(1) The state recognizes the value of independent living services in enabling people with disabilities to live more independently in their own homes and communities.
(2) Persons with disabilities have the best capacity to design, develop, manage and implement the programs and services which are intended to assist them.
(3) The federal rehabilitation act requires this state to develop a state plan for independent living to describe and direct independent living services in West Virginia.
(4) The federal rehabilitation act further calls for the establishment and operation of a statewide independent living council to monitor, review and evaluate the implementation of the state's plan for independent living services.
(5) There are approximately one quarter of a million residents in this state with disabilities who could benefit directly or indirectly from the provision of independent living services by the division of rehabilitation services and the state's centers for independent living.
(6) Twenty-five percent of West Virginia's total population is over fifty-five years of age and thirteen and one-half percent of that population requires assistance with activities of daily living in order to live independently in their own homes.
(7) A need exists for a coordinated network of consumer-controlled centers for independent living that effectively reaches persons with disabilities in all fifty-five counties of the state.
(a) "Consumer control" means circumstances in which individuals with disabilities having decision-making authority.
(b) "Council" means the statewide independent living council.
(c) "Division" means the division of rehabilitation services.
(d) "Independent living services" means advocacy, independent living skills, training, information and referral, peer counseling, peer support and any other service directed by the state plan which may include, but is not limited to, the following:
(1) Assistive devices and equipment;
(2) Communication services;
(3) Counseling and related services;
(4) Community awareness programs to enhance the understanding and integration into society of individuals with disabilities;
(5) Environmental modifications;
(6) Family services;
(7) Mobility training;
(8) Personal assistance services;
(9) Prostheses and other appliances and devices; and
(10) Rehabilitation technology.
(e) "State plan" means the state plan for independent living required by the federal rehabilitation act of 1973, as amended.
(b) The council shall function as a partner with the Division of Rehabilitation Services in the planning and provision of independent living services in the state. In conjunction with the division, the council shall develop, approve and submit to the proper federal authorities the state plan for independent living, as required by the federal act. The council shall monitor, review and evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of the state plan.
(c) Voting members. -- The council shall consist of twenty-four voting members including: one director of an Independent Living Center chosen by the directors of the independent living centers in the state. The Governor shall select appointments from among the nominations submitted by organizations representing a wide range of individuals with disabilities and other interested groups, as coordinated by the council, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. These members may include other representatives from Centers for Independent Living, parents and guardians of individuals with disabilities, advocates of individuals with disabilities, representatives from the business and educational sectors, representatives of organizations that provide services for individuals with disabilities and other interested individuals, as appropriate to the purpose of the council.
(d) Nonvoting members. -- The membership of the council shall also include the following, nonvoting, ex officio members or their designees:
(1) A representative of the Division of Rehabilitation Services;
(2) A representative of the Office of Behavioral Health Services within the Department of Health and Human Resources;
(3) A representative of the West Virginia Housing Development Fund;
(4) A representative of the West Virginia Association of Rehabilitation Facilities;
(5) A representative of the Bureau of Senior Services; and
(6) A representative of the Office of Special Education Programs and Assurance in the Department of Education.
(e) The nonvoting membership may also include additional representatives of groups represented on the board of directors.
(f) Appointment. -- All council members are appointed by the Governor. The Governor shall appoint from among the nominations submitted by organizations representing a wide range of individuals with disabilities and other interested groups, as coordinated by the council.
(g) Terms of appointment. -- All council members are appointed to serve for a term of three years, except that a member appointed to fill a vacancy occurring prior to the expiration of the term for which a predecessor was appointed shall be appointed for the remainder of the unexpired term. No member of the council may serve more than two consecutive full terms.
(h) Vacancies. -- Any vacancy occurring in the appointed membership of the council shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment. A vacancy does not affect the power of the remaining members to execute the duties of the council.
(i) Delegation. -- The Governor may delegate the authority to fill a vacancy to the remaining voting members of the council after initial appointments have been made.
(j) Duties. -- The council shall:
(1) In conjunction with the Division of Rehabilitation Services, develop and sign the state plan for independent living;
(2) Monitor, review and evaluate the implementation of the state plan;
(3) Coordinate activities with the state rehabilitation council and other bodies that address the needs of specific disability populations and issues under other federal and state law;
(4) Ensure that all regularly scheduled meetings of the council are open to the public and sufficient advance notice is provided; and
(5) Submit to the federal funding agency such periodic reports as are required and keep such records and afford access to such records, as may be necessary to verify such reports.
(6) Ensure that the state plan for independent living sets forth the steps that will be taken to maximize the cooperation, coordination and working relationships among:
(A) The Independent Living Rehabilitation Service Program, the Statewide Independent Living Council, and Centers for Independent Living; and
(B) The designated state unit, other state agencies represented on the council, other councils that address the needs of specific disability populations and issues, and other public and private entities determined to be appropriate by the council.
(k) Staffing and resources. -- The council may employ staff as necessary to perform the functions of the council, including an executive director, an administrative assistant and other staff as may be determined necessary by the council. The council shall supervise and evaluate staff. The council shall prepare, in conjunction with the division, a plan for the use of available resources as may be necessary to carry out the functions and duties of the council pursuant to this article, utilizing eligible federal funds, funds made available under this article and funds from other public and private sources. This resource plan shall, to the maximum extent possible, rely on the use of existing resources during the period of plan implementation.
(l) Compensation and expenses. -- The council may use resources that are available to it to reimburse members of the council for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties, including attending council meetings, and to pay reasonable compensation to any member of the council who is either not employed by the state or is not otherwise compensated by his or her employer for performance of duties associated with the council, up to $50 per day.
(b) The state plan, and each subsequent plan and any amendments thereto shall be presented to the legislative oversight commission on health and human resources accountability, created pursuant to article twenty-nine-e, chapter sixteen of this code, for review and consultation.
(b) Subject to availability, the state plan may designate funds for purposes including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) To provide independent living services to eligible individuals with significant disabilities;
(2) To demonstrate ways to expand and improve independent living services;
(3) To support the operation of centers for independent living;
(4) To support activities to increase the capacities of centers for independent living to develop comprehensive approaches or systems for providing independent living services;
(5) To conduct studies and analyses, gather information, develop model policies and procedures and present information, approaches, strategies, findings, conclusions and recommendations to policymakers in order to enhance independent living services for individuals with disabilities;
(6) To train individuals with disabilities and individuals who provide services to them and other persons regarding the independent living philosophy; and
(7) To provide outreach to populations that are unserved or underserved by programs under this act, including minority groups and urban and rural populations.
As provided in the state plan, funds appropriated for the purposes of this article shall be utilized directly by the division for the provision of independent living services or through grants or contracts, with the approval of the council, to agencies that meet the definition of and comply with the standards and indicators for centers for independent living set forth in the federal act.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session