RSA-227 for FY-2020: Submission #1134

South Dakota
09/30/2020
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Rights South Dakota
2520 E. Franklin St.
Ste. #2
Pierre
South Dakota
57501
http://www.drsdlaw.org
605-224-8294
1-800-658-4782
1-800-658-4782
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Cole Uecker
Tim Neyhart
605-224-8294
tim.neyhart@drsdlaw.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
4
2
0
0
11
2
19
B. Training Activities
5
191
CAP provided trainings focused on several issues germane to this fiscal year’s Goals and Priorities. Topics of the trainings included, but were not limited to: transition for students on Individual Education Plans (IEP), regulations under Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) §511, self-advocacy, disability law, as well as Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Independent Living (IL) regulations. The ongoing requirements for the provision of VR services is to focus those services on students and youth with disabilities. This paradigm is demonstrated by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act's (WIOA) mandate that 15% of all federal rehabilitation funds to the states must be spent on Pre-Employment Transition Services. CAP in South Dakota has focused its outreach to students ages 14 to graduation to make sure that they are aware of, have access to, and receive assistance in procuring services from Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living Services to develop and implement their IEP. Additionally, CAP has made efforts to ensure that youth with disabilities who are clients or potential clients of VR have information regarding: job exploration counseling, work-based learning experiences, experiences outside of the traditional school setting and/or internships, counseling on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or post-secondary educational programs, workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living, and instruction in self-advocacy.

One example of training that CAP provided was a presentation for university students majoring in Special Education at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. CAP explained the importance that transition planning has for the students for whom these aspiring teachers would soon be responsible. CAP encouraged the trainees to consider the value of including VR, ILC, and other providers in developing and implementing transition services in IEPs.

Much of the training that CAP was able to give in years past was severely curtailed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year. However, one perennial event that we were able to attend was the Transition Services Liaison Project’s (TSLP) Summer institute. About 120 parents, educators, and students attended this event. There, CAP was able to discuss the value of VR and ILC in IEP Transition Planning and supports. CAP also provided the attendees with information about the iTransitionSD website developed in coordination with the Kansas CAP program and tailored to meet the needs of students who could qualify and benefit from services funded under the Act.
C. Agency Outreach
CAP participated in a total of 126 Outreach Activities during FY20.

CAP’s ability to participate in Outreach and PR activities has been significantly impacted since the travel and gathering moratoriums instituted in early March of 2020. DRSD, in the interest of health and safety of personnel, stopped all travel for activities which are not absolutely critical. This restriction has been further compounded because events such as Catch the Wave presentations, the Youth Leadership Forum, tribal events, conferences, and presentations have all been canceled as a result of COVID-19.

However, prior to March, CAP participated in 16 events intended to inform the disability community about services funded under the Rehabilitation Act, encourage those in attendance to apply for services if they feel that they would benefit, and offer assistance to those who would apply or are current clients. These events were broad in their reach; some were provided to Tribal communities, others to mental health professionals and consumers, events exclusively for U.S. military veterans, and events held for networking between regional non-profits.

While our ability to effect individual and systemic change through outreach and PR has been temporarily but significantly impacted, CAP continues to find creative and novel ways to get our message out. CAP participated in mass-mailings to hundreds of recipients throughout the state. CAP continues to maintain contact with providers and consumers through the mail and via electronic dissemination activities.

CAP collaborated with other programs administered by DRSD to conduct mass-mailings to various providers. These mailings (some by physical mail and others through electronic means) notified providers that CAP was still available through the pandemic to applicants and clients of programs funded under the Rehabilitation Act. CAP sent: 100 pieces of mail to various offices of the State Vocational Rehabilitation system, 50 pieces to offices of the Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired, 25 letters to the locations for independent living services on the eastern side of South Dakota, 25 to the for independent living services on the western side of the state, and one letter to both the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and to the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind. These efforts let the providers know that our CAP work continued and that they should continue to refer individuals to CAP services despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

CAP participated in National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) events. CAP attended an event organized by the Director of Oun'iyekiyapi Vocational Rehabilitation Services (121 Program) at the Native American tribal nation in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. This event provided CAP with the opportunity to address a large number of people with information regarding CAP and its services. CAP staff had the chance to network with service providers within that community. The activities included a traditional meal for those in attendance, an opportunity to meet and discuss CAP services with potential CAP clients, and time for CAP to address the group as an invited speaker. This event is organized by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe 121 program. Tribal Nations in South Dakota are considered to be chronically underserved and unserved.

CAP participated in the Disability Awareness Day in the South Dakota Capitol Rotunda. This event provides CAP with the opportunity to network with other service providers, speak to people with disabilities who could benefit from CAP services or a referral to VR and/or ILC, and notably meet with South Dakota lawmakers to educate them about CAP functions and respond to any other questions which the legislators may have.

Some of the outreach activities that CAP in South Dakota engages in are intended to directly develop and maintain relationships with the projects, programs, and services funded under the Rehabilitation Act. One such function was the annual South Dakota Vocational Rehabilitation Fall Conference where CAP had a booth to distribute information about CAP. Disability Professionals from VR, ILC, Transition Liaison Project, Employment Specialists, and others were present to discuss their respective programs. CAP networked with these professionals to develop strategies to better refer people to them and to facilitate activities as they arise in the future.
CAP continued to conduct outreach efforts to military veterans in FY 20. CAP recognizes that over 15 years of US led combat activities have resulted in a drastic increase in the number of persons who have service-connected disabilities. These veterans could benefit from services provided by CAP. This year, CAP conducted outreach activities to the various Veteran 's Services Offices. These men and women assist veterans of the US Armed Services who could benefit from VR, ILC, and CAP services. CAP provided them with information about CAP, agency information, and information about programs funded under the Rehabilitation Act. CAP staff also attended the state VA service representatives conference and met individually with local/county-based representatives. CAP attended the Veteran's Stand Down and Resource Fair hosted in Rapid City during this fiscal year. CAP also participated at the University of South Dakota School of Law's Veterans Legal Clinic by having a booth and sharing information on DRSD and CAP.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
0
1
14127
10
0
DRSD and CAP uses online digital media to reach out to more people. In addition to the existing agency website (which has seen greater use this year), DRSD uses its Facebook and Twitter pages to cast a broader net to individuals who may not have otherwise been contacted by CAP. DRSD published 197 posts. Combined, these posts had a total reach of 36,963 viewers. For engagement, we had 1,141 “reactions/likes” and 421 shares. At the end of FY20, the DRSD page had a total of 778 "Page Likes."

We also created a new Twitter page for DRSD in February 2020. In FY20, DRSD published 110 tweets with a total reach (impressions) of 16,382. Total engagement (likes, retweets, etc.) was 307. At the end of FY20, we had gained 60 followers.

While these numbers sound relatively modest, it does not account for the exponential nature of social media. When the agency posts information relating to CAP or another program administered, it automatically shows up on the "Timeline" of those that have "followed" our page. If that person then "likes" that particular post, then it shows up on their page for all of their "friends" to see. This process provides the potential for DRSD and CAP to put our information in front of thousands of people while minimizing the expenditure of fiscal assets.

CAP uses Facebook to disseminate information about services available from programs funded under the Rehabilitation Act, to share personal stories of people who have benefited from VR and ILC services, and to conduct outreach activities to people who would presumably benefit from services.
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
CAP was not featured in any external media coverage in this fiscal year. Media exposure opportunities that have presented themselves in years past were not available this year because precautions against COVID-19 curtailed travel and resulted in canceled disability rights events.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
2
6
8
0
1
B. Problem areas
0
3
2
1
0
1
0
1
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
4
0
0
0
3
0
7
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
3
1
0
0
0
0
2
0
1
0
0
0
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E. Results achieved for individuals
2
1
0
0
0
2
0
1
0
1
The outcome of the single case marked as "Other" in this field is not represented by the options provided within the reporting document. In this instance, CAP discussed the client's concerns with her, then wrote and sent a Letter of Understanding and several Releases of Information for the client to sign. In initial conversations with the client, CAP explained the appeals process available from Vocational Rehabilitation and the regulatory grounds by which an argument could be made for Vocational Rehabilitation to assist in the client's employment goals through post-secondary supports. However, the client failed to maintain contact with CAP despite multiple attempts to contact the client. Multiple calls were made to the cell number on file as well as letters sent to the client's mailing address. The case was later closed pursuant to agency procedures regarding clients who fail to maintain contact or communication with CAP.
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
0
1
3
3
1
8
B. Gender
4
4
8
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
0
2
0
0
0
5
1
0
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
1
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
9
E. Types of Individuals Served
4
0
4
0
0
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
8
A major focus for Disability Rights South Dakota (South Dakota’s Protection and Advocacy agency) this fiscal year was to continue monitoring activities at the locations of various service providers. CAP does not have access authority or the power under the Rehabilitation Act to monitor facilities. However, every DRSD advocate provides services from each of the programs of the P&A system. This includes CAP. The monitoring activities were executed under PADD, PAIR, PAIMI, PAVA, PAAT, and PATBI authority. CAP benefited by being able to observe conditions at facility worksites, and to ensure that the individuals have had access to VR and ILC (and as required by WIOA). If consumers of the providers were not aware of VR or ILC services, advocates provided information and referral to the agencies and their clients so that they could pursue competitive integrated employment and live more independently. If the consumers are aware of ILC and VR services or are, in fact, clients of these services, CAP could discuss their experience with these programs and offer to assist in understanding and accessing these services. Finally, some of these activities occur at facilities which offer on-site employment opportunities. In the instances where the wages for the employment do not meet standard minimum wage requirements, CAP ensures that they have met the proper requirements to offer this type of employment and that the employees have access to Vocational Rehabilitation as required by WIOA.

CAP has been appointed to the boards for Vocational Rehabilitation, the Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired, and to the State Independent Living Council. As a member of these boards, CAP has the opportunity to participate in the strategic planning and service provision of those providers.

In the area of rehabilitation services (VR), CAP has been successful in effectuating changes to the consumer satisfaction surveys which will prospectively provide a better picture of areas where Vocational Rehabilitation and can improve and to ensure that people are aware of their right to contact CAP. VR in South Dakota is now sending satisfaction surveys to individuals who’s cases had been closed unsuccessfully. Also, CAP is working with other members of the Board of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR) to enact policy that would make Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary (CTP) for people with developmental disabilities available to qualified consumers. There has been significant progress made this fiscal year in finding ways for VR to support these programs. The Division of Rehabilitation Services has some concerns about the employment outcomes reported by one of these programs. As a result, the Division has been resistant to provide VR clients with support in that program. CAP, in collaboration with other members of BVR, have encouraged dialogue between the Division and administrators of the program to address these concerns. The hope is that these discussions would result in a more effective employment outcome for program participants and greater confidence by the Division such that support for the program could be re-initiated.

CAP has been appointed to the boards for the Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired. As a member of this boards, CAP has the opportunity to participate in the strategic planning and service provision of SBVI. The systemic effect of this is that CAP has the opportunity to influence the service provision of the agency to South Dakotan's with visual impairment from the impetus of the policymaking process.

A representative of the South Dakota CAP program was appointed to the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) at the end of this fiscal year. This appointment will help CAP to advocate for the rights and services of clients of the various independent living providers in the state and to perpetuate these changes through systemic policy. The substantive work within that group will start in FY21.

CAP Staff participated as part of a committee for the South Dakota Bar Association which developed policies and practices to respond to emergencies and disasters. CAP's role in these discussions was to make sure that the needs of people with disabilities was discussed and services from the various programs funded under the Rehabilitation Act were identified as resources in the event of a emergent situation.

In a year in which COVID-19 threatened to curtail or eliminate education opportunities for students with disabilities, CAP worked with our statewide Parent Training & Information Center and the State Office of Special Education to develop and distribute a statement emphasizing that the pandemic does not affect a student's right or access to FAPE, or a district's responsibility to provide it. Through the joint statement developed by this workgroup, schools were informed that special education services must continue to the extent possible to provide FAPE, which included transition services such as services provided by VR agencies to these students.

The last Non-Litigation Systemic Activity to report on here is Partners in Policymaking. This is a training program partially funded by the South Dakota Council on Developmental Disabilities and administered by DRSD staff. The program offers training to selected self-advocates and family members. Training is provided in the areas of independent living, self-advocacy, education, employment, inclusion, rights instruction, etc. CAP participates by providing instruction in employment rights and transition services.

CAP participated in efforts to expand access to telehealth services for South Dakotans who are deaf. Specifically, CAP provided a letter of support to Communication Services for the Deaf (CSD) in their efforts to secure a grant which would provide for more telehealth opportunities to their constituency. This would allow people to remain in the community and benefit from services from the various Independent Living Centers and Vocational Rehabilitation agencies in their pursuits to live and work inclusively in the community.
B. Litigation
0
0
0
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Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Disability Rights South Dakota
No
N/A
B. Staff Employed
NAME POSITION FULL TIME STATUS FY19 % OF TIME
Pierre—Home Office
RR Intake Specialist Yes 12%
HP Intake Specialist Yes 20%
BP PATBI Prog.Dir./ASR Yes 10%
KDK Admin. Asst. No 7%
CJM PAVA Prog. Dir./ASR Yes 3%
CH Staff Attorney/Intake Yes 8%
TEN Executive Dir. Yes 6%
SLH Executive Asst. Yes 7%
OA Fiscal Director Yes 7%
CLU Staff Attorney/CAP Prog. Dir. Yes 30%
AKJ Fiscal Assistant Yes 7%

Rapid City—Branch Office
BR Legal Director Yes 4%
DLM PAIMI Prog. Dir./ASR Yes 3%
HG ASR Yes 2%
SS ASR Yes 4%
MM Admin. Asst. No 7%

Sioux Falls—Branch Office
KM ASR Yes 2%
JAH Operations Director Yes 4%
JG Staff Attorney Yes 2%
BB Staff Attorney/Inv. Dir. Yes 4%
SH Staff Attorney Yes 1%
DL ASR Yes 7%
JK ASR Yes 2%
DW Admin. Asst. No 7%
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
The Client Assistance Program assisted six individuals in South Dakota through Case Services this year. All of these cases were under Disability Rights South Dakota’s Employment Priority. The relevant Objective under this priority is 4.1.3 which states: [CAP will] Provide case services to applicants and clients of projects, programs, and facilities funded under the Rehabilitation Act who feel that they are not receiving the protections of the act or are not being afforded proper due process.

The first case involved a client who called CAP because she felt that when she called VR, they were rude to her and belittled her, they didn't help her with her issues, and they kept trying to give her menial jobs which were not within her area of expressed interest or aptitudes. She said that they were making some assumptions about her abilities but had not given her the testing needed to identify her aptitudes or to develop skills. The client’s qualifying disability involved some mental illness diagnoses. Manifestations of her conditions complicated some of the assistance that CAP was trying to provide. These same behaviors could reasonably inform some of the confrontational interactions which had occurred between the client and VR. It was up to CAP to find a way to constructively communicate to VR what the client was hoping to get out of VR assistance in terms of an employment outcome, guide the client through the various stages of IPE development, and to facilitate the process so that the client was provided with the opportunity to fully participate in the VR process. Job development supports were identified and provided by VR. The client had the opportunity to develop job skills, gain employment experience, and VR was able to use this experience to further develop supports needed to augment a successful employment outcome. Closures by the employer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a gap in the development process. Though alternative services continued to be offered by VR, with the assistance of CAP, the client broke off all communication with both CAP and VR. CAP made efforts to re-establish contact between VR and the client, but these efforts were unanswered. Though the client decided to abandon the assistance available from VR and CAP, CAP was initially effective in facilitating services, process, and communication between the client and VR.

The second case was factually similar to the first. The client contacted CAP with complaints about VR not listening to her in respect to her expressed wishes and desires vis-a vis her preferred employment outcomes. She felt as though the efforts that she had been making with her VR counselor had resulted in a strained relationship between them. She wanted CAP to help her to re-establish a constructive relationship which would facilitate an employment outcome which was based on her expressed direction. CAP obtained a Release of Information from the client and used it to request, receive, and review the client’s VR records. After becoming familiar with the background of the case, CAP contacted the VR Counselor to discuss the client’s concerns. Though CAP was unable to coordinate a meeting between the client, VR, and the CAP advocate, we were provided with notice that communication had been reestablished between the client and VR counselor and that progress had resumed toward the client’s goals. Efforts to contact the client went unanswered. However, given that the client and the VR counselor were working toward the client's employment goal, CAP closed the case.

The third case involved a CAP client who had been a consumer of tribal VR services under a program outlined under §121 of the Rehabilitation Act. The individual had been a client of tribal VR services for the past several years. She reported that very little had been accomplished in the way of progress toward her employment goals. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were exceptionally acute on Native American lands in fiscal year 20. As a result, many of the programs and services were suspended to protect against transmissions among those populations. This made it impossible for CAP it initiate contact with VR or to advocate for appropriate supports. However, though the client is a member of a tribal nation and is eligible for services from that tribal VR program, she was also eligible for services provided by the designated state program in South Dakota. CAP got her in touch with her local State VR office and assisted her in applying for services there. Once the client was found to be eligible for services from the state program and there were no emergent or ongoing conflicts in that relationship, CAP closed the case. The client reported that she was satisfied with the supports available from the State provider.

In 2020, the COVID-19 crisis created widespread uncertainty for people with disabilities and providers alike. In the next case, a client called CAP and was interested in determining if VR was available, and if so, would it be able to help him to reach his employment goals. He reported that he received VR services years ago but felt that they did not provide him much benefit. Furthermore, he was concerned that VR was not assisting anyone during the pandemic. CAP assured the client that VR continues to provide employment services to people who qualify (albeit somewhat modified in some respects due to COVID). CAP supported this client through a Short-Term Assistance case by helping him to apply for VR services by providing him with contact information to his local VR office.

Sometimes an individual wishes to dispute a decision of VR and assert their due process rights, even when the factual basis of the appeal is not wholly favorable to that client. In the next case, a client had a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that he sustained in a car accident years earlier. He had struggled with substance abuse, mal-adaptive behavioral manifestations, and personality issues since his injury. He was seeking supports from VR to attend an in-patient treatment program that was specifically tailored to address issues related to and resulting from TBI. The client’s history created significant obstacles to convince VR to support this treatment. The client had previously attended this same program with VR support, but at that time he withdrew from the facility and waived further services. The program at that time provided benchmarks for him to meet should he wish to return – he had not met those expectations at the time of this case. Furthermore, the client’s substance abuse issues had reemerged and caused recent legal issues for him. Despite these challenges, the client felt that the TBI program was his best bet to obtain, maintain, and retain competitive integrated employment. CAP discussed the challenges in overcoming VR’s decision to deny supports for the program. The client understood that reversing this determination would be difficult, but wished to appeal the decision. CAP assisted the client through the Administrative Review portion of the appeals process. Though every available argument was made on behalf of the client, the appeal was unsuccessful. While the client did not prevail, he had the opportunity to avail himself of his due process rights. Furthermore, he had a clear idea of what he must do to put himself in a better position where he might one day be eligible for the VR supports that he seeks.

The final case involved a client who disagreed with a denial of services from VR. The client called CAP because he disagreed with VR’s denial of supports for medical care to alleviate some health issues which he felt would prevent him from continuing his employment. The client was a commercial truck driver – a position that he obtained through significant prior VR supports. He was gainfully employed. He did receive some accommodations from his employer and was not required to do some of the functions typically expected from someone in his field. Because his employment was seasonal, he worried that he may soon be laid off by his employer and be forced to seek employment elsewhere. He suspected that the need for similar accommodations would make finding a new job difficult. He wanted VR to pay for medical treatment which would address his underlying medical issues so that he no longer would need the accommodations. CAP recognized that this may be a difficult case to argue since the client was, in fact, already competitively employed. Nevertheless, CAP agreed to assist the client in an appeal at Administrative Review level. CAP argued that it is an appropriate role of VR to support a person with a disability in maintaining employment. While it was uncertain as to what, if any, procedures might be ameliorative in addressing his conditions, CAP argued that it was incumbent upon VR to support a medical assessment to ascertain what could be done. The results of this assessment could then be considered by VR in determining if additional supports would be necessary or appropriate. Though the decision that resulted from this process was ultimately adverse, it was important that the client was afforded the opportunity to assert this right when he felt strongly that VR's denial was erroneous. CAP elected to decline further representation beyond the Administrative Review level, but the client was advised of all relevant timeframes, due process options, or alternatives to pursue assistance from VR in obtaining other employment goals.

Certification
Approved
Timothy E. Neyhart
Executive Director
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