[NFBWATlk] Washington DSB Director Update

Nightingale, Noel Noel.Nightingale at ed.gov
Sat Sep 14 17:33:09 UTC 2019

From: Cox, Kristina (DSB) [mailto:kristina.cox at dsb.wa.gov]
Sent: Friday, September 13, 2019 9:30 AM
To: DSB DL Stakeholders <stakeholders at dsb.wa.gov>; Stannard, Meredith (DSB) <meredith.stannard at dsb.wa.gov>; Grimes, Yvonne (DSB) <Yvonne.Grimes at dsb.wa.gov>
Subject: FW: DSB Director Update

Hello All:

Here are a few highlights about what's happening right now at DSB.

We have great news in Vocational Rehabilitation, as we just received a significant addition to our basic federal VR grant in reallotment funds!  These new dollars are from a national pot of funds that other agencies return when they can't spend their entire VR grant.  (We were able to capture (match) these federal dollars primarily due to our recent successful biennial budget process with the legislature, which increased our state funding for VR.)  Though the reallotment is a one-time infusion of additional federal dollars, it should enable us to return to serving all eligible customers in a timely manner for the upcoming year, and to develop a plan for the future.

Order of Selection will remain in place as a management tool for DSB, but we anticipate opening priority categories.  We just took an additional 21 cases off the wait list and moved them into active status.  Year-to-date, 98 customers have moved off the wait list, and 108 remain.  Now we have a plan for moving these remaining individuals in all categories into active status over the next month.

Our youth programs are going strong.   This year 398 youth participated in a range of employment readiness and skills programs across the state, and 150 students gained work and college readiness experience in our summer programs.  We are pleased to have developed partnerships and new programs to successfully capture and utilize the full federal funding available to us this past year.   And we have the resources to sustain and grow these programs, along with our partners, during the upcoming year.

We have more good news in Independent Living.

We were successful in negotiating a reduced indirect cost rate with the UW central administration.  This frees up more dollars in the DSB IL contract which will now be applied to direct services.  This increase, along with the annual increase in the state legislative budget, means that we have the opportunity to enrich the program this year.  The issue this year is not dollars, but service delivery capacity and provider development.  Because we were successful in increasing IL funding, we now need to catch up with service delivery capacity.

As you know, the closure of Sight Connections has had an impact on IL services.  We are pleased that the Lighthouse will become our new IL provider for Sight Connection's former territory.  Of course, it will take the Lighthouse some time to gear up to deliver these services.

Our increased IL funding provides us an opportunity to enhance the program.  When considering options, the issue will be which enhancements can be sustained, and which are one time only.  We are evaluating some possible strategies to:

        *   Increase the amount per client for aids and devices.
        *   Possibly raise provider rates or travel reimbursement to attract more qualified candidates.
        *   Provide more vendor training
        *   Provide more low vision, AT/ O&M
        *   Establish a CCTV lending library
We will need to carefully analyze the options to make strategic operational decisions for the IL program this year.

We are experiencing a whirlwind of staff changes, with retirements (sigh) and great new talent joining our DSB team across the state.

We have just hired a new Orientation and Training Center (OTC) Manager, Deja Powell, and are pleased to welcome her to DSB on September 23rd.  I appreciate the community members who participated in a robust conversation with each of the two finalists and gave us valuable feedback.  Deja starts this month and Julie Brannon will be mentoring and training Deja during the month of October.  Julie will be retiring at the end of October and will be greatly missed.

We also have a new Business Enterprise Manager on board, Jim Hemmen, and he has hit the ground running.

Never a dull moment at DSB!

I hope you have all had a good summer.  Let's keep up this important work together!


Lou Oma

Lou Oma Durand
Executive Director, Dept. of Services for the Blind
PO Box 40933

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