FR Doc 05-13678
[Federal Register: July 12, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 132)]
[Notices]               
[Page 40008-40010]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr12jy05-56]                         


[[Page 40008]]
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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research--
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program--
Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers

AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 
Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of final priority (NFP) for children with special health 
care needs.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services announces a funding priority for the National 
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research's (NIDRR) 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program, 
Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTC) program. The 
Assistant Secretary may use this priority for competitions in fiscal 
year (FY) 2005 and later years. We take this action to focus research 
attention on areas of national need. We intend this priority to improve 
rehabilitation services and outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

DATES: This priority is effective August 11, 2005.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 6030, Potomac Center Plaza, 
Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 245-7462 or by e-mail: 
donna.nangle@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers

    RRTCs conduct coordinated and integrated advanced programs of 
research targeted toward the production of new knowledge to improve 
rehabilitation methodology and service delivery systems, alleviate or 
stabilize disability conditions, or promote maximum social and economic 
independence for persons with disabilities. Additional information on 
the RRTC program can be found at: 
http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/res-program.html#RRTC.


General Requirements of Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers

    RRTCs must--
     Carry out coordinated advanced programs of rehabilitation 
research;
     Provide training, including graduate, pre-service, and in-
service training, to help rehabilitation personnel more effectively 
provide rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities;
     Provide technical assistance to individuals with 
disabilities, their representatives, providers, and other interested 
parties;
     Demonstrate in its application how it will address, in 
whole or in part, the needs of individuals with disabilities from 
minority backgrounds;
     Disseminate informational materials to individuals with 
disabilities, their representatives, providers, and other interested 
parties; and
     Serve as centers for national excellence in rehabilitation 
research for individuals with disabilities, their representatives, 
providers, and other interested parties.
    The Department is particularly interested in ensuring that the 
expenditure of public funds is justified by the execution of intended 
activities and the advancement of knowledge and, thus, has built this 
accountability into the selection criteria. Not later than three years 
after the establishment of any RRTC, NIDRR will conduct one or more 
reviews of the activities and achievements of the RRTC. In accordance 
with the provisions of 34 CFR 75.253(a), continued funding depends at 
all times on satisfactory performance and accomplishment of approved 
grant objectives.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    We published a notice of proposed priority (NPP) for this program 
in the Federal Register on April 18, 2005 (70 FR 20219). Page 20221 of 
the NPP included a background statement that described our rationale 
for proposing this priority.
    In response to our invitation in the NPP, one party submitted a 
comment on the proposed priority. An analysis of the comment and our 
response follows.
    Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes and 
suggested changes we are not authorized to make under the applicable 
statutory authority.
    Comment: One commenter stated that all children with disabilities 
have special health care needs, and that children with disabilities are 
included in the Maternal and Child Health Bureau's operationalization 
of the concept of ``children with special health care needs.'' The 
commenter asked whether the priority targets only ``children with 
disabilities'' or the broader population of ``children with special 
health care needs,'' and noted that the latter includes children who do 
not have a current disability but who are at risk of developing one. 
The commenter stated that focusing on the broader population makes 
greater sense as it allows building in a prevention perspective to the 
work of the RRTC.
    Discussion: The target population is specific to children who have 
both a disability and special health care needs. We acknowledge that 
there is frequent overlap between children with disabilities and 
children with special health care needs. However, we also acknowledge 
that not every child with a special health care need necessarily has a 
disability, and that not every child with a disability necessarily has 
significant health care needs beyond those required by children 
generally. This priority specifies ``children with disabilities'' with 
special health care needs in order to highlight the disability focus 
within the broader group of children with special health care needs. 
This focus on disability includes the interaction of personal and 
environmental factors impacting the experience of function and 
disability. This priority does not target children who do not currently 
have a disability but who are at risk for developing one. However, it 
could target children who have both a disability and special health 
care needs who are at risk for developing additional disabilities. In 
their applications, applicants will be expected to specify their target 
population and explain the basis for their decision. The peer review 
process will evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Change: None.


    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use this final priority, we invite applications 
through a notice in the Federal Register. When inviting applications 
we designate the priority as absolute, competitive preference, or 
invitational. The effect of the priority follows:

    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only 
applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).
    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference 
priority, we give competitive preference to an application by either 
(1) awarding additional points, depending on how well or the extent to 
which the application meets the competitive

[[Page 40009]]

preference priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an 
application that meets the competitive preference priority over an 
application of comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(ii)).
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are 
particularly interested in applications that meet the invitational 
priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the 
priority a competitive or absolute preference over other applications 
(34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

    Note: NIDRR supports the goals of President Bush's New Freedom 
Initiative (NFI). The NFI can be accessed on the Internet at the 
following site: 
http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/newfreedom.



    The final priority is in concert with NIDRR's 1999-2003 Long-Range 
Plan (Plan). The Plan is comprehensive and integrates many issues 
relating to disability and rehabilitation research topics. Applicants 
will find many sections throughout the Plan that support potential 
research to be conducted under the final priority. The references to 
the topic of this priority may be found in the Plan, Chapter 4, Health 
and Function and Chapter 6, Independent Living and Community 
Integration. The Plan can be accessed on the Internet at the following 
site: http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/index.html.

    Through the implementation of the NFI and the Plan, NIDRR seeks to: 
(1) Improve the quality and utility of disability and rehabilitation 
research; (2) foster an exchange of expertise, information, and 
training to facilitate the advancement of knowledge and understanding 
of the unique needs of traditionally underserved populations; (3) 
determine best strategies and programs to improve rehabilitation 
outcomes for underserved populations; (4) identify research gaps; (5) 
identify mechanisms of integrating research and practice; and (6) 
disseminate findings.

Priority

    The Assistant Secretary intends to fund a priority for one RRTC 
that must focus on children with disabilities and special health care 
needs. Applicants must demonstrate how their research and development 
activities will meet the needs of individuals from traditionally 
underserved populations including, but not limited to, children from 
low-income backgrounds.
    The RRTC must conduct at least two, but not more than four, of the 
following research activities:
     Identify, develop, and evaluate models and strategies for 
implementing effective community-based practices for children with 
disabilities who have special health care needs;
     Identify, develop, and evaluate models and strategies for 
effective transition of children and adolescents with disabilities who 
have special health care needs to adulthood, including access to adult 
health care services, personal assistance services, and full 
participation in community life;
     Identify and evaluate strategies for maximizing family 
partnership and decision-making related to access to and use of home- 
and community-based services for children with disabilities who have 
special health care needs;
     Identify and evaluate innovative and effective strategies 
for facilitating access to service delivery for children with 
disabilities who have special health care needs, including health care 
reimbursement, assistive technology, and other specialized 
rehabilitative services (e.g., physical therapy, occupational therapy, 
telehealth); and
     Identify and evaluate innovative and effective models for 
establishing coordination within the service delivery system for 
children with disabilities who have special health care needs.
    In addition to the activities proposed by the applicant to carry 
out this priority, each RRTC must--
     Conduct a state-of-the-science conference on its 
respective area of research in the third year of the grant cycle and 
publish a comprehensive report on the final outcomes of the conference 
in the fourth year of the grant cycle. This conference must include 
materials from experts internal and external to the RRTC;
     Involve individuals with disabilities in planning and 
implementing its research, training, and dissemination activities, and 
in evaluating the RRTC;
     Coordinate on research projects of mutual interest with 
relevant NIDRR-funded projects as identified through consultation with 
the NIDRR project officer; and
     Identify anticipated outcomes (i.e., advances in knowledge 
and/or changes and improvements in policy, practices, behavior, and 
system capacity) that are linked to the applicant's stated grant 
objectives.

Executive Order 12866

    This NFP has been reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 
12866. Under the terms of the order, we have assessed the potential 
costs and benefits of this regulatory action.
    The potential costs associated with the NFP are those resulting 
from statutory requirements and those we have determined as necessary 
for administering this program effectively and efficiently.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this NFP, we have determined that the benefits of 
the final priority justify the costs.
    Summary of potential costs and benefits: The potential costs 
associated with this final priority are minimal while the benefits are 
significant. Grantees may incur some costs associated with completing 
the application process in terms of staff time, copying, and mailing or 
delivery. The use of Grants.gov technology reduces mailing and copying 
costs significantly.
    The benefits of the RRTC program have been well established over 
the years in that similar projects have been completed successfully. 
This final priority will generate new knowledge and technologies 
through research, development, dissemination, utilization, and 
technical assistance projects.
    Another benefit of this final priority is that the establishment of 
a new RRTC will support the President's NFI and will improve the lives 
of persons with disabilities, in particular promoting research and 
development activities for children with disabilities and special 
health care needs. The new RRTC will generate, disseminate, and promote 
the use of new information that will improve options for children with 
disabilities and special health care needs, their families, and 
caregivers.
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may view this document, as well as all other Department of 
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe 
Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: 
http://www.ed.gov/news/fedregister.

    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. 
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    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the 
official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal 
Regulations is available on GPO Access at: 
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html.



(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.133B 
Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers Program)

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    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(2).

    Dated: July 6, 2005.
John H. Hager,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 05-13678 Filed 7-11-05; 8:45 am]

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