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

Tennessee (Disability Rights Tennessee) - H161A150043 - FY2015

General Information

Designated Agency Identification

NameDisability Rights Tennessee
Address2 International Plaza
Address Line 2Suite 825
Zip Code37217
Website Address
TTY 615-298-1080
Toll-free Phone1-800-342-1660
Toll-free TTY1-800-342-1660

Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)

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

Additional Information

Name of CAP Director/CoordinatorLisa Primm
Person to contact regarding reportAngela Webster
Contact Person Phone615-298-1080

Part I. Non-case Services

A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)

Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. Information regarding the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program58
2. Information regarding independent living programs2
3. Information regarding American Indian VR Service projects1
4. Information regarding Title I of the ADA0
5. Other information provided11
6. Information regarding CAP62
7. Total I&R services provided (Lines A1 through A6)134

B. Training Activities

Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) conducted a total of 11 training events FY2015 on the topics of the CAP program, individual rights under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the history of the disability rights movement. The majority of these trainings were traditional lecture trainings with questions and answers. The purpose of providing training within the community was to enhance understanding of the CAP program and services provided by DRT; inform clients about their rights; assist clients in developing self—advocacy skills; improve understanding about how VR and CAP staff can work together to improve services for clients; and educate the community about the benefits of employing individuals with disabilities. These training events were attended by 898 individuals, including vocational rehabilitation staff and clients, service providers, individuals with disabilities, family members, and advocates from community agencies.

1. Number of training sessions presented to community groups and public agencies.11
2. Number of individuals who attended these training sessions.898
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.

In FY2015, DRT continued its outreach and collaborative initiatives to enhance provision of services to minority communities. In addition to ongoing collaborations described below, DRT conducted 20 outreaches to minority groups, including refugee populations, with a focus on organizations and groups that reached target audiences across the state. DRT continued its participation in two collaborations—Encuentro Latino and Camino Seguro—that specifically focus on connecting the Latino community in Tennessee to available resources and services. Encuentro Latino is a collaboration among service providers to enhance information & referral services for Latinos in Middle Tennessee. Camino Seguro, an online bilingual database for disability services across the state, continues to be an important resource. This past fiscal year the database was redesigned with a focus on increasing usability and accessibility. The database had over 8,200 visits by more than 3,152 unique visitors, of which 30% were new. The Multicultural Alliance on Disability (MAD), a group of community agencies serving people with disabilities and/or refugees and immigrants, continues to be an important collaboration. MAD partners work to address the following barriers affecting the service delivery to people with disabilities from other cultures: language; different cultural beliefs about disability/understanding of the disability system in a new country; eligibility and access to disability services; and transportation.

Steps taken to address these issues include:

· The training module for service providers developed in FY2014 has been received well with 9 trainings completed in FY2015 by MAD partners. Providers receiving training include Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS), Metro Nashville Public School, United Neighborhood Health Services, the Arc Tennessee, and others.

· The training module for families has been delivered in Kurdish and Arabic and covers basic disability rights and resources for families. · MAD partners continue to use and contribute information to the standardized outreach packets with resources and information to streamline education and awareness efforts in the Bhutanese, Egyptian and Somali communities.

· Developed a Fact Sheet on Cultural Competence Practices for service providers. By continuing to collaborate with community organizations within and outside the disability community, DRT continues to work to address the needs of individuals with disabilities from diverse ethnic and racial communities. These relationships also help DRT better connect immigrant/refugee clients to community services and supports when they fall outside our current priorities & objectives.

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.

DRT’s website was visited 24,353 times and reached over 240,000 hits in FY2015. DRT uses the website to share information on how to access CAP services, understanding VR services and self—advocacy strategies to help CAP clients. DRT’s blog is another way that DRT communicates resources and information for CAP clients. Complimenting DRT’s website activities is the use of social media channels to reach constituents. In total, DRT reached 473,462 people through these mediums, which included 668 Facebook posts viewed by 398,754 people, and Twitter posts that reached 41,487 people. In FY2015, DRT continued to distribute its electronic newsletter and other email announcements, totaling 35 e—newsletters and announcements to 33,221 recipients. Topics covered included state policy initiatives, changes in VR services and procedures, opportunities for CAP clients to present feedback on services both to VR and the SRC, as well as resources including: Ticket to Work, assistive technology, social security benefits, and disability etiquette among other topics to help build self—advocacy skills. In addition, announcements included information on how individuals could provide feedback on CAP/P&A priorities for the upcoming fiscal year.

1. Agency Staff Interviewed or Featured on Radio and TV1
2. Articles about CAP Featured in Newspaper/Magazine/Journals10
3. PSAs/Videos Aired about the CAP Agency4
4. Publications/Booklets/Brochures Disseminated by the Agency7578
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.

In FY2015, nine newspaper/journal articles included information about DRT that reached approximately 545,000 people. External sources included key media outlets in Tennessee, among them The Tennessean, News Channel 3, Knoxville Daily Sun, and Cookeville Ledger. Other external sources included community partners and smaller online publications, such as Chalkbeat and the Clearinghouse Review. Information disseminated covered information about DRT services and programs, including special education, CAP services for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) clients, disability discrimination, and voting rights. In addition, the CAP attorney was part of a TV appearance in which she discussed the benefit of assistive technology for people with disabilities.

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)4
2. Additional individuals who were served during the year85
3. Total individuals served (Lines A1+A2)89
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.)24

B. Problem areas

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Individual requests information1
2. Communication problems between individual and VR counselor21
3. Conflict about VR services to be provided51
4. Related to VR application/eligibility process7
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. Related to independent living services1
8. Other Rehabilitation Act-related problems1
9. Non-Rehabilitation Act related
  1. TANF
  3. Housing
  4. Other:
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 Assistance27
2. Investigation/Monitoring6
3. Negotiation27
4. Mediation and other methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution4
5. Administrative / Informal Review1
6. Formal appeal / Fair Hearing1
7. Legal remedy / Litigation0
8. Total66

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 favor39
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 individual4
4. Individual's case lacks legal merit; (inappropriate for CAP intervention)2
5. Individual chose alternative representation0
6. Individual withdrew complaint12
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 CAP3
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.)

Six clients were unresponsive to DRT’s communications or withdrew their complaint.

1. Controlling law/policy explained to individual17
2. Application for services completed0
3. Eligibility determination expedited2
4. Individual participated in evaluation0
5. IPE developed/implemented/Services Provided29
6. Communication re-established between individual and other party7
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 183
2. 19 - 2416
3. 25 - 4033
4. 41 - 6432
5. 65 and over5
6. Total (Sum of Lines A1 through A5. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)89

B. Gender

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Females39
2. Males50
3. Total (Lines B1+B2. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)89

C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race (for individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only)2
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native0
3. Asian0
4. Black or African American30
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White56
7. Two or more races0
8. Race/ethnicity unknown1

D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Acquired Brain Injury2
4. Amputations or Absence of Extremities0
5. Arthritis or Rheumatism0
6. Anxiety Disorder2
7. Autism Spectrum Disorder3
8. Autoimmune or Immune Deficiencies (excluding AIDS/HIV)1
9. Blindness (Both Eyes)6
10. Other Visual Impairments (Not Blind)9
11. Cancer0
12. Cerebral Palsy6
13. Deafness3
14. Hard of Hearing/Hearing Impaired (Not Deaf)3
15. Deaf-Blind1
16. Diabetes1
17. Digestive Disorders1
18. Epilepsy0
19. Heart & Other Circulatory Conditions0
20. Intellectual Disability5
21. Mental Illness19
22. Multiple Sclerosis1
23. Muscular Dystrophy0
24. Muscular/Skeletal Impairment2
25. Neurological Disorders/Impairment5
26. Orthopedic Impairments5
27. Personality Disorders0
28. Respiratory Disorders/Impairment2
29. Skin Conditions0
30. Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)4
31. Speech Impairments1
32. Spina Bifida0
33. Substance Abuse (Alcohol or Drugs)0
34. Other Disability1
35. Total (Sum of Lines D1through D34. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)89

E. Types of Individual Served

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Applicant of VR45
2. Individual eligible for VR services currently on a wait list2
3. Individual eligible for VR services not currently on a wait list37
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 Act5

Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation

A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities

1. DRT Intake staff along with staff from other legally—based agencies across the state of Tennessee met quarterly to discuss issues related to intake, information & referrals, and client services. DRT was successful in building a collaborative relationship with the Administrative Office of the Courts, Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, Southeast Tennessee Legal Services, Justice for our Neighbors, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, and Nashville Metro Government’s Financial Empowerment Center. New agencies are expected to join the collaboration in FY 2016. Together DRT and these other agencies have developed and shared a comprehensive list of legal resources and referrals in Tennessee as well as identified gaps in services both by service type and geographic area. Meetings are scheduled to continue into FY 2016.

2. Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) participated in monthly and quarterly Employment Consortium meetings across the state. The consortium’s primary focus is to increase the number of individuals with disabilities obtaining integrated and competitive work. The consortium’s consist of individuals from Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT), the state’s Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities(DIDD) and Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), Impact Centers, Tennessee Works, Workforce Connections, Independent Living Centers, Goodwill Industries, University of Tennessee Center for Literacy, Education and Employment, Disability Career Centers, Job Vendors and other stakeholders. The Knoxville Area Employment Consortium (KAEC) sponsored a Community Conversation, which was attended by more than 150 individuals from the community designed to identify steps, which could be taken in the community to enhance employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Additional Community Conversations occurred across the state of Tennessee. The employment consortium groups also focused on Project SEARCH. Project Search provides individuals with disabilities with tuition—free job training and educational, developmental and employment opportunities in a hospital setting. DRT will continue to play an instrumental role in the consortiums to ensure continued focus on competitive employment for individuals with disabilities.

3. The Employment First Taskforce in which DRT is a member was established by Executive Order No. 28 (An Order Establishing the Tennessee Employment First Initiative to Expand Community Employment Opportunities for Tennesseans with Disabilities) to identify state barriers to employment for people with disabilities and to develop recommendations (i) to eliminate those barriers, (ii) identify best practices to increase competitive and integrated employment for Tennesseans with Disabilities and (iii) provide training/information to stakeholders to increase their awareness of effective strategies to improve competitive and integrated employment outcomes for Tennesseans with disabilities. This taskforce, which includes state agencies, nonprofit organizations, universities, service providers and Tennesseans with disabilities and their families, met quarterly throughout the year and in September issued a report to the Governor of Tennessee entitled "Expect Employment." Accomplishments achieved during the first year following the signing of the Executive Order include, but are not limited to, the following: (i)Identification of employment barriers to employment of individuals with disabilities through processes such as community conversations and surveys of families of individuals with disabilities. (ii) Development of recommendations to reduce or eliminate those barriers through updating of policies of several state agencies, commencement of revision of Medicaid waivers to support employment as a first option, preparation of a draft memorandum of understanding between 5 state agencies to align goals, priorities and resources for transitioning youth and expansion of a data system to include relevant data from multiple state agencies and their clients. (iii) Identification of best practices and resources to increase integrated and competitive employment opportunities, which included the launch of an Individual Placement and Supports program in four community health centers, revised service agreements between VR to create stronger incentives for vendors to achieve employment outcomes and implementation of Project SEARCH at two new sites. The taskforce has developed seven recommendations for the upcoming second year of its operation, including creation and implementation of a three year strategic workforce development plan, engaging and supporting Tennessee businesses in employing Tennesseans with Disabilities and increasing the knowledge of individuals with disabilities and their families about the benefits of employment as a life goal.

4. In 2013 Vanderbilt Kennedy University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VKC UCEDD) and 28 partner agencies, including Disability Rights Tennessee (collectively, TenneseeWorks Partnership), received a 5 year grant from Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) to engage in activities designed to promote systemic changes that will lead to increased competitive and integrated employment for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In this 3rd year of the grant, Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) staff served taskforces of the TennesseeWorks Partnership. One of the critical accomplishments of the TennesseeWorks Partnership in Year 3 of the grant was to research and provide informational sessions on the requirements for federal contractors to hire persons with disabilities. Another activity of the TennesseeWorks Partnership in which DRT engaged during the year included development of training materials and a presentation on the new Occupational Diploma and the Reasons for hiring persons with disabilities. In year 4 of the grant, this presentation will be presented as a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and training for attorneys of employers and personnel who work in the Human Resources Department of potential employers of persons with disabilities. The accomplishments listed above have positioned the TennesseeWorks Partnership for success in the remaining 2 years of the grant.

5. DRT continued to meet with VR leadership during FY2015 to regularly address service delivery issues identified in the process of providing CAP services. Meetings allowed for dialogue and problem solving to address VR policy/procedures that were adversely affecting CAP client success in achieving employment goals. Quarterly meetings with VR are anticipated to continue in FY2016 with the goal of working together to address needed VR client training regarding client rights and the role of the CAP program.

6. During FY 2015, Disability Rights Tennessee’s (DRT) Client Assistance Program (CAP) was once again represented on the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC). The SRC met quarterly during the year; however, as the Department of Rehabilitation Services’ (DRS) State Plan was not changed during this fiscal year, the SRC did not meet for the usual state plan development meeting or retreat. The SRC continued its participation in the National Council of State Rehabilitation Councils (NCSRC) this year and two members represented the SRC at the annual fall NCSRC conference. A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis was conducted within the SRC membership to assist in the development of the FY2016 SRC Goals and Objectives, which have been submitted to DRS for review and approval. This planning process was largely prompted by the fact that, for the second consecutive year, the SRC functioned without a defined resource plan, despite this being a topic of discussion at every quarterly meeting. During the final two meetings of the year, some progress was made in this area of concern as the Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services and the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Finance were present for at least a portion of each meeting in an effort to better understand the purpose of the SRC. It is hoped that the development of the Goals and Objectives, which tie directly to the proposed resource plan, will assist greatly in resolving this ongoing issue between DRS and the SRC. A major focus of the SRC and DRS throughout the year has been the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the proposed rules for implementation of the Act. SRC members worked in small groups to review and provide comments to the entire SRC in conjunction with the Notice of Proposed Rule—making (NPRM) process. After review by the general group, comments were submitted to the US Departments of Labor and Education for consideration in the development of the final regulations. DRS shared client success stories with the SRC at each quarterly meeting. When possible, the clients came to the SRC meeting to share their stories in person. In addition, DRS provided information regarding new programming being implemented to increase employment opportunities for clients in the VR program. The SRC continued to provide input to improve other employment options within the VR system. The SRC is committed to continuing its collaborative path with DRS to not only improve the VR program for clients of Tennessee but to give them their voice.

7. The 2015 MegaConference was another successful collaborative event of the DD Network Partners (the TN Council on Developmental Disabilities, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center UCEDD, UT Boling Center UCEDD, and DRT) along with The Arc Tennessee. Attendance at this year’s event totaled 672, of which 112 individuals received stipends to cover the cost of attending. DRT once again served as a contributing sponsor of the conference by donating funds toward stipends for the conference and serving as a key member of the steering committee as well as acting as chair of the program committee. Staff distributed information about DRT’s programs and services and disability related information across service areas. The theme for this year’s conference was "It all starts with one", with topics including community and social inclusion, person—centered planning, public policy, education advocacy, post—secondary education options, as well as a specific track on employment options for individuals with disabilities.

8. DRT continued to increase its visibility and reliability as a leading resource on disability issues during the past year through submission of public comments on a number of issues with potential impact for Tennesseans with disabilities. Comments were provided to state and federal departments, including: Tennessee Department of Human Services; Tennessee Department of Education; Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; US Department of Transportation; Tennessee Bureau of TennCare

9. In representing a client in a matter involving the recruiting processes of a Metropolitan Government ("Metro"), Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) identified some issues with those processes under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As a result, a meeting was held with Metro’s Legal and Human Resources executives to discuss those issues as well as the inclusion of people with disabilities in Metro’s recently announced workforce diversity initiative. In that meeting it was agreed that DRT would survey Metro’s on—line application process and provide ADA training to Metro’s recruiters in an effort to identify and address systemic issues in the recruiting processes. DRT subsequently informed Metro about accessibility issues and improper medical inquiries that were identified through this survey and Metro’s Human Resource executive provided assurance that the issues were being addressed. DRT also provided training to Metro’s recruiters on (i) the business case for inclusion of people with disabilities in Metro’s workforce diversity initiative and (ii) the impact of the ADA on its recruiting processes. As a result of DRT’s recommendations regarding Metro’s application processes and training of Metro’s recruiters, Metro is more informed about the importance and benefits of including people with disabilities in its workforce diversity initiative and how to comply with ADA requirements in its recruiting processes.

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.27
2. Describe the systemic activities conducted by CAP during the fiscal year and its impact on other agency's policies or practices.

B. Litigation

A 55—year—old African American gentleman with mental illness contacted Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) regarding a dispute with Tennessee’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR). At the time he contacted DRT, this client had been a participant in VR services for more than ten years but had not obtained sustainable gainful employment. Despite his counselor’s representation that VR would pay for a new course of study for our client and our client’s lack of transferable skills, VR was now attempting to stop all training services and proceed with job placement. Our client had participated in administrative review on his own and sought our assistance with fair hearing. We provided legal representation to this client to negotiate a positive resolution. After filing a Notice of Appearance with the Tennessee Department of Human Services Division of Hearings and Appeals, we obtained and reviewed this client’s full file to prepare for the hearing. Upon review of our client’s file, we discovered that VR had failed to recognize our client’s primary disability, mental illness, despite documentation contained in their own file. In addition, VR had failed to complete an appropriate vocational evaluation for this client. As a result, previous and current IPEs for this client were not appropriately tailored to result in a sustainable employment outcome. In addition, there were documented communication issues with our client’s VR counselor including delays in communication and unclear communication. We negotiated a settlement agreement between this client and VR so that our client can start over with VR services and develop an appropriate IPE. As a result of that settlement agreement, VR has assigned our client a new counselor and completed an appropriate vocational evaluation. In addition, VR has scheduled a mental health evaluation for this client and will incorporate that evaluator’s recommendations into his Employment Needs Assessment and IPE. Going forward, DRT advocacy staff will work with this client and VR to monitor the full implementation of this agreement and ensure that this client is able to work with VR to develop and implement an appropriate IPE. As a result of DRT’s legal representation this long—term VR client is now on track to develop an IPE that meets his disability related and employment needs. In addition, he will now have a meaningful opportunity to move toward sustainable and substantial gainful employment and successfully transition from SSA benefits to the workforce.

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.1
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.1
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 Tennessee
3. Is the designated agency contracting CAP services?No
4. If yes, name of contracting agency:not applicable

B. Staff Employed

Provide a description of all CAP positions (see instructions)

Type of Position FTE/ % of year filled/Person—years Professional 12/100%/12 Full—time 11 100% 11 Part—time 1/100%/1 Vacant 0 Clerical 6/100%/6 Full—time 6/100%/6 Part—time 0 Vacant 0

Part VI. Case Examples

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

1. A 39—year—old Caucasian male who has visual disabilities and cerebral palsy contacted Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) and reported that Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) had failed to provide Assistive Technology (AT) software as agreed and had consistently been late in providing for personal care attendant (PCA) payments. Shortly after he made contact with DRT, VR provided the AT software to our client and he immediately began using it to complete his work tasks. DRT met with our client, his mother and VR staff to discuss his concerns and defined a plan to avoid late PCA payments. As the service request progressed, our client experienced compatibility issues between his AT devices and required additional advocacy assistance to receive an AT evaluation. As a result of the AT evaluation, our client received additional AT software and has been able to use his AT devices without the previous interface issues. As our client experienced concerns regarding staff of the city transit system, DRT provided him with suggestions for addressing these issues with the supervisor of this department. Our client continues to employ these self—advocacy skills in addressing any further issues which have arisen. At the final meeting with VR staff in which DRT participated, it was agreed that VR would refer our client to a community rehabilitation provider to receive job placement services. However, after a delay of a few weeks and no responses to our client’s inquiries, DRT intervened and requested VR to proceed with the referral. Our client has received confirmation of the referral and anticipates that he will begin working with the job placement specialist in the near future. Our client’s VR case was recently transferred to a VR Counselor who is located in our client’s city of residence and it is hoped that this closer proximity will assist in timeliness of case tasks. As a result of DRT intervention, our client receives PCA payments in a timely manner, has access to appropriate AT devices to perform the tasks for his part—time work as a curriculum developer for a campus ministries group and will soon begin working with a new job placement specialist. Our client hopes to pursue employment in pastoral care in a medical facility.

2. A 28—year—old Caucasian male who has a visual disability contacted Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) and initially reported that his Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) refused to provide training services to help him become employed in small engine repair. Our client then reported to the advocacy staff that the VRC had reported agreement with exploring educational training as well as on the job training (OJT). At that time our client indicated that he wanted to follow up with VR rather than pursuing immediate assistance from DRT. A few weeks later he reported he had obtained employment at a small engine repair shop but the employer expected him to obtain further training. He indicated that at that time he wanted DRT assistance because VR was no longer agreeing to provide such training and was not helping with OJT services. DRT contacted the VR Supervisor to discuss the case issues. Around this time the employer requested that our client take a leave from work so he could resolve his issues with VR and obtain the needed training in order to be successfully employed in small engine repair work. DRT provided this information to VR and VR agreed to quickly amend our client’s Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) to provide for educational training in small engine repair. Our client is currently pursuing the training program with the plan to return to work to employment at the small engine repair shop upon completion of training.

3. A 47—year—old African—American female who has an acquired brain injury contacted Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) and reported that Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) had failed to provide reimbursement for her textbooks for the spring semester. She also reported the need for tutoring for one of her courses and wanted assistance to seek this service from VR. DRT attended a meeting with our client and her VR Counselor (VRC) and her IPE was amended to reimburse her for textbooks and to ensure VR would provide for textbooks in future semesters. We also reviewed the process for obtaining tutoring services so our client understands the process she will need to follow to request that service as needed in the future. Due to medical concerns during her spring semester, our client did not achieve the required grades in two courses and her graduate program required her to re—take those courses prior to moving forward with the remaining curriculum. When preparing for the fall semester she learned that those two courses were not offered and the only option provided by the university was to request a leave of absence for the fall semester. DRT provided suggestions for drafting the request and for contacting her VRC to discuss her plans. Her request for a leave of absence was promptly approved by the university and her VRC acknowledged the steps she must take to resume services prior to the next semester. Due to DRT intervention, our client is assured of receiving funds to provide for textbooks and she is prepared for the steps she must take with the university and with VR prior to returning to classes in the next semester to continue her pursuit of a Master’s of Business Administration.

4. The mother of a 23—year—old Caucasian male who has intellectual disabilities contacted Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) and reported that Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) had inappropriately closed her son’s case and the VR Counselor (VRC) had failed to communicate information to them during the VR case. She also indicated that her son had been involved in a non—reported bus accident when traveling with a transportation provider being paid by VR. She noted that, despite her son sustaining injuries in the accident, the transportation provider had not reported the accident to VR or to the client’s family. Our client’s mother had independently investigated this issue prior to contacting DRT but had not discussed her concerns with VR. Upon review of our client’s VR records, it was determined that his VR case was still open. However, the community rehabilitation provider (CRP) which had provided the work adjustment services had closed his case with their agency due to his inappropriate behaviors at the work site. After DRT explained this information to our client’s mother and encouraged further follow—up with the VRC, our client and his mother met with the VRC and planned for new services with a different CRP. Soon thereafter, our client began participating in the work adjustment program with that CRP. DRT contacted the VR Regional Supervisor (VRRS) to discuss the general VR case issues as well as our client’s concerns regarding the transportation provider. She reviewed our client’s VR case and followed ukp with the VRC to discuss appropriate case handling procedures for maintaining communication with a client and, when appropriate, the client’s family. The VRRS also contacted the transportation provider to discuss the concerns of our client and his family in an effort to ensure that future vehicle accidents would be appropriately reported by the transportation agency’s staff.

5. A 31—year—old Caucasian woman with anxiety disorder contacted Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) because Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) was failing to provide maintenance services in the form of housing listed on her Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). Initially, our client confirmed that VR upper management had rendered funds for the service. DRT agreed to monitor her issue with VR for one month to determine if our client experienced further problems. During the monitoring phase, DRT learned there were additional problems and had to address the issue with upper management. DRT recognized that our client’s issue was a problem manifesting itself across the state due to the new authorization and invoice process VR was implementing. Through our advocacy efforts, DRT has brought awareness to upper VR management of the challenges from this process and its negative effects on their clients and have seen VR take steps to stop the delays in service provision. Our client is now able to concentrate on her fast—paced time—consuming training program and pursue obtaining her required degree to become a mortician.

6. Disability Rights TN (DRT) was contacted by a 40—year—old African American female with a metal illness to request assistance with her Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. She reported that VR had inappropriately closed her case and did not provide her with the services recommended on her evaluation reports. Upon review of our client’s VR file, we relayed to her that VR closed her case because she had found employment on her own and that VR could not provide the services recommended in the evaluation reports due to her current income exceeding their financial participation levels. However, VR did agree to review her circumstances to determine if they could help her document accommodations. They were able to provide her with documentation to give to her employer that may help her receive a reasonable accommodation from her employer. DRT educated our client on requesting reasonable accommodations in the work place. As a result of DRT intervention our client has the skills to self—advocate in her workplace that will help her to maintain her employment.

7. A 53—year—old African—American female, who has an auto—immune disorder with subsequent orthopedic limitations, contacted Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) and reported that Vocational Rehabilitation had failed to amend her Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) prior to the current fall semester and they had not paid for her fall tuition or books. VR informed our client that she must pursue employment as she had completed her associate degree, and they would not support her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work, even though that was listed as the intended employment objective on the IPE. DRT also learned that VR had not provided for services which were included on our client’s IPE, including books and transportation for both the spring and summer semesters. Very soon after DRT requested VR records, VR contacted our client to request a meeting to discuss the case. DRT contacted VR prior to the meeting to discuss all concerns as noted from their records and additional email records our client provided. VR agreed that the IPE should be amended to address our client’s employment objective of social worker and to provide for all services as listed on the IPE. DRT met with our client, her VR Counselor (VRC) and the VR field supervisor (VRFS) to review and amend the IPE to provide for tuition, books/supplies and transportation. As fall semester was already at the point of mid—term, DRT followed—up with the VRC, VRFS and VR Acting Director when delays occurred with completion of the current semester authorizations. The authorizations for immediate payment for fall semester tuition and books were quickly authorized and the VRC prepared the remaining authorizations for past services. DRT provided self—advocacy training to help our client prepare for future interactions with VR and to plan for her annual review and IPE amendments. As a result of DRT intervention, our client received all services as provided in her previously signed IPE and in the amended IPE, including reimbursement for prior semester tuition, books and transportation and payment made to the University for the current semester’s tuition and books/supplies. Our client is able to resume her undergraduate studies with the knowledge that VR is supporting her in the pursuit of her employment objective in social work.


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 OfficialLisa Primm
Title of Designated Agency OfficialExecutive Director
Date Signed12/17/2015