California State Rehabilitation Council Annual Report 2010

Partners in the State Plan Process

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Partners in the State Plan Process

In accordance with its federal mandate to jointly develop, agree to, and annually review State goals and priorities, the SRC was an integral partner with the DOR in development and approval of the 2011 State Plan Update, submitted in June 2010. At each SRC meeting of FFY 2010, planning and planning-related issues and projects comprised a significant amount of time on the agenda. The SRC received presentations and had direct access to the DOR executive leadership, planning unit, and key DOR project and program specialists. In each case, the SRC had the opportunity to receive and discuss substantive information, ask questions and identify any areas of concern.

The SRC approved the following amended 2011 State Plan goals at the March 2010 meeting:

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services Program Goals:

Goal 1.1: The DOR will maintain the quality and quantity of employment outcomes.

Goal 1.2: The DOR will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of vocational rehabilitation services delivery.

Goal 1.3: The DOR will maintain the quantity of employment outcomes of SSI/SSDI beneficiaries.

Goal 1.4: The DOR will develop and implement efficient and effective workforce development and leadership succession plans.

Goal 1.5: The DOR will promote equality for persons with disabilities through systems change.

Supported Employment (SE) Services Goals:

Goal 2.1: The DOR will maintain competitive, integrated employment outcomes for consumers accessing SE services.

Goal 2.2: The DOR will continue to enhance DOR staff knowledge of SE Regulations and processes by providing training and technical assistance.

Goal 2.3: The DOR will promote and enhance collaboration with local and statewide SE partners and stakeholders.

In April 2010, the DOR and SRC jointly conducted public meetings throughout the State to provide the community an opportunity to identify concerns and provide input on the DOR's goals and priorities.

At the June and September 2010 meetings, the SRC independently reviewed the 2011 State Plan public comments, and developed a series of recommendations to the DOR (Listed separately under SRC Recommendations).
Partners in the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA)

Required by Federal Regulation (34 CFR 361.29), the DOR, in conjunction with the SRC, must conduct a comprehensive statewide needs assessment every three years. The Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA) is required to provide a description of the rehabilitation needs of individuals with disabilities in California, by determining the extent, distribution, and potential remedies of unmet vocational needs of a broad spectrum of individuals with disabilities residing in California.

The DOR and SRC are jointly conducting the current triennial CSNA in three phases (approximately one per year), beginning in FFY 2009 and scheduled for completion in FFY 2011. Working jointly with the SRC, the DOR completed Phases 1 and 2 and reported on those findings in last year’s Annual Report.
CSNA Phase 3, which includes gathering qualitative data via public meetings and quantitative data via surveys, has begun and will conclude in FFY 2011. The DOR and SRC coordinated three public meetings in April 2010, held concurrently with the State Plan public meetings.
At the June 2010 SRC meeting, the SRC made the following informal recommendations:
SRC (Informal) Recommendation: Survey a certain percentage via phone, and not entirely electronically. DOR Response: Given limited resources, the DOR is unable to implement this at this time.

SRC (Informal) Recommendation: Include a definition of unserved and underserved populations in the surveys. DOR Response: Neither the DOR nor the Rehabilitation Services Administration are able to offer a formal definition. However, the DOR surveys will include questions specifically related to the unmet needs of individuals with the most significant disabilities, including minorities.
The summary of State Plan public comments was shared with the SRC for members’ review and analysis. This review resulted in a series of SRC recommendations in September 2010, including CSNA recommendations on the proposed "Types of Survey Questions" be utilized in Phase 3, affirming that the topics were consistent with the recurring themes the SRC heard during the 2011 State Plan public meetings (see SRC Recommendations for details). The SRC also agreed that the DOR should utilize online surveys in Phase 3.
Partners in the Consumer Satisfaction Survey (CSS)
In accordance with Section 105 (c)(4) of the Act, the SRC and DOR work in partnership to conduct periodic assessments of consumer satisfaction. The SRC and the DOR together developed the content of the current four-part CSS in 2008. The four-part CSS assesses consumer satisfaction at four different points of the vocational rehabilitation service cycle.
The four groups that are surveyed are:

  • Pre-Plan: consumers who have not yet entered into an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) with the DOR. The IPE includes an agreed-upon vocational goal and the DOR services and supports that will be provided, as well as describing the consumer’s responsibilities toward achieving a successful employment outcome.

  • In-Plan: consumers who have reached agreement with the DOR on an IPE, and are in the process of receiving those services. Due to the variable nature of vocational goals and the amount of preparation necessary, some consumers are only In-Plan for a few months, and others remain in this status for years.

  • Closed – Employed: consumers whose cases have been closed by the DOR because they have become employed and retained that employment for at least 90 days.

  • Closed – Not-Employed: consumers whose cases have been closed without achieving employment success. There are a variety of reasons why a consumer’s case may be closed.

The 2010 survey was based on a sample of 10,800 consumers selected from DOR’s service records. Of these, 10,000 were selected to receive the survey electronically by email, and 800 were selected to receive the survey by surface mail. This is a significant increase over the surface mail samplings of the previous two years (3000 and 4000, respectively), and made possible by the use of online surveying.

In addition to the English version, the cover letter and questionnaires were translated into six languages: Cambodian; Chinese; Korean; Spanish; Tagalog; and Vietnamese. The DOR has determined these to be the most prevalent languages among the DOR consumers. Survey materials were also available in accessible format versions for blind or visually impaired consumers.

Of the 10,702 consumers sent a survey, a total of 2,339 (21.9%) responded. Response rates for the four subgroups were: Pre-Plan (21.3%); In-Plan (25.3%); Closed Employed (19.5%); and Closed Not Employed (13.2%).

Each of the four questionnaires had a series of closed-ended items, as well as open-ended items for consumer comments. The closed-ended items were expressed as statements, with consumers asked to indicate their level of agreement. Each statement had five response options. Those responses, and the points value they were assigned for quantifying the average responses, are:

  • (5) strongly agree

  • (4) agree

  • (3) no opinion

  • (2) disagree

  • (1) strongly disagree.

Overall, respondents in the Closed Employed group had the highest levels of satisfaction, while those in the Closed Not Employed status had the lowest levels.

Some results in each group were:

  • Pre-Plan: As determined by rating averages, respondent agreement was highest for the statement, “I am allowed to ask questions about paperwork that I am asked to sign,” receiving 4.29 (between agree and strongly agree). The lowest average was for the statement, “I am receiving help with career planning,” which averaged 3.51 (between no opinion and agree).

  • In-Plan: Rating averages ranged from a high of 4.17 (between agree and strongly agree) for the statement, “I am provided information in a format I understand,” to a low of 3.64 (between agree and no opinion) for the statement, “I am satisfied with how problems are resolved.”

  • Closed Employed: Agreement ranged from a rating average high of 4.35 (between agree and strongly agree) for the statement, “I was provided information in a format I understand,” to a low of 3.65 (between no opinion and agree) for the statement, “I went to work because of the services I received.”

  • Closed Not Employed: Agreement ranged from a rating average high of 3.94 (between no opinion and agree) for the statement, “I was provided information in a format I understand,” to a rating average low of 2.92 (between disagree and no opinion) for the statement, “Services helped me move closer to my career goal.”

Overall, the statement that received the highest level of agreement among respondents was, “I am provided information in a format I understand.” Almost 85% of respondents were in agreement with the statement. Results for the five response options were “strongly agree” (42.9%), “agree” (41.7%), “no opinion” (7.0%), “disagree” (5.9%), and “strongly disagree” (2.5%).

The survey included an item that asked consumers to provide suggestions about how services could be improved. Many consumers used the opportunity to comment by expressing appreciation for the services received from DOR, and for the help and support of counselors.
Other comments were more pointed. Consumers frequently stated that they would like to hear from their counselors more often, and receive more frequent updates on matters related to their program of services. Many consumers said they would like to have their phone calls returned more promptly. Quite a number of consumers expressed a desire to have more job leads, and receive more help with job search and job placement.
Judging from consumer response to the survey items, it seems reasonable to conclude that a majority of DOR consumers were generally satisfied with the services they received. Overall, about three-fourths (72.8%) of the respondents selected either “strongly agree” (37.2%) or “agree” (35.6%) with the statement, “I am satisfied with services from the Department of Rehabilitation.” The results suggest that increasing the communication, and time spent, between counselors and consumers would likely contribute to an increase in consumer satisfaction.

SRC Responsibilities
Review of Appeals Board Decisions
In accordance with its federal mandate, the SRC reviewed the appeals decisions issued during 2010. A total of 14 decisions were issued. The Appeals Board ruled in favor of DOR in 11 cases, on behalf of the consumer in 2 cases, and split the decision in one case (1 issue for the DOR and 1 issue for the consumer).
Such a wide range of topics came before the Appeals Board this year that it is not possible to discern overarching trends. The single most common issue was education and training; however, each case's specifics were unique.
The SRC makes the following general observations:

  • Increased communication between counselor and consumer may reduce disagreements and misunderstandings. The DOR has two current initiatives, the Electronic Record System (ERS) and Vocational Rehabilitation Modernization (VR-Mod) that are intended to increase the amount of time counselors can spend with consumers. Increasing the amount of time spent together may reduce miscommunication.

  • Very few of the cases (2 of 14) had CAP representation at the hearings. It is not known, however, if there may have been CAP involvement in preparation of the case or in previous attempts for resolution (i.e. administrative review or mediation).

SRC Recommendations to DOR
The SRC adopted a series of recommendations in September 2010. The DOR responded on November 5, 2010.
SRC Recommendation 2010.1

The SRC recommends that in these unprecedented economic times, all possible funding streams be explored by the DOR, including possible future opportunities under health care reform.

The DOR agrees that these are unprecedented economic times, and will continue its policy to maximize all possible resources, including funding opportunities. The DOR invites the SRC to share any information members may have on current and future possibilities.
SRC Recommendation 2010.2

The SRC recommends that the DOR evaluate its current services and trainings for job preparation and placement for people with autism spectrum disorder, mental health issues and Traumatic Brain Injury.

  • DOR Response

The DOR concurs in the need to evaluate its services and in-service training for a variety of diverse populations. Staff training programs currently underway include curriculum related to Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, Diversity in the Workplace and Diffusing Difficult Situations. The DOR believes the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment, including the Phase 3 Survey currently in process, is the best mechanism to identify additional unmet needs. If the results of the needs assessment do not yield the information being sought by the SRC, the DOR welcomes further SRC recommendations at that time.
SRC Recommendation 2010.3

The SRC recommends that the DOR survey the districts to determine the availability and use of soft skills training.

  • DOR Response

The term “soft skills training” is extremely broad and can mean a variety of things in a variety of situations. Additionally, the recommendation is unclear as to the intended recipients of such training. The DOR believes additional clarification of this recommendation is needed, including an operational definition of what is meant by the SRC in this instance, and the exact information being sought. The DOR welcomes a resubmitted clarified recommendation.
SRC Recommendation 2010.4

The SRC recommends that the DOR survey the districts to determine the availability and use of standardized assessment tools for employment skills.

  • DOR Response

As with the previous recommendation, “assessment tools for employment skills” is extremely broad and subject to interpretation, and the DOR requests an operational definition as intended for purposes of this recommendation. Additionally, there is confusion as to whether the term “standardized” is intended to mean a research validated instrument, or an instrument utilized consistently throughout the state. The DOR believes additional clarification of this recommendation is needed to define the exact information being sought by the SRC. The DOR welcomes a resubmitted clarified recommendation.
SRC Recommendation 2010.5

The SRC recommends that the DOR explore, as an IPE service, the feasibility of utilizing employment supports, including job coaching, for intermediary steps to employment, such as volunteerism and internships.

  • DOR Response

The DOR currently provides employment supports, including job coaching, for intermediary steps to employment as identified in the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). As stated in the Community Rehabilitation Program Guide to Certification & Vendorization, which describes the Department of Rehabilitation’s (DOR) Certification and Vendorization policy, procedures and standards: “Intensive job coaching services may be provided as part of a supported employment (SE) Individual Plan of employment (IPE) or for specific short term services in support of a DOR consumer in a non SE job.” (emphasis added). Volunteerism and internships identified in a consumer's IPE could, in fact, meet these criteria. As such, if included in the IPE, volunteerism and internships are eligible for job coaching services, as appropriate and necessary.
SRC Recommendation 2010.6

The SRC recommends that the DOR explore the feasibility of a statewide peer mentoring program for consumers, utilizing successfully employed consumers.

  • DOR Response

The DOR agrees this was a recurring theme in the 2011 State Plan public meetings. The DOR agrees to consider the feasibility of such a program, within the parameters and constraints of available resources. As the DOR continues its efforts to improve efficiencies through strategic projects, the DOR is confident that it will be able to pilot such innovative and creative approaches to successful employment outcomes.
SRC Recommendation 2010.7

The SRC recommends that the DOR survey the districts to determine the following:

  1. What community partners are they currently working with and how?

  2. How many successes has this yielded? and

  3. How are they currently marketing incentives for employers?

  • DOR Response:

The DOR agrees that a strong partnership with community providers is integral to the successful employment of DOR consumers. The DOR is currently utilizing ARRA dollars to fund a Community Resources Development (CRD) Informed Choice Database Initiative Project. On June 2, 2010, the DOR released a Request for Offer (RFO) to bring on facilitators to gather data for the Project. The project is separated into three phases. DOR is currently implementing Phase I, the CRD Intranet Web Program replacing the outdated Microsoft Access database with a new SQL Database. The new database will provide the Department of Rehabilitation with a methodology for tracking provider specific data as required by California Code of Regulations (CCR) §7029.6(B)(4)(C) and Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §361.45 (d)(2)(i)(ii)(iii)(iv).
The DOR staff and Project contractors will be making a presentation to the SRC at its November meeting and provide further details at that time. If the scope of that Project does not provide the information the SRC is seeking, the SRC is welcome to make follow-up recommendations.
SRC Recommendation 2010.8

The SRC recommends that the DOR inform and advise the SRC on its plans to ensure an adequate VR workforce in light of the challenges of furloughs, hiring freezes, and attrition.

  • DOR Response

As a State agency, the DOR operates in accordance with State policies, the Budget Act, bargaining agreements, and a variety of other state governance mandates. This includes workforce recruitment and retention planning. As appropriate, the DOR will include pertinent updates on this topic in its reports to the SRC and other relevant stakeholders.
SRC Recommendation 2010.9

The SRC recommends that the DOR work with the State Personnel Board to develop policies clarifying the responsibilities of state agencies in providing reasonable accommodation equipment and supports for their employees.

  • DOR Response

The DOR concurs with the need for consistent application of reasonable accommodation policies throughout the state workforce. In collaboration with the State Personnel Board, the DOR has a significant leadership role in the implementation of the California as Model Employer Initiative. In celebration of the July 26, 2010, 20th anniversary of the ADA, Governor Schwarzenegger issued Executive Order (EO) S-11-10, re-affirming the Administration’s commitment to ensure fairness and non-discrimination in state employment practices. Among other things in the EO, the Governor ordered the State Personnel Board to confer with DOR and call all state Equal Employment Officers together, within 60 days, to coordinate training of all state supervisors and managers on the need to provide reasonable accommodations to state employees with a disability in a timely manner. DOR continues to play a critical leadership role in the execution and implementation of this order.
SRC Recommendation 2010.10

The SRC recommends that the DOR consider using ARRA funds to expand the Employment Circles program to more districts throughout the State.

  • DOR Response

The DOR welcomes opportunities to expand the Employment Circle concept, as well as similar programs that improve successful employment outcomes for DOR consumers. This information has been passed on to appropriate program staff to take into consideration in developing ARRA proposals for the remaining 10 months of the ARRA program.
SRC Recommendation 2010.11

The SRC recommends that the DOR include the following types of questions in the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA) Year 3 Survey:

For Surveys of Employers, Workforce Investment Boards, and One-Stops:

  1. Needs of persons with disabilities to achieve and retain employment (including social and technical skills, job seeking skills, and job coaching).

  2. Methods to maximize employment opportunities for persons with disabilities (including how employers recruit, and information they need for hiring persons with disabilities).

  3. Methods to best serve persons with disabilities through the Workforce Investment System (including availability of services and resources at One-Stops).

  4. Perceptions about persons with disabilities in the workplace (to determine the extent of full and equal access for persons with disabilities).

  5. Perceptions about the DOR (to determine to what extent stakeholders are aware of the DOR and its services).

For Surveys of Community Rehabilitation Program Providers and Community Based Organizations (CBOs):

  1. Improving the quality and quantity of consumer referrals.

  2. Improving the DOR reimbursement process.

  3. Concerns related to service delivery, including staff training needs.

  4. Improved communication between CRPs/CBOs and the DOR.

  5. Barriers faced by unserved, underserved, and minority populations.

  6. Methods to maximize outreach to unserved, underserved, and minority populations.

  • DOR Response

The DOR appreciates the concurrence of the SRC with its proposed survey content and is moving forward accordingly. The DOR looks forward to continuing collaboration throughout the survey process and results analysis.
SRC Recommendation 2010.12

The SRC recommends that the DOR adopt the proposed language of CCR 7179.1 as presented.

  • DOR Response

The DOR appreciates the concurrence of the SRC with the DOR-proposed regulatory language. This proposed language will continue to evolve as it moves through the State's mandated process for review and adoption of regulations. The SRC will be kept informed of any further revisions.
SRC Recommendation 2010.13

The SRC recommends that the DOR adopt the proposed language of CCR 7179.3 as presented.

  • DOR Response

The DOR appreciates the concurrence of the SRC with the DOR-proposed regulatory language. This proposed language will continue to evolve as it moves through the State's mandated process for review and adoption of regulations. The SRC will be kept informed of any further revisions.
SRC Recommendation 2010.14

The SRC recommends that the DOR provide training and guidance, in accessible formats, to DOR vendors on CCR 7179.3, as amended, in addition to providing training and guidance to DOR employees.

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