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

Minnesota (MINNESOTA DISABILITY LAW CENTER) - H161A160024 - FY2016

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 reportAlex Farrell
Contact Person Phone612-746-3764

Part I. Non-case Services

A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)

Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. Information regarding the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program15
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 provided0
6. Information regarding CAP0
7. Total I&R services provided (Lines A1 through A6)15

B. Training Activities

The Minnesota Disability Law Center’s (MDLC) Client Assistance Project (CAP) staff delivered trainings throughout the state providing hundreds of 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 training to an adoptive parent support group in Nicollet County about MDLC and CAP services and issues faced by children with mental health and developmental disabilities. Staff also made a presentation on MDLC and CAP services to the Minnesota Deaf & Hard of Hearing Advisory Committee. The MA spend down and MA for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) program was the topic of a training to the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance.

Staff delivered a presentation to the Minnesota State Rehabilitation Council on CAP advocacy, service statistics and trends in vocational rehabilitation service delivery. Staff also presented at the Minnesota State Independent Living Council Conference on laws and court decisions impacting independent living, including employment and vocational rehabilitation services.

Staff delivered a continuing legal education training to Minnesota attorneys on Olmstead updates, including initiatives regarding integration of persons with disabilities into community employment. Staff also delivered two community legal education trainings to Minnesota attorneys on, among other things, legal issues faced by transition-aged students titled “Advising the Disadvantaged.”

1. Number of training sessions presented to community groups and public agencies.15
2. Number of individuals who attended these training sessions.664
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 11 outreach events throughout the state, which provided information about CAP services, VR rights and other disability rights. This outreach included a 2-day event sponsored by St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services in northeast Minnesota, a health fair in Northern Minnesota, the Project Homeless Connect resource fair in central Minnesota’s St. Cloud, the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans’ Stand Down event, an ADA at 25 event in St. Paul, a Dakota County disability services event and a Ramsey County Children’s Mental Health event in St. Paul. Staff also provided information about MDLC and CAP services at a booth at the Minnesota State Fair. CAP staff made a media appearance on Northwest Community Television (NWCT), a local television station in the Minneapolis suburbs, when MCLD’s Legal Director was interviewed about MDLC and CAP services to persons with disabilities.

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

Hispanic/Latino Community: CAP staff delivered a presentation to Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio, a nonprofit organization for Latinos in the Twin Cities, regarding access to vocational rehabilitation services, MDLC and CAP services, and issues facing Social Security beneficiaries seeking employment.

Native American Community: CAP staff presented a training about CAP and services for transition-aged youth at the White Earth Reservation in Northeastern Minnesota, hosted by the White Earth Sec. 121 vocational rehabilitation program. In attendance were Native American VR counselors from the reservation VR program, local social services staff and school district staff. Other presenters included Social Security staff, PACER representatives, and state vocational rehabilitation agency staff.

Transition-Aged Students: CAP staff delivered several presentations on transition issues, including a presentation on MDLC and CAP services with focus on special education and transition issues to staff at the Southeast Minnesota Center for Independent Living (SEMCIL), the ARC, and the Minnesota Ombudsman’s office. Staff delivered a webinar training presentation entitled “Hello From the Other Side - Employment Related Options for Young Adults (“Transition Age Youth”) with FASD” sponsored by the Minnesota Organization for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS); this webinar is available on the MOFAS website.

CAP staff delivered a presentation on “3 Main Challenges - Employment and Special Education” to the Booth Law Group. Special education and transition services were the topic of a training to the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health (MACMH). Staff delivered a training to parents and families from the School District 622 Transition group on transition issues, voting rights and guardianship. CAP staff also provided information to students and their families at transition fairs sponsored by the Minneapolis and Duluth public school districts.

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 TV1
2. Articles about CAP Featured in Newspaper/Magazine/Journals0
3. PSAs/Videos Aired about the CAP Agency0
4. Publications/Booklets/Brochures Disseminated by the Agency11
5. Number of Times CAP Exhibited at Conferences, Community Fairs, etc.11
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)26
2. Additional individuals who were served during the year26
3. Total individuals served (Lines A1+A2)52
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.)15
5. Individual still being served as of September 30 (Carryover to next year. This total may not exceed Line A3.)23

B. Problem areas

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Individual requests information5
2. Communication problems between individual and VR counselor8
3. Conflict about VR services to be provided22
4. Related to VR application/eligibility process1
5. Related to assignment to order of selection priority category2
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
5
7. Related to independent living services0
8. Other Rehabilitation Act-related problems4
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 Assistance12
2. Investigation/Monitoring0
3. Negotiation16
4. Mediation and other methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution0
5. Administrative / Informal Review0
6. Formal appeal / Fair Hearing0
7. Legal remedy / Litigation0
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 favor9
2. Some issues resolved in individual's favor (when there are multiple issues)12
3. CAP determines VR agency position/decision was appropriate for the individual3
4. Individual's case lacks legal merit; (inappropriate for CAP intervention)1
5. Individual chose alternative representation0
6. Individual withdrew complaint1
7. Issue not resolved in clients favor0
8. CAP services not needed due to individual's death, relocation, etc.2
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.)

3 - Decision reversed

1. Controlling law/policy explained to individual5
2. Application for services completed0
3. Eligibility determination expedited0
4. Individual participated in evaluation0
5. IPE developed/implemented/Services Provided3
6. Communication re-established between individual and other party14
7. Individual assigned to new counselor/office2
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 185
2. 19 - 240
3. 25 - 408
4. 41 - 6437
5. 65 and over2
6. Total (Sum of Lines A1 through A5. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)52

B. Gender

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Females27
2. Males25
3. Total (Lines B1+B2. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)52

C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race (for individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only)0
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native0
3. Asian0
4. Black or African American6
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White41
7. Two or more races1
8. Race/ethnicity unknown4

D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Acquired Brain Injury2
2. ADD/ADHD0
3. AIDS/HIV0
4. Amputations or Absence of Extremities1
5. Arthritis or Rheumatism0
6. Anxiety Disorder0
7. Autism Spectrum Disorder2
8. Autoimmune or Immune Deficiencies (excluding AIDS/HIV)0
9. Blindness (Both Eyes)5
10. Other Visual Impairments (Not Blind)1
11. Cancer1
12. Cerebral Palsy0
13. Deafness1
14. Hard of Hearing/Hearing Impaired (Not Deaf)2
15. Deaf-Blind0
16. Diabetes0
17. Digestive Disorders0
18. Epilepsy1
19. Heart & Other Circulatory Conditions0
20. Intellectual Disability3
21. Mental Illness17
22. Multiple Sclerosis0
23. Muscular Dystrophy0
24. Muscular/Skeletal Impairment0
25. Neurological Disorders/Impairment2
26. Orthopedic Impairments6
27. Personality Disorders0
28. Respiratory Disorders/Impairment0
29. Skin Conditions0
30. Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)0
31. Speech Impairments0
32. Spina Bifida0
33. Substance Abuse (Alcohol or Drugs)0
34. Other Disability8
35. Total (Sum of Lines D1through D34. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)52

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 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 Act0

Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation

A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities

CAP staff advocated to VRS policy development officials that resources be prioritized and preserved to ensure VR staff work effectively with SSA officials in transmitting information on timely progress made by consumers who are also Social Security beneficiaries towards their employment goals. Receipt of this information preserves protection of these consumers from Social Security continuing disability reviews, a key component to effectiveness of Social Security work incentive programs and the Ticket to Work, as well as a lessening of barriers to employment. This priority emphasis was consequently incorporated into VRS policies.

As the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) continues to be implemented across the state, both state VR agencies in Minnesota have both put additional restrictions in their respective Orders of Selection, and more categories of service are being closed. Additionally, VR and SSB must now channel more efforts and funding to their school-to-work transition services areas. CAP staff met with VR and SSB agency leadership to discuss the WOIA changes, especially with regard to subminimum wage issues. The focus of CAP’s advocacy was to ensure individuals with disabilities get the information and counseling they need and are entitled to, under the law, to make informed choices about whether to pursue integrated, competitive employment in the community, and the appropriate role for guardians to play in this process. This advice has been incorporated into VRS’ policies and procedures, and CAP is continuing to monitor the processes as they are rolled out and to follow up as necessary. In addition, CAP and MDLC staff are planning a training session on WIOA requirements for VR/SSB and school districts for FFY 2017.

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.2
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 which successfully resolved cases before having to resort to formal administrative or legal remedies.

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 .8 FTE 100% of year filled .8 Person years

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

Part VI. Case Examples

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

An African-American woman who was a recent leg amputee sought CAP advocacy after moving from Wisconsin to Minnesota. The woman had worked for many years running her own home health care business but was no longer able to do that because of her disabilities. She wanted to pursue an alternate career as a freight broker but had little success with Minnesota VRS in developing a written Employment Plan for the training and other VR services she would need. Her VR counselor, who was white, did not believe she could be successful in that sort of endeavor. CAP staff investigated the case and recommend mediation to work through the issues. At mediation, where the woman was represented by CAP staff, VRS agreed to reassign the woman’s case to a different VR counselor, someone she had worked with successfully before. VRS and the woman were also able to agree on an Employment Plan to assess her abilities in pursuing the freight broker job goal and, if appropriate, to pursue the training she needed in an accredited educational program. After the mediation, CAP staff followed up with the woman and VRS to ensure the assessment process was moving along and that the woman was comfortable with the assessment activities recommended by VRS.

A blind woman sought CAP advocacy after spending two years trying to develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) without much success. She had undergone neurological assessment but about a year had gone by when her VR counselor was switched and nothing seemed to be moving forward. Her goal was to return to college to finish her bachelor’s degree so that she could get a social work job but she needed computer and braille training to be successful there, services SSB was reluctant to provide. After investigating her case, CAP staff represented the woman in a meeting with her VR counselor, the SSB supervisor and the SSB workforce development director. As a result, SSB agreed to support the woman’s job goal of working part-time in social services and returning to college. SSB also agreed to refer client for assistive technology assessments and to refer her to a different vendor for computer and braille training. Since then, the parties have moved forward to reassign the case to a different VR counselor, develop the written IPE, start the computer training and prepare for the return to college and a part-time job.

A man receiving VRS services was trying to start a small business but due to his wife’s income as a teacher could not get funding for any services under VRS’ consumer financial participation rules. The business involved developing tools to integrate computer hardware and software solutions from various vendors into an easy-to-use framework or platform for telehealth and e-health. CAP staff investigated his case and advocated on his behalf with VRS agency officials involved. CAP then set up a meeting with the VR counselor, the VRS office manager and VRS’ small business specialist to discuss what small business services could be provided within the scope of VRS funding and consumer financial participation policies. At the meeting, the man was able to talk about where he was in his small business development process and his need for technical assistance to put together financial forecasting information to include in his written business plan. VRS consequently agreed to provide 20 more hours of small business development consulting services to the man, for which consumer financial participation rules did not apply.

A woman with mental illness had been assigned to a different VR counselor and felt it was not a good fit, to the point where she was reluctant to share things and even experienced exacerbated mental health symptoms after interacting with the counselor. The woman was attending college and studying chemistry. She had requested reassignment to a different counselor but that request was denied. She contacted CAP, which investigated her case and learned that the woman had worked with a total of 8 counselors from two different VRS office locations, some by her request and others due to changing staff circumstances. CAP arranged a meeting with the office manager and the client and advocated on the client’s behalf for assignment to a different counselor who would relate to the woman better. At the meeting, the woman was also able to tell the VRS manager of a recent academic award she had received, the fact that she was very close to graduation and her concerns and anxieties about transitioning afterwards to a job search and employment. The parties were able to discuss what sorts of attributes were important in a VR counselor for the woman and it was agreed that the woman would meet with two potential counselors and make a decision, which would then be honored by VRS. This process resulted in a reassignment to a new VR counselor and the woman was consequently able to move forward with vocational rehabilitation.

An African-American man with physical disabilities had worked in cyber-security but lost his job. He sought VR services but was put on the waiting list because the VR counselor who determined his eligibility and order of selection priority status did not believe he was seriously disabled enough to be highest priority for services, finding him substantially limited in only one area, work tolerance. The man contacted CAP for help and after some investigation CAP staff worked with the man to gather additional evidence of the seriousness of his disabilities and how they substantially limited his functioning in two additional areas, mobility and work skills. With respect to mobility, the man had undergone additional medical evaluation which certified him eligible for disability parking and prescribed home-based work. Regarding work skills, the man had communications from prospective employers regarding his need for training in his field to become competitive for available jobs. All this information was submitted to VRS and as a result VRS changed its priority status determination to that of the highest priority for services, took him off the waiting list and started the assessment and Employment Plan development process.

A woman with mental illness living in rural Minnesota was experiencing difficulties communicating effectively with her VR counselor. She called CAP for help, and CAP staff interceded on her behalf with VRS to request reassignment to a different VR counselor. CAP staff then continued to advocate on the woman’s behalf at a series of meetings to plan VR services; VRS ultimately provided funding for a work trial along with interview clothing and transportation. The work trial itself went well until the woman was injured on the job, for which she needed physical therapy. The woman is currently looking for part-time work and is volunteering weekly so that the progress she made in her vocational rehabilitation process is not lost.

A high school youth with autism in outstate Minnesota contacted CAP with his mother who is also his guardian. He had a part-time job, working in concession services at the local ice skating arena, with one on one supported employment services funded by VRS. VRS had notified the family that the supported employment services funding would be discontinued because of the school’s responsibility to pay for such services. The school program maintained that such funding was not their responsibility, because the job he had was during evenings and weekends, outside of school hours. CAP staff investigated the situation and advocated on the boy’s behalf that funding should not be terminated and that VRS should continue to pay until other funding resources could be put in place. The parties then agreed that VRS would continue funding for supported employment funding outside of school hours and that the school program would pay for work experiences during the school day. With this arrangement, the boy was able to keep his job at the ice rink, especially important for Sundays when he did not have other activities. The plan now is for the boy to continue vocational training at the post-secondary level, along with employment with supported employment services funded by county waivered services.

A 26-year-old man with profound hearing loss contacted CAP because he was not getting the VR services he needed despite having worked with VRS since graduating from high school. He had a paralegal certificate from a local college but had not been able to find work. CAP staff investigated his case and was able to identify significant communication barriers with VRS and with prospective employers. VRS did not always provide interpreter services and when they did, sometimes the interpreter was not certified. CAP staff arranged a meeting with a certified interpreter, identifying many communication barriers of which VRS was not aware. The parties agreed that VRS would provide job placement services and appropriate interpreter services. When the man was offered a temporary job, VRS offered interpreter services for his training at the job site and disability awareness education for co-workers and staff at the new job. CAP then advised the man to communicate with VRS in writing, if at all possible going forward, and provided him with information about the sorts of services that could be available to him from VRS and other resources available to him in the community. CAP also successfully advocated that VRS provide funding for an assistive technology assessment, to be done by someone with expertise in communication barriers faced by persons with profound hearing loss.

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 Signed12/16/2016