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

New Mexico (Disability Rights New Mexico) - H161A150032 - FY2015

General Information

Designated Agency Identification

NameDisability Rights New Mexico
Address1720 Louisiana Blvd. NE Suite 204
Address Line 2Suite 204
CityAlbuquerque
StateNew Mexico
Zip Code87110
E-mail Addressinfo@drnm.org
Website Addresshttp://www.drnm.org
Phone505-256-3100
TTY 505-256-3100
Toll-free Phone800-432-4682
Toll-free TTY800-432-4682
Fax505-256-3184

Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)

Name
Address
Address Line 2
City
Zip Code
E-mail Address
Website Address
Phone
TTY
Toll-free Phone
Toll-free TTY
Fax

Additional Information

Name of CAP Director/CoordinatorBernadine Chavez
Person to contact regarding reportBernadine Chavez
Contact Person Phone505-256-3100

Part I. Non-case Services

A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)

Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. Information regarding the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program53
2. Information regarding independent living programs0
3. Information regarding American Indian VR Service projects0
4. Information regarding Title I of the ADA6
5. Other information provided2
6. Information regarding CAP0
7. Total I&R services provided (Lines A1 through A6)61

B. Training Activities

P&A provided two trainings to 22 new staff persons working for the New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the New Mexico Commission for the Blind, and the Section 121 Native American Vocational Rehabilitation programs at the Rehabilitation Academy. The training topics included the CAP, PABSS, and PAAT programs at DRNM, and an overview of ADA provisions related to employment.

We also provided training on employment and ADA to a support group for individuals with brain injuries. This is a very active group in southern New Mexico and most of the 25 participants are engaged in return to work activities and participants of NMDVR.

Staff provided training on rights and VR services, as well as client rights, to participants of the ARC Leadership conference in southern New Mexico. The training focused on "informed choice”, self—determination and self—advocacy and was provided in both Spanish and English. We also covered the implementation of Order of Selection. This was part of our outreach to underserved and rural areas.

DRNM provided training to the Department of Workforce Solutions (Labor) staff on the Rehabilitation Act, VR services, “Disability Awareness”, and also training on ADA and Title I. There were two sessions and 23 participants at each session for a total of 46 participants.

In summary, CAP staff at DRNM conducted a total of 12 trainings with a total of 275 participants. DRNM/CAP also participated in 14 informational fairs in which we distributed CAP brochures and provided information to partipants. Of the 14 fairs, 6 were targeted outreach to minorities and underserved populations.

1. Number of training sessions presented to community groups and public agencies.12
2. Number of individuals who attended these training sessions.275
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.

The majority of New Mexicans are unserved/underserved. CAP conducted considerable outreach to persons in rural areas and on Native American pueblos. As shown above, many of the trainings and outreach activities conducted by DRNM were focused on minority communities and areas. CAP staff at DRNM conducted a total of 10 trainings with a total of 280 participants. DRNM/CAP also participated in 14 informational fairs in which we distributed CAP brochures and provided information to partipants. Of the 14 fairs, 6 were targeted outreach to minorities and underserved populations outside the state’s major urban areas.

DRNM provided training to Native American families at the EPICS (Educating Parents of Indian Children) conference in Albuquerque. The topics covered were the Rehabilitation Act, VR services, and transition services under the Section 121 programs and state vocational programs including DVR and the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. There were 28 participants in the session. We provided the same training to a group of 26 Native American school counselors/social workers from various Pueblos, and also discussed disability awareness, physical access, program access, and community services. This was an event sponsored by the Native American program at UNM.

CAP staff provided training to the staff and faculty of Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute at their annual Colloquium. There were 75 staff and faculty at this event. The topics covered were vocational rehabilitation and higher education, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Staff provided training on CAP and employment rights to clients of the quarterly job club at the Belen office of DVR (in central New Mexico); the club is sponsored by Desert Bloom Rehabilitation. There are 8 to 10 participants each quarter.

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.

1. Agency Staff Interviewed or Featured on Radio and TV3
2. Articles about CAP Featured in Newspaper/Magazine/Journals0
3. PSAs/Videos Aired about the CAP Agency0
4. Publications/Booklets/Brochures Disseminated by the Agency620
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.

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)10
2. Additional individuals who were served during the year17
3. Total individuals served (Lines A1+A2)27
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.)6

B. Problem areas

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Individual requests information1
2. Communication problems between individual and VR counselor9
3. Conflict about VR services to be provided13
4. Related to VR application/eligibility process0
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
7
7. Related to independent living services0
8. Other Rehabilitation Act-related problems1
9. Non-Rehabilitation Act related
  1. TANF
  2. SSI/SSDI
  3. Housing
  4. Other:
1
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 Assistance3
2. Investigation/Monitoring0
3. Negotiation13
4. Mediation and other methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution2
5. Administrative / Informal Review6
6. Formal appeal / Fair Hearing3
7. Legal remedy / Litigation1
8. Total28

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 favor12
2. Some issues resolved in individual's favor (when there are multiple issues)5
3. CAP determines VR agency position/decision was appropriate for the individual1
4. Individual's case lacks legal merit; (inappropriate for CAP intervention)0
5. Individual chose alternative representation1
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 CAP0
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 did not cooperate with Disability Rights New Mexico.

1. Controlling law/policy explained to individual3
2. Application for services completed4
3. Eligibility determination expedited0
4. Individual participated in evaluation0
5. IPE developed/implemented/Services Provided4
6. Communication re-established between individual and other party5
7. Individual assigned to new counselor/office4
8. Alternative resources identified for individual0
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 - 6417
5. 65 and over2
6. Total (Sum of Lines A1 through A5. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)27

B. Gender

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Females15
2. Males12
3. Total (Lines B1+B2. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)27

C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race (for individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only)8
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native2
3. Asian0
4. Black or African American1
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White16
7. Two or more races0
8. Race/ethnicity unknown0

D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Acquired Brain Injury5
2. ADD/ADHD0
3. AIDS/HIV2
4. Amputations or Absence of Extremities0
5. Arthritis or Rheumatism0
6. Anxiety Disorder0
7. Autism Spectrum Disorder0
8. Autoimmune or Immune Deficiencies (excluding AIDS/HIV)0
9. Blindness (Both Eyes)1
10. Other Visual Impairments (Not Blind)2
11. Cancer0
12. Cerebral Palsy0
13. Deafness2
14. Hard of Hearing/Hearing Impaired (Not Deaf)1
15. Deaf-Blind0
16. Diabetes0
17. Digestive Disorders0
18. Epilepsy0
19. Heart & Other Circulatory Conditions0
20. Intellectual Disability0
21. Mental Illness7
22. Multiple Sclerosis0
23. Muscular Dystrophy0
24. Muscular/Skeletal Impairment0
25. Neurological Disorders/Impairment2
26. Orthopedic Impairments1
27. Personality Disorders0
28. Respiratory Disorders/Impairment1
29. Skin Conditions0
30. Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)0
31. Speech Impairments0
32. Spina Bifida0
33. Substance Abuse (Alcohol or Drugs)1
34. Other Disability2
35. Total (Sum of Lines D1through D34. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)27

E. Types of Individual Served

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Applicant of VR23
2. Individual eligible for VR services currently on a wait list0
3. Individual eligible for VR services not currently on a wait list3
4. Applicant or individual eligible for Independent Living1
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

NM CAP staff meets with NMDVR Management Staff (Field Operations Directors) and the acting Director on a quarterly basis to discuss areas of service in which CAP and NM DVR can work together to improve services NM participants. The Acting Director for NMDVR retired so CAP staff met with the interim Acting Director who was appointed right after the Acting Director left. However, that interim Director has left the agency as well. The Secretary of the Public Education Department (PED) has designated the Deputy Secretary of the PED to serve as the temporary interim Director of New Mexico DVR, and this designee is housed at the PED and oversees NMDVR in addition to his many other PED duties. We have had one meeting with this appointee and expressed our concerns over several systems issues that have come up in the recent past as well as an issue that we continue to bring to their attention that seems to get no resolution.

CAP staff have also met with the Field Operations Directors that oversee the Area Managers. The focus of discussion of the FOD meetings included the following issues:

• Presumptive eligibility requirements and the lack of explanation to SSA Beneficiaries. CAP staff has been working with the Ticket to Work Team and the Benefits Advisors that provide that service through NMDVR to help counselors provide better and more accurate information to SSA Beneficiaries.

• Delays in receiving participant records after they have been requested by CAP staff. NM CAP and DVR had agreed to address these issues by having each VR office administrative personnel act as the main point of contact when participant records are requested. This resolution worked for a short time and then there were several staff that retired or moved on to other jobs. Depending on the office that we request the records from it can take from two days to two weeks to get records.

• Issue with participants that are assigned to caseloads with no counselor. As counselors have left NMDVR there has been a substantial delay in getting either a temporary counselor or a permanent counselor. We had participants that have waited several months before hearing from anyone regarding their services. In most cases the partipants either called CAP or called NMDVR directly to find out who would be providing services. NMDVR had a 24% vacancy rate which was among the highest of state agencies.

• Case closures by NMDVR counselors have been obscure and not well explained to the clients. The reasons for closing cases have ranged from “you were referred to another agency so we are closing your case” to “we can’t agree on a vocational goal so your case is being closed”. When a case is closed and CAP does a supervisory review or gets the case closure reversed NMDVR does not have a mechanism to re—open the case. The AWARE system that they have does not allow the re—opening of a case. They have to take a new application and start a new case. Sometimes it is done behind the scenes quickly and seamlessly, but other times it creates more delay and the counselor decides to ask for more records or more evaluations.

• NMDVR is still telling clients that they don’t pay for higher education as a policy. When confronted, NMDVR staff has blamed it on lack of funds, however their spending was down and they had a serious maintenance of effort penalty. They are in an order of selection but all categories have been open for over two years.

• DVR has been denying clients the request for reasonable accommodation. We have had some clients that requested documents in an alternative format but were denied stating that the request was not reasonable or necessary.

• This year CAP staff has experienced the most adversarial relationship with the legal staff of NMDVR. The following issues have been most concerning to CAP:

1. When a client whose case has been closed requests a hearing and decides to forgo the hearing and reapply for services, the area staff has been directed by the NMDVR legal staff not to allow the client to reapply unless they follow through with the fair hearing.

2. NMDVR legal staff informed CAP staff that DVR pays for and has a background check conducted on each client that requests a fair hearing.

3. NMDVR has admitted to having clients that are going through the fair hearing process followed by an investigator.

4. NMDVR legal staff has violated confidentiality of other clients by using names in documents that do not pertain to that client.

5. NMDVR staff have stated that they know they are in violation of federal regulations, however they have been ordered to do so by NMDVR legal staff.

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

During this fiscal year we had 4 cases in which the intervention strategy was representation at a fair hearing and in one of these cases CAP then went to court on behalf of the client. We attempted to resolve each of these cases at the lowest level but were not successful. Case example: A 49 year old woman who is a survivor of domestic abuse and has HIV was attempting to complete her education to become more employable. She asked that DVR provide maintenance to assist her with living expenses due to her physical endurance being poor, so she was unable to work and attend school at the same time. The client was fighting an appeal with SSA since they terminated her SSI due to a report that she had made fraudulent statements to become eligible. DVR decided to close her case based on the allegation that she had committed fraud with SSA. We took the case to fair hearing and got the case closure overturned, however, we were unsuccessful in obtaining maintenance for her. The systems issue that we learned about during the fair hearing is that the DVR attorney is utilizing private investigators to follow our client and had a background check done on our client to determine her finances and activities in the past. The information was used as evidence against her at the fair hearing.

Case example: A 59 year old man with TBI applied for DVR services and refused to give DVR a blanket release so they closed his case, citing that the client was not cooperating. They refused to let him reapply for services and negotiate which releases of information he was willing to sign for DVR. They also refused the reasonable accommodation of getting him information in a format which was easier for him to understand. Through the Fair Hearing process, we were successful in getting DVR to allow him to reapply. The systems issue that were are working on is making sure that clients are accommodated for their disability and can receive services and communication in a format that promotes effective communication.

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.4
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.3
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 agencyDisability Rights New Mexico
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)

Advocate positions 0.91 FTE

Attorney positions 0.32 FTE

Support staff 0.27 FTE

Supervisory staff 0.27 FTE

TOTAL CAP staff 1.77 FTE

Part VI. Case Examples

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

Case 1:

Client is a 69 year old man who is deaf. He resides in Santa Fe and is homeless. Client’s primary language is ASL. He understands a few words in English but does not read or write fluently. Communication is difficult. He has a VP app. on his iPad but is not able to use it unless he is near a Wi—Fi signal. Because he does not have stable housing, internet is not easily accessed. He has provided his email address, but he does not usually understand what is sent to him. Phone is the best way to contact him.

Client came to DRNM because DVR refused to authorize necessary dental treatment despite sending him for three different evaluations and for x—rays. Client explained to DRNM that he was in chronic pain. He had several teeth missing but also 8 broken teeth. His teeth were severely decayed. He wanted his teeth pulled and for DVR to pay for dentures. Client’s counselor felt he did not need teeth to find work. DRNM believes that the client needs to be healthy in order to work. CAP wrote to the dentists who had previously evaluated client. CAP requested that they write letters of support and provide dental plans. Both dentists provided supporting letters and treatment plans. CAP and client met with his counselor and later with the program manager for a Supervisory Review to advocate for client’s need for dental treatment. The Supervisory Review decision took 2 ½ months instead of 10 days, but DVR ultimately agreed to pay for extractions and a top denture. The dental work was written into client’s plan and all of the appointments were arranged by DVR. Client agreed to the dental work and pre—arranged appointment times. DVR hired interpreters for all appointments. It was explained that it was important for him to keep the appointments and that if he needed to reschedule, that he let them know as soon as possible, as DVR was still responsible for interpreter fees. He was informed that he would be responsible for late fees or no—show fees.

Client has an updated IPE that includes dental services, job development and case management through a local service provider, an eye exam, and new lenses. having achieved the goal in our service agreement with the client, the CAP case has been closed and it is now up to the client to follow through with his dental plan.

Case 2:

Client is a 56 year old woman who lives in Albuquerque. Client is a participant of the NM Commission for the Blind. Client contacted DRNM in June 2015, because she was having trouble working with her Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) at the Commission. Client reports that her VRC accused her of lying about her disability even though she is legally blind and on SSI and also refused to help with funding to fix her laptop. Due to the accusation about lying about her disability the client and the VRC were delayed in developing an IPE. Client requested assistance from DRNM to change counselors and to advocate for the computer repair. DRNM followed up with the VRC to get an update on the computer repair. The VRC said if the accidental damage insurance covered the repair, there would not be an issue. Less than a week later, the Commission for the Blind let us know that the laptop would be repaired under warranty. DRNM also made a request for a counselor change through the Executive Director of NMCB. Two weeks after our request was made, client was assigned a different VRC. Our client has met with the new counselor and discussed her needs for school and associated services. They have developed the IPE with all of the requested services. Client is very happy with her new VRC. All issues have been resolved.

Case 3:

Client is a 39 year old man with multiple mental health diagnoses. He came to DRNM/CAP because his DVR counselor and supervising counselor denied his informed choice of an employment goal of nursing. DVR also denied client’s request to attend Brookline College. He was told that he had transferable skills and had to use his previous degree in education. DRNM advocated at a supervisory review meeting and two additional meetings with client and the Program Manager. During these meetings, we explained that client had a right to informed choice. We provided information about the BSN program and explained that it is an accelerated program. He’ll earn a BSN by next December (2015) and Brookline will pay for his Master’s degree. Client and CAP explained the reasons why he felt nursing was an appropriate field for him and how education was not a viable option. He also told DVR that he feels he is exactly the type of person DVR is supposed to support. He is a category 1— MSD, and feels he can be rehabilitated with DVR’s help to be a productive member of society and to become gainfully employed. He is excited, highly motivated and has been successful in school, as well as being highly praised by instructors. The supervisor requested some additional documentation and after reviewing it, approved client’s request to attend Brookline. During one of these meetings, the client also requested rental assistance as he is going to school full time and his SSDI has not come in yet. The supervisor approved three months of rental assistance, Dec—Feb. If client’s SSDI has not come in by February, the supervisor agreed to consider additional assistance. When DRNM followed up with client a couple of weeks later, he said he recently learned that he will need to take an online class next semester. He discussed it with his VRC and funding for a computer was added to his plan. Client has a current IPE that was developed with his input and includes all of the services he requested. All issues were resolved in client’s favor.

Case 4:

Client is a 40 year old woman with severe anxiety. She is a DVR client and contacted DRNM/CAP for assistance with obtaining services that had been denied. Client reported that she became eligible for services in July 2014 but an IPE had not been developed for her until May 2015. Client also wanted assistance with physician prescribed massage therapy, a gym membership, and sessions with a personal trainer to address her weight, blood pressure, and wrist and shoulder pain due to an impingement syndrome. The client reported that because her primary disability is anxiety, her VRC and program manager refused to acknowledge her physical limitations or the affect that massage therapy and a gym membership could have on her stress and anxiety levels. DVR refused to even acknowledge the recommendations and justification provided by the physician. The client requested a transfer to another DVR office since she was not happy with the current office. The client was transferred to another office and assigned a new counselor.CAP accompanied the client to the meeting and met her new VRC. During this meeting, the new VRC reviewed the medical documentation and amended client’s IPE to include 8 massages, a gym membership, and 8 sessions with a personal trainer. Because DVR was at the end of their fiscal year, we were informed that authorizations could not go out until after July 1. However, the VRC would send out the authorizations for the client’s tuition and books (which were already in her IPE but had not yet been authorized). We discussed the possibility of an ergonomic assessment. The VRC said she could schedule one if the client felt it would be helpful. We also got DVR to include internet assistance. All issues have been resolved in the client’s favor.

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 OfficialJames Jackson
Title of Designated Agency OfficialExecutive Director
Date Signed12/24/2015