RSA-227 for FY-2020: Submission #1141

Alaska
09/30/2020
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Alaska State Department of Education & Early Dev.
801 West 10th Street, Suite 200
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Juneau
Alaska
99801
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Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
Disability Law Center of Alaska
3330 Arctic Blvd. #103
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Anchorage
99503
Alaska
akpa@dlcak.org
https://www.dlcak.org/
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1 - 800 - 478 - 1234
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Additional Information
David Fleurant
David Fleurant
907 - 565 - 1002
dfleurant@dlcak.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
6
2
1
0
0
8
17
B. Training Activities
2
27
- Alaska Center for the Blind -
We were asked by the Alaska Center for the Blind to present on employment discrimination and CAP. The 20 attendees, Alaskans who are blind or visually impaired or who work with the population were informed of basic employment law under the ADA and examples of employment discrimination. The event had a vast geographical reach, including rural areas.

- CAP, DVR, and supported employment info for parents -
The Alaska P&A was invited by the Stone Soup Group, Alaska's Parent Training and Information Center (PTI), and the Family-to-Family Health Information Center (F2F HIC). This agency primarily works with individuals who need Medicaid waiver assistance, often low-income families. We held our presentation for 7 people, staff, and parents. We were asked to inform about CAP and what is happening with DVR turning away individuals who need supported employment but are not on the waiver. Additionally, we talked about voting rights.



Footnote: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak we had to cancel several planned training events and multiple annual events did not take place at all, which negatively impacted the reach of our training activities this fiscal year.
C. Agency Outreach
During FY20, the Alaska P&A was participated in 4 outreach events and interacted with around 195 people. During our general outreach events, we distribute our publications and informational materials. We also explain the mission and history of the P&A’s and what the Alaska P&A can help with and what services we offer to people with disabilities. Many of these conferences and fairs draw interested parties from all over the state and allows us to reach communities we would otherwise not interact with.

- 2019 Behavioral Health Aide Forum -
The Special Projects Coordinator at the Behavioral Health Aide Program with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium invited us to provide information about our services at the 10th annual BHA Forum. This event allowed us to connect with rural and village-based Behavioral Health Aides to present them with information about our services and provide publications. We distributed close to 100 publications and discussed what our services are and how to access them. In addition to distributing publications at the event, we also got a request to send a box of all of our publications to a rural village. Attendees were primarily service providers like Behavioral Health Aides, Behavioral Health Practitioners, and behavioral health professionals.

- Anchorage Regional Behavioral Health Coalition Staff Meeting Presentation -
We were invited by the CEO of Choices, which is a peer and recovery-oriented organization specializing in the community-based outpatient treatment of co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders to share information about our work and about the rep payee situation at a meeting of the Anchorage Regional Behavioral Health Coalition. We shared information about our services and publications with a group of around 20 staff from behavioral health agencies. We also discussed the current situation regarding representative payees in the state. We heard stories from providers whose clients have wrongfully gone into direct pay status or lost their benefits altogether because they are incapable of managing their own funds and their payee has either quit or been shut down by Social Security for charging fees. This is putting people with disabilities at risk of homelessness, financial exploitation, or even physical harm. This event allowed us to connect with service providers of people who are highly vulnerable due to their significant disabilities, and whose benefits may be threatened or who possibly may even have suffered harm because of the situation with payees in Alaska. We were able to offer the people who are witnessing these situations a point of contact within our agency who might be able to advocate on their client's behalf with Social Security, and also referred them to communicate these stories to the delegation. Representatives from behavioral health agencies including representatives from Choices, Department of Corrections, NAMI, Anchorage Community Mental Health, RuralCAP, Department of Behavioral Health, Assets, the Arc of Anchorage, and Hope Community Resources, among others.

- Stand Down 2019 -
This year, like many previous years, we participated in Stand Down, an event to provide Veterans-in-need with all types of assistance including but not limited to: medical screening, legal assistance, housing assistance, and employment assistance. This project specifically assists veterans who are at risk of becoming homeless or who already are homeless We interacted with 40 individuals, men and women, old and young, and families of individuals with disabilities. Many people we spoke with were veterans with disabilities related to their time in the military.

- The Virtual Transition Fair -
We were invited by the Governor’s Council on Disabilities & Special Education to present at the Virtual Transition Fair 2020 to highlight services and supports that exist in Alaska for students with disabilities who are transitioning from high school. There were 35 attendees at the Zoom event, with 12 presentations from different organizations, including the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation, the Alaska Job Center Network, Senior and Disability Services, the Division of Behavioral Health, Stone Soup Group, the Department of Education and Early Development, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, the Center for Human Development, the Work Incentives and Planning Assistance, and the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education. Our staff gave an overview of our services, how to contact us, and talked more specifically about three areas that might be of interest to students around transition age. First, we highlighted the Client Assistance Program, as students may start accessing services through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Independent Living Centers while they transition out of school, and should be aware of the support that the Client Assistance Program can provide if they are having difficulty accessing those services. Second, we highlighted Supported Decision-Making Agreements, as students with disabilities transitioning from high school and their parents may be seeking information about guardianship or guardianship alternatives, and educating them on Supported Decision-Making Agreements may allow for individuals to have a less restrictive option than guardianship. Finally, P&A staff highlighted the voting rights of people with disabilities, as students approaching transition-age may be around 18 years old and able to vote for the first time. Overall, this event allowed us to share with students and their families how our services might be particularly helpful to them during this time of transition.



Footnote: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak we had to cancel a number of planned events and even more annual events did not take place. Unfortunately, it resulted in fewer outreach opportunities than planned and what is customary for us, in turn, this affects how many brochures we handed out and since the Vocational Rehabilitation offices in the state have been closed they have not contacted us for additional CAP brochures.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
3
0
0
1340
99503
0
There is no place to add a footnote, so we have elected to do so here. We would like to note that during the pandemic the distribution of physical brochures and publications has drastically gone down and essentially stopped for public health reasons. Our agency, vocational rehabilitation programs and other service providers closed their doors to the public and there was no need to restock the publications libraries. All our publication are available online and our intake team often send out publications to our callers, however, there is currently no way for us to track the digital dissemination of information.
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
Multiple service providers in Alaska use their website to provide information about CAP and the services of the P&A. Many of the providers link to our website for quick access for their clients. These service providers include: Statewide Independent Living Council of Alaska (SILC) https://www.alaskasilc.org/cap, Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) http://labor.alaska.gov/dvr/, Access Alaska (an Independent Living Center) http://accessalaska.org/services/advocacy/.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
9
4
13
0
1
B. Problem areas
0
4
9
0
0
0
0
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
12
0
0
0
0
0
12
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
4
2
1
1
0
3
0
0
1
0
0
0
{Empty}
E. Results achieved for individuals
0
1
0
0
1
5
1
0
0
4
In one case we withdrew because the individual would not cooperate. In another case we verified that the ILC treatment was appropriate and that the case lacked merit.
Two of the clients withdrew and therefore we did not achieve results.
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
0
1
3
9
0
13
B. Gender
8
5
13
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
0
2
1
1
0
8
1
0
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
2
4
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
4
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
13
E. Types of Individuals Served
10
0
0
3
0
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
0
N/A
B. Litigation
0
0
0
N/A
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-other public agency
State Department of Education and Early Development
Yes
Disability Law Center of Alaska
B. Staff Employed
The Alaska CAP utilizes several attorney and non-attorney advocates in three offices in the state to achieve statewide coverage. The P&A’s staffing arrangement provides for .81 fulltime equivalent employees, with 7 employees in Anchorage (0.71 FTE), 1 employee in Juneau (.04 FTE), and 1 employee in Fairbanks (.06 FTE) (currently vacant). The advocates in Juneau and Fairbanks respond to I&R requests, provide individual advocacy assistance, and conduct outreach in their communities. In the Anchorage office, an Intake Specialist takes the initial call, obtains information and/or paperwork, and passes the matter on to the CAP advocates for assessment. Individuals seeking CAP services can do so by contacting any of the three offices or submit an email request. The Anchorage office also maintains a statewide toll free 800 number for individuals outside of the hub communities.

Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
In one case, a 24-year-old man with autism and his case manager from the local Independent Living Center (ILC) called the Alaska P&A with a complaint against the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). The client claimed DVR was denying him services.

We spoke with the client and his case manager, and reviewed his file, then spoke with DVR. DVR believed the client needed supported employment and refused to allow him to apply because he did not have long-term supports in place. P&A staff informed DVR that they were not allowed, under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), to deny services to someone who needed supported employment because they did not have long-term supports in place. After DVR agreed to work with the client, P&A staff attended DVR orientation and the first counselor meeting with the client to ensure he was able to apply for services and start the eligibility process. According to his case manager, DVR is still working with the client to move towards employment.

Prior to the client contacting the Alaska P&A, he had been denied services through DVR on multiple occasions. Staff had encountered a number of these types of cases around the same time, for example where a 30-year-old woman with depression, skin conditions, traumatic brain injuries, and visual impairment called us for help with the same problem. Because of the Alaska P&A's advocacy, DVR management provided training and guidance to their staff about assisting those who need supported employment. DVR management has also provided information to other agencies about how DVR is assisting these individuals. Since that training was provided, we have not received any more cases in which DVR denied services to an individual who needed supported employment but did not have long-term support in place.

Addressing a different issue, a 35-year-old woman with an anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD, borderline personality disorder, and agoraphobia called the Alaska P&A with complaints against DVR because she was concerned they had closed her case and would not allow her to appeal that decision.

The client informed our staff that DVR had closed her case because they did not believe she was ready to participate in their program. When the client went to the DVR regional manager to appeal the decision, DVR told the client why they believed she was not ready to be employed, but they never addressed the appeal. We reviewed the client file and met with DVR. Turns out the DVR regional manager considered their discussion to be the formal appeal but they did not inform the client because they believed the client was aware. Because of the confusion DVR caused, and because the client had proved she was ready for employment by obtaining her own part-time job, they agreed to reopen the client’s case, utilizing her previous medical documentation and evaluations.

Prior to Alaska P&A’s involvement, DVR was not willing to work with the client because they did not believe she was ready for employment. Because of our advocacy, DVR agreed to reopen the client’s case using previous medical records and evaluations. Additionally, this DVR branch has enacted a new procedure where they will incorporate the formal appeal process verbiage when meeting with clients, in order to avoid any confusion in the future.

After following up with the client, we learned the client is dealing with some important personal issues that take priority over her DVR complaint. The client was encouraged to reapply with DVR when she is ready for their assistance.

In a fourth case, a 61-year-old male with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities expressed his concern with his treatment at DVR. His issues were related mainly to communication between him and his DVR counselor, and the services being provided. The client played a voicemail recording on his phone where the regional manager of the DVR branch told him that because he has not yet been found eligible for services, he has “no rights.” At one point his DVR counselor had made remarks indicating he would not be influenced by the client’s disabilities.

The counselor at DVR chose to place this client in a Trial Work Experience (TWE) in order to determine eligibility. Because DVR did not place him in a timely manner, the client found his own location to fulfill the TWE. The client believed the counselor, the regional manager, and the placement counselor were not providing him appropriate services.
The client requested his case be moved to another office so he would no longer be forced to work with his current counselor, the office’s regional manager, and the placement/job counselor. He also requested to bypass the TWE. The Alaska P&A staff agreed to submit a formal request to move his case, and request for him to bypass the TWE.

As a result of the Alaska P&A’s involvement, DVR moved the client’s case to the other local office and assigned him a new counselor. The client’s trial work experience was successfully completed, and he is cooperatively working on this employment plan with his new counselor. He hopes to begin cosmetology school soon following the conclusion of the case.

Lastly, a case involving an Independent Living Center (ILC), a 49-year-old woman with lupus, Epstein Barr, ADD/ADHD, and PTSD called us complaining about the Soldotna ILC. She was concerned about her treatment by the employees there, in part because they would not provide her with the information she requested about grants and loans available through their agency.

We spoke with a manager at the ILC about the client’s concerns and discussed in great detail the grants and loans available. P&A staff followed up with the client, providing her information regarding the grants and loans available, and informing her that the ILC management was willing to meet with her, and assist her with applying for the grant she was seeking. The P&A offered to telephonically attend the client’s next meeting with ILC management. Staff informed the client her case would be kept open for a few weeks should she want P&A staff to participate in her next meeting with the ILC.

Prior to the Alaska P&A’s intervention in this case, both the ILC staff and the client had trouble communicating and had come to an impasse. Because of the P&A, the client received the information she requested, and communication has been re-established between the parties. Often our most valued role in the community is as a bridge to help overcome communication gaps or provide tools to assist with self-advocacy.
Certification
Approved
David C. Fleurant
Executive Director
2020-12-28
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