ST OF CA-REHABILITATION-CAL2
Moderator: Thomas Dempsey
Confirmation # 1278208
ST OF CA-REHABILITATION-CAL2
Moderator: Thomas Dempsey
February 12, 2015
2:45 pm CT
Coordinator: Welcome and thank you for standing by. At this time, all participants will be in a listen-only mode until the question and answer session of today’s call. At that time, you can press star one to ask a question from the phone lines. I’d also like to inform the parties that today’s call is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time.
I’d now like to turn the call over to Mr. Thomas Dempsey. Thank you.
Thomas Dempsey: Good afternoon. I want to welcome and thank everyone for joining the call today. My name -- as just mentioned -- is Thomas Dempsey, a manager within the Office of Legal Affairs and Regulations at the Department of Rehabilitation, often referred to as the DoR.
This public forum is a part of a series of forums on specific major program areas that the new federal Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act, often referred to as WIOA. A transcript of the previous public forums conducted by the DoR are made available on our Web site, as well will this call when it is ready. That Web site can be found at www.dor.ca.gov, and then clicking on the “WIOA” hyperlink.
There’s also a link on that site to the WIOA email inbox, which is WIOA@dor.ca.gov. This email inbox may be used to make comments to the DoR on our implementation process at any time outside of these forums.
If you have participated in the previous calls, you will recognize our format and perhaps even some of the information presented. However, before we begin, for those that are joining us for the first time I will go over today’s format and introduce today’s speakers.
First we’ll have an introduction and overview form our department director, Joe Xavier, and Chief Deputy Director Juney Lee. Then we will have a presentation by the Acting Deputy Director of the Independent Living and Community Access Division, Irene Walela, as well as Executive Director of the State Independent Living Council, Liz Pazdral on some of the specific program changes from this federal law; followed by a structured question and answer session to obtain your input.
Again, please remember that all participants are muted until the question and answer portion of the conference call. You may speak during the question and answer period by pressing star and then the number one key, and speaking your name when prompted.
Now, I’d like to turn it over to the Director of the Department of Rehabilitation, Joe Xavier. Joe?
Joe Xavier: Thank you Tom. First of all, welcome all of you. Thank you for taking time out of your very busy day to join us on the call. Let me start by thanking the team -- Irene and (Kelly) and the rest of the team here in Central Office -- that have been working on this as well as our partners at the (Solta), Liz and the rest of the (unintelligible) body.
Today we have over sixty calls - or sixty lines on the call and undoubtedly multiple individuals at the end of each of those phone lines. I’m going to share briefly some of the information that I provided during the prior call. Although this is more specific to ILC, I think it’s important for us to keep in mind some of the larger context that is occurring with DR and how it relates to independent living.
Liz, welcome. I know Liz is on the phone. She’ll be, as Tom indicated, presenting with us and so I want to welcome here and thank the SILC for their partnership in preparing this presentation.
The ILC’s create a network in California - twenty-eight ILC’s and of course our Independent Living Committee Access Division is one of the partners of the IL network as is the State Independent Living Council. DoR provides technical assistance and financial support to the ILC’s and we’re working in partnership with the SILC in doing so.
One of the things that is important is for us to be as informed as we can be both about the changes to IL as with the changes to the DR; but we can look for both the opportunity, the linkages to collaborate and to establish partnerships on pieces that may not have been there and to advance partnerships on pieces that are already there.
You guys will recall that the President signed a WIOA in this past July and we have had any number of forums that provide information to the community. This is one of those forums. We started back in November. This is the fourth -- I think Juney will speak to that in a second -- of the series of forums.
The - one of the things that we’ve created -- and if you have not seen this, we invite you to go to our Web page and take a look at the side-by-side that gives you a snapshot of what the statute was before, what it is today. And that does include the section that applies to the Independent Living Network. And then also we have been engaging with our advisory body and will continue to do so. They’ve been informed. They’ve been advised of what’s taken place. They’ve began taking up these conversations as well as had the SILC.
So we encourage you to stay connected with those advisory bodies as they take up a conversation; and particularly, think about the area of focus that you have. Focus on work that is specific to DR. Think about those advisory bodies. Think about the SILC when it comes to IL network so that we can ensure that we have all of the collaboration and all the information necessary into all the various networks.
One thing that’s important to keep in mind is Congress’s message. And I’ve shared before that it’s given a significant message on the DR side; but it has also given a message to the independent living side of the equation, which is that we all need to do a better job of advancing the independence of individuals with disabilities.
On the DR side, we’ve been tasked with changing ourselves to become a relevant twenty-first century program and that our performance and our outcomes need to significantly improve. Innovation and opportunities can be at the heart of what we’re doing in DR - is at the heart of what we’ll need to do with AIL as well.
The other thing that I would mention is the changes that will be announced of all of us really require us to think about things in a different way and not just to continue to do more of the same. Regulations are going to be coming out. We have - in addition to the regulations on the DR side, we’ll have the regulations that are joint for the Department of Labor and then on a number of the programs that will be spoken of today, the regulations will come out from the Health and Human Services Agency. And I’ve often said that a good regulation will provide us a balance between the clarity that we need to administer and operate and sufficient flexibility to allow us to meet the unique needs of each of our communities within the confines or the geography of California, let alone across the nation.
Of course, once the regulations are issued, state regulations will follow on the DR side. And please, again, I keep mentioning that because we need your voice in our process not just on the IL side of the conversation, and it is incumbent upon all of us to be prepared to speak to those regulations when they’re published.
WIOA emphasizes more individuals going to work, engagement with business, and the added elements on the IL side which we’ll present on more specifically today. And it’s important to keep in mind that Congress has established what we need to do. Now it’s our jobs to figure out how we get from where we are to that end point that Congress has set out in the WIOA.
The other comment that I’ll make before turning you over to Juney is that we certainly would prefer a face-to-face or an open dialogue, but as you can imagine with the volume of lines and participants, it’s very difficult to have that. So keep in mind that this is one forum where we can share information with you, engage in some questions; but it is not the last forum, so please keep that in mind.
So let me stop here and turn this over to Juney Lee, our Chief Deputy Director, for some comments and additional details.
Juney Lee: Okay, thank you Joe. Good afternoon and welcome to the public forum. This is the final of our four-part series, however we want you to know that we are continuing to inform the public and we invite you to provide comments and suggestions to us. We really envision having future opportunity and it shows that we will have more public forums in the future. And if you don’t get a chance to provide comment today, we want you to know that you can submit any ideas or suggestions or requests to our mailbox, and that address is WIOA@dor.ca.gov.
So shortly after the WIOA was signed into law, we wanted to share with you how the department responded. The department established a series or several internal workgroups and they were comprised of our program subject matter experts. These workgroups were to immediately identify impacts and options, and to now take into account all of the valuable information we are getting form our stakeholders -- all of the ideas and comments. So, again, I wanted to emphasize how important it is for you to be involved in this process.
As Joe mentioned, the changes or vocational rehabilitation generally went into effect July of 2014. With respect to independent living, some of the changes went into effect at the same time; however there are others that had the transition services that will occur later.
WIOA places an emphasis on transition, transitioning students from school as well as transitioning adults from institutional living to community living. One of the challenges we have shared with you repeatedly is that aligning the program with new obligations in WIOA is difficult because the grants for vocational rehabilitation and independent living did not increase.
So with today’s forum along with collaboration with our twenty-eight independent living centers, as well as getting comments and input from other stakeholders, we will be working to implement WIOA changes to improve independent living services for Californians as Congress and the President intend.
Again, we’re very pleased that Liz Pazdral, Executive Director of the State Independent Living Council and Acting Deputy Director Irene Walela worked in partnership to develop today’s presentation. Now I will turn it over to Irene and Liz.
Irene Walela: Thank you Juney. This is Irene. Good afternoon everybody. Again, I thank you for joining today’s call which will focus on changes to independent living. After Liz and I do our presentation, we will hear your feedback.
Liz Pazdral: This is Liz and I want to thank the Department of Rehabilitation for making this collaboration run smoothly. And I also want to let everyone know that we’re glad to be talking with you about our understanding of these long, anticipated changes to the Rehabilitation Act.
Irene Walela: This is Irene again. We’re taking today’s opportunity to specifically reach out to independent living, traumatic brain injury, and assisted technology partners, and all other interested stakeholders so we can get your input as we go forward in implementing WIOA. We invite you, as Joe mentioned, to visit the DoR WIOA Web site because the transcripts of the three previous forums are up now on that Web site, as also is the document called “The Side-by-Side High Level Comparison”, which shows the law before and after. The DoR WIOA Web site is at www.dor.ca.gov.
Liz Pazdral: Hi, thanks Irene. This is Liz. And some of the changes and their impact are sort of speculative because these things are going to be worked out in the regulatory process, which is why it’s so important for you to be aware of them and for you to be participating.
In addition to the resources the Department of Rehabilitation has, the National Council on Independent Living has prepared some helpful documents which can be found on their Web site, www.ncil.org/rehabact; and also Independent Living Research Utilization has some really good resources about the changes. Their Web site - www.ilru.org/topics/wioa-implementation.
Irene Walela: Thank you Liz. After we present our WIOA and the impact on independent living, we’re going to hear your feedback on some questions that we posed to you on the invitation and we’re going to repeat those questions now for you to think about. Again, we invite you to send feedback on email as well as participating in the call.
Liz Pazdral: So one question is - what are some new approaches that the Department of Rehabilitation, SILC, and all twenty-eight ILC’s could try in order to strengthen our critical partnership?
Irene Walela: And the next two questions are - what successful strategies have you developed in offering transition services so far? And given that there’s no new funds as has been mentioned, how can the DoR support the twenty-eight ILC’s in implementation of transition strategy?
Again, you can also send your thoughts later if that works for you, or in addition to your participation today by emailing WIOA@dor.ca.gov.
Liz Pazdral: Yes, and if you would like some technical assistance from the SILC, please reach out to our legislative specialist, (Desi Gonzales), at Desi@calsilc.org.
Irene Walela: Alright, this is Irene again. I’m going to start with the major WIOA changes to independent living and we’ve grouped them into six areas. First, WIOA adds a new additional core services to the services that independent living centers must offer. Two -- WIOA places a cap on use of 7B funds and on 7C funds for administrative expenses. WIOA changes responsibilities and functions of the SILC, which Liz is going to detail for us in a little bit.
The next State Plan for Independent Living -- or SPIL -- is the one that will address changes in WIOA including signatories and the new core service. Fifth, additional performance indicators will be developed. And lastly, WIOA transfers federal oversight of the independent living centers -- or ILC’s -- to a different federal agency. The DoR and the SILC are both engaged in thoughtful analysis of these areas of impact on the IL services and we’re working to identify and address the significant changes as well as the immediate changes in priority order.
So first we’re going to talk about the new fifth core service that comes to us, as we keep saying, with no new funding. And also, just a reminder that the fifth core service is effective when the next SPIL is in effect. So we have some time to prepare.
Before WIOA, ILC’s were asked to divert and/or transition individuals from institutional settings to the community. But now, they are required to provide this service. Effective with the new SPIL, WIOA will expand that and add a new core service that’s required, as I mentioned, but there’s three parts to it.
The first part is facilitating the transition of individuals with significant disabilities from nursing homes to home- and community-based residences. The two new areas that are now called out in WIOA are providing assistance to individuals with significant disabilities who are at risk of entering institutions so that they may remain in the community.
And lastly, facilitating the transition of youth with significant disabilities, and these would be youth who are eligible for individualized education plans in the school system, and who have completed their secondary education or otherwise less school to post-secondary life. Now, of course, we are looking forward to regulations from ACL to clarify this youth transitions piece, but you have the definition of youth as what post-secondary life might include.
Let’s talk for a moment about some of the questions that we heard in the youth services public forum that the DoR held a few weeks ago. We heard about the concern about this new core service, the importance of coordinating existing resources with the ILC’s and the vocational rehabilitation program, the value of all the services which in California are seven core services that are now available to the ILC’s, and how important it is for us to envision together the future role of the ILC’s in youth transition services.
I see tremendous opportunities for creating and enhancing relationships between the ILC’s and the schools, and between the ILC’s and the vocational rehabilitation services in the DoR. We have spoken about this in the previous calls and we certainly welcome more ideas today as we move forward.
Just to start the topic, one of the opportunities that I had recently was that I spoke to the career service coordinators for Cal Promise this past Monday in San Diego and there were 100 of these career service coordinators gathered together, as well as their regional managers. And I spoke about all seven of the core services and was able to provide good descriptions and answer questions from the career service coordinators about accessing these seven core services.
We spoke also about the new core service under WIOA and about the assisted technology program services in California. Because of the way the room was set up, I was able to walk people through some of the Web sites to show them how to find their local ILC and also how to find assisted technology program services through the Ability Tools Web site.
I learned from this that if some of the career service coordinators are already engaged with their local ILC’s and the rest of them committed to contacting their local ILC’s within the next two weeks to begin partnering. So please expect a call.
Beyond these public forums that we’re conducting here at the DoR and today with the participation of SILC, Deputy Director (Jeff Real) committed to hosting a forum with the twenty-eight ILC’s on how to build on the existing services and enhance collaboration to provide youth transition services in the following - in the next upcoming federal fiscal year. I will be working with all of you and (Jeff) to schedule this important conversation so that we can have as many of you participate as possible.
And now I’ll turn it back to Liz.
Liz Pazdral: Thank you Irene. So another change is that the SILC will collaborate with the twenty-eight independent living center executive directors on the 2017 SPIL development, which includes implementation of the new fifth core services. And we’ve - the SILC has made an effort to be collaborative and to get input from the directors all along, and now that the directors actually sign off on the SPIL I think this is going to be concretized.
Irene Walela: Absolutely. So today, particularly, we want to hear from you about successes in transition services and visioning for this new core service. So moving on to the second area of impact, which is funding -- and that includes the Title 7B and 7C dollars -- we can summarize that by saying the 7B funds, going forward, are authorized for specific funds which appears to include COA’s through 2020 instead of the previous language which simply said “as may be necessary.” The same applies to the 7C funds.
So an area that is also more significant at this moment -- because it’s effective as of July 22, 2014 -- is that there’s a 5% cap on funds form the 7B grant funds for the DoR to expend towards administrative support. We’re working within the DoR with our budget section to analyze the impact of this cap and we are implementing the cap on administrative support funding while we await regulations to clarify any specifics to that administrative support category. And we are really looking forward to getting more regulations - I’m sorry, more feedback from ACL on this particular topic.
We received multiple communications nearly every day from RSA and ACL and the staff that is moving between both organizations. (Tim Beatty) was mentioning to me today that he’s using two badges now -- one for Health and Human Services and one for RSA as he moves between both organizations to keep the services going. And today, the IL staff and Liz also mentioned that she attended a webinar hosted by CIL Net that was called “Grantee Preparation for the Temporary Funding Freeze” so we can keep fully informed on this complex process and make sure that services and funding are seamlessly provided.
Liz Pazdral: This is Liz and I think another item that draws peoples’ attention is the 30% cap on the use of 7B dollars for SILC administrative supports. That was also effective on July 22 of 2014. The SILC and DoR collaborate to monitor expenses to make sure we don’t exceed that cap. Within the Act, it is allowed - a greater percentage can be allowed if the SPIL dedicates the money to that purpose. But historically, we don’t think that’s going to be an issue. We haven’t needed that much money.
There are a number of WIOA changes that affect the SILC directly in addition to the cap on our funding. We’ve always been required to coordinate our activities with boards, commissions, and councils that serve people with disabilities here in California; but now we’re also going to be required to coordinate activities with entities that facilitate the provision of long term community-based supports and services. While we’ve been involved with the ADRC project, we have been less involved with Money Follows the Person, CBASS -- some of the other programs that are about community-based services and support.
The WIOA authorizes SILC in line with the SPIL to work with independent living centers to coordinate services with public and private entities, but also to conduct resource development, which is new. Previously, SILC’s were not allowed to raise funds and even it was tricky to apply for any grants. Not only is the SILC allowed to raise funds for itself, but the SILC is also allowed to raise funds for the statewide Independent Living Network.
The SILC is prohibited in WIOA from providing independent living services directly. So the SILC cannot become a service provider, but the SILC is allowed to perform such other functions that are consistent with the purpose of the rehab comparable to other functions described in the Rehab Act, and as our council determines to be appropriate.
It was a bit odd but it seemed like WIOA eliminated the ability for the SILC to reimburse members for child care that they need when they are attending our meetings. The administrator of community living is charged with setting aside funds for technical assistance to SILC’s, training for SILC’s, surveys of SILC’s -- some of that work that ILRU has historically done and provided to ILC’s and voc rehab programs - now is being required to provide it to SILC’s.
THE administrator of community living is also going to be required when they are considering where to put a new independent living center - what region in the state to put a new independent living center in. Not only are they supposed to rely on the input that they get form the SILC and the IL network, but they’re also supposed to listen to members of the community and get feedback from the community directly.
In addition to changing some of the ways that the SILC itself functions, WIOA also changes the State Plan for Independent Living. Our current SPIL has been approved through September 30 of 2016, and that’s true for all the United States and territories. The SPIL will continue to govern the provision of independent living services in the state and each state is expected to continue supporting their SILC and whatever obligations they committed to in their state plan for independent living.
Any amendments to the state plan reflected either in a change based on WIOA amendments or any material change in state law, organization policy, really anything that changes currently in the SPIL must be submitted as an amendment to RSA until the transfer of independent living to Administration of Community Living is fully complete.
The Administration on Community Living is currently -- and I know that they’re doing this for the Independent Living Network too -- performing policy, legal, and programmatic reviews. They’re answering both types of questions and we’re still working with RSA on more administrative grant function questions.