FAQs

Read below for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Capacity Building for American Indians Project (CBAIP).

What is on or near the reservation? 

Is there a residency requirement to receive services from a TVR project? How should a TVR project handle an individual who is considered homeless with no home address? 

Regarding informed choice, if a consumer wants to go to school out of state, can their request be approved even though the degree or program of study is offered at the local community college? 

How many times can you amend an IPE? 

What is the appropriate hourly pay rate for a consumer OJT placement? 

Does a consumer have the right to look at their file? 

Can a TVR Director look at a consumer case file, knowing that the consumer doesn't want them to? 

What does it mean for a tribal VR project to be culturally appropriate? 

Can a tribal VR program resell a van purchased by their program funds? 

What do you do when someone (e.g., a consumer) comes to the office drunk? 

What ages can TVR projects serve? 

Can alcohol or substance abuse be an impediment to employment? 

How long is a tribal VR program required to keep their program and consumer files? Is a tribal VR program required to keep files of consumers who are deceased? 

From an assessment, it states that the consumer is not considered to be "school-material", what do you do? 

In regard to recreational activities, can a TVR project provide VR services for a group to attend certain social functions, such as visiting a zoo? 

A TVR project helps a consumer get an apartment and provides $1000.00 for educational expenses. The consumer quit school, went to jail and lost his living arrangement. How many times can a tribal VR program take back a consumer? 

What does it mean for a tribal VR program to be "red-flagged" by RSA? How does a tribal VR program get out of being "red-flagged"? 

What is o

n or near the reservation?

The 1998 Amendments to section 121 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (the Act), allow tribal vocational rehabilitation (TVR) projects to expand services to American Indians with disabilities living near the reservation, if they choose to do so. Prior to the 1998 amendment, the language only included living on the reservation.

According to the Special Application Requirements for TVR projects, 34 CFR 371.21 (f), applicants who decide to provide services to American Indians with disabilities living near the reservation will describe the geographic area in which the services will be provided by the grant.
This information is generally made a part of the TVR project proposal at the time a tribe is submitting its grant application to the U. S. Department of Education, RSA, OSERS, VR Services for American Indians with Disabilities grant competition.

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Is there a residency requirement to receive services from a TVR project? How should a TVR project handle an individual who is considered homeless with no home address?

As noted in Item 1 above, a tribal applicant for RSA funding will determine if they plan to provide VR services for eligible applicants residing on or near the reservation.

As part of TVR project case management, a consumer case file should contain supporting documents on his/her residency as described Section 121(a).

In determining eligibility and verifying an applicant's residency, some TVR projects request that the applicant provide a personal document such as a utility bill with their physical address.

Regarding individuals who consider themselves homeless, a TVR Project is responsible for determining how they will document their residency as being on or near the reservation.

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Regarding informed choice, if a consumer wants to go to school out of state, can their request be approved even though the degree or program of study is offered at the local community college?

Applicable rules on informed choice are:

  • Section 102 (b) Individualized Plan for Employment
    (B) Informed Choice
  • An individualized plan for employment shall be developed and implemented in a manner that affords eligible individuals the opportunity to exercise informed choice in selecting an employment outcome, the specific vocational rehabilitation services under the plan, the entity that will provide the vocational services, and the methods used to procure the services, consistent with subsection (d).

34 CFR 371.21(e) of the Special Application Requirements for TVR Projects:

  • All vocational rehabilitation services will be provided according to an individualized plan of employment which has been developed by the representative of the service providing organization and each American Indian with disabilities being served.
  • To assess the appropriateness of each consumer's vocational goal, it is understood that consumer VR services need to be consistent with their individual strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities and informed choices. That each consumer case is unique, it is highly recommended that a good assessment be conducted by the counselor at the time of intake to assist in the development of the consumer Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), and in identifying and securing appropriate resources to assist with the consumer's rehabilitation costs or needs.
  • As part of TVR project case management, the consumer case file should document that the consumer was given the opportunity to exercise his/her informed choice in developing their IPE, the manner by which services will be provided by the TVR and other appropriate agencies, and in conducting amendments to the consumer IPE.

In this particular situation, consider the following:

  • Review the degree or program of study at the school(s) chosen by the consumer and determine length of time to complete program of study, and estimated costs per academic year. How do the costs vary in terms of attending an in-state versus an out-of-state school? Are there any unique student services available at the schools needed by the consumer to successfully complete their program of study? Is the school identified by the consumer the only school that offers the program?
  • Student Financial Needs Analysis. A school will assist the student in completing/submitting application for PELL Grant and preparation of a student financial needs analysis with information of anticipated costs for the academic year (e.g., tuition, books, housing, transportation), and anticipated resources that will contribute to the student's educational costs, including the student's contribution.
  • Comparable Benefits and Services. As described in 34 CFR 371.21(h) of the Special Application Requirements, the TVR project will assist a consumer to consider the appropriate use of all comparable benefits and services through other sources which might meet in whole or in part of the consumer's rehabilitation costs, as defined in 34 CFR 361. Once this process has been completed, and it has been determined that there is an unmet need remaining, the TVR Project may then consider using its funds to meet the remaining need.
  • Another option is to share the case with another VR agency if it has been determined that the consumer will indeed attend the school of their choice. The successful outcome will be shared by both VR agencies and reported as such.

It is recommended that a TVR Project adopt a policy about this issue. Most State VR agencies will support school outside the state if no comparable program exists in the state. However, if comparable program that meets the individual need does exist in the state and the consumer chooses to go out of state, then the State VR agency will only pay the in-state rate and the consumer will have to find other resources to make up the difference.

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How many times can you amend an

Individualized Plan for Employment (

IPE)? 

Applicable rules on IPE amendments are:

  • Section 102 (b) Individualized Plan for Employment
  • (E) Review and amendment (i), (I), (II), and (ii)
  • 34 CFR 371.21(e) Special Application Requirements for TVR Projects

To avoid numerous amendments to an IPE, it is highly recommended that a comprehensive assessment be conducted at the time of application to review and consider any situation or circumstance with the applicant that may affect the development of the IPE by the consumer and counselor. If necessary, conduct or request additional assessment for the purpose of using the assessment report in developing a viable consumer IPE.

If it has been determined that the consumer's situation has changed (e.g., progress of disability, family, income) and it has been determined that the change affects the consumer's vocational goal and/or employment outcome, the IPE may be amended by the consumer and counselor to reflect the changes. As result of the amendment, consumer, counselor, and TVR responsibilities may change.

A TVR Project may adopt a policy describing what kind of substantial changes require an IPE amendment. Change of vocational goals and adding new services are reasons to make amendments, and not necessarily changes of the same services.

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What is the appropriate hourly pay rate for a consumer OJT placement?

A TVR project may use its fund to place a consumer in an On the Job Training (OJT), and is responsible for determining the pay rate. The OJT must relate to the consumer's IPE, and is clearly understood by the counselor and consumer that the OJT is not for an indefinite extended period of time.

Take note that it is not necessary for each consumer to be placed in an OJT. Furthermore, the TVR Project is not to serve as an employment agency to simply place its consumers in vacant position within a tribe or other agencies. Another word of caution is not to keep a consumer in OJT status for an extended period of time and making consumer placements at job sites where help is needed, and no plans are being made by the tribe or agency in hiring them after successfully completing their OJT.

A TVR Project may purchase from an employer VR services such as assessment, training, and work experience. The TVR Project pay the employer the best-negotiated rate to provide consumer services and must specify the training goal and estimate time to achieve the training. The employer is expected to provide a periodic report on progress being made by the consumer.

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Does a consumer have the right to look at their file?

Applicable rules and regulations are:

  • 34 CFR 361.38 (c) Release to applicant and eligible individuals.
    • Except as provided in paragraphs (c) (2) and (c) (3) of this section, if requested in writing by an applicant or eligible individual, the State unit must make all requested information in that individual's record of services accessible to and must release the information to the individual or the individual's representative in a timely manner.
    • Medical, psychological, or other information that the State unit determines may be harmful to the individual may not be released directly to the individual, but must be provided to t he individual through a third party chosen by the individual, which may include, among others, an advocate, a family member, or a qualified medical or mental health professional, unless a representative has been appointed by a court to represent the individual, in which case the information must be released to the court-appointed representative.
    • If personal information has been obtained from another agency or organization, it may be released only by, or under the conditions established by, the other agency or organization.
    • An applicant or eligible individual who believes that information in the individual's record of services is inaccurate or misleading may request that the designated State unit amend the information. If the information is not amended, the request for an amendment must be documented in the record of services, consistent with §361.47(a) (12).

As part of a successful TVR case management, the competence and skills of the counselors is important in maintaining their assigned case files. Quality of case notes is essential as the case record may also be used or referenced to in working with other agencies providing services; including the courts.

One source, Weber, (date not provided) states:

  • Case recording has been ascribed four primary functions: protective, control, predictive, and evaluative. It serves as protection for client and counselor, it imposes social control over the provision of services, it can be utilized to predict the client's future behavior, and it can serve as a tool for evaluation of effectiveness.

Documentation and maintenance of consumer case records may also have ethical implication in regards to the Code of Professional Ethics for Certified Rehabilitation Counselors. It may also have cultural implications as perceived by the tribe or tribal community in which the TVR project is providing services to tribal members with disabilities.

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Can a TVR Director look at a consumer case file, knowing that the consumer doesn't want them to?

The TVR Director has the authority to look at consumer case files; however, if a consumer says "no", then prudence should rule. If the TVR Director finds it essential to review the file, then s/he should do so. If it is not essential then it is best to respect and trust the consumer.

Section 369.46 and 47 provide information on special requirements pertaining to the protection, use, and release of personal information, and special requirements affecting the collection of data from State agencies.

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What does it mean for a tribal VR project to be culturally appropriate?

Using the TVR project selection criteria as a guide, a tribe is given the opportunity to prepare its TVR grant application describing the overall plan of the project and how their proposed goals and objectives are viable and appropriate in achieving the purpose of the RSA VR Service Projects for American Indians with Disabilities residing on or near tribal lands. The overall project design should be compatible with the special application requirements as described in 34 CFR 371.21 (a) – (j).

Vocational rehabilitation services are defined in Section 103 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. In addition to these services, a tribe may consider the provision of cultural services as described in 34 CFR 371.41(a) (2). A TVR Project is not required to provide each service listed, but an effort will be made by the TVR Project to provide a broad scope of VR services in a manner and at a level of quality at least comparable to those services provided by the designated State unit under 34 CFR Part 361.

There are some similarities and differences among American Indians and Alaska Natives (e.g., language, religion, kinship, land use, government, family, traditional healing, customs), and issues and concerns confronting contemporary Native communities (education, transportation, alcohol and substance abuse, poverty, economic development). For some tribes, traditional customs may still be practiced; for example, use of traditional leaders for specific purposes, in addition to the role of the tribal government modeled after the U.S. Government. Furthermore, some tribal practices are considered sacred and should be respected during the TVR grant application process and that this information not be made public.

RSA capacity building project staff are available to provide grant writing workshops, technical assistance and training to tribes interested in developing TVR proposals; however, the method of assistance is provided with the understanding that the tribal grant writer take the lead in incorporating in their TVR proposal what they consider will be "culturally relevant, appropriate, and responsive" in addressing the rehabilitation needs of tribal members with disabilities to prepare for and obtain gainful employment. The TVR project model may include specific processes deemed culturally appropriate in achieving the intended outcome as expected by the funding agency.

The grant writer and/or designated individual may be a member of the tribe preparing the proposal, member of another tribe, or non-tribal member knowledgeable about the tribe's history, language, religion, customs, values, kinship, etc., and the current presenting conditions or circumstances (e.g., government, tribal infrastructure, employment/unemployment, health, education, family). How well the grant writer understands tribal needs, coupled with his/her knowledge about rehabilitation practices, and the ability to develop a quality TVR proposal that describes the best way to serve the target population ensures the success of VR services; including services traditionally used by the tribe (e.g., use of sweats, traditional healers).

Another important element of a TVR project's success is the recruitment and hiring of tribal members as project staff; including qualified tribal members with disabilities. It is believed that a consumer relates better with a Native staff member who understands and respects the individual's community, personal, and family dynamics, and their life choices in pursuing a particular vocational goal.

If non-tribal members are hired as project staff, it is the tribe's and TVR project staff's responsibility to provide these individuals with an orientation to the tribe's cultural background on language, values, kinship, traditional perspectives on individuals with disabilities, etc., and the tribal government's prescribed protocol in administering its programs. It is equally important for the TVR staff to review its TVR proposal to determine the manner in which consumer services will be provided; and the standards by which culturally relevant services are conducted and evaluated.

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Can a tribal VR program resell a van purchased by their program funds?

In most cases, a tribal VR project will adhere to tribal guidelines in purchasing a vehicle using its project funds. The vehicle becomes a part of a tribal equipment inventory. Likewise, a project will need to consult with the tribal purchasing department if they have plans of selling the project vehicle.

Applicable rules for equipment in:

  • EDGAR – Part 80, Section 80.32 Equipment
  • Part 80, Section 80.32 provides disposition rules on any equipment purchased by TVR Project funds. Yes, the TVR Project can sell a vehicle with the proceeds spent to further the TVR Project activities.

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What do you do when someone (e.g., consumer) comes to the office drunk?

Tribal Personnel policies and procedures may address the safe working environment for its employees and guidelines in reporting such incidences to their supervisors and/or proper local law enforcement authorities.

It is recommended that TVR projects consider and develop its own policies regarding this concern not only at the primary work site, but addressing the safety precautions of their staff during the conduct of home visits with consumers and family members, or during project-related activities.

As federal employees, TVR Project staff is covered by workmen's compensation if injured on the job. The tribal Personnel Department will assist the staff in reporting such injuries or accidents.

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What ages can TVR projects serve?

Initial TVR grant proposals may indicate the ages that they will serve. Generally speaking, the working age is considered to be 16 to 64 years of age. Take note that some TVRs are providing services to high school students with disabilities under their school-to-work transition component and are involved in the student's Individual Education Plan. The TVRs may provide services to high school students with disabilities; however, the IDEA projects available at the high schools should be the primary resource for these students.

There is no age limit for VR consumers in the Federal law. Most VR agencies serve 16 and up with the option to serve younger consumers if readiness can be determined. There is no upper age limit. The applicant must be able to participate in vocational planning and with TVR Project's assistance complete an employment outcome. For consumers over 65, verify how this will ImpACT their retirement plan and SSA benefits.

In addition there are the high school drop-outs to consider. An effort should be made by the TVR to encourage these students to return back to high school. If this is not feasible, the TVR may then consider securing or providing GED classes for the student.

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Can alcohol or substance abuse be an impediment to employment?

Yes. In determining eligibility for TVR services for an applicant with this presenting problem, the counselor must establish the extent to which the abuse has created a dependency for the individual, and as a result, is a disability that substantiates for that particular individual an impediment to employment.

The TVR counselor may request an outside evaluator to assess and/or evaluate the applicant's presenting problem and establish how the alcohol and substance abuse is an impediment for the applicant in attaining and maintaining gainful employment. Assessments/evaluations from certified staff from tribal alcohol treatment programs are acceptable in determining eligibility for TVR services.

There is no rule against VR agencies serving individuals with alcohol or substance abuse. If the VR agency can document that the applicant meets the eligibility criteria, s/he is eligible for services.

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How long is a tribal VR program required to keep their program and consumer files? Is a tribal VR program required to keep files of consumers who are deceased?

The following information is taken directly from the EDGAR – Part 80 Contents and Subpart A – General. Part 80 of the EDGAR is one of the requirements which set forth general rules affecting the submittal, review, grant awarding, and post-award administration for Department of Education grant programs. This information is part of the 121 grant application kit.

Sec. 80.42 Retention and access requirements for records

  1. applicability
    1. this section applies to all financial and programmatic records, supporting documents, statistical records, and other records of grantees or subgrantees which are:
      1. required to be maintained by the terms of this part, program regulations or the grant agreement, or
      2. otherwise reasonably considered as pertinent to program regulations or the grant agreement.
    2. this section does not apply to records maintained by contractors or subcontractors; for a requirement to place a provision concerning records in certain kinds of contracts, see Sec. 80.36 (i) (10) 
  2. length of retention period
    1. except as otherwise provided, records must be retained for three years from the starting date specified in paragraph (c) of this section
  3. starting date of retention period 
    1. general: When grant support is continued or renewed at annual or other intervals, the retention period for the records of each funding period starts on the day the grantee or subgrantee submits to the awarding agency it's single or last expenditure report for that period. However, if grant support is continued or renewed quarterly, the retention period for each year's records starts on the day the grantee submits its expenditure report for the last quarter of the Federal fiscal year. In all other cases, the retention period starts on the day the grantee submits its final expenditure report. If an expenditure report has been waived, the retention period starts on the day the report would have been due.

In regard to the second question, the EDGAR specifies the length of time program records must be maintained; therefore, records of deceased consumers should be maintained for the three-year period. If a TVR project staff is aware of any tribal teachings that prohibits maintaining personal items of a deceased individual, and want to demonstrate respect to these teachings in the TVR project work environment, it is best that the TVR project staff consult with the appropriate tribal member of what needs to be done to comply with federal requirements, and appease the tribal customs relating to those who have passed on.

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From an assessment, it states that the consumer is not considered to be "school-material", what do you do?

The evaluator's assessment and recommendations may be based on the vocational interest(s) of the consumer, and the evaluator's knowledge of the occupation in terms of skills, knowledge, mental, and physical requirements to perform the expected duties. In addition, the evaluator may have assessed the consumer's functional intellectual capacity to determine his/her ability to comprehend and fulfill the duties and responsibilities of a particular occupation.

No two consumer cases will be exactly alike; however, it is highly recommended that a comprehensive assessment be conducted by the counselor at the time of application to determine the "…individual strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, and informed choice, so that they may prepare for and engage in gainful employment…"

The counselor will need to meet with the consumer to ensure that he/she understands the evaluator's assessment, and based on the consumer's and available resources, determine a more viable vocational goal. To achieve consumer awareness of their career interests, the counselor and consumer may consider OJT, job shadowing, and volunteering. Perhaps the job site requires accommodations (e.g., flexible work schedule) or restructuring (e.g., use of assistive device to operate a computer) to enable the consumer to perform their duties more efficiently and effectively; thus, the outcome is focused on the abilities and capabilities of the consumer to attain employment of their choice, and eliminate the focus on their disability.

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In regard to recreational activities, can a TVR project provide VR services for a group to attend certain social functions, such as the visiting a zoo?

The counselor expressed that certain consumers were socially isolated and restricted to their home environment and lack the opportunity to participate in recreational activities.

Section 103, Vocational Rehabilitation Services states in:

  • (b) Vocational Rehabilitation Services for Group of Individuals
  • (B) The provision of other services, that promise to contribute substantially to the rehabilitation of a group of individuals but that are not related directly to the individualized plan for employment of any one individual with a disability.

Furthermore, in Section 102 (b) Individualized Plan for Employment it states:

  • (3) Mandatory components of an individualized plan for employment
  • (B)(i)(II) provided in the most integrated setting that is appropriate for the service involved and is consistent with the informed choice of the eligible individual…

Recreation can be a VR service for a consumer if related to the IPE. Similar recreation services may be provided for a group of TVR consumers if related to their IPE. The TVR Project may provide transportation or rent a van. Lunch may also be provided for those consumers with supporting IPEs, and consumers without supporting IPEs, will need to provide their own meals. In this instance, the TVR Project may report this as services to a group, and not to consumer's cases.

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A TVR project helps a consumer get an apartment and provides $1000.00 for educational expenses. The consumer quit school, went to jail and lost his living arrangement. How many times can a tribal VR program take back a consumer?

Each consumer case is different; thus, a TVR Project's decision to continue to work with the consumer, or the decision to close the case should be based on consumer's circumstances and/or presenting problems and concerns affecting their inability to carry out their IPE.

A TVR Project may serve a person with a disability as many as time as s/he is eligible for VR agencies and the TVR believes, and documents the likelihood that s/he can benefit in terms of an employment outcome. A TVR Project may serve eligible consumers who are in jail as long as there is a good possibility that the person can achieve an employment outcome.

In a case where a consumer has been incarcerated, and is required to serve the imposed sentence, the TVR Project may not be in a position to persuade a court/judge to impose a lesser sentence. The TVR Project may close the case with the consumer's understanding of the reasons why, and with the understanding that if the consumer is dissatisfied with the TVR Project's decision, he/she may file a grievance as described in 371.21(i) of the Special Application Requirements for TVR Projects.

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What does it mean for a tribal VR program to be "red-flagged" by RSA? How does a tribal VR program get out of being "red-flagged"?

Applicable rules in EDGAR – Part 80.12 Special grant or subgrant conditions for "high-risk" grantees.

RSA use the term "high-risk" for TVR grantees that are determined not to be performing as required, and are notified and informed by RSA of the area(s) that need improvement and/or corrective action. Once a tribal VR program has demonstrated that improvements or changes have been made as required by RSA, the program status of being "high-risk" is removed.

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