The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by WIOA, provides for a Client Assistance Program to be designated by the Governor of each State to advise and inform applicants and individuals eligible for services and benefits under the Rehabilitation Act and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Individuals benefiting from CAP services also include students receiving services under Section 113 of the Rehabilitation Act as well as individuals employed at subminimum wage in accordance with Section 511 of the Rehabilitation Act. In addition, CAPs provide advocacy and representation to applicants and eligible individuals with disabilities to ensure that their rights in relationship to programs and services funded under the Rehabilitation Act are protected. There are 57 CAPs in the States and territories, and the total funding for this program is currently $13,000,000. CAPs are funded under Section 112 of the Rehabilitation Act with implementing regulations in 34 C.F.R. Part 370.
The VR agency is required to work collaboratively with the CAP in the administration of the VR program. Examples of this required collaboration include:
- The director of the CAP or another individual recommended by the CAP is required to be appointed to the State Rehabilitation Council 34 C.F.R. § 361.17(b)(iii).
- The VR agency is required to consult with the CAP director on policies and procedures governing the provision of VR services under the State Plan 34 C.F.R. § 361.20(d);
- In matters of general policy arising in the administration of the VR portion of the State Plan, the designated State agency is required to take into account the views of the CAP director 34 C.F.R. § 361.21(d).
In addition to these administrative requirements, the VR agency is required to inform applicants and eligible individuals of the availability of CAP assistance at various stages of the VR process. Below are some specific citations from the regulations that make this requirement clear. However, VR agencies are encouraged to inform individuals regularly of the availability of the CAP should they be dissatisfied with services and wish to engage an advocate to represent them in working with the VR agency. Regulatory requirements include:
- When an individual is determined ineligible for VR services, the VR agency is required to inform the individual of the services available under the CAP and how to contact the CAP 34 C.F.R. § 361.43(c).
- During the development of the individualized plan for employment, the VR agency must inform the individual of the availability of the CAP and how to contact the CAP 34 C.F.R. § 361.45(c)(2)(iv).
- Among the array of VR services that must be available to individuals, the VR agency provides referral and other services necessary to assist applicants and eligible individuals to secure needed services from other agencies and must advise those individuals of the availability of the CAP 34 C.F.R. § 361.48(b)(4).
- The VR agency must inform the individual of the availability of the CAP to assist the individual during mediation sessions or impartial due process hearings 34 C.F.R. § 361.57(b)(1)(v).
- RSA.ED.GOV Client Assistance Program
- CAP & VR Moving Forward Together: Collaboration Strategies - NDRN
The benefits of VR-CAP collaboration cannot be emphasized enough. In June 2021, a webinar was produced by RSA, CSAVR, and the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) that described the benefits of VR-CAP collaboration. The webinar featured VR and CAP representatives from Michigan, Minnesota, and Rhode Island who discussed specific examples of how they created collaborative relationships, barriers they had to overcome, and strategies they developed to keep the collaboration moving forward.