VRS_Update 7/2

Vocational Rehabilitation Services header

Dear Community Partners, 

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

  1. Open Amendment Period 
  2. Pre-ETS Changes for P/T Contracts 
  3. LUV Maximum Budget Increase 
  4. Transportation Reimbursement Change 
  5. Data Sharing Changes 
  6. VRS Community Partnerships team updates 
  7. Stay up to date with VRS  


VRS community partners may apply to amend their P/T contracts starting July 2, 2020 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. 

  • VRS community partners may submit applications for amendments July 2, 2020 through September 2, 2020.   


Rate Increases 

VRS asked many community partners to wait on rate increases last year while we developed a rate methodology. VRS has not yet completed that analysis. We know you may need the rate increases now, however, so we will consider any amendments for rate increases during this open amendment period.    


Service Changes 

Manyof youhave been waiting to add Pre-ETS services to your contracts. You are welcome to submit an amendment application to add Pre-ETS to your contracts during this open amendment period. All community partners may also submit an application to add or remove services to or from your P/T contract.


Amendment Application Instructions 

  • Please refer to your current P/T contract in developing your Amendment Application Form. Contracts can be found online.
  • Complete Amendment Application Form.
    • If you have questions regarding services, rates, or completing your application, please contact:
  • Submit Amendment Application Form to VRSPTContracts.DEED@state.mn.us.
  • Submit Form to VRSPTContracts.DEED@state.mn.us byWednesday, September 2, 2020: 4:00 p.m.



There are a number updates Pre-ETS services given new information from RSA and what VRS have learned from the first 9 months of implementation. This includes addition of new services, removal of services we have combined into broader services, and one rate change. 


Pre-ETS “Work Experience-Wages” Rate Increase 

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,  
  • Informational Interview,  
  • Job Shadow,  
  • 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. 


A table with Pre-ETS Services with the same or similar General Services can be found on DEED’s external website here: https://mn.gov/deed/job-seekers/disabilities/partners/amend-contract/. 



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 kim.babine@state.mn.us.

If you are a LUV that would like to increase your contract maximum budget cap, please submit an application to amend your contract.


VRS wants to find a way to fairly compensate providers by reimbursing reasonable transportation costs so those costs are a not a barrier for community partners to providing services to individuals in the Vocational Rehabilitation program. VRS’s primary goal with this change is to make sure services are available to the individuals we serve.  



In summary, VRS will: 

  • Policy Decision 1: Reimburse costs related to travel when a provider is transporting an individual for the purposes of their employment plan, AND when the provider staff is traveling to and from the individual. 
  • Policy Decision 2: For general services, reimburse providers for costs related to staff time in travel, not “travel expenses” such as mileage. 
  • Policy Decision 3: For general services, reimburse providers at $28 per hour. 
  • Policy Decision 4: For Pre-ETS services, add travel time to the service authorization. 


VRS is committed to ongoing review of reimbursing costs related to transportation. A VRS working group with representation from different roles within VRS worked to put together the structure below. The working group received feedback from VRS RAMs, VRS leadership, and members of the Community Partners Committee. The proposed structure is a first step to providing compensation for these costs. We know it’s not perfect, but we need to start somewhere. Moving forward, VRS will engage in discussions around the efficacy of this structure, review VRS financial information of spending related to transportation, and ask community partners to provide us additional information about your costs in this area. We will monitor regularly, and revisit the issue in the future. 


At this time, a provider that currently has travel differentials on their contract or a different transportation reimbursement rates such as mileage at the IRS rate MAY keep their current transportation reimbursement structure if they choose. OR those providers may choose the new transportation reimbursement outlined below. The provider must choose one transportation reimbursement structure.  


The transportation reimbursement outlined below is available when providing hourly services, not the job placement and retention PBA. DEED-VRS understands there are transportation costs related to the PBA. However, further work will be required to determine what level of transportation costs are included in the current rate of the PBA milestones and how additional travel costs should be reimbursed. The job placement and retention PBA rates are being revisited as part of the MOU process with DHS and DEED-VRS will consider transportation costs during those discussions. 



VRS has historically provided information about a VR participant to service providers with a referral. VRS has legally been able to share private data with community partners via a “Release of Information” form signed by the participant or their guardian. That process will continue for general VR participants, as well as students who are eligible for VR receiving Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). 


For potentially eligible students there is a new process for transmitting personal data from VR to a community partner. A “Release of Information” form will NOT be required for students who are potentially eligible for Pre-Employment Transition Services.  


To facilitate this legally, VRS revised the Pre-ETS Privacy Notice, also known as a Tennessen Notice. It will let participants know that VRS may share data with their service provider without the extra form. Also, DEED Communications is interested in sharing pertinent information with individuals served in the VRS program. The VRS Tennessen notice has been revised allow for this. 



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 can be found here https://mn.gov/deed/job-seekers/disabilities/partners/listing/. 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. 


Claire Courtney continues to work on Individual Placement and Support grants, Brad Westerlund continues to support the Centers for Independent Living and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing grants, and the Extended Employment positions remain vacant. 


Contact information for the whole team can be found here: https://mn.gov/deed/job-seekers/disabilities/partners/resources/contact/. 



We are very pleased to share that we are now archiving the email messages we send on our external website. Also, there is a sign up form to receive the updates if there are partner staff who are currently not receiving the updates. Both can be found here: https://mn.gov/deed/job-seekers/disabilities/partners/updates/. 



This is a lot of new information. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out. 


Take good care, 



Kim Babine 

Director of Community Partnerships 

Direct: 651-259-7349