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

Nebraska (NEBRASKA ADVOCACY SERVICES, INC.) - H240A170028 - FY2017

General Information

Designated Agency Identification

NameDisability Rights Nebraska (formrly Nebr Advocacy)
Address134 South 13th St.
Address Line 2Suite 600
Zip Code68508
Website Address
TTY 402-474-3183
Toll-free Phone800-422-6691
Toll-free TTY800-422-6691
Name of P&A Executive DirectorEric A. Evans
Name of PAIR Director/CoordinatorEric A. Evans
Person to contact regarding reportSharon T. Ohmberger
Contact Person phone402-474-3183

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 areas1
2. Individuals receiving I&R outside PAIR priority areas242
3. Total individuals receiving I&R (lines A1 + A2)243

B. Training Activities

1. Number of trainings presented by PAIR staff5
2. Number of individuals who attended training (approximate)340

Disability Rights Nebraska presented two guardianship trainings during FY 2017 with a focus on least restrictive alternatives to full guardianship. Staff Attorney Michael Elsken presented "Guardianship in Nebraska: A Walk in the Woods" at the Nebraska State Bar Association Building in Lincoln. Twenty-two individuals participated in person and approximately 55 participants viewed the presentation online. The presentation lasted for 3 hours. On a separate occasion, Mike spoke at the UNL College of Law to attorneys and law students about guardianship and least restrictive alternatives. Approximately 65 people were in attendance. Our advocate in Western Nebraska conducted a presentation to an audience of 138 transition students. The title of the presentation was “What Should I Disclose in the Workplace?” She talked at length about what rights a person with a disability has in the workplace, when to disclose your disability in the employment process and how to ask for reasonable accommodations. Our staff attorney conducted two presentations to transition students in Lincoln about their rights in special education and he also focused on transition services. He was also on a panel and talked to parents of transition students about our services, resources, and disability laws affecting them and their children. He reached an audience of 35. A presentation on school law which included extensive information regarding transition implications and the impact of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act for “pre-employment transition services” for students was delivered to an audience of attorneys. Approximately 25 attorneys were in attendance.

C. Information Disseminated to the Public

1. Radio and TV appearances by PAIR staff2
2. Newspaper/magazine/journal articles7
3. PSAs/videos aired4
4. Hits on the PAIR/P&A website11,358
5. Publications/booklets/brochures disseminated1,699
6. Other (specify separately)0


With the assistance of Journalism school interns skilled in video, Disability Rights Nebraska produced and distributed several videos aimed at making our services more understandable, and our staff and Board more relatable. Public Policy Director Brad Muerrens was featured in a video on what Disability Rights Nebraska is, and another on self-advocacy skills. Case Advocate Molly Klocksin and former Board Chairperson Jill Flagel were interviewed for short videos on "Why We Do What We Do". The videos were shared on our website, Facebook page, and YouTube Channel. Two members of the Board of Directors were interviewed by a local TV station for a short article on the Annual Public Meeting of the Board of Directors, the purpose of the organization and the reason for the meeting (to allow public comment in person on proposed Goals & Objectives.)

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)7
2. Additional individuals served during the year2
3. Total individuals served (lines A1 + A2)9
4. Individuals w. more than 1 case opened/closed during the FY. (Do not add this number to total on line A3 above.)0

B. Individuals served as of September 30

Carryover to next FY may not exceed total on line II. A.3 above 5

C. Problem Areas/Complaints of Individuals Served

1. Architectural accessibility1
2. Employment0
3. Program access3
4. Housing1
5. Government benefits/services0
6. Transportation1
7. Education0
8. Assistive technology0
9. Voting0
10. Health care2
11. Insurance0
12. Non-government services0
13. Privacy rights0
14. Access to records0
15. Abuse0
16. Neglect1
17. Other0

D. Reasons for Closing Individual Case Files

1. Issues resolved partially or completely in individual favor0
2. Other representation found0
3. Individual withdrew complaint0
4. Appeals unsuccessful0
5. PAIR Services not needed due to individual's death, relocation etc.1
6. PAIR withdrew from case0
7. PAIR unable to take case because of lack of resources0
8. Individual case lacks legal merit3
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-advocacy0
2. Short-term assistance0
3. Investigation/monitoring4
4. Negotiation0
5. Mediation/alternative dispute resolution0
6. Administrative hearings0
7. Litigation (including class actions)0
8. Systemic/policy activities0

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 - 220
3. 23 - 594
4. 60 - 640
5. 65 and over5

B. Gender of Individuals Served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Females4
2. Males5

C. Race/Ethnicity of Individuals Served

For individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino only

1. Hispanic/Latino of any race0
2. American Indian or Alaskan Native0
3. Asian0
4. Black or African American1
5. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander0
6. White6
7. Two or more races0
8. Race/ethnicity unknown2

D. Living Arrangements of Individuals Served

Multiple responses not permitted.

1. Independent5
2. Parental or other family home0
3. Community residential home0
4. Foster care0
5. Nursing home1
6. Public institutional living arrangement3
7. Private institutional living arrangement0
8. Jail/prison/detention center0
9. Homeless0
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 impairment0
2. Deaf/hard of hearing4
3. Deaf-blind0
4. Orthopedic impairment2
5. Mental illness2
6. Substance abuse0
7. Mental retardation0
8. Learning disability0
9. Neurological impairment0
10. Respiratory impairment0
11. Heart/other circulatory impairment0
12. Muscular/skeletal impairment1
13. Speech impairment0
15. Traumatic brain injury0
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 activities2

2. Number of individuals potentially impacted by policy changes70,000

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.

The 1st session of the 105th Nebraska Legislature ended May 23rd, 2017. Senators introduced 667 new bills and 260 new legislative resolutions this session. Through discussions with all of our advisory councils, stakeholders, other advocacy organizations, and staff, Disability Rights Nebraska identified 26 bills and resolutions to work on for this legislative session. Disability Rights Nebraska achieved many successes this session. Our recognition as a key resource in terms of public policy impacting people with disabilities continues to grow. On several occasions, Disability Rights Nebraska was asked by senators and government officials to review disability legislation prior to introduction (LB 456) or provide amendment language (LB 417, LB 495, LB 491) to bills we opposed. The Public Policy Team worked with our Legal Advocacy Team on a few of the bills, and their insight was extremely helpful. Disability Rights Nebraska also engaged the legislative policy debate through some new avenues or ones where we were involved more directly. We penned an editorial, published in the Omaha World Herald, arguing against LB 595 as well as another editorial in the Lincoln Journal Star on LB 333. At Senator Baker’s invitation, Disability Rights Nebraska participated in meetings with Senators Baker, Kolowski, and Walz to inform and help them strategize, prepare, and successfully filibuster LB 595. Disability Rights Nebraska was also asked by Voices for Children to participate in a meeting with Congressman Bacon to discuss the impact of changes to Medicaid on the federal level on people with disabilities. Overview of Bills: LB 595: Allow use of physical force or restraint by teachers or school: LB 595 was a high priority for Disability Rights Nebraska (and others) this session. We testified in opposition to the bill, arguing that this bill was unnecessary (schools are currently required to have restraint policies for students who are a threat to themselves or others) and would further the disproportionate impact of restraints used on students with disabilities. We also argued that the use of restraints place students and faculty at serious risk of injury and that this bill in particular does not contain adequate “limiting language”, criteria, or definitions regarding the use of restraint (e.g., “imminent risk of injury”, what is “school property”) to be effective. Unfortunately, the bill passed out of the Health and Human Services committee on a 5-2 vote. Disability Rights Nebraska and the Arc of Nebraska wrote an editorial reiterating our reasons for opposing this bill. It was published in the Omaha World Herald the morning of the floor debate and we received many compliments from senators and advocates. Additionally, given our strong track record on this issue, we were invited to participate in a series of “strategy meetings” with senators who were going to lead a filibuster on LB 595. We supplied them with a wealth of articles and research that we had collected on this issue and were actively engaged in the discussion of how the filibuster was going to take shape. Disability Rights Nebraska was present when the floor debate was going on, emailing and texting responses to claims made by supporting senators. The bill ultimately “timed out”—the filibuster was successful— so no action was taken. It remains on General File to be carried over into the next session. LB 456: Disability discrimination in family law (SUPPORT): LB 456 provides guidance in family law or dependency law cases that disability alone cannot be the basis for denial or restriction of visitation, custody, adoption, foster care, or guardianship status, and that the burden of proof is on the accuser when an assertion is made that a person's disability has or would have a detrimental impact on a child. Disability Rights Nebraska was contacted by Senator Briese’s office (the bill’s introducer) to review the legislation prior to introduction. Disability Rights' Senior Staff Atty Dianne Delair performed this review, provided the senator’s office with suggested changes focusing on: 1. Using the federal definition of disability and 2. Using the terms “person with a disability” or “parent with a disability” over “disabled person” or “disabled parent” (and all other instances where “disabled” is used). We submitted written support for the bill. The bill is still held in committee. LB 491: Criminalize false representation of service animals (OPPOSE): LB 491 would make it a Class III misdemeanor or Class II misdemeanor for the misrepresenting pets as service animals. The bill would also make it a crime and apply the same penalties for an individual who misrepresents himself or herself as a trainer of service animals. The Public Policy Team and the Legal Advocacy Team reviewed this bill together and met with Senator McCollister and lobbyists for rental landlords to discuss our opposition to the bill and to see if there might be some room for amendment. Senator McCollister was agreeable to potential amendment. However, upon further review of the bill, we concluded that there would be no amendment that would address our concerns, we communicated that all concerned parties, and testified in opposition at the bill’s hearing: “…our position is that this legislation has some significant flaws concerning compliance with existing federal laws that define disability and spell out the parameters of service animals. Furthermore, we feel that this bill is not needed given the existing avenues that landlords and retailers already have under federal and state law to curb misrepresentation.” Rather, we argued, education about the existing state and federal laws that deal with housing and service/assistance animals would be more productive than criminalizing such behavior. Senator McCollister agreed that there were significant flaws in the legislation and communicated to the other senators on the Judiciary Committee that he did not intend to advocate for the bill to move out of committee. LB 491 did not advance and still waits in committee. After the public hearing, Disability Rights Nebraska was asked by a realtor’s association in Lincoln that testified in support to speak to their group about service animals, assistance animals, and existing housing/disability law. Disability Rights' Public Policy Director gave a presentation to the group clarifying the laws already in place, and they were very appreciative. LB 333: Eliminate the State Disability Program (OPPOSE): LB 333 proposed to eliminate the State Disability Program which is used to support people with disabilities during the last 6 months of their 12-month waiting period to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. Disability Rights Nebraska submitted a letter in opposition, arguing that this bill ultimately removes medical services and financial supports from people with disabilities. Disability Rights Nebraska co-authored an editorial in the Lincoln Journal Star with the Arc of Nebraska and the Nebraska Association of Service Providers about our opposition to LB 333. LB 333 was amended to remove the elimination of the State Disability Program and to add portions of LB 417 and LB 495 (as amended). We submitted a second letter on LB 333 when it was on General File, reiterating our opposition to elimination of the State Disability Program yet supportive of the amended portions of LB 417 and LB 495. LB 333 was successfully amended as we suggested and ultimately passed. LB 368: Repeal motorcycle helmet requirement (OPPOSE): We submitted a letter in opposition to repealing the motorcycle helmet requirement, noting the increase in brain injury and fatalities from other states that repealed their helmet requirement. The bill was successfully filibustered on General File. LB 269: Movie theaters with five or more screens at one location would be required to provide open movie captioning at two weekly showings of each movie produced with open captioning through 2021. Handheld captioning devices currently are available but can distract from the experience and lessen enjoyment of a movie for viewers who cannot hear well. John Wyvill, Executive Director of the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, testified in support of the bill. He said handheld captioning technology often is ineffective or unreliable. “[Unreliable technology] prevents approximately 20 percent of our population from enjoying the movie-going experience,” he said. “All we’re asking is very simply to have captioning on the movie screen, the same as you’d see if watching a movie with captioning on Netflix.” Representing the National Association of Theatre Owners, Jeff Logan opposed LB269. He said most theater owners are accommodating of all movie viewers. Disability Rights Nebraska submitted a letter of support to the introducing Senator and monitored the bill, which did not make it out of committee and will be carried over into the 2018 session.

B. Litigation/Class Actions

1. Number of individuals potentially impacted by changes as a result of PAIR litigation/class action efforts0
2. Number of individuals named in class actions0

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.


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.

PRIORITY 1 - PROTECTING AND ADVOCATING FOR HUMAN AND LEGAL RIGHTS Need Addressed / Image of the Future: We protect and advocate for the human and legal rights that ensure the safety, personal integrity and self-determination of all people with mental or physical disabilities in the state of Nebraska and especially those who are isolated, vulnerable and at risk. We are committed to seeking justice for people with disabilities, including freedom from harm, abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. Indicator / Objective 1.1: Investigate and respond to 2 new and 8 current allegations of rights violations, especially those addressed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Indicator / Objective 1.2: Research best and emerging practices and develop a monitoring protocol to address environmental conditions and the provision of mental health treatment in prisons and juvenile detention facilities in the State of Nebraska. Indicator / Objective 1.3: Continue on-site visits to isolated, segregated and congregated facilities and services and develop strategies to address the lack of community-based services for individuals with mental illness. Priority 1 Narrative: Case Example 1: Our client is a 26-year-old woman with a hearing impairment. She was working for McDonalds located in Wal-Mart. She told her managers she was having a hard time hearing the customers as she was working the register. She asked to work in the back that day because it was especially busy and loud that day. The manager instructed her to make a sign and tape it to the front of her register that said, “Hard of Hearing, Speak Up.” The young woman felt humiliated and upset with the way she was treated. She contacted Disability Rights Nebraska for assistance. Case advocate met with our client to obtain additional information about the events that occurred at McDonalds. We advised her to file a complaint with Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission (NEOC). NEOC launched an investigation and is currently negotiating a settlement with McDonalds and our client. Case Example 2 (Information & Referral): A woman living on a farm in rural Nebraska contacted us with concerns about the local power district. She was in a car accident and uses a wheelchair and oxygen as a result. Her power was recently shut off after being past due for seven days. She was able to reconnect quickly but was concerned about this happening again. Our advocate did some research and found out that the local power supplier allows clients to provide a Medical Letter which allows for an additional 30 days in paying a late bill. Advocate suggested to the caller to contact her local power district and see if she can set up a similar arrangement. Our advocate also suggested contacting the Nebraska Power Review Board to see if they had any additional ideas on how to best protect her health. It was also suggested to contact her oxygen supplier and check to see if there is a battery backup device that she could obtain. Case Example 3 (Information & Referral): A married couple with a number of disabilities moved to Nebraska to seek help. They are homeless and have no resources. A community worker called our advocate in Western Nebraska for assistance. Our advocate worked with the Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska (CAPWN) to secure temporary housing, transportation to the hospital for medical care and food for the couple until they could apply for much needed benefits. Monitoring Protocol: Monitoring forms, guidance and examples from other state’s Protection & Advocacy System monitoring activities were assembled for creation of monitoring plan for FY 2018. Visits to Facilities: Disability Rights' Legal Staff made visits to Life Quest in Palmer and Liberty House in North Platte. They spoke to numerous people with disabilities on these visits. Most of the conversations were about who we are and what our organization does for people with disabilities. A longer, in-depth conversation took place with two individuals residing at Life Quest. As a result, the Legal Advocacy Team opened one abuse and neglect case to change or remove a guardian for a resident. She really wants to work and live more independently and has no opportunities to accomplish these goals in Palmer, Nebraska. Also her current guardian is a person who was removed in another case that we handled recently. Our Case Advocate visited the Mental Health Crisis Center of Lancaster County at its new location for the first time. She had received a call from a former Disability Rights Nebraska client who was sent to the Crisis Center from a local Assisted Living Facility after reporting that she felt suicidal. The woman wanted our agency’s advice about her options for places to live in the future. While this visit did not result in opening a case file, it provided our staff member with a chance to monitor a new facility, as well as to maintain a relationship with this longtime client. A plan was developed for further monitoring of Assisted Living Facilities and Mental Health Centers in Central Nebraska. These facilities are located in isolated areas in towns with populations of fewer than 500, with very little opportunity for residents to secure jobs or independent housing of their choice. --On August 9, 2016, Disability Rights Nebraska staff monitored the assisted living facility Improved Living Inc., located in Norfolk, NE. The facility is licensed for 10 individuals. Most residents are people diagnosed with a mental illness. --On August 10, 2016, Disability Rights Nebraska staff visited Liberty Center Services, located in Norfolk, NE. The day program at Liberty Center is a certified clubhouse model, with an emphasis on employment for people with mental illness. Staff also met with Region 4 Behavioral Health Director, Ingrid Gansebom, to discuss housing for people with mental illness and the Technical Assistance Collaborative report on supportive housing. --On August 24, 2016, senior staff attorney met with Region 5 Behavioral Health Director, C.J. Johnson, to discuss housing for people with mental illness and the Technical Assistance Collaborative report on supportive housing. -- On September 16, 2016, the LB 1033 Olmstead Advisory Council, convened for the first time, with Disability Rights Nebraska senior staff attorney in attendance. (For more on LB 1033: ) --September 28, 2016, senior staff attorney submitted written testimony at the hearing for LR 413. The Task Force on Behavioral and Mental Health, created by LR 413, has been charged by the Legislature to examine the adequacy and needs of systems and services provided through the behavioral health regions throughout the state. Disability Rights Nebraska suggested changes to the regulations for the Housing Related Assistance Program. PRIORITY 2 - LEADING CHANGE WITHIN THE COMMUNITY Need Addressed / Image of the Future: We are a community-minded organization that partners with other like-minded organizations to help people learn and serve in order to create meaningful, authentic opportunities for all people with disabilities to be fully included in communities of their choice. We recognize that “community” has multiple meanings, but our understanding emphasizes: • Non-segregation • Having valued social roles • Accessing culturally-valued opportunities, and • Honoring people’s individuality and meaningful choices based on their interests, desires, and wishes. Indicator / Objective 2.1: Continue to monitor the development and implementation of the Office of Public Guardian. Indicator / Objective 2.2: Conduct one (1) training session on guardianships/ conservatorships from the perspective of a disability rights organization to existing guardians and conservators, people under guardianship/conservatorship, family members, and guardians ad litem in each of the six (6) Developmental Disability and Behavioral Health Service Regions. Indicator / Objective 2.3: Conduct one (1) training for attorneys and judges to provide Continuing Legal Education credits on guardianships in Nebraska and one (1) educational presentation for law students. Collaboration: Collaboration is a key activity in achieving this goal. Working with other advocacy organizations strengthens the work of Disability Rights Nebraska. The senior attorney is a member of the advisory council on public guardianship. The council meets quarterly to discuss regulations, changes and trends of the public guardianship program; including referrals to and from the organization. In order to further community inclusion for people with disabilities, integrated employment and the monitoring of employment services is key to ensure this goal. The most significant and broad strategy the participation of Disability Rights Nebraska in Olmstead planning. The senior attorney is a member of this advisory council that meets quarterly to further the mandate of creating an Olmstead plan for the State of Nebraska. Guardianship Training: Training on least restrictive alternatives to full guardianship for people with disabilities, families, and caregivers was deferred for this fiscal year. We usually contract with the Arc of Nebraska to deliver this training but the Arc was undergoing a personnel change at the time. Guardianship / Least Restrictive Alternatives Training was provided to attorneys and law students on two separate occasions - see 1.B. "Training" narrative for full details. PRIORITY 3 - EMPOWERING OTHERS TO ACHIEVE FULL PARTICIPATION Need Addressed / Image of the Future: Empowering people who have been devalued strengthens communities and we commit ourselves to the call, “nothing about us without us.” We affirm our belief that people who experience disabilities are the experts when it comes to living with a disability. We seek justice and empowerment in partnership with people who experience disabilities. Visible action and the power of positive expectations enable us to collaborate with others to create meaningful results. Through compassion, really listening to others, and building trusting relationships, we share a common purpose to support people’s hopes, dreams, and things not yet imagined. Indicator / Objective 3.1: Create self-advocacy curriculum packages for use by self-advocacy educators and provide on-going support to educators to conduct two (2) self-advocacy on-site educational sessions (1 in Region I and 1 in Region V) and upload self-advocacy curriculum materials so they are available to individuals and groups on-line through Southeast Community College’s website. This objective / indicator was deferred in FY 2017. PRIORITY 4 BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS IN THE COMMUNITY Need Addressed / Image of the Future: We create tangible results and get things done while acting with courage, perseverance, tenacity, and flexibility. We act with integrity through respectful and honest communication and collaboration that reflects positive teamwork among the Board, Advisory Councils, staff, people who seek our assistance, community partners, and allies. We value connections with community resources outside the service world. Indicator / Objective 4.1: Advocate to reduce the use and impact of zero-tolerance policies on students with disabilities, including the School to Jail/Prison Pipeline aspect. Indicator / Objective 4.2: Advocate to protect students from and eliminate the use of restraint and seclusion in Nebraska’s schools. Collaboration: we collaborated with PTI-Nebraska, Arc of Nebraska and Nebraska Children & Family Services. Narrative: We wrote a report on zero-tolerance policies on students with disabilities focusing on the disproportionate use and impact of zero-tolerance policies (and associated discipline policies/strategies) in schools have on students with disabilities, especially the connection between zero-tolerance policies and the “school to prison pipeline”. ? Two webinars were given by the Public Policy Director on the use of restraint and seclusion in Nebraska schools. The webinars were managed and produced by PTI Nebraska. The first webinar focused on a general overview of the restraint/seclusion issue and students with disabilities. The second webinar focused on what families and/or parents can do when restraint/seclusion are used on their students. ? Public Policy Director also presented to a group of over 20 Spanish-speaking parents (assembled by PTI Nebraska) in South Omaha on what actions they could take and what questions they could be asking regarding the use of restraint/seclusion in schools. ? Disability Rights Nebraska testified in opposition to LB 595 to allow use of physical force or restraint by teachers or school administrators to subdue unruly students. Disability Rights Nebraska and the Arc of Nebraska also co-authored an editorial for the Omaha World Herald newspaper reiterating our reasons for opposing this bill. It was published on the morning of the floor debate on LB 595. Disability Rights Nebraska was invited to participate in a series of “strategy meetings” with senators who were going to lead a filibuster on LB 595, supplying them with a wealth of articles and research that we had collected on this issue. Disability Rights Nebraska was present and actively engaged when the floor debate was going on, emailing and texting responses to claims made by senators supporting LB 595. ? Our Public Policy Director met with Senator Groene’s staff to discuss our concerns regarding the restraint bill (LB 595) he introduced to see if there is any common ground that can be established. He also met with Tricia Kingsley from Nebraska Children & Family Services to discuss new cases of restraint/seclusion and to discuss how to set up a story-banking effort to collect parents’ stories of restraint/seclusion use. In addition our new Public Policy Intern conducted research and collected policies on restraint and seclusion from 40 schools and reviewed them for consistency and content. PRIORITY 5 — VALUING AND APPRECIATING DIVERSITY Need Addressed / Image of the Future: We respect the strength of difference and diversity across disability and ethnicity. We promote awareness of the life experience of people with disabilities and the importance of diversity in creating strong communities. As our reach expands so must our connections and resources. Indicator / Objective 5.1: Conduct outreach in the Nebraska Panhandle to continue building and/or maintaining relationships with key stakeholders/gatekeepers. Indicator / Objective 5.2: Continue conversations with two (2) ethnic-based groups or organizations to strengthen the relationships and increase participation and awareness building between Disability Rights Nebraska and these groups. Indicator / Objective 5.3: Produce content for, update and maintain Disability Rights Nebraska website, Facebook page, Twitter account and email newsletter. Indicator / Objective 5.4: Identify, develop, update and/or maintain Disability Rights Nebraska public awareness materials and activities. Narrative: Our goal was to continue to share information and develop awareness of Disability Rights Nebraska through various channels. One of the new methods we used in FY 2017 was to develop a Blog Team. The team of 7 included attorneys, advocates, and public policy, communications and administrative staff. The posts are shared on Facebook and by email to Board and staff, and have shown that Facebook can be used effectively to direct more people to our website. In November 2016, before the initiation of the weekly blog post, 14 out of 809 visitors to the website came through Facebook. In December, with weekly blog posts, 163 out of 914 visitors came to the website through Facebook. Over the course of the year, we have been monitoring the traffic the individual blog posts receive and have discovered that news from external sources is largely ignored in terms of the blog, but posts from staff on disability-related issues garnered a larger number of views. For example, a blog post written by Staff Attorney Brian Craig commenting in support of the Nebraska ACLU's lawsuit against the Nebraska Department of Corrections on behalf of prisoners with disabilities was very popular and was shared by the ACLU. This reinforced an already good collaborative relationship and both parties benefited from the visibility generated by the post. It was one of our most popular blog pieces, along with a piece written by the Administrative Secretary on Self-Advocacy, and another piece from the Staff Attorney on The Power of Roles. Blog archive: Since the Communications Director position is part-time, we hired a Journalism student with extensive media experience as an intern to assist part-time with day to day upkeep of the website, and to create video pieces to use on the website and social media. The Intern filmed and edited video of interviews with past Board Chairperson Jill Flagel, a person with disabilities, and Case Advocate Molly Klocksin for a series of promotional vignettes called "Why We Do What We Do." Vignettes posted at: Quotes in the media by P&A staff contribute to the visibility of the P&A and its involvement in policy matters that affect people with disabilities: Public Policy Director Brad Meurrens was quoted in the following articles: *Nebraska HHS Highlights reductions in wait times, paperwork; Ricketts says streamlining is part of "culture change" (Brad was quoted in the original press release from the Governor's office that generated this article." *Repealing Obamacare 'would be devastating to my family' NE mom says *NE Health Care Leaders tell Congress no 'Repeal and Delay' - Nebraska Appleseed Center press release. Brad also collaborated with Mike Chittenden, Director of the Arc of Nebraska, on two Letters to the Editor. "Proposals Threaten Vulnerable Nebraskans" addressed a proposal in the legislature to keep provider rates flat. These rates are already far below cost and had the potential to result in staffing reductions and cuts to programs for people with disabilities. The second article, also cowritten Chittenden, discussed the drawbacks of LB595, emphasizing the negative impact it would have on children with disabilities. Circulation for the hard copy newspaper is approx 170,000. The articles were also featured on the newspaper's website. Brad was also featured on local TV news coverage of testimony against LB 595. Brad was quoted in an article in the Unicameral Update about a bill regarding misrepresenting service animals that would have made it a criminal matter. Disability Rights Nebraska opposed the bill. The article was published on the Nebraska Legislature's Twitter page, which has a following of over 6,000 people. 18 e-mail newsletters were sent over the course of the Fiscal Year. Many were updates on state and federal policy action; the e-newsletter also shares announcements from other DD partners, requests comment, and shares blog posts and website changes. Our Western Office Advocate regularly participates in meetings and activities (including staffing booths at events) of the Panhandle Partnership for Health and Human Services, Region I Developmental Disabilities Council, Community Response Systems, Aging and Disability Resource Center, Community Action of Nebraska, and the Center for Rural Affairs and the Veteran’s Resource Network. These organizations offer cooperative ways to find out about and reach constituents in the Panhandle, a broad, sparsely populated geographic area. We collaborate with a Spanish-speaking contractor who also works for PTI-Nebraska to do voting access work with the Spanish-speaking population in Omaha and other parts of the state. In addition to voting access work, the contractor provides informational presentations on Disability Rights Nebraska and what the P&A does and staffs booths at public events. PRIORITY 6 — DISABILITY RIGHTS NEBRASKA WILL BE THE PREMIER CROSS-DISABILITY PUBLIC POLICY ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILTIES IN THE STATE OF NEBRASKA. Indicator / Objective 6.1: Monitor state and federal legislation, rules and regulations, policies and procedures, and planning activities and conduct research to develop Disability Rights Nebraska’s position and to communicate it to appropriate policy makers. Indicator / Objective 6.2: Partner with other public policy organizations to conduct public policy advocacy and related educational activities on specific disability topics. SEE NARRATIVE FOR SECTION IV.A "SYSTEMIC ACTIVITIES..." FOR DETAILS OF PUBLIC POLICY ACTIVITIES.

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.

PRIORITY 1: Freedom From Harm NEED ADDRESSED: Monitor places where people with disabilities who are most in danger of harm live, work, or learn, and investigate and respond to allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation using a range of remedies to ensure that the most vulnerable people with disabilities are free from harm. DESCRIPTION / INDICATORS: 1.1: Develop a plan to monitor facilities, day programs, employment settings, service settings, etc. where people with disabilities are segregated, isolated and congregated. 1.2: Conduct one (1) monitoring visit at a juvenile justice facility and one (1) monitoring visit at the Segregated Housing Unit at the Nebraska State Prison in Lincoln. 1.3: Investigate and respond to at least two (2) allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation. 1.4: Address guardianship issues through trainings, working with the Office of Public Guardian and analyzing and proposing changes to guardianship procedures. 1.5: Provide greater protection for people with disabilities from abuse, neglect, exploitation and retaliation by service providers, including Personal Assistants, by advocating for changes to statutory and/or regulatory requirements. 1.6: Eliminate the use of seclusion and restraint in Nebraska schools by advocating for changes in practices, policies, regulations and/or statutes. 1.7: Improve medical and mental health services for people with disabilities in Nebraska’s juvenile justice and adult correctional facilities by advocating for changes in practices, policies, rules/regulations and statutes. PRIORITY 2: Most Inclusive Setting NEED ADDRESSED: Investigate and respond to allegations of rights violations that impede people with disabilities from living, working, and learning in the most inclusive settings, and advocate for people with disabilities to learn, live and work in the most inclusive settings. DESCRIPTION / INDICATORS: 2.1: Investigate and respond to at least eight (8) allegations of rights violations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. 2.2: Participate in the Stakeholder Advisory Committee to develop a state Olmstead plan. 2.3: Conduct targeted outreach to raise awareness about the needs of the most vulnerable people with disabilities. 2.4: Include the “most integrated setting” standard in policies, regulations and/or statutes relating to the provision of services and supports to people with disabilities. 2.5: Eliminate sheltered workshops and increase competitive, integrated employment opportunities for people with disabilities. PRIORITY 3: Engaging People with Disabilities in Advocacy NEED ADDRESSED: Provide people with disabilities opportunities to learn how to be effective advocates and support them in advocating on things that impact their lives DESCRIPTION / INDICATORS: 3.1: Provide two (2) three-month public policy advocacy internships for post-secondary students who have disabilities. PRIORITY 4: Values-Based Programs NEED ADDRESSED: Initiate and promote cultural change in the perception of people with disabilities. DESCRIPTION / INDICATORS 4.1: Provide staff support for the Nebraska Values-Based Education Coalition and organize and conduct one values-based training workshop or related event. PRIORITY 5: Systemic Change through Public Policy Change NEED ADDRESSED: Disability Rights Nebraska will be the premier cross-disability public policy advocacy organization for people with disabilities in Nebraska. DESCRIPTION / INDICATORS 5.1: Educate 60 state and 10 federal policymakers about public policy activities that directly impact people with disabilities. 5.2: Collaborate with 10 other organizations to inform them about state or federal public policies that directly impact people with disabilities.

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

A. Source of Funding - Amount Received : Amount Spent Federal (section 509) 230,560 : 151,763 State 0 : 0 Program income 0.00 : 0.00 Private 0 : 0 All other funds 0 : 0 Total (from all sources) 230,560 : 151,763 B. Budget for the fiscal year covered by the report: Outline the budget for the fiscal year covered by the report (prior fiscal year), as well as a projection for the current fiscal year. Prior Fiscal Year FY 2016 : Current Fiscal Year FY 2017 Wages/salaries 129,690 : 87,770 Fringe benefits (FICA, unemployment, etc.) 35,080 : 28,557 Materials/supplies 900 : 466 Postage 540 : 385 Telephone 1,573 : 927 Rent 20,604 : 14,412 Travel 1,617 : 1,365 Copying - included w/ supplies & rental 0 : 0 Bonding/insurance 2,489 : 1,353 Equipment (rental/purchase) 6,519 : 2,493 Legal services 2,163 : 215 Indirect costs 6,512 : 4,452 Miscellaneous 22,852 : 9,372 Total Budget 230,539 : 151,763 C. Description of PAIR staff: Type of Position FTE : % of year filled : Person-years Professional FY 2017 Full-time : 100% : 12 Part-time : 100% : 2 Vacant 0 : 0 : 0 Clerical Full-time : 100% : 4 Part-time : 100% : 2 Vacant 0 : 0 : 0 D. Involvement with Advisory Boards: The senior attorney is a member of the advisory council on public guardianship. The council meets quarterly to discuss regulations, changes and trends of the public guardianship program; including referrals to and from the organization. In order to further community inclusion for people with disabilities, integrated employment and the monitoring of employment services is key to ensure this goal. The senior attorney is a member of the Olmstead planning advisory council that meets quarterly to further the mandate of creating an Olmstead plan for the State of Nebraska. A Stakeholder Group comprised of partners from the community, people with disabilities, and family members provides input on the proposed legislative priorities and on proposed organizational priorities and objectives. E. Grievances: Two PAIR grievances were addressed in FY 2017. 1. PAIR — Neglect; wants systemic action taken to address faults in personal care system. CEO responded by phone and by mail: “During our phone conversation you indicated that your health care providers have documented the negative emotional and physical impact resulting from the failure on the part of your personal care attendant service provider(s)…Based on this information…I have asked our Legal Advocacy Team to do additional research regarding your service request…” This issue was incorporated into our Priorities and Objectives for FY 2018. (See Priority 1, Indicator 1.5.) PAIR — Neglect; Discharge Planning — wants release from Mental Health Board Commitment: CEO responded by phone and by mail. Social worker is developing discharge plan, LAT will check on concerns about finances and Representative Payee, and as to whether he is represented by public defender. If he is not, we will provide referral. F. Coordination with the Client Assistance Program and State long-term care program: P&A staff and CAP staff have periodic case consultation throughout the year. The director of the CAP and the Director of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman's office are members of the PAIR et al Stakeholder Advisory Group.


Signed ByEric A. Evans, Ph.D
TitleChief Executive Officer
Signed Date01/02/2018