RSA-227 for FY-2020: Submission #1105

Arizona
09/30/2020
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Arizona Center for Disability Law
5025 East Washington Street
Suite 202
Phoenix
Arizona
85034
602-274-6287
800-927-2260
800-927-2260
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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5025 E. Washington, Suite 202
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Phoenix
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Additional Information
John Gutierrez
John Gutierrez
602-274-6287
jgutierrez@azdisabilitylaw.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
31
3
0
10
0
5
49
B. Training Activities
2
34
Trainings

During this reporting period, the CAP program conducted 2 presentations/trainings either in person or by phone.

January 29, 2020 – Presentation/Training in Phoenix, Arizona. Topics included ADA Title II and ACDL Services. 12 people attended.

February 28, 2020 – Presentation/Training at the African American Conference on Disabilities in Phoenix, AZ. Topics included Your Rights as an Applicant or Client of VR. 22 people attended.
C. Agency Outreach
Other Outreach

During this reporting period, the CAP program participated in 5 booths/tables.

October 8, 2019 – Booth/Table at the Maricopa Recorder Town Hall in Phoenix, AZ. Topics covered included the electoral process and access to services. 100 people attended.

October 19, 2019 – Booth/Table at the ARC Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Topics covered included all ACDL Services. 150 people attended.

November 15, 2019 – Booth/Table at the Vision Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology (VRATE) Conference for the City of Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona. Topics covered included all ACDL Services. 150 people attended.

February 26, 2020 – Booth/Table at the Beyond High School: Vail School District Transition Open House in Vail, Arizona. Topics included all ACDL Services. 25 people attended.

February 28, 2020 – Booth/Table at the African American Conference on Disabilities in Phoenix, AZ. Topics covered included all ACDL Services. 350 people attended.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
0
0
2250
5
124046
Website hits
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
N/A
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
18
56
74
2
32
B. Problem areas
4
19
42
9
0
2
0
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
34
0
6
3
0
1
44
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
26
12
0
1
0
1
2
0
1
1
0
0
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E. Results achieved for individuals
22
0
1
0
10
1
0
7
0
3
Other - VR Counselor approved van modification after contacting RSA Ombudsman.
Other - Mediation Unsuccessful; ACDL will not provide further representation in appeal process.
Other - Individual appealed and asked for reconsideration; did not prevail at fair hearing or reconsideration level.
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
6
12
19
32
5
74
B. Gender
36
38
74
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
12
2
1
9
1
47
1
1
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
0
3
1
0
0
7
8
1
3
2
0
2
4
2
0
0
1
1
0
4
16
1
1
0
0
7
2
0
0
6
0
2
0
0
74
E. Types of Individuals Served
4
1
64
5
0
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
4
In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, ACDL CAP staff met and decided that we would continue to work with clients telephonically. If a meeting was needed, it would be done virtually.

Also, during this time, CAP staff sent an email to AZ Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to ask how Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) was handling clients during COVID. CAP staff also had a meeting with RSA staff to go over the procedures they would be using in order to continue assisting clients during these unprecedented times.

CAP received a letter from RSA explaining how they were going to handle COVID, this is the response:

Summary of COVID-19 related activities:

Email to all staff: As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve in Arizona, we have been working to implement steps necessary to reduce exposure and protect the health and safety of clients, RSA, and provider staff. The following activities have been initiated:

Field managers and supervisors working to determine how to continue to serve the needs of clients while following recognized guidelines on group size and social distancing.

Administration initiated process of providing all VR staff with external access to the case management system. This allows staff to access client files and complete all case management functions.

Direction provided to transition all client meetings, orientations, job readiness training activities, and any planned in person activities to occur via phone or other virtual mechanisms.

Vendors are managing their business needs individually. If staff receive questions to vendors related to contract requirements, direct them to RSAContractsUnit@azdes.gov.

Some vendors have requested the ability to provide services virtually as appropriate. We determined that this is allowable.

Vendors may request changes to authorizations or increased hours as needed.

Provided training and resource lists.

Email to all staff:

Encouraged staff to provide authorizations to support client in obtaining or maintaining their employment. Indicated that clients may need additional onsite or virtual support to maintain employment. Encouraged staff to reach out to the clients and vendors to ensure we are providing the level of support necessary.

For clients that are currently in status 22 (employed), prior to proceeding with any closure activities connect with the client and the provider (if there is one) to ensure that all involved are comfortable proceeding with closure and that the client does not need any additional support.

We anticipate that clients and providers may request to extend supports or timelines and we would like for you to be flexible and provide the supports that are needed to ensure that the client is able to maintain employment.

Additional hours, change in locations, etc. are all acceptable options to consider.

Clients may need to start job development activities, extend, or increase their efforts as a result of the employment volitivity at this time.

Remember to case note conversations and activities and expedite tasks and provision of authorizations.

Email to all staff:

Electronic Signatures via traditional signature pad mechanism is not feasible. IT team exploring alternative options.

Vendor impact: Posting a list of vendors who have suspended some or all services.

COVID-19 related documents on SharePoint – provided access link and information.

Email to all staff:

Case management system update occurred and requirement for electronic signatures has been removed. Provided staff with process guidelines for obtaining approval from clients and/or guardians for required case changes. Electronic approval via email or text is preferred, verbal approval will be accepted with thorough case note documentation. These guidelines are in place only during this special circumstance.

Email to all staff:

Reminder that trainings, webcasts, and webinar opportunities are being announced frequently and that we are posting all the opportunities on the SharePoint site. Reminder to check the site often.

Email to all staff:

Do not initiate case closures for loss of contact at this time.

During this time of uncertainty, clients may not be able to engage due to their own health concerns; clients may be experiencing stress and may be managing various aspects of their disability and/or family situations. We will work to reengage clients when all our lives have returned to a more normal routine.

Exit with employment

We will be flexible with timeline expectations for closing cases as “successful” or exiting with employment and provide more time and/or supports as needed.

Make sure clients are stable and do not need additional support services and will be able to continue to maintain their employment without supports amid all that is currently happening.

Email to all staff:

Virtual service provision resources and tools on SharePoint

Checklist for ensuring informed consent during virtual service provision

Checklist for etiquette and protocol for virtual service provision

Vendor impact list will be updated on the SharePoint site

Email to all staff:

Provided staff with process guidelines for obtaining required documents (ID, social security card, financial, and medical records).

Client records requests – reminder that clients can opt to receive their records in a PDF format if an email address is provided. This will expedite the receipt of records.

Resources for Navigating Benefits (SSI/SSDI) posted on SharePoint.

Email to all staff:

DB101 updated with information under NEWS tab providing links to Federal and State websites with information on how benefits might be impacted by COVID-19

Case Closures

We do not want to close cases prematurely and make folks reapply when our lives return to a more normal state.

Extend grace to clients during this unprecedented time.

Consider that some clients may not have access to phone or internet to be able to respond and public spaces are no longer available.

Reach out to partner agencies if we have mutual clients – DDD, schools, BHS clinic staff can all assist with client contact.

Consult with your supervisor regarding specific details of the case prior to closure if you are unsure.



CAP Staff continue to monitor cases to determine the COVID-19 protocols continue to be followed by VR Counselors.

It appears from the documentation CAP staff received from clients that the VR Counselors are following the administrator’s directions.


CAP Staff Provide Input to VR Policy Manual

RSA Administration contacted CAP staff to invite them to assist in reviewing parts of the VR Policy Manual that were being revised.

CAP Staff attended two Public Forums where we provided input to the following revised policies:

• Adaptive Driving Evaluation and Adaptive Driving Training

• Vehicle Modifications

• Post-Secondary Education

CAP Staff ensured that VR included in their policy that VR services were not for employment only but the services were needed throughout the VR process.

Three key issues that CAP staff were able to change in VR’s policy were:

1. Under vehicle modification policy, VR claimed that clients would need a vehicle to go to work. CAP staff explained that federal regulations state that rehabilitation technology services are for activities associated with employment, independent living, education, and integration into the community. 34CFR361.5(c)(45)

2. VR claimed clients had to explore and utilize comparable benefits for other sources of funding for vehicle modification. CAP staff reminded VR that rehabilitation technology is exempt from a determination from comparable services and benefits. 34CFR361.53(b)(5)

3. VR was not providing any information regarding exceptions to their policies. CAP staff provided several instances where services required exceptions. For example, VR has several statements in their policies that set a maximum amount of money to be spent on school supplies ($400) or a time frame for clients to complete a college program. CAP explained that all these services, as well as expenses like campus housing and tuition rates, must have exceptions.
B. Litigation
0
0
0
ACDL does not have any on-going or completed litigation activities involving individual representation during fiscal year 2020.
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Arizona Center for Disability Law
No
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B. Staff Employed
CAP - PPR Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2020. Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL) attorneys, Chief Executive Officer J.J. Rico, Legal Director Rose Daly Rooney, Julia Corty, Intake Attorney, and Amanda Glass, Staff Attorney, provide direct supervision over the CAP program and its staff. Total CAP Attorney time:.21 FTE.

CAP Advocates and short term assistance team (STAT) advocates provide assistance to persons with disabilities who are seeking or receiving vocational rehabilitation (VR) services as well as individuals who are receiving services from independent living centers or other Rehabilitation Act funded programs. Total CAP Advocate time: 1.05 FTE.

Support Staff provides clerical support to the CAP Advocates and Attorneys. Total CAP Support Staff time: .41 FTE.

Other CAP staff includes the Director of Administration and Finance and Office Manager. The Director of Administration and Finance is responsible for budget preparations, day-to-day accounting duties, and the financial reporting requirements for the CAP program. ACDL’s Office Manager facilitates the distribution of support services and serves as a liaison to coordinate the workload between attorneys/advocates and support staff. Total CAP for other staff time: .07 FTE.
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
JE

A CAP Advocate assisted JE, a 21-year-old man living with autism who attended Northern Arizona University (NAU) to become a Park Ranger. Originally, the CAP Advocate successfully negotiated for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) to support JE in an Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) as a park ranger. JE’s IEP included tuition, housing, and related expenses for a four-year program. However, VR then refused to pay for one additional semester in which JE was participating in an internship at a park. VR management cited that client had enough credits to graduate and did not need the additional semester. When the matter could not be resolved informally, JE appealed the decision and requested a hearing. Prior to the hearing, the CAP Advocate convinced VR to reverse its position because JE’s Plan of Study and IPE included the additional semester for a second internship. The second internship was necessary for JE to gain more experience interacting with the public as a member of the park management team. Working with the public was a challenge for JE because of his disability. VR agreed to pay for the additional semester and JE completed his second internship. Currently, JE is successfully employed as a park ranger.


WC

A CAP Advocate assisted WC, a 40-year-old man with Spina Bifida. WC contacted ACDL and explained that he was a client of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) under the Order of Selection, Priority 2. Although he is a person with a severe disability, he had not received any VR services for years. The CAP Advocate assisted WC by having his case transferred to a different VR office.

Once WC’s case was transferred, the CAP Advocate met with WC and his new VR Counselor. As a result of the meeting, WC’s case was moved to Priority 1 status so he could receive his VR services immediately. VR also agreed to provide WC with Job Development services. WC received all the services he was requesting from VR and is now successfully employed.

AB v. Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration – Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program

AB is a 22-year-old male with a Specific Learning Disability. He became a VR client while still in high school. At that time, AB’s Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) had the employment goal of Sports Agent and VR assisted him with attending a community college to obtain an AA degree in business. Due to disability-related needs, AB attended the program on a part-time basis. After completing several semesters, AB wanted to amend his IPE to change his major to Logistics and Supply Chain Management on the advice of a college instructor. AB and his parents determined that a career in Logistics and Supply Chain Management would be difficult for AB due to his learning disability and past employment struggles. AB has always been interested in sports, both as a participant, and as a coach at after school programs at a grade school and YMCA. AB asked his VR counselor if he could change his employment goal to teacher knowing that this job would also open coaching opportunities for him. VR denied this request citing it would be AB’s third employment goal and that he could find employment with an AA in business. VR, therefore, was only going to agree to pay for 2 more credit hours of classes at the community college to complete his AA degree.

AB appealed the decision and requested mediation. ACDL represented AB at mediation in which a successful agreement was reached. AB presented several letters from school teachers and officials, community service providers and coaches who supported his employment goal of teacher and coach based on their personal knowledge of AB’s abilities instructing students with class-related assignments and in sports. ACDL argued that it is VR’s obligation to provide clients with vocational exploration, informed choice and services that are consistent with their strengths, interests, capabilities, and abilities to reach their employment goal. VR agreed to assist AB with completing his AA degree at community college and then transferring to a state university to obtain a BA in Elementary Education. At this time, AB is attending on-line classes at the university.
Certification
Approved
J.J. Rico
Chief Executive Officer
2020-11-16
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