[Federal Register: June 11, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 112)]
[Page 32105-32107]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

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Part IV

Department of Education

Rehabilitation Training: Rehabilitation Long-Term Training; Notice

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Rehabilitation Training: Rehabilitation Long-Term Training

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed priority for fiscal year 1999 and subsequent 
fiscal years.


SUMMARY: The Secretary proposes a funding priority for fiscal year 1999 
and subsequent fiscal years under the Rehabilitation Training: 
Rehabilitation Long-Term Training program. The Secretary takes this 
action in order to assist State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies 
in carrying out their Comprehensive System of Personnel Development 
(CSPD) plans.

DATES: Comments must be received by the Department on or before July 
13, 1998.

ADDRESSES: All comments concerning this proposed priority should be 
addressed to Beverly Steburg, U.S. Department of Education, 61 Forsyth 
Street, S.W., Room 18T91, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. Telephone: (404)562-
6336. Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf 
(TDD) may call the TDD number at (404) 562-6347. Comments may also be 
sent through the Internet to:


    You must include the term ``Rehabilitation Long-Term Training 
Program'' in the subject line of your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Beverly Steburg. Telephone: (404) 562-
6336. Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf 
(TDD) may call the TDD number at (404) 562-6347.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternate format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed in the preceding 

Electronic Access to This Document

    Anyone may view this document, as well as all other Department of 
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or 
portable document format (pdf) on the World Wide Web at either of the 
following sites:


To use the pdf you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader Program with 
Search, which is available free at either of the previous sites. If you 
have questions about using the pdf, call the U.S. Government Printing 
Office toll free at 1-888-293-6498.
    Anyone may also view these documents in text copy only on an 
electronic bulletin board of the Department. Telephone: (202) 219-1511 
or, toll free, 1-800-222-4922. The documents are located under Option 
G--Files/Announcements, Bulletins and press releases.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: One of the emphases in the 1992 Amendments 
to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (the Amendments) is the need for 
qualified personnel in the VR program. This is evidenced in both the 
statutory language and legislative history, including the report of the 
Senate Committee, which indicates that trained, qualified VR personnel 
often make the difference between success and failure in facilitating 
the achievement of quality employment outcomes for individuals with 
disabilities. Accordingly, the Amendments introduced into the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (the Act) the provisions of section 
101(a)(7) related to the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development. 
One of the key CSPD provisions, section 101(a)(7)(B) of the Act, 
requires designated State units (DSUs) to establish and maintain 
personnel standards for rehabilitation personnel, including VR 
    The regulations in 34 CFR 361.18(c) implement the CSPD statutory 
requirements with respect to the development and maintenance of DSU 
personnel standards. These provisions require, in part, that DSUs 
establish personnel standards ``that are consistent with any national 
or State-approved or -recognized certification, licensing, or 
registration requirements * * *'' applicable to a particular 
profession. In addition, those standards must be based on the ``highest 
requirements in the State''--defined in the regulations to mean the 
highest entry-level academic degree needed for any national or State-
approved or -recognized certification, licensing, registration * * *.''
    Based on the preceding requirements, if a State has not adopted 
certification, licensing, or registration requirements for 
rehabilitation counselors, State VR agency counselors must meet 
personnel standards that are consistent with the national standard for 
VR counselors--Certification for Rehabilitation Counselors--meaning 
that counselors must have a masters degree in rehabilitation counseling 
or a closely related field. An informal survey by the Council of State 
Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation estimates that 
approximately 45 percent of the current 11,000 counselors nationwide 
have a masters degree. Some State agencies have very few counselors who 
meet this standard. To the extent that is the case, VR agencies are 
required to develop and implement a plan (referred to as the State's 
CSPD plan) for retraining or hiring counselors that meet the highest 
requirements in the State.
    The proposed priority would support creative, innovative approaches 
for assisting State agencies to meet the previously-described statutory 
and regulatory personnel requirements for VR counselors and to carry 
out their CSPD plans. Distance learning and virtual training arenas are 
among the potential approaches that can reach counselors conveniently, 
including counselors who do not live or work near an academic training 
institution. Degree-granting programs that include competency-based 
components also would be appropriate under this priority. Those 
programs would allow for consideration of the past experiences of 
counselors, yet require rigorous assessment of skills and knowledge to 
ensure competency in core areas. Generally, training approaches 
proposed by applicants must address the unique learning needs of 
currently employed VR counselors, reflect their learning styles and 
professional experiences, and be accessible at a time and in a place 
that would maximize participation.
    In an effort to maximize benefit to the VR program while minimizing 
costs, potential applicants may wish to consider collaborative models 
with, for example, community rehabilitation programs, other public 
agencies, or private entities.
    The Secretary notes that the Rehabilitation Services Administration 
(RSA) funds only training programs that are accredited. For purposes of 
this priority, RSA may fund programs that are in the process of 
applying for accreditation. However, a funded project must be 
accredited by the time its first graduates complete the program. The 
Council on Rehabilitation Education is the current body that accredits 
programs that train rehabilitation counselors.
    The Secretary will announce the final priority in a notice in the 
Federal Register. The final priority will be determined by responses to 
this notice, available funds, and other considerations of the 
Department. Funding of particular projects depends on the availability 
of funds, the nature of the final priority, and the quality of the 
applications received. The

[[Page 32107]]

publication of this proposed priority does not preclude the Secretary 
from proposing additional priorities, nor does it limit the Secretary 
to funding only this priority, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking 

    Note: This notice of proposed priority does not solicit 
applications. In any year in which the Secretary chooses to use this 
proposed priority, the Secretary invites applications through a 
notice published in the Federal Register. A notice inviting 
applications under this competition will be published in the Federal 
Register concurrent with or following publication of the notice of 
final priority.


    Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) and section 302(a)(1) of the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, the Secretary proposes to give 
an absolute preference to applications that meet the following 
priority. The Secretary proposes to fund under this competition only 
applications that meet this absolute priority:
    Projects shall--
    (1) Provide training to current vocational rehabilitation 
counselors, including counselors with disabilities, ethnic minorities, 
and those from diverse backgrounds, toward meeting DSU personnel 
standards required under section 101(a)(7) of the Act, commonly 
referred to as the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development 
    (2) Address the training needs specified in the CSPD plans of those 
States with which the project will be working; and
    (3) Develop innovative approaches (e.g., distance learning, 
competency-based programs, and other methods) that would maximize 
participation in, and the effectiveness of, project training.
    Multi-State projects and projects that involve consortia of 
institutions and agencies are also authorized, although other projects 
will be considered.
    The regulations in 34 CFR 386.31(b) require that a minimum of 75 
percent of project funds be used to support student scholarships and 
stipends. The regulations also provide for a waiver of this requirement 
under certain circumstances, including for new training programs.
    Finally, the Secretary intends to approve a wide range of 
approaches for providing training and different levels of funding, 
based on the quality of individual projects. The Secretary takes these 
factors into account in making grants under this priority.

Goals 2000: Educate America Act

    The Goals 2000: Educate America Act (Goals 2000) focuses the 
Nation's education reform efforts on the eight National Education Goals 
and provides a framework for meeting them. Goals 2000 promotes new 
partnerships to strengthen schools and expands the Department's 
capacities for helping communities to exchange ideas and obtain 
information needed to achieve the goals.
    This proposed priority would address the National Education Goal 
that every adult American will be literate and will possess the 
knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy and 
exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. The proposed 
priority furthers the objectives of this Goal by focusing available 
funds on projects that improve the counseling skills of vocational 
rehabilitation counselors of State VR agencies, which will improve the 
responsiveness of the VR system to adults with disabilities and their 
vocational pursuits.

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is subject to the requirements of Executive Order 
12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR Part 79. The objective of the 
Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a 
strengthened federalism by relying on processes developed by State and 
local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal 
financial assistance.
    In accordance with the order, this document is intended to provide 
early notification of the Department's specific plans and actions for 
this program.

Invitation To Comment

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments and 
recommendations regarding this proposed priority. All comments 
submitted in response to this proposed priority will be available for 
public inspection, during and after the comment period, in Room 18T91, 
61 Forsyth Street, S.W., Atlanta, Georgia, between the hours of 8:30 
a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 
    On request the Department supplies an appropriate aid, such as a 
reader or print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs 
assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public 
rulemaking docket for this proposed priority. An individual with a 
disability who wants to schedule an appointment for this type of aid 
may call (202) 205-8113 or (202) 260-9895. An individual who uses a TDD 
may call the Federal Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 
between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday.

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 721 (b) and (e) and 796(e).

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.129, 
Rehabilitation Long-Term Training)

    Dated: June 8, 1998.
Curtis L. Richards,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
[FR Doc. 98-15575 Filed 6-10-98; 8:45 am]