RSA-227 for FY-2020: Submission #1104

Wyoming
09/30/2020
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Protection & Advocacy System Inc.
7344 Stockman Street
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Cheyenne
Wyoming
82009
https://www.wypanda.com
307-638-7668
800-821-3091
800-821-3091
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Connie Peterssen
Jeanne Thobro
307-638-7668
jcoyote@wypanda.com
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
8
6
0
2
1
0
17
B. Training Activities
11
329
Three separate events – winter driving conditions throughout the first half and last month of the fiscal year and wildfires during the last months of the fiscal year, causing extensive road closures, and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic – significantly affected outreach during FY 2019-2020. Winter travel restrictions barred most scheduled outreach from September through June. COVID-19 barred all travel and in-person outreach beginning in mid-March. Resumption of winter conditions and extensive wildfire-related closures have further disrupted travel during September 2020.
Wyoming’s winter travel conditions began early, starting before this fiscal year commenced. These conditions continued through June, and resumed again in early September. The winter conditions included repeated blizzards, high winds, black ice, snow drifts, and whiteout conditions on the highways. These conditions caused multiple road closures, some lasting for weeks. The Wyoming Department of Transportation recorded 80 closures of Wyoming’s three interstate highways, a record for the state. Two of these closures were in June 2020. Many communities in Wyoming are accessible only by one road, and key state highways accounted for another more than 100 days of closures during the winter. During one two-month stretch, travel between Cheyenne and the central Wyoming cities of Lander and Riverton was impossible. National news reports described Wyoming’s highways as the nation’s “most dangerous” and local news stories described closures of I-80 on days with no snow, because high winds drifted the road shut from the several feet of snow in the open country adjoining the interstate highway. Much of the travel distance is outside cell coverage, and winter temperatures frequently are well below zero air temperature, with wind chills fifty or more degrees below zero. Wyoming lacks commercial air travel from any Wyoming city to any other Wyoming city, without first traveling to another state. In addition to the winter driving conditions, many key roads closed during late summer and autumn due to the much-publicized wildfires covering hundreds of square miles of Wyoming. In particular, Interstate 80 (the main east-west route from Cheyenne) and Wyoming State Highways 130 and 230 near Laramie have experienced closures due to nearby fires that cover more than 480 square miles on both sides of the Wyoming-Colorado border.

The most significant COVID-19 impact in Wyoming was the cessation of on-site activities for staff safety. State-run and large private institutions implemented “no visitor” policies almost immediately, and locked down the facilities to protect residents. Community agencies followed suit within days. All activities not substantially completed by the beginning of statewide COVID-19 shutdown were unable to be handled or completed due to staff safety considerations. This resulted in cancellation of most outreach and most venues for presentations, including statewide and regional conferences.

On October 18, 2019, CAP attended a Wyoming Institute of Disabilities’ advisory council meeting, in Laramie, Wyoming. CAP presented information regarding the CAP program. Attendees included potentially CAP-eligible persons, advisory council members, advocates, and agency personnel. Attendance: 12 persons, including 4 persons with disabilities.
On November 7, 2019, CAP attended the Wyoming Institute of Disabilities (WIND) twenty-fifth anniversary open house, in Laramie, Wyoming. CAP presented information regarding the CAP program. Attendees included potentially CAP-eligible persons and their family members, agency personnel, advocates, and the general public. Estimated attendance: 40 persons, including 12 persons with disabilities.
On December 9, 2019, CAP provided in-person training at the Wyoming Department of Education Deaf and Hard of Hearing Conference, in Casper, Wyoming. The training included information on the CAP program, vocational rehabilitation process, and independent living services. Attendees included CAP-eligible persons and their guardians and family members, educators, and advocates. Attendance: 45 persons, with an estimate of 20 persons with disabilities.
On January 23, 2020, CAP participated by virtual means in a State Rehabilitation Council meeting and gave an introductory presentation regarding the CAP Program and the new CAP Advocate. Attendees included independent living and vocational rehabilitation agency personnel, guardians, advocates, and family members. While the exact number of persons receiving this information is unknown, at least 20 persons did so. It is unknown whether any are persons with disabilities, and that number is therefore estimated as zero.

On February 13, 2020, CAP provided in-person training to a virtual joint in-service meeting of Division of Vocational Rehabilitation counselors and managers, State Rehabilitation Council, and Wyoming Services for Independent Living. CAP provided information on the CAP program, vocational rehabilitation process, and independent living services. Attendees included agency personnel, guardians, and family members of CAP-eligible persons. While exact attendance is unknown, it is estimated that 30 persons attended the virtual training, and that at least 3 were persons with disabilities.
On April 15, 2020, CAP staff presented information regarding the CAP program to a virtual meeting of the State Rehabilitation Council, using Zoom. Attendees included agency personnel, guardians, and family members of CAP-eligible persons. While exact attendance is unknown, it is estimated that 20 persons attended the training, and that at least 2 were persons with disabilities.
On May 20, 2020, CAP provided information by virtual means regarding the CAP program, vocational rehabilitation, and independent living services to 42 Home and Community Based Waiver Services case managers throughout Wyoming. While the exact number of persons receiving this information is unknown, at least 42 persons did so. It is unknown whether any are persons with disabilities, and that number is therefore estimated as zero.

On May 21, 2020, CAP provided information by virtual means regarding the CAP program, vocational rehabilitation, and independent living services to 43 Home and Community Based Waiver Services case managers throughout Wyoming. While the exact number of persons receiving this information is unknown, at least 43 persons did so. It is unknown whether any are persons with disabilities, and that number is therefore estimated as zero.

On May 26, 2020, CAP provided information by virtual means regarding the CAP program, vocational rehabilitation, and independent living services to 19 Home and Community Based Waiver Services providers and community mental health centers throughout Wyoming. While the exact number of persons receiving this information is unknown, at least 19 persons did so. It is unknown whether any are persons with disabilities, and that number is therefore estimated as zero.

On July 27, 2020, CAP provided information by virtual means regarding the CAP program and the vocational rehabilitation process to the elected county clerks of Wyoming’s twenty-three counties. Attendees included elected county clerks and their designees. While the exact number of persons receiving this information is unknown, at least 23 persons did so. It is unknown whether any are persons with disabilities, and that number is therefore estimated as zero.
On August 11-12-13, 2020, CAP staff presented information regarding vocational rehabilitation, independent living, and the CAP program to a virtual joint meeting of the State Rehabilitation Council and State Independent Living Council, using Zoom. Attendees included CAP-eligible persons, agency personnel, guardians, and family members of CAP-eligible persons. While exact attendance is unknown, it is estimated that 35 persons attended the training, and that at least 10 were persons with disabilities.
C. Agency Outreach
In the early part of the fiscal year, outreach efforts were made to the Wind River Reservation, with CAP materials being provided. This outreach was designed to continue the relationship CAP has built with the Arapaho Tribe and the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. CAP outreach also reached transition-age youth who may be entering the workforce for the first time. CAP provides information in alternate formats, including large print versions. CAP can accommodate persons through the use of a TTY telephone or the Wyoming Relay Service. CAP maintains a list of interpreters, including sign language interpreters. Wyoming CAP has a general business card that is embossed in Braille. Various CAP materials are available in Spanish. CAP has worked more closely during the latter part of the fiscal year with Wyoming's Council of the Blind regarding concerns that had arisen with the possible cessation of the "Talking Books Program" due to funding cuts. This contact has increased the awareness by persons with blindness and other visual impairments, as well as older persons, of the various services offered by the Protection & Advocacy System, Inc., including CAP. CAP has continued its outreach initiatives with persons who have traumatic brain injuries and persons with mental illness who have historically been two groups as being identified as underserved. Due to the pandemic, mailings, as opposed to on-site visits, to rural and less populated areas of the state were targeted to better inform persons in these areas of the availability of CAP services.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
0
1
5
8
1
Due to the retirement of the long-time CAP Director, a mass mailing was conducted to introduce the new CAP Advocate to various Wyoming service providers who are likely to come into contact with prospective CAP clients. The mailing included a cover letter and CAP materials to better acquaint providers of CAP's services and contact information.
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
References to Wyoming's Protection & Advocacy System, Inc. have been included at various times during the reporting year in the Wyoming State Bar website; Wyoming State Bar Journal; Independent Living Council website; State Rehabilitation website; Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities website; Wyoming Institute for Disabilities website; the NAIMI website; and County Clerk publications. These sources generate contacts to the CAP Program.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
2
6
8
1
3
B. Problem areas
0
1
2
1
0
4
0
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
0
0
6
0
0
0
6
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
4
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Not Applicable
E. Results achieved for individuals
0
0
0
0
5
1
0
0
0
0
Not Applicable
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
0
1
3
3
1
8
B. Gender
2
6
8
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
0
0
0
0
0
6
2
0
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
0
1
0
0
0
1
1
0
1
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
8
E. Types of Individuals Served
3
0
4
0
1
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
3
Activity One: CAP was concerned with the slowness with which the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation provided services to clients. This concern was brought to the attention of DVR by CAP. During this reporting year, DVR added a new section to their policies and procedures which was effective September 1, 2020, entitled "Expedited Enrollment for VR applicants". It is anticipated that this new policy should help ensure more timely service to applicants in receiving needed vocational rehabilitation services.

Activity Two: DVR was requiring individuals to undergo group orientation sessions before being offered an appointment with a counselor. CAP brought this concern to DVR's administration. This practice had the result of delaying the application process or preventing individuals from receiving timely services. Some individuals seeking services to maintain employment lost employment before being able to see a counselor. As a direct result of CAP advocacy, this practice was terminated.

Activity Three: CAP successfully advocated for DVR to put their application on-line. This change in DVR practice allows more expedited processing of applications.
B. Litigation
0
0
0
Not Applicable
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Protection & Advocacy System, Inc.
No
Not Applicable
B. Staff Employed
Professional Staff: 0 FT for 12 months. The professional part-time category is comprised of 4 professional staff positions working part-time in the CAP Program, as follows: 1 CEO/Administrator at .07 FTE, filled the entire funding period; 1 attorney/Legal Director at .02 FTE, filled the entire funding period; 1 CFO at .07, filled the entire funding period; 1 CAP Director at .53 FTE filled the entire funding period. No vacant professional positions. Clerical/Support Staff: 1 FT working PT in the CAP Program at .13 FTE.
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
INTRODUCTION: The pandemic impacted case numbers and anticipated targets for CAP casework. In addition, the just-completed fiscal year reflects the impact of an ongoing downturn in Wyoming's energy-based economy. A sharp slowdown in coal and Uranium production, combined with continued slow demand for oil and low prices for natural gas significantly impacted employment in many areas of Wyoming. State revenues have declined significantly, and this, in turn, affects state funding for employment development and initiatives, including vocational rehabilitation services.

The following case examples are redacted to protect personally identifiable information. Due to Wyoming's sparse population, it is especially important to safeguard specific details regarding gender, geographic location, and related.

CASE EXAMPLE ONE: CAP’s client was an individual diagnosed with a significant bilateral hearing impairment. The individual originally sought a college degree. The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) represented to the individual that the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation ("DVR") could only pay for an Associate’s Degree at the local community college. The individual did not succeed academically, in part because of a lack of appropriate disability-related accommodations. The individual sought a change of employment goal to a cosmetology program. DVR refused to change the goal, stating that it had paid for part of an academic program, and was not obligated to pay for a different program. The DVR counselor had not contacted the individual in several months. The individual contacted CAP. Despite resistance to all requests by the DVR counselor, CAP successfully negotiated for a change of career goal, provision of an interpreter for meetings, appropriate disability accommodations for the certificate program, and accommodations for the licensure examination. As a direct result of CAP advocacy, the individual’s employment opportunities increased.

CASE EXAMPLE TWO: CAP’s client was an individual diagnosed with a significant bilateral hearing impairment. The individual had a truck driving job lined up, contingent on obtaining hearing aids to allow the individual to hear company communications. The individual sought assistance from a nearby DVR office. DVR refused to assist the individual, stating that it was not necessary for a person to be able to hear in order to drive a truck. The individual moved to a different community with a different DVR office. The individual contacted CAP for assistance. CAP contacted the new DVR office and successfully advocated for provision of hearing aids. As a direct result of CAP advocacy, the individual gained employment as a truck driver.

CASE EXAMPLE THREE: CAP’s client was an individual diagnosed with mental illness. The individual was enrolled in a community college, seeking an Associate’s Degree. The individual received a Pell Grant, which the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) required the individual to apply to tuition, books, and fees, rather than housing and living expenses. When the individual was unable to pay for student housing expenses, DVR told the individual to apply for a student loan. The individual contacted CAP for assistance. CAP reminded DVR that Pell Grants are allowed to be used for housing and living expenses and that DVR cannot require students to take out student loans. CAP successfully advocated for DVR to pay the student’s housing and living expenses. As a direct result of CAP advocacy, the individual was able to continue with employment preparatory education and the individual’s employment opportunities increased.
Certification
Approved
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