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Quarterly Meeting Minutes (Thursday, July 29, 2010)

Ocala Hilton
3600 SW 36th Avenue
Ocala, FL


Ted Hull, Chair called the meeting to order at 8:35 AM.

Council Members Present:  Ted Hull, Robert Kelly, Jesus Garcia, Dwight Sayer, Sheryl Brown, Henry Alexander, Rufus Brown, Paul Edwards, Ben Grzesik, Bruce Miles, Joe Minichiello, Brian Johnson, Dan O’Connor, Sue Townsend, Jodie Lamm, Brian Johnson, Jay Naiman, and Joyce Hildreth.
Council members absent:  Paul Kaminsky

Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: Antionette Williams, Wayne Jennings,

Audience: Mary Stutzman

Robert Kelly read a letter from Governor Crist.

District Administrator Report moved to Friday’s agenda.

Elder Care of Alachua County (ECAC) – Lynn Zirkelbach, Director

  • Formerly called Elder Blind Grant it is now Independence with Low Vision.
  • Has been in existence since 1991. 
  • ECAC has served 55 and older for the last 17 years.
  • Now serve adults, with a visual impairment in both eyes (OU), and live in Alachua County. 
  • ECAC is exclusively itinerant. 
  • ECAC served 109 for 2009-2010 and exceeded the required deliverables by 30.
  • The goals of the program are to keep the client in their own home, live safely, and prevent premature placement in nursing homes or an assisted living facility (ALF).
  • Referrals come from Occupational Therapists (OT) and Physical Therapists (PT), case managers, Meals on Wheels (MOWs), discharge planners, former and current clients, and eye care providers. 
  • Eye care providers have not done a good job of referring.
  • Believe consumers need to be educated before they become a patient with eye issues.
  • Comprehensive Functional Assessments that are used were developed by DBS. 
  • Ms. Zirkelbach relayed a success story of a former client who became blind at 80 and is doing very well.

Budget Report and Legislative Update – Joyce Hildreth

Ms. Hildreth informed the Council that Evelyn Perkins had moved to another department in DOE.

  • DBS met its Maintenance of Effort which is higher than Match.
  • The comptroller informed Joyce DBS looked great.
  • DBS has combined the Independent Living Program and Children’s Program into one position. In making this change the Division saved $189,000 in general revenue in salaries and benefits.
  • DBS continues submitting a continuation budget to legislators.
  • The Legislative Budget Request (LBR) for this year is in excess of $4 million.  It is to replace the Stimulus funds that will end July 1, 2011.
  • The majority of the $4 million goes into services not administration.
  • DBS expects next year to be a challenging year.
  • Ms. Hildreth will meet with Senator Lynn, the Chair of the Higher Education Committee that makes the recommendation to the Senate for the DBS budget.
  • There is a possibility the service provider staff will be affected by a shortfall.

In response to Paul Edward’s question concerning the 2008/2009 budget not listed on the DBS web site, Ms. Hildreth assured it would be done. 

Former Representative Dennis Baxley stopped by and spoke to the Council.

Florida Center for the Blind (FCB) – Tina Arndt, Executive Director

  • FCB is located in Ocala, Florida.
  • Teena Arndt became Executive Director in January 2010.
  • FCB has programs in Transition, Independent Living, and Vocational Rehabilitation. 
  • The programs include:  Orientation & Mobility, Independent Living, Braille, Assistive Technology, and Recreation & Leisure. 
  • Transition Instruction for students 14 to 21 is year round and includes an intensive summer program.
  • FCB serves the following counties:  Marion, Alachua, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, Union, Bradford, and Columbia.
  • Ms. Arndt established a new Independent Living Class which presents the students with lessons in a Tool Box of skills for living independent.
  • FCB is now consistent with services to clients which are more individualized and based on client needs.
  • FCB has an excellent working relationship with DBS counselors.
  • DBS representatives participated during the FCB Summer Transition Program: Summer Work Education and Experience Program (SWEEP), and the ending program, Friends and Family Day.
  • Some of the Accolades FCB receives are:
    • I feel much more independent.
    • I can do more than I thought with reduced vision.
    • I realize I am not as bad off as I thought.
  • Transportation is the main problem faced by FCB.
  • FCB would like to reach more individuals with vision problems, and are working diligently in outreach to get the message out that FCB services are available and free of charge. 
  • In addition to the Center based instruction, itinerant services are offered especially in the northern counties.
  • FCB recently completed a two day diabetic class for the visually impaired.
  • FCB had a successful CPR class with its Transition students and plan on offering a first aid class to all clients.

Hadley School for the Blind – Randy Morgan

  • William Hadley founded Hadley School for the Blind in 1920.
  • Hadley is now the largest distance educator of people with visual impairments, family members, and professionals in the field of blindness.
  • Hadley serves 10,000 students with less than 100 employees.
  • Hadley serves 100 foreign countries and it has students in all 50 states.
  • Only 2% of Hadley’s budget is received from any sort of governmental funding.
  • The Hadley Florida Coordinator position is funded by a grant that ends September 30, 2011.
  • Tuition to Hadley is waived for all courses through September 30, 2011 for all eligible Floridians.
  • The school is fully accredited and accepted nationwide.
  • Courses are fully accessible and offered in Braille, large print, and audio format.  Also, 44 courses are on-line.
  • Eligibility criteria:
    • Certification of a severe visual impairment.
    • Must be at least 14 years old.
    • Must understand the English language at the 8th grade level.
    • A professional or volunteer with individuals with a visual impairment.
    • A family member of someone with a severe visual impairment.
    • Those students who qualify based on a visual impairment must pass an entrance assignment at 80%.
    • Students of Hadley High School must reside in the United States.
  • Hadley offers a family education program that includes learning Braille.
  • Hadley offers many opportunities for DBS staff to obtain CEUs.  Currently there are 14 courses and 6 archived seminars that have been approved by ACVREP for CEUs and these are free to Professionals and volunteers in the field of blindness in Florida.  In addition, one course called “Finding Employment” now offers 8 clock hours of continuing education from the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification for staff who are Certified Rehabilitation Counselors, and Hadley will be adding more.
  • Hadley has a Book Share program with 77,000 books and 150 periodicals that can be downloaded.  It costs $55 to enroll and $40 per year, but is free to those enrolled in Hadley who has a reading impairment.
  • Mr. Morgan explained the relationship between Hadley and the Utah State Program.
  • Comparisons from 2009 and 2010 are already showing a significant increase in the number of Floridians who are enrolling in Hadley courses.

Paul Edwards informed the council that there’s a special offer being made by Book Share that is good for the next month that allows anyone to join for a 3 month trial period.

Break at 10:20 AM

Client Satisfaction Survey – Mary Stutzman, PhD

Dr. Stutzman apologized to the Council for a data error and that she would make the correction and resend the final survey to Phyllis to distribute. 

  • Interviewed 505 individuals from 1479 closed cases.
  • Had a 35% response rate.
  • Dr. Stutzman informed the Council that the interviewers thought the revised questions made the survey a lot smoother.
  • Dr. Stutzman informed the Council that question 35 (did you seek services to obtain employment or maintain employment) needs to be looked at again.  About 15% responded that didn’t fit into either category
  • 12% surveyed said they didn’t know their case was closed.
  • Overall satisfaction was 84%.

Council comments –

Paul Edwards would like to see a correlation between those who didn’t respond well to “why did you come to DBS?” and the “are you currently working?” questions.

Dwight Sayer is concerned with unsuccessful closures being higher than successful closures.  He would like to see a trend of successful closures coming up.

Paul Edwards is concerned with the 15% not knowing whether they are being helped with current employment or to obtain employment.  He urged that DBS try to establish more information on the 15%. 

Paul Edwards believes the Council needs to be looking at (especially if Order of Selection is invoked) to what degree individuals who are legally blind and individuals who are totally blind receiving the range of services that they need.  He also thinks the Council needs more information from DBS to effectively identify 1) individuals who are receiving services allowing them to maintain employment, 2) individuals who are partially sighted but legally blind, 3) individuals who are substantially without vision.

Wayne Jennings explained the difference between Post Employment clients and clients just coming back for services.

Contract Management Services  (CMS) – Lee Nasehi

  • Handouts were sent to the Council earlier.   
  • Ms. Nasehi gave the Council a brief summary of how the Lighthouse of Central Florida (LCF) became involved with CMS.
  • LCF is a member agency of the National Industry for the Blind (NIB).
  • NIB is partnering with the Department of Defense’s Defense Acquisition University (DAU).
  • LCF is now offering a three-week Contract Management Support training that includes the DAU on-line courses along with supplemental lessons and activities.
  • Eligibility required:
    • Legal blindness
    • 18 years of age or older
    • US citizen; English language proficiency
    • Possess job seeking and job keeping skills
    • Strong computer skills and proficient in use of access technology (intermediate Excel skills are helpful)
    • Must pass NIB review and screening upon satisfactory completion of  initial assessment at Lighthouse Central Florida
    • 4-year BS or BA degree with 24 credit hours in business coursework (candidates with 2 year degree or college credits and/or strong business experience can be considered, even if they do not have a 4 year degree, but not having the degree will limit future career advancement/opportunities in contract management)

Meeting adjourned for lunch at 11:50 AM and resumed at 1:20 PM.

Director’s Report – Joyce Hildreth

  • Sunset Review has been submitted.
  • All Councils are also being reviewed.
  • The Legislators will not have any staff to support them in the review.
  • DBS has been working with Mississippi State on the Needs Assessment.
  • A recommendation has been incorporated that brings the focus that it is an assessment of the needs of blind individuals.
  • Another component has been added that is a need to have education on asset building.
  • The Assessment is scheduled to begin in September.
  • The Needs Assessment does not include Independent Living and Children at this time.
  • MSU will do a Needs Assessment on those programs separately in the future at the request of DBS.
  • The Needs Assessment has to be completed by January.
  • The Business Process Redesign project will be a big accomplishment when completed.
  • The current client data base was built to manage personnel.
  • Will analyze current business practice and what it should be over the upcoming months.
  • Will work with current data base managers or contract with someone else.
  • Contract providers and users of the system will be involved to give input of the development of the project.
  • This will occur in two phases beginning January 2012.
  • Sheryl Brown read the 2008/2009 financial report of the DSO.
  • New board members are: Doug Towne, Mike Gunde, Jesus Garcia and John Vaughn.
  • The next evaluation of the DSO is in January 2012.
  • The original $500,000 (now $458,000) “seed funds” can be returned to DBS.
  • The Florida Statutes states that should the DSO dissolve all the resource funding will be returned to DBS.
  • The Statutes related to the Motorcycle does not list DBS to receive its funding if the DSO is dissolved.
  • Ms. Hildreth has submitted a request to make an amendment to the Statutes for the Motorcycle funds to the Commissioner.
  • An update on the Strategic Plan will be presented at the next meeting.
  • Marketing brochures are ready to be printed as soon as the final name of the Orientation Adjustment Center has been selected.
  • The name will be decided on July 30th between 1) Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired 2) Rehabilitation Center for the Blind.
  • The CRP contracts are out.
  • Funds for educational supplies have been added to the contracts.
  • The exit interview by the Inspector General Audit was verbal and very good with minor findings.
  • The next audit will be the Business Enterprise Program (BBE) and has already started.
  • Ms. Hildreth has an appointment with the Inspector General August 10th.
  • DBS is improving the BBE program by starting at the beginning and improving assessment tools, training program and the support once in the field.
  • Currently the BBE program only has one referral.
  • There are only a few sections left for revisions in the VR manual.
  • There will be a link to the policy sited and also the policy will be attached at the end of the manual.
  • As soon as the manual is approved and finalized it will be put on the DBS website.

The Council recommends that DBS request the return of the Endowment Funds and put them back in the Gifts and Donations fund.

Dwight Sayer moved that the meetings on Thursday adjourn at 3:00 PM instead of 2:00 PM.
Motion received a second and passed unanimously.

VR Goals and Cost Analysis Per Client– Wayne Jennings

  • Only five districts met their regular VR goals this past year. (Districts 1, 2, 7, 9 & 12)
  • Only two districts met their legally blind goals, (District 8 & 9)
  • The goals are: 750 for the regular VR program and 488 for legally blind.
  • Four Customer Service Specialist (CSS) have been hired to assist with employment.
  • DBS hired five CSS with Stimulus monies.  This is in addition to the current four.
  • The State Plan also includes hiring a statewide Customer Service Specialist to go around all the districts and provide strategies and assist them in reaching goals.
  • DBS is collaborating with LC Industries and Walgreens that should increase employment for clients.
  • Walgreens is looking at building a training center for all phases in Orlando.
  • Client Services spent $7,800 per client.  This includes all VR.
  • Contract Services spent $6,500 per client.

Meeting adjourned at 3:00 PM

Friday, July 30, 2010

Ted Hull, Chair called the meeting to order at 8:30 AM.

Council Members Present:  Ted Hull, Robert Kelly, Jesus Garcia, Dwight Sayer, Sheryl Brown, Henry Alexander, Rufus Brown, Paul Edwards, Ben Grzesik, Bruce Miles, Joe Minichiello, Brian Johnson, Dan O’Connor, Sue Townsend, Jodie Lamm, Brian Johnson, Jay Naiman, and Joyce Hildreth.
Council members absent:  Paul Kaminsky

Council Staff: Phyllis Dill

DBS Staff: Antionette Williams, Wayne Jennings,

Approval of January Minutes – Phyllis Dill

  • Council unanimously approved the April minutes.

Agenda Items for October 2010 meeting in Daytona Beach – Phyllis Dill

  • On-Going agenda items:
  • Director’s Report to include:
    • Strategic Plan
    • RSA Update
  • District Administrator’s Report
  • Local CRP Report
  • Approval of July Minutes
  • Agenda Items for February 2011 in Tallahassee (one day meeting)
  • Old/New Business – Action Items
  • Update on VR Goals
  • Policy Reviews
  • Approve Annual Report (every October)

Recommended Agenda Items:

  • Client Satisfaction Survey Concerns
  • Update on DSO – Jesus Garcia
  • Accessibility Issues – Dwight Sayer
  • Evaluation of DBS Closures – (how many legally blind are successful and unsuccessful) - Wayne Jennings

Ted Hull informed the Council of the process of the meeting agenda as follows:

Ms. Dill types the Agenda and sends a copy to Mr. Hull and Ms. Hildreth to review and return in one week.  After their review she will send it to the Executive Committee and they have a week to review it.  She will then send it to the entire Council that will have a week to review.  After all reviews, it will be considered final and Ms. Dill will make copies, get it Brailed and send out to other appropriate individuals.

District Administrator Report – Tom Walsh

  • The Gainesville office is moving this week to:  3620 NW 43rd St., Suite C, Gainesville.
  • The move will be doubling their space and in a better location.
  • District Six obtained 75% of its goals with 23 successful closures.
  • A Customer Service Specialist has been added to the staff.
  • One-third of this year’s goal is in employment status the first month of this fiscal year.
  • Mr. Walsh is also overseeing the Jacksonville district and will be involved with its office being renovated.
  • Relationship with providers are going well and showing improvement.
  • District Six has 9 students in training.
  • Gainesville caseload is approximately 40.

Location of July 2011 meeting – Phyllis Dill

Council agreed on July 28 & 29, 2011.

Paul Edwards moved to have the July 2011 meeting in Ft. Myers.
Motion received a second.
Motion passed.

Council agreed having the 2nd quarterly meeting each year during the Vision Summit in Tallahassee with a reception occurring at the Lighthouse of the Big Bend immediately after the Public Forum.  Officers of FAASB would attend.  Mr. Hull suggested the Executive Committee of the Council oversee the organization of the function.

Policy Reviews – Antionette Williams

Economic Need Policy  #8.7

  • The available monthly income (Net) for one individual went from $1717 to $917.
  • If client’s parents/guardian claims them on their income taxes their income will be used in the determination.
  • Added a clause stating “Therefore, SSI/SSDI income must not be computed for determining of maintenance.”
  • The economic need is used only when determining services for Maintenance.
  • Once Policy is approved, a letter will be sent to clients informing them of the change that will go into effect January 2011.  This will give those currently receiving maintenance a chance to prepare for the adjustment. 
  • There will be room for exception and will be done on case by case.
  • DBS staff will be charged with providing financial planning to clients affected.
Council comments

Paul Edwards requested tutoring services be included on the economic need form either with #11 or right after.

Paul Edwards requested adding College Work Study to the category of not being used to determine maintenance and was informed that since it was part of financial aid it would be considered as income.

Paul Edwards moved the adoption of Policy 8.7 as amended.
Motion received a second.
Motion passed.

Maintenance Policy #6.12

Added the following:

  • General Policy – prior to providing maintenance services, the Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS) shall (a) conduct a thorough assessment of a client’s needs and resources, utilizing the adopted financial needs assessment form; (b) determine whether comparable services and benefits exist under any other program; (c) determine whether those services and benefits are available to the person; and (d) re-evaluate the client’s needs and resources quarterly to determine level of support to be provided.  SSI and SSDI income can not be included when determining maintenance eligibility.
  • Note:  See College Handbook for specifics on maintenance related to individuals attending college.
  • Added to F. Emergency Maintenance: (e.g., risk of homelessness, clothing for an immediate job interview, etc.)

Council comments

Paul Edwards suggested a time period on determining eligibility of maintenance be added.  He suggest 60 days,

Dwight Sayer suggests re-evaluations be done every 6 months and not quarterly.

Paul Edwards moved the adoption of Policy 6.12 as amended.
Motion received a second.

Motion passed.

College Student Handbook

Basic Requirements # 11

  • Now addresses housing being included in awarding maintenance.
    • Expenses such as shelter may be considered at a rate of 70% of the housing cost of the attending school per semester.
  • SSI or SSDI income can not be computed when determining eligibility for maintenance.
  • Re-evaluation of client needs will be changed from each semester to Bi-annually.
  • Exceptions to the rule are noted.
  • DBS is still providing tuition, books and meals.

Council Comments

Brian Johnson and other members are concerned that only 70% is covered for housing if living in a dorm.  Off campus is understandable.

Jodi Lamm suggested that current college students and their families be given at least 4 to 6 months to adjust to the new policy given it takes time filling out loan and grant applications.

Brian Johnson informed DBS that according to federal regulations scholarships cannot be counted against students as income.

Handbook Introduction

Added to the Introduction page is the following note:

  • DBS will sponsor up to three (3) application fees.  Students will be responsible for paying for any additional application fees.

Basic Requirements #1

Added to #1 referring to the IPE:

  • e.g., number of hours taken, etc.

Basic Requirements #9

Added the following to the first sentence:

  • If the vocational assessment supports a college program

Council Comments

Paul Edwards and other members do not like the stipulation that DBS will sponsor one remedial course and feel it is barring students who are blind from having equal access to colleges that are available to other students.

Council suggests the following:

Remove “one” and the addition.  Also, delete the last sentence.

# 9 should read:  “DBS will sponsor remedial courses in each subject area in the event that it is required by the college.”

Motion to accept #9 as amended was seconded and passed.

Semester Procedures

Addition to #3 as follows:

  • Reader services may be available as needed and agreed upon by the student and DBS counselor in advance of each semester. When books can be acquired via electronic format, we encourage the client to utilize as well. DBS will provide the current minimum wage as payment for readers.  DBS may be able to supply names and phone numbers of potential readers.  Students are encouraged to hire readers of their choice (no family members).

Motion to accept #3 as written was seconded and passed.

Addition to #5 as follows:

  • Tutor services must also be authorized, in advance, by your counselor.  Students must display a legitimate need for these services to be approved.  Do not wait until it is too late to make a passing grade to request assistance!  DBS will offer the current minimum wage as payment for tutors.  Exceptions to the hourly rate can be granted by the supervisor/DA but the rationale must be documented in AWARE. DBS may be able to supply names and phone numbers of potential readers.  Students are encouraged to hire readers of their choice (no family members).

Council Comments

Paul Edwards does not think DBS will be able to hire tutors at the minimum wage.  It should be based on the prevailing rate.

Council suggests the following:

Delete #5 from Semester Procedures and add the following statement to #10 of the Basic Requirements:

Counselors may wish to consult with Disabled Students Services Office to establish the prevailing rate in the geographic area.

Council Comment on #6

Paul Edwards pointed out that #6 referred to DBS paying the registration fee if the student is eligible for services with regard to economic need.  Since economic need is only applying to maintenance he believes this should be taken out. He also recommends students should use book share.

Semester Procedure Notes

  • If a client wishes to pursue a program of study that is not available at their local school, the DA or Supervisor may grant an exception to allow the student to relocate and receive on or off campus housing (whichever is most reasonable).
  • Upon graduation, students receiving maintenance for their transportation needs may be considered for additional maintenance for up to three (3) months if they are actively seeking employment.  Counselors will need to document these activities to support the ongoing need and amount.
  • Checks will not be released if a student has not provided timely semester updates as well as if a student has not provided copies of their grades and schedules to their DBS counselor in a timely basis. 

Council agreed notes were okay.

Paul Edwards informed DBS that it is not okay for Counselors to contact the college for student grades.  It is the student’s responsibility to obtain their grades and provide them to their Counselor.

Paul Edwards moved to accept the College Handbook with revisions.
Motion received a second and passed.

New/Old Business

Action Items – April meeting

  • Actions were sent out and all items were completed.

Deaf-Blind Category – Resolution and letter to Governor

  • Package was delivered to the Governor’s Appointment Office July 27th.
  • The Resolution was sent to the Council earlier.

Phyllis Dill informed the Council that the anticipated increase for accommodating the position would be included in the budget.

Dwight Sayer and Robert Kelly stressed the importance of everyone using the microphone at meetings and especially if the Deaf-Blind representative is appointed.

Addressing Future Resolutions

Paul Edwards moved for the Council to adopt a policy that it would only write resolutions on a statewide basis.
Motion received a second and passed.

Joe Minichiello moved to rescind the motion made in Lakeland concerning the Polk County tax increase.
Motion received a second and passed.

Sheryl Brown moved to write a resolution in support of transportation throughout the state.
Motion received a second and passed.

Open Discussion

Sheryl Brown read the following paragraph to be added to Dawn Saunders Bio that would be in the Annual Report, if approved.

“Dawn Saunders succumbed to her battle with breast cancer on June 3, 2010.  She contributed a lot as the IDEA representative on the Florida Rehab Council for the Blind.  She had a zest for life, crazy about Duran Duran and worked hard improving the quality of services for students with hearing and vision problems across the state of Florida.  She was a compassionate person, a wonderful mentor and advocate for the deaf-blind and their families.  She was a lady of character, intellect and humor and will be missed.”

Paul Edwards moved to add the paragraph to Dawn’s Bio.
Motion received a second and passed.

Meeting adjourned at 10:45 AM.

Respectfully submitted,
Phyllis Dill, AAII, Council Staff