Chapter 14 - Office of Protection and Advocacy for the Disabled
Chapter 14 - Office of Protection and Advocacy for the Disabled
The legislature finds that:
(a) There is a large number of disabled individuals in American Samoa whose numerous and diverse needs and rights must be adequately addressed and protected.
(b) It is the purpose of this act to:
(1) Assure that persons with disabilities receive the care, treatment, and other services necessary to enable them to achieve their maximum potential through increased independence, productivity, and integration into the community.
(2) Establish and operate a system which coordinates, monitors, plans, and evaluates services which ensures the protection of the legal and human rights of persons with disabilities.
(a) "Act" means this act plus the federal legislation under which these programs are authorized such as; the 1964 Bill of Rights; Public Law 99-319 Protection and Advocacy for the Mentally Ill Individuals (PAMII); Public Law 95-602 Protection and Advocacy for the Developmentally Disabled (PADD); and Public Law 98-516 (Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Amended 1986, Client Assistance Program (CAP.
(b) "Developmental disability" means a severe, and chronic mental or physical disability that is manifested before age 22, which is likely to continue indefinitely, and will substantially limit three or more of the following areas of major functional activities:
(6) capacity for independent living; and
(7) economic self-sufficiency;
(c) "Mentally ill individual" means a person who has significant mental illness or emotional impairment, as determined by a certified mental health professional.
(d) "Client assistance program" means a program that assists the disabled individuals who are either clients or client applicants of the vocational rehabilitation program.
(e) "Service provider" means any agency which provides care, treatment, employment or other necessary services to the disabled.
(f) "Abuse" means any act or failure to act by an employee of a service provider
which causes, or may cause injury to a disabled individual.
(g) "Neglect" means a negligent act or omission by a service provider which causes or may cause injury to a disabled person, or which places a disabled person at risk of injury. It also includes the act or omission such as failure to establish or carry out an appropriate individualized program plan or treatment plan, or adequate care for the disabled.
(h) "Client" means an individual who is receiving services from this program, and who has already been determined to qualify for service from a service provider.
(i) "Client applicant" means an individual who has submitted an application for assistance to a service provider, and is waiting to qualify for such assistance.
There is created within the Executive branch of the government an Office of Protection and Advocacy for the Disabled. The head of that office is a director appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature. The director shall be an individual qualified by knowledge, skill and ability to administer and direct the provisions of this law, and shall employ a qualified staff to include legal counsel and others as needed. This office shall be independent of all agencies that are considered service providers.
The office may:
(1) investigate incidents of abuse and neglect of the disabled, if the incidents are reported or if there is probable cause to believe that the incidents occurred;
(2) pursue legal, administrative and other appropriate remedies to ensure efficient services and the protection of the disabled's rights;
(3) have access to service providers' sites and records of the disabled;
(4) make and enter into all contracts and agreements necessary or incidental to the performance of its duties and the execution of its powers under this act, including but not limited to, contracts with the federal government and other agencies;
(5) to accept grants from the United States, the local government and agencies and instrumentalitiesk thereof, and any other sources, and to comply with conditions contained therein;
(6) collect, analyze, and disseminate information relating to the advocacy services and the rights of the disabled to the disabled, their families, service providers and the community at large;
(7) keep records necessary to monitor clients' grievances, progress and performance of the service providers pertaining to clients; and
(8) in coordination with local government and service agencies, conduct briefings to improve services to the disabled, and to better protect their rights.
There is established a council who advises the program on matters that affect the performance of the program and the services rendered to the disabled. The council consists of 12 members who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the
Legislature. Three members shall be from the private sector, three shall be government employees, three shall be service providers, and three consumers.
(a) The disabled individual has the following rights:
(1) right to appropriate treatment;
(2) right to an individualized written treatment or service plan;
(3) right to participate in planning his own program;
(4) right to refuse treatment or service plan;
(5) right to refuse to participate in experimentation;
(6) right to freedom from restrain or seclusion (except in case of valid emergency);
(7) right to a safe and sanitary environment;
(8) right to humane treatments;
(9) right to confidentiality;
(10) right to access to personal records;
(11) right to privacy;
(12) right to be properly informed upon admission to any facility or program;
(13) right to assert grievances; and
(14) right to referrals.
(b) Rights listed shall not be construed to replace or limit any other rights, benefits, or privileges, including statutory and regulatory due process rights and protections, to which a disabled person may be entitled.
Records filed with the office and the information contained in them shall be confidential, and shall be released only upon the client's consent, and are for use in matters to resolve the client's grievances.
Each service provider is expected to have an individualized service plan for every disabled person it serves. The plan shall be in writing and shall include, at a minimum, the nature of the needs of the person, treatment, care, goals, and specific services to be offered to the disabled person to attain these goals.
The program director in consultation with the advisory council and in accordance with all appropriate acts shall adopt rules of eligibility, standard of services, as specified by law and an impartial grievance procedure, so as to render the most timely and the best possible service to the disabled.