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

Georgia (GEORGIA CLIENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (CAP)) - H161A120060 - FY2012

General Information

Designated Agency Identification

NameMartin & Jones
Address123 N. McDonough St.
Address Line 2123 N. McDonough Street
CityDecatur
StateGeorgia
Zip Code30030
E-mail Addressgacapdirector@georgiacap.com
Website Addresshttp://www.georgiacap.com
Phone404-373-2040
TTY 404-373-2040
Toll-free Phone800-822-9727
Toll-free TTY800-822-9727
Fax404-373-4110

Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)

NameMartin & Jones
Address123 N. McDonough St.
Address Line 2123 N. McDonough Street
CityDecatur
Zip Code30030
E-mail Addressgacapdirector@georgiacap.com
Website Addresshttp://www.georgiacap.com
Phone404-373-2040
TTY404-373-2040
Toll-free Phone800-822-9727
Toll-free TTY800-822-9727
Fax404-373-4110

Additional Information

Name of CAP Director/CoordinatorCharles Martin
Person to contact regarding reportAshley Carraway
Contact Person Phone404-373-2040

Part I. Agency Workload Data

A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)

Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. Information regarding the Rehabilitation Act1,910
2. Information regarding Title I of the ADA2
3. Other information provided212
4. Total I&R services provided (Lines A1+A2+A3)2,124
5. Individuals attending trainings by CAP staff (approximate)78

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)53
2. Additional individuals who were served during the year58
3. Total individuals served (Lines B1+B2)111
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.)9

C. Individual still being served as of September 30

Carryover to next year. This total may not exceed Line I.B3. 52

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 favor50
2. Some issues resolved in individual's favor (when there are multiple issues)3
3. CAP determines VR agency position/decision was appropriate for the individual4
4. Individual's case lacks legal merit; (inappropriate for CAP intervention)5
5. Individual chose alternative representation0
6. Individual decided not to pursue resolution3
7. Appeals were unsuccessful0
8. CAP services not needed due to individual's death, relocation, etc.0
9. Individual refused to cooperate with CAP1
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 individual15
2. Application for services completed.1
3. Eligibility determination expedited1
4. Individual participated in evaluation0
5. IPE developed/implemented28
6. Communication re-established between individual and other party19
7. Individual assigned to new counselor/office1
8. Alternative resources identified for individual1
9. ADA/504/EEO/OCR/ complaint made0
10. Other1
11. Other (please explain)

Client decided the VA might provide better services, and gave up on VR.

Part II. Program Data

A. Age

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

1. 21 and under26
2. 22 - 4032
3. 41 - 6450
4. 65 and over3
5. Total (Sum of Lines A1 through A4. Total must equal Line I.B3.)111

B. Gender

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Female58
2. Male53
3. Total (Sum of Lines B1 and B2. Total must equal Line I.B3.)111

C. Race/ethnicity

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race1
For individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native1
3. Asian1
4. Black or African American65
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White43
7. Two or more races0
8. Race/ethnicity unknown0

D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Blindness (both eyes)15
2. Other visual impairments5
3. Deafness7
4. Hard of hearing3
5. Deaf-blind0
6. Orthopedic impairments6
7. Absense of extremities4
8. Mental illness28
9. Substance abuse (alcohol or drugs)1
10. Mental retardation4
11. Specific learning disabilities (SLD)7
12. Neurological disorders19
13. Respiratory disorders0
14. Heart and other circulatory conditions5
15. Digestive disorders1
16. Genitourinary conditions1
17. Speech Impairments1
18. AIDS/HIV positive1
19. Traumatic brain injury (TBI)1
20. All other disabilities2
21. Disabilities not known0
22. Total (Sum of Lines D1 through D21. Total must equal Line I. B3.)111

E. Types of individuals served

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Applicants of VR Program8
2. Clients of VR Program107
3. Applicants or clients of IL Program0
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 only111
2. Other Rehabilitation Act sources only1
3. Both VR agency and other Rehabilitation Act sources0
4. Employer0

G. Problem areas

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Individual requests information9
2. Communication problems between individual and counselor68
3. Conflict about services to be provided105
4. Related to application/eligibility process5
5. Related to IPE development/implementation21
6. Other Rehabilitation Act-related problems1
7. Non-Rehabilitation Act related0
8. Related to Title I of the ADA3

H. Types of CAP services provided

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

1. Information/referral1
2. Advisory/interpretational38
3. Negotiation26
4. Administrative/informal review0
5. Alternative dispute resolution2
6. Formal appeal/fair hearing0
7. Legal remedy0
8. Transportation0

Part III. Narrative

Narrative

CLIENT ASSISTANT PROGRAM ANNUAL REPORT, FY 2012 Part III. Narrative.

The Georgia Client Assistance Program

The Georgia Client Assistance Program is a division of the Law Offices of Martin and Jones, a commercial enterprise, which was designated by the Governor of the State of Georgia on July 1, 2001, to provide CAP services for the State of Georgia.

A brief history Georgia’s Vocational Rehabilitation program received an initial grant from RSA to provide a CAP for a three-year period, September 1, 1978 through October 31, 1981. Its purpose was to assist VR clients/applicants in metro Atlanta with their relationships with the VR Program, to identify systemic problems, and to provide recommendations for improving client services. A need for a statewide advocacy program soon became evident, and the plan was to extend CAP services statewide. After the expiration of the federal grant, the state VR director appointed a task force to study the contributions of the CAP. The task force concluded that the CAP had fulfilled the Congressional intent of benefiting both clients/applicants and VR staff. The task force also found that CAP contributed significantly in developing, revising, and implementing several DRS forms, among other contributions, and recommended that CAP be continued with state funding. The VR agency adopted the recommendations and continued the CAP program after the federal grant expired on November 1, 1981. The 1984 Amendments to the Rehabilitation Act, (PL 98-221), mandated CAP for states receiving a VR grant. Each state was required to have a CAP by October 1, 1984, to receive its federal matching funds. CAP was required to be independent of the VR agency except in states which had continued to provide a CAP with only state funding between 1981-1984. Georgia’s CAP met this criteria and remained within the VR agency until 1997. In 1995, as part of the Governor’s initiative to privatize state services, the VR agency published a request for proposals for a private vendor to operate CAP. After studying the proposals submitted, the VR agency selected the Law Offices of Charles L. Martin as the contractor to provide CAP services. From August 1, 1997 to June 30, 2001, the Law Offices of Charles L. Martin, provided CAP services as a contractor for the VR agency. In 2001, a reorganization transferring the VR program to a different state agency removed Georgia’s exemption from the requirement that CAP be provided by an entity independent of the VR program. On July 1, 2001, the Governor provided an independent CAP when he designated the law offices of Martin and Jones to provide CAP services. CAP has continued to function independently since that time, and clients have frequently reported that they value this independence.

Philosophy of the Georgia CAP The Georgia CAP’s primary responsibility is to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities that are applying for or receiving services from Georgia DVR. The Georgia CAP values the client’s right to informed choice and acknowledges the role of the VR counselor as the vocational rehabilitation professional who is best qualified to help clients achieve their vocational goals. We believe that clients are usually best served by preserving and improving the professional relationship between the client and counselor.

We further believe that clients, when empowered with knowledge about the VR program services, are better able to actively participate as responsible partners in their rehabilitation programs. We further believe that individuals with disabilities are entitled to timely provision of quality services and allowed fair opportunities for success.

The role of CAP is to assist clients in their efforts to access the services provided under the Rehabilitation Act through information & referral, negotiation, alternative dispute resolution, supporting client self-advocacy, and providing or pointing clients to other legal remedies. It is the policy of the Georgia CAP to attempt to resolve issues that prevent clients from obtaining needed services in the least antagonistic manner that will preserve and/or strengthen the relationship between the client and the rehabilitation counselor. In order to accomplish this, CAP attempts to empower clients through the provision of information & referral resources that will allow them to be an effective self-advocate. If the client is unable to resolve the issue, CAP will assist to resolve it using the least intrusive methodology. In most cases, this involves using various intervention techniques to re-establish a productive professional relationship between the client and the rehabilitation counselor. Where problems remain after attempting to re-establish this rapport, CAP will utilize a variety of alternative dispute resolution techniques before resorting to legal remedies. Negotiation will be used if possible, followed by mediation if applicable / available. If all other efforts fail, fair hearing and any other necessary legal appeals can be pursued with a view to serving the best interest of the client. CAP also attempts, through systemic advocacy, to avoid problems before they happen. The Georgia CAP collects and evaluates data related to problems with VR service provision, and makes necessary recommendations on system wide improvements of the service delivery system.

CAP services CAP assists Georgians with disabilities getting or seeking vocational rehabilitation services by: • Advising them about their rights and responsibilities • Explaining rights to benefits under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. • Helping improve communication and relationships with projects, programs, rehabilitation counselors, supervisors, and community rehabilitation providers • Identifying problems in the delivery of rehabilitation services • Developing strategies to resolve disagreements through mediation and negotiation

• Advocating for clients during administrative appeals • Providing legal representation for meritorious hearings and court appeals • Giving information about and referral to other public and private agencies who may help clients

Through these services, CAP strives to assure that people with disabilities are allowed to make informed choices throughout the vocational rehabilitation and independent living processes and are treated with dignity and respect.

Involvement with advisory boards • CAP staff regularly attended quarterly State Rehabilitation Council meetings, giving a presentation about CAP from time to time (as when there were new Council members), and making the Council aware of any VR issues needing Council attention. • CAP staff had regular involvement with the SILC board of directors. For example, at one meeting held by teleconference, CAP explained how CAP worked, what CAP did, etc. CAP gave its contact information to those who did not have that information. At another meeting resources available to this community were the topic, including CAP.

Outreach to unserved/under-served populations • CAP provided CAP brochures and information to organizations representing minorities that do not focus on vocational rehabilitation clients, in order to make them aware of CAP and the services provided by VR. • CAP continues to monitor for any VR underrepresentation, for example, based on ethnicity or type of disability.

Alternative dispute resolution Client was in need of surgery that was fairly urgent, and yet the counselor believed they had to send the client through Oasis and proceed at a more typical pace. CAP met with VR staff, was a result of which client was given appropriate evaluations forthwith, and client’s case proceeded apace. VR refused to support client’s attendance at college because VRC did not think client had agreed to an achievable vocational goal. CAP met with client and client’s mom, as well as VRC and RUM, and as a result, VR agreed to support client’s attendance at college in pursuit of the vocational goal of client’s choice. Client was one of several men whose VR case had been closed (or closure threatened) due to client’s anger issues. A meeting was held with client and VR personnel. Prior to this meeting CAP had explained how client’s anger over VR delay, while arguably understandable, was always inappropriate and would only hurt the client. During the meeting, client had an outburst of anger, whereupon CAP took him into the hall for further, more emphatic conversation during which it seemed to dawn on client where his self-interest lay. After this conversation the meeting was concluded without further outburst, and the case was reopened. CAP, fearing a relapse into old behavior patterns, continued to follow up with client to reinforce the message. Client was not getting responses from their VRC, and called CAP. CAP learned that the VRC was no longer employed by VR, and that the RUM was handling the case, but the RUM was swamped with cases. After a meeting with client, client’s father, and with the unit’s RUM, a provisional VRC began serving the client, and the case moved forward. Client called CAP because VRC was not at all responsive; and had given the impression that they thought client’s function was too limited with only the use of one arm and using a wheelchair. CAP set up a meeting with VRC, RUM, client and client’s mom. As a result of collective creativity, options that were exciting to the client were developed, and a work plan was written and signed by client and VR.

Information and referral CAP staff utilizes mobile phones, and 3G and 4G technology to have prompt contact with clients and the ability to gain access to text, email and voicemail messages while traveling. CAP can thus communicate with clients and the VR agency faster and more efficiently. CAP often answers information requests about the services available from CAP. Not infrequently CAP refers the caller to the closest VR office or Department of Labor career center. Other callers have been referred to the P&A organization, Department of Family and Children Services, the Social Security Administration, Atlanta Legal Aid, Georgia Legal Services Program, and the Atlanta Housing Authority. CAP also responded to calls about VR from VR clients and VR personnel.

Summary of presentations made • CAP gave a presentation at a Region Four meeting of VR held in Newnan. CAP’s presentation, as requested by the Region Four Director, explained CAP’s purpose, philosophy, responsibilities, etc. CAP took questions from the audience which consisted of Region Four managers, counselors and others. • CAP presented whenever permitted at the quarterly meetings of the SRC. • Likewise, CAP presented wherever appropriate at SILC board meetings.

Demographic view of CAP clients

Interesting Cases The following case summaries are cases handled by CAP during this fiscal year which have been selected to illustrate interesting approaches CAP has taken to its diverse caseload. Client was in need of surgery that was fairly urgent, and yet the counselor believed they had to send the client through OASIS and proceed at a more typical pace. CAP met with VR staff, was a result of which client was given appropriate evaluations forthwith, and client’s case proceeded apace. Client had contacted CAP because client had received a Notice of Change (“NOC”) closing their case. Investigation revealed that the NOC was issued in error. However, because of the client’s disability, the client was challenging to deal with, and dissonance with counselor (herein “VRC”) had developed. CAP succeeded in having the NOC withdrawn and getting the client’s case transferred. Client was attending post-secondary out-of-state, and the tuition was very high. Client was receiving aid from RSA that was referred to as an “RSA Scholarship” of some $4,000 to help defer school tuition. Scholarships are “comparable benefits” and properly deductible; loans are not. The amount VR would otherwise have paid was some $5,000. VR’s provider standards decided to offset the amount RSA paid, and VR therefore applied the offset. This was in spite of the fact that CAP had contacted the RSA staff member most involved in such issues, and she sent a letter to VRC confirming that CAP’s position was correct. Interestingly, this was also in spite of the fact that both the client’s VRC and the VRC’s unit manager agreed that regardless of the title, the RSA Scholarship was in fact a loan because repayment was required by one of two methods. The client appealed, and the matter ended up before OSAH. OSAH ruled that the RSA scholarship was indeed a loan, and that the offset was improper. VR refused to support client’s attendance at college because VRC did not think client had agreed to an achievable vocational goal. CAP met with client and client’s mom, as well as VRC and RUM, and as a result, VR agreed to support client’s attendance at college in pursuit of the vocational goal of client’s choice. CAP client was seeking professional license that had been lost as a result of conduct that resulted in his incarceration some years back. After the passage of time, client was now asking VR to pay for his efforts to become relicensed. Policy prohibited paying for a license in such circumstances, but CAP met with RUM and client, making the argument that it was not the license for which client was seeking support, merely the education needed to pass the licensing exam. RUM rejected the argument. CAP staff discussed the evidence and determined that there was no reasonable basis for client to appeal. CAP, after explaining the law and policy behind its decision to client, closed client’s file. Client called CAP when their VR case was closed for lack of an impairment. Client was in a work accident and suffered a broken neck as well as short-term memory loss and other impairments. CAP intervened and the case was reopened. Client was one of several men whose VR case had been closed (or closure threatened) due to client’s anger issues. A meeting was held with client and VR personnel. Prior to this meeting CAP had explained how client’s anger over VR delay, while arguably understandable, was always inappropriate and would only hurt the client. During the meeting, client had an outburst of anger, whereupon CAP took him into the hall for further, more emphatic conversation during which it seemed to dawn on client where his self-interest lay. After this conversation the meeting was concluded without further outburst, and the case was reopened. CAP, fearing a relapse into old behavior patterns, continued to follow up with client to reinforce the message. Client was not getting responses from their VRC, and called CAP. CAP learned that the VRC was no longer employed by VR, and that the RUM was handling the case, but the RUM was swamped with cases. After discussions with the RUM, a provisional VRC began serving the client, and the case moved forward. In this fiscal year, there have been multiple cases where the RUM was serving as VRC. In one office, the RUM was handling the cases of several VRCs. Client had an issue with the care they were receiving. CAP informally presented arguments in favor of client’s position to VRC and RUM, to no avail. An IAR was unfavorable. CAP staff then had to meet to determine whether CAP could go any further in behalf of this client. CAP staff in such meeting determined that there was no plausible argument to make in support of client’s position, and therefore declined to represent client in OSAH hearing. Where there is no plausible argument available to CAP attorneys, they are ethically prohibited to argue the case before an OSAH judge using what necessarily would be implausible or frivolous arguments. Client called CAP because VRC was not at all responsive; and had given the impression that they thought client’s function was too limited with only the use of one arm and using a wheelchair. CAP set up a meeting with VRC, RUM, client and client’s mom. As a result of collective creativity, options that were exciting to the client were developed, and a work plan was written and signed by client and VR. Client’s case was being handled by RUM because of shortage of staff. Client came to feel that RUM was not interested, didn’t like client, etc. CAP arranged a meeting attended by VR, client, and CAP. The meeting began with both VR and client reciting a litany of past wrongs — and CAP suggested that was not productive, and that the meeting should have a future focus. Everyone agreed, a work plan was developed, and most importantly a good relationship between them was developed. Client has a diagnosis of mental illness. VR stated it would not assist with her post-secondary education. CAP intervened and case was successful for the client. Client’s case was closed based on a history of physical misconduct at Goodwill. CAP interviewed the witnesses and Goodwill staff to gain insight on this situation. Cap determined there was not a plausible argument in opposition to the Notice of Change letter. Client was advised of his rights and that CAP would be closing his case. Client was attempting to get his VR case file transferred when he moved. CAP intervened and his case was transferred. Client is receiving service and is satisfied with VR. Client had a non-responsive VRC. CAP assisted and the VRC became responsive to a level in which the client is satisfied. Client called CAP because she felt VR was not willing to assist her with transportation and completion of her computer classes at the Center for the Visually Impaired. CAP investigated the issues in this case and found that the client was receiving the necessary services to be successful. Client needed AWT and a reader to be successful in her post-secondary pursuit. CAP became involved in her behalf, and client received the technology and assistance she needed to complete her educational requirements. Client was approved by VR to obtain a PhD after CAP intervention. Client need secondary services to assist her with being successful in her primary service, so VR has agreed to complete assessments and pay for outstanding invoices. Client needed assistance communicating with VR concerning his psychological treatment and retaining a male psychologist due to his cultural customs. CAP assisted and client was given transportation assistance and a doctor of his choice. Client was not approved for optic eyewear, so he called CAP. After looking into the case, CAP determined that the client needed this eyewear to assist him in keeping his employment and being promoted. With CAP’s help, client was approved to receive the needed eyewear. Client was not paid for his transportation, while attempting to complete his degree. Client wanted to complete his semester without disruption, so CAP was able to stop the delay and client graduated successfully. Online information / outreach The Georgia CAP maintains a web page providing information about the Georgia CAP at http://www.georgiacap.com/. The web site provides a description of the CAP program, the services CAP provides, and information about how to contact CAP. This serves as one of the means by which the Georgia CAP provides information in alternative formats. Information found in the CAP brochure is also available on the Georgia CAP website. With the ability of assistive technology to access electronic mail and the growing number of people with disabilities with access to the Internet or phones with texting capacity, CAP uses e-mail and texting, as well as more traditional means in CAP’s efforts to communicate quickly and effectively with clients and potential clients. Other information While CAP tries to avoid the need for legal remedies by attempting to resolve issues at the earliest possible opportunity, there are times when using legal remedies cannot be avoided. This approach is successful in well over ninety-five percent of CAP cases. However, in this fiscal year, there were three case in which the client’s issues could not be resolved without a court proceeding. In the first one, client was attending post-secondary out-of-state, and the tuition was very high. Client was receiving aid from RSA that was referred to as an “RSA Scholarship” of some $4,000 to help defer school tuition. Scholarships are “comparable benefits” and properly deductible; loans are not. The amount VR would otherwise have paid was some $5,000. VR’s provider standards decided to offset the amount RSA paid, and VR therefore applied the offset. This was in spite of the fact that CAP had contacted the RSA staff member most involved in such issues, and she sent a letter to VRC confirming that CAP’s position was correct. Interestingly, this was also inspite of the fact that both the client’s VRC and the VRC’s unit manager agreed that regardless of the title, the RSA Scholarship was in fact a loan because repayment was required by one of two methods. The client appealed, and the matter ended up before OSAH. OSAH ruled that the RSA scholarship was indeed a loan, and that the offset was improper. In the second such case, because of client’s disability, client was unable to attend school full time. VR policy deems individuals not attending full time “on a continuous basis” not to be making satisfactory progress (and thus loosing VR support for school attendance). CAP argued that it was unfair to deny post-secondary support to a client whose disability was the sole reason she did not attend full time — she did not because she could not. Unfortunately, the OSAH judge disagreed. In the third case, CAP was forced to apply its policy of not taking a case to court where there was no plausible argument to make in support of the client’s position.

Certification

Approved

This Report is Complete and Correct.Yes
Date Signed:27-Dec-12
Name of Designated Agency Official:Charles L. Martin
Title of Designated Agency Official:CAP Director