Due to the COVID-19 pandemic many activities initially planned and undertaken by CAP and other collaborator agencies did not proceed as intended. As a result, fewer non-litigation systemic activities were able to come to fruition to result in a change of policy or practice of an agency.
1) Idaho State Rehabilitation Council: The previous CAP Coordinator for DisAbility Rights Idaho (DRI) served on the Idaho State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), acting as the mandated CAP representative on the council. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic many SRC activities in Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) were conducted remotely via virtual meeting platforms. The CAP representative attended and participated in all four (4) SRC meetings during FY20 either in person or virtually, providing input to the SRC and Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (IDVR) regarding the year's plans and activities. The SRC continued to provide consultation, guidance, and recommendations during the virtual meetings organized by IDVR amidst the pandemic. The SRC participated in IDVR’s Strategic Planning session resulting in collaboratively developed agency priorities. Additionally, the SRC partnered with IDVR to offer recommendations on the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment (CSNA) survey development. The SRC discussed and reviewed Customer Satisfaction Surveys to improve feedback to assist IDVR in meeting their goals and providing improved VR services to individuals with disabilities. The SRC’s input and collaboration in this area resulted in a greater response rate to the Customer Satisfaction Surveys. IDVR presented several draft policies to the SRC; Supported Employment, Pre-Employment and Transition Services, Closure and Trail work and Subminimum Wage. The SRC provided suggestions and input regarding these policies which was generally accepted with IDVR adding, deleting, or amending sections to each policy. Finally, the SRC reviewed and provided input for the VR Services Portion of the Combined State Plan. Specifically, understanding a fully staffed, well-informed SRC provides for high quality engagement within the IDVR/SRC partnership, the SRC members requested recruitment tools, updated new member orientation, and training on the role of the SRC. The SRC’s involvement in these process improves the services that IDVR provides to the individuals with disabilities that it serves.
2) Quarterly Meetings with Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (IDVR): DRI's CAP Coordinator meets quarterly with IDVR's Administrator and Field Services Chief to discuss systemic issues identified by CAP and IDVR. During these meetings in FY20, CAP was able to bring IDVR's attention to a systemic complaint made to CAP regarding a shift in one region's vocational rehabilitation (VR) intake practices following onset of the pandemic. According to the complaint, all VR applicants in that region were being required to submit a completed intake form prior to being scheduled for an intake with a VR counselor. The requirement was contrary to agency policy and resulted in emails being sent with personal identifying information. CAP brought the complaint regarding the change in practice to the attention of the IDVR administrator who investigated the complaint. All Regional Managers were apprised of this complaint and the appropriate policy was reinforced among all IDVR staff across the state. No further complaints about this issue were received by CAP.
Additionally, during these quarterly meetings, CAP and IDVR discussed and agreed that the CAP agency, DisAbility Rights Idaho (DRI), would create a video detailing CAP services and IDVR would provide the link for the video to applicants and consumers once the video is completed and posted to DRI’s website. The video will be used to better inform applicants and consumers about CAP and what CAP can do to help. DRI has added the creation of this video to our goals and priorities for the next year so will be able to report on the progress next year.
3) Collaboration with Centers for Independent Living: Prior to transitioning out of the role, the previous CAP Coordinator communicated with the state's Centers for Independent Living to organize a meeting between DisAbility Rights Idaho (DRI) and the three (3) Centers for Independent Living (CILs) in the state, Living Independence Network Corporation (LINC), Disability Action Center Northwest (DAC), and LIFE, a Center for Independent Living (LIFE). During the course of these communications, the CAP Coordinator disseminated many CAP CIL brochures to the CILs across the states. In July, DRI and all three CILs met virtually and discussed ideas and suggestions for collaboration.
As a result of this meeting, DRI added a priority to our own work plan to collaborate with the CILs to assist adults with disabilities living in their communities to learn about and pursue supported decision making as an alternative to guardianship. Additionally, LINC incorporated new objectives in their annual work plan to collaborate with DRI around supported decision making and the development of a registry to track bad actors in the direct care world. Individuals with disabilities will benefit from these collaborations as more will be informed about alternatives to guardianship that will allow them to maintain their rights and be more protected from bad actors in direct care services.
4) This year Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (IDVR) underwent a rule making process to establish new administrative rules to govern their vocational rehabilitation services. As a part of the administrative rule making process, IDVR requested public comment on the proposed rules. DisAbility Rights Idaho’s (DRI’s) CAP Coordinator reviewed the proposed changes to rule and identified specific rule changes that warranted public comment. In preparing comments DRI’s CAP Coordinator identified some discrepancies in the documents up for comment and published deadlines for comment. CAP communicated with IDVR to clarify the specific documents and changes up for comment and the deadlines for comment provided these public comments. As a result of these communications, IDVR updated their published information and extended all published deadlines to match the latest deadline for comment, providing the public clear information regarding the deadlines for comment. Additionally, CAP provided public comment on the proposed rules. The comments were aimed at making the language of the rules clearer and internally consistent so the VR customers will be able to better understand and enforce their rights within the program. As of the end of Fiscal Year 2020, the final version of the rules for legislative consideration has not yet been announced.
5) CAP through DisAbility Rights Idaho’s Executive Director engaged in advocacy around the Extended Employment Services (EES) program operated by the Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (IDVR). EES is a state funded program aimed at providing longer term supports than those provided in the traditional Vocational Rehabilitation program that assists individuals with disabilities in maintaining employment or gaining employment skills. This fiscal year IDVR was charged with the task of creating a statute to govern the EES program. DRI’s Executive Director provided education to Idaho state legislators regarding parameters that would make the program more beneficial for the participants, parameters such as requirements for time limits, employment goals, and regular progress or status reviews. During the legislative process, amendments were made to the proposed statute. CAP, through DRI’s Executive Director then educated Idaho state legislators about the amendments which did not necessarily benefit people with disabilities and did not include the voices of people with disabilities.
Ultimately, the amended statute passed and CAP has moved its focus to participating in the negotiated rule making process in an effort to create administrative rules that will benefit people with disabilities. DRI’s Executive Director and the CAP Coordinator participated in a meeting with IDVR to discuss the EES program, the program’s history, and IDVR’s goals for the program moving forward. Additionally, DRI’s CAP Coordinator participated in two Listening Sessions aimed at gathering public input on what IDVR should be considering when drafting administrative rules for the program. CAP will use the information gathered in the meeting with IDVR and Listening Sessions to draft public comments for a Listening Session held in fiscal year 2021.