February 11, 2020
NOTICE OF INTENT TO REDESIGNATE THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION REHABILITATION SERVICES ADMINISTRATION'S CLIENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Notice of Hearing to Receive Public Comment on the Proposal to Redesignate the Organization Responsible for the Administration of the Client Assistance Program (CAP) from the Current Designated Agency, which is the Maine Department of Labors Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, to Disability Rights Maine.
The Office of the Governor, through the Maine Department of Labors Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, will hold a public hearing on February 19th from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. The meeting will be live in the Frances Perkins Room at the Central Maine Commerce Center in Augusta and available via Conference Call or Skype (see info below). Additionally, there will be public access at the CareerCenters in Portland, Lewiston, Bangor, Presque Isle and Machias.
The hearing will also be available to the public via:
- Teleconference: 1-877-455-0244 code 8877047541
- Videoconference by SKYPE: https://meet.lync.com/stateofmaine/samantha.j.fenderson/M5SK578Z
The purpose of the hearing is to receive comments from all interested persons regarding the re-designation of the Client Assistance Program (CAP) from the Maine Department of Labors Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (MDOL DVR) to Disability Rights Maine.
The Governor intends to fully consider all public comment before issuing a written decision regarding redesignation. If there is no opposition to the redesignation or if comments against redesignation are insufficient to overcome the need to redesignate, the Governor will issue a written decision to re-designate to the Disability Rights Maine effective on or after April 1, 2020.
Copies of this notice will also be mailed to members of the public upon request.
Notice: People with disabilities who require special accommodations or assistance at the hearing should call: Tel. 207-623-6799 TTY Users Call Maine Relay 211.
The Client Assistance Program is a federally mandated program (34 CFR 370), which advises and informs clients and client-applicants of all services and benefits available to them as authorized by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended 29 U.S.C. 732. In Maine these programs are provided through the Department of Labors Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI) within the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS).
As established in Section 112 of the Act, the purpose of the Client Assistance Program is to provide assistance in informing and advising all clients and client applicants of all available benefits under this Act, and, upon request of such clients or client applicants, to assist and advocate for such clients or applicants in their relationships with projects, programs, and services provided under this Act, including assistance and advocacy in pursuing legal, administrative, or other appropriate remedies to ensure the protection of the rights of such individuals under this Act and to facilitate access to the services funded under this Act through individual and systemic advocacy. The client assistance program shall provide information on the available services and benefits under this Act and title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12111 et seq.) to individuals with disabilities in the State, especially with regard to individuals with disabilities who have traditionally been unserved or underserved by vocational rehabilitation programs. In providing assistance and advocacy under this subsection with respect to services under this title, a client assistance program may provide the assistance and advocacy with respect to services that are directly related to facilitating the employment of the individual.
The Client Assistance Program (CAP) is funded by the U.S. Department of Educations Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) through an annual formula grant to the Maine Department of Labors Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (MDOL DVR) within the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS). Consistent with the State of Maines procurement policy and procedures, MDOL then awards the CAP grant separate from MDOL BRS through the Request for Proposals process.
Maine is one of only a few states in the country in which the State Vocational Rehabilitation agency (MDOL DVR) is the designated agency for carrying out the CAP. Each states governor holds the authority for the designation of the agency responsible for operating the CAP in accordance with Section 112 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. Federal regulations, 34 CFR 370.2(c), indicate that this designation should be to an agency independent of any agency that provides treatment, services or rehabilitation to individuals with disabilities; MDOL DVR has been allowed to continue as the designated state CAP agency because of its status as such prior to 1984 (34 CFR 370.2(d)).
The most recent contract term for the CAP expired on September 30, 2019 and that contractor, C.A.R.E.S., Inc., notified MDOL DVR that they did not have an interest in continuing to operate the CAP program in Maine. This presented an opportunity to consider redesignation of the CAP to an agency that is independent of MDOL DVR or any agency that provides vocational rehabilitation services under the Rehabilitation Act. Redesignation would eliminate any appearance of conflict attributable to MDOL DVRs administration of the contract awarded to the agency for CAP service provision.
Advocate Pamela Waite is currently providing CAP services during the transition period until the redesignation is final.
A Request for Information (RFI) was conducted in October 2019 as an opportunity for interested parties to provide pertinent information and to collect stakeholder input that could be considered in the redesignation of an entity to operate the Client Assistance Program under Section 112 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Act).
After reviewing the two responses of interest to the RFI and considering the charge of the CAP to advise and inform clients and client-applicants of all services and benefits available to them through state Vocational Rehabilitation programs, the Governor is proposing to redesignate the CAP to Disability Rights Maine.
Disability Rights Maine (DRM) previously operated the CAP from 1984 to 1990 and is a cross-disability statewide advocacy organization. Incorporated in 1977, DRM is currently designated as Maines Protection and Advocacy agency and administers the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS), as well as the Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR) grants, which provide a variety of services to people with disabilities seeking or receiving services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act. If DRM is selected for re-designation, Maine will join a majority of states in the country in having the CAP located within the designated protection and advocacy system.
DRMs extensive experience and existing infrastructure indicate that DRM is the agency best positioned to become the CAP designee in Maine. The RFI generated fifteen letters supporting DRMs designation as the CAP from a wide range of disability representatives; these are the very individuals who are served by the programs authorized by the Rehabilitation Act and have an important voice to be considered in the determination of the CAP redesignation.
Persons wishing to comment upon the proposed action of the Governors Office may appear at the scheduled public hearing. Persons wishing to provide their comments in written or oral form may do so via phone/fax, email, or direct mail routed to:
CAP Redesignation Maine Department of Labor Bureau of Rehabilitation Services 150 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333
E-mail: webmaster.BRS@Maine.gov Tel: 207-623-6799 TTY Users Call Maine Relay 211 Fax: 207-287-5292
Written or oral submissions must be received by the Maine Department of Labor on or before March 11, 2020.