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RSA-227 for FY-2021: Submission #1178

Utah
09/30/2021
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Law Center
205 North 400 West
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Salt Lake City
Utah
84103
801-363-1347
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800-662-9080
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Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Bianca Gonzalez
Adina Zahradnikova
801-363-1347
azahradnikova@disabilitylawcenter.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
13
0
0
0
0
13
26
B. Training Activities
9
247
Workability Job Fair
DLC advocates attended the virtual Workability Job Fair on October 6, 2020. The Workability Job Fair is open to people with disabilities seeking employment and is held bi-annually at the Sanderson Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Interpreters are on hand to assist attendees who use sign language to communicate with service providers and employers. DLC advocates informed 30 attendees about DLC services related to employment discrimination and reasonable accommodations. Additionally, attendees are educated about the array of services the DLC provides to the disability community. Sinc the Workability Job Fair was held virtually the DLC had a booth with links to our housing tester program, reasonable accommodations in the workplace, employment rights, CAP and voting information.

Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind Transition College and Career Fair
The DLC's employment team participated in the Utah Schools For the Deaf and Blind (USDB) annual college and career transition fair for blind students throughout Utah. An advocate attended planning meetings, helped recruit disability-friendly employers and tabled at the fair to discuss relevant DLC and CAP services such as asking for a reasonable accommodation in employment. There was a virtual event on November 5 and the DLC recruited 4 representatives from Utah colleges/universities to present on their disability resources and campus accommodations. The DLC also gave an overview of our services, as well as CAP information. 40 students were in attendance, and the conference was filmed so that it could be shown to students in the future.

Volunteers of America
CAP gave a presentation to Volunteers of America on December 3, 2020 covering client rights, the CAP process and VR policy. 4 employment case managers were trained. Many case managers from VOA work with clients who are also clients of Vocational Rehabilitation, having knowledge of CAP and DLC services can help these case managers better prepare when conflict or questions arise with VR.

Davis School Transition Fair
CAP advocate attended the virtual Davis Transition Fair March 4, 2021 with links to our new videos on Special Education and General DLC services, as well as information about the Client Assistance Program to transition aged youth and their parents/guardians. The DLC was able to provide information to 25 attendees about the DLC and CAP.

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Orientation and Training (BCOT)
Utah’s VR agency holds a multi-day training for new rehabilitation counselors. A CAP advocate trained 12 new counselors on June 24, 2021. The new counselors received CAP training, specifically CAPs philosophy, approach to cases, and when to refer clients to CAP. Counselors also received training on other DLC services so that they know they are able to refer clients to other DLC teams if applicable when working with their own clients.

New Reflections House
New Reflections is a Mental Health Clubhouse in Utah. On August 4, 2021 DLC staff met with a total of 10 clubhouse members and 1 staff. General DLC information was provided to attendees as well as CAP information. Several of the clubhouse members were participating in VR services, but did not know about the DLC/CAP work. Information provided allowed for greater knowledge among the clubhouse members and staff.

Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake Fair
EM/STAT staff tabled at the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake back to school fair on August 11, 2021. DLC staff focused on providing general DLC information as well as CAP specific information. DLC staff was able to talk to and provide information to 50 attendees.

Mexican Consulate Job Fair
CAP advocate tabled at the Mexican Job Fair on August 30, 2021 and spoke to 30 attendees on DLC/CAP services. DLC staff provided employment specific brochures, handouts, and information in Spanish. The Mexican Consulate set up a labor rights week to better inform the Mexican community on the various issues they could possibly face in the workplace. Through the job fair the DLC was able to target the hispanic community and inform/educate about rights/issues related to disability, employment, & Vocational Rehabilitation.

Jordan District Family Fair
CAP advocate tabled at the Jordan DIstrict Family Fair on September 30, 2021. CAP advocate provided information on DLC services, specifically the employment and education services. The information was provided to 45 different families.
C. Agency Outreach
In FY21 the DLC’s CAP program continued regular outreach efforts. Outreach in FY21 included virtual and in-person events as the pandemic allowed. The CAP team continued attending employment and school district fairs that target people with disabilities. In FY21 the CAP team also made an effort to target people of color to build inclusion and allow racial minorities to become informed about the resources available to them at the DLC and CAP program.

Particular focus was placed on continuing our efforts to reach underserved/ethnic groups. We have built a great relationship with the Mexican Consulate and conducted the following outreach efforts during FY21:

8/30/2021 Mexican Consulate Labor Week - Employment Fair
The DLC hosted an informational table/booth and handed out 52 publications, spoke with six agencies about our services, and discussed CAP and other employment-related programs and services with 33 attendees.

8/31/2021 Mexican Consulate Labor Week - Employment Fair - Outreach event open to the public inside the consulate
The DLC provided a basic employment rights presentation to approximately 40 Mexican Consulate clients. We also hosted an informational table and handed out publications and brochures to 25 attendees of the event.

9/02/2021 Mexican Consulate Labor Week - Employment Fair - Facebook Live Event / Employment Presentation
The DLC hosted a virtual event on Facebook Live to share information about CAP and other employment-related programs and services with Mexican Consulate clientele. While we are unable to track an exact number of attendees for this event, we are pleased to report that 13 community agencies connected to our live event, and it was recorded and shared on multiple agency Facebook pages.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
0
0
450
84107
361
In FY20, the CAP team created two informational videos to share with our clients about the Client Assistance Program (CAP). The first video is titled "Applying for VR Services". The second video is titled "How Can DLC's CAP Help?". The purpose of the videos is to answer common questions and concerns we hear from callers about working their way through the VR process. We are pleased to report that during FY21, the videos garnered 361 views - in both English and Spanish.
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
The DLC made 24 employment posts to social media, which gathered a total of 4,930 views. Additionally, the DLC website was accessed 64,294 times during FY21.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
18
27
45
0
31
B. Problem areas
7
9
14
5
0
8
0
1
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
8
0
6
0
0
0
14
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
3
4
0
0
0
1
0
0
6
0
0
0
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E. Results achieved for individuals
5
0
0
0
6
2
0
1
0
0
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Part III. Program Data
A. Age
1
9
11
24
0
45
B. Gender
22
23
45
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
4
1
2
2
0
35
0
1
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
1
4
3
0
1
1
2
0
0
0
0
0
1
18
1
0
1
1
7
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
45
E. Types of Individuals Served
1
0
44
0
0
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
1
During FY21 the DLC’s CAP team met quarterly with Utah State Office of Rehabilitation (USOR) administrators to discuss ongoing and emerging trends relating to CAP issues. During these meetings CAP was able to discuss policy within their policy manual, Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS), Customized employment work that VR is prioritizing, as well as the plan for post-COVID changes.

The DLC’s advocacy in quarterly meetings with VR resulted in their commitment to provide additional technical support for remote appointments to clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also advocated for increased funding, support, and training for customized employment professionals after we received complaints from clients needing this service. Outside of the immediate Salt Lake City area, clients were having difficulty and delays in accessing CE professionals. VR took our concerns and agreed to increase the capacity of current providers and find additional providers outside the Salt Lake City region.
Additionally, we heard from clients who were having difficulty getting VR to approve the use of PELL grant funds for anything outside of tuition. Our CAP team advocated for VR to address this trend, which resulted in a change in VR’s practice in applying their PELL grant policy. VR had previously asserted that the entire amount of a PELL grant must go towards tuition and did not allow for other expenses such as housing, books, food, etc. This policy application left one client in the lurch because he had previously been allowed to and had relied on PELL grant funds to provide for his basic needs while he attended school. We were successful in arguing that the PELL grant policy should be applied more flexibly for clients whose circumstances dictated the need for PELL to be used for purposes outside of tuition.


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The State Rehabilitation Council was established in Section 105 of the Rehabilitation Act. Its main purpose is to review, evaluate and advise the state VR agency regarding its performance and effectiveness in delivery of services and effect of service provision on achievement of employment outcomes. CAP has regularly attended the SRC meetings on a monthly basis and has been able to review VR's current annual goals/data. CAP is also able to address issues and trends within the SRC. CAP has recently started seeing a trend in where federal requirements/policy are being overlooked by VR Counselors regarding the implementation of the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). Federal requirements state that the IPE should be developed “as soon as possible,” but no later than 90 days after the eligibility determination. It is unclear why this is starting to happen more frequently, but IPEs are imperative to a VR case in order to effectively support clients. CAP plans to address this issue through the SRC as this is creating many delays in services for clients.

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CAP has recently started seeing specific trends relating to financial contributions towards paid VR services. Although a state VR agency does not have to impose a financial needs test; Utah’s VR agency does impose financial needs tests. Recently CAP has seen numerous cases where financial contributions are creating significant hardships among clients. CAP is currently working on a specific case where the client has been working with VR for several years now and has regularly been taking out student loans due to the financial contribution VR is requiring.

CAP may be able to address this through litigation. Federal regulations state that a client’s contribution must be reasonable and not so high as to effectively deny a necessary service. The client has been working with VR for several years and unfortunately has incurred significant debt through student loans due to the high cost of share that VR is requiring her to pay. CAP has seen a strong case here and this has led CAP to further research financial need policy in the state. CAP plans to touch on this subject with our National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) to see how CAP can better approach the financial needs cases that keep emerging. CAP is hopeful that by addressing this specific case and discussing financial contributions with our national network that the state's VR agency can make more reasonable adjustments towards policy as to not create any further hardships among clients with financial contributions.
B. Litigation
0
0
0
N/A
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Disability Law Center
No
N/A
B. Staff Employed
Full-time Professional 1.33 FTEs
Part-time Professional 0.13 FTEs
Clerical Full-Time 0.27 FTEs
Clerical Part-time .00 FTEs

Total 1.73 FTEs
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
Client is 35 and has a mental health disability. Client contacted the DLC for assistance when he was having communication with his Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselor. Client felt that his VR counselor was not supportive of him as he needed assistance with school tuition, but VR would not provide that assistance due to the client struggling with schooling prior and failing some courses. CAP advocated for client by negotiating with VR counselor and attending meetings between both VR and client to allow for better communication. With his informed choice the client changed his employment to electrical engineer and client was able to secure funding from VR for his training to reach his employment goal as an electrical engineer. School tuition and books for the semester were granted from VR to the client.
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Client is 22 and has a visual impairment. Client contacted the Disability Law Center (DLC) for assistance when she was having issues receiving assistive technology from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) to support her with her training/school. VR was claiming that the client was constanting dropping out of courses, but what they failed to realize was that the client did not have appropriate tools to be successful in school, which included the braille note taker. Client was told the note taker would be provided if she could demonstrate she was ready for school. VR requested provider documentation that claimed she would be ready for school, school registration information, and her course schedule. Client provided this information at the beginning of the year and throughout the summer. Weeks before school was about to start, the client was not receiving adequate communication from her VR counselor. She also needed VR to fund tuition for the semester, but she would not hear back from her VR counselor even after numerous attempts to reach her VR counselor, so this led the VR counselor to claim she did not know VR was going to pay tuition. CAP was involved a few weeks prior to classes starting, CAP reviewed case narratives, IPE, as well as the various emails the client sent to her VR counselor. CAP discovered that clients IPE stated VR counselor and client would update the IPE on a semester by semester basis and the numerous inconsistencies within the case. CAP appealed the denied tuition assistance and braille note taker. After several delays and within weeks of school having started VR did pay tuition for the semester and provided the braille note taker client needed to be successful in school and reach her employment goal.
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Client is 40 and has a mental health disability. Client contacted the DLC for assistance when Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) was requiring her to take more courses than she could handle. She was unable to manage a full course load and had to drop classes as her physical and mental health were significantly declining. Client contacted CAP so that she could have an advocate while she worked with her VR counselor. Due to dropped courses, the client was worried that VR was not going to pay for school in the future. CAP advocated for client and facilitated meetings among VR and client. Client was in need of restorative services as there was a major decline in her health. She wanted to take a semester off to focus on her health again. During the meeting with CAP, VR and the client; the client was able to express her needs and her VR counselor was supportive of her taking time off and returning to school to finish her bachelors in the Fall. In regards to her dropped classes, VR has policy that does not allow them to pay for courses twice, but her VR counselor suggested she use her PELL funds to retake classes and VR would fund the remaining of her bachelors. Client was pleased and will be focusing on her health so that she can return to school and reach her employment goal successfully.
Certification
Approved
Adina Zahradnikova
Executive Director
2021-12-20
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