Frequently Asked Questions about Advocacy
What is Individual Advocacy?
It is the process of assisting another person to achieve a desired outcome. In our case it means we assist someone to get a benefit, service, or policy change out of a state agency, local agency, or service provider. It can involve making calls on your behalf, writing letters, filing complaints, filing appeals, doing press-releases, inviting groups of people to meetings, and more.
What do you mean by systemic advocacy?
CCDC is about changing the rules and laws and systems that make our lives harder or exclude us. For example, we think that people should be able to live in their community with supports and that no one should have to live in a nursing home if they want to be home. We try to change Medicaid rules and laws to make this happen, but also help people on an individual basis until the change is complete.
Will information be kept confidential?
No. We are doing this work to make changes, therefore if we advocate for you we will want to share your story when in policy meetings, with legislators, etc. We share basic information not personal details. For example we may say that we assisted someone to get a new wheelchair and here is how the state tried to deny the chair. We would not say we assisted Susan Jones who is a C-6 quadriplegic of this address…. Also, because of federal privacy laws we will ask anyone that we help to sign a release of information allowing us to speak to the state or provider to help resolve the problem. If you become or are a client of our legal program, anything between you and a CCDC attorney will remain confidential according to legal professional ethics.
What do I have to do?
First you need to become a member. We expect clients receiving individual advocacy to follow through with any suggestions we give, or requests, such as getting information, returning release forms, etc. If clients are not able to do so, we expect them to tell us directly. We expect clients to be honest with us, so that the other side does not surprise us. We expect clients to ask any questions and be sure that the result we are asking for is the result that you really want. It is ok to change your mind, but not in the middle of a hearing.
What kinds of cases do you take?
We are not staffed to take emergencies of any kind, because we are not always able to quickly return calls. We are currently taking Medicaid cases, particularly denials of mental health services, denials or delays in prescription drugs, problems with wheelchairs, rural transportation and any problem with any provider. Our priority is helping people in, or at immediate risk of, entering an institution.
We have an Educational Advocacy program that works with students who cannot get assistance elsewhere in obtaining a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Most of the students served are teens with Mental Illness.
We are interested in cases where someone needs a reasonable modification of policy, practice, and procedure from State or Local government.
We are also interested in issues relating to retaliation.
We can help with some other issues, depending on the issue, our workload, etc. We also offer training to people that want to be volunteer advocates.
What don’t you do?
We do not do social security eligibility (disability determination) because there are attorneys that do this work. Although they take some of the back pay, we only handle what no one else can or will do. We do not handle evictions because we do not have the staff capable of quick responses. Sometimes we can help deal with a problem landlord or homeowners association if there is plenty of notice. Legal Aid can help with some evictions. We do not assist with basic benefits such as food stamps; LEAP, subsidized housing, or help people find money for rent or car repairs. Your local ILC should be able to help with basic benefits---for car repairs the only advice we have is to take the bus.
How can I access an advocate?
Call CCDC at 303-839-1775 or 1-877-817-1435. Press one - for the general voice mail.
Do not leave a message for the Executive Director or the Legal Director. That will only mean that it will take longer before someone calls you back.
You will get a return call from either staff member or volunteer. Once we get the details we can tell you if this is something that we can help with or not. If not, we do our best to find a referral.
We try to return calls the same week. There are times when we are not able to do that. If you do not hear anything after 10 days, call again. We usually have someone respond, even if it is to say that we cannot even discuss the matter at this time.
Do not call more frequently or leave multiple messages—this will not speed up a return call. Do not say that you will only speak to one specific staff member.
How much time do you spend with your clients?
As much as it takes to get the job done. We make sure that we read over the telephone, email or fax letters to clients before we send them out. Initially we may need to spend a lot of time either in person or on the telephone. There may be lulls as we wait for hearings, and then lots of activity preparing for a hearing. The amount of time will totally depend on the complexity of the case.
Before I decide if I want CCDC to provide individual advocacy can I get a reference of a former client?
Sure, just call and ask –we will have the former clients call you rather than printing personal numbers on this document. You may do so by calling 303-839-1775 or 1-877-817-1435. Press one - for the general voice mail.
What are the qualifications of my advocate?
We are not a clinical service or a service provider. Advocates need to know how to work within the system using a variety of techniques. All advocates get training by CCDC and are supervised by the Executive Director or her designee. Advocates go through intensive training and an internship before becoming certified. Most of our advocates are unpaid volunteers. Potential advocates must demonstrate certain amount of skill before doing advocacy unsupervised.
How do I know if someone is really an advocate, or if they are with your organization?
If you are concerned that someone is not an advocate or is not affiliated with Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), call to verify with CCDC directly. You may do so by calling 303-839-1775 or 1-877-817-1435. Press one - for the general voice mail.