PENNSYLVANIA COUNCIL. Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council

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1 Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council PENNSYLVANIA R E H A B I L I TAT I O N COUNCIL 1902 Market Street Camp Hill, PA ANNUAL REPORT FISCAL YEAR (Voice) (TTY) Submitted to: The Pennsylvania Legislature The Rehabilitation Services Administration Tom Corbett, Governor of Pennsylvania The State Board of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation The Pa Workforce Investment Board In compliance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. Production of the Annual Report is supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Contract # Printed on Recycled Paper The Mission of the Council is: To inform and advise the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the State Board of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Governor on the diverse issues affecting vocational rehabilitation.

2 This report covers the activities of the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council (PaRC) for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2012 and ending September 30, Alternate formats and additional copies are available upon request. Contact: Pennsylvania Rehabilitation council Support Project 1902 Market Street Camp Hill, PA (Voice) (TTY) Current and past reports are also available on the PaRC web site Pennsylvania State Law requires the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) publish an annual program report on a different time line than this product. Therefore, traditionally, the PaRC does not include OVR data in its report. The OVR Program report may be requested from: Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation 1521 N. 6 th Street Harrisburg, PA COVER PHOTO From Left to Right -- Passle Helminski & her service dog; W.D.Chrisner, III, Steve Suroviec; Maureen Westcott; Charles Giambrone; Jane Erdo; Fred Wright; Lee Lippi; James Noschese; and Zainab Jama

3 Table of Contents PaRC Members...2 Letter from the PaRC Chair for Council Responsibilities under the Rehabilitation Act...4 What We ve Accomplished PaRC Federal Position Papers PaRC State Position Papers Letter from the PaRC Chair for Responsibilities and Goals for 2014 by Committee PaRC Standard of Expectations PaRC Appointment Request Form Meeting Schedule for Calendar Year

4 Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council Members (including Category of Representation) Stephen Suroviec, Ex-Officio OVR Josie Badger Young Adult Bill Chrisner Blind and Visual Disabilities Jane Erdo IDEA Charles Giambrone (Chairperson) Current/Former OVR Customer Passle Helminski (Executive Committee) Cognitive Disabilities Zainab Jama Statewide Independent Living Council Lee Lippi (Executive Committee) Client Assistance Program William Murphy (Executive Committee) Department of Education James Noschese Deaf and Hard of Hearing Disabilities Donna Partin Business Kenn Tuckey State Workforce Investment Board Maureen Westcott (Executive Committee) Intellectual Disabilities Anthony Williams (Executive Committee) General Advocate Frederick Wright - Labor 2 Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council

5 Letter from the PaRC Chair for Letter from the PaRC Chair for Dear Fellow Pennsylvanians, Governor Corbett, Secretary Hearthway, RSA Commissioner LaBreck, OVR State Board Members and OVR Executive and Administrative Staff, Dear Fellow Pennsylvanians, Governor Corbett, Secretary Hearthway, RSA Commissioner LaBreck, OVR State Board The PaRC is pleased to present Fiscal Year 2013 s Annual Report. The Council has been very active this past year. We Members and OVR Executive and Administrative Staff, are looking forward to continuing the work set before us this coming year. The PaRC is pleased to present Fiscal Year 2013 s Annual Report. The Council has been very active this past year. We It has been an honor to have been elected to serve as the Chair by the members of the Pennsylvania State Rehabilitation are looking forward to continuing the work set before us this coming year. Council. In my second term as Chair, we were asked to review many vocational and internal policies to improve and make program services available to eligible customers of Vocational Rehabilitation. It has been an honor to have been elected to serve as the Chair by the members of the Pennsylvania State Rehabilitation Council. In my second term as Chair, we were asked to review many vocational and internal policies to improve and The Council has invested more time and resources into the reviewing and development of the policy suggestions for the make program services available to eligible customers of Vocational Rehabilitation. Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) during the past year. As all these policies effect the customer s eligibility or ineligibility, and the services they receive from OVR, the council and OVR were able to work and compromise on the The Council has invested more time and resources into the reviewing and development of the policy suggestions for the issues to best meet the needs of OVR customers seeking employment with the current fiscal realities. Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) during the past year. As all these policies effect the customer s eligibility or ineligibility, and the services they receive from OVR, the council and OVR were able to work and compromise on the Working through the fiscal constraints of the coming year the council will be lead by newly elected Chair, Mr. Bill Chrisner, issues to best meet the needs of OVR customers seeking employment with the current fiscal realities. who is well versed in and a champion of Independent Living and employment for persons with disabilities. Mr. Chrisner and the PaRC will continue to address the issues important to Pennsylvanians with disabilities seeking employment. It is Working through the fiscal constraints of the coming year the council will be lead by newly elected Chair, Mr. Bill Chrisner, the council s goal along with OVR to ensure that individual seeking employment will continue to receive the highest quality who is well versed in and a champion of Independent Living and employment for persons with disabilities. Mr. Chrisner rehabilitation services. and the PaRC will continue to address the issues important to Pennsylvanians with disabilities seeking employment. It is the council s goal along with OVR to ensure that individual seeking employment will continue to receive the highest quality A special gratitude is extended to the Vocational Rehabilitation administration and the staff from Central Office and the rehabilitation services. local district satellite offices for their support of their local Citizen Advisory Councils (CAC) members. The Rehabilitation council views the local CAC councils as crucial to knowing the local districts unique issues regarding employment. To A special gratitude is extended to the Vocational Rehabilitation administration and the staff from Central Office and the support the CACs, the council has worked with OVR staff to update the CAC handbook, started including CAC information local district satellite offices for their support of their local Citizen Advisory Councils (CAC) members. The Rehabilitation on the Council s website, and held a public forum in Pittsburgh on Supported Employment to learn about roadblocks to council views the local CAC councils as crucial to knowing the local districts unique issues regarding employment. To employment in their area. support the CACs, the council has worked with OVR staff to update the CAC handbook, started including CAC information on the Council s website, and held a public forum in Pittsburgh on Supported Employment to learn about roadblocks to Also, this past year the council and OVR staff have worked on joining their customer satisfaction surveys. Questions have employment in their area. been added to the OVR survey that the council seeks information from customers on to fulfill their mandate. The council will also continue to seek customer input from their web based customer satisfaction survey at their website Also, this past year the council and OVR staff have worked on joining their customer satisfaction surveys. Questions have been added to the OVR survey that the council seeks information from customers on to fulfill their mandate. The council will also continue to seek customer input from their web based customer satisfaction survey at their website The State Rehabilitation Council has continued its initiative to collaborate with other related resources and disability partners that affect the outcomes of successful placement within the work forces for individuals with disabilities. This effort continues as we reach out to vested partners in the private and public sectors that can help create more The State Rehabilitation Council has continued its initiative to collaborate with other related resources and disability employment options for individuals with disabilities. partners that affect the outcomes of successful placement within the work forces for individuals with disabilities. This effort continues as we reach out to vested partners in the private and public sectors that can help create more The Council supports the Independent Living movement in that persons with disabilities need to receive vital services employment options for individuals with disabilities. such as attendant care, transportation, housing, etc., so that they can get and sustain jobs. The Council supports the Independent Living movement in that persons with disabilities need to receive vital services The PaRC will continue to work with the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation towards the advancement of persons with such as attendant care, transportation, housing, etc., so that they can get and sustain jobs. disabilities seeking and/or maintaining employment and professional development in Pennsylvania. The PaRC will continue to work with the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation towards the advancement of persons with Sincerely, disabilities seeking and/or maintaining employment and professional development in Pennsylvania. Sincerely, Charles Giambrone PA State Rehabilitation Council Chairman ( ) Charles Giambrone PA State Rehabilitation Council Chairman ( ) Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council 3

6 Council Responsibilities under the Rehabilitation Act Council Responsibilities under the Rehabilitation Act Review, analyze, and advise the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) regarding Review, the performance analyze, and of its advise responsibilities, the Office of particularly Vocational those Rehabilitation related to (OVR) eligibility regarding (including the order performance of selection); of its the responsibilities, extent, and scope particularly and effectiveness those related of to services eligibility provided; (including and order the of functions selection); performed the extent, by State and scope agencies and that effectiveness affect the ability of services of individuals provided; with and the disabilities functions in performed achieving by employment State agencies outcomes that affect under the Vocational ability of Rehabilitation individuals with (VR) disabilities services. in achieving employment outcomes under Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. Partner with OVR to develop, agree to, and review State goals and priorities in Partner accordance with OVR with to the develop, VR State agree Plan. to, The and Council review and State OVR goals evaluate and priorities the effectiveness in accordance of the VR program with the VR and State submits Plan. reports The Council of progress and to OVR the evaluate Rehabilitation the effectiveness Services of Administration the VR program (RSA) and submits Commissioner. reports of progress to the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Commissioner. Advise OVR on activities authorized to be carried out under the VR State Plan. Assist Advise in the OVR preparation activities of the authorized State Plan, to and be carried amendments out under to the the plan, VR State applications, Plan. Assist reports, in needs the preparation assessments, of the and State evaluations. Plan, and amendments to the plan, applications, reports, needs assessments, and evaluations. Conduct a review and analysis of the effectiveness of vocational rehabilitation services Conduct and consumer a review satisfaction and analysis regarding of the effectiveness functions performed, of vocational VR services rehabilitation provided, services and and employment consumer satisfaction outcomes achieved. regarding functions performed, VR services provided, and employment outcomes achieved. Prepare and submit an annual report to the Governor and the Federal U.S. Department Prepare of Education and submit Commissioner an annual of report RSA to on the the Governor status of and vocational the Federal rehabilitation U.S. Department programs of operated Education within Commissioner the State. of RSA on the status of vocational rehabilitation programs operated within the State. Coordinate activities with other disability related councils within the State. Coordinate activities with other disability related councils within the State. Establish working relationships between the Council, the Statewide Independent Living Establish Council, working and Centers relationships for Independent between Living. the Council, the Statewide Independent Living Council, and Centers for Independent Living. Perform other functions consistent with VR services deemed appropriate by the Perform Council. other functions consistent with VR services deemed appropriate by the Council. 4 Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council

7 What We Accomplished as a Council This Year ( ) In the Rehabilitation Act, council is required/mandated to: Review, analyze and advise the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) regarding the performance of its responsibilities, particularly those related to eligibility (including order of selection); the extent, and scope and effectiveness of services provided; and the functions performed by State agencies that affect the ability of individuals with disabilities in achieving employment outcomes under Vocational Rehabilitation services. Partner with OVR to develop, agree to, and review State goals and priorities in accordance with the VR State Plan. The Council and OVR evaluate the effectiveness of the VR program and submits reports of progress to the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Commissioner. Advise OVR on activities authorized to be carried out under the VR State Plan. Assist in the preparation of the State Plan, and amendments to the plan, applications, reports, needs assessments, and evaluations. Outcomes from our work this year: In January 2013, members of the executive committee met with OVR executive staff to develop state plan goals and priorities. OVR State Plan Public hearings PaRC members attended and presented at fifteen hearings in the spring of 2013 across the state to answer questions on the council s state plan attachment and to discuss the work of the council. Members participated with OVR on the statewide needs assessment workgroup. OVR workgroup and policy review participation by members: supported employment, college, provider agreement and procedures, transition, customer satisfaction, vehicle modification, order of selection, durable medical equipment and work and home site modification. Council developed and submitted the state plan attachment 4.2 (c) upon approval December 7, 2012 to OVR. See the State Plan attachment below and on the following pages. State Plan Attachment for FY 2014 Attachment 4.2(c): Council Summary of Input and Recommendations of the State Rehabilitation Approved by the PA Rehabilitation Council on December 7, Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council 5

8 This attachment is the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council s (PaRC) input to the State Plan. The following documents were used to develop these recommendations to OVR: 1. The PaRC s annual report (FFY 2012) 2. PaRC Customer Satisfaction Survey 3. Review of items in last year s Attachment 4. Comments received at last year s State Plan Meetings 5. Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Monitoring Report 6. Statewide Needs Assessment 7. Workforce Development Statistics Recommendations from the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council (PaRC) COMMENDATION: PaRC commends OVR for including PaRC representation in workgroups reviewing and developing policies; as well as working with Council on ways to combine the Customer Satisfaction Surveys. Council recommends that OVR work toward the following in FY 2014: 1. Transition Issue: Students with disabilities, who are between 14 and 21, need support in order to go from the school setting to employment or post secondary education/training. With such support, individuals are more likely to be placed in integrated, competitive employment outcomes. Recommendations: a. Develop peer counseling services during transition b. Develop a greater working relationship between DPW, Dept. of Education and OVR on Transition related issues, including reviewing and updating any existing MOU s. c. Encourage OVR to educate individuals, advocates and families on their rights and services they are entitled to through the Department of Education, DPW and other programs in relation to preparing for employment 2. CACs Citizen Advisory Committees Issue: The purpose of the CAC is to evaluate the services provided by OVR within the local OVR service area, and to provide needed local information and advice to the OVR District Administrators from the people they serve. OVR needs to strengthen the local Citizen Advisory Committees and to make sure they are utilized by local districts. Recommendations: a. Distribute Citizen Advisory Committee handbook as a means of technical assistance to District Administrator and local CACs b. Request reports from CACs on their activities and extend an invitation to join PaRC committees to share knowledge about their districts c. Increase public knowledge of CAC meetings by utilizing the PaRC website, etc. d. PaRC strongly recommends that local CACs be comprised of a majority of former or current clients of OVR. 3. Awareness of OVR Services Issue: OVR should continue and increase efforts towards public and professional fields which support individuals with disabilities 6 Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council

9 Recommendations: a. Inform Workforce Investment Partners on services OVR provides b. Outreach to the community, medical professionals, and social service agencies serving individuals who have a disability on services OVR provides c. OVR to continue in their outreach efforts at public fairs, meetings, seminars, additional professional fields and provider agencies 4. Supported Employment (SE) Issue: People with most significant disabilities who get SE services have a greater chance of a successful employment outcome. However the total successful closure is less than it could be. Therefore more data is needed on Supported Employment to make sure it is receiving the best outcome for the money spent. Recommendations: a. Increase number of cases closed with the use of Supported Employment b. Look at measurable cost as related to outcome data for Supported Employment contracts c. Share information on exemplary vendors who utilized Supported Employment 5. Customer Satisfaction Surveys Issue: PaRC recommends OVR assess 26 (successful competitive employment outcome), 28 (plan initiated and started but case closed unsuccessfully) and 32 (post-employment service) and 34 (status closed) closures and a sample of all open cases for quality. We encourage the following recommendations. Recommendations: a. Monitor, in conjunction with the PaRC and the OVR Board, implementation of the process of combining the customer satisfaction surveys b. Monitor, in conjunction with the PaRC and the OVR Board, data within area identifiers. c. Gather information through meaningful questions (PaRC Council Members from left to right W.D. Chrisner, III, Lee Lippi, Passle Helminski and Ms. Helminski s service dog) (PaRC Council Members from left to right -- W.D. Chrisner, III, Lee Lippi, Passle Helminski and Ms. Helminski s service dog) Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council 7

10 Council is required/mandated to conduct a review and analysis of the effectiveness of vocational rehabilitation Council is required/mandated services and consumer to conduct satisfaction a review regarding and analysis functions of the performed, effectiveness VR of services vocational provided, rehabilitation and services employment and consumer outcomes satisfaction achieved. regarding functions performed, VR services provided, and employment outcomes achieved. Outcomes from our work this year: Outcomes PaRC from monitored our work their this online year: customer satisfaction survey at See summary PaRC monitored below from their this online year s customer responses. satisfaction survey at See Council summary continued below from to work this year s with OVR responses. this year to develop a joint customer satisfaction survey Council in continued an effort to reach work with more OVR customers this year for to input. develop a joint customer satisfaction In survey conjunction in an effort with to OVR reach and more the Pittsburgh customers Citizen for input. Advisory Committee (CAC), council In conjunction held a public with OVR forum and on the Supported Pittsburgh Employment Citizen Advisory for OVR Committee customers (CAC), and providers on council May held 22, a public This forum opened on Supported a dialogue Employment between for OVR, OVR customers customers and and providers. providers Request on May 22, for Proposal This developed opened up near a dialogue end of fiscal between year OVR, on Customer customers Satisfaction and providers. for OVR Request consumer for Proposal customers developed and OVR near business end of fiscal customers. year on Work Customer will continue Satisfaction this for into the OVR coming consumer year customers ( ). and OVR business customers. Work will continue on this into the coming year ( ). Summary of PaRC Customer Satisfaction Online Survey Summary of PaRC Customer Satisfaction Online Survey The majority of respondents to the online survey stated they were Highly Satisfied in the following The majority areas: of respondents to the online survey stated they were Highly Satisfied in the following areas: Satisfaction with OVR counselor Vocational Satisfaction Rehabilitation with OVR counselor and training services Equipment Vocational Rehabilitation and technology and provided training services Communication Equipment and technology with OVR counselor, provided rehabilitation services or provider Overall Communication OVR process with OVR from counselor, first contact rehabilitation to employment services or other or provider outcome Majority Overall of respondents OVR process Strongly from Agree first contact with the to following: employment or other outcome Majority of respondents Strongly Agree with the following: Would seek OVR services again Would recommend seek OVR services OVR services again Main OVR Would services recommend received OVR from services respondents on survey were: Main OVR services received from respondents on survey were: Application for services Vocational Application Training for services Assistive Vocational devices/technology Training Employment Assistive devices/technology assistance More respondents Employment said assistance their case was closed with a job than without a job More respondents said their case was closed with a job than without a job More respondents were from Northwest PA More respondents were from Northwest PA More respondents were male than female More respondents were male than female Noted Concerns from respondents: Noted Concerns from respondents: Too high a number of starting hours (20 hrs.) for work; For some starting work with less hours Too high and a building number to of 20 starting hrs. would hours be (20 helpful hrs.) for work; For some starting work with less Concerns hours and about building services to 20 hrs. for persons would be with helpful mental health diagnoses Length Concerns of time about from services applying for persons for services with to mental receiving health services diagnoses Communication Length of time from concerns applying with for some services counselors to receiving services Communication concerns with some counselors Take the Survey at Take the Survey at 8 Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council

11 Council is required/mandated to prepare and submit an annual report to the Governor and the Federal U.S. Department of Education Commissioner of RSA on the status of vocational rehabilitation programs operated within the State. Outcomes from our work this year: The PaRC completed and submitted their 2012 Annual Report to the Governor, RSA Commissioner, State Board of Vocational Rehabilitation, and State Workforce Investment Board in December To view the 2012 Annual Report and other reports from previous years, go to Council is required/mandated to coordinate activities and establish working relationships with other disability related councils and agencies within the State. Some of these groups include: OVR State Board, OVR Citizen Advisory Committees, Statewide Independent Living Council, Client Assistance Program, Parent Education Network, Local Workforce Investment Boards, Disability Budget Coalition, Disability Rights Network, PA Transportation Alliance, etc. Outcomes from our work this year: Four presentations were made to the members of the OVR State board by PaRC Chair or Vice Chair on the work of the council. Stakeholder Conference Calls/Meeting Participation - National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils, White House Disability calls, and Transportation Alliance. The Client Assistance Program, Parent Education Network, and Statewide Independent Living Council regularly provide an update of their activities at the council s quarterly meetings. These groups share information on their activities and events and advertise them on their respective websites, newsletters, etc. to reach out to Pennsylvanians with disabilities. Four Public Quarterly Full Council Meetings were held this year to conduct council business. Speakers this year included: Mr. Michael Volz and Mr. Steve Lew on Veterans issues in Pennsylvania; Mr. Devon Grant, Executive Director for the Governor s Cabinet and Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities; Ms. Diane Cashman from the Office of Developmental Programs provided an update on ODP initiatives; Ms. Michele Bornman from OVR reported on OVR s Early Reach Initiative in Transition and Mr. Michael Callahan presented on Customized Employment (CE) and Discovery: the Role of OVR in the CE Process. Outreach/Advocacy Members participated in the following conferences and expos this year: Blindness Awareness Expo at the Capitol, Living Well Conference in Lancaster, PA Disabilities Employment Summit (PADES) in Hershey, Presentation at Transportation Council Hearing on the Elderly and Disabled on how transportation effects employment, Transition Conference in State College and National Rehabilitation Association s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, DC Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council 9

12 The PaRC and OVR collaborated to provide local Citizen Advisory Committees (CAC) meeting agendas, minutes, and schedules, etc. on the PaRC website to support the local CAC groups. The council is aware of the importance of local input from the CACs and supports them in their work. Members attended and participated at local workforce investment board (WIB) meetings and OVR Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings. Educational Trainings attended by members: National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils (NCSRC)/Region III training/csavr in Bethesda, MD and in Arlington, VA, Region III SRC Learning Community meeting in Baltimore, MD, and Federal Wage and Hour Rules, Harrisburg, PA. Council Committee Work - This year committees were combined and reorganized into four committees Executive, Legislative and Public Awareness, Policy and Evaluation and Transition and Educational Services. Forty-three conference calls were held by the four committees. Listed below by committee is the major work and activities of each committee for the year. Executive committee Main activities/accomplishments Handled day to day operations of council and oversight of council s finances along with PaRC staff. Recruitment of new members Seven recommendations for appointment were made and sent forward to the Governor for appointment. Oversight of PaRC website Addition of Citizen Advisory Committee meeting information; increased information for persons with disabilities on the website. Oversight of Annual Report preparation and distribution with PaRC staff. Planning of agendas, speakers, trainings, etc. for Full Council meetings. Revision of Council s mission statement. Reviewed and make recommendations on OVR s Goals and Priorities. Approved funds for Request for Proposal on Customer Satisfaction for a series of forums across the state. Legislative and Public Awareness committee Main activities/accomplishments Followed state and federal legislation that effects employment for persons with disabilities recognizing bills they support, oppose and watch. Developed position papers to use in their state and federal visits with legislators regarding the needs of persons with disabilities in the state as related to employment including Employment First (See position papers in this report). Members of the legislative committee visited/or provided information to seventy-two state legislators and aides in Harrisburg this year to present the council s position paper and discuss areas of concern regarding employment for persons with disabilities in the state. Members coordinate these visits with their quarterly meetings in Harrisburg. 10 Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council

13 Three members of the legislative committee participated in the National Rehabilitation Association s Governmental Affairs annual conference in Washington this year and met with and/or provided information to twenty legislators in Washington on Capitol Hill. Policy and Evaluation committee main activities/accomplishments Work continued on the joining of OVR s and the PaRC s customer satisfaction surveys. Members developed and submitted the state plan attachment 4.2 ( c ) based on information received from the online customer satisfaction survey, state plan hearings, public meeting comments, RSA monitoring report, statewide needs assessment and committee member input. Members participated in fifteen State Plan public hearings across the state to listen to comments on the plan and provide information on the council s state plan attachment. Members reviewed and made recommendations to OVR on the following policies: supported employment, college, provider agreement and procedures, transition, customer satisfaction, vehicle modification, order of selection, durable medical equipment and work and home site modification. Transition and Educational Services committee main activities/accomplishments This committee reorganized this year with an emphasis on the following areas: Participation in the PA Department of Education s annual conference and the statewide Transition conference, improving communication with the Bureau of Special Education regarding transition via our Department of Education member on the council, regular reports from OVR on their Early Reach, Project Search and PASS programs, working with Department of Education to teach schools best practices regarding transition and working with OVR staff to maintain top technical training and certification programs at Hiram G. Andrews Center, so students are job ready when they graduate. (From left to right Ms. Fran B. Cleaver, Esq. and PaRC Council Members Passle Helminski, Lee Lippi and Ms. Helminski s service dog) (From left to right -- Ms. Fran B. Cleaver, Esq. and PaRC Council Members Passle Helminski, Lee Lippi and Ms. Helminski s service dog) Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council 11

14 PaRC Federal Position Papers PENNSYLVANIA REHABILITATION COUNCIL (PaRC) Members visited 20 Federal legislators this year. The mission of The Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council (PaRC) is to inform and advise the state board of vocational rehabilitation and the Governor on the diverse issues affecting vocational rehabilitation in our state. The Rehabilitation Act plays an important and necessary role in: o o supporting the employment of persons with disabilities and empowering them to become independent helping people to integrate into the work place and community The PaRC respectfully submits the following position paper for your review and consideration. I. Reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act (Title IV of the Workforce Investment Act) REAUTHORIZATION OF THE REHABILITATION ACT (Title IV of the Workforce Investment Act) The Rehabilitation Act as it exists provides states the freedom to administer programs which are responsive to the needs of its customers. It is essential that a dedicated funding stream from the federal government continue in Pennsylvania. In 2012 alone, the federal, state and local taxes paid by competitively employed customers of OVR throughout Pennsylvania averaged approximately $56,823, The goal of the Rehabilitation Act is to help individuals become taxpayers. The Rehabilitation Act must be strengthened to provide customers greater flexibility and control over the services and programs available to them. In this Reauthorization period we urge you to support the following: Keep public Vocational Rehabilitation a mandatory program with single source funding. 12 Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council

15 Dramatically increase funding to help support states such as Pennsylvania who are handling an increased need for vocational rehabilitation services for the veterans returning from active duty. Increase the number of individuals pursuing master level degrees in vocational rehabilitation and their retention by increasing federal funds to support the education and training authorities of the Act (Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, Title III, Section 302). Continue screening returning veterans for brain injury, provide immediate services and require all commercial health insurance to cover brain injury rehabilitation for everyone. Strengthen transition services for individuals with disabilities who are transitioning from school to higher education or from school to work and assure that such services are for all individuals with disabilities, not just certain identified categories. Increase funding for retraining/rehabilitating, the workforce population (adults 45 and older), who need to keep working to remain financially independent. Promote career development and job advancement through the opportunity for post employment continuing education and training by expanding the definition of post employment services to include training and other services necessary for career advancement and upward mobility. See 29 U.S.C. 723(a)(18) Clarify when individuals must be advised of the right to request review of a decision made by vocational rehabilitation, and when they must be informed of the services available through the Client Assistance Program (section 722(c)(2)(A) and (B)) Protect the due process rights of individuals who may want to request review of a vocational rehabilitation decision by requiring notification of state established timeframes in which a request for mediation or review must be filed (section 722(c)(3)(A)) Require training of all impartial due process hearing officers and staff (section 722(c)(5)(B)). Currently, there is no uniform standard for the training of hearing officers set forth in the Rehabilitation Act. As a result, training varies from state to state, and even from hearing officer to hearing officer. For example, in Pennsylvania some hearing officers are attorneys, while others are not. Some may have life experience in dealing with the Rehabilitation Act, while others do not. Expand the role of the Client Assistance Program to allow for advocacy and assistance even after an individual has achieved their employment outcome, and to allow CAP to provide legal representation to individuals in any matter related to the provision of vocational rehabilitation services and/or efforts to gain, regain or maintain employment (section 732) Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council 13

16 PaRC State Position Papers Members visited 18 State Legislators and distributed information to 54 Legislators this year. THE PENNSYLVANIA REHABILITATION COUNCIL S LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE POSITION PAPER The Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council (PaRC) is mandated by the Rehabilitation Act of 1998, as amended, to review, analyze, and advise the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) regarding the performance of its responsibilities, particularly those related to eligibility (including order of selection); the extent, and scope and effectiveness of services provided; and the functions performed by State agencies that affect the ability of individuals with disabilities in achieving employment outcomes under Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. Members are appointed by the Governor to the PaRC for their expertise related to specific categories of representation, as required in the Rehabilitation Act. One of the goals of the PaRC s Legislative Committee, is to educate and advocate for legislation to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, as related to training and employment in the state of Pennsylvania. With this is mind, the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council s legislative committee respectfully submits the following position paper for your review and consideration. Respectfully submitted, The Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council s Legislative Committee 14 Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council

17 Adequate Funding for OVR Services The Commonwealth must match Federal Title I funding awarded to OVR with 21.3% state dollars. These funds are used to provide services to OVR customers in the 21 district offices, which include six offices in the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS), as well as to provide administrative and operational support to OVR and the Hiram G. Andrews Center. In past years, the fiscal code included language that earmarked almost 2.5 million that cannot be used to match the available Federal funds, to non-commonwealth organizations. These earmarks have the effect of reducing funds available to OVR to draw federal funds, and limits OVR s ability to provide services to persons who are blind or visually impaired. Given the inclusion of the ear marks, OVR needs 45 million in the Transfer to the Vocational Rehabilitation Fund appropriation in the Labor and Industry Program portion of the budget in order to draw down and utilize all available Federal Funds and provide fully funded state services for people who are blind and visually impaired. Action Requested Funding for the Transfer to the Vocational Rehabilitation Fund needs to be at least $45 million due to the use of the earmarks (which do not have a federal match) for noncommonwealth organizations. This will allow OVR s level of funding to remain constant with previous years and make sure OVR is able to draw down all available federal funds. Collaboration of Services for Persons with Brain Injuries in Pennsylvania There is no bridge for continuation of services to individuals with brain injuries in Pennsylvania. People are being missed who have potential and never receive services because they are rejected too quickly. Action Requested Collaboration is needed between all state agencies working with persons with brain injuries to ensure that there is no break in services from in home services to employment services. Dedicated funding is needed for this population. Adequate Funding of the Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) The ODHH was established in 1986, as a state agency that works to ensure all government programs and services are accessible to adults and children who are deaf, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing. The ODHH primary functions are advocacy, information, referral, and training. With the passing of Public Law 492, the Sign Language Interpreter & Transliterator State Registration Act (Act ) ODHH is responsible for the implementation, management & enforcement of the Interpreter registration program, effective July The law was passed to protect consumers and create a minimum standard for interpreters working in the Commonwealth. ODHH accomplishes these functions and fulfills Act 57 by collecting demographic information, having three ODHH Representatives covering specified service areas across the state, maintaining an on-line resource directory, providing individually and system advocacy, participating in advisory meetings, and following through with the duties assigned by Act 57 by having a web-based software application to track required information, expirations, penalties, and an improved searchable registry for public use Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council 15

18 ODHH is administratively responsible for the statewide Advisory Council for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing (ACDHH). ODHH provides support, keeps records, plans meetings, processes and reimburses members for travel and accommodations as needed. The 17-member council is comprised of nine public members, four of which are mandated by law to be deaf or hard of hearing, and eight members representing state departments (Aging, Education, Health, Public Welfare, and Labor and Industry), the legislature, and the Governor s Office. Action Requested: Continued funding through General Government Operations of the ODHH existing staff (director, administrative assistant, and three regional representatives) is absolutely necessary in order to carry out the above listed functions on a statewide basis. PaRC supports the following regarding Centers for Independent Living After analyzing the Centers in Pennsylvania, as well as reviewing the practices and policies of some other states, the PA Council on Independent Living and Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council requests that the State of Pennsylvania establish a base level of funding of $300,000 for Centers for Independent Living. This base would include any federal funds a Center might receive under Title VII, and Pennsylvania General Revenue Funds. No Center would be established for less than this amount, and those Centers who currently receive less than this amount would be provided funding increases to bring them up to this level. Locally, CILs, which are non-profit organizations, are controlled by boards of directors, the majority of whom have disabilities. In addition, the majority of staff have disabilities. CILs serve all those who are touched by disability directly or within their family unit regardless of their age or diagnosis. Core services include information and referral; independent skills training; peer mentoring; and individual and grassroots advocacy. CILs are also instrumental in assisting many individuals not served by other programs in obtaining employment. Many reach out to businesses to educate them about disabilities. Many also assist individuals in transitioning from costly nursing facilities to much less expensive home and community based settings and services. CILS have seen dramatic cuts over the last several years. They can no longer do more with less. It is time for the administration and legislature to make a commitment to the disability community by funding CILs at a level where they can remain a viable, robust and integral part of the community. Action Requested Line item appropriation of $2.7 million. 04/ Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council

19 Letter from the PaRC Chair for Colleagues: The members of the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council (PaRC) have elected me to serve as Chairperson for the 2014 Federal fiscal year. This is a distinct honor and a rare privilege for which I am greatly appreciative. As Chairperson, I will do my best to represent all people with disabilities in our efforts to obtain, retain, and/or regain employment as I carry out the responsibilities of this position. The job of the PaRC is to advise and assist the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in its efforts to enable people with disabilities to become competitively employed and/or economically self-sufficient in an integrated work and community setting. The PaRC, during the 2013 Federal fiscal year, was led by Chairperson, Chuck Giambrone. The Council, Staff, and I are very appreciative of his leadership over the past year and are glad to have his continued participation as our immediate past Chair in this upcoming year s PaRC activities. Likewise, I would like to express my thanks for the hard work of our Staff and all the members of the Council and for their continued commitment to our Mission, as we endeavor to carry out our responsibilities in this new year. The PaRC has several ambitious goals which we hope to accomplish this year. For example, we hope to help strengthen the local Citizens Advisory Committees at every local district office of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. The input of these local committees is critical for the improvement of service delivery and ultimate employment success for OVR consumer customers and the satisfaction of the business customers as well. Additionally, these local committees can help the PaRC to identify system issues that must be addressed at the State level. There are other goals for the Council like increasing consumer participation in the OVR State Plan Hearing process, improving the transition process of students with disabilities in their efforts to become competitively employed after high school; and educating the general public and elected officials on the value and importance of vocational rehabilitation. The employment of OVR consumer customers provides $7.00 in taxes for every dollar spent. If you are interested in getting involved at the local or state level, or if you want more information on the PaRC and/or OVR, please check out our Web site at Also, you may call our office at ; TTY Finally, if I can be of any assistance, please feel free to send me an at or by calling me at (412) Remember that: Together, we can and do make a difference. Respectfully, W. D. Chrisner, III Chairperson Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council 17

20 PaRC Responsibilities and Goals for 2014 by Committee PaRC Responsibilities and Goals for 2014 by Committee At the August 28, 2013 Full Council meeting, the Council members approved the following goals. Executive Committee Goal #1: Continue to improve relationships and collaboration with the State Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) Board and stakeholder organizations in the commonwealth to avoid duplication of efforts and enhance the number of individuals served. Goal #2: Continue to provide leadership and guidance to new and less active members and committees in accordance with the mission and bylaws of the council and the Rehabilitation Act. Goal #3: Continue to increase public awareness in Pennsylvania about OVR services and the Council s mission and responsibilities through increased attendance and participation at stakeholder meetings, youth organizations and disability and civic organizations. Other responsibilities include: Annual report, Website oversight, Fiscal oversight, Member Recruitment, Election of Officers, Collaboration with OVR, State Board and Stakeholder organizations, and provide leadership and guidance to members. Legislative Committee Goal #1: Increase the PaRC s advocacy on behalf of persons with disabilities in regards to obtaining and maintaining employment Goal #2: Increase advocacy on behalf of the returning disabled veterans who are seeking employment and employment supports through the Pennsylvania state services. Goal #3: Develop collaborative relationships with other organizations which have similar missions and mutual legislative goals, to maximize our combined legislative impact for people with disabilities. 18 Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council

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