State Rehabilitation Council Meeting Minutes - April 12, 2018

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

Members Absent: Homer Bizzle, Kristi Giacomini, Makenzie Hayden, Matthew Hillen, and Alyson Slaughter.

DHS/DRS Staff: Francisco Alvarado, Administrator of Operations; Doug Morton, Manager - Strategic Planning; John Marchioro, Trainer, NET Illinois Point of Contact; and Matt Abrahamson, DRS Staff Liaison.

Guests: Matt Coyne, Lead Analyst - Innovation, Strategy and Performance, DHS; and Tania Morawiec, Employment First Manager, DHS/Office of the Governor.

Call to Order: Bryan Dallas - Chair

Dallas opened the meeting and explained that the council would be discussing progress on reaching their Standing Committee Goals and their WIGs (Wildly Important Goals); which were established in conjunction with DRS at the Strategic Planning meeting conducted on November 6, 2017.

He noted that he will provide an update on his experience at the National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils (NCSRC) Spring Conference in Bethesda, MA held on April 7 - 9, 2018.

In addition, updates from the Policy/Legislative committee on the "Day at the Capitol" event held yesterday; identifying upcoming vacancies on the council by the Member Recruitment committee; and a review of Standing committees, their respective members, chairs and co-chairs will also be discussed later today.

Dallas shared that there is a full agenda and reiterated that the Annual Meeting is face to face and enables members to connect with each other over the two-day session and asked members to go around the table and introduce themselves.

Motion: Patrick made a motion to approve the Agenda for the April 12, 2018 meeting. Himelstein seconded and the motion carried.

Motion: Fred made a motion to approve the Minutes from the January 5, 2018 meeting. Rosenberg seconded and the motion carried.

Action Item: Secretary Giacomini was unable to provide the February 9, 2018 meeting minutes and Abrahamson will finish the draft she provided and distribute them to members prior to the next SRC meeting.

Committee Reports

Executive Report - Dallas, Chair

Dallas explained that attending the National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils (NCSRC) Spring Conference was a tremendous experience and provided a great opportunity to network with the SRC chairs and committee members from across the country.

  • He shared some of the main topic take-aways from the conference and listed them as follows:
  • A need to increase Public Participation;
  • Attend meetings of the National Rehabilitation Association and Illinois Rehabilitation Association (NRA/IRA) and share information regarding the role and responsibilities of the SRC;
  • Increase member involvement through a new member orientation, a mentoring program and the use of 1/2 day webinars from the history of the Rehabilitation Act to current issues with the implementation of the Workforce Innovation & Opportunities Act (WIOA);
  • Meet with or in conjunction with Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living (INCIL), the Illinois Assistive Technology Program (IATP) and other stakeholder groups.

Dallas emphasized that he will be conducting an Executive committee meeting to further discuss the topics and determine how to best address each of them and next steps.

Director's Report - Quinetta Wade, Director

Director Wade provided a report that was distributed to the council members prior to the meeting and began by highlighting the New State Director Training she attended in conjunction with the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) Spring Conference recently conducted in Bethesda, MD.She shared that the training was very beneficial and was presented in an interactive style that promoted opportunities for participants {ranging from two (2) weeks to six (6) months on the job} to ask questions and share input in a non-threatening environment.

Wade explained that the sessions were conducted by seasoned State Directors and Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) representatives and key points they discussed were "Training for Staff" and the need to "Engage our Business Partners".

  • In addition, Director Wade noted that RSA has a series of Training and Technical Assistance Centers (TACs) that focus their efforts on specific topics designed to improve services to individuals with disabilities and maximize their employment, independence and integration into the competitive workforce. Following is a list of individual TACs:
  • VR Technical Assistance Center - Youth with Disabilities (VRTAC-Y);
  • National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT);
  • Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC);
  • VR Technical Assistance Center - Targeted Communities (VRTAC-TC); and
  • Rehabilitation Training and Technical Assistance Center for Program Evaluation and Quality Assurance (PEQATAC).

Business Engagement Strategies were also a hot topic as WIOA has confirmed that businesses are our customers and there is a need to become more proactive in marketing VR and sharing customer success stories.

  • Wade explained that the General Conference Sessions offered structured presentations as well as built-in opportunities for networking and shared that she left the conference with a wealth of information and new contacts. She shared that she is excited to be back and stated her leadership platform will emphasize the following three (3) areas:
  • Engagement with Employers and understanding they are our customers;
  • VR is the Best Kept Secret and we need to partner with others and brainstorm how to use our resources; and
  • Person Centered Thinking/Planning focuses on individuals, their goals, dreams and what they need to be successful!

Director Wade also shared that she met with Lenis regarding the SRC's request to hire an executive director to manage the daily operations and address federal mandates of the Council. She explained that while a full-time position with 100% of their duties focused on SRC activities is not likely, she is looking at combining other existing duties in order to create a new position with perhaps 20% of the time allotted for SRC issues and initiatives.

Council members reiterated their desire for a full-time dedicated individual and thanked her for her efforts.

Action Item: SRC members will continue to work with Director Wade and developing a job description for the position.

In other DRS news, Wade reiterated the need for increasing marketing efforts and getting the word out regarding DRS and vocational rehabilitation. Council members asked how they could assist the agency and she discussed leveraging resources and reviewing what others are doing could be a starting point.

Action Item: Council members lead a discussion regarding goals established in the November 2016 Strategic Planning Session and will look at including marketing efforts in the Operations, State Plan and Stakeholder committee goals.

  • Director Wade referenced Goals for DRS and shared the following:
  • Increase VR Employment Outcomes for FY 2018; and
  • Conduct all Redeterminations (Rede) for HSP Customers in a Timely Manner.

Committee Reports

Executive Report - Marco Lenis, Chair

Lenis thanked Director Wade and the administration for allowing him to attend the National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils (NCSRC) Conference which is also held in conjunction with the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) Spring Conference recently conducted in Bethesda, MD.

He shared that the session began with a history of the NCSRC and their relationship with the CSAVR conference which has resulted in the national conferences being held in concurrence in both the spring and fall of each year.

There are 46 State Rehabilitation Councils that are members of the NCSRC (including Illinois) and 23 of them were able to send a representative to the conference. Of the 23 States that sent an SRC representative, 13 or 57% reported having at least one (1) paid staff position that focused all of their efforts on SRC business.

Lenis noted that State Rehabilitation Councils (SRC) are federally mandated and each State Administrator of VR has flexibility in developing the organizational structure of staffing and funding their respective SRC's.

He also reported that there is an anticipated increase in the need for VR programs and services of 18% - 20% over the next 3 - 5 years, and while there are approximately 28,000 VR employees across the country, only 8,300 are rehabilitation counselors.

There is a need to increase partnerships through the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) and SRC members have an opportunity to participate within their respective Local Workforce Innovation Areas (LWIA) and becoming committee members on the Local Workforce Innovation Boards (LWIBS).

The new Core Performance Measures and Indicators of Effectiveness per WIOA and the Department of Labor (DOL) will require increased partnerships, including schools as they have not had much history or interaction with workforce partners in the past.

Operations - Bryan Dallas, Chair

* Dallas shared the committee distributed a copy of the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) Mission, Vision, Goals and highlights of the respective Bureaus to the council for approval and inclusion in the Overview Section of the SRC Orientation & Policy Manual. In addition, an amendment to Section 2 - Annual Meeting of the Bylaws adding - Officers shall be elected "for 2 year terms" during this meeting - was distributed to members for their approval as well.

Motion: Walter made a motion to approve including the DRS Mission, Vision, Goals and highlights of the Bureaus in the Overview Section of the SRC Orientation & Policy Manual and adding language as presented for amending Section 2 - Annual Meeting of the Bylaws. Arellano seconded and the motion carried.

* Dallas explained that the goal of having a Line Item Budget has expanded to address the need for SRC to have a designated staff person with 100% of their time focused on SRC issues and activities as referenced in Director Wade's comments earlier in the meeting.

Policy/Legislative - (Arellano/Rosenberg)

Arellano reported that eight (8) council members and a student intern from Northern Illinois University (NIU) participated in the "Legislative Day" at the Capitol Complex.

Participants paired up (seasoned members with new appointees) and set forth to deliver the SRC Talking Points that addressed the negative impact the lack of a State Budget for two (2) years is having on Non-Profit Agencies, Health Care Providers, State Universities, Businesses across the State and their ability to provide programs and services desperately needed by individuals with disabilities.

* In addition, the document illustrated that FY16 marked the fifth consecutive year with positive growth in employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities receiving services from DRS and the approximate new tax revenue that was generated in each of the past five (5) years. The table also shows a decrease of approximately 34% in the projected number of individuals achieving employment outcomes and the respective decrease in new tax revenue for FY17 as the result of an economic environment that is struggling. See table below:

Fiscal Year Employment Outcomes New Tax Revenue
FY 2012 4,953 $ 4.95 million
FY 2013 5,011 $ 5.5 million
FY 2014 5,155 $ 5.7 million
FY 2015 5,442 $ 5.74 million
FY 2016 5,538 $ 6.1 million
FY 2017 4,132 $ 4.1 million

Source: Division of Rehabilitation Services Annual Reports

Action Item: Council members who were unable to attend "Legislative Day" asked if they could have copies of the document and it was decided that Abrahamson would send all members additional copies.

Arellano also referenced the Legislative Update provided by Alicia Rentmeister, DRS Policy & Legislation Program Specialist that gives an overview of pending legislation that DRS is tracking. He noted that SB0955 would amend the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Act to increase rates and reimbursements of not less than $15/hour for direct support persons and commensurate wages for front-line personnel.

On a final note, Arellano shared that participants reported that the officials they spoke with were generally more optimistic about a budget being signed than they were when meeting with them last year. He reminded council members of the importance to meet with their elected officials when they are in their home districts in order to build the rapport that facilitates the ability to schedule meetings and work with them toward common outcomes.

Member Recruitment - (Rosenberg)

Rosenberg reviewed the SRC Member Grid that was distributed prior to the meeting. He noted that the grid illustrated the majority of positions are filled or have appointees waiting to either receive their vetting packets or their appointment. As a side note, three (3) members need to apply on line for appointment to their second terms.

  • The current vacancies that remain are as follows:
  • Replacement for Susan Shaw in the Business, Industry & Labor category;
  • Replacement for Tony Arellano in the Disability/Advocacy Groups category;
  • Replacement for Sue Walter in the Illinois State Board of Education category.

State Plan - (McKeever)

McKeever addressed the committee's new goals as a result of the Strategic Planning session and shared that she recently attended a DRS training for Rehabilitation Counselors on "How to Reach-Out to Employers". One of the goals is that SRC will establish 20 new business partners and she will follow up with John Marchioro, the DRS Trainer on how to coordinate outreach efforts.

She added that they will need to develop a strategy (i.e. identify largest need and prioritize) and discuss ways in which SRC can partner with DRS and present a consistent message.

Hackleman shared that DRS Best Practices Teams are meeting monthly across the State and suggested the committee could reach out to them as well to coordinate efforts. She added that DRS has a goal of training 45 Rehabilitation Counselors, develop 20 New Employment Partners and deliver 50 Successful Employment Outcomes.

Stakeholder - (Walter/Henson)

  • Henson reported on the committee goals and shared that Walter drafted a cover letter for the VR Best Practices Guide. Once the letter is approved, the committee will present the "Guide" to Louis Hamer and move the project to the next level which is piloting the document in select Field Offices across the State.
  • She also shared that the committee has been working in conjunction with the Operations Committee and Northern Illinois University (NIU) to develop two (2) Satisfaction Surveys: one is designed for gauging DRS Customer Satisfaction and the other targets High School students receiving Transition Services. Both surveys have been submitted to DRS for comments and/or approval.

Henson explained that they are working with Hillen to obtain copies of videos developed with funds from the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) to help individuals with disabilities navigate the job search and employment processes.

Strategic Planning - Doug Morton, Manager - Strategic Management

Morton provided a document outlining new WIOA Core Performance Measures prior to the meeting and noted that under WIOA, there will be more accountability for work training and ensuring the needs of employers are being met.

  • He explained the handout and noted that Illinois will measure indicators of effectiveness `in serving employers through:
  • Retention with the same employer at second and fourth quarters after program exit; and
  • Proportion of businesses in the state receiving services from the workforce system.

In addition, he shared that a National Scorecard will be developed at some point that will tally and score each State on how they are performing.

Morton noted that DRS has increased their level of working with businesses through the Job Driven Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center (JDVRTAC) and applying the "Dual Customer Approach". The Dual Customer Approach allows DRS to partner with Employers and People with Disabilities to create an effective workplace.

Council members asked Morton about the status of the Satisfaction Surveys. He noted that he will report back to them once he has had an opportunity to review them.

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

Hamer provided a Field Office Staffing Grid identifying counselor and coordinator positions (both filled and vacant) for VR and HSP broken down by each Field Office and Region to council members prior to the meeting. Below is a data summary of vacancies:

VR Positions HSP Positions
Region Counselor Vacancy Coordinator Vacancy Counselor Vacancy Coordinator Vacancy
Region 1 6 3 15 18
Region 2 4 1 11 4
Region 3 9 1 6 1
Region 4 4 0 4 0
Region 5 1 1 1 1
Total 24 6 37 24
  • Hamer reviewed additional highlights from the report noting that statewide there are:
  • 188 VR Counselor positions and 24 are vacant;
  • 108 VR Coordinator positions and 6 are vacant;
  • 167 HSP Counselor positions and 37 are vacant; and
  • 151 HSP Coordinator positions and 24 are vacant.

He shared that Rehabilitation Services Supervisors (RSS) are located throughout the state in Field Offices as well and that both the Rock Island and Quincy offices have Supervisor vacancies. He noted that in total there are 45 Field Offices and they are served by 38 RSS's explaining that due to size and distance between service areas, six (6) individuals supervise more than one (1) office.

In addition, Hamer directly supervises Assistant Bureau Chiefs (ABCs) and shared that the ABC in Region 2 is retiring and the ABC in Region 3 is on an extended maternity leave.

Information regarding staffing numbers for the Bureau of Blind Services (BBS) in Field Offices was also included in the Field Office Staffing Grid. John Gordon, BBS Bureau Chief was unable to participate in the meeting and Hamer explained that in addition to Counselors and Coordinators, BBS also has Mobility Instructors in Field Offices and summarized BBS vacancies below:

BBS Positions
Region Counselor Vacancy Mobility Instructor Vacancy Coordinator Vacancy
Region 1 0 1 0
Region 2 3 1 1
Region 3 1 2 0
Region 4 1 2 0
Region 5 1 3 0
Total 6 9 1
  • He reviewed the number of positions statewide for BBS front-line workers and reported the following totals:
  • 22 total BBS Counselor positions and 6 are vacant;
  • 26 total BBS Mobility Instructor positions and 9 are vacant; and
  • 23 total BBS Coordinator positions and 1 is vacant.

Hamer also provided an HSP Redetermination (Rede) Progress Report. He shared that a Rede of services is required for all HSP customers per year and several offices had fallen behind on conducting them in a timely manner. In November of 2016 offices were at 44% on time statewide; in May of 2017 they were at 74% and the goal is to be at 90% on time statewide.

He noted that the Governor's Office recently conducted "Round Table" discussions in Mt. Vernon, Peoria and Westchester regarding creation and expansion of apprenticeship programs. Representatives from the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and DRS participated and hope individuals with disabilities will benefit as well.

Nominating Committee

Election of Officers - (Lenis)

Lenis reported that the Nominating Committee contacted all of the current Council members for nominations to the Executive Committee. They reviewed potential candidates for eligibility and distributed a slate of officers to council members prior to the meeting.

  • Before the slate was presented for a vote, Lenis asked if there were any self nominations from the floor to be considered. Hearing none, the following slate of officers was presented for a vote:
  • Bryan Dallas: Chair
  • Rahnee Patrick: Vice - Chair
  • Kristy Giacomini: Secretary
  • Melynda McKeever: Fiscal Officer
  • Matthew Fred: Member-at-Large

Motion: Arellano made a motion to accept the slate of officers as presented. Walter seconded and the motion carried.

Lenis congratulated the new officers and introduced them as the Executive Committee. He wished the best for the Council and knows they will continue to make great strides for increasing employment opportunities and the lives of people with disabilities in Illinois.

Adjourn -

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

Next Meeting is scheduled for July 13, 2018