FLORIDA REHABILITATION COUNCIL FOR THE BLIND (FRCB)
QUARTERLY MEETING MINUTES
LEXINGTON HOTEL AND CONFERENCE CENTER
1515 PRUDENTIAL DRIVE
JACKSONVILLE, FL 32207
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Meeting called to order at 8:40 AM with the Pledge of Allegiance following roll call.
COUNCIL MEMBERS PRESENT: 9
Robert Kelly, Gloria Mills, Patricia Lipovsky, Mikey Wiseman, Jesus Garcia, Charles Brooks, Sandra Burke, Donte Mickens, Robert Doyle, Director
COUNCIL MEMBERS PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE: 1
COUNCIL MEMBERS ABSENT: 5
Vicky Magliocchino, Ben Grezesik, Bruce Miles, Leanne Grillot, Sylvia Perez
COUNCIL STAFF: 1
DBS STAFF: 26
Tom Austin, Wayne Jennings, Walter Blackmon, Beth Crain, Bryan Michaels, Lynn Ritter, Tony Pileggi, Ana Saint-Fort, Bertha Hyche, Robert Lewis, April Ogden, Dan O’Connor, Stacy Smith, Madeline Davidson, Jeff Whitehead, Donna Rhoades, Mireya Hernandez, Sandra Brown, Nancy Brown, Janet Alterman, Bobbie Howard-Davis, Stael Exantus, Michelle Levy, Carolyn Eleby, Juan Carlos Diaz, Denise Valluerca
Paul Edwards, Howard Bell, John Henry, Minna Jia
A motion made to approved the agenda. The motion passed unanimously.
Robert Doyle presented the following:
Division of Blind Services (DBS) General update
- Introduced the VR Supervisor for District 11 – Ms. Carolyn Eleby.
- Discussion of DA’s and Supervisors joining us twice a year.
- DBS met and exceeded our goals for the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY).
- Participation in the following events.
- Updates on WIOA
- Celebrated White Cane Day
- Attend the FRA/FAER Conferences
- Strategic planning continues. DBS is working to align its goals to the department’s strategic plan.
- Several agencies within the state as well as several divisions within the DOE were members of the Employment First initiative.
- DBS is looking in the areas of coordination with services, outreach, and training in a variety of different ways.
- Employment First meeting scheduled 10/22/15.
- The annual report is being finalized. DBS highlights our services showing completion of employment outcomes for last year.
- There is an anticipation of questions related to WIOA regarding the overlap between Employment First taskforce and updates.
Gifts and Donations
We distributed information regarding the gifts and donations to the council showing our balances and the distribution of stocks and bonds ratio within the gifts and donations. We haven’t heard back from the DSO Committee in terms of any recommendations. There is fluctuation in the market cycle which is expected. We were a little over $5.1 or $5.3 Million at that time, but the current balance is between $4.8 and $4.9 Million.
DBS Marketing Video
Video has been finalized and will be reviewed this afternoon. DBS has been working through the department getting input/feedback to acquire cable advertising. There is a six minute video that will be on our website highlighting consumers in the agency as well as a 30 second video. The idea is to contract with Comcast for coverage through much of the state using the additional dollars. We met with our Department of Education Communication person last week and they want us to align the video, if at all possible, closer to the DOE brand and also include the DOE logo. The marketing video presents perspectives from both the employee and the employer on services and supports provided by the Division of Blind Services (DBS) Vocational Rehabilitation Program. The full length informational video will be used on the DBS Website, Social Media, and distributed through various other avenues.
We are very excited about rolling out our On-line Application where people can apply for services from DBS. Our DBS MIS team has been working diligently on this process.
Innovative Project Program
The Innovative Project Program is funded through the Gifts and Donations. The funds are provided to the public not-for-profit organizations through the state. We have made some changes to the application and reimbursement process, and have been negotiating with the department in terms of what are the next steps in getting the advertisement out to the public. We are making sure we streamline the process so that it is better on the latter end. The approval has to go through legal, contracts and the commissioner’s office and her designee before we can advertise. Once the application is advertised to the public and is sent back, it goes through a review committee. The review committee would make recommendations to the director. Those approved would receive a letter in the mailed stating you are the entity that has been approved and then we will finalize agreements. Our goal is that it would only require the approval of the director, the entity that we are contracting with, and the commissioner.
See Different Initiative
Division of Blind Services Community Outreached Awareness Initiative Program. We will make a presentation at out next meeting in February 2016 regarding this initiative. The Direct Support Organization (DSO) has given us funds to use for this project.
The Bureau of Business Enterprise program has secured two additional military bases; the Panama City Naval Air Station and Camp Landing. This is a $1.3 Million dollar operation which began on September 1, 2015. This gives us new opportunities for vendors through the BBE program.
In some of our Tallahassee buildings, we encountered an insect issue and have implemented some very stronger monitoring processes throughout all of our facilities in the BBE Program. As a result of the inspection by Department of Professional Regulations, fewer locations last month actually had zero findings.
One of the things talked about in last year’s State Plan is strengthening our Rehab Center. We have been going through the process over a year ago, and with the SWAT analysis identified, we are really excited about utilizing a Pre-Employment Training Program (PEP) developed by Dr. Karen Wolffe. The program has two tracks and is designed for students ages 14 to 17, 18 and older. It is a four week intensive residential training program for adults. We hope to start this adult training program in late April of 2016. Also, during the summer we would like to bring in individuals who are not anticipating going directly to college, but are looking for employment. This PEP program is designed to be an additional track/resource through the rehab center to the district offices and the clients. It is not design to stand in the way of services that are provided through the CRP’s. The PEP participants may enter the rehab center, and after that process they may be placed at that time with a local CRP. We are pleased to have this strong focus at the rehab center in making sure we are getting folks ready for employment.
The Tampa office has been flooded. There is an estimated cost of $500,000 to $600,000 of damage to the furniture and the building. We are trying to locate some of the funds to pay the bills that are incurring at present. We are thinking about submitting a budget amendment to ask the legislature to provide some of the funds. Also, trying to figure out how much of our VR dollars we can use since it is a state facility. There is about $300,000 in insurance coverage.
There was lengthy discussion regarding the Tampa building repairs. The goal is to get a legislative appropriation and use the Gifts and Donations funds if absolutely necessary in order to get the Tampa office reopened.
Robert Kelly – Discussion tabled.
Robert Doyle – This is the part of the agenda we typically take time to recognize a local employer who has been engaged in hiring individuals with disabilities in this area. We have our own Dan O’Connor to present the Employer Award.
- Dan O’Connor - On behalf of the Jacksonville and Gainesville District Offices, it gives me great privilege to present the Employer Award to the City of Jacksonville’s Disabled Services and the Chief of Disabled Services, Beth Meyer and her team.
- Beth Meyer – Thank you. We are really honored and excited. Disabled Services is trying to serve as a tool for other agencies, cities and businesses. Thank you for the work you do and letting us be a small part of this great opportunity. We are very honored for your recognition.
- Robert Kelly – On behalf of the council, it is very inspiring to hear about the work you have done, both as an employer and as an advocate of the community to promote the idea. It is a consensual concern of the rehabilitation council and the people gathered in this room, to prepare people who are blind and match them with employment opportunities. The critical link in that movement from the service community into the employment community, understands the value of including people with disabilities and people with blindness. Thank you very much.
- Robert Lewis – Jacksonville is a role model city and we have met with them several times. They do an incredible job supporting DBS and is a pleasure to work with. Beth, it is with honor that we present you with this award in recognition of its partnership with the Division of Blind Services and the hiring and support shown towards individuals who are blind or visually impaired by creating a barrier free environment allowing them to obtain their independence. Thank you for your partnership.
If you would like to know more of what the City of Jacksonville Disabled Services has done, please visit website: www.Jaxada.com
- Robert Kelly – While we are talking about recognition, I want to congratulate our representative from the Blinded Veterans Association. Charles Brooks was recently name the National Chaplin of the Blinded Veterans Association.
Morning Break (take photos)
VR Goals and Update
Tom Austin – Presented the District Supervisors with plaques recognizing their great work in meeting the goals set for the 2014 – 2015 State Fiscal Year (SFY). Last year we had 713 closures; this past SFY year we had 761; for FFY we had 722 closures and this year we have 772. An award was presented to Leigh Ann Bellamy for the most successful closures throughout the state. Recognized Stacy Smith for the most placement throughout the state. We have created a District of the Year award. This will be a traveling award and this year it is awarded to District 9. I would like to also thank Brian Michaels, Lynn Ritter, Wayne Jennings and Walter Blackmon for doing such a fine job in the State Office.
Wayne Jennings provided an update on VR goals, which are attached to these minutes.
- John Henry – I am visually impaired and should be wearing my hearing aids. Had cataract surgery and was wearing trifocals now back to bifocals. My hearing is bad and I am not looking for work because the VA takes care of me. Where would you put me?
- Wayne Jennings – There are several things that I would do. The VA is a comparable benefit and we would discontinue services. If you are working they would allow you to stay on that track. If you came to us and told us you were not working we would refer you to our independent living program.
- The number of unsuccessful closures before planned signature is 260 and after planned is 130.
- Paul Edwards – Are we assuming that these people are found not to be eligible? This is essentially why there are other factors?
- Wayne Jennings – There are several factors. Some people make application to the VR program that wants to be in independent living. Some people submit information and get put into the AWARE system in the application process and not the referral process and are found they do not have a bilateral visual impairment, which means that they are not eligible. Eligibility is probably the most of the 130, but there are other reasons for some of those folks.
State Plan Discussion
Dr. Antionette Williams presented the following report:
- The Division of Blind Services has worked very hard with the Department of Economic Opportunity to develop our statewide unified State Plan. The Federal Regulations as it relates to our State Plan has not been finalized. We do anticipate that regulations will be finalized in the spring, which will likely occur after the Unified State Plan is due. Much of what is in our draft State Plan may or may not change based on the final regulations. We would probably rearrange things to make sure that we are in compliance. Dr. Williams reviewed the following attachments with the FRCB.
- Attachment 4.2 (c) – Summary of Input provided by the State Rehab Council
- Attachment 4.7 (b) (3) – Request for Waiver of State wideness
- Attachment 4.8 (b) (1) – Corporation with Agencies that are not under the workforce investment system
- Attachment 4.10 – Comprehensive System of Personnel Development
- Attachment 4.11 a – Statewide Assessment
- Attachment 4.11(b) – Annual Estimates of Individuals to be Served and Cost of Services
- Attachment 4.11 (c) (1) – State Goals and Priorities
- Attachment 4.11 (c) (4) – Goals and Plans Regarding Distribution of our Supported Employment Dollars
- Attachment 4.11 (d)- Methods to be used to Expand and Improve Services
- Attachment 4.11 (e) (2) – Evaluation and Reports of Progress for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Goals
- Attachment 6.3 – Quality Scope and Extent of Supported Employment Services
This document will be revised based on comments provided. The FRCB will have another opportunity to review the document as part of the unified state plan documents that will be published in 2016. The Unified State Plan is to be submitted to the Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. Department of Education/U.S. Department of Labor by March 3, 2016.
- FRCB Council members discussed at length the State plan part that is primarily centered on the calculation of estimated expenditures for Supported Employment Services.
- Marcia Haye and Dr. Antionette Williams provided responses to the Council.
Robert Doyle – The recommendations of the taskforce went before the CareerSource Board. The CareerSource Board had some discussions around the table. A number of questions dealt with infrastructure, in terms of technology systems and infrastructure cost regarding which entities are putting money into the Career Source locations. There is a Strategic Policy council of the CareerSource Board that met on October 14 and refined some of the recommendations of the taskforce. There is going to be a meeting November 4 or 5th where we are expecting that the CareerSource Board is going to adopt the taskforce recommendations. Looks like the majority of the recommendations are going to be very similar to what was initially presented.
Attached is a copy of the recommendations.
- Paul Edwards – In the initial discussion of the progress of WIOA, once the recommendations have been adopted by the Workforce Board, it is my understanding that it then goes to the legislature for their adoption. Are there components of the WIOA recommendations that are going to require legislation or is it simply going to at this point appear to be unaccepting of the plan by legislators so that it’s less likely that they are going to want to open it up to change it?
- Robert Doyle – I think that there is the potential that once the final recommendations go to the legislature or governor they may want to make changes. There were some recommendations about updating portions of the law in reference to the workforce boards. However, CareerSource President Hart indicated that he did not foresee a lot of changes that needed to be made to the law, and based on the recommendations, I haven’t seen anything that would necessitate those kind of changes.
Client Satisfaction Survey
In a previous meeting we had some discussion about revamping the satisfaction survey. A committee was formed that includes: Mikey Wiseman, Bruce Miles, Sylvia Perez, Sandra Burke, Charles Brooks, Jesus Garcia, Robert Kelly, Paul Edwards and Robert Doyle to review the survey instrument.
Dr. Minna Jia - Director of Florida State University Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) provided the council with a full report prior to the meeting and discussed the report.
This report summarizes the data collected for the first quarter of the 2015-16 fiscal year. This report includes cases closed between July 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015. The Customer Satisfaction Survey of former Division of Blind Services (DBS) clients gathers perspectives of former DBS clients concerning program services, levels of satisfaction, and areas for program improvement. This report describes the methods used and presents the first quarter of 2015-15 results.
A copy of the report is attached to the minutes.
- Gloria Mills – Is there a package developed for the new members appointed to the FRCB?
- Robert Kelly – Yes, there is a package for new appointed members.
- Paul Edwards – I Would like to work on the Client Satisfaction Survey committee.
- Robert Doyle – My thoughts relating to the Client Satisfaction Survey. There is so much enter mixed information until the individual may not know if they are being asked a question about the DBS Counselor, the receptionist or CRP. I would really like to be able to drill into some questions to make it clear on who is being evaluated. What we have right now is not as useful as it can be.
- Mikey Wiseman – We would welcome whatever is going to make this Client Satisfaction Survey most useful to you, so that you are able to draw out the information in order to identify any areas for improvement. We would be including Minna and will be coordinating with the committee. Please send us your questions or comments.
- Robert Kelly – Sharon, please setup the Client Satisfaction Survey meeting as soon as possible.
District Administrators Report
Robert Lewis, DA presented a report to the council. A copy of the report is attached.
One of the main goals that Mr. Lewis emphasized is his desire to increase communication, efficiency, productivity and accountability. He felt that the district is moving forward and is on the right track.
- Donte Mickens – What are the major challenges for your district that you are aware of?
- Robert Lewis – Better working relationship with the CRP’s and providing referrals in a timely manner. Mainly, meeting our goals and improving our communication with the community.
- Donte Mickens – Have the CRP’s communicated any issues that are unique to the location that you or anyone else has noticed or may be different in other parts of the state?
- Robert Lewis – No, the main thing I have had discussion on is visibility and communication. I think that this is something that I can change, and it would greatly improve our relationship with the district/community.
- Patricia Lipovsky – People in the workplace need assistance. If their computer or CCTV needs repairing, the problem is the long time frame that they have to wait to get assistance. How would you address this issue in expediting the process in assisting these people?
- Robert Lewis – To date, I gave not had any one specific situation where someone needed such.
Report from Vision Education & Rehabilitation Center at
Florida State College at Jacksonville
Patricia Marshall presented a report to the council. A copy of the report is attached.
- Patricia Lipovsky – Do you provide employment services?
- Patricia Marshall – We have a job readiness class and we working very closely with the DBS staff. There placement person comes over readily for classes.
- Mikey Wiseman – Commend you for some success. As a member of the Scholarship Committee for the Florida Council of the Blind, thank you for providing support to the clients and giving the information to them regarding available funds to facilitate their education. It is really great having CRP’s representing and being a stellar example in the community.
- Patricia Marshall – Thank you. We’ve started a Scholarship Foundation from funds raised in the past for clients of DBS who are attending the Florida State College at Jacksonville.
- Donte Mickens – How is transportation? Are there any new challenges to the area you serve? What kind of courses are for the students at FSDB?
- Patricia Marshall – We have transportation challenges and we serve five counties - Duval, Clay, Nassau, St. John and Baker. Four of five counties have very limited transportation available particular crossing county lines. A lot of people live in rural areas and it is a real challenge when you have to drive two hours to provide training, etc. We utilize some counseling on aging offices and libraries wherever we can to connect people together to know that they are not alone. We also have three vans and one which is wheel chair accessible. FSDB is one our transition courses and we visit them every Tuesday so that the students that are on campus can come to us. The students we see there have secondary disabilities as well. The other group are on a more academic/college readiness track. Our project coordinator developed a college readiness course which is Black Board Based, but they have to travel to Jacksonville to attend.
- Donte Mickens – I am a graduate of FSDB and I appreciate the effort you all are making to go there and meet with those students so that they can utilize that service.
- Patricia Lipovsky – What do you use your vans for?
- Patricia Marshall – We use the vans for transition services, field trips and transporting older blind individuals to and from classes every other day.
Report from Elder Care of Alachua County/Independence with Low Vision
Lynn Zirkelbach presented a report to the council. A copy of the report is attached.
Anthony Clarizio, Executive Director of Elder Care of Alachua County, provided additional information related to transportation issues in Alachua County. He discussed a proposed resolution and the support of the Mayor to provide funds for a pilot project. He noted that Elder Care is working with Freedom in Motion, a first-of-its kind, Uber app-based, ride on demand program for seniors being piloted in Gainesville. Eligible enrolled Gainesville seniors will be able to request transportation in minutes to select locations using Freedom in Motion.
Freedom in Motion has been created exclusively for Gainesville Seniors ages 60 and older. During the pilot program, Freedom of Motion will be available to seniors who are residents of the 400 Building or Turkey Creek Forest. Both of these communities have residents who are visually impaired and would benefit from the program.
Mr. Clarizio indicated that Uber provides safe, affordable transportation options and the Freedom of Motion rides are further subsidized by the City of Gainesville. The service is much more affordable for eligible seniors than the traditional means of senior transportation. Eligible enrolled seniors will be provided a limited capacity smartphone through which they can access Freedom of Motion through the Uber app, as well as call 911 and other critical contacts.
Freedom of Motion is made possible in this area by a partnership among ride-sharing company Uber, the City of Gainesville, Eldercare of Alachua County, and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. After each trip, seniors can rate their experience and leave additional feedback about drivers directly through the Uber application.
Elder Care/Independence with Low Vision
January 1/2014-December 31/2014
DOE/DBS Program Clients Served
Older Blind 68
Adult Blind 10
For additional information contact: email@example.com or call 352-265-8746
- Mikey Wiseman – Do you have any statistics on your trial with Uber? How many, if any, are using transportation to go to work?
- Anthony Clarizo – We don’t have a lot of statistics, as we are just in week two of using Uber. There are two people that will be using it to go to work.
- Paul Edwards – One of the things that Uber allows is for the setting up of share rides so that you can actually transport more than one passenger in an Uber vehicle. Are you making use of that?
- Anthony Clarizo – Yes. They can transport up to four people and we have only one fair and one co-pay. Uber drivers have to go through a vigorous background screening and they are required to have insurance. They are able to handle walkers and wheel chairs.
- John Henry – Are you having any problems with Uber?
- Anthony Clarizo – There will always be problems with Uber when it comes to their classification as a business. The biggest thing that you hear about is typically from the taxi cab industry. Taxi cab industry requires a certain level of licensure. Uber, because they are a ride sharing company and not a taxi cab company, they don’t have some of the same restrictions which means they are cutting into part of the taxi cab industry.
- Charles Brooks – At one time there was some discussion about Uber and guide dogs.
- Anthony Clarizo – The animal or the guide dog is allowed to get into the car with owner that is riding.
- Patricia Lipovsky – You talked about wheel chairs, do they receive training on how to provide services?
- Anthony Clarizo – There is a group that they use nationally to train all of their drivers.
- Robert Kelly – Thank you for your presentation.
- Robert Doyle –As a follow up to a previous meeting, Council members who have proper authorization are allowed to use Uber during travel. This information was clarified with the DOE Comptroller. Members must have receipts for reimbursement.
Florida Center for the Blind
Anissa Brescia presented a report to the council. A copy of the report is attached.
FCRB members discussed the Florida Center for the Blind report and suggested the center provide more outreach to develop a relationship with the community. It was also suggested that the center might think about doing a live interview on the radio station.
Most of the referrals are from the Division of Blind Services and Shands.
As a fund raiser, Florida Center will host a Dinning in the Dark event next year and add an extra step by escorting participants to their seat in the darkness. This is another opportunity for public service. Also, a self-defense class will be offered in November that is geared to the visually impaired.
Robert Kelly – Thank you for your presentation.
DBS Marketing Video
One of the things that have been identified more than two years ago is the need to highlight services. We have been working on a number of initiatives from the comprehensive outreach program. We talked earlier about the See Different Initiative. We set up our social media site as a way to give more exposure to DBS. Obviously, we need to work with the medical community as well.
The Direct Support Organization (DSO) gave DBS more than $50,000 to create marketing videos that can be used to expose businesses to the abilities of individuals who are blind and visually impaired. The DBS communication unit is working with a production company to create a marketing video to advertise the benefits of hiring clients of the DBS. This video presents perspectives from both the employee and the employer on the services and supports provided by the DBS Vocational Rehabilitation Program. The targeted audience of the video is primarily businesses. The idea is for others to see the video and have an opportunity to make referrals to the agency for services. Our goal is to use them through Comcast or their Website. We have been working with DOE communications, and they want us to add the DOE logo as well so that we have the DOE/DBS exposure prior to moving forward with advertising.
These services and supports include higher education and vocational training programs, counseling and guidance provided by our VR counselors, equipment and/or software and training on how to use them, workspace modifications, etc. The full length informational video will be used on our website, social media, and distributed through various other avenues. The shorter 15 and 30 second clips were pulled out to use as commercials via Comcast on their website Xfinity.com.
- Patricia Lipovsky – The Video is 15 to 30 seconds, have you thought about putting them on the radio?
- Robert Doyle – Yes, we are looking at developing Public Service Announcements.
Florida School for the Deaf & Blind
Ms. Carr spoke to the council regarding the Parent Infant Program at FSDB. The program has contracts with Jacksonville/Gainesville and the other is in West Palm Beach. The program employs 30 Parent Advisors and 2 Regional Coordinators full-time. Home visits are also provided to work directly with the children and their families.
Ms. Carr stated that the Parent Infant Program serves 137 children in District 3 with 18 Parent Advisors and 2 Regional Coordinators and 76 children in District 10 with 9 Parent Advisors. These services are provided in the homes and in the child’s natural environment on a weekly basis. What makes our program unique is that all the Parent Advisors are part-time (except the Regional Coordinators), which provides the opportunity to see families in the evenings and on weekends. They attend doctor appointments, school meetings and other events requested by the families.
Each of the Parent Advisors receives specialized training in working with families with sensory loss. These trainings are offered through FSDB to any professional throughout the state of Florida who works with children with sensory loss. One of the programs offered is the VIISA curriculum (Vision Impaired In-service in America) which is designed for children who are blind/visually impaired, and it focuses on learning through the senses, orientation and mobility, communication skills, developmental skills, and transitioning into a school system. The other program which is offered is the INSITE curriculum (IN-home Sensory Impaired Training and Education). The INSITE program offers home-based support and resources for families with infants, toddlers and preschoolers, age birth to five, with sensory impairments and additional disabilities. Both of these curriculums are developed by the SKI-HI Institute at the University of Utah.
The DBS Marketing Video was shown to the FRCB.
FRCB members stated the video was great and they would really like to see in every EPS’s packet. We understand that it is going to be on Comcast website. This seems like a great corner stone for presentations to the Chamber of Commerce and local business groups. Also, a wonderful introduction to DBS, and an opportunity to showcase some of the skills that we can deliver to potential employers.
DBS has $35,000 that was left for distribution online. We can make the video available on disk and flash drive. Lauren Williams and the DA’s have been working to establish a relationship with various Chamber of Commerce.
FRCB stated that if the video is going live on the internet, our EPS’s should visit job fairs making their presence known and putting DBS name out there. Also, that it be placed in a sharable format and sent to all the CRP’s to share on social media. This lets the employers know DBS is out to support our visually impaired. When a person goes to get a job, and they try to explain everything that DBS will do, they never seem to get it across correctly. This is really a good video and a great tool for using in the future to build long standing relationships. Congratulations on the Video!