Most readers of this newsletter are advocates at a program funded under the Disability Advocacy Program (DAP) in New York State and are familiar with the program and the direct services provided to clients. Many, however, are not necessarily familiar with the statewide support services provided by DAP under a separate contract.
Under the last Request for Proposals (RFP), 13 DAP providers were granted funding to provide DAP services throughout the state. DAP also funds one agency, the Empire Justice Center (Empire Justice), to provide statewide legal support and administrative services to programs providing direct services under DAP. Empire Justice subcontracts with the Urban Justice Center to help provide the support services in New York Center. The three DAP Statewide Support Attorneys are Emilia Sicilia and Jenna Karr of Empire Justice, and Ann Biddle of the Urban Justice Center (UJC).
What exactly do the Statewide Support Attorneys do? Under the DAP contract, they provide training, information, consultation, electronic database administration and reporting, and legal services to DAP-funded providers. This encompasses many activities, including:
- Publishing of this quarterly newsletter;
- Offering periodic state-wide CLE/trainings;
- Coordinating periodic regional Task Force meetings;
- Providing legal advice and research, and co-counseling on cases involving systemic issues;
- Taking referrals for individual federal court cases;
- Hosting a quarterly DAP Supervisors Forum to discuss current issues, training ideas, updates of national-level advocacy and other developments;
- Participating on the DAP listserv, which is maintained and coordinated by the Western New York Law Center (WNYLC) and the Empire Justice Center;
- Advocating with SSA regional staff regarding systemic issues, and facilitating outreach with local DAP advocates;
- Representing New York DAP advocates as part of a national coalition of SSI Advocates that meets regularly with SSA; and
- Frequent comment-writing and other formal and informal advocacy; and
- Coordinating DAP case data statewide and submitting reports of DAP openings and outcomes to New York State Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA). See here for the Biennial Report submitted to the Legislature regarding DAP.