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

Minnesota (MINNESOTA DISABILITY LAW CENTER) - H161A150024 - FY2015

General Information

Designated Agency Identification

NameMid-Minnesota Legal Assistance
Address430 1st Avenue N.
Address Line 2Suite 300
CityMinneapolis
StateMinnesota
Zip Code55401
E-mail Addressmndlc@mylegalaid.org
Website Addresshttp://www.mndlc.org
Phone6123321441
TTY 6123324668
Toll-free Phone8002924150
Toll-free TTY
Fax6123345755

Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)

NameMid-Minnesota Legal Assistance
Address430 1st Avenue N.
Address Line 2Suite 300
CityMinneapolis
Zip Code55401
E-mail Addressmndlc@mylegalaid.org
Website Addresshttp://www.mndlc.org
Phone6123321441
TTY6123324668
Toll-free Phone8002924150
Toll-free TTY
Fax6123345755

Additional Information

Name of CAP Director/CoordinatorDaniel Stewart
Person to contact regarding reportBrenda Jursik
Contact Person Phone6127463768

Part I. Non-case Services

A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)

Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. Information regarding the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program21
2. Information regarding independent living programs0
3. Information regarding American Indian VR Service projects0
4. Information regarding Title I of the ADA0
5. Other information provided2
6. Information regarding CAP2
7. Total I&R services provided (Lines A1 through A6)25

B. Training Activities

The Minnesota Disability Law Center’s (MDLC) Client Assistance Project (CAP) staff delivered 27 trainings that provided nearly 1,000 participants from all over the disability community with information about CAP and vocational rehabilitation (VR) issues. Several of these presentations were to populations that have been unserved or underserved by Minnesota vocational rehabilitation agencies; such outreach activities are summarized below in Part I, C.

Staff delivered a “Making Employment Work for You” training about CAP advocacy services to parents and service providers at an event sponsored by the Minnesota Organization for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. CAP staff delivered a presentation to individuals with disabilities and their families at a meeting sponsored by the Highland Friendship Club titled, “Top Ten Services and Benefits for Individuals with Disabilities.” A similar training about CAP advocacy services and service statistics was made to statewide staff from the Disability Linkage Line and Griffin Hammis Association. CAP staff also delivered a presentation about MDLC and CAP services to staff and leadership at the Southeast Minnesota Center for Independent Living and presented a similar training to Minnesota State University Mankato students in the social work program.

CAP staff delivered a “Make it Work: Strategic Funding of Work—Related Assistive Technology” training to state and county social services staff at an event sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. CAP staff presented on legislative issues affecting VR consumers and other persons with disabilities for members of the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities. This session focused on legislative issues concerning Minnesota’s Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA—EPD) program.

Additionally, CAP staff delivered training about Olmstead mandates for employment for persons with the most severe disabilities to VR staff. This training was designed for VR staff members who were working to develop VR’s new Extended Employment state rule.

1. Number of training sessions presented to community groups and public agencies.27
2. Number of individuals who attended these training sessions.960
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.

During this report period, CAP staff engaged in 14 outreach events throughout the state, which provided information about CAP services, VR rights and other disability rights. These outreach events included the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans’ Stand Down event in Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Community Action and Head Start program. CAP staff conducted outreach at The Arc of Minnesota’s Annual Conference, the Employment Resources for People with Disabilities event that was sponsored by Functional Industries, and at the Basilica of St. Mary Disability Fair in Minneapolis. CAP staff also conducted outreach during the Southcentral Organization of Providers to Educate at South Central Technical College in North Mankato. CAP staff provided resource information at the Minnesota Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) State Conference themed “Employment First It’s No Tall Tale!”

In addition, CAP staff conducted outreach that was specifically targeted towards reaching historically unserved/underserved populations and minority communities.

Transition—Aged Students: CAP staff delivered five presentations on transition issues, including a “Making Employment Work for You” session for students, teachers, social workers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and service providers at an event sponsored by Minneapolis Transition Plus/Minneapolis Public School District. This presentation was delivered again to teachers and secondary school work coordinators at an event sponsored by the Minnesota Association for Career and Technical Education. CAP staff also made a presentation about CAP services to transition—aged students and a presentation about legal requirements for transition services to parents and school staff at an event sponsored by a suburban special education parent advocacy group. CAP staff delivered a presentation about guardianship and transition—aged services to students with disabilities at Dakota County Technical College. CAP staff provided information about CAP services and VR rights to transition students and parents attending the 2015 Transition Fair hosted by the Southeast Minnesota Center for Independent Living.

Minority Communities: CAP staff provided information about CAP services, VR rights and other disability rights at community fairs targeting members of racial minority populations. CAP training and outreach events reached homeless individuals at the Catholic Charities Opportunity Center, homeless individuals attending Project Homeless Connect in Minneapolis, and ethnically diverse community members at an event in urban south Minneapolis.

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.

NA

1. Agency Staff Interviewed or Featured on Radio and TV0
2. Articles about CAP Featured in Newspaper/Magazine/Journals0
3. PSAs/Videos Aired about the CAP Agency0
4. Publications/Booklets/Brochures Disseminated by the Agency11
5. Number of Times CAP Exhibited at Conferences, Community Fairs, etc.14
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.

NA

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)21
2. Additional individuals who were served during the year32
3. Total individuals served (Lines A1+A2)53
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.)0
5. Individual still being served as of September 30 (Carryover to next year. This total may not exceed Line A3.)28

B. Problem areas

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Individual requests information0
2. Communication problems between individual and VR counselor9
3. Conflict about VR services to be provided9
4. Related to VR application/eligibility process2
5. Related to assignment to order of selection priority category1
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 Assistance15
2. Investigation/Monitoring0
3. Negotiation10
4. Mediation and other methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution0
5. Administrative / Informal Review0
6. Formal appeal / Fair Hearing0
7. Legal remedy / Litigation0
8. Total25

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.)

NA

1. All issues resolved in individual's favor4
2. Some issues resolved in individual's favor (when there are multiple issues)14
3. CAP determines VR agency position/decision was appropriate for the individual0
4. Individual's case lacks legal merit; (inappropriate for CAP intervention)6
5. Individual chose alternative representation0
6. Individual withdrew complaint0
7. Issue not resolved in clients favor0
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.)

5 — Decision reversed.

1. Controlling law/policy explained to individual7
2. Application for services completed0
3. Eligibility determination expedited0
4. Individual participated in evaluation0
5. IPE developed/implemented/Services Provided2
6. Communication re-established between individual and other party9
7. Individual assigned to new counselor/office0
8. Alternative resources identified for individual1
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 180
2. 19 - 244
3. 25 - 4013
4. 41 - 6435
5. 65 and over1
6. Total (Sum of Lines A1 through A5. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)53

B. Gender

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Females20
2. Males33
3. Total (Lines B1+B2. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)53

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. White42
7. Two or more races1
8. Race/ethnicity unknown5

D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Acquired Brain Injury4
2. ADD/ADHD0
3. AIDS/HIV0
4. Amputations or Absence of Extremities0
5. Arthritis or Rheumatism0
6. Anxiety Disorder1
7. Autism Spectrum Disorder3
8. Autoimmune or Immune Deficiencies (excluding AIDS/HIV)0
9. Blindness (Both Eyes)6
10. Other Visual Impairments (Not Blind)0
11. Cancer1
12. Cerebral Palsy1
13. Deafness3
14. Hard of Hearing/Hearing Impaired (Not Deaf)0
15. Deaf-Blind0
16. Diabetes0
17. Digestive Disorders0
18. Epilepsy0
19. Heart & Other Circulatory Conditions0
20. Intellectual Disability2
21. Mental Illness14
22. Multiple Sclerosis0
23. Muscular Dystrophy0
24. Muscular/Skeletal Impairment2
25. Neurological Disorders/Impairment3
26. Orthopedic Impairments7
27. Personality Disorders0
28. Respiratory Disorders/Impairment0
29. Skin Conditions0
30. Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)2
31. Speech Impairments0
32. Spina Bifida1
33. Substance Abuse (Alcohol or Drugs)0
34. Other Disability3
35. Total (Sum of Lines D1through D34. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)53

E. Types of Individual Served

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Applicant of VR11
2. Individual eligible for VR services currently on a wait list0
3. Individual eligible for VR services not currently on a wait list39
4. Applicant or individual eligible for Independent Living0
5. Transition student/High school student1
6. All other applicants or individuals eligible for other programs or projects funded unther Rehabilitation Act2

Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation

A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities

During the fiscal year, CAP staff engaged in one non—litigation systemic activity not involving individual representation that resulted in the change of one or more policies or practices of an agency, the development of Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan.

CAP and MDLC staff provided systemic advocacy on behalf of VR consumers through active involvement in the development of Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan. The State of Minnesota agreed to create an Olmstead Plan as part of a settlement of a lawsuit brought by a private firm to stop mistreatment of people with disabilities at a state—operated institution. The Olmstead Plan involves eight different state agencies, including the agency that houses Vocational Rehabilitation Services and State Services for the Blind, and aims to increase integration of people with disabilities in the broader community. As part of this process, the State adopted an Employment First policy, and agreed that the Olmstead Plan will include strategies to ensure competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities and appropriate training and assistance for youth and young adults with disabilities to become competitively employed.

MDLC/CAP submitted numerous formal comments to the federal court, met with agency staff, and engaged in additional oral advocacy with relevant state agencies specifically addressing this aspect of the Olmstead Plan. CAP urged the State to incorporate specific, measurable, and aggressive goals to ensure competitive, integrated employment. Moreover, MDLC and CAP staff continued to work closely with Employment First groups, other disability advocacy groups, and private pro bono counsel on this issue. Influenced in large part by MDLC/CAP’s Olmstead’s efforts, Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan was amended to include stronger provisions regarding integrated competitive employment and the development of integrated and more effective school—to—work services for transition—age youth. The Olmstead Plan was recently approved by the Minnesota federal court. Next, the federal court is requiring the State administrative agencies to submit “work plans” for approval. CAP staff will continue monitoring Olmstead—related developments and will respond as necessary.

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.1
2. Describe the systemic activities conducted by CAP during the fiscal year and its impact on other agency's policies or practices.

B. Litigation

During the fiscal year CAP staff undertook no systemic litigation activities involving individual representation, relying instead on more informal review and mediation procedures before resorting to formal administrative or legal remedies. Consequently, CAP staff members were able to resolve all of their individual cases short of going through the Formal Hearing process and, indeed, brought no administrative appeals or court cases during this report period.

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 agencyMid-Minnesota Legal Assistance
3. Is the designated agency contracting CAP services?No
4. If yes, name of contracting agency:NA

B. Staff Employed

Provide a description of all CAP positions (see instructions)

Attorney FT .87 FTE 100% of year filled .87 Person years

Legal Advocate FT 1.14 FTE 100% of year filled 1.14 Person years

Clerical FT .06FTE 100% of year filled .06 Person years

Part VI. Case Examples

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

A young man with autism sought CAP advocacy after Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) terminated the tutoring services he received while attending a community college. VRS believed that the college’s tutoring services were an appropriate comparable benefit and that any VRS—funded tutoring was unnecessary. The client received the college—provided tutoring services, but failed his courses. In frustration, he decided to take a break from college, whereupon VRS told him they would close his VR case. CAP staff investigated the situation and advocated on the client’s behalf to restore the VRS—provided tutoring services. CAP staff successfully argued that the college—provided tutoring was not the same and was ineffective in providing the client with the help he needed to succeed in school. CAP staff also worked to ensure that the client was assigned to a new VR counselor, that communications were improved, and that a plan was developed for the client to return to college. The client re—entered college and has maintained a B average in his courses. He also recently received two different job offers and is currently deciding which employment opportunity to take.

A young man with intellectual and physical disabilities had recently moved from a group home to an independent setting, but he still worked at a sheltered workshop. For years, he had told his employment team that he wanted to work in the community and his team members agreed his goal was achievable. Actual progress towards this goal, however, did not occur until the man sought CAP advocacy. CAP staff acted quickly to bring together the client’s vocational rehabilitation counselor, his county case manager and his job placement specialist who worked at the sheltered workshop. The CAP advocate determined that having a job placement specialist who was a sheltered workshop employee was problematic. CAP advocacy enabled the client to switch to a different placement specialist that was independent of the sheltered workshop. CAP staff also convinced the client’s employment team to schedule the client for trial work opportunities, job shadowing and a career aptitudes assessment. With all this activity, the client felt more was happening in a few weeks than had happened in the past two years. The client now works part—time at the sheltered workshop while he is also enrolled at the local state university for vocational training and continues to seek employment in the community.

CAP staff represented a visually impaired, unemployed carpenter who did woodworking projects from his rural home in north central Minnesota. The man wanted Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) in order to start a small business that would market and sell his woodworking projects. He ran into an impasse with State Services for the Blind (SSB) when he and his VR counselor could not agree on the services to be included on his Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). CAP staff investigated the situation and brought the parties together to work out an IPE acceptable to both sides. As a result, an IPE was developed that included assistive technology services and equipment, including an IMac computer and one—on—one computer training at the client’s residence. CAP staff also advocated for the IPE to include criteria to determine when the client had progressed sufficiently in his training to successfully use the technology in his small business. This computer will be used to sell the client’s woodworking projects, such as tables and chairs, on—line.

A northern Minnesota woman with mental illness and vertigo wanted to get a college degree and become a naturalist. When VRS refused to approve an IPE with this job goal, the woman called CAP for help. CAP staff worked with the client to gather the information needed to convince VRS of the viability of her job goal. With CAP’s help, the client presented VRS with information about the wages earned by people working in that field and how likely it was that she could work as a naturalist given the economy in that part of the state. When presented with all this information, VRS reversed its decision and approved the client’s Employment Plan. The client enrolled at the University of Minnesota, Duluth and she earned straight A’s in her courses.

A Blind woman who had a teaching degree and teaching experience had most recently operated her own answering service. Technological advances made that work obsolete and she needed to move on to alternate employment. She decided to become a Mac computer trainer for other persons with disabilities, but needed Apple certification to achieve this goal. She wanted to eventually work for an employer or on her own in a small business enterprise. SSB refused to provide the training and insisted that she choose either the self—employment track or work for an employer before VR services could begin. CAP staff brought the parties together to jointly develop an IPE that included the Mac certification training the client needed. CAP staff further persuaded the parties to agree that the client would look for employment in the community before writing a business plan and starting her own business. SSB further agreed to fund an Apple computer and job placement services after the client received Apple certification. Finally, CAP won the parties’ agreement that if job placement efforts were unsuccessful, SSB would provide the client with help to develop her own business.

CAP staff represented a veteran with serious mental illness who needed VRS assistance to move towards employment in the community. Because his disability was not service—related, he could not get any job assistance from the Veteran’s Administration. He had approached VRS for help, but his case was closed because he only requested funding for one month’s cost of employment services in a sheltered workshop. CAP staff advocated for VRS to take another look at the client’s case and consider the cost of segregated employment as a stepping stone to eventual work in the community. VRS agreed and the client’s case was reopened. The client then worked with a rehabilitation counselor to better assess his abilities to work and set up a trial work period.

A woman with mental illness sought CAP advocacy when VR closed her case because she had obtained employment with a temporary agency. The employment had not become permanent, and the client was unable to convince VR to reopen her case. CAP staff arranged a meeting with the client’s VR counselor and job placement provider and persuaded the parties to agree to reopen the client’s case. At CAP’s urging, the parties also agreed that job placement staff would follow the client more closely if the client found temporary employment. VR would then put supportive employment services in place in order to increase the client’s chance of keeping the job. The client agreed to stay in better contact with her vocational rehabilitation providers.

CAP represented a Blind man whose SSB case had been closed after several years of unsuccessful job placement services. The client had worked for many years part—time and seasonally as a vendor at the Minnesota Twins stadium and he wanted a second job to supplement his seasonal earnings. The client’s relationship with his VR counselor and with SSB reception staff had deteriorated after several altercations and he had missed many appointments with his job placement specialist. CAP staff recommended and, the client agreed, that the parties should meet to resolve problems informally and restore services. CAP staff was involved in the meeting to ensure that the client, his SSB counselor, and SSB management were able to discuss what was not working in the client’s vocational rehabilitation/job placement process and the client was able to clarify the types of work he wanted. SSB staff set out what sorts of behavior would be acceptable if they continued to provide him with services and all present agreed to work to treat each other with courtesy and respect. Due to CAP’s advocacy, SSB reversed its case termination decision. The client’s case was reopened so that he could continue to receive VR job placement services.

A young man with cerebral palsy had long been frustrated by his inability to make any progress towards employment. He had never held a job and had much difficulty communicating his vocational rehabilitation needs in a way that VR staff could act on in a concrete manner. He had recently moved and also needed his VR case to be transferred to an office nearer his new residence. CAP staff met with the client at his home to understand better what the client needed and provided him with clear information about how the vocational rehabilitation process works, what services could be available to him under the law and what strategies could help him navigate the VR system more effectively. CAP staff then advocated on the client’s behalf with VRS, pressing the agency to move forward with the case reassignment and to develop a plan to have the client’s abilities assessed and to arrange a trial work period. As a result of CAP’s efforts, the client was able to move forward with VRS and better understand his options.

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 OfficialCathy Haukedahl
Title of Designated Agency OfficialExecutive Director
Date Signed12/15/2015