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Priorities

Each year objectives are established for our agency and each of our programs. As part of the process of establishing these objectives, Disability Rights Montana seeks input from our clients, their families, and the public.

Disability Rights Montana staff are divided into workgroups: Core ServicesAbuse & NeglectDiscrimination, Employment, Benefits, and Access; EducationOutreach and TrainingPolicy; and Civil Rights.  The following are vision statements and objectives for each workgroup:

Core Services

Disability Rights Montana will provide information, referral, and short-term assistance and will develop and provide resource materials to people with disabilities. DRM will develop and provide resource materials to people with disabilities, and assist people with disabilities to register to vote, and promote independent and private voting for people with disabilities, through education and training activities.

1. Provide reliable, timely information and referral services to all callers.
2. Provide short-term assistance for non-priority issues to eligible persons with disabilities.
3. Provide and sponsor voter education and registration events for people with disabilities throughout Montana.
4. Work with Secretary of State, Clerks and Recorders, election officials, disability community and the general public to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to the voting process.

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Abuse & Neglect

Disability Rights Montana will protect people with disabilities in community settings or facilities from abuse, neglect, seclusion/restraint, violations of civil rights and protect their rights to: live, work, learn, recreate in the least restrictive environment with privacy, dignity, and autonomy, and protect people with disabilities right to be discharged and transitioned from institutions to community services with appropriate supports.

1.

Identify and monitor all instances of abuse, neglect, seclusion, restraint (+chemical restraint), and violation of civil rights, affecting people with mental illness receiving services and pursue legal remedies. Identify systemic issues to effect change in practice, policy, rule or law.

2.

Identify and monitor all instances of abuse/neglect, seclusion, restraint (+chemical restraint), and violation of civil rights at the Montana Developmental Center (MDC) and pursue legal remedies. Identify systemic issues to effect change in practice, policy, rule or law.

3.

Monitor DD community services, investigate, advocate, and bring legal action when appropriate to protect the rights of people living in community services.

4.

Monitor, investigate, advocate, and bring legal action when appropriate when a person from Montana State Hospital (MSH) is not discharged appropriately and timely.

5.

Monitor the transition for all residents from the Montana Developmental Center (MDC) to community services.

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Discrimination, Employment, Benefits, Access, and Voting

Disability Rights Montana will: 1) promote independent living, meaningful employment, and access to governmental services and programs and public accommodations, for people with disabilities; 2) ensure that people with disabilities receive appropriate services from Montana Vocational Rehabilitation, Independent Living Centers, and other programs funded by the Rehabilitation Act; 3) challenge discrimination on the part of governmental entities, and ensure that people with disabilities enjoy equal access to all governmental benefits and services; and 4) challenge discrimination on the part of places of public accommodation and ensure that people with disabilities enjoy equal access, particularly physical access, to places of public accommodation; 5) promote independent and private voting for people with disabilities, through education and training activities; and 6) ensure that Social Security Beneficiaries (SSB) are supported in their return to work efforts by providing accurate information or available work incentives and providing advocacy and legal representation when their rights are violated.

1. Review cases, provide short-term assistance, technical assistance, and represent individuals who have been discriminated against on the basis of disability or denied reasonable accommodations by employers, using such individualized strategies as filing administrative complaints, lawsuits, and appeals.
2. Review cases, provide technical assistance, and represent individuals who have been denied or have been prohibited from using assistive technology or auxiliary aids by various entities including Medicaid, Medicare, governmental entities, public accommodations or other entities, using such individualized strategies as filing administrative complaints, lawsuits, and appeals.
3. Represent qualified individuals in accordance with the Client Assistance Program (CAP) requirements to include applicants and clients of the State Vocational Rehabilitation Program.
4. Address institutional concerns and issues with the delivery of services by the State Vocational Rehabilitation Program through periodic communication with the Chief of Field Services for Montana Vocational Rehabilitation and participation on the State Vocational Rehabilitation Program.
5. Participate in training, outreach, and communication to address services to under-served populations including American Indians and individuals age 14 - 24.
6. Review cases, provide technical assistance, and represent individuals who have been denied meaningful access to the benefits or services or otherwise discriminated against on the basis of disability by governmental entities, using such individualized strategies as filing administrative complaints, lawsuits, and appeals.
7. Review cases, provide technical assistance, and represent individuals who have been discriminated against or denied meaningful access to benefits or services of places of public accommodation, using such individualized strategies as filing administrative complaints, lawsuits, and appeals.
8. Investigate and review any complaint of improper or inadequate services provided to Social Security Beneficiaries (SSB) with disabilities by service providers, employers, or entity involved in the SSB's return to work effort.
9. Provide information and referral to Social Security Beneficiaries with disabilities about work incentives and employment, and other SSA-related issues.
10. Provide consultation to and legal representation on behalf of Social Security Beneficiaries with disabilities to protect their rights.

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Education

Disability Rights Montana will protect the rights of students with disabilities to receice a free and appropriate public education.

1.

Provide information and referral to students with TBI, DD/ID, ASD, ED, and other qualifying disabilities to obtain the supports and services they need to progress in their education.

2.

Provide advocacy and/or legal representation in cses that present Child Find and evaluation issues.

3.

Provide advocacy and/or legal representation in cases that present restraint, seclusion, discipline, and school removal issues.

4.

Provide advocacy and/or legal representation in transition planning for post-secondary education for failure to conduct and implement age appropriate transition plans.

5.

Provide advocacy and/or legal representation in cases that present other education, school-related issues of particular severity as determined by the Education Work Unit.

 6.

Collaborate with community-based groups to improve educational and transition outcomes for students with disabilities of all ages.

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Outreach and Training

Disability Rights Montana will promote disability rights and awareness and keep the public informed of its activities.

1.

Provide and sponsor disability-rights-related awareness and training events throughout the state targeting minority and under-served persons with disabilities.

2.

Produce and disseminate an electronic newsletter and publications.

3.

Enhance DRM’s interactive electronic presence (website) to leverage technology to distribute information and receive input.

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Policy

Disability Rights Montana will promote policies, statutes, and regulations in the State of Montana that are reflective and responsive of the equal, civil, and legal rights of people with disabilities.

1.

Monitor and respond to law, policy, and rule changes affecting the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities, and affecting the ability of DRM to serve people with disabilities between legislative sessions.

2.

Educate law and policy makers through oral and written communications in legislative and executive branch forums during the state legislative session and in legislative interim committee forums.

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Civil Rights

Disability Rights Montana will increase protection and recognition of the rights of people with disabilities through advocacy and/or legal representation.

1. Provide advocacy and/or legal representation for people with disabilities in cases with the potential for establishing precedent, and enforcing and clarifying constitutional and other legal rights.

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