CALL US NOW Voice: (401) 831-3150

DRRI and CAP Services Training for VR Counselors and Staff

DRRI and CAP Services Training for VR Counselors and Staff January 9, 2020

Legal Disclaimer

This presentation contains general information about the law and legal practice. The information is not legal advice and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on the information in this presentation as an alternative to legal advice from your lawyer or other professional services provider.
This training is intended to provide a basic overview of the Client Assistance Program and Client Rights. It does not constitute legal advice and there is no promise or warranty as to the accuracy, completeness, adequacy, timeliness, or relevance of the information herein.
The information in contained herein is current as of January, 2020.

Introduction: About Disability Rights Rhode Island

Disability Rights Rhode Island is Rhode Island’s designated protection and advocacy system. Protection and advocacy systems protect the disability-related legal rights of individuals with disabilities. There is a protection and advocacy system in every state and territory and also a system for Native Americans. These systems were established using money from the federal government. The purpose is to protect individuals with disabilities from abuse and neglect and to advocate for their civil rights.
Each year, we set annual priorities that determine the types of cases we will accept and the projects for that year. We also have mandatory issues that we handle every year. See DRRI’s website at for the most up to date information about our Priorities.

We provide:
– Information and referral
– Advice and self-help materials
– Individual representation
– Trainings on disability-related legal rights
– We also advocate for systemic reform

This year DRRI has identified 6 priority areas for its systemic work. These include:
– Improving behavioral healthcare for prisoners with mental illness,
– Promoting RI’s new Supported Decision-Making law,
– Promoting special education and related services to individuals who want and need these services through age 22,
– Reduce unnecessary hospitalization of individuals with developmental disabilities who have behavioral health needs,
– Safe guard the rights of Social Security beneficiaries,
– And, advance full participation in the electoral process.

This year we have 6 case selection priorities. These include specific types of cases following within the following more general areas of law:
– Safety and guardianship
– Children’s education
– Assistive technology
– Employment
– Housing and community-based services
– Government and public accommodations

Supported Decision Making In Rhode Island
On July 8, 2019, Governor Gina Raimondo signed into law the “Supported Decision-Making Act”. See, RI Gen. Laws § 42- 66.13. Under the new law, Supported Decision-Making is a legal alternative to guardianship by any adult with a disability – defined as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of a person”. By selecting people they trust to act as a Supporter, a person with a disability can make decisions with the help of the Supporter by making an SDM agreement.

The principles of the new SDM law include the following:
“All adults should be able to choose to live in the manner they wish and to accept or refuse support, assistance or protection.”
“All adults should be able to be informed about and participate in the management of their affairs.”
“The values, beliefs, wishes, cultural norms, and traditions that adults hold should be respected in supporting adults to manage their affairs.”

Stated Purposes of SDM Law
“Provide assistance in gathering and assessing information, making informed decisions, and communicating decisions for adults who would benefit from decision-making assistance.”
“Give supporters legal status to be with the adult and participate in discussions with others when the adult is making decisions or attempting to obtain information.”
“Enable supporters to assist in making and communicating decisions for the adult but not substitute as the decision maker for that adult.”
“Establish the use of supported decision-making as an alternative to guardianship.”
For more information about RI’s Supported Decision-Making Law please contact DRRI.

The Client Assistance Program

By federal law, the Client Assistance Program (CAP) has the purpose of:
– advising applicants and clients of all services and programs under the Rehabilitation Act, including State VR, Tribal VR and Independent Living
– assisting and advocating for clients
– providing information about Title I rights to individuals with disabilities within the state

Legal Authority:

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 112(a), as amended by The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) 29 U.S.C. 732(a)
Federal Regulations: 34 CFR part 370

WIOA broadened CAP Services. WIOA clarifies that CAP may still provide information, advocacy, and representation to clients and client-applicants to facilitate their access to services available under the Act. Pre-employment transition services and services regarding limitations on the use of subminimum wages are included in available CAP services. In recent years, CAPs have been working more with Tribal VRs.

Types of Advocacy
Under the regulations, advocacy means “pleading an individual’s cause or speaking or writing in support of an individual” 34 CFR §370.6
Advocacy may be formal which means representing an individual in a legal proceeding such as an administrative hearing or in court.
Advocacy may be informal which means representing an individual in meetings, negotiations, or mediation.

Attorney Ethics
CAP advocates may or may not be attorneys. Attorneys are required to abide by the Rhode Island Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct. These are our code of ethics.

As CAP, therefore, we often utilize many roles.
– We may assist a client to reconnect with VR and often can resolve simple misunderstandings without the need for further representation.
– Sometimes, we may be contacted by a client to help them understand why VR did or did not do something and we may agree to review a record and stop at that point based on our client’s desires. Sometimes, a third person is what is needed to help the client re-engage with VR in a productive manner.
– Attorneys take direction from their clients. We look at a client’s request, their goal, the merits of their case and chance of success, and we advise them accordingly.
– At times, a client may cut short the attorney involvement because they do not like our advice or strategy. Other times, they may wish to learn their rights, and not hire us for help because they want to self-advocate and feel they can do so. And, a client may just need another set of eyes independent of VR to help them with their problem.
– Our review of a file at VR is one of the first steps we usually take in assessing whether we can help a VR client or applicant.

Please send us feedback on this presentation to