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Federal Partners Release “Resource Leveraging and Service Coordination to Increase Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities”

On August 16, 2022, along with its Federal partners, RSA released Resource Leveraging and Service Coordination to Increase Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities. The resource, which comprises a Federal Joint Communication to State and Local Governments and a Frequently Asked Questions document, focus on the benefits of and support for blending, braiding, and sequencing resources to increase competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities.

The partner agencies include the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and Employment and Training Administration (ETA); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Community Living, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and Office of Special Education Programs; and the Social Security Administration's Office of Retirement and Disability Policy.

On October 18, 2022, ETA issued a Training Employment Notice (07-22) that includes additional resources. 

(August 16, 2022)

Federal Partners Release "A Framework for Community Engagement"

On August 3, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services published A Framework for Community Engagement – A Pathway to Competitive Integrated Employment. The employment of individuals with disabilities benefits our communities and our nation as they maximize their skills and talents and contribute fully to our economy.

Developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, this paper, targeted to both policymakers and service providers, presents a joint Federal vision for community engagement by individuals with disabilities. Community engagement, supported by a variety of service systems, enables individuals with disabilities to expand skills and experience so that they may secure high-quality and personally satisfying careers and jobs and the benefits of employment. In addition to explaining what community engagement means and its benefits, this paper contains information about the wide variety of services, that when provided together, expand opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities to achieve competitive integrated employment.

(August 3, 2022)

RSA Publishes Annual Report to the President and Congress: 2017-2020

On May 23, 2022, RSA published its Report on Federal Activities Under The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by title IV of WIOA, for Fiscal Years 2017–2020

This report to the President and Congress describes RSA's activities during FYs 2017 through 2020. The report outlines the purpose, funding, activities, and performance of each formula and discretionary grant program RSA administers, including RSA's collaboration with other Federal agencies. RSA also explains reasons underlying trends in performance, including the effect, if any, of the COVID-19 pandemic on the trends, and the technical assistance provided by RSA to improve the performance of the programs. 

RSA is responsible for preparing and submitting these reports under Section 13 of the Rehabilitation Act; these reports are published on the RSA website. In addition, the WIOA Annual Reports  are also available. 

(May 23, 2022)

NCSAB Spring 2022 Virtual Conference

The theme of NCSAB's Spring 2022 Virtual Conference is Moving Forward: Maximizing a Future of Innovation & Opportunity. RSA staff delivered and participated in sessions throughout the conference. On May 9, 2022, RSA delivered a presentation featuring: 

(May 5, 2022)

RSA Issues Guidance regarding Financial Needs Tests and Cost Participation for SSI and SSDI Recipients

On April 22, 2022, RSA issued guidance titled Prohibition Against Applying Financial Needs Tests or Requiring Cost Participation as a Condition for the Receipt of Vocational Rehabilitation Services for SSI and SSDI Recipients (RSA-TAC-22-03). This guidance reminds VR agencies of the prohibition against applying a financial needs test or requiring financial participation as a condition for providing VR services to an individual who has been determined eligible for Social Security benefits under titles II or XVI of the Social Security Act (i.e., recipients of Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance).

(April 22, 2022)

CSAVR Spring 2022 Virtual Conference

The theme of CSAVR's Spring 2022 Virtual Conference is Transformative Resilience: Focusing on VR Performance. On April 14, 2022, RSA delivered a presentation, titled Partnering for Progress, featuring: 

  • RSA Updates;
  • A conversation with Valerie Williams, Director of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs;
  • A review of VR program performance and fiscal data;
  • A summary of RSA discussions with State VR agencies related to fiscal issues; and 
  • Remarks from Sarah Brenna, Director of the Utah Office of Rehabilitation
(April 14, 2022)

Federal Partners Share New Webcast: Rebuilding Service Delivery

On March 24, 2022, Federal partners from the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services shared a new webcast discussing the Biden-Harris Administration’s agenda to Build Back Better and invest in the public workforce and education systems.

The agency heads examine top priorities, multiple challenges, and opportunities for expanding job quality, improving equity, and strengthening partnerships across workforce programs to support prosperity for job seekers and employers. Listen to the webcast here.

(March 24, 2022)

RSA Issues Final NOI regarding Pre-Employment Transition Services

On March 21, 2022, RSA announced the publication of the final notification of interpretation (NOI) regarding the use of Federal Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) funds reserved for pre-employment transition services.

On February 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) published an NOI in the Federal Register (85 FR 11848) to clarify current policy regarding the permissibility of using funds reserved for pre-employment transition services for auxiliary aids and services, and to announce a change in policy regarding the use of Federal VR funds reserved for pre-employment transition services. There are no changes between the original interpretation and this final interpretation.

Through this document, the Department rescinds the Dear Director Letter (December 28, 2016) regarding the use of reserved funds for the provision of auxiliary aids and services because the substance of that letter was incorporated into and clarified by the original interpretation.

(March 21, 2022)

Education Department Launches Historic Real Pay for Real Jobs Initiative for People with Disabilities  

On March 18, 2022, RSA released the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) for the Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment (SWTCIE) demonstration project, aimed at increasing access for people with disabilities to jobs that pay good wages.  The SWTCIE project is the largest discretionary grant administered by RSA, with $167 million available to VR agencies and their partners.   

“Economic security should be available to all Americans,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “Providing individuals with disabilities with a high-quality education and the services that they need to thrive will result in real pay for real jobs, empowering them and leading to greater social and economic inclusion.”  Read the full Press Release

On March 21, 2022, the Federal Register published the official version of the NIA. The deadline for submissions is June 21, 2022.

(March 18, 2022)

RSA Issues FAQs related to Post-Employment Services

On March 14, 2022, RSA issued FAQ-22-03: Post-Employment Services in response to questions VR agencies have asked regarding how to provide post-employment services to individuals with disabilities who have achieved employment outcomes and how to report these services on the Case Service Report (RSA-911), particularly because of the reporting requirements in Section 116 of the WIOA and its regulations. Specifically, VR agencies have asked how to report post-employment services since, as explained in these FAQs, VR agencies cannot reopen the service records of “participants” whose “exits” from the VR program have been reported through the RSA-911 under WIOA’s performance accountability system.

(March 14, 2022)