RSA-227 for FY-2020: Submission #1136

Washington
09/30/2020
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Client Assistance Program
2531 Rainier Ave S
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Seattle
WA
98144
http://washingtoncap.org
206-849-2939
800-544-2121
888-721-6072
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Jerry Johnsen
Jerry Johnsen
206-849-2939
capjerryj@gmail.com
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
913
19
32
84
300
296
1644
B. Training Activities
24
206
The year 2020 presented unprecedented challenges to the Washington Client Assistance Program, to our customers, and to our partners providing Vocational Rehabilitation services. In March of 2020, five months into our Federal year the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in a mandated shut down of both our Blind and General VR offices that are scheduled to last until July of 2021. In addition, the Work Source office where CAP is housed was also closed. CAP and our VR agencies scrambled to make adjustment to a virtual/phone-based service delivery. VR customers struggled with loss of employment, housing, challenges of health care, providing basic needs for their families, and lack of access to technology needed to survive in the now virtual world. Parents had to deal with having their children at home as day care centers and schools were closed. VR professionals were equally affected as they struggled to make adjustments in both their professional and personal lives.

Moving to a virtual world presented challenges for both service providers and customers. Customer receiving and seeking services plummeted as survival hurdles forced them to rethink their priorities. Washington CAP too had to make major adjustments to the pandemic. As the lights dimmed in the VR offices and the flow of information became a trickle, CAP was forced to engage the VR world in a different fashion. Outreach and trainings efforts were curtailed and new strategies to engage the public were and still are being implemented.

CAP 2020 TRAINING ACTIVITIES
Prior to state wide office closures CAP provided in person training. After mid-March all training had to be done virtually.
CAP provided training to general VR staff on nine individual occasions. Primarily this training was broken down into individual offices or units. These units consisted of 5-9 persons. Topics covered included Vocational Rehabilitation Law, history of VR, CAP’s role in the VR system and conflict resolution. (63 persons)
CAP had the opportunity to provide the above training to 2 sessions of new VR employees (16 persons)
Provided two training to DSB staff on Topics covered included Vocational Rehabilitation Law, history of VR, CAP’s role in the VR system and conflict resolution. (25 persons)
Provided training to general agency and Blind agency SRCs on 4 occasions on rights and remedies with in the VR programs. (47 persons)
Provided training to community rehabilitation partners on two occasions. Topics covered included Vocational Rehabilitation Law, history of VR, CAP’s role in the VR system and conflict resolution. (25 persons)
Provided training to individual community members on Topics covered included Vocational Rehabilitation Law, history of VR, CAP’s role in the VR system and conflict resolution on 5 occasions. (30 persons)
C. Agency Outreach
2020 presented some major challenges to outreach as many community partners and social service agencies adjusted to working in virtual settings, closing their buildings and limiting their face-to-face services.
CAP continued to strengthen its relationship with the following organizations through mailings, phone calls and zoom contacts.

--Helen Keller National Center for Deaf Blind Youth.
--CAP worked to build relationships with both the general agency and the Blind agency SRC members to promote a wider destination of CAP information to the population they serve. This resulted in customers seeking our services who would not have been aware of VR or CAP services.
--Pre Covid-19, CAP staff volunteered at a homeless shelter talking with residents about VR services and the process to apply for those services.
--Prior to the schools closing their doors to face to face learning we spoke with educators about VR and transition services available to them and how CAP could assist.
--Prior to their closings we to reached out to customers being served in the WorkSource centers who were good candidates for VR services.
--CAP engaged the SRC in discussions of equity and diversity. We discussed with the agency director efforts to better recruit and promote staff representing minority and underserved populations.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
0
0
9700
1
0
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E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
CAP, in conjunction with a workgroup of VR agencies staff and VR partners, was instrumental in developing a Rehabilitation History portion for a YouTube VR 100 presentation. Although the bulk of the work occurred in FY 2020, the Washington VR 100 video was aired in October 2020.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
16
64
80
0
8
B. Problem areas
31
52
40
20
20
28
4
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
12
32
20
0
16
0
80
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
33
31
10
1
0
3
2
0
0
0
0
0
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E. Results achieved for individuals
24
2
6
6
7
25
8
2
0
0
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Part III. Program Data
A. Age
4
8
18
43
7
80
B. Gender
38
42
80
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
3
6
2
18
1
42
8
0
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
3
5
0
0
0
5
7
0
7
3
0
0
3
2
2
0
0
0
1
3
24
3
0
2
2
1
5
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
80
E. Types of Individuals Served
30
21
60
4
7
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
1
By far the greatest systemic issues of 2020 revolved around the Pandemic and the interruption of the delivery of VR services. The VR agencies, its partners, and the customers they served had to learn to work in a new way. With offices closed normal practices of meeting face to face ended and virtual communication and telephone communication became the new norm. Below are issues CAP identified with the general agency:

1) Availability of Technology: Many customers did not have access to basic technology: computers, WIFI and even cell phones.
2) Communication: Since VR staff were working at home, many customers were not able to reach their counselors and needed to leave messages on their voice mail. Since the libraries and schools were closed customers without home technology struggled with consistent communication.
3) Basic Survival: Customers became focused on the basics of life. Those who were depending on part time work found themselves unemployed and were faced with potential evictions, food insecurity, and medical challenges. Parents with young children experienced closures of day care and for those with school age children, the reality of home schooling/virtual classrooms. These issues and responsibilities became a barrier to focusing on VR services.
4) VR Partner Challenges: VR partners such as CRPs experienced a major reduction in case referrals and had to lay off staff and some had to close their doors. Doctors’ offices and clinics revamped their protocols restricting access to services.
5) 90 Day Referral Policy rescinded: As identified in last year’s report, the VR general agency enacted a policy that made it mandatory that all VR customers be referred to the WA State WorkSource offices for employment related help for 90 days before purchasing CRP services. This policy was highly ineffective as it did not take into consideration individualized services and customer choice. It was primarily an attempt to save money. In addition, communication and education with WorkSource offices were too little and too late. Customers were essentially being dumped onto another agency that was poorly equipped to address working with DVR’s most significantly disabled. Although CAP is pleased that after protesting, this short-sighted policy has been rescinded, the work to educate WorkSource partners on serving customers with disabilities is a lingering challenge.
6) Excessive Data Collection Requirements: From our perspective, one of the greatest obstacles created by WIOA has been the demands put on the VR system by Federal and State agencies to provide more data. In addition, the resulting creation of these policies and procedures stifle fundamental vocational counseling as counselors reporting responsibilities have taken priority over counseling and guidance. This shift in priorities trickles down to counselor relationships with customers and creates burnout with VR staff. CAP continues to address this issue with both its VR agencies as it reviews VR agency policy development. Unfortunately, most of these reporting requirements come from outside of the VR agencies.
7) SRC Collaboration: CAP continues to be a strong partner with both the Blind and General VR agencies’ SRCs, serving as chair of their policy committees. We also advocated with the DVR SRC to provide bonus payments for CRP’s struggling in the pandemic environment in order to keep options open for customers.

Finally, given the numerous challenges this year within the VR agencies, CAP appealed to VR to be flexible and patient with customers. Both VR agencies were sensitive to the pandemic related issues and adjusted their expectations.


B. Litigation
0
0
0
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Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-other nonprofit agency
Client Assistance Program
No
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B. Staff Employed
CAP Director: Full Time
Administrative Assistant: .33
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
1. Case Sample: Bob
Bob was 19-year-old student with Autism who was enrolled in a technology program at the community college. He had heard about DVR but had not yet applied. Bob was doing well in his program but he and his family recognized he needed help completing school and finding work. Bob’s father contacted CAP to learn more about VR services and the application process. CAP explained that DVR was in OOS and how the assessment process worked. CAP provided Bob and his father information not only on eligibility but the criteria DVR used to determine whether he was MSD or would be placed on the waiting list for services. CAP encouraged Bob to open about all his challenges so DVR could make an accurate assessment.

Bob’s application was successful and he was determined to meet the OOS criteria for those being served by DVR. When Bob began his planning with DVR, he asked to be able to continue his studies to pursue his lifelong interest in working in computer technology. DVR was resistant to provide continued support since they had not been involved in his plan, were not sure if the job market supported his goal, and felt procedures had been skipped. Bob, his family, and CAP argued that he was doing exceptionally well in school, loved what he was learning, and was receiving a great foundation for future related work.

CAP discussed with the counselor the mandates and intentions of WIOA to provide youth with disability opportunities for success with early intervention and training support. (Too often VR agencies loses sight of legislative intent blinded by the excessive procedural hurdles and data collection requirements.). The good news in this case is DVR chose to support Bob in his tech training with the understanding that adjustments would be made to his plan to customize his needs and employment opportunities.
Lessons learned: Our VR agencies need to be driven by their customers’ needs, learn to be flexible, accommodating, and supportive. The VR procedures should serve the customer and not be unnecessarily burdensome.

2.Sample Case: Jennifer
Jennifer was a 25-year-old female diagnosed with anxiety and autism. Jennifer came to CAP from the general VR program, (DVR), because she felt she was not given the opportunity to continue her training in nursing. CAP met with the DVR supervisor to review Jennifer’s case. Our discussion with DVR revealed that the Community College had asked Jennifer to leave their nursing program because of her inability to get along with some of the teaching staff.
DVR was moving to close Jennifer’s case because Jennifer would not let go of her goal to become a nurse and explore other vocational options. DVR felt very strongly that her goal was not in line with her personality and disability challenges. After CAP’s intervention, DVR offered not to close her case and to do a community-based assessment (CBA). Jennifer was reluctant to do a CBA unless it led back to supporting nursing, but CAP explained that the CBA would gather valuable information and was necessary in order to move forward with her DVR plan. Jennifer finally agreed to interview a CRP so she could create some options with DVR.

A virtual meeting was then held with all parties to make arrangements for the CBA. During the course of the meeting Jennifer became very concerned about being placed in any environment that could possibly expose her to COVID-19 since her elderly grandmother lived with her family. CAP advocated on Jennifer that she be able to put a hold on services until she felt safe. The option of closing her DVR case and reapplying presented a challenge since DVR was in OOS and the potential of being waited listed upon her return was an issue. A decision was made to put Jennifer’s case on hold until the pandemic environment allowed for her to be comfortable pursuing her CBA.

CAP’s involvement kept Jennifer’s case from being closed and allowed CAP to address with DVR the systemic issue of creating a safe environment and flexibility for its clients during the pandemic.




Certification
Approved
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