VRS_Update 5/8

Vocational Rehabilitation Services header

Dear Community Partners,  

I have a number of updates to share with you today. 


VRS Community Partners Forum: May 15 


Please join us for a virtual VRS Community Partners Forum on Friday, May 15! There is so much changing every day in our world and in our work, VRS would love to connect with community partners across the state next Friday. We’ll have a WebEx virtual forum from 9:00 am to 10:00 am. The meeting will include a number of VRS updates from VRS leadership. We will also collect questions via the chat function throughout the meeting and answer as many as we have time for. We will follow up in writing after the forum with a recap of questions and answers. We will also post a recording of the session if you’re not able to join us on Friday. 


To join event via WebEx 

  • Statewide VRS Community Partners Forum 
  • May 15, 2020 
  • 9 am – 10 am 
  • Join the Meeting 
  • Password: Partners 
  • You may utilize your computer audio, or upon joining choose to receive a call back on your phone from WebEx (requires you to provide your phone number when you join the event). 


To join the audio conference only 

  • Call this number and enter the access code 
  • 1-415-655-0003 
  • Access code: 965 679 951  


Limited Use 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. LUVs that are registered with the Minnesota Secretary of State are allowed 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.  


The LUV maximum budget cap was set many years ago and has not been revised since. The amount has not kept pace with inflation or cost of living increases. It is the position of VRS that 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 June 1, 2020. 


VRS will develop quality standards for service providers to become LUVs and develop an ongoing quality assurance framework to ensure individuals in Minnesota are receiving the highest quality services on a consistent basis 


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 anytime at Kim.Babine@state.mn.us. 


Pre-ETS “Work Experience-Wages” 

VRS is grateful for the work of our community partners in providing pre-ETS services. We 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%. An amendment to each provider’s contract will be necessary to amend this fee. 


Open Amendment Period 

There are a lot of needed amendments to contracts! 

  • Many of you were asked to wait on rate increases last year while we developed a rate methodology. That analysis has not yet been completed, but we know you need the rate increases now. In the meantime, we will consider amendments for rate increases in this upcoming open amendment period.  
  • Many providers have been waiting to add pre-ETS services to their contracts. You will also be allowed to make those requests during the upcoming open amendment period.  
  • Amendments for the Pre-ETS Work Experience-Wages rate change and the LUV limit will also be considered during this upcoming open amendment period. 


We need to finalize a few details before we announce that we are ready for amendment requests. Expect that announcement in the next week or two. Please contact me or Anne Paulson (anne.paulson@state.mn.us) with any immediate questions about the upcoming amendment process. 


Pre-ETS Flexibilities 

In February 2020 the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) announced some flexibilities for VR programs in using Pre-ETS funds for serving students with disabilities.  Based on this guidance, the following are items that VRS is now able to authorize with Pre-ETS funds for students who are eligible for VR (does not include students who are potentially eligible) in order for these students to participate in Pre-ETS services (also note that VRS must do a comparable benefits search prior to authorizing VRS funds for these services as well): 

  • Intake fees for Pre-ETS services: VRS staff will be authorizing the intake fee rate that is on each organization’s P/T contract. Note that VRS will still authorize for a “first meeting” for potentially eligible students. 
  • Work-based learning coaching: 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. VRS staff will be authorizing at the job coaching rate that is on each organization’s P/T contract. 
  • Transportation: This could be authorized to pay for transportation expenses in order for a student to get to and from a Pre-ETS experience. 
  • Maintenance:  Monetary support for expenses such as food, shelter, and clothing, that are in excess of normal expenses.  A typical maintenance expense would be clothing/shoes/uniforms needed for a work-based learning experience. 
  • Books/supplies/tools/equipment needed for participation in a Pre-ETS service. 
  • Personal Assistance Services: Services to assist a student in performing daily living activities that the student would typically perform without assistance if he/she did not have a disability. 


Pre-ETS Authorizations and Graduation 

Keep in mind that all Pre-ETS must end on the day that a student no longer meets the definition of “student with a disability” for Pre-ETS purposes.  That means that they must end the day the student turns 22 or the day they are no longer enrolled in an education program.  For students that are graduating high school this spring and are not enrolled in a qualifying postsecondary education program (a program that yields a credential), Pre-ETS need to end on the day of their graduation.  Please be sure to discuss this issue with VRS referring staff to be sure you know who that will impact.  With that, also keep in mind that just because an authorization goes past that graduation date, it doesn’t mean that the student is able to receive services past that date. Lastly, also keep in mind that individuals who are eligible for VR, but are no longer a “student with a disability” can still continue to receive services, the services just cannot be funded as Pre-ETS. 



I hope you can join us on May 15 for the statewide VRS Community Partners Forum. Thank you for all you are doing for Minnesotans with disabilities every day. We are so grateful to you for this work and grateful for your partnership. 


Take good care, 



Kim Babine 

Director of Community Partnerships 

Direct: 651-259-7349