RSA-227 for FY-2018: Submission #1037

Rhode Island
9/30/2018
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
RHODE ISLAND DISABILITY LAW CENTER INC.
275 WESTMINSTER STREET
SUITE 401
PROVIDENCE
RI
02903
http://www.ridlc.org
(800) 733-5332
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Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
CATHERINE SANSONETTI
CATHERINE SANSONETTI
(401) 831-3150
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Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
1
0
0
0
0
1
2
B. Training Activities
1
45
<ul><p><li>On June 18, 2018, at our annual National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) conference, we presented at an all day skills building institute entitled &ldquo;Due Process Hearing Skills Institute.&quot; There were about 45 advocates and attorneys from across the nation in attendance. These individuals were CAP advocates and attorneys who were seeking to develop or hone hearing skills including VR appeals. The topics presented included developing a theory of your case, developing the hearing record, prehearing settlements, the administrative hearing, and post-hearing briefs.</li><p></ul><p><p>RIDLC often uses more than one funding source for a particular training, because our training activities serve multiple audiences and overlapping constituencies. The following are examples of trainings that were conducted using CAP funds as well as other agency funds.</p><p><ul><p><li>On February 25, 2018, we presented a workshop for the Parent Support Network of RI on special education rights and working with school districts. Approximately 12 individuals attended.</li><p><li>On May 9, 2018 we co-presented a training with the Rhode Island Parent Information Network on &ldquo;Income Eligibility for SSI disability-related Medicaid&rdquo; to about 35 insurance eligibility counselors at United Health Care in Warwick.</li><p></ul><p>
C. Agency Outreach
<p>In 2018, we widely disseminated our updated version of our <i>Consumer's Guide to Rhode Island State Vocational Rehabilitation. </i>We updated both the English and Spanish versions recently. This year, we conducted a broad mailing of over 700 of these guides to VR counselors and staff, parent information networks, college disability services offices, providers of mental health services, and providers of developmental disabilities services. We specifically outreached to traditionally underserved groups such as transition-aged youth with behavioral healthcare needs and others who might benefit from VR&rsquo;s PRE-ETS services. We offered to answer questions from staff and to connect with participants of programs who might need advocacy services. We have plans to continue outreach with the booklets into FY 2019 and hope to speak with interested vendors and individuals who may be able to report the issues they are seeing with VR and disability in general in our state to help to identify other issues of systemic concern.</p><p><p>RIDLC distributes English and Spanish copies of CAP publications at outreach/training events, and also as requested. Publications are available for download on our website as well. In 2017, we updated the CAP Guide in English and in 2018 updated the Spanish version. We have widely distributed the Guide to Spanish speaking individuals, as well as English speaking individuals. This year, we provided over 250 copies of the Spanish guide.</p><p><p>RIDLC&rsquo;s intake advocates answer calls in Spanish as well as English. In FY2018, we employed two attorneys who speak other languages. One attorney, who is bi-lingual, was available to assist Spanish-speaking clients. Another attorney was multi-lingual and was available to assist clients who speak Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, French and Danish. We continue to advertise in the yellow pages for Spanish Speakers (Directorio Hispano). This telephone directory has a circulation of 40,000. We also use Google Translate on our website, which enables translation into many foreign languages.</p><p><p>RIDLC attends the regional Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Council meetings. The Tribal VR Agency provides services to members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island and any other member of a federally recognized American Indian tribe residing in Rhode Island or Connecticut. Council members are VR counselors from the Tribal VR Agency, Rhode Island and Connecticut state agencies as well as from other non-profit agencies such as Veteran&rsquo;s Inc. At the meeting in June we provided copies of our updated CAP Guide and several other related publications. The Director has agreed to have us come to their office to train staff in the coming fiscal year.</p><p>
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
1
0
10
15
1
<p>5. RIDLC disseminates information about CAP services while at training and outreach events. Events where CAP information was disseminated this year included the following.</p><p><ul><p><li>On October 26, 2017, we conducted outreach at an East Bay regional transition fair at Tiverton High School. Approximately 50 individuals attended.</li><p><li>On November 19, 2018, we staffed the Rhode Island Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing&rsquo;s Annual Coffee Hour. About 90 individuals attended this event.</li><p><li>On December 1, 2018, we staffed an information table at the 8th Annual Parent Transition Conference, sponsored by the Rhode Island Parent Information Network. Approximately 200 individuals attended.</li><p><li>On December 1, 2017 we staffed an information table at the Assistive Technology Regional Conference. This particular conference focused on providing information about AT and transition services. About 400 individuals from across the country attended.</li><p><li>On January 9, 2018, we conducted outreach at a West Bay regional transition fair in Narragansett. About 20 individuals attended.</li><p><li>On February 28, 2018, we staffed an information table at an East Providence High School transition night. About 100 individuals attended.</li><p><li>On March 2, 2018, we staffed an information table at the annual Brain Injury Association of Rhode Island conference &ldquo;The Professional Journey Through Brain Injury.&rdquo; About 150 individuals attended.</li><p><li>On April 4, 2018, we attended a West Bay regional Transition Night and Resource Fair in West Warwick. Approximately 200 individuals attended.</li><p><li>On April 5, 2018, we attended a Portsmouth High School transition event. Approximately 75 individuals attended.</li><p><li>On April 6, 2018, we attended a Central Falls High School transition event, with Spanish-speaking staff. Approximately 200 individuals were in attendance.</li><p><li>On April 11, 2018, we attended the RI Parent Information Transition Night at Lincoln High School where approximately 100 individuals attended.</li><p><li>On May 23, 2018, we staffed an information table at an evening event sponsored by the Autism Project and featuring Russell Lehman a 26-year old man with autism. Approximately 80 individuals attended.</li><p><li>During the week of July 23, 2018, we participated as panel members in five (5) forums across the state coordinated by the Governor&rsquo;s Commission on Disabilities to take public input on the unmet needs of individuals with disabilities in Rhode Island. Public comments made at these annual hearings are transcribed and posted on the Commission&rsquo;s website, and used as a basis for disability service agencies&rsquo; priorities. This year participants raised concerns about transportation including the limitations of the paratransit &frac34; mile corridor, access to employment supports particularly after the VR agency cuts, the need for direct care and home care nursing staff rate increases,
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
<p>Our comments made at the November 21, 2017 public hearing (see Part IV A below) were picked up by a reporter who blogs about transition services in Rhode Island, and the Consent Decree covering transition services to individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.</p><p>
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
29
8
37
0
24
B. Problem areas
2
7
18
1
0
7
0
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
12
0
1
0
0
0
13
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
3
5
0
1
0
4
0
0
0
0
0
0
<P><p>
E. Results achieved for individuals
5
0
0
1
1
4
0
0
0
2
<p>Client did not respond to communications.</p><p>
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
0
8
6
20
3
37
B. Gender
13
24
37
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
5
0
1
0
0
31
0
0
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
0
2
1
0
0
7
1
1
0
0
0
3
4
4
0
0
0
1
6
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
2
37
E. Types of Individuals Served
23
0
11
2
1
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
2
<p><b>RIDLC Comments on VR Policies and State Plan</b></p><p><p>This year, RIDLC provided written comments regarding VR&rsquo;s proposed rule changes. In early FY 2018, the VR agency informed the public that its usual re-allotment award of $5M would be reduced to $500,000. The re-allotment award was reduced in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Texas received the majority of overall available re-allotment funding. This reduction in re-allotment funding was significant for Rhode Island, and the VR agency expected a reduction of 1/3 of its operating budget. As a result, VR developed a waitlist in December, 2017, for their highest priority clients (those with the most significant disabilities). The VR agency also informed the public that other new applicants would not be served. We provided comments at a public hearing regarding this issue on November 21, 2017 and advocated for a transparent process regarding the waiting list and how individuals would learn about their status.</p><p><p>Also in early FY 2018, the VR agency shared a draft re-write of all its policies prior to promulgating the changes through the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) process. The proposed rule change drastically reduced the scope of current rules. Accordingly, we notified that Director of the VR agency that we thought the proposal violated the APA, because it eliminated nearly all policies and practices describing individuals&rsquo; rights to specific services as well as procedural rights. Thereafter, CAP as well as the State Rehabilitation Council met with state officials. In response to our concerns, the VR agency agreed to obtain further legal and technical assistance and revise the original draft of their policies. As a result of our advocacy around this issue, the VR agency advised us in early January 2018 that it was in the process of the re-draft and that the new draft would look more like the VR agency&rsquo;s then current policy manual which included more information about services and client rights. Finally, in May, 2018, we provided comments on the final version of the policy manual, resulting in the VR agency incorporating many of our suggestions.</p><p><p>In addition to comment on policy changes, we provided written and oral comments at a public hearing on March 8, 2018, regarding the updates to the state plan. This year, we echoed our comments regarding the VR funding issues and stricter Order of Selection criteria, along with implementation of the waitlist. We specifically advocated for the use of PRE-ETS services for those who would be entitled to PRE-ETS services as a way to avoid lengthy wait times for services as eligible clients. This advocacy began when the VR agency learned there was a gread reduction in available re-allotment funds. CAP was concerned that the VR agency would just take applications for PRE-ETS eligible clients, and once they were eligible, they would not receive services due to the waiting list. In response to our advicacy, t
B. Litigation
0
1
0
<p>We reported last year that we had represented a client at an administrative hearing after the VR agency refused to provide full tuition support for a graduate degree. The agency&rsquo;s decision was upheld by a state administrative hearing officer and CAP appealed to state court where the matter is pending assignment to a Superior Court Judge for decision.</p><p>
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Rhode Island Disability law Center, Inc.
No
N/A
B. Staff Employed
<p>Because of the relatively small size of our agency, attorneys and other staff are not assigned to one specific grant, but generally work on multiple grants. Attorneys are assigned responsibility for systemic activities, which are funded by specific P&amp;A programs. A RIDLC staff attorney serves as the primary liaison with the state VR agency, and serves as the CAP representative on the Statewide Rehabilitation Council. We also are represented on the Statewide Independent Living council. RIDLC employs two intake advocates who also work on a cross-program basis. The intake advocates screen callers to determine whether their problems fall within our office-wide priorities, collect demographic and case data, and give referral information. Attorneys track their time spent on serving CAP-eligible clients, and these costs are billed to the CAP program.</p><p><p><strong>Type of Position/ FTE/ % of year Filled/ Person Years</strong></p><p><p><strong>Professional</strong></p><p><p>Full Time/ 0.90/ 99%/ 0.89</p><p><p><strong>Clerical</strong></p><p><p>Full-time/ 0.09/ 100%/ 0.09</p><p>
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
<p>This year, RIDLC&rsquo;s CAP cases concerned the following -</p><p><ul><p><li>RIDLC continued to have individuals contact our office with concerns about postsecondary education issues and VR. Last year, we reported that we anticipated funding constraints to affect all services, but were particularly concerned about postsecondary education and training services. As we feared, the constraints continued and we are still being contacted about insufficient funding for postsecondary training. As referenced in Section IV B. (above), we have one court case pending on this issue. Since that time, we have been contacted by two other individuals who are experiencing the same refusal by VR to provide full tuition support for gradate degrees. The two clients have appealled these decisions and are awaiting mediation as a preliminary means to try to resolve the matter short of litigation.</li><p><li>We continue to represent clients who have had delays in connecting with the VR agency. Last year, several deaf individuals reported to us that they were experiencing delays with receiving services. At that time, we found that due to a shortage of VR counselors proficient in sign language some clients were indeed experiencing delays. The agency has struggled to maintain deaf counselor positions. While the agency routinely provides sign-language interpreters, clients prefer working with someone who speaks their primary language. In the past, our involvement has helped to facilitate clients&rsquo; connections with VR. This year again, a former VR agency client reported this problem recurred. Her VR counselor had reopened her file, but then the VR counselor left the agency. Her supervisor had taken over the case after we reached out to VR. In addition, we advocated for a trial work evaluation which helped the client to get back on track with VR services.</li><p><li>We represented a client who was having difficutly getting VR to send payment to an agreed-upon training program vendor. The IPE had a vocational goal and services and the VR agency had approved the vendor. Due to RIDLC&rsquo;s advocacy, the VR agency provided the payments in a timely manner and also funded training materials that the client needed to complete the program. Further, the VR agency also agreed to provide transportation costs so that the client could attend the program. The client ultimately completed the program and is now successfully employed in the vocational field of choice.</li><p></ul><p><p>RIDLC also provided information to clients who called because VR told them they would be placed on a waitlist. We explained the VR policy, funding constraints, and provided alternative information sources for some clients. In addition, clients contacted RIDLC with questions about scope of services VR could provide and were given advice.</p><p>
Certification
Approved
Raymond L. Bandusky
Executive Director
2017-12-21
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