RSA-227 for FY-2020: Submission #1140

California
09/30/2020
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Rights California
1831 K Street
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SACRAMENTO
CA
95811
800-719-5798
800-719-5798
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Connie Chu
JoAnn Parayno
(510) 267-1232
joann.parayno@disabilityrightsca.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
1296
0
0
0
193
1316
2805
B. Training Activities
35
1149
In fiscal year 2020, Disability Rights California (DRC) utilized Client Assistance Program (CAP) funds for training throughout California to serve and support people with disabilities. In training programs, DRC provided 35 statewide trainings to 1,149 individuals. These trainings focused on transition services for young adults, educational and vocational goals, reasonable accommodations and ADA in employment, barriers to accessing employment, and providing information about the CAP to underserved people throughout the state, including youth, Asian and Latino communities as well as Deaf, low vision, and blind communities.
For example, on October 29, 2019, DRC participated in a training with Fiesta Educativa, an organization serving the Hispanic/Latino communities in Southern California. The audience included 30 young adults with disabilities including underserved individuals from low-income and monolingual communities. Participants were eager to learn about pathways to employment including CAP services, pre-employment transition, Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), workability, and information about regional centers.
DRC also reached 50 monolingual Cantonese parents of children with disabilities at the January 11, 2020 Support for Families Support Services Workshop. DRC provided self-advocacy training and information about supported employment available through DOR and ticket-to-work programs for Social Security beneficiaries. Parents learned how to advocate for improved education and employment options for their children in their preferred language.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CAP moved from in-person trainings to virtual, using Zoom to deliver information to statewide audiences.
For example, in May 2020, DRC presented a statewide Employment Training Series via webinar to 160 individuals with disabilities whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19. DRC provided substantive training and overview of DOR, regional centers, and American Job Centers. Information was available in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language (ASL).
On June 15, 2020, staff gave an overview of DRC and CAP services to members of the Orange County Asperger’s Support Group. The 30 young adult self-advocates who attended the webinar included public benefit recipients, low-income, and transition-age individuals.
DRC participated in the August 20, 2020 Southern California panel, Information is Power: Transition Services. At this training, staff explained how different agencies such as school districts, DOR, and regional centers can help young people with disabilities as they move into adult life. The training also reviewed pre-employment transition services available to students with disabilities as well as their right to competitive integrated employment. The 107 attendees were primarily Hispanic/Latino, low-income, and monolingual families from several Southern California counties.
C. Agency Outreach
DRC continued its ongoing outreach to unserved and underserved mono-lingual, limited English proficient, and marginalized communities. In fiscal year 2020, CAP staff participated in 5 outreach events, reaching a total of 283 people. DRC’s ability to participate in large outreach events was impacted significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before statewide “stay-at-home” orders were issued by the Governor, community partners began contacting us to postpone or cancel events.

Prior to the pandemic, DRC participated in the October 4, 2019 event, Life After High School: Transition Services for Students at a Southern California regional center. At this event, DRC staff presented to monolingual Spanish-speaking parents as well as families with children with ID/DD about the differences between students and vocational rehabilitative services. Families were given an overview of various DRC services, programs, and eligibility and publications were offered in both English and Spanish.

On November 5, 2019, DRC participated in an Advisory Committee meeting and networking event at Fresno City College. Our advocates connected with students, community members, and staff in the Disabled Student Services Office about DRC and CAP services including our work with youth, language distinct individuals, and community leaders.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
0
0
0
15174
40
0
N/A
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
N/A
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
248
300
548
111
98
B. Problem areas
22
146
298
36
0
37
0
9
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
448
31
114
0
7
11
612
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
324
218
7
3
6
30
6
1
11
2
0
0
N/A
E. Results achieved for individuals
349
5
0
7
75
102
7
63
0
0
N/A
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
8
55
147
289
49
548
B. Gender
289
259
548
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
118
9
28
131
3
219
25
15
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
2
22
1
1
3
35
39
6
43
27
1
22
23
13
3
0
1
7
5
7
134
3
5
5
13
63
1
0
0
34
1
0
0
28
548
E. Types of Individuals Served
93
5
577
12
8
12
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
2
During the review period, DRC continued to participate on advisory boards and stakeholder committees to promote and increase employment for people with disabilities. On a quarterly basis, staff met regularly with a steering committee comprised of leaders from the California Departments of Rehabilitation (DOR), Education, and Developmental Services to discuss the implementation of the “Blueprint,” a proactive interagency plan developed by these three California agencies to coordinate how the State will work together to increase opportunities for Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to prepare for and participate in CIE. The goals of the Blueprint include engaging eligible individuals in more employment preparation services and other training and helping people to make informed decisions to support a transition to work in the community. Each year, the various state agencies propose to collectively increase the number of individuals with ID/DD in CIE by a specific targeted outcome. This year, the agencies proposed to increase the number by only 100. DRC expressed concern that this number was too low and the agencies were not addressing systemic barriers to CIE. As a result of our advocacy, the agencies agreed that the targeted outcome would be an increase of 25% or 376 over the year two CIE outcome. DRC continues to advocate for systemic barriers to be identified and addressed so that the targeted outcomes can increase more significantly in future years. DRC also provided feedback on the Competitive Integrated Employment Annual Report for the second reporting year, as well as a CIE webinar for providers serving individuals with I/DD and their families.

DRC also participated in the Employment First Committee of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, which is responsible for identifying and promoting strategies that increase the number of people in CIE. This year the committee created workgroups to develop recommendations for the Governor’s new Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery and to determine what data would be most relevant in determining outcomes and barriers to CIE. DRC participates in both workgroups.

DRC also works to change DOR policies and practices by working directly with DOR. For the past 8 years, DRC has served on the California State Rehabilitation Council (SRC), which is responsible for reviewing, evaluating and advising the DOR regarding its policies and performance. The SRC works to ensure the DOR meets its mission of employment, independence and equality for people with disabilities. During the review period, the DRC advocate appointed to the SRC left the agency. While waiting for the Governor to make a new appointment of staff, DRC staff participated in SRC meetings as public members, but were not able to make recommendations about DOR policies. The Governor finally appointed another DRC staff to the SRC on October 2, 2020.

The CAP management team also meets with DOR executive team members quarterly. During these meetings, we raise systemic issues we have seen. For example, this year, CAP identified a problem of DOR staff attending mediation sessions, but saying that they have no settlement authority. This was extremely frustrating and inefficient for clients, advocates, and the mediators. We spoke with the DOR executive team about this issue. As a result of our advocacy, they agreed to train their DOR managers and supervisors, to clarify to them that they do have settlement authority at mediations, and to identify key DOR staff that they can contact during a mediation, should they have any questions.
B. Litigation
2
1
0
CAP did not engage in any class action litigation during the reporting period using CAP funding, but did file a petition for writ of administrative mandamus to appeal an unfavorable administrative hearing decision. We represented JJ, a DOR client who was seeking assistance for an employment goal of “forensic psychologist” which required a doctorate. The DOR denied his goal, arguing that because he had a master’s degree in a related counseling field, he could use that degree to work, and they were not required to support his dream. Unfortunately, despite clear guidelines in state regulations and federal law regarding a person’s right to informed choice concerning their career goal, and to maximize employment opportunities, CAP continues to see employment goals denied based on this type of reasoning.
CAP represented the client at an administrative hearing. Although the administrative law judge concluded that the client’s requested goal was consistent with his personal and professional strengths, he determined that the DOR was not required to fund a doctoral program or support the goal because JJ would be able to seek employment with his existing degree. The judge failed to consider the Rehabilitation Act as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which strongly favors career advancement and creating opportunities for people with disabilities to excel to their full potential.
After the hearing and before filing the petition for writ, CAP met with DOR executives and legal counsel to discuss our concerns about the misapplication of state regulations and failure to apply federal law. We also discussed our concerns that the DOR had not updated the state regulations to become consistent with WIOA, creating confusion about agency staff. Eventually, the DOR agreed that the counselor would meet with the client again to discuss supporting him in his desired employment goal. However, the timeline to appeal the hearing decision was approaching, and no Individualized Plan for Employment had been drafted. Therefore, to preserve our client’s appeal timeline, we filed the petition for writ, but agreed not to serve the DOR with the complaint until we were required to do so, and to continue negotiations. Eventually, the DOR agreed to support the client in his employment goal, and to arrange a meeting to develop the Individualized Plan for Employment.
Our advocacy addressed the systemic issue of the impact of DOR’s failure to update its regulations to be consistent with WIOA’s mandates concerning maximizing employment, and denials of high education. The DOR has advised us that it has updated these regulations, and that it will be providing us with draft language and the opportunity to provide initial comment in November 2020, before the regulations are officially submitted for public comment.
In addition to this case, we also provided direct representation to other individuals in the administrative hearing process with the DOR.
For example, WB is a college student pursuing a career in hospitality management. While still a high school student, she applied for services from the DOR to obtain support for her vocational goal. She applied to two public schools in California, but was not accepted. She considered her local community college as well, but determined that it did not offer the curriculum that was required for her major.

She was accepted to an out-of-state public school, and requested the DOR’s assistance in obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. Her counselor noted that the local community college did not offer the spectrum of classes she would need for her vocational goal, her college of choice had an inclusive and supportive disability program, and that the client had received a scholarship for out-of-state students, which reduced her tuition costs. However, despite this information, the District Administrator agreed to funding only the latter 2 years at the California public university rate, and only up to the community college rate for the first 2 years.

After unsuccessfully appealing this decision at an administrative review, the client sought assistance from CAP, which represented her at an administrative hearing. CAP argued that attending the out-of-state college both met her vocational needs and was more cost effective overall, since going to her local community college first (and then transferring to her college) would extend the time she needed to complete her degree since her university would accept very few of the credits from the community college. The administrative law judge agreed that, based on the needs of the client and the timeliness, availability, and cost of training, the DOR should pay for her first 2 years of college at the California public university rate.
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Disability Rights California
No
N/A
B. Staff Employed
CAP services were provided by professional staff of 10.66 PTE with 9.22 years and clerical staff of 2.13 PTE with 2.07 years.
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
1. DOR Agrees to Fund Training for Client to Pursue Career as Makeup Artist

ML is a person with disabilities and requires services from the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) to reach her employment goal of becoming a paramedical permanent makeup artist. ML's plan is to focus her practice on paramedical procedures such as scar camouflage. DOR agreed to assist ML with training through an accredited private school in California. However ML discovered that the school did not specialize in paramedical permanent makeup. ML made a request to DOR to attend a private school in Utah that specializes in paramedical permanent makeup training, but her request was denied because the school was not approved by the Bureau for Private and Post secondary Education (BPPE). ML contacted the CAP program for assistance.

After reviewing DOR's own policy, CAP discovered that the BPPE only applied to out-of-state schools that offered online training to students in California, which the school did not. CAP also discovered that DOR can work with private out-of-state schools if they are approved by an accredited agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, which the client’s desired school is. CAP agreed to contact the DOR Team Manager assigned to ML's case and requested that they enter into an agreement with the school because it was approved by the US Dept. of Education, and because the tuition was less expensive than the private school in California that DOR originally recommended. As a result of CAP's advocacy, DOR agreed to fund ML's enrollment in the school in addition to lodging, transportation, and airfare so that ML could attend the school for her paramedical permanent makeup training.


2. Client Overcomes Barriers to Advanced Training
RG is diagnosed with multiple disabilities and went to the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) with several years of experience in the medical field. RG clearly communicated to her counselor that she was seeking training from the DOR to advance from a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) to a Registered Nurse (RN). The DOR and RG developed an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) together.

RG began taking the prerequisite academic courses required to enter an RN program. After completing these courses, the DOR stated that RG had completed her training and was ready to seek employment. Unbeknownst to RG, her written IPE stated an employment goal as an LVN, not RN. CAP represented the client at an Administrative Review, where the District Administrator agreed to fund advanced training from LVN to RN, as well as RN exam fees, application fees, licensing fees, and official transcripts.

The DOR also denied the client childcare services. CAP successfully represented RG in mediation. DOR agreed to fund childcare for RG’s two children during class hours, plus one hour for travel on school days.

3. DRC Helps Client Pursue Doctorate Degree
When it comes to beating odds, CM has beaten most of them. Her success story is one that will not only inspire but will show what a person can do when they are determined to succeed. CM reached out to CAP, distraught that her Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) was not being approved. While she already had obtained her bachelors and master’s degree, she was told that she would not be able to obtain a PHD because the DOR did not want fund to fund any further education. CM attempted to self-advocate for over five years, explaining numerous times to DOR that she wanted to have support in earning a PHD in Civil Engineering /Urban Planning. However, she was denied again and again based on the fact that she had a master’s degree.

When CAP stepped in to assist CM, we explained to DOR that having a PHD would help CM become more competitive in the job market. Since CM is African American, and a woman seeking to enter a male dominated industry, it was very important that she have as much education as her peers to be able to compete on a level playing field. After months of negotiations, meetings, and emails, DOR finally conceded. CM would be able to get her PHD. DOR also agreed to fund CM’s school applications, transportation, books, technology, private tutoring, employment coaching, professional resume writing assistance and all fees for licenses.

CM was accepted into her dream school to pursue her PhD in Civil Engineering /Urban Planning. After her final negotiation meeting attended by DRC and DOR, she began to cry and said it was out of relief that she could now finally obtain her education, thanks to CAP’s advocacy efforts.

4. Client Receives Assistance to Pursue Path to Clergy
JC is a client of the DOR with an IPE to pursue his education and experience in clergy. JC attended a certificate program at his church so that he could participate in an unpaid teaching opportunity at a seminary to develop his experience. His IPE included the DOR's support for a bachelor's degree, but after JC obtained his certification, the DOR said they would not support any further training and JC would need to look for paid employment. JC was concerned because he would not be able to work as clergy without further education. He contacted CAP for help.

CAP represented JC at meetings with the DOR to discuss his services. JC's IPE did not reflect his need to attend school part time as a reasonable accommodation to his disability. As a result, proposed timelines in his IPE had passed without him meeting the planned-for milestones. Therefore, his IPE would need to be amended and the timeline for completion extended.

CAP staff requested that the DOR support JC with obtaining a Bachelors and Master's degree at a private school, since the program needed was not available at public school. The DOR refused and said it would need to conduct a vocational assessment before providing any additional services. JC disagreed and CAP represented JC at an Administrative Review.

As a result of the Administrative Review, the DOR agreed to support JC's employment goal of Clergy and amend his IPE without any further assessments. The DOR also agreed to fund his training at a private school but unfortunately, the DOR did not agree to support a Master’s program.

CAP discussed JC’s right to appeal this decision, but he was happy with the outcome and decided not to appeal the DOR's denial of a Master's degree program. DRC provided him with advice about his options to pursue further training services from the DOR, should he change his mind. CAP then represented JC in negotiations with the DOR to finalize his IPE. His IPE includes application and transcript fees for his undergraduate applications, training services at a private school and employment services to be provided when he finishes his Bachelor’s degree program. The CAP also ensured that his IPE included his need to attend school on a part time basis due to his disability. JC is happy with the CAP services he received and looks forward to enrolling in college.


5. Client Receives Self-Advocacy Skills and Equipment to Pursue Employment Search
SN is a person with multiple disabilities. She has a vocational goal of nutritionist. The DOR supported SN in obtaining her master’s degree and is currently looking for employment. Unfortunately, the two-wheel scooter that the DOR purchased for SN was stolen, resulting in her being unable to travel for interviews and other job search related activities. The DOR referred her for a mobility evaluation to recommend a replacement scooter. Though she has used a two-wheel scooter for most of her life, the DOR's Mobility Evaluation Program (MEP) recommended a three-wheel scooter. She disagreed with this recommendation because the MEP previously recommended a two-wheel scooter, and her strength and balance had not changed since the last evaluation. Additionally, her DOR issued laptop was not working and the DOR delayed replacing the laptop. SN represented herself in an Administrative Review (AR). The AR decision said that the DOR would replace the laptop, but that it would only fund a three-wheel scooter. SN disagreed and contacted CAP for assistance in an appeal.

CAP contacted the MEP on SN’s behalf to clarify the recommendations in the reports. CAP also provided SN with advice to help her appeal the AR decision and to prepare for mediation. SN successfully advocated for herself at mediation and was able to obtain an agreement with the DOR to expedite the replacement laptop. The DOR also signed an interim agreement where they agreed to review an evaluation by SN's own doctors to determine an appropriate scooter. With CAP’s help, SN was able to successfully resolve her concerns.

6. Amid Pandemic, Client Reevaluates and Pursues New Career Path
SW has been a client of the DOR since 2014. He initially wanted to work in the Business Enterprise Program, a program that trains people who are blind to own and operate vending facilities in state buildings. After years of difficulty accessing the services he needed to enter the program, CAP assisted SW in developing a plan of action with the DOR to obtain the services he needed to prepare for the BEP training program admissions process. However, in March 2020, the BEP program closed due to COVID-19. Due to the lack of progress, unavailability of services and communication issues developed and the DOR told SW that it planned to close his case. CAP contacted DOR to prevent the case closure. At that time, SW had decided to reevaluate his employment goal. He has several years of experience in community theater and a degree in communications. He also previously passed the CBEST and has some experience substitute teaching. SW decided to he would like to pursue employment as a drama, theater, and communications teacher.

CAP represented SW in negotiations with the DOR to amend his IPE to his chosen vocational goal. SW will be able to work remotely as a substitute teacher while he works to obtain his teaching credential. The DOR agreed to provide him with the training and equipment he needs to work and study in a virtual format. SW feels his new goal is a better fit for him and is excited to begin his services and obtain employment in a field he is passionate about.

7. DRC Intervenes to Help Client with Employment Goal as Paralegal, with Provisions
AN contacted CAP after representing herself at a hearing with the DOR regarding disputes about reimbursements and services to be included in her IPE. Per the December 2019 hearing decision, the DOR was ordered to reimburse AN for out-of-pocket costs and to meet with her to finalize an IPE amendment for her vocational goal of paralegal within 60 days. Despite her self- advocacy efforts, the DOR failed to implement the order within the timeline. AN contacted CAP for assistance.

CAP represented AN in two IPE meetings to negotiate with the DOR on her behalf to obtain her requested services from the DOR. The DOR finally issued the reimbursement checks to AN. Additionally, with the support of CAP, AN was able to finalize her IPE amendment. The amendment includes the additional time for AN to obtain her employment goal and the provision of the following services: As needed travel costs for interviews, training and other VR-related activities; assistive technology and computer skills evaluation, devices and training; eye glasses; business and professional fees; and continuing legal education to maintain current certifications.

Through CAP advocacy, AN is now receiving the services she needs to achieve her employment goal.

8. DOR Agrees to Support Veteran to Become a Drone Pilot
TO is a veteran who worked for many years in the aviation field. In his role, he was responsible for supervising many employees. This, combined with his many other responsibilities, became overwhelming and exacerbated his anxiety disorder and depression. He decided to switch careers and applied to the DOR for support for his employment goal of drone pilot.

The DOR denied this goal, stating that because he had a Master’s in Business Administration degree, he was ready for employment. The DOR denied further training, offered only to help TO find employment, and threatened to close his case if he did not agree to this plan. TO decided to close his DOR case because he was being denied his informed choice with regards to employment goal and felt he had no other options.

After his case was closed, TO contacted CAP. We represented him at an Administrative Review to appeal the DOR’s denial and advocate that the DOR reopen his case and develop an IPE for drone pilot. CAP advocated that had the right to choose his own goal so long as it was consistent with his abilities, interests, and the positive labor market for drone pilots. DOR denied the request again, so CAP filed for mediation and fair hearing. At mediation, TO and the DOR still could not reach an agreement. However, a week after the mediation, DOR agreed to re-open TO’s case, develop an IPE for “drone pilot” in a self-employment setting, and assist him with developing a small business plan for DOR to review.


9. DOR Agrees to Support Client with Assessment, Job Coaching, and Assistive Technology Services
DH is a person who has been unemployed for many years. She is blind and has an intellectual/development disability. She was receiving services from the DOR to support her in a “homemaker plan.” However, due to the passage of WIOA, the definition of employment outcome changed, and the DOR would no longer support that type of plan. She contacted CAP because the DOR told her that her case would be closed if she did not decide on a new employment goal. She had a homemaker plan, but once DOR no longer supported homemaker plans due to a change in the law, her counselor chose a random employment goal instead, without engaging meaningfully with the client.

DH knew that she wanted to work, but did not know what type of work would be a good fit for her. CAP negotiated with the DOR and the DOR agreed to fund a two-week assessment at the Orientation Center for the Blind (OCB). OCB recommended job coaching and DRC advocated for DH to obtain this service from her regional center.

DH decided that she wanted an employment goal in customer service and worked with the DOR to develop an IPE that reflected that goal. The DOR also agreed to provide an assistive technology assessment, which recommended a MacBook Pro to accommodate the client’s blindness. The DOR agreed to provide that computer along with remote training on how to use it, in consideration of the client’s transportation limitations and the pandemic.
Certification
Approved
Andrew Imparato
Executive Director
2020-12-18
OMB Notice

OMB Control Number: 1820-0528, approved for use through 07/31/2023

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