March 2021 Meeting Minutes

State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) March 02-03, 2021 Quarterly Meeting

Zoom/Phone meeting

Topic/ Key Points

Call to Order (Roll Call-In Person):  Ceylane Meyers-Ruff, Joseph Delgado, Gregory Lau, Ellice Switzer, Susan Scheer, Diane Woodward, Jennifer Semonite, David Morgan, Sebastian Chittilappilly, Hillary Nichols, Melinda Dolezal, Lorie Boyd, Peter Herrig, Alan Gallagher, Miranda Harms, Megan Brown, Naomi Brickel, Jennifer Machucki, Jenny Hutkowski, Joseph Amodeo, Nancy Grant, Toni Sullivan, Chana Meir, Anthony Morano, Kathleen Grosvenor, Valarie Gambino-Carelli, Evelyn Pugh, Robert Statham, Andrew Sink, Brenda Shannon

Excused: Laura Hartmann, Lynne Thibdeau

Guests/Public: Alesia Simco

Review of the agenda: Ellice Switzer

Additional Agenda Items:

  • None

Review and approve minutes:

  • December 08-09, 2020 minutes reviewed.  No abstentions.  All voted in favor of approval.

Public Comment

  • No public comment noted.

New member introduction:

  • Brenda Shannon, representative of Client Assistance Program (CAP) was introduced as a new member of the SRC.
  • Andrew Sink, representative of the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) was introduced as a new member of the SRC.

Updates from ACCES-VR - Ceylane Meyers-Ruff, ACCES Deputy Commissioner

Staff Update

  • ACCES-VR’s offices have remained open for staff during the pandemic and staff continue to work an alternate schedule with days in the office and other days working remotely.   Since the beginning of the pandemic, ACCES-VR offices have not been open to the public.  A plan to reopen the offices to the public in 2021 is currently being developed.
  • Priorities for ACCES-VR remain:
    • Continuing to ensure vocational rehabilitation staff have the technology needed to provide services remotely
    • Continuing compliance with the timely determination of eligibility and development of Individual Plans for Employment (IPEs)
    • Finance staff continuing to process payments to vendors
    • Increasing the documentation of Measurable Skills Gain (MSG) that have been achieved
  • ACCES-VR continues to work toward backfilling positions and addressing staff attrition due to retirements.
  • The State Education Department (SED) will be providing staff training on implicit bias
    • ACCES-VR is in the process of establishing a diversity, inclusion and equity committee
  • Referrals and applications for ACCES-VR services:
    • Applications for services are down impacting referrals to all ACCES-VR vendors.
      Pre-COVID-19, 60% of ACCES-VR applicants were individuals under the age of 24 and predominately apply for services in the Spring.  It is anticipated that applications will increase again in the Spring of 2021.     
    • It is anticipated that the long-term health effects of COVID-19 and unemployment will increase the number of applications in the future.

State Budget Update

  • The 20% withhold for vendors’ contracts paid for with State funds is not a budget cut and the money will be restored.
    • The NYS Division t of Budget is in the final approval process to start processing State-funded payments through ACCES-VR and it is anticipated they will be distributed by the end of the State fiscal year (3/30). Independent Living Centers and adult extended supported employment services are the programs that are impacted as they receive State funds.
  • Governor’s proposed budget includes a:
    • $500,000 reduction in funding for Independent Living Centers
    • A potential $1.5 million dollar decrease for Adult Literacy

Board of Regents Proposals and Request to the Legislature

  • The Board of Regents budget t priorities related to ACCES include funding request for:
    • Enhanced supports and services for students with disabilities in postsecondary education
    • Promoting digital equity and literacy
    • Bridge to College and Career Pilot – Proposal for out-of-school youth and adults to obtain basic skills, high school diploma, industry recognized credentials, and to pursue postsecondary education and careers

Readers Aid

  • The Readers Aid Program provides funding each academic year to participating institutions of higher education to help to meet the costs of note-takers, reader and/or interpreter services.  Legislation passed two years ago increased funding for Readers Aid from $1,000 per student to $7,00 per student.The legislation also made Board of Proprietary School Supervision (BPSS) schools eligible for Readers Aid funds

Board of Proprietary Schools Supervision (BPSS)

  • BPSS over sees 330 career, vocational and 29 English as a second language schools
  • During NY Pause some BPSS schools’ training was approved to be provided remotely

High School Equivalency Test Assessing Secondary Completion (HSE/TASC)

  • The current contract administering the program ends December 2021
  • Tests were temporarily suspended due to NY Pause but are now being offered

SRC Member Discussion and Questions about the ACCES-VR Update

  • Question:
    • How are Measurable Skills Gains (MSGs) assessed and who determines what a Measurable Skills Gain is?
  • Response:
    • ACCES-VR’s federal oversight, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) determines the criteria for a Measurable Skills Gain.  
  • Question:
    • Is it possible to have a presentation on Measurable Skills Gains?
  • Response:
    • The Policy Planning subcommittee will request the guest speaker presenting at the June quarterly meeting provide information on Measurable Skills Gains.
  • Question:
    • Will ACCES-VR be putting out another Request for Proposal (RFP) for vendors to provide pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) to Potentially Eligible students?
  • Response:
    • Work has begun on developing targeted RFPs to address gaps in the delivery of Pre-ETS to potentially eligible students.
  • Question:
    • Are there multiple graduation paths for students with disabilities?
  • Response:
    • Yes, in NYS there are multiple paths to a diploma for students both with and without disabilities.  For additional information please see Diploma Resources.

SRC Subcommittee- Business Engagement

Discussion of Vendor Data and Solution-Focused Actions

SRC recommendations and comments on vendor data report to increase applications:

  • Recommendation:
    • A request that updated data on number of applications received be provided.
  • Response:
    • Data can be provided to measure trends in applications
  • Recommendation:
    • SRC is considering solution-focused recommendations to increase role of underutilized vendors in the intake process
  • Response:
    • This vendor service is provided via contracts.  Any additional services provided by a vendor require contract amendments through the Department of Budget.
  •  Recommendation:
    • A recommendation to consider utilizing provider associations to inform vendors that ACCES- VR is accepting applications and providing services was made.
  • Response:
    • Regular meetings are held with the provider associations and they are aware that ACCES-VR is accepting applications both online and by mail.
  • Recommendation:
    • A recommendation to consider increasing the Independent Living Centers’ (ILCs) role in informing people of ACCES-VR services was made.
  • Response:
    • ACCES-VR agrees partnering with Independent Living Centers is helpful.
  • Recommendation:
    • A recommendation to consider engaging Workforce Development Boards in providing information on ACCES-VR was made.
  • Response:
    • ACCES-VR is currently engaging the Workforce Development Boards in exploring and creating opportunities and is also in discussion with numerous State agencies and the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development to increase opportunities to partner.
  • Recommendation:
    • A recommendation on re-engaging with schools as a resource for transitioning students was made.
  • Response:
    • ACCES-VR has been working with schools and we recognize that during the COVID-19 pandemic schools were challenged with multiple priorities.  Work will continue with schools to assist in providing resources and services to students with disabilities.

Recommendation and Discussion of Subcommittee Structure

Committee Structure Proposal:

  • The consensus within the Executive Committee:
    • The following three subcommittees should exist as standing committees:
      • Annual Report
      • Quality Assurance and Improvement
      • Membership
  • The Executive Committee proposes the Policy and Planning Committee become an ad hoc committee that reviews policies, when needed, and leverages the specific areas of expertise within the SRC membership based on the policy in need of review.
  • Additional subcommittees proposed:
    • Business Engagement subcommittee
    • WIOA Priorities subcommittee
    • Comprehensive Needs Assessment subcommittee
  • SRC Chair will compile recommendations by the full council and review at the April Executive Committee meeting
    • A subcommittee charter will be established with the expectation that subcommittee chairs create a yearly work plan and calendar of tasks

New Member Orientation - SRC Chair Ellice Switzer, Co-Vice Chair Joe Delgado, Co-Vice Chair Susan Scheer and SRC Liaison Jennifer Semonite 

  • SRC Mission and Vision
  • SRC Roles and Responsibilities
  • Stakeholders Composition of Council
  • Guiding Principles
  • What is a 4.2 Recommendation?
  • History of Vocational Rehabilitation

Overview of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the NYS Combined State Plan-Diane Woodward, Manager Policy, Training and WIOA Implementation Units

  • Purpose of WIOA in aligning the workforce development system with education, training and economic development
  • WIOA State Plan requirements
    • States are required to develop a four-year plan. New York has a Combined State Plan effective 2020-2024.
    • Two-year modifications and updates are required and will be completed in 2022
    • Identified the New York State WIOA Combined State Plan Partners
    • Goals of the 2020 WIOA Combined State Plan
    • ACCES-VR section of New York State Combined State Plan and its priorities

ACCES-VR Departments and Services Overview Videos

  • Jim Barron - District Office Administration
  • Ray Pierce - Service Delivery
  • Alesia Simco – Transition and Youth Services
  • Joe Tedesco – Independent Living Councils (ILCs) and Business Relations

Presentation - Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) for Potentially Eligible Students with Disabilities - Alesia Simco, Manager Transition and Youth Service Unit

  • Overview:
    • Services provided to potentially eligible students with disabilities
    • The basic processes involved in serving this population
  • Definitions of student and youth with a disability
  • Who is eligible for Potentially Eligible pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS)
  • Who provides Pre-ETS to potentially eligible students with a disability?
  • Five required Pre-ETS that may be provided
    • Job Exploration Counseling
    • Work-Based Learning Experiences
    • Counseling on Postsecondary Options
    • Workplace Readiness Training
    • Instruction in Self-Advocacy

Interagency Reports:

Advisory Council on Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities:

  • Information was provided from the Advisory Council to the Board of Regents discussing the impact of COVID-19 on postsecondary students with disabilities.  
  • Recommendations on strategies to improve the postsecondary success of students with disabilities were made including:
    • Technology and digital accessibility to improve virtual learning and access to materials through universal design
    • Peer Mentoring to increase students understanding of supports they need, how to self-advocate and request reasonable accommodations. 
    • Consistency with applying for and receiving accommodations

Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities (TRIAD):

  • The Rochester and NYC centers have begun to provide in-person, walk-in services
  • New Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is being develop between TRIAD and ACCES-VR
  • New Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are being developed
  • Remote services and trainings have been ongoing. Long Island ACCES-VR counselors were provided information and training on TRIAD services
  • Information on the 2020 TRAID/ACCES-VR device totals were provided to the SRC
    • 237 loans were made, an increase in loans from 2019 to 2020
      • Types of loans made were for:
        • Decision making - 82
        • Individuals waiting for funding – 40
        • Individuals needing a short-term accommodation – 87
        • Devices for training purposes – 28
  • 67 device demonstrations were provided
  • 21 open-ended loans of 34 devices were made for a $21,558.67 savings
  • 882 devices were purchased
  • TRAID Advisory Council (IPAT) has reconvened

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

  • CAP continues to provide advocacy services remotely
  • Committee on Advancing Racial Equality (C.A.R.E.) has been established

New York State Office of Mental Health (NYS OMH):

  • An update on the New York Employment Services System (NYESS) was provided. NYESS is a comprehensive employment system which provide all New Yorkers with a single point to access for employment-related services and supports. Efforts have increased to better use data from NYSESS in partnership with the Department of Labor to increase employment outcomes.
  • The Office of Mental Health has increased their focus on employment as part of all its adult programs

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

  • Lafayette Williams will be appointed to the SRC for an ongoing term effective April 01, 2021 as the representative of New York State Independent Living Council (NYSILC)

New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB):

  • The Commission is working with the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) on a corrective action for the provision of pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) to Potentially Eligible students with disabilities.
  • The Commission works with youth, families, and school districts to facilitate the coordination of appropriate transition services.
  • TRAID and the Commission are working closely together to provide technology to individuals
  • Staff are now working a hybrid model of telecommuting and working in the office and are providing some in-person services in the community
  • Applications for services continue to be accepted.

New York State Education Department’s Office of Special Education (NYSED OSE):

  • The New York State Education Department (NYSED) requested an assessment waiver from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) because the Department determined the Spring 2021 State assessments cannot be safely, equitably, and fairly administered to all students across the State due to the severity of the pandemic’s impact on the delivery of instruction to students which also adversely affected students’ social and emotional well-being.
    • The Department believes that school instructional time would be best focused on supporting students in academics as well as social-emotional health rather than attempting to administer assessments to the limited population of students who are receiving in-person instruction.
    • On February 22, 2021 USDE sent a letter to all states indicating USDE will not approve a blanket waiver for state assessments. As a result, NYSED announced that it would “propose a series of regulatory amendments at the March Board of Regents meeting so Regents Exams would not be required to meet graduation requirements and to cancel any Regents Exam that is not required by USDE to be held.”
  • The next NYS Board of Regents meeting is scheduled for March 15-16.
  • Further information can be found by accessing: Regents Exams Required by USDE to be Offered in June / August

New York State Department of Labor (DOL):

  • No update

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

  • No update

Executive Committee Report:

  • Work continued revising the current committee structure

Membership Committee:

  • Recommendation was made this be a standing committee and play a larger role in the onboarding of new members.

Transition Committee:

  • New members have joined the transition committee and work around providing guidance on the subcommittee’s body of work the was presented to them

Policy and Planning Committee:

  • Work on identifying and attaining a speaker for the June 2021 quarterly meeting: 
    ​It was decided the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Quality Management (VRTAC-QM) provide the SRC a:
    • Very high-level overview of the RSA-911 to inform SRC members on ACCES-VR Federal reporting requirements including
      • What is the RSA-911
      • What are the metrics used under WIOA
      • What are state vocational rehabilitation agencies accountable for reporting
    • How is ACCES-VR’s reporting related to its section of the NYS WIOA Combined State Plan
    • Are there areas of ACCES-VR’s reporting that may assist the SRC to provide recommendations for ACCES-VR’s section of the NYS WIOA Combined State Plan, service delivery and/or policy recommendations
    • What are RSA’s Other Measures that Matter and how is this different from the current reporting?
    • Are there data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and service delivery related to adults and students with disabilities?

Workforce Development:

  • Work continued on committee restructuring recommendations

Quality Assurance Improvement:

  • Work continued on committee restructuring recommendations
  • Subcommittee discussed what data would be helpful in providing ACCES-VR with guidance and advisement on ACCES-VR’s priorities in its section of the NYS WIOA Combined State Plan Specifically Priority 3:  To improve the quality of ACCES-VR services
  • 4.2 Recommendations:  None at this time

Participant, Provider and Youth Survey Workgroup:

  • The draft Transition and Youth Survey is in the last stages of finalization
  • The drafts of Participant and Provider Surveys have been finalized and under final review
  • The use of Yak Chat was discussed and is under review
  • Next meeting Friday March 05, 2021

Old Business: 

  • None

Next Meeting June 08-09, 2021

This meeting will be held via Zoom

 

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