RSA-509 - Protection & Advocacy of Individual Rights (PAIR) Program Performance Report

Georgia (Georgia Advocacy Office, Inc.) - H240A160011 - FY2016

General Information

Designated Agency Identification

NameGeorgia Advocacy Office Inc.
AddressOne West Court Square
Address Line 2Suite 625
CityDecatur
StateGeorgia
Zip Code30030
E-mail Addressinfo@thegao.org
Website Addresshttp://www.thegao.org
Phone404-885-1234
TTY 404-885-1234
Toll-free Phone800-537-2329
Toll-free TTY800-537-2329
Fax404-378-0031
Name of P&A Executive DirectorRuby K. Moore
Name of PAIR Director/CoordinatorJulie Kegley
Person to contact regarding reportJulie Kegley
Contact Person phone404-885-1234
Ext.N/A

Part I. Non-Case Services

A. Individual Information and Referral Services (I&R)

Multiple responses are not permitted.

1. Individuals receiving I&R within PAIR priority areas321
2. Individuals receiving I&R outside PAIR priority areas209
3. Total individuals receiving I&R (lines A1 + A2)530

B. Training Activities

1. Number of trainings presented by PAIR staff44
2. Number of individuals who attended training (approximate)5,423

The P & A participated in the Employment First Advocacy Day at the Capitol, sponsored by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities and Unlock the Waiting List. Participants with disabilities received advocacy skills training from experts, including P & A staff, before going to the Capitol to talk to their legislators. Participants and legislators learned that Employment First means employment should be the first and preferred option for all people, regardless of their disability. Two program directors from the P & A served as team leaders at the event. Team leaders asked group members to briefly share why they chose that specific Advocacy Day, explained the importance of sharing an effective personal story, and helped each team member construct and practice sharing their story using the Employment First one-page document. Self advocates, family members, providers and other interested citizens all participated and talked about how the average annual savings for Georgia taxpayers is $3,120 when each person with a disability is employed instead of relying on day services. The participants asked the legislators to support the upcoming Employment First Council. At least 10 of Georgia’s House members were provided information explaining Employment First and the benefits to people with disabilities, employers, the community, taxpayers, and the economy and one representative is creating an Employment First policy.

The P & A presented a workshop, "Encouraging the Elements of Self-Advocacy for Students With Disabilities," at the IDEAS (Institute Designed for Educating All Students) conference to 100 students with disabilities, educators, and parents regarding supporting self-advocacy to obtain assistive technology in school. The IDEAS conference was sponsored by the Georgia Department of Education’s Division for Special Education Services and Supports, Tools for Life at Georgia Tech, and the Georgia Council for Exceptional Children. As a result of the P & A’s workshop, the audience asked the P & A to engage in conversations to support self-advocacy for students through course material and trainings conducted by the P & A.

The P & A conducted training for 10 administrators of jails and prisons on “Providing Effective Communication with people who are deaf in Correctional Facilities.” The purpose of this training was to educate the administrators on their responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide effective communication for their prisoners who are deaf and hard of hearing. Specifically, FCC will phase out TTY (text telephone) technology for use at 911 centers in 2017 and state and local agencies will need to quickly plan for technology migration to real-time text to 911 centers. Since TTY technology will be phased out, local and state correctional facilities will need to quickly phase in VRS (Video Relay Services) and real-time text.

The P & A presented at the 2016 Parent Mentors of Georgia statewide conference to provide information about Medicaid/EPSDT (Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment) and Home and Community Based Settings (HCBS) waivers to Georgia’s Parent Mentors. Parent Mentors are parents of children who experience disabilities and are receiving services through their local school system. The P & A trained 75 Parent Mentors about the five Medicaid waiver programs available in Georgia as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Final Settings Rule and its intent to unbundle group service models so people are receiving truly person-centered services. The HCBS information presented by the P & A was well received as it provided a crosswalk of waiver services that will assist Parent Mentors to connect families to the appropriate programs to ensure young adults are leaving school and entering into the work force rather than stagnant day services.

The P & A presented to 16 speech-language pathologists at the Georgia Speech Language and Hearing Association Conference, (a professional association of individuals specializing in speech language, and hearing pathology) and provided training regarding people with disabilities who could benefit from augmentative communication and assistive technology devices, as well as funding strategies.

The P & A presented information to 125 people with disabilities at the People First Conference to educate People First of Georgia members and conference attendees on the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) HCBS (Home and Community Based Services) Final Settings Rule as well as Georgia’s Statewide Transition Plan. Many of the attendees were from rural areas of Georgia where services are limited and they receive day services in congregated or segregated disability-specific settings, which results in experiencing isolation and encountering barriers to being fully included in their local communities. Several attendees were on Georgia’s planning list (wait list) for services and are not currently receiving services. During the training, the P & A collected input from Georgians with disabilities regarding current services as well as what they would like to see addressed in Georgia’s Transition Plan (STP). As a result of the training, a formal letter summarizing the input was written by the P & A with People First of Georgia and sent to the Georgia Department of Community Health, during the period of public comment.

The P & A presented on self advocacy in education and employment for 10 people who are deaf and live in middle Georgia. The participants were also trained on how to conduct a self-advocacy project that can create systemic changes as well as individual changes in their lives.

The P & A conducted training for 35 youth with disabilities who are members of People First of Alabama, as part of a Southern Collaborative to strengthen self-advocacy. The youth were trained on the importance of the Olmstead decision, as well as Georgia’s national project- Long Road Home- that’s purpose is raising awareness of the mandates and promises of the Olmstead decision.

The P & A conducted a webinar to explain the importance of the Olmstead decision and the purpose of the Long Road Home Project. The P & A educated 16 self-advocates in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee and encouraged them to develop a Long Road Home campaign in their states.

The P & A supports and provides technical assistance to the Atlanta Chapter of ASAN (Autistic Self-Advocacy Network). ASAN’s leadership and members meet in the P & A office monthly. The P & A presented to 6 ASAN members on self-advocacy, and on how to obtain assistive technology in employment, education, and independent living at home.

The P & A provided educational training, support, and technical assistance to 418 people with disabilities at over 12 workshops in Atlanta and Rome, Georgia, in collaboration with Georgia Health Partners, Crossroads Community Services Board, Community Friendship Recovery program, and the Highland Rivers Day program. The workshops included education regarding issues such as voting, self-determination, independent living philosophy, and community living.

The P & A conducted a one-hour webinar for 175 Parent to Parent (P2P) of Georgia members (Georgia’s Parent Training Institute-PTI) to provide resources to parents of children with disabilities who have reached voting age, or will soon reach voting age. The purpose of this webinar was to encourage a new generation of voters with disabilities to have their voices heard. Topics covered in the webinar included an overview of the voter registration process, and the voting rights of people with disabilities. The webinar was archived for parents and young adults to watch the presentation in the future, and to clarify any questions that may arise while navigating the electoral process.

The P & A presented a one-hour workshop on voting at the Annual People First Conference in Jekyll Island, Georgia. The P & A provided information and materials (including, “Reminding You to Vote” brochures) to 35 participants, on the importance of voting, the voter registration process, and the voting process. The P & A also educated participants on how to address situations that may arise during the registration and voting process. The most commonly encountered issues were addressed, including voter identification, obstacles related to guardianship, and physical and cognitive access accommodations. As a result, self-advocates were more prepared for the upcoming election. Mail- in voter registration cards were distributed to conference attendees.

The P & A collaborated with People First of Georgia to continue its Project Vote initiative, a train- the- trainer project that enables the P & A to reach more people by covering Georgia statewide in a more comprehensive way. This project trained many self-advocates and promoted more self-advocacy around voting, and promoted more voter participation by Georgians with disabilities. As part of the initiative, the P & A conducted voter education training for People First of Stone Mountain, People First of Georgia’s newest chapter. Chapter members then conducted two voter education trainings at two different nursing facilities.

The P & A supported and provided technical assistance for the “Long Road Home” event in Georgia. The goal of Long Road Home is to raise awareness about the rights of people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead, by holding events both in Georgia and across the country on the anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision. Long Road Home highlights the meaning and importance of the Olmstead decision, in which people with disabilities were expressly given the right to live, and receive services, in the community in the most integrated setting. This year’s Long Road home event reached over 30 people in Georgia and incorporated at least two things: (1) “I am Olmstead” freedom stories, which were told by and about people who have transitioned out of nursing facilities and institutions and are now living successfully and happily in their community; and (2) Ensuring voter registration and education information was available, as well as voter registration forms to assist people to register to vote.

The P & A conducted voter education training at Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC) for 6 people with disabilities and FODAC staff, regarding the right to vote and the importance of voting.

P & A staff were invited to speak at a presentation called, "Going to Work and Receiving Social Security Benefits” sponsored by GA APSE (Georgia Association for People Supporting Employment First), GVRA (Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency) WIN (Work Incentive Navigator Project), and the Shepherd Center Benefits Navigator Project. The P & A informed the audience of 120 educators, supporters, and providers as to the P & A’s mission, its priorities and objectives, and the services it provides under its programs, including supporting employment for people with disabilities. P&A solicited feedback on our strategic priorities from a diverse group of participants.

The P & A supported the 18th annual Disability Day at the Georgia State Capitol. This collaboration between the P & A and the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Southeast ADA Center, the Center for Leadership and Disability at Georgia State University, the Statewide Independent Living Councils of Georgia, and disAbility Link-Atlanta’s Independent Living Centerl -brought together over 3,500 disability advocates from across the state of Georgia. Members of the disability community were urged to vote in order to have a collective impact on the 2016 general election cycle. This included demonstrations of voting machines designed for individuals historically disenfranchised by accessibility issues, including people who are blind, have low-vision, or are deaf, or hard of hearing, and people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices. At the invitation of this collaborative, Governor Nathan Deal, two state senators, and a member of the State House of Representatives addressed the rally. Governor Deal spoke on expanding Georgia’s post-secondary inclusive education and Employment First opportunities, increased funding for home and community based services, and the importance of voting. Keynote speaker, Ted Jackson, of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, urged the crowd of disability advocates from across the state to wield their power as a voting bloc in order to have a positive impact on the outcome on elections. Rally participants were informed, had their questions answered, and were provided with written materials regarding advocacy and voting rights, from the P & A.

The Independent Care Waiver Program (ICWP) Advocacy Day was a coordinated effort by the Developmental Disabilities Network (including the P & A), self-advocates, and other community partners to provide informational materials to educate policy makers regarding Medicaid reimbursement rate disparities among the state’s numerous Medicaid waiver programs. The ICWP Advocacy Day objective was to support self-advocates in meeting with their locally-elected officials within the Georgia legislature to share personal stories and informational materials that address the financial barriers experienced by waiver recipients when attempting to hire qualified personal support staff as a result of the ICWP low Medicaid-reimbursement rate. The ICWP Advocacy Day focused on people who experience a physical disability or Traumatic Brain Injury and require personal support staff for activities of daily living and community inclusion. At least 10 of Georgia’s House Legislators were provided information both in person and in writing, explaining issues that arise for people using ICWP when they are not able to identify personal support staff, increasing the risk of unnecessary institutionalization.

The P & A participated in the Deeming Waiver Advocacy Day with Georgia’s Medicaid program managers to support families and children/youth to share stories about barriers experienced when applying for access to Medicaid via the Deeming Waiver for children/youth not eligible for SSI due to family resources. Families of children eligible for the Deeming Waiver expressed concern to 5 state legislators regarding the inconsistencies in how the State determines eligibility for a child based on the language used in policy related to the number and types of therapies a child is participating in as prescribed by the treating pediatrician.

The P & A educated 20 policy makers during the Inclusive Postsecondary Education (IPSE) Advocacy Day at the Capitol in 2016. Representatives were present from the four IPSE programs around the state, as well as other grassroots advocates who asked legislators to invest in IPSE programs by doubling the legislative funding from $200,000 to $400,000. IPSE is about opportunities for students with disabilities who historically had none. These programs can change lives by making college accessible for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Students who attend IPSE programs have far better employment outcomes than their peers who do not. But IPSE students cannot access many of the resources available to typical college students. For FY 2017, the IPSE request to legislators was two-fold. First, by investing in IPSE programs by doubling the legislative funding from $200,000 to $400,000. And, second, by increasing access to postsecondary education by creating a scholarship mechanism that mirrors Georgia’s HOPE scholarship for these students.

The P & A presented a four-day introduction to Social Role Valorization (SRV) and its 10 themes, to 46 people with disabilities, citizen advocates, family members, support coordinators, Adult Protective Services caseworkers, and other human service providers who work with people with psychiatric disabilities and people with developmental disabilities. SRV is a theory that contains certain positive assumptions, principles, and practices, which have proven to be important as a framework for supporting people who are at risk of being devalued by society. In particular, it is designed to help participants understand the devaluation process that society and even human service providers perpetuate upon people using services. The workshop assisted participants to understand the power of valued social roles, to counteract some of the effects of devaluation, and to highlight the importance of assisting people who have been marginalized to have a full, inclusive life.

The P & A presented two one-day workshops called “Power of Roles,” which is an introduction to Social Role Valorization (SRV) and some of its main elements. The one-day workshop assisted participants to understand the power of valued social roles and strategies to positively contradict some of the effects of devaluation. The workshop also focused on the importance of assisting people who have been marginalized to have a full, inclusive life. For both workshops, the P & A trained a total of 43 individuals at its office in Decatur, Georgia, including individuals with disabilities, citizen advocates, family members, support coordinators, Adult Protective Services caseworkers, and other human service providers who work with people with psychiatric disabilities and people with developmental disabilities.

The Children’s Freedom Initiative (CFI) was started 10 years ago by the P & A as an effort to end the institutionalization of children and youth with developmental disabilities in Georgia. Working as a collaborative coalition of advocates dedicated to creating a state where no child resides in a facility, CFI has used a range of strategies to fulfill that vision such as individual advocacy, story-telling, legislative action, and policy change. The P & A was invited to present at an SRV training in Pennsylvania, on the CFI in Georgia and how the collaborative group has used SRV principles to implement their strategies including the following: 1. Putting pressure on the system, 2. Engaging citizens, 3. Recruiting allies and building coalitions, 4. Bringing children home, and 5. Getting the message out to other potential beneficiaries and partners. As part of the presentation, the P & A trained the audience of 30 participants on how to implement a project/initiative founded in SRV and how to use SRV in everyday work in human services with orientation, performance management systems, supervision, advocacy planning, implementation and evaluation.

The P & A hosted Dr. David Pitonyak in October of 2015 to speak on “The Importance of Belonging.” The P & A, in conjunction with the Georgia Microboard Association, funded Dr. Pitonyak to speak to people with disabilities and their families that have struggled with people’s challenging behavior and difficulties receiving the appropriate supports, as well as the harmful experience of isolation as a result of people’s response to challenging behavior. The P & A also invited key support staff and agencies that may not be providing the appropriate supports in their daily work. Dr. Pitonyak spoke with over 100 people in Athens, 100 people in Macon, and 10 people in Savannah. In addition, the P & A worked with the Latin American Association in Atlanta to partner in hosting training with Dr. Pitonyak that reached 65 Latin Americans who have family members with disabilities. Through the partnership, the P & A brought in Parent to Parent (the Parent Training Institute) to help with the simultaneous translation into Spanish so families could learn from Dr. Pitonyak about important tips for parents and the importance of belonging. The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities also donated headsets for simultaneous translation, as well as other resources to support this important outreach and training event.

In September 2016, the P & A again hosted Dr. David Pitonyak, one of the leading thinkers in the field of supporting people with disabilities who communicate with challenging behaviors, for a week at different locations around the state. Dr. Pitonyak spoke to a group of 60 advocates and attorneys with the Georgia Coalition for Equity in Education at Georgia State University about the P & A’s work with students who are unnecessarily segregated in their educational settings. Dr. Pitonyak also spoke to 55 people who speak Spanish and have family members with disabilities at the Latin American Association, in collaboration with Parent to Parent. Dr. Pitonyak also spoke with 100 people at the University of Georgia in Athens and 80 people in Augusta regarding “The Importance of Belonging.” Finally, Dr. Pitonyak worked with an individual with a developmental disability- currently placed by the state of Georgia in a jail in South Carolina- and several members of her transition team to plan for her Georgia homecoming and integration back into the community.

C. Information Disseminated to the Public

1. Radio and TV appearances by PAIR staff6
2. Newspaper/magazine/journal articles29
3. PSAs/videos aired0
4. Hits on the PAIR/P&A website3,500
5. Publications/booklets/brochures disseminated1,000
6. Other (specify separately)2

Narrative

Description of 6 Other (above).

The P & A developed a new brochure titled, “Georgia Advocacy Office, Inc: We are the Protection and Advocacy System for People with Disabilities in Georgia.” The brochure was designed to be disseminated primarily to people with disabilities confined to nursing facilities and describes the P & A services, such as protection from abuse and neglect, transition to the community, and self-advocacy mentoring.

The P & A Executive Director contributed significantly to the writing and editing of the Final Report of the Federal Advisory Committee to the United States Department of Labor Secretary, the United States Congress, and the United States Senate HELP (Health, Education Labor and Pension) Committee on Advancing Competitive Integrated Employment for People with Disabilities. The report was disseminated broadly by the US Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

The GAO accelerated its social media efforts by re-designing its Facebook page and reaching over 1500 “likes.”

The GAO issued two press releases.

The GAO is featured on websites and blogs as a legal advocacy resource. In addition, hundreds of websites feature events involving the GAO.

The GAO, the Children’s Freedom Initiative, and the Parent Leadership Support Project maintain current Facebook pages and websites. Also, some of the Citizen Advocacy offices funded by the GAO maintain websites and Facebook pages.

In Fall 2015, Making a Difference Magazine published an article written by P & A Executive Director Ruby Moore, titled, “Year One of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act” and informs readers that the goal of WIOA is competitive integrated employment and to add focus to getting people with disabilities out of segregated employment programs.

http://gcdd.org/images/MAD_Magazine/Fall2015_MAD/GCDD-mag-fall-2015F.pdf

In Fall 2015, Making a Difference Magazine published an article about GNETS (write this out) quoting Leslie Lipson, P & A lead attorney on this case. Ms. Lipson informs readers that the DOJ received many complaints about the largest segregated school system in the country- here in Georgia- which prompted DOJ’s investigation that lasted two to three years.

http://gcdd.org/images/MAD_Magazine/Fall2015_MAD/GCDD-mag-fall-2015F.pdf

In Fall 2015, P & A Outreach Coordinator Timothy Pratt was interviewed by Atlanta’s Latin TV station, Telemundo, regarding the David Pitonyak event held for the Latin community.

In October 2015, the Special Education Connection issued an article titled, “NASDSE president questions Justice Department strategy in Georgia LRE case” and quotes Leslie Lipson, P & A attorney. (link to article is not posted as this is a member-only publication)

In November 2015, NBC News Channel 11 in Atlanta aired and wrote a story titled, “The Hidden Battle: Ga. Pediatric Program Under Fire for Denying Care to Medically Fragile.” NBC interviewed the P & A Director for Legal and Advocacy Services, Josh Norris, regarding the state of Georgia’s reductions and/or denials in services for children who are medical fragile.

http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/holding-powerful-accountable/2015/11/23/ga-program-medically-fragile-kids-fighting-parents/76235942/

In November 2015, Atlanta’s NPR station aired a story titled, “Advocacy Groups Urge Changes to Special Education Program.” Leslie Lipson, P & A attorney is quoted regarding a letter drafted by the P & A in which a coalition of state and national advocacy groups called on Georgia to make changes to a statewide program that serves children with behavioral disabilities.

http://news.wabe.org/post/advocacy-groups-urge-changes-special-education-program

In November 2015, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) issued a statement titled, “COPAA Supports Broad Coalition of Advocacy Groups Urging Georgia to Reform Educational Program for Children with Disabilities Found in Violation of Federal Law,” and quotes P & A attorney Leslie Lipson regarding the letter written by a coalition of state and national advocacy groups calling on the state of Georgia to respond to DOJ’s Letter of Findings regarding Georgia’s GNETS system.

https://copaa.site-ym.com/news/262172/COPAA-Supports-Broad-Coalition-Urging-Georgia-to-Transform-Seperate-Unequal-Educational-Programs.htm

In November 2015, the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) published a story titled, “Georgia Under Pressure to Respond to Claims of Illegally Segregating Students,” and quoted P & A attorney Leslie Lipson regarding the letter written by a coalition of state and national advocacy groups calling on the state of Georgia to respond to DOJ’s Letter of Findings regarding Georgia’s GNETS system. In the article, Ms. Lipson says, “Our groups have joined together because we believe this findings letter creates an opportunity for the state to better educate students with behavioral disabilities.”

http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2015/11/28/16206/

In November 2015, P & A attorney Leslie Lipson was quoted in a press release issued by the Bazelon Center titled, “Bazelon and Coalition Partners Call for End of Separate, Unequal Education for Georgia Children with Disabilities.”

http://www.bazelon.org/News-Publications/Press-Releases/GNETS-Letter-Press-Release.aspx

In November 2015, P& A attorney Leslie Lipson was quoted in the P & A’s press release titled, “Broad Coalition of Advocacy Groups Urges Georgia to Reform Educational Program for Children with Disabilities Found in Violation of Federal Law.”

http://bit.ly/1loTxgP

In November 2015, Parent to Parent of Georgia issued a newsletter regarding the P & A’s leadership of the movement to encourage the state of Georgia to reform its GNETS program.

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=86182637-e322-4db3-b421-27bd10a27b7f&c=0f4364d0-40da-11e3-b215-d4ae527b6fcc&ch=11e252a0-40da-11e3-b21b-d4ae527b6fcc

In December 2015, P & A attorney Leslie Lipson was interviewed by TV station, WSB-TV, about our November 25th letter from a broad coalition of over 22 advocacy groups "urging the State to engage immediately with the DOJ and negotiate a settlement agreement, informed by stakeholders, that will address the unnecessary segregation and unequal education experienced by thousands of students across our state."

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/georgia-accused-breaking-federal-law-segregating-s/npd5K/

In December 2015, Georgia Health News published an article titled, “Judge Demands Quicker Action on Georgia-DOJ Settlement Deal” and quoted P & A Legal and Advocacy Director Josh Norris as noting, “The state has focused heavily on the Augusta region for improvements in the developmental disabilities system.” But addressing that one region, Norris said, “is not good enough. We’ve got to talk about the whole state.”

http://www.georgiahealthnews.com/2015/12/judge-demands-quicker-action-georgia-doj-deal/

In December 2015, SPADD(spell out- don’t forget that your audience doesn’t know every GA group) issued its newsletter with the lead article titled, “Federal Judge—DBHDD needs to speed up” and referred to the December 2015 Georgia Health News article (see immediate preceding paragraph).

http://us10.campaign-archive2.com/?u=b3aedadece3e6806a21c1da96&id=7e20441639&e=2194c76761

In December 2015, Georgia Supportive Housing Association (GHSA) issued a newsletter with the lead article titled, “Settlement News Federal Court Hearing” and referred to the December 2015 Georgia Health News article (see above).

In January 2016, Special Needs Digest published an article titled, “U.S. Probe into Georgia Special Ed Program Could Have National Impact,” quoting Alison Barkoff, contract attorney with the P&A as stating “For a long time we have created these segregated, separate programs. . .” “I think with the right services and supports, we can support kids with disabilities to be in their neighborhood schools and in general ed classrooms for the overwhelming majority of their days.”

http://www.specialneedsdigest.com/2016_01_01_archive.html

In January 2016, P & A Executive Director actively participated in the WIOA Advisory Committee meeting.

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-12-16/pdf/2015-31615.pdf

In February 2016, Georgia Health News published an article titled, “Program to Help Children Angers Parents, Draws Legal Challenge,” quoting P & A attorney Leslie Lipson as stating that GNETS are not a school.

http://www.georgiahealthnews.com/2016/02/program-children-angers-parents-draws-legal-challenge/

In February 2016, Education Votes published an article titled, “Nearly 5,000 GA special needs students continue to be segregated: US Justice Dept.,” quoting P & A contract attorney Alison Barkoff, as stating that GNETS program should be transformed to support students at their local schools.

http://educationvotes.nea.org/2016/02/14/nearly-5000-ga-special-needs-students-continue-to-be-segregated-us-justice-dept/

In March 2016, the Monroe County Reporter wrote an article about a young man that Employment First Georgia supported to have his own business repairing electronics. The article is titled, “On Square, Harbin Repairs Fixes Almost Anything.”

http://www.mymcr.net/articles/2016/03/03/news/doc56d7ec0785313423304156.txt

In April 2016, P & A attorney Leslie Lipson was interviewed by radio station Georgia Public Broadcasting regarding the current status of the GNETS case.

http://gpbnews.org/post/second-thought-friday-april-29-2016

In April 2016, the Special Ed Connection interviewed P & A attorney Leslie Lipson in an article titled, “Disability Groups Hope for Deal in Georgia LRE Dispute” regarding the status of the negotiations between the state and DOJ in the GNETS case. (article not available for viewing without membership publication)

In May 2016, the Atlanta Journal Constitution published an article titled, “Georgia agrees to additional federal oversight of mental health system” and quotes Alison Barkoff, contract attorney with the P & A as saying that the extension agreement of U.S. v. GA lays out a strong roadmap going forward.

http://www.myajc.com/news/state--regional/georgia-agrees-additional-federal-oversight-mental-health-system/Nl495fCUeYJdEHr9V2R0YL/

In May 2016, the Atlanta Journal Constitution published a series of three articles related to the GNETS program. In the second article of the series, titled, “In Psycho-educational School, Behavioral Experiment for Troubled Child,” P & A Legal and Advocacy Director Josh Norris is quoted regarding an instance where teachers tethered a boy with disabilities with a dog leash.

http://specials.myajc.com/psychoedexperiment/

In July 2016, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities published an article titled, “What the New DOJ Settlement Means for Georgia,” quoting P & A attorney Leslie Lipson as saying “the state is only making services available in segregated and inferior settings.”

http://gcdd.org/blogs/2931-what-the-new-doj-settlement-means-for-georgia.html?utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=

In July 2016, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution issued an article titled, “Georgia Fights Feds to Keep Schools for Disabled,” and quoted P & A attorney Leslie Lipson as stating,

“Keeping the students in segregated settings is a pretty significant perversion of the spirit and the letter of the law.”

http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-education/georgia-fights-feds-to-keep-schools-for-disabled/nr7KH/

In August 2016, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote a blog titled, “Georgia closes psycho-educational schools in bid to avert federal lawsuit, advocates say.” The article discusses the letter sent by the Georgia Coalition on Educational Equity, of which GAO is a founding member, as saying, “Georgia’s decision to abruptly close nine so-called psycho-educational schools signals that negotiations to avert a federal civil-rights lawsuit have broken down,.”

http://investigations.blog.ajc.com/2016/08/02/georgia-closes-psychoeducational-schools-in-bid-to-avert-federal-lawsuit-advocates-say/

In the Summer of 2016, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities published an article authored by P & A Executive Director Ruby Moore titled, “Implementing the New DOJ Agreement.” (no link to article as this is a magazine publication).

In August 2016, P & A Executive Director Ruby Moore attended her final meeting as committee member of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities.

In August 2016, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that, “Feds will sue Georgia over segregated ‘psycho-educational’ schools” and quoted P & A attorney Leslie Lipson as saying that no agreement was reached on any point during the at least six proposed settlement agreements that occurred between the state and DOJ over an eight-month negotiation period.

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/public-affairs/feds-will-sue-georgia-over-segregated-psychoeducat/nsHSc/

In August 2016, the Albany Herald wrote an article titled, “Justice Department threatens to sue Georgia over psycho-education program” and noted that the head of the U.S. DOJ Civil Rights Division attorney Vanita Gupta mentioned the segregated school system in Georgia during her remarks at the National Disability Rights Network’s annual conference.

http://www.albanyherald.com/news/local/justice-department-threatens-to-sue-georgia-over-psychoeducation-program/article_3bb7f45a-ff46-5f5f-bb8d-5e91647b1d20.html

In August 2016, the Brunswick News published an article titled, “DOJ to sue Georgia over GNETS program,” and quoted P & A attorney Leslie Lipson as saying, “this case could be a Brown v. Board of Education moment, fighting for the civil rights of students with disabilities. This is the first time, to my knowledge, that the Department of Justice is saying to an entire state that ‘you’re providing services that are unequal and amounting to segregation, and you are violating the ADA.”

http://www.thebrunswicknews.com/news/doj-to-sue-georgia-over-gnets-program/article_a1c8300e-cdfa-5a3a-94ae-ecefd9fde090.html

In August 2016, the Brunswick News published an article titled, “Justice Department lawsuit brings complex issues.” The article quoted P & A attorney Leslie Lipson as saying GNETS has done little to adequately serve its students, that “they’ve been warehoused, put away and shut away.”

http://www.thebrunswicknews.com/opinion/daily_editorial/justice-department-lawsuit-brings-complex-issues/article_8bd23e40-59eb-5308-ab03-d720d2ffab87.html

In August 2016, COPAA’s newsletter wrote a short story titled, “Justice Department to Sue Georgia Over Special Education School Network” and recognized that several COPAA members are leaders in the Georgia Coalition for Equity in Education (GCEE) (of which GAO is a founding member) and we applaud them for their efforts! (no link to short story as this appeared in an email newsletter).

In August 2016, the Arc published a blog article on its website titled, “Stakeholders Endorse Lawsuit Challenging the GNETS Program and Hail It as the Brown VS. Board of Education for Students with Disabilities.” P & A Attorney Leslie Lipson is quoted here, saying: “The continued segregation of students with disabilities is a shameful and illegal position for the State of Georgia to defend.”

http://blog.thearc.org/2016/08/25/stakeholders-endorse-lawsuit-challenging-gnets-program-hail-brown-vs-board-education-students-disabilities/

In August 2016, the Special Ed Connection published an article titled, “DOJ sues Georgia over facilities for children with emotional, behavioral disorders,” and quoted P & A attorney Leslie Lipson as saying, “the opportunity to interact with nondisabled peers is crucial.” (article only available to subscribed members).

In September 2016, Georgia Public Broadcasting re-broadcast Leslie Lipson’s radio interview regarding new information about the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Georgia regarding its segregated GNETS program: http://gpbnews.org/post/second-thought-thursday-september-1-2016?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+gpbnews/AtlantaRSS+(Atlanta+RSS)

Part II. Individuals Served

A. Individuals Served

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)24
2. Additional individuals served during the year77
3. Total individuals served (lines A1 + A2)101
4. Individuals w. more than 1 case opened/closed during the FY. (Do not add this number to total on line A3 above.)11

B. Individuals served as of September 30

Carryover to next FY may not exceed total on line II. A.3 above 29

C. Problem Areas/Complaints of Individuals Served

1. Architectural accessibility7
2. Employment7
3. Program access4
4. Housing25
5. Government benefits/services14
6. Transportation5
7. Education4
8. Assistive technology3
9. Voting0
10. Health care37
11. Insurance0
12. Non-government services2
13. Privacy rights0
14. Access to records1
15. Abuse3
16. Neglect11
17. Other0

D. Reasons for Closing Individual Case Files

1. Issues resolved partially or completely in individual favor79
2. Other representation found1
3. Individual withdrew complaint4
4. Appeals unsuccessful0
5. PAIR Services not needed due to individual's death, relocation etc.8
6. PAIR withdrew from case1
7. PAIR unable to take case because of lack of resources0
8. Individual case lacks legal merit0
9. Other0

Please explain

E. Intervention Strategies Used in Serving Individuals

List the highest level of intervention used by PAIR prior to closing each case file.

1. Technical assistance in self-advocacy46
2. Short-term assistance22
3. Investigation/monitoring2
4. Negotiation18
5. Mediation/alternative dispute resolution0
6. Administrative hearings0
7. Litigation (including class actions)4
8. Systemic/policy activities1

Part III. Statistical Information on Individuals Served

A. Age of Individuals Served as of October 1

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. 0 - 40
2. 5 - 225
3. 23 - 5966
4. 60 - 647
5. 65 and over23

B. Gender of Individuals Served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Females54
2. Males47

C. Race/Ethnicity of Individuals Served

For individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race5
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native0
3. Asian1
4. Black or African American55
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White39
7. Two or more races1
8. Race/ethnicity unknown0

D. Living Arrangements of Individuals Served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Independent45
2. Parental or other family home8
3. Community residential home6
4. Foster care0
5. Nursing home32
6. Public institutional living arrangement1
7. Private institutional living arrangement2
8. Jail/prison/detention center6
9. Homeless1
10. Other living arrangements0
11. Living arrangements not known0

E. Primary Disability of Individuals Served

Identify the individual's primary disability, namely the one directly related to the issues/complaints

1. Blind/visual impairment6
2. Deaf/hard of hearing13
3. Deaf-blind1
4. Orthopedic impairment39
5. Mental illness1
6. Substance abuse1
7. Mental retardation2
8. Learning disability3
9. Neurological impairment18
10. Respiratory impairment3
11. Heart/other circulatory impairment8
12. Muscular/skeletal impairment3
13. Speech impairment1
14. AIDS/HIV1
15. Traumatic brain injury1
16. Other disability0

Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation

A. Systemic Activities

1. Number of policies/practices changed as a result of non-litigation systemic activities11

2. Number of individuals potentially impacted by policy changes1,456,812

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.

Federal Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities:

In 2015, Ruby Moore, Executive Director for the P & A, was appointed to the Federal Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities by the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Thomas E. Perez. The committee was tasked with advising the U.S. Secretary of Labor on ways to increase competitive, integrated employment opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities and to develop strategies for addressing issues pertaining to subminimum wage. This year the committee met several times. The Committee met in July to finalize recommendations. On September 15, 2016, the Final Report of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities was delivered to the Honorable Thomas E. Perez, United States Secretary of Labor; The United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; and The United States House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce. Ms. Moore was an integral force on the committee, creating important recommendations to significantly improve the employment participation rate of individuals with disabilities across the nation. The link to the report is here: https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/WIOA.htm

Employment First Georgia (EFG):

The P & A hosts Employment First Georgia (EFG). EFG is advocating for the State to offer employment as the first and preferred option in day services for people with disabilities. This year, the P & A worked with a diverse coalition of stakeholders looking to advance competitive, integrated employment for people with significant disabilities, to design a national conference in Georgia -called Evolutions—focused on transforming segregated programs and helping people with disabilities to get real jobs. Ms. Moore will be presenting at the conference along with other local and national leaders. We also worked collaboratively with the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD), Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA), and others, to establish an Employment First Executive Order in Georgia. A study committee was formed to during this year’s legislative session.

State Rehabilitation Council (SRC):

The P & A attends the Georgia State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) meetings to enhance Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) activities and to monitor how GVRA is implementing the Workforce and Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA). The P & A makes public comment at each of these meetings based upon meeting agenda topics and to ask questions in furtherance of our monitoring Georgia’s implementation of WIOA. SRC is a federally mandated council composed of Georgia citizens from across the state appointed by the Governor to represent a broad range of individuals with disabilities and stakeholders. The SRC collaborates with GVRA to develop plans for services and make recommendations to assist individuals with disabilities achieve employment and independence.

Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) Policy Revision Committee:

The Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) convened a Policy Revision Committee to revise their current policies to be in line with the federal regulations and to delete redundant and irrelevant procedures from the policy manual. GVRA invited the P & A to be the only non-GVRA/CAP member on the committee, which consisted of GVRA staff, the Client Assistance Program (CAP), and the P & A.

P & A Comments to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Workforce Division regarding the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency’s (GVRA) portion of the Unified State Plan:

The P & A submitted comments to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Workforce Division regarding the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency’s (GVRA) portion of the Unified State Plan. The P & A encouraged GVRA to increase competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities (with a focus on developing concrete actions to build capacity for competitive integrated employment), to prevent youth with disabilities from entering segregated employment and day services, while also working with other partner state agencies to achieve an overall decrease of persons with disabilities confined in segregated employment, to ensure competitive wages, and to promote transparency and accountability in this collaborative work. The P & A also urged GVRA’s Unified State Plan to intersect with Georgia’s Department of Community Health (DCH)-Georgia’s Medicaid agency— Transition Plan required by CMS, to come into compliance with the Home and Community Based “Final Settings Rule,” that requires divesting from funding segregated services and supporting more full community integration and participation of people with disabilities. GVRA responded to GAO’s comments that they would collaborate with GAO on most of GAO’s feedback and proposed actions.

Nursing Facility Transition/Money Follows the Person (MFP):

The P & A continues its robust advocacy supporting people with disabilities who are confined to nursing facilities, to transition to the community and to obtain competitive integrated employment. The P & A works with individuals unnecessarily confined in nursing facilities who want to come home, to identify housing options, the need for assistive technology, and the need for accessible transportation. Moving individuals with complex medical needs from a facility into the community can be challenging, as funding for appropriate supports and services is limited. In some cases, a Medicaid waiver may not provide the adequate support for a person and negotiation with the waiver program around its parameters becomes necessary. As a person transitions, the P & A works closely with Money Follows the Person (MFP) to introduce the possibility of employment and increased self-sufficiency. MFP is a program designed to transition people with disabilities from facilities into the community and provides funding for one year following the transition for items such as environmental modifications to the home, coverage of the first month’s rent and utilities, peer support, and transportation. The P & A has successfully facilitated transitions of scores of individuals from nursing facilities to the community. The P & A will continue to facilitate successful transitions through individual and systemic advocacy and by continuing to role model, train and support MFP and nursing facility administrators and social workers on best practices to assist people with disabilities as they transition from the facility to the community and to secure employment supports. The P & A is actively increasing its work to assist people to access vocational rehabilitation services who are currently in nursing facilities.

Georgia’s Network for Educational and Therapeutic Supports (“GNETS”):

Georgia’s Network for Educational and Therapeutic Supports (GNETS) is a statewide network created in 1970 that consists of two-dozen centers serving about 5,000 children with at least $70 million in state and federal funds, plus additional locally- and federally-funded services. On August 23, 2016, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against the state of Georgia, saying that, for over 40 years, the State has operated, administered, and funded the GNETS Program in mostly segregated settings, largely to the exclusion of integrated alternatives. The Justice Department lawsuit is the first to challenge a special-education system operated by a state. The state was unwilling to have productive negotiations with DOJ to avoid this lawsuit. Preceding this federal action, on July 15, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a findings letter declaring that Georgia’s Network for Educational and Therapeutic Supports (“GNETS”) program violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. DOJ found that Georgia is illegally segregating students with behavioral-related disabilities, in the GNETS program, where they are denied opportunities to learn with their non-disabled peers and provided inferior educational opportunities. Students with disabilities are unlawfully segregated from their peers in Georgia and denied educational opportunities as a result, the DOJ’s letter of findings said. The DOJ also found the network’s facilities to be “inferior,” often outdated, and lacking such basic infrastructure as central air conditioning, as well as educational resources such as science labs and libraries, and extracurricular facilities such as gyms and playgrounds. During the thirteen months between the Letter of Finding and the filing of the actual lawsuit, the P & A led the advocacy effort to hold the DOJ and the State of Georgia accountable. The P & A, with other partners, are convening and leading a number of stakeholders in a strategic process to facilitate the negotiations or enforcement actions necessary to end segregation by GNETS called the Georgia Coalition for Equity in Education (GCEE). The diversity of the coalition’s membership reflects the breadth of stakeholder support for addressing Georgia’s illegal program. The coalition includes groups with expertise in education, mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, and developmental disabilities, as well as civil rights, parent, self-advocacy, and youth groups. The state has declined to meet with us regarding potential remedies. The Coalition is in the process of filing a complaint in federal court challenging the GNETS as violating the ADA’s integration mandate and equal educational opportunity requirements.

Statewide Independent Living Council of Georgia, Inc (SILC):

The Statewide Independent Living Council of Georgia, Inc. (SILC) is a private nonprofit corporation governed by people with all types of disabilities from all across the state. The role of the SILC is to identify societal barriers to independent living and to collaborate with Centers for Independent Living (CIL), Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, and other related entities to remove those barriers, including barriers to employment, and to increase the supports and services needed to create independent living opportunities. SILC activities include sponsoring public hearings, quarterly public meetings, and other educational and outreach efforts; providing information to public officials, state agencies and local organizations and individuals; and conducting studies and research. The P & A attended the Statewide Independent Living Council meetings to receive reports on the trainings, outreach, and other activities conducted by each Center for Independent Living (CIL). The meetings provided the P & A opportunities to connect with each CIL about advocacy issues such as lack of transportation, access to effective communication in healthcare settings, and access to affordable and accessible housing, and to solicit feedback on our strategic priorirites. The CILs referred individuals with disabilities to the P & A for advocacy assistance when self-advocacy attempts were unsuccessful, and the CILs invited the P & A to conduct training in their offices to reach a broader group of diverse constituents.

P & A Comments to Georgia State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) Goals and Activities:

The P & A provided public comments to the Statewide Independent Living Council of Georgia on the implementation of their Georgia State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) Goals and Activities. The SPIL’s state plan addressed five goals, one of which was titled, “Develop opportunities for consumer employment.” The P & A comments to that goal were as follows: that each Center for Independent Living (CIL) help employers connect with employees with disabilities, and support people with disabilities to form employment circles of support; that the SILC broaden its collaboration with the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) to include assertive outreach to persons with disabilities in sheltered workshops, in 14c subminimum wage jobs, and in jobs on provider payrolls; and that the SILC collaborate with GVRA to ensure that people with disabilities and their families are aware of resources to avoid placement in sheltered workshops and work to increase competitive integrated employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Disability Connections’ Open House and ADA Celebration Expo:

The P & A co-sponsored the Disability Connections’ Open House and ADA Celebration Expo, with over one hundred people with disabilities, their family members and supporters, and community partners in attendance. Disability Connections is a Center for Independent Living located in Macon, which serves a rural area of the state. The P & A operated a table with P & A materials on employment and answered questions from the attendees about P & A mission, priorities, and services. The P & A provided information and referral on a broad range of topics.

Monitoring Sheltered Workshops:

The P & A monitored several sheltered workshops this year. With the new WIOA legislation calling for significant increases in people with disabilities to be in competitive integrated employment, earning minimum wage or above, with the same status and benefits and co-worker interactions as non-disabled co-workers, the P& A has set out to identify individuals who want to work and would benefit from employment advocacy. As a result of our monitoring, the P & A identified many individuals to begin immediately working with to obtain competitive, integrated employment. In addition, the P & A met with directors of each sheltered workshop monitored and discussed potential collaborative efforts to support people with disabilities to work in the most integrated settings by removing barriers to employment and actively supporting people to seek competitive integrated employment. Some of the common barriers we found included a lack of access to assistive technology, a lack of transportation and parents who fear the loss of their adult children’s social security benefits. The P & A has taken steps to alleviate this last barrier by offering to host workshops to provide people with disabilities and their parents with information and resources to make an informed choice. The P & A participates in on-going conversations with job placement coordinators in the sheltered workshops as they continue to identify people who they perceive can benefit from the P & A’s employment advocacy. We provide additional outreach, education and advocacy to ensure that people in sheltered workshop are supported to make experientially-based informed choices regarding integrated work opportunities and career advancement.

Other Monitoring Activities:

The P & A routinely monitors state hospitals, nursing facilities, and private residential treatment facilities where people with disabilities are housed. Among the things the P & A monitors include the following: 1. The person’s quality of life, 2. The facility conditions, 3. Whether the person is experiencing a meaningful day, and 4. Whether the facility adheres to the Patient’s Bill of Rights. The P & A responds to calls involving people with disabilities subjected to abuse and neglect that are receiving community-based services including community living arrangements, pre-employment programs/sheltered workshops, and other day services. Through routine monitoring, the P & A has documented and responded to these situations involving abuse, neglect, and rights violations. This information has been reported to the appropriate oversight agencies (such as Georgia’s Healthcare Facility Regulations Division and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - CMS) for use in their investigations. The P & A is reviewing the new CMS regulations for nursing facilities. Additionally, throughout the course of routine monitoring, the P & A advocates met people with disabilities, who expressed an interest in moving into the community. In response, the P & A assisted many individuals to move into homes in the community and to gain access to supports such as waiver services, employment, assistive technology, and transportation.

Transition Age Students Pipeline to Sheltered Workshops:

Through the P & A’s outreach and monitoring of sheltered workshops (some of which provide 14c subminimum wage jobs) this past year, we observed the disturbing trend of a pipeline of transition age students being sent directly to sheltered workshops instead of engaging in competitive integrated employment. As a result, we reached out to the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) to express our concern about this trend. GVRA recognizes this as an issue and has affirmatively taken steps under Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to begin educating 14 year olds with disabilities, their parents, and Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams about the opportunity to engage in competitive integrated employment. The P & A will monitor GVRA’s implementation of WIOA in this regard and will continue to monitor sheltered workshops and provide information about competitive integrated employment to the transition age students and youth (as well as all people with disabilities) in sheltered workshops. The P & A will also reach out to the Georgia Department of Education (DOE) to engage them in educating their IEP Team members regarding WIOA’s requirement of providing transition age students the opportunity to pursue competitive integrated employment, and to provide student with community work experiences prior to transition.

Unnecessary and Restrictive Guardianships:

The P & A recognizes that guardianship over a person with a disability is often unnecessary, can be very restrictive and in some cases, can result in abuse and/or neglect or unnecessary rights restrictions of the person under guardianship. The P & A has successfully represented numerous individuals throughout the state to have their guardian and conservator removed. As a result of gaining their own independence, people with whom we have advocated are now able to live in their own homes in the community and make their own decisions- large and small. The P & A has continued its relationship with the Public Guardianship Office (PGO) of the Georgia Division of Aging to collaborate on cases where the person is under state guardianship and wants a more independent life. PGO will refer individuals to us whom they believe may no longer need a guardian. PGO is also working with us to enrich the lives of people under state guardianship, by ensuring that they have the right and the ability to receive appropriate services and supports and live in the community.

Lack of Access to Transportation in Rural Areas:

Many people with disabilities in rural Georgia do not have access to public transportation or reliable transportation. Thus, they cannot ensure they will be able to attend job fairs, job interviews, meetings with vocational rehabilitation, or get to their jobs on time. The P & A, along with People First of Georgia and the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, supported People First of Fitzgerald (a small city in rural, southern Georgia) to advocate with their local city and county commissioners and their community to push for an accessible transit system. As a result of People First of Fitzgerald’s self-advocacy efforts in attending city and county commission meetings, and obtaining numerous signatures on a petition from ordinary citizens in the city, the city agreed to establish an accessible transit system. This resulted in people with disabilities in Fitzgerald having greater access to job opportunities and at least three People First of Fitzgerald members were able to obtain jobs as a result of this new access to transportation. The P & A continues its support of the People First of Fitzgerald chapter in their self-advocacy efforts to expand their accessible transit system even more.

Monitoring the State of Georgia’s Efforts Toward Compliance with Georgia’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)’ Implementation of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Final Rule:

The P & A is a member of the Georgia Department of Community Health’s (DCH) Home and Community Based Final Settings (HCBS) Rule Stakeholder Taskforce Group to monitor the State’s efforts to comply with the CMS HCBS Final Settings Rule by March 2019. The P & A, as well as the state, various HCBS providers, and participants of waiver services participate in monthly meetings to provide feedback to DCH. The Final Rule will affect at least 40,000 Georgians with disabilities receiving home and community based waiver services. As a member of the Taskforce, the P & A works to ensure DCH policies as related to the CMS Final Rule are founded in the basic tenets of social role valorization and person-centeredness to provide the opportunity for people with disabilities to avoid isolated, congregate settings and to receive services as they choose in a setting of their choice to include settings that are not disability specific. The P & A also provides oral and written feedback to the Taskforce to offer guidance and support in making services specific to the person rather than in a fashion that tends to isolate and congregate people in disability- specific settings.

Collaboration with the Georgia State ADA Coordinator’s office:

The P & A continues to have a strong relationship with the Georgia State ADA Coordinator’s office. As an example, this year, the P & A and the State ADA Coordinator collaborated about the beach access issue at Jekyll Island. Specifically, the P & A educated the State ADA Coordinator regarding the range of accessible options for beach access such as a manual beach wheelchair, a power beach wheelchair, and extending a mat over the sand. The P & A and the State ADA Coordinator communicated several times each month regarding other individual and systemic advocacy efforts, such as lack of accessible buildings at a major state university and lack of effective communication at certain doctors’ offices. As the State ADA Coordinator’s office is limited to providing information and education to people with disabilities, the State ADA Coordinator refers individuals with disabilities who needed direct advocacy assistance to the P & A.

Tools for Life (TFL) Advisory Council:

The P & A is a member of Georgia’s Tech Act agency, Tools for Life’s Advisory Council. Other members of this council include representatives from the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, Friends of Disabled Adults and Children, the Department of Education, and others. The purpose of the P & A’s participation on the Tools for Life Advisory Council is to serve in an advisory capacity in assisting Tools for Life (TFL), Georgia’s Tech-Act Project, in accomplishing its goal and mission with measurable outcome, which includes ensuring people with disabilities have access to assistive technology while obtaining and maintaining employment. The P & A serves as a statewide resource of information to TFL project, reviews and gives input on programs & services, and assists the Council in being a statewide voice for public awareness and advocacy on increased access to Assistive Technology, including in the workplace.

Tools for Life Aging and Decision-Making Tree Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium:

Tools for Life, in partnership with the Department of Aging Services (DAS), is developing a comprehensive AT and Aging Decision-making Tool that will assist in finding appropriate Assistive Technology strategies and solutions for individuals who are transitioning out of nursing facilities for people who are aging-in-place in the home of their choice, and who may still be employed. Tools for Life hosted a 3 day workshop where professionals and subject matter experts (SMEs) from across the country in a variety of fields to develop the AT and Aging Decision-making Tool. The P & A attended this workshop as an active participant in developing the tools.

People First:

The P & A provides ongoing support to People First of Atlanta and People First of Georgia. People First is a cross-disability self-advocacy organization. The P & A also hosts their monthly meetings as well as serves as their fiscal agent. Advocacy skills were supported and enhanced within the membership of People First of Atlanta and People First of Georgia. Inclusion, awareness of current trends in the disability field, voter education, and outreach were increased as a result of this support.

Georgia Emergency Preparedness Coalition for Individuals with Disabilities and Older Adults:

The P & A participates as an active member of the Georgia Emergency Preparedness Coalition for Individuals with Disabilities and Older Adults, which serves as a comprehensive clearinghouse between local advocacy groups serving individuals with disabilities and older adults, and Georgia agencies responsible for emergency preparedness under the Georgia Emergency Operations Plan. In addition, the Coalition provides subject matter expertise to emergency response planners to ensure that all emergency plans incorporate the needs of people with disabilities and older adults and organizations throughout Georgia that serve and advocate for people with disabilities and older adults enabling them to share disaster preparedness and response information with their constituencies. Specifically, the P & A is active on the Coalition’s Training and Technical Assistance Committee. This past year the Coalition hired two (2) trainers who have contracted with the Coalition to provide 6 trainings from July 2016 - June 2017. On September 15, 2016, the trainers presented a session at the Georgia Department of Education Parent Mentors annual conference. There have been 800 “Tips Guides for First Responders” distributed by the Coalition. There are over 50 Coalition stakeholder network agencies serving people with disabilities who provide emergency preparedness information to their constituents. Over twenty organizations, such as the American Red Cross of Georgia (ARC), Center for Advance Communication Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, Tools for Life, DeKalb Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), State ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Coordinator’s Office, Gwinnett Coalition Emergency Preparedness Committee, and Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Public Health Department, Office of Emergency Preparedness, are members of this Coalition.

Children and Youth Subcommittee of the Statewide Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Advisory Panel:

The Children and Youth Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Committee is a subcommittee of Georgia’s Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund. Healthcare advocates from local community groups such as providers, schools, advocacy organizations and parent support programs meet monthly to review resources and plans to educate Georgians about brain and spinal injury prevention as well as support services for those children and youth who experience a brain or spinal cord injury. The P & A provides information to Children and Youth Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund Subcommittee to inform members of any updates regarding available services and/or barriers to accessing home and community based services. Members of subcommittee are made aware by the P & A of Medicaid waiver programs as well as Medicaid’s federal mandate (EPSDT) as related to children under age 21 who are Medicaid eligible. The P & A also shares information as related to the civil and human rights of children who experience disabilities. The P & A participates within the Family Support workgroup housed under the Children and Youth Brain and Spinal Injury subcommittee. The goal of the workgroup is create and distribute materials to pediatricians and other healthcare providers about prevention and available resources to ensure children and youth affected by a Brain or Spinal Injuries have access to support services and avoid institutionalization. As part of its work on the Subcommittee, the P & A collaborates with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) hospital system as well as local non-profits to review and create materials available to families caring for a child or youth experiencing an injury as well as discussing prevention materials and how to get the materials to the appropriate community partners to ensure distribution to families, schools, and local healthcare providers. Resources include reviewing Medicaid’s EPSDT mandate, Georgia’s Medicaid waiver programs, and other home and community based service options.

Children’s Freedom Initiative (CFI):

The P & A continues to take the lead on the Children’s Freedom Initiative (CFI) to bring all children, including those who have experienced a TBI, out of institutional settings and to keep them out through the cooperation of several state agencies. The CFI is a collaborative effort of the P & A, Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, Institute on Human Development and Disabilities, and the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University. The CFI expects to achieve its goal through changing legislation, telling children’s stories, coalition building, elevating the issue, and requesting resource allocation in the budgets of various state organizations. The P & A is engaged in individual and systemic advocacy on behalf of children currently living in facilities and children who are at risk of being institutionalized. The P & A assisted 10 young people to leave facilities this year who were welcomed into permanent, loving homes. The P & A also prevented at least 16 young people from being institutionalized. The P & A also approached the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS), who agreed to move the children in their custody out of facilities into foster homes and they no longer place children in facilities. The P & A continues to educate families about resources for children, so that they can remain at home or in the community, even when their home of origin is no longer an option.

Collaborations with Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA):

The P & A met with Georgia Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) staff to discuss collaborative efforts to support people who want to work but need benefits navigation and assistance. This meeting resulted in increased referrals between offices, as well as WIPA’s invitation to the PABSS (spell out since this is your PAIR PPR- different audience) program staff to speak at a presentation called, "Going to Work and Receiving Social Security Benefits."

Georgia Microboard Association (GMA):

We continue to support the Georgia Microboard Association (GMA) to develop micro-boards and microenterprises that allow people to guide and direct their own services and supports. We directly support several people’s microenterprises and small businesses and provide support to the GMA as it grows the capacity to serve more people.

State Advisory Panel for Special Education (SAP):

The State Advisory Panel for Special Education (SAP) advises the Georgia Department of Education (GA DOE) Divisions for Special Education Services and Supports on the provisions of special education and related services for students with disabilities. The SAP is comprised of parents, persons with disabilities, educators and administrators, as well as representatives from public and private agencies. This diverse group of stakeholders assists the Divisions in addressing a variety of special education issues and topics. Specifically, the SAP advises the Divisions on the unmet needs related to the education of children with disabilities within the State and provides feedback on any rules or regulations proposed by the State regarding special education. The SAP is a critical partner in the development of Georgia’s State Performance Plan (SPP) and Annual Performance Report (APR). The Panel also advises the Divisions on the improvement activities that need to be developed and implemented in order to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Each year, members review data on the improvement activities included in the SPP and APR and make suggestions for updates to the activities and targets. The SAP advises the GA DOE in developing corrective action plans to address findings identified in federal monitoring reports under IDEA and advises the GA DOE in developing and implementing policies relating to the coordination of services for children with disabilities. The SAP participates in the Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process by recommending target areas for upcoming focused monitoring activities.

Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium (GAIPSEC):

The P & A is an active member of the Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium (GAIPSEC), which seeks to create opportunities for students who have historically not had access to post-secondary educational (PSE) opportunities. Housed in the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University, one of the P & A’s federal partners, the GAIPSEC is a group of people dedicated to ensuring that every Georgia student has access to learning after high school, regardless of intellectual or developmental disability. Consortium members include colleges and universities, community support agencies, families, and K-12 educators. Together, GAIPSEC is ensuring that every Georgia student with a disability has the opportunity to realize his or her full potential, ultimately leading to competitive, integrated employment. The P & A provides legal support to the consortium, presents trainings on supported decision-making, and actively participates in meetings at post-secondary education facilities.

Shut Out, Priced Out, and Segregated (SOPOS):

The Shut Out, Priced Out, and Segregated (SOPOS) Coalition is a multi-disciplinary group of experts who are committed to implementing the recommendations of the SOPOS Report. They represent architects, developers, builders, lenders, professors, attorneys, disability advocates, government agencies, nonprofits, and others. The Coalition includes people who were involved in writing the report as well as others who want to help implement it. The Coalition took its name from the title of the SOPOS Report: "Shut Out, Priced Out and Segregated." The Coalition strives to educate and inform the public and legislators of several items such as “visitability” (all homes are accessible to people with disabilities), advertising homes as accessible where appropriate on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), and ensuring affordable accessible housing for people with disabilities. The P & A attended SOPOS coalition meetings to discuss ways to improve the availability of affordable accessible housing for persons with disabilities.

B. Litigation/Class Actions

1. Number of individuals potentially impacted by changes as a result of PAIR litigation/class action efforts750
2. Number of individuals named in class actions2

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.

Hunter v. Cook: This case was brought in federal court pursuant to the Medicaid Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act on behalf of five children with complex medical conditions. The P & A challenged the practices of the Georgia Department of Community Health in its determination of the amount of in-home nursing services to be provided to the plaintiffs pursuant to Georgia’s Pediatric Program (GAPP). The Court granted the P & A injunctive relief and the P & A then filed a request for attorneys’ fees. In September 2015, the Court awarded fees to the P & A. The state appealed the decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. This summer, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the District Court’s award for fees for the P & A.

M.H. v. Reese: The P & A filed a class action complaint against the Georgia Department of Community Health (state Medicaid agency) in federal court on April 29, 2015, alleging systemic violations of the Medicaid Act. This litigation is a continuation of the P & A’s efforts for the state to reform its Medicaid program in providing support to some of Georgia’s most vulnerable children. The P & A was able to successfully resolve the claims of one of the plaintiffs, S.R., and received attorney fees and costs at the end of June. The remaining plaintiff, M.H., was referred to the Southern Poverty Law Center for continued representation.

Georgia Advocacy Office v Reese: The P & A brought an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 for injunctive and declaratory relief against the Georgia’s Department of Community Health (DCH), to redress DCH’s violations of the P & A’s rights under the federal laws governing the activities of the designated protection and advocacy systems (“P&A Acts”) to conduct investigations and access records. DCH violated the P & A’s rights by refusing to provide access to investigatory records related to individuals with disabilities. The complaint alleged that DCH refused P & A’s requests for records related to two individuals, both of whom authorized P & A to access their records. The court denied DCH’s motion to dismiss and directed the parties to reach an agreement. This summer, the P & A filed a motion for summary judgment and injunctive relief, the state filed a reply, and P & A then filed a response with a Proposed Order for the Judge to adopt. The Judge adopted P & A’s Proposed Order, which confirmed P & A’s access authority and Ordered DCH to release the requested records. This will have a positive impact for P&A’s nationally. The P & A has now received the requested records and is preparing a fee petition.

United States v. Georgia: The P & A is the co-lead counsel for the amici in this case along with the Bazelon Center. The amici are comprised of a variety of mental health stakeholders and the P & A. The amici have been an active and integral participant in this case between the state and DOJ. The P & A had significant involvement this year in negotiating the two-year extension on the Settlement Agreement. The Extension Agreement was approved by the Court. In the Extension Agreement, the State commits to take additional steps to address the areas where the Department of Justice and an independent reviewer found the State had not complied with the terms of the 2010 Settlement Agreement. The State has agreed to improve its system for providing services to people with developmental disabilities by:

Helping individuals with developmental disabilities to transition from the State Hospitals to the community, using an improved transition process with enhanced post-move monitoring;

Implementing a “high risk surveillance list” for individuals who have transitioned from the State Hospitals since 2010 to identify and immediately respond to gaps in services and medical and behavioral risks;

Creating a statewide clinical oversight program to provide targeted expertise, technical assistance, and oversight to community providers, support coordinators, and medical professionals who provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities who have complex medical or behavioral needs;

Improving the State’s support coordination system to ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities are receiving the services and supports they need to live full lives of their choosing in the community;

Addressing how crisis respite homes will be used;

Providing new waivers each year of the Extension Agreement to individuals with developmental disabilities on the waitlist; and

Improving its quality management system and recruiting additional providers to serve people with developmental disabilities and complex needs.

For people with psychiatric disabilities, the State has committed to expanding its successful supported housing program, which provides housing resources and voluntary supportive services to help individuals with mental illness successfully live in the community. The State has committed to assessing the need for supported housing and developing capacity based on that assessment, providing new housing subsidies each year of the Extension Agreement, and improving its process for referring people who need supported housing.

In the Interest of C.P: The P & A represented a mother who acquired a significant physical disability and was placed in a nursing facility. As a result of the mother’s placement in the facility, the state seeks to have the mother’s right to her daughter terminated. The P & A assisted the mother to move out of the nursing facility with support from the Money Follows the Person program (MFP). The mother lived in a three-bedroom residence and had support 12 hours a day through the Independent Care Waiver Program (ICWP), a Medicaid Waiver program. The mother originally pursued custody of her daughter as she would have had caregivers 24 hours a day/7 days a week. However, as time went by, she only had caregivers 12 hours a day. The Juvenile Court Judge indicated that she could not return the daughter to her mother’s custody without the mother having support 24 hours a day. The mother, the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS), and the guardian ad litem (GAL) then began exploring the possibility of a guardianship situation, whereby the child would live with the foster family and the mother would still be involved in the child’s life and assist in making decisions for the child. However, before this could be finalized, the mother passed away unexpectedly.

In the Interest of V.L: The P & A represented a mother who had her child removed from her custody due to assumptions about her ability to care for her child, not for an actual lack of care.

The P & A was granted the right to intervene in the case to seek appropriate support for the mother and reunification with the child. The mother’s appeal of the NOW/COMP waiver denial was not successful. After a year and a half of the child being in DFCS custody, the woman stated that she grew weary of DFCS involvement and the constant strain of having various professionals in her life (CASA, support providers, DFCS, etc.), and she had decided that her son would have a better life if he was adopted by a family. Her son is currently in an adoptive placement where all reports say he is thriving.

Part V. PAIR'S Priorities and Objectives

A. Priorities and Objectives for the Fiscal Year Covered by this Report

For each of your PAIR program priorities for the fiscal year covered by this report, please:

  1. Identify and describe priority.
  2. Identify the need, issue or barrier addressed by this priority.
  3. Identify and describe indicators PAIR used to determine successful outcome of activities pursued under this priority.
  4. Explain whether pursuing this priority involved collaborative efforts by other entities. If so, describe this collaboration.
  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.

1. Identify and describe priority

The first priority is to protect individuals with disabilities in Georgia from abuse and neglect. The P & A will investigate and address allegations of abuse or neglect, including the suspicious or unexplained deaths of persons with disabilities.

2. Identify the need, issue or barrier addressed by this priority.

Georgians with disabilities are at risk of institutionalization due to the lack of appropriate community-based services and supports. People with disabilities who reside in congregate facilities are at heightened risk of abuse, neglect, and even death. Community-based supports are needed to end the institutional bias in Georgia.

3. Identify and describe indicators PAIR used to determine successful outcome of activities pursued under this priority.

The P & A investigates and positively addresses instance of abuse and neglect of persons with disabilities. The P & A intervenes to protect any persons with disabilities from circumstances of abuse and neglect, and to assist in their move to community settings, in which abuse and neglect is less likely to occur.

4. Explain whether pursuing this priority involved collaborative efforts by other entities. If so, describe this collaboration.

The P& A receives Type I Critical Incident Reports from the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD)’s Director of Incident Management and Investigations based upon reports received from state institutional staff. The P & A makes case-by-case determinations as to which reports warrant further investigation by the P & A and/or other entities.

The P & A monitors the discharge of individuals leaving state hospitals, with particular emphasis on compliance with the United States v. Georgia settlement agreement, and the “fit” between what people with disabilities need and what they are actually receiving in terms of supports and services and real choices. The P & A reports findings to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Court Monitor as part of its investigation into the State hospital system.

The P & A has participated in facility transition meetings and individual service plan (ISP) meetings. The P & A has helped to identify barriers to discharge and advocates for services within the ISP that will bring more self-determination and full inclusion to people’s lives. During the P & A’s visits, the P & A has discussed current census and inquired as to any developments regarding transition planning specifically to certain individuals and to the population as a whole. The P & A also attended planning sessions for family members to provide information about community resources upon discharge from the hospital.

5. Provide the number of cases handled under the priority. Indicate how many of these, if any, were class actions.

52

6.Provide at least one case summary that demonstrates the impact of the priority.

A young man, G.S., who does not have use of his legs was in need of a new wheelchair. He requested the assistance of the P & A to obtain a new wheelchair. The P & A supported the man to obtain a wheelchair prescription from a renowned seating clinic. When he received the wheelchair evaluation recommending an appropriate chair, the P & A asked the nursing facility where he resided to provide the recommended wheelchair. The nursing facility refused. For other reasons, the man was transferred to another nursing facility. The P & A asked the new nursing facility to provide the recommended wheelchair. That facility also refused. The P & A then contacted Georgia’s Department of Community Health (Georgia’s Medicaid agency) to request they provide the recommended wheelchair. Their response was that the nursing facility should pay for the wheelchair through the man’s Medicaid. When the P & A presented this information to the nursing facility, the facility still refused to pay for the chair. The P & A then filed a complaint with Georgia’s Healthcare Facility Regulation Division (HFRD), an agent of Georgia’s Department of Community Health, to investigate both facilities for failure to provide services to a resident. When the P & A asked HFRD for its investigation records, HFRD refused to do so, saying those records were federal records and they were not authorized to release the records. The P & A filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Department of Community Health under the P & A access authority. The Court recognized the P & A’s access authority and ordered HFRD to release the records to the P & A. The Court’s Order very clearly explained the P & A access authority, which HFRD has to follow going forward.

The P & A received a call from a woman regarding her brother M.D. who experienced a stroke and was in the hospital. The woman reported that the hospital stated that her brother did not have brain activity, and was holding a discharge meeting the following day to either send him to hospice for palliative care or home with minimal support. The woman stated that her brother was able to communicate non-verbally and that she did not want him to be sent to hospice or home to die. The P & A contacted the hospital’s risk manager, explained the P & A’s access authority and the P & A then participated in a discharge team meeting with the hospital and the family. At the team meeting, the hospital asserted that the sister agreed for feeding tube to be removed at the same time the breathing tube was removed the previous week. However, the sister said she did not understand that the feeding tube was going to be removed nor did she agree to it. As a result of the P & A’s involvement, the hospital agreed to take measures to keep M.D. alive and they put the feeding tube back in. The hospital also obtained a consultation for occupational therapy and physical therapy, as well as a tracheostomy consult and a gastroenterology consult. The P & A also negotiated with the hospital social workers to ensure M.D. had an appropriate discharge plan, which included a hoyer lift, a mattress with a pump, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. The P & A ensured that home health care was arranged while M.D.’s Medicaid application was pending. Once M.D.’s Medicaid was approved, he could apply for a Medicaid waiver. As a result of the P & A’s negotiation with the hospital for an appropriate discharge plan, M.D. was successfully and safely discharged to his home.

The wife and guardian of B.N., a man who experienced a stroke, contacted the P & A because a Traumatic Brain Injury facility had notified her that her husband was being discharged to her home in less than three days, without arranging for any appropriate services and supports so that he could safely remain in the community. The P & A met with the man at the facility and provided him and his wife/guardian with technical assistance on their options. The P & A successfully negotiated with the facility that he would not be discharged to his home without appropriate services and supports. As a result of P & A intervention, the facility agreed to work with the man and his wife to be discharged to his home with an appropriate discharge plan.

G.S., a man with physical disabilities who was preparing to be discharged from a hospital back into the community, contacted the P & A to request assistance applying for a Medicaid waiver to provide him with appropriate home and community based services. The P & A provided G.S. with information about Georgia’s Medicaid waivers and also sent him the waiver applications to complete. The P & A also worked with the social worker at the hospital to locate other home and community based services for G.S. He was found eligible for SOURCE, a Medicaid Waiver, which would provide attendant care services, and G.S. was able to safely return to his home in the community.

The second priority is to respond to allegations of discrimination and legal rights violations of persons with disabilities. The P & A will advocate for appropriate home and community-based supports and services, including healthcare and educational, for people with disabilities at risk of institutionalization. The P & A will also advocate for people with disabilities subject to legal rights violations and discrimination in any of the following areas: fiduciary relationships, local and state government, healthcare, housing, transportation, and employment.

1. Identify the need, issue, or barrier addressed by this priority.

This priority addresses the need of individuals with disabilities to be free from overt discrimination or the failure to provide requested reasonable accommodations in government services and public places. Persons with disabilities are subject to discrimination in essential services and domains of life, particularly with respect to healthcare, housing, transportation, and employment. Public and private accommodations need to be accessible and free from discriminatory policies and practices in order for people with disabilities to have an opportunity to participate fully in their communities. People with disabilities are more likely to have their rights restricted based upon the perception that they are not able to make decisions regarding their own lives.

2. Identify and describe indicators PAIR used to determine successful outcome of activities pursued under this priority.

The indicators of success for this priority are as follows: 1. To investigate and reverse the effects of reliable reports of overt deprivation of fundamental rights for individuals; and 2.To avert discrimination against persons with disabilities by achieving equal opportunities from employers, housing providers, healthcare providers, transportation providers, public entities, and public accommodations through reasonable accommodations and removal of policy barriers.

3. Explain whether pursuing this priority involved collaborative efforts by other entities. If so, describe this collaboration.

The P & A works closely with the Money Follows the Person (MFP), a program designed to transition persons with disabilities from facilities into the community and provides funding for one year following the transition, for items such as environmental modifications to the home, coverage of the first month’s rent and utilities, peer support, and transportation. The P & A has successfully facilitated scores of transitions of individuals from nursing facilities into the community, in part because of our current relationships with the long-term care ombudsman’s office, MFP, and Medicaid waiver staff. The P & A actively participated in the quarterly MFP stakeholder meetings held throughout the state. The P & A heard reports from the state Division of Aging and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities regarding information about its nursing facility transitions for the previous quarter.

Through the P & A’s collaboration with the Public Guardianship Office (PGO) of the Georgia Division of Aging on cases where the person is under state guardianship and wants a more independent life, PGO refers individuals to the P & A whom they believe may no longer need a guardian. PGO is also working with the P & A to enrich the lives of persons under state guardianship, by ensuring that they have the right and the ability to receive appropriate services and supports and live in the community.

The P & A works closely with the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) and each of the nine (9) Center for Independent Living (CIL) offices. The P & A contributed to the discussions surrounding ensuring that persons with disabilities have access to, among others, accessible housing, transportation, living alternatives, and assistive technology.

4. Provide the number of cases handled under the priority. Indicate how many of these, if any, were class actions.

21

5. Provide at least one case summary that demonstrates the impact of the priority.

S.M., a woman who is deaf, contacted the P & A for assistance because her doctor at a medical center refused to provide her with a sign language interpreter to aid in effective communication during her medical appointments. The P & A provided technical assistance in self-advocacy to S.M. so she could advocate for the doctor to provide an interpreter, but her self-advocacy efforts were unsuccessful. The P & A then filed a complaint with the United States Department of Justice against the doctor and the medical center on behalf of S.M. The Department of Justice assigned the investigation of the complaint to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. They investigated the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office met with S.M. and the P & A to share the results of their investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s office stated that the United States had entered into a settlement agreement with the medical center. The terms of the agreement included that the medical center will provide interpreters to patients who are deaf or hard of hearing upon request. The medical center also agreed to provide effective communication to all patients who are deaf or hard of hearing. The medical center agreed to train its staff on the Americans with Disabilities Act and how to ensure that effective communication is being provided. Finally, the medical center agreed to pay $3500.00 in compensatory damages to S.M.

H. J., a man with orthopedic issues, requested P & A assistance in ensuring that he was provided with the reasonable accommodations of the following: (1) handicapped accessible apartment close to an elevator, and close to the entrance of the apartment complex; and a (2) handicapped accessible parking space. The P & A contacted the property manager and the company that owns H.J.’s property. That same day, the property management company responded to say that H.J.’s request for a transfer to an accessible apartment had been approved. However, they said that all the accessible units were currently occupied. They stated that H.J. was at the top of the transfer list, so that when an accessible unit became available, H.J. would be next in line to move there. The management company also responded favorably to say that H.J.’s request for an assigned parking space that was the closest available space to his unit had been approved.

A woman with deaf-blindness, R.W., contacted the P & A for assistance as a medical practice refused to accept her as a new patient because she requested that the practice provide her with a qualified Tactile American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter for her at her medical appointments. The P & A successfully negotiated with the medical practice, that agreed to accept R.W. as a patient and provide a qualified Tactile ASL interpreter at her appointments.

1. Identify and describe the priority.

The third priority is to promote the integration and self-determination of persons with disabilities in the community. The P & A seeks to empower people with disabilities, family members, and concerned citizens to advocate for competitive employment, educational, healthcare, and other services that are appropriate to the person’s needs.

2. Identify the need, issue, or barrier addressed by this priority.

This priority addresses the need of people to live fully integrated lives in their communities. Persons with disabilities have been continually isolated and segregated from the community. Starting when they are young, they are placed in classes separate from everyone else. It continues when opportunities to be in the community are limited because of inaccessibility. Most significantly, too many persons with disabilities are isolated in nursing facilities or other congregate settings away from life in the community. The best safeguard for persons with disabilities is to be involved and connected with their communities and to develop and practice self-advocacy skills.

3. Identify and describe indicators PAIR used to determine successful outcome of activities pursued under this priority.

The indicators of success for this priority are as follows: to support individuals and concerned citizens to obtain equal opportunities from employers, housing providers, healthcare providers, transportation providers, and to support individuals and concerned citizens to obtain home and community-based supports for individuals to live and fully participate in their communities.

4. Explain whether pursuing this priority involved collaborative efforts by other entities. If so, describe this collaboration.

The P & A provides ongoing support to People First of Atlanta and People First of Georgia. The P & A also hosts their monthly meetings as well as serving as their fiscal agent. The P & A sends a supporter to monthly meetings and also provides support to the chapter and the Board in the planning and execution of the annual Long Road Home event and the annual People First of Georgia conference that all People First chapters attend.

The P & A actively participated in the Independent Care Waiver Program (ICWP) Advocacy Day. Its objective was to support self-advocates in meeting with their locally-elected officials within the Georgia legislature to share personal stories and informational materials that address the financial barriers experienced by waiver recipients when attempting to hire qualified personal support staff as a result of the ICWP low Medicaid-reimbursement rate. The ICWP Advocacy Day was a coordinated effort by the Developmental Disabilities Network, self-advocates, and other community partners to provide informational materials to educate policy makers regarding Medicaid reimbursement rate disparities among the state’s numerous Medicaid waiver programs.

5. Provide the number of cases handled under the priority. Indicate how many of these, if any, were class actions.

49

6. Provide at least one case summary that demonstrates the impact of the priority.

D. S., a woman with physical disabilities, contacted the P & A to request assistance in advocating for her property complex to install a curb cut on the sidewalk at her apartment, so that she can travel to and from her apartment. The P & A provided technical assistance in self-advocacy to D.S. by explaining the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act and supported her to self-advocate with the property manager. Specifically, the P & A encouraged D.S. to write a letter to the property manager requesting a reasonable accommodation pursuant to the ADA, as well as encouraging her to ask her doctor to write a letter of medical necessity showing her need for the curb cut so that her apartment would be accessible. Due to D.S.’s successful self-advocacy, the property complex agreed to provide a curb cut in front of her building.

L.I., a woman who uses a wheelchair, requested P & A assistance with advocating for her county’s para-transit system to arrive on time and to inform riders in advance if a para-transit ride has been canceled.. Specifically, L.I. stated that she wanted to start a group to work on these transportation issues in her county facing other riders with disabilities. The P & A suggested to L.I. that she and others attend county commissioner meetings to share their experiences with the county’s para- transit. The P & A also provided technical assistance in self-advocacy to L.I. on the importance of filing complaints with the Federal Transportation Agency and what to include in her complaint. As a result of the P & A’s self-advocacy support to L.I., she has now organized a group of 36 people with disabilities who are working on accessible transportation issues in her county.

C.J. is a man with paraplegia living in the community. He had been receiving home health care through the SOURCE Medicaid waiver without interruption of services and completed his yearly assessment. However, after his yearly assessment, his Medicaid waiver services were discontinued. His home health care workers continued to come to the house to assist him, but they were no longer getting paid through the waiver and they had to stop coming. CJ lives with his mother who is 63 and she cannot assist him with all of his daily needs. CJ talked to his waiver caseworker and she told him they were waiting for the state to approve the continuation of his services. The P & A encouraged CJ to initiate self-advocacy by contacting his case manager to get clarification on the situation. Within forty-eight hours of his self-advocacy, CJ was able to get his services reinstated so that he could remain in the community.

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 prioirty;
  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 each priority. The first goal is to protect individuals with disabilities in Georgia from abuse and neglect. The first priority of this goal is to investigate and address allegations of abuse or neglect, including the suspicious or unexplained deaths of persons with disabilities. The second priority of this goal is to advocate for appropriate home and community-based supports and services for persons with disabilities residing in facilities, with a focus on monitoring the State’s compliance with US v GA, the ADA and Olmstead.

2. Needs: Georgians with disabilities are at risk of institutionalization due to the lack of community-based services and supports. People who reside in congregate facilities are at heightened risk of abuse, neglect, and even death. Children are at the greatest risk due to their heightened vulnerability. Community-based supports are needed to end the institutional bias in Georgia.

3. Activities: The P & A monitors state hospitals, nursing facilities, and private residential treatment facilities. The P & A responds to calls involving community-based services including community living arrangements, sheltered workshops, and other day services. Children and other individuals residing in facilities will be considered more vulnerable than those living in community settings and will receive priority response from the P & A. The P & A will investigate deaths and cases of severe abuse and neglect against people with disabilities. The P & A will seek the full range of remedies for individuals through protection and advocacy from abuse and neglect.

1. A statement of each priority. The second goal is to respond to allegations of discrimination and legal rights violations of persons with disabilities. The first priority of the second goal is to advocate for appropriate home and community-based supports and services, including healthcare and education, for people with disabilities at risk of institutionalization. The second priority of the second goal is to advocate for people with disabilities residing in the community who are subject to legal rights violations and discrimination in any of the following areas: fiduciary relationships (such as unnecessary and restrictive guardianships), local and state government, healthcare, housing, transportation, and employment.

2. Needs: People with disabilities often face discrimination in areas such as healthcare, transportation, housing, and employment. People need to be free from overt discrimination or the failure to provide requested reasonable accommodations in government services and public accommodations. Public accommodations need to be accessible and free from discriminatory policies and practices in order for people with disabilities to have an opportunity to participate fully in their communities. Additionally, persons with disabilities can be subjected to financial exploitation by family members or acquaintances or by other persons upon whom they are dependent.

3. Activities: The P & A will seek the full range of remedies for individuals who have been subjected to discrimination and rights violations. The P & A will address discrimination in healthcare, transportation, housing, and employment by negotiation, mediation, and litigation. The P & A collaborates with a wide range of agencies, such as the State ADA Coordinator’s office, the Centers for Independent Living, Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Georgia Legal Services, and private attorneys to assist people whose rights are being violated and who are being subjected to fiduciary relationships.

1. The third goal is to promote self-advocacy and self-determination of persons with disabilities in the community. The first priority of the third goal is to empower people with disabilities, family members, and concerned citizens to advocate for competitive employment, educational, healthcare, and other services that are appropriate to the person’s needs.

2. Needs: Persons with disabilities have been continually isolated and segregated from the community. Opportunities to be in the community continue to be limited because of inaccessibility. Most significantly, persons with disabilities are isolated in nursing facilities or other congregate settings away from life in the community. The best safeguard for persons with disabilities is to be involved and connected with their communities.

3. Activities: The P & A supports persons to be involved in their community by teaching self-advocacy skills and mentoring persons with disabilities on their individual self-advocacy plans. The P & A provides information to individuals with disabilities about their human and legal rights to ensure that individuals secure the accommodations and services they are entitled to under the law. The P & A also provides technical assistance in self-advocacy by assisting individuals and their families in applying for community-based supports and also refers individuals and families to local independent living centers for information and peer support about transitioning into community life.

Part VI. Narrative

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.

  1. Sources of funds received and expended
  2. Budget for the fiscal year covered by this report
  3. Description of PAIR staff (duties and person-years)
  4. Involvement with advisory boards (if any)
  5. Grievances filed under the grievance procedure
  6. Coordination with the Client Assistance Program (CAP) and the State long-term care program, if these programs are not part of the P&A agency

Source of Funding

Federal (section 509): Amount Received = 463,534

Federal (section 509): Amount Spent = 463,750

State: Amount Received = 0

State: Amount Spent = 0

Program income: Amount Received = 0

Program income: Amount Spent = 0

Private: Amount Received = 0

Private: Amount Spent = 0

All other funds: Amount Received = 0

All other funds: Amount Spent = 0

Total (from all sources): Amount Received = 463,534

Total (from all sources): Amount Spent = 463,750

B. Budget for the fiscal year covered by this report

Wages/salaries: Prior Fiscal Year = 296,000

Wages/salaries: Current Fiscal Year = 285,000

Fringe benefits (FICA, unemployment, etc): Prior Fiscal Year = 72,000

Fringe benefits (FICA, unemployment, etc): Current F/Y= 70,000

Materials/supplies: Prior Fiscal Year = 5,300

Materials/supplies: Current Fiscal Year = 5,000

Postage: Prior Fiscal Year = 1,000

Postage: Current Fiscal Year = 1,000

Telephone: Prior Fiscal Year = 3,200

Telephone: Current Fiscal Year = 4,850

Rent: Prior Fiscal Year = 36,000

Rent: Current Fiscal Year = 37,500

Travel: Prior Fiscal Year = 7,900

Travel: Current Fiscal Year = 8,000

Copying: Prior Fiscal Year = 2,500

Copying: Current Fiscal Year = 2,700

Bonding/insurance: Prior Fiscal Year = 2,400

Bonding/insurance: Current Fiscal Year = 2,600

Equipment (rent/purchase): Prior Fiscal Year = 4,500

Equipment (rent/purchase): Current Fiscal Year = 5,000

Legal Services: Prior Fiscal Year = 10,000

Legal Services: Current Fiscal Year = $10,000

Indirect costs: Prior Fiscal Year = 0

Indirect costs: Current Fiscal Year = 0

Miscellaneous: Prior Fiscal Year = 32,035

Miscellaneous: Current Fiscal Year = 32,000

Total Budget: Prior Fiscal Year = 463,650

Total Budget: Current Fiscal Year = 472,835

C. Description of PAIR Staff

Professional position: 14 FTE filled 100% of year

Professional full-time positions: 12 FTE, 12 person-years

Professional part-time positions: 2 FTE, 1 person-year

Professional vacant positions: 5 FTE, 1 person-year

Clerical position: 5 FTE filled 100% of year

Clerical full-time positions: 5 FTE, 5 person-years

Clerical part-time positions: 0 FTE, 0 person-years

Clerical vacant positions: 0 FTE, 0 person-years

A. Description of PAIR staff

Julie Kegley is the PAIR program director and an attorney with fifteen years of experience working with P & A systems. Ms. Kegley supervises the PAIR casework, provides individual advocacy in PAIR cases, (such as defending the P & A’a access authority, representing people with disabilities to have their guardian/conservator removed, and representing people who are deaf to ensure they have effective communication in places of public accommodation), participates on stakeholders’ committees, conducts presentations, and provides information and referrals.

Denise Quigley is the Director of the Resource Advocacy unit and an attorney who has been with the P & A for twenty (20) years.

Cheri Mitchell is an advocate who has been with the P& A for ten (10) years. Ms. Mitchell’s primary focus is advocating for the transition of people with disabilities from nursing facilities into the community, supporting self-advocacy, advocating for affordable and accessible housing, and assistive technology.

Stacey Gardenhire is an advocate who has been with the P & A for twelve (12) years. Ms. Gardenhire advocates on behalf of individuals transitioning into the community from facilities, as well as on behalf of individuals experiencing employment barriers and discrimination.

Josh Norris was the Director of Legal and Advocacy Services and had been with the P & A for twelve (12) years prior to his departure in July 2016. He supervised all legal and advocacy services and coordinated with program directors and staff regarding targeted and systemic advocacy strategies.

Naomi Walker was an attorney and a Resource Advocacy who worked part time and had been with the P & A for twenty-two (22) years, prior to her passing in December 2015. She had extensive experience with Medicaid and Assistive Technology litigation.

The Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer, Comptroller, Senior Accountant, and all members of the Administrative Support team have contributed to, and participated in support of, the PAIR program.

B. Involvement with Advisory Boards

The P & A serves on the following boards and committees: Federal Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities; Georgia’s Assistive Technology Act Program, Tools For Life; Training and Technical Assistance Committee of Georgia Emergency Preparedness Coalition for Individuals with Disabilities and Older Adults; Georgia’s Council on Developmental Disabilities; State Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Steering Committee; Unlock the Waiting List Steering Committee; TASH Employment Committee; Georgia Department of Community Health’s Home and Community Based Final Settings (HCBS) Rule Stakeholder Taskforce Group; and the Money Follows the Person stakeholders committee.

The P & A is an advisor to People First of Georgia. The P & A serves on several Boards and Committees at the local, state, and national levels related to employment representing the protection and advocacy system.

C. Grievances filed under the grievance procedure.

The P & A did not receive any grievances filed under the grievance procedure this year.

D. Coordination with the Client Assistance Program and the State long-term care program, if these programs are not part of the P & A agency.

This year, the P & A and the Client Assistance Program (CAP), which is not housed within the P & A, communicated with each other about the best way to support persons with disabilities in employment through its shared participation on the SRC and the GVRA Policy Revision Committee. The P & A and CAP recognize that it is essential to work together to support people with disabilities who seek services from GVRA in a way that promotes strong advocacy and employment opportunities.

The State long-term care program is not housed within the P & A. However, the P & A continues to receive referrals from the Long Term Care Ombudsman regarding individuals residing in nursing facility who have experienced abuse and/or neglect in the facility and/or who want to transition from the facility into the community.

Certification

Signed?Yes
Signed ByJulie C. Kegley
TitleStaff Attorney/Program Director
Signed Date12/19/2016