DRI is Hiring!

Job Opening



Opening Date:   September 3, 2019

Closing Date:   Monday, September 30, 2019 (This position is open until filled, but applications submitted by 5:00 p.m. CT on September 30, 2019 will be considered for the first round)

Job Type:  Full Time, Non-Exempt

Pay Range:   $32,000-$36,000/year depending on experience

Benefits:  DRI offers a comprehensive benefit plan for eligible employees. Benefits include health insurance, dental insurance, basic life, short-term and long-term disability insurance, a 403(b) retirement plan, and flexible spending accounts. Flexible spending accounts feature reimbursement for both medical and dependent care.

Time-off: DRI offers a generous holiday time off, paid sick time and vacation accrual package to full-time employees.

Agency Description:  Disability Rights Iowa (DRI) is a well-established innovative, non-profit, legally-based organization dedicated to advancing the rights of Iowans with disabilities, including individuals with mental illness.   DRI is the federally-mandated protection and advocacy agency for individuals with disabilities in Iowa. Disability Rights Iowa works to achieve fairness and justice for people with disabilities through quality legal representation, advocacy, investigations of abuse and neglect, peer/self-advocacy services, community partnerships, legislative and regulatory advocacy work, education and outreach.  DRI”s legal work includes individual and impact litigation. For more information, go to www.disabilityrightsiowa.org.

Intake Specialist Job Description:  The Intake Specialist handles all initial requests for assistance received by DRI and works with an Intake Team consisting of an attorney and advocate to staff all requests, initial screening for eligibility, opening cases when appropriate and providing Information and referral.  


Job Responsibilities:

  1. Interviews callers with requests for assistance to obtain basic information, determine nature of the problem and desired resolution.
  2. Participates in twice weekly Intake Team meetings to staff all requests for assistance.
  3. Provides information and referral assistance to callers when issue and/or caller are not eligible for full intake.
  4. Maintains data base on callers and requests for services.
  5. Ability to deal with clients who are in crisis or in stressful situations.
  6. Develops a resource bank for the agency.
  7. Use Microsoft Office software on a personal computer.
  8. Other duties, as assigned.

Minimum Qualifications:  (Applicants must meet each of the qualifications to be considered for an interview)

  1. Bachelor’s degree required, preferably in Social Work, Education, Psychology, Rehabilitation Counseling, Disability Studies or another related field of study;
  2. A minimum of one year previous experience working with people with disabilities and/or mental illness;
  3. Strong and effective writing and verbal communication skills, including the ability to do so in a concise manner, even when doing so regarding complex issues;
  4. Strong organizational skills;
  5. Excellent interpersonal , relationship-building and collaboration skills to be able to work with others inside and outside of the organization
  6. Ability to analyze complex problems and develop creative solutions;
  7. Ability to maintain thorough and complete records; and
  8. Ability to work independently with appropriate supervision.

Desirable Qualifications:  

  1. Experience with or sensitivity to individuals with disabilities and/or mental illness;
  2. Bilingual
  3. Experience with or sensitivity to individuals from ethnic or language-distinct communities; and
  4. Knowledge of laws, rights and services as they pertain to individuals with disabilities and/or mental illness.

Equal Opportunity Employer.

Disability Rights Iowa is an Equal Opportunities Employer. It is the policy of Disability Rights Iowa to prohibit discrimination and harassment of any type and to afford equal employment opportunities to employees and applicants, without regard to race, color, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, pregnancy, medical condition or genetic information, veteran status, national origin, disability, marital or other protected status.

E-mail cover letter and, resume to: 

Katie VandeVorde, Operations Manager, Disability Rights Iowa at  kvandevorde@driowa.org

No phone calls please.

Disability Rights Iowa Statement about UHC Leaving Iowa


April 1, 2019

DRI Statement on UHC Leaving Iowa’s Privatized Medicaid

(Des Moines, Iowa) – March 29, 2019, UnitedHealthcare notified the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) that they would be leaving the private managed care system. For right now, Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTSS) recipients are able to receive their services as usual until June 30, 2019. This change means that some LTSS recipients will soon be on their third Managed Care Organization (MCO) in three years. This level of upheaval and uncertainty has been a trademark of the privatized system since its inception.

In DRI’s experience, a state-run system for Iowans receiving Medicaid LTSS worked better than a private managed care system. We saw a significant increase in cuts to services when managed care started in 2016. Now, people live in fear of more cuts, service providers leaving the system because of lack of adequate and timely payment, and a constant state of change and uncertainty for members. The continual stress of advocating for necessary services and supports is especially exhausting for Iowans with disabilities who are trying to live their best lives. We hope that UnitedHealthcare members will be able to keep their service providers, but the future is unknown as of this moment.

The Future

The Iowa Department of Human Services should be sending out updated enrollment letters soon, since the ones that were recently sent are now obsolete because of the loss of UnitedHealthcare as an MCO. DRI will make sure to stay on top of this developing situation and keep everyone informed via our website and social media.

Managed Care Organizations should be held accountable to performance measures, and we hope that the state of Iowa keeps this as a priority when negotiating with the newest MCO, Iowa Total Care. Medicaid recipients deserve to receive adequate and continuous services from qualified providers without being confronted by cuts and inconsistent care. LTSS recipients deserve to be served by competent managed care providers. Service providers deserve to get paid for the work that they do. The state needs to make these realities the pillars of all future negotiations.

Steps to Take

For now, please refer to DRI’s guide to navigate managed care in Iowa for immediate steps to take. This guide covers how to be your own best advocate when dealing with MCOs and can be found on our website under the Resources > DRI Publications tab. If you receive an individual written notice of service cuts, contact us and we can help with the appeal process, regardless of which MCO is cutting services.

In addition to all of the work that DRI is doing to help individual LTSS recipients, we also want to help boost your voices and opinions on privatized managed care. In order to do that most effectively, we are going to revive our #IAmMedicaidIowa social media campaign. If you would like to participate in this campaign, please send or post pictures of you or a loved one who uses managed care holding a sign with #IAmMedicaidIowa. Along with the photos, please share a story using #IAmMedicaidIowa in the text of the post to amplify the campaign. DRI will share and repost your stories so that they can reach the widest possible audience. Your voices and stories deserve to be heard, MCOs should know the impact that their actions have on real Iowans who need services and supports to live a full, community involved life.

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Disability Rights Iowa aims to defend and promote the human and legal rights of Iowans who have disabilities and mental illness. DRI promotes safety, opportunity, access, and self-determination for all Iowans.

For more information call (515)-278-2502 x 20 or visit: www.driowa.org


Access Denied Video Series

For many people with disabilities, certain everyday places and activities are inaccessible. Here at Disability Rights Iowa we want to showcase those instances through a campaign called Access Denied. Disability Rights Iowa intern, Zach, went around Des Moines to demonstrate what a person with a physical disability must go through to get to get to places like the bank or a coffee shop.Zach starred in and directed the Access Denied video series. The five videos look at Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act which focuses on public accommodations and commercial facilities. If you or someone you know has had their access denied, snap a photo and send it to us. We want to tell the stories that Iowan’s with disabilities are facing. Send us your photo and story on Facebook or at c.warner@driowa.org.







A special thank you to the Iowa State Fair

Iowa State Fair globe

In 2012, the Disability Rights Iowa team attended the Iowa State Fair to assess its accessibility. What they found was that one of Iowa’s biggest events was not as inclusive and accessible as they had hoped. Recommendations were made and the Iowa State Fair took their responsibility to the disabled community seriously.

Four years later, the progress they have made towards accessibility and inclusion has been no less than remarkable. Between facilities updates, sign language interpreters and accessible shuttles/parking, it is clear that the fair has taken valuable steps towards making the festivities accessible to all.

Three Disability Rights Iowa employees who have a disability had the opportunity to attend the fair this year. Tai Tomasi, who is blind, was very impressed with the shuttle system and the improvements they made to curb cuts inside the fair. Emmanuel Smith noted that he used to have to plan his day around accessible restrooms, but this year he found they were all around the fairgrounds. Zach Mecham was pleasantly surprised with wheelchair access on the grounds. He was able to navigate the fair independently this year with no issues.

The staff at Disability Rights Iowa know what a process it is to make a facility as old as the fair accessible. We recognize that there is more to do but commend the fair’s efforts to improve on accessibility. We just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you and keep up the good work!

Hinterland music festival makes accessibility a priority

                                         ___Hinterland photo


Over the past several months, Disability Rights Iowa had had the good fortune to work with Sam Summers, organizer of the Hinterland Music Festival , to address issues of accessibility encountered during Hinterland’s first year. From our first conversation, it was apparent improved accessibility was a priority. While we realize making an event of Hinterlands size fully ADA compliant and accessible will be a multi-year effort, Sam repeatedly went above and beyond to ensure that Hinterland was as accessible as possible in the time frame allowed, even as the St. Charles site posed significant challenges. By providing accessible parking, accessible seating areas, accessible golf carts to assist attendees in enjoying the rolling hills of Madison County, a dedicated ADA check-in where individuals could get assistance, and accessible portable toilets, Hinterland to great efforts to make sure any issues of accessibility were considered and addressed.

DRI staff Tai Tomasii and Charlene Joens were able to attend this year’s event, and because of Sam’s commitment to accessibility, Tai’s visual disability posed no barrier to her enjoying the festival along with thousands of other Iowan’s. Her multiple discussions with attendee’s with disabilities revealed just how drastically Sam’s efforts improved the experience at Hinterland for people with disabilities, and we can’t thank him
enough for his work. It’s because of the efforts of Mr. Summers and many other dedicated business owners around the state that we are making huge strides towards ensuring that Iowa lives up to the promises of the American’s with Disabilities Act, and the spirit of inclusion it represents. Thank you Sam and all the staff at Hinterland!