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2011 Annual Report

The following links open the full report. 

ORC 2011 Annual Report- PDF 

 

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council

 

We Are The Voice of the Consumer!

Mission

The mission of the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (ORC) is to facilitate consumer education and empowerment, to assure services are of high quality, and lead to employment of individuals with disabilities within Oklahoma.

Purpose

In accordance with the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, which reauthorized the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) in Section 105, the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (ORC) was created to review, analyze, and advise the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) regarding the performance of the responsibilities relating to:

  1. eligibility,
  2. extent, scope and effectiveness of services provided, and
  3. functions performed by DRS that affect or potentially affect the ability of individuals with disabilities in achieving employment outcomes.

Additional duties cited in the Rehabilitation Act:

  1. In partnership with the DRS, develop, agree to, and review state goals and priorities and evaluate the effectiveness of the Vocational Rehabilitation Division and Visual Services Division and submit reports of progress to the commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) of the U.S. Department of Education on progress made, achievement of the goals, and the assessment of performance on standards and indicators.

Advise the DRS regarding activities authorized to be carried out and assist in the preparation of the state plan and amendments to the plan, applications, reports, needs assessments, and evaluations.

Conduct a review and analysis of the effectiveness of vocational rehabilitation services and consumer satisfaction.

DRS regularly consults with the SRC on the development, implementation, and revision of agency’s policies and procedures, including policies and procedures to enable each applicant to exercise informed choice throughout the VR process.

    Prepare and submit an annual review to the Governor and the Commissioner of RSA on the status of vocational rehabilitation programs operated within the State.

    Coordinate the work of the Council with the activities of other disability related councils.

    Establish working relationships between the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Statewide Independent Living Council, and Centers for Independent Living within Oklahoma.

    This document contains information highlighting the working partnership and accomplishments of the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council, the Department of Rehabilitation Services, and other stakeholders. 

 

Structure

    DRS contracts with the Seretean Wellness Center at Oklahoma State University (OSU) for the provision of the staff support services for the ORC as set forth in Section 105 and Section 4.2 of the State Plan of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.  The Director of Sponsored Programs at the Seretean Wellness Center hires, supervises, and evaluates a full time Program Manager position for the daily operations of the council.  In addition, OSU manages all contractual financial obligations of the council.  In turn, DRS provides in-kind services of office space, phone and computer access to the council staff. 

To request additional copies or alternate formats of this publication or for more information about the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council please contact:

 

Year in Review

Council Structure

During 2011, the ORC fulfilled all membership requirements of Section 105 of the Rehabilitation Act with appointments by the Governor.  The Council had 19 members, 3 being ex-officio, nonvoting members from DRS.  Of the voting members, the council had 56% representation from persons with disabilities.  The council members are a cross-section of individuals with disabilities who have a stake in vocational rehabilitation services.  Members serve three-year terms, with the exception of the Client Assistance Program representative; no voting member can serve more than two consecutive full terms. 

 

The council structure includes Chair, Vice-Chair and three members at-large as executive committee members.  Each member of the executive committee holds the position of chair on a committee.  At the request of the ORC, the agency has assigned a staff liaison to each committee that acts as a content specialist to that committee. These members were renamed Associate Members due to the importance of the work of each committee.

Quarterly Meetings

 

In compliance with the Rehabilitation Act, the council met quarterly during FFY11 and held an annual strategic planning meeting.  Meeting dates were:

 

November 18, 2010

February 17, 2011

April 7, 2011 (Strategic Planning)

May 19, 2011

August 25, 2011

 

Sub-committees met as needed, but at least once per quarter throughout the year, to complete their tasks outlined in the ORC Strategic Plan.

Executive Committee

Chairperson – Glenda Farnum

 

As a result of funds received under the federal stimulus package, all priority groups remained open through July of 2011.  At that time, it was necessary to close Priority Group III.  The Director provided continuous updates on the impact of required state agency budget cuts that were a result of the shortfall of state revenues during state fiscal year (SFY) 2011.  DRS was fortunate to take minimal budget cuts due to information provided to the legislature on the value of DRS’ return on investment.   

The executive committee continued to work closely with the Director to build a positive working relationship to accomplish the necessary tasks of the council.  This included the partnership in the development of the 3rd phase of the three year Comprehensive Needs Assessment, participation in the submission of the State Plan, involvement with the status of all priority groups, and re-engineering the agency’s policies and procedures as they pertain to client services.  Throughout the year, the agency provided updates on the opportunities for staff development through leadership training, attendance to the national conference and the development of the Program Manager Academy.

The ORC had a member on the interview committee for the DRS Visual Services Administrator.  It was a good indication of the partnership that has been developed between the agency and the SRC, which provided a consumer voice on this panel. 

 

Policy and Legislative Committee

Chairperson – Tim Parrish

The assigned liaison for this committee is the DRS Legislative Coordinator. 

The Policy and Legislative Committee collaborated with the DRS Public Information Office with Disability Awareness Day 2011 at the State Capitol.  Committee members served as legislative guides by providing directions and assistance to participants with 550+ attendees.

The Policy and Legislative Committee continued its collaboration with DRS in the implementation of the Consumer Success Story.  The ORC utilized this information, which was shared with Congressional members in Washington, DC, at the Council of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) 2011 spring conference during legislative session visits.  They shared this information with state legislators at the Disability Awareness Day event. 

ORC staff and members participated in the CSAVR 2011 spring conference in Bethesda, Maryland, as well as the 2010 fall conference in San Diego, California.  While in the DC area, visits were made ‘On the Hill’ and informational packets, prepared by the Policy and Legislative Committee, were shared with the Oklahoma delegation. 

Contacts were made with US Congressional District office staff to continue building the working relationships to assist with constituent concerns on disability related issues.

The committee continued its involvement with the DRS Re-Engineering Committee, which reviewed and analyzed agency policy to make appropriate recommendations for change to the DRS Commission.  A primary focus this year was to do a comprehensive review of all policies to ensure alignment with the Rehabilitation Act.  This was the second year of this realignment focus.  The involvement of both ORC and the Client Assistance Program throughout the entire process helps to ensure better understanding of the barriers that clients face regarding proposed changes to policy.

The ORC sought community input from program participants, advocates, employers, educators and other stakeholders on proposed policy changes through three public hearings. They were co-hosted by DRS and the ORC on February 7, 2011 in Oklahoma City and February 8, 2011 in Tulsa.  The public hearing scheduled for February 9, 2011 in Lawton was cancelled due to weather. 

Policies were re-organized to follow the sequence of case activity, from application through eligibility, plan development, services provisions and closure.  This is to aide counselors, consumers and other stakeholders in locating policy. This has shortened repetition and duplication of policies and clarified language.   The ORC supports changes that allows for greater understanding for all parties involved, including consumers. 

 

Computers and High Tech Electronic Equipment

This policy change allows Department of Rehabilitation Services, Vocational Rehabilitation Programs (DRS) to purchase computers and related high tech items for clients if they are needed or required for training or work.  This will eliminate the need for an assistive technology evaluation when no specialized technology is needed.  It is intended to reduce the time it takes to provide technology to the client and reduce the backlog on the assistive technology specialists. 

 

General Guidelines for Physical and Mental Restoration

This policy may allow weight loss surgery as a physical restoration service only when the client is considered morbidly obese and all other criteria is met.  This will remove limitations of service and allow the agency to serve an under-served population and reduce barriers to allow for employment outcomes. 

 

Assessment for Determining Eligibility

This policy allows for DRS counselors to deem individuals eligible for services if they have already been determined eligible by an American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation program.  Clarification is made that counselors may proceed with the determination of eligibility based on an obvious or observable disability, and may proceed to authorize assessments and services as needed for eligibility.   

The involvement of the ORC during the policy research and development stages allows for true consumer contributions, which aligns with the intent of the Rehabilitation Act. 

 

The Policy and Legislative Committee conducted its second grassroots advocacy event to provide participants with the necessary tools, knowledge and skills to enhance their advocacy practices and become more proficient when addressing key concerns with legislators. The sessions were highly interactive with considerable opportunity for participation to discuss issues and ask questions.  This event was free to the public and brought together persons with disabilities, family members, friends and professionals involved in the rehabilitation fields.  The event was a great success as determined by the positive feedback received on the evaluations.  The event was attended by more than 100 people.   Our focus was on issues that were relevant to Oklahomans with disabilities that are facing transportation, housing, health care and services to transition age youth.  

 

Planning and Program Committee

Chairperson – Milissa Gofourth

The assigned liaison for the committee was the DRS Project Coordinator for the Vocational Rehabilitation Division.

The ORC effectively partnered with DRS in the development of the FY12 State Plan including developing the goals and priorities for the agency.  The ORC co-hosted public hearings on May 17, 2011 in Tulsa; May 18, 2010 in Lawton; and May 19, 2011 in Oklahoma City on the State Plan.  The May 19th public hearing was scheduled after an ORC quarterly meeting in an effort to encourage more participation from council members.  Flyers were developed and mailed to increase awareness of the agencies goals and priorities addressed in the state.    

In FY 10 this committee created a Keeping Track of Your Progress and Informed Choice tools for the consumer to assist them throughout the vocational rehabilitation process.  Questions on the annual consumer satisfaction survey were added to determine the effectiveness of these tools.   

The goal to collaborate with DRS to host webinars for staff to address customer service and presumed eligibility, which include case recording in AWARE system was transferred to the FY 12 Strategic Plan.  The ORC staff was a part of the DRS Leadership initiative and participated on the team addressing customer services issues.  The ORC will work with the pilot leadership team to roll out the customer service pilot project in FY 12. 

The committee agreed that the goal to partner with the SILC and other stakeholders to create a video that will explain to clients how they can write their own Individual Plan for Employment with their counselor would be better led by the efforts of the SILC.  The ORC will encourage the SILC to work on this initiative. 

The ORC worked with DRS in an effort to establish a memorandum of understanding between the agency and the Veterans Administration.  Research was completed to find others states that have had success with this project. 

The ORC Program and Planning Committee worked with the Policy and Legislation Committee and the agency to remove barriers in policy that hindered the timeliness of providing computers to consumers that did not require assistive technology to accomplish their employment outcome.   

 

  1. DRS reported the following FFY11 data to the Commission:
  2. 2,812 cases had successful closure
  3. 2,193 cases were closed without employment after receiving services
  4. 10,358 new applications were received
  5. 6,867 plans were written in the year

Of the reported outcomes of all types, the percentage of each closure type (rounded to the nearest tenth):

 

 

Graph

 

    • 25% closed as an applicant (1,675 applicants)
    • 36% closed after eligibility, before services (2,428 clients)
    • 38% closed after services were initiated (2,574 clients)

 

 

 

Individual Services by Disability Priority Group

Graph

 

Priority Group 1    6,832   37%

Priority Group 2    9,034   48%

Priority Group 3    1,704   9%

Successful Closures 2,812 vs. Unsuccessful Closures 6,711.

 

Graph

 

Average days in application status 40

Average months in eligibility 3.0

Average months receiving services 25.7

 

Graph

 

Average Cost per Successful Closure $6,887

Average Cost per Unsuccessful Closure $3,956

 

FY11 Standards and Indicators Information: 

 

DRS exceeded all Standards and Indicators (1.1 – 1.6 and 2.1) requirements for FY11.

 

Comprehensive Needs Assessment

 

Over the past two years, in partnership with the ORC, DRS has contracted with an independent consultant to conduct a phase-in 3 year Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA).  Phase I was completed in FY09, which included surveying a sample population of closed cases.  Phase II began in FY10 and assessed consumer satisfaction and statewide rehabilitation and career needs of a sample population of individuals that had an open case with an Individual Plan for Employment in progress.  In FY11, Phase III- the vendor survey, was researched and developed.  The survey was mailed to vendors in the state that provide services to Oklahomans who have disabilities.  Not all vendors surveyed  have contracts with the agency. A summary, of the results of these surveys,  will be reported to the ORC in FY12. 

 

Results from Phase I and II were included in the annual state plan and are incorporated into DRS goals and priorities for the purpose of effectively meeting consumers’ needs and improving the overall quality of service delivery across the state of Oklahoma.  

The key findings from the FY10 survey that were utilized in the development of the FY12 State Plan are as follows: 

 

  • Consumers residing in the metropolitan areas of the state (i.e., Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton) were generally less satisfied with services and often expressed strong disagreement about the quality of services when compared to consumers residing in the rural areas.    
  • Almost 28% of consumer felt that rehabilitation staff was not responsive to their complaints or concerns about services.  
  • Three (3) out of every 10 consumers (34%) indicated that they were not provided information on the Client Assistance Program (CAP). 
  • Over 30% of respondents felt that their plan for employment was not developed quickly.
  • A substantial proportion of respondents (37.1%) indicated that they did not have public transportation offered at times that would make it easy for them to attend DRS appointments, training or employment.  
  • Almost half of consumers (49.5%) indicated that they were not able to get the training to work in the community where they lived.
  • About 3 out of every 10 consumers felt that medical (34.7%) and education (32.8%) services were not adequate. Moreover, about 4 out of every 10 consumers (40.5%) indicated that job placement services were not available.
  • Sixty-two percent (62%) of consumers indicated that they did not receive services from their local One-Stop/ “workforce centers”. Of those receiving such services, a large proportion (over 30%) felt that their needs were not understood or met. 
  • Many consumers indicated that they needed help obtaining assistive devices.

Recommendations from CNA:

There may be a need for DRS to sponsor  an inquiry that can perhaps “shed light” on contributing factors (e.g., job placement resources, counselor attributes) to the differential observations made on consumer satisfaction and needs between consumers residing in the State metropolitan areas and those living in the rural areas. 

  • There should be an increased emphasis on empowering consumers to make informed choices about external service providers that can assist them in reaching their goals. Efforts should be made to provide staff a good working knowledge of all community resources (e.g., medical, education and job placement) available to assist these consumers in becoming gainfully employed.
  • There continues to be a need to raise the profile of the Client Assistance Program (CAP) among staff aimed at enhancing understanding of CAP’s role and function. 
  • Customer service training is needed to enhance the value of “consumer responsiveness” among counselors and technicians. There is a need to enhance the speed in which consumers’ plans for employment are developed. 
  • Current public transportation systems, especially in rural areas, should be reviewed with an emphasis on the identification and/or development of new additional transportation resources. Access to public transportation that is available at “any time” to consumers will make it easier for them to attend DRS appointments, training or employment.
  • DRS should place greater emphasis on consumers participating in training programs located within their community.
  • DRS is encouraged to review its agreements with all workforce partners (e.g., One-Stop/ “workforce centers”) in an effort to identify and then address barriers that prevent many consumers from accessing these services.  Moreover, there is a need for a joint DRS and One-Stop/ “workforce centers” training in an effort to ensure that consumers’ needs are understood and met.

 

  • Greater importance needs to be placed on the need for counselors and technicians to meet the assistive device needs of consumers. Trainings aimed at increasing counselors’ and technicians’ awareness of the need may be warranted in order to enhance these client prospects for achieving successful employment.

 

Consumer Satisfaction Survey Key Findings

 

The Rehabilitation Act requires that the State Rehabilitation Council assess vocational rehabilitation services for effectiveness and consumer satisfaction.  Each year the ORC works with DRS on the consumer satisfaction survey.  Surveys were mailed to 2,097 randomly selected individuals who had received vocational rehabilitation services.  The survey was returned by 463 individuals with a return rate of 22.1%, which is a decrease from last year. This rate is higher than the traditional range experienced since the survey’s inception in 1996, which has historically fallen between 15% and 20%, but lower compared to last year’s 25.7%.  

 

The overall satisfaction rate with VR and VS for FY 10 is 75.4%. This score did not change from the overall satisfaction rate documented in the FY 10 survey and represents the lowest score received since the overall satisfaction statement was included in the survey in FY 04.

 

When VR and VS are examined individually, overall satisfaction decreased approximately 1.0 percentage points for the VR division and increased 4.5 percentage points for the VS division as compared to the FY 10 survey. In FY 11, VS rated 82.6% compared with 78.1% last year, while VR scored 73.6% compared to 74.6%. 

 

Two survey statements experienced the greatest increase in agreement rating: “I participated in the selection of my employment goal” – an increase of 3.7 percentage points and “My service providers treated me with courtesy and respect” – up 2.4 percentage points.

 

Of those survey statements experiencing a decline in satisfaction rates, the maximum rate drop was 2.9 percentage points. Survey statements experiencing at least a 2.3 percentage point drop included the following: “The VR and/or VS office was physically accessible to me?” experienced a 2.9 percentage point drop; “The VR and/or VS staff listened and cared about my concerns and problems” – 2.9 percentage point drop; and “The VR and/or VS staff returned my telephone calls in a timely manner” – 2.7 percentage point drop. 

 

Other findings were positive, and neutral comments praised the variety of services offered, service provision methods, contract services providers, and DRS staff.