Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania
Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Program
All callers to Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) are initially referred to our intake team. The team includes two receptionists, a secretary, a full-time advocate, a part-time advocate, a paralegal, and three full time attorneys. Callers are asked to provide some basic identifying information as well as a description of their problem. In many cases, the intake team can assist the caller by providing information and referral or short-term advocacy assistance. Individuals who need more help can be referred to one of DRN’s advocacy teams (listed below) or to a DRN lawyer. The referral is based on the priorities set by the Board of Directors. Because DRN provides its services on a state-wide basis with limited resources and staff, it is unable to handle every advocacy situation for each person who seeks its assistance. Click here to review DRN’s Case Selection Criteria.
Protection and Advocacy for Developmental Disabilities (DD)
Under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act), DRN provides advocacy to adults and children with developmental disabilities. DRN focuses on issues such as community integration, protection from abuse and neglect, and access to community services. DRN subcontracts with ELC for all activities concerning early intervention and special education.
Background: The Protection and Advocacy Program for individuals with Developmental Disabilities was the first program authorized by Congress as part of the DD Act in 1975. It is funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration on Developmental Disabilities. The original goal of the program was to ensure the rights of children and adults living in institutional settings and to protect them from abuse and neglect.
As disability policy moved away from institutions to the community, the mandate expanded. DD advocacy has played a major role in supporting community integration for persons with developmental disabilities. However, thousands of individuals continue to reside in state-operated and privately owned congregate residential facilities. To assure that persons living in the community get the supports and services that make community living a long-term reality, DD advocacy activities also focus on access to education, family supports, housing, employment, transportation, consumer control of services and the right of every person to be safe.
Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI)
DRN’s PAIMI advocates provide assistance to persons with mental illness, with particular emphasis on adults in state-operated facilities, personal care homes and prisons, and on children who are subject to abuse and restraint.
Background: In 1986, Congress authorized the PAIMI program in the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act. PAIMI is funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The program originally was established to provide protection and advocacy services to individuals with mental illness who were residing or had recently resided in institutional settings. In 2000, Congress greatly expanded the PAIMI mandate to include all individuals with significant mental illness, including people living in the community in all settings but with priority for people in institutions. Several years ago, HHS mandated that protection and advocacy agencies (P&As) receive investigation reports of deaths and serious injuries related to abusive restraint and seclusion practices in hospitals and psychiatric facilities for children. Finally, in 2002 and 2003, Congress affirmed that state P&A programs have a significant role in addressing the community integration needs of individuals covered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision.
Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights (PAIR)
The third major program that DRN operates is the PAIR program. The PAIR program is designed to protect the rights of all those people with disabilities who are ineligible for the two basic protection and advocacy programs, i.e., children and adults with developmental disabilities (DD) and individuals with mental illness (PAIMI). With the enactment of PAIR, DRN covered all persons with disabilities. Critical disability protections and advocacy issues addressed by PAIR include access to quality supports and services in the community so individuals can live as independently as possible, nursing home transition, access to transportation, and employment and housing discrimination.
Background: The Protection and Advocacy of Individuals Rights (PAIR) program is authorized as part of the Rehabilitation Act. PAIR-eligible individuals include those with physical disabilities, such as spinal cord injury and amputations; sensory disabilities, such as blindness and deafness; and neurological impairments, such as multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy.
Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
DRN operates a specialized program known as the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury program, which provides advocacy services for persons with traumatic brain injury.
Background: The Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) program was created by the Traumatic Brain Injury Act as part of the Children’s Heath Act of 2000. The program is administered by the Heath Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services.
Protection and Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT)
Under the Assistive Technology program, created by the Assistive Technology Act of 2004, DRN assists adults and children with disabilities in accessing assistive technology, including addressing legal barriers to assistive technology.
Background: Funded through the Rehabilitation Services Administration, PAAT has been a major force in ensuring that individuals with disabilities live more productive and independent lives by getting access to critically needed assistive technology in a variety of settings: school, home, and work.
Protection and Advocacy for Voting Access for Americans with Disabilities (HAVA)
Under Protection & Advocacy for Voting Access (PAVA), DRN advocates to ensure full participation in the electoral process for individuals with disabilities, including registering to vote, casting a vote and accessing polling places.
Background: Congress created Protection & Advocacy for Voting Access in 2002 when it enacted the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The program is administered by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities of the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS)
Under the PABSS program, DRN provides Social Security beneficiaries who want to work with the information, advice, advocacy and other services they need to secure, maintain or regain gainful employment.
Background: The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act (TWWIIA) was enacted into law in 1999 with the goal of providing health care, employment preparation and placement services to individuals with disabilities. As part of the Act, Congress authorized the Social Security Administration to make payments to P&As to provide information and advocacy services to Social Security beneficiaries who want to work
Community Advocacy Project for People with Intelectual Disabilities
DRN has staff working from four regions in Pennsylvania to provide advocacy services to assure that persons eligible for Intelectual Disability services who live at home or in other community-based settings have access to the full array of quality services they need to remain in their communities and to protect them from abuse or neglect. This project is supported by the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs of the Department of Public Welfare.
DRN has staff working at each of the state-operated facilities, where they provide advocacy assistance and support to the residents and their families. This project is supported by the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs of the Department of Public Welfare.
Disability Advocacy Support Hub (DASH)
Disability Advocacy Support Hub (DASH) is a project of the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania funded by the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council to assist disability advocacy groups make positive change in their communities and across Pennsylvania. We have a staff of trained professionals and consultants to assist grassroots advocacy groups of all sizes and different kinds of disabilities. To learn more…