RSA-227 for FY-2020: Submission #1113

Idaho
09/30/2020
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
DisAbility Rights Idaho, Inc.
4477 Emerald Street
Suite B-100
Boise
Idaho
83706-2066
208-336-5353
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866-262-3462
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Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Christine Meeuwsen
Christine Meeuwsen
208-336-5353
christine@disabilityrightsidaho.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
62
515
10
35
0
61
683
B. Training Activities
17
504
DisAbility Rights Idaho (DRI) was limited in our training activities this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many training events were cancelled and others were delayed until virtual options could be identified and organized.

DisAbility Rights Idaho offered 17 training sessions to community groups and public agencies reaching 504 attendees. These trainings covered topics related to entering into adulthood including explaining benefits, transition from school to work, voting rights, and supported decision making. The purpose of the trainings were to provide parents and students with disabilities information and material that would assist the students and youth transitioning into adulthood. Attendees included youth with disabilities, their parents, and school staff.

For example, this year DRI presented at the Tools 4 Life Conference in Pocatello, Idaho which is aimed at transition to adulthood preparation. The conference audience included transition students, parents, teachers, and providers. DRI offered six (6) presentations throughout the conference on voting, transition from school to work, alternatives to guardianship including supported decision making, and self-advocacy. DRI also staffed a table at the event to provide additional information about CAP and other DRI services to attendees.

Additionally, CAP presented and attended three (3) transition fairs at area high schools offering training and information regarding alternatives to guardianship, CAP, and other DRI services. One of DRI’s CAP representatives also presented four (4) presentations on separate occasions to a local high school’s transition program regarding transition to adulthood.

DRI offered a training at Boise State University regarding Supported Decision Making.

DRI offered two (2) trainings regarding voter registration were offered to staff and participants at residential habilitation provider agencies.

DRI offered a training presentation at this year's Independent Living Conference regarding voting and voting rights for persons with disabilities. The conference was hosted virtually by the state's Centers for Independent Living (CILs).

In partnership with Idaho Parents Unlimited (IPUL) and the State Department of Education, DRI engaged in a virtual panel presentation on special education as schools in Idaho prepared to reopen following the abrupt spring closure due to COVID-19. Participants also learned about IPUL and DRI and the different services that are offered by each agency. Audience members were engaged in asking questions throughout the presentation through the platform's chat functions.

DRI’s Advocacy Director presented a virtual training at the National Disability Rights Network’s (NDRN) Annual Conference during the Elections Institute portion of the conference. The session was entitled “ Elections, Access, and COVID-19” and presentation titled, Idaho - A Case Study. DRI provided training regarding the complaint our agency filed with the Department of Justice in April 2020 regarding concerns about Idaho’s Primary 2020 Elections access for people with disabilities. It is unknown how many people attended but is estimated to be close if not over 100 individuals. The attendees would primarily consist of members of the Disability Rights Network including advocates and attorneys across the country.

DRI offered a training presentation to the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho regarding DRI in general, Voting accessibility, and specifics of Idaho voting in 2020.

DRI also presented on a podcast for the American Council for the Blind regarding the DOJ complaint regarding voting accessibility in Idaho's 2020 primary filed by DRI with tips for accessing voting in 2020.

DRI’s Advocacy Director co-presented a training via webinar on threat assessments. Specifically the training focused on strategies for dealing with threat assessments in the special education realm. The training was offered to members and partners of the Disability Rights Network and was attended by approximately 70 individuals.
C. Agency Outreach
DisAbility Rights Idaho (DRI) was limited in our outreach efforts this fiscal year due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a reduction in resources because of loss of a number of staff members. DRI was able to conduct outreach to transition programs and to the Latinx communities, refugee communities and the tribes. DRI also provided significant outreach related to the 2020 election, particularly in the Blind community.

Prior to COVID-19 related cancellations DRI conducted outreach at the Idaho Hispanic Cultural Center to inform attendees about the agency and services offered.

In addition to outreach to the Latinx communities, DRI also provided outreach to Boise's refugee community through contact with the International Rescue Commission (IRC). DRI presented to a group of about 25 staff with the purpose of providing information about the services that DRI offers. Following the presentation IRC staff felt they would be able to refer refugee families to DRI if the need arose. DRI provided brochures in English and Spanish.

DRI also exhibited at the Fred Riggers Disability Awareness Day held at the Idaho State Capitol building providing information to members of the public and connecting with other disability agencies throughout the state.

Significant voting accessibility outreach was conducted in the Blind community due to an increased demand during the pandemic for voting by mail. Idaho's mail in ballot procedures were determined to be inaccessible for the Blind community in particular. DRI offered a Presentation to the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho regarding DRI in general, Voting accessibility, and specifics of Idaho voting in 2020.

DRI’s CAP advocate worked with the Fort Hall Reservation to ensure the tribes were aware of DRI’s services and had the information they needed. DRI provided outreach to Shoshone Bannock Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation regarding voting and provided informational brochures as requested by the VR program. CAP also reached out to the New Perce Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation and Coeur d’Alene Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation programs to offer CAP brochures and visits to present on CAP services.

DRI conducted two (2) outreach visits to State Hospital North in which a non-attorney advocate met with patients to discuss concerns they may have about the hospital and the assistance that DRI may provide. The non-attorney advocate distributed information and various brochures to address patient’s concerns, including CAP brochures.

DRI also conducted significant outreach related to the ADA’s 30th anniversary. DRI was invited to participate in the ADA30Idaho Celebration, which is a collaborative effort between multiple organizations to celebrate the ADA’s 30 anniversary here in Idaho. Due to COVID, the Celebration turned into a virtual event that was spread throughout July – October 2020. The group met weekly or bi-weekly via Zoom to discuss celebration events and give committee updates of the various sub-committees that are working on ADA-related events. They also have an active social media presence. 

In addition to the Committee at large, DRI then began participating and hosting a bi-weekly call for the ADA30Idaho Celebration’s Voting Committee. Members of the Committee include the NW ADA Center, various Independent Living Center Staff, Idaho Access Project staff, and members of other related stakeholder groups such as the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). Discussions about voting accessibility concerns occurred during these meetings. In one of the first meetings, the group identified residents of long term care or congregate settings as a potential population that may be disenfranchised in the November election due to COVID and outing restrictions. The group then devised a plan to send voter information packets to each and every Skilled Nursing Facility, Residential Assisted Living facility, Residential Habilitation provider, and all 3 state facilities, with information about the changed deadlines related to the Nov. 2020 election and the different ways in which to register, request a ballot, or vote. DRI volunteered to create such packets and pay for the cost of putting them together and mailing them out. In total, 612 packets were sent out in September of 2020.

 Another issue discussed in Committee meetings was the need to create a script for individuals with disabilities to use when requesting accommodations from their county clerk's office for the election. DRI created a script which it turned into a 2 page (front back) flyer to provide to voters with disabilities.

 In August, the Committee also discussed the August 2020 special legislative session and the proposed elections bills. DRI and NFB agreed to send written comment to the legislature regarding the importance of ensuring voting accessibility. DRI staff then turned the written comment into an op-ed article that was published in the Idaho Falls Post Register newspaper.

 In conjunction with this committee and associated projects. DRI staff reached out to the League of Women Voters chapters in Idaho and the AARP of Idaho to see if they had interest in collaborating. 
AARP staff met with DRI staff about this and offered to share information about the packets that DRI had put together for congregate care facilities on their website and social media sites. 
 The League of Women Voters (LWV) Pocatello Chapter sent a representative to the September 28, 2020 meeting of the Committee and the members brainstormed a potential collaboration with the LWV to provide transportation for voters to polling places for early voting and election day. Future meetings to work on this collaboration project would be scheduled in October 2020.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
1
1
5153
11
2965
DisAbility Rights Idaho (DRI) hosts a blog about disability issues and stories. DRI's various blog posts were accessed 2,965 times.
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
In June 2020, DisAbility Rights Idaho (DRI) was featured by the American Council for the Blind on the council's podcast. The interview discussed a complaint filed by DisAbility Rights Idaho with the Department of Justice in regards to the inaccessibility of Idaho’s primary election. Also related to this complaint , DRI put out a press release in conjunction with the American Council of the Blind that was published by 34 news outlets across the country.

The Post Register published a guest opinion by DRI’s Advocacy Director regarding accessibility in voting for Idahoans with disabilities.

Teen Vogue published an op-ed which referenced DRI’s letter to the state’s legislature describing how it can difficult for voters in the state to request ballots in accessible formats such as Braille or large print.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
3
8
11
0
0
B. Problem areas
0
4
3
3
0
0
1
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
7
0
3
0
1
0
11
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
6
1
0
0
0
3
0
0
1
0
0
0
{Empty}
E. Results achieved for individuals
1
0
1
0
0
4
1
0
0
4
3 Individuals withdrew their complaints.

Due to CAP intervention VR overturned decision to deny individual's employment goal and provided additional time to complete requirements. Additional technical assistance referrals to other resources were provided but client did not respond to VR's proposal or to P&A/CAP's requests to provide direction.
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
0
1
1
8
1
11
B. Gender
4
7
11
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
1
0
0
1
0
9
0
0
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
1
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
4
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
11
E. Types of Individuals Served
8
0
1
1
0
1
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
3
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.
B. Litigation
0
0
0
N/A
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
DisAbility Rights Idaho, Inc.
No
N/A
B. Staff Employed
Professional positions: Part-time FTE = .65; 79.55% of year filled; .49 person years
Vacant FTE = 1.25; 10.42% of year vacant; .12 person years
Clerical positions:
Part-time FTE = .21; 70.00% of year filled; .15 person years
Vacant FTE = 1.50; 12.50% of year vacant; .19 person years
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the CAP/DRI received a reduced number of calls for assistance. Through meetings with the state's VR program CAP/DRI learned that VR was also experiencing a significant reduction in clients seeking VR services. CAP/DRI attributes the reduced number of calls for assistance to the reduced number of clients served by the state's VR program as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the reduced number of calls for assistance CAP/DRI also saw a reduced number of individuals served as compared to prior years.

1) CAP/DRI assisted a 60 year old Caucasian female diagnosed with Physical Impairments and absent seizures who called the CAP program requesting assistance with appealing her initial VR denial of eligibility. The CAP representative reviewed the client's information, and found within the records, that the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) had documented that he believed the client would benefit from a physical assessment. The CAP representative brought this to the VRC's attention, and requested that VR review the client's medical records one more time. After further review and assessments of the client's medical records, the VRC did in fact determine the client eligible for VR services. As a result of the CAP representative's assistance, the client was able to be reassessed, including her medical records reviewed a second time and then determined eligible for VR services.

2) CAP/DRI assisted a 51 year old not Hispanic/Latino Caucasian female with mental illness requesting assistance with her VR services. The client had concerns that the VRC was going to deny her preferred employment goal based on her previous experience with VR. The CAP representative facilitated communication between the client and VR counselor and attended the first meeting between the parties. The VRC provided the client with explanations of what would be expected of the client for the desired employment goal. The CAP representative continued to monitor communication between the client and VRC until it was clear that communication had been re-established to the client's satisfaction.

3) The CAP/DRI assisted a 56 year old Caucasian female who is Hard of Hearing/Hearing Impaired who called the P&A requesting assistance as she was reporting having difficulties with her current Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC). The CAP/DRI reviewed the client's information and provided technical assistance with how to request a new VRC, and provided information about the VRC transition process. The client was able to transition to a new VRC in the Boise office, and also ensure that her plan carried over, as she was close to closing her VR case successfully. The client also was able to transition her Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), including the costs and purchase of her new hearing aids, to the Boise office. As a result of the CAP's tips and information, the client was able to successfully advocate for herself and her needed accommodations so that she can stay gainfully employed.

4) DRI/CAP assisted a 45 year old Caucasian mail with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and back issues. Initially P&A/CAP assisted with appealing a decision to close client's Idaho Vocational Rehabilitation (IDVR) case on the basis that he did not have an impediment to employment. DRI/CAP collected and reviewed client's IDVR case files and assisted with preserving his appeal rights requesting an Informal Review with the Regional IDVR Manager (RM). The RM determined that additional assessments should have been conducted and suggested that the client reapply. The client reapplied, more assessments were completed in a timely manner; he was determined eligible; and a new IDVR Counselor (VRC) was assigned. The client chose to pursue an employment goal of self-employment providing horse massage therapy services. VRC provided a referral for assistance with a feasibility study and business plan that the client accessed. His feasibility study was completed and submitted but the VRC continued identifying problems without providing clear guidance as to his expectations. DRI/CAP requested a meeting with client and VRC in attempts to clarify expectations regarding the feasibility study. The client revised and submitted his feasibility study but IDVR denied his business vocational goal determining that it was not a viable option without providing basis of their denial. The client agreed for DRI/CAP to assist with appealing this denial and requesting a Informal Review with a different RM. A different RM conducted the informal review and determined that IDVR would continue to consider client's employment goal and allow an additional three (3) months to submit a revised feasibility study; that the client's request for a different VRC would be evaluated; that IDVR would provide referrals to external technical assistance resources to help revise his business feasibility study; and that the the client needed to address and resolve specific factors and concerns previously stated by his VRC with technical assistance guidance, if needed. RM also provided client with appeal rights regarding right to reject this proposal and request a Fair Hearing. DRI/CAP completed an analysis of the proposal to review with client and attempted to contact the client several times to clarify his decision. Appeal information was provided by email with timelines. Ultimately, IDVR overturned their decision to deny his employment goal providing additional time to complete the feasibility study and technical assistance referrals to other resources were provided but client did not respond to IDVR's proposal or to DRI/CAP’s requests to provide direction so his case was closed.
Certification
Approved
Amy Cunningham
Executive Director
2020-12-18
OMB Notice

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