RSA-227 for FY-2017: Submission #965

Texas
9/30/2017
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Rights Texas
2222 W Braker Ln
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Austin
TX
78758
(800) 252-9108
(866) 362-2851
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Karen Stanfill
Karen Stanfill
(713) 482-6782
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Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
57
3
0
1
3
66
130
B. Training Activities
110
3500
CAP conducted a number of training sessions during the year. Topics included an overview of services provided by CAP, Independent Living services, transition and Pre-ETS services and changes to the sheltered workshop eligibility and referral criteria. In addition, information regarding reasonable accommodations, employment rights and resources for assistance in these areas were provided. <p><p>Presentations were made to Veteran and military organizations, disability organizations including AIDS organizations, Associations for the Blind, Deaf Action Center, Epilepsy Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association, transition programs including parent education centers, Texas Education Agency (TEA) Region Education Centers, Texas Association for Vocational Adjustment Coordinators (TAVAC), IL Centers, sheltered workshops and programs to end homelessness. <p><p>The purpose of the training was to inform persons of the services of the CAP program, the services that can be provided from the VR and IL programs and centers, self-advocacy training, and to solicit suggestions for working with the VR and IL programs. Topics included employment rights, reasonable accommodations and assistive technology. Information provided to individuals in sheltered workshops focused on employment rights, accommodations and referral to entities that provide information about how working impacts their Social Security (SS) benefits. <p><p>Persons in attendance at these trainings included VR clients, persons with disabilities in sheltered workshops, transition-age students, transition-age students with mental illness, parents, family members, Community Rehabilitation Providers, rehabilitation professionals, homeless individuals, high school staff, persons involved in community organizations, health professionals, staff of assistive technology programs and prosthetic equipment, and attorneys representing LGBT youth. <p><p>
C. Agency Outreach
CAP continues to prioritize outreach to transition-age students which has resulted in an increase in the numbers CAP has served in this category. CAP conducted outreach to persons with mental illness, head injury, intellectual disabilities, blindness, as well as youth, the Asian community and Hispanic community. CAP also worked with the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department and staff from organizations that participate in a Houston-area project funded by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health that serve high school students with mental illness to inform them of services provided by the VR program, services of the CAP program and build self-advocacy skills. CAP also provided outreach to under-served communities such as Asian transition-age students with mental illness and their parents regarding VR and transition services, IL services and CAP services. <p><p>CAP has coordinated with DRTx staff who work with the foster youth to make them aware of VR services, and how to access VR services. This included coordinating with the VR agency to make direct referrals to the VR program. Additionally, CAP conducted an outreach to homeless veterans with TBI to inform them of VR, IL and CAP services and other community resources. <p><p>Lastly, CAP participated in several workshops around the state with other DRTx staff to educate attendees about competitive employment, VR services and CAP services. CAP developed flyers and posters to display at Sheltered Workshops informing persons about competitive employment and of resources to learn more about Social Security incentives to obtain and maintain employment. <p><p>
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
37
1
0
20213
49
0
Facebook DRTx reaches people through its social media presence on Facebook, which grew from 2,843 to 4,690 followers a 61 percent increase and the largest increase we&rsquo;ve experienced since using this medium. We attribute the growth to two main factors: 1) a greater number of posts created to assist people with disabilities impacted by Hurricane Harvey and 2) an increase in the use of Facebook Live videos and other original video content. <p><p>Over the course of the fiscal year, we posted 316 times on Facebook (vs. 135 times the previous year) reaching 521,817 people (vs. 142,678 the previous year). We used Facebook Live video for the first time, producing 7 live videos that boosted our reach, engagement, and number of new followers. We also posted 6 of our own pre-recorded videos and shared 15 videos. Our video posts consistently reached and engaged more people. Our average engagement rate (people who interact with our posts divided by number of people reached) for the year on Facebook exceeded industry standards. Anything more than a 1 percent engagement rate is considered good our average engagement rate for the year was 5 percent. <p><p>Twitter This past year our followers increased from 844 to 1,286 a 52 percent increase. We tweeted 409 times reaching a total of 108,894 people. Our average engagement rate on Twitter is in line with industry averages. <p><p>Email Newsletter We reached 13,033 people through our quarterly e-newsletter and other subscriber emails. Our email open rates averaged 33 percent (non-profit average is 28 percent according to Constant Contact) and click-through rates averaged 13 percent (nonprofit average is 8 percent according to Constant Contact.) <p><p>YouTube We added 18 more videos to the DRTx YouTube channel for a total of 50 as of September 30, 2017. This year&rsquo;s video topics include healthcare accessibility, explanation of what a P&A is, additional supported decision-making videos that include ASL and Spanish captions, poll worker training, Medicaid Fair Hearings, children in special ed impacted by Hurricane Harvey, and more. New videos received 3,709 views (in addition to what they received on Facebook and Twitter) with our total views of all videos now reaching 9,268. <p><p><p><p>
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
Media Coverage DRTx staff continue to be regularly sought out by both local, regional, and national reporters to provide expert input and quotes for news stories. We also successfully proactively pitched several stories to reporters including cuts and interruptions in early childhood intervention therapies, complaints against sheltered workshops, the impact of Hurricane Harvey on students with disabilities, and several press releases and media pitches regarding the state&rsquo;s arbitrary cap on special ed enrollment. <p><p>It was an exceptional year for media coverage secured by Disability Rights Texas due to many urgent issues coming to the forefront and our work to address those issues. Additionally, today&rsquo;s digitally-driven media landscape provides the opportunity for our staff to be interviewed and quoted by one notable news source on a particular issue, with other media outlets small and large throughout the nation also running the story with the original byline (author) credited. <p><p>We had TV, radio and print coverage in a variety of market sizes and areas in Texas, including El Paso, Lubbock, Laredo, Eagle Pass, Texarkana, Wichita Falls, Longview, Tyler, Denton, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Dallas. <p><p>We were interviewed by the Associated Press which published stories that were picked up nationwide. Houston Public Radio interviewed and aired stories with our staff that played on National Public Radio stations throughout the U.S. We were also mentioned by major sources such as the Huffington Post, National Low Income Housing Coalition website, Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, San Antonio Express News, Austin American-Statesman, and the Texas Tribune. <p><p>All in all, Disability Rights Texas was mentioned in news articles in FY2017 that reached a total of 636 million people throughout Texas and the U.S. These placements were the result of 1) responding to media inquiries, 2) pro-actively pitching stories to media, and 3) our organization being mentioned by other organizations in their press releases or quotes about our casework, participation in advocacy events, or other notable accomplishments of our agency. <p><p>
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
106
174
280
12
120
B. Problem areas
8
58
143
32
0
41
10
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
33
41
93
0
1
3
172
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
99
13
4
0
2
27
2
12
13
0
0
0
<P><p>
E. Results achieved for individuals
28
23
2
0
58
39
15
6
1
0
<P><p>
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
7
39
81
134
19
280
B. Gender
144
136
280
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
63
3
10
68
0
131
5
0
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
12
10
0
6
2
1
20
2
16
7
1
5
22
10
3
3
0
3
2
18
64
4
3
5
18
31
0
1
0
7
0
3
1
0
280
E. Types of Individuals Served
94
0
167
17
7
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
8
There were a number of issues that CAP addressed with the VR and Independent Living (IL) program during the year. This was the first fiscal year after the Texas Legislature restructured state agencies. Now the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has responsibility of the Independent Living (IL) Program services and the VR program was moved to Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). Regular communication is maintained with the HHSC staff over the IL program. CAP provided feedback to the HHSC staff with concerns observed and experienced with the IL program since the subcontracting of services to HHSC. CAP has seen an increase in cases since the program has been subcontracted. Examples of issues includes; confusion over who and where to contact for services, difficulty getting an application scheduled and completed, modifications to the home, and delays in services to include hearing aids and vehicle modifications. <p><p><p>In relation to the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program move to Texas Workforce Commission, TWC, and renamed Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services, (TWS-VRS) additional issues were seen as a result of this transfer. One of these issues related to the TWC website not providing specific instruction on how to file an Office of Civil Rights Complaint against staff of the VR program. CAP made TWS-VRS of this problem and was informed that it would be corrected. <p><p><p>Another issue that surfaced after the move to TWC, was increased oversight of purchases within the VR system. Several counselors reported that they were waiting for approval to issue service authorizations or that they did not have any money in their budget. While it is clear the TWS-VRS agency had money, it was apparent that the individual counselor did not have enough funds in their budget to provide services. CAP has had several conversations around this issue throughout the year and noticed that it occurred in several areas of the state but not all of the state. TWS-VRS report that they are working with the counselors to learn how to budget as a means to improve the problem. CAP reminded the agency the numbers served by the agency has increased by more than 5,000 (in 2015 86,202 persons were served from General VR and in 2016 91,748 were served) and that the overall agency budget has decreased by 15% as mandated to provide Pre-ETS services. Additionally, new policies required counselors to obtain consultation from others within TWS-VRS before a service could be provided. These factors have resulted in a delay of services. Both CAP and the RCT have expressed concern and this is an ongoing discussion with TWS-VRS. <p><p><p>TWS-VRS interpreted a state regulation that purchases over $5,000 had to go to statewide bid, including services such as attendant care. This initially affected a client receiving attendant care, but this interpretation was applied to all services. CAP challenged TWS-VRS&rsquo; interpretation, poi
B. Litigation
0
1
1
CAP represented an individual in an appeal when the client and VR could not agree on the vocational goal. Client requested assistance with tuition to attend college to obtain a law degree to become an attorney. An appeal was filed in court in 2016 and a final decision from the judge was received in 2017. CAP and the client did not prevail in the case. <p><p>CAP has identified that TWS-VRS does not provide education and training as often as requested from clients who want to better their economic situation. This is an ongoing conversation with TWS-VRS. However, in comparing the statistics from TWS-VRS&rsquo; annual report for 2015 to 2016, we have seen improvement for management positions. <p><p>Occupation - 2016% of closures - 2015% of closures:<p>Service occupations - 25% - 24%.<p>Office and admin support - 23% - 21%.<p>Transportation and material moving - 10% - 10%.<p>Education and legal - 8% - 8%.<p>Computer related - 2% - 2%.<p>Management - 6% - 5%.<p>Additionally, in 2015 TWS-VRS spent 15% of the budget on training services and in 2016, 18% of the budget was spent on training. So there is progress, albeit small in this area. <p><p>CAP is working with the RCT policy committee and with Executive management at TWS-VRS regarding training, and proper assessment of the vocational goal and the development of the IPE. These efforts have resulted in gradual changes to policy, allowing for more training opportunities and less emphasis on transferrable skills. Additionally, the VR manual now supports a Master&rsquo;s degree as a service that can be provided to obtain a vocational goal. <p><p>The practices that limited clients to certain vocational goals were a serious barrier. For example, a person&rsquo;s potential, interest or emotional/mental ability were not properly considered when a VR counselor was approving vocational goals. The result was that the clients were restricted to certain work areas or was pushed into jobs they had no interest in. Many clients ended up withdrawing from services. <p><p>CAP will continue to advocate for clients to receive assistance in developing appropriate, individualized vocational goals that meet the criteria under the VR regulations, and CAP will work with TWS-VRS to assure the agency policies and procedures support the same. <p><p><p>There were two other cases CAP assisted clients with an appeal for services. One case was a request for Prism glasses that were medically prescribed. TWS-VRS denied the request, but after the appeal was filed, agreed to a second opinion, which also recommended the prism glasses. TWS-VRS agreed with the request and purchased the glasses at their rate, which was accepted by the client. <p><p>Another case CAP represented in an appeal was the denial of educational assistance. The client attended Austin Community College, which banned the client from the campus. Client still wanted training in medical billing and coding. TWS-VRS wanted the client to complete other steps
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Disability Rights Texas
No
N/A
B. Staff Employed
Position FTE% of year person-years Professional full time 8.00 FTE 90% 7.20 Professional part-time 0.95 FTE 90% 0.86 Professional vacant 1.00 FTE 100% 1.00 Clerical full time 1.34 FTE 89% 1.10 Clerical part-time 0 Clerical vacant 0 <p><p>
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
Independent Living Case: Our client is an 82-year-old female with significant hearing loss. She had first made application with Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services Independent Living (IL) Program (TWS-VRS IL) to obtain new hearing aids and was told she was on a waiting list. After the transition of the IL services to the Independent Living Center (ILC), she was told TWS-VRS incorrectly placed her on the waiting list because an Independent Living Plan (ILP) had never been written. When the ILP was finally written by the ILC staff, she was again informed she was on a waiting list but was now 49 instead of 29, as she was when she had checked prior to the IL program transition. CAP investigated and determined that the ILC was not out of funds and, as a result, there should have been a request to shift funds from other areas to cover the cost of the hearing aids. CAP had discussions with the client and IL staff to address the issue. Funds were then allocated and hearing aids were provided to the client. <p><p>Bid Requirement Applied to Client Service: Our client was a 25-year-old male, attending a state university in Texas. Client has a form of muscular dystrophy, uses a power wheelchair and requires an attendant for activities of daily living, as well as assistance in his classes. TWS-VRS had been providing a portion of the attendant care costs. Client was informed without notice that support from TWS-VRS would end because the cost was approaching $5,000. TWS-VRS informed the client that the service needed to go out for bid before assistance could continue. The client still needed attendant services during this time. Client called CAP. CAP communicated with the counselor, manager, and regional office in an attempt to understand why the $5,000 was an indicator for a service such as this. CAP argued that an attendant is not someone you obtain from a bidding process as it requires interviewing, back ground check and informed choice. CAP addressed this with the Director of the VR program in an effort to get this resolved. The Director reported there was an exception form they could apply to this service and not have to obtain bids. TWS-VRS agreed and paid the attendant cost during the time they had stopped paying for the service. <p><p>Disagreement on the Vocational Goal: Client is a 31-year-old, male with ADHD, scoliosis and learning disabilities. Client had requested TWS-VRS to assist with ADHD medication and education/tuition for his vocational goal to obtain a degree in computer science. Client was attending a university on his own at time of application. TWS-VRS agreed to assist with medication on a short term basis until other resources could be found and help with job placement services. TWS-VRS however, did not agree to the request for tuition assistance or the services toward an employment goal in computer science indicating the client has transferable skills. Client had a work history in cosme
Certification
Approved
Mary Faithfull
Executive Director
2017-12-19
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