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

New Mexico (Disability Rights New Mexico) - H161A170032 - FY2017

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)

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

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) program32
2. Information regarding independent living programs2
3. Information regarding American Indian VR Service projects1
4. Information regarding Title I of the ADA2
5. Other information provided3
6. Information regarding CAP19
7. Total I&R services provided (Lines A1 through A6)59

B. Training Activities

CAP staff provided two trainings to 28 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 also 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 at the NMDVR Statewide meeting to all NMDVR staff. CAP staff 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 (Title I). CAP staff presented to a support group of Native American parents with transition age children. We trained on PRETS for individuals preparing for transition. We also provided training for a program that provides support services for persons with AIDS and HIV. 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 disabilities from AIDS or HIV. 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 12 participants at each session for a total of 24 participants. In summary, CAP staff at DRNM conducted a total of 12 trainings with a total of 250 participants. DRNM/CAP also participated in 16 informational fairs in which we distributed CAP brochures and provided information to participants. Of the 16 fairs, five were targeted outreach to minorities and underserved populations.

1. Number of training sessions presented to community groups and public agencies.12
2. Number of individuals who attended these training sessions.268
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.

New Mexico is a very poor and very rural state with few resources. CAP staff has targeted rural areas since many VR counselors are not always accessible to individuals in rural areas and participants are unserved/underserved. CAP has 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.CAP staff at DRNM conducted a total of 12 trainings with a total of 268 participants. DRNM/CAP also participated in 16 informational fairs in which we distributed CAP brochures in English and Spanish as well as provided information to participants in both languages. Of the 16 fairs, 5 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. There were 30 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 Agency542
5. Number of Times CAP Exhibited at Conferences, Community Fairs, etc.16
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.


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 year20
3. Total individuals served (Lines A1+A2)25
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.)7

B. Problem areas

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Individual requests information30
2. Communication problems between individual and VR counselor28
3. Conflict about VR services to be provided19
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 problems0
9. Non-Rehabilitation Act related
  1. TANF
  3. Housing
  4. Other:
10. Related to Title I of the ADA2

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 Assistance2
2. Investigation/Monitoring0
3. Negotiation13
4. Mediation and other methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution1
5. Administrative / Informal Review4
6. Formal appeal / Fair Hearing0
7. Legal remedy / Litigation1
8. Total21

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 favor14
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)1
5. Individual chose alternative representation2
6. Individual withdrew complaint1
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)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.)

Individual's employment opportunities increased

1. Controlling law/policy explained to individual1
2. Application for services completed1
3. Eligibility determination expedited0
4. Individual participated in evaluation0
5. IPE developed/implemented/Services Provided11
6. Communication re-established between individual and other party3
7. Individual assigned to new counselor/office3
8. Alternative resources identified for individual1
9. ADA/504/EEO/OCR complaint made0
10. Other (Please explain below)1

Part III. Program Data

A. Age

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Up to 181
2. 19 - 241
3. 25 - 404
4. 41 - 6417
5. 65 and over2
6. Total (Sum of Lines A1 through A5. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)25

B. Gender

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Females11
2. Males14
3. Total (Lines B1+B2. Total must equal Part II, Line A3.)25

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 Native2
3. Asian1
4. Black or African American1
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White9
7. Two or more races0
8. Race/ethnicity unknown0

D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Acquired Brain Injury6
4. Amputations or Absence of Extremities0
5. Arthritis or Rheumatism0
6. Anxiety Disorder0
7. Autism Spectrum Disorder0
8. Autoimmune or Immune Deficiencies (excluding AIDS/HIV)1
9. Blindness (Both Eyes)1
10. Other Visual Impairments (Not Blind)3
11. Cancer0
12. Cerebral Palsy0
13. Deafness1
14. Hard of Hearing/Hearing Impaired (Not Deaf)0
15. Deaf-Blind0
16. Diabetes0
17. Digestive Disorders0
18. Epilepsy0
19. Heart & Other Circulatory Conditions0
20. Intellectual Disability0
21. Mental Illness6
22. Multiple Sclerosis2
23. Muscular Dystrophy0
24. Muscular/Skeletal Impairment0
25. Neurological Disorders/Impairment1
26. Orthopedic Impairments4
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.)25

E. Types of Individual Served

Multiple responses permitted.

1. Applicant of VR20
2. Individual eligible for VR services currently on a wait list1
3. Individual eligible for VR services not currently on a wait list0
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 Act2

Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation

A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities

NM CAP staff continues to meet 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. 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 four years and we have seen some improvement. • Issue with participants who are assigned to caseloads with no counselor continues to be an issue of concern. We have had participants who did not hear from a VR Counselor in several months and were not informed of anyone else being responsible for their VR services. As counselors have left NMDVR there continues to be substantial delay in getting either a temporary counselor or a permanent counselor assigned to the cases. 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 but has worked on improving that and it is currently down to about 12% vacancy rate, which is average for a state agency. •CAP had a couple of cases with NMDVR where services were put on hold since NMDVR did not have vendors that could provide the specific services. In those cases VR worked on getting the appropriate vendors on the state vendors list to solve the issues. The participants in each case were then able to proceed with their approved IPEs. • 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”. The other systemic issue with case closures is a case closure due to an IPE not being developed within 90 days. NMDVR has stated that those are the regulations and if an IPE is not developed for whatever reason the case will be 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 to counselors that it is not the policy to deny higher education. We also see more issues with informed choice. Counselors are not allowing participants to select job developers and programs due to costs. We have resolved these issues in negotiations with counselors and supervisors. CAP staff continues being very involved with both the CFB-SRC and NMDVR-SRC.There is an MOU between these VR providers, however, it is not always clear to the client who takes responsibility for which service, which often results in a delay of services. CAP staff serve on both the SRC for NMDVR and NMCB. Currently the CAP staff person assigned to this activity serves as the Chairperson.

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


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 0.60 FTE Attorney positions 0.27 FTE Support staff 0.23 FTE Supervisory staff 0.32 FTE TOTAL CAP staff 1.41 FTE

Part VI. Case Examples

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

Example 1. A 52 year old woman with physical disabilities contacted DRNM because her former NMDVR counselor had resigned and she was not assigned a new counselor. Also, her job developer was not getting her the training and support she needed. DRNM/CAP advocate learned that she had not yet gone through the training for her employment goal of “Human Resources Assistant”. The client qualified under a special grant program, but because her unemployment benefits had run out, her housing was in jeopardy and she would not be able to move forward with the training. She had no transportation and was being evicted, all of which may have been avoided with proper support from DVR. DRNM first advocated for a new VRC and attended meetings with the client at NMDVR, resulting in the addition of bus passes and training for online job searching. NMDVR agreed to assist the client in determining a quick path to employment and accordingly, the client changed her employment goal from “HR Assistant” to “All other service workers” to expand her job opportunities. Now that our client has a new NMDVR counselor and an updated IPE with the services she needs, she wants to focus on obtaining skills to get back on her feet. Eventually she plans to identify a new employment goal. She has the necessary tools and support to move forward toward a fulfilling career that pays the bills.

Example 2. A 27-year-old had been approved for NMDVR services in 2015, but still didn't have an IPE. The client is paralyzed from the waist down, and needed modifications to her vehicle including hand controls and a wheelchair lift. Her counselor at NMDVR had initially told her that the modifications were "too expensive" and that they wouldn't be covered. The client needed to be able to drive in order to pursue her educational goals at the University of NM. She managed to negotiate an evaluation from Driving to Independence that DVR would pay for, although at that point her NMDVR counselor wasn't returning her phone calls. She had an upcoming meeting that she felt uncomfortable attending without Client Assistance Program (CAP) support. DRNM/CAP attended the meeting and negotiated NMDVR support in paying for a training program through Driving to Independence so the client could learn to drive with hand controls. NMDVR said that once the training program was successfully completed, hand controls would be added to her IPE. The client was very satisfied and excited at the prospect of attaining her own independence so that she could pursue her academic endeavors at the University of NM. DRNM/ CAP closed the case successfully after the approved IPE contained all of the services that we requested and the client was attending driving classes.

Example 3. A 19-year-old client with developmental disabilities applied for services at NMDVR and felt like they kept giving her excuses about getting her a job. She had requested an on-the-job-training (OJT) position with Jefferson Montessori Academy in January of 2016 when she was transitioning from high school to the workforce, and again in August of 2017, without result. DRNM/CAP contacted the DVR counselor, who admitted that she had "messed it up", but had taken no corrective action nor did anything to expedite the process. Once DRNM/CAP became involved it took the counselor one week to develop the new OJT and implement it. The DRNM/CAP advocate then monitored the case to ensure it was progressing. The client has successfully been attending her OJT and doing well.


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 Signed12/15/2017