June 2022 Meeting Minutes

State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) June 7-8, 2022 Quarterly Meeting

Zoom/Phone Meeting

Topic/ Key Points

Day 1 Call to Order - Present: Joseph Delgado, Ellice Switzer, Diane Woodward, Jennifer Semonite, Hillary Nichols, Melinda Dolezal, Lorie Boyd, Peter Herrig, Alan Gallagher, Megan Brown, Naomi Brickel, Jenny Hutkowski, Anthony Morano, Evelyn Pugh, Robert Statham, Nancy Grant, Kathleen Grosvenor, Connie Glover, Linda Schramm, Alesia Simco, Julia Kelly, Andy Sink, Sebastian Chittilappilly, Valerie Carelli, Brenda Rotolo,

Excused Day 1:  Ceylane Meyers-Ruff, Pam Brehm-Bisaillon, Toni Sullivan

Absent Day 1: None

Guests/Public Day 1: None

Day 2 Call to Order - Present: Joseph Delgado, Ellice Switzer, Diane Woodward, Jennifer Semonite, Hillary Nichols, Melinda Dolezal, Lorie Boyd, Peter Herrig, Alan Gallagher, Megan Brown, Naomi Brickel, Jenny Hutkowski, Anthony Morano, Evelyn Pugh, Robert Statham, Nancy Grant, Kathleen Grosvenor, Connie Glover, Linda Schramm, Alesia Simco, Julia Kelly, Andy Sink, Sebastian Chittilappilly, Valerie Carelli, Brenda Rotolo,

Excused Day 2: Ceylane Meyers-Ruff, Pam Brehm-Bisaillon, Toni Sullivan, Brenda Shannon,

Absent Day 2: None

Guest/ Public Day 2: Joana Lisboa, Manager of Workforce Initiatives, CVS Health

Gregory Schmidt, Director of Workforce Initiatives, CVS Health

Review of the agenda: Ellice Switzer

Additional Agenda Items:

  • None

Review and approve March 8-9, 2022, minutes:

  • March 8-9, 2022, Minutes reviewed. No abstentions. Robert motioned to approved, Valerie seconded. All voted in favor of approval.

Public Comment

  • No public comment.

Membership Update: Lafayette Williams and Joseph Amadeo have resigned their positions on the SRC. Their work, dedication, and insights will be missed by SRC members – Thank you Lafayette and Joe.

Presentation – Guided Discussion: Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) in NYS

Ellice Switzer, Chair of SRC, provided an overview on Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) in New York State including:

  • The Federal regulations under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) on Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) to Students with Disabilities who are eligible or potentially eligible for VR services.
  • Reviewed the definitions of students with disabilities who are eligible or potentially eligible for ACCES-VR service
  • Reviewed the 5 required Pre-ETS (job exploration counseling, work-based learning experience, counseling on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or postsecondary education programs at institutes of higher education, workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living, instruction in self-advocacy).

A guided discussion on Pre-ETS services was led by the Chairpersons of the SRC subcommittees focusing on soliciting feedback and input from the SRC on:

  • What have you observed in your region and communities about how Pre-ETS have been implemented?
  • What have you observed that is working exceptionally well?
  • Can you identify partners and relationships that could be established or strengthened?
  • What ideas and suggestions do you have to increase opportunities to provide Pre-ETS to better effectuate reaching pockets of students that are traditionally underserved?

Subcommittee Chairs will compile feedback and input from their guided discussions and submit to SRC Chairperson. Feedback and recommendations will be shared with the SRC and ACCES-VR.

Initial feedback discussed included:

  • Referrals from ACCES-VR to vendors are thorough
  • Consider increasing education on ACCES-VR services, resources, and information on who can receive Pre-ETS to school staff
  • Consider outreach and education to alternative or home school associations, educators in the juvenile justice system, the foster care system and Northeast Parent and Child Society  

Interagency Reports:

Advisory Council on Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities:

  • The council did not meet.  Commissioner Rosa and Regent Cea continue their advocacy for persons with disabilities in postsecondary settings.

Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities (TRIAD):

Services Provided:

Since 1/1/2022 the TRAID Centers have provided:

  • 86 loans were made
  • 36 demonstrations completed
  • 56 devices purchased

Conferences, Partner Collaborations and Trainings:

  • TRAID participated in the “Getting the Winning Edge”, conference with Lorie Boyd Regional Workforce Development and Business Relations Coordinator ACCES-VR and Maureen Erickson from the Suffolk Independent Living Organization, and approximately 70 people attended.
  • TRAID will collaborate with NYS DOL and the New York State Systems Change and Inclusive Opportunities Network (SCION) and provide Assistive Technology training to Disability Resource Coordinators.
  • The TRAID Directors’ Meeting was held in April, with guest speakers from TechOWL (Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Program.) focusing on the 3D printing initiative.
    • Most TRAID Centers either have or are learning to use 3D printers to create small, customized devices including:
      • Keyguards
      • Styluses
      • Utensil grips
      • LAMP symbols – (Language Acquisition through Motor Planning)
  • TRAID director participated in Training & Accessibility Assistance Workgroup (TAG) with other Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state partners.
  • The Interagency Partnership on Assistive Technology will be meeting in July. They continue to look for new members.  Anyone interested in participating should contact Melinda Dolezal.
  • TRAID staff in Buffalo, Long Island, and NYC will be participating in “Get Outside and Get Together Day” on 6/11/22.

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

  • No Update

Satisfaction Survey Workgroup Update:

  • No update.

New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH):

Grants and Funding Opportunities:

  • Work Incentive Navigator funding through OMH’s Office of Consumer Affairs:
    • OMH provided a one-time targeted investment to train certified and credentialed Benefits & Work Incentives Navigators to provide services in OMH licensed, funded, and designated voluntary operated programs to improve consumer experiences and outcomes. The OMH Office of Consumer Affairs conducted a single question-and-answer session regarding this opportunity.
  • Certified & Credentialed Peer Specialists and Advocates:
    • A one-time targeted grant opportunity to expand the training and hiring of Certified & Credentialed Peer Specialists and Advocates in the workforce statewide through retention and recruitment to better provide evidenced-based peer services published in March.
      • Applications are coming in from licensed OMH providers with a focus on adopting ongoing Certified & Credentialed Peer workforce recruitment and retention strategies for peers being certified.  Awards will be based on funding eligibility/capacity in each area. It is anticipated these services will be incorporated into the New York Employment Services System (NYESS) statewide collaborative network.

Employment Workplan:

  • An enhanced focus on providing employment opportunities for individuals receiving services continues. Areas being concentrated on are:
    • Equipping all program types with their operational needs, organizing them by tiers to determine the level of training, technical assistance and policy requirements needed, and to establish accountability and expectations measures.
  • An enhanced focus on training and technical assistance resources will be allocated to support all work programs.
  • Continue to enhance the Work Incentives Navigator and Reports (WINR) portal
  • Continue work on the SCION (Systems Change and Innovative Opportunities Network)
  • Continue work with ACCES-VR on operationalizing Partnership Plus including:
    • NYESS and OMH partnership and ongoing coordination 
    • NYESS and OMH sharing data to operationalize Ticket-to-Work and Partnership Plus through Social Security Administration

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

  • No update

New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB):

Conferences, Partner Collaborations and Trainings:

  • The NYS Commission for the Blind hosted their in-person annual conference at Troy Hilton Garden Inn, approximately 120 people were in attendance.

Employment Workplan:

  • The Commission is in the process of updating their Compressive Services contract and trying to gather information learned from the pandemic regarding the need for a combination of some remote and in-person services. The anticipated target date for the new contract services is 2024

Staff Updates:

  • David Garcia has been appointed as the new Assistant Commissioner
  • Julie Hovey has been appointed as the new Associate Commissioner
  • Most district office positions have been backfilled and they are almost completely fully staffed

SRC Comment/questions:

Comment/Question:

How does the Commission provide and plan for Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)?

Response:

It is the State of NY’s allotment is not two separate allotments for ACCES-VR and the Commission. The Commission is required to spend their own 15% of a divided allocation provided to NYS.  The total between the two VR agencies is reported as one.  The Commission always strives to provide services to students and youth with disabilities and collaborates with ACCES-VR in identifying and serving individuals.

Comment/Question:

There seems to be a lot of people who are blind who end up in the OPWDD system.  Is there work going on between the two agencies?

Response: Yes, there are always collaborations and partnerships going on.  Sometimes when an individual is in the OPWDD system and is also blind, a determination was made by the individual or family that the person would be best served under the OPWDD service delivery system. 

If there are individuals who may not have participated in the conversation about which service delivery system would best serve the person, the Commission will take the referral and be happy to evaluate the best next steps.

New York State Office of Special Education:

At the March 2022 Board of Regents meeting, the Department presented proposed amendments to Commissioner’s Regulations regarding the replacement of the disability classification term "emotional disturbance” with “emotional disability.”  In April and May two public hearings were conducted. Written public comment period ended May 31.  It is expected feedback and possibly a proposed amendment will be brought to the Board of Regents in July.

New York State Department of Labor (DOL):

NY SCION - Systems Change and Innovative Opportunities Network program is going well. In way of background, the name SCION was selected purposefully because in the field of horticulture it means an off shoot of a plant or a graft that grows something new out of something old.  Many of the Disability Resource Coordinators (DRCs) have come from past employment initiatives and/or NYESS and are now taking their past good works and best practices and integrating into the new system change model.

Update on initiative:

  • 23 DRCs have been hired across the state
  • 29 Local Workforce Development Boards are participating.  The remining 6 are working toward hiring DRCs and it anticipated by the end of 2022 all will be hired.
  • Training for the newly hired DRC is wrapping up. Melinda Dolezal from TRAID partnered with the DOL to be a part of the training.
  • Best practices are being developed, regional and local cohorts are being established to support each other and share resources.
  • The website is in the process of being updated.

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

Staff Updates:

  • Lynne Thibdeau, previous Acting Director of Employment and Community Activities, has returned to OPWDD part-time as the State of the State Project Manager  

Initiatives and Goals:

  • Legislation passed and is waiting the Governor’s approval to provide OPWDD funding for a project to train businesses on hiring people with disabilities. Training is anticipated to include information on tax-credits, accommodations, and work incentives to assist human resource managers to promote diversity in their hiring. OPWWD will be looking to collaborate with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to learn about their projects and to learn best practices and curriculum.  A certification will be given to business upon completion of the training.

Strategic Planning:

  • Draft 2023-2027 Statewide Comprehensive Strategic Plan is in development with three overarching goals focusing on:
  1. Supporting people in person-center and innovative ways
  2. Strengthening the workforce, and
  3. Improving the service system across the state
  • Services relating to goal 1: Supporting people in person-centered ways:
    • OPWDD is looking for models for agencies to offer a full cadre of services including community based Pre-vocational, Pathways to Employment, Supported Employment, Employment Training Program (ETP) and include individuals who are currently in Day Habilitation programs.
      • There are Request for Proposals (RFP) in draft for designing and implementing the services
    • OPWDD is reviewing the settings rule for all program areas with a focus on Day Habilitation programs curriculum and transportation to provide additional opportunities for increasing independence. Financial incentives and administrative memorandums and regulations will be evaluated to facilitate the move toward community-based Day Habilitation.
  • Services relating to goal 2: Promote practices that support workforce and infrastructure
    • Developing management tools and practices to train and promote employee retention.
      Specifically for job developers and job coaches.
  • Services relating to goal 3: Advancing system change and innovation
    • Work continues on facilitating independence and inclusion by connecting people with services and moving toward employment.
    • Evaluating the OPWDD enrollment process and identifying any gaps in services and transition to ACCES-VR services, including potential streamlining around enrollment and evaluating to simplify processes. Stakeholder groups meet regularly to provide input.
    • An RFP is under consideration to allow agencies to partner with corporations and colleges to do short-term training and skill building leading to employment.

SRC Comment/questions:

Comment/Question:

Are there ways to fill gaps in training for OPWDD funded care managers?

Response:

Training is offered six (6) times a year by OPWDD on employment services through Eleversity. Care Coordination Organizations that employ the care managers have been offered the training curriculum to provide training in-house. Additionally, a Train-the-Trainer design has been utilized and the Statewide Learning Management System (SLMS) also has trainings for care managers

Follow up comment by SRC member:

County community service boards may be an avenue to assist in developing partnerships, education, and training with the care coordinators in your county. 

Comment/Question:

As the legislative initiate to provide training to business is rolled out will there be hiring incentives used by ACCES-VR?

Response:

This still needs to be determined, however a variety of options will be explored and evaluated.

Comment/Question:

Regarding the legislative initiative, the national SHRM launched a free certification for businesses funded through the Keslar Foundation for businesses, managers and recruiters called Employing Abilities at Work Certificate program,  SHRM membership is not required.  Additional resources from SHRM and resources to build inclusive workplaces.

ACCES updates:

Linda Schramm, Assistant Commissioner, and

Diane Woodward, Coordinator of Workforce Development Strategies

Linda reported that Ceylane is at the USA Special Olympics in Orlando, Florida.  This year New York sent the largest number of delegates to the Games. In attendance were 136 athletes, 54 coaches and support staff, and over 200 family members. The opening ceremonies are available on YouTube. 

Staffing Updates:

  • Marissa Boomhower has been appointed as the new Director of the Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision (BPSS).  Marissa was previously the Director of Adult Education
  • Interviews for the Director of Adult Education Director are currently under way
  • Theresa Fiacco has been appointed as the new Regional Coordinator for the Syracuse, Utica, and Southern Tier District Offices.
  • Angela Patella has been appointed as the new Regional Coordinator for the Mid-Hudson, Albany, and Malone District Offices.
  • Maria Vasquez has been appointed as the new Bronx District Office Manager.
  • Diane Woodward has been appointed as the Coordinator of Workforce Development Strategies.
  • Alisa Simco has been appointed as the new Manager of Service Delivery.
  • Dora Lee Stanley will be retiring from ACCES-VR. Transitioning her job duties and responsibilities are underway and will be reassigned to Central Office staff.

High School Equivalency:

The implementation of the GED exam continues with new test sites coming on board:

  • Since January 20, 2022, 516 GED accounts have been opened
  • 2,026 sub-tests have been taken
  • 735 individuals passed all 4 of the subtests
  • ACCES has received permission to receive a Volunteer to Services in America (VISTA) volunteer. VISTA was founded in 1965 and is an anti-poverty program designed to provide needed resources to nonprofit organizations and public agencies to increase their capacity to lift communities out of poverty.  The volunteer will create a report of best practice to increase NYS’ GED passage rates.
  • Governor Kathy Hochul has appointed Kim Hill as the State’s first Chief Disability Officer. Kim will facilitate the Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council (MISCC). 
  • New York State Budget Updates related to ACCES-VR:
    • Readers Aid received a funding increase of $706,00 bringing the total funding to $1 million dollars annually. This is much needed funding because the Readers Aid applications reimbursement to Higher Education have been exceeding the original $250,000 allotment.
    • Enhancing Supports to Students with Disabilities received continued finding of $2 million – No increase was included. These funds are distributed to colleges and universities through the Office of Higher Education.
    • Independent Living Centers received an increase in funding.  ACCES-VR is currently working on the contract amendments for distribution of funding.

Comment/Question:

Is there a possibility to get an SRC representative on the MISCC?

Response:

Three SRC members are currently member of the MISCC.

Follow up Comment/Question:

Can a MISCC update become part of the Interagency updates?

Response:

Linda and Diane will share the request for consideration to be part of the ACCES-VR update and Andy and Diane to provide the subcommittee on employment updates.  Ellice will add this to the interagency report list for September

ACCES-VR Updates:

WIOA Combined State Plan Modification Update:

  • The ACCES-VR section of the State Plan modification was submitted.  RSA requested a few revisions and those were made.
    • Thank you to the SRC for all the thoughtful input on the ACCES-VR section of the State Plan modification.

RSA Grant opportunity:

RSA provided states an opportunity to apply for the Disability Innovation Fund - Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment (SWTCIE) grant. This opportunity is being provided to support the implementation of Section 511 of WIOA and to reduce the entrance into subminimum wage employment.

  • ACCES-VR is proposing to partnership with the NYS Office of Special Education, Local Education Agencies, Cornell University, New York Association for Independent Living (NYAIL), San Diego State University Research Foundation-Interwork Institute (SDSURF-II), Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), The Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
  • A two-pronged approach will be utilized to provide more information and education to students with disabilities and families about Completive Integrated Employment, particularly customized employment.  Additional education and training will be provided to individuals currently in subminimum wage employment about options in new career paths in addition to customized employment.
  • Career paths specifically in Home and Community Based Services will be a focused option – personal care attendants and jobs in the arts.  However, personal choice will be honored, and all partners will work to assist individuals in finding work in all areas of competitive integrated employment. 
    • A personal care attendant academy modeled after a Direct Support Professional academy in Washington DC will be utilized to develop training.
    • The Kennedy Center will facilitate access to integrated and accessible work-based learning to students with disabilities in the form of paid internships  in the arts. 
  • The counties identified in the grant are Suffolk, Nassau, Cortland, Monroe, Wayne, and Erie.
  • Independent Living Centers (ILCs) in these counties will be partners and provide opportunities for customized employment and self-advocacy.
  • San Diego State will provide the training to ILCs on the provision of customized employment.

Comment/Question:

Is ACCES-VR focusing more on Home Health Aides or Personal Care Assistant positions?

Response:

ACCES-VR will be looking at this a training opportunity in personal care and then employment utilizing customized employment. RCM – Revitalizing Community Membership Empowering Independence, an organization out of Washington DC has a Direct Support Professional (DSP) Academy and will assist with the development of curriculum for the positions. A steering committee will be utilized to review, develop, and design curriculum.  

Comment/Question:

How will we be working with families and the Office of Special Education Parent Associations? 

Response:

The Office of Special Education and ACCES-VR will collaborate and work toward engaging families early and often  

Comment/Question:

Can individuals that were in subminimum wage work be involved in the pilot?

Response:

Individuals in subminimum wage employment in the targeted counties may be considered. This will need further exploration and OPWDD will help assist in the identification of individuals in their service system.

AWARE updates:

  • Communications to vendors and stakeholders are under development.
  • Testing the system and identifying training needs are underway.

Presentation - Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) Supported Employment Audit

Diane Woodward, Coordinator of Workforce Development Strategies

Background:

  • Records were reviewed for an audit period from April 2017-July 2021
  • OSC audit findings included timeliness of making eligibility determination, completing Individual Plans for Employment (IPEs) within 90 days of eligibility determination, content of IPEs, completing annual reviews of IPEs, and monitoring of the vocational rehabilitation program
  • ACCES-VR addressed most of the findings as part of the RSA corrective action plan implemented in 2019.  ACCES-VR is not in agreement with all findings and encourages all that read the OSC report also read ACCES-VR’s responses at the end.

Findings and ACCES-VR Responses:

Timeliness of eligibility determination and completion of the IPEs withing the required timelines:

  • Finding: In February of 2018 the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) conducted a monitoring visit where timeliness of eligibility determination and IPE development were findings.
  • Response: Strategies have been put in place since 2019 and ACCES-VR has met and exceeded the 90% timeliness requirement.  

IPE Content:

  • Finding: OSC auditors found the IPEs do not contain all the required information in sufficient detail.
  • Response: All required IPE elements and complete records were made available to the auditors, include electronic and paper files.  Only electronic portion of files were reviewed which is not a complete case file record. ACCES-VR’s has implemented internal controls to ensure consistency across 25 offices including not being able to finalize an IPE unless all elements are in place and standardization of some key elements such as due process and staying in contact with vocational rehabilitation counselor.

Program Monitoring/Program Evaluation:

  • Finding: Documentation was not provided to show the adequate monitoring of the ACCES-VR program and employment outcomes.
  • Response: The Quality Assurance Unit (QAU) reviews of District Offices and provides feedback on adherence to regulations, policies, procedures, and the delivery of services. In addition, QAU reviews vendors who provide services to ACCES-VR customers. A change in Federal Regulations from the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) shifts the focus from whether a customer has an employment outcome to measuring key indicators that measure long-term career achievement.

Presentation – CVS Health Workforce Initiatives:  

Joana Lisboa, Manager of Workforce Initiatives, CVS Health

Gregory Schmidt, Director of Workforce Initiatives, CVS Health

Lorie Boyd, IES, ACCES-VR

The presentation provided an overview and strategies on:

  • Developing traditionally untapped and underserved sources of talent
  • Connecting a diverse pipeline of employees with opportunities
  • Utilizing organizational partnerships to provide employment and training opportunities such as:
    • Simulated store training
    • Apprenticeship programs
    • Customized trainings
    • Extern and internship programs
    • Incumbent worker programs
    • On-the- job training programs and
    • Workforce Innovation and Talent Centers

SRC Business: Committee Reports:

Executive Committee Report:

  • Work continued for preparation of SRC quarterly meetings

Membership Committee:

  • Application process for new SRC members reviewed
    • Request for new member application sent in March with due date of April
    • Vacancies in underrepresented areas have been identified and membership is targeting outreach to fill vacancies
    • Interviews to be scheduled and recommendations for new members are anticipated for the September SRC quarterly meeting

Annual Report Committee:

  • Request for success stories and artwork applications are being revised and finalized.
  • It is anticipated these requests will be sent to the SRC and ACCES-VR distribution lists In August with a September return date.
  • Reminder to the SRC Chair to submit, “Letter from the Chair” for the annual report
  • Reminder to all committee members to be gathering their subcommittee work for submission

Business Engagement:

  • Worked on developing presentation for the upcoming year
  • Presentations under consideration – A presentation on an apprenticeship program in the Finger Lakes and a presentation by the Office of the Chief Disability Officer Kimberly Hill

Quality Assurance Improvement:

  • Reviewed the Office of State Comptroller report
  • Welcomed Connie Glover as the new Quality Assurance liaison to the SRC
  • Interested in reviewing the results of Participant, Provider and Youth Survey

Discussion of September/December Meetings: Location, Election of Officers

Officers to be nominated at September 2022 meeting.  Ballots for nominated officers to be distributed and members to vote on nominees at December 2022 meeting.  Ellice to put together a Google poll of members eligible for nomination to officer positions

4.2 Recommendations:  None.

Old Business:  None

Next Meeting September 14-15, 2022

Hilton Albany Medical Center

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

Next Meeting Date

December 6-7, 2022
Hilton Garden Inn, Albany Medical Center
62 New Scotland Ave.
Albany, NY 12208

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

coming soon