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Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council Minutes

August 17, 2006

Members Present:  

Vickie Foster, B.J. Nevels, Milissa Gofourth, Jack Roper, Marilyn Burr, DeLorna Strong, Randy Buettner, Hugh McCrabb, Patricia Casey, Sue Williams, Alisa Robertson, Jon Ringlero, Kim Nickerson; Linda Jaco, DeLorna Strong (late)

Members Absent:

Kathleen Kennedy (excused), Cathy Bates, Shawn Black, Sabrina Ware, Director Linda Parker

Others Present: 

Jane Nelson, DRS VS Administrator;  Syedah Islam, DRS VR Administrator;  Melinda Fruendt, DRS Project Coordinator; Chuck Gressler, DRS Field Coordinator; Sandra Trent, DRS scribe; Susan Hawkins, DRS Field Coordinator; Charlotte Bowen, SILC Program Coordinator; Jean Jones. 

Vickie Foster, Chair, introduced and welcomed Theresa Hamrick, new ORC Program Manager.

Roll Call:  

Roll was called and a quorum established.

Approval of Minutes

Kim Nickerson stated on page six under Transition, middle of the paragraph should be corrected to read:  “Dr. Paul Kohler developed the model that was utilized in the institute and Dr. Ginger Blaylock was a consultant who assisted New Mexico with implementation.”  Jack Roper moved to approve the minutes with the noted correction, second by Melinda Fruendt, motion carried.

Department of Rehabilitation Services Update:

Jane Nelson, Division Administrator for Visual Services, announced the following new positions in State Office:  Melinda Fruendt, VR/VS Project Coordinator, Jean Jones VR/VS Legislative Information Representative and Bob Utley, VS Project Coordinator.  Visual Services has also hired a new coordinator of assistive technology, Angela Hilliard Sellers. Ms. Nelson reported work continues on establishing a space for the New Visual Services Center.  The second annual BFIT program for transition students was held this summer and was a great success. 

Ms. Nelson introduced Jean Jones who updated the Council on current legislative issues affecting rehabilitation and disability services.  Ms. Jones reported federal legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and Rehabilitation Act is pending.  The Senate passed its WIA-VR bill at the end of June.  Differences between the House and Senate bills will need to be reconciled by a conference committee.  If work is not completed by the end of this year, new bills will have to be introduced next year.  Jean also reported the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has formally adopted the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) and created a national instructional materials access center (NIMAC) at the American Printing House for the Blind.  A law to improve student access to instructional materials in accessible formats was passed in 2004 as part of the IDEA reauthorization.  These provisions for accessible school materials will affect DRS’ future transition clients and students.

At the state level, Ms. Jones reported Representative Kris Steele of Shawnee will conduct an interim legislative study on how to increase state government employment of individuals with disabilities.  DRS has asked to participate in the study and hopes to meet with Representative Steele and other interested parties to see if the current HB-1340 procedures for state hiring can be improved.

Question:  How many people a year are hired from HB 1340?  Answer:  Marilyn Burr stated the average is fifty a year.

Syedah Islam, Division Administrator for VR, reported Vocational Rehabilitation has filled a new Project Coordinator position with Ray Turner who will assist her with administrative duties, supervise the Quality Assurance Team and investigate client/employee complaints.  Rehabilitation Technicians in each office will be trained to access public assistance data through DHS’ information management system for SSDI screening.  Ms. Islam also stated the rent for the VR lending lab at Shepard Mall needs to be renegotiated and will house the BEST Unit as well as the assistive technology staff.  Plans are to duplicate the lending lab in Tulsa.  She stated the Transition camp at OSD was successful and VR is looking forward to a transition camp on an annual basis.  Plans are underway for a second camp for next year, Camp Red Dirt.  Ms. Islam reported BEST, the employment unit, will have a pilot program in Tulsa in conjunction with OESC who will share their job bank with DRS and provide job information to our counselors statewide.

Susan Hawkins, Field Coordinator, reported on the success of BFIT; a meeting of VS Counselors to discuss rural transition is being planned; working on partnering with the Choctaw Nation to include DRS consumers in their summer program; the Southern Workforce Board is partnering with the Northern Texoma Workforce Board in Texas to bring Oklahoma and Texas businesses together; the case review instrument data will be accessible through a database; and the ABLE program was a success and VS is looking at taking ABLE on the road.

Chuck Gressler, Field Coordinator, reported on SAMHSA (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Assoc.) and evidence-based practices (visit www.samhsa.gov for details); progress in Operation Paycheck in relation to Hissom; a new initiative with Mental Health Centers for crisis prevention; day rate changes for hospitals; and expanding video relays to all DRS offices, not just in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Question:  Are referrals to the lending lab restricted to VR clients?  Response:  No.

Question:  On 107 corrective action report is there a specific person in charge for pulling together the information?  Response:  Melinda Fruendt will investigate and provide the answer to Jack Roper.

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council:

Vickie Foster introduced new members of the Council:  Kim Nickerson, representing education; Milissa Gofourth, representing ABLE Tech; Marilyn Burr, representing CAP; and John Ringlero, representing 8 tribal VRs.

Theresa Hamrick reported during her first week as ORC’s Program Managers she attended a DRS Commission meeting, sat in on a conference call for the state rehabilitation council survey and attended a meeting with city planners on transportation.  B.J. Nevels asked her to provide some background information and she stated she started out in VR, worked for RCEP in Arkansas and returned to Oklahoma to work for Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Center.

Committee Reports: 

Transition and Employment :  B.J. Nevels reported the committee did not meet.

Policy & Legislative Committee:  Linda Jaco reported the work on the advocacy toolkit has not been completed but expects completion before the legislative session begins.  Ms. Jaco reported on the consumer success story process.  A meeting held with the appropriate entities resulted in a name change to Client Success Story, rehab techs in field offices will be responsible for following up with closed cases and providing the finished form to DRS’ PIO for repository and distribution with an agreed upon implementation date of October 1.  Melinda Fruendt volunteered to oversee the process to insure completion by the due date.

Planning and Program Evaluation:  Jack Roper reported the committee met June 8 with Larry Bishop of the DRS Policy Development Unit to discuss the financial need requirements for client services and how the department determines economic need criteria.  It was learned the criteria is tied to federal guidelines.  The committee asked if Oklahoma was close to other states but there was no answer as there is no data available.  There was discussion regarding distributing some type of survey.  The committee is concerned with documentation of the follow up to the 107 Corrective Action Plan.  The committee will ask the agency how is it documented and who is responsible for the documentation.

Council Members Reports:

none

Unfinished Business:

Question:  Are all priority groups open and does the department have a mechanism to communicate opening and closing of priority groups?  Response:  Yes all priority groups are open and there is no communication mechanism in place for external customers.

There was discussion on workforce offices and JobLink and how difficult it is if you aren’t familiar with the system particularly when there is no navigator available for assistance which is often the case.

DeLorna Strong asked about clarification on her position on the ORC as she represents SILC on ORC and her appointment to the SILC will expire before her appointment to ORC is up.  Melinda Fruendt stated Robin in the Governor’s Office will need to be consulted for reappointment for SILC.

B.J. Nevels stated Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Hospital will host a Courage Award event August 30th from 4:00 to 6:00 and one of the recipients is a DRS consumer and invited members to attend.

New Business:

Theresa Hamrick read a copy of the letter from Director Parker mailed to all DRS employees regarding the agency’s theme quality services.  Jack Roper requested a hardcopy of the letter.

SWOT Analysis: 

Tabled until the afternoon session.

FFY 07 Election: 

The Executive Committee provided the following slate of nominees:

  1. J. Nevels, Chair

Jack Roper, Vice Chair

Sabrina Ware, Hugh McCrabb and Patricia Casey for members-at-large. 

Nominations were opened to the floor. No nominations were made.  Alisa Robertson moved to accept the slate of officers as presented, second by Randy Buettner, motion carried.

B.J. Nevels presented a commendation to Vickie Foster from Governor Brad Henry for her service to the ORC as well as a gift and a certificate of appreciation from the Council. 

Linda Jaco recognized Melinda Fruendt for her twelve years of service as the Program Manager for the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council with words of accolades and a gift.

Consumer Comments:

None

Adjournment:  Meeting adjourned.