RSA-227 for FY-2019: Submission #1079

Tennessee
9/30/2019
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Rights Tennessee
2 International Plaza
Suite 825
Nashville
TN
37217
(800) 342-1660
(800) 342-1660
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
Disability Rights Tennessee
2 International Plaza
Suite 825
Nashville
37217
Tennessee
(800) 342-1660
(800) 342-1660
Additional Information
Lisa Primm
Lisa Primm
(615) 298-1080
{Empty}
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
7
0
0
1
6
8
22
B. Training Activities
5
152
Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT)&rsquo;s Client Assistance Program (CAP) utilized training in FY 2019 to achieve a twofold objective. First, CAP disseminated crucial knowledge about individual rights and state rehabilitation agency responsibilities that will arm individuals, families, and service providers to self-advocate, fight for established rights, and makes systemic impact through improved and informed services. Second, CAP training attracted individual clients and referrals to our program through increased exposure and experience with CAP. Apart from general information about CAP, how we can help, and how to contact CAP, training included information about reasonable accommodations in the workplace, taught self-advocacy skills, explained deadlines for filing complaints, and emphasized the value of pre-employment transition services. <p><p>In the course of this year, CAP provided two trainings to 22 new VR counselors at New Counselor Institutes. CAP also collaborated with VR to teach 50 WIOA partners about CAP and about referring individuals to VR. CAP provided training to the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium about the Rehabilitation Act&rsquo;s Section 511 requirements and the importance of responding to requests for public comments and surveys such as VR and the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC)&rsquo;s Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment. Through a CAP employee&rsquo;s role as chair of the SRC, SRC members were further trained on the role and responsibilities of the SRC, general VR processes, and the services provided to VR consumers. The goal of training the SRC on an ongoing basis is to empower members with foundational knowledge that will enable members to make powerful recommendations related to changes within VR policies. In addition, CAP provided two employment law training as part of an accessible technology summit, reaching 80 attendees in total. In FY 2020, DRT will continue to use training to educate the community and achieve systemic change that will make competitive employment a viable and desired choice for every Tennessean with a disability. <p><p>
C. Agency Outreach
DRT conducts ongoing outreach to the community through various methods including social media Twitter, and DRT website; participation in community groups; visits to organizations; and participation in information fairs or conference exhibit booths. In this last year, 54% of the outreach activities undertaken were targeted at underserved or un-served populations including Tennesseans who are deaf or hard of hearing; community resources that work primarily with African American youth; economically disadvantaged communities including rural communities; and individuals with mental illness, traumatic brain injury, and autism. As highlighted last year, DRT/CAP is exploring way to more intentionally conduct outreach effort to the Hispanic/Latino communities, which together are the second largest minority group in Tennessee. Current census information shows the population to now be 5.6% of the total state population. This is a slight increase from prior year. As part of this effort, DRT has translated a number of materials into Spanish. This fiscal year, DRT began to explore ways in which DRT could allocate dedicated staff time to outreach efforts to school age children and youth, as well as their families. These efforts will directly assist DRT/CAP in the goals to reach previously un-served and underserved populations, as this population includes youth who could benefit from available Pre-Employment Transition Services. In Tennessee, only 34.5 % of working-age people with disabilities are employed according to Cornell University&rsquo;s 2017 Disability Status Report. This is in stark contrast to the 79.4% of work-age Tennesseans without disabilities who are employed. As such, DRT/CAP is of the opinion that any effort toward outreaching to employers, VR, and individuals with disabilities about employment is targeted at a largely underserved populations within our state. To that end, DRT utilizes several committees and groups to further outreach to the community about DRT/CAP services and the value of competitive integrated employment. Below are highlights from two of those group outreach efforts: DRT participated in monthly and quarterly Employment Consortium meetings in East and Middle Tennessee as has been done for several years and initiated participation in the West Tennessee consortium as well. The primary focus of each consortium is to increase the number of individuals with disabilities who are employed in competitive integrated settings. Each consortium consists of representatives of state agencies, area community rehabilitation providers, American Job Centers, and other stakeholders. Via the Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) events held by the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium (KAEC), individuals with disabilities participated in employment mentoring activities and job fair/mock interview activities and employers were educated regarding the benefits of employing individuals with disabilities. Sixteen individuals part
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
0
0
3965
28
0
DRT disseminates information about the P&A, CAP, and disability-related issues through the following channels: social media, email marketing, outreach and training, and media interaction. All these activities work together to support and enhance the agency&rsquo;s legal advocacy work,of which CAP is included. During FY 2019, DRT engaged 11,090 users on Facebook and received 166,340 impression on Twitter. DRT&rsquo;s website received 41,196 hits during the year and the agency published 37 email marketing campaigns including 5 newsletters, 20 state-level public policy updates, and promotion of public input on DRT&rsquo;s Areas of Work. Additionally, DRT continued to build relationships with various media outlets which resulted in 13 media mentions over the FY related to DRT&rsquo;s work and disability issues in Tennessee. <P><p>
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
N/A <P><p>
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
9
39
48
3
6
B. Problem areas
2
11
30
3
1
3
1
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
15
10
17
0
0
1
43
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
20
13
3
0
0
7
0
1
1
0
0
0
N/A <P><p>
E. Results achieved for individuals
23
0
0
0
15
2
2
1
0
1
Individual's closed VR case was re-opened and reimbursement was obtained for work related expenses. <P><p>
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
1
18
8
17
4
48
B. Gender
30
18
48
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
1
2
0
13
0
32
1
0
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
2
0
0
0
0
5
6
0
1
4
1
2
1
0
0
0
0
1
1
2
9
0
1
1
1
3
0
0
0
6
0
0
0
1
48
E. Types of Individuals Served
6
0
43
1
0
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
3
In FY 2019, CAP achieved its goal of seeking resolution to systemic issues which impact our mutual clients and their pursuit of employment. As Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) did not introduce new rules or changes that required public hearings or public comments, CAP achieved its goal primarily through quarterly meetings with VR leadership. At the meetings, VR&rsquo;s leadership team responds to CAP inquiries and concerns and shares updates about changes that are occurring at VR. CAP gathers its concerns and inquiries from systemic issues it sees while working individual cases and at VR vendor forums and other events it attends throughout the state. <p><p>The biggest change that VR made in response to CAP concerns this year was the elimination of a comparable benefits requirement before it would provide its clients with Assistive Technology (AT). Previously, a search for comparable benefits would result in burdensome delays before clients would receive the AT they were entitled to. CAP pointed out the possibility that this practice conflicted with federal regulations, and VR agreed, resulting in the elimination of a time-consuming step before clients receive the AT they need for employment. <p><p>Additionally, DRT sought clarifications of VR&rsquo;s vehicle modification and post-employment services policies after a client struggled to get VR to pay for repairs needed to the modified van she used to get to her job of several years. VR had decided that she didn&rsquo;t qualify for payment under its vehicle modification policy. However, DRT found language in the post-employment services policy that supported VR needing to pay for the repairs needed. DRT also expressed its concern that VR counselors struggled to deal with vehicle modification requests because they were infrequent and complicated. VR agreed. Not only did it pay for our client&rsquo;s repairs, it made changes to both policies so that they refer to each other and make explicit that the two policies can be applied concurrently. This will make it easier for future individuals with disabilities to get VR to pay for vehicle modifications needed to work. These successes were not the only systemic change that CAP achieved in FY 2019. The following activities all demonstrate the results of the positive working relationship that DRT has developed with VR&rsquo;s leadership team. Due to DRT&rsquo;s efforts to establish this relationship, we are now able to share concerns and ideas which result in changes for our clients, as well as others. Below are examples of these efforts: <p><p>During one quarterly meeting we mentioned that we had heard that community colleges were serving less VR clients and that this confused us because VR was reported a large increase in the amount of VR clients enrolled in postsecondary programs. VR wondered why this sentiment conflicting with its data was being expressed and proactively decided to reestablish a direct relationship with one particul
B. Litigation
0
0
0
N/A <P><p>
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Disability Rights Tennessee
No
N/A
B. Staff Employed
15 FTE (Advocacy & Legal) 13 employed 100% of year and 2 employed 75% of year. <p><p>2 FTE (Clerical) 2 employed 100% of year <p><p>2 PTE (Advocacy) 2 employed 100% of year. <p><p>
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
A 23-year-old young woman who has a visual disability and cerebral palsy is able to once again have full use of a modified van as a result of intervention by DRT/CAP. At the time of opening, our client's parents had purchased a van and paid for all modifications several years prior. The lift had first malfunctioned about a year prior and they had been manually operating the lift. This caused concerns that damage may be occurring to the hardware. Use of the modified van is important to our client as her employment requires her to work late at night, after all public transportation is no longer available. Her parents must have access to the van to transport our client to and from her job as a ticket taker, which she stated that she enjoys very much. Without this transportation, our client was at risk of not maintaining employment. Our client's mother first contacted staff from another program which provides supports to our client and they indicated that Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) should be the provider of the service for vehicle modification repairs. VR subsequently opened a job retention case with our client but determined that she wasn't eligible for job retention services as the van modifications were not required in order for her to perform the essential functions of her job of almost three years at a movie theater. Our client appealed this denial of services and an Informal Administrative Review (Review) was held. As a result of the Review, VR upheld the denial of services and indicated that the client did not meet the VR policy requirements for receiving either job retention or post-employment services. DRT contacted the Assistant VR Director (AD) of Client Services and discussed our client's issue and pointed out specific policy statements which supported our client's eligibility for receiving post-employment services as well as referencing specific items from the vehicle modification policy which directly supported our client's case as well. The VR AD met with the VR policy team and reviewed the policies in question. Shortly thereafter VR reported that our client could receive services under the post-employment policy. Specific requirements were set forth for evaluating the extent of the damage and determining if the lift could still be repaired. Our client's family supported her in having these evaluations completed and VR agreed to move forward with the needed repairs to the vehicle modification. Our client now has reliable transportation. She is now able to readily enter and exit the modified van via the repaired hydraulic lift and her family members no longer have to manually operate the equipment or be concerned that it may not function at all impeding our client&rsquo;s access to her employment. Subsequent to our client's case, VR made changes to both the post-employment services and vehicle modification services policies to include specific language explaining how these policies could be applied concurrently in the provision
Certification
Approved
Lisa Primm
Executive Director
2019-12-10
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