RSA-227 for FY-2020: Submission #1147

Utah
09/30/2020
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Law Center
205 North 400 West
{Empty}
Salt Lake City
UT
84103
801-363-1347
{Empty}
(800)662-9080
{Empty}
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
Additional Information
Eliza Stauffer
Adina Zahradnikova
801-363-1347
azahradnikova@disabilitylawcenter.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
6
0
0
0
0
6
12
B. Training Activities
13
512
Alpine School District Transition Fair
Two DLC advocates attended the Alpine School District Transition Fair in American Fork on November 20th and provided information to 60 attendees on the DLC’s services. We were able to discuss services relevant to the transition-age population such as VR and CAP services, benefits planning, and employment discrimination.

Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind (USDB) Blind College and Career Fair
An EM team advocate tabled at USDB’s College and Career Transition Fair for students who are blind or have visual impairments on November 5th at the USDB campus. We provided information to attendees on DLC services, including fact sheets about employment rights for people with disabilities and braille cards with our contact info. We reached 80 attendees with information, including several deaf-blind students. An article was posted on the event: https://kjzz.com/news/local/job-fair-for-utah-deaf-blind-students-offers-unique-career-advice

Presentation to Granite SD Transition Staff on DLC Services
On November 13th, an EM team advocate presented to 15 Granite School District Transition Coordinators on the DLC’s services, including how we can assist transition-aged students with disabilities. The presentation focused on our benefits planning program, CAP work, and we were even able to discuss some SSA work incentives and how to talk to parents about work and SSA benefits.

Roads to Independence Pre-ETS Presentation
An EM team advocate and the DLC’s benefits planner presented to 15 transition-aged students and their teachers at Roads to Independence in Ogden on November 26th. The students participate in Roads’ Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) contract through the VR program. The presentation focused on explaining DLC services and the students’ rights in several areas including self-determination, employment, education and working with VR. We also discussed benefits planning services and ABLE accounts.

Workability Job Fair
The Workability Job Fair is open to people with disabilities seeking employment and is held bi-annually at the Sanderson Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Interpreters are on hand to assist attendees who use sign language to communicate with service providers and employers. The fair was held during Q1 on October 8th and DLC advocates provided information to 122 attendees on asking for reasonable accommodations at work, employment discrimination and DLC services.

Salt Lake City Human Rights Day Celebration
EM team advocates tabled at Salt Lake City’s Human Rights Day Celebration on December 5th and provided information to 21 attendees on the DLC’s efforts to protect the rights of people with disabilities in Utah. The event was well attended by the Latinx community and several other of Salt Lake’s minority communities.
Canyons School District Transition Fair
The employment team tabled at the Canyons School District Transition Fair on January 28th and spoke with 34 teachers and transition staff about the DLC’s services, especially as they relate to issues transition-age students may face. Canyons is planning to hold two fairs this year- one for teachers and one for parents and students.

Davis School District Transition Fair
The DLC attended the Davis School District Transition fair on March 3rd and spoke to 84 attendees about DLC services, especially related to employment and other transition issues. We spoke to several attendees about ABLE accounts, and benefits planning.

Granite School District Transition Fair
The EM team hosted an information table at Granite School District’s spring transition fair on February 13th at the Hilda B. Jones Center. The team spoke to 46 people about various transition related topics, including vocational rehabilitation services, employment rights, and education rights.

Tooele School District Transition Presentation
During Q2 an EM team advocate worked with the Tooele School District to record a presentation on the DLC’s various areas of work to be used for a virtual transition fair. Tooele School District has struggled to increase attendance at its in-person transition fairs, and to address this and provide information to more families, is creating an online portal where families can learn more about various providers. In addition to a recorded presentation, the advocate provided the district with several DLC fact sheets and brochures to link to on the website on issues relevant to transition youth and their families.

VR Basic Counselor Orientation and Training (BCOT)
Utah’s VR agency holds a multi-day BCOT training for new rehabilitation counselors. During Q2 a CAP advocate trained seven new VR counselors on January 30th. The training covered the DLC’s advocacy efforts to help clients and applicants of VR overcome barriers to employment and successfully engage in VR services. The team was able to explain our CAP advocacy philosophy, approach to cases, and case trends to the new counselors. We plan to continue providing this training to new counselors upon request.

Volunteers of America (VOA) Presentation on DLC Services
On March 2nd, an EM team advocate presented to 14 members of VOA’s administrative team on DLC services and case criteria. The presentation and questions focused on the DLC’s employment and housing work. We were able to answer several questions about reasonable accommodations.
VR Basic Counselor Orientation and Training (BCOT)
Utah’s VR agency holds a multi-day BCOT training for new rehabilitation counselors. During Q4 a CAP advocate trained fourteen new VR counselors on September 15. The training covered the DLC’s advocacy efforts to help clients and applicants of VR overcome barriers to employment and successfully engage in VR services. The team was able to explain our CAP advocacy philosophy, approach to cases, and case trends to the new counselors. We plan to continue providing this training to new counselors upon request.
C. Agency Outreach
In FY20 the DLC’s CAP team conducted regular outreach effort at employment events and school district fairs targeted to people with disabilities. Additionally, we made efforts to reach out to people who are blind and people with disabilities who are part of racial minorities. We also continued our FY19 efforts to meet with CRP’s to ensure their clients were well informed about CAP and other DLC services. Due to COVID-19, the DLC transitioned to providing more virtual presentations, and also produced two informational videos on CAP and VR services with captioning, available in English and Spanish.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
10
0
2
500
13
0
{Empty}
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
The DLC made 30 employment posts to social media, which were viewed 14,627 times. Our agency website was accessed 49,529 times, with our employment page garnering 460 views.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
16
23
39
1
18
B. Problem areas
8
6
16
3
0
3
1
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
14
0
10
0
0
1
25
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
20
2
0
0
0
0
1
0
2
0
0
0
{Empty}
E. Results achieved for individuals
14
0
1
0
10
1
0
0
0
0
{Empty}
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
0
6
8
23
2
39
B. Gender
20
19
39
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
4
1
3
2
0
25
1
3
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
0
2
0
0
1
0
1
0
2
4
0
1
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
1
12
0
0
1
1
9
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
2
39
E. Types of Individuals Served
2
0
37
0
1
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
1
After having several cases that involved the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DSVBI) CAP discovered that there was no published appeals method if someone was denied DSBVI eligibility/services. VR DSBVI specialist counselors were also not aware of an appeals process. CAP met with VR administrators several times to discuss the VR/DSBVI authority chain and, while still unclear as to which has more authority, managed to get DSBVI to write a draft policy. CAP is concerned that the policy is not fleshed out enough, and is pressuring DSBVI to come up with a more detailed process with real deadlines and levels of appeal.
-------
CAP submitted a letter to the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee to urge them to resolve some of the barriers that hinder individuals who only want the opportunity to contribute to their communities through competitive employment. This letter included letters written by families who have had difficulty navigating the system. Below is some of the text included in that letter:

"Through our work we have the opportunity to interact with many clients and families who interface with various agencies within state government including the Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD), Utah State Office of Rehabilitation (USOR) and the Utah State Board of Education (USBE). In recent months, many of our clients and constituents have voiced concerns about the way these entities interact to provide continuity of services and information for those individuals seeking to become competitively employed.

Research has demonstrated many benefits of competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities including a decrease in dependence on public benefits, federal and state savings, economic self-sufficiency, and increased community involvement. One study cited found that every $1.00 spent on supported employment gave taxpayers $1.17 back in taxes paid, reduced government services, and decreased alternative program costs.'
Forty-seven percent of Utahns with intellectual or developmental disabilities report not having a paid job in the community but wanting one." During Utah's 2015 2016 school year, 4,382 students with disabilities transitioned out of public school (Utah Post High Survey, 2017). Of these students, 273 reportedly had a disability, 187 had an emotional disturbance, 2,840 had a specific learning disability, and 1,082 had a low incidence disability (autism, deaf/hearing impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment, etc.) (Utah Post High Survey, 2017). Over the next ten years, an estimated 54,893 students with disabilities will leave public high school. The estimated total unmet need for employment services is 808 students (includes 245 without postsecondary goals and the 562 with goals not well-suited for their needs). ii
In 2018, the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee requested that DWS, DHS and USBE study Employment of Transition Age Youth with Disabilities in Utah, including the estimated demand for these services along with any barriers this group experiences. Recommendations cited by the study recommended increased cooperation and data sharing by DWS, DHS and USBE, including data sharing agreements to more effectively track 1) number of transition age youth with disabilities, 2) IEP transition goals and needed services for employment after leaving the school system, 3) referrals to agencies from the schools, 4) outcomes from the agencies if services were provided, and 5) the unmet service need among transition age students with disabilities. Providers echoed this recommendation stating that increasing clarity between the roles and responsibilities of state agencies would be beneficial to providers, educators, and family members.

Another recommendation cited by the report is that the state needs to offer incentivized, flexible employment service options for customized employment. Provider companies reported in focus groups) that in order to offer more customized employment services and improve outcomes among transition age youth, they need higher paying and more flexible transportation, employment, and day service codes to adequately compensate for the time and resources a more customized approach requires. This need remains true whether transition age youth are referred for customized employment services by LEAs, USOR, or DSPD. Vil Providers also recommended that state agencies work to reduce the "lag time” that often occurs following graduation and initiating post school services. viii While USOR has created two new codes for customized employment, these codes have not been put into practice.

The CAP team has noted multiple instances of frustration from transition age youth and their families regarding the difficulties accessing support for competitive, integrated employment. Specifically, many of these individuals report problems accessing customized employment. Multiple clients report that this is due to a lack of providers in large parts of the state. Additionally, of the few providers that do exist, multiple clients indicated that the providers do not have the necessary familiarity working with clients with significant disabilities to result in a positive employment outcome.
This is a theme the CAP team has also observed particularly as clients with intellectual disabilities have tried to access services through USOR. For example, clients with intellectual disabilities have been told they cannot move forward with vocational support without filling out financial aid or other complicated government forms. In several instances that we are aware of, clients have also been required to set up follow up appointments with third parties like speech therapists or mental health providers without the support or coordination necessary to ensure the individual can complete these tasks. All too often this has resulted in the individual and their family being left to try and find supports on their own rather than access the funding expressly available for this population. In 2015, USOR moved their service model to an order of selection. This meant that the first priority for services would be given to eligible individuals with the most significant disabilities. This means that USOR's funding priority is to serve the very individuals who require customized employment services, yet the DLC has heard from many individuals and families who have been unable to meaningfully access these services."


B. Litigation
0
0
0
NA
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Disability Law Center
No
{Empty}
B. Staff Employed
Full-time Professional 1.47 FTEs
Part-time Professional .23 FTEs
Clerical Full-time .19 FTEs
Clerical Part-time .00 FTEs

Total FTEs 1.89 FTEs

We no longer have part-time clerical. The receptionist is full-time.
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
Client is deaf and uses hearing aids in his work as a software engineer. He contacted CAP after being denied financial support to obtain new hearing aids through Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). VR conducts a financial needs test to determine what, if any, contribution a client will need to make towards paid VR services. Client makes approximately $48,000 gross per year, and VR determined that he would be responsible for contributing over $2,600 per month before VR would contribute towards paid services (client’s take-home pay is about equal to his calculated contribution). Part of VR’s financial policy also states that for durable goods (like wheelchairs, hearing aids, etc.) a client will be required to pay their annual contribution before financial support from VR can be applied. Client’s annual contribution is just over $30,000, meaning he would be responsible for the full cost of new hearing aids, which were estimated to cost approximately 15 months of his take home pay, meaning client would have to incur debt to obtain the aids.
CAP agreed to advocate on client's behalf for an exception to policy because, on its face, the financial contribution calculated seemed unreasonable. Client stated he was willing and able to contribute towards the cost of new hearing aids, however he could not afford the full price, which is why he had contacted VR for assistance. After appealing without success to client's counselor, counseling supervisor, and director of the local office, we decided to do further research on Utah VR's financial contribution policy versus similar surrounding western states' policies. Of the eight other state VR financial need policies we examined, Utah’s policy by far and away had the lowest allowable deduction for a client’s living expenses, resulting in the highest calculated client contribution towards paid services. Based on this information, language in Utah VR’s policy stating that exceptions to the calculation are allowed, and federal regulations stating that a client’s contribution must be both reasonable and not so high as to effectively deny a service, we filed a request for a Field Service Director Review alleging that an exception to policy was warranted given client’s facts, and that the policy itself is not in compliance with federal law. Unfortunately, this appeal was also denied.
Because CAP felt so strongly about this issue, the team requested a Fair Hearing with an ALJ on this case which is the first Hearing the CAP team has done in several years. The team prepared extensively with information on client’s need for hearing aids to both remain and advance in employment, comparable state VR financial policies, and justification for client to be provided with support to purchase the aids based on federal law. Unfortunately, at the hearing the ALJ would not allow CAP to submit any evidence of other financial need policies and did not allow CAP to make most of the relevant arguments. The ALJ upheld VR’s decision with very little consideration to any of CAP’s points. CAP then appealed this decision to the Director of the Division of Adjudication for a final administrative review. After a several month delay, the director again upheld VR’s decision and problematic policy. CAP was prepared to take the issue to district court for review, but client was able to find assistance to purchase the aids from another agency. CAP will continue to monitor cases impacted by VR’s financial need policy and look for ways to challenge it in the future as it appears to be problematic in several ways.
----------
Client is 59 and has a mental health disability. Client initially approached CAP for assistance with communicating with his VR counselor, getting different medicine to manage his disability, resolving confusion around receiving bills for services VR was supposed to cover, understanding what his financial contributions were supposed to be and disagreements about his choice in working with a particular job coach. CAP helped him understand and address each of those areas by helping him get a doctor's appointment, figuring out the bills he’d received were a mistake, asserting his right to use informed choice and pick a different job coach and explaining VR's financial policies. The case evolved when VR erroneously closed his case before he was successfully full-time employed and while he still had need for restorative services to be able to achieve his job goal. VR tried to argue that the client had been sufficiently notified of impending closure, even though CAP had communicated with them before the deadline, as had the client. They then tried to insist the client needed to reapply for services, rather than receive help paying for the final medical procedure (draining his knee) that he needed in order to work full time. CAP appealed the wrongful closure and successfully negotiated for VR to provide the client with the services he needed. Client was able to get to a place where he felt he no longer needed VR services and asked for his case to be closed.
----------------
Client is 54 and has an orthopedic/physical impairment and a mental health disability. Client contacted the DLC for assistance when his Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselor told him VR could not support him in attending college classes because he had a defaulted loan. After researching VR’s policy, CAP found that VR can provide financial assistance for school to a client if the client has dealt with the default either through full repayment, setting up a payment plan, or discharge. CAP worked with the client to obtain verification for VR that client had applied for and been granted forgiveness for the loan. CAP advocated for VR to support the classes client requested based on VR’s policy and the information client provided, arguing it would help him maximize his job-readiness and earning potential. VR is now paying for client to attend courses. Client reports he is excelling in classes.
----------------
Client is 70 and has a visual impairment. Client has been working with VR for over 10 years in an attempt to get approval and support for a self-employment plan. Client contacted CAP after his proposal was again denied by VR. Client was confused about what VR wanted to see in his self-employment plan and felt that with each denial, VR presented new reasoning. He also was being assisted pro bono by an employment contract attorney who also did not feel like VR was communicating clearly. After significant negotiations with VR, CAP was able to get an example self-employment plan for client to review and a comprehensive list of the parts of his plan VR felt were unsupportable. VR gave client six more months to work on revising and updating his plan for final consideration. CAP is working with VR to improve their counselor's communication surrounding self-employment.
Certification
Approved
Adina Zahradnikova
Executive Director
2020-12-21
OMB Notice

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

According to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, no persons are required to respond to a collection of information unless such collection displays a valid OMB control number. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 16 hours per response, including time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. The obligation to respond to this collection is required to obtain or retain a benefit (Section 13 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended). Send comments regarding the burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. 20202-4537 or email ICDocketMgr@ed.gov and reference the OMB Control Number 1820-0528. Note: Please do not return the completed form to this address.