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

New Jersey (Disability Rights New Jersey) - H161A160031 - FY2016

General Information

Designated Agency Identification

NameDisability Rights New Jersey
Address210 S Broad Street
Address Line 2FL 3
CityTrenton
StateNew Jersey
Zip Code08608
E-mail Addressadvocate@drnj.org
Website Addresshttp://www.drnj.org
Phone609-292-9742
TTY 609-633-7106
Toll-free Phone800-922-7233
Toll-free TTY
Fax609-777-0187

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/CoordinatorLillie Lowe-Reid
Person to contact regarding reportLillie Lowe-Reid
Contact Person Phone609-292-9742

Part I. Non-case Services

A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)

Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. Information regarding the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program13
2. Information regarding independent living programs2
3. Information regarding American Indian VR Service projects0
4. Information regarding Title I of the ADA0
5. Other information provided0
6. Information regarding CAP2
7. Total I&R services provided (Lines A1 through A6)17

B. Training Activities

CAP provided a workshop on the parameters of the VR system, how to access those services, as well as those of CAP and DRNJ, at the Deaf Community Fair in Haddonfield sponsored by South Jersey Deaf and Hard of Hearing Coalition, the purpose of which was to educate 60 consumers, 10 family members, and 10 professionals.

CAP participated in a panel discussion regarding transition services and the responsibilities of the VR and educational systems in providing these services at a conference sponsored by SPAN (Statewide Parent Advocacy Network, Military Support 360, and the Department of Education to educate 50 consumers, 70 family members, and 30 professionals.

CAP provided a lecture on vocational rehabilitation to 10 students at Seton Hall University.

1. Number of training sessions presented to community groups and public agencies.3
2. Number of individuals who attended these training sessions.240
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.

CAP staff conducted outreach at the Crossing Penrose Housing development in Trenton to Latino families regarding Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), student rights, and transition. Individuals were given information regarding special education, insurance issues, and going back to work through VR.

Cap staff participated in the New Jersey Statewide Network on Cultural Competency meeting. The discussion was around bringing more organizations and community-based cultural and ethnic groups into the network in order to provide access to training and resources to unserved and underserved populations.

CAP staff gave a presentation to Latino families at the Family Support Organization in Edison on all DRNJ services with a focus on special education, vocational rehabilitation and return to work services, the

obtaining services from the Division of Developmental Disabilities and the Department of Children and Families’ Division of the Children’s System of Care. Approximately 14 participants attended.

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 TV0
2. Articles about CAP Featured in Newspaper/Magazine/Journals0
3. PSAs/Videos Aired about the CAP Agency0
4. Publications/Booklets/Brochures Disseminated by the Agency2565
5. Number of Times CAP Exhibited at Conferences, Community Fairs, etc.22
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.

Title: Cross-examination: Raising awareness about disability rights

Publication: New Jersey Law Journal Reached: 2500

Ruth Lowenkron is a senior staff attorney at Disability Rights New Jersey and specializes in special education law. She has been active in the field of disability rights since 1981 and is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Unmet Legal Needs, which is examining ways to connect people who need legal representation with attorneys. She spoke recently about the Pledge for Change, which the NJSBA endorsed.

Q: What is the Pledge for Change?

A: The Pledge for Change is a tool created by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights to promote diversity and inclusion of persons with disabilities in the legal profession. It is a short but powerful statement that its signatories are committed to creating a legal profession that is diverse in terms of representation of persons with mental, physical and sensory disabilities, and are committed to ensuring that the signatories’ own workplaces are similarly diverse.

Q: Why is it important to include language about disabilities in the discussion about diversity?

A: As the pledge itself says, including persons with disabilities in the discussion of diversity of the legal profession is critical because "the legal and business interests of our clients and the populations we serve require legal representation that reflects the diversity of our employees, customers and the communities where we operate." The people who are clients and belong to our communities include a large percentage of persons with disabilities.

Q: Why is it important for New Jersey and what do you hope it will achieve in the New Jersey legal community?

A: What’s good for the rest of the country is good for New Jersey. Fifteen percent of the people who live in our state are persons with disabilities. The ABA has recognized the importance of including employees with disabilities in the legal profession, as have numerous legal professionals in New Jersey, including the New Jersey State Bar Association, the Essex County Bar Association, Disability Rights New Jersey, and Wong Flemming, to name but a few who have already signed the pledge. With its three law schools and thousands of legal employers, the legal profession in New Jersey is well positioned to embrace this issue. I hope we can spread the word about this effort.

Q: How is it catching on?

A: While I am proud of the number of legal professionals who have signed the pledge; we want to see all of New Jersey’s legal professionals sign on.

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)48
2. Additional individuals who were served during the year53
3. Total individuals served (Lines A1+A2)101
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.)4
5. Individual still being served as of September 30 (Carryover to next year. This total may not exceed Line A3.)61

B. Problem areas

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Individual requests information0
2. Communication problems between individual and VR counselor3
3. Conflict about VR services to be provided14
4. Related to VR application/eligibility process21
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
67
7. Related to independent living services0
8. Other Rehabilitation Act-related problems0
9. Non-Rehabilitation Act related
  1. TANF
  2. SSI/SSDI
  3. Housing
  4. Other:
0
10. Related to Title I of the ADA0

C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases

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

1. Short Term Technical Assistance3
2. Investigation/Monitoring21
3. Negotiation14
4. Mediation and other methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution4
5. Administrative / Informal Review2
6. Formal appeal / Fair Hearing0
7. Legal remedy / Litigation0
8. Total44

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 favor20
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 individual3
4. Individual's case lacks legal merit; (inappropriate for CAP intervention)2
5. Individual chose alternative representation0
6. Individual withdrew complaint14
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 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.)

4 - Individual withdrew

1. Controlling law/policy explained to individual5
2. Application for services completed1
3. Eligibility determination expedited1
4. Individual participated in evaluation2
5. IPE developed/implemented/Services Provided19
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 180
2. 19 - 2412
3. 25 - 4034
4. 41 - 6454
5. 65 and over1
6. Total (Sum of Lines A1 through A5. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)101

B. Gender

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Females46
2. Males55
3. Total (Lines B1+B2. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)101

C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race (for individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only)12
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native0
3. Asian4
4. Black or African American20
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White63
7. Two or more races1
8. Race/ethnicity unknown1

D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Acquired Brain Injury0
2. ADD/ADHD3
3. AIDS/HIV0
4. Amputations or Absence of Extremities2
5. Arthritis or Rheumatism0
6. Anxiety Disorder5
7. Autism Spectrum Disorder9
8. Autoimmune or Immune Deficiencies (excluding AIDS/HIV)0
9. Blindness (Both Eyes)5
10. Other Visual Impairments (Not Blind)4
11. Cancer0
12. Cerebral Palsy2
13. Deafness8
14. Hard of Hearing/Hearing Impaired (Not Deaf)3
15. Deaf-Blind0
16. Diabetes1
17. Digestive Disorders0
18. Epilepsy0
19. Heart & Other Circulatory Conditions3
20. Intellectual Disability2
21. Mental Illness22
22. Multiple Sclerosis0
23. Muscular Dystrophy0
24. Muscular/Skeletal Impairment0
25. Neurological Disorders/Impairment6
26. Orthopedic Impairments11
27. Personality Disorders0
28. Respiratory Disorders/Impairment1
29. Skin Conditions0
30. Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)8
31. Speech Impairments0
32. Spina Bifida2
33. Substance Abuse (Alcohol or Drugs)0
34. Other Disability4
35. Total (Sum of Lines D1through D34. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)101

E. Types of Individual Served

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Applicant of VR25
2. Individual eligible for VR services currently on a wait list0
3. Individual eligible for VR services not currently on a wait list76
4. Applicant or individual eligible for Independent Living1
5. Transition student/High school student1
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

DRNJ challenged the policies and practices of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) relative to the financial participation of SSA recipients, financial caps on higher education and training that are so low as to be a barrier to clients in achieving their employment goals. DRNJ also challenged inconsistencies in DVRS’s policy manual relative to state and federal regulations. DRNJ met with DVRS administrative staff and called on RSA to intervene, resulting in a commitment from DVRS to modify their caps, review the financial participation of SSA recipients, and edit the DRVS policy manual in keeping with the regulations. DVRS is to provide the SRC and CAP with the revised policy manual for review prior to implementation.

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.3
2. Describe the systemic activities conducted by CAP during the fiscal year and its impact on other agency's policies or practices.

B. Litigation

Disability Rights New Jersey’s Client Assistance Program (CAP) intervened on behalf of a 29-year-old female who is deaf. The client, who receives SSDI, contacted CAP when the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) denied sponsorship for cosmetology training. The client was informed by DVRS that unless she attended a vocational assessment at Goodwill Industries, a non-integrated facility, DVRS would not consider a training sponsorship. The client, who has an associate’s degree and who worked as a hair salon assistant for over a year prior to requesting DVRS sponsorship, was very clear about the vocational direction she wanted to pursue. Because DVRS denied services, and prior to contacting CAP, the client enrolled in cosmetology training and had to take out nearly $12,000 in student loans. CAP contacted DVRS and was informed that because the client would not attend an evaluation at Goodwill Industries, she was not complying with DVRS’s need to evaluate her. CAP provided DVRS with a reference letter from the client’s employer supporting her potential as a hairstylist as well as the Rehabilitation Services Administration’s policy regarding the implementation of informed choice. DVRS agreed to develop an Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) for cosmetology, but only agreed to provide funding up to their cap of $4,000. Despite federal and DVRS’s financial participation rules for Social Security recipients, DVRS continued to deny additional funding above their $4,000 training cap. DRNJ CAP filed for a Fair Hearing with DVRS at which time DVRS requested a settlement conference and agreed to reimburse the cost of the student loans for the cosmetology training, the accrued interest on the clients’ student loans, and transportation expenses. The client has since graduated from the cosmetology program and is in the process of obtaining her professional license.

DRNJ CAP is advocating on behalf of a nineteen-year-old who is deaf, seeking to become a English language and literature professor. The client receives SSI in the amount of $500 monthly and Medicaid. The client attends Gallaudet University, a school for students who are deaf. DVRS is providing minimal support to the student, causing him to take out student loans in order to attend. DRNJ CAP filed a due process Fair Hearing complaint with DVRS and is awaiting its transmittal to the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law.

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.2
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 agencyDisability Rights New Jersey
3. Is the designated agency contracting CAP services?No
4. If yes, name of contracting agency:None

B. Staff Employed

Provide a description of all CAP positions (see instructions)

(A) Type of Position; (B) Full-Time equivalent; (C) % of year position filled; (D) Person-years

(A) Coordinator; (B) 70%; (C) 100%; (D) 0.70 (A) Professional; (B) 50%; (C) 100%; (D) 0.50 (A) Professional; (B) 50%; (C) 100%; (D) 0.50 (A) Professional; (B) 50%; (C) 100%; (D) 0.50 (A) Clerical; (B) 220 (C) 100% (D) 2.20

Part VI. Case Examples

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

CAP intervened on behalf of a 20-year-old diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, chronic migraines, and scoliosis. The client, who is attending college in Pennsylvania, contacted CAP when DVRS informed her they would not fund a summer semester tuition bill. The client reported registering for a summer semester class after receiving approval to do so from her Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services’ (DVRS) counselor and supervisor. The Counselor informed the client that he had submitted an exception/waiver request to DVRS Central Office on her behalf based on the prerequisite nature of the summer class. The client and her college also submitted written justification to DVRS indicating why the client should complete the summer semester class. The client was in the middle of the course when she was informed that DVRS Central Office had denied the exception/waiver request and she must independently fund the tuition bill. CAP reviewed documentation, which indicated without completing the summer class the client’s program of study for the fall semester would be negatively affected and her graduation would be delayed. CAP provided the DVRS Central Office with a detailed summary and requested DVRS fund the tuition bill. DVRS agreed and funded the summer course.

CAP intervened on behalf of a 61-year-old diagnosed with mild cognitive and visual impairment resulting from brain surgery. The client, formerly a teacher with 25 years of teaching experience, contacted CAP when the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) informed him they could not assist him. CAP attended a DVRS meeting with the client and advocated for the provision of appropriate vocational rehabilitation services. The client agreed to attend a 25-day program recommended by DVRS to evaluate his ability to work competitively. CAP reviewed the report from this assessment, which recommended that the client remain in the program an additional 60 days. The client expressed dissatisfaction with this recommendation, citing poorly defined provider program goals unrelated to his vocational goal. Based on the client’s concerns, CAP advocated for alternative services. An agreement was reached for the client to attend a short-term cognitive rehabilitation program to address residual memory and organizational deficits. The client completed the program and shortly afterwards secured part-time employment as a tutor in the school district where he was previously employed.

CAP intervened on behalf of a 31-year-old with central auditory processing disorder. The client had worked full time for the past eight years at Home Depot, but was seeking sponsorship from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services for training to become a medical assistant to secure a better paying job. He was subsequently let go from Home Depot and contacted DVRS. He was provided vocational assessments, which substantiated the client’s request for medical assistant training. DVRS agreed to fund his training. He is now enrolled, and DVRS is assisting him in a job search for a part-time job.

CAP intervened on behalf of a 46-year-old with quadriplegia who lives with his family. The client has a law degree. He reported that his classmates at college set up a Go Fund Me account and collected $66,000 toward a van for him. He then applied to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services for modifications funding for the van. He obtained three bids as required and submitted all the required paperwork. The client ordered the van and placed a $5,000 deposit on the order. He contacted CAP for assistance when DVRS delayed the decision to provide services. On CAP’s intervention, DVRS granted the funding for van modifications.

CAP intervened on behalf of a 55-year-old with learning disabilities and neurological disorders. Following a medical leave of absence from college, the client was advised by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) that they had misplaced her Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). The client stated that this IPE documented an agreement by DVRS to provide full financial sponsorship so she could obtain her bachelor’s degree and become a teacher. The client, who had exhausted federal student aid entitlement, was working as an assistant teacher while attending college part-time, and her earnings were insufficient to cover the balance of tuition costs after DVRS capped funding. CAP met with DVRS staff and reviewed the case notes extending back to when the IPE had been developed. The documentation supported the client’s account, and CAP requested that DVRS develop a new IPE and provide funding at the previously agreed upon levels. DVRS initially denied this request, but agreed when confronted with evidence supporting the client’s position. DVRS developed a new IPE in line with this agreement. CAP provided self-advocacy training to the client regarding the receipt of DVR services.

CAP intervened on behalf of a 61-year-old diagnosed with anxiety and depression. The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services was initially unwilling to re-open the client’s case as she was already employed. The client was requesting assistance, however, because she was in a low paying and stressful job. CAP attended a meeting and successfully advocated that DVRS re-open the case and provide intensive supported employment services to enable the client to try and secure better paid employment. The client was ultimately successful in securing part-time employment as an administrative assistant, and DVRS agreed to provide long-term follow along supported employment services.

CAP intervened on behalf of a 39-year-old diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. The client requested CAP assistance to resolve concerns with service delays and a poor working relationship with her Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) counselor. CAP attended a DVRS meeting with the client and advocated for services in line with the client’s interests and abilities. Following a DVRS sponsored vocational evaluation for individuals with brain injury, DVRS recommended security guard training based on the employment opportunities in this field. The client accepted this recommendation and attended and graduated from training and obtained her Security Officer Registration Act license.

The following case is an illustration of Employment First activities. DRNJ assisted a 22-year-old residing in Somerset County, diagnosed with pervasive developmental delays. He demonstrated proficiency with computers and numbers as a statistician for his high school basketball team. The client was working part time at a retail shipping company, where he helped customers, made trips to the bank for deposits, sorted boxes, and other miscellaneous tasks. Due to reduction in business, the client’s schedule was reduced from three days to one day per week. The client contacted the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) for assistance with finding another part time job. He agreed to a 25-day competitive work evaluation at the Center for Educational Advancement. The client expressed dissatisfaction with the evaluation and recommendation, citing that the report did not highlight his social skills, but rather focused on his limited ability to perform tasks requiring fine motor skills, an area of weakness for the client. CAP reviewed the report from the assessment, which recommended that the client remain at his present job, but also apply for services through the Division of Development Disability services. Because this assessment was not in line with the client’s goal to seek an additional part-time job, CAP advocated for alternative services, and DVRS responded by offering Trial Work Experience, an assessment program with substantial job coaching for individuals with significant disabilities. The client declined, and, because he lives closer to Morris County, requested that his case be transferred to the Morris County DVRS, where he is now successfully working with his new counselor toward his original goal of competitive employment.

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 OfficialJoseph B Young
Title of Designated Agency OfficialExecutive Director
Date Signed12/18/2016