CAP Advocates Margaret McKenna and Lannette Suarez had an opportunity to talk one on one with a group of students who had questions regarding pre-employment services available to youth in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The first annual Next Step, High School Transition Resource Fair, was presented by Lehigh Carbon Community College in partnership with the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living, Carbon -Lehigh Intermediate Unit, Intermediate Unit 21, Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29, Lehigh County Career Link and the Parkland School District. The Next Step Transition Fair had 350 attendees including students, colleges, agencies, Intermediate Units and other disability providers who all play a role in the transition process. CAP was one of 25 vendors and it was an opportunity to get a chance to connect with each vendor sharing information about our respective services and how we can assist the students seeking Pre-Employment Transition Services. Some of the other vendors were: SEEDS, SPIN, OVR/BVS, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation, Hidden River Clubhouse, Quality Progressions, Bridges, Carbon-Lehigh IU and Schuylkill IU. Most of these were familiar with our services. The goal of this resource fair was to provide high school students, their families, and teachers with information on educational programs, community service providers, employment options and other support services available to them so they have the tools they need to make informed choices to empower them during their transition experience. In addition to our CAP exhibit table, CAP had an opportunity to do a brief CAP training as part of this event. CAP highlighted CAP’s role in the OVR process. CAP also provided information about transition services. A summary of how a client progresses through the system was given focusing on the Individualized Plan for Employment, IPE, and choosing of a realistic employment goal. CAP Advocates emphasized the importance of being your own self advocate and gave a few tips on self-advocacy. Also, we detailed a few of a student’s/client’s rights and responsibilities throughout the OVR process. In addition, the sooner the student applies to OVR the better and briefed them on OVRs current waiting list. We provided our CAP bookmark to all and a copy of Our Guide to VR Services. CAP also provided all with our contact info and referred them to our website/Facebook page.
CAP Advocate Margaret McKenna was asked to speak at the next provider meeting by the Montgomery County Program Specialist of Behavioral Health/Intellectual Disability, BH/ID, who was met at a prior event at the Pathway School Transition Fair. Montgomery County BH/ID provides various support services, including residential support, employment support, empowerment, case management to over 6,000 individuals with mental health and/or developmental disabilities in 25 specialized programs to children, youth, adults, and seniors. They help with life transitions and crisis.
As part of this CAP training, CAP Advocate Margaret McKenna talked about OVR’s Order of Selection and how the closing of the Order of Selection affects individuals who are trying to apply for the ID waiver. CAP’s training went into detail about the criteria for the 3 categories: Most Significantly Disabled, MSD, Significantly Disabled, SD and Non-Significantly Disabled, NSD and how this will affect cost services. CAP Advocate Margaret McKenna highlighted the PA WIOA ‘s combined State Plan 2019 and the proposed amendments.
CAP Advocate Margaret McKenna discussed the additional exception for being able to be referred for waiver services now that OVR has closed their Order of Selection and is operating under a waiting list. If the individual has been referred to OVR in the past, prior to the closure of the order of selection and they have been determined ineligible for OVR or had their OVR case closed for any reason, this individual can ADD employment services to their Individual Service Plan, ISP. No referral to OVR needed unless requested by the individual.
Finally, CAP Advocate Margaret McKenna spoke about CAP services, our purpose, and our role in the OVR process. CAP provides advocacy, assistance, and consultation for OVR applicants/clients as they try to navigate the OVR system. CAP’s advocacy includes individual case advocacy, systemic advocacy and help with self-advocacy, which is essential to successful employment. CAP Advocate handed out our CAP information and referred them to our website/Facebook.
CAP Advocates Lannette Suarez and Margaret McKenna participated in a Disability event hosted by The Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. Some of the providers that attended the event was Germantown Ministries, Western PA School for the Deaf and Black Deaf Advocates. It afforded an opportunity for CAP advocates to network with the students, staff, families, and other providers in the deaf and hard of hearing communities. At this event, CAP Advocate Lannette Suarez provided a training for 25 participants on tips regarding self-advocacy and their rights and responsibilities within the Vocational Rehabilitation system. As part of our outreach, CAP Advocates reached out to Germantown Ministries and Black Deaf Advocates and spoke about CAP services and how CAP can help the deaf and hard of hearing communities. CAP advocate Lannette Suarez handed out information on CAP services so they can share them with their friends and families. The students asked questions such as how OVR will fund my college education, will they pay for my hearing aids or will they help me find employment. CAP advocates referred students to at our website and the face book page if they needed additional information.
CAP Outreach Manager Andrew Pennington focused CAP’s Training efforts on several key communities within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in fiscal year 2020. Three of those communities being Transition age youth seeking Pre-E.T.S. services, Citizen Advisory Committees throughout the commonwealth and the OVR District Offices, and lastly service providers for individuals with traumatic brain injury. In each community CAP sought to educate individuals with disabilities about the benefits of CAP services, navigating OVR according to the community’s needs, while also addressing the current COVID-19 Pandemic.
CAP Executive Director Steve Pennington and Outreach Manager Andrew Pennington worked with the Christopher and Dana reeve foundation to deliver information to the Paralysis Resource Center of Pennsylvania. During this presentation CAP covered CAP’s services in relation to paralysis and the services afforded to them under WIOA. CAP also educated individuals regarding OVR’s closed order of selection and the best means of navigating OVR and CIL services.