Office of Protection and Advocacy
For Persons with Disabilities
JAMES D. McGAUGHEY, Executive Director
Established - 1977
Statutory authority - CGS Sec. 46a-11 et al.
Central office - 60B Weston Street,
Hartford, CT 06120
Average number of full-time employees - 41
Recurring operating expenses - $2,607,818
Federal contributions - $1,043,729
Organizational structure - Two operating divisions: Case Services and Abuse Investigation, and an Administrative Unit.
The mission of the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (P&A) is to advance the cause of equal rights for persons with disabilities and their families by:
· increasing the ability of individuals, groups and systems to safeguard rights;
· exposing instances and patterns of discrimination and abuse;
· seeking individual and systemic remediation when rights are violated;
· increasing public awareness of injustices, and of means to address them; and
· empowering people with disabilities and their families to advocate effectively.
A combination of federal and state statutory mandates require the agency to:
transitioned out of such institutions;
employed or maintain current employment;
residential buildings, and requests for waivers from the accessibility provisions of the State Building
During FY 2002-2003, over 8,000 individuals received assistance from P&A staff and sub-contractors. Approximately 7,000 callers received information and referral services and/or short-term assistance. The majority of these callers were people with disabilities or their family members. In addition, P&A provided assistance to social service agencies seeking assistance on behalf of their clients, school officials, employers, legislators, and government employees seeking disability information. The remaining 1,348 callers received extensive case advocacy or legal representation through the P&A Case Services Unit and subcontractors. The Abuse Investigation Division received 1,344 allegations of abuse or neglect. P&A investigated 260 of the allegations and monitored 908 investigations conducted by other governmental agencies. P&A also sponsored or contributed to training events that reached approximately 2,600 people. Over 8,500 disability rights publications were distributed.
Protection and Advocacy continued to raise awareness about the rights of individuals with disabilities in vulnerable circumstances. The agency also protected the rights of vulnerable populations by:
· Investigating and publishing reports on the restraint-related deaths of two persons with mental illness.
Working to assure that Connecticut prisoners with mental illness receive appropriate mental health services.
· Pursue a claim in Federal District Court to allow P&A access to treatment records of inmates who commit suicide in Connecticut prison.
P&A supported disability focused community advocacy and coalition building by:
· Providing training, consultation, strategic planning, and funding development to 26 public and non-profit community organizations.
· Assisting and funding AFCAMP (African-Caribbean American parents) and PAP (Padres Abriendo Puertas), two grass roots organizations of parents who have children with disabilities.
· Assisting with the formation of the Connecticut Lifespan Respite Coalition.
· Continuing to facilitate the Connecticut Women and Disability Network (CWDN) and its project to ensure access to mammography for women with disabilities.
Other P&A systems change initiatives include:
· Informing individuals with disabilities about their rights under Public Act 99-210, “An Act Concerning the Physical Restraint of Persons with Disabilities.”
· Participating in the development of Connecticut’s Olmstead implementation plan and supporting grant applications.
· Educating policymakers about issues affecting people with disabilities in Connecticut.
· Assessing the physical and communication accessibility of polling places in Connecticut.
· Continuing to monitor a consent decree involving effective communication for persons with hearing impairments at the 32 acute care hospitals.
P&A continued to focus on providing relevant, comprehensive information for persons with disabilities. The agency significantly expanded and conscientiously maintained an accessible Internet site providing access to agency created self-help literature, information about P&A programs and services, and reports on the current developments in the field of disability rights. P&A staff completed a 70 page Family Resource Manual, designed to assist parents and family members of individuals with disabilities in accessing educational and other supports.
Agency efficiency has been increased as a result of internal information technology. In addition to accessing P&A services, consumers may also obtain written information and publications through the Agency website. The development of a database has improved the investigation and statistical reporting of the incidents of abuse and neglect of adults with mental retardation in Connecticut.
Strategic planning mechanisms have resulted in the following developments:
· Increased focus on informing the public on the status of disability rights and services in Connecticut by conducting and publishing investigations of incidents in institutional settings.
· Improved capability to collect and synthesize data concerning abuse and neglect of adults with mental retardation in Connecticut’s service delivery systems and community settings.
· Increased assistance to minority parents of children with disabilities in underserved or underrepresented areas of Connecticut.
· Increased focus on issues most affecting citizens with disabilities in Connecticut through public forums and comment processes.
By law, the P&A Annual report must include information that identifies current issues affecting services to people with disabilities in Connecticut. Public input through forums, specialized meetings, and widely distributed questionnaires combined with a review of P&A information & referral and case experience, identified the following issues:
· Children with disabilities continue to be educationally segregated.
· Service delivery systems provide incomplete or fragmented information to individuals with disabilities creating confusion, disincentives and deprivation of rights and resources.
· Vulnerability of individuals with disabilities to abuse and neglect.
· Wage discrepancies between public and private direct care jobs are causing a widespread shortage of supported living arrangements for persons with psychiatric and cognitive disabilities.
· Places that do business with the general public (restaurants, grocery stores, health offices, municipalities) continue to be physically inaccessible despite legal requirements for change.
· Legal services to enforce the rights of persons with disabilities are in short supply.
· Accessible public transportation is scarce or non-existent.
· Continued shortage of affordable, accessible housing.
· Children with disabilities are commonly excluded from municipal and non-profit recreational programs including after school care and activities.
· Personal care assistance and in-home support are difficult to arrange. Such community living assistance is scarce and inconsistent.
· Assistive technology funding and distribution streams do not meet the work, learning, and civic participation
needs of persons with disabilities.