Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

Virginia Disability Commission

August 23, 2006

Members of the commission are Delegates Michele B. McQuigg (chair), Robert D. Orrock, Sr., Kathy J. Byron, and David J. Toscano; Senators Yvonne B. Miller and Linda T. Puller; citizen members Bev Fleming, Fred P. Orelove, Sandra A. Cook, C. W. Van Valkenburgh, and William F. Howell; and ex officio member Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. Chairman McQuigg welcomed the guest speakers and introduced Mary-Margaret Cash, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Rehabilitative Services, who discussed the concept of Independent Living Services and Disability Services Boards (DSBs) in Virginia and announced the speakers who would provide more information on services and funding history.

Statewide Plan for Independent Living (SPIL)

Lisa Grubb - Executive Director of the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC)
Ms. Grubb reviewed the statutory origin of the SILC and the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL). The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires each state to establish a SILC in order to qualify for financial assistance under the Act. The mission of the SILC is to promote effective policies, programs, and activities that maximize independence for Virginians with disabilities. The SILC must consist of a majority of people with disabilities who are not employed by the State or by a Center for Independent Living (CIL). The current SPIL, which contains seven goals, remains in effect from 2004 to 2007. Members requested information on SPIL goals, outcomes, as well as its annual budget.

Kelly Hickok - Community Advocate, Resources for Independent Living in Richmond
Ms. Hickok described the history of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and the services they offer. Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act provided federal funding for state CILs, which are consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, and nonresidential, private nonprofit agencies. By law, CILs must provide four core services: Independent Living Skills Training, information and referral, peer counseling, and advocacy. There are 16 CILs in Virginia, branch offices for consumers in outlying areas, and two satellite offices that plan to become free-standing CILs with additional funding. Currently, there are 5,989 people with disabilities in nursing homes in Virginia that have indicated to the Department of Medical Assistance Services that they want to leave—64 are age five or younger and 108 are minors between the ages of 6-20.

The Virginia Association of Centers for Independent Living (VACIL) is requesting $ 2 million dollars to expand outreach and transition services to people in nursing homes located in the 16 CILs and to establish new CILs in Loudoun County, Middle Peninsula, the New River Valley, and Petersburg. Members asked for additional information regarding outcome measurements, the differences between satellite and branch offices, the places served, and the distribution of funds, as well as commented on funding to allow children to transition out of nursing homes.

History of Funding for Centers of Independent Living

Theresa Preda - Director of Independent Living, Department of Rehabilitative Services
Ms. Preda reported on the funding history of Centers for Independent Living (CILs). Her presentation included a map of Virginia that displayed CIL service coverage by planning district and she noted four areas that have not been served, but emphasized Virginia is one of only 15 states in the nation that provides more state than federal funding. State funding has steadily increased over the past two decades, although satellites receive far less funding than established CILs. Ms. Preda detailed the requirements mandated by law, including the four core services, an active Board of Directors and staff composed of a majority of disabled persons, standard legal and financial practices, and the annual submission of data from all CILs to the Rehabilitation Services Administration. Members had questions regarding unserved areas, annual CIL objectives, and the number of disabled persons in each planning district.

Disability Services Boards (DSBs)

Richard Kriner - DSB Program Manager for the Department of Rehabilitative Services
Mr. Kriner discussed the history and funding of the 40 DSBs in Virginia and noted that reduced funding beginning in 2003 has hurt the provision of services, especially for sign language interpreters. Mr. Kriner described the Rehabilitative Services Incentive Fund (RSIF) and showed diagrams of counties that received grants, the levels of program investment, the numbers served in core areas, and the RSIF grant trends for fiscal years 2004-07. The DSBs rank transportation as the most common critical need, followed by housing, medical therapeutic services, and assistive technology. Options for transportation grants include purchased and subsidized rides, accessible vehicles, and a transportation brokerage system; housing grants have been applied to construct reusable home access, a nonprofit housing agency with low rent units, and funding for development of low income housing; and other grants for development of a pediatric feeding clinic, specialized brain injury management services, and an assistive technology and disability resources specialist. DSBs seek additional grants to fund an emergency management coordinator, a sign language interpreter training program at community college, and a loan closet to loan technology equipment. Members asked for more details on the budget and external review.

Mike Hatfield - Disability Resources Coordinator, City of Alexandria DSB
Mr. Hatfield described how in Alexandria an RSIF grant in 1998 enabled a successful three year employment initiative. As a result, nearly 70% of Alexandria's disabled residents are now members of the workforce providing a sharp contrast to national figures that show nearly 70% of disabled persons are unemployed. The Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy recognized The JobLink program in Alexandria as a national model and Best Practices site. The Alexandria DSB used its 2002 RSIF grant to test and provide audible pedestrian signals at traffic intersections, which successfully improved quality of life, safety, and mobility, so they are being installed throughout the city. Mr. Hatfield asked the commission to call for the full restoration of the RSIF, which will continue transportation improvement projects and meet needs for accessible medical services, insurance, and housing. There were 69 RSIF grants awarded in 2002, but by 2006, only 4 have been awarded.

Joan Manley - Board Member of the Rockbridge DSB
Ms. Manley provided a more rural perspective on disability services and explained that DSBs must identify needs and promote awareness at the community level. Successful programs in Rockbridge include wheelchair ramps and the installation of a loop system for the hearing-impaired to hear speakers at public hearings. With additional funding, Rockbridge would like to pursue a DSB website, news reports, and community fairs to exchange new ideas.

Public Comment

John Congable - Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging
As the transportation coordinator for Smart Ride, Mr. Congable stated that there is a growing need for more and better transportation for the elderly, disabled, and low-income populations, and he briefed the commission on the planning of a community-based transportation system called Ride Connection, which is supported by the Regional Transportation Association. Mr. Congable explained that the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) requires counties to hold open forums on special needs programs as a condition to receive transportation grants and appealed to the commission to target state legislation that would further local solutions to this transportation problem.

Work Plan and Future Meetings

At the commission's next meeting, the members plan to examine state policies that promote employment of disabled persons, as well as the Medicaid Buy-in Program and the Virginia Work Task Force. At a fourth meeting, members plan to examine updates from the Housing Work Group on the visitability certification process, reports from the Joint Commission on Health Care and its Behavioral Health Care Subcommittee with endorsed legislation, a report from the Autism Council, a briefing on transportation initiatives, and review legislative proposals for the 2007 Session, including the repeal or extension of the 2007 sunset clause for the commission. Future meeting dates will be available on the General Assembly calendar and commission website as soon as they are available.

The Hon. Michele B. McQuigg

For information, contact:
Ellen Weston and Greg O'Halloran, DLS Staff


Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

Privacy Statement | Legislative Services | General Assembly