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RSA-227 for FY-2021: Submission #1165

Montana
09/30/2021
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Rights Montana
1022 Chestnut Street
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Helena
MT
59601
4064492344
8002454743
8002454743
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Bernadette Franks-Ongoy
Jason Socci
4064492344
jason@disabilityrightsmt.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
5
1
0
0
1
0
7
B. Training Activities
2
23
March 2021 - a. Overview of CAP program and DRM; b. work with new VR counselors on CAP program and collaboration; c. VR counselors and state rehabilitation council members

August 2021 - a. Presentation to the state rehab council about CAP program and DRM; b. work with state rehab council members on CAP program and collaboration; c. state rehab council members.
C. Agency Outreach
CAP advocate continues to be on the Native American Task Force. The Native American Task Force meets monthly. This year we identified priorities: 1) suicide prevention, 2) addiction, 3) community services, 4) house, and 5) medical needs.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
0
0
473
0
1500
CAP brochures are sent to every client for which a VR case is closed. 1500 red CAP books provided to new VR clients upon application.

Newsletters sent: 38
Facebook posts: 147
Twitter posts: 53
Instagram posts: 54
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
N/A
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
7
13
20
1
14
B. Problem areas
0
6
11
0
0
1
0
2
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
2
0
1
3
1
0
7
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
3
1
0
0
0
1
0
1
1
0
0
0
N/A
E. Results achieved for individuals
0
0
0
0
1
2
0
2
0
2
(1) Client will need to re-apply for VR services.
(1) Client asked for case to be put on hold for 3-6 months.
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
0
2
9
8
1
20
B. Gender
12
8
20
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
1
1
0
0
0
18
0
0
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
2
1
0
0
0
0
0
3
7
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
20
E. Types of Individuals Served
16
2
2
0
0
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
4
Staff engaged in a comprehensive retreat with the VR agency that resulted in changes in priorities for their work plan. These included a focus on providing services to kids involved in the foster care system, kids who are being served in psychiatric residential treatment facilities, and veterans.

Their goal for foster children is: Define approach to collaborate with Child and Family Services to identify and engage with youth who could benefit from VRBS.

Their initiative for this is:
• Pilot project to develop streamlined referral process for foster youth
• Provide cross training on agency work to field staff

Their measure will be: 100% (44 total) increase foster youth engaged as participants in VRBS

VRBS is now putting forth this goal: Define approach to collaborate with Veterans Administration’s Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program to engage with Veterans with disabilities who are interested in pursuing competitive integrated employment opportunities.
• Which will utilizing Cross training opportunities with VRBS and VR&E staff
• Develop a specific referral process designed to meet VR&E’s needs
• Increase VRBS presence at Veterans Service Providers activities
• VRBS will increase engagement with CSAVR’s Veterans subcommittee to learn about other state collaborations

Their measure will be: 100% increase (104 total) of Veterans with disabilities engaged as participants in the State VR program or co-enrolled with the Veterans Administration’s Veteran Readiness and Employment program (VR&E)

The PRTF’s goal: DPHHS will engage in concerted effort to deliver transition services to youth in Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities and Therapeutic Group Homes.
The initiative for this is:
• Conduct Survey to gather baseline data on eligible students in PRTF and Therapeutic Group Homes
• Develop Outreach plan, Explore development of tools to enhance referrals, encourage more Pre-ETS contract engagement

Their measure will be:
• Three target outreach meetings will be conducted
• Tools specific to the population and school setting will be developed
Specific number to increase engagement TBD after data is gathered.

We are active participants in the VR council, and are consistently advocating for an expansion of their service to more categories than just eligible category 1. We have gotten the department to provide far more comprehensive budgets and budget analyses, information about programs and they have begun the process to update policies, which we had identified as antiquated and unhelpful.

We were strong proponents of the vocational rehabilitation budget, which faced stiff scrutiny from the legislature. We worked hard to defend their budget and advocated for greater funds and a more aggressive attempt to provide services to a greater number of people. The program closed all eligibility categories in March of 2017. It slowly provided services to small numbers of people who were eligible under category 1. During this fiscal year, it announced the opening of the entirety of category 1.

We also engaged in monthly conversations with supervisory staff to ensure that they understand the issues that we are seeing in the field with our cases. This year, it became quite obvious that many VR counselors did not understand the ticket to work program. Unfortunately, this meant unnecessary continuing disability reviews for some clients, which brought about tremendous and again unnecessary stress. In addition, we have identified inappropriate internal policies to cap what VR will pay for books for school and other unwritten rules that were enforced against our clients. We also provide information about trends we identify in various regional offices, such as consistently failing to meet deadlines to pay tuition, etc.

CAP has met several times with the Chief of Field Services several times to help remedy the situation regarding VR counselors not entering information on a timely basis into their management system, lack of follow through with CRP’s, and poor communication skills with their clients. CAP advocate has now engaged the VRBS administration into this conversation and was told that it was a human resources problem and she is working on it. While realizing it is an HR issue, it is become a very problematic issue for CAP clients in the office’s area. CAP advocate is following up with these issues at the next State Rehabilitation Council meeting.
B. Litigation
0
0
0
N/A
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Disability Rights Montana
No
N/A
B. Staff Employed
Full time - FTE: .96 - % of year filled: 100% - Person-years: 9
Full time - FTE: .16 - % of year filled: 100% - Person-years: 2
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
Montana Vocational and Rehabilitation Services has been in an Order of Selection of all categories since 2017, the Spring of 2021 clients were finally being taken off the waitlist for Category 1. This fall, VR announced that all Category 1 clients have come off the waitlist and they are starting to serve clients under Category 2. This is great news for Montana and CAP cases are now starting to increase.

1. Client has extreme PTSD, agoraphobia, and anxiety. She wants to pursue her dream of being an artist. She also wants to utilize flowers from her garden to arrange and sell at a local Farmer’s Market. Unfortunately, this client was put with a VR counselor that had no experience in assisting this person with a business plan. The client became discouraged and often wanting to quit VR because of the lack of follow through from her VR counselor. VR failed to pay her internet bills on time so she could attend her online art classes and did not assist her with a color printer for her class assignments. Client contacted CAP advocate who was then able to get a new VR counselor who knew and understood how to write a business plan that the client could follow and develop with assistance. Internet bills are now being paid for her to her classes and a printer was purchased. She is working on developing her business plan and is now doing well with art her class and was able to grow her flowers to sell at the market this summer.

2. A 20-year-old man who suffered from a brain tumor at the age of 8 years old which caused him to have a drop leg and an arm that would not work due to lack of muscle tone. Client started VR when he was 19, unfortunately the VR counselor that he was working with relocated and he was put with another counselor. Client had a part time job at McDonald’s at 4 hours a day for 4 days a week to help him with school. His work goal on his IPE stated vet tech. Unfortunately, the new counselor closed his case saying he was successful with his part time McDonald’s job for 90 days. Client contacted CAP advocate and we were able to get a VR supervisor involved, get a new counselor, have his case reopened, and help this young man continue going to college to obtain his work goal of being a vet tech. Additionally, he was having some troubles with his math class and CAP was also able to help him get disability services on campus and a math tutor.
Certification
Approved
Bernadette Franks-Ongoy
Executive Director
2021-10-19
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