THE MISSION of University Legal Services’ Protection and Advocacy Program (ULS-P&A) is to ensure that District of Columbia residents with disabilities have the legal rights to which they are entitled, including the right to be free from harm, the right to individual choice and the right to full inclusion in the community.
The following priorities and objectives reflect ULS’ mission:
1. Assist individuals with leaving institutions, advocate for greater consumer choice, and reduce the Districtís reliance on institution-based and/or segregated services for children and adults diagnosed with mental illness.
a. Represent 10 consumers in inpatient and residential facilities and advocate for them to live in the least restrictive setting appropriate to meet their needs.
b. Represent 25 consumers living in the community in their efforts to obtain appropriate, individualized mental health services, including interagency care coordination.
c. Represent 6 individuals with obtaining access to appropriate community-based services within the first 6 months of their release from the D.C. Jail and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
d. Educate the community and collaborate with stakeholders to ensure that District of Columbia Public School and Public Charter School students receive special education services in the least restrictive environment.
e. Represent 5 homeless individuals to advocate for a Housing First model of mental health supports and services.
2. Advocate to improve the variety of options and accessibility of transition services for youth.
a. Represent 3 individuals transitioning from the youth-based education, mental health, or other systems to the adult-based system, to ensure continuity of care and ongoing access to age-appropriate supports and services. .
b. Explore and advocate for systemic solutions to address the lack of appropriate transition services.
3. Monitor and investigate improper seclusion, restraint, and medication and other abusive and neglectful conduct at facilities where D.C. residents receive mental health service or seek to receive mental health services.
a. Investigate on behalf of 10 adult consumers who have been improperly secluded, restrained, medicated, or otherwise been abused or neglected.
b. Investigate on behalf of 2 children or youth in residential, inpatient, or educational settings who allege abuse or neglect. .
c. Conduct monitoring visits and provide information about ULS at least 4 times at the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP).
d. Through other advocacy, including the Department of Mental Health grievance procedures, represent 10 consumers regarding rights violations by providers in institutions.
e. Investigate, monitor, and/or provide advocacy to enforce consumer rights and decrease institutional environment of two community residential facilities or group homes for individuals with mental illness.
4. Conduct outreach and education to individuals with a mental illness, family members, the government, court-appointed guardians, and service providers about individual rights and ways to reduce reliance on institution-based and segregated mental health services.
a. Conduct 10 outreach, monitoring, and education sessions for children and youth at local psychiatric hospitals, group homes, and residential treatment centers.
b. Conduct 15 outreach, monitoring, and education sessions for adult consumers and staff at hospitals that accept involuntarily committed patients.
c. Conduct 8 outreach and education sessions for youth or adults receiving mental health treatment inside or recently released from correctional facilities.
d. Collaborate with consumer-directed advocacy organizations to support broad-based coalitions and stronger consumer voice.
e. Conduct 3 outreach, monitoring, and education sessions at homeless shelters serving youth and adult mental health consumers.
5. Develop strategies to promote autonomy and self-direction for individuals who have been appointed a guardian or are at risk of having a guardian appointed.
a. Work with other stakeholder groups to encourage limited guardianships and prevent guardianships when sufficient alternatives exist.
b. Assist 5 individuals at risk of guardianship with executing alternative, less restrictive instruments under the law, including but not limited to psychiatric advance directives and powers of attorney.
6. Represent prospective class members in Thorpe v. District of Columbia to promote their rights under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to information about alternatives to nursing facility placement, transitional assistance, and quality home-based personal care services and supports through the Elderly and Physical Disabilities (EPD) Medicaid Waiver Program and the DC Medicaid State Plan to enable them to move out of nursing facilities.
CASE SELECTION CRITERIA
ULS accepts cases, as resources allow, for individuals:
1. Who have a significant mental illness or emotional impairments; AND
2. Whose complaints fall within the above listed priorities; AND
3. Who are residents of the District of Columbia.
While we recognize that every situation is important, please note that case acceptance is dependent upon available resources, including staff time. If your case is not accepted and you wish to file a grievance, please submit your grievance in writing to the Executive Director. Current clients may also submit a grievance to the Executive Director about the quality of ULS’ representation. A client may lodge an oral grievance with a ULS staff member who shall put the grievance in writing and submit it to the Executive Director. The Executive Director may be reached at:
Jane Brown, Executive Director
University Legal Services
220 I Street, N.E., Suite 130
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 547-0198 Phone
(202) 547-2662 Fax
(202) 547-2657 TTY
The Executive Director shall respond in writing within thirty (30) days of receipt of a grievance from any client or prospective client, or community member who has an interest in the operation of the protection and advocacy program.
A grievant may appeal the Executive Director’s decision to the ULS Board of Directors within ten (10) days of the written decision of the Executive Director. The decision of the ULS Board of Directors shall be final and not subject to further appeal or review. Client confidentiality shall be maintained.
The Executive Director shall report grievances to the Board of Directors annually.