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RSA-227 for FY-2021: Submission #1213

Maine
09/30/2021
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Rights Maine
160 Capitol Street
Suite 4
Augusta
ME
04330
https://drme.org/
1-800-452-1948
1-800-452-1948
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Julia Endicott
Kim Moody
207-626-2774
kim@drme.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
11
7
0
4
0
9
31
B. Training Activities
23
312
Disability Rights Maine conducted a wide range of training and outreach events in FY21. This was the first full year of the CAP, after we received the grant in June 2020. The vast majority of our outreach events took place virtually because of the ongoing pandemic. However, despite that challenge, we were able to successfully engage with many stakeholders across the state. Our training targeted VR counselors, transition aged youth, advocates, self-advocates, and case managers for youth and adults with intellectual and development disabilities. We also conducted training and outreach with statewide stakeholder groups, including the Commission on Disability Employment, a branch of the State Workforce Board. Through the course of this outreach, we reached approximately 312 individuals.

10/20/2020: CAP presentation at SRC Annual Meeting. CAP staff attended the DVR-SRC annual meeting and provided information regarding CAP services to the council. 10 council members attended.

11/4/2020: CAP staff presented at the Commission on Disability & Employment regarding employment trends related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 9 stakeholders in attendance.

12/16/2020: CAP presentation to Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI) State Rehabilitation Council. CAP staff presented on what services are available through the CAP. 16 people in attendance, most of whom were council members or members of the public with an interest in employment within the blind and low vision community.

1/12/2021: CAP outreach to SUFU. CAP staff presented by Zoom to members of Standing Up for Us, a self-advocacy group of individuals with developmental disabilities to share information about Vocational Rehabilitation and employment services more broadly, as well as the availability of CAP services. 33 individuals attended, most of whom were adults receiving developmental services.

2/10/2021: CAP virtual presentation to DBVI Independent Living Staff. CAP staff presented information about the CAP and services available. Approximately 15 people attended, all of whom were staff of DBVI.

2/18/2021: CAP staff met via Zoom with the Director of the Wabanaki VR program to discuss services available at DRM, including the CAP. 1 individual attended – Program Director.

3/4/2021: CAP outreach to Moving Maine Network Steering Committee. Provided overview of CAP services and VR services to network of transportation providers, social services providers, independent living advocates, health care advocates, and mobility managers. 20 individuals in attendance.

3/25/2021: The CAP Program Director collaborated with a DRM Education Attorney to provide training to educators regarding advocacy for transition-aged youth. IEP teams are required to address students’ movement from high school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, and integrated employment. This presentation provided information on implementing a results-oriented transition process that focuses on improving academic and functional achievement and facilitating students’ movement from high school to adult services. The presentation also covered the use of supported decision making (SDM) processes and explained how these concepts are aligned with transition planning requirements under the IDEA. Participants learned how SDM can be used to help preserve a person’s autonomy and independence, while still providing the person with support from family, friends, and community. 28 individuals attended, most of whom were educators and school staff serving transition-aged youth.

4/2/2021: CAP staff presented a virtual training for the Southern Maine Advisory Council on Transition. The presentation focused on advocacy for youth in transition. Subject areas covered included the extension of FAPE to 22, transition planning under the IDEA, accessing Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and accessing CAP services. 25 individuals attended, most of whom were educators for transition-aged youth, children’s case managers, and vocational services providers.

5/4/2021: CAP presentation for DVR Staff – Augusta Office. CAP staff conducted outreach to VR staff via Zoom. Information was provided regarding youth in transition, requests for reasonable accommodation, and CAP services. 19 VR staff attended.

5/5/2021: CAP outreach at Commission on Disability & Employment. CAP staff conducted outreach regarding Employment First and discussed trends identified through our case work. Approximately 9 stakeholders attended.

5/10/2021: CAP outreach to Maine Parent Federation. The CAP staff provided information about the CAP and opportunities for questions, as well as contact information for further follow-up and referral. 19 attendees, mostly parents of children with disabilities and staff.

5/12/2021: CAP presentation for DVR Staff – Lewiston Office. The CAP staff conducted outreach to VR staff via Zoom. Information was provided regarding the program and supporting transition-aged youth. 14 VR staff attended.

5/18/2021: CAP presentation to Alliance Case Management. The CAP staff provided information on the program and offered opportunity for questions regarding VR services to case managers serving individuals with I/DD. 24 attendees participated.

5/19/2021: CAP presentation to DVR Staff – Portland office. The CAP staff conducted outreach to VR staff via Zoom. Information was provided regarding the program and areas for collaboration with mutual clients. 17 DVR staff attended.

5/27/2021: CAP Presentation to Rehab Counselors for the Deaf. The CAP staff conducted outreach to VR staff via Zoom. Information was provided regarding the program and contact information was provided for referral. 8 DVR staff attended and there were 2 interpreters present.

6/9/2021: CAP presentation to UCP of Maine Case Managers. The CAP advocate conducted outreach regarding VR services, as well as the CAP, and answered questions. Staff also provided contact information for further questions and referrals. 6 case managers attended.

6/10/2021: CAP presentation to DVR Staff – Regions 4 & 5. The CAP staff conducted outreach to VR staff via Zoom. Information was provided regarding the program and areas for collaboration with mutual clients. Approximately 10 DVR staff attended.

6/30/2021: CAP presentation to new VR counselors. The CAP advocate presented to new VR counselors on the CAP, as well as other employment advocacy programs available at DRM. 8 new VR counselors attended.

7/12/2021: CAP presentation for AmeriCorps volunteers for the Epilepsy Foundation of New England. The CAP advocate presented information about VR services and the CAP to the Epilepsy Foundation of Northern New England staff and provided information about how DRM’s services could be accessed. 16 participants, all individuals working with people with epilepsy and their families.

8/20/2021: CAP outreach at the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center. CAP staff conducted outreach to three participants of patient groups at a state psychiatric facility. Outreach was focused on employment supports, VR, and the availability of the CAP. 3 people, in person in Bangor, ME.

8/25/2021: CAP presentation for Kids Legal paralegal at Pine Tree Legal Assistance. The CAP advocate provided information about the program, as well as VR services. 1 attendee – program paralegal.

9/3/2021: CAP outreach to Migrant farmworker community. The CAP advocate met with the former executive director of Mano en Mano, an advocacy organization for migrant farmworkers in Maine. The CAP staff provided information about the program and VR services, and answered questions. 1 attendee, recently departed Executive Director.
C. Agency Outreach
DRM has identified transition-aged youth, especially those youth with developmental disabilities, and adults with developmental disabilities in general, as target groups for outreach. DRM conducted several outreach events targeting these populations. Several outreach events ultimately led to individual cases. This population continues to be a focus in FY22. DRM is also continuing to expand an agency-wide plan to conduct outreach across Maine’s New Mainer population, as well as to Maine’s indigenous Wabanaki communities. DRM has a strong relationship with the Wabanaki VR program director and efforts to continue to grow that relationship are ongoing. DRM also conducted outreach with Maine’s migrant farmworker community, most of whom are located in rural northeastern Maine.

Additionally, DRM has targeted youth in corrections and conducted outreach with justice-involved youth at Maine’s juvenile prison. DRM visits the state's only secure juvenile detention facility monthly. The CAP advocate rotates in on these visits periodically to ensure that these youth have information about VR services to support effective community reintegration. Through this outreach, DRM was able to assist individuals access VR services and grow awareness about the availability of CAP services among staff at the prison.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
0
4
700
0
111341
Disability Rights Maine maintains a social media presence and electronic mailing list. This number reflects the number of times individuals accessed our social media and emails from our mailing list.
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
Although not specific to the CAP, Disability Rights Maine as an agency was featured in 91 newspaper articles and 36 other print or online mentions. DRM was also mentioned on 30 television stations/websites and featured in 11 radio programs.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
5
33
38
3
17
B. Problem areas
0
10
25
1
0
5
0
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
9
3
11
0
0
1
24
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
12
1
0
5
0
0
1
1
4
0
0
0
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E. Results achieved for individuals
1
0
0
0
7
6
1
1
0
8
a. No Merit (2)
b. Individual Non-Responsive (3)
c. Individual Terminated VR Services (1)
d. Appeal Unsuccessful (1)
e. Services Not Needed Due to Relocation (1)
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
3
3
11
20
1
38
B. Gender
15
23
38
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
1
0
0
3
0
28
0
6
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
0
0
0
0
0
0
6
0
1
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
2
17
1
0
1
1
3
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
4
38
E. Types of Individuals Served
5
1
28
1
2
1
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
2
In its work this year, CAP staff learned that VR had only one hearing officer from which to choose in circumstances in which an individual requested an impartial hearing. CAP staff advocated for the addition of hearing officers to the roster and advocated for collaboration with the SRC in selecting hearing officers, as federal rule requires. VR consulted with the SRC and added additional hearing officers, as well as additional mediators, to its roster as a result of CAP staff’s intervention and advocacy.

Through the context of a due process hearing, the CAP Staff Attorney raised issues around record sharing. In requesting records for that case, the attorney learned that VR’s practice was to share only case notes when records were requested, but not relevant assessments or other relevant documents associated with the case file. After raising the issue, VR began to include the comprehensive case file upon request.


CAP staff also met quarterly with leadership from the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, which includes Maine’s two VR agencies. In these meetings, CAP staff raised concerns regarding trends in case services. Issues raised included:

a. Caps on services for self-employment plans
b. Lags in eligibility determinations
c. Concerns over significant staffing shortages
d. Statewide job development services
e. Informed choice
f. Client transition to new counselors
g. Preauthorization and procurement procedures
h. The relationship between VR and the corrections system

While these topics did not result in changes of policy or procedure by the end of the fiscal year, they continue to be areas for ongoing collaboration with both VR agencies and continue to be areas of monitoring for the CAP.

CAP staff also participated on both SRCs in Maine. CAP staff applied for membership, but due to delays for appointments across the state, no staff were voting members in FY21. CAP staff regularly report on trends identified through casework to both SRCs.
B. Litigation
0
0
0
n/a
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Disability Rights Maine
No
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B. Staff Employed
In FY21, the person-years staffing the CAP program were 1.31 total FTE, with 0.99 direct program staff, and 0.32 administrative personnel. There was a short-term vacancy, that was filled at the beginning of FY22. Going forward, staffing will increase to 1.68 FTE direct program staff and 0.42 FTE administrative personnel.
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
An individual with an intellectual disability contacted DRM for assistance with receiving appropriate VR services to obtain a job she enjoyed. The advocate participated in team meetings and advocated for services that would support the individual to find a job she liked. When services continued to move slowly, the individual found a job on her own. DRM assisted the individual maintain her VR services after VR proposed to end services as a result of the individual’s own effort to obtain employment. DRM then assisted with a smooth transition to a new VR counselor and a new job coach. The individual was satisfied with her services and really loved her new job.

An individual contacted DRM for assistance receiving VR support for a new adaptive vehicle in order to maintain his employment. VR initially told the client they would not support purchasing the equipment needed to modify his vehicle. However, after the advocate intervened and the client engaged in strong self-advocacy, VR agreed to support the purchase of all necessary adaptive equipment for the individual's new van. The individual received their adapted van and is now able to continue working without fear for the loss of their transportation.

A client of DVR contacted DRM for assistance to reestablish communication with his VR counselor and to receive appropriate VR services following a prolonged lag in communication between the client and the counselor. The advocate arranged for a meeting with DVR staff and the client. During this meeting, VR agreed to an improved plan for communication and agreed to change counselors if the communication did not meet the client’s needs. The client reported that communication improved greatly and there was no need to switch counselors. The advocate monitored the situation for two months to ensure prolonged success in improved communication. The client reported high levels of satisfaction and no further need for advocacy support. This case raised systemic questions regarding communication between VR counselors and clients. This is a concern that the CAP has seen in many cases and has raised to VR leadership. The CAP plans to address this concern through ongoing collaboration with VR agency staff regarding methods to improve communication.

An individual with a mental health disability contacted DRM for assistance with communication issues with VR and concern over receiving services included on his IPE. DRM spoke with the VRC and was able to determine where miscommunication occurred between the individual and their counselor. DRM also assisted the client receive an appropriate level of funding for his small business. The individual received funding and VR to open his own fishing boat and was happy with the result. This case also raised a systemic issue regarding cap’s on services. DRM raised this issue with DVR leadership and counselors were reminded that there are not hard caps on any VR service.
Certification
Approved
Kim Moody
Executive Director
2021-12-22
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