[Federal Register: April 19, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 76)]
[Notices]               
[Page 20139-20141]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr19ap01-34]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

[CFDA No. 84.235B]

 
Systems-Change Projects to Expand Employment Opportunities for 
Individuals With Mental or Physical Disabilities, or Both, Who Receive 
Public Support; Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal 
Year (FY) 2001

    Purpose of Program: To enhance collaboration in existing systems, 
including the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 
1999 (TWWIIA) projects administered by the Social Security 
Administration, and to increase competitive employment opportunities 
for individuals with disabilities who are participants in public 
support programs funded by Federal, State, and local agencies.
    For FY 2001 the competition for new awards focuses on projects 
designed to meet the priorities we describe in the PRIORITIES section 
of this application notice.
    Eligible Applicants: A consortium of, at a minimum, the State 
vocational rehabilitation agency, the State welfare agency, a State 
educational agency, the State agency responsible for administering the 
Medicaid program, and an agency administering an employment or 
employment training program supported by the U.S. Department of Labor. 
Additional entities (e.g., public and private non-profit organizations 
or Indian tribes) also may be included as part of the consortium. An 
agreement between the members of the consortium must be submitted as 
part of the application.
    Applications Available: April 23, 2001.
    Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: July 6, 2001.
    Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: September 4, 2001.
    Estimated Available Funds: $2,000,000.
    Estimated Range of Awards: $450,000--$500,000.
    Estimated Average Size of Awards: $475,000.
    Estimated Number of Awards: 4-5.

    Note: The Department is not bound by any estimates in this 
notice.

    Project Period: Up to 60 months.
    Page Limit: The application narrative (Part III of the application) 
is where you, the applicant, address the selection criteria that 
reviewers use to evaluate your application. It is suggested that you 
limit Part III to 35 pages.
    Applicable Regulations: (a) The Education Department General 
Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 74, 75, 77, 79, 80, 
81, 82, 85, 86, 97, and 99; and (b). The regulations for this program 
in 34 CFR part 373.

    Note: The regulations in 34 CFR part 79 apply to all applicants 
except federally recognized Indian tribes.

    Priorities: This competition focuses on projects designed to meet 
the absolute priority in the notice of final priority and definitions 
for this program, published in the Federal Register on July 8, 1998 (63 
FR 37016), and the competitive preference priority in the notice of 
final competitive preference for Special Demonstration Programs, 
published in the Federal Register on November 22, 2000 (65 FR 70408).
    The purpose of the absolute priority is to establish five-year 
model demonstration projects that stimulate and advance systems change 
in order to expand competitive employment outcomes for individuals with 
mental or physical disabilities, or both, who are participants in 
Federal, State, and local public support programs (e.g., TANF, SSI and 
SSDI, including TWWIIA, Medicaid, Medicare, subsidized housing, and 
food stamps, etc.).

Absolute Priority--Systems-Change Projects to Expand Employment 
Opportunities for Individuals With Mental or Physical Disabilities, 
or Both, Who Receive Public Support

    Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) and section 303(b) of the Rehabilitation 
Act of 1973, as amended (the Act) (29 U.S.C. 762(b)(3)), the Secretary 
gives an absolute preference to applications that meet the following 
priority. The Secretary funds under this competition only applications 
that meet this absolute priority:

A. General Requirements for Applicants

    Applicants under this priority shall satisfy the following 
requirements:

[[Page 20140]]

    (1) Applicants shall form a consortium of, at a minimum, the State 
vocational rehabilitation agency, the State welfare agency, the State 
educational agency, the State agency responsible for administering the 
Medicaid program, and an agency administering an employment or 
employment training program supported by the U.S. Department of Labor. 
Additional entities (e.g., public and private non-profit organizations) 
that could effectively assist in removing barriers to employment for 
individuals with disabilities also may be included as part of the 
consortium.
    (2) The members of the consortium shall either designate one of 
their members to apply for the grant or establish a separate, eligible 
legal entity to apply for the grant. The designated applicant shall 
serve as the grantee and be legally responsible for the use of all 
grant funds, overall fiscal and programmatic oversight of the project, 
and for ensuring that the project is carried out by consortium members 
in accordance with Federal requirements.
    (3) Consortium members shall be substantially involved in the 
development of the application. To the extent possible, consortiums 
also shall involve consumers in the development of the application.
    (4) The members of the consortium shall enter into an agreement 
that details the activities that each member plans to perform and that 
binds each member to the statements and assurances included in the 
application. Each member is legally responsible for carrying out the 
activities it agrees to perform and for using the funds that it 
receives under the agreement in accordance with Federal requirements 
that apply to the grant. The agreement must be submitted as part of the 
application.
    (5) Consortiums shall establish a Consumer Advisory Board 
consisting of individuals with disabilities and, as appropriate, their 
representatives that will assist in the development, implementation, 
and evaluation of barrier-removal strategies.
    (6) The application submitted under this priority also must 
identify the specific locality or region that would be served by the 
project.

B. Project Objectives

    Projects supported under this priority must--
    (1) Identify systemic barriers, including State or local agency 
policies, practices, procedures, or rules that inhibit individuals with 
disabilities who are participants in public support programs from 
becoming competitively employed.
    (2) Develop and implement replicable strategies to remove 
identified barriers, including, at a minimum, strategies for--
    (a) Establishing effective collaborative working relationships 
among project consortium members and their partners as described in 
paragraph (C)(1) of this priority (e.g., providing interagency staff 
training and technical assistance on program requirements and services 
or collaboratively using labor market and job vacancy information);
    (b) Establishing coordinated service delivery systems (e.g., common 
intake and referral procedures, customer databases, and resource 
information) and developing innovative services and service approaches 
that address service gaps (e.g., developing employee and employer 
support networks);
    (c) Improving access to health insurance for individuals with 
disabilities who become employed;
    (d) Increasing the use of existing resources by State and local 
agencies (e.g., Medicaid waivers, Home Community Based Services 
waivers, Job Training Partnership Act income exemptions, and work 
incentive provisions such as Plan for Achieving Self Support);
    (3) Design and implement an internal evaluation plan for which--
    (a) The methods of evaluation are thorough, feasible, and 
appropriate to the goals, objectives, and outcomes of the project;
    (b) The methods of evaluation provide for examining the 
effectiveness of project implementation strategies;
    (c) The methods of evaluation include the use of objective 
performance measures that are clearly related to the intended outcomes 
of the project and will produce quantitative and qualitative data to 
the extent possible;
    (d) The methods of evaluation will provide performance feedback and 
permit periodic assessment of progress toward achieving intended 
outcomes; and
    (e) The evaluation will provide guidance about effective strategies 
suitable for replication or testing in other settings; and
    (4) Disseminate information on effective systems-change approaches 
developed under these projects to Federal, State, and local 
stakeholders and facilitate the use of systems-change models in other 
geographic areas. As examples, consortiums may make presentations 
before national, State, or local conferences, consult with and provide 
technical assistance to other States or localities, develop Internet 
web sites, and distribute project publications.

C. Project Requirements

    In carrying out the priority, the projects must--
    (1) Develop partnership agreements, as described under DEFINITIONS, 
with the local district offices of the Social Security Administration; 
the State agency or agencies responsible for mental retardation, 
developmental disabilities, and mental health services; existing 
transportation or paratransit service providers; and appropriate public 
and private sector employers. Partnerships also may be formed with 
other appropriate entities identified by the consortium, including but 
not limited to, Centers for Independent Living, consumer advocacy 
organizations, economic development councils, Private Industry 
Councils, Governor's committees on the employment of persons with 
disabilities, developmental disabilities councils, mental health 
centers, community rehabilitation programs, Indian Tribes, labor 
unions, and community-based and other non-profit employment and 
training organizations funded by the U.S. Department of Labor;
    (2) Make timely, formal requests for Medicaid waivers if necessary 
for projects to be able to implement developed strategies;
    (3) Implement, in a timely manner, the strategies developed by the 
project to expand employment outcomes for individuals with mental or 
physical disabilities, or both;
    (4) Participate, as appropriate, in meetings of a Federal 
Interagency Employment Initiative Workgroup and inform workgroup 
members of project activities; and
    (5) Participate in, and provide data for, an external evaluation of 
the systems-change projects as directed by the Commissioner of the 
Rehabilitation Services Administration. The evaluation would examine-- 
(a) The effect of specific innovative systems-change approaches and 
strategies on State or local agency policies, practices, or rules 
affecting the employment of individuals with disabilities; (b) The 
effect of specific innovative systems-change approaches and strategies 
on increasing the number of individuals with disabilities who obtain 
competitive employment, including job retention, promotion, and 
satisfaction, and wage growth; and (c) The cost effectiveness of 
employment supports and services implemented by the project.

[[Page 20141]]

Definitions

    Competitive employment, as defined in 34 CFR 361.5(b)(10), means 
work in the competitive labor market that is performed on a full-time 
or part-time basis in an integrated setting, and for which an 
individual is compensated at or above the minimum wage, but not less 
than the customary wage and level of benefits paid by the employer for 
the same or similar work performed by individuals who are not disabled.
    Consortium means a group of eligible parties formed by the 
applicant seeking a Federal award under this priority. Members of the 
consortium shall enter into an agreement and carry out their 
responsibilities consistent with the requirements in paragraph (A) of 
the priority. Members of the consortium shall also ensure that project 
partners carry out their agreed-upon activities.
    Disability with respect to an individual means a physical or mental 
impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life 
activities of that individual, having a record of such an impairment, 
or being regarded as having such an impairment.
    Locality means specific geographical areas within a State or 
States.
    Partner means an entity with which the consortium has entered into 
an agreement to carry out specific activities, goals, and objectives of 
the project.
    Partnership agreement means a written arrangement between a 
consortium and its partners to carry out specific activities related to 
the project.
    Public Support means Federal, State, and local public programs that 
provide resources or services to individuals with disabilities. These 
programs include, but are not limited to, Temporary Aid to Needy 
Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security 
Disability Income (SSDI), Medicaid (including Medicaid waiver 
programs), Medicare, subsidized housing, and food stamps.
    Region means two or more States participating in the project.
    Competitive Preference Priority: Within the absolute preference 
priority for this competition for FY 2001, under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i) 
we add a competitive preference to applications that are otherwise 
eligible for funding under this program.
    The maximum score under the selection criteria for this program is 
100 points; however, we will also use the following competitive 
preference so that up to an additional 10 points may be earned by an 
applicant for a total possible score of 110 points.
    Up to 10 points may be earned based on the extent to which an 
application includes effective strategies for employing and advancing 
in employment qualified individuals with disabilities as project 
employees in projects awarded under this program. In determining the 
effectiveness of those strategies, we will consider the applicant's 
prior success, as described in the application, in employing and 
advancing in employment qualified individuals with disabilities.
    Therefore, within this competitive preference, applicants can be 
awarded up to a total of 10 points in addition to those awarded under 
the published selection criteria for this program. That is, an 
applicant meeting this competitive preference could earn a maximum 
total of 110 points.
    Selection Criteria: In evaluating an application for a new grant 
under this competition, we use selection criteria chosen from the 
general selection criteria in 34 CFR 75.210 of EDGAR. The selection 
criteria to be used for this competition will be provided in the 
application package for this competition.
    For Applications Contact: Education Publications Center (ED Pubs), 
P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398. Telephone (toll free): 1-877-433-
7827. FAX: 301-470-1244. If you use a telecommunications device for the 
deaf (TDD), you may call (toll free): 1-877-576-7734.
    You may also contact ED Pubs at its Web site: http://www.ed.gov/
pubs/edpubs.html.
    Or you may contact ED Pubs at its e-mail address: 
edpubs@inet.ed.gov.
    If you request an application from ED Pubs, be sure to identify 
this competition as follows: CFDA No. 84.235B.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain a copy of the application 
package in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the Grants and Contracts 
Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., 
room 3317, Switzer Building, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: 
(202) 205-8351. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf 
(TDD), you may call the Federal Information Relay Services (FIRS) at 1-
800-877-8339. However, the Department is not able to reproduce in an 
alternative format the standard forms included in the application 
package.
    For Further Information Contact: Sonja T. Turner, Competition 
Manager, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 
3322, Switzer Building, Washington, DC. 20202-2650. Telephone: (202) 
205-9396. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), 
you may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-
8339.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this notice in an 
alternative format on request to the contact person listed in the 
preceding paragraph.

    Please note: Applications are to be requested only from ED Pubs 
as listed in the FOR APPLICATIONS CONTACT section.

Electronic Access to This Document

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Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: 
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the Washington, DC, area at (202) 512-1530.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the 
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Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://
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    Program Authority:  29 U.S.C. 773(b).

    Dated: April 13, 2001.
Francis V. Corrigan,
Deputy Director, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research.
[FR Doc. 01-9655 Filed 4-18-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-U