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OKLAHOMA REHABILITATION COUNCIL 2008 ANNUAL REPORT
Special Thanks to Director Linda Parker Director Linda Parker will be retiring from the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services December 31, 2008 after 13 years of dedicated service to the agency and 35 years to the state. Her accomplishments include managing a staff of 900 with a budget totaling $139 million. Her services to the agency are greatly appreciated. She will be missed. Director Parker began her state service with the Disability Determination Unit. During her tenure with that unit, she was promoted to a series of positions, including examiner supervisor, programs supervisor and programs assistant administrator. She also managed the Quality Assurance and Disability Hearings Unit and coordinated activities for the Receiving and Transmitting Unit, the switchboard, the Case Control Unit, Medical Claims Processing and Teletype and Computer Services. In 1996, Parker was appointed director of the Department after working her way up through the ranks. She served as DRS’ first administrator for the Administrative Services Division. Her contributions have been recognized by many professional organizations, including a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Social Security Administration, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Society for Public Administration, and the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Association and the Commission for Rehabilitation Services, which governs the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services. She has served as a board member for Project Woman and several disability councils, including the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council and the State Independent Living Council, and was a board member of the Governor’s Transformation Advisory Board, Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development and the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth. Director Parker, the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council wishes you success and happiness in your future endeavors. The DRS Commission held a nationwide search for applicants to fulfill this position. In August 2008 it was announced that Dr. Mike O’Brien was offered the position of Director for the DRS agency. He will come on board as Director Designee in December 2008 and
3535 NW 58th Street
Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council
3535 NW 58th Street, Suite 500
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112-4824
(405) 951-3482 V/TTY (405) 951-3532 Fax
The mission of the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (ORC) is to facilitate consumer education and empowerment, to assure services are of high quality, and lead to employment of individuals with disabilities within Oklahoma.
In accordance with the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, which reauthorized the Rehabilitation Act and changed the Rehabilitation Advisory Council (RAC) to the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) Section 105, the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council (ORC) is to advise the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) regarding the operation and delivery of rehabilitation services.
The major purpose of the Council is laid out in the Rehabilitation Act, Section 105, which includes, among other items, the following:
This document contains information highlighting the working partnership and accomplishments of the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council, the Department of Rehabilitation Services, and other stakeholders.
DRS contracts with Seretean Wellness Center at Oklahoma State University (OSU) for the provision of the staff support services for the ORC as set forth in Section 105 and Section 4.2 of the State Plan of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. The Director of Sponsored Programs at the Seretean Wellness Center hires, supervises, and evaluates a full time Program Manager position for the daily operations of the council. In addition, OSU manages all contractual financial obligations of the council. In turn, DRS provided in-kind services of office space, phone and computer access to the council staff.
To request additional copies or alternate formats of this publication or for more information about the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council please contact:
Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council
3535 NW 58th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73112-4824
Voice: (800) 569-7974
Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council
Duties as Cited in the Act
Establishment of the ORC
The Council was established in 1993 as mandated by the 1992 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 102-569). The ORC was originally established as the State Rehabilitation Advisory Council (SRAC) to advise the designated State agency regarding its performance in providing vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities. The passage of the 1998 Amendments to the Act changed the Council’s name to the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council.
Year in Review
Chairperson – BJ Nevels
Policy and Legislative Committee
Chairperson – Milissa Gofourth
The Policy and Legislative Committee collaborated with DRS Public Information Office with Disability Awareness Day 2008 at the State Capitol. The theme for 2008 was “One in Five” meaning one in every five Oklahomans has a disability, most individuals having more than one disability. Policy and Legislative Committee members provided training to participants on legislative advocacy, as well as facilitating communication while visiting with their legislators. Some ORC members had exhibit booths at the event for their organizational affiliation connecting them with the Council.
Planning and Program Committee
Chairperson – Doug MacMillan, Jr.
The ORC expressed concerns to the agency that previous comprehensive needs assessment (CNA) instruments have not been comprehensive. Therefore, the ORC recommended that DRS outsource the CNA in an effort to get a wide-ranging perspective on the needs of Oklahomans with disabilities. This recommendation was included in the DRS State Plan for FFY08. Realizing the Agency had been under an Order of Selection, due to a fiscal shortage, the ORC instead recommended the agency consider cost saving methodology of reviewing CNAs from other states and developing a CNA for Oklahoma.
DRS collaborated with the College of Continuing Education at the University of Oklahoma to have an analysis of the program impact and benefits study. The report presented the findings of a new impact study and benefit-cost analysis of DRS. The research and evaluation unit within The University of Oklahoma Outreach conducted this evaluation.
The results suggest that for every dollar invested in DRS services, on average, 2.3 dollars are returned to the public in increased taxes and reduced public assistance, if individuals continue to experience the earnings increase for ten years after case closure. If the average individual continues to experience the same earnings gain over an estimated 30-year work lifetime, 5.3 dollars will be returned to taxpayers for every dollar invested. For every dollar invested in DRS services, on average, participants receive $15 in benefits over their work life. Thus, the ratio of participant benefits to dollars invested is 15 to 1.
The Rehabilitation Act requires that the State Rehabilitation Council assess vocational rehabilitation services for effectiveness and consumer satisfaction. Each year the ORC works with DRS on the consumer satisfaction survey. Surveys were mailed to 2,268 randomly selected individuals who had received vocational rehabilitation services. The survey was returned by 411 individuals with a return rate of 18.1%. The FY08 survey results had a 77.6% overall satisfaction with consumers, which was a 1.7% decrease from the previous year. The survey statements experiencing the greatest increase of 2.5% in agreement were the following three areas: “I participated fully in the development of my Individual Plan for Employment”, “I was informed of the services that were available”, and “I was happy with the way I was treated”. The survey statements experiencing the greatest decrease were the following three areas: -1.7% drop in “Overall, I am satisfied with the services I received”, -1.1% drop in “The Vocational Rehabilitation and/or Visual Services staff returned my telephone calls in a timely manner”, and -1.4% drop in “My counselor assisted me in connecting to other agencies and services that I needed.” DRS has required counselors to make contact with each client every 90 days at a minimum in attempt to address this consumer satisfaction problem area.
Other findings were positive, and neutral comments praised the variety of services offered, service provision methods, contract services providers, and DRS staff. Consumers often thanked specific staff and attributed program progress and success to them.
Negative comments focused most often on a general lack of contact or action by staff, feelings of disrespect on the part of DRS staff toward consumers, disappointment regarding costs of services or slow service provisions, as well as an overall frustration with the inability to obtain gainful employment upon completion of the program.
Transition and Employment
Chairperson – Kim Nickerson Osmani
Other ORC Initiatives
During the ORC Strategic Planning meeting in May of 2008, members addressed concerns regarding the quality of assistive technology services provided throughout the state. After a lengthy discussion the Visuals Services Administrator asked the ORC to study the issue through an ad-hoc committee.
Membership of the committee includes four ORC members, the ORC Program Manager, three VS AT Specialists, three VR AT Specialists, and other DRS staff. The committee began by studying the barriers that clients face when receiving assistive technology services including evaluation, procurement, training, and on-going support. Based on the broad array of assistive technology, the committee has narrowed the discussion to concentrate on computer access. The committee’s intent is to provide DRS with their findings and possible recommendations.
The DRS Re-Engineering Committee consists of DRS staff, the Client Assistance Program (CAP), and the ORC. The Re-Engineering Committee is charged with reviewing policy issues for the agency. The committee met on an as needed basis to provide the agency with proposed policy revisions.
The ORC sought community input from program participants, advocates, employers, educators and other stakeholders through three Public Hearings. They were co-hosted by DRS and the ORC on February 4, 2008 in Oklahoma City, February 5, 2008 in Lawton, and February 6, 2008 in Tulsa. ORC made the following comments on the proposed policy changes for FY08:
Annually, members of the ORC perform an important role in assisting and advising DRS with preparation of the state plan for vocational rehabilitation and supported employment. The state plan is a document that assures the federal government that DRS will operate its vocational rehabilitation and supported employment program in accordance with provisions of the plan, as well as, federal statutory, regulatory, and policy requirements. Approval of the state plan results in allocation of federal funds for the DRS programs.
ORC’s input is vital in the preparation of the state plan as its recommendations encompass those issues, policies and practices they deem paramount to successful operation of the state/federal partnership. During ORC meetings, members receive updates about DRS programs and activities through presentations and reports from DRS staff. This communication further serves to strengthen the partnership.
Due to the restructuring from RSA, DRS took on the large task of revamping their entire state plan. ORC spent considerable time participating in the development of each step in creating this new document, which included the development of goals and objectives. Several of the ORC committees met with DRS staff to assist in the development of specific areas within the state plan. ORC made several recommendations regarding the state plan, most of which were accepted. ORC’s attachment 4.2 (c) of the state plan was adjusted to include goals and objectives. Attachment 4.2 (c) was the instrument used in creating the ORC’s FFY08 strategic plan and assignments for each committee. During FY08, DRS and the ORC co-hosted public hearings on the state plan, which were held on May 19th in Tulsa; May 20th in Lawton; and May 21st in Oklahoma City. All public hearings are held at facilities that are accessible and are on public bus routes. The public hearings were held during the RSA monitoring visit that they attended in Lawton. There was a good turnout of consumers who testified as to the impact DRS services has had on the success of their lives.
The council continues to support the mission and goals of Oklahomans for Public Transportation (OPT) Advocacy Group and partners as an advocate for increased public transportation throughout Oklahoma. ORC staff and council members continue to work with various committees and groups to educate and inform state officials of this immense barrier to individuals with disabilities.
The ORC continues to work on the United We Ride Project. The Oklahoma United We Ride council has been appointed by the Governor to coordinate the most appropriate and cost effective service that can be accomplished through the coordination or consolidation of human service transportation resources.
“One in Five” was the theme for Disability Awareness Day 2008 at the State Capitol. Over 420 people attended this ORC and DRS co-sponsored annual event, about 40 more than 2007. During the 2008 event, a component included a training by ORC members on Legislative Advocacy for participants before they met with their legislative representatives. Thanks to the training, consumers and disability advocates had the opportunity to confidently inform their legislators about disability issues and concerns. In addition to co-sponsoring the event, ORC members and staff participated on the planning committee and served as legislative leaders and guides.
“One in Five” or 480,000 Oklahomans has at least one disability. The purpose of Disability Awareness Day is to make State Senators and Representatives more aware of the employment and educational needs of Oklahomans with disabilities. To build interest in the upcoming day, ORC members delivered constituent’s success stories to the legislator’s office prior to the event. ORC provided attendees with a button which identified the “One in Five” theme of the event. This assisted legislators and staff to identify DRS supporters and disability advocates during office visits. The success of this event is evidenced by the amount of support and attendance shown by individuals with disabilities and other agencies.
The ORC partnered with the Heartland Council of the Blind to plan, develop and co-host the second “Meet the Candidate” forum. More than 26 candidates from the Oklahoma City metro area attended to speak to more than 100 attendees focused on disability issues. The 2008 forum had 8 more candidates than the previous event. Prior to the event, candidates were provided information on the top disability issues, as well as, 2005 US Census information regarding Oklahomans with disabilities. Several candidates suggested the ORC provide further training on key disability issues to the newly elected officials. Candidates valued the event by expressing their desires to receive future invitations. They recognized the importance in communication with this constituent group on disability related issues.
Historically, the ORC has been a strong supporter and actively involved in the National Coalition for State Rehabilitation Councils (NCSRC). NCSRC created a strong national advocacy voice for the public vocational rehabilitation system and allows the SRCs the opportunity to establish a mechanism for ongoing training and sharing best practices. Oklahoma is a member of the National SRC Steering Committee, serves as treasurer, and works on several sub-committees. ORC presented, at both the spring and fall meetings held before the CSAVR national meetings, on best practices of creating a working relationship with the designated state unit and how to collaborate on the creation of the state plan. The ORC was also involved in writing the best practice document on collaborating on creating the state plan which will be available on the NCSRC website in 2009.
During 2008, the ORC held a training on “Understanding Social Security Work Incentives and More” for staff from various agencies that provide information and referral regarding social security issues, as well as, for all U.S. congressional district office staff. Quality training was provided by the Area Work Incentive Coordinator of the Social Security Administration, as well as, the Professional Relations Coordinator from the Social Security Disability Determination Division. Success is evident by the evaluation score of 4.9 on a scale of 5.0. A participant comment included, “Outstanding training. Instructors were all excellent and extremely knowledgeable. Their willingness to take questions throughout was also exceptionally helpful, and I think it gave us all a better grasp on the complex subject matter. I certainly benefited from the questions others asked and the responses to my own questions. What I learned will be especially helpful as I deal with consumer inquiries and legislative issues bearing on SSDI, SSI and other related work incentives matters.”
Due to limited seating at this event, many DRS staff were unable to attend. In an effort to meet a great need in the agency for social security training, ORC is hosting the same training via webinar to all VR/VS counselor or teacher staff, all staff with the Native American Vocational Rehabilitation Programs and graduate students in the master’s degree program for vocational rehabilitation. The 2009 webinar will allow all participants to take the course at their own work station, saving the agency money on training and travel expenses.
Oklahoma’s monitoring visit with Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) was held in May 2008. ORC maintained involvement during the entire monitoring process, which included conference calls prior to the visit, initial meeting with all stakeholders, as well as the exit meeting. In addition, ORC met with RSA during the site visit regarding various projects and initiatives of the ORC. The ORC will assist the agency to address any technical assistance area RSA deemed needing attention.
During 2008, the ORC fulfilled all membership requirements of Section 105 of the Rehabilitation Act with appointments by the Governor. The Council had 18 members, 3 being ex-officio, nonvoting members from DRS. Of the voting members, the council had 60% representation from persons with disabilities. The council members are a cross-section of individuals with disabilities who have a stake in vocational rehabilitation services. Members serve three-year terms.
The council structure includes Chair, Vice-Chair and three members at-large as executive committee members. Each member of the executive committee holds the position of chair on a committee. As a request of the ORC, the agency has assigned a staff liaison to each committee that acts as content specialist to that committee.
The council met quarterly during FFY08, which is in compliance with the Rehabilitation Act requiring four meetings per year. Meeting dates were:
November 15, 2007
February 21, 2008
May 1, 2008 (Strategic Planning Retreat)
May 15, 2008
August 21, 2008
Sub-committees met as needed throughout the year to complete their tasks outlined in the ORC Strategic Plan.
In closing, the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council continues to value its partnership with the state agency and actively works to be recognized and utilized by DRS as a resourceful advocate. The membership of the Council is committed to learn the systemic issues faced by DRS and how they impact the quality of successful employment outcomes for persons with disabilities. Fiscal year 2008, had many challenges in continuing quality services due to fiscal problems, which resulted in the closing of all priority groups for eight months of the year. The need for services will not diminish in the future when you consider the U.S. Census Bureau reports there are 54.4 Americans with disabilities. It is evident that we have significant work ahead. The ORC will continue to align efforts to ensure Oklahomans with disabilities receive services in the most effective and efficient method possible.
Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council Members
Marilyn Burr – Member-at-large
Milissa Gofourth - Committee Chair
Doug MacMillan Jr. – Committee Chair
B.J. Nevels - Council Chair
Kim Osmani– Vice & Committee Chair
Sabrina Ware – Member-at-large
OSU - Seretean Wellness Center Staff
State of Oklahoma
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