RSA-227 for FY-2020: Submission #1149

Texas
09/30/2020
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Rights Texas
2222 W. Braker Lane
{Empty}
Austin
Texas
78758
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
Additional Information
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
{Empty}
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
70
1
0
1
4
54
130
B. Training Activities
72
13304
(a)topics covered - CAP conducted education and training sessions focusing on a variety of entities and subjects. Topics covered in these sessions included self-advocacy tips, disability and individual rights, supported decision-making, information about the vocational rehabilitation program, independent living program and services, and information about the Client Assistance Program as well. Additionally, topics included transition services, pre-employment transition services, financial criteria for the vocational rehabilitation program, information on subminimum wage and working with the vocational rehabilitation program as well as competitive integrated employment. Lastly, topics also included accommodations and the Ticket to Work program.

(b)The purpose of the training-The main purpose of the training for CAP, the Vocational Rehabilitation Program (VR), and Independent Living Program, (IL), is to educate and inform as many people as possible about these programs and their rights with these programs. The information provided to individuals is intended to help them navigate the programs utilizing the knowledge they gained, and to know where and when to ask for help when they have questions or encounter issues. CAP also covers related topics on more specific services provided in the VR program and related topics that may be of interest to persons who participate in the VR program and their goals.

(c) Description of the attendees-CAP provided trainings to a variety of groups and individuals. The attendees included Independent Living center staff and consumers, transition-age youth and students in Independent School Districts, and parents seeking information on how to help their child become independent and employed. Others who received information from CAP included staff at medical and community health centers and disability organizations including the Epilepsy Association and individuals with significant disabilities in sheltered employment settings to increase the awareness of the CAP program. Lastly, attendees included providers of the vocational rehabilitation agency, students in physical therapy programs, and law school students.
C. Agency Outreach
CAP continues to work with the teams at DRTx to coordinate outreach attempts to underserved and unserved populations. This includes the Education Team, the Housing Team and The Employment and Accessibility team. CAP has coordinated events and outreach to youth and students with disabilities in post-secondary education. CAP also conducted outreach to Spanish-speaking transition-age youth and their families during the year, in addition to health fairs in El Paso, a city with a majority Hispanic population. There was a concerted effort to reach out to pre-employment transition-age students through school districts and parent resource networks to inform them of rights for employment, vocational rehabilitation services and competitive integrated employment opportunities.

CAP also reached out to rural areas in the state including far West Texas and Galveston on the east coast of Texas.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
114
0
1
2844
39
237
Newspapers, and online articles included interviews and statements about Disability Rights Texas 237 times during the year.
E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
Information about DRTx and CAP is featured on other company websites including disability groups such as veteran organizations, Brain Injury Association, ARC and Autism Speaks. Additionally, disability rights organizations have our contact information and information about DRTx and the CAP program, as well as, handouts and publications we have created on multiple issues including supported decision-making, COVID handouts, IDEA (education related), voting and employment discrimination. Our information and links to information are also shared with Probono Texas, Prison Activist Resource Center, CAP4kids, DFW Child, Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the Area Agency on Aging.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
118
137
255
14
124
B. Problem areas
5
49
113
40
0
49
10
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
19
45
73
2
3
2
144
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
91
9
4
5
2
15
1
1
15
1
0
0
{Empty}
E. Results achieved for individuals
21
9
4
1
53
30
10
16
0
0
{Empty}
Part III. Program Data
A. Age
9
38
74
116
18
255
B. Gender
121
134
255
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
46
3
8
81
1
108
6
2
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
3
15
1
8
1
6
23
2
26
7
2
10
9
11
3
3
2
1
5
9
53
3
3
8
15
14
1
1
0
7
0
2
0
1
255
E. Types of Individuals Served
69
0
172
15
5
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
12
CAP worked on a number of issues with the agency during the year. These items included:

•The Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services, (TWS-VRS) use of trial work experience allowed providers to do an informational interview and consider it a trial work experience. CAP advocated an informational interview was not a trial work experience and requested removing that option from the program. TWS-VRS agreed and the forms were changed allowing for an informational interview but the trial work experiences are separate.
•CAP met with TWS-VRS and requested allowing CAP to do presentations to the new VRC hires in the agency about CAP. This was agreed to for the regions that conduct training.
•CAP noticed in a number of cases, clients were not being informed by TWS-VRS of their right to appeal in the denial of services. CAP asked TWS-VRS to emphasize to staff the requirement to inform clients of the right to appeal decisions. TWS-VRS added wording to the policy that requires staff to notify clients of their right to appeal, to provide the Appeal handout and to document the action. CAP‘s advocacy resulted in a change of policy with clarifying language and guidance.
•Prior to the merging of the Blind Agency to the General agency, the policy for visually impaired and blind individuals required a person to type 30 wpm prior to receiving a referral for assistive technology evaluation for consideration of assistive technology or a computer. There were exceptions to this policy. However, after the Blind agency merged with the general agency and became TWS-VRS, this policy remained in the policy manual. CAP advocated for the removal of this policy since no other disability group had to learn to type in order to receive this service. TWS-VRS agreed and the policy was removed.
•CAP sits on the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) referred to as the Rehabilitation Council of Texas, (RCT). CAP participates on the policy committee and provided feedback and discussion on a number of policies. One policy related to room and board services were not written in a manner that gave VRC’s the understanding they could provide exceptions to policy. With CAP feedback, the agency agreed to change the wording. Additionally, TWS-VRS proposed a policy limiting the services that could be provided in post-employment services, but provided very little guidance. CAP commented on the areas of proposed policy that was not in line with the regulations for Post-Employment Services. As a result, the agency decided not to move further with the proposed policy. In another instance, TWS-VRS proposed wording limiting services to a person with a “most significant disability” without input from the RCT council. CAP pointed out that this action required collaboration with CAP and the RCT, and the definition was not used. Another change in policy was proposed that changed approval from a supervisor level to a manager level when an additional psychological or neuropsychological evaluation was recommended. CAP questioned the proposed change and TWS-VRS agreed to keep the approval at the supervisor level.
•TWS-VRS required several policies and exceptions had to go through the TWS-VRS Director level. CAP commented that the requirement of so many services and actions requiring the TWS-VRS Director approval was slowing down the timeliness of services. Especially the contracted services. TWS-VRS changed the policy effective 10/1/2020 to allow the VR Director to delegate signature authority to others. This will allow more timeliness of approvals to exceptions.
•In one region of the state, invoices were not being processed timely or correctly from a private university for TWS-VRS clients causing problems accessing transcripts and housing for students each semester. CAP brought this to TWS-VRS regional director’s attention. Contact was made with the private university and they worked out the issues required by TWS-VRS and agreed to put a system into place to remedy the problem.
•In one region, CAP has been advocating for a number of clients who require surgery. There has been delay in these cases and one area CAP noticed the delay was occurring because the Local Medical Consultant refused to review cases until he had two cases to review. CAP questioned this practice and noted the delay. TWS-VRS responded by sending cases to another region’s consultant who did not require two cases or more before reviewing the case for completion. As a result, this region can use other consultants in other regions instead of waiting for the consultant in their region to have two cases.
•Lastly, CAP and TWS-VRS began meeting bi-monthly (as of March 2020), to address systemic issues as a result of COVID and for improved communication on the issues CAP was seeing in the field. Additionally, TWS-VRS shared the efforts they were making to meet the changes and demands. CAP informed TWS-VRS that staff who were working remotely, were hard to reach by phone. TWS-VRS recognized the problem and provided cell phones for counselors. CAP informed TWS-VRS many clients could not access encrypted emails and TWS-VRS has tested other systems to identify alternatives to providing clients with confidential information that will be accessible to all clients. CAP informed TWS-VRS when misinformation was shared with clients so accurate information could be shared with staff which helped to eliminate confusion and misinformation from continuing.
B. Litigation
0
0
0
There was no completed or ongoing systemic litigation during the year.
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-other nonprofit agency
Disability Rights Texas
No
{Empty}
B. Staff Employed
Full-time equivalent person years - 11.41 Part-time: 0 Vacant: 0
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
We would like to highlight the cases CAP took to an appeal this year.

1) Client, male, American Indian, 61 years old, with orthopedic issues, mental health issues, digestive issues, and a felony involving a minor approached the VR agency for assistance with employment. TWS provided assistance for over a year with a provider to help him find a job and was unsuccessful. They noted the felony and lack of skill were obstacles. The client had experience in Auto CAD, but did not have the current training on the software now used in Auto CAD to obtain employment. The client requested the training to update his skills. The counselor denied the request stating liability concerns if she provided the client a computer to learn the skill. The TWS-VRS Counselor recommendation was for the client to attend training on campus. However, the client did not have transportation and did not live in an area with public transportation and lacked the physical ability to do as much walking as attending on campus would require. CAP attempted to resolve this at the lowest level and was unsuccessful. An appeal was filed and conducted. The Impartial Hearing Officer did not feel the case was worked up adequately by the TWS-VRS Counselor, and asked they conduct the proper assessment of the client and if the client needs a computer, to provide it. After the assessment was conducted, a computer was provided and the client has signed up for the training.

Second appeal

2) Client, Hispanic male, 20 years old, who is Deaf, asked the TWS-VRS agency for assistance with college tuition at Gallaudet University. He had been working with the VR program as a transition student, and had completed all the steps the transition counselor required, such as maintaining status as an honor student, getting experience in the field of interest, (teacher), applying for college, and applying for FAFSA. The client then asked TWS-VRS for help with tuition and was informed he needed to attend an in-state college for two years prior to asking for assistance to go out-of-state. A different counselor did not support his goal as a teacher and would not amend his IPE. Going out-of-state was also denied above the counselor level. Client called CAP. CAP researched the schools, the client needs and the information in the client TWS-VRS file. CAP advocated TWS-VRS support the vocational goal and that the out-of-state school would meet the client’s needs best. CAP attempted to resolve the issue at the lowest level and was unsuccessful. Client attended the Fall semester on his own while further negotiation took place. As a result, a formal appeal was filed. The TWS-VRS attorney agreed to work with CAP to resolve the issue without conducting the appeal. TWS-VRS agreed to change offices and counselors. Information was provided to the new TWS-VRS Counselor and meetings were held to review the information, review the client information and clarify his interests, needs and abilities. TWS-VRS agreed to support the client’s vocational goal and choice of school. The Individualized Plan for Employment, (IPE), was amended and all issues were resolved.

Interesting cases;
Client, male, African American, 23 years old, who has muscular dystrophy, had asked TWS-VRS assistance with a vehicle modification back in 2017. The process started very slowly and client obtained a different wheelchair. Client began working with a new VRC, who asked the client for family income information and expenses. Texas has a financial needs test and although the client is independent in his finances the counselor asked for his parents financial information. TWS-VRS policy states if a person is independent financially, family financial information is not required. Additionally, the counselor requested the client seek comparable benefits to help pay for the vehicle modification. The client called CAP. CAP investigated the case, and determined that the client was independent in his financial affairs including filing his own taxes. CAP and the TWS-VRS Counselor reviewed policy and CAP requested the manager assist in interpreting policy and to help get the case moving. The case had taken an extraordinary amount of time and had not moved successfully toward the vehicle modification. Additionally, CAP wrote up a timeline of this case, and shared with TWS-VRS management. The manager assisted and monitored the case until the vehicle modification was approved and completed. The client received his modification. CAP brought up the delays in this type of service to TWS-VRS as a systemic issue and incorrect application to policy for comparable benefits.

Client, female, 43 years old, hard of hearing asked TWS-VRS for assistance in obtaining a cochlear implant. Client went through the assessments required for consideration of this service. The client had to change TWS-VRS counselor due to a conflict of interest. The new counselor apparently ignored or did not agree to continue forward in considering the cochlear implant, and instead provided the client with hearing aids. The client called CAP. CAP investigated the case, and noted the current counselor had the information needed to take the request for the cochlear implant up the chain of command but for an unknown reason did not act on the request. CAP advocated for a change of counselor, which was granted. The newest counselor agreed to process the request for the cochlear implant. Because it had been over six months, two of the assessments had to be updated. CAP followed the process and progress of the request through final approval. TWS-VRS agreed to provide the cochlear implant. There was a short delay in getting the cochlear implant surgery due to COVID 19, but once non-essential surgeries could be provided she received her implant.

Older Blind Independent Living Services
Client, male, 60 years old with blindness in both eyes, contacted CAP as a result of his case in the Older Individuals who are Blind (OIB) program being closed. He had not received the glasses he needed, and the sunglasses provided were not meeting his needs. He was told he would have to wait another year to receive services. CAP investigated his case and discovered it was closed, but the agency agreed to open the case and provide the wrap around glasses and sunglasses the client needed. As communication broken down with the IL Counselor, CAP asked that the supervisor stepped in. The services were provided, the client confirmed they met his needs and the issue was resolved.
Certification
Approved
Mary Faithfull
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.