VRS community partners may apply to amend their P/T contracts to adjust their service offerings in accordance with their business needs, the needs of individuals they work with, and the needs of the state VR program. Applications for amendments are accepted during specific "amendment periods" announced by VRS. There is no current amendment period scheduled. To be notified of the next amendment period, please enter your email address on the "email updates tab of this page.
VRS is grateful for the work of our community partners in providing pre-ETS services. VRS heard from many providers that the rate set for pre-ETS "Work Experience-Wages" of wage + 25% was not sufficient to cover the cost of the service. VRS will raise that rate to wage + 50%. If you are a provider with this service on your contract, please submit an application for an amendment to make this change.
Simplifying Pre-ETS Service Titles
When VRS added Pre-ETS services to contracts in 2019, VRS understood that it would be in VRS's best interest to define the services narrowly so we could track each individually. VRS has now determined the additional complication outweighs the benefit of this detailed tracking. We will be simplifying the service titles in the following ways.
Pre-ETS Workplace Readiness Training
The four services listed under Pre-ETS Workplace Readiness Training will no longer be separate services.
VRS will authorize these services under Pre-ETS Workplace Readiness Training
Pre-ETS Benefits Information Services,
Pre-ETS Independent Living Services or Soft Skills Training,
Pre-ETS Job Seeking Skills Training, and
Pre-ETS Public Transportation Training.
Pre-ETS Work-Based Learning
Five of the services listed under Pre-ETS Work-Based Learning will no longer be separate services.
VRS will authorize these services under a new title called Pre-ETS Introductory Work Activities
Career Mentoring Experience,
Service Learning, and
Workplace Tour/Field Trip.
Pre-ETS Work Experience-Services and Pre-ETS Work Experience-Wages will remain separate and distinct service titles.
If you are a provider with Pre-ETS services on your contract, please submit an application for an amendment to make these changes.
Flexibilities: Pre-ETS for Students Eligible for VR
VR's federal funder and regulator, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), recently announced some flexibilities for Pre-ETS services. The flexibilities they allowed are only applicable to students who are eligible for VR receiving Pre-ETS. These flexibilities do not apply for services to students who are "potentially eligible" for VR.
Intake fees for Pre-ETS services: Providers may add a "Pre-ETS Intake" to their contract at the standardized $75 per hour. Note that VRS will only authorize for this intake service when it is for a student who is "eligible" for the VR program. VRS will still authorize for a "first meeting" for potentially eligible students.
Work-based learning coaching: Providers may add "Pre-ETS Work-Based Learning Coaching" to their contract at the standardized $75 per hour. These coaches perform similar functions as job coaches do in supported employment settings by assisting students with learning to perform tasks assigned during the work-based learning experiences.
If you are interested in providing these new Pre-ETS services, please submit an application for an amendment to add these services.
Pre-ETS Special Programming on P/T Contracts
Some providers have special programming that includes several Pre-ETS services titles. Those providers should reach out to Sara.Sundeen@state.mn.us and Anne.Paulson@state.mn.us to discuss the programming and come to an agreement on how the programming might appear on P/T contracts and authorizations. The agreement should be reflected in the community partner's amendment application.
Pre-ETS Services and Same or Similar General Services
If a community partner currently has or is requesting to add a Pre-ETS service to their contract, VRS encourages community partners to also add that same or similar service for General Services. For example, if a partner is adding Pre-ETS Job Exploration Counseling to their contract, we encourage the partner to also add Job Exploration Counseling as a General VR service as well. This will allow VRS staff to authorize for that same service to continue (for students eligible for VR) when they graduate school or turn age 22 and thus no longer meet the eligibility requirements for Pre-ETS. Note that this would require a separate or modified authorization with the service title for General Services.
This is outlined on the application form as well.
Same or Similar General Services on P/T Contracts
Pre-ETS Workplace Readiness Training
"Pre-ETS Workplace Readiness Training" includes the following services that won't be separate services moving forward:
• Benefits Information Services
• Independent Living Services or Soft Skills Training
• Job Seeking Skills Training
• Public Transportation Training
• Job Seeking Skills Training(Current General Service on PT Contracts)
•EDS(Current General Service on PT Contracts)
•Transportation Training (Public Transportation Training)(Current General Service on PT Contracts)
•IL Advocacy, IL Skills Assessment, IL Skills Training, Information and Referral, Peer Mentoring(Current General Services on CIL PT Contracts)
•Benefits Coaching Hourly Rate $75/hour(Current General Services on PT Contracts)
Pre-ETS Instruction in Self-Advocacy Services
Instruction in Self-Advocacy - General Services (New General Service on PT Contracts)
Pre-ETS Job Exploration Counseling Services
Job Exploration Counseling Services - General Services(New General Service on PT Contracts)
Post-Secondary Education Counseling Services - General Services(New General Service on PT Contract)
Pre-ETS Work Experience- Wages
Work Experience-Wages - General Services(New General Service on PT Contracts)
Pre-ETS Work Experience - Services
Work Experience - Services - General Services(New General Service on PT Contract)
Intake(Current General Service on PT Contracts)
Pre-ETS Work-Based Learning Coaching
Job Coaching(Current General Service on PT Contracts)
Pre-ETS Introductory Work Activities
"Pre-ETS Introductory Work Activities" includes the following services that won't be separate services moving forward:
• Career Mentorship Experience
• Informational Interviewing
• Job Shadowing
• Service Learning
• Workplace Tour/Field Trip
• Job Shadow(Current General Service on PT Contracts)
•Informational Interview(Current General Service on PT Contracts)• No Corresponding General Service – VRS is not expecting a need for these services to have a corresponding general service: Career Mentorship Experience, Service Learning, Workplace Tour/Field Trip
Limited User Vendors: Increasing the Contract Amount Cap
VRS values the work of DEED's community partners in providing services for individuals with disabilities in Minnesota. VRS is committed to supporting sustainable access to quality services statewide.
Many of the providers that work with VRS are CARF accredited. Per state rule, those service providers that are CARF accredited have no maximum budget cap. Limited-Use Vendors (LUVs) are service providers that are not CARF accredited. VRS, per state rule, must limit the amount of business it does with LUVs.
Until this point, VRS has allowed LUVs to conduct business up to $20,000 per year or $40,000 every two years with VRS with a Professional and Technical (P/T) Services Master Contract.
VRS set LUV maximum budget cap many years ago and has not revised it since. The amount has not kept pace with inflation or cost of living increases. The current LUV cap does not present a viable business opportunity for many smaller service providers and thus limits the ability for quality service providers in Minnesota to offer needed services.
In light of this, VRS will raise the maximum budget cap for Limited Use Vendors, effective July 1, 2020. The new cap will be $100,000 per year, or $200,000 over 2 years. A contract amendment is necessary to raise this cap.
VRS is developing the quality standards for service providers to become LUVs and is developing an ongoing quality assurance framework to ensure individuals in Minnesota are receiving the highest quality services on a consistent basis. We will share this with you as soon as we have it ready. VRS has engaged in dialogue with the Community Partners Committee (formerly CRP Advisory Committee) to discuss this issue and gather their advisory input to inform the decision-making process. VRS welcomes your feedback – you can contact me any time at email@example.com.
If you are a LUV that would like to increase your contract maximum budget cap, please submit an application to amend your contract.
Amendment Application Evaluation
DEED evaluates amendment applications based on three assessments: 1) the need for a particular service, 2) the provider's capacity to deliver the service, and 3) the proposed rate for the service.
"Service need" may include the needs of VR individuals, the needs of the state VR program, and/or the business needs of community partner organizations.
Rate Increases: If a community partner requests an increase in the rate for a service already on their contract, the community partner organization must provide a rationale for the rate increase. The requested rate increase must be acceptable to DEED's Administrative and Financial Services and the Minnesota Department of Administration's Office of State Procurement. Some questions to consider are: Is there a change in the external cost of the service? Is there a change in the regulatory environment? Is the provider changing or enhancing the service that makes the rate increase necessary?
Amendment Application Review and Amendment Development Process Step-By-Step
VRS expects a high volume of amendment applications during this period. Detailed steps for processing an amendment application are described below. Some of these steps can take approximately 2 weeks and the whole process often takes about 2 months.
VRS staff prepares each application for review by VRS leadership. VRS leadership reviews each amendment application and approves or declines amendment proposal based on service need.
DEED-Administrative Fiscal Services (DEED-AFS) conducts a careful review of Community Partner's existing P/T contract and proposed amendment. If approved by DEED-AFS, DEED-AFS returns the contract amendment to VRS.
VRS secures VRS Director's signature on P/T contract amendment and sends to DEED-AFS.
DEED-AFS submits the amendment to Department of Administration's Office of State Procurement for review and approval.
Office of State Procurement returns fully executed P/T contract, as amended, to DEED-AFS. DEED-AFS encumbers funds in SWIFT. DEED-AFS returns the fully executed amendment to VRS.
VRS sends the fully executed P/T Contract, as amended, to community partner.
VRS requests DEED Communication upload the contract to DEED's external website. VRS updates WF1 with new amendment information. VRS notifies all VRS staff of new amendment.
Keep MDHR Certifications Up to Date!
There are certain certifications a contract holder with the state of Minnesota must maintain with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. A Workforce Certificate is required for any Community Partner that employs 40 or more employees and whose contract will exceed $100,000. An Equal Pay Certificate is required for any Community Partner whose contract will exceed $500,000. Community Partners provide the necessary certifications when applying for a VRS P/T contract.
It is the responsibility of the Community Partner to keep those certifications up to date. Community Partners should note the expiration dates on their certificate(s) and compare that date to the expiration date of their VRS P/T contract. Community Partners should apply for a certificate renewal well ahead of its expiration date.
If a certification expires, VRS and DEED Fiscal will be unable to process contracts, process contract amendments, or make payments. The statewide accounting system, SWIFT, will not allow a contract, contract amendment, or payment to be processed unless MDHR has noted in SWIFT that approved certifications are on file.
Information for how to apply for the needed certificates is below.
Workforce Certificate: Required for any Community Partner that employs 40 or more employees and whose contract will exceed $100,000.
Please contact VRS Community Partnerships staff with questions or concerns.
We have a new staffing structure to support our community partners that I am excited to share with you. Sara Sundeen will join Anne Paulson in supporting our VRS community partners particularly on matters relating to the Vocational Rehabilitation program.
Both Anne and Sara will work with community partners and VRS staff to process P/T contracts and amendments and follow up on issues regarding invoices, reports, and payments. Sara and Anne will not only work on your Vocational Rehabilitation program P/T contracts, they will also work to build broader and deeper relationships with you and your organizations. Anne and Sara will be joining the Business Engagement Network meetings and will be looking for additional opportunities to get to know your organizations, your services, and your staff.
A list of who is in Anne’s portfolio and Sara’s portfolio is found on the List of Community Partners. Generally, Anne will work with the providers in the Northern region and Sara will work with providers in the Southern region, and the Metro region is split between the two by provider, not geography. You can always default to contacting all three of us and we will figure out who follows up on our end.
The VR program receives 74.9 percent of its funding through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. For federal fiscal year 2020, the total amount of grant funds is $42,740,250. The required state match for these funds is $11,514,652. The state of Minnesota has appropriated $14.3 million - 25.1 percent of the total - to exceed the matching requirement.