WHAT IS THE PROTECTION & ADVOCACY SYSTEM?
Disability Rights Connecticut is the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agency for Connecticut. The P&A system is a national network of disability rights agencies across the United States and territories. Watch the video below for more information about P&As.
PROGRAMS & SERVICES
Disability Rights Connecticut, Inc. (DRCT) is dedicated to identifying and advocating for the elimination of barriers that people with disabilities face in exercising their civil, legal and human rights. As Connecticut’s protection and advocacy system, DRCT works to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities, their families and the disability community. The following are DRCT’s programs and services.
Information and Referral (I&R)
The Information and Referral Unit (I&R) is the entry point for requesting DRCT services. DRCT operates federal programs and provides a range of services from information about disability rights, referrals to other resources and legal advocacy within its mandates focus areas and available resources.
Some callers may request advocacy assistance, in which a higher level of service is provided by DRCT than information and referral. Staff may provide short-term advocacy assistance and technical assistance to persons with disabilities, family members, and/or legal representatives by undergoing a case review. If a case matches DRCT’s set focus areas for the year, our mandates, and have the resources, then DRCT will assign an advocate to the case that is supervised by an attorney.
DRCT also provides representation to individuals to pursue legal remedies to advance and protect their civil and constitutional rights. Legal services are provided consistent with DRCT’s focus areas, objectives and selection criteria. Services include formal and informal legal and administrative proceedings in state and federal courts. The emphasis of DRCT’s legal representation is on systemic change so as to benefit the most individuals.
Monitoring & Investigating Facilities
DRCT is specifically required to investigate reports of abuse and neglect of persons with disabilities, and other complaints raised by people with disabilities, against service providers who reside in supervised facilities or community settings. Congress gave P&As extensive access authority to protect people with disabilities and to ensure effective abuse and neglect investigations. Under these federal laws, P&As have the authority to:
Provide information and training to individuals with disabilities about their rights;
Monitor providers to ensure safety and prevent rights violations;
Meet and communicate privately with individuals with disabilities;
Go into facilities to investigate abuse and neglect;
Interview victims and witnesses;
Access the names and contact information of parents and guardians of individuals with disabilities; and
Access the records of individuals with disabilities with the consent of the individual or her legal representative or where there is probable cause of abuse and neglect and certain other conditions are met.
Disability Rights Connecticut provides trainings covering topics such as the overview of our Programs and Services, Rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Voting Access for people with Disabilities, Assistive Technology, and Employment and reasonable accommodations.
Client Assistance Program (CAP)
CAP provides consultation and advocacy assistance to protect the legal rights of applicants and recipients of vocational services of the vocational rehabilitation system in Connecticut. CAP's primary focus is helping clients of the vocational rehabilitation service system, most notably the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) and Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB). DRCT staff also address complaints by applicants or clients of Connecticut’s Independent Living Centers and provides information about Title I (employment) of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY for Assistive Technology (PAAT)
PAAT provides advocacy and legal representation to individuals with disabilities who are trying to access assistive technology devices and services. DRCT also provide education and self–advocacy training people with disabilities, family members and others in an effort to increase knowledge about assistive technology devices and services.
PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PADD)
The PADD program was created by the federal Developmental Disabilities Bill of Rights and Assistance Act (DD Act). The DD Act requires DRCT as a “protection and advocacy system,” to be independent of service systems; to have access to client records; to have the authority to conduct investigations and to pursue legal and administrative remedies on behalf of clients of the Developmental Disabilities service system; to provide information and referral services; and to educate policymakers about issues of concern to persons with developmental disabilities. Individuals served under PADD must meet the definition of developmental disability as defined in the DD Act.
The DD Act defines Developmental Disabilities as chronic mental and/or physical impairments which manifests itself before the age of twenty-two. The impairments tend to be life long and result in substantial limitations in three or more of the major life areas: self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-determination, capacity for independent living and economic self-sufficiency.
PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI)
Under the PAIMI program, DRCT provides legal and advocacy representation, investigation, monitoring and other activities, to ensure the rights of individuals with mental illness under state and federal laws. DRCT is specifically required to investigate reports of abuse and neglect of persons with mental illness and other complaints raised by people with mental illness who reside in supervised facilities or community settings. PAIMI program staff advocates for appropriate discharge plans, consumer choice, and respectful, relevant supports.
PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY for Individuals Rights (PAIR)
PAIR is authorized to provide consultation and representation for people with disabilities who are not eligible for P&A services under PADD, PAIMI and CAP programs, described above. PAIR funding allows DRCT to advocate for many individuals who may not qualify for services under its other programs.
PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY for Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI)
PATBI is funded by a grant from the United State Department of Health and Human Services that provides education, advocacy representation and legal assistance to individuals with acquired or traumatic brain injury (TBI).
PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY for Voting Access (PAVA)
PAVA works to ensure that a wide range of individuals with disabilities participate in the electoral process through voter education, training of poll officials, registration drives, polling place accessibility surveys, Election Day monitoring, and other activities related to the voting rights of people with disabilities in Connecticut.
PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY for BENEFICIARIES OF SOCIAL SECURITY (PABSS)
Under the PABSS program, DRCT staff provide information and advice about vocational rehabilitation and other employment services as well as advocacy assistance, legal representation and other services necessary for a Social Security Beneficiary to secure or regain employment. Individuals who receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are eligible under the PABSS program.
Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Representative Payees (PABRP)
On April 13 2018, the President signed the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act. Social Security’s Representative Payment Program provides financial management for the Social Security and SSI payments of Social Security beneficiaries who are not able to manage their own Social Security or SSI payments. The law directs state Protection & Advocacy (P&A) system organizations to conduct all periodic onsite reviews along with additional discretionary reviews. As the designated protection and advocacy system for the state of Connecticut, Disability Rights Connecticut (DRCT) is responsible for scheduling, conducting, and completing detailed reports on compliance reviews of both organizational and individual representative payees as assigned by the Social Security Administration. DRCT performs statewide visiting to beneficiaries’ homes, residential facilities, and state mental institutions. These procedures include personal interviews; financial record reviews; detailed tracking of these reviews; and submission of final reports to federal partners.