Massachusetts State Rehabilitation Council
2011 Annual Report
The State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) was created in March 1994 by Executive Order of the Governor to implement the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended by P.L. 102-569.
The Council carries out its purpose by performing the following duties and responsibilities:
- Advise the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission regarding the administering of the Public Vocational Rehabilitation Program under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act, particularly regarding eligibility and order of selection;
- Advise the MRC regarding its relationship with other state agencies that affect the ability of individuals with disabilities to achieve their vocational rehabilitation goals and objectives;
- Advise the MRC concerning the preparation of the Vocational Rehabilitation State Plan (which plans for vocational rehabilitation services), and amendments thereto, and any reports, needs assessments and evaluations required by Title I of the Rehabilitation Act;
- To the extent feasible, conduct review and analysis of consumer satisfaction with vocational rehabilitation services and the functions performed by state agencies and other public and private entities serving persons with disabilities;
- Prepare and submit an Annual Report to the Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Governor on the status of vocational rehabilitation programs operated within Massachusetts and make the report available to the public;
- Coordinate with other organizations in Massachusetts that plan or oversee the provision of services for persons with disabilities, including the State- wide Independent Living Council established under Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act, the advisory panel established under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Massachusetts Mental Health Planning Council;
- Advise the MRC concerning coordination and establishment of working relationships between the Commission and the Statewide Independent Living Council and Centers for Independent Living within Massachusetts.
In pursuing these purposes, the Council encourages participation by all concerned individuals.
A Message from the Chair
Dear Governor Patrick:
I am pleased to present this 2011 Annual Report which identifies the key activities of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission State Rehabilitation Council (SRC).
During the federal fiscal year of 2011, there were several important activities and events that took place. I have identified a few of the highlights below. The other significant activities can be found in the reports from our committees.
The SRC worked with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) and partnered with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB), the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH), and the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) to run a tremendously successful consumer conference. The conference evaluation analysis reflected the attendees’ high accolades. The conference was called "Beyond Independence." Over 360 attendees enjoyed 12 educational workshops and had an opportunity to hear from Commissioner Lynnae Ruttledge of the Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration.
This year the SRC partnered again with the Statewide Independent Living Council and coordinated an education day at the State House. The focus was on the important services that Independent Living Centers provide and how these services support folks who want to go to work. Over two hundred individuals attended this event and heard remarks from MRC Commissioner Charles Carr and several legislators.
Working closely with the Governor’s office, we were able to increase our number of appointed members by 100%. In September 2011, we had 10 appointed members of the Council. We have not had this many members in a number of years. We are very grateful for all the efforts of the Governor's office in helping us get to this level.
The Council also made great strides partnering with the MRC in the areas of finance, needs assessment, consumer satisfaction, marketing, training programs and the development of the state plan as you will see in this annual report. The efforts of all who participated in these activities should be acknowledged.
It has been my pleasure to serve as the SRC Chair for the past few years and I look forward to working with our new Chair as we continue to work on our strategic plan goals. I especially would like to thank Commissioner Carr, the MRC senior management team, the Consumer Involvement staff and all the folks who volunteer their time as SRC members, Ex- Officio’s and friends for their diligence to the events of the SRC.
Youcef "Joe" Bellil
About the Agency
Charles Carr, Commissioner
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission is comprised of the following three (3) divisions:
- The Public Vocational Rehabilitation Services Division
- The Community Living Services Division
- The State Disability Determination Services Division
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission was founded in 1956 for the purpose of assisting people with disabilities to secure gainful and competitive employment. The mission of the agency has been greatly expanded throughout the years. The Disability Determination Services Division was established in the late 1950's and the Community Living Division was developed in the mid 1980's.
Today, the purpose of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission is to provide comprehensive services with and for people with disabilities that will maximize their quality of life and economic self-sufficiency in the community. This is accomplished through multiple programs in the three divisions of the MRC.
Approximately 12% of the state population have a disability and there are more than 736,000 individuals with disabilities living in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission serves consumers with a range of disabilities and chronic diseases, including but not limited to, orthopedic disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, substance abuse, learning disabilities, developmental delays, sensory disabilities and neurological disabilities, including impairments caused by brain and spinal cord injury.
Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program
The Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) program is a federal-state partnership focused on individuals with significant physical and/or mental disabilities who wish to attain part or full time employment in the community.
The vision of the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program is "to promote equality, empowerment and productive independence of individuals with disabilities through organizational innovation committed to creating options that enhance personal and informed choice and risk-taking."
State VR 2011 Consumer Service Outcomes
- In State Fiscal Year 2011(July 1, 2010 -June 30, 2011), the MRC Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program trained and assisted over 3,400 individuals with significant disabilities to graduate from the MRCVRS Program and attain community based competitive employment.
- The earnings of these rehabilitated employees in MA in the first year were $59.2 million.
- Estimated public benefits savings from people rehabilitated in MA were $25.6 million.
- Average Hourly Wage: $12.58
- Average Work Hours Weekly: 26.5
Return on the Dollar
For the federal-state appropriations and allotments invested in the MRC Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program, the nationwide return on investment last federal fiscal year was:
- $330 million paid in federal taxes by Vocational Rehabilitation Program graduates who entered part or full time employment.
- $360 million paid in Social Security taxes.
- $110 million paid in state income taxes.
Who Are Our Consumers? Types of Disabling Conditions:
Psychiatric Disabilities 36.8%
Substance Abuse 10.0%
Orthopedic Disabilities 10.7%
Learning Disabilities 18.8%
Developmental Disabilities 2.7%
Deaf and Hard of Hearing 6.7%
Neurological Disabilities 2.7%
Traumatic Brain Injury 2.0%
Other Disabilities 9.6%
Average Age: 34 Years old
Asian/Pacific Islander: 3.4%
Native American: .6%
Facts At A Glance
- Consumers actively receiving services: 22,003
- Consumers enrolled in training/education programs: 15,169
- Consumers with significant disabilities employed: 100% of 3,413
- Consumers employed with medical insurance: 94.4%
- Consumers satisfied with services: 84%
Benchmarks of the Program
Included in the measurements regarding success of the MRC Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program are the:
- Numbers of graduates entering part or full time competitive employment in the community.
- Numbers and percent of graduates who are individuals with significant disabilities.
- Number of graduates who are people who received Social Security benefits (such as SSI or SSDI).
- Number of graduates who were people who received Commonwealth Public Assistance Services (such as AFDC).
- Improvement in wage earnings.
- Numbers of individuals working at least 35 hours per week.
- Numbers needing to re-enter the VR Program.
- Number of graduates versus the number of staff who work with, or on behalf of, consumers in the VRS Program.
The MRC Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program, which includes the expanded Community Living Services Division, has special services for MRC consumers, including:
- Assistance and information about SSI Work Incentives, including ways the Social Security Administration, in cooperation with the MRC Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, can assist in phasing-out from the SSI and SSDI Programs.
- The Van Modification Program for eligible Vocational Rehabilitation consumers who are ready for employment. This program provides funds to adapt vans for individuals with physical disabilities who need to enter/exit, be a driver or passenger and be secure in their van.
- The Adaptive Housing Program involves an architect who may design and arrange construction/modifications to the home's entrance and bathroom for an eligible Vocational Rehabilitation consumer.
- Post Employment Services to consumers who graduate from the MRC Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program and find a need for additional services from the MRC.
- MassMATCH works to put assistive technology “AT” into the hands of people with disabilities. AT is any item or piece of equipment used to maintain or improve the capabilities of people with disabilities. AT can help people participate and be more independent in school, at home, at work, and in the community.
Fiscal Year 2011 SRC Activities and Accomplishments
The State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) Annual Meeting was conducted on September 13, 2010. At that meeting, the SRC elected its Executive Committee as called for in the SRC By-Laws. The following SRC officers were elected accordingly:
- Chairperson, Joseph Bellil
- Vice Chairperson, Nicholas Kaltsas
- Secretary, Mark Bornemann
- First Member-at-Large, Vacant
- Second Member-at-Large, Vacant
For FY2011 the Council's Executive Committee will conduct SRC quarterly meetings in the Vocational Rehabilitation geographical districts as follows:
March 7, 2011 South Region
June 6, 2011 North Region
September 12, 2011 West Region
December 5, 2011 Metro West Region
The State Rehabilitation Council carried out its advisory business in four full Council meetings during the fiscal year. The generic nature of the agenda is as follows:
- Chair opens the meeting.
- Acceptance of the last SRC meeting minutes.
- Chair's Report.
- MRC Commissioner’s Report.
- Standing Committees’ Reports.
- Open Microphone — Consumer Open Forum.
- Regional Consumer Advisory Council’s Report.
State Rehabilitation Council (SRC)
Our Mission is to partner with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission to support and advise the agency in the provision of high quality, value-based vocational rehabilitation services that lead to meaningful and sustainable competitive employment for consumers.
Our Vision is to provide a dynamic pathway to economic self-sufficiency for all people with disabilities to break the historic bonds of poverty.
Joint Committee State Plan and Interagency Relations
Joe Bellil, Chair
This year the State Plan and Interagency Relations Committee decided to try an innovative approach to encourage greater public input into the State Plan. We included a public hearing within the body of a State Rehabilitation Council Quarterly meeting. The result was a success.
The public hearing received greater attention because of its involvement with the regularly scheduled meeting. There was a built-in audience who heard more than forty-five minutes of testimony from a variety of community members. The issues ranged from having more work incentives to providing better services to the youth with disabilities.
Attachment 4.2(c) - RSA State Plan - Federal Fiscal Year 2012
State Rehabilitation Council Recommendations
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission has an active and productive State Rehabilitation Council (SRC). SRC members through their area consumer advisory councils, SRC committees, task forces, quarterly meetings and the annual consumer conference have conducted surveys and needs assessments that have provided input to more effectively address the needs of individuals with the most significant disabilities. The SRC, through the SRC State Plan joint-committee, has made the following recommendations to the Commission:
The SRC recommends that the MRC create the ability for employers to access a statewide list of all job ready clients who meet specific skill sets. Provide an opportunity for employers to post jobs through MRC’s internal network. Develop affinity groups; utilize the internet more effectively including Linkedin, Facebook; and create an employer focused webpage that provides useful information on hiring people with disabilities.
The SRC recommends that sustentative measures be undertaken to foster a more collaborative use of Regional Transportation Authority paratransit programs. To actively support the Governors directive to participate in developing better transportation outcomes and expand their efforts with programs like Car Donation and Adaptive Van for Drivers Education. To include others not only to renovate vehicles for individuals, but also actively promote the creation of opportunities for clients to become business owners themselves.
The SRC recommends that there be dedicated Web-developmental and support resources, under the direct control of MRC staff. Clear information, presentation and content quality are paramount for any web-site. The website must be focused on the consumers who use it and many of these users have unique cognitive challenges. We believe that the MRC has a clear understanding and know-how of the needs of the groups being served by their Portal. Not allowing MRC control of the Website’s development and management is hurting its VR consumers.
The SRC recommends that the MRC develop a long term support program for consumers with learning disabilities (LD) and/or attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that will provide assistance with organizational, practical, remedial and interpersonal problems that often interfere with successful completion of an educational program or maintaining employment.
The SRC recommends that the MRC ensure a smoother transition program for youth with disabilities is in place. Also, that they create a comprehensive agenda with all its departments and programs for youth transitional support services.
Consumer Satisfaction Committee
Mike Ferriter, Chair
The mission of the Consumer Satisfaction Committee (CSC) of the Massachusetts SRC is to ensure that consumer perspectives are included in the process of evaluating MRC consumer satisfaction and to serve in an advisory capacity to improve services provided to consumers.
To achieve this mission, the CSC will work in collaboration with the Research, Development and Performance Management Department of the MRC to develop/refine evaluation tools and analyze/interpret data collected for the purposes of assessing consumer satisfaction with services provided by vocational rehabilitation staff and contracted service providers.
The CSC will make recommendations on the basis of the data collected annually and follow up with the MRC to facilitate the provision of high-quality value-based training and meaningful and sustainable competitive employment.
SRC Approved Recommendations to the MRC
A. The Consumer Handbook should be required reading for consumers. This can be accomplished by adding a sign-off page to the end of the handbook, for consumers to sign, detach and present to their counselor when they have read and understood the Handbook. This form would become part of the consumer's permanent record. In addition, the Committee recommends that a check-off box be added to MRCIS to indicate that the agreement has been signed.
B. The Committee, in conjunction with the Consumer Involvement, Training, and Research, Development and Performance Management Departments, should contract with a video company to create a Consumer Orientation Video for consumers, highlighting essential elements of the Consumer Handbook but in particular:
- Stressing that the Consumer Handbook is required reading.
- Describing consumer's responsibilities in terms of their involvement in the job search process, as well as their rights.
- Making consumers aware of special handbooks for self-employment and home based employment.
- A short "agreement" be drawn up and signed by the consumer and the counselor, stating that the job search is a shared responsibility. The agreement would become a permanent part of the consumer's record.
C. The Committee, in conjunction with the Consumer Involvement, Training and Research, Development and Performance Management Departments should contract with a video company to create a Counselor Orientation Video for counselors, exploring the VR practices articulated here, with particular emphasis on:
- The agreement nature of the Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) and its importance to the VR process.
- Proposed changes to Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission Information System (MRCIS) and the client record, involved in the process to confirm the consumer has read the Consumer Handbook.
- Assure consumers are informed of their responsibilities, as well as their rights, in the job search process.
- A short "agreement" be drawn up and signed by the consumer and the counselor, stating that the job search is a shared responsibility. The agreement would become a permanent part of the consumer's record. In addition, the Committee recommends that a check-off box be added to MRCIS to indicate that the agreement has been signed.
D. Develop a distribution strategy to expose the greatest number of VR management and counseling staff to the findings and recommendations of the annual Consumer Satisfaction, Comprehensive Independent Employment Service (CIES) Provider and Counselor Satisfaction Surveys.
E. Job support activities need to be strengthened. On the job training, job coaching in the office or at the worksite, ongoing support for coworkers or employees, are all important services which many consumers are not enjoying.
2010-2011 was the first year that the satisfaction of the MRC counselors and community rehabilitation providers under CIES contract were studied, in addition to consumer satisfaction. The analysis of these data gave depth to the Committee’s understanding of consumer issues and the strengths of service providers as well as areas that need to be strengthened. This procedure will be continued into subsequent years. The relevance and timeliness of the recommendations put forth by the Committee in 2011 were reflected in the agency’s support of these recommendations and willingness to try to find funding in support of them.
Unserved/Underserved Population Committee
Jennifer Knight, Chairperson
The mission of this Committee is to advise the MRC regarding residents of the Commonwealth who are unserved/underserved due to their disabilities, culture, ethnicity, race, language, creed, religion, class, sexual preference, age or economic status.
In accordance with the mandates of the reauthorized Rehabilitation Act, Titles 1, 6c and 7, this Committee is charged with ensuring issues of unserved/underserved populations of the Commonwealth are researched, studied and presented to the State Rehabilitation Council.
Goals and Accomplishments:
The goal was to start a series of focus groups in all five regions.
We finalized the plans to have three focus groups instead.
One will be in the Eastern part of the state, one will be in the Western part of the state. The third group will be in the Worcester area. All participants from the first two groups will be invited to the third. It is this group that will do the ranking of the comments. We will provide transportation to those who request it as a reasonable accommodation.
May Esther Rohman stated that the Research, Evaluation, and Development program can generate the samples of Status 28 consumers to invite. The program will be sure to include people from each of MRC's area offices. In general, we can expect a 25-30% response rate for these types of mailings. In addition, there are always mailings that are returned due to undeliverable addresses (i.e. individuals move and do not update the new information with MRC). Mary Esther noted that even if we have an outdated address for someone, we cannot delete them from the MRC database.
The focus groups will be held on a Thursday from 6-8 pm in March or April. The first one will be held at the Multicultural Independent Living Center in Boston.
The results of the focus groups will be available in the Spring
The Finance/Budget and Placement/Marketing Committee
Mark A. Bornemann, Chair
The SRC Finance/Budget and Placement/Marketing Joint Committee will provide support and guidance to the MRC and the full Council on related matters while identifying innovative solutions for, and the advancement of, vocational rehabilitation programs and the placement of people with disabilities into competitive employment.
2011 Recommendations made to SRC/MRC:
- Build a stronger rapport with our federal affiliates through more frequent communication with people like Commissioner Lynnae Ruttledge. We worked on educating the SRC on the GAO report in the Vocational Rehabilitation state program formula and the currant impact of the formula on funding MRC
- To increase the involvement of Vocational Rehabilitation counselors and the SRC and our Committee.
- To strongly consider using a portion of the reallocation monies to recruit a Director of Marketing for MRC.
- To identify organizations that could serve as “model employers” within Massachusetts to use in our marketing campaigns on how to do it the right way.
- Fully supported and helped lead the effort around a successful 2011 Consumer Conference.
- Significantly increased the line of communication between MRC, Commissioner Carr and our Committee.
- Formed a strong partnership with the Employee Services Specialist group to increase the awareness of MRC with Massachusetts employers through greater education and to help remove the perceived shroud of secrecy on the value of employing MRC consumers. (On the job training, subsidizing labor costs and tax breaks)
- Continued partnership and support of the Marketing Strategy Team (MST).
- Partnered with the MRC Finance team to develop the strategic spending plan of the $15MM reallocation in 2011.
- Supported the promotion of an individual within MRC to lead the marketing and re-branding effort in MRC.
- Created a dialogue to increase the awareness of MRC with our federal partners.
- MRC now views the Finance and Marketing Committee as a strategic partner and resource striving for the same common goals, which resulted in more sharing of information between us.
As a result acting a support function the placement of approximately 3,400 consumers and exceeding the annual goal by almost 10%.
The Policy and Regulations Committee
David Libunau, Chairperson
The mission of the SRC Policy and Regulation Committee is to advise and assist in the development of the agency’s policies and regulations, including, but not limited to, scheduling procedures for public input and publications in the Massachusetts Register by the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
The committee deliberated on the recommended changes in the 107 CMR 7:00—Termination of VR services.
This chapter establishes the conditions and policies for formal termination of VR Services and closures of the case record of any MRC consumer been determined ineligible for VR services.
The committee deliberated on the recommended changes in our 107 CMR 3.00— Definitions.
This chapter provides definitions for terms frequently used in the MRC services delivery systems.
The terms are based on the Rehabilitation Act of 1992, as amended.
Recommendation: the committee recommended the total elimination of the term—Extended Employment Program in keeping with the MRC programs structural change of last year.
Joint Committee on By-Laws and
Nicholas Kaltsas, Chairperson
To work toward the determination and selection of interested people eligible for membership in the State Rehabilitation Council in accordance with the SRC By-Laws.
Further, this committee meets with the MRC Consumer Involvement Director to develop a roster of interested people who would be appropriate for future SRC needs.
The Committee deliberated on the SRC By-Laws dealing with membership, mandated representatives by disabilities, gender, geographical and as mandated by the Rehabilitation Act, as amended. This year the committee submitted an appointment and re-appointment slate which has 19 total members and 2 open slots.
The Committee has again recommended retaining the SRC ex-officio members with a maximum of 15 ex-officio members. All members of the SRC which will include the membership of the Ex-Officio must have the same standard orientation.
- A process was implemented by which the necessity of, and/or interest in, the continuation of a current Task Force could be assessed. The SRC infra-structure was amended so in the future, each Task Force will serve at the direction of a Standing Committee.
- Appointments made by the Governor’s Office have not only increased the number of Statutory Appointees serving on the SRC, but that are available to serve on the Executive Committee as full voting members.
- Primarily as a result of economic restraints, but also in compliance with the SRC By-Law language, the number of SRC Ex-Officio membership was reduced to, or remains at, no more than fifteen (15) Ex-Officio members.
- SRC Statutory Appointees serving on the Executive Committee has been increased to a full slate of five (5) members, including a Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and two (2) At Large members.
SRC Task Forces Accomplishments
Learning Disabilities and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (LD/ADHD) Task Force
Jennifer Knight, Chair
To promote education and advocacy of people with learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (LD/ADHD), to enhance community inclusion, independence and economic self-sufficiency.
- Made recommendations for the Attachment 4.2 c of the RSA State Plan Gave recommendations with regards to the 2010 LD/ADHD Needs Assessment Report
- Gave presentation on Succeeding in Work & Life with ADHD at the 2011 Beyond Independence Conference
- Participated in the ADHD workshop for VR counselors
- Assisted in the writing of the L.E.A.D.S pilot project proposal
Artists with Disabilities Task Force
The Artists with Disabilities Task Force is a group of people from diverse disciplines working toward creating linkages between Artists with Disabilities and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. These linkages advance the goals of independence, self-support, and professional development in the art world.
2011 Objectives and Accomplishments:
The Artists Task Force has been in existence for years. An organizational chart was passed out and the parliamentary structure was acknowledged. SRC Standing committees are federally mandated but task forces are not. It was noted that this group has gone beyond the definition of Task Force. One possibility is that the group would be incorporated under one of the existing standing committees. The SRC is planning to announce its decision regarding all of the Task Forces at the upcoming meeting
Given the nature of the Task Force status, all events including Open Studios are on hold until further notice. Specified was that South Station is also not currently in the works. The MRC website portion focusing on artists connected with MRC is still in the works. We will remain on the Spaulding Peace Art gallery council for as long as the artists remain connected with the MRC.
MRC Statewide Programs
Home Care Assistance Program Advisory Committee
The Advisory Committee to the statewide Home Care Assistance Program is comprised of consumers receiving home care services, past consumers, program staff, and representatives from provider agencies. The Committee meets quarterly at the MRC Administrative Office in Boston. As the program has had a focus on health and disability, a representative from the Department of Public Health’s Office on Health and Disability provides regular updates to the committee.
By encouraging dialogue among program staff, provider representatives and consumers of the Home Care Assistance Program, the intention of the Committee is to broaden our understanding of program strengths, areas for growth and to clarify priorities.
- Provided input into and final approval of the Request for Response (RFR) for consumer-directed Home Care Assistants.
- Collaborated on compilation of the Resource Newsletter, focusing on finding ways to succeed during difficult economic times.
- Advised program management on spending plan for program, provided advice on methods of economizing, and had members provide testimony at budget hearings as to the effectiveness of services.
- Provided input into the development of Provider Quality Assurance procedures.
- Provided advice regarding wellness initiatives within the program, and methods for training provider staff.
- Provided input and advice to program management regarding the policy for termination of services when referred to Elder Services Home Care.
- Provided input into other provided training activities including "falls prevention" and "empowered change".
Statutory SRC Members
Name, City/Town Representation
Joseph Bellil, Worcester, Business
Mark Bornemann, Canton, Employer
Charles Carr, Commissioner, Ex-Officio
Lisa Chiango, Billerica, Advocate
Dawn Clark, Worcester, Advocate
Mike Ferriter, Westborough, Advocate
Nick Kaltsas, Worcester, Business
Lusa Lo, Boston, Higher Education
Barbara Lybarger Quincy CAP
Amy Partelow, Holyoke, Ex-Officio, VR Counselor
Susan Ventura, Phd. Carlisle, Higher Education
Ex-officio SRC Members
Kristen Briton, Quincy
Christiana Erekosima, Hyde Park
Kevin Goodwin, Wayland
June Hailer, Pittsfield
Jenna Knight, Worcester
David Libunao, Burlington
Carol Menton, Boston
Joseph Panciotte, Malden
Ann Marie Paulson, Lakeville
Edna Pruce, Boston