discussed the Needs Assessment; Satisfaction Survey's; and the VR Quick Reference Guide and answered questions they had.

Membership - (Rosenberg)

  • Abrahamson distributed an updated Membership Grid to members prior to the meeting that identifies members; respective categories they serve; their terms and expiration dates.
  • Rosenberg shared that he has interviewed three potential candidates for the council and noted the categories they would serve when and if they are approved:
    • Colleen Fitzpatrick would replace the vacancy in the Disability/ Advocacy Groups category created by the resignation of Kristi Giacomini.
    • Beth Hooten would replace Prerak Mehta in the Business, Industry & Labor category as he left the state for an employment opportunity.
    • Rosenberg proposed that Kelsey Thompson would participate on council committees for a year and then replace him in the category of Disability/ Advocacy Group when his second term expires July 1, 2019.
    • He also explained that Consuelo Puente - Parent Training Center, and Matthew Hillen - State Workforce Innovation Board will also need to be replaced as they have both left their previous jobs which were required participants on the SRC.

Action Item: Rosenberg will work with Dallas to motivate current members and to include non-members on committees and assisting in council activities.

Director's Report - Quinetta Wade, Director

  • Director Wade greeted council members and shared that DRS is working to establish a Workforce Engagement Unit with staff in Chicago and Springfield by the end of Fiscal Year 2019 (June 30, 2019).
  • She also noted that DRS is expanding efforts to reach out to "potentially eligible" transition aged youth through the Fast Track Initiative. A potentially eligible individual is a student with a disability (14-21 years of age and enrolled in an education program).
  • Pre-employment transition services (PTS) are provided to students with disabilities to improve their chances to enter employment or post-secondary education upon leaving high school and include the following five required activities:
    • Job Exploration Counseling 
    • Work-based Learning Experiences 
    • Counseling on Opportunities for Post-secondary Education
    • Workplace Readiness Training to Develop Social Skills and Independent Living 
    • Instruction in Self-advocacy, Including Peer Mentoring

Strategic Planning Meeting Update - Francisco Alvarado, Administrator of Operations

  • Alvarado shared that the SRC meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 18, 2018 from 1:00pm - 4:00pm and the DRS/ SRC Strategic Planning Session is scheduled for Friday, October 19, 2018 from 9:00am - 3:30pm. Both sessions are at the Crowne Plaza Hotel located at 3000 South Dirksen Parkway in Springfield.
  • The DRS/ SRC Strategic Planning Session will once again be facilitated by Bruce Bendix - Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Innovation, Strategy and Performance Unit/ IDHS.
  • Alvarado explained that in the strategic planning session we will be reporting on VR Wildly Important Goals (WIGS) and reviewing FY18 performance and establishing WIGs for FY19.
  • Council members asked what issues DRS is working on and how they could help. Alvarado responded and said the Central Management System (CMS) hiring process is still slow and that lead to a discussion regarding hiring dynamics and caseload numbers for counselors.

Action Item: Alvarado will gather information regarding DRS staff turnover; office by office staffing; length of time in their position; and the number of open cases.

  • The group will meet again prior to the October 18 & 19 meetings and develop benchmarks with staffing shortage and service delivery in mind.

CAP Update - Kari Wright, Manager

  • Wright shared with the council that over 700 phone calls have been received in Fiscal Year 2019 and that about half of them were regarding HSP issues. In addition, she shared there are 45 open cases and of these, 22 involve communication issues, 20 are related to conflicting thoughts on services to be provided, and 9 currently active.
  • In terms of outreach, she explained that 3 exhibits and 12 presentations have been conducted reaching a total of over 2,000 individuals. In addition, several upcoming events are scheduled including: Interagency Committee of Employees with Disabilities (ICED); Mayor's Office on People with Disabilities (MOPD) Expo; and the Transition Fair & Expo to name a few.

Action Item: Wright asked members to let her know of any meetings and/ or events regarding individuals with disabilities and CAP will make efforts to attend.

  • Wright also noted that she has requested permission for two VR advocate positions to be approved and will be looking to attend the National Disability Rights Network VR Orientation Training with staff in October.

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

  • Madison provided a report comparing appeals data from January 2018 - March 2018 with appeals data from January 2017 - March 2017 and noted there was a significant jump in the numbers across the board. The table below illustrates the comparison:
Appeals Data January 2018 - March 2018 Appeals Data January 2017 - March 2017
VR: 18 New Appeals Registered VR: 7 New Appeals Registered
§  4 Dismissed §  2 Dismissed
§  11 Withdrawn §  3 Withdrawn
§  1 Final Decision Issued
§  1 Final Decision Implemented §  2 Final Decisions Implemented
§  1 To Be Scheduled
VR: 20 Appeals Closed VR: 7 Appeals Closed
§  6 Dismissed §  2 Dismissed
§  10 Withdrawn §  4 Withdrawn
§  4 Final Decisions Implemented §  1 Final Decision Implemented
  • Council members asked Madison if the reason for the significant increase had to do with vacancies in the Hearing Officer position? He noted that there aren't any current vacancies in the VR Hearing Officer position and added that while he has multiple theories on why the jump occurred, he does not have any concrete answers specifically related to VR appeals.
  • Madison shared that he has an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) interested in hearing VR cases and would like council members to review their resume and give him permission to allow this current Hearing Officer to also be utilized in VR appeals, if needed.
  • Members wanted to clarify their role in hiring VR Hearing Officers and Madison explained that if he were hiring a new Hearing Officer for VR appeals, the SRC would be more involved in the process; and with the low volume of VR appeals, they have not had a need in quite some time to hire any new Hearing Officers for VR.

Motion: Predmore made a motion for Madison to provide the Administrative Law Judge's resume for the council to review and give their permission for them to be utilized in VR appeals if need. Henson seconded and the motion carried.

Updates from other Councils

Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) - (Richardson)

  • In the absence of Richardson there wasn't a report.

Blind Services Planning Council (BSPC) - (Slaughter)

  • In the absence of Slaughter there wasn't a report.


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

Next Meeting is October 18th & 19th (Strategic Planning) and will be held in Springfield.