|Address||Disability Rights Center|
|Address Line 2||PO Box 2007|
|Phone||207 626 2774|
|TTY||207 626 2774|
|Toll-free Phone||800 452 1948|
|Toll-free TTY||800 452 1948|
|Fax||207 621 1419|
|Name of P&A Executive Director||Kim Moody|
|Name of PAIR Director/Coordinator||Peter Rice|
|Person to contact regarding report||Kim Moody|
|Contact Person phone||207 626 2774|
Multiple responses are not permitted.
|1. Individuals receiving I&R within PAIR priority areas||1|
|2. Individuals receiving I&R outside PAIR priority areas||302|
|3. Total individuals receiving I&R (lines A1 + A2)||303|
|1. Number of trainings presented by PAIR staff||76|
|2. Number of individuals who attended training (approximate)||2,521|
DRC staff bill their time to program they are working under. For example, if a case is opened under the PAIR program, the advocate or attorney will bill his or her time to PAIR. Whenever DRC conducts trainings, the individual conducting the training discusses all programs and includes materials from all our programs. All trainings therefore have a PAIR component and all trainings are also conducted by PAIR staff. Listed below is a representative sample of the trainings conducted by DRC staff that was at least partially paid for by the PAIR program. "ADA Title I - Overview" Disability Rights Center attorney presented an ADA training at the 2012 Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Advocates from across the country attended. DRC attorney presented a detailed power point presentation with discussion including the following areas: An Overview and History of the ADA; Definition of Disability and who is protected by Title I of the ADA; General Rules of Nondiscrimination; Reasonable Accommodation; Disability Related Inquiries (what employers can and cannot ask); Harassment/Retaliation Leave Issues; Enforcement of rights under the ADA and Helpful Resources. This comprehensive ADA training was offered as part of the 2012 P&A/CAP Annual Conference. DRC designed the training to provide non attorneys who advocate for people with disabilities in the workplace an overview of the ADA.
"Discovery in An Employment Discrimination Case Disability Rights Center attorney was one of four attorneys from across the country presenting at the 2012 Litigation Institute at the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. In "Discovery in an Employment Discrimination Case," a DRC attorney covered the following topics: Tips for gathering informal, discovery before filing suit; Basic strategy for conducting discovery after filing suit including tips for drafting interrogatories, requests for production, conducting depositions, and strategy for drafting requests for admission. This training was offered as part of a full-day institute to provide attorney participants with skills for how to assess and represent clients in disability employment discrimination cases. Drawing from the experience of P&A attorneys, the institute offered ideas for handling employment discrimination cases within the structure of the P&A, as well as provided many practical tips to represent clients from initial intake through the EEOC process and federal litigation.
"Structuring Your P&A for Employment Discrimination Cases" DRC attorney presented training at the 2012 Litigation Institute at the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland entitled, "Structuring your P&A for Employment Discrimination Cases." DRC attorney co-presented a training with Disability Rights Texas on why it is important for P&As nationwide to start handling employment litigation. DRC attorney conveyed to attorney attendees that employment is a community integration issue and P&A priority-setting input often lists employment discrimination as a key area for expanding independence and integration of people with disabilities in their communities. DRC attorney also conveyed to P&A attorneys that P&As have for years been doing crucial and effective work around de-institutionalization of housing and medical care for people with disabilities, and we also need to focus efforts to ensure opportunity and integration for people with disabilities in employment. DRC attorney encouraged other P&A attorneys to envision handling employment litigation and provided them with information, tips and tools to start doing so.
“Assessing A Case of Disability Discrimination in Employment" DRC attorney co-presented a training at the 2012 Litigation Institute at the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, on how to assess a case of disability discrimination under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The training covered the following topics: identifying threshold issues, assessing the merits under the ADA, calculating preliminary damages, conducting early settlement negotiations. Finally, DRC attorney helped to lead attorney participants in analyzing a fact scenario to apply what they learned. This training was offered as part of a full-day institute to provide participants with skills for how to assess and represent clients in disability employment discrimination cases. Drawing from the experience of P&A attorneys, the institute will offered ideas for handling employment discrimination cases within the structure of the P&A, as well as provided many practical tips to represent clients from initial intake through the EEOC process and federal litigation. Participants received written materials, a power point production and a lecture on the topics.
What Are My Rights to Leave From Work? A Training for Individuals with Disabilities Disability Rights Center attorney who specializes in employment law presented information and training regarding individuals’ rights in employment to individuals with mental illness who are members of a clubhouse and who are employed or who are interested in seeking employment. Topics included employees’ rights to leave and other reasonable accommodations under the federal and state Family and Medical Leave Acts, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Maine Human Rights Act. Staff who support those trained were also present for the training. Individuals each received a handout authored by Disability Rights Center, which is entitled "What Are My Rights to Leave From Work? A Guide for Individuals with Disabilities." Individuals also received a pamphlet about the legal services that the Disability Rights Center offers.
Use of Adverse Effect Form The Maine Department of Education (MDOE) invited a Disability Rights Center advocate and a former special education director, who is now a sitting superintendent in the state, to provide live, online training to the state’s special education directors. The two were asked because they co-chaired a stakeholder group that recommended the use of the form to MDOE. The training encompasses the use of a new form by the IEP Teams when determining the presence of adverse effect of disability on educational performance.
Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Child Care Settings — DRC attorney will present a training on four ADA tip sheets DRC helped to develop on inclusion for children with disabilities in child care settings.
Targeted Case Manager 2012 DRC education team offered special education regulations and rights training sessions to children’s targeted case managers throughout Maine.
BVI Parent Advocacy Workshop At the invitation of the Iris Network, an advocate from DRC provided training for parents of children with visual impairments and members of the advocacy community. The training covered: 1) differences between special education and Section 504 services (eligibility, services, dispute resolution); 2) unmet need in special education; 3) recent systemic complaints filed by DRC related to specialized educational services for children who are blind or visually impaired; 4) DRC and how to access DRC services; and 5) special considerations in IEP development for children with visual impairments
Maine Mediators Association The DRC advocate presented with two others at the Maine Association of Mediators annual conference on the topic of special education mediation. The topics addressed included: dispute resolution in special education; common issues addressed through these mediations; preparation of clients done by advocate and consultant; the mediation itself and outcomes from mediations.
Chateau Cushnoc Housing Rights Present a training to residents of a HUD subsidized apartment complex on their legal rights to not be harassed on the basis of mental disability
Use of Adverse Effects Form The Maine Department of Education (MDOE)invited a Disability Rights Center advocate and a former special education director, who is now a sitting superintendent in the state, provided live, online training to the state’s special education directors. The training encompassed the use of a new form by the IEP Teams when determining the presence of adverse effect of disability on educational performance.
Kelly’s Rules Rights DRC Advocate co-teaches with Speaking Up For Us member Rights of Recipients of Developmental Services under the law . We teach people receiving services and their supporters about rights and what to do in everyday situations if they think their rights may have been violated. Rights workshops have been held in Rumford, Brunswick, Biddeford and Sanford. A total of 105 people with developmental disabilities and 40 supporters have attended.
Guardianship Trainings • DRC PADD Advocate and Attorney conducted training and workshops to educate people about guardianship. Training includes the rights maintained while under guardianship, how to work with your guardian, how to challenge a guardianship, the court procedure for awarding and removing guardianship, with a strong emphasis on the alternatives to guardianship.
• DRC General Counsel provided training to public guardian representatives on client rights and issues affecting individuals under guardianship.
Advance Directives Training DRC General Counsel provided training on Advance Directives to approximately 25 mental health peers at their annual Maine Association of Peer Support and Recovery Center’s retreat. As a result, individuals with mental illness are better informed regarding advance directives and have material to develop their own advance directive.
Rights Training for Mental Health Agency Residential Services Staff DRC staff provided general information regarding DRC, it’s mission and services and training to staff of a mental health agency that provides residential services. Training subjects included the rights of persons living in residential facilities, including service planning and the right to live in the most inclusive environment and to receive the least restrictive treatment. Direct care, as well as administrative staff attended the training.
Mental Health and the Law Training The PAIMI coordinator provided training on Maine’s commitment process, including outpatient commitment, through a national training coordinator to approximately 200 participants, including service providers, attorneys, and professionals.
Mental Health Peer Education DRC Attorneys trained members of the statewide Consumer Council System of Maine, an organization responsible for providing independent and effective consumer voice into health public policy, services, and funding decisions. The attorneys presented information on federal crisis services related grant and the Value Based Purchasing initiative. FDRC attorney also discussed the meaning of the initiatives in terms of potential significant changes in the way in which services will be delivered and the need for peers to increase their grass roots organization and to develop a network with other peer organizations in the state. At the end of the meeting, the CCSM had developed a plan for setting up a meeting with other organizations to develop a collaborative plan for grassroots organization.
Parents in New Seclusion and Restraint Regulations DRC created a presentation used to provide information to parents about the new regulations regarding seclusion and restraint.
Eastern Maine Area on Aging and Disability DRC advocate reviewed the work of PABSS program and the array of services provided at the DRC. The advocate presented information regarding the PABSS program and all other agency programs with specific focus on issues facing persons with disabilities as they returned to work. In addition the advocate spoke of the work DRC does in the area of employment discrimination, public facilities and assistant technology. DRC advocate also discussed the issues around voting access.
Maine Law Students DRC attorney participated on a panel at a local law school of Law regarding public interest law careers.
Mental Health Agencies and Consumers DRC advocate conducted general trainings for consumers and staff on work incentives and employment services for persons with mental Illness. The goal was to increase awareness of work incentives and employment supports which may allow consumers to gain employment.
Work Incentives Seminar WISE DRC advocate presented at Work Incentives Seminar as part of SSA outreach on Ticket to Work issues. PABSS advocate presented regarding DRC services, Ticket to Work opportunities, and employment supports.
Basic Rights Training for Motivational Services, Inc. DRC trained direct care and administrative staff on the rights of individuals living in a PNMI setting with particular focus on basic rights and least restrictive living options as well as least restrictive means of treatment.
Autism Spectrum in Classroom at St. Joseph’s College DRC presented a workshop, algon with the Developmental Disabilities Council on advocacy and legal issues for people on the autism spectrum for special education and regular education teachers from Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut. DDC provided information regarding the prevalence of Autism in Maine and nationally, impact of changes in Medicaid and MaineCare on this population, issues families are facing, etc. DRC’s focused on: where general education interventions and special education referral meet; intent and use of abbreviated school day, including a summary on tutoring and new regulations governing the use of restraint and seclusion in public schools.
Municipal Clerks & Registrars - Accessibility Training The Maine Secretary of State invited DRC to participate in their annual elections training for municipal clerks and registrars. DRC presented a information regarding accessibility at the polls and appropriate communication/etiquette for interacting with individuals with disabilities.
Project Vote DRC staff are partnered with Speaking Up For Us to conduct Project Vote trainings and distributed voting rights guides across Maine and engaged in discussions regarding how to get involved, become an informed voter, and to become an advocate for voting activism. AT Consortia FY 12 DRC participated in the Assistive Technology Consortia, a Maine’s statewide organization designed to help make assistive and universally designed technology more available to Maine children and adults who need them. Member agencies meet on a quarterly basis to discuss activities in the area of AT including, but not limited to, new funding streams, availability of AT services and advocacy for these services. The goal of the AT Consortia is to increase inter-agency information sharing regarding any and all AT-related programs in Maine. DRC staff attended AT Consortia meeting. DRC arrainged for the Secretary of State’s Office to come and demonstrate the Accessible Voting System (AVS) for Consortia members. Many individuals were unfamiliar with this service, so not only was this an excellent educational for them, but they are now able to share this information with the individuals they serve, who otherwise may not be aware of the accessible voting system.
Training for Hospital Social Workers on Housing Issues DRC trained psychiatric hospital social workers on the basics of housing law issues that may affect their clients during their stay in the hospital. They were also educated on how to access housing assistance through various programs operated through the Maine DHHS.
April Fair Housing Month Training at the Maine Human Rights Commission DRC trained property owners, managers, and staff were trained on how to comply with the requirements of state and federal fair housing laws as part of a workshop put on by the Maine Human Rights Commission as part of Fair Housing Month. DRC presented on the issue of reasonable accommodations in housing.
|1. Radio and TV appearances by PAIR staff||5|
|2. Newspaper/magazine/journal articles||42|
|3. PSAs/videos aired||1|
|4. Hits on the PAIR/P&A website||63,217|
|5. Publications/booklets/brochures disseminated||2,500|
|6. Other (specify separately)||0|
Count individual once per FY. Multiple counts not permitted for lines A1 through A3.
|1. Individuals still served as of October 1 (carryover from prior FY)||30|
|2. Additional individuals served during the year||41|
|3. Total individuals served (lines A1 + A2)||71|
|4. Individuals w. more than 1 case opened/closed during the FY. (Do not add this number to total on line A3 above.)||71|
Carryover to next FY may not exceed total on line II. A.3 above 21
|1. Architectural accessibility||2|
|3. Program access||1|
|5. Government benefits/services||6|
|8. Assistive technology||0|
|10. Health care||11|
|12. Non-government services||19|
|13. Privacy rights||0|
|14. Access to records||0|
|1. Issues resolved partially or completely in individual favor||16|
|2. Other representation found||2|
|3. Individual withdrew complaint||4|
|4. Appeals unsuccessful||0|
|5. PAIR Services not needed due to individual's death, relocation etc.||0|
|6. PAIR withdrew from case||0|
|7. PAIR unable to take case because of lack of resources||2|
|8. Individual case lacks legal merit||20|
unfavorable ruling, client did not want to appeal-1; client non-responsive-6 client missed filing deadline-1
List the highest level of intervention used by PAIR prior to closing each case file.
|1. Technical assistance in self-advocacy||1|
|2. Short-term assistance||29|
|5. Mediation/alternative dispute resolution||0|
|6. Administrative hearings||8|
|7. Litigation (including class actions)||3|
|8. Systemic/policy activities||0|
|1. 0 - 4||0|
|2. 5 - 22||7|
|3. 23 - 59||54|
|4. 60 - 64||4|
|5. 65 and over||6|
Multiple responses not permitted.
|1. Hispanic/Latino of any race||1|
|2. American Indian or Alaskan Native||1|
|4. Black or African American||1|
|5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander||0|
|7. Two or more races||3|
|8. Race/ethnicity unknown||3|
Multiple responses not permitted.
|2. Parental or other family home||8|
|3. Community residential home||2|
|4. Foster care||0|
|5. Nursing home||2|
|6. Public institutional living arrangement||0|
|7. Private institutional living arrangement||0|
|8. Jail/prison/detention center||0|
|10. Other living arrangements||0|
|11. Living arrangements not known||0|
Identify the individual's primary disability, namely the one directly related to the issues/complaints
|1. Blind/visual impairment||5|
|2. Deaf/hard of hearing||3|
|4. Orthopedic impairment||34|
|5. Mental illness||1|
|6. Substance abuse||1|
|7. Mental retardation||0|
|8. Learning disability||6|
|9. Neurological impairment||13|
|10. Respiratory impairment||3|
|11. Heart/other circulatory impairment||1|
|12. Muscular/skeletal impairment||0|
|13. Speech impairment||0|
|15. Traumatic brain injury||0|
|16. Other disability||3|
|1. Number of policies/practices changed as a result of non-litigation systemic activities||9|
|2. Number of individuals potentially impacted by policy changes||8,385|
Describe your systemic activities. Be sure to include information about the policies that were changed and how these changes benefit individuals with disabilities. Include case examples of how your systemic activities impacted individuals served.
DRC’s Executive Director of DRC serves on a stakeholder group that is building and renovating the district court building in Augusta to ensure that the court was accessible to people with disabilities. The stakeholder group included judges, law enforcement personnel, architects and members of the bar.
DRC participated in a work group designed to bring the asset development (financial institutions, etc.) and disability communities together to discuss economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities through home ownership, education, and employment opportunities.
DRC was a member of stakeholder in the public/private partnership newly formed Maine Chapter of the Business Leadership Network. DRC worked to assure that the planning and development of this initiative included people with disabilities and also served as a resource to the planning committee as this public/private partnership evolves. The long term goal is to shift funding of this work to the private sector and to increase the employment levels of persons with disabilities in Maine.
DRc sat on a workgroup, developed by Bureau of Rehabilitation Services and Maine DHHS to collect data and develop recommendations so as to better monitor benefits counseling services in Maine. With all agencies collaborating on this key service Maine was able to maintain benefits counseling services state wide in spite of severe funding issues.
DRC was appointed to a legislatively mandated stakeholder group examining how to assist Maine schools in obtaining federal funds for medically necessary services. Recent changes to MaineCare (Medicaid in Maine) policy resulted in school districts greatly reducing and in some cases eliminating their billing to MaineCare for medically necessary services provided to schildren with disabilities in schools. As a result of the cost shift to general purpose aid (GPA), Maine school were/are under financial pressures that may result in the erosion of FAPE for all children with disabilities attending public schools.
DRC participated in the first meeting of the ANSI/A117.1 Committee, which is tasked with developing the standards for accessible buildings and facilities across the United States. The standards were last issued in 2008 and the committee has begun the next review cycle. "The scope of this committee includes site design and architectural features affecting the accessibility and usability of buildings and facilities, consideration to be given to all types of physical and sensory disabilities, to publicly used buildings and facilities and to residential structures."
DRC was asked to assist in developing a disability commission for the City of Portland, Maine that would advise the city and policy makers on disability concerns, access, and quality of life issues. DRC coordinated with the City of Portland in recruiting members and in developing a formal city commission intended to advise the city on disability concerns pertaining to access, inclusion, and civil rights for people with disabilities who live, work, and interact with the city.
DRC sits on the State Independent Living Council which advises state officials on independent living services in Maine. During the past year the SILC has been actively involved in several key areas including transportation, affordable housing, assistive technology and economic self-sufficiency.
DRC chaired the Governor’s Commission on Disability and Employment (CDE), a statutorily created commission, that advises the Governor and the legislature on activities of state government that affect the employment of people with disabilities. DRC attended the “Alliance for Full Participation Conference” and is working ensuring that Maine would become an “Employment First” state.
DRC was actively involved in an initiative adopted by the current administration for managing MaineCare, in lieu of managed care.
DRC collaborated with other interested parties as part of a legislative workgroup looking at the feasibility of privatizing public guardianship for persons with disabilities. The work group met, reviewed different guardianship programs from across the country, and reviewed national standards on guardianship. After this group was created, DHHS proposed changing its guardianship program to separate out the case management and guardianship functions. Although many on the group felt this still presented some conflict, the group felt a full transition to private system of guardianship was not feasible at this time. The group drafted a report to the legislature making recommendations. These included: a statute change providing employment retaliation protections to state guardians, having the current program funded through a line item (so that there would be accurate information regarding the cost of public guardianship), and requiring DHHS to report back to the legislature’s health and human services committee regarding the separation of case management and guardianship functions within DHHS.
DRC filed a complaint with the Boston Office for Civil Rights (OCR) against the Maine Department of Education regarding school districts’ failure to provide FAPE, specifically specialized educational services to children who are blind or visually impaired. The advocate worked with OCR investigators during the agency’s evaluation phase in preparation for the possibility of investigation. As a result the complaint, the Maine Department of Labor, as the Maine Department of Education has no educational obligations to students under Section 504) was forced to implement a corrective action plan to address problems identified through the complaint: - A national expert trained Maine’s special education directors on their responsibilities to children who are blind or have visual impairments; -Monitored the “waiting lists” maintained by the Department of Labor for orientation and mobility instruction and services of teachers of the visually impaired; -Provided written and oral testimony to the Legislature’s Labor Committee regarding legislation to appropriate funds for, among others, additional orientation and mobility instructors and teachers of the visually impaired. The bill passed and in September 2012 the Departments of Labor and Education reported to the Appropriations Committee that means had been found to fund all positions required by the bill though the positions had not all been filled; -Conducted a training in Aroostook County at the request of the Iris Network and the Maine’s chapter of the National Federation of the Blind regarding the history of the systemic complaint filed, the State’s progress in implementing the corrective action plan, and problems still faced by these students; and -Reviewed documents in the possession of the Maine Department of Education’s Due Process Office that provided the basis for the Department’s determination that the Corrective Action Plan had been successfully implemented.
DRC staff participated in this advisory/stakeholder group meetings regarding Maine’s implementation of the Money Follows the Person Demonstration Project. Staff advised on major design features including target population, recruitment and enrollment, quality management, transition process and services, and Home and Community Based services. The project is ongoing and it is expected that the group will be fully operational during FY 2013.
DRC staff collaborated with multiple service organizations to raise public awareness around potentially devastating State budget cuts. DRC participated in the planning and coordination of a rally and a vigil held in opposition to proposed budget cuts, which targeted the elimination of health coverage for thousands of low-income individuals and people with disabilities, as well as the reduction and/or elimination of critical services. Approximately 500 individuals involved.
The MaineCare Advisory Committee is a statutorily mandated committee that advises the state Medicaid agency on matters relating to MaineCare services. This is an ongoing committee of advocates, MaineCare members and providers who advise DHHS on policies relating to MaineCare. Two DRC staff are members on the committee. During FY 2012 the committee commented on waiver development, budget impact, the process whereby information is delivered to the committee, state response to federal audit findings and directives (Rehabilitation, targeted case management, PNMI’s, etc.), rate changes, transportation and billing for school based services.
DRC sat on a Medicaid Infrastructure Grant (MIG) committee that oversaw the MIG-funded projects in Maine pertaining to systemic improvement to the employment service system. DRC served on an advisory committee to monitor projects and to participate in the review and development of the final stages of the MIG activities. This grant allowed Maine to make needed changes with its employment service system for persons with disabilities.
HAARAN (Horn of Africa Aid and Rehabilitation Action Network) is a non-profit organization based in Lewiston, serving the needs of local immigrants with disabilities from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. Individuals who are citizens or who have been granted asylum are eligible for services within the education/human services systems but have trouble navigating them and accessing appropriate supports. DRC had participated in initial meetings of the HARAAN organization, provided DRC materials and information, and conducted informal discussions about disability and immigrant concerns.
DRC conducted outreach to Houlton Maliseets and Presque Isle Micmacs. DRC conducted outreach to community events at the Houlton Maliseet tribe community center and the Presque Isle Micmac tribe community center, distributing DRC reports, brochures, etc., and answering questions with providers and tribe members.
DRC participated in a panel discussion on employment of persons who are blind and discussed challenges they may face, and DRC services generally regarding AT, employment supports, job accommodations, and discrimination issues.
DRC has created an employment advocacy team, a group of volunteer, cross-disability advocates, funded with support from Maine’s Medicaid Infrastructure Grant project and supported by DRC staff to develop a grassroots advocacy movement promoting employment opportunities and independence for Mainers with disabilities who want to explore work. The project objective is to create and sustain a workgroup of people with disabilities from a cross-disability and statewide perspective, focusing on activities to promote employment opportunities, and to serve on boards and commissions and in other venues to promote this agenda.
Maine’s Secretary of State convened a commission to review election practices in Maine and to consider a voter photo ID requirement. DRC in conjunction with Protect the Maine Vote coalition attended election commission meetings and public hearings pertaining to election practices in Maine, with particular attention to a potential voter photo ID requirement that might be recommended by the commission. DRC’s advocacy director coordinated with other groups to attend public hearing and testify regarding photo ID concerns and the unfair impact these requirements have on voters with disabilities, voters in rural areas, and voters with transportation challenges. The public hearing was attended by 55 people and opposition to photo ID was overwhelming.
DRC staff developed a on online voter information survey that covered a wide variety of disability-related topics. All candidates who were running for state legislative offices were invited to participate in this survey. The responses will then be made available to the public, so that individuals with disabilities can become familiar with the candidate(s) in their district and be informed on where their candidate stands on disability-related issues. For a survey size of 380 candidates, DRC obtained a 40% response/participation rate in its online survey for 2012 state legislative candidates.
DRC convened and hosted a public forum focusing on disability issues for the major Senate candidates in 2012. The event was publicized statewide in print and on television, with particular targets to consumer organizations and agencies serving individuals with disabilities. Co-sponsoring organizations set up tables at which they presented their information. At that forum, the individual elected to the Senate in the November election, promised to create a “Disability Commission” to be headed by DRC’s Executive Director.
|1. Number of individuals potentially impacted by changes as a result of PAIR litigation/class action efforts||14,896|
|2. Number of individuals named in class actions||0|
Describe your litigation/class action activities. Explain how individuals with disabilities benefited from your litigation activities. Be sure to include case examples that demonstrate the impact of your litigation.
DRC represented 3 individuals in litigation in FY 2012. None of the litigiation involved class actions or systematic activity. DRC handled no class actions in this fiscal year. DRC filed suit in a number of cases that potentially could have resulted in litigation, but settled prior to filing.
Employment cases are difficult cases and they often lead to individual results but rarely lead to systemic relief as employers often require a confidentiality agreement before settling the case. For example, after prevailing in the Maine Human Rights Commission and filing a lawsuit in federal court, the P&A obtained a favorable settlement for a client who was terminated because of her disability and her pregnancy. The employer denied client, who has scoliosis and a hand and arm deformity, reasonable accommodation for her scoliosis because "you’re not standing on your hand." Client, a hotel desk clerk, was criticized for not picking up the phone fast enough, as she had to work with one hand due to her disability. Client was fired soon after she found a note from her boss stating, "we’re not running a charity, get [client] gone”. Following discovery, the parties engaged in settlement discussions with the help of a mediator and were able to arrive at an agreeable resolution.
Just as it is difficult to achieve systemic relief in employment cases, individual cases involving public accommodations can provide the opportunity for systemic relief because of publicity. The hospitality industry in Maine serves a number of individuals, including those who with disabilities. A number of individuals in the state are either blind or have visual impairments and need accommodations when traveling, as do visitors from other states who are blind or have visual impairments. DRC handled a case for a woman who was blind and was denied the use of her service dog at a local hotel. On the eve of trial, DRC obtained a favorable settlement for the client who returned to her home town in order to attend the funeral of a close friend. She made a reservation, but when she arrived with her service animal, the owner immediately told her that they did not allow any dogs. Client tried to explain that she is blind and uses a service animal and her friend tried to persuade the owner to allow her service animal. The owner continued to refuse, so her friend called the police. The police officer who showed up tried to speak with the owner, who still refused. Client gave the officer some information on the ADA; he read it and then decided to call the chief of police. When the chief showed up, he tried to negotiate with the owner again. The owner finally offered to let her stay, but said she would have to pay a deposit. Client refused to pay the fee, and as a result was not permitted to stay at the hotel. DRC staff attorney attempted to resolve the case with the hotel but these efforts were unsuccessful. Therefore, staff attorney filed a complaint in state court alleging violation of the Maine Human Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Just prior to trial, the parties engaged in settlement discussions with the help of a state judge as mediator and were able to arrive at an agreeable resolution which included a new policy allowing service dogs, an apology and a public statement indicating that the case had settled for these terms as well as a confidential settlement amount.
DRC represented a client in an eviction proceeding, allowing the client to temporarily retain her home while also allowing her additional time to find another home. DRC successfully negotiated a resolution for a client who uses a wheelchair and faced immediate eviction. Client, who has diabetes, contacted DRC because she was being evicted from her apartment. Landlord sought to evict client due to excessive noise and guests smoking on the porch. Landlord also stated that the apartment is not wheelchair accessible (client needed a wheelchair due to recent surgery) and that it would be too expensive to make it accessible. Client contacted DRC because she was concerned that she was being evicted due to her disability. DRC attorney represented client at eviction hearing in court and successfully negotiated a resolution with landlord’s attorney which avoided eviction and allowed client additional time to stay in the apartment to recover from surgery and find a new home.
For each of your PAIR program priorities for the fiscal year covered by this report, please:
1. Statement of the priority People with disabilities will be safe from abuse and neglect. 2. The need addressed by the priority People with disabilities are often vulnerable and dependent upon others for basic necessities such as food, care and safety. Often people with disabilities cannot defend themselves or fear reporting instances of abuse and neglect because of a fear of retaliation. They are also often subject to financial exploitation. 3. A description of the activities to be carried out under the priority. DRC investigate allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation. If the individual seeks an investigation that would be more appropriately performed by another agency, such as law enforcement, licensing or protective, then DRC will make a supervised referral. DRC may also investigate the allegations and represent individuals with disabilities who report instances of abuse, neglect or deprivation of basic rights by staff of a facility or by any other individual who has an affirmative duty to the individual such as a teacher, case worker or other professional. Abuse, neglect and deprivation of personal rights are -- -failure to provide appropriate treatment or evaluations including the use of appropriate assistive technology -deprivation of basic necessities -providing an unsafe physical environment -financial exploitation, physical or sexual abuse or failure to protect an individual from physical or sexual abuse by others -improper use of seclusion, restraint, medication or other aversive intervention -interference with basic rights of access to the following: the outdoors, visitors, free communication, recreation, the exercise of religion, voting, family members, and legal rights information and representation. 4. Explain whether pursuing this priority involved collaborative efforts by other entities. If so, describe this collaboration. DRC has collaborated with the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program and other state enforcement agencies in the past, including law enforcement. The collaboration with the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program has been successful and DRC continues to foster relationships with LTCOP and other agencies responsible for investigating allegations of this sort. 5. Provide the number of cases handled under the priority. Indicate how many of these, if any, were class actions. DRC is happy to report that there no abuse cases and only two neglect cases handled under this priority. Neither neglect case was a class action. 6. Provide at least one case summary that demonstrates the impact of the priority. The neglect cases involved two brothers with Huntington’s Disease. The brothers’ mother and guardian wanted to bring her sons home from a group home where they were receiving 24/7 care. When assessed by the agent of the Department of Health and Human Services, it was determined that they were not eligible for the same level of care that they had been receiving. DRC attorney determined that any appeal would not be successful. The clients’ mother appealed the decision on her own and brought her sons home. The appeal was not successful. One son recently died and the other is living at home receiving 56 hours of care.
1. Identify and describe priority. People with disabilities will have access to employment without being subject to unlawful, disability based discrimination. 2. Identify the need, issue or barrier addressed by this priority. People with disabilities are disproportionately poor. Employment is consistently identified as a major issue for people with disabilities. According to a recent report, in Maine, there are approximately 206,400 individuals with one or more disabilities about 16 percent of the civilian non-institutionalized population of 1.3 million. This is higher than that of the United States, where an estimated 12 percent of residents had a disability. About 13 percent of Maine’s working-age adults had one or more disabilities, compared with the United States as a whole, where an estimated 10 percent of working age adults had a disability. An estimated 35 percent of working-age Mainers with disabilities were employed from 2008 through 2010, compared to 79 percent of those with no disability. In Maine 45 percent of workers with disabilities held full-time, year round jobs, compared to 62 percent of employed workers without a disability. On average, more than one quarter of working-age adults with a disability live in poverty. Another quarter lived near poverty. In Maine, adults with disabilities were nearly three times as likely to live in poverty as those without a disability and more than twice as likely to be poor or near poor. Fifty seven percent of Maine workers with a disability earned less than $26,000 compared to Thirty eight percent of Maine workers without a disability. People with disabilities systematically excluded from the workplace. They are excluded from the workforce because of stereotyping, fears of increased cost, inflexibility in considering accommodations and outright prejudice. Even though an employee may only need a reasonable accommodation in order for her or him to maintain or secure employment, employers are reluctant to provide individuals with disabilities with any accommodations. People with disabilities sometimes need assistance in making a request for a reasonable accommodation and representation when the request is denied. People with disabilities are often terminated from employment because of disabilities or they are at serious risk of termination or they have been subject to other serious adverse employment action. Sometimes people with disabilities are harassed on the job or subject to retaliation. Even though the ADA has been amended, members of the private bar are often reluctant to take employment cases because of the difficulty of proving employment claims, the hostility of the courts and the high cost of prosecuting cases. As a result of this reluctance, P&As are often the only source of representation for people with disabilities in employment cases. 3. Identify and describe indicators PAIR used to determine successful outcome of activities pursued under this priority. DRC represented individuals who, because of their disability: -need accommodations in the workplace; -have been subjected to adverse job action in the workplace; -have been subjected to a hostile work environment all because of disability, or who have been subjected to retaliation. 4. Explain whether pursuing this priority involved collaborative efforts by other entities. If so, describe this collaboration. Last year, DRC reported losing two staff attorneys, one of whom handled many of the employment discrimination cases, leaving DRC with one attorney handling employment cases. DRC still has only one attorney handling employment matters. She is a member of the Maine Employment Lawyers Association and the National Employment Lawyers Association. She works closely with other MELA member attorneys across the state and with NELA attorneys across the country. DRC also works with legislators, providers, government officials and employers to increase the employment of people with disabilities. A DRC advocate was also the chair of the Governors Committee on Disability and Employment, a subcommittee of the Maine Jobs Council, and is also a member of the Jobs Council. 51% of Jobs Council members are employers, the balance being advocates, union representatives and government agencies. 5. Provide the number of cases handled under the priority. Indicate how many of these, if any, were class actions. 6. Provide at least one case summary that demonstrates the impact of the priority. • After prevailing in the Maine Human Rights Commission and filing a lawsuit in federal court, the P&A obtained a favorable settlement for a client who was terminated because of her disability and her pregnancy. The employer denied client, who has scoliosis and a hand and arm deformity, reasonable accommodation for her scoliosis because "you’re not standing on your hand." Client, a hotel desk clerk, was criticized for not picking up the phone fast enough, as she had to work with one hand due to her disability. Client was fired soon after she found a note from her boss stating, "we’re not running a charity, get [client] gone”. Following discovery, the parties engaged in settlement discussions with the help of a mediator and were able to arrive at an agreeable resolution. • As a result of advocacy from the Disability Rights Center, a client with end stage kidney disease and a recent kidney transplant was reinstated at work after being terminated because of his dialysis treatment. Client was an employee at a coffee shop in central Maine. Client contacted DRC to complain that despite his excellent work performance and strong work ethic, his manager at work unilaterally cut his hours due to his dialysis treatment. The manager apologetically told him, “It’s my fault for hiring you” and took him off the schedule. Client offered to switch his treatments to accommodate the work schedule to no avail. A DRC law student extern, under the supervision of a DRC attorney, contacted the client, assessed the case and successfully negotiated client’s return to work. The client had just undergone successful kidney transplant, was ready to work and relieved to be reinstated. • As a result of DRC’s advocacy, a 50 year old woman with a heart condition was put back to work after her termination. Client worked in an office setting for over a decade when she left work to undergo surgery. She remained out of work on long term disability for 8 months. When she attempted to return to work, her employer indicated that the job was no longer available. Client confirmed with others in the office that office was downsizing. Client’s first priority was getting back to work, so a DRC attorney contacted counsel for the employer and negotiated client’s return to work. Client now has a more advantageous position which is higher paying and she is back in the workforce. • With assistance from DRC, a woman with learning disabilities maintained employment in her job of ten years and conditions at her work improved. A 28-year-old female with an Auditory Processing Disorder and comprehension difficulties who had been working at the same retail job for almost a decade had problems arise after the client’s manager, who was newly promoted, criticized client for her learning and processing speed. Client had difficulty understanding new directions and needed extra time to process with her supervisor. DRC attorney provided client with a model reasonable accommodation letter and advised client to request reasonable accommodation of additional time to process new instructions with her supervisor, among other possible accommodations. DRC attorney also advised client to contact vocational rehabilitation to provide a job coach. Client reported soon thereafter that her work circumstances had improved, as her manager was transferred and client had a job coach on site from vocational rehabilitation. • The DRC vindicated the rights of a client with work-related injuries who was discriminated against at work. A DRC attorney represented client at the Maine Human Rights Commission, which unanimously found reasonable grounds to believe client’s right to reasonable accommodation was denied or unlawfully delayed. Client worked as a manual laborer for employer for 20 years when he requested a ratcheting hoist and ratcheting cutters, equipment which would enable him to do the essential functions of his job. Employer delayed providing the cutters for a year and denied request for the hoist altogether. After investigation, the MHRC investigator recommended reasonable grounds to believe client was discriminated against; the MHRC unanimously found in client’s favor. DRC assisted client with drafting the complaint and referred the case out to a private firm for litigation. 1. a statement of the priority; Individuals with disabilities will receive services, including healthcare and housing, in the most integrated setting appropriate and, where possible, direct their own services. 2. The need addressed by each priority; Often, individuals with disabilities must remain or enter into living situation that are more restrictive than what the client wants, or what is necessary in order to address legitimate safety or medical considerations. Often this happens because they are not afforded reasonable accommodations, modifications, assistive aids or services that enable them to reside where they choose. Medicaid waivers allow individuals to receive services in the community rather than in institutions but they are limited. Sometimes, hospital or service agency personnel, state agency representatives or other professionals exert undue pressure on people with disabilities to stay in a facility or not liv eon their own. Other times this can be the result of budget cutbacks, where departments are asked to cut spending in certain programs, such as personal care services, and in order to achieve those cutbacks, individuals are threatened with institutionalization. Whenever possible, individuals with disabilities should be able to live in communities of their choice as well as direct their own services. Healthcare is covered by this priority and is particularly important to people with disabilities. This priority also covers housing. Shelter is an essential human need. Maine has a relatively older housing stock, so inaccessible housing exits in all communities throughout the state. People with disabilities usually do not own their own home, but rent where they live. They have a much more difficult time obtaining and keeping suitable housing because of their disability. They are also much more likely to be subject to eviction because of their disabilities. Tenants with disabilities are entitled to reasonable modifications or reasonable accommodations but are often denied those accommodations because of their disabilities . 3. Identify and describe indicators PAIR used to determine successful outcome of activities pursued under this priority. DRC accepts meritorious referrals from the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program and represents individuals with disabilities on waivers in administrative hearings who are in danger of being institutionalized. In housing cases, DRC represents individuals in court who are in danger of being institutionalized. DRC represented tenants with disabilities who were being discriminated against on the basis of disability, by: being evicted; who needed reasonable modifications or accommodations in order for them to maintain or obtain suitable housing and their requests to their landlords had been denied; or when they needed direct representation in order to make the request. 4. Explain whether pursuing this priority involved collaborative efforts by other entities. If so, describe this collaboration. DRC regularly meets and works with the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) to discuss case strategies, trends and other issues of common concern, such as issues around services in the least restrictive setting issues and questions about the nursing home waivers. DRC also works with Legal Services for the Elderly (LSE) on these issues. LTCOP refers DRC waiver cases involving individuals with disabilities living in the community who are threatened with institutionalization because they were assessed as needing fewer personal care attendant hours. DRC and LSE share legal briefs and other memoranda where appropriate. In housing matters, DRC collaborates with the Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC). In return for receiving federal funds, the MHRC must prosecute housing cases where it finds reasonable grounds to believe that disability based housing discrimination occurred. DRC has discussed co-counseling cases with the MHRC. 5. Provide the number of cases handled under the priority. Indicate how many of these, if any, were class actions. DRC handled 11 cases under this priority. 6. Provide at least one case summary that demonstrates the impact of the priority. • On the eve of trial, DRC attorney obtained a favorable settlement for a client who was denied the use of her service dog at a local hotel. Client was blind and hard of hearing and needed her service dog. She made a reservation, but when she arrived her service animal, the owner immediately told her that they did not allow dogs. Client tried to explain that she is blind and uses a service animal. The owner continued to refuse, so her friend called the police. The police officer tried to speak with the owner, who still refused. Client gave the officer some information on the ADA; he read it and then decided to call the chief of police. When the chief showed up, he tried to negotiate with the owner again. The owner finally offered to let her stay, but said she would have to pay a deposit. Client refused to pay the fee, and as a result was not permitted to stay at the hotel. DRC staff attorney attempted to resolve the case with the hotel but these efforts were unsuccessful. Therefore, staff attorney filed a complaint in state court alleging violation of the Maine Human Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Just prior to trial, the parties engaged in settlement discussions with the help of a state judge as mediator and were able to arrive at an agreeable resolution which included a new policy allowing service dogs, an apology and a public statement indicating that the case had settled for these terms as well as a confidential settlement amount. • As a result of DRC’s advocacy, a Somalia woman with paraplegia, post-polio syndrome and limited use of her hands has the personal care hours she needs and can stay in her home in the community with her family. The woman requested assistance from DRC after DHHS repeatedly assessed her needed hours of personal care at far less than what she required. DRC attorney moved to continue hearing to allow for proper consultations with a physical therapist and occupational therapist who concluded that the hours she was receiving were not adequate for her needs and this posed a risk of danger for her. DRC attorney prepped these experts for hearing and advocated that client needs more hours. DHHs then reassessed client and finally increased her hours to the necessary level to meet her needs, which allowed client to remain in her apartment with her children. • As a result of DRC’s advocacy, a client with Asthma, Emphysema, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and mental illness was permitted to access services at a homeless shelter in her community. Client contacted DRC and reported that the homeless shelter informed her that she could not stay with an oxygen tank. Due to her severe limitations in pulmonary functions, the client requires a tank of oxygen at all times. DRC attorney provided a written reasonable modification request from client’s pulmonologist to the shelter’s executive director. DRC attorney also educated the shelter regarding its obligation to provide reasonable modification pursuant to the Maine Human Rights Act and the ADA. Thereafter, the shelter permitted the client to have her oxygen tank present and client was able to access shelter services in her community. • DRC successfully negotiated a resolution for a client who used a wheelchair and faced immediate eviction. Client, who has diabetes, contacted DRC because she was being evicted from her apartment. Landlord sought to evict client due to excessive noise and guests smoking on the porch. Landlord also stated that the apartment is not wheelchair accessible and that it would be too expensive to make it accessible. Client contacted DRC because she was concerned that she was being evicted due to her disability. DRC attorney represented client at eviction hearing in court and successfully negotiated a resolution with landlord’s attorney which avoided eviction and allowed client additional time to stay in the apartment to recover from surgery and find a new home.
1. Identify and describe priority. Public accommodations and governmental services will be accessible to people with disabilities. 2. Identify the need, issue or barrier addressed by this priority. This priority covers both public accommodations and governmental services. Individuals with disabilities are often denied access to public accommodations because of architectural barriers or because of policies, practices or procedures. Requests for modifications or accommodations are often denied, as are requests to discontinue discriminatory policies, practices or procedures. Often discrimination in governmental benefits occurs through denial of benefits or services, or by offering benefits or services that are unequal to or less effective than those offered to persons without disabilities or by offering or providing different or segregated benefits or services when such action is not necessary in order to make the benefit or service effective. Direct representation is often the best mechanism to produce change. 3. Identify and describe indicators PAIR used to determine successful outcome of activities pursued under this priority. DRC represented individuals with disabilities seeking reasonable accommodations or modifications in order to access critical services either before the Maine Human Rights Commission or in court whose request for a modification or accommodation had been denied. 4. Explain whether pursuing this priority involved collaborative efforts by other entities. If so, describe this collaboration. We work with governmental agencies and private non-profits around enforcement. 5. Provide the number of cases handled under the priority. Indicate how many of these, if any, were class actions. DRC handled 27 cases under this priority. Under this priority, DRC handled 5 governmental services cases; 1 transportation case; 2 architectural accessibility cases; 1 program accessibility case and 19 non-governmental services cases. 6. Provide at least one case summary that demonstrates the impact of the priority. • Due DRC’s intervention, a client with mental illness and deafness will be admitted to an intensive outpatient mental health program where he was previously denied because he is deaf. Client is a 30 year old homeless male who was a patient on a psychiatric ward of a hospital. He was slated for discharge and arrangements were made for him to attend the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) where he would also receive psychiatry services. However, the day before client was to begin the IOP, the IOP informed client that the program would not be able to provide interpreter services and therefore he was refused admittance to the program. DRC attorney contacted the hospital IOP program to demand client’s admittance into the program. The facility manager made various comments, including that "the providers agree that the IOP is not a great place for a deaf person" ; the concept of group therapy is "not part of deaf culture" and "the system is not deaf friendly." The IOP manager also stated that participants in the IOP group therapy talk to the interpreter rather than the deaf person and "culturally, it’s not a good match." DRC attorney informed the IOP Manager and the head interpreter that the hospital is obligated, under state and federal law, to allow Mr. Torres access into the IOP and that they are in violation of the law by failing to allow him access. DRC attorney requested immediate acceptance into the program or else we would frankly have no choice but to sue alleging violation of the ADA and the Maine Human Rights Act. Shortly thereafter, DRC attorney received a phone call from the hospital that client has been admitted to the program. • As a result of DRC’s intervention, client was provided with reasonable accommodation in transportation services. A woman with physical and mental disabilities contacted DRC after a volunteer driver for a transportation provider would not allow her to take her walker to an appointment. A DRC attorney contacted the manager and informed her that provider needed to ensure that their volunteer drivers are trained on their ADA obligations to provide reasonable accommodation to clients and others with disabilities. Manager confirmed that client had right to reasonable accommodation and she will ensure that volunteers are aware of their obligation. DRC attorney confirmed with client that she can access transportation services with reasonable accommodation. • With assistance from DRC, a client with a mobility impairment obtained the accommodations she needed in order to utilize her local food pantry, which is located downstairs in a historic church. The client, who uses a walker, is a high fall risk and cannot access the pantry. Pantry staff denied he client’s request for an exception to the policy requiring that all patrons be on the site in order to pick up their food and requested that her daughter pick up her food for her. The pantry staff that the request would be unfair to other patrons. A DRC attorney contacted the food pantry manager and explained that pursuant to the ADA and the Maine Human Rights Act, the client is entitled to a reasonable modification of the practices and policies which require individuals to be present to pick up their food. After discussion, the food pantry manager agreed to allow the modification and client thereafter had her daughter pick up her food and ticket for her. • As a result of intervention from the Disability Rights Center, a trade school agreed to provide a 28 year old female student with mental illness and learning disabilities with reasonable accommodations. The client contacted DRC after her trade school refused to provide her with a reader for examinations and other accommodations even though the client’s vocational rehabilitation worker made these requests. The client is limited in reading and comprehending written information and was unable to effectively take her examinations without extra time to take the tests, a quiet place while taking the test, a reader to assist the student and a tutor. A DRC attorney contacted the executive director of the school and explained that the school has an obligation under the ADA and the MHRA to provide reasonable accommodations or modifications for its students with disabilities. Following DRC’s call, the school agreed to provide the requested reasonable accommodations to the student and student was able to take her examinations with accommodations. • The mother of an elementary school student diagnosed with a peanut allergy contacted DRC to seeking a full time at home tutor after the client’s mother took client out of school and began homeschooling him. Client’s doctor believed that he could be educated at school. DRC assisted him in obtaining modifications that would accommodate him. • As a result of Disability Rights Center’s advocacy, a secondary student may now fully participate in extracurricular activities and sports with reasonable modification for his disability. Student had been diagnosed with severe migraine headaches and depression. Due to his migraine headaches, which typically occur in the mornings, he is sometimes tardy for school. Parents called DRC for assistance when the school informed the family that student would no longer be permitted to participate in extracurricular activities on the days when he is late for school due to his migraine headaches. A DRC attorney investigated and advocated for the student. As a result of DRC attorney’s advocacy, the school district modified its policy and allowed the student to participate in extracurricular activities and sports. • DRC was able to resolve a Medicaid billing problem for a 50 year old Veteran who’d been denied a request for an ocular prosthesis for the reason that his Medicaid had supposedly terminated. The denial came after the client had already had his eye removed surgically and had received a temporary prosthetic. If the permanent eye was not provided reasonably soon, his eye socket would shrink and he’d have to have surgery again. The client was understandably distraught. Through multiple calls to DHHS and the client’s ocularist, the DRC attorney was able to get the problem corrected. Apparently there had been a glitch in the information system, with a disconnect between eligibility information and prior approval. DHHS expedited the correction and the client was scheduled to see his ocularist for a permanent prosthesis.
Please include a statement of priorities and objectives for the current fiscal year (the fiscal year succeeding that covered by this report), which should contain the following information:
B. Priorities and Objectives for the Current Fiscal Year Please include a statement of priorities and objectives for the current fiscal year (the fiscal year succeeding that covered by this report), which should contain the following information: 1. a statement of each priority; 2. the need addressed by each priority; and; 3. a description of the activities to be carried out under each priority. 1. a statement of the priority People with disabilities will be safe from abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and will be guaranteed basic personal rights. 2. the need addressed by each priority People with disabilities are often more vulnerable than the general population because they are more dependent upon others for food, care and safety and often cannot defend themselves or fear reporting instances of abuse or neglect because they fear retaliation. They are also often subject to financial exploitation. People with disabilities can placed under guardianship unnecessarily or can be subject to exploitation of neglect by their guardian 3. a description of the activities to be carried out under each priority. DRC will investigate allegation of abuse, neglect or exploitation and, if appropriate, represent the individual. If the individual seeks an investigation that would be more appropriately performed by another agency, such as law enforcement, licensing or protective services, then we will make a supervised referral. DRC will represent individuals with disabilities who report instances of abuse, neglect or deprivation of basic rights by staff of a facility or by any other individual who has an affirmative duty to the individual such as a teacher, case worker or other professional. Abuse, neglect and deprivation of personal rights are: -failure to provide appropriate treatment or evaluations, including the use of appropriate assistive technology; -deprivation of basic necessities; -providing an unsafe physical environment; -financial exploitation, physical or sexual abuse for failure to protect an individual from physical or sexual abuse by others; -improper use of seclusion, restraint, medication or other aversive intervention; and -interference with basic rights of access to the following: the outdoors, visitors, free communication, recreation, the exercise of religion, voting, family members and legal rights information and representation. DRC will work to find alternatives to guardianship and represent individuals who are unnecessarily placed under guardianship or at risk of being placed under guardianship unnecessarily. 1. a statement of the priority; Individuals with disabilities will receive services, including healthcare and housing, in the most integrated setting appropriate and, where possible, direct their own services. 2. the need addressed by each priority; Often, individuals with disabilities must remain or enter into living situation that are more restrictive than what the client wants, or what is necessary in order to address legitimate safety or medical considerations. Often this happens because they are not afforded reasonable accommodations, modifications, assistive aids or services that enable them to reside where they choose. Medicaid waivers allow individuals to receive services in the community rather than in institutions but they are limited. Sometimes, hospital or service agency personnel, state agency representatives or other professionals exert undue pressure on people with disabilities to stay in a facility or not liv eon their own. Other times this can be the result of budget cutbacks, where departments are asked to cut spending in certain programs, such as personal care services, and in order to achieve those cutbacks, individuals are threatened with institutionalization. Whenever possible, individuals with disabilities should be able to live in communities of their choice as well as direct their own services. Healthcare is covered by this priority and is particularly important to people with disabilities. This priority also covers housing. Shelter is an essential human need. Maine has a relatively older housing stock, so inaccessible housing exits in all communities throughout the state. People with disabilities usually do not own their own home, but rent where they live. They have a much more difficult time obtaining and keeping suitable housing because of their disability. They are also much more likely to be subject to eviction because of their disabilities. Tenants with disabilities are entitled to reasonable modifications or reasonable accommodations but are often denied those accommodations because of their disabilities 3. a description of the activities to be carried out under the priority. DRC will represent individuals with disabilities in administrative hearings and in court, where service cutbacks either force them to go into an institution or remain in an institution. DRC will also represent tenants with disabilities who are being discriminated against on the basis of disability by being evicted. DRC will provide technical assistance to those who need reasonable modifications or accommodations in order for them to maintain or obtain suitable housing and their requests to their landlords have been denied. DRC will review the need for direct representation in housing cases seeking reasonable accommodation or modifications. However, since losing two staff attorneys within the last year, DRC’s ability to provide direct representation in housing cases is severely limited. DRC will participate in efforts to find alternatives to institutional or institutional like settings. 1. a statement of the priority; People with disabilities will not be subject to unlawful disability based discrimination in employment. 2. the need addressed by the priority; In Maine, about 206,400 people have a disability, or about 16% of the population. Of those 206,400 people, about 23,390 or 11% are working age adults with disabilities in Maine. About 45% of working age Maine citizens with a disability have full time work, compared with 62% of working age Mainers without a disability. 22% of Maine citizens with disability earn less than $10,000 compared to 12% of Maine citizens without a disability. These statistics are consistent with national statistics. People with disabilities are disproportionately poor. They are systematically excluded from the workplace. They are excluded from the workforce because of stereotyping, fears of increased cost, inflexibility in considering accommodations and outright prejudice. Even though an employee may only need a reasonable accommodation in order for her or him to maintain or secure employment, employers are reluctant to provide individuals with disabilities with any accommodations. People with disabilities sometimes need assistance in making a request for a reasonable accommodation and representation when the request is denied. People with disabilities are often terminated from employment because of disabilities or they are at serious risk of termination or they have been subject to other serious adverse employment action. Sometimes people with disabilities are harassed on the job or subject to retaliation. Members of private bar are reluctant to take employment cases because of the difficulty of proving employment claims, the hostility of the courts and the high cost of prosecuting cases. As a result of this reluctance, P&As are often the only source of representation for people with disabilities in employment cases. 3. a description of the activities to be carried out; DRC will represent individuals who, because of their disability: -need accommodations in the workplace; -have been subjected to adverse job action in the workplace; have been subjected to a hostile work environment because of their disability; or -who have been subjected to retaliation. DRC is interested in an employment class action and is always looking for a good case. 1. a statement of the priority; Public accommodations and governmental services will be accessible to people with disabilities. 2. the need addressed by the priority; This priority covers both public accommodations and governmental services. Individuals with disabilities are often denied access to government or private services, or public accommodations, because of architectural barriers or because of policies, practices or procedures that discriminate against people with disabilities. Requests for modifications or accommodations are often denied, as are requests to discontinue discriminatory policies, practices or procedures. Often discrimination in governmental benefits occur through denial of benefits or services, or by offering benefits or services that are unequal to or less effective than, those offered to persons without disabilities or by offering or providing different or segregated benefits or services when such action is not necessary in order to make the benefit or service effective. Direct representation is often the best mechanism to produce change. 3. a description of the activities to be carried out; DRC will also provide technical assistance to individuals who have been subjected to discrimination in the provision of public accommodations or governmental services because of disability. In select case, based on available resources, DRC will represent individuals with disabilities seeking reasonable accommodation or modifications in order to access public accommodations or governmental benefits before the Maine Human Rights Commission or in court where the request for a modification or accommodation has been denied.
At a minimum, you must include all of the information requested. You may include any other information, not otherwise collected on this reporting form that would be helpful in describing the extent of PAIR activities during the prior fiscal year. Please limit the narrative portion of this report, including attachments, to 20 pages or less.
The narrative should contain the following information. The instructions for this form outline the information that should be contained in each section.
A. Sources of Funds received and expended
Source of Funding Amount Received Amount Spent Federal (section 509) 175,300.00 141,003.30 State 0 0 Program income 34,550.41 15,296.22 Private 0 0 All other funds 0 0 Total (from all sources) 209,850.41 156,299.52
B. Budget for the fiscal year covered by this report Prior Yr Current Yr Wages/Salary $111,284 $135,901 Fringe Benefits $30,358 $32,613 Materials/Supplies $953 $2,766 Postage $581 $1,039 Telephone $1,743 $2,878 Rent $12,518 $17,230 Travel $3,195 $3,997 Copying $813 $863 Bonding/Ins $1,540 $2,558 Equipment $1,684 $3,438 Legal Services $116 $160 Indirect Costs $- $- Miscellaneous $16,461 $25,581 Total $181,246 $229,024
C. Description of PAIR staff (duties and person-years) FTE Professional Full Time 2.17 Part Time 0 Vacant 0 Clerical Full Time 0.63 Part Time 0 Vacant 0
D. Involvement with advisory boards (if any) PAIR staff are involved with the PADD and PAIMI programs, including the PAIMI Advisory Committee on a regular basis through management, case review and development of priorities, etc. Our intake process assures that callers ineligible for PADD and PAIMI services are referred directly to the PAIR program because our intake process is fully integrated DRC sits on the following advisory boards or work groups: Assistive Technology Consortium Acquired Brain Injury Advisory Committee MaineCare (Medicaid) Advisory Council Maine Advisory Council for the Education of Children with Disabilities, the IDEA mandated Special Education Advisory Committee Governor’s Commission on Disability and Employment Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault Consumers for Affordable Healthcare Coalition Community Intervention Program Coalition Maine Developmental Disabilities Council (and various subcommittees and workgroups) Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies, Community Advisory Committee Mental Health Employment Promotion Collaborative Augusta Courthouse Accessibility Stakeholder Group Asset Development and Economic Self-Sufficiency Workgroup Business Leadership Network Development Committee Work Incentives Planning Assistance Statewide Capacity Building Committee DHHS Behavior Regulations Workgroup Legislative Workgroup to Address School Based Medically Necessary Services American National Standards Institute (ANSI,ANSI/A117.1) Workgroup Portland Disability Commission State Independent Living Council MaineCare Value Based Purchasing Initiative Stakeholder Group Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration Project Workgroup Medicaid Drug Utilization Review Psychiatric Work Group Medicaid Infrastructure Grant Advisory Committee DHHS Individuals with Intellectual Disability and Autism Rights Manual Workgroup Maine Partnership for Values Based Practice Legislative Workgroup to Determine the Feasibility of Privatizing Public Guardianship for Persons with Developmental Disabilities
E. Grievances filed under the grievance procedure None
F. Coordination with the Client Assistance program (CAP) and the State long-term care programs (LTCOP), if these programs are not part of the P&A agency. In Maine, the CAP and the LTCOP are not part of DRC. We coordinate with the Client Assistance Program (CAP) by making certain that we cross-refer cases on a regular basis. We regularly consult with the CAP to make sure that we coordinate cases in which the individual with a disability is eligible for and seeking both CAP and PAIR services CAP services in a case involving vocational rehabilitation and PAIR services in a case unrelated to VR. We also work with the CAP on clients who are or were receiving social security benefits. We have an ongoing relationship with the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) and provide legal consultation to their staff and cross-refer cases regularly. DRC and LTCOP developed a protocol regarding the referral of cases between DRC and the LTCOP. Periodically, DRC meets with LTCOP, Legal Services for the Elderly and others to discuss cases, strategies, upcoming rule changes and other issues of common concern. LTCOP was also involved in the beginning in our nursing home class action. We collaborate regularly with LTCOP on long term care issues and certain legislative initiatives. For example, we are working with LTCOP on a project that would allow spouses who provide personal care services to be paid under the nursing home waivers. DRC has a long-standing relationship with Alpha One, Maine’s only Independent Living Center. We have referred clients to them and work with them regularly on disability access issues. We worked with them around proposed cuts in the states Medicaid program and anticipate doing so again this year. We have developed a close working relationship with a number of private and public programs to protect and advocate for people with disabilities. For example, we work with Maine Equal Justice, the civil legal services spinoff provider in the state, on a variety of issues such as health care. We actively participate on the Acquired Brain Injury Advisory Committee.
RSU 13 Systemic Issues Complaint Autism Classroom at South School: • Mary Goulette — absence, oversight • Period without certified teacher • Children did not get direct instruction on their IEPs • Ed tech oversight? • LRE- at least one child placed in more restrictive setting due to unresolved behavioral issues- overuse of the South School program • Failure to provide documentation of restraint — one child up to 3 times per day • Evals not provide 3 days prior to IEP meeting • Evals not completed within 45 days • In one case, referral process at least one year • ABSD- two children — took place outside of IEP meeting • Appeared to be in response to unresolved behavioral issues
Resolved numerous complaints by parents of students in the elementary autism classroom at South School in RSU 13.
Implementation Of Class Action Settlement To Move Individuals Out of Nursing Facilities
In Fiscal Year 2012 the DRC and co-counsel settled a class brought on behalf of persons with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and "other related conditions" to move them out of nursing facilities and into the community. The case brought claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehab Act for the State’s failure to provide appropriate community services for these individuals, as well as claims under the Nursing Home Reform Act for the state’s failure to provide necessary “specialized services” to these individuals while they are isolated in nursing facilities. Under the settlement, the State agreed to provide specialized services and community residential supports in a timely manner to class members. In fiscal year 2012, the State applied for a home and community waiver to serve members of the class. It is anticipated that members of the class will begin moving into the community in fiscal year 2013.
Private Non-Medical Institutions • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services notified the state that the way in which it funds residential based services in Private Non-Medical Institutions does not comply with federal requirements. DRC developed proposals for meeting the needs of residents and promoted these alternatives with DHHS executives. DRC staff attended several meetings offering suggestions for alternative housing and funding arrangements. By the end of the fiscal year, the department had not resolved the issue and the stakeholder committees will be continuing to meet and the project will be carried over into FY 2013.
• Members of the PAIMI Advisory Council (PAC) and the PAIMI coordinator met with the newly appointed Director of the Office of Adult Mental Health Services to discuss the Private Non-Medical Institution (PNMI) program for individuals with mental illness, a Medicaid financed program for residential, rehabilitation and personal support services that CMS had identified as being out of compliance with Medicaid program financing requirements. The coordinator and PAC members offered opinions on this and other issues affecting individuals with serious mental illness. As a result, the Director of OAMHS was educated as to the PAC’s and DRC’s position regarding PNMI’s.
Law to Clarify the Status of Patients Held Under Involuntary Commitment Applications A past client of the DRC contacted her state representative regarding her concern that her having been "blue papered" (a summary process of emergency hospitalization to a mental health hospital without any hearing) was considered as a judicial "commitment" to a psychiatric hospital. She suggested that the state representative contact the DRC regarding this issue. Her representative contacted the DRC and DRC’s provided information and testimony at the request of the representative to the legislature on an "An Act to Clarify The Status of Patients Held under Involuntary Commitment Applications.” The bill was signed into law thus insuring that individuals who have been "blue papered" will not be considered individuals who have been committed to a psychiatric hospital after a judicial hearing.
Forensic Hospital Planning Group Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Corrections staff convened a group to discuss the needs of individuals who are committed to the DOC and who are acutely ill or who are forensic patients. DRC staff participated on the group offering suggestions for data collection and alternatives to consider. The group considered several options but did not reach a decision.
Community Service Network Collaboration The Office of Adult Mental Health Services convenes monthly community service network calls to discuss and brainstorm regarding vital issues affecting the mental health service delivery system. The Community Service Networks were originally developed to allow providers in each network area to brainstorm regarding service delivery issues in their areas and to develop plans for addressing those issues. Later, the state conducted one monthly call for all networks. The PAIMI coordinator participates in the telephone calls.
Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration Project Workgroup The Center for Medicaid Services (CMS) chose Maine as one of 11 states (and D.C.) to participate in a 3-year Demonstration project that permits participating States to provide payment under the State Medicaid plan to certain non-government psychiatric hospitals for inpatient emergency psychiatric care to Medicaid recipients aged 21 to 64 who have expressed suicidal or homicidal thoughts or gestures, and are determined to be dangerous to themselves or others. The purpose of the grant is to divert individuals from extended emergency department stays. Under current law, treatment provided to these adults is not reimbursable under Medicaid; this payment prohibition is known as the Medicaid institution for mental diseases (IMD) exclusion. At the end of the demonstration CMS must provide a recommendation to Congress regarding whether the Demonstration should be continued and expanded on a national basis. The DRC was asked to be part of this project’s workgroup in Maine which includes representatives from the hospitals participating in the project as well as representatives from the state who are administering the program. The DRC’s role is to monitor the information generated by the work group, including quarterly reports that are submitted to CMS, as well as provide recommendations during the course of the project. At the end of the 3 year demonstration project, if DRC disagrees with the conclusions that are submitted to CMS by the State, DRC will submit its own independent report to CMS.
LD 1729 An Act To Clarify the Minimum Wage Law as It Relates to People with Disabilities LD 1729 clarified the requirement in law for businesses and organizations to apply to the state for wage certificates allowing them to pay sub-minimum wage and extend the length of time a certificate is valid from one year to 2 years to match the federal requirements. DRC used this opportunity to educate policy-makers about the prevalence of sub-minimum wage and the national movement to phase it out. DRC staff educated Labor Committee members on sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities, the Employment First movement and national legislation proposed to phase out sub-minimum wage. This also prompted additional collaboration with DOL and wage issues and the Employment First initiative.
Psychiatric Work Group Before making decisions with regard to psychiatric drug utilization, the state’s Medicaid Drug Utilization Review committee solicits the opinions of a committee consisting of psychiatrists and consumer advocates. DRC is represented on this committee. The medications reviewed by this group are all psychoactive medications, used in the treatment of mental illness, autism, dementia, and other conditions manifesting behavioral symptoms. Staff participated in conference calls with psychiatrists discussing approval process for psychoactive medications for Medicaid reimbursement and monitoring protocols.
Part C Changes to MUSER 101 The DRC advocate provided lengthy comment (in oral testimony and written comments) to the Maine Department of Education on the proposed changes to the Maine Unified Special Education Regulation Chapter 101 which are a result of recently enacted changes to Part C of the IDEA (Early Intervention Services for children with disabilities ages birth through age two). The advocate reviewed, extensively, the federal changes and identified areas in which the Maine changes contradicted the federal, Maine neglected to incorporate some federal changes and areas where Maine had the opportunity to provide greater clarity.
LD 28 Resolve, To Improve Access to Employment Opportunities for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities and Autistic Disorders DRC provided information to policymakers regarding DHHS rules relating to community integration and integrated employment. DRC advocated for the preservation of rules that require a certain level of integration in employment settings for people with developmental disabilities. The resolve that resulted from LD 28 required DHHS to report back to the legislature in January 2012 regarding employment for people with DD and recommendations for changes in policy, rule and statute. The final report included all of the comments and suggestions made by DRC in the stakeholder group. In addition, the legislative resolve that followed the report included increased support for employment first initiatives, increased focus on employment outcomes, increased support for and encouragement of true pre-vocational activities and incentives to get people with DD working and working with less support.
Monitoring of Adolescents Psychiatric Units DRC provided ongoing monthly outreach to adolescents at the adolescent psychiatric units in two hospitals and monitors the facilities for rights issues. The advocate provided a general rights training to children at or over the age of 11 and conducts structured interviews with those willing to provide information on Restraint and Seclusion, knowledge of rights, education and treatment plans/discharge plans. Issues regarding the inappropriate use of seclusion were identified and successfully resolved at both facilities this fiscal year. At one hospital DRC dealt with ongoing issues regarding youths’ participation in the treatment planning process, as well as inconsistent access to outdoor recreation. Issues at one hospital includeds use of levels systems to limit exercise of basic patient rights. PAIMI team is collaborating with DRC’s Education team to develop tools to educate parents on how to facilitate consistency in their child’s education while hospitalized.
Monitoring of Children’s Residential Treatment Facility, Northern Maine DRC continued to monitor resolution of issues identified during monitoring visits to this facility during FY 2011. Issues identified were the improper/inappropriate use of restraint, isolation, restriction of basic rights through the use of a level system and environmental hazards. The facility has been working successfully aggressively to correct problems.
Monitoring of Psychiatric Unit, Coastal Maine DRC staff visited the adult psychiatric unit of a coastal Maine psychiatric center on a regular basis to monitor conditions and the hospital’s compliance with laws and regulations protecting the rights of patients, to provide information to patients regarding DRC and the services it offers, and to provide training to patients regarding their rights. In response to DRC’s patient outreach and monitoring, patients of this hospital have increased participation in their treatment planning.
Monitoring of Psychiatric Hospital, Southern Maine DRC staff visit the adult psychiatric units of this hospital on a monthly basis to monitor conditions and the hospital’s compliance with laws and regulations protecting the rights of patients, to provide information to patients regarding DRC and the services it offers and to provide training to patients regarding their rights. In response to DRC’s patient outreach and monitoring, patients have increased participation in their treatment planning, and have gained greater access to their social workers. DRC also successfully got one hospital to commit to taking a more considered approach to the use of restraints in order to administer IM medication per consent of an adult patient’s guardian. Ongoing issues appear to be patient’s understanding of the involuntary commitment process, their rights, and access to their treating psychiatrists.
Monitoring of Community Adult Psychiatric Unit, Central Maine DRC staff visited the adult psychiatric unit of a community hospital on a monthly basis to monitor conditions and the hospital’s compliance with laws and regulations protecting the rights of patients. DRC staff provided information to patients regarding DRC and the services it offers and training to patients regarding their rights. DRC provided outreach including rights training on 12 occasions at a local hospital. DRC successfully advocated for the elimination of a levels system that conditioned basic patient rights.
Monitoring of - Residential Treatment Facility for Children, Coastal Maine DRC completed a scheduled monitoring visit to this residential program as a result of a report of locked seclusion by a previous resident. Information was provided to residents and a structured interview utilizing a survey was completed with those individuals willing to participate.
Monitoring of Residential Treatment Facility for Children, Southern Maine DRC conducted a follow up monitoring visit to this residential treatment facility in southern Maine. The advocate completed a structured interview utilizing a survey with individuals at the facility to gather information on Restraint and Seclusion, knowledge of rights, education and treatment plans/discharge plans. DRC identified numerous rights violations and filed a complaint pursuant to the RRMHS/Children. The complaint was substantiated by DHHS who required the facility to implement staffing and policy changes to insure greater safety for resident and improved clinical supervision.
Surveying Service Providers Regarding Vote Promotion Activities DRC surveyed providers in the developmental services and mental health provider systems regarding steps they are taking to promote voting and voter education among the clients they serve, particularly those served in residential settings. DRC disseminated a questionnaire to the executive directors of mental health and developmental services providers regarding their efforts to promote voting among their clients and offering DRC assistance.
Crisis Services for Children Through ongoing monitoring of psychiatric facilities serving youth, DRC continues to receive reports from youth waiting over 24 hours for crisis assessments and up to 72 hours for placement. DRC established a process whereby it receives data from a large crisis provider regarding the number of children "stuck" in the emergency department. DRC advocate met with the crisis provider to further discuss roles and potential collaboration.
Local Self-Advocacy Groups DRC conducted outreach to local Speaking Up For Us self-advocacy groups to tell people with developmental disabilities and their supporters about DRC services, share important information and get case referrals. DRC staff attended local meetings through-out the state. DRC also provided technical assistance to a SUFU Leader trying to gain support from her provider agency to rejuvenate a local group they used to support.
Special Education Information Provision In FY 2012, the special education advocates responded to approximately 36 telephone and email queries from children’s case managers, and a small number of parents of children with disabilities, specific to special education and associated regulations through 9/30/12.
Hospital Developmental Disabilities Unit DRC developed a broshure regarding DRC’s mission and available services that is distributed upon admission to parent’s of children who are admitted to a local hospital’s Developmental Disabilities Unit. DRC partnered with the hospital and the Autism Society of Maine to participate quarterly in an ongoing parent support group at Sring Harbor to provide basic rights information and resources.
Autism Conference DRC Advocacy Director attended the Southern Maine Autism Conference and focused on training and networking to "share resources, expertise, and information" regarding Autism.
Voters in Psychiatric Hospitals In conjunction with National Voter Registration Day (September 25, 2012) DRC hospital advocates and PAIMI staff conducted voter registration drives with people receiving inpatient psychiatric care. They distributed voter registration cards and assisted in completing them, produced and distributed to patients and staff an absentee voting pamphlet, and helped troubleshoot voting inquiries.
Office of Advocacy The legislature passed and the Governor signed legislation essentially moving the state funded Office fo Advocacy to DRC. During the months of August and September, DSA co-team leaders conducted outreach all over the state-in Caribou, Bangor, Augusta, Lewiston, Rockland and Portland for DHHS, providers, case managers, boards and coalitions and other allies (Speaking Up for Us, Developmental Services Oversight and Advisory Board, Center for Community Inclusions, Excellence Committee, Coalition for Housing and Quality Services and the Maine Association of Community Service Providers. The official move came in September 2012.
DD Council DRC sits on the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council and its subcommittees. DRC receives and shares information on current issues for people DD such as systems change, budget cuts, the state of services for children and adults with DD. We assist DD Council to brainstorm and prioritize projects that will impact the lives of people with DD in Maine. DRC chaired the Quality Assurance Committee, focusing on communication and information sharing with Developmental Services, Dual Diagnosis training, Housing and Community Inclusion.
PADD Advocate attended quarterly DD Council meetings to share information and assist in carrying out DD Council projects and initiatives. DRC gave specific input to and coordination for projects on housing, dual diagnosis and values based training.
Rights Manual Workgroup DRc worked with a group of people with representatives from DHHS, Speaking Up For Us, DD Council and the Office of Advocacy to develop a plain language rights manual for people receiving Developmental Services that will be accessible to all people receiving services. A final draft has been presented to DHHS and workgroup members. The draft manual has been shared with other P & A’s at a national conference as part of a training on making materials more accessible.
Maine Partnership for Values Based Practice The Maine Partnership for Values Based Practice is s collaboration between DRC, the DD Council, provider agencies and DHHS to bring Values-Based (related to Wolf Wolfensburger’s Social Role Valorization or ’SRV’) training to Maine and develop leadership among support staff. Values Based training and practice lead to more community inclusion, less reliance on paid support and more valued roles for people with disabilities. The MPVBP brought a nationally recognized trainer, Darcy Elks to Maine in November 2011 to teach a 2-day workshop for 50 service providers on supporting people with disabilities to have meaningful lives. DRC Advocate is working with a community provider who attended to improve their practices and policies. Another workshop is in planning stages for Fall 2012. The Partnership coordinated a two-day workshop by a nationally-known speaker to a total of 50 service providers from direct service top management on SRV principles and helping people who receive services to have meaningful lives. The partnership also followed up with a survey to determine the impact, need for follow up and interest in future training.
Crisis Services for Children Through ongoing monitoring of psychiatric facilities serving youth, DRC continued to receive reports from youth of waiting over 24 hours for crisis assessments and up to 72 hours for placement. DRC will continue to monitor the number of children waiting in emergency departments in collaboration with crisis providers. Through monitoring, DRC will identify barriers to children receiving appropriate crisis services and under utilization of in home crisis services and crisis stabalization units in lieu of inpatient hospitalization. DRC also recieved data from a large crisis provider regarding the number of children "stuck" in the emergency department. DRC advocate met with the crisis provider to further discuss roles and potential collaboration. .
Measurable IFSP Outcomes DRC identified a systemic problem across at least three state Early Intervention educational sites, that Individual Family Service Plans (IFSP) outcomes/goal, for children ages birth through age 2, lacked measurability. The lack of measurability made it impossible for IFSP Teams to determine a child’s progress on the outcomes and make informed decisions about changes to early intervention services. DRC documented the problem with IFSP outcomes in a letter to the interim state director of CDS. DRC, the director and Maine’s Part C consultant met. DRC provided evidence of lack of measurable outcomes from IFSPs of children served by three CDS sites. CDS agreed to a statewide training plan to be implemented and completed within the year. DRC and CDS also agreed to a six month and one year report back on progress in creating IFSP outcomes which are measurable.
Support to SUFU Board DRC provided support and technical assistance to Speaking Up For Us, Maine’s self-advocacy network for people with developmental disabilities through fiscal management, organizational development and sharing information about issues that affect the lives of people with disabilities. DRC collaborated with SUFU on projects such as training & workshops and educating policy makers. DD advocate supported SUFU Board, by facilitating a half-day retreat, in order to evaluate the organization and meeting structure and develop ways to maximize efficiency and board control of the work SUFU does. The Board developed formats for meeting agendas and protocols for supporting board members to participate fully. DRC staff attended all SUFU Board meetings to share information, give input for goals and objectives, get input about DRC goals and provide technical assistance for organizational development and leadership development for board members.
Provider Interview-Shopping for Services DRC worked with Speaking Up For Us and others to distribute a sample interview for people to use when looking for a service provider. They can use this sample interview and adapt it for their own needs to find a service provider for Home Support, Community Support, Work Support or Community Case management. This sample interview will be widely publicized and shared encouraging people and their families to use it when they are looking for services. DRC has shared the sample provider interviews on the DRC webiste and on the SUFU website as well as sharing it with case managers statewide. The interview has reached hundreds of people and DRC continues to receive reports that individuals have used it to shop for services.
Housing Coalition DRC Participated on the Coalition for Housing and Quality Services, aling with the Deveolpmental Disabilites Council, Speaking Up For Us, DHHS, parents of children with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism and others to address housing issues for people with DD (and other disabilities). This group is also helping to make policy changes in the service delivery system, promoting self-determination-so that people receiving services and their families have more control over housing and the services they receive. DRC is actively promoting the Coalition ’white paper’ which calls for more self and family direction, more community inclusion and more preventative services. DRC staff attend this meeting every month to share information and act as a resource to family members.
Follow up to Report on Child Development Services The Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA) of the Maine State Legislature reported to the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee (GOC) in July 2012 regarding Child Development Services (what Maine calls Early Intervention Educational services). DRC attended formal OPEGA’s report to the GOC in July 2012 and the public hearing in August 2012. The advocate provided oral and written testimony at the invitation of the Committee’s chair. DRC attended the work session and will monitor any follow up activities of the Legislature.
Burden of Proof in Complaint Investigations The Complaint Investigation Report (CIR) resulting from an individual Dispute Resolution Request filed on behalf of a family indicated that the investigator determined that the family held the "burden to prove" certain facts. DRC researched complaint investigations during the last few years and identified two other CIRs in which the investigator placed such a burden. DRC attorney and education advocate discussed the situation and agreed that writing a letter, independent of the individual case, arguing against the existence of such a "burden" was appropriate. DRC attorney provided research and the pair drafted a letter to the Due Process Office. The DPO responded, disagreeing with the agency, stating that "...the Court’s reasoning as to the burden of proof in Schaffer v Weast applies equally well to the complaint investigation process. The DPO is unaware of any authority to the contrary, and you [DRC] have not brought such authority to our attention." The next step will be a letter to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education seeking clarification on the subject.
Behavior Regulations Workgroup FY ’12 DRC worked with Developmental Services and the Office of Advocacy to review Maine’s behavior regulations for people with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism. The group reviewed best practices from around the country and re-wrote Maine’s regulations to reduce systemic use of restraint, minimize rights violations and make Positive Supports the default for all behavior support plans. A final draft of the proposed behavior regulations was sent to the Commissioner for a final approval before rulemaking after the drafting group reconvened several times to make changes based on feedback from the AG’s office and others. DRC also coordinated a follow up meeting with the Department to discuss transition planning, training and related rules and policies affected by the new regulations.
Maine Developmental Services Oversight and Advisory Board DRC participated on the Maine Developmental Services Oversight and Advisory Board, mandated by law to provide independent oversight over programs and services for adults with intellectual disabilities or autism. The board focuses on systemic concerns affecting the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities or autism, including but not limited to issues surrounding health and safety, inclusion, identification of needs and desires of people who are eligible for services by the department, the timely meeting of the identified needs and effective and efficient delivery of services and supports. The board provides advice and systemic recommendations to the commissioner, the Governor and the Legislature regarding policies, priorities, budgets and legislation affecting the rights and interests of persons with intellectual disabilities or autism. DD chaired the DSOAB until May of 2012 and also served as Chair of the subcommittee on Adult Protective Services, Rights and Behavior Plan Review Committees. Since May of 2012, DRC has provided reports to the Oversight Board on activities related to their work. Adult Protective Services (OACPDS) DRC worked with DHHS to address systemic problems within Developmental Services Adult Protective Services. DRC has repeatedly found problems with APS reports such as poor or weak recommendations, poor follow-up after an investigation is over and no course to appeal if APS Manger decides no investigation is needed. DRC identified and documented problems, conducted reviews of APS reports and made recommendations for improvement. DD Team and DD Advocate have held two meetings with APS and QA management to address concerns. DRC provided feedback to APS management and QA staff in person on two occasions. Some of this feedback led to changes in APS procedures, including the increased use of ’program substantiation’ and the coordination of APS and Advocacy services.
Shared Living DRC continued to participate with DHHS Developmental Services, Maine Association of Community Service Providers and Speaking Up For Us to provide advocacy for people in Shared Living homes. This collaboration came as a result of repeated reports by people in Shared Living homes of not knowing what their rights or or what to do if they have a question if something doesn’t feel right. DRC advocated for increased sharing of information for people receiving services and their families so that they can participate in the brainstorming and share ideas about how Shared Living services should be delivered. DRC will also advocate for standards and rules that apply to Shared Living and protect the rights of people who live in those settings. In the Summer of 2012, a Shared Living workgroup was reconvened. Advocate attended two meetings, giving input about standards for Shared Living and provider requirements.
Amicus Brief DRC drafted an amicus curiae brief on behalf of a family that was denied an apartment on the basis that their rent payments were going to be subsidized with a Section 8/Housing Choice Voucher. The Maine Human Rights Commission made a reasonable grounds finding that this refusal violated the Maine Human Rights Act’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of receipt of public assistance. This family was represented by Pine Tree legal and they filed a MHRA lawsuit in Superior Court against the landlords. The Superior Court granted summary judgment to the landlords and Pine Tree appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and asked the DRC to file an Amicus Brief.
Youth Self-Advocacy Education Through its outreach efforts and monitoring activities, DRC staff have met a number of youth who are involved in the child welfare system and who possess an extensive placement history in residential treatment facilities and psychiatric hospitals. Many of these youth are under-informed regarding their rights as recipients of mental health services, and have not developed the skills necessary to engage in self-advocacy. A number of these youth are approaching age 18, and are in need of information regarding supports and resources available re: advocacy and legal assistance. A DRC staff attorney made contacts with a youth advocacy group to coordinate with them in providing training and education to youth. Unfortunately the organization’s source of funding was discontinued and DRC was unable to go forward with the project with this organization.
Mental Health Parity A group of individuals interested in assuring that insurances cover mental health services on a par with coverage for other conditions convened to monitor issues affecting parity in mental health coverage and to take actions as necessary. The group educated itself regarding the impact of the ACA and prepared itself for issues arising during the next legislative session.
Inappropriate Discharge from or denial of housing DRC PAIMI staff developed strategies for addressing the inappropriate discharge or eviction of individuals with mental illness from supported housing and the denial of admission. Staff systematically identified substantive supportive laws and regulations, procedural laws and regulations as means for challenging inappropriate actions, potential remedies and venues for identifying clients at risk. Staff meet weekly with discharge planners at the state psychiatric facilities. Through these meetings and through our contract staff person at a private psychiatric facility, staff have been able to identify several clients. DRC filed several complaints and represented individuals in court actions, in order to systematically develop favorable precedents findings under the identified substantive and procedural laws and regulations. As a result, DRC been able to preserve housing, or have individuals readmitted to housing from which they have been evicted in multiple individual cases.
OSEP monitoring and enforcement DRC staff attorney worked with Maine Advisory Council on the Education of Children with Disabilities (MACECD) members to prepare for the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) visit. DRC staff created a subcommittee of individuals, provide them with information about State Advisory Panels and Interagency Coordinating Council responsibilities toward monitoring, provided comprehensive comments on annual reports to OSEP and prepared questions for the OSEP visit based on persistent areas of identified non-compliance.
Advocacy Regarding Educational Services for Children at Psychiatric Hospitals During the course of ongoing monitoring at inpatient psychiatric, DRC identified that children do not consistently receive educational services and that the work provided by each facility is typically not work from their school and is significantly below their grade level. DRC convened meetings at all the psychiatric hospitals that admit children and adolescents to discuss the state of educational programming for children who are hospitalized. Each meeting brought together hospital administration, special education staff from the district where the hospital was located, and representatives from the Maine Department of Education. Barriers to the provision of education were identified, best practices were shared, and a consensus emerged that it is important to maintain some continuity of educational programming especially for students whose placements exceed 10 days.
Chapter 33 Complaint DRC filed a complaint against a school district for the use of a designated time out room at an elementary school that did not meet the physical characteristics requirement specified in state regulations. The room posed significant health and safety risks for children. In response to DRC’s complaint the district made significant changes to the physical characteristics of the designated time out room. Additionally, the district provided training to staff regarding the requirements under the regulations.
Children with Disabilities in the Child Welfare System DRC staff investigated the current child welfare system to determine whether certain children with disabilities are receiving sufficient services to meet their needs. Staff then advocated within state government for the child welfare workers to develop community living arrangements with appropriate supports for state wards living in residential treatment facilities.
Committee-Dual Diagnosis Task Force DRC staff participated in the Developmental Disabilities Council’s initiative to improve the quality of mental health services for adults with developmental disabilities in Maine by assessing services and providing training on dual diagnosis for supporters, family members and clinical professionals. DRC staff helped design an outline for training on dual diagnosis intended to be included as part of Maine’s College of Direct Support curriculum.
Complaint RE: lack of outdoor recreation While conducting outreach to adolescents and monitoring activities at a psychiatric hospital, DRC received several complaints from patients that they were unable to access outdoor recreation. After numerous attempts to resolve the issue informally, DRC filed a complaint pursuant to state regulations. In response to that complaint, the hospital committed to developing a secure recreational area on its campus. DRC has continued to advocate for individual arrangements to assure that the patients have access to the outdoors.
Complaint regarding Child and Adolescent Residential Treatment Facility Through individual representation of a 13-year-old female and monitoring of a child and adolescent Residential Treatment Facility, DRC staff identified numerous rights violations at a residential treatment facility, most seriously with respect to the manner in which seclusion and restraint were implemented. Staff then filed a complaint pursuant to state regulations and negotiated with representatives of the group home for some improvements. DRC then appealed its remaining claims to the Department of Human Services. DHHS issued findings supporting DRC’s complaint and required the facility to amend its policies and practices. As a result, children will be better protected at the home and the uses of behavioral interventions will have greater professional oversight.
Restraint and Seclusion regulations DRC spearheaded a movement to improve the state regulations governing regulate how restraint and seclusion may be used in Maine’s public schools. The Stakeholder group created a comprehensive revision of the regulations, resulting in a greatly improved product. DRC lead the team throughout its proceedings which took over 10 months. The Maine Department of Education submitted the rules as developed by the team through the Administrative Procedures Act rulemaking process. The legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs was required to hold a public hearing on the rules. Although the rules were voted out unanimously by the committee, provisionally adopted rule in March of 2012 DRC had to work further to address the language of the fiscal note that threatened to reduce the likelihood of the bill’s final passage. The bill did finally pass.
|Signed By||Peter M. Rice, Esq.|