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

Georgia (GEORGIA CLIENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (CAP)) - H161A130060 - FY2013

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/Coordinator
Person to contact regarding report
Contact Person Phone

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)

I don’t know what this means, as there is no "other".

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)

Policy exception granted.

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 disabilities0
21. Disabilities not known2
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

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. The Georgia CAP staff consists of the Director, Assistant Director, a Counselor/Advocate, and a part-time administrative assistant. The Georgia CAP has available legal representation. Charles Martin, previously the CAP attorney, has served as the CAP Director since 1997. The Assistant Director, Ashley Carraway, was previously an attorney and litigation manager. The Counselor/Advocate, Jennifer Page was a vocational rehabilitation counselor before becoming a CAP counselor. 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 SILC Board meetings, usually giving a presentation about CAP. Among the issues discussed were transportation problems for individuals with disabilities, the state Independent Living plan, the Independent Living budget, the need for additional IL centers, and resources for the blind/deaf community. • CAP staff regularly attended quarterly State Rehabilitation Council meetings, giving a presentation about CAP when time permitted.

Outreach to unserved/under-served populations • CAP continues to make CAP brochures and information available to organizations representing minorities to make them aware of CAP and the services provided by VR.

Alternative dispute resolution No information this year.

Systemic advocacy • CAP met periodically with VR Policy staff to discuss systemic issues, and communicated informally throughout the year. One systemic issue arose during the year, the attribution, with respect to certain services, of parental income to the VR client past the legal age of majority in Georgia, indeed, to age 24. Systemic approaches have not succeeded, leaving CAP to deal with the issue through individual cases.

Work with other organizations • CAP staff attended several trainings during the year, and well as regularly attending meetings of the SILC and State Rehabilitation Council

Information and referral • CAP staff utilizes mobile phones and the latest internet technology to have prompt contact with clients and the ability to gain access to text, email and voicemail messages while traveling. CAP can now communicate with clients and the VR agency quickly and efficiently, regardless of where the CAP representative is physically located throughout the state of Georgia. 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. We refer many other callers to the P&A organization, Department of Family and Children Services, 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. CAP?s information and referral calls increased this year, both in volume of calls and range of referrals made. • CAP modified the way it classifies work that mostly involves information and referral to more closely reflect RSA policy regarding when services should be counted as a “case” even if the main service provided was information and referral. The result of this modification is that this year’s report shows a significant increase in cases opened and closed, but no significant increase in cases carried over to next year.

Summary of presentations made • CAP presented as often as permitted at the quarterly meetings of the SILC and the SRC, and at one VR regional meeting.

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. 1. Client’s case was closed for alleged failure to respond. CAP investigated, communicated with Policy Advisor, and case was quickly reopened and moving forward; so CAP closed its file. 2. Client was working with VR to complete her business plan, but she needed assistive technology and training at Easter Seals. She was unable to get counselor to move forward with her case and contacted CAP. Client was able to get training and assistive device with CAP assistance. 3. VR was non-responsive, and CL called CAP. CAP called VRC and RUM. VR became responsive to the client’s satisfaction, and CAP closed its file. 4. Client failed to show up for work evaluation. Case was closed. CAP negotiated with VR, and case was reopened. 5. Client was unable to communicate with his counselor or the manager effectively about helping him with services for post-secondary services. After VR received notice of release from CAP, he was able to get an appointment and communication was reestablished so he could get services. 6. Client was denied choice as to where part of her program would be conducted. A location for a major activity was selected that was inconvenient for client, and where there was nothing that favored the other location over the more convenient location. The matter was resolved to client’s satisfaction, and CAP closed its file. 7. Client refused to participate in a psychological evaluation for VR. Client exhibited behaviors that counselor believed warranted this evaluation. Client called CAP for guidance and counseling on the issue and decided she would have the evaluation to assist her case. 8. Client moved here from another state. Records in that other state contained information that VRC was interpreting as constituting a ground for case closure. The case being closed prompted client to call CAP. CAP investigated and satisfied Policy that the case should not have been closed. The case closure NOC was withdrawn, and CAP closed its file. 9. Client wanted to obtain job skills to work as an administrative assistant. Her VR counselor was concerned about her losing her SSI benefits and her lack of transportation. Client was advised by CAP to speak with a social security advisor about her benefits because she did not want to lose her benefits. 10. Client called to have date of work-plan corrected to reflect that it was actually done prior to the then-applicable cutoff between those who could avoid waitlist, and those who could not. CAP was making some progress on the issue when the wait list applicability was expanded so as to render the issue academic. CAP thus closed its file. 11. Client wanted to become employed and had CWAT and Goodwill training to show stability in the workplace. Client felt she would be underemployed as a server in a restaurant. CAP was able to negotiate the client supported employment to get her gainfully employed. 12. Client was seeking VR support for self-employment at the $10,000 level. CAP helped client understand the self-employment process. CL had been a cook of some renown in another city out of state, but in metro Atlanta, he was just another cook. CAP explained two-state option per RSA TSA. The client moved to another state, but was planning to return to GA. However, the client got a huge contract for a major event in home state, and decided to stay. CAP put him in touch with CAP program in that state, and closed its file. 13. Client called because VR was refusing to support post-secondary attendance based on a cumulative average that fell below VR requirements. However, the proverbial rest of the story was that during a highly unusual and stressful period in her life, CL experienced panic attacks that kept her from attending class. Client didn’t know about VR at that time and had no other help, and so she felt she had no other choice but to stop going to class, receiving failing grades because the drop/add date had passed. She had a good record before that semester; and psych eval showed her to be above average. CAP advocated for CL by phone and in a staffing. As a result, a path to full support was agreed to that depending on CL making the grade in spring semester, which she did. Client’s support was reestablished, and the CAP file was closed in March, 2013. 14. Client received a notice of change to close his case because of the lack of communication between he and his counselor. Client did not have a phone at the time of contact to reschedule a meeting, so he received a letter to close his case. CAP contacted VR to discuss the issue and they rescinded his letter. 15. Client wanted CAP to prevent VR from including client among those covered by the freeze. CAP looked into the facts (at the time, work plan date was significant), found that client contrary to his understanding, in fact had no work plan. There was nothing CAP could do except explain the situation to the client, which was done. CAP then closed its file. 16. Client wanted CAP to intervene with his post-secondary training. Client has been in school long enough for them to add classes to his curriculum, but client was going less than full time. It was determined that the client’s health will prevent him from attending classes full time, which will not coincide with his post-secondary form of success. 17. Client received a letter that she was being assigned to priority category E, and that VR could not provide the AWT client needed, and which had been previously promised. The policy definition of the category did not fit. CAP investigated, and learned that this was the VRC’s way of expressing that the freeze had gone into effect. That information and its consequences for client were explained to client, and CAP closed its file. 18. Client had several surgical procedures and was cleared by his doctor. His counselor was aware of procedures, but client received a notice to close his case. CAP advised client to get a letter from his doctor that cleared him to work and client’s case moved forward. 19. Client incorrect medical information in her file. She called CAP, and CAP was able to resolve the matter by having VR restore file accuracy. 20. Client has special needs and the best school for her particular disability situation was out of state. However client would need GVRA services during the summer. CAP told client and counselor about a TSA advisory that said a client could receive services in more than one state so long as there was no duplication. This solved the problem, and CAP closed its file. 21. Client received a notice to close his case because he missed a meeting due to illness. Client completed a work evaluation, but it was established that there was miscommunication and the notice was rescinded. 22. CAP met with VR personnel and client on client’s complaint that no effort had been put into the case for years. Because CL had evidenced anger management issues on several occasions, CAP had a pre-meeting conversation with CL about how such outbursts were antithetical to the client’s own self-interest; and client seemed to understand that. Nonetheless, outbursts occurred during the meeting, and client had to agree to anger management counseling for the case to go forward. However, client changed his mind, refused counseling, and left CAP with no plausible argument with which to progress his case. Therefore, CAP closed its file. 23. Client contacted CAP because she received a notice of change to close her case after she had been employed for 30 days full time and not 90 days as stated in the policy. VR rescinded notice to wait until the 90th day. 24. VR insisted that CL undergo a psych eval. CL, who had called CAP at the last minute, was adamant that such evaluation was unnecessary. VR said it would close the case if CL did not comply. CAP requested VR put things on hold until CAP had a chance to investigate, confer with client, etc.; and VR agreed. CL had presented with psychological problems more than sufficient to justify VR insistence on a psych eval as part of needs assessment. CAP after lengthy conversation across a series of phone conversations persuaded client to agree to the psych eval, the client finally coming to see that VR had a good reason to require it so that client no longer felt insulted by the request. The case proceeded forward, and CAP closed its file. 25. Client called CAP for clarification on services she was receiving from VR. Client wanted to continue with job club while getting mobility training. It was determined that she could receive these services. 26. Client received a call from VRC in mid-2012 telling client that no problem getting client placed in a job. However, for about a year, the VRC did nothing except send client to job fair that proved unhelpful. Client realized there was such a thing as CAP in late spring, and called us. CAP began typical actions (such as working with RUM, Policy, etc.). However, client became unwilling to put up with VR any longer. CAP investigated and found another source of help for client. CAP then closed its file. 27. Client was assigned a new counselor and was confused about his lack of services with the new counselor. His work plan was for self-employment, but his new counselor advised the client he would have to start over. Client’s business plan was not complete, but a new work plan was written. 28. Client called CAP because VRC was constantly calling at the last minute to offer a service or request an action — with not enough time for client to respond. On one such occasion, when client was told the day before to be at a certain job prep class the very next morning, client could not possibly arrange transportation and tried to contact VRC, to no avail. Client then got NOC closing the case; and called CAP. CAP intervened, the underlying problem was addressed via RUM, the VR case was reopened and the CAP file was closed. 29. Client contacted CAP for a vehicle modification issues. After investigating, client did not have an active work plan with a primary service and was unable to express what service from VR that was helpful for success. CAP was not able to assist at this time, but explained to client that we could do counseling and guidance to assist. 30. Client was severely injured in a work-related accident. Nothing was happening with the VR case. CAP began the process, and told CL about SSDI. Client began that process, but quickly grew impatient with the VR process because client’s financial situation was dire and client’s counselor was still too slow for him even after CAP talked with the unit manager and things speeded up. Client soon gave up on VR (precipitously I believe), and CAP closed the file. 31. Client wanted to be reimbursed for travel to and from post-secondary training. Client lived within policy limits and it was established in his work plan. Client was able to get his reimbursement after resubmission to the business office. 32. Client called CAP complaining of uninformed and unresponsive VRC. CAP intervened and the VRC became more responsive. The VRC was also new and learning the job, so that improved as well. However, the nature of the disabilities, lack of work history, inability to work full time and lack of employers in the area made finding employment difficult. 33. Client contacted CAP because she was unable to obtain a copy of her case file from VR. CAP received a notice of representation and a copy of the VR file. Client was sent a copy of her file and her case was closed. 34. Client received a NOC denying services based on income ineligibility. CAP learned that since parental tax returns were sent to VR, one parent had lost job. VR was provided proof of loss of one parent’s job, and proof that amount of other parent’s income was within financial needs range. Therefore NOC was withdrawn and services were provided.

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. However, CAP’s efforts succeed this year, and CAP represented no VR clients at a fair hearing, nor initiated any new court appeals

The Georgia Client Assistance Program is a program for Vocational Rehabilitation clients and client-applicants who are seeking or receiving services from any project, program, or facility funded under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended.

Certification

Approved

This Report is Complete and Correct.Yes
Date Signed:26-Dec-13
Name of Designated Agency Official:Charles L. Martin
Title of Designated Agency Official:Director