RSA-227 - Annual Client Assistance Program (CAP) Report

Florida (Disability Rights Florida) - H161A110009 - FY2011

General Information

Designated Agency Identification

NameDisability Rights Florida
Address2728 Centerview Drive
Address Line 2Suite 102
CityTallahassee FL
StateFlorida
Zip Code32301
E-mail Addresscoreyh@disabilityrightsflorida.org
Website Addresshttp://www.disabilityrightsflorida.org
Phone(850) 488-9071
TTY (800) 346-8127
Toll-free Phone(800) 342-0823
Toll-free TTY(800) 346-8127
Fax(850) 488-8640

Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)

Name
Address
Address Line 2
City
Zip Code
E-mail Address
Website Address
Phone
TTY
Toll-free Phone
Toll-free TTY
Fax

Additional Information

Name of CAP Director/CoordinatorCorey Hinds
Person to contact regarding reportCorey Hinds
Contact Person Phone850-488-9071

Part I. Agency Workload Data

A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)

Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. Information regarding the Rehabilitation Act448
2. Information regarding Title I of the ADA41
3. Other information provided11
4. Total I&R services provided (Lines A1+A2+A3)500
5. Individuals attending trainings by CAP staff (approximate)6,715

B. Individuals served

An individual is counted only once during a fiscal year. Multiple counts are not permitted for Lines B1-B3.

1. Individuals who are still being served as of October 1 (carryover from prior year)29
2. Additional individuals who were served during the year288
3. Total individuals served (Lines B1+B2)317
4. Individuals (from Line B3) who had multiple case files opened/closed this year. (In unusual situations, an individual may have more than one case file opened/closed during a fiscal year. This number is not added to the total in Line B3 above.)23

C. Individual still being served as of September 30

Carryover to next year. This total may not exceed Line I.B3. 71

D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files

Choose one primary reason for closing each case file. There may be more case files than the total number of individuals served to account for those unusual situations, referred to in Line I.B4, when an individual had multiple case files closed during the year.

1. All issues resolved in individual's favor241
2. Some issues resolved in individual's favor (when there are multiple issues)9
3. CAP determines VR agency position/decision was appropriate for the individual3
4. Individual's case lacks legal merit; (inappropriate for CAP intervention)6
5. Individual chose alternative representation2
6. Individual decided not to pursue resolution10
7. Appeals were unsuccessful0
8. CAP services not needed due to individual's death, relocation, etc.2
9. Individual refused to cooperate with CAP0
10. CAP unable to take case due to lack of resources0
11. Other (please explain)

E. Results achieved for individuals

1. Controlling law/policy explained to individual111
2. Application for services completed.57
3. Eligibility determination expedited6
4. Individual participated in evaluation4
5. IPE developed/implemented0
6. Communication re-established between individual and other party61
7. Individual assigned to new counselor/office19
8. Alternative resources identified for individual3
9. ADA/504/EEO/OCR/ complaint made12
10. Other0
11. Other (please explain)

Part II. Program Data

A. Age

As of the beginning of the fiscal year. Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. 21 and under64
2. 22 - 4076
3. 41 - 64168
4. 65 and over9
5. Total (Sum of Lines A1 through A4. Total must equal Line I.B3.)317

B. Gender

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Female152
2. Male165
3. Total (Sum of Lines B1 and B2. Total must equal Line I.B3.)317

C. Race/ethnicity

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race37
For individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native4
3. Asian2
4. Black or African American87
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White184
7. Two or more races3
8. Race/ethnicity unknown0

D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Blindness (both eyes)25
2. Other visual impairments9
3. Deafness6
4. Hard of hearing8
5. Deaf-blind2
6. Orthopedic impairments60
7. Absense of extremities2
8. Mental illness71
9. Substance abuse (alcohol or drugs)4
10. Mental retardation11
11. Specific learning disabilities (SLD)36
12. Neurological disorders22
13. Respiratory disorders5
14. Heart and other circulatory conditions7
15. Digestive disorders6
16. Genitourinary conditions0
17. Speech Impairments0
18. AIDS/HIV positive1
19. Traumatic brain injury (TBI)6
20. All other disabilities36
21. Disabilities not known0
22. Total (Sum of Lines D1 through D21. Total must equal Line I. B3.)317

E. Types of individuals served

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Applicants of VR Program120
2. Clients of VR Program200
3. Applicants or clients of IL Program1
4. Applicants or clients of other programs and projects funded under the Act1

F. Source of individual's concern

Multiple responses permitted.

1. VR agency only302
2. Other Rehabilitation Act sources only2
3. Both VR agency and other Rehabilitation Act sources12
4. Employer2

G. Problem areas

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Individual requests information0
2. Communication problems between individual and counselor32
3. Conflict about services to be provided145
4. Related to application/eligibility process76
5. Related to IPE development/implementation18
6. Other Rehabilitation Act-related problems0
7. Non-Rehabilitation Act related0
8. Related to Title I of the ADA2

H. Types of CAP services provided

Choose one primary CAP service provided for each case file/service record.

1. Information/referral10
2. Advisory/interpretational166
3. Negotiation37
4. Administrative/informal review53
5. Alternative dispute resolution1
6. Formal appeal/fair hearing2
7. Legal remedy4
8. Transportation0

Part III. Narrative

Narrative

CLIENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM ANNUAL REPORT FY 2010-2011 NARRATIVE

CAP Director’s Comments:

We are pleased to demonstrate by this report that CAP has worked hard to meet or exceed our goals and priorities. In FY 2010-2011, CAP, when calculating I&Rs, carry forward and open cases, show the total number of individuals served to be 888. As a result, this fiscal year, the Florida CAP served more individuals with disabilities with employment needs and services. CAP had 2 requests for formal due process representation and 53 requests for less formal administrative review hearings. The majority of administrative reviews were with the general VR agency. We successfully resolved the majority of these due process requests and CAP cases through skillful investigation, good-faith negotiation, mediation, and representation. The CAP was able to secure settlement agreements resolving the majority of fair hearing requests. The requests for employment supports and services included, job placement assistance, workplace technology, vehicle and home modifications, medical treatment, college tuition and training, self-employment and other services leading to a productive career.

The highlights of CAP activities throughout the year are noted below: Section 1 - Executive Summary Hot Topics

Florida VR Order of Selection:

The Florida VR Program continues to operate in order of selection serving the most significant individuals with disabilities in category one and two. As of August 2011, there were 2,607 VR clients on the waiting list under category 3, and 39,641 individuals receiving services. The Florida CAP and State Rehabilitation Council recommended reducing and ending order of selection, and serving all eligible individuals with disabilities who need employment services. Florida VR reported having more than 70 million dollars in carry-over (reserve) funding which can be utilized to serve all individuals in category 3. Additionally, the RSA federal review report of the VR program indicated that Florida VR did not make accurate financial projections for expenditures of client services. CAP investigated and advocated for some clients to be moved off the waiting list to a higher category on the order of selection throughout the fiscal year which resulted in a plan of employment services being provided and job placement for many.

The Assistive Technology Collaborative Hospitality Project The Hyatt partnership program with Hands-On Educational Services received an innovative and expansion, (I&E) contract award to expand the program to Jacksonville and Miami to train VR consumers for jobs in the hospitality industry. This I&E award is a direct result of CAP advocacy for Florida VR to utilize this authority to fund programs that make a significant impact in placing persons with disabilities in jobs. Hyatt has continued to integrate assistive technology in the workplace with the assistance of Hands-On Educational Services and Disability Rights Florida CAP Program. In the fall of 2011, collaboration with Workforce Alliance resulted in a staffing company decision to develop an internship program and recruit persons with disabilities for jobs in hospitality. The staffing company estimated at least 100 workers with disabilities would be recruited.

Creating Jobs by Investing in Small Business Owned by Persons with Disabilities:

Florida’s unemployment rate is among the highest in the country at 10.6% during the fall of 2011. Some studies had the unemployment rate for persons with disabilities as high as 70%. Job creation through start-up businesses for individuals with disabilities is increasing and is becoming a viable option for many struggling to find work. Disability Rights Florida’s CAP has been at the forefront advocating for funding for self-employment ventures and small businesses for individuals with disabilities. Florida VR has invested in supporting small businesses by expanding the list of business experts called certified business technical assistance consultants, (CBTACs) to provide one on one assistance to VR customers interested in establishing a self-employment plan. CAP participated in several CBTAC trainings throughout the state promoting self-employment as an employment option. CAP represented and assisted individuals interested in becoming entrepreneurs. These business owners opened up an auto repair shop business, a vending machine business, a floral designing business, a music production company and many others. As of August 2011, VR provided 155 CBTAC referrals and provided $548,137 to CBTACS to assist consumers with marketing and business plans. Challenges for counselors to adopt self-employment as a viable option for employment remain in some areas, but we are beginning to see positive successes in others with new businesses thriving.

Southwest Center for Independent Living Closing Monitoring:

Since late July, Disability Rights Florida CAP has been monitoring the untimely closing of the Ft. Myers Center for Independent Living. CAP established contacts with former board members, agency department heads within the United Way of Ft. Myers, DVR Independent Living Program Manager, consumers affected by the closing, and a member of the Broward CIL management. News media reported that the closing was due to mismanagement, and little to no funds was left to continue operations. CAP hosted a focus group with consumers of the CIL to address concerns and the needs of the consumers. CAP provided a web posting to alert the public of news related to the reopening of the CIL, and to inform individuals about their rights. An additional posting and information was provided at the Ft. Myers DVR offices. CAP has learned that the Broward Center for Independent Living has agreed to take over the duties and services provided by the CIL. They have conducted interviews and have hired a site manager and support staff, have a new building, and expect to host a grand opening.

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation State Plan Public Hearings:

CAP staff attended the DVR State Plan Public Forums held in Daytona Beach, Fort Myers, Pensacola and Miami in May 2011. The Draft State Plan for 2012 and attachments were presented to the public. CAP staff provided verbal comments regarding the need to end order of selection, financial participation, to move forward with rule-making, the need for more supported employment vendors, improve turnover/hiring issues, transition services, to invest in small business opportunities for persons with disabilities & designate self-employment counselors, create job fairs in each region of the state and strengthen partnerships with Workforce and Business Leadership Networks.

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Administrative Rule-Making:

Disability Rights Florida CAP provided 40 pages of rule comments to Florida VR’s 19 proposed rules in December 2010. These 19 proposed rules have a significant impact regarding the delivery of client services to VR consumers, but a suspension for rule-making was made in the spring of 2011. A Florida Supreme Court ruling in Whiley vs. Scott lifted the restriction to suspend rule-making by state agencies during the fall of 2011 and Florida VR moved forward to promulgate their administrative rules. After months of intensive negotiations regarding specific rule language addressing the removal of the College Prepaid Plan as a comparable benefit and service, client appeals and due process requirements, the IPE approval process, the closure of cases due to the lack of supported employment, transportation services and the lack of a transition & self-employment rule, CAP and VR finalized administrative rules that was considered by the State Board of Education. Promoting Competitive Integrated Work & Higher Wages:

Disability Rights Florida CAP has promoted integrated work in a business setting and higher wages for employment for youth with disabilities though Florida’s Project Search programs. Project Search is a one year high school transition program which provides an internship at a host business where students learn employability skills at the job site. The students are usually in their final year in high school working towards a special diploma. These students are often led to work in a sheltered workshop with little hope of ever receiving wages at or above minimum wage, but through the expansion of Project Search sites at local businesses throughout Florida since 2008 more than 400 students worked in the community at hospitals, hotels, and city governments. More than half of the students received jobs working in mail delivery, patient transport, stocking supplies, sterilization of surgical equipment, medical records, food service and other meaningful career opportunities.

Disability Mentoring Day & Job Fairs Make a Difference:

CAP staff attended the Palm Beach County Business Leadership Network Event, "Making Connections" Employer Conference to promote employment opportunities for people with disabilities in West Palm Beach. Approximately 150 job seekers with disabilities and employers were in attendance.

On October 12th, CAP staff attended Disability Mentoring Day in Jacksonville. CAP staff met with roughly 300 students with disabilities in order to educate them on Disability Rights Florida, transition services, and employment opportunities.

A. The Florida CAP is an external CAP. It is housed at Disability Rights Florida. Disability Rights Florida is a not-for-profit organization, and the Florida P&A. B. Sources of funds expended Source of funding Total expenditures spent on individuals Federal funds $ 650,803.26 State funds All other funds Total from all sources $ 650,803.26

CAP FY 10-11 Financial Data Expended Federal Funds 650,803.26 All Other funds 00.00 650,803.26 FY 11 Actual FY 12 Budget Expense Wages/Salaries 393,423.76 302,517.00 Fringe Benefits 130,984.13 102,000.00 Material/Supplies 5,520.51 5,020.00 Postage 2,215.90 2,030.00 Telephone 9,986.01 9,450.00 Rent 37,535.04 37,700.00 Travel 22,360.94 19,980.00 Bonding/Insurance 6,212.06 6,020.00 Equipment 15,906.78 15,700.00 Legal & Contracts 8,230.08 4,650.00 Indirect Costs 4,310.79 4,580.00 Miscellaneous 14,117.26 16,390.00 Total Expense 650,803.26 526,037.00

Disability Rights Florida CAP Staff - 10/11 PT/FTpositionCAP TOTAL AVERAGE % of year Person Year Prof/Cler Prof-FT Adv Spec.(2) 10.70% 100% 2.00 Prof-FT Adv Spec 10.70% 35% 0.35 Prof-FT Adv Spec 10.70% 50% 0.50 Prof-FT Advocate 1.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Dir.Legal/Adv1.90% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Dir Public Pol10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Attorney .50% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Attorney .12% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Dir Public Pol10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT External Affairs10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Intake Coord. 10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-PT Legal Intern 6.50% 100% 0.50 Prof-FT Sr.TrialCounsel 10.70% 100% 0.25 Prof-FT Sr. Adv Spec. 10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Sr. Advocate 99.30% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Sr. Advocate .50% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Sr. Advocate 93.20% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Sr. Advocate 97.20% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Sr. Attorney 9.80% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Sr. Attorney 10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Sr. Paralegal 6.20% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Team Manager 13.00% 25% 0.25 Prof-FT Team Manager 97.00% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Team Manager .50% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Team Manager 10.70% 100% 1.00 Cler-FT Admin.Assistant10.70% 100% 1.00 Cler-FT Acct Associate10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Bookkeeper 10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Exec.Assistant 10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Dir Fin.& Admin10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Exec.Director 10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Benefits Mgr 10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT IT/Training Mgr10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT Tech/Comm.Mgr10.70% 100% 1.00 Prof-FT MIS/IT Tech. 10.70% 100% 1.00 Cler-PT Receptionist 10.70% 100% 1.00 Cler-FT Staff Assist (2) 10.70% 100% 2.00

E. Summary of presentations made

CAP provided a training presentation on Workplace Accommodations to the Palm Beach Business Leadership Network. Human Resource representatives from Wal-Mart, financial firms, consultants, Workforce Alliance and others attended the training. The training also provided the employers with resources to obtain assistive technology accommodations, and employer tax credits. Approximately 30 individuals were in attendance. Florida CAP and the Hawaii P&A Client Assistance Program provided a webinar training on Vocational Rehabilitation Order of Selection. The training was hosted by the National Disability Rights Network, (NDRN) for training to all of the Client Assistance Programs in the United States and territories. Approximately 60 individuals were in attendance.

On December 27th CAP staff met with the Executive Director of Brooks Clubhouse in Jacksonville. CAP staff learned about Brooks Clubhouse and educated them on Disability Rights Florida. Then met with roughly 15 consumers with Traumatic Brain Injury in order to educate them on Disability Rights Florida and how the CAP can assist them in getting back to work.

On November 19, CAP staff conducted an outreach presentation at the FAAST office in Miami. The presentation was about the services offered at Disabilities Rights Florida. In addition, CAP staff received a tour of the new FAAST office and discussed opportunities to collaborate. At the conclusion of the presentation, there was a question and answer session. There were approximately 20 individuals in attendance. On November 20, CAP staff conducted a presentation at the Florida Amputee Support Team (FAST) meeting held at Sunrise Rehabilitation Center in Sunrise. The presentation was about the services offered at Disabilities Rights Florida. At the conclusion of the presentation, there was a question and answer session. There were approximately 20 individuals in attendance that consisted of amputees and their caregivers.

On October 17th, CAP staff attended Spirit of the ADA at the Jacksonville Zoo. Staff met with nearly 1000 people in order to increase awareness of individuals with disabilities about the services Disability Rights Florida offers, as well as to educate them on employment options, social security issues, and education and transition services.

October 20, 2010 CAP attended the Lakeland Center for Independence’s annual Disability Mentoring Day event. This event featured a Kick off breakfast wherein employers such as Publix, Lakeland Regional Medical Center, and Burger King were honored. An award was also given to the Mayor of Winter Haven for his support of this event. There were approximately 120 individuals in attendance.

On October 21, CAP provided outreach education at the Ability Explosion Exposition in Miami Beach. The mission of Ability Explosion is to celebrate the ABILITIES of people living with Disabilities, to encourage their acceptance by the entire community and to promote innovations in technology that will improve their lives. CAP disseminated information to individuals the event. There were approximately over 300 individuals in attendance at the event.

On January 26, 2011 CAP presented to the Multiple Sclerosis support group meeting at St. Anthony’s hospital. Six (6) consumers were present for this brief overview of Disability Rights Florida services. On January 25, 2011 CAP presented at Metropolitan Ministries’ Out Reach Community Fair Employment event. Approximately 15 consumers with disabilities received information about Disability Rights Florida. On March 23, 2011 CAP attended, and provided outreach education information at the Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind’s Employment Information program in Brooksville. The Lighthouse presented their new job development initiative which involves the National Associations of the Blind. Many of the jobs they are exploring are on-line customer service job possibilities. Approximately 30 client/consumers as well as several DBS staff attended.

On February 10th, CAP staff presented to the Lighthouse of the Blind in Broward County (in Ft. Lauderdale). CAP staff provided information about the history of the P&As, and an overview of the services provided by Disability Rights Florida. We discussed client rights within DBS, DVR, and in the workplace. Approximately 50 individuals were in attendance.

On April 15, 2011 CAP presented on the topic of reasonable accommodation to a group of students and staff at the invitation of Disability Services at the University of South Florida, Sarasota- Manatee. Approximately 15 individuals were in attendance.

CAP staff presented at the National Disability Rights Network Annual Conference in Baltimore on Continuing Issues with VR. The topics were Writing an Effective IPE, Policy Exception, and Successful Small Businesses. NDRN provided a positive evaluation of the presentations. Approximately 100 individuals were in attendance.

On June 28, 2011 CAP presented at the Metropolitan Ministries’ Out Reach Community Fair Employment event. Approximately 15 consumers received information about Disability Rights Florida through one on one training, agency brochures, ten steps to for self-advocacy, RAVE cards, and the annual report which was provided to community partners who attended the event as well. CAP staff provided outreach education at HEAL (Healing Every Autistic Life) event on April 10th in Jacksonville. Approximately 1000 people were in attendance. CAP staff provided information about Disability Rights Florida and was available to answer any questions.

CAP staff met with the Brain Injury Association of Florida (BIAF), in Jacksonville, and provided outreach training. BIAF serves as a clearinghouse to provide information to individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries about resources in their communities. CAP staff discussed collaborating to increase the referrals to DVR for this under-served disability group to obtain employment services and supports. Four individuals were in attendance.

CAP staff met and provided outreach training to executives from the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind on May 18th to assist students transitioning from high school to work or post-secondary education to better serve the deaf and blind population. Approximately 25 individuals were in attendance.

CAP Staff attended the St. Johns County Transition Fair on May 12th. CAP Staff hosted a table and provided training to 20 families at Creekside High School in order to educate them about transition services, Disability Rights Florida, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Division of Blind Services, and community resources.

CAP presented at the Multiple Sclerosis support group meeting, and provided outreach materials. Approximately 20 individuals were in attendance.

The Center for Independent Living of Broward hosted an ADA event recognizing the 21st Anniversary of the ADA. Disability Rights Florida was a sponsor of the event, and participated in outreach. The event included seminars from ADA experts in the area of Emergency mgmt, Accessibility, and Employment. The event also included awarding of a scholarship to an individual pursing college, and the announcement of Leadership Broward which is a group of disability advocates engaged in community advocacy. Approximately 200 individuals were in attendance.

CAP participated in the Palm Beach County Business Leadership Network Career Fair event. Individuals with disabilities met with employers, and employers were recognized for hiring workers with disabilities. . Approximately 150 individuals were in attendance.

Disability Rights Florida CAP program provided an exhibit, information and training at the Family Café event to family members and individuals with disabilities. Family Café is the largest event in the state of Florida dedicated for persons with disabilities and their family members to learn about resources and services. There were approximately 3500 individuals in attendance.

F. Involvement with Advisory Boards CAP serves on the Florida Rehabilitation Council, (FRC) and the Division of Blind Services Council and provides input at quarterly meetings to enhance the delivery of services for customers with disabilities. As a member of the Council and CAP representative, the following are recommendations and summaries of quarterly Council meetings throughout the fiscal year.

Disability Rights Florida staff remained actively involved with the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind. CAP attorney Christopher White submitted an application for appointment by the Governor to replace CAP’s outgoing member Brian Johnson. CAP participated in a phone conference regarding client case closures, and provided comments on a draft policy regarding the division’s self-employment program. The comments were incorporated into a second draft that has yet to be approved.

At the quarterly February Florida Rehabilitation Council, (FRC) meeting the DVR Director provided a summary report of the Division’s performance in FY 09-10. The report indicated that DVR had 2,946 employment outcomes which are the lowest in a decade. DVR reported that this was due to the 12% unemployment rate in Florida. DVR reduced the number of individuals on the order of selection waiting list to 2,309 as of February 1, 2011. The biggest concern was a federal audit that reported that DVR made inaccurate projections and carried over a total of 72 million dollars for the past 2 years while under an order of selection waiting list. Disability Rights Florida provided comments that it was a disservice to the thousands of individuals with disabilities looking for work, and DVR needs to eliminate the waiting list.

Disability Rights Florida staff participated in the Florida Rehabilitation Council and Division of Blind Services quarterly meetings. CAP staff advocated for the elimination of the order of selection waiting list since DVR reported having 70+million dollars in reserve (carry-forward) funding. The FRC supported the elimination of order of selection and documented it in the State Plan. The DVR Director has resigned effective November 1, 2011, and a panel has been developed to conduct the new DVR Director search.

CAP staff participated in the DBS Council’s planning committee meeting to address 5 policy changes that affect client services. CAP provided recommendations which were incorporated. The policy changes were: Client’s Rights to Records, Exceptions to Policies, Transporting Clients, Participation of the Individual in Cost of Services Based on Financial Need and Maintenance.

Disability Rights Florida presented at the Florida Rehabilitation Council meeting in August 2011 on the status of transition services for youth and provided recommendations for improvement to help youth properly transition from high school to post-secondary education or work. The Coordination committee was alarmed by the number of youth still left out of the DVR system and requested an additional presentation.

G. Outreach to unserved/underserved populations

Serving Individuals on the Autism Spectrum Disorder: Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the country affecting 1 in 110 children, and it is one of the most underserved disability groups being served by the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. In an effort to increase services and job opportunities for individuals with Autism, Disability Rights Florida staff conducted training on transition services to youth with disabilities (autism and spectrum disorders) and their families at the Center for Autism Related Disease, (CARD) Centers. Staff traveled to the University of Florida, (UF) in Jacksonville, and Gainesville, University of Miami, and Florida Atlantic University to educate students with disabilities and their families about transition services, reasonable accommodations in the workplace, college and training services offered by DVR, the Autism law regarding health insurance coverage, ticket to work, and assistive technology services. As a result of the statewide training, Disability Rights Florida CAP staff served 110% more individuals with Autism with many going on to obtain a job or receive funding for college. These students will be better prepared when entering the workforce with careers that can last a lifetime.

Disability Rights Florida CAP participated at the Autism Speaks event in April 2011 in Fort Lauderdale at Nova Southeastern University to provide information and resources to family members and individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The outreach provided by CAP included self-advocacy tips, transition material and rights education. There were more than 100 brochures and material handed out. Approximately 400 individuals attended, and many were provided with referral information for Vocational Rehabilitation services.

H. Alternative dispute resolutions

CAP continues to resolve client disputes with Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, (DVR) and Division of Blind Services, (DBS) through alternative dispute resolution. CAP has utilized the Ombudsman’s office & Bureau Chief with the VR Agencies to resolve complaints at the State office level. Many of these complaints involve the order of selection policy, prior approval requests for medical treatment, assistive technology, policy exception, and for post- secondary education. CAP resolved 2 legal cases prior to the administrative hearing. CAP also resolved 53 administrative reviews, and negotiated many cases. CAP continues to advocate for mediation whenever possible prior to litigation.

Florida CAP files lawsuit that results in a major settlement agreement for a college student with a disability:

N.W. was a client of Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, (DVR) with an IPE that required DVR to pay for college tuition, housing, and supplies. DVR had already paid for college when in a revised IPE they changed the terms and required payment by client through her Florida Pre-Paid College fund claiming it fit the definition of comparable benefit, which must be tapped into before DVR must pay. This was contrary to federal VR law and it was discovered that the state DVR did not have any current, promulgated rules. Thus, there were no grounds in federal law, state law or rule, or any written DVR policy requiring the use of a pre-paid college fund first to pay for college. An administrative review was requested on the comparable benefits issue, and client was represented by a CAP advocate. The Director of DVR ruled against client. Thus, an administrative appeal was filed concerning this ruling. Contrary to the continuation of benefits law pending an appeal, DVR refused to continue to pay for client’s college pending the administrative hearing, thus an administrative appeal was filed concerning DVR’s position regarding continuation of the client’s benefits. Finally, an unpromulgated rule challenge under the state’s Administrative Procedures Act was also filed. DVR then filed notice of initiation of rule-making and asked for dismissal of the rule challenge. CAP Senior attorney successfully fought dismissal of the case and just a few days before the rule challenge was to proceed to a hearing, DVR offered to amend client’s IPE to again have DVR cover the costs of college and to pay CAP’s attorney’s fees. As a result, a settlement agreement was executed and our client has been successfully proceeding through college.

I. Systemic Advocacy

Transition Services for Youth with Disabilities

Through-out the fiscal year, CAP addressed the need for major improvements in serving youth with disabilities in Florida by the general VR agency. Recent federal reports showed that VR was not meeting the national standards in serving youth with disabilities. A public records request showed that 9,621 transition students applied to DVR, but only 5,512 students received services under an IPE. Approx. half of the students that apply receive no services at all even though there are more than 70,000 High School students with a disability in Florida. Therefore, only approx 8% of students in Florida High Schools are actually being served. CAP developed a project to emphasize the importance in assisting youth transition from school to work or post-secondary education. A summary of the activities are noted below.

Making Transition A Success Project:

Disability Rights Florida staff met with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, (DVR) Director at the CAP office to discuss the need to improve transition services for youth. We discussed staff training, the lack of Individualized Plans for Employment, (IPEs) written, and a transition policy. DVR provided us with training material that is being utilized throughout the state to better train staff in assisting youth with disabilities. DVR has begun the process of a statewide training that we recommended. During the fall of 2010 we pointed out in a letter to DVR that all Area districts have not provided written plans for services for more than half of all transition youth determined eligible. In this meeting, DVR advised that it may have been because of the many individuals on the order of selection waiting list and they do not see that as a problem in the coming year. DVR agreed to monitor this and report back to us. Finally we discussed the need for a Transition policy because our investigative findings indicate that there is no statewide uniformity in providing transition services for youth. DVR was reluctant to agree to a transition policy, but we have already provided a draft transition rule to the VR attorneys who are working on the VR administrative rules.

Disability Rights Florida met with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation’s (DVR’s) State Office staff to continue the discussion related to transition services for youth. DVR reported that they currently serve 37% or 14,000 VR customers as transition aged youth aged 16-24. However, the data reported in their federal report is much lower, and the numbers of new applicants have declined. DVR agreed to increase their referral/applications, and consider summer work experiences similar to the successful model of the Division of Blind Services. DVR did not agree to implement a Transition policy, but agreed to move forward with rule development which includes transition services for youth. The CAP will continue to investigate and monitor the transition process for youth.

Based on the recommendation of Disability Rights Florida staff, DVR implemented a summer youth work experience program in order for youth with disabilities to gain valuable work skills needed before they graduate from high school. The summer work experience program is being contracted out to the Centers for Independent Living. Youth will have opportunities to work at local businesses or at the Center for Independent Living. The Division of Blind Services has a similar arrangement through the Lighthouses for the Blind where students receive summer work jobs as early as age 15. We will evaluate the success of this project after the summer. Problem school to work transition units were identified through a collection of complaints received throughout the state. CAP staff provided a list of these complaints to the Bureau of Field Services for a resolution.

CAP staff was contacted by the Center for Independent Living of Broward about DVR’s failure to process VR applications and summer work experiences for 28 students with disabilities. The CIL staff indicated that these students can benefit from VR transition services, but there has been no follow through by VR in Broward County. The Executive Director reported the problem to the VR Director, but follow through is still a problem. CAP intervention was provided to secure appropriate transition services for the 28 youth identified by the CIL. Application for services was completed and continuous monitoring provided to ensure appropriate planning and IPE development. At the end of the fiscal year CAP noted no improvements by VR despite efforts made by CAP in serving youth with disabilities. Complaints are on the rise from parents, teachers and students with disabilities. The Commissioner of Education is aware of the problem and we are expected to meet with him and the new VR Director during the spring of 2012.

J. Interesting Cases

G.B. is an adult with a neurological disorder, contacted CAP regarding a need for assistance to obtain employment services from DVR. DVR placed G.B. in the order of selection category 3 waiting list. CAP staff assisted G.B. in obtaining new medical information to provide to DVR that detailed additional disabling conditions that G.B. had for DVR to reconsider their decision. After a meeting with DVR and providing the new medical information to DVR, G.B. was approved into category 1 of the order of selection. As a result, G.B. will begin to receive rehabilitation services for employment.

E.R., an adult with spinal stenosis, contacted CAP regarding a dispute with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) about medical services. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) verbally denied a needed back surgery without providing an opportunity to appeal. CAP’s intervention led to DVR reconsidering the doctor’s recommendation to do surgery. DVR submitted the information to their medical consultant, who in turn agreed with the surgeon. DVR approved the needed surgery for E.R. Once E.R. has recuperated DVR will move forward with job placement services.

C.K. is an adult with cerebral palsy and bilateral visual impairment, contacted CAP regarding an application for services from the Division of Blind Services. DBS determined that C.K. did not meet their eligibility criteria based on available medical records. A CAP investigation revealed that DBS did not fully consider medical records and failed to request updated information. CAP represented C.K. in an administrative review which resulted in a reversal of the ineligible determination decision.

D. C. is an adult with a primary disability that is orthopedic in nature involving her back and legs. She also has significant cardiology and urology issues. D.C. contacted CAP regarding a dispute with DVR about small business assistance. DVR refused to implement the business plan developed with consultation by a Certified Business Technical Assistance Consultant. A CAP investigation found merit in D.C.’s case and therefore represented in an administrative review which resulted in DVR agreeing to move forward in the provision of the requested small business services.

W.B. is an adult who is deaf, contacted CAP regarding medical restoration services. W.B. was advised by DVR that the requested surgery was not likely to be approved. A CAP investigation revealed that DVR had delayed in making a decision for approximately 5 months. W.B. was not informed about the approval process. The CAP intervened by contacting the Area Director who agreed to move the prior approval process forward. W.B. received a favorable prior approval decision and a finalized IPE that covered the surgery and allowed him to maintain his employment as a computer repair tech at Best Buy.

J.S., an adult with absence of extremities, contacted CAP regarding a case closure by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). J.S. needed specific tools in order to move up in J.S.’s career from an entry level position in an auto repair shop. DVR refused to provide the tools since J.S. was not in jeopardy of losing the current job. The CAP successfully argued that J.S. needed specialized tools in order to be a mechanic which is J.S’s chosen career goal. CAP intervention led to DVR reopening the case and paying $15,000 for the needed tools. J.S. can now get the promotion, and earn more wages to become a mechanic.

B.N., an adult with physical and orthopedic impairments, contacted CAP regarding a verbal denial by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to sponsor a private training program. B.N. wanted to attend Motorcycle Mechanics Institute but due to the high cost ($58,000) DVR would not approve this service. The CAP successfully argued that motorcycle mechanic was a feasible goal and DVR had to reconsider the training. CAP intervention led to DVR approving sponsorship of the school. B.N. can now focus on the training and employment upon completion.

T.A., an adult with a learning disability, contacted CAP regarding a denial by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) for a second opinion regarding a misdiagnosis of mental retardation. T.A. needed classroom accommodations while in a Master’s degree program but could not receive this without a proper learning disability diagnosis. The CAP successfully argued that DVR needed to pay for another evaluation by a vendor of choice. CAP intervention led to DVR approving another evaluation and transferring the case to another unit. T.A. can now provide the college with appropriate documentation for her classroom accommodations in order for T.A. to be successful.

J.G. is an adult with a vision disability, contacted CAP regarding a denial by the Division of Blind Services, (DBS) to fix his assistive technology device. DBS denied J.G. requests to provide him with a new CCTV or to fix his broken CCTV. CAP staff intervention resulted in a meeting between J.G. and the District Administrator who agreed to repair the CCTV.

D.B. is an adult with neurological, psychological, and orthopedic disabilities who contacted CAP regarding medical restoration assistance. The delay in service jeopardized D.H.’s participation in training. A CAP investigation revealed that a key medical report was not provided by DVR to its vendor, that no one took responsibility for informing D.B. or for taking action to acquire the report. As a result of the CAP’s intervention D.B. obtained and provided the medical record to the vendor. DVR authorized physical therapy which resulted in D.B. maintaining good academic standing without further delay.

F. H., an adult with a respiratory disability contacted CAP regarding college training. DVR denied further training in a decision letter that was intended to shift the focus of services to job placement assistance. A CAP investigation revealed that the services requested by FH were noted in the IPE and that a request for an office transfer was denied. The CAP argued that FH was entitled to the services listed in the IPE. The CAP was successful in negotiating an agreement wherein DVR would support the completion of training, pay for the certification exam, and transfer the case.

C.W. is an adult with a learning disability who contacted CAP regarding assistance for self-employment in digital photography. A CAP investigation found that DVR delayed the prior approval process by stipulating additional requirements that were not based on policy. CAP arranged a face-to-face conference so that all parties could discuss the issues. As a result of that intervention, DVR agreed to withdraw some of the stipulations placed on this case, provide commercial auto insurance, and assist with a cell phone for business purposes.

L. M. an adult who is blind contacted CAP regarding unpaid outstanding medical expenses. L.M. was informed by the Division of Blind Service (DBS) that the medical services in question were arranged without DBS approval. Although DBS staff attempted to provide documentation to support their claims, a CAP investigation revealed that DBS manipulated documentation and failed to respond to notice about additional medical services sent in a timely fashion by their vendor. As a result of the CAP intervention DBS agreed to pay all outstanding medical expenses.

P.M. is an adult with SCI quadriplegia who contacted CAP regarding a denial by DVR for sponsorship of a small business. PW submitted a business plan to advance his auto repair business. DVR deemed the business plan not viable which lead to an appeal for an administrative review hearing. The CAP represented PW in the review with the assistance of the business consultant who provided a presentation of the key elements of the business plan and support of the auto repair business. CAP led the negotiations of the funding, and introduced evidence that the reasons for the denial by DVR were not support by policy. As a result, DVR agreed to provide $79.034 in monetary support for the business in order for P.M. to repair luxury vehicles like Mercedes-Benz, B.M.Ws, and Audi. They also agreed to a referral for a rehabilitation engineer assessment of the auto workshop in order for P.M. to have an accessible work environment.

S.R., an adult with mental illness and other disabilities contacted CAP regarding a case closure by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). S.R. appealed for an administrative review hearing. CAP staff represented S.R.at an administrative review, and resolved the issues prior to a hearing. CAP successfully argued that S.R. was not intentionally being ‘non-compliant’ but that S.R. was homeless and needed full support, including maintenance in order to get housing, transportation, therapy, medications, vocational evaluation, vocational training, vision assistance, and placement services. CAP’s intervention led to DVR providing all of these services to S.R. S.R. can now focus on the training needed to become successfully employed as a phlebotomist. E.E., an adult with muscular/skeletal impairments and physical/orthopedic impairments contacted CAP regarding mistreatment by staff at the Center for Independent Living (CIL). E.E. also complained that the CIL was requiring payment for a loaned wheelchair. CAP staff provided E.E. with the information needed to file a formal complaint against the CIL. CAP staff was also able to get the CIL to agree to have E.E. work with different staff at the CIL in order to locate suitable housing. CAP successfully argued that E.E. could not afford the wheelchair loaner fees and the CIL agreed to waive the fees. CAP’s intervention led to E.E. having the opportunity to work with the CIL once again. J.G., is an adult with a physical/ orthopedic disability, contacted CAP regarding a dispute with DVR to provide J.G. with a stair lift for J.G. home. DVR originally did not want to sponsor the stair lift because DVR wanted to wait until after J.G. completed all of his surgeries to see what J.G. maximum medical improvement would be after the surgeries. CAP successful resolved the case by getting J.G. to get his treating doctor to provide a letter that states even after the surgeries that J.G. would still need the stair lift. Thanks to this new information, DVR agreed to sponsor the stair lift now.

M.L., a transition student with Cerebral Palsy, muscular/skeletal impairments and neurological disorders, contacted CAP regarding delays in creating the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). M.L. felt DVR was delaying services because M.L.is still in high school. CAP’s intervention led to DVR meeting with M.L. at the school, along with the entire education team. DVR agreed to write and implement services outlined in the IPE. M.L. can now focus on high school studies, knowing the assistance from DVR is available in order to become trained in computer science.

E.C. is an adult with partial paralysis combined with visual and speech impairments who contacted CAP regarding approval of a self-employment plan. E.C alleged that DVR delayed services without providing a rationale. A CAP investigation confirmed that DVR management failed to act in a timely manner to the counselor’s request for prior approval. The CAP arranged for all parties concerned to meet to review the business plan and resolve any unanswered concerns. As a result of the CAP intervention the Area Supervisor agreed to expedite the prior approval process and a referral for Rehabilitation Engineer services.

B.O. is an adult with lumbar disc herniation, bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, and degenerative arthritis affecting both knees who contacted CAP regarding self-employment services. DVR denied a request for a laptop. A CAP investigation revealed that a draft of the business plan identified the purchase of a laptop upon approved. The CAP successfully argued that B.O. was not able to complete business plan assignments in a timely manner relying solely on community resources. This CAP intervention resulted in DVR providing the laptop and agreeing to assist with mileage reimbursement related to business plan assignments.

W.R., an adult with hearing impairment and orthopedic impairments contacted CAP regarding the failure of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to complete sponsorship of tuition. W.R. became eligible for SSDI several months prior to contacting CAP and when DVR gained knowledge of this they stopped paying for the tuition until the Ticket to Work was applied to DVR. CAP’s intervention led to DVR paying for current and previous semester of tuition so that W.R. could focus on his college education.

D.D., an adult with ADHD and degenerative disc disease contacted CAP regarding the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) placing him in category 3 of the Order of Selection wait list. CAP staff advocated for the removal of category 3 to a higher disability limitation category. CAP successfully argued that D.D. has a well-documented physical disability and meets requirements for category 2. CAP’s intervention led to DVR changing the category and assisting D.D. with an employment goal of musician.

J.T., an adult with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and psychosis, contacted CAP regarding the delay in services from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). J.T. requested assistance becoming employed but DVR refused to assist until J.T. was mentally stabilized. CAP staff advised the DVR counselor of J.T.’s progress and that not working increased the psychotic episodes. CAP staff assisted J.T. in obtaining medical co-pays, doctor visits and medications paid for by DVR. CAP’s intervention led to DVR providing the services listed on J.T.’s plan so that J.T. could become employed in retail.

S.M., an adult with depression, obesity, and physical/orthopedic impairments contacted CAP regarding the denial of services from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). S.M. was verbally refused sponsorship for private investigator training and equipment. CAP staff persuaded the DVR counselor to provide a vocational evaluation to determine the appropriate employment goal. DVR agreed and the report was favorable to S.M. EMP Team’s involvement led to S.M. successfully completing training and being provided with all supplies needed to perform the job.

J.T. a transition student with Autism and Down Syndrome contacted CAP regarding delays in creating the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). J.T. felt DVR was taking their time to assist with services because J.T.is still in high school. CAP’s intervention led to DVR meeting with J.T. and discussing On the Job Training (OJT) and supported employment services. J.C.G., an adult with bilateral visual impairment, contacted CAP regarding the failure of the Division of Blind Services (DBS) to assist with self-employment. J.C.G. was working a temporary training job but wanted to work as a record producer, as J.C.G. had done previously in England. The CAP successfully argued that J.C.G. should be given the opportunity to work in the field of music. EMP Team’s intervention led to DBS amending the IPE to include self-employment and providing all equipment and training needed to start the company. J.C.G. is now successfully employed in a home based music production company.

C.A., an adult with mental illness, and other disabilities, contacted CAP regarding the denial of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to sponsor a Masters level training at a local university. CAP staff urged DVR to provide C.A. with updated evaluations, which in turn were favorable for training. CAP’s intervention led to DVR overturning their decision to sponsor C.A.’s education. C.A. will now be able to graduate with a Master’s degree in Business/Marketing next year.

M.D.S., an adult with physical/orthopedic impairments, depression, and an undiagnosed skin condition, contacted CAP regarding the decision of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) not to serve M.D.S. DVR determined M.D.S as too severe for employment. CAP staff urged the DVR counselor to provide updated evaluations and to send M.D.S. to the appropriate doctors that can assist with skin conditions. CAP’s intervention led to DVR providing new evaluations and a positive eligibility outcome. M.D.S. could now focus on finding employment as a teacher’s aide.

J.K., is a young adult with multiple disabilities (including Attention Deficit Disorder w/Hyperactivity (ADHD), Epilepsy, Hard of Hearing / Hearing Impaired (not deaf)), contacted CAP regarding assistance with out of state college tuition, reimbursement for maintenance and improper use of a merit based scholarship. CAP staff was contacted after J.K. requested an administrative review. CAP investigation revealed that DVR improperly utilized J.K’s scholarship and that DVR did in fact have to reimburse J.K. for the scholarship monies. In addition, CAP staff was able to identify that DVR was not calculating J.K. maintenance properly or in a timely manner and addressed J.K. concerns with regard to that matter. CAP settled J.K.’s administrative review through skillful negotiations.

S.P., is a young adult whom is an amputee, contacted CAP regarding a dispute with DVR to not sponsor S.P. housing while attending Law School out-of-area. DVR stated that they would only sponsor tuition cost. S.P. filed for an administrative review. CAP investigation revealed that S.P. was accepted into a state law school and that DVR was agreeing to sponsor tuition, but was not going to cover housing because S.P. did not attend a local school. CAP staff discovered that S.P. was justified with attending out-of-area school because it was a state school and more of S.P. credits would transfer, making it less money in the long-run for DVR. CAP staff represented S.P. at the Administrative Review and DVR agreed to conduct a budget study and sponsor S.P. housing to attend Law School out-of-area.

E.C. is an adult who had a stroke that resulted in hearing loss and nystagmus. E.C. contacted CAP regarding a delay of service. E.C.’s vocational counselor submitted his business plan for approval to her supervisors in May 2010. A CAP investigation lead to a meeting with DVR supervisors who acknowledged the delay and offered an apology. As a result of CAP intervention DVR also agreed to provide rehabilitation technology services to address other vocational issues not previously addressed.

A.R. is an adult with spina bifida who contacted CAP regarding a denial of access to a federally funded program. A.R. attempted to reapply for services due to changes in the job description but was turned away. A CAP investigation revealed that DVR failed to examine changes in AR’s job description that were in conflict with medical recommendations. As a result of CAP intervention, AR was given an opportunity to apply for services. A.R. was found eligible for services, and DVR agreed to a referral to see a business consultant to assist self-employment services.

R.J., an adult with bilateral visual impairment, and a VR client, contacted CAP regarding a violation of Title I of the ADA by R.J’s employer to provide a reasonable accommodation. R.J. had a new supervisor due to a company take over who was ignoring the original accommodations approved by Human Resources. CAP staff’s intervention led to the new employer being educated on R.J.’s rights, and subsequent agreement to continue providing R.J. with the agreed upon accommodations. EMP Team’s involvement led to R.J. once again being able to fulfill the call center job responsibilities with the accommodation.

G.N., an adult with hearing impairments, contacted CAP regarding the delay of receiving hearing aids from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). G.N. began the process of being fitted for the hearing aids but the counselor at DVR never followed through. EMP Team’s involvement led to DVR expediting the referrals to the necessary doctors in order for G.N. to get the hearing aids. G.N. can now be successful at interviewing for positions in cabinetry.

C.O. is an adult who is legally blind and has back problems who contacted CAP with a request for representation at a Division of Blind Service’s Fair Hearing. DBS denied C.O.’s request to exercise informed choice by prohibiting the selection of an assistive technology provider and by not providing proper appeal rights notification. A CAP investigation revealed that DBS failed to comply with federal requirements on both points. CAP was successful in getting DBS to reverse its decision regarding vendor selection and to comply with Federal regulations on rights notification.

J.H., a transition student with Autism contacted CAP regarding the refusal of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to provide J.H. with a computer for college level work, which was written on the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). CAP’s intervention led to DVR agreeing to purchase the computer for J.H. as it was proven to be necessary equipment in the field of graphic design. J.H. can now focus on successfully completing college work in order to become gainfully employed as a graphic designer.

K. On-line Information/Outreach

Disability Rights Florida web page is located at: www.disabilityrightsflorida.org.

During fiscal year 2010-2011, we had 135,849 hits on this website.

Disability Rights Florida has an in-house representative that continues to monitor, update and maintain our web page and ensures that it is accessible.

Certification

Approved

This Report is Complete and Correct.Yes
Date Signed:19-Dec-11
Name of Designated Agency Official:Robert Whitney
Title of Designated Agency Official:Executive Director