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

Colorado (Center for Legal Advocacy) - H161A150005 - FY2015

General Information

Designated Agency Identification

NameCenter for Legal Advocacy
Address455 Sherman Streeet
Address Line 2Suite 130
CityDenver
StateColorado
Zip Code80203
E-mail Addressmaharvey@disabilitylawco.org
Website Addresshttp://www.disabilitylawco.org
Phone303-722-0300
TTY 303-722-3619
Toll-free Phone800-288-1376
Toll-free TTY800-288-1376
Fax303-722-0720

Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)

NameCenter for Legal Advocacy
Address455 Sherman Streeet
Address Line 2Suite 130
CityDenver
Zip Code80203
E-mail Addressmaharvey@disabilitylawco.org
Website Addresshttp://www.disabilitylawco.org
Phone303-722-0300
TTY303-722-3619
Toll-free Phone800-288-1376
Toll-free TTY800-288-1376
Fax303-722-0720

Additional Information

Name of CAP Director/CoordinatorGeoffrey Peterson
Person to contact regarding reportGeoffrey Peterson
Contact Person Phone800-531-2105

Part I. Non-case Services

A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)

Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. Information regarding the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program22
2. Information regarding independent living programs1
3. Information regarding American Indian VR Service projects0
4. Information regarding Title I of the ADA2
5. Other information provided2
6. Information regarding CAP1
7. Total I&R services provided (Lines A1 through A6)28

B. Training Activities

a) Special Education, Transition Services, Vocational Rehabilitation

b) To inform parents, teachers, rehabilitation professionals about the Rehabilitation Act and Vocational Rehabilitation

c) Parents, teachers, administrators, rehabilitation professionals

1. Number of training sessions presented to community groups and public agencies.10
2. Number of individuals who attended these training sessions.422
3. Describe training presented by the staff. Include the following information:
  1. topics covered
  2. purpose of the training
  3. description of the attendees

C. Agency Outreach

Describe the agency's outreach efforts to previously un-served or underserved individuals including minority communities.

N/A

D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency

For each method of dissemination, enter the total number of each method used by your agency during the reporting period to distribute information to the public. For publications/booklets/brochures (item 4), enter the total number of documents produced. Agencies should not include website hits. See instructions for details.

Website hits= 28,789

1. Agency Staff Interviewed or Featured on Radio and TV1
2. Articles about CAP Featured in Newspaper/Magazine/Journals0
3. PSAs/Videos Aired about the CAP Agency0
4. Publications/Booklets/Brochures Disseminated by the Agency0
5. Number of Times CAP Exhibited at Conferences, Community Fairs, etc.0
6. Other (specify below)

E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage

Describe the various sources and information disseminated about your agency by an external source.

N/A

Part II. Individual Case Services

A. Individuals served

An individual is counted only once during a fiscal year. Multiple counts are not permitted for Lines A1-A3.

1. Individuals who are still being served as of October 1 (carryover from prior year)18
2. Additional individuals who were served during the year6
3. Total individuals served (Lines A1+A2)24
4. Individuals (from Line A3) 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 A3 above.)1
5. Individual still being served as of September 30 (Carryover to next year. This total may not exceed Line A3.)6

B. Problem areas

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Individual requests information2
2. Communication problems between individual and VR counselor5
3. Conflict about VR services to be provided13
4. Related to VR application/eligibility process1
5. Related to assignment to order of selection priority category0
6. Related to IPE development/implementation
  1. Selection of vendors for provision of VR services
  2. Selection of training, post-secondary education
  3. Selection of employment outcome
  4. Transition services
4
7. Related to independent living services0
8. Other Rehabilitation Act-related problems0
9. Non-Rehabilitation Act related
  1. TANF
  2. SSI/SSDI
  3. Housing
  4. Other:
0
10. Related to Title I of the ADA0

C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases

(Choose one primary service the CAP provided for each closed case file. There may be more case files than actual individuals served.)

1. Short Term Technical Assistance0
2. Investigation/Monitoring4
3. Negotiation12
4. Mediation and other methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution0
5. Administrative / Informal Review2
6. Formal appeal / Fair Hearing1
7. Legal remedy / Litigation0
8. Total19

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.)

1. All issues resolved in individual's favor8
2. Some issues resolved in individual's favor (when there are multiple issues)2
3. CAP determines VR agency position/decision was appropriate for the individual0
4. Individual's case lacks legal merit; (inappropriate for CAP intervention)4
5. Individual chose alternative representation0
6. Individual withdrew complaint3
7. Issue not resolved in clients favor1
8. CAP services not needed due to individual's death, relocation, etc.0
9. Individual not responsive/cooperative with CAP1
10. CAP unable to take case due to lack of resources0
11. Conflict of interest0
12. Other (Please explain below)

E. Results achieved for individuals

(Choose one primary outcome for each closed case file. There may be more case files than the total number of individuals served.)

Client chose not to pursue complaint

1. Controlling law/policy explained to individual5
2. Application for services completed1
3. Eligibility determination expedited0
4. Individual participated in evaluation0
5. IPE developed/implemented/Services Provided6
6. Communication re-established between individual and other party1
7. Individual assigned to new counselor/office3
8. Alternative resources identified for individual2
9. ADA/504/EEO/OCR complaint made0
10. Other (Please explain below)

Part III. Program Data

A. Age

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Up to 181
2. 19 - 241
3. 25 - 406
4. 41 - 6413
5. 65 and over3
6. Total (Sum of Lines A1 through A5. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)24

B. Gender

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Females12
2. Males12
3. Total (Lines B1+B2. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)24

C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race (for individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only)1
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native0
3. Asian0
4. Black or African American4
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White19
7. Two or more races0
8. Race/ethnicity unknown0

D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Acquired Brain Injury1
2. ADD/ADHD1
3. AIDS/HIV0
4. Amputations or Absence of Extremities0
5. Arthritis or Rheumatism0
6. Anxiety Disorder0
7. Autism Spectrum Disorder2
8. Autoimmune or Immune Deficiencies (excluding AIDS/HIV)0
9. Blindness (Both Eyes)0
10. Other Visual Impairments (Not Blind)0
11. Cancer0
12. Cerebral Palsy0
13. Deafness1
14. Hard of Hearing/Hearing Impaired (Not Deaf)5
15. Deaf-Blind0
16. Diabetes0
17. Digestive Disorders0
18. Epilepsy0
19. Heart & Other Circulatory Conditions0
20. Intellectual Disability2
21. Mental Illness7
22. Multiple Sclerosis0
23. Muscular Dystrophy0
24. Muscular/Skeletal Impairment1
25. Neurological Disorders/Impairment0
26. Orthopedic Impairments2
27. Personality Disorders0
28. Respiratory Disorders/Impairment0
29. Skin Conditions0
30. Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)2
31. Speech Impairments0
32. Spina Bifida0
33. Substance Abuse (Alcohol or Drugs)0
34. Other Disability0
35. Total (Sum of Lines D1through D34. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)24

E. Types of Individual Served

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Applicant of VR1
2. Individual eligible for VR services currently on a wait list0
3. Individual eligible for VR services not currently on a wait list24
4. Applicant or individual eligible for Independent Living0
5. Transition student/High school student0
6. All other applicants or individuals eligible for other programs or projects funded unther Rehabilitation Act0

Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation

A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities

Systems Issues

An issue we have been working on for some time has to do with the timing of a request for mediation. Existing DVR policy stated that at the time an individual requested an impartial due process hearing they could also request mediation. DVR based their policy on a reading of Federal regulations that says “…through a mediation process that must be made available, at a minimum, whenever an applicant or eligible individual …requests an impartial due process hearing…” (34CFR361.57 (d)(1). We wanted this policy changed because we had heard from clients that would have liked to request mediation but didn’t want to also request a hearing. We made this suggestion whenever we reviewed new policy changes without success. After several attempts, DVR finally changed this policy so that an individual can request mediation at any point during the appeal process. A second issue we were able to successfully address has to do with transportation reimbursement. Existing DVR policy had a complicated formula for transportation whereby a client had to calculate his/her vehicle’s actual gas mileage, based on EPA estimates, times the miles driven, times the average cost of a gallon of gas during that week. DVR’s thinking was that they would only pay for the actual cost of gas and no other expenses that are factored into a standard mileage rate. CAP argued that anytime this service was listed on an IPE that VR should also include a service for vehicle maintenance to pay for things like oil changes and other routine maintenance costs that are covered by a standard mileage reimbursement. After several discussions, DVR finally changed the policy to a standard rate of .50/mile which is what DVR staff are reimbursed making it much easier for counselors and clients to calculate their reimbursement. Other systemic issues we are still trying to change have to do with DVR support for higher education for clients who need to have a college degree in order to achieve their employment outcome. DVR has been reluctant to support higher education for many of their clients encouraging them to pursue a different employment outcome. This issue was raised in a previous RSA site visit as well as by CAP, with little success. This issue has now become more complicated by the audit that DVR underwent in 2013, which questioned some of VR’s practices such as enabling a client to attend a college out—of—state because the program they needed was not offered in—state. We hope that with the implementation of the new WIOA law and regulations this might change. CAP just resolved a case in which a student was required by DVR to drive 320 miles round trip, five days a week, to go to college. DVR refused to pay for housing on campus (required for all freshmen) and they also refused to reimburse him for his mileage since that was too expensive. The advocate was told that this situation is happening with other VR clients who are going to college. Since we had only this one case we hope others will contact us so we can address the larger problem.

1. Number of non-litigation systemic activities not involving individual representation that resulted in the change of one or more policy or practice of an agency.0
2. Describe the systemic activities conducted by CAP during the fiscal year and its impact on other agency's policies or practices.

B. Litigation

1. Total number of CAP cases requiring litigation involving individual representation resulting in, or with the potential for, systemic change.
a. Number of cases requiring litigation involving individual representation filed during fiscal year.0
b. Number of on-going cases pending at start of fiscal year (carryover from prior fiscal year).0
c. Number of cases resolved through litigation during fiscal year.0
2. Describe the agency's on-going and completed systemic litigation activities involving individual representation.

Part V. Agency Information

A. Designated Agency

1. Agency Type (select only one option) External-Protection and Advocacy agency
2. Name of designate agencyCenter for Legal Advocacy
3. Is the designated agency contracting CAP services?No
4. If yes, name of contracting agency:N/A

B. Staff Employed

Provide a description of all CAP positions (see instructions)

FY 2015 TOTAL FTEs: 1.47

12 Full time positions with % of FTE

CAP Coordinator — 55% Attorney 7% Dir. of Legal Services 7% Rights Advocate 33% Rights Advocates 1% Executive Director 5% Financial Assistant 7% Dir. Administrative Services 7% Office Manager 6% Administrative Assistant 9% Administrative Assistant 8% Administrative Assistant 2%

Part VI. Case Examples

Provide some examples of some interesting cases during the past fiscal year.

Case 1

The client is a 30—year—old male with learning disabilities. His complaint was that although DVR had put him through a BA in media graphics, he had been unable to find a job after multiple applications because the nature of the employment path had changed. His solution was to obtain a teaching certificate and be an art teacher in the public schools. In his mind, that would put his degree to use. Although the client’s efforts to gain employment with his BA was massively demonstrated, DVR felt he should try harder and would not support the teaching certificate, saying it was not necessary for a job and his learning disabilities eliminated him from being able to teach. Further, the client believed the counselor to be unresponsive. The client was already a volunteer art teacher in in a community center. He also had been employed part—time long term; but it was not a self—sustaining wage. Through negotiation, the CAP advocate was able to persuade the counselor to authorize a learning disability evaluation to help determine if teaching was or was not a suitable goal for the client. That evaluation resulted in a very favorable result. Both his employer and the community center spoke well of his performance and work ethic. His grades in college were adequate. He was prompt and responsive when asked to supply information. Eventually, an IPE was completed and signed that supported the client obtaining a teaching certificate.

Case 2

Client has been a VR client for 4+ years. Her goal is to become a horse & cow dentist. She is in school for this in Garden City, Idaho. Classes run for two weeks and are held three times/year. She has some tools that are required for school. The school costs $20,000 and the tools cost $18,000. DVR has approved all of this but she says there is some "hold up" in Central Procurement and the tools don’t get ordered.

The District Supervisor in the Ft. Morgan office is now working on her case. She said a previous counselor was very helpful in getting approval for the tools, but it’s stalled in Central Procurement.

Contacted the counselor and supervisor. They said to call the Regional Supervisor, which the advocate did. He said the problems with Central Processing were being straightened out and they had processed all the other requests except for this one. After repeated calls, he said that hers had finally been processed Client was able to attend school with the necessary tools.

Case 3

Client has severe physical problems, primarily a serious back injury. He had been a successful Chef, but can no longer stand for a long enough time. His goal with DVR is to become a video editor which VR supported after he appealed. Client has finished school and done very well. He is having a hard time getting VR to pay some of his job search expenses.

He and his counselor talked about his going to Nashville for some job opportunities. The counselor kept saying "let’s talk about this when the time gets closer", but then when the time was closer, the counselor was going out of town on vacation, so nothing was done before he left and now he’s trying to be reimbursed.

He’s also trying to get an IPhone, but the District Supervisor denied his initial request. When he was in Nashville he was meeting with various musicians and others who all used IPhones to network. He needs this for conference calls, etc. It’s also how he’ll need to carry his portfolio of videos to demo his work.

I spoke to the counselor who said the client had found a deal through T—Mobile; $249 down and the rest of the cost spread out over his monthly bills. I suggested that if the client can get VR to pay the down payment he should go for it. VR should pay the full cost ($700 or so) but he needs this quickly and really can’t afford to let the appeal process run its course.

The counselor suggests that he write two separate emails to the District Supervisor, requesting the IPhone and the second asking for reimbursement for his travel expenses to Nashville. It is a legitimate expense to pay for people to go to interviews. Client found a job in his chosen field and was closed as successfully rehabilitated.

Case 4 The client is a 62—year—old male with a disability related to his shoulders, which prevented a variety of kinds of work. He had been supported by DVR to become a commercial helicopter pilot, including training for the private license in Colorado and for the commercial license at a California helicopter training school, as commercial pilot training does not exist in Colorado. The training facility DVR approved fell into bad and fraudulent practices in terms of both business and student relationships; this included absconding with student funds (including DVR funds), not completing student training and closing their business unannounced. The client, in an attempt to finish his training with one willing flight instructor at the school, who in that moment had the means and helicopter to do so, asked DVR for permission, which was denied. Had that been allowed, the client would have completed his entire DVR program. The client found two schools in—state that purportedly had the helicopter the client was rated in and could provide his final training. However, at the first school, the client discovered significant FAA violations and the client found the second school unacceptable in the course of exercising informed choice. Those were the only two schools in the state of Colorado that had a helicopter in which the client was rated to fly. The commercial flight school in California had offered to finish the client’s private license training, and had provided an email and costs to the DVR counselor. The counselor denied that had ever happened and claimed the California school was unacceptable for this purpose, although the documentation was present in the client’s DVR file. The counselor demanded the client find and pay for his own finish to the private pilot licensing in—state and refused to accept the limitations and requirements of doing so. If he did not accomplish this, the counselor was prepared to simply close the client’s DVR case. The client, in what was a best effort, attempted to be compliant with DVR and accomplish this. However, his efforts failed, each for their own valid reasons. The client, with CAP assistance, appealed to the District Supervisor. The proposed solution was to complete training with the one available school that had an appropriate helicopter at the time. The client and the CAP advocate had been communicating with this school (a DVR vendor) prior to the appeal. The counselor remained adamant that she would not consider supporting the client in his effort to complete his private license. The owner/operator verified to the advocate that he did have the specific helicopter needed; and that same helicopter was displayed on the school’s website at that time. After the appeal, which was conditionally found in the client’s favor, negotiations continued with the only available, appropriate school. However, the school lost that specified helicopter to repossession. The owner/operator offered to train the client on the helicopter they had available, which would have required a few thousand dollars and more training time. DVR refused to assist or support. Subsequently, the school declined to proceed for vague reasons. The counselor said the school’s owner/operator told her that the client’s behavior was a problem and they wanted nothing to do with him. However, the owner/operator of that specific school verbally and by email told the CAP advocate that he didn’t want to waste the taxpayers’ money, and said or suggested nothing adverse about the client. Emails between the owner and the client were short and to the point demonstrated nothing untoward. The client went through all the available lists of such in—state training schools and contacted them. The only school that had a helicopter in which the client was rated said their helicopter would be out of commission for an unknown number of months due to being rebuilt. Other schools did not have any helicopter for which the client was rated. The only option to complete training was out—of—state. The District Supervisor decided the client had failed to meet her conditions. The client and CAP advocate appealed to the Regional Supervisor. The decision of that appeal was favorable to the client. His goal of becoming a commercial helicopter pilot was upheld, as was out—of—state training to complete both his private and commercial license, with the condition that the client first undergo and succeed at a flight skills assessment with Helicopter Academy in Florida.

Case 5 The client is a woman in her mid—forties who has a significant hearing impairment. She is employed and had gone to DVR for post—employment services to address both hearing and vision issues that were impeding her work performance and, thus, her employment retention. Hearing and vision exams were done and DVR determined the client required a new hearing aid and new glasses. When the hearing aid was ready, an appointment was made for the client to pick it up. However, at the last moment, the VR counselor cancelled the appointment and began to badger the client about a specific statement the client allegedly made to a third—party. Based on that single, alleged statement, as well as a partially and inaccurately overheard conversation on the part of the counselor, DVR alleged the client had committed fraud through verbal misrepresentation with the goal of obtaining a monetary gain from DVR — a hearing aid. It appeared to be lost on DVR that the hearing aid had already been authorized and purchased by the counselor — the same counselor who also lodged the fraud allegation. After unproductive attempts at email and phone communications, the advocate and the client met with the DVR District Supervisor and counselor in an attempt to resolve the fraud issue, with no success. The District Supervisor and counselor adamantly refused to discuss any information or view any documentation offered by the advocate and client that did not confirm their firmly held opinion. The fraud investigation went forward. The advocate wrote a letter to the DVR Regional District Supervisor in support of the client. In further discussion between the advocate and the Regional Supervisor, it was possible to present the information and documentation ignored by the District Supervisor and the counselor. In the end, the Regional Supervisor determined that no fraud had been committed or intended. The District Supervisor and the counselor received specific instructions regarding how the client’s case would proceed. Although the Regional Supervisor wanted the client to try to continue with the same counselor, but their trust had been irrevocably broken; and the client requested and received a counselor reassignment. The client kept the hearing aid that was purchased.

Certification

Reports are to be submitted to RSA within 90 days after the end of the fiscal year covered by this report. Please be reminded that you can enter data directly into RSA's website via the internet. Information on transmittal of the form is found on pages 19 and 20 of the reporting instructions.

Name of Designated Agency OfficialMary Anne Harvey
Title of Designated Agency OfficialExecutive Director
Date Signed12/21/2015