[nfbmi-talk] MEETING MINUTES - MICHIGAN COUNCIL FOR REHABILITATION SERVICES

Terry D. Eagle terrydeagle at yahoo.com
Sat May 30 12:11:32 UTC 2015


MICHIGAN COUNCIL FOR REHABILITATION SERVICES

3490 Belle Chase Way, Suite 110

Lansing, MI  48911

517.887.9370 or 877.335.9370

 


 

Business Meeting Minutes

MCRS Office, Lansing

Tuesday May 19, 2015

 

 

Members Present:  Ed Benning, Carol Bergquist, Sharon Bryant, Sara Grivetti,
Suzanne Howell (Department of Health and Human Services – Michigan
Rehabilitation Services DHHS-MRS), Deanna Middlebrooks, Caryn Pack Ivey,
Michael Poyma, Anne Riddering, Ed Rodgers (Department of Licensing and
Regulatory Affairs – Bureau of Services for Blind Persons LARA-BSBP), Brian
Sabourin, Mitch Tomlinson, Zach Tomlinson, Jennipher Wiebold.

 

Members Excused:  Trina Edmondson, Adam Kaplan.

 

Members Absent:  Sheryl Diamond. 

 

Guests Present:  Terry Eagle (National Federation of the Blind of Michigan),
Tina Fullerton (DHHS-MRS), Joe Harcz, Leamon Jones (LARA-BSBP), Lisa Kisiel
(LARA-BSBP), Gwen McNeal (LARA-BSBP), Mike Pemble (LARA-BSBP), Lydia Schuck.

 

Staff Present:  Marlene Malloy, Shori Teeple. 

 

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order by Council Chairperson C. Bergquist.  Roll
call determined that a quorum was present.  

 

Welcome & Introductions

C. Bergquist welcomed council members and guests.  Introductions were made.

 

Agenda

The draft agenda (May 19, 2015) was reviewed by the membership.  

 

A motion, made by S. Bryant and seconded by E. Benning, was passed to
approve the draft agenda as presented.

 

Minutes

The draft minutes (March 17, 2015) were reviewed by the membership.  

 

A motion, made by M. Tomlinson and seconded by C. Pack Ivey, was passed to
approve the draft minutes as presented.

 

Public Comment

The public comment statement was read aloud.

There was no one present to make public comment.

 

Executive Team (ET) Report

Conference Attendance

C. Bergquist and B. Sabourin shared overviews of their attendance and
participation in three April conferences in Bethesda, Maryland.  Events
included those for the National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils,
Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, and National
Council of State Agencies for the Blind.  It was reported that all of the
conferences were very good, with lots of opportunities for networking with
other state rehabilitation councils (SRCs) and vocational rehabilitation
(VR) professionals from around the country.  Many sessions focused on
updates and information about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
(WIOA), including public comment opportunities for the proposed regulations
during the 60-day period.  Successful Capitol Hill visits with legislators
and their staff in Washington D.C. were also described; Hill visits included
staff from BSBP (L. Kisiel and Shannon McVoy).

 

Celebration of 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Sponsorship

The Council will be providing a sponsorship for the September 17th statewide
ADA event at the Capitol.  The event will take place in September since
legislators will be in Lansing in September, as opposed to being on recess
on the ADA anniversary date in July.  

 

Another ADA celebration event planned for July 21st was announced, which
will take place at Eastern Market in Detroit.  Further discussion took place
about the Council’s next planned business meeting, with a suggestion for the
recently changed location of the BSBP Training Center for July 21st to be
changed again to the Eastern Market area, so that it will coincide with the
ADA event being held there.  It was stated that this change would be managed
with a motion and vote when the FY 2016 proposed meeting schedule is
discussed.

 

Michigan Commission for Blind Persons Report to the Governor

During their recent Strategic Planning session, the Executive Team (ET)
reviewed the final report as received from BSBP Director Rodgers.  Following
discussion, it was determined that next steps would be on hold until the
Commission receives a response to the report from the Governor.

 

Strategic Planning Session Overview

The ET met recently in-person for a full-day session, which included
revision of the Strategic Plan, discussion about the Council’s role in
working with the Designated State Units (DSUs) and new requirements for
WIOA, and review of and support for the proposed FY 2016 Budget and
supporting documents.  The need was also discussed for the Council to draft
comments for WIOA regulations to be finalized and presented during the
public comment period.  A question was asked about whether specifics for the
Council’s comments have been determined.  Based on discussions with other
SRCs nationwide, an explanation was provided for wanting to make comments
about CSPD (Comprehensive System of Personnel Development), i.e.
professional counselor credentialing, as well as other aspects.  

 

ET Minutes

The proposed Final ET Minutes for February 10, February 24, and March 11,
2015 were reviewed.

 

A motion, made by B. Sabourin and seconded by E. Benning, was passed to
accept and place on file the final ET minutes as presented.

 

FY 2016 Business Meeting Schedule

The proposed Final Draft of the FY 2016 Business Meeting Schedule was
reviewed.  A motion was made by M. Tomlinson and seconded by D. Middlebrooks
to approve the Meeting Schedule as presented.  Discussion took place and
changes were proposed in a friendly amendment for the November 17, 2015
business meeting to be held at the BSBP Training Center.

 

A friendly amendment, made by A. Riddering and seconded by M. Tomlinson, was
passed to change the November 17, 2015 Business Meeting location to the BSBP
Training Center as presented.

 

Based on previous discussion about the Council holding its July business
meeting in Detroit, an amendment to the FY 2015 Meeting Schedule was
discussed.

 

A motion, made by M. Tomlinson and seconded by M. Poyma, was passed to amend
the FY 2015 Business Meeting Schedule to change the location for the July
21, 2015 MCRS Business Meeting to the Eastern Market area in Detroit to
coincide with the ADA Celebration as presented.

 

A motion, made by M. Tomlinson and seconded by S. Bryant, was passed to
approve the FY 2016 Business Meeting Schedule as amended.

 

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Regulations Comment Period

Members discussed the opportunity for WIOA Regulations Comments to be
prepared by the ET and submitted on behalf of the membership.  An ad hoc
work team was suggested for the membership to have the opportunity to review
the regulations and provide input into the comments on behalf of the
Council.  It was agreed that a work team will be convened and draft
comments, along with a draft position, will be authored.

 

A motion, made by E. Benning and seconded by M. Tomlinson, was passed to
approve WIOA Regulations Comments to be prepared by an ad hoc work team,
with a draft position created for review, as amended.

 

MCRS Strategic Plan Updates

Proposed updates to the current FY 2014-2015 Strategic Plan were reviewed.
Updates included components of the Council’s oversight of WIOA
implementation for both DSUs, as well as definitions for transition youth as
outlined in WIOA.

 

A motion, made by M. Tomlinson and seconded by B. Sabourin, was passed to
approve the updated FY 2014-2015 Strategic Plan as presented.

 

Financial Operations

Members reviewed the Financial Statements for February and March 2015.  

 

A motion, made by B. Sabourin and seconded by D. Middlebrooks, was passed to
accept and place on file the Financial Statements for February and March
2015 as presented.

 

Members reviewed the proposed budget documents for FY 2016 as prepared by
the ET. Following a question about whether FY 2016 funds have been reduced
from the current year, an explanation was provided that the budget request
is the same that it has been for the past 2 years.  With an additional
$20,000 carried forward into this year’s budget to be specifically used for
statewide focus groups for MRS, budget lines at this point may appear
underspent.  Once focus groups are implemented, the monies will be spent.  

 

A motion, made by A. Riddering and seconded by M. Tomlinson, was passed to
approve the FY 2016 Budget Documents (Resource Plan, Narrative Budget Line
Items, and Budget) as presented.

 

Customer Service System Issues - Brian Sabourin, Vice Chair

Client Assistance Program (CAP) – B. Sabourin 

A written report was included in meeting packets.  A question was asked why
at least two issues being managed by CAP about Centers for Independent
Living (CILs) were not indicated in the report.  In response, it was stated
that since the cases are not yet closed, they do not appear in the report.  

 

DHHS-MRS Administrative Hearings Manager

A written report was included in meeting packets.  From the report, it was
noted that appeals are way down from past years.  

 

Overview - Partner Reports

A written SILC report was included in meeting packets.  

 

Update - Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs – Bureau of Services
for Blind Persons (LARA-BSBP):  Ed Rodgers, BSBP Director

A copy of plans for the recent BSBP Reorganization has been forwarded to the
Council.  Time was spent evaluating the bureau and areas of strengths and
challenges, with a decision made for a functional reorganization to take
place.  Essential functions were changed with L. Jones becoming the Division
Director for Independent Living, Older Blind, and Youth Low Vision.  A new
Rehabilitation Services Director will be hired, with L. Kisiel as Acting
Director until the position is filled.  Another position will be filled for
a permanent Director for the Business Enterprise Program (BEP).  Positions
will be posted nationally as well as through the Michigan Civil Service
website.   

 

Recently the legislature indicated its intention to eliminate some pockets
of general funds that lack match or supporting grants, including the Youth
Low Vision Program, which buys equipment/glasses for youth who are in
school.  Through clarification of how the program operates, the legislature
determined it would not eliminate the program.

 

A recent article in the Lansing State Journal was referenced, which
highlighted the successes of a BEP Operator, Roxanna Mann, as well as the
BEP program itself.

 

The BSBP Training Center is moving forward with its mini-sessions and plans
for the summer youth program.  

 

An overview was provided about the Library for the Blind and the services
provided.

 

Report of the Executive Director (ED):  M. Malloy

A written staff report was included in meeting packets.  S. Teeple was
additionally acknowledged and thanked for all of her efforts in assembling
all materials for the recent Capitol Hill visits.  Overviews were also
provided for the current status of planning for the focus groups.  

 

Advisory Work Team Reports

Customer Experience (CE) – M. Poyma (Chair)

A CE Work Team Highlights document and final CE minutes (February 26, 2015
and March 17, 2015) were included in meeting packets.  The Team continues to
make progress in the development and strengthening of the DSU Dashboards,
which represent data for federally mandated requirements.  Additional work
focused on managing topics related to customer satisfaction surveys as well
as the work of the focus groups.  

 

A motion, made by M. Tomlinson and seconded by C. Pack Ivey, was passed to
accept and place on file the final Customer Experience minutes as presented.

 

Regulatory Guidance (RG) - A. Riddering (Chair)

A Highlights document and final RG minutes (January 20, 2015 and February
17, 2015) were included in meeting packets.  Topics covered during meetings
included changes in regulations for WIOA, updating the Council’s Annual
Activity Calendar, drafting Attachment 4.2(c) for the State Plans for FY
2017, resignation of a work team member from the Council, and also
submission of the FY 2014 Annual Report.  Another outcome included drafting
a letter to the Chair of the BSBP Advisory Commission’s Chair requesting a
copy of their final report that was submitted to the Governor.  

 

A motion, made by A. Riddering and seconded by S. Bryant, was passed to
accept and place on file the final Regulatory Guidance minutes as presented.

 

Focus Groups (FG) (C. Bergquist and T. Edmondson (Co-Chairs)

A Highlights document as well as final and draft minutes were included in
meeting packets.  An overview was provided for plans in progress for
conducting statewide focus groups with MRS customers, including those shared
with CILs, transition youth, and vendors statewide.

 

Public Comment

The public comment statement was read aloud.

 

Joe Harcz

“All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to remain silent.”
--Martin Luther King.  I’ve documented major systemic fraud, waste and abuse
by these agencies, and I repeat, documented.  I have the evidence of it.  I
have the evidence of wide-scale, mass discrimination against the blind.
Ladies and gentlemen, take a look at this, oh, I can’t see it either, print,
from the DSU (Designated State Unit), image based files, image based files
that a blind person can’t read related to my own records.  Look at the CAP
(Client Assistance Program) report ladies and gentlemen where they don’t
even give a legally blind BEP (Business Enterprise Program) Operator a test
in large print.  This is the agency for the blind.  We talk about the
Americans with Disabilities Act celebration?  There isn’t a single agency in
this state government that is accessible to the 200,000 blind people,
including BSBP.  BSBP also discriminates in hiring practices against blind
people.  Haven’t hired at least one single student assistant who is blind.
Oh, by the way, how’s that Business Assistance and Development Program going
that’s been touted huh?  That just goes
 Hello?  Hello?  Well I got
interrupted on this end.  I hope that doesn’t go against my time.  OK, I got
interrupted again on there because somebody joined.  I hope that doesn’t go
against my time.  I’ve submitted to you Ms. Malloy documentation which are
not even disputed of violations of the False Statements Act, which is
criminal violation.  And it isn’t just to me ladies and gentlemen, it is to
the entire population of people who are blind.  (Phone connection lost)

 

Lydia Schuck

Hi, this is Lydia Schuck.  I was at your meeting a couple months ago and I’m
not able to be there today, but I’m hoping that you have in front of you a
sheet that has a table of data about transition aged youth in Michigan’s
vocational rehabilitation system.  I think Marlene can tell you if she was
able to give that to you.  Before you see that, just to tell you that the
average, for about the last four years, Michigan and transition aged youth,
that’s ages 14-24, in both agencies, the general agency and the agency for
the blind, are, it’s covering around 60% of closures are closed without
employment.  One of those is, one of the people that was closed with
employment was not competitively employed, so there’s not a big difference
here between competitive and non-competitive, it’s 60% of our transition
aged young adults cases are being closed with them being unemployed.  Do you
have that data in front of you yet?  I wanted to point some things out for
you.  I took this out of the RSA (Rehabilitation Services Administration)
911 data that’s available open access online.  I just wanted to point out a
few things to you.  My intention here is not to compare the general agency
and the agency for the blind, because they flip around, one is higher, one
is lower, each year of how many youth are leaving employed, but it’s always
hanging around 60% are unemployed.  The things I did want to show you is
that the amount of time, and I’m looking toward the WIOA (Workforce
Innovation and Opportunity Act) regulations changing and both agencies
needing to spend 50% of their budgets on services to students of transition
age, which is ages 14-24.  If you look at some things here, for one thing,
the BSBP reaches out to youth at a much younger age than does MRS.  You can
see that under the column called ‘Average Time Served’.  In the blind
agency, those who are not employed are served 83 ½ months, and in MRS they
are served 25.8 months.  That’s not a
 the difference in numbers is not that
important to me.  The difference is that it denotes a different philosophy
of service.  It appears that the agency for the blind is opening cases much
much earlier and leaving them open longer, and I commend them because I know
that they get hassled about having cases open too long.  So what this means
is that the leadership has encouraged them to just go ahead and get kids
signed up and keep them enrolled and keep them coming to programs.  I also
know that the agency for the blind has programs for youth where youth meet
their peers and get ready for college, and youth in the general agency
aren’t needing to go to special programs to meet their peers, they meet them
in school.  So there’s a difference there in the needs of the youth, but it
really is a different philosophy, based partly on the agency differences and
partly on the difference in disabilities.  So a youth who’s not blind would
have other opportunities and maybe wouldn’t bother to open a case, even if
someone came and found them.  Another thing that’s interesting to note about
the data, I should just read you the raw data there, so in the BSBP, 64.37%
of the youth were closed ‘Not Employed’ in FY 2013 and at MRS is was 57.41%
and there’s some specific numbers there, of course the BEP numbers, I mean
BSBP numbers, are much smaller.  The other thing to note in that data is the
number of cases that were closed after eligibility was determined.  Now,
when, I’m not going to be able to go into this very deeply I guess, but the
MRS ones, almost 1,200 students are closing after eligibility.  They may
reopen later in the year, they may not.  In the blindness figures, it would
appear that they are not reopening, because I don’t know how they could come
up with 83 months of services if people were closing and opening cases all
the time.  But what I found out in other states through my work with the
NSTTAC (National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center is that
often people will put their students’ names on a waiting list, and when
their name comes to the list, that student opens a case.  Once they are
determined eligible, they close the case, and then when they need services,
they already have a case established.  It’s pretty handy.  It does skew the
statistics because it could be that every student, if that’s happening with
MRS, it could be that every student is opening two cases in a year, so
that’s something to be aware of too.  I’d be happy to come back.  I really
wanted to share with you this data and thank you very much.

 

Terry Eagle

Hello, I’m Terry Eagle and I am with the National Federation of the Blind
here in Lansing.  I have spoken on Public Comment one other time without any
follow-up being done on my comments.  This is just one other opportunity I’m
taking to bring concerns to the Council in addition to the many other
activities I’m taking to get some action on stuff that isn’t being acted on.
First of all, let me comment on the comments by Mr. Rodgers earlier.  He
seems to minimize the comments that Joe Harcz and I others make at Public
Comment about programs and services that are supposed to serve blind people.
He forgets to mention to you and to other forums that many of the activities
that they are doing are illegal and are being used to help their sighted
friends and family and lovers.  The BEP Program is a great program.  It
provided a great, tremendous income for me for 10 years and I look forward
to receiving my state retirement in a few years.  But the problem is the
management of BEP and the management of the Bureau has not done anything
within BEP to help blind people, especially within the last 3 years since, 2
½ or so years, since Mr. Rodgers took over the Bureau.  There are sighted
people running locations that are intended for blind people, unemployed and
underemployed.  Just recently, just last month for a fact, a state employee
within the Bureau, earning $104,000 a year was laid off supposedly because
of a reorganization and given a location that he shouldn’t have been given
because he was already employed, and he still is employed as an unemployed
state civil servant.  Their website indicates that if he’s laid off he’s
still eligible as an employee.  So, jobs are not going to blind people like
they should within BEP, the operators and licensees are not being trained
the way they are.  Joe commented on the lack of accessibility for even tests
within the BEP training and there’s many many problems.  The hearing system
is basically non-functional, dysfunctional, because a person can’t get
materials, notices for hearings and documents, in accessible formats.  So
the BEP is just going down the tubes quickly.  The other thing, and the main
thing I wanted to really comment on today, is about the Directive 2014-1.
Recently, Lieutenant Governor Calley and Supreme Court Justice Richard
Bernstein went around the state touting this new directive to state agencies
having to do with hiring of persons with dis-abilities, and yet they have no
clue because nobody has reached out to the blind  community especially, to
my knowledge, having to deal with the barriers to state employment.  For
example, step #1 in getting a job with the state, the website for making a
job application, as of January 1st or the beginning of the year, because of
updates you can’t even make an application if you’re a screen reader user.
Then, in the past, if you got an application and you were called, for
example by the Bureau, for an interview, you didn’t get hired.  They’re not
committed to hiring persons with disabilities, and especially our experience
is, persons with blindness.  What needs to happen in this state is that
consumers need to be involved, and nobody, including this Council, has
reached out to include consumer groups and persons who are affected by these
policies.  So that’s the sum and total.  We’ve tried to work with MPAS
(Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service), cases are closed because
individuals can’t read their IPE (Individual Plan for Employment) and refuse
to sign it, so the Bureau has closed cases because a person has refused to
sign an inaccessible IPE.  MPAS won’t do anything for us.  Both Joe Harcz
and I have worked with Mark McWilliams and others at MPAS and they haven’t
done a darn thing for us.  So we’re gonna take our issues to the legislature
and to the courts.  Thank you.

 

Joe Harcz (Public Comment resumed)

I have sent this stuff out in writing to the Executive Director, to RSA, to
the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), to you name it, to Brian, to Michigan
Protection and Advocacy Service. I’ve got copious documentation.  I don’t
make assertions without documentation and evidence.  Each time I ask for
information, accessible information, and get responded to with a lunatic
FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) response, I’m up to a million dollars
folks, a million dollars.  By any reasonable standard, that is abusive,
abusive and in violation of openness and transparency.  I still haven’t
gotten my own complete file in a fully accessible format, which Brian has
witnessed.  It’s sitting right next to me.  I’ve got image-based documents;
I can’t read them, my screen reader can’t read them.  Everybody can read our
stuff except for us.  And that doesn’t just happen to me folks, that happens
to everybody.  People talk about data points and numbers; the numbers are
rummied, they are rigged, they are false, they are not even disputed in
response from Ms. Malloy, my allegations of fraud and false statements
violations.  Now, if people think that I’m just making this up, or think I’m
making libelous, slanderous, or defamatory comments, then I suggest they sue
me, because the ultimate defense against those allegations is the truth.  I
tell the truth.  The point about the abuse too that goes on in this
organization, BSBP in particular, goes to the cackles of Mr. Rodgers and
others when I announce myself as an advocate and a whistleblower and a
watchdog.  This agency is supposed to be about liberating people who are
blind, not turning us into data points and just putting us in the cattle car
for abuse.  Thank you.

 

Advisory Work Team Reports (Resumed)

Focus Groups (FG)

Members resumed discussion for the work team minutes (final FG minutes
(February 24, 2015 and March 9, 2015) and draft FG minutes (March 23, 2015).

 

A motion, made by M. Tomlinson and seconded by D. Middlebrooks, was passed
to accept and place on file the final Focus Groups minutes as presented.

 

A motion, made by M. Tomlinson and seconded by S. Bryant, was passed to
approve the draft Focus Groups minutes as presented.

 

Update - Department of Health and Human Services – Michigan Rehabilitation
Services (DHHS-MRS):  Suzanne Howell, MRS Director

CSAVR and White House visits

S. Howell attended the April CSAVR Conference in Bethesda, as well as a
White House activity that allowed for breakout sessions and opportunities
for VR State Directors to provide feedback to the Obama Administration
regarding WIOA.  During conversations, Michigan was commended for its
innovation in providing VR services to customers, working with
Employers/Business Services, Employee Resource Coordinators, and working
together with BSBP and the Workforce System to manage requirements for the
newly required Unified State Plan.  Conversations also took place with the
RSA Commissioner, Janet LaBreck.  

 

Working Differently

The MRS Executive Team is now managing work teams with a Project Manager
Approach, where each member is expected to turn in monthly reports.  MCRS
Members will be asked to join MRS Work Teams in an open and transparent
effort to provide more opportunities for involvement with MRS.  The MCRS
Executive Director has been asked to join S. Howell in providing overviews
from Council Members on MRS Work Teams in order to bring back information
and work together on a more macro level, rather than direct involvement on
work teams.  The MRS Policy Cadre was provided as an example, with Member S.
Bryant requested to exclusively represent the Council on the work team.
Additionally, a MCRS Member will be asked to join the MRS Strategic Planning
Committee.  M. Tomlinson is presently already on the committee.

 

Staffing

Within the past 16 months, 91 staff have been hired at MRS.  With staff
retirements and other vacancies, the net addition of staff will equal about
36-40 staff.  MRS is currently budgeted for 500 staff; at this time, MRS has
436 staff with 41 in process.  

 

Meetings with Lieutenant Governor Calley

During recent meetings with the Lt. Governor, he has shared how extremely
committed he is to getting State of Michigan Departments oriented and having
cultural changes in competencies with regard to hiring people with
disabilities.  MRS will be starting meetings and activities to move this
initiative forward, bringing BSBP into the discussions.  As partners in the
statewide VR programs, MRS wants to assure that plans in progress will work
for both BSBP and MRS.  

 

The Lt. Governor continues to be committed to the Hidden Talent Tours, but
plans are moving forward to change the tour format, with input from BSBP.
Along with Governor Snyder, he is also planning another event for the end of
June in collaboration with OHR (Office of Human Resources), anticipating
involvement again with BSBP.

 

Opportunities for Increasing Match

Appreciation was expressed to TDN (The Disability Network) Michigan, S.
Grivetti and the CIL Directors, who have made an offer to MRS to help look
at ways to increase match resources.

 

Budget - T. Fullerton, MRS Deputy Division Director

Recent data for Performance Indicators as reported to RSA was shared, with
MRS either meeting or exceeding Indicators at this time, with the exception
of the Adjusted Rehab Rate.  However, with the Adjusted Rehab Rate being off
by merely 1/10 of 1%, they are on track for meeting that soon.  The Adjusted
Rehab Rate was defined as when customers get to the IPE (Individual Plan for
Employment), and then end up employed.  The Performance Indicators will
change with WIOA implementation.

 

The RSA 113 Report results will be forwarded to the membership.

 

The current VR budget was discussed, including specifics for the Federal
Title I allotment, Case Services, and requirements for match in order to
capture the full Federal amount.  Match funds include state appropriations,
Interagency Cash Transfer Agreements, donations, DHHS Programming, and other
sources.

 

New ways in which the MRS budget has been, and will continue to be, affected
by WIOA requirements were discussed.

 

A question was asked about federal funds that are not able to be matched.
In response, it was stated that those funds are returned to RSA and
ultimately distributed to VR programs in other states/territories that
request additional funds.

 

The Resource Allocation Model (RAM) used for distribution of funds was
described, as well as resources for transition youth and other funding
details related to match challenges for the DSUs.  

 

Regarding Purchased Service Providers, MRS utilizes them through staff
arrangements with Community Rehabilitation Organizations (CROs) and Centers
for Independent Living (CILs).  Numbers for these staff have gone down
recently due to more MRS staff being hired.

 

There have not been changes for Supported Employment with new WIOA
requirements, since MRS has had enough carry forward money that can be used
through the end of this fiscal year.

 

MCRS Reports on Designated State Unit Work Team Involvement

MRS Idea Stream - S. Teeple

Progress made by the work team was provided, including the ongoing
management of new and in progress ideas from MRS staff through the new
SharePoint site.  S. Howell attended last week’s meeting and provided input
for future ideas for campaign topics, statewide visits to district offices,
and encouragement for marketing the team to all staff.

 

MRS Marketing - M. Malloy

Overviews were provided of work team focuses, which include input to the
redesign and updates for MRS brochures, marketing MRS in local communities
via Marketing Champions, and the collection of customer success stories.

 

MRS Online Orientation - M. Malloy

Overviews were provided for the current status of redesign of the MRS Online
Orientation project, led by Kate Marsh (MRS Counselor).  They have a due
date of July 2015 for the final product to be posted to the MRS website.  

 

MRS Policy Cadre - S. Bryant

Overviews were provided for the main topics that the recently reassembled,
large group will be focused on.  The Cadre includes MRS staff representation
from all districts, including B. Sabourin from CAP and S. Bryant from the
Council.  Priorities based on Administrative, Field Staff, and Customer
Services perspectives were described, along with the need for policy changes
due to new WIOA requirements.

 

State Plan - M. Malloy

Outcomes from the recent first meeting of the MRS State Plan Work Team were
reviewed.  Within the next few weeks, the first BSBP State Plan meeting will
be attended.

 

BSBP Vocational Rehabilitation Services Overview - L. Kisiel (LARA-BSBP)

Highlights were shared from a powerpoint presentation about BSBP and its
services.  The powerpoint may be accessed via the MCRS website:
http://www.mcrs13.org/meetings#minutes .  Definitions of legal blindness
were shared, along overviews of and details for the following BSBP programs:
Vocational Rehabilitation, Youth Low Vision, Summer Programming, BSBP
Training Center, Business Enterprise Program (BEP), Independent Living, and
Library Services for the Blind.

 

At this time, BSBP is doing well with regard to their budget.  They expect
to meet match requirements, with 7 million in carry forward.  Budget details
were further described.

 

For staffing, BSBP currently has 113 full-time employees.  There are current
and anticipated vacancies later this summer that will eventually be
refilled.

 

Clarifications were made for the 15% reference for transition (15% of
federal allotment that is unmatched), as well as other new requirements for
WIOA.

 

Following a description of the 85%/15% formula for distribution of federal
funds to the General (MRS) and Blind (BSBP) agencies respectively, a
question was asked for the how that equation originated.  In response, it
was stated that BSBP (as the previous Michigan Commission for the Blind -
MCB) used to receive 12% of federal funds, but that the previous state
director worked with the legislature and previous MRS director to change
that appropriation.  Acquiring the Braille and Talking Book Library was also
an advantage for the Blind Agency, since the library is state funded and
assists with match.

 

Overviews were provided about the BEP, including legislation that started
the program and how BEP operators manage vending machines in rest stops and
state buildings.  A question was asked whether BEP vending machines have to
be owned and operated by persons who are visually impaired or blind, or do
the majority of employees of BEP operators have to be visually impaired or
blind.  In response, it was stated that there is nothing in the legislation
that requires the blind vendors to hire staff that are blind.  Of
approximately 60 current BEP operators, who have about 100 employees, they
only have 3 employees with disabilities.  This issue has been addressed with
the BEP operators but has not resulted in more employees with disabilities.

 

Positive personal experiences of accessing VR services through Michigan’s
blind VR programs were shared.  Member E. Benning also shared positive
experiences that his son had with MCB/BSBP over the years, including
assistance with visual assessments and utilizing the Training Center and
Braille and Talking Book Library. 

 

Adjournment

There was no further business for discussion.

 

A motion, made by C. Pack Ivey and seconded by S. Bryant, was passed to
adjourn the meeting.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 3:17 p.m.

 

NEXT BUSINESS MEETING: 

Tuesday July 21, 2015

Detroit, location to be determined

 

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