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Advisory Committee for the Blind of Pennsylvania Meeting Minutes

August 12, 2014

Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
4724 Baum Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Members Present
David De Notaris
Joe Drenth
Arnold Bowser
Donna Reinaker
 
Public Attendees
Joe Wassermann
Carol Bowser
Shelly Faust-Jones
Connie Moonen
Susan Neff
Michael Vovakes
Kelly Boylan-Luchau
Luke Boylan-Luchau
Stan Swaintek
Gus Laffey
Janet Wisloski
Rob Schramm
Don Ciccone
Devin Evans
Mark S.
Marsha Drenth
 
Joe Drenth
  • Thank you everyone for attending.
David
  • Introduce Michael Vovakes
  • Michael will assist with day-to-day operations.
Michael
  • Operationally don't expect any changes to services you are accustomed to receiving.
  • Agency is heading in a sound direction.
  • Announcement: Governor's Job 1st Summit in Pittsburgh at the Convention Center at the end of August. Governor will be there on the 25th.
  • Happy to answer questions/address any issues

David

  • Michael you attended Summer Academy O&M day. Any reflections?

Michael

  • Twenty-three kids who have abilities that the world needs now
  • Remarkable to see these kids navigate campus
  • These kids can change their world, and we need to help them do that.
  • Secretary Hearthway said it is a terrific event.
  • RAs and staff were really nice.
  • Life changing experience for these kids. They were tested. They went beyond boundaries that they were comfortable with. They accomplished things they didn't know they could.

J. Wassermann

  • Committee would love to hear statistics as to what has happened to kids that have gone through the program.

David

  • Michael suggested to us an alumni association.

Bowser

  • Speaker at Career Day
  • Enlightening to see how OVR is helping kids to get out into society
  • Hope you can expand program.
  • I agree. It is important to know what students have accomplished after leaving such a great program.

David
Children Services Report

  • Developing services in Harrisburg, Philly and Erie
  • We would like to think about how we can move group instruction to younger kids.

VR

  • Two Summer Programs: Summer Academy and Overbrook School for the Blind (Supportive employment track).
  • Hoping to expand Overbrook to 3 weeks

Summer Academy

  • Commissioner LaBreck spoke.
  • Kids learned O&M skills, AT, Recreation (High Ropes and rock wall), advocacy and Daily Living Skills.
  • Friendships and networks were established.
  • Career Day Speakers: Natalie Ruschell, Lashelle Smith, Chris Westbrook, (deaf-blind web designer), Kelly Boylan-Luchau (BEP), Arnold Bowser and Tony Swartz
  • Prepared kids for college and work
  • We will be sending out a link for CD for Summer Academy.

Staffing

  • Completed interviews for Pittsburgh DA job
  • Finished ADA Philadelphia interviews
  • New Hire - Gus Laffey - AT Coordinator

Gus

  •  Introduction
  •  Worked 7 years as AT trainer
  •  Worked with BBVS employees
  •  Very excited to be on board

David

  •  Continue to develop SSP program
  •  Provider that state has been working with not announced yet
  •  Oct. 1st will begin pilot program
  •  Questions?

Joe Drenth

  •  Date for announcement of provider SSP?

David

  •  Hoping for this Friday.

Marsha

  • Multimedia short clip for Summer Academy for advertisement and reflection?

David

  •  Thank you
  •  We have a video with pictures/sound. We have a secure link that is up on YouTube.
  •  Video helps kids remember what they accomplished.

Drenth

  •  Is there a way to make media clip more accessible and make it promotional?

David

  •  Next year our goal is to work with someone to make a professional video.
Individual BBVS reports
 

Shelly

Children's Program

  •  Thank you everyone for your hard work at Summer Academy.
  •  Thankful for support of Committee
  •  Children's Program continues to move forward. Federal Quota money for APH products.
  •  Offices are now well-equipped to go out and help kids/families.
  • JAWs will be installed on RT's PCs.
  •  If our staff isn't comfortable with technology, neither are our customers.
  •  Salus/Pitt/Kutztown
    • Working on getting paid internship for RT and O&Ms. Currently we have VRC   interns. 3rd year of trying to get this going. Very close. Hoping to help limited pool of RTs and O&Ms.
    • Use Summer Academy as internship hours for universities.

Susan

  • Continue to receive referrals to the ILOB program. Population of PA is aging. 2,120 customers served at end of June.
  • Statewide training will include ILOB instruction.
  • Jump Start Program
    • Provide customers with elder abuse training and fraud training
    • Hopefully we will be able to introduce more Assistive Technology to Jump Start.

Donna

  • Regarding the Department of Aging and elder abuse training, any questions, I can point you in the right direction.

Shelly

  • SSP program. Like to talk to Donna about identifying people who are seniors who have dual sensory loss

Donna

  • Love to help

Stan - VR

  • Numbers for VR: August 1st. We should be at 75%, We are at about 60%. Three of our offices are where they should be.
  • Three offices lagging a bit - Harrisburg, Philly and Erie
  • Statewide training initiative. On four different occasions we are bringing our staff together. BBVS VRCs, O&Ms, SWs and RTs will go to the trainings.
  • Looking at using additional funding to help Overbrook Summer Program: job sampling program, where students would go into internship-like setup

Donna

  • Is there any intersection with autism with children?

Stan

  • Main disability is visual impairment. If someone also has autism diagnosis, we work with BVRS to provide services.
  • Whenever anyone has a visual impairment, we can do much more than BVRS can regarding services.
  • If we need consultation on another disability, we work with BVRS counselors.

Shelly

  • If child younger than 14, SW would also reach out to community resources.
  • If primary is visual, they become our customers. If visual is secondary, BVRS would consult with us.

Stan

  • Can't have a BBVS and BVRS case open at once

Schramm

  • We can make available our policies to the committee members regarding what is considered primary impediment.

Janet

  • Consultation meeting is set up with a customer.
  • Once we review documentation, it is up to the individual which bureau they would like to receive services from.

David

  • Not a case of we aren't serving them. Technology doesn't allow us to have cases open in two Bureaus.

Schramm

  • Committee can make a recommendation to the board re: services in both agencies.

Kelly - BEP

  • Terry Smith, consultant, is coming in two weeks to help with training.
  • I did speak at the Summer Academy and explained the program to students.
  • We will interview 26th person tomorrow for the program.
  • 3 people waiting to interview
  • 8 people should graduate from BEP program.
  • We do have sites. The challenge will be finding sites for next group of people.
  • Average salary 69K
  • All states are brainstorming regarding what they can venture into.
  • We have focused on lots of staff training.
  • We have a lot of annuitants helping.
  • We are writing processes down now, such as standard operating procedures.

Challenges:

  • US mint is looking at changing all the coins to a lighter coin. All vendor machines would have to be changed. This could hit the program very hard.
  • Another challenge is that candy and soda prices have gone up.

Schramm

  • We are facing same challenges that other states are facing.
  • We are averaging higher income but less sites.

Bowser

  • Money spent on new equipment?

KBL

  •  We are working on repairs, spending less money and researching each repair/maintenance

Janet
Staffing

  • Rich Fischer retired. Once the HR process is complete, we will have a new District Administrator.
  • Working on filling O&M position. We are trying to increase candidate pool.
  • Goals: we are at 80%.
  • Planning some things for Disability Mentoring Day (Oct). Expose individuals to the basic technology we use.
  • Outreach for children's services to increase referrals.
  • Stephanie Van recently did a group children's class.

David

  • O&M low candidate pool: National crisis.
  • We are working with Salus/Kutztown/Pitt.
  • Issues we run into: School district 10 month calendar and VAs pay more.
  • Statewide we have 13 O&M instructors.

Shelly

  • Hiring future TVIs for RAs in Summer Academy. 3 RAs at Summer Academy want to pursue O&M.

David
Newsline

  • Just over 3,000 subscribers in PA
  • Continues to grow
  • Introduced to Summer Academy students

Drenth - ACBP reports

  • What kind of other criteria can we use to measure the cases?
  • What other milestones or sub-goals can we construct or report on each case to see if customers are receiving the services they need?

Shelly

  • The reason child cases are kept open is because SW will keep case open until all needs of child are met.
  • Not unusual to see cases open for a long time.
  • The way we know that actions are happening in cases is per Case Progress Notes in CWDS

Drenth

  • Is there a way to measure/mark time took to receive services (O&M, RT, etc.)?

David

  • Every case is a bit different.

Drenth

  • Something to measure time that it took to receive services, regardless of the services received

Stan

  • We do have a quality component. We do quality reviews on cases, annual reviews. Case reviews are also completed. Certain things that are considered: when plan was completed, success of plan, etc. You obtain a percentage from these reviews. Three levels of reviews: Supervisor (level 1), DA or designee (level 2) and Central Office (level 3).

Michael to Drenth

  • What are you looking for? What is the root of the question?

Drenth

  • Not just track closure. As soon as goal is determined, we want to track how long it took to complete goal, so that we can tell how promptly needs are addressed.

Michael

  • Looking for process measurements? Not simply closures.

Janet

  • There are measurable dates within the plan.

Drenth

  • First Step: To keep track if the first date of goal is ever met. Then, we will see how many obstacles are in the way of obtaining the goal.

Stan

  • Unable to pull that out in a report format.
  • We can review any case and come up with those numbers. It is part of the case review. We look at fiscal, time, etc. Takes 2-3 hours to complete a case review. Intensive process.
  • We can get results of case reviews to Committee (level 3).

David

  • What I'm hearing: are services being provided in timely manner and how are we tracking it?

Drenth

  • Staffing numbers for each office: What is the process? Is it based on population of area served or how expansive the area is?

David

  • There is no official formula. We have approx. 150 staff statewide.
  • These are the slots I have inherited.
  • We don't fill a position if there is not a need. We are constantly analyzing needs in office vs. staff complement. Consider population trends. Constant balancing act with resources.

Drenth

  • 165 positions. How was that number determined?

Stan

  • To add positions, we need Secretary Hearthway’s approval and additional funding and assistance from governor's office.
  • David can move positions throughout the districts. We can borrow/give positions to BVRS as well, when needed.
  • Hard to come up with a firm equation. We are dealing with populations in flux, large geographic area, etc.
  • We did raise our expectations for O&M, RT, SW expectations/goals. Increased by 12/year.

Drenth

  • How do you balance increasing workload and fixed staff?
  • Do we need to speak with Secretary Hearthway about increasing staff and increasing funding?

David

  • Looking at the numbers: What is the saturation level? We don't know, but we are not there yet.
  • We are asked to do more with what we have.
  • May get to a point where we need more resources.
  • We must make sure we maximize the resources we have 

Drenth

  • Regarding O&M instructor shortage. What is the salary policy? Are we not competitive?

David

  • We are competitive.
  • School: 10 month work year.
  • Florida starts O&M at 30K, 12K less than us.

Drenth

  • Contract opportunities?

David

  • Yes. We use local associations.
Blindness Awareness Expo - April 2015
 

David

  • Timeframe? April AER conference is also taking place. This draws a lot of TVI and staff away. NCSAB has their conference in April as well.
  • One of the reasons the events were planned for late May/early June is because the elected officials are voting on budget during this timeframe.
  • Timing in May keeps our Bureau in their minds as they are working on the budget

Drenth

  • We will review what the best options are.

Michael

  • General Assembly usually takes a few weeks off during Memorial Day. You will want to look for session days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday).
  • Don't want to be there the last week of June. Maybe the first week they are in session in June. They will start really working on budget in June. You will get lobbyists, other individuals and legislatures there as well.  

Bowser

  • We need more committee members to give us info in order to make this a significant event.
  • April was not a set date. Just an idea.

Drenth

  • Step one: Date and locations

Marsha

  • Is there a master calendar that shows things going on? For example: AER, NCSAB, etc.

David

  • No master calendar.

Drenth

  • September 7th. Sunday at 6pm is the next conference call.

Drenth

  • Committee comments?
  • Public Comments?

J. Wassermann

  • PCB will hold convention 17-19 October in Johnstown, PA at the Holiday Inn.

David

  • November: NFB convention in Wilkes-Barre, PA. 75th Anniversary of when the NFB was started.

Drenth

  • Next public meeting November 18th in Philadelphia, PA.

David

  • We could use ASB, Philadelphia District Office or Overbrook for location.
  • Topic for that event?

Drenth

  • Overbrook Success stories

David

  • Let us know where you would like it to take place.
  • Morning meeting and afternoon tour, if we have it take place at Overbrook.

Meeting Adjourned.