17 episodes

Conversations powered by VR. One Manager at a time. One Minute at a time.

Manager Minute-brought to you by the VR Technical Assistance Center for Quality Management VRTAC-QM Team

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Conversations powered by VR. One Manager at a time. One Minute at a time.

    VRTAC-QM Manager Minute - Listen to VR Legend RoseAnn Ashby, with her VR Reflections- Looking Back and Looking Forward

    VRTAC-QM Manager Minute - Listen to VR Legend RoseAnn Ashby, with her VR Reflections- Looking Back and Looking Forward

    RoseAnn retired from being the Chief of the Technical Assistance Unit at RSA in 2021.  
    She talks about significant changes that shaped what VR is today, including independent living, informed choice and the impact of technology. RoseAnn elaborates on areas that VR is doing well, and areas VR can improve upon moving forward. 
    RoseAnn is currently contracting with VRTAC-QM, and you can find her work on Long COVID on the web at https://www.vrtac-qm.org/resources.
     
    Listen Here
     
    Full Transcript
     
    VRTAC-QM Manager Minute: Listen to VR Legend RoseAnn Ashby, with her VR Reflections- Looking Back and Looking Forward
     
    {Music}
    Speaker1: Manager Minute brought to you by the VRTAC for Quality Management, Conversations powered by VR, one manager at a time, one minute at a time. Here is your host Carol Pankow.
     
    Carol: Welcome to the Manager Minute. Joining me in the studio today is RoseAnn Ashby, former Fed and part of the RSA team for 34 years. RoseAnn, I have to say, you are legendary. Everybody knows and respects RoseAnn. And for those of you newer to VR, RoseAnn started with RSA back in 1987, and she's supervised a number of units during her tenure there, including the Technical Assistance Unit, the Training Programs Unit, RSA Policy Unit, and the basic VR program unit. So RoseAnn, you retired from being the chief of the Technical Assistance Unit at RSA in 2021. And I have to say, wowsers, I think you've done it all at RSA except for maybe the fiscal unit.
     
    RoseAnn: That's right. They keep me away from the fiscal unit, Carol.
     
    Carol: I love it. I love it. So, RoseAnn, how are things going in retirement or should I say semi-retirement as you're helping us out on the VRTAC-QM with some contract work?
     
    RoseAnn: Well, I'm loving my retirement. I will say it's very much less stress than I had when I was working. But I'm looking for ways to be engaged. And of course, I am enjoying my work with the center. I particularly love seeing my work on the website. That for me is really gratifying, that's for sure, and I hope to be doing some additional travel in the fall. You know, COVID has kind of crimped my style a little bit, but I'm looking forward to some opportunities there and some other volunteer opportunities. But I am loving retirement.
     
    Carol: Good for you. Good for you. Well, we're loving seeing your work on the website, too, because there's nothing worse when we have coming soon. You know, we're going to be done with two years here in a minute. So we're like, yeah, we got to get this filled in. You have been just a big, big help to us. So, RoseAnn, I love that you said you're looking forward to fall, too, and getting to do some fun, travel and things, because I have always loved this month of August and this is the goofy part of me. Ever since I've been little. I like the smell in the air. I like how I can tell summer's ending and fall starting. I love that whole getting ready for school. And even when I was working at State Services for the Blind, I loved our planning. We did over summer and coming into fall for the new school year, we would do our Pre-ETS blueprint. And so I was sitting back and thinking about podcast and I thought, you know what? I want to do something where we can do some reflections with you because you have over three decades of experience in VR and you've seen so many changes. I thought it would be a fun opportunity to kind of reflect back and look forward. So RoseAnn, why don't you tell our listeners a little bit more about yourself and your background and how you got into VR in the first place?
     
    RoseAnn: Okay. Thanks, Carol. So before I went to RSA, I was in the Independent Living Center in Miami, Florida. I was the assistant director there. I grew up in Ohio. I grew up in Canton, which is a little it used to be a factory town. My family was working class, but they always valued education. And I am a person with a disability. I am blind. And my mother, I credit m

    • 25 min
    VRTAC-QM Manager Minute: Moving the Employment Needle to Quality - Learn How the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission has Used Engagement and Partnership to Pave the Path to Quality Employment

    VRTAC-QM Manager Minute: Moving the Employment Needle to Quality - Learn How the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission has Used Engagement and Partnership to Pave the Path to Quality Employment

    Joining Carol Pankow in the studio today is Toni Wolf, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) since 2017. Toni leads her agency with the belief, "If the system isn't enhancing the quality of life for the individual, we at MRC must change the system."
     
    Toni explains how MRC has developed a culture of engagement with customers to build trust and make space for the conversation about what is possible.
     
    Find out how the focus on engagement and partnerships with the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Transitional Assistance is moving the employment needle to quality. 
     
    Listen Here
    You can find out more about VRTAC-QM on the web at:
    https://www.vrtac-qm.org/
     
    Full Transcript
     
    VRTAC-QM Manager Minute: Moving the Employment Needle to Quality - Learn How the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission has Used Engagement and Partnership to Pave the Path to Quality Employment
     
    {Music}
     
    Speaker: Manager Minute brought to you by the VRTAC for Quality Management. Conversations powered by VR, one manager at a time, one minute at a time. Here is your host, Carol Pankow.
     
    Carol: Well, welcome to the manager minute. Joining me in studio today is Toni Wolfe, commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission since 2017. Toni has a rich history in the mental health arena and is leading her agency with the belief if the system isn't enhancing the quality of life for the individual, we at MRC must change the system. So, Toni, how are things going in Massachusetts?
     
    Toni: Well, you know, first of all, I'm really proud of representing Massachusetts today. So thank you, Carol, for having us here. And Massachusetts is thriving. I mean, like everywhere across the country, there are enormous amount of job opportunities. And so I feel like it's our time. It's our time with people with disabilities. Inclusivity is the buzzword. People are really embracing it. They're really believing in it. And that includes people with disabilities.
     
    Carol: Well, I'm glad to hear that. So, Toni, I don't know if you remember back, but I had the good fortune of meeting you back in 2017 when you were attending your very first CSVAR conference. And we chatted over lunch and you were getting your feet wet and now you've been at it for five years. I'd say you're probably one of the more seasoned VR leaders today. We've had such a turnover in the field these past eight years, so it's been pretty unbelievable. But it's awesome to see the things that you've been digging in and making so many enhancements to your agency, and people are definitely buzzing about the things happening in Massachusetts. So I wanted to focus our conversation today on the quality outcomes that you're seeing now. I know it didn't just happen by accident, and I'd like to unpack what went into the work you did with your agency. So can you give our listeners a little bit of perspective about MRC, like how many individuals you serve, kind of the number of staff you have, and any other facts that might help paint a picture of your agency?
     
    Toni: Sure, I'd be happy to. Massachusetts is a small state compared to other states in the country. We have about 800 employees. We serve currently 15,000 people in VR. Now that used to be 22,000 before COVID. And that's true, I think for all the agencies right now we're seeing a decline, but we are also very eager to increase that number in addition to our VR services, which right now is about 57 million, we also have a very robust community living division, serving same number of people and actually increasing the dollars with federal dollars as well. So we're a little bit about 63 million in our community living division. And then we also manage and support Disability Determination Division that's funded obviously by SSA. So that gives you a little bit of a perspective of MRC, Mass Rehab Commission.
     
    Carol: Yeah, I had no idea. You said you're small, but you're a lot bi

    • 27 min
    VRTAC-QM Manager Minute: Everything is Bigger in Texas- Learn How Texas Leverages SSA Reimbursement

    VRTAC-QM Manager Minute: Everything is Bigger in Texas- Learn How Texas Leverages SSA Reimbursement

    Welcome to the 15th episode of the Manager Minute. Joining Carol Pankow in the studio today is Cheryl Fuller, VR Division Director with the Texas Workforce Commission and also incoming CSAVR President. Today we will talk about Social Security's VR Cost Reimbursement program, which was authorized in 1981. The purpose of that program is to make State VR services more readily available to SSA beneficiaries with disabilities and to generate savings for the Social Security Trust Fund for SSDI beneficiaries and the General Revenue Fund for SSI recipients.
     
    Learn how the Texas Workforce Commission uses technology and staff to maximize and track Social Security Reimbursements to help support their programs.
     
    Listen Here
    You can find out more about VRTAC-QM on the web at:
    https://www.vrtac-qm.org/
     
     Full Transcript
     
    VRTAC-QM Manager Minute: Everything is Bigger in Texas- Learn How Texas Leverages SSA Reimbursement
     
    {Music}
     
    Speaker: Manager Minute brought to you by the VRTAC for Quality Management. Conversations powered by VR, one manager at a time, one minute at a time. Here is your host, Carol Pankow.
     
    Carol: Welcome to the manager minute. I am so fortunate to have Cheryl Fuller, V.R. Division Director with the Texas Workforce Commission and also incoming CSAVR president, joining me in the studio today. And Cheryl, there certainly have been some very tragic things happening in your state and most recently the Uvalde School shooting. And my thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected. I know VR is typically filled with people with a lot of heart. We're kind of people people. So in light of all that's happening, how are you and your staff holding up?
     
    Cheryl: First of all, thank you for thinking about us. This is something very much at the forefront of our minds and it's really on our hearts. And we have a field office in Uvalde about a block and a half from the school. And so it's a small community. Our staff knows everyone. I grew up in a small town myself, and I know just how wonderful it is to grow up in a small town with the support and the relationships, and that will be important for them going forward. And our agency, along with other agencies, immediately looked at what we can do, how can we help our community? Because it is our community. And we're looking at a couple of things. We're looking at some group skills training later this summer to help some of our students get ready to go back to school. And how can we do that? How can we help them think about going back to school and process that and think about some positive things that they look forward to about why they're in school, their career and growing up and getting ready to transition. And of course, we know adults also may need us. So we're redoubling our efforts to make sure that our community knows that our services are there to help them. If a few months from now they begin to have conditions that are preventing them from keeping their job. We're here to help, and we know that if we all do what we can, we will help our community work through this.
     
    Carol: Well, I'm really glad you're at the helm because you bring that heart to it. That has just broken my heart. I'm thinking about you all. I'm praying for you guys every day. And I'm glad you're in that leadership role there to bring that to your staff and to your customers and that thought and thinking ahead for the next school year. That is so smart, so wise.
     
    Cheryl: Well, that's our staff on the ground and it's our agency executive director. We're so fortunate to have an executive director that cares very much about our division, our programs, our customers and our staff, and was on the ground meeting with our staff and immediately asking what we can do and helping us be creative in thinking how can we help? We can do more. And so we're really fortunate to have.
     
    Carol: I love that. That is so great to hear. Cheryl, I've known you since you started at the a

    • 29 min
    VRTAC-QM Manager Minute: Putting Customers First-How Utah Makes Rapid Engagement Work!

    VRTAC-QM Manager Minute: Putting Customers First-How Utah Makes Rapid Engagement Work!

    Aaron Thompson, Assistant Division Director for the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation, joins Carol Pankow on this 14th episode of Manager Minute to talk about how Utah is making rapid engagement work. Carol has discussed this on two previous podcasts; however, each VR agency has tackled this differently. It is intriguing and exciting to hear about how different VR programs are confronting the dilemma facing VR on declining applications and consumer engagement. 
    Learn about Utah's “Back to Basics” approach, how they implemented this approach and how they involve their counselors and customers.
    From Utah's unique Performance Dashboards and Blueprint Systems, there is so much to learn about how Utah is making rapid engagement work.
    Listen Here
    You can find out more about VRTAC-QM on the web at:
    https://www.vrtac-qm.org/
     
    Full Transcript
     
    VRTAC-QM Manager Minute: Putting Customers First-How Utah Makes Rapid Engagement Work!
     
    {Music}
     
    Speaker1: Manager Minute brought to you by the VRTAC for Quality Management. Conversations powered by VR, one manager at a time, one minute at a time. Here is your host, Carol Pankow.
     
    Carol: Well, welcome to the manager minute. I am so fortunate to have Aaron Thompson, assistant division director for the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation, joining me in the studio today. So, Aaron, how are things going in Utah?
     
    Aaron: Well, first, thank you for having me. And things are going pretty well in Utah. I think we're spending a lot of focus. We're going to be talking about getting back to basics and really kicking off a lot of the initiatives that we have in the works.
     
    Carol: Cool. Good to hear. I can't wait to get into it. So, Aaron, I know you've been with the agency for over 17 years. You've held a variety of positions from counselor to supervisor to district director, field services director to where you are today. And I know you've seen and done a lot in your career, which really leads us to this very important topic we're going to discuss today. The idea is really called rapid engagement, and I know I've discussed this on two previous podcasts. However, each VR agency has tackled this in a different way, which is super intriguing and exciting when tackling this dilemma that's facing VR on declining applications and declining eligibility. So VR is a program where we're over 100 years old now, and with all the longstanding programs, there can be a tendency to layer on additional policies and processes until we get buried under a bureaucracy of our own making. So when we visited back in March, I was really energized about the approaches you've taken in Utah and hoped our listeners would feel the same energy and enthusiasm as they hear the Utah story. Your director, Sarah Brenna, also briefly spoke about the efforts in Utah and the efforts around rapid engagement during the CSA VR conference. So I'm excited to explore this further and let's dig in. So Aaron, can you give the listeners a little background about the Utah program, like how many customers you serve, how many staff you have, and how the pandemic has influenced your numbers of applicants and individuals being served in the program?
     
    Aaron: Certainly I appreciate the overview of the resumé and all the details. I've had a fun opportunity to move into a few different positions, but within us two are something that I think is interesting, is like we're one of the first five state VR programs as the program nationally was celebrating its 100th anniversary. That was also our anniversary that year. So we have a really unique position as being one of the flagship state agencies for people with disabilities. And we're a combined program, but we also have different specialized programs for people who are blind, visually impaired, deaf and hard of hearing. We also handle the Social Security disability determination and also we oversee the independent living contracts. But we're the VR program at ou

    • 24 min
    Work Incentives Counseling---Finding the incentive to engage in work incentives counseling with Virginia DARS!

    Work Incentives Counseling---Finding the incentive to engage in work incentives counseling with Virginia DARS!

    In the Manager Minute Studio today is David Leon, Director of Workforce Programs at the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) along with host of the Manager Minute podcast, Carol Pankow.
    Find out how the projects David has led are shaping the approach that Virginia is taking in relation to work incentives counseling (benefits planning). What is the overall structure? Why did DARS see it as imperative to develop the capacity for work incentives counseling in Virginia beyond what is provided by the WIPA(Work Incentives Planning and Assistance)?
    Find out what resources and tools David is recommending and what advice he has for you.
     
    Listen Here
     
    Full Transcript
     
    Important Links
    Cities for Financial Empowerment https://cfefund.org/projects/  
    Consumer Financial Protection Bureau "Your Money Your Goals" and Focus on Disability - materials are free and may be        co branded https://www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/educator-tools/your-money-your-goals/  
    National Disability Institute https://www.nationaldisabilityinstitute.org/downloads/  
    FDIC Money Smart  https://www.fdic.gov/resources/consumers/money-smart/index.html  
    ·       Next Gen Personal Finance https://www.ngpf.org/
     
    You can find out more about VRTAC-QM on the web at:
    https://www.vrtac-qm.org/
     
    Full Transcript
     
    Work Incentives Counseling---Finding the incentive to engage in work incentives counseling with Virginia DARS!
     
    {Music}
    Speaker1: Manager Minute brought to you by the VRTAC for Quality Management. Conversations powered by VR, one manager at a time, one minute at a time. Here is your host, Carol Pankow.
     
    Carol: Well, welcome to the Manager Minute. I am so fortunate to have David Leon with me in the studio today. David's the director of workforce programs at the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, or, as you all endearingly refer to it as DarS. So, David, how are things going at DarS?
     
    David: Excellent. Thank you for having me and thank you for asking.
     
    Carol: Well, I was doing a little LinkedIn research about you, and I see you have been with the agency for over 11 years, and you're really known as a powerhouse in the VR community with some super creative work, especially as it relates to the agency's goal of helping those populations that experience both disability and poverty. And I learned that Virginia Diaries was awarded one of the announced Disability Innovation Fund grants, and I would definitely like to hear more about that at a later date. So, I'm gathering that the projects you've led and continue to lead on behalf of DARS with support from your commissioner, Cathy Hayfield, have really helped shape the approach that Virginia is taking in relation to benefits planning. And on a side note, I saw you're also a recent graduate from George Washington University with your master's in VR counseling. I always have to give a plug. My employer, I really admire you for going back to school and accomplishing that.
     
    David: Thank you.
     
    Carol: So today we're going to tackle the topic of benefits planning and learn more about the success of Virginia DARS has experienced. Now, when I asked around about VR best practices, your name kept coming up over and over again. And I know many agencies do kind of a one and done with benefits planning. They get something on the plan, they kind of move on. And my understanding is that your agency has gone far beyond that. So, let's dig in. What is the overall benefits planning structure in your agency?
     
    David: Thank you, Carol. And let me start by saying anything we have been successful at here in Virginia is really based on our commissioner commitment to this work. The agencies buy into the value of this work in a systemic way, along with what we find as best practices from other agencies. I'm very proud of the work we do here in Virginia, and there are many other states with d

    • 38 min
    VRTAC-QM: Leveraging Employment First initiatives to improve consumer services across agencies in Colorado.

    VRTAC-QM: Leveraging Employment First initiatives to improve consumer services across agencies in Colorado.

    On this episode of Manager Minute, we are delighted to discuss Colorado’s Employment First initiative. On the panel, we have:
    Patricia Henke, Colorado Office of Employment First (COEF) Director Meghan Greene, CIE Manager, CO VR Katie Taliercio, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF); Colorado’s State Medicaid Agency Katie Oliver, Colorado Department of Education Cheryl Carver, Colorado VR They are involved with a very innovative and successful collaboration in Colorado pertaining to their Employment First initiative.  We believe it’s an outstanding model illustrating how multiple agencies can effectively partner in an Employment First initiative to serve their consumers better. We have the pleasure today to understand how this is working in Colorado, so you may be able to move in a similar direction.
     
    Here are some useful links discussed in the podcast:
    Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Colorado
    Colorado Office of Employment First
    Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance
    Colorado Sequence of Services for Students and Youth with Disabilities
     
    Listen Here
     
    You can find out more about VRTAC-QM on the web at:
    https://www.vrtac-qm.org/
     
    Please stay up to date by following VRTAC-QM on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @VRTAC_QM
     
    About VRTAC-QM
    Partnering with State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (SVRAs) to enhance service delivery and maximize outcomes through quality program and resource management.
    The purpose of the VRTAC-QM is to provide training and technical assistance that will enable State VR agency personnel to manage available resources, improve effective service delivery, and increase the number and quality of employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. The VRTAC-QM provides TA and training in VR program and performance quality management, fiscal and resource quality management of the VR program, and general quality management of organizations. You can request technical assistance from the VRTAC-QM by contacting your TA Liaison directly, contacting any member of the Center you wish, or by filling out the information on our main website and clicking on submit. While on the main website, join our mailing list to receive updates on training and new activities occurring within the Center.
     
     
    Full Transcript
     
    Leveraging Employment First initiatives to improve consumer services across agencies in Colorado.
     
    {Music}
    Speaker1: Manager Minute brought to you by the VRTAC for Quality Management. Conversations powered by VR, one manager at a time, one minute at a time. Here is your host, Carol Pankow.
     
    Carol: Well, we're delighted to have a whole crew from Colorado with us this morning in the studio. We have Patricia Henke Colorado Office of Employment First. Meghan Greene with Colorado VR. Cheryl Carver also with Colorado VR. Katie Taliercio, CEO with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. And Katie Oliver, Colorado Department of Education. So welcome to you all. I appreciate you being in the studio today. These fine ladies are involved with a very innovative and successful collaboration in Colorado pertaining to their Employment First initiative. We believe it's an outstanding model, illustrating how multiple agencies can effectively partner with their Employment First initiative to better serve their customers. We have the pleasure today to understand how this is working in Colorado. So you may be able to move in a similar direction. So let's get a little background on Employment First. Employment First is really a framework for systems change that is centered on the premise that all citizens, including individuals with significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in integrated employment and community life. This national effort, formerly originated from the Office of Disability Employment Policy, when on August 8th 2018, they hosted 15 federal offices, including representat

    • 46 min

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