June 2020 Meeting Minutes

State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) June 23-24, 2020 Quarterly Meeting
Zoom/Phone meeting

Topic/Key Points

Call to Order (Roll Call-In Person):  Tonya Robinson, Ceylane Meyers-Ruff, Joseph Delgado, Gregory Lau, Ellice Switzer, Susan Scheer, Erica Molina, Diane Woodward, Jennifer Semonite, David Morgan, Laura Hartmann, Liam McNabb, Sebastian Chittilappilly, Hillary Nichols, Melinda Dolezal, Lorie Boyd, Peter Herring, Lindsay Miller, Alan Gallagher, Peter Herrig, Lynne Thibdeau, Miranda Harms, Megan Brown, Naomi Brickel, Jennifer Machucki

Excused: Jenny Hutkowski, Rachel Jones

Absent: Joanie Parker

Welcome to new members:  Naomi Brickel, Miranda Harms and Jenny Hutkowski where welcomed to the SRC.

Review of the agenda: Tonya Robinson-Mayer

Additional Agenda Items:

  • None

Review and approve March 11, 2020 minutes:

  • March 11, 2020 Minutes reviewed.  No abstentions.  All voted in favor of approval.

Public Comment

  • No public comment noted.

ACCES & ACCES-VR Updates, Reports and Dialogue:

  • Kevin Smith ACCES Deputy Commissioner and Ceylane Meyers-Ruff, ACCES Assistant Commissioner

New York State Education Department update:

ACCES-VR update:

Staff updates:

  • ACCES-VR’s priority is to the health and safety of its participants, staff and public, and maintaining continuity of services and vendor billing.
  • Staff in all upstate ACCES-VR offices are slowly returning to work.  A staggered work schedule, social distancing, and health and safety guidelines have been implemented.
    • Almost all of VR services can be completed remotely.
    • Technology such at Teams has enabled continued supervision of staff and district office continuity.
    • Financial staff are working in the office to process vendor billing.
    • Support staff are in the offices accepting applications and processing mail.
      • Approximately 400 online applications have been accepted and processed.
    • Approximately 1,500 individuals have been moved from Eligibility status to Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) development status since March.
    • All District offices continue to work on meeting the benchmarks of 90% compliance for the determination of eligibility within 60 days of application and development of the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) within 90 days of eligibility determination.
    • Approximately 5 offices met the 90% since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continuity of ACCES-VR services:

  • ACCES-VR leadership has ongoing conversations to sustain services and programs.  There is currently no indication that Federal allocations to Vocational Rehabilitation will be decreased. The sustainability of services and programs are a top priority for leadership. 
  • Work on how to operationalize the use of electronic signatures continues and will require the approval of the larger State Education Department.
  • Opportunities to develop and provide the Orientation for ACCES-VR services are being evaluated.
  • Billing timeline for vendors has been extended.

Pre-Employment Transition Services:

  • A second Request for Proposal (RFP) for NYC area Pre-ETS contract has been issued with an anticipated start date of October 2020.
  • Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) Electronic Reporting System (ERS) is being worked on.

Vendor guidance:

  • Additional vendor and staff guidance for service delivery are being developed and will be shared.

Participant and provider satisfaction survey:

  • Potsdam Institute of Applied Research contract ended in 2019.
  • No new proposals were submitted in response to new Request for Proposal.
  • ACCES-VR will be doing the survey in-house.
  • ACCES-VR is asking SRC for assistance and guidance in developing survey questions.
  • It is anticipated the survey will be sent out electronically to participants in Summer or Fall of 2020.

Federal updates and guidance:

  • Guidance from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) has enabled the Individual Plans for Employment and Plan amendments to continue.

AWARE case management system:

  • The AWARE case management project continues.  

Interagency Reports:

Advisory Council on Post-Secondary Education for Students with Disabilities:

  • Council was unable to meet no update at this time.

Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities (TRIAD):

There are 12 TRIAD centers across the New York State that are connected through the National Assistive Technology Data System.

  • Since 1/1/2020 there have been:
    • 97 short-term loans of 204 devices (typical loan period of 60 days or less).
    • 8 open-ended loans of 11 devices (typical loan period 60 or more days).
    • 31 demonstrations
    • In-person trainings have been suspended.  TRAID centers are offering online and video trainings. Long Island TRAID center provided a training for over 40 VR counselors in Suffolk and Nassau counties in April.
    • The TRAID staff held director’s meeting via WebEx in April.
      • Primary focus was to address COVID-19 related concerns and develop strategies to provide continuity of services.
      • The availability of WIFI when individuals borrow devices, especially those in more rural areas has been identified as a concern.

Disability Rights New York/ Client Assistance Program/ Protection & Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (DRNY/CAP/BAPSS)

  • Considering the recent protests in response to the death of George Floyd, DRNY has, from the top down, been evaluating their organization to learn if there are any inequities to be address.
  • Staff continues to work remotely and anticipates a return to the office October 1, 2020.

Office of Mental Health:

  • The Office of Mental Health (OMH) moved quickly to develop and distribute telehealth billing and program guidance to their many community-based models to ensure critical support services to participants and to continue along with revenue to provider organizations.  This guidance continues to remain in place for licensed programs and state aid funded programs, including employment programs.
  • The Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) are now available to individuals enrolled in Health And Recovery Plans (HARP).  These services will transition in coming months to Adult Rehabilitation Services (ARS) and the more extensive HCBS menu will be streamlined to include the services identified in the ARS column in the chart below.
    • In addition to streamlining services, access to the new services will be more flexible as the Health Home Care Manager will no longer be the “gatekeepers” and individuals can now follow a simplified referral process.  The goal is for more individuals to access these mobile, rehabilitation services which, are anticipated to increase achieving goals, including employment and education.
    • Continued updates to the SRC regarding timeframes moving forward will be provided.


    Services Post Transition to BH ARS

    Psychosocial Rehabilitation

    Psychosocial Rehabilitation (including PSR with special focus on vocational and educational goals)

    Community Psychiatric Support and Treatment

    Community Psychiatric Support and Treatment 

    Empowerment Services – Peer Supports

    Empowerment Services – Peer Supports

    Family Support and Training

    Family Support and Training

    Short Term Crisis Respite

    Crisis Intervention- Already available to all Medicaid Managed Care recipients

    Intensive Crisis Respite

    Crisis Intervention- Already available to all Medicaid Managed Care recipients

    Education Support Services
    Pre-Vocational Services
    Transitional Employment
    Intensive Supported Employment
    Ongoing Supported Employment

    Consolidated under PSR


    Removed - Beneficiary goals and needs more appropriately addressed via PSR

    Non-Medical Transportation


New York State Independent Living Council, Inc. (NYSILC:)

  • Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, grants from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to help Federally funded Centers for Independent Living to provide direct and immediate support and services due to the COVID-19 pandemic are available.

New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB):

  • Guidance has been issued to vendors and staff to provide remote services.
  • The Commission developed and implemented strategies to continue providing services remotely.
  • Applications for services are being accepted.
  • Some service which required close, in-person delivery due to their nature are being evaluated to learn if alternatives can be developed. 

New York State Office of Special Education:

  • The Office of Special Education has transitioned to remote working.
  • Guidance to the field has been provided and the field offices are being provided technical assistance.
  • In May, the Office of Special Education’s Commissioner’s Advisory Panel and the Office of Special Education’s Youth Advisory Panel were conducted in a remote format.
  • In June, the Board of Regents formed four Regional Reopening Schools Task Forces and conducted virtual meetings.  Youth Advisory Panel members were asked to participate in their regional meeting along with a special youth or student forum meeting.

New York State Department of Labor (DOL):                                                                                             

  • The DOL paid $15 billion dollars in unemployment insurance to 2.4 million New Yorkers.
  • The Disability Employment Initiative developed the Your Dream, Your Team website as a resource to improve career exploration and employment for job seekers with disabilities, with an emphasis on outcomes for youth with disabilities (ages 14-24). It can be found at:

New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD):

  • OPWDD has suspended many of the services that took place outside of the individual’s residence and have shifted to providing them in the residence, or remotely.
  • Approximately 20% of individuals receiving Supported Employment services have remained employed as essential workers.
  • Providers are being encouraged to provide “Discovery” like activities for employment services to assist the individuals in maintaining work skills learned and facilitate the eventual re-entry into employment.
  • Providers are being trained on establishing a plan for when NY re-opens.
    • Areas of focus are:
      • Preparing for the influx of businesses needing qualified employees.
      • Prioritizing individuals who are ready to immediately return to work.
      • Evaluating the needs of individuals with significant disabilities who will need to be re-employed.
  • Data on OPWDD staff needs are being collected to facilitate the continuing of services and the projected number of individuals served who will require employment service upon re-opening.

New member orientation:

  • New members welcomed and introduced to SRC members.
  • Information on SRC mission and vision provided.
  • Draft SRC guiding principles reviewed.
    • A recommendation to update to Article 1V Composition section A 9 to read:
      • Native Americans.
  • Information on SRC stakeholders, roles and responsibilities, and definition of 4.2 recommendations was provided.
  • Committee chairs provided updates on their committee structure, functions, priorities, and past accomplishments.
  • ACCES-VR provided presentation on the history of vocational rehabilitation, ACCES-VR’s organizational structure of the New York State Education Department, Adult Career and Continuing Education (ACCES) Department.
    • ACCES-VR has 15 district offices and 10 satellite offices
    • Central Office houses:
      • The Assistant Commissioner
      • District Office Administration
      • WIOA Implementation Unit
      • Policy Unit
      • Training Unit
      • Service Delivery Unit
      • Transition Unit
      • Business Engagement Unit
      • Recruitment and Staff Development Unit
      • Quality Assurance Unit
      • Independent Living Unit
  • ACCES-VR provided an overview of WIOA and the NYS Combined State Plan.


Graham Sisson, President of the Board of Directors, National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils; Assistant Attorney General, State of Alabama.

Presented information on:

  • The State Rehabilitation Council-Vocational Rehabilitation Partnership Under WIOA.
  • Partnership and trust between the SRC and VR to strengthen and improve services The SRC represents the people that are served by VR
  • Required members, roles, responsibilities, and functions of an SRC.
  •  Where VR resides in the larger Federal structure.

Old Business: 

  • Guiding Principles need to be finalized.

SRC Business:

Executive Committee Report:

  • Identified the agenda points for June Quarterly meeting.
  • Membership committee scheduled a meeting and identified constituency and representation needs of full council.
  • Vendor support ad hoc committee to be established.
    • Doodle poll sent to members requesting their participation and to set dates.

Membership Committee:

  • Recruitment material for new members has been finalized and being sent out 06/29/20.
    • All new member applications due back by 08/01/20.
    • Interviews to be completed by 08/31/20.
    • Decision and final recommendation to be voted on at September Quarterly meeting
    • New member recommendations to the Board of Regents for confirmation are currently planned for the Board of Regents November meeting.

Transition Committee:

  • Two new members, Naomi Brickel and Jenny Hutkowski, have been welcomed to the Transition Committee. Together with the committee they have been working on learning roles, responsibilities, and expectations.
  • All new members unable to attend the SRC orientation will be provided the information at the next subcommittee meeting in July.

Policy and Planning Committee:

  • Coordinated presentation with Graham Sisson.
  • Lindsey will be ending her term with SRC in December.

Workforce Development:

  • New member Miranda Harms welcomed in March.
  • Due to COVID-19 the committee has been focused on identify resources for individuals with disabilities affected by job loss and the effect stimulus money and hazard pay may have on persons receiving SSD and/or SSI benefits.  
  • Working on coordinating with Miranda Kennedy and Laurie Schaller representatives of ABLE accounts, for further resources and recommendations to see how we can share the suggested resources with the entire SRC.

Quality Assurance Improvement:

  • Reviewed the annual report on appeals process from 10/1/18-9/30/19, the summary of hearing decisions. 

4.2 Recommendations:  None at this time

Other Business:  None.

Next Meeting September 29 - 30, 2020


State Rehabilitation Council

The Council provides advice and support to The State Education Department’s Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) on behalf of people with disabilities and their families regarding the delivery of effective rehabilitation services that leads to employment for New Yorker's with disabilities.

State Council

Meeting Dates

The following meetings will be held virtually by zoom:
(Join the meeting via Zoom)

March 02-03, 2021
June 08-09, 2021

The following meetings will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn Albany Medical Center, 62 New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY  12208:

September 28-29, 2021
December 14-15, 2021

For confirmation of meeting dates or any additional information, contact (518) 486-7490.

Please note:  Interpreters are provided only upon request.  To request an interpreter or other accommodations, contact ACCES-VR as soon as possible at accessrc@nysed.gov  but no latter than 10 days prior to the meeting date.

Agenda for upcoming meeting

September 28-29, 2021