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

New Mexico (Disability Rights New Mexico) - H161A160032 - FY2016

General Information

Designated Agency Identification

NameDisability Rights New Mexico
Address3916 Juan Tabo NE
Address Line 2
StateNew Mexico
Zip Code87111
Website Address
TTY 505-256-3100
Toll-free Phone800-432-4682
Toll-free TTY800-432-4682

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/CoordinatorBernadine Chavez
Person to contact regarding reportBernadine Chavez
Contact Person Phone505-256-3100

Part I. Non-case Services

A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)

Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. Information regarding the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program29
2. Information regarding independent living programs2
3. Information regarding American Indian VR Service projects3
4. Information regarding Title I of the ADA4
5. Other information provided4
6. Information regarding CAP22
7. Total I&R services provided (Lines A1 through A6)64

B. Training Activities

CAP staff provided two trainings to 18 new staff persons working for the New Mexico Division (NMDVR) at the Rehabilitation Academy. The training topics included the CAP and other programs at Disability Rights New Mexico. The other topic covered was Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This training helps to familiarize new VR staff with the requirements of notifying participants about CAP and helps to promote a working relationship in solving issues for participants. CAP staff also provided training to new IHOs who had been on contract with NMDVR and had not yet received training. Both the CAP attorney and CAP staff presented to the contract IHOs.We also attended the two-day training event and were able to interject CAPs position on some issues. We also provided training on VR, CAP, employment and ADA to a support group for individuals with brain injuries. Many had participated in VR services and were thinking of returning for services. Many of the participants in this group had lost employment due to their TBI. Every participant was on SSA benefits. Staff provided training on rights and VR services to participants of the ARC Summit on Social Equality. The training focused on "informed choice”, self—determination and self—advocacy and the right to have competitive, integrated employment. DRNM provided training to the Department of Workforce Solutions (Labor) staff on the Rehabilitation Act, VR services, “Disability Awareness”, and also training on ADA and Title I. There were 15 participants at each session for a total of 30 participants. In summary, CAP staff at DRNM conducted a total of 10 trainings with a total of 250 participants. DRNM/CAP also participated in 15 informational fairs in which we distributed CAP brochures and provided information to participants. Of the 15 fairs, five were targeted outreach to minorities and underserved populations.

1. Number of training sessions presented to community groups and public agencies.10
2. Number of individuals who attended these training sessions.250
3. Describe training presented by the staff. Include the following information:
  1. topics covered
  2. purpose of the training
  3. description of the attendees

C. Agency Outreach

Describe the agency's outreach efforts to previously un-served or underserved individuals including minority communities.

The majority of New Mexicans are unserved/underserved. We provided training in southern New Mexico to monolingual Spanish speaking VR participants. CAP conducted considerable outreach to persons in rural areas and on Native American pueblos. As shown above, many of the trainings and outreach activities conducted by DRNM were focused on minority communities and areas. CAP staff at DRNM conducted a total of 10 trainings with a total of 280 participants. DRNM/CAP also participated in 15 informational fairs in which we distributed CAP brochures in English and Spanish as well as provided information to participants in both languages. Of the 15 fairs, 6 were targeted outreach to minorities and underserved populations outside the state’s major urban areas. DRNM provided training to Native American families at the EPICS (Educating Parents of Indian Children) conference in Albuquerque. The topics covered were the VR services through the state VR programs as well as the Native American 121 programs, and transition services under the Section 121 programs and state vocational programs including DVR and the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. We also talked about transition services under WIOA. There were 50 participants in the session. CAP staff provided training to the staff and faculty of Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute at their annual Colloquium. There were 80 staff and faculty at this event. The topics covered were vocational rehabilitation and higher education, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and WIOA. Staff provided training on CAP and employment rights to clients of the quarterly job club at the Belen office of NMDVR (in central New Mexico); the club is sponsored by Desert Bloom Rehabilitation. There are 8 to 10 participants each quarter. This is rural area with very limited resources and a lack of accessible transportation.

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 Agency525
5. Number of Times CAP Exhibited at Conferences, Community Fairs, etc.15
6. Other (specify below)

E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage

Describe the various sources and information disseminated about your agency by an external source.


Part II. Individual Case Services

A. Individuals served

An individual is counted only once during a fiscal year. Multiple counts are not permitted for Lines A1-A3.

1. Individuals who are still being served as of October 1 (carryover from prior year)5
2. Additional individuals who were served during the year25
3. Total individuals served (Lines A1+A2)30
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.)3
5. Individual still being served as of September 30 (Carryover to next year. This total may not exceed Line A3.)7

B. Problem areas

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Individual requests information0
2. Communication problems between individual and VR counselor7
3. Conflict about VR services to be provided15
4. Related to VR application/eligibility process2
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 services0
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 Assistance3
2. Investigation/Monitoring0
3. Negotiation16
4. Mediation and other methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution0
5. Administrative / Informal Review5
6. Formal appeal / Fair Hearing1
7. Legal remedy / Litigation1
8. Total26

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 favor15
2. Some issues resolved in individual's favor (when there are multiple issues)1
3. CAP determines VR agency position/decision was appropriate for the individual0
4. Individual's case lacks legal merit; (inappropriate for CAP intervention)2
5. Individual chose alternative representation0
6. Individual withdrew complaint4
7. Issue not resolved in clients favor2
8. CAP services not needed due to individual's death, relocation, etc.0
9. Individual not responsive/cooperative with CAP2
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.)

1. Client was not permitted to reapply with DVR until 10/1/2016. 2. Client withdrew

1. Controlling law/policy explained to individual2
2. Application for services completed3
3. Eligibility determination expedited1
4. Individual participated in evaluation1
5. IPE developed/implemented/Services Provided8
6. Communication re-established between individual and other party3
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 - 242
3. 25 - 405
4. 41 - 6422
5. 65 and over1
6. Total (Sum of Lines A1 through A5. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)30

B. Gender

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Females10
2. Males20
3. Total (Lines B1+B2. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)30

C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race (for individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only)6
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native4
3. Asian0
4. Black or African American3
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White17
7. Two or more races0
8. Race/ethnicity unknown0

D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Acquired Brain Injury5
4. Amputations or Absence of Extremities0
5. Arthritis or Rheumatism0
6. Anxiety Disorder0
7. Autism Spectrum Disorder1
8. Autoimmune or Immune Deficiencies (excluding AIDS/HIV)0
9. Blindness (Both Eyes)2
10. Other Visual Impairments (Not Blind)1
11. Cancer0
12. Cerebral Palsy0
13. Deafness2
14. Hard of Hearing/Hearing Impaired (Not Deaf)0
15. Deaf-Blind1
16. Diabetes0
17. Digestive Disorders0
18. Epilepsy0
19. Heart & Other Circulatory Conditions0
20. Intellectual Disability1
21. Mental Illness11
22. Multiple Sclerosis0
23. Muscular Dystrophy1
24. Muscular/Skeletal Impairment0
25. Neurological Disorders/Impairment1
26. Orthopedic Impairments2
27. Personality Disorders0
28. Respiratory Disorders/Impairment0
29. Skin Conditions0
30. Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)1
31. Speech Impairments0
32. Spina Bifida0
33. Substance Abuse (Alcohol or Drugs)0
34. Other Disability0
35. Total (Sum of Lines D1through D34. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)30

E. Types of Individual Served

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Applicant of VR24
2. Individual eligible for VR services currently on a wait list0
3. Individual eligible for VR services not currently on a wait list4
4. Applicant or individual eligible for Independent Living0
5. Transition student/High school student1
6. All other applicants or individuals eligible for other programs or projects funded unther Rehabilitation Act1

Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation

A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities

NM CAP staff meets with NMDVR Management Staff (Field Operations Directors) and the acting Director on a quarterly basis to discuss areas of service in which CAP and NM DVR can work together to improve services for NM participants. NMDVR has recently hired an agency director, having had an Acting Director for the past 12 years. When the last Acting Director retired, CAP staff continued to meet with the interim Acting Director. This individual was (and continued to be) the Deputy Secretary of the Public Education Department (PED), which administers DVR. This individual served for many months as the temporary interim Director until a permanent Director was finally hired in July 2016. CAP staff also continued to meet with the Field Operations Directors (FOD) who oversee the Area Managers. The focus of discussion of the FOD meetings included the following issues: • Presumptive eligibility continues to be an issue for beneficiaries. There is still a lack of communication and explanation to SSA Beneficiaries about presumptive eligibility. CAP staff has been working with the Ticket to Work Team and the Benefits Advisors who provide that service through NMDVR to help counselors provide better and more accurate information to SSA beneficiaries. CAP has been working on this issue for the past three years and we have seen some improvement. • This past year we had difficulty and delays in receiving participant records after they have been requested by CAP staff. NM CAP and NMDVR had agreed to address these issues. We mutually agreed on three working days as a reasonable amount of time for providing records to CAP. The Acting Director sent out a directive requiring NMDVR offices to send records to CAP within three business days. This process is working very efficiently. Most of the time CAP receives records within one or two days of our request. • Issue with participants who are assigned to caseloads with no counselor. As counselors have left NMDVR there has been a substantial delay in getting either a temporary counselor or a permanent counselor. We had participants who have waited several months before hearing from anyone regarding their services. In most cases the participants either called CAP or called NMDVR directly to find out who would be providing services. NMDVR had a 24% vacancy rate which was among the highest of state agencies. The vacancy rate is now around 12% and temporary counselors have been covering vacant caseloads. •CAP had a couple of cases with NMDVR where services were put on hold since NMDVR did not have a dental consultant. The participants in each case were unable to proceed with their employment efforts until their dental issues were taken care of. The delay was substantial and the CAP had a discussion with the Deputy Director who then instructed the counselors to proceed with the dental services and not delay. • Case closures by NMDVR counselors continue to be obscure and not well explained to the clients. The reasons for closing cases have ranged from “you were referred to another agency so we are closing your case” to “we can’t agree on a vocational goal so your case is being closed”. When a case is closed and CAP does a supervisory review or gets the case closure reversed NMDVR does not have a mechanism to re—open the case. The AWARE system that they have does not allow the re—opening of a case. They have to take a new application and start a new case. Sometimes it is done behind the scenes quickly and seamlessly, but other times it creates more delay and the counselor decides to ask for more records or more evaluations. This practice has improved this year with the help of administration and better training. We continue to monitor this issue and track problematic areas. • Last year and part of this reporting year we continued to see NMDVR telling clients that DVR doesn’t pay for higher education, as a policy. When confronted NMDVR staff blamed it on lack of funds, however their spending was down. With the new implementation of WIOA and direction to pursue a career track for participants, we see less of this issue. We have advocated for higher education for some of our participants and NMDVR administration has assured us that they have made it clear that this is not the policy.

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

Our client is a 55-year-old white male with a history of traumatic brain injuries. He had repeatedly been denied services by the New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (NMDVR), and continued to reapply and then initiate various tracks of litigation. In January of 2016 NMDVR filed a motion to permanently ban our client from contacting DVR in any way. CAP agreed to represent him. Ultimately the district court judge ordered our client to not contact NMDVR, but only for a period of four months. He is now free to reapply to DVR services, and we believe that as a result of CAP working with him and addressing a few of his many issues, our client has learned how to more effectively navigate the NMDVR system.

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.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 Mexico
3. Is the designated agency contracting CAP services?No
4. If yes, name of contracting agency:N/A

B. Staff Employed

Provide a description of all CAP positions (see instructions)

Advocate positions 0.94 FTE Attorney positions 0.24 FTE Support staff 0.27 FTE Supervisory staff 0.25 FTE TOTAL CAP staff 1.7 FTE

Part VI. Case Examples

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

Example 1: Client is a 50 year old man who lives in Alamogordo. Client is blind and has been a client of the NM Commission for the Blind for many years. Client came to DRNM with an employment goal of “Auto Mechanic” and had enormous difficulty finding work. Client reports that he was the first blind person to graduate with an auto mechanic degree and he received national attention in 2014. He was interviewed by local and national newspapers, websites, and radio stations around the world. Client hoped this publicity would help him find a job, but years later, he still had not found a job. Client feels discriminated against because employers could not understand how a blind man could be a mechanic. He blamed CFB because they did nothing to support him when he was discriminated against and also said they didn’t do enough to help him search for employment opportunities. Client decided it was time to change goals and he asked DRNM/CAP for assistance. CAP helped the Client set up meetings with his VRC to discuss his new employment goal and to discuss services he’d need to be successful. Client’s employment goal was changed to "Ministry" and his IPE was updated and signed in July 2016. Client’s IPE includes job development services that will start right away as well as multiple “as needed” services including: rehab technology, technology training, ministry related training, ministry conventions, remedial/literacy training based on an evaluation, transportation, OJT, guidance and counseling, and maintenance for interview and work attire. All issues have been resolved in the client’s favor.

Example 2: Client is a 39 year old man from Albuquerque. He has diagnoses of TBI, Mental Illness, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, and a history of substance abuse. Client has been a client of NMDVR for over three years. Client contacted DRNM/CAP because he was very concerned about how NMDVR has treated him and handled his case. He reported significant delays, including multiple counselor changes since 2013. He feels that DVR has continually put up road blocks so that they do not have to help him. His main concern is that he has been a client since 2013 and still is not in a program to move forward. CAP reviewed Client’s DVR file and spoke with his counselor about these concerns. His counselor agreed that client did unfortunately go through several counselor changes, which led to delays in his case. Client was also concerned about a cancellation in services due to receipts not being turned in on time. Client claims DVR lost his receipts; DVR claims he turned in the same receipts twice. DVR told us that they would like to move forward but explained that Client has demonstrated aggressive and verbally abusive behavior toward DVR staff. This is documented on multiple occasions in case notes. DVR told CAP that in order to move forward, they wanted client to sign a behavior contract. DRNM advocated against this with the counselor, FOD, and on a systemic level with the Deputy Director. CAP administration met with NMDVR administration regarding the use of behavioral contracts and our concern that NMDVR may be overlooking a reasonable accommodation. We also suggested that the counselor might utilize the IPE as a vehicle for helping the client with behavioral issues rather than requiring a separate behavioral contract. NMDVR agreed to go that route and not use the behavioral contract. CAP worked with Client to make a decision about his employment goal and to think about accommodations and services he would need from DVR to be successful. DRNM attended a meeting with Client and his counselor to discuss his new employment goal, accommodation needs, and requests for services. Both Client and the VR counselor agreed to start over and NMDVR did not require client to sign a behavior plan. The VR counselor felt Client’s new employment goal of Film Crew Technician was appropriate and a good choice for him. The job outlook in NM was also very good for this vocational goal. The client and counselor were able to communicate effectively and work together to develop his new IPE which includes tuition at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), books and supplies, transportation, assistance with paying for his mental health treatment and methadone clinic at Courageous Transformations, and PT co-pays. NMDVR will also be paying for an eye exam and new glasses. Client also requested a back brace and blood pressure monitor. The VR counselor agreed to support these and will amend his IPE when client provides medical documentation for his need for them. Client is very happy with his new IPE and feels that he and NMDVR will be able to work together from now on. All issues were resolved in client’s favor.

Example 3: Client is a 59 year old woman who lives in Albuquerque. Her diagnoses include Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury from childhood, and has had her leg amputated. Client is a client of NMDVR and came to DRNM/CAP for assistance with multiple services, but primarily to help move her case forward. Client’s goal was to complete her course work to obtain her Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) license. She only had two more classes to take to apply for her license and asked NMDVR to support her. However, because of NMDVR’s delays, she almost missed being able to attend school in spring 2016. CAP worked with Client, her VRC, and the Field Operations Director to update her Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) multiple times to include services to help client benefit from her VR program. CAP has worked with Client on amending her IPE to include the following services: • College training, books and supplies • Transcripts, application fees, background check, and passport photo • Driver’s license • Computer w/ antivirus software and a headset • Payment to Hanger for remaining balance for prosthetic leg • Eye exam and glasses • Dog temperament assessment and application fee (She hoped to get her dog trained to become a service dog.) • Transportation (Sun Van tickets) • Copy paper and ink • Computer desk • Computer stand • Computer chair • Co-pays for Physical Therapy • Car rental for dog temperament assessment in Santa Fe • Costs for NCE exam administrative fees. $25 to licensing board. (Direct to CG) • Books required to study for NCE exam. (Direct to CG) • Co-pay for modification to prosthetic leg. (Hanger) • Two drawer filing cabinet (Office Depot) • Dental exam and x-ray - Dr. Lim (Direct to CG) • Maintenance for food. One time only. (Direct to CG) • Dental exam and x-ray • Dental treatment plan (dentures) - CAP has helped client obtain numerous services. She has obtained her LMHC license and has started working for the federal government as a licensed Mental Health Counselor and her case will be closed successfully with NMDVR by January 2017.


Reports are to be submitted to RSA within 90 days after the end of the fiscal year covered by this report. Please be reminded that you can enter data directly into RSA's website via the internet. Information on transmittal of the form is found on pages 19 and 20 of the reporting instructions.

Name of Designated Agency OfficialJames Jackson
Title of Designated Agency OfficialChief Executive Officer
Date Signed12/07/2016