What We Do
Types of Assistance
DRM provides the following services:
- Information and Referral
- Individual Advocacy
- Legal Representation
- Education and Training
- Assistance with Self-Advocacy
DRM welcomes calls from people with disabilities inquiring about their legal rights. However, DRM does not advise landlords, schools, businesses, or providers of accommodations or services.
Protection & Advocacy for Developmental Disabilities (PADD)
After becoming aware of the inhumane conditions at Willowbrook, a New York State institution for persons with developmental disabilities, Congress enacted the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 1975 (the "DD Act"). In the DD Act, Congress recognized that a federally-directed system of legal advocacy was necessary to "ensure the humane care, treatment, habilitation and protection of mentally retarded and other persons with developmental disabilities." Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. §§ 15041-15045).
The DD Act created a system of protection and advocacy agencies in all states and territories. In 1977, the Protection & Advocacy Project (P&A) was established as the designated protection and advocacy agency for Maine.
Developmental Services Advocacy
The Developmental Services Advocacy (DSA) program serves adults with autism and intellectual disabilities who are either receiving, or eligible to receive, developmental services through the State of Maine.
DSA staff work out of the DHHS offices in Portland, Lewiston, Rockland, Bangor, and Caribou, as well as DRM's main office in Augusta. Below is the list of districts/counties served by each office.
- District 1 - York County
- District 2 - Cumberland County
- District 3 - Androscoggin, Franklin & Oxford Counties
- District 4 - Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc & Waldo Counties
- District 5 - Kennebec & Somerset Counties
- District 6 - Penobscot & Piscataquis Counties
- District 7 - Hancock & Washington Counties
- District 8 - Aroostook County
Contact information for each office is available here.
Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI)
Following Congressional investigations substantiating reports of abuse and neglect in state psychiatric hospitals, the Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act of 1986 (the "PAIMI Act") was passed. The PAIMI Act's intent was to extend protections similar to those provided under the DD Act to individuals with mental illness residing in facilities. Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. §§ 10801-10807, 10821-10827).
An important provision for the protection and advocacy system was included in the Children's Health Act of 2000. It expanded the PAIMI Program to cover individuals with mental illness who reside in the community.
Inpatient Mental Health Advocacy
DDPC & RPC
DRM provides advocacy services to patients at the two state psychiatric hospitals operated by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services: Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center (DDPC) and Riverview Psychiatric Center (RPC).
DRM advocates work to ensure prompt patient access to rights information, and assistance with enforcing those rights when necessary, on issues pertaining to medication, the right to refuse treatment, informed consent, treatment plans, advance directives, complaints and grievances, and discharge planning.
Additionally, DRM conducts regular outreach to, and rights education for, hospital staff and administration.
DRM also contracts with Acadia Hospital to provide advocacy services to its patients. Acadia, part of Northern Light Health, is a privately-operated psychiatric hospital in Bangor. DRM's Acadia advocate works with both adolescent and adult patients to provide immediate responses to in-patient concerns, complaints and grievances. The advocate collaborates with hospital administration to ensure continued compliance with the Rights of Recipients and to create comprehensive systemic policies to maintain that compliance. Weekly rights training is provided on in-patient units to ensure recipients of mental health services are aware of their rights and where to seek assistance in the protection of those rights. All new hires at Acadia are required to attend an orientation centered on patient rights. Providing a collaborative immediate redress of grievances and concerns helps to promote a therapeutic relationship between providers and the people they serve.
Client Assistance Program (CAP)
Through Maine’s Client Assistance Program (CAP), Disability Rights Maine advocates for and protects the rights of individuals with disabilities who are applying for or receiving Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services from the Maine Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The CAP also assists people who are applying for or receiving federally-funded services from the Independent Living Center (Alpha One) in Maine.
The CAP provides individual legal representation and advocacy, information and referral services, outreach, and education.
Protection & Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR)
The Protection & Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR) Program was established under the Rehabilitation Act in 1973, as amended in 1992. The program was not fully funded by Congress until 1994 which is when it was established in Maine. It is designed to serve individuals with disabilities who are not eligible for P&A services under the DD or PAIMI programs. Section 509 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. §§ 794e)
Protection & Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT)
The Protection & Advocacy for Assistive Technology (AT) Program was established in 1994 when the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act (the "Tech Act") was expanded by Congress. As a result, the Tech Act includes funding to the protection and advocacy system to assist individuals with disabilities in accessing AT devices & services. Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act, as amended (29 U.S.C. §§ 3012).
Social Security Advocacy
Protection & Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS)
The Protection & Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) Program was established and authorized by the Ticket to Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act (TWWIIA) of 1999. The Act authorized the Social Security Administration (SSA) to fund protection and advocacy systems to provide work incentive assistance to SSDI and SSI beneficiaries who need vocational rehabilitation, employment services, and other supports to secure or regain employment. In Maine, the program was established in 2001. Section 1150 of the Social Security Act, added by the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. §§ 1320b-21).
Rep Payee Review Program
In 2018, Congress passed the “Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act,” which authorized P&A agencies across the country to monitor representative payees handling SSDI and SSI benefits on behalf of individuals with disabilities.
Representative payees are individuals who manage Social Security benefits on behalf of an individual who is not able to manage or direct someone else to manage their benefits. In those cases, SSA appoints a relative, friend, or another individual or organization to handle their Social Security matters for them.
However, investigations have uncovered instances of representative payees who have stolen or misused funds, exploited, neglected and even abused the people with disabilities they were supposed to be helping.
Under the Rep Payee Advocacy program, DRM will monitor, investigate, and review representative payees to prevent and detect financial exploitation or misuse of an individual’s benefits. The program will also advocate on behalf of beneficiaries to ensure that their needs are being met and that their representative payee is acting in their best interest.
Brain Injury Advocacy
Protection & Advocacy for Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI)
This program was authorized by the Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 1996 and reauthorized as part of the Children's Health Act of 2000. Through the funding provided, protection and advocacy systems are better able to serve individuals with traumatic brain injury and their families. This program was initiated in Maine in 2002. Section 1253 of the Public Health Service Act, added by the Children's Health Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. §§ 300d-53).
State Contract for Brain Injury Advocacy (SCBI)
The State Contract for Brain Injury Advocacy program serves adults with acquired brain injury.
Protection & Advocacy for Voting Access (PAVA)
This program was enacted to help ensure that every qualified person with a disability has the opportunity to vote. The Help American Vote Act, which was signed into law on October 29, 2002, overhauled federal elections in the United States by establishing minimum voting standards that each state and territory must follow. The Act also authorizes the provision of funds to the protection and advocacy system to ensure full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities. Title II, Subtitle D of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. §§ 15461).
Advocacy for Kids
The Children's Advocacy program is funded by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child and Family Services. In addition to individual representation, DRM conducts outreach and monitoring of children’s services in the community, hospitals, residential treatment facilities, and out-of-state placements.
Funded by the State of Maine, the EA program provides representation to parents of children with disabilities in accessing appropriate special education services.
Deaf Services Programs Include:
The priorities below will guide the work of DRM during Fiscal Year 2021. The priorities are overall goals.
PRIORITY 1 – Abuse, Neglect and Rights Violations: People with developmental disabilities will be safe from abuse, neglect, and exploitation and will be guaranteed basic personal rights.
PRIORITY 2 – Due Process: People with developmental disabilities will be afforded due process with regard to decisions that reduce, eliminate or restrict their rights and the services they receive.
PRIORITY 3 – Integrated Settings: People with developmental disabilities will receive the services they need to live in the community in the most integrated setting possible and to direct their own services and supports whenever possible.
PRIORITY 4 – Self-Advocacy: People with developmental disabilities will receive the support that they need to be effective self-advocates.
PRIORITY 5 – Employment: People with developmental disabilities will have access to employment and employment services in integrated settings.
PRIORITY 6 – Government Services & Public Accommodations: Public accommodations and governmental services will be accessible to people with developmental disabilities.
PRIORITY 7 – Education: Children with developmental disabilities will have access to a Free and Appropriate Education in the Least Restrictive Environment, will not be restrained or place in seclusion, and will have adequate transition planning..
PRIORITY 1 – Abuse, Neglect and Rights Violations: Individuals with mental illness will be safe from abuse and neglect, and will be guaranteed personal rights.
PRIORITY 2 – Community Inclusion: Individuals with mental illness will live in the communities of their choice and be fully included in all aspects of community life as they may choose.
PRIORITY 3 – Housing: People with serious mental illness will live in safe, accessible, affordable housing.
PRIORITY 4 – Education: Children and young adults with mental illness are entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education in the least restrictive environment without threat of inappropriate discipline.
PRIORITY 5 – Employment Discrimination: People with serious mental illness will have access to employment without being subject to unlawful disability based discrimination..
PRIORITY 1 – Abuse, Neglect and Rights Violations: People with disabilities will be safe from abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and will be guaranteed basic personal rights.
PRIORITY 2 – Integrated Settings: Individuals with disabilities will receive services, including healthcare and housing, in the most integrated setting appropriate and, where possible, direct their own services.
PRIORITY 3 – Employment: People with disabilities will not be subject to unlawful disability based discrimination in employment.
PRIORITY 4 – Government Services & Public Accommodations: Public accommodations and governmental services will be accessible to people with disabilities..
PRIORITY 1 – Education: Students with special needs will have access to assistive technology appropriate to meet their educational needs.
PRIORITY 2 – Employment: Maine citizens with disabilities will have access to assistive technology in employment settings.
PRIORITY 3 – Integrated Settings: Maine citizens with disabilities will not be subject to restrictive living situations when they could otherwise be integrated and will have access to assistive technology necessary for community inclusion and integration..
PRIORITY 1 – Access to Employment for Beneficiaries: Social Security beneficiaries will have knowledge of work incentives opportunities enabling them to obtain or maintain employment.
PRIORITY 2 – Education and Outreach on the Ticket-To-Work: Agencies working with Social Security beneficiaries will become knowledgeable about work incentives and the Ticket to Work program.
PRIORITY 3 – Access to Due Process and Dispute Resolution: Beneficiaries with disputes before SSA involving work-related program decisions and benefits overpayments that are a barrier to obtaining employment will receive representation and resolution of their problems.
PRIORITY 4 – Adequacy of Employment Support Services: Agencies working with Social Security beneficiaries will develop sound programs and provide high quality services..
PRIORITY 1 – Abuse, Neglect and Rights Violations: People with Traumatic Brain Injury will be safe from abuse and neglect and will be guaranteed basic personal rights.
PRIORITY 2 – Integrated Settings: Individuals with TBI will reside in integrated settings in the communities of their choice.
PRIORITY 3 – Self-Advocacy: Individuals with BI and their families will have increased advocacy skills and the public will have increased knowledge about brain injury and its impact.
PRIORITY 4 – Housing: People with brain injuries in Maine will have access to safe, accessible, and affordable housing.
PRIORITY 5 – Government Services & Public Accommodations: Public accommodations and governmental services will be accessible to people with brain injuries.
PRIORITY 6 – Employment: People with brain injuries will have access to employment without being subject to unlawful disability based discrimination..
PRIORITY 1: Ensure full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities.
PRIORITY 2: Provide education, training and assistance to individuals with disabilities that will promote their participation in the electoral process.
PRIORITY 3: Participate in advocacy and education efforts revolving around HAVA implementation efforts in their State or Territory.
PRIORITY 4: Training and education of election officials, poll workers, and election volunteers regarding the rights of the voters with disabilities and best practices in working with individuals with disabilities.
PRIORITY 5: Assist individuals with disabilities in filing complaints under the State-based administrative grievance procedure required by HAVA and represent individuals with disabilities in any hearing that may be held regarding the complaint.
PRIORITY 6: Provide assistance to States and other governmental entities regarding the physical accessibility of polling places.
PRIORITY 7: Obtain training and technical assistance on voting issues, including education regarding accessible voting equipment and systems. Once educated, the information may be used to inform others of the availability of accessible voting equipment and its use..
Deaf Services Programs
DRM Deaf Services works to identify the needs and maximize the potential of D/deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late-Deafened, and Speech Impaired individuals throughout the State of Maine.
Civil Rights Advocacy: Provides information and advocacy services for a wide range of issues. DRM also works to promote systemic change on matters impacting D/deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late-Deafened, and Deaf/Blind communities.
Telecommunications Equipment Program (TEP): Provides communication solutions to anyone who has a barrier that prevents them from using standard phone equipment.
National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program: Provides equal communication access to Deaf-Blind individuals by distributing equipment that will be used for internet access, telecommunications services, and advanced communications.
Peer Support Group (PSG): DRM staff offer supported, structured learning activities for D/deaf, Hard of Hearing and non-verbal adults who have intellectual disabilities.
Visual Gestural Communication (VGC): Through classes taught by DRM staff, participants will learn how to communicate with people who have limited language proficiency. These classes are designed for staff and others who care for individuals with limited language skills.
Maine Relay Service Community Outreach: DRM staff works to educate consumers and businesses on how to communicate effectively and safely using Maine’s free telephone relay service. Trainings on CapTel captioned telephones and speech-to-speech relay services are also available.
Am I Eligible?
You may be eligible for DRM's services if:
- You have a disability and believe your civil rights have been violated or you have been discriminated against due to your disability;
- You have a disability and need help obtaining assistive technology;
- You receive SSI or SSDI and need help with employment-related issues;
- You are seeking brain injury services;
- You have questions about your right to vote and/or accessible voting; or
- You are the parent of a child with a disability and your child has been denied access to inclusive educational services or otherwise had their educational rights violated.
What Can DRM Help Me With?
Case selection criteria for each program is established on an annual basis. While this list is not inclusive, case selection includes, but is not limited to the following:
- Physical or sexual abuse;
- Denial of medical, mental health, rehabilitative or habilitative treatment or evaluation;
- Denial of basic rights or necessities;
- Provision of an unsafe living environment;
- Financial exploitation;
- Improper use of seclusion, restraint, aversives or forced medication;
- Denial of an integrated living setting or services;
- Due process violations in involuntary admissions or in treatment or service planning;
- Disability based discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations or government benefits;
- For children with disabilities, denial of special education services and/or an inclusive education; and,
- For children with disabilities, disability-related expulsion or suspension from school.
- The Administration on Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities (AIDD)
- The Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS)
- The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA)
- The Social Security Administration (SSA)
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- The State of Maine
- Acadia Hospital
- The Maine Civil Legal Services Commission
- Private Donations