RSA-227 for FY-2020: Submission #1118

Montana
09/30/2020
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Rights Montana
1022 Chestnut Street
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Helena
MT
59601
4064492344
8002454743
8002454743
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Bernadette Franks-Ongoy
Jason Socci
4064492344
jason@disabilityrightsmt.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
6
2
0
0
5
2
15
B. Training Activities
4
182
10/16/2019 - Conference on Mental Illness. DRM provides outreach materials, resources, and an overview of services. 125 participants

10/25/2019 - Disability Awareness Training/Presentation given to A+ Healthcare, Butte, MT. Provided DRM overview and training on disability issues. 16 participants

11/4/2019 - Presentation on disability issues and an overview of DRM given to Highlands College HR Class, Butte, MT. 11 participants

02/18/2020 - Provided DRM resources to AWARE, Sidney, MT. Resources: DRM overview, voting, civil rights, disability awareness, mental health, employment discrimination, SS benefits, ADA, service animals, and VR/CAP. 30+ participants
C. Agency Outreach
We try to target particular audiences with information we share on our social media platforms via "boosts". We aim to produce content that is broad in information, but also accessible. We hosted a live panel discussion on Facebook with speakers who were from diverse backgrounds and BIPOC.

426 CAP brochures were sent to VR closed case individuals, notifying them of their CAP/VR rights.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
0
0
926
0
4
500 CAP red books provided to state VR offices to hand out to new VR clients. DRM pays for the cost of these books. They explain the VR process and client rights.
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
Facebook Followers: 1717
Twitter Followers: 5324
Instagram Followers: 316
Salsa Engage - Newsletter Subscribers: 700
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
14
12
26
0
6
B. Problem areas
2
7
13
2
0
1
0
1
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
7
0
0
9
2
2
20
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
11
1
1
2
0
1
0
0
3
1
0
0
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E. Results achieved for individuals
0
0
0
0
0
9
1
1
0
9
Client did not return ROI - 2
RSA was supposed to assist client, but never responded to phone and email requests - 2
Client did not stay in touch with CAP - 1
DRM able to get an assessment done for client - 1
DRM got VR to move forward with payment for client's tuition and books - 1
Client to find job on own or go back on VR waitlist - 1
Client failed to comply with VR and did not keep his appointment with VR - 1
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
0
1
11
12
2
26
B. Gender
15
11
26
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
0
8
0
0
0
18
0
0
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
1
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
2
11
0
0
0
1
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
5
26
E. Types of Individuals Served
22
2
1
0
0
1
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
1
In the 2019 CAP PPR CAP reported that we had done a FOIA request to the US Department of Education regarding getting information on The ASVRP — Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes in Poplar, MT. CAP has had numerous complaints regarding the ASVRP with them not providing services to clients. CAP has worked with RSA and has had several phone calls with RSA representatives regarding this matter. Lack of follow up from RSA has been astonishing to say the least. CAP was told RSA would look into this matter and it has been ongoing for over a year with no results for the clients.

As an update for FY 2020 CAP PPR - RSA has failed to respond to other emails sent this FY and CAP has still never heard any outcomes of the FOIA request.

Montana VR still remains in a total OOS (all 3 categories), now going on from March 2017. Very slowly, applicants on the waiting list for Category 1 are being served. There are over 2400 people on the waiting list for all categories, VR reports that 1200 people have been invited off the waiting list and of those 600 have had IPE’s developed. The MOE requires VR to pay back their final penalty of over $7 million this year and will be rid of that penalty by the end of FY 21.
Montana VR had a RSA monitoring visit in 2019 and have received their draft report from that visit. VR is in the process of following up with that report. VR has done a good job of rewriting their procedure documents in a less confusing way for clients and VR counselors to follow.

CAP attorney and advocate were invited to participate in VR’s Strategic Planning 2-day session. This was a good session and many positive State Rehabilitation Council Recommendations were then adopted from this meeting, several that CAP had recommended.
1. With the increase of resources and access to rural areas and reservation communities, it means better communication services. Often in Montana in the winter some rural areas are snowed in for up to 6 weeks at a time. Therefore by utilizing Facebook, text and other social media accounts, clients can learn of VR messages quicker than regular mail and will not miss important information from VR. This would include coming off of the OOS, or a 10 day letter notifying the client their case would be closed if VR not contacted.
2. Until recently their was not a liaison from Montana VR to the 121 Tribal VRs due to the retirement of Mike Hermansen. CAP was able to get that back on VR’s radar to make sure there is now a liaison from State VR with the 121’s.
3. VR had no VR counselors working with the State DD or the State Hospital clients to visit, educate or help them get set up with VR services when they were discharged from these institutions. CAP also worked with the VR Pre-ETS unit to have a presence at the PRTFs in Montana.


CAP advocate will participate in the CSAVR 2020 Fall Virtual Conference as a SRC member.

CAP advocate is a member of the NATF (Native American Task Force) in Montana. The task force is sponsored by MTCIL (Montana Centers for Independent Living) and has monthly meetings for its members. Various topics are covered during the year such as PAX trainings to the reservations' schools, outreach, healthcare, and suicide prevention. In July 2020, a MTCIL Symposium was held and different taskforces attended. The NATF purpose was to help decide what 2021 Legislative Priorities would be supported for the MTCL to move forward with. The priorities were:

1. Accessible parking bill - update Montana code on what constitutes an accessible parking space and to clarify that an accessible parking space's access aisle is an integral component of an accessible parking space. This update is necessary due to the current code being so out of date and vague that many law enforcement agencies will not currently enforce accessible parking violations.

2. Service dog abuse bill - create penalties and restitution for an individual or their pet who causes negligent injury or death to a service animal.

3. Housing bridge bill* - the Montana Housing Bridge program is meant to be a temporary, short-term monthly rental assistance program for someone transitioning into the community from an institutional setting, such as a nursing home, while they are on the waiting list for other traditional rental assistance programs.

4. Graduation age bill* - Provide students with disabilities the ability to remain in high school longer in order to graduate and acquire the skills they need to be successful as adults.

5. Disability integrated employment program/state agencies - direct various state agencies to develop a plan for integrating individuals with disabilities in non-sheltered, competitive and integrated employment programs.

6. Prohibit sub minimum wage - ban employers from paying sub minimum wages for workers with disabilities.

7. Crossbow hunting bill - allow individuals with disabilities and those over age 72 hunt with a crossbow during bow hunting season.

8. HJ 50 bills - notification requirement - An act requiring a 30-day notification before denial or termination of Medicaid waiver services to the elderly and physically disabled,

An act establishing that home and community-based waiver services must be considered in total when services are authorized; clarifying that each service does not on its own have to prevent institutionalization

spend down changes* - A bill that prohibits the department from adopting rules or policies requiring a person who is eligible for Medicaid under the medically needy program from making only a cash payment to qualify for Medicaid or only incurring medical expenses and allows for a mixture of both.

rulemaking requirements - An act requiring that certain changes to services and eligibility requirements for home and community-based services waivers be made through administrative rule changes

9. Disability history in schools* - Ensure that disability history is included in social science school curriculum

10. NFB Newsline funding* - Secure funding for MTAP to reestablish the NFB Newsline for blind Montanans

11. Budget* - All budgetary items, including funding for IL, VR, CFC, PAS, Waiver, etc.

12. HJ 3 bill(s) - https://leg.mt.gov/content/Committees/Interim/2019-2020/State-Administration-and-Veterans-Affairs/Meetings/June-2020/PD0001_SS_workding_draft.pdf
B. Litigation
0
0
0
N/A
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Disability Rights Montana
No
N/A
B. Staff Employed
Full-time - FTE: .79 - % of year filled: 100 - Person-years: 10
Full-time - FTE: .13 - % of year filled: 100 - Person-years: 2
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
CAP 2020 PPR Cases

1. VR client is a 1st semester senior majoring in biology. His goal is to become a doctor. VR has paid for his college tuition for the past 3 years up until spring semester. The reason that VR gave for not paying his spring semester tuition was that he failed a language class as he was in the hospital for a significant amount of that semester. This was so even though he still maintained a cumulative GPA of 2.53 for the semester. CAP became involved in his case and was able to find out that VR knew of his illness. However, they did not know he was in the hospital for such a long period of time. CAP met with the VR counselor and her supervisor and explained this. VR required a note from the client’s doctor confirming that he had been hospitalized during that time period. After receiving that confirmation and ensuring that the client knew that he must keep VR informed about such developments, VR agreed to pay for spring semester. The client passed all of his classes and then enrolled in the following semester to complete his senior year.

2. During the summer, a VR client got a citation for driving under the influence and was required to complete a court ordered alcohol treatment program. Although VR was paying for his college tuition, the client thought it would be best for him to take a few months off of school to work and pay off the debts he had cumulated while in treatment. VR wanted to close his case because of this. Montana is in an OOS for all 3 priorities, and the client is a priority 2, which would mean that it could be a long time for the client to open another case again if they closed this one.

After talking with the VR counselor and her supervisor, CAP was able to negotiate putting his case on hold instead of closing it. The client is now back in school and does not have to worry about catching up on his bills and can devote his time to studying.

3. This client has been receiving services from VR for several years. He is going to school to be an accountant. The client is deaf. He has been doing very well in school and has gotten mainly A’s and B’s in his classes. The client has finished school and has taken a couple parts of his CPA exam. Unfortunately, he failed the final part of the exam twice. Because of this, VR has refused to pay for him to take the exam again, however it agreed to pay for his study materials. At least, this is what we understood to be the case when CAP learned about this case.

Unfortunately, there was a significant dispute between the client and the VR counselor about what had and had not been agreed to when CAP got involved in the case. This seemed to be largely due to the VR counselor’s insistence that they only communicate via email instead of with a qualified sign language interpreter. This communication was very difficult for the client. During this time, the VR counselor also informed us that it was “very hard to amend an IPE” for most any purpose, apparently because of directives from the Helena office.

While we were trying to help with this dispute, the client’s spouse’s family asked that they move to Alabama for 3 months to help with their farm during the COVID pandemic. Our client determined that he could take his final exam in Alabama while helping out on the farm. We took our concerns about the inappropriate communication as well as the rigid position of the VR counselor to the Helena office. CAP was able to convince VR to pay for his third exam, as there was no additional income coming in from his spouse or the client’s SSDI. CAP argued that this will also save VR money in the long run as they would not have to pay for the client to travel to another city and pay for gas, hotel and food during the test, all of which he would have had to do if he had to take the exam in Montana. We also were also able to get VR to understand that they needed to use a relay service or have an ASL interpreter available during all of their future communications with this client.
Certification
Approved
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