DRM provides advocacy services to individuals with developmental disabilities under the federal PADD Program.
Additionally, DRM also provides advocacy services to adults with Autism & Intellectual Disabilities who receive Developmental Services. DRM's Developmental Services
Advocates (DSA) are funded by the Maine Department of Health and Human
Services (DHHS), Office of Aging and Disability Services (OADS). The DSA advocates, who are located in Caribou, Bangor, Lewiston, Augusta/Rockland, and Portland, provide direct representation, respond to reported rights
violations, attend all 3-person committee meetings reviewing the use of
severely intrusive behavior and safety plans, attend Person Centered
Planning meetings, and conduct regular outreach and training statewide.
DRM Addresses Array of Serious Rights Violations for Client
DRM received several reportable events alleging rights violations regarding a man with an intellectual disability. The advocate at DRM met with the man, his staff, the guardian and the executive director of the agency and found out that the man's rights were being violated in many ways; staff were restricting his right to his property; using the soda that he purchased as a reward for good behavior; restricting what clothes he could wear; refusing to let him keep his property in his room; making his clean up his feces and urine when he was incontinent and using planned restraints - all without any intrusive plans in place. The advocate also discovered that there were over 30 pages of plans that the agency was using and they were all outdated or unapproved. These plans were also wrought with disrespectful language and were not person centered. The advocate educated the entire home staff and their supervisors about rights and reportable event procedures. Because of the advocacy of the DRM, the man's plans were discontinued and all of his rights were restored for the first time in his adult life.
DRM Assists Client with Becoming Her Own Guardian
An adult female with an intellectual disability contacted DRM requesting assistance terminating her guardianship and conservatorship. DRM discovered that the client had been put under guardianship and conservatorship without due process. The probate court had processed the client's family member’s request for temporary emergency guardianship/conservatorship without contacting the client. Then, instead of scheduling a hearing, the court issued an order for full guardianship and conservatorship. The client was never contacted by the court and had no knowledge of the order until he contacted DRM. DRM made a motion to the court requesting that the court vacate the client's guardianship/conservatorship on the basis that she did not receive due process when the order was made.
At hearing, the court requested that the parties consider a potential settlement. The client's current guardian agreed to terminate guardianship/conservatorship if the client agreed to put her money in a special needs trust, which the client agreed to do. At hearing, both parties submitted the Settlement Agreement to the court. Pursuant to that agreement, the court terminated the client's guardianship.
DRM Successfully Advocates for Client to Receive Specialized Services
In the course of conducting outreach to Van Meter v. Mayhew class members living in nursing facilities concerning the provision of specialized services, DRM discovered woman in her 40's with cerebral palsy that had not left the nursing facility in months. Initially, she had not been identified by the State as needing specialized services. DRM successfully negotiated for the client to receive community support services. In arranging these community support services, the nursing facility attempted to limit her choice to one program, citing transportation issues. DRM resolved the transportation issue by obtaining additional information and sharing it with the nursing facility.
Supported Decision-Making Basics
Supported Decision-Making (SDM), often used as an alternative to guardianship, recognizes that people with decision-making challenges can retain their decision-making capacity by using supports to help them make choices.
Learn how SDM can be used to help preserve a person's autonomy and independence, while still providing the person with support from family, friends, and community. Additionally, this training will provide a brief history of SDM and include information about exciting changes to Maine's guardianship law, which now requires SDM and other less restrictive alternatives to be considered prior to ordering guardianship.
Co-presenters: Kile Pelletier, Program Associate, Speaking Up for Us & Staci Converse, Managing Attorney, Disability Rights Maine
The Complete Guide to Social Security Disability Benefits
From the website: "Developing a disability can be frustrating for many reasons, and the inability to work is one of the hardest things to deal with. In the U.S., 12.8% of people are disabled, and more than half of them (51%) are within the prime working ages of 18-54, according to an annual report funded by the NIDILRR, and the employment rate of disabled individuals ranges from 27.4% to 54% between the states. This leaves many unemployed, and not being able to work leads to depression and the feeling of being a burden on your family and loved ones.
Fortunately, disability benefits provided by the Social Security Administration can offer relief, giving a disabled person back their agency and dignity, though many are unaware of the rules and qualifications regarding the available benefits.
That’s why we’ve compiled this guide: to provide everything you need to know on the topic in a clear, concise manner. We’ll cover the available
benefits, necessary qualifications for different age groups, how benefits are paid out, alternative sources of benefits, and more. After reading, acquiring the benefits that you deserve will be a whole lot easier."
COVID-19: Person-Centered Discussion Tool for Assessing the Risks of Having Visitors and Accessing the Community
COVID-19 is challenging for all and has made a lot of things change for people with disabilities. Now that we have entered a new phase of this emergency with many businesses, parks, restaurants, etc. reopening, OADS, DRM, and SUFU are receiving questions about rights and restrictions from both providers of services and individuals served.
Given that the rights of individuals with disabilities and the responsibility of providers to ensure health and safety may at times conflict with each other, OADS, DRM, and SUFU offer the following Risk/Benefit Discussion Guide to help individuals make the best decisions for themselves with the support of their families, case managers, and others. This tool* is an optional way to think about some of the health and safety risks that a person should consider before taking part in a new community activity and/or interacting with new individuals. As always, Person-centered principles should guide everyday practice before, during, and after an emergency.
*Please note this tool and the frequently asked questions are not intended to take the place of legal or medical advice. If this type of professional advice is needed, a professional should be consulted.
How to Request a COVID-Related Reasonable Accommodation
Everyone’s life is currently affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of COVID-19, many providers have made new rules and changed the way they offer services to people with disabilities. Sometimes these new rules make it hard for people to access their services because of their disability. If you or someone you know is having difficulty receiving services because of these new rules, you might be able to request a “reasonable accommodation” based on your disability. This webinar will talk about what a reasonable accommodation is, how to request a reasonable accommodation and what to do if your provider says no. There will also be time at the end for questions and answers.
This manual is intended to provide a simple yet informative overview of how to be a self-advocate. This manual is not a substitute for legal advice. If you have specific questions or need assistance with a particular issue, please contact Disability Rights Maine.
DRM is one of the founding members and facilitator of the Supported Decision-Making Coalition, a group of community partners with a shared objective of providing information to the community on alternatives to guardianship. The third meeting of the Supported Decision-Making Coalition occurred February 19, 2016. The Coalition met to review outreach materials, training, and policy research to share on the Coalition’s website. In the first half of the meeting, the Coalition heard from Julia Otis of TrueLink Financial on the organization’s new product, the TrueLink Card, to assist individuals with difficulty making financial decisions. Also presenting via Skype, the Coalition heard from Clint McKay of The Arc of Indiana, on Indiana’s progress implementing Supporting Decision-Making in their State. The Coalition has agreed to meet in smaller groups to better develop strategic plans of outreach before the next meeting (TBA) in May. More information on Supported Decision-Making and alternatives to guardianship can be found on the Coalition’s website at www.supportmydecision.org.