State Plan Development
During FFY 2010, members of the Council played a significant role in updating the State Plan for FFY 2011-2013. The State Plan, which is submitted to the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), establishes KRS goals and priorities. (Please refer to page 3 for the goal statements). The Plan also describes how the VR program will be operated in Kansas in several key areas, including order of selection, counselor qualifications, coordination with special education services, and collaboration with service providers.
Members participated in several work sessions where they reviewed KRS performance, identified priorities, and provided guidance for the agency. Some members also attended the State Plan Public Hearing conducted by KRS Director Michael Donnelly. This hearing was held on May 18, 2010 via interactive webcast connecting 12 Kansas communities. During the hearing, participants were asked to provide input on a variety of questions, including the following:
- Are there gaps in the employment-related service delivery system for people with disabilities? If so, what are they? What barriers exist to resolving these gaps? What opportunities exist for improvement?
- From your experience, do you believe there are un-served or under-served populations of persons with disabilities? In other words...who do you know who is not using our services but could benefit from them in terms of achieving employment? What barriers exist to their participation?
- What can VR do to improve services and employment outcomes for persons with significant disabilities? What are the roles and responsibilities of other organizations to collaborate in such efforts?
- What are the strengths of KRS and VR? Areas for improvement? Opportunities for greater collaboration?
In preparation for the State Plan update, members also attended stakeholder meetings that were held in six locations throughout the state during the fall and winter of 2009. A total of 176 individuals representing consumers, community service providers, and other stakeholders attended and provided input and feedback on KRS performance. Several issues were raised consistently:
- The need for more outreach and community informational meetings.
- The importance of working with transition-aged youth.
- The need for coordination of services for foster care youth with disabilities.
- Concerns about the economy and the impact on employment options for people with disabilities.
- Appreciation for counselors, coupled with some concerns about difficulty reaching counselors and return of phone calls.
- Identification of persons with head injury and persons who are blind or visually impaired as possible underserved populations.
- Strong affirmation of the existing State Plan Goals and Priorities of KRS.
This stakeholder input was also analyzed by the Council as part of the comprehensive needs assessment prior to making recommendations for the updated State Plan. At its June 11, 2010 meeting, the Council unanimously endorsed the State Plan, as updated for FFY 2011-2013, for submission to RSA.
Review of Regional Operations
The Council continued its periodic review of KRS regional operations as part of its analysis of the extent, scope and effectiveness of VR services. Presentations from regional Program Administrators for KRS were featured at each of the council's quarterly meetings. Information presented related to staffing levels and experience, performance and outcomes, and availability of service providers.
Coordination with Other Organizations
Council members shared information about the activities of other disability-related organizations with which they are affiliated. At Council meetings, members representing the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas, Families Together, the Kansas State Department of Education, the Client Assistance Program, and the Prairie Band Pottawatomie Nation provide updates on their activities. This information-sharing facilitates greater awareness and collaboration among the organizations.