RSA-227 for FY-2020: Submission #1135

Pennsylvania
09/30/2020
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Center for Disability Law & Policy
1515 Market Street
Suite 1300
Philadelphia
PA
19102
1(888)745-2357
1(888)745-2357
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Stephen S. Pennington
Stephen S. Pennington
(215)557-7112
steve@equalemployment.com
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
777
9
0
4
37
618
1445
B. Training Activities
20
779
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.
C. Agency Outreach
In FY 20, CAP continued its outreach efforts to the blind/visually impaired population.  In step with our focus on the transition population, CAP outreached to students who are blind/visually was our primary goal this year.  A few of the schools in PA for students who are blind/visually impaired that CAP outreached to this year included:   Overbrook School for the Blind, Widener Memorial School, St Lucy Day School for Children in Philadelphia, Royer-Greaves School for the Blind, and Western PA School for Blind Children in Pittsburgh was asked to do a presentation to staff and/or students and parents by 2 of these contacts in FY 21.   CAP ‘s goal is to make every blind/visually impaired student aware of CAP services.
CAP Advocate Margaret McKenna spent FY 2020 contacting individuals in Cameron county. This county was selected as one of the underserved counties to outreach as we did not have any cases from this county this year.  Cameron County is served by the DuBois district office.  Some of the agencies, programs, providers that were contacted in this county are:   The Center for Independent Living, CIL, serving this county in St Mary’s Lift and Independence for Today, LIFT; Goodwill Industries in St Mary’s; Dickinson Center; Autism Support Group in Emporium; and Cameron County School District.  
CAP Advocate Margaret McKenna reached out to the underserved Muscular dystrophy population in FY 2020. Some of my contacts to this unserved population included:
Hospital of the University of PA, Philadelphia MDA Office, Pittsburgh MDA office, Geisinger Neurology and Neurophysiology, Allentown MDA Office, and Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Neurology Department.  It is part of CAP’s mandate to outreach to such underserved populations.

CAP Advocate Lannette Suarez focused her attention on orthopedic and digestive populations. CAP Advocate Lannette Suarez contacted various organizations such as Scoliosis, Cerebral Palsy and Spina Bifida. In addition, CAP advocate reached out to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and Pittsburgh IBD Patient Support Group and distributed information about CAP services.

CAP Advocate Lannette Suarez continued to reach out to the rural communities. CAP Advocate Lannette contacted various organizations in the Lackawanna and Lycoming counties. These are some of the organizations that were contacted: Lycoming College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, DePasquale Staffing, Lycoming County Veterans Affairs, PA Career Link of Lycoming, Spherion, Experience Works, Hope Enterprises Community Employment Program, GEO Re-entry Service Center Program and Community Outreach Program. I also reached out to Allied Health Care, Keystone Works, Lackawanna County Veterans Affairs, Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging, Lackawanna College and Lackawanna County Women’s Resource Center.
CAP Outreach Manager Andrew Pennington spent the fiscal year 2020 outreaching Community Rehabilitation Providers who serve individuals and youth with disabilities. Supported Employment and Pre-E.T.S. providers along with CAP employees shared information regarding individual and group services and how they relate to the advocacy, advice, and consultation CAP provides. Through these relationships CAP was able to foster a better understanding of our services, while also being able to identify potential systemic issues that may create significant barriers for customers seeking services in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

CAP Outreach Manager Andrew Pennington also spent time reaching out to deaf and hearing-impaired youth in the School District Philadelphia. The youth, teachers, and their service providers were made aware of CAP services while also voicing concerns as they pertain to the deaf and hearing-impaired youth seeking Pre-E.T.S. services in the Philadelphia region. Which prompted more outreach within the Philadelphia School District by Andrew regarding CAP services and any potential information CAP can provide to educate youth on the services available to them under WIOA. CAP was also approached by PA State Representative Hohenstein during this outreach with questions regarding Deaf Youth and Vocational Rehabilitation services. CAP was able to inform Representative Hohenstein of the various services available to youth seeking services in Philadelphia County and how advocacy plays a prominent role in advancing the Deaf and hearing-impaired communities throughout the state.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
2
2
0
1061
8
0
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E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
CAP disseminated the following: The Pennsylvania Client Assistance program rack card in English and Spanish languages, PowerPoint presentations based around OVR services, Step by Step Guide to VR Services, as well as other information requested by agencies to inform individuals about services ,available in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, relating to WIOA.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
63
46
109
0
50
B. Problem areas
1
53
62
7
2
6
1
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
1
15
43
0
0
0
59
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
43
9
1
0
0
3
0
2
1
0
0
0
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E. Results achieved for individuals
20
0
0
0
32
6
1
0
0
0
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Part III. Program Data
A. Age
18
22
25
38
6
109
B. Gender
63
46
109
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
1
0
0
26
0
77
2
3
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
3
2
2
2
3
0
20
1
5
6
0
5
1
3
0
2
0
0
1
9
17
0
1
1
11
7
0
0
0
7
0
0
0
0
109
E. Types of Individuals Served
14
11
61
3
19
1
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
1
CAP raised a number of systemic issues with OVR that were addressed during the FY 2020 grant year. These included the lack of a: (1) Pre-ETS policy, (2) MOU with the Pennsylvania Department of Education to coordinate transition services, and (3) revised transition policy to conform to the 2014 amendments to Title IV of WIOA. Also, in FY 2020 CAP negotiated an agreement with OVR to obtain non-individualized aggregate data reported on its RSA-911 to assess the agency's performance in various critical areas, including the delivery of services to students and youth, the ratio of successful employment outcomes to unsuccessful, and compliance with Section 511 of the Act.
B. Litigation
0
0
0
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Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-other nonprofit agency
Center for Disability Law & Policy
No
N/A
B. Staff Employed
Pa. CAP employees four full time employees and two part time employees for a total of 5 person years. The full time employees include the CAP Director, two individual case advocates and a communication/outreach specialist. The part time employees include an administrative assistant and bookkeeper. The CAP Director is responsible for the administration of the program and oversees the provision of CAP activities. The CAP advocates assist applicants and clients of the VR program, Centers for Independent Living, CRPs and other programs funded under Title I of the Act in accordance with the CAP activities set out in Section 112 of the Act. The communications/outreach specialist provided information to individuals and the community regarding CAP, VR and the ADA.
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
In FY (Fiscal Year) 2020, one of PA CAP’s cases involved a 62-year-old. The client had orthopedic issues and Epstein Barr. The client requested CAP (Client Assistance Program) assistance with improving communication and expediting this process so the client could receive the 4 pieces of farm equipment, 2 of which were an ATV and a winch feeder, which would give the client the ability to continue farming. When this client initially contacted CAP, the client was about ready to put the farm up for auction as the client was unable to continue to do the physical tasks necessary to maintain the farm.
CAP Advocate Margaret McKenna contacted OVR, gathered some information, reviewed the assessment that was done months ago and requested a meeting with the person who did the onsite farm assessment, OVR, the client and CAP. The client, CAP and OVR, went over the policy and it was clear that the 4 pieces of equipment which were recommended because of this assessment were allowable, and they were not included in the not allowable equipment in the policy. CAP Advocate Margaret McKenna advised the assessor on how to best communicate on our call with OVR the necessity of these pieces of equipment for this client to perform the tasks the client needed to continue farming within functional limitations. The meeting was successful as CAP communicated to OVR that these pieces of equipment were allowable as per their Farm policy. The assessor clarified how each piece of equipment would allow the client to accomplish the specific task the client needed to do within the client’s physical limits to maintain and improve the client's livelihood on the client's farm.

In the second CAP case example for Advocate Margaret McKenna, a client contacted CAP requesting help with getting a prosthesis as client is an above the knee amputee and client needed a new prosthesis to work. When the client initially contacted CAP, the client was on the waiting list. CAP Advocate Margaret McKenna told the client; CAP would do some investigation into the client’s waiting list status to see if anything could be done or any other resource was available to help the client pay for the client’s prosthesis as the client needed is this prosthesis to start employment.
The client needed funding for a prosthetic leg. The Advocate Margaret McKenna reached out to the OVR counselor and confirmed the client status on the waiting list, and it was correct. The advocate did some research and asked the counselor for any other resources to help with funding for client’s prosthesis. During this time, the advocate stayed connected with the client and provided some advice regarding the process of submitting it to the client’s medical insurance, other funding. During this time of follow up, OVR implemented a new policy to specifically help this type of individual, who is on the waiting list and had a job pending for which they needed a particular cost service to keep their job. Fortunately, this client fit the criteria of OVR’s new job retention policy. CAP advocate became aware of this policy for clients on the waiting list, the advocate immediately contacted the counselor, who was not familiar with this new policy yet. The advocate then reached out to the supervisor and the counselor was informed of this situation and was told to refer this client to their job retention counselor who started the process of making sure the client met the criteria for the job retention policy set forth in this new policy. The advocate provided a lot of follow up and help with this client’s employer and the job retention counselor to help this client become approved as a job retention case sooner than later. The gathering of the facts, the investigation of the process, and the communication between the client and OVR, the advocate’s awareness and follow up regarding the new job retention policy, the patience and follow through of the client and the consultation and guidance provided by the advocate were all vital components of this client receiving the new prosthesis. This case illustrates the importance of advocacy through awareness and communication with the client and OVR. As a result of this experience, the client will now be volunteering as a peer mentor to other amputees. This interesting case is an example of how our advocacy work can benefit individuals with disabilities in our community.

CAP advocate Lannette Suarez assisted a 64-year-old client that was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epilepsy who was receiving home health aide services from the Center for Living Independent (CIL) Due to the disability, client was unable to perform activities of daily living. The client was receiving services from the Center for Independent Living (CIL) but was not satisfied with the services. The client expressed concern that client might not have any aides for during the evening shift. The client contacted CAP seeking support to resolve the concerns. CAP Advocate Lannette Suarez communicated with the Center for Independent Living (CIL) to inform them that if client does not have home health aides during the evening shift that could place the client at imminent risk. The CIL indicated that the client will be provided with home health aides for the evening shift and the Center for Independent Living (CIL) is in the process of replacing the current aides. The CIL indicated that no aides will be removed until they can find replacements for the current aides. CAP advocate suggested that they compile a list of aides that client can be provided choice for attendant care. As a result of CAP’s efforts, the issue was resolved. The Center for Independent Living (CIL) agreed to provide the client with new home health aides so the client’s needs will be met.

In the next CAP case example for Advocate Lannette Suarez, a successful result was achieved for a young client doing well in college. This case involved a 28-year-old client that was diagnosed with PTSD and pursuing a post graduate degree with the hopes of becoming a teacher. The client was having problems finding employment. The client provided documentation from several companies and made the decision to return to school to obtain a postgraduate degree. The client contacted CAP because the client had reached an impasse with OVR and needed assistance in paying for the final semester in college. VR counselor felt that the client had transferrable skills therefore did not need additional training. Through a series of telephone calls with supervisor, CAP advocate Lannette Suarez requested a meeting with the Assistant District Administrator, supervisor, VR counselor, client, and CAP to address client’s concerns. We discussed what OVR needed to justify paying for college coursework. OVR expressed some concerns because the goal on the IPE did not coincide with client’s graduate courses. After some counseling and guidance with OVR, it was agreed that OVR would amend the client’s IPE to reflect the new goal.
In summary, the issue was resolved and OVR agreed to fund the client’s post graduate degree. This case illustrates the importance of effective communication in the vocational rehabilitation process and the role CAP can play in facilitating this kind of communication. Through CAP’s intervention, the client has a better understanding of how the VR process works and will be able to receive the training needed to obtain employment.
Certification
Approved
Stephen S. Pennington
CEO/Pres.
2020-12-28
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