[nfbmi-talk] Fw: extremely important mcrs meeting minutes

Lydia Anne Schuck lydia.a.schuck at wmich.edu
Wed Nov 11 17:14:15 UTC 2015

I was at the meeting.  They are very different from Commission Board meetings, much more machinelike, little sense of stakeholder participation.


----- Original Message -----
From: David Robinson via nfbmi-talk <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
To: NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Cc: David Robinson <drob1946 at gmail.com>
Sent: Tue, 10 Nov 2015 15:44:03 -0500 (EST)
Subject: [nfbmi-talk] Fw: extremely important mcrs meeting minutes

----- Original Message ----- 
From: joe harcz Comcast 
To: terry Eagle 
Cc: Mark Eagle ; David Robinson NFB MI ; Sidhu,Mehgan ; Michael Steinberg ACLU ; Eleanor Canter ; Darma Canter ; Laura Hall ; Clark Goodrich ; jfroyal2000 . 
Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 11:44 AM
Subject: extremely important mcrs meeting minutes

This is extremely important for all on several counts. First note the public event and state sponsorship was noted relative to the ADA celebration in Lansing. Secondly note the comments of Sarah Gravetti made in the public record concerning the protest.


Also note this MCRS is run by MARO and Mitch Tomlinson from Peckham is on the MCRS Board, thus he is a state actor as well as all those on the MCRS.


Finally and especially for blind folks note the open admission that Michigan web sites are not accessible to the blind as “they are working on it”.


I missed this meeting because I was working on the protest and also working on making the event accessible…Guess that didn’t work out  that well as we PWD were literally barricaded from even attending and even accessing the booths and event let alone handing out leaflets and other rights under the First and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution


Joe Harcz






            ACTION ITEM








3490 Belle Chase Way, Suite 110

Lansing, MI  48911

517.887.9370 or 877.335.9370



Business Meeting Minutes

MCRS Office, Lansing

Tuesday September 15, 2015



Members Present:  Ed Benning, Sharon Bryant, Sheryl Diamond, Trina Edmondson, 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:  Carol Bergquist, Adam Kaplan. 


Guests Present:  Tina Fullerton (DHHS-MRS), Lisa Kisiel (LARA-BSBP), Sue Luzenski (LARA-BSBP), Shannon McVoy (LARA-BSBP), Lydia Schuck, Star Turner, Cynthia Wright (DHHS-MRS).


Staff Present:  Marlene Malloy, Shori Teeple. 


Call to Order

The meeting was called to order by Council Vice Chairperson B. Sabourin.  Roll call determined that a quorum was present.  


Welcome & Introductions

B. Sabourin welcomed Council members and guests.  Introductions were made.



The draft agenda (September 15, 2015) was reviewed by the membership.  


A motion, made by T. Edmondson and seconded by J. Wiebold, was passed to approve the draft agenda as presented.



The draft minutes (July 21, 2015) were reviewed by the membership.  


A motion, made by M. Poyma and seconded by A. Riddering, was passed to approve the draft minutes as presented.


Public Comment

The public comment statement was read aloud.  There was no one present for public



Executive Team (ET) Report

Members and guests were reminded of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act celebration and MCRS sponsorship on the Capitol Lawn in Lansing on Thursday September 17th from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  The MCRS will have a table at the event with members and staff in attendance.  Everyone is welcome to attend.


An update was provided for progress made in drafting a proposal to BSBP for conducting a Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSS) project in FY 2016.  Final details are in progress and the final proposal will be submitted to BSBP within the next couple of weeks.


The proposed Final ET Minutes for June 15, July 14, and August 11, 2015 were reviewed.


A motion, made by D. Middlebrooks and seconded by J. Wiebold, was passed to accept and place on file the final ET minutes as presented.


Financial Operations

Members reviewed the Financial Statement for July 2015.  


A motion, made by A. Riddering and seconded by D. Middlebrooks, was passed to accept and place on file the Financial Statement for July 2015 as presented.


Updates were provided for the status of the Council’s FY 2016 funding from the Designated State Units (DSUs).  A 6-month budget from MRS has already been approved, with the 2nd 6-month budget proposal to be submitted soon.  The BSBP budget will be adjusted in the event that the CSS proposal is accepted and implemented.


ET Election – A. Riddering (Chair)

An overview of the election process was provided.  


A motion, made by B. Sabourin and seconded by A. Riddering, was passed to open the nomination process to create a slate of five candidates for the Executive Team.



Members reviewed the slate of candidates for the FY 2016-2017 ET Election:  B. Sabourin for Chair, C. Bergquist for Past Chair, A. Riddering for Vice Chair, M. Poyma for Member at Large, with one vacancy for a second Member at Large.  The following members removed their names from the slate of candidates for the Member at Large vacancy:  T. Edmondson, D. Middlebrooks, and S. Grivetti.  The following nominations were made for the vacant Member at Large position:  S. Grivetti nominated S. Bryant, nomination accepted; B. Sabourin nominated C. Pack Ivey, nomination accepted.  Members voted for the Member at Large vacancy and C. Pack Ivey was elected.


A motion, made by S. Bryant and seconded by T. Edmondson, was passed to approve the slate of candidates as nominated (B. Sabourin, Chairperson; C. Bergquist, Past Chair; A. Riddering, Vice Chair; M. Poyma and C. Pack Ivey, Members at Large) for the FY 2016-2017 ET Election.


Customer Service System Issues - Brian Sabourin, Vice Chair

Client Assistance Program (CAP) – B. Sabourin 

A written report was included in meeting packets.  An overview was provided of recent visits to Community Rehabilitation Organizations around the state.


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

Accessibility for State Web Pages

BSBP has been working with the Department of Transportation, Management and Budget (DTMB) over the past year to make all state web pages more accessible to persons with blindness.  30 of the most visited state web pages are currently being prioritized.


Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

L. Kisiel and S. McVoy, BSBP Managers, are involved in all workgroups for WIOA in coordination with MRS and others


Library of Congress Awards

Michigan’s Braille and Talking Book Library was named #1 in the nation with a Library of Congress Award.  Recognition for Library of the Year was acknowledged at a banquet in Washington D.C.  BSBP is very proud of Sue Chinault, Library Director, and the rest of the Library’s staff for all the work they do.  


Business Enterprise Program (BEP)

The new BEP Director will be announced soon.  


Employment Feedback/Engagement

Under the leadership of Mike Zimmer and LARA, BSBP has made a strong movement to be involved in employment feedback and engagement.  BSBP is creating several employee-only committees to work on updates to forms, another for community outreach, and others.  


Employer Placements

A list of employers who have accepted placements of 1 or more BSBP clients for employment was reviewed.  The list of employers includes Michigan State University, the Boston Red Sox baseball team, Wayne County Community College, Spartan Stores, Portage Public Schools, Library Tax Services, Internal Revenue Service, and others.


Honor Roll Awards

BSBP is looking forward to the MCRS hosting its annual Honor Roll Awards event on Friday October 16th in Lansing.  It is a great opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of consumers, staff, and community partners.


Case Closures

There have so far been 141 successful case closures and another 91 individuals in employed status.


Advisory Work Team Reports

Customer Experience (CE) – M. Malloy

A CE Work Team Highlights document was included in meeting packets.  Discussions have focused on follow-up from the recent Lansing and Muskegon customer focus groups.  Themes will be identified, including successes and challenges, with reports to be drafted.


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

A RG Work Team Highlights document was included in meeting packets.  The team has been focused on the DSU State Plans for FY 2017-2020, distribution of the FY 2014 Annual Report, and work to be completed for the current FY 2015 Annual Report.  A theme for the report has been identified and DSU Directors will be contacted soon with requests for letters and FY data.  The BSBP CSS project discussion continues with a draft proposal in progress.


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

A written staff report was included in meeting packets.  MRS Customer focus groups were conducted in Muskegon last week, with plans to hold focus groups in Traverse City, Marquette, and Ann Arbor before the end of September.  Assistance from MRS staff in those districts for facilitating mailings to customers has been outstanding.  A request to the membership was made for consideration of some of the CE Work Team members to join the RG Work Team, since the numbers need to be more balanced.


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

DHHS-MRS Administrative Hearings Manager Report

An updated report was not included in meeting packets since there have been no changes since the last business meeting.  So far in FY 2015, MRS has had 17 appeals as compared to two years ago when MRS had already had received a total of 74 appeals.  There has also been a drastic reduction in the number of customer complaints that have been received.  These changes are due in large part to the swift and thorough responses from managers and other field staff in working to resolve issues successfully before they go to appeal.


FY 2015 Match Shortfall

After re-allotment in July, the shortfall equaled 1.8 million, which was a return of 6.7 million to Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) in August, which was less than last year.  The projection for FY 2016 will be based on different scenarios based on in-progress projects.  



MRS is at around 90% of their rehabilitation goal for placements.


Staffing and Vacancies

MRS is currently allocated for 526 positions, but is only budgeted for 505 positions.  5 of those positions are limited term appointments and contingent on collaborative funding with DHHS.  MRS currently has 438 active full-time employees and 3 on medical leave.  Counseling, Supervision/Management, and Rehabilitation Assistant positions to be filled are currently in process.  


113 Report to RSA

The Adjusted Rehabilitation Rate has been consistent at 57%, which is very good for MRS and can be likely attributed to Motivational Interviewing and increases in counselor staffing.  The minimum federal requirement is around 55%.  Most Significant and Significant Disability classifications are at 88%, with only 6% of caseloads include individuals without significant disabilities.  MRS is close to 90% of obtaining goals for application and eligibility statuses.


Highlights were provided for 4 initiatives that MRS continues to work on:  Swift and Sure, Adjudicated Youth, Project Search, and Pathways to Potential.  MRS receives state general funds for these initiatives to help draw down federal funds.  T. Fullerton was thanked for her outstanding work on and management of these programs.


Business Services

With the Governor’s Business to Business Summit being handed off to Lt. Governor Calley, MRS has been meeting with the Lt. Governor every couple of weeks to work to determine how the Summit will move forward.  A committee will be established of primarily businesses, which will establish conferences and workshops for businesses that are fully involved with vocational rehabilitation.  Peer mentors for other businesses will be identified.  MRS is also working with Civil Service to develop an online 30-minute training session for Civil Service to look more at hiring people with disabilities as well as full accessibility of the Civil Service hiring process.  MRS will be meeting with 22 state departments to discuss their hiring processes and long-term planning.  MRS expects that BSBP will be fully involved in this process.  Lt. Governor Calley is looking for public VR to be a leader and role model in helping other state departments to more accessible and inclusive.


Initiatives were discussed for the development of customized applicant pools and working with Peckham and Meijer.  E. Benning commented about their Disability Works Committee that met recently.  Their conversations included many similar topics that were just discussed regarding connections with Peckham and Meijer, with transportation to not be a barrier in filling jobs.  S. Howell thanked him for his outstanding coordination efforts for transportation needs.


S. McVoy added that BSBP welcomes the opportunity to partner with MRS on the initiatives, especially for input regarding individuals who are blind.  In response, S. Howell restated that they MRS has consistently worked to make sure that BSBP is involved in all of the activities as the initiatives move forward.


S. Grivetti asked a question about wage requirements and candidates for Peckham.  In response, all jobs will be at Meijer stores and required to pay more than $10 per hour.


Public Comment

The public comment statement was read aloud.


Lydia Schuck

Hi, I’m Lydia Schuck.  I’m a Transition Specialist and I have an adult daughter who is blind and has a number of other disabilities.  She won’t partake of a lot of the things that I’m interested in supporting. I mean she doesn’t fit the things that I’m interested in supporting, so I don’t do this for her.  I do it because having this child I’ve become aware of broad needs.  I just want to bring your attention to the transition information that’s on the BSBP website.  I haven’t looked at MRS, but I just did a study of 10 states’ websites to look at what kind of information is available for parents of transition age youth who are blind or visually impaired.  What I was looking for was to see if there were documents that a teacher could download and take to an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting or that a parent could download there.  If all they had was words on a page and a parent would have to take a screen shot, I considered that inaccessible because the teacher couldn’t take that document to a meeting and hand it to a visually impaired adult to read if the parent was visually impaired.  So, in looking for that I found out that we have a little bit of information about transition on our website.  Some states have absolutely nothing. Some states have quite a bit and we could really improve.  I know the information isn’t there that parents want.  Our transition brochure that’s on the website, the paper version, is dated 2005, so that means no changes.  In 2007 I attended a meeting and said ‘by the way, this says that students are graduating ready to work’ and I don’t think that’s the experience of most kids and parents.  So I really would like to see that reassessed.  There is an FAQ (frequently asked questions) section that’s only about the Youth/Low Vision Program, which is mainly providing glasses and scopes to kids, which is good information, but I think it really needs some obvious information documents that can be downloaded and handed to a parent at an IEP meeting because they don’t know what they’re working with.  Also, a new rehab counselor might like to have something really specific to take to a meeting and the teachers too, the newer teachers know really little about partnering with rehab, so you could help them a lot by just having a very simple document that details the process, but also a lot more than that, timelines and procedures and things like that are really helpful too.  I also want to point out that the BEP (Business Enterprise Program) is a great source of jobs for blind people, and I really think we should be drawing the attention of younger people to that.  They should know about, all kids graduating from high school who are going to be clients of the Bureau (BSBP) should know about, the BEP program, because there is a great opportunity there to learn all kinds of skills in merchandising, and they may not want to run a cafeteria or a vending program, but they can learn all the skills they would need to run a small business, so I really want to encourage us to try to pull down and give more exposure to the Business Enterprise Program.  I have been told anecdotally that there is a lot, at least a fair amount, of interest among young people in Michigan to do the shadowing opportunities that the Commission (BSBP) already provides, by shadowing BEP operators, so I’m glad to hear that there are students who want to shadow them.  I want you to hire me too.  I want you to hire me as a contractor to pull together a program for you.  I’m going to talk to Lisa about that later, but all I’m saying is I think we can do a lot with what we have and that it would meet the requirements of WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) and would give us a way to spend the money we’re required to spend while building up programs that already exist at the agency.  So, thank you for all you do.  I have known a lot of you for a long time and my daughter is almost 23 so I have been in the system for a while.  Thank you very much.


Comments about ADA Celebration at the Capitol - S. Grivetti

A statement was shared about the ADA event that will take place on the Capitol Lawn in Lansing on Thursday September 17, 2015.  It was stated that as a result of allegations recently made in the news about subcontractors and other Michigan organizations that support sub-minimum wage, keynote speaker Kelly Buckland (Executive Director for the National Council on Independent Living) cancelled his appearance at the event.  A protest has also been planned for the event, which will be led by Susan Fitzmaurice and Eleanor Cantor.  The membership was encouraged to stand together and move forward with the sponsorship for and attendance at the event in support of the ADA celebration.


MCRS Reports on Designated State Unit Work Team Involvement

MRS Idea Stream - S. Teeple

Highlights were shared of the team’s ongoing progress with review and implementation of ideas submitted from MRS staff to improve the MRS system and its services to customers.  Recent participation also included an in-person presentation to staff in MRS’ Eastern District about Idea Stream and how staff can continue to submit ideas and help improve the agency statewide.


MRS Marketing - M. Malloy

Recent meetings have focused on staff requests submitted via Idea Stream for marketing information and other tools to use during communications with employers.  Champion Award event (October 14th) planning needs also continue to be in progress.


MRS Policy Cadre - S. Bryant

An in-person meeting was held last month in August, which focused on policy and issues that are impacting service delivery.  Topics included use of assistance for benefits planning for people receiving Social Security, the use of IChat (the ability to view someone’s record), and changes that have resulted from WIOA including the elimination of extended evaluations and a focus on trial work experiences.  The new application for services was also discussed, with revisions still in progress.  In the future, the Cadre will revisit the College Training Policy.  


State Plan - B. Sabourin

Attachment 4.2(c) for both DSUs will be finalized soon and submitted to the DSU Directors for their responses and inclusion in the FY 2017-2020 State Plans.


BSBP and MRS Overviews of Pre-Employment Transition Services (PETS) in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) - Shannon McVoy (BSBP) and Cynthia Wright (MRS)

Highlights were shared from a powerpoint presentation about DSU overviews of PETS requirements in WIOA.  The powerpoint may be accessed via the MCRS website:  http://www.mcrs13.org/meetings#minutes .  


Overviews were shared for trends in WIOA that are focused on expanded roles for VR in providing transition services.  Topics included increased coordination and collaboration with education, research-based practices with youth (i.e. work-based learning experiences, paid or unpaid), movement away from segregated settings, and increased emphasis toward community integrated settings.  Other trends included increased post-secondary success, limits of sub-minimum wage, and increased collaboration and involvement with businesses and between/among workforce partners/agencies, and increased data collection for accountability.


WIOA continues to be a work in progress.  While many requirements were expected to be implemented immediately upon enactment of the law in July 2014, many questions still remain.  A WIOA Implementation Team has been established that BSBP and MRS are involved in to review and analyze the law, conduct research with other states, attending state leadership team meetings, and review and enhancements of the respective DSU case management systems for new WIOA requirements.  MRS has arranged for staff trainings for WIOA requirements and 1-pager documents have been created to help educate partners and others.  A WIOA timeline was described, new definitions of transition youth were defined, and PETS categories and Services to Groups were outlined.  The requirements for 15% of total budget allotment were discussed, as well as pilots that are in progress to develop systems to track funds, services, and time spent coordinating/providing services. 


With regard to the new requirement for opening cases at age 14, a question was asked about whether they have had any projections about this will impact caseload sizes and movement within cases.  In response, because WIOA does not come with additional funds and MRS is not able to hire more staff, it might require a shift in staff which could require a lot of time.  With minimal guidance from RSA, MRS doesn’t anticipate limiting services but instead will need to become more systematically savvy in how they serve all customers.  Everyone will need to become more proficient in VR with understanding how they need to make changes to the rehab process, from application to case closure.  With so many layers in the process, it will take time to realign to meet all of the requirements.


Another question was asked whether MRS will actually be opening cases with 14-year olds and how will they pay for them.  In response, yes, they could via services to groups and other solution-focused methods to be determined in order to meet the specific needs of each individual.  


A question was asked how Special Education at the local level will know that they should be referring youth to public VR agencies.  In response, communication and coordinated efforts will need to improve between Special Education and public VR.  An update may also be in order for an update to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which has not been updated for 9 years.


A question was asked about what a family could be told tomorrow about what VR/MRS is prepared to do to provide services to customers, especially considering how local match agreements tend to impact services to customers based on the absence or presence of the agreements.  In response, MRS is prepared to provide the VR services as mandated under the law, including those required under the new PETS requirements in WIOA.  Following the statewide pilots, staff training for WIOA will be ongoing, and counselors and staff will continue to incorporate working with this new age group into their caseloads.  With the final regulations still pending, they don’t want to write and finalize new policies, train staff to those, and then have to rewrite policies once the final regulations are posted.


Another question was asked whether the DSUs are expected by RSA to fully implement WIOA without the final regulations.  In response, at this time they are being held to the 15% allotment and doing what they can to proceed with implementing the new requirements even though the regulations haven’t been finalized.  It was stated that some states are doing very little to move forward with implementing the PETS and other new requirements until the final regulations are published.



There was no further business for discussion.


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


The meeting was adjourned at 2:40 p.m.



Tuesday November 17, 2015

11:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

BSBP Training Center - 1541 Oakland Drive - Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008


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