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

District of Columbia (UNIVERSITY LEGAL SERVICES, INC.) - H161A120062 - FY2012

General Information

Designated Agency Identification

NameUniversity Legal Services, Inc.
Address220 I Street, N.E., Suite 130
Address Line 2
CityWashington
StateDistrict of Columbia
Zip Code20002
E-mail Addressjcooney@uls-dc.org
Website Addresshttp://www.uls.dc.org
Phone202 547-4747
TTY 202-547-2657
Toll-free Phone877-221-4638
Toll-free TTY
Fax202-547-2662

Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)

NameUniversity Legal Services, Inc.
Address220 I Street, N.E., Suite 130
Address Line 2
CityWashington
Zip Code20002
E-mail Addressjcooney@uls-dc.org
Website Addresshttp://www.uls.dc.org
Phone202 547-4747
TTY202-547-2657
Toll-free Phone877-221-4638
Toll-free TTY
Fax202-547-2662

Additional Information

Name of CAP Director/CoordinatorJoseph R. Cooney
Person to contact regarding reportJoseph R. Cooney
Contact Person Phone202 547-0198

Part I. Agency Workload Data

A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)

Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. Information regarding the Rehabilitation Act26
2. Information regarding Title I of the ADA0
3. Other information provided8
4. Total I&R services provided (Lines A1+A2+A3)34
5. Individuals attending trainings by CAP staff (approximate)0

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)10
2. Additional individuals who were served during the year50
3. Total individuals served (Lines B1+B2)60
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.)2

C. Individual still being served as of September 30

Carryover to next year. This total may not exceed Line I.B3. 5

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 favor30
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 individual2
4. Individual's case lacks legal merit; (inappropriate for CAP intervention)3
5. Individual chose alternative representation0
6. Individual decided not to pursue resolution7
7. Appeals were unsuccessful4
8. CAP services not needed due to individual's death, relocation, etc.0
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 individual18
2. Application for services completed.1
3. Eligibility determination expedited6
4. Individual participated in evaluation0
5. IPE developed/implemented24
6. Communication re-established between individual and other party2
7. Individual assigned to new counselor/office0
8. Alternative resources identified for individual4
9. ADA/504/EEO/OCR/ complaint made0
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 under11
2. 22 - 4020
3. 41 - 6427
4. 65 and over2
5. Total (Sum of Lines A1 through A4. Total must equal Line I.B3.)60

B. Gender

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Female29
2. Male31
3. Total (Sum of Lines B1 and B2. Total must equal Line I.B3.)60

C. Race/ethnicity

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race2
For individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native1
3. Asian0
4. Black or African American43
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White13
7. Two or more races1
8. Race/ethnicity unknown0

D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Blindness (both eyes)3
2. Other visual impairments0
3. Deafness3
4. Hard of hearing2
5. Deaf-blind1
6. Orthopedic impairments1
7. Absense of extremities0
8. Mental illness17
9. Substance abuse (alcohol or drugs)2
10. Mental retardation6
11. Specific learning disabilities (SLD)19
12. Neurological disorders3
13. Respiratory disorders1
14. Heart and other circulatory conditions1
15. Digestive disorders0
16. Genitourinary conditions0
17. Speech Impairments0
18. AIDS/HIV positive0
19. Traumatic brain injury (TBI)1
20. All other disabilities0
21. Disabilities not known0
22. Total (Sum of Lines D1 through D21. Total must equal Line I. B3.)60

E. Types of individuals served

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Applicants of VR Program7
2. Clients of VR Program53
3. Applicants or clients of IL Program57
4. Applicants or clients of other programs and projects funded under the Act0

F. Source of individual's concern

Multiple responses permitted.

1. VR agency only0
2. Other Rehabilitation Act sources only1
3. Both VR agency and other Rehabilitation Act sources2
4. Employer0

G. Problem areas

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Individual requests information2
2. Communication problems between individual and counselor6
3. Conflict about services to be provided25
4. Related to application/eligibility process11
5. Related to IPE development/implementation21
6. Other Rehabilitation Act-related problems1
7. Non-Rehabilitation Act related1
8. Related to Title I of the ADA0

H. Types of CAP services provided

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

1. Information/referral0
2. Advisory/interpretational25
3. Negotiation20
4. Administrative/informal review2
5. Alternative dispute resolution0
6. Formal appeal/fair hearing8
7. Legal remedy0
8. Transportation0

Part III. Narrative

Narrative

PART III. NARRATIVE TO THE RSA 227 REPORT FOR FY 2012

SUMMARY The principal focus of CAP-ULS in FY 2012 has been to (1) prod the D.C. State Agency to develop consistent and lawful rules and policies for the effective delivery of services in D.C.[See below, Section e 1, 2 and Section i]; (2) represent individual clients denied the reasonable and prompt delivery of services [See above Part I and Part II and below subpart j ]; (3) maintain and advocate for outreach efforts to individuals and communities related to vocational rehabilitation and independent living services [ See Sections f, g ]; and (4) insist that the Agency meet its obligation to maintain a working State Rehabilitation Council [See below, subpart III, e 1, i2 a. Type of Agency: Client Assistance Program - University Legal Services, Inc. ("CAP-ULS or CAP") is a nonprofit organization which administers the Client Assistance Program in the District of Columbia pursuant to the designation by Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s Order signed on February 1, 2011. The target population covers individuals present in the District of Columbia who have varying degrees of physical and/or mental disabilities who are applicants or clients of the D.C. Rehabilitation Services Administration (“DCRSA" or “Agency”). This group includes, but is not limited to, the blind, deaf, mobility impaired, persons who are mentally challenged, persons with developmental disabilities, and persons who have a history of mental illness, or multiple disabilities. b. Sources of funds expended: Source of Funding Total expenditures spent on individual Federal funds 127,413.82 State 0 All other funds 0 Total (from all sources) - 127,413.82 c. Budget for current and following fiscal years: Category Current Fiscal Year Next Fiscal Year Wages/salaries 77040.00 77040 Fringe benefits 23112.00 23112 Materials/supplies 4417.10 3955 Postage/Other Direct 6173.80 3595 Telephone/Communications 1282.58 1791 Rent/occupancy 13115.68 13117 Travel 806.40 375 Copying 0.00 0 Bonding/insurance 0.00 0 Equipment(rental/purchase) 0.00 515 Legal services/Client Cost 0.00 62 Indirect costs 216.25 770 Miscellaneous/Consultant 1250.01 356 Total Budget 127413.82 124688 d. Number of person years: Type of Position FTE % of year filled Person-year Professional Full-time Part-time 1 100% 1 Vacant Clerical Full-time Part-time 0 100% 0 Vacant e. Presentations:

1. Testimony before the City Council Oversight Committee on Human Services

On February 27, 2012, CAP submitted testimony at the oversight hearing conducted by the D.C. City Council regarding the vocational rehabilitation program administered by DCRSA. The testimony addressed for the DCRSA to revise its regulations that were adopted without SRC input, to develop and publically circulate an application form, to address the ailing Randolph Sheppard Program, to establish a self-employment unit, and to remedy the delays in communication between counselors and clients.

2. Public hearing on State Plan

The CAP Comments stated that the DCRSA State Plan did not address the following: (a) the need for an application form and the necessity of making it widely available throughout the community; (b) the need for outreach to charter and private schools students in need of transition services; the need for financial transparency on the part of the Agency to justify its policy decisions that limited services; the need for the Agency to view the State Rehabilitation Council (“SCR”) as a partner in the policy decisions making process; (c) the need to complete the reorganization of the State Independent Living Council (“SILC”); (d) the need to review and modify the published regulations that were adopted when there was no functioning SRC; the need to speed up the development and implementation of Individualized Plan For Employment (“IPEs”); (e) the need to simplify regulations and procedures that slow down the vocational rehabilitation process; (f) the need to address the illiteracy of applicants and clients ; and (g) the need to admit the absence of a self-employment program (often called the entrepreneurial program. The CAP testimony recommended:

1. That the Agency develop an application form for individuals to use in applying for its services and that the Agency distribute the application form widely throughout the District of Columbia;

2. That the SRC be routinely provided detailed financial information throughout the year so that it can fulfill its responsibility to partner with the Agency in the administration of the program;

3. That the Agency review the content of its memoranda with State and educational agencies to increase collaboration in accomplishing the purposes of the Rehabilitation Act; and

4. That the Agency review its policies and regulations to streamline its procedures to more quickly and effectively deliver services under the Act.

f. Involvement with the SRC and SILC:

1. State Rehabilitation Council: The CAP Director attended all the SRC board meetings and most of the committee meetings during the year. He also attended a two-day training session sponsored by the National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils. As part of the effort to reconstitute the SRC, the CAP Director attended a two day session meeting of region III SRC training.

2.State Independent Living Council: DCRSA, with CAP’s assistance, made several unsuccessful attempts to schedule meetings among former members. Although CAP was available to assist, the SILC did not function in FY2012. At the close of the fiscal year, the Mayor had not yet appointed any members to the SILC. Consequently, it could not function.

g. Outreach to unserved and underserved populations:

1. CAP filed comments to the proposed State Plan and a Petition for Rule Making that prodded DCRSA to consider developing an application form [See, paragraph j (1) below]. CAP advocated for the application so it could be distributed widely as a means to reach the unserved and underserved individuals who are outside the ordinary channels that have been employed by the Agency. CAP has repeatedly recommended to the Agency that it “develop a simple, uncomplicated application form and to make it widely available in the jurisdiction.”

2. In response to the declining number of Randolph Sheppard vendors, CAP urged the Agency to accentuate the recruitment of applicants for the RSVFP. CAP also pushed for the streamlining of the regulations. CAP continued to emphasize the need to place facilities on non federal property such as DC government property and on private property. During this fiscal year two facilities were opened on DC government property.

3. Needs of independent living community - The growing number of individuals who are seeking to continue living in their homes has increased the need for independent living services. The CAP Director attended a meeting sponsored by the D.C. Office on Aging seeking to understand the needs of this population.

4. Transition services - Although DCRSA has devoted more resources and attention to these services in recent years, significant problems remained that required CAP efforts in case services that included fair hearing petitions. CAP also continued to emphasize this area of need in testimony. Most of the fair hearing cases concerned complaints client entering or attending college. CAP Director attended the National Transition Conference held in June 20 and 21 of 2012. As usual the annual Mayor’s fair for Persons with Disabilities was an opportunity to answer questions, distribute literature and network. h. Alternate dispute resolutions:

1. The CAP policy of routinely seeking to negotiate with counselors and supervisors prior to initiating a complaint was still hampered by the lingering effect of the Agency’s former policy that restricted CAP’s communications with the DCRSA staff. 2. Even after a fair hearing petition has been filed with the Office of Administrative Hearings, CAP routinely continues efforts to negotiate a resolution because such efforts have been fruitful in previous years. It is also the CAP practice to continue the negotiations with Agency after an informal administrative appeal is initiated. Several cases were settled while a fair hearing complaint was in its final stage of ligation. Favorable settlements averted a hearing in several college training cases which resulted in the Agency agreeing to sponsored tuition, room and board, supplies and transportation. In some cases, the judge set a status conference to insure compliance. These cases involved the issue of whether or not a local college could provide comparable educational services to the client who had learning disabilities in contrast to a college outside the D.C. metropolitan area. The financial issue was sponsorship of room and board, expenses and transportation. After the Court had set evidentiary hearings and witness list were exchanged, the Agency agreed to provide room & board, tuition and transportation to the client that effectively settling the case.

i. Systemic Advocacy:

1. The CAP’s comments on the FY2013 State Plan promoted the adoption by the Agency of an application form as a means to speed-up the intake process and as a means to reach the unserved and underserved. The need for an application form was re-iterated in a Petition for Rule Making filed in September. The D.C. Department of Human Services has a combined application form for the TANF, Food Stamps, and other services it delivers. DCRSA indirectly conceded its obligation to have an application by stating “... the Agency is currently working to create printed applications in compliance with these regulations. While there is no requirement that applications be available online, the idea is an excellent one which the Agency is in the process of evaluating implementing.” 2. A Petition on Rule Making was filed in September 26, 2012 with DCRSA that proposed and presented the rationale for amending DCRSA’s regulations regarding post-secondary education services. Currently, many students and their parents are overwhelmed as they struggle to understand the complex regulations and the complicated delivery system for these services. Almost One third of the cases were transition cases. The 39 page document proposed specific and precise amendments to particular sections of Title 29 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations that are used by DCRSA to provide vocational rehabilitation services in D.C. to post-secondary clients. The rationale was provided for each amendment that was proposed. In general, the grounds for each amendment was (a) to further compliance with the spirit and requirements of the Rehabilitation Act and its federal regulations, and (b) to simplify the service delivery process. The Petition also sought to address an undercurrent of paternalism that resists collaborating with the clients in developing the IPE. The Rehabilitation Act and the federal regulations intend that DCRSA’s role in a student’s career will be characterized by collaboration and support for the individual’s exercise of informed choice. Yet, many requirements under the current DC regulations are unnecessarily burdensome, cause untimely delay and negative unforeseen consequences, restricting informed choice. Additionally, a purpose of the recommendations was to open up the adoption of DCRSA’s regulations to fuller discussion by the community and the SRC. The Petition for Rule Making emphasized that the SRC was not actually functioning when the current regulations were developed and adopted in 2007 and 2010. Consequently, input from the community representatives was absent from the Agency’s deliberations when they were adopted. This lack of community involvement has hobbled regulations. The clients and their families know from experience the deficiencies of the delivery system. The Petition suggested the Agency conduct public hearings to obtain testimony from clients and family members regarding amendments to its regulation. The Petition for Rule Making recommended: (a) the adoption of an application form and the provision of it on the Agency website; and (b) several amendments to simplify the regulatory requirements for transition services.

3. CAP continued to promote the sustainability of the SRC throughout the year by assisting in the orientation of new members and by supporting steps to insure that the SRC has a genuine collaborative role with the Agency in the administration of the program. Recent history shows that members lose interest and fall away unless they are allowed to genuinely participate and fulfill the SRC’s regulatory responsibilities.

j. Interesting cases: 1.The one case the Office of Administrative Hearing rejected the Agency interpretation of the federal exemption granted to social security beneficiaries from participation in the local fee for services. In this case, the Agency had included the income of the client’s father to conclude that the client must contribute to the cost of services, even though the client was a social security beneficiary. Agency argued that it need only deduct the amount of the recipient’s social security benefit from the parent’s income calculation. The ALJ rejected the Agency’s argument holding, pursuant to 34 C.F.R. 361.54(b)(3)(ii), that the federal regulations exempted the individual totally from inclusion in local fee for services regulatory process.

2. In another case an ALJ found that DCRSA’s unilateral development of an IPE without client collaboration violated the individual’s right under informed choice, specifically, 34 C.F.R. ยง 361.45(d)(6). The ALJ stated [DCRSA] has both the right and the responsibility to seek to change an IPE if it believes that circumstances warrant any changes, and [DCRSA] has no obligation to fund impossible goals. Murphy v. Office of Vocational and Educational Services, 92 NY 2d 477, 488, 705 N.E.2d 1180, 1185 (1998) (clients do not have “final or exclusive decision making authority to determine their own goals”) But [DCRSA] must engage in the collaborative process mandated by the regulations. It may not simply present a new plan to a client and demand that the client take it or leave it, as happened here.” L.A.B. v. DDS/RSA, OAH Case No.: 2010-DDS-0002 (June 15, 2012) Additionally, the Agency was found to have failed to provide the information to the client of what was expected by the Agency to develop the IPE.

3. A non-litigated case changed the Agency’s practice on how it provided Schedule C certificates. DCRSA would not provide a certificate to a blind client unless the client underwent an evaluation to demonstrate competency to perform tasks for a potential employer. CAP argued a competency evaluation would not only delay the filing of an application, it could also not be focused because a precise description of the skills for various job announcements was not available. The Agency agreed to provide a Schedule C certificate stating that the individual was disabled without adding an area of competency in order to allow the client to meet the requisite to apply, namely, that he had a Schedule C certificate. The client and the potential employer then could deal with the question of the particular competency required for a particular job position.

k. On-line information/outreach:

Information on CAP-ULS is published on the website of University Legal Services, Inc. at www.uls-dc.org. This site contains information on the CAP program and what CAP can do to help resolve problems for applicants and clients of the D.C. vocational rehabilitation agency. For the period from October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012, there were approximately 71,000 hits on the entire ULS website which includes CAP as a division along with the Protection and Advocacy Program.

l. Other written outreach

(a) CAP-ULS distributes a brochure in English and Spanish. The brochure is in flyer format and gives general information. Approximately, two hundred (200) brochures have been distributed.

(b) The revision of the CAP-ULS booklet, Vocational Rehabilitation and You, is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2013. The booklet gives detailed information on the vocational rehabilitation process in the District of Columbia.

(c) We have updated and expanded the Advance Mental Health Planning Workbook. We now distribute A Guide for Adult Consumer of Mental Health Services. The Guide provides a broad range of information in addition to that concerning mental health care directives. At least 35 Guides have been distributed.

Certification

Approved

This Report is Complete and Correct.Yes
Date Signed:21-Dec-12
Name of Designated Agency Official:Joseph R. Cooney
Title of Designated Agency Official:Director of CAP Program