Archive for March, 2010

First MPS Progress Report submitted by Independent Expert

Under DRW’s settlement with the Department of Public Instruction in its longstanding class action lawsuit against Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), an independent expert, Dr. Alan Coulter, must analyze the progress that MPS is making in providing early intervening services to children who need it in all of its schools. Under the settlement Dr. Coulter will issue a mid-year and a year end report. He recently submitted his first mid-year report, which you can read here: MPS Progress Report, along with a cover letter to MPS Superintendent William Andrekopoulos and MPS Board President Michael Bonds, which you can read here: Cover letter.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a story on this report: Click to read the article on the Journal-Sentinel website.

The Journal Sentinel published a follow-up article on the subject: Click to read the follow-up article on the Journal-Sentinel website.

Statement from Disability Rights Wisconsin Regarding Advocacy Services for Patients at the Milwaukee Mental Health Complex

March 22, 2010

Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW) is the designated protection and advocacy agency for people with mental illness and other disabilities in Wisconsin. In that role, we advocate for people with disabilities who experience abuse or neglect or other violations of their rights. We are deeply concerned about the recent reports of assaults and other citations at the Milwaukee Mental Health Complex and possible systemic failures which may include neglect of vulnerable people by staff. This is intolerable and we are committed to working with other stakeholders to move forward with systemic change and doing everything possible to ensure that the hospital provide a safe and healing environment for patients. We are in the process of reviewing the citations, corrective action plan, policies and procedures, and other records; and communicating with the state and CMS as they move forward with their responsibilities related to monitoring and/or investigation; as well as contacting the patients and/or guardians.

As the protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities in our state, we want to remind you that if patients or guardians have concerns about patients’ rights, abuse or neglect, or access to services at the Milwaukee Mental Health Complex, you may refer them to DRW at our Milwaukee office at 414-773-4646. DRW may be able to provide advocacy services in these cases or provide a referral if that is more appropriate. We regularly have cases from the Complex, but clearly there are additional patients whose rights are being violated and are in need of advocacy services. Signs with our contact information are (again) being posted on all inpatient units and we will periodically be on site, although our ability to do this is restricted by our limited staff resources. We are working with Milwaukee County staff and others to ensure patients are aware of their rights and of our advocacy services.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Article on Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex

Agency to investigate abuse allegations at Mental Health Complex

A state-designated watchdog agency has launched its own investigation into patient sexual abuse allegations at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex.

The agency, Disability Rights Wisconsin, has made a sweeping demand for records at the complex and will interview staff, patients and their guardians to find out the scope and seriousness of the abuse, Barbara Beckert, Milwaukee office manager for the agency, said Friday.

Beckert said the probe was prompted by news accounts in the Journal Sentinel, which told of a federal investigation that had found multiple instances of patient sexual abuse at the county complex. A federal inspection in January found staff inattention to various patient care rules, including nurses and nurse assistants who were unaware the hospital had a policy of no sexual contact between patients.

Click to read the full article on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel website.

April 30 Symposium in La Crosse on Mental Health Parity Legislation

What state policy changes will improve our mental health treatment system? Please join us in La Crosse on April 30 for Making Parity Real, a symposium on the future of mental health and addiction treatment in Wisconsin. Attendance is free, but registration is required. Registration deadline April 28. DRW is pleased to be a sponsor of this event.

Click here for details and registration information: La Crosse Parity Symposium Flyer

Monetary Impact of DRW’s Benefits Team Work in FY09

The Wisconsin Disability Benefit Specialist (DBS) Program offers benefits counseling and advocacy for people with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 60. Disability Rights Wisconsin’s Benefits Team provides program attorney services–including training, technical assistance, substantive case oversight and direct client representation–to Disability Benefits Specialists in 56 counties around the state.

In Fiscal Year 2009, the DBSs, with assistance from DRW’s Benefits Team, served approximately 10,000 clients, yielding a monetary impact of approximately $42 million. This figure includes the amount of any retroactive benefits awarded, plus ongoing benefits for a period of one year.

For more information on our Program Attorney Services click here.

2010 Census – Why it’s important for people with disabilities

The Census: A Snapshot
Excerpted from the US 2010 website. Click here for a full fact sheet.

What: The census is a count of everyone in the United States.
Who: Everyone in the United States must be counted—both citizens and noncitizens.
Why: The U.S. Constitution requires a national census once every 10 years for the purpose of reapportioning the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, census data play a part in guiding funding for essential community services and other important programs.
When: Households will receive a census form in March 2010 either by U.S. mail or by hand delivery.

Benefits of Census Data for People with Disabilities:

Census data directly affect how more than $400 billion per year in federal funding is distributed to state, local and tribal governments.

Census data help guide local planning decisions, including where to provide additional social services, establish senior and child-care centers, build new roads, hospitals and schools, or determine locations for job training centers. That means census data can directly affect the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families by impacting:

  • Planning and construction of facilities for people with disabilities.
  • Transportation services and needs.
  • Community-based health care initiativesand programs.

Research shows that people with disabilities are motivated by knowing that completing their census form can improve special services and the quality of life in their communities.

The 2010 Census is easy, important and safe, and YOUR participation is vital.

It’s easy: The 2010 Census form is one of the shortest census forms in history. With only 10 questions, the form takes about 10 minutes to complete.
It’s important: Census information helps determine locations for schools, roads, hospitals, job training, child-care and senior centers, and more.
It’s safe: By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities. All Census Bureau employees take an oath of non-disclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

Questionnaire Assistance Centers are located throughout Wisconsin to assist those unable to read or understand the census form. To find a Center near you, click on the following link: Questionnaire Assistance Centers. Click on Find a Questionnaire Assistance Center, and enter your zip code or city and state. The Questionnaire Assistance Center(s) closest to your desired location will be displayed.

For more information about the 2010 Census, visit the census website.

Jo Cauley to receive a Special Recognition Award from ARC-Dane County

Jo CauleyDRW Advocacy Specialist, Jo Cauley, has been selected to receive an award from ARC-Dane County in recognition of her advocacy for individuals with disabilities. Jo has advocated for hundreds of parents and children re: special education issues. Her experience as a parent of two children with disabilities has given her a perspective and personal experience which are invaluable to the families with whom she works. DRW and Wisconsin’s families with children with disabilities are fortunate to have Jo as an advocate.

The award will presented to Jo at the ARC-Dane County’s 60th Awards Banquet to be held on April 21 at the Concourse Hotel in Madison.

March 29 Symposium in Janesville on Mental Health Parity Legislation

What state policy changes will improve our mental health treatment system? Please join us in Janesville on March 29 for Making Parity Real, a symposium on the future of mental health and addiction treatment in Wisconsin. DRW is pleased to be a sponsor of this event.

Click for details: Mental Health Parity Symposium

Push is on to Pass SB 468–PBIS Seclusion & Restraint bill

As the legislative session is over on April 22, DRW and many others are working hard to pass SB 468, a bill that would encourage the use of Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports (PBIS) and reduce the use of inappropriate seclusion & restraint in Wisconsin schools.

It is very important to communicate with your legislators to let them know of your support for this bill. In particular, if any of your legislators are on the Senate Education Committee (see list below), please encourage them to ask the committee chair, Sen. John Lehman, to call for a vote on SB 468, and then to vote “Yes” to approve the bill. If any of your legislators are on the Assembly Education Committee (see list below), please encourage them to ask the committee chair, Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, to hold a hearing on AB 682, the companion bill.

Since the legislative session is over on April 22nd, time is of the essence. Spread the word!!

Senate Education Committee members:

John Lehman (Racine)–chair
Jon Erpenbach (Middleton)
Dave Hansen (Green Bay)
Robert Jauch (Poplar)
Glen Grothman (West Bend)
Randy Hopper (Fond du Lac)
Luther Olsen (Ripon)

Assembly Education Committee members:

Sondy Pope-Roberts (Verona)–chair
Kristin Decker (Eau Claire)
Steve Hilgenberg (Dodgeville)
Kim Hixson (Whitewater)
Peggy Krusick (Milwaukee)
Mark Radcliffe (Black River Falls)
Christine Sinicki (Milwaukee)
Jeff Smith (Milwaukee)
Brett Davis (Oregon)
Steve Nass (Whitewater)
John Nygren (Marinette)
John Townsend (Fond du Lac)
Leah Vukmir (Wauwatosa)

If you do not know who your legislators are, or need to find their contact information, you can either call toll free: 1-800-362-9472, or Click here for the state legislature’s website.

Here’s the latest news on this bill:

Click here for an article on the Capital Times’ website.

Click here for an article on the Racine Journal Times’ website.

Click here for an article on the Capital Times’ website.

Click here for an article on the Examiner’s website.

Click here for an article on the Wisconsin State Journal’s website.

Click here for an article on the Stevens Point Journal’s website.

Shirin Cabraal will receive the 2009 State Bar Outstanding Public Interest Law Attorney Award

Shirin PortraitDRW Managing Attorney, Shirin Cabraal, will receive the 2009 Dan Tuchscherer Outstanding Public Interest Law Attorney award on May 6, 2010. The award ceremony will take place at the State Bar’s Annual Convention at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison.

In her award letter, the Public Interest Law Section said that Shirin was chosen to receive the Dan Tuchscherer Outstanding Public Interest Law Attorney Award for “her exceptional and selfless work as an attorney and advocate serving countless clients over the years.”

Congratulations, Shirin! Your DRW colleagues know first hand how deserving you are of this award.