RSA-227 for FY-2018: Submission #990

Massachusetts
9/30/2018
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Massachusetts Office on Disability
One Ashburton Place #1305
{Empty}
Boston
MA
02108
http://www.mass.gov/mod
(800) 322-2020
(800) 322-2020
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
Massachusetts Office on Disability
One Ashburton Place #1305
{Empty}
Boston
02108
{Empty}
http://www.mass.gov/mod
(800) 322-2020
(800) 322-2020
Additional Information
Naomi Goldberg
Naomi Goldberg
(617) 979-7327
{Empty}
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
295
187
0
824
2474
161
3941
B. Training Activities
136
4567
CAP began FFY18 interviewing candidates for two open CAP Advocate positions. Two individuals were hired in November 2017. With a focus on training the new staff and ensuring that cases were transferred as seamlessly as possible and that time sensitive issues were prioritized, CAP did not have the capacity to follow through with its outreach and training plans from the previous year. After a late start to planning for outreach and training, CAP chose to focus on rebuilding and strengthening its relationship with the VR programs by providing CAP trainings to staff. The plan was to focus on demonstrating to VR that our approach is collaborative and that our intent is to not be viewed as an adversary, but rather as a referee, or more neutral party that clarifies and enforces the rules of VR client-counselor relationship as prescribed in the federal and state VR regulations. The overarching goal is to build better relationships with the area VR offices because we consider the counselors to be our greatest source for client referrals. The first phase of that plan started with the institution of Listening Sessions. During FFY18 CAP held these Listening Sessions at 6 area offices, to hear how VR staff think CAP can better serve the VR clients and to clarify to them how CAP could be a resource for VR counselors. In each session we explored ways to change the VR-CAP relationship as well as how CAP can partner with them to assist clients in achieving their vocational goals. We discussed previous difficulties with the VR-CAP relationship and suggested corrections, and requested suggestions as to how we could build a better service model for VR clients and counselors who may utilize CAP. CAP received excellent feedback from the Listening sessions and hopes to create a more formal system of tracking referrals from this new model to gauge its success. CAP plans to test the same relationship building model with ILCs in the near future. <p><p>CAP continues to focus on reaching youth in transition. We exhibited at 3 transition fairs, interacting with approximately 200 transition youth and their families to inform them about vocational rehab and independent living and CAP&rsquo;s role. We also attended two separate transition related events in a public high school where CAP offered a VR/IL/CAP presentation to transition students and presented on CAP and VR as part of a transition panel. CAP also presented at a Transportation working group for transition age youth. CAP was integral in highlighting the barriers to employment and independent living for people with disabilities and explaining how VR, IL, and CAP could assist. Other outreach activities with transition age youth included presenting VR/IL/CAP training at our state&rsquo;s Department of Mental Health monthly meet and greet planning session, at a Special Education Parent Advisory Council, and at a self-advocacy workshop for transition students. Going forward, CAP hopes to build networks wit
C. Agency Outreach
Due to circumstances related to staffing, CAP planned for and participated in substantially fewer outreach activities during FFY18 than in previous years however, CAP does seek to ensure that the outreach activities in which we do participate are planned in consideration of the need to identify and reach unserved and underserved individuals including minority and rural populations. <p><p>In planning outreach for the year, CAP typically uses standard methods of outreach to identify organizations and events that specifically include minority and rural populations that have been unserved and underserved. CAP first identifies schools, state agencies, organizations that assist individuals with disabilities in becoming employed, and other disability related organizations that would receive the most benefit from connecting with VR/IL/CAP and then contacting them via mail, email, or phone to introduce CAP and to arrange a meeting or training that merges the needs of the organizations with the services of CAP. For example, the two trainings that we provided to transition students were at an urban school with a primarily minority population. Similarly, CAP attended the Transition Age Youth planning meeting for the Department of Mental Health-Central Mass where providers discuss the support needs of the youth, many of whom are transitioning into employment and represent minority populations. Our involvement with the state&rsquo;s Human Resource Division&rsquo;s program, Public Service as a Stellar Career, gave us the opportunity to interact with a large group of youth with disabilities who were primarily from minority populations. Following that event, we began following up with the schools that arranged the student participation at the event to arrange for future VR/IL/CAP trainings. <p><p>CAP attends various disability related events throughout the state that occur during the year where we take advantage of the array of opportunities to network and to increase our outreach efforts. If an event is employment related or independent living related, CAP will staff an exhibitor table, display materials, and interact with participants. Employment related events in which we actively participated and/or exhibited during FFY18 included our own annual Mass Office on Disability Summit, the Public Service as a Stellar Career Workshops, the Millbury Disability Resource Fair, the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council legislative day, and the Mt. Holyoke AccessAbilities Services Presentation with Q&A. <p><p>Participating in disability related events that are not VR/IL related as an exhibitor or as an attendee presents CAP with additional opportunities to interact with individuals from minority populations and individuals from different areas of the state as part of the general public and inform them of VR/IL/CAP. For this reason we seek these opportunities and readily accept invitations when called upon to participate in events as an exhibitor.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
1
1
69536
8
{Empty}
During FFY18, in collaboration with CAP programs in two other states, developed a video to provide a brief overview of CAP services and how to contact the organization: (https://youtu.be/Vz5lWEHyxXU). The video provides a brief overview of the history of the CAP program and its purpose as defined by the Rehabilitation Act. It describes how CAP advises, advocates, and provides information and referral for people with disabilities to ensure they obtain the combination of VR and/or IL services that support their rehabilitation goals. The video explains how CAP answers individual questions but also addresses systemic issues that arise in VR-IL service delivery that affects anyone receiving services. The video allows CAP to reach a more diverse population as it can be captioned in different languages. CAP has provided the video to the VR agencies and independent living centers and is currently negotiating the terms and conditions under which they will show the videos to their client&rsquo;s during orientation. <p><p>During FFY18 CAP also streamlined the design of its brochure making it more readable and easily understood as well as making it accessible as an electronic document. <p><p>
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
<P><p>
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
23
67
90
1
24
B. Problem areas
9
27
57
6
0
41
4
1
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
33
21
8
0
4
1
67
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
27
6
9
2
0
14
0
0
9
0
0
0
<P><p>
E. Results achieved for individuals
38
1
0
0
13
10
1
2
2
{Empty}
<P><p>
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
2
15
26
45
2
90
B. Gender
43
47
90
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
6
1
2
11
0
56
2
12
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
4
2
1
0
1
4
11
0
9
1
0
0
4
1
0
0
1
0
0
3
26
1
0
3
5
7
0
0
1
2
0
1
1
1
90
E. Types of Individuals Served
8
0
76
4
2
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
1
CAP had the opportunity to resolve a systemic problem that came to our attention when assisting a CAP client with a denial of service issue. Specifically, CAP learned of a VR agency policy that they could not provide direct assistance to clients applying for any jobs that required drug testing if the client used prescribed medical marijuana offsite. While CAP recognized that a medical marijuana user could not use at work and would be limited in their ability to obtain public safety positions and any federal positions, we believed that the use of prescribed medical marijuana offsite should otherwise be considered comparable to taking other legally prescribed medication. <p><p>The VR&rsquo;s agency&rsquo;s initial position was that the federal funding that they receive prevents them from assisting clients in seeking jobs that require drug testing because marijuana is still illegal under federal law. They also expressed concern that the employers with whom they regularly interact for job placement did not want them to refer applicants to them who would not pass a drug test. CAP expressed concern to VR that their approach was very broad given the recent trend of medical marijuana and involved the agency&rsquo;s legal counsel. CAP informed the VR agency of the recent Supreme Judicial Court decision that firing an employee who used medical marijuana offsite after failing a drug test was potentially discriminatory and that this case provided parameters around the provision of reasonable accommodations for medical marijuana users in MA. Legal counsel also provided federal court case-law supporting the SJC&rsquo;s position even in light of the current federal stance on medical marijuana. CAP advocated that VR had an obligation to assist clients with the application process (for positions that were not public safety related or federal) even if they use prescribed medical marijuana offsite and to assist them with asking for a reasonable accommodation around the drug testing result. CAP noted that the case tied medical marijuana use to a disability and therefore the employee would have the opportunity to ask for a reasonable accommodation from the employer in the event of a positive drug test if the position was not safety sensitive. After a series of informal and formal conversations with CAP, the VR agency agreed that their approach of not assisting clients with jobs that have drug free workplace policies was too broad. It is CAP&rsquo;s understanding that VR has changed their policy and will no longer deny clients this type of assistance based on their use of prescribed medical marijuana. <p><p>CAP is a member of the SRC for both VR agencies and a member of the SILC. During FFY18 fiscal shortfalls prompted both the state VR Blind and VR General to prepare to enter an Order of Selection (OOS). CAP was very active in both processes Though VR Blind does not anticipate entering into an Order of Selection for another year, it started setting forth
B. Litigation
0
0
0
<P><p>
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-other public agency
Massachusetts Office on Disability
No
n/a
B. Staff Employed
CAP employed three full time employees in FFY2018. <P><p>
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
A consumer with PTSD, depression, anxiety, and physical injuries contacted CAP requesting assistance after the VR agency denied him additional school funding unless he would take more than one class per semester to qualify for financial aid. The VR agency believed that the consumer was capable of handling more than one class per semester based on him having done so prior to his medical withdrawal from school. The consumer was in and out of college for 21 years, nine of them as a VR consumer, and had four classes left toward his biology degree at a state school. A A VR client was unable to perform his prior labor-intensive jobs due to his physical injuries. His psychological disabilities hindered his ability to complete his degree on time despite getting mostly A grades. Although the VR agency had determined every year that he had no obligation to contribute financially to his VR services, the VR agency still expected him to take student loans and he did, totaling thousands of dollars. CAP represented the client in an administrative review and the VR agency ruled against him. CAP then represented the consumer at a fair hearing where the consumer and his psychologist testified as to how the consumer&rsquo;s psychological disabilities interact differently with school versus employment. Although the VR agency tried to disqualify the psychologist as an expert witness on education and disabilities, the hearing officer agreed with CAP that the psychologist&rsquo;s testimony was still material. The hearing officer ultimately ordered the VR agency to fully fund the consumer&rsquo;s remaining four classes at one class per semester. <p><p>A client who is developmentally disabled along with his mother contacted CAP to get assistance negotiating an impasse with an IPE amendment. The VR agency was resistant to working outside of their normal template for an IPE. The program template consists of predetermined drop down selections that VR uses to ensure that the agency meets the mandatory components of the IPE required under the federal VR regulations. The parent noted that VR included a number of categories and references for which the family asked clarification and VR had not provided an explanation of the IPE process or the meaning of the template responses. Consequently, the parent and client proposed alternative language for the IPE as they were concerned that the VR agency had not explained how they and their vendors would provide proactive job search strategies and be accountable to client; how client would receive job coaching and ongoing support once he is competitively employed; and how to prevent a breakdown in communication between client and the VR agency. The family received no response initially but after persistence, VR&rsquo;s Legal department emailed revised language that incorporated only a few of the family&rsquo;s changes and only addressed their concerns minimally. The family requested CAP&rsquo;s assistance in advocating for the prop
Certification
Approved
Massachusetts Office on Disability
CAP Director
2018-12-26
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