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

New Jersey (Disability Rights New Jersey) - H161A170031 - FY2017

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)

NameDisability Rights New Jersey
Address210 S Broad Street
Address Line 2FL 3
CityTrenton
Zip Code08608
E-mail Addressadvocate@drnj.org
Website Addresshttp://www.drnj.org
Phone609-292-9742
TTY609-633-7106
Toll-free Phone800-922-7233
Toll-free TTY
Fax609-777-0187

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) program11
2. Information regarding independent living programs4
3. Information regarding American Indian VR Service projects0
4. Information regarding Title I of the ADA2
5. Other information provided0
6. Information regarding CAP29
7. Total I&R services provided (Lines A1 through A6)46

B. Training Activities

CAP staff provided information about the CAP program and transition services to 50 staff at the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI). This training was one of a series of trainings CBVI is providing to new counselors and a refresher training for more experience counselors.

CAP staff provided outreach and training to transitioning students at a Transition Fair sponsored by Brick Township School District. Recipients included 70 consumers, 10 family members, and 30 professionals.

CAP Coordinator participated in a panel discussion at the DRNJ sponsored Assistive Technology Summit. Topics included: DRNJ programs services, transition, vocational rehabilitation, eligibility criteria and priorities of the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities. Recipients included five consumers, 10 family members, and 30 professionals.

1. Number of training sessions presented to community groups and public agencies.3
2. Number of individuals who attended these training sessions.205
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.

Staff distributed resources to attendees of the Family Resource Fair sponsored by Children’s Future in Mercer County. Many attendees were Spanish-speaking families. Publications included CAP, PABSS, Transition, and DRNJ. 20 consumers, 40 family, and 20 professionals attended.

Staff distributed resources to attendees of the Youth Resource Fair sponsored by Mercer County Family Support Organization. Many attendees were Spanish-speaking families. Publications included DRNJ, CAP, Transition, and PABSS. 25 consumers, 100 family members, and 25 professionals attended.

Staff provided brochures to several churches in the African American Community in Burlington County.

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 Agency2
4. Publications/Booklets/Brochures Disseminated by the Agency1780
5. Number of Times CAP Exhibited at Conferences, Community Fairs, etc.14
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.

Title: Opportunity and Resource Fair: Publication: CBVI public email: Eyes Like Mine, Inc. The City of Newark will present an Opportunity and Resource Fair for People who are Blind and Vision Impaired at Newark City Hall, 920 Broad Street, Newark, NJ from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibitors will include: NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Newark School of the Arts, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Social Security Administration, Disability Rights-NJ, with information on the CAP Program, and more. For further information contact: info@eyeslikemine.org

Title:Disability Awareness Month at Ocean County College Publication: Forked River Gazette: Find out what resources are available to individuals with disabilities. Come speak with representatives from ASPEN (Asperger, Autism Spectrum Education Network), Commission for the Blind, Disability Rights New Jersey (includes the CAP Program), Disability Services and Assistive Technology, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), MOCEANS Center for Independent Living, New Jersey Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Ocean County Commission for Individuals with Disabilities, Ocean County Human Relations Commission, Community Health Law Project, among others.

Title:Ocean County College Marks Disability Awareness Month with ‘Hidden Resources' Publication:The Sandpaper: Find out what resources are available to individuals with disabilities, as Ocean County College, in collaboration with the Ocean County Human Relations Commission and the Department of Human Services’ Office for Individuals with Disabilities, marks Disability Awareness Month in October. “Hidden Resources” will take place on the second floor of the Larson Student Center, on OCC’s main campus in Toms River, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 10. All members of the public are invited to attend. Admission is free. On site will be representatives from: Asperger, Autism Spectrum Education Network (ASPEN); Commission for the Blind; Disability Rights New Jersey (ncludes the CAP Program); Disability Services and Assistive Technology; Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR); MOCEANS Center for Independent Living; New Jersey Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Ocean County Commission for Individuals with Disabilities; Ocean County Human Relations Commission; and Community Health Law Project, among others.

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)61
2. Additional individuals who were served during the year41
3. Total individuals served (Lines A1+A2)102
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.)83

B. Problem areas

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Individual requests information1
2. Communication problems between individual and VR counselor1
3. Conflict about VR services to be provided2
4. Related to VR application/eligibility process20
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
81
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 Assistance11
2. Investigation/Monitoring1
3. Negotiation6
4. Mediation and other methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution2
5. Administrative / Informal Review2
6. Formal appeal / Fair Hearing0
7. Legal remedy / Litigation0
8. Total22

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)3
3. CAP determines VR agency position/decision was appropriate for the individual0
4. Individual's case lacks legal merit; (inappropriate for CAP intervention)0
5. Individual chose alternative representation0
6. Individual withdrew complaint3
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 CAP1
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.)

Client withdrew [4]

1. Controlling law/policy explained to individual1
2. Application for services completed1
3. Eligibility determination expedited0
4. Individual participated in evaluation3
5. IPE developed/implemented/Services Provided10
6. Communication re-established between individual and other party3
7. Individual assigned to new counselor/office0
8. Alternative resources identified for individual2
9. ADA/504/EEO/OCR complaint made0
10. Other (Please explain below)2

Part III. Program Data

A. Age

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Up to 183
2. 19 - 2415
3. 25 - 4030
4. 41 - 6451
5. 65 and over3
6. Total (Sum of Lines A1 through A5. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)102

B. Gender

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Females49
2. Males53
3. Total (Lines B1+B2. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)102

C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race (for individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only)13
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native0
3. Asian3
4. Black or African American26
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White58
7. Two or more races0
8. Race/ethnicity unknown2

D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Acquired Brain Injury0
2. ADD/ADHD5
3. AIDS/HIV0
4. Amputations or Absence of Extremities2
5. Arthritis or Rheumatism0
6. Anxiety Disorder3
7. Autism Spectrum Disorder14
8. Autoimmune or Immune Deficiencies (excluding AIDS/HIV)0
9. Blindness (Both Eyes)2
10. Other Visual Impairments (Not Blind)6
11. Cancer0
12. Cerebral Palsy2
13. Deafness5
14. Hard of Hearing/Hearing Impaired (Not Deaf)2
15. Deaf-Blind0
16. Diabetes1
17. Digestive Disorders0
18. Epilepsy0
19. Heart & Other Circulatory Conditions2
20. Intellectual Disability5
21. Mental Illness23
22. Multiple Sclerosis0
23. Muscular Dystrophy0
24. Muscular/Skeletal Impairment0
25. Neurological Disorders/Impairment5
26. Orthopedic Impairments13
27. Personality Disorders0
28. Respiratory Disorders/Impairment0
29. Skin Conditions0
30. Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)4
31. Speech Impairments0
32. Spina Bifida2
33. Substance Abuse (Alcohol or Drugs)0
34. Other Disability6
35. Total (Sum of Lines D1through D34. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)102

E. Types of Individual Served

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Applicant of VR24
2. Individual eligible for VR services currently on a wait list1
3. Individual eligible for VR services not currently on a wait list78
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 Act1

Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation

A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities

DRNJ has raised policy concerns to the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) regarding its interpretation of financial participation by recipients of benefits from the Social Security AdmInistration, their low caps on reimbursement for training and post-secondary education, and the lack of transparency regarding their policies and procedures. DRNJ requested the support of RSA, and, as a result, in November 2016, DVRS agreed to address these issues by revising their policy manual. DVRS agreed to provide the draft to DRNJ prior to review and adoption by the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC). After a long delay, DVRS met with DRNJ and provided a draft of their policy on post-secondary education, including a reasonable time and/or dollar schedule. DRNJ generally supported the draft, which incorporated WIOA support of employment advancement to include statements on post-secondary education, community colleges, four-year colleges/universities, proprietary/private career schools, and technical institutes. DVRS proposed funding for the first 60 college credits at the in-county community college rate with the remaining 60 credits at the rate of in-state tuition at Rutgers University. Exceptions are available based on disability issues, program or course availability, and support for graduate education if advanced training is required. DRNJ asked that DVRS consider actual costs for career and technical schools, including factors such as comparable programs in a geographical area and the opportunity for higher paid employment opportunities resulting from improved skills.

DRNJ has long taken the position that recipients of SSA be exempt from financial participation and supported this in the draft. DRNJ agreed that a portion of SSA benefits may be used for maintenance and living expenses. DRNJ did challenge the proposed rate for books and supplies as too low and asked DVRS to reconsider commuting distance and time. DRNJ also asked that DVRS consider mitigating or extenuating circumstances prior to the termination of funding. DRNJ awaits further review and comment from DVRS and the SRC.

DRNJ continues to challenge the referral of DVRS clients seeking employment training in segregated settings, and DVRS has agreed to review this practice.

DRNJ continues to inform and challenge DVRS to refer clients to them at any time in the vocational rehabilitation process.

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

DRNJ assisted a 20-year-old student who is deaf and receives Social Security benefits. He is enrolled at Gallaudet University. The New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) found him eligible for services and developed an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). The IPE provided DVRS sponsorship for him to obtain a college degree to fulfill the goal to become an English Language and Literature professor. However, DVRS agreed to pay only a limited amount toward the cost for him to attend college, in accordance with their caps on financial assistance for college. As a result, the client was required to take out loans to enroll in the university.

Federal regulations prohibit DVRS from requiring financial participation by Social Security beneficiaries in the receipt of vocational rehabilitation services. Therefore, DRNJ requested that the client receive full sponsorship for his college tuition and costs. When DVRS did not respond, DRNJ requested a fair hearing as provided for in state and federal law.

The New Jersey Administrative Procedures Act requires that requests for fair hearings be transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) within 30 days of receipt of the request. Again, DVRS did not respond, and DRNJ was required to file a Notice of Appeal in the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. The Appellate Division agreed with DRNJ and ordered the fair hearing request transmitted to OAL. Prior to a hearing, DRNJ and DVRS agreed to a settlement agreement whereby DVRS would pay the outstanding loans for tuition and costs the client had incurred, except for the loans incurred during a semester when client’s GPA fell below the standard required for sponsorship. The settlement agreement further provided that client’s tuition and costs would be covered in its entirety by DVRS as long as client remained eligible for college sponsorship.

Historically, the DVRS case service policy manual has been available on the New Jersey Department of Labor’s website. At the time DRNJ filed this appeal, the policies were not published on the website. After the submission of the appeal, the policies were once again available on the Department’s website.

1. Total number of CAP cases requiring litigation involving individual representation resulting in, or with the potential for, systemic change.
a. Number of cases requiring litigation involving individual representation filed during fiscal year.1
b. Number of on-going cases pending at start of fiscal year (carryover from prior fiscal year).0
c. Number of cases resolved through litigation during fiscal year.1
2. Describe the agency's on-going and completed systemic litigation activities involving individual representation.

Part V. Agency Information

A. Designated Agency

1. Agency Type (select only one option) External-Protection and Advocacy agency
2. Name of designate agencyDisability Rights New Jersey
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)

(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.

DRNJ intervened on behalf of a 28-year-old resident of Somerset County, diagnosed with dyslexia. The client does not receive Social Security benefits, Medicare or Medicaid. She was denied sponsorship for Medical Assistant Training due to below average scores on standardized entrance exams. She completed a brain training program, retook the test, but her scores still fell below the entrance exam minimums. DRNJ successfully sought an accommodation from the school to allow her to enroll in the 10-month course. However, she was denied sponsorship from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS). Without sponsorship from DVRS, the client was required to take out loans, between $5,000 to $6,000, to cover the cost of the course. DRNJ advocated with DVRS, who agreed to monitor her academic performance for the first two months. If the client performed satisfactorily during this time, DVRS agreed to cover the remaining cost of the training. An Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) was created. The client did well during the trial period and received a tuition voucher for $4,000 for the remaining tuition.

DRNJ intervened on behalf of a 30-year-old resident of Union County, diagnosed with anxiety and depression. At the time she contacted DRNJ, the client had recently applied for both SSI and Medicaid. She had been a client of DVRS for three years and was entering her final semester as an undergraduate occupational therapy student with intentions to pursue a master’s degree. She contacted DRNJ when DVRS denied funding for tuition and books, placing her in jeopardy of missing deadline for summer enrollment. DVRS stated that they would withhold funding until her aunt promised to pay the remaining balance of the semester. Although the client resided with her aunt, DRNJ challenged DVRS’s position that the aunt had any financial responsibility for the client. DRNJ found that the client met the conditions allowing DVRS to pay for summer courses, as she was both meeting spring semester requirements and was in the final semester of the program. DRNJ’s advocacy was successful. DVRS agreed to provide the voucher for tuition and book in time to avoid out-of-pocket expenses by the client. DVRS also agreed to create an amended Individualized Plan for Employment to include a master’s degree education.

DRNJ intervened on behalf of a 32-year-old resident of Union County diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a severe painful nerve-ending disease. The client lives independently and receives SSDI and Medicaid. After she was determined eligible for DVRS services, the client worked with her VR counselor on a vocational goal as a Distanced Credentialed Counselor, which holds a master's degree designation. Due to the effects of her disability, the client required an accredited online program, rather than traditional classroom study. Yearly tuition was $20,000 and was not fully covered by financial aid. DVRS initially offered the client financial support up to the amount of their cap of $2,500 a semester. DRNJ intervened with VR supervisors, asking them to comply with federal regulations regarding non-participation in cost of services for recipients of Social Security benefits. Upon review of the client’s finances and the costs of the course, DVRS agreed to cover the full amount for tuition and books. DRNJ also worked with DVRS to establish the university as a DVRS vendor and advocated for DVRS to amend the client's IPE to include a master's degree.

DRNJ intervened on behalf of a 48-year-old resident of Ocean County who is deaf. The client contacted DRNJ requesting DVRS sponsorship for a culinary vocational training. The client, whose primary language is Spanish, had resided in the United States for five years before contacting DVRS. She had not graduated from high school in her country of birth. DRNJ advocated for culinary vocational training, but DVRS expressed concern about the client’s ability to complete the training based on American Sign Language and English as a Second Language skill deficits. However, an agreement was reached for the client and DVRS to research and review culinary program requirements. DVRS and the client were unable to locate a training program that did not require a high school diploma. So, DVRS offered to assist the client to obtain her GED and to provide sign language interpreters for the duration of that program. DVRS agreed to revisit culinary training after the client obtained her GED.

DRNJ intervened on behalf of a 54-year-old resident of Somerset County diagnosed with spina bifida, high blood pressure, and severe bowel incontinence. The client contacted DRNJ when DVRS was unwilling to provide pre-placement supported employment services for a home-based clerical position. The client had a history of successfully working from home as a data entry clerk for over 20 years with the same employer. DVRS agreed to provide the client with pre-placement employment services, but only for employment outside of the home, arguing that home-based positions were too difficult to secure. DVRS suggested that the client address her incontinence through personal care assistance services in the workplace. The client rejected this and requested DRNJ’s assistance. DRNJ worked with the client to obtain medical documentation to support her need to work from home. DRNJ advocated that DVRS refer the client to the supported employment agency of her choice and develop an IPE for an in-home clerical position. DVRS agreed to this request and developed an IPE that met the client’s needs.

DRNJ intervened on behalf of a 42-year-old resident of Bergen County diagnosed with anxiety and depression. The client receives SSDI and Medicaid. She received financial support from DVRS to complete a bachelor’s degree in counseling and psychology. The client also briefly participated in job coaching services following graduation. She stated that the job coaching services were inadequate and failed to identify employment opportunities. She then enrolled in a master’s in counseling program before again contacting DVRS seeking financial support. DVRS refused because an IPE was not created prior to her enrollment. The client contacted DRNJ for assistance to obtain financial support from DVRS for books and tuition. DRNJ reviewed the client’s history with DRVS and discovered that prior services were terminated because on three occasions the client had disagreed with the effectiveness of the job coaching. After DRNJ obtained support from the client’s mental health therapist and the chair of the counseling program at the school, who both endorsed her academic and emotional ability to complete master’s level study, DVRS agreed to create a new IPE and provide funding for books and tuition.

Employment First cases

DRNJ intervened on behalf of a 22-year-old resident of Middlesex County diagnosed with autism spectrum and bipolar disorders. The client was receiving job coaching services from DVRS and had also applied for services through the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). The client had concerns about both the DDD eligibility process and Trial Work Experience (TWE). He reported dissatisfaction with the tasks and the minimal support from the individual assigned to assist him. His mother (and guardian) asked DVRS to intervene, but was told to wait until the evaluation was completed. At the conclusion of the TWE, the vendor provided a negative report to DVRS about the client’s performance. DVRS closed his case and informed him that they would not be able to assist him. Instead, he was refered to DDD. DRNJ contacted DVRS to request that they re-open his case, and they agreed. He was assigned a new VR counselor and began a new TWE. The client and his mother reported being satisfied with his progress.

DRNJ intervened on behalf of a 21-year-old resident of Camden County diagnosed with deafness and autism. After graduating from high school, the client went to DVRS to obtain a referral to a sheltered workshop. Under WIOA, he first needed an employment determination. DVRS found him medically ineligible for competitive employment and referred him to DDD for services. He and his guardian disagreed with the determination and contacted DRNJ for guidance. DRNJ’s investigation determined that DVRS did not have "clear and convincing" evidence with which to determine him ineligible for competitive employment and requested a review of the determination. DRNJ obtained supporting information from both the guardian and the neurologist. DVRS reversed its decision and found the client medically eligible to participate in DVRS services. He was enrolled in another Trial Work Experience.

DRNJ intervened on behalf of a 21-year-old resident of Somerset County diagnosed with Down syndrome. The client was receiving services from DVRS and was registered with the Division of Developmental Disabilities. His mother (and guardian) contacted DRNJ after becoming dissatisfied with the services provided by the DVRS vendors through pre-employment transition services under WIOA. The client had been assigned to four DVRS vendors for a Trial Work Experience (TWE) vocational assessment, and none seemed to be providing him the appropriate services. DRNJ contacted DVRS to discuss the training vendors received prior to providing pre-employment transition services. DVRS was able to identify another vendor, and the client completed his second evaluation of TWE. His mother was satisfied with the services.

DRNJ intervened on behalf of a 19-year-old resident of Mercer County diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and depression. The client receives SSI and Medicaid. He graduated from high school in June 2016. Transition was delayed until midway through the senior year, when he expressed interest in culinary arts and driver's education. DVRS offered culinary arts training at a location that his mother considered unsafe. She requested another option. After weeks went by without a response, and with her son's depression worsening, the client’s mother contacted DRNJ for assistance. Following DRNJ’s intervention, an IPE was developed for 20 hours of job coaching . The client completed the job coaching and became employed part time at a local dining services establishment.

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 Signed12/20/2018