Current Priorities

Medium

As encouraged by federal funding sources, and following input activities by people with disabilities, family members and the public, each year P&A chooses some of the most important issues affecting people with disabilities and makes them priorities. Nearly all P&A services (including information & referral, client assistance & representation, education & training, and systems advocacy) are then focused on these priority issues. P&A may accept non-priority cases for advocacy assistance, advocacy representation, or legal representation when the presenting issue is considered to be egregious and all other criteria have been met. Very limited resources will be available for non-priority cases. P&A's grievance procedure is available to individuals whose request for advocacy services has been turned down because the issue is not within existing priorities or for other reasons.

P&A's current priorities include the following:

  • Abuse, Neglect & Exploitation: Advocating for people with disabilities to be free from harm and mistreatment and to receive quality services, individualized to each person's needs - providing protective services when necessary and appropriate.
     
  • Community Inclusion: Advocating for the rights of people with disabilities to live and receive services in the least restrictive environment. This includes receiving necessary supports to stay in one's own home. Areas of focus include:
     
    1. Transition of individuals with disabilities to the community from the Life Skills & Transition Center, the State Hospital, and other institutional settings.
       
    2. Advocacy for individuals with disabilities currently living in the community who are at risk for institutionalization because they do not have adequate community-based services
       
    3. Advocacy for individuals 18-21 years of age with developmental disabilities to receive adequate services after graduation from high school.
       
    4. Self-advocacy support, training, and technical assistance for groups and individuals with developmental disabilities.
       
  • Supported Decision Making and Guardianship: Providing training and technical assistance on supported decision-making as an alternative to guardianship.
     
  • Behavioral Health Care Continuum: Providing advocacy to expand and support the rights of individuals with mental illness to a system of behavioral health care that meets their needs and maximizes their ability to live in the community. This includes training to reduce stigma and enhance an appropriate recognition and response to the needs of individuals with mental illness. Efforts also include self-advocacy support, training, and information.
     
  • Criminal Justice: Advocating for people with brain injury, mental illness, or developmental disabilities who are, or may become, involved in the criminal justice system to obtain supports and services that meet their disability-related needs. A focus in this area is education on the concept, formulation, and implementation of Individual Justice Plans, particularly for individuals with traumatic brain injury. There is also a focus on the provision of appropriate mental health treatment and services in prison and jails.
     
  • Education: Advocating for students with disabilities to receive disability-related services consistent with state and federal laws. Areas of focus differ based on program, but include:
    1. Ensuring students receive multi-disciplinary evaluations, assessments, and identification of their disability; services identified in their Individual Education Plans; reasonable accommodations for disability-related needs; appropriate behavioral supports; appropriate transition from school to work and independent living; the use of seclusion and restraint; placement in the least restrictive setting; involvement in the juvenile justice system as a school response to disability-related behavior; and, appropriate assistive technology services or tools.
       
    2. Supporting students, parents, and educators in becoming more effective advocates for students' rights.
       
    3. Systems advocacy that seeks improvement and positive changes for students with disabilities.
       
  • Employment: Advocating for persons with disabilities to have access to meaningful employment at a fair wage. Priority is given to individuals who are eligible under the PABSS and CAP programs. Services provided may include:
    1. Advocacy to address employment discrimination based on disability and reasonable accommodation in the workplace.
       
    2. Advocacy for services and supports needed for people with disabilities to obtain and maintain employment.
       
    3. Provision of information and/or training regarding advocacy, vocational and support services and employment rights (including those under the Rehabilitation Act and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act), and the Client Assistance Program.
       
    4. Advocating for the rights of people with disabilities who are seeking or receiving treatment, services, or rehabilitation under the Rehabilitation Act.
       
    5. Systems advocacy that seeks an increase in vocational services and employment options for people with disabilities.
       
  • Healthcare: Advocating for disability-related, medically necessary health care through Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance.
     
  • Voting: Advocating for a voting system that is accessible and provides equal opportunity for participation. Areas of focus include:
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    1. Educating voters with disabilities about accessible ways to vote, the voting process, and their voting rights.
       
    2. Ensuring polling places are fully accessible.
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    3. Assisting and educating voters with disabilities regarding their rights to due process under the State-based administrative procedure required by the Help America Vote Act.