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

Alaska (STATE OF ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND EARLY DEVELOPMENT) - H161A170061 - FY2017

General Information

Designated Agency Identification

NameKaren Tessandore
Address3330 Arctic Blvd. 103
Address Line 2
CityAnchorage
StateAlaska
Zip Code99503
E-mail Addressktessandore@dlcak.org
Website Address
Phone9075651002
TTY 9075651002
Toll-free Phone9075651002
Toll-free TTY9075651002
Fax907-465-3452

Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)

NameDisability Law Center of Alaska
Address3330 Arctic Blvd. 103
Address Line 2
CityAnchorage
Zip Code99503
E-mail Addressakpa@dlcak.org
Website Addresshttp://www.dlcak.org
Phone907-565-1002
TTY
Toll-free Phone
Toll-free TTY
Fax907-565-1000

Additional Information

Name of CAP Director/CoordinatorDavid Fleurant
Person to contact regarding reportKaren Tessandore
Contact Person Phone907-565-1002

Part I. Non-case Services

A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)

Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. Information regarding the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program10
2. Information regarding independent living programs1
3. Information regarding American Indian VR Service projects1
4. Information regarding Title I of the ADA0
5. Other information provided3
6. Information regarding CAP9
7. Total I&R services provided (Lines A1 through A6)24

B. Training Activities

n/a

1. Number of training sessions presented to community groups and public agencies.0
2. Number of individuals who attended these training sessions.0
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 P&A has maintained the visibility of the CAP through the distribution of our uniquely colorful (bright pink!) CAP brochures. Although the information in these brochures is required to be given out by the Alaska Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (TVR) and the Alaska State Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) offices to all seekers of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services, we chose to aid in that effort by providing these brochures in an easily-recognizable and easily-understandable format. In FY17, 3,100 brochures were disseminated.

In more direct outreach, the Alaska P&A participated in Stand Down, an annual event geared specifically toward providing services and information to homeless veterans in Anchorage. At this event, which staff from the P&A attends each year, we provided information and referral regarding disability—related questions. Booths are staffed with several human services agencies for a day. The veterans can obtain information ranging from housing, Social Security, employment, and having a will written up. Veterans can also obtain clothing, sleeping bags, haircuts, etc. At this outreach event, information was provided to 50 veterans regarding P&A services, including our role in supporting their involvement with VR or the State’s Independent Living Centers.

Similar in description to Stand Down, the Alaska P&A also participated in the annual Project Homeless Connect event. Rather than focusing on homeless veterans, Project Homeless Connect is described as a “one—stop event to provide housing, services, and hospitality in a convenient one—stop model directly to people experiencing homelessness in Anchorage.” At this outreach event, information was provided to 28 people.

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.

n/a

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 Agency5592
5. Number of Times CAP Exhibited at Conferences, Community Fairs, etc.0
6. Other (specify below)0

E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage

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

n/a

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)2
2. Additional individuals who were served during the year16
3. Total individuals served (Lines A1+A2)18
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.)2

B. Problem areas

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Individual requests information0
2. Communication problems between individual and VR counselor8
3. Conflict about VR services to be provided8
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
1
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 Assistance14
2. Investigation/Monitoring0
3. Negotiation3
4. Mediation and other methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution0
5. Administrative / Informal Review0
6. Formal appeal / Fair Hearing0
7. Legal remedy / Litigation0
8. Total17

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 favor7
2. Some issues resolved in individual's favor (when there are multiple issues)0
3. CAP determines VR agency position/decision was appropriate for the individual2
4. Individual's case lacks legal merit; (inappropriate for CAP intervention)4
5. Individual chose alternative representation0
6. Individual withdrew complaint0
7. Issue not resolved in clients favor1
8. CAP services not needed due to individual's death, relocation, etc.0
9. Individual not responsive/cooperative with CAP3
10. CAP unable to take case due to lack of resources0
11. Conflict of interest0
12. Other (Please explain below)0

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.)

Other: 3 clients fell out of contact with the Alaska P&A - no outcome

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 party4
7. Individual assigned to new counselor/office1
8. Alternative resources identified for individual1
9. ADA/504/EEO/OCR complaint made0
10. Other (Please explain below)3

Part III. Program Data

A. Age

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Up to 180
2. 19 - 240
3. 25 - 403
4. 41 - 6415
5. 65 and over0
6. Total (Sum of Lines A1 through A5. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)18

B. Gender

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Females8
2. Males10
3. Total (Lines B1+B2. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)18

C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race (for individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only)1
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native4
3. Asian0
4. Black or African American1
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White11
7. Two or more races0
8. Race/ethnicity unknown1

D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Acquired Brain Injury0
2. ADD/ADHD0
3. AIDS/HIV0
4. Amputations or Absence of Extremities0
5. Arthritis or Rheumatism1
6. Anxiety Disorder1
7. Autism Spectrum Disorder0
8. Autoimmune or Immune Deficiencies (excluding AIDS/HIV)0
9. Blindness (Both Eyes)0
10. Other Visual Impairments (Not Blind)0
11. Cancer0
12. Cerebral Palsy1
13. Deafness1
14. Hard of Hearing/Hearing Impaired (Not Deaf)0
15. Deaf-Blind0
16. Diabetes1
17. Digestive Disorders0
18. Epilepsy0
19. Heart & Other Circulatory Conditions1
20. Intellectual Disability0
21. Mental Illness4
22. Multiple Sclerosis1
23. Muscular Dystrophy0
24. Muscular/Skeletal Impairment1
25. Neurological Disorders/Impairment1
26. Orthopedic Impairments5
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 Disability0
35. Total (Sum of Lines D1through D34. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)18

E. Types of Individual Served

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Applicant of VR13
2. Individual eligible for VR services currently on a wait list0
3. Individual eligible for VR services not currently on a wait list3
4. Applicant or individual eligible for Independent Living1
5. Transition student/High school student0
6. All other applicants or individuals eligible for other programs or projects funded unther Rehabilitation Act1

Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation

A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities

The Alaska CAP expressed concerned about the closure of the Eagle River Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) office. As we explained to the Commissioner, closing this office would have a disparate impact on individuals with disabilities in the Eagle River/Chugiak area who need DVR services, and may violate the Equal Opportunity requirements of the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The proposal to close the Eagle River DVR office will unnecessarily impede access to services and convert a community of approximately 40,000 residents into an underserved area.

Alaska CAP noted that, absent a feasible plan to serve the Eagle River/Chugiak area, the state may violate the Equal Opportunity provisions of Section 188 of WIOA. See 29 CFR Part 38. Pursuant to these regulations, the state cannot “[o]therwise limit an individual enjoyment of any right, privilege, advantage, or opportunity enjoyed by others receiving any WIOA Title 1-financially assisted aid, benefit, service, or training.” 29 CFR 38.6(b)(8). The Alaska CAP maintained that the closure of the Eagle River DVR office would significantly limit employment-related rehabilitation services to that community.

The Alaska CAP reminded the state that the Office of Disability Employment Policy developed a Reference Guide to assist states in complying with the nondiscrimination requirements of Section 188. According to that guidance, “AJCs are prohibited not only from adopting policies that on their face treat individuals with disabilities differently than those without disability, *but from taking actions that have the effect of limiting access to and opportunity to benefit from AJC programs and activities*.” Promising Practices In Achieving Universal Access And Equal Opportunity: A Section 188 Disability Reference Guide, at 27 (emphasis supplied).

Notwithstanding the Alaska CAP’s advocacy, the state did close the Eagle River Office which remained closed at the end of this reporting period. However, 11 days into October, the state noticed that the Eagle River Office would be reopened, a decision attributable in part to the advocacy of many community members, including the Alaska CAP.

On another front, the Alaska CAP met with the Chief of Rehabilitation Services for DVR. The CAP discussed a concern that the majority of client complaints were coming from one particular office, that there was a disconcerting pattern of communication issues between the client, counselor, & regional manager, and that the manager was asking CAP questions that did not seem appropriate

The Chief of Rehabilitation Services said she would speak with the manager in that office about these concerns. Since that conversation, the Alaska CAP has received very few complaints from clients of that office. The Alaska CAP meets regularly with the Chief, the benefits of which were demonstrated in the resolution of this systemic problem.

1. Number of non-litigation systemic activities not involving individual representation that resulted in the change of one or more policy or practice of an agency.0
2. Describe the systemic activities conducted by CAP during the fiscal year and its impact on other agency's policies or practices.

B. Litigation

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-other public agency
2. Name of designate agencyState Department of Education and Early Development
3. Is the designated agency contracting CAP services?Yes
4. If yes, name of contracting agency:Disability Law Center of Alaska

B. Staff Employed

Provide a description of all CAP positions (see instructions)

The Alaska CAP utilizes several attorney and non-attorney advocates in three offices in the state to achieve statewide coverage. The P&A’s staffing arrangement provides for 0.99 full-time equivalent employees, with 8 employees in Anchorage (.90 FTE), 1 employee in Fairbanks (.07 FTE), and 1 employee in Juneau (.02 FTE). The advocates in Juneau and Fairbanks respond to I&R requests, provide individual advocacy assistance, and conduct outreach in their communities. In the Anchorage office, an Intake Specialist takes the initial call, obtains information and/or paperwork, and passes the matter on to the CAP advocates for assessment. Individuals seeking CAP services can do so by contacting any of the three offices or submit an email request. The Anchorage office also maintains a statewide toll free 800 number for individuals outside of these three hub communities.

Part VI. Case Examples

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

The Alaska P&A was contacted by a man regarding his complaint that the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) was denying him the training he requested to obtain his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). To obtain his CDL, he required training at a school that uses automatic transmission vehicles, since the man only had one functioning arm. No training facilities like this exist in Alaska, so the man asked DVR to financially support him going out of state to obtain his CDL. He had been told by DVR, that because it was near the end of the fiscal year, they may not have the funds to cover the training expenses. When we contacted DVR on the client’s behalf, they finally agreed to cover his expenses. He was able to register with the school to begin training in the spring and is working on obtaining a letter from an employer assuring him work as soon as he has his CDL.

Sometimes cases are resolved with even less direct advocacy, seemingly on the strength of the P&A’s reputation. We saw an example of that this year when a client contacted us, believing her case had been closed by her local Independent Living Center (ILC). Prior to contacting the P&A, the ILC had reportedly not been returning our client’s calls, nor responding to her emails, which let her to believe they had closed her case and were no longer willing to assist with her independent living goals. Once we contacted the ILC, they assured us her case was still open and she was welcome to contact them. Shortly after that conversation, the client was indeed able to get in touch with her ILC counselor and was happy with the services she received. While we may never know exactly what was happening behind the scenes prior to our involvement, this is one of many examples seeming to show that clients receive a higher level of service when we can reach out on their behalf.

In other cases, the results of the P&A’s efforts can be more definitively seen as the catalyst for positive change on behalf of the client. This is true of a case in which a young man with multiple disabilities contacted us with a complaint that although he had been working with DVR for over a year, he had not yet been placed in employment. In addition to receiving no job placement assistance from DVR, the client provided the Alaska P&A with a copy of a Trial Work Experiences Plan that he found unacceptable due to its negative descriptions of him. We agreed with his assessment of the plan and immediately contacted DVR on his behalf. We learned, among other issues, that our client’s DVR counselor had been out for over two months (due to medical issues) yet there had been no hand-off of his case, so it had been sitting dormant the whole time. Because of our involvement, DVR expeditiously wrote an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) that was satisfactory to the client. Soon after, the client met with a job placement specialist and was scheduled to begin employment with an agency who approved the client’s necessary accommodations.

In one last example, the Alaska P&A was able to advocate for a man who called asking for assistance getting his case re-opened with Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation (TVR). At a meeting to renew his Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), he informed his counselor that he was having issues with pain management. His counselor sent him for a drug & alcohol assessment. The results of the assessment suggested he attend 48 outpatient groups. The man claimed the assessment was incorrect and contained another individual’s information. TVR closed his case until he successfully completed outpatient treatment. P&A staff reviewed the assessment provided by the client and learned that the assessment did indeed contain information that was not his. The client also provided proof that he was already attending outpatient treatment daily, including Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and church functions. After speaking with TVR, we learned that TVR was in fact already aware of the incorrect assessment, but had not yet rectified the situation. At that point, they offered to pay for a new assessment at a third-party location. The new assessment did not contain any recommendations. A few weeks after this client first contacted us for help, and with the new assessment in hand, TVR finally agreed to financially assist with his educational goals to obtain successful employment. We believe, as does out client, that without the P&A’s intervention TVR would have inexplicable refused to assist this gentleman until he completed the recommendations set out in the incorrect assessment.

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 OfficialDavid C. Fleurant
Title of Designated Agency OfficialExecutive Director
Date Signed12/20/2017