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RSA-227 for FY-2021: Submission #1197

South Dakota
09/30/2021
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Rights South Dakota
2520 E. Franklin St.
Ste. #2
Pierre
South Dakota
57501
https://drsdlaw.org/
605-224-8294
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1-800-658-4782
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Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Cole Uecker
Tim Neyhart
605-224-8294
tim.neyhart@drsdlaw.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
1
1
0
0
3
0
5
B. Training Activities
11
146
CAP provided trainings focused on several issues germane to this fiscal year’s Goals and Priorities. Training topics included, but were not limited to: transition for students on Individual Education Plans (IEP), regulations under Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) §511, self-advocacy, disability law, and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Independent Living (IL) regulations. The ongoing requirements for the provision of VR services is to focus those services on students and youth with disabilities. This paradigm is demonstrated by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act's (WIOA) mandate that 15% of all federal rehabilitation funds to the states must be spent on Pre-Employment Transition Services. CAP in South Dakota has focused its outreach to students ages 14 to graduation to make sure that they are aware of, have access to, and receive assistance in procuring services from Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living Services to develop and implement their IEP. Therefore, CAP has made efforts to provide training to youth with disabilities who are clients or potential clients of VR to ensure they have information regarding: job exploration counseling, work-based learning experiences, experiences outside of the traditional school setting and/or internships, counseling on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or post-secondary educational programs, workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living, and instruction in self-advocacy.

The CAP in South Dakota participated in our state’s annual Lighting the Way conference. This event is provided by our Parent Training and Information Center, South Dakota Parent Connection. It is intended to provide information for parents of children with autism. CAP developed a recorded Zoom presentation about the services offered by programs in South Dakota funded under the Rehabilitation Act (Vocational Rehabilitation, Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired, Tribal VR programs, Independent Living Choices, and Western Resources for Independent Living). CAP also discussed sub-minimum wage employment and services from VR required under §511. While encouraging the participants of Lighting the Way to access the above named services, CAP explained the ways in which CAP could assist applicants and clients of those programs. Finally, CAP presented information on the iTransitionSD website and encouraged participants to access this resource in preparation of attending and participating in their own IEP meetings. The outcome is that students would have input and buy-in to their transition planning and they would be encouraged to invite counselors from their respective Vocational Rehabilitation and Center for Independence offices.

Much of the training that CAP was able to give in years past was severely curtailed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in FY 2021. However, one perennial event that we were able to attend was the Transition Services Liaison Project’s (TSLP) Youth Leadership Forum. About 40 parents, educators, and students attended this event. There, CAP discussed the value of VR and ILC in IEP Transition Planning and supports. CAP also provided the attendees with information about the iTransitionSD website, which was developed in coordination with the Kansas CAP and tailored to meet the needs of students who could qualify and benefit from services funded under the Act.

In addition to youth populations, training was provided to those who received services from the various Community Service Providers (CSPs). These individuals may spend much of their time in day-service programs or laboring in sheltered employment. It is the goal of CAP to provide training and referral regarding the services and rights outlined under the Rehabilitation Act and providers funded under this Act. WIOA was put into effect with the intention of ensuring that people have the resources necessary to obtain ‘competitive integrated employment’ to the maximum extent of the individual’s capabilities. CAP provides training to these populations to help facilitate this intent.

Partners in Policymaking is an extensive training program partially funded by the South Dakota Council on Developmental Disabilities and administered by DRSD staff. The program provides training to selected self-advocates and family members. Training is provided in the areas such as independent living, self-advocacy, education, employment, inclusion, and rights instruction. CAP participates by providing instruction in employment rights and transition services.
C. Agency Outreach
CAP participated in a total of 70 Outreach Activities during FY21. CAP’s ability to participate in Outreach and PR activities has continued to be impacted due to ongoing restrictions implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the interest of health and safety, DRSD continued to curtail travel to limit the exposure of CAP personnel, persons served, and provider staff.

CAP participated in events intended to inform the disability community about services funded under the Rehabilitation Act, encourage those within the community to apply for services if they feel that they would benefit, and offer assistance to those who would apply or are current clients. These events were broad in their reach; some were provided to Tribal communities, while others were provided to mental health professionals and consumers and to U.S. military veterans. Events were also held for networking between regional non-profits.

Tribal Nations in South Dakota are considered to be chronically underserved and unserved. The CAP in South Dakota made a concerted effort to maintain contact with tribal VR providers and their clients this fiscal year – despite significant obstacles. The tribal VR programs are subject to tribal governance. In several instances, these VR programs were under significant COVID-19 restrictions which severely curtailed their available services. In some cases, these offices were closed to walk-in applicants and face-to-face meetings with clients. In other instances, the office was closed to all services pending direction from their tribal council. CAP worked with each tribal VR office to ensure that prospective applicants and current clients would be made aware of supports which continued to be available despite the status of their local tribal office. CAP’s activities in these instances included encouraging tribal VR directors to modify their outgoing voicemail message so that it included information on their current services, as well as contact information for state VR services. The intention of this activity was to ensure that people who would have been eligible for tribal VR services, but could not obtain them due to closures, could seek assistance from resources not affected by tribal policy. CAP regularly contacted these providers through phone calls and limited in-person visits to maintain relationships and to ensure that they had CAP information to provide to VR applicants and clients. One such visit occurred late in FY 2021 when CAP staff visited the newly-constituted tribal VR program of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribal nation (Lake Traverse Reservation) in the northeast portion of South Dakota. Due to its remoteness and its relatively recent establishment, CAP had not yet had the opportunity to meet with staff of this program. CAP used this opportunity to provide the program with CAP information for applicants and clients and to discuss the services that CAP provides.

CAP participated in Disability Awareness Day in the South Dakota Capitol Rotunda. This event provides CAP with the opportunity to network with other service providers, speak to people with disabilities who could benefit from CAP services or a referral to VR and/or ILC, and notably meet with South Dakota lawmakers to educate them about CAP functions and respond to any other questions which the legislators may have.

Some of CAP's outreach activities are intended to develop and maintain relationships with the projects, programs, and services funded under the Rehabilitation Act. CAP takes every opportunity to stop by and visit with staff at each VR office and Center for Independent Living (ILC, WRIL) as we travel throughout the state. It is important to maintain these relationships because it facilitates referrals and makes subsequent CAP-involved activities more productive. It also provides an opportunity to speak with applicants and clients who may be present at the time of the visit about the services proved by CAP.

CAP conducted Outreach activities to educators and special education providers to inform them about CAP and to encourage them to share information with students with disabilities about VR and the Centers for Independent Living. CAP also encouraged the use of the iTransitionSD website where students can develop a resource for use in transition planning and obtaining information on inviting representatives of various services funded under the Rehab Act to their IEP meetings.

CAP continued to conduct outreach efforts to military veterans in FY 21. CAP recognizes that nearly 20 years of U.S.-led combat activities have resulted in a drastic increase in the number of persons who have service-connected disabilities. These veterans could benefit from services provided by CAP. This year, CAP conducted outreach activities to the various Veteran's Services Offices. These men and women assist veterans of the US Armed Services who could benefit from VR, ILC, and CAP services. CAP provided them with information about CAP, agency information, and information about programs funded under the Rehabilitation Act. CAP staff also attended the state VA service representatives conference and met individually with local/county-based representatives. CAP attended Veteran's Stand Down and Resource Fairs hosted in Rapid City and Sioux Falls during this fiscal year.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
1
1
1
3387
8
5157
The total of 5,157 'Other' dissemination items reported on includes promotional items distributed by agency personnel such as: pens, cups, face masks, hand fans, key chains, bag clips, notebooks, shopping bags, cell phone wallets, stress balls, water bottles, and business cards which are branded with agency logos and contact information but do not convey substantive rights information characteristically provided by other modes of dissemination activities.
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
The CAP participated in a radio campaign developed and paid for by the programs administered by Disability Rights South Dakota (DRSD). The purpose of this ad was to encourage South Dakotans with disabilities to contact DRSD for rights information and advocacy services -- including access to and assistance from programs and services funded under the Rehabilitation Act. The advertisement ran in five markets throughout the state; Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Pierre, Eagle Butte (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Reservation), and Porcupine (Oglala Sioux Tribe, Pine Ridge Reservation). The ad ran ten times a week in each of these markets for the last two weeks of July, 2021 and thirty times in each market over August and September of 2021. The information provided within this advertisement had the potential to reach multitudes of people who might benefit from CAP services and encouraged them to call with questions or requests for assistance.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
1
11
12
2
4
B. Problem areas
1
6
2
1
0
0
1
2
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
9
0
0
0
1
0
10
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
3
1
2
0
0
2
0
0
2
0
0
0
N/A
E. Results achieved for individuals
2
0
0
0
2
2
0
0
0
4
The four cases enumerated under the "Other" category of this section were clients who either withdrew their case and request for assistance from CAP or ones who discontinued contact with the CAP advocate and contact could not be re-established despite efforts of the advocate.
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
0
1
2
9
0
12
B. Gender
7
5
12
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
0
1
0
0
0
10
1
0
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
1
1
0
0
1
0
0
1
0
0
0
1
3
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
12
E. Types of Individuals Served
3
0
9
2
0
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
3
A major focus for Disability Rights South Dakota this fiscal year was to continue monitoring activities at various facilities/service providers. CAP does not have access authority or the power under the Rehabilitation Act to monitor facilities. However, every DRSD advocate provides services for each of the programs of the P&A system. This includes CAP. The monitoring activities were executed under PADD, PAIR, PAIMI, PAVA, PAAT, and PATBI authority. CAP benefited by being able to observe conditions at a facility worksite, and ensure that the individuals have had access to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and the Centers for Independent Living (CIL) -- as required under the Workforce Opportunity and Opportunity Act (WIOA). If individuals were not aware of VR or CIL services, advocates provided information and referral to the individuals so that they could pursue competitive integrated employment and live more independently. If the individuals were aware of ILC and VR services or were, in fact, clients of these services, CAP could discuss their experience with these programs and, if needed, offer to assist in understanding and better accessing these services. Finally, some DRSD monitoring activities have occurred at facilities which offer on-site employment opportunities. In the instances where the wages for the employment do not meet standard minimum wage requirements, CAP ensures that they have met the proper requirements to offer this type of employment and that the employees have access to Vocational Rehabilitation as required by WIOA.

In addition to directly contacting persons who are working in sheltered or sub-minimum wage employment, CAP reviewed the activities of the State VR program in relation to its obligations to maintain periodic contacts with individuals working at sub-minimum wage. CAP advocate discussed VR activities with the Deputy Director of the Division of Rehabilitation Services (aka VR). He explained that the required reviews and contacts are continuing despite obstacles created by COVID-19. The reviews are being conducted through paper audits of VR counselors, employers, and client records. Contacts are maintained through telephonic and videoconference platforms. CAP was provided with the documentation that the Division maintains in tracking these activities.

CAP has been appointed to the boards for Vocational Rehabilitation, Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired, and to the State Independent Living Council. As a member of these State Rehabilitation Councils, CAP has the opportunity to participate in the strategic planning and service provision of those providers.

In FY 2020, CAP worked with the Board of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR) to effectuate changes to the consumer satisfaction surveys sent to current and former clients of the state rehabilitation service. The goal of these updates was to provide a clearer picture of ways that Vocational Rehabilitation can improve and to ensure that people are aware of their right to contact CAP. Additionally, VR in South Dakota also began sending satisfaction surveys to individuals whose cases had been closed unsuccessfully. As a result of the FY 2020 changes, in FY 2021, the BVR was able to assess the results from the modifications to the surveys. It was found that virtually all respondents reported that they were provided with information on CAP and that they were, by and large, satisfied with the services offered by the state VR system. The instances of case closure prior to a successful outcome were usually as a result of the client direction or failure to maintain contact with VR.

Transportation has consistently been recognized as an area of need in the statewide needs assessment. It is a goal of the Board and Division to learn more about transit services and promote transportation in rural areas. The Board hosted dialogue with the Brookings and Pierre transit providers to learn about their coverage areas, ridership, protocols implemented due to COVID, and challenges unique to each area. Dialogue included the need for open and continuous communication and problem-solving.

CAP staff participated on various committees and workgroups as a member BVR. These included the Governor's Awards Committee where applications for the annual Governor’s Awards were evaluated, and nominations were sent to Governor Kristi Noem for her selection of the winner. These awards recognized leaders and individuals in South Dakota for their outstanding efforts as employers, employees, community service, and contributions to the disability community as a whole.

As an appointed member of the Board for Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired, CAP has the opportunity to participate in the strategic planning and service provision of SBVI. The systemic effect of this is that CAP has the opportunity to influence the service provision of the agency to South Dakotans with visual impairment from the impetus of the policymaking process.
While the Client Assistance Program in South Dakota was working directly with various tribal programs to ensure that people served on tribal lands had access to needed services during COVID-19 related service interruptions, CAP discussed these barriers as a member of the board for the Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired (SBVI) -- a rehabilitation service funded under the Rehabilitation Act. CAP described the obstacles faced on tribal lands at board meetings with board members and agency staff. This effort resulted in a greater awareness of the needs of these populations and efforts to ensure that State agency resources would continue to be offered and available to people who would benefit despite interruptions in local services.

A representative of South Dakota CAP was appointed to the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) at the end of FY 2020. This appointment helps CAP to advocate for the rights and services of clients of the various independent living providers in the state and to perpetuate these changes through systemic policy.

The Client Assistance Program was contacted by one of the two CILs in South Dakota with an inquiry about the availability of Spanish language informational materials for the CAP program. CAP in South Dakota did not have any information printed in Spanish. In response, CAP contracted with an individual in the Pierre area to translate the CAP brochure so that it would be accessible to the small but growing Hispanic community in this state. These should be available for distribution in the near future.

The Executive Director of Disability Rights South Dakota was asked to join the Employment First Work Group being sponsored by the Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disability. The goal of this group is to move people from sheltered work status to competitive employment. The group had its first meeting in September to begin the discussion about ideas and methods to impact this problem.
B. Litigation
0
0
0
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Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Disability Rights South Dakota
No
N/A
B. Staff Employed
Pierre—Home Office

RR, Intake Specialist, FT, 12% CAP, 5 years at DRSD

HP, Intake Specialist, FT, 20% CAP 2 years at DRSD

BP, PATBI Prog.Dir./ASR, FT, 11% CAP 4 years at DRSD

SB, Admin. Asst. , FT, 12% CAP, 1 year at DRSD

CJM, PAVA Prog. Dir./ASR, FT, 2% CAP 7 years at DRSD

TEN, Executive Dir., FT, 4% CAP 32 years at DRSD

SLH, Executive Asst., FT, 12% CAP, 25 years with DRSD

OA, Fiscal Director, FT, 8% CAP, 6 years at DRSD

CLU, Staff Attorney/CAP Prog. Dir., FT, 27% CAP, 7 years at DRSD

AKJ, Fiscal Assistant, FT, 12% CAP, 5 years at DRSD

AM, ASR, FT, 9% CAP, 6 months at DRSD



Rapid City—Branch Office

BR, Legal Director, FT, 5% CAP, 3 years at DRSD

DLM, ASR, FT, 5% CAP, 33 years at DRSD

HG, ASR, FT, 6% CAP, 2 years at DRSD

JG, ASR, FT, 4% CAP, 1 year at DRSD



Sioux Falls—Branch Office

JAH, Operations Director, FT, 6% CAP, 35 years with DRSD

BB, Staff Attorney/Inv. Dir., FT, 5% CAP, 2 years with DRSD

SH, Staff Attorney, FT, 7% CAP, 2 years with DRSD

DL, ASR, FT, 8% CAP, 2 years with DRSD

JK, ASR, FT, 4%, CAP 1 year with DRSD

KM, ASR, FT, 4%, CAP 1 year with DRSD
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
The CAP closed ten case services in FY21. A significant number of these cases were closed as a result of the client’s failure to maintain contact with the CAP advocate or to participate in meetings with VR. Oftentimes, the CAP advocate will attempt for weeks, sometimes months, to reach the client through phone calls, emails, and letters. When all of these efforts fail, the client is sent one final letter requesting renewed contact by a proscribed date. If the client does not respond to this request, the advocate has no choice but to close the case due to the lack of cooperation with CAP. In other instances, the client may fail to participate in meetings arranged with VR. On multiple occasions, CAP was invited (or arranged) to participate in meetings between the client and VR. Despite the best efforts of both CAP and VR, the client may fail to show up for those meetings. This may result in case closure by VR. Though these instances are frustrating and all too common, CAP did have several case services where substantive assistance was provided to applicants and clients of programs funded under the Rehabilitation Act. Below are some examples of these cases.

The client contacted CAP with allegations that VR was not providing supports necessary for him to gain, maintain, or retain competitive integrated employment. Client reported that he had discussed with VR his need for orthopedic shoes for work but VR had not yet authorized this support. He continued to work to the greatest extent as he was able, but due to the lack of these specially designed shoes, he was suffering injuries and open wounds on his feet after hours of work. He wanted CAP to assist in expediting supports from VR. Through the assistance of CAP and discussions with Client's vocational rehabilitation counselor, he was pre-authorized $500 to cover the cost of a pair of Orthopedic Shoes per his IPE. The orthopedic shoe provider indicated that they should be able to provide the shoes for less than the authorized amount. The client was provided with the necessary shoes that he needed to be successful at work. The client is currently employed at his local grocery store and works more hours than he is scheduled. He is being provided with all appropriate services/supports as outlined within his IPE.

The client was a very capable and ambitious person who is also deaf. She adeptly uses American Sign Language (ASL) as a means of communication. The client requested that VR help her to obtain her Master’s degree so that she could teach ASL interpreters at the post-secondary level. This request had been denied on the grounds that she already had a bachelors degree and was thus "employable." CAP advocate argued successfully at the Administrative Review level that mere “employability" was not the standard for appropriation of VR supports. As a result, the client was able to obtain graduate level educational supports in her Individual Plan for Employment through VR. CAP was able to prevail on this matter by emphasizing the Policy Directives provided by RSA regarding maximization of employment outcomes. Not only did this result enable the client to pursue her employment goals and career ambitions, but her education as an ASL educator will have enduring benefits for the deaf community throughout South Dakota.

The next case addresses the need for VR to provide clarity and transparency with what is happening within the services that it is providing to clients. It is the policy of Vocational Rehabilitation in South Dakota to require that all clients who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits ‘assign their ticket’ under the Ticket to Work Program to VR. This is so that services provided by VR that are eligible for reimbursement by Social Security are paid to VR as that individual’s Employment Network. While this practice is outlined within documentation provided by VR counselors, it is not always expressly explained to the client. In one instance, a VR client contacted CAP because she was concerned about a letter from Social Security notifying her that her ticket had been assigned. She did not know what that meant or how it impacted her. The CAP advocate reviewed the client’s records, as well as VR policy, and determined that the client’s rights had not been violated. CAP discussed the matter with the client and the VR counselor. The client better understood the nature and purpose of the policy and the Ticket to Work Program and was satisfied with the outcome. The VR counselor agreed to more clearly explain this process to similarly situated clients in the future.
Certification
Approved
Timothy E. Neyhart
Executive Director
2021-12-22
OMB Notice

OMB Control Number: 1820-0528, approved for use through 07/31/2023

According to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, no persons are required to respond to a collection of information unless such collection displays a valid OMB control number. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 16 hours per response, including time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. The obligation to respond to this collection is required to obtain or retain a benefit (Section 13 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended). Send comments regarding the burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. 20202-4537 or email ICDocketMgr@ed.gov and reference the OMB Control Number 1820-0528. Note: Please do not return the completed form to this address.