The Case Services Unit of P&A
Calls, letters and other Requests for Information – Every year, the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (P&A) receives more than 7,500 requests for information, referral, technical assistance and advocacy representation. Telephone calls (e-mails, faxes, TTY calls, and letters) are directed to advocacy staff having professional expertise in the subject area of the call. Very often calls are taken immediately by the appropriate advocate, when an advocate is unable to take your call immediately, you will receive a call back, usually by the end of the next business day (business days are Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 4:30 p.m.)
Calls and other requests for assistance that require a higher level of advocacy services will be referred to the agency’s case review team for assessment and consideration based on state and federal mandates, and formally adopted priorities. Each case is reviewed on an individual basis to determine if it meets those guidelines and if the resources are available to provide advocacy assistance. If P&A is able to provide representation, the case will be referred to an appropriate staff member. If P&A is unable to provide direct advocacy representation, the agency will try to give the person information, coach them through the process and assist them with self-advocacy.
Programs within the Case Services Unit
Consumer Information Unit (I&R)
The Consumer Information Unit provides information and referral services and short-term advocacy assistance. The section is, in many cases, the entry point to P&A for new callers to the agency. Depending on the need presented, the Consumer Information staff may provide information, connect callers to the appropriate P&A unit, or make referrals to relevant outside agencies.
Client Assistance Program (CAP)
CAP provides consultation and advocacy assistance to applicants and recipients of vocational services provided under the federal Rehabilitation Act. CAP's primary focus is helping clients of the vocational rehabilitation service system, most notably the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) and Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB).
P&A for Assistive Technology (PAAT)
PAAT provides consumer education and representation in an effort to expand the availability of assistive technology devices and services for people with disabilities.
P&A for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PADD)
Developmental Disabilities are defined in the Federal DD Act as chronic mental and/or physical impairments which must be evident prior to the age of twenty-two. They tend to be life long and result in substantial limitations in three or more of the major life areas: self-care, receptive, and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-determination, capacity for independent living and economic self-sufficiency. The DD Act requires P&A systems to be independent of service systems; to have access to client records; to have the authority to conduct investigations and to pursue legal and administrative remedies on behalf of clients of the DD service system; to provide information and referral services; and to educate policymakers about issues of concern to persons with disabilities.
P&A for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI)
PAIMI investigates allegations of abuse and neglect and other complaints raised by people with mental illness who reside in supervised facilities, and advocates for appropriate discharge plans, consumer choice, and respectful, relevant supports. Since 2000, the PAIMI program also has the authority to advocate for individuals living in the community.
P&A for Individuals Rights (PAIR)
PAIR is authorized to provide consultation and representation for people with disabilities who are not eligible for P&A services under one of the other federally defined P&A programs.
P&A for Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI)
PATBI is funded by a grant from the United State Department of Health and Human Services that provides education and advocacy assistance to individuals with acquired or traumatic brain injury (TBI).
P&A for Voting Access
PAVA works to ensure that a wide range of individuals with disabilities participate in the electoral process through voter education, training of poll officials, registration drives, polling place accessibility surveys, and similar activities.
Although P&A operates under distinct program mandates, every effort is made to administer the agency so that program activities are integrated, and consumers experience "seamless" service. Overarching principles of empowerment, inclusion, productivity and respect for personal autonomy govern all P&A's activities.
Community Development staff engage in community organizing, training, technical assistance and support to community-based advocacy/disability/family support organizations. Staff perform a number of functions, including supporting and monitoring citizen advocacy programs; providing training and technical assistance on questions of organizational strategy, fund development, and board functioning; conducting public presentations on disability-related topics organizing outreach activities to minority communities; and assembling and distributing information about P&A, advocacy issues, and disability rights.