April 1, 2009
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) appropriates significant new funding for the Independent Living (IL) programs authorized under Title VII, Chapter 1, Part B and Part C, and Chapter 2 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Rehabilitation Act). The IL programs support services to individuals with significant disabilities and older individuals who are blind to maximize their leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity, and to promote the integration and full inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the mainstream of American society.
The ARRA funds provide an unprecedented opportunity to implement innovative strategies to improve and expand IL services for individuals with significant disabilities and older individuals who are blind. Under the ARRA, $140 million in recovery funds are provided under three authorities:
- State IL Services Program (State IL Grants): $18,200,000
- IL Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind Program (OIB): $34,300,000
- Centers for Independent Living Program (CIL): $87,500,000
Information about each State's formula allocation under the State IL Grants and OIB programs is available at: http://www.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/statetables/index.html This website also provides information about the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) under the ARRA, which is separate from the IL ARRA funds described in this fact sheet. This document focuses on the State IL Grants Program and the OIB Program. The Department will provide separate guidance regarding the CIL program authorized under Title VII, Chapter 1, Part C of the Rehabilitation Act.
Overview of ARRA
Principles: The overall goals of the ARRA are to stimulate the economy in the short term and invest in education and other essential public services to ensure the long-term economic health of our nation. The success of the part of the ARRA that provides support for programs under the Rehabilitation Act will depend on the shared commitment and responsibility of all involved in supporting improved outcomes for young people and adults with disabilities. Collectively, we must advance ARRA's short-term economic goals by investing quickly, and we must support ARRA's long-term economic goals by investing wisely, using these funds to strengthen IL programs, drive reforms, and improve results for people with disabilities.
Principles guiding the distribution and use of ARRA funds that are particularly relevant to the State IL Grants and OIB programs include:
Spend funds quickly to save and create jobs. ARRA funds will be distributed quickly to states and other entities in order to avert layoffs and create jobs. They in turn are urged to move rapidly to develop plans for using funds, consistent with ARRA's reporting and accountability requirements, and to begin spending funds promptly to help drive the nation's economic recovery.
Ensure transparency, reporting, and accountability. To prevent fraud and abuse, support the most effective uses of ARRA funds, and accurately measure and track results, recipients must publicly report on how funds are used. Due to the unprecedented scope and importance of this investment, ARRA funds are subject to additional and more rigorous reporting requirements than normally apply to grant recipients.
Invest one-time ARRA funds thoughtfully to minimize the "funding cliff." ARRA represents a historic infusion of funds that is expected to be temporary. For the State IL Grants and OIB programs, these funds are available for obligation until September 30, 2011. These funds should be invested in ways that do not result in unsustainable continuing commitments after the funding expires.
Awarding IL ARRA Funds
The Department awarded the ARRA funds available under the State IL Grants and OIB programs on April 1, 2009. These awards are in addition to the regular FY 2009 awards for these programs, and together, these awards will constitute a state's total FY 2009 allocation for the State IL Grants and OIB programs.
States are eligible to receive ARRA funds under these programs based on their approved State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) and OIB applications and the provision of the certification required by section 1607 of the ARRA. The assurances in a state's SPIL and OIB application, as well as the requirements of the ARRA, will apply to the use of ARRA funds.
Amendments to a state's SPIL are not required for the receipt and expenditure of the ARRA funds, as long as those expenditures are consistent with the FY 2009 SPIL. However, as required by the IL program regulations and the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR), a state will be required to amend its SPIL where necessary to reflect significant and relevant changes to the SPIL's information or assurances, its administration or operation, or the organization, policies or operations of the State agency that received the grant, if the change materially affects the information or assurances in the plan. If required by the program regulations and EDGAR, amendments should be initiated expeditiously in accordance with the procedures for amendments outlined in the Rehabilitation Act and applicable regulations. The Department encourages Designated State Units and Statewide Independent Living Councils to begin efforts to reach agreement on how the State IL Grants ARRA funds will be spent.
The Department has reserved funds from the $140 million appropriated for all three IL programs under the ARRA for the required set-aside under section 21(b) of the Rehabilitation Act for capacity building activities of minority entities and Indian tribes.
Uses of IL ARRA Funds
All ARRA funds for State IL Grants and OIB programs under the Rehabilitation Act must be used consistently with the current statutory and regulatory requirements for those programs, as well as applicable requirements in the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) and EDGAR.
Grantees under the State IL Grants and OIB programs should consider how they can use the additional funds to improve and expand IL services; serve additional consumers, especially populations that are unserved or underserved in the state; increase the capacity of IL service providers to provide IL services; and maximize employment opportunities and economic benefits to individuals with significant disabilities consistent with the goals and objectives established by individual consumers.
The ARRA State IL Grants and OIB funds constitute a large one-time increase that offers a unique opportunity to improve IL outcomes. Generally, funds should be used for short-term investments with the potential for long-term benefits, rather than for commitments that the State may not be able to sustain once ARRA funds are expended. Some examples of possible uses include:
- Designing or identifying and providing services that may be extended at low cost beyond 2012 to additional individuals who wish to transition from nursing homes to their communities;
- Creating more efficient and effective ways of increasing IL services to students with disabilities transitioning from school to employment and independent living;
- Building long-term capacity by improving the technological core of the program, including, but not limited to, purchasing equipment, improving connections, and obtaining software in order to better serve consumers;
- Training current staff in effective ways of providing assistive technology to consumers;
- Expanding information and referral and advocacy services to address the needs of consumers who were laid off and may need assistance replacing services or assistive technology previously provided through an employer; and
- Providing professional development opportunities that have both short-term and long-term benefits to service provider staff.
In accordance with the goals of the ARRA, the funds for the State IL Grants and OIB programs should be obligated expeditiously and with appropriate accountability. The ARRA funds received by the State IL Grants and OIB programs will remain available for obligation by grantees until September 30, 2011, which includes one year of carry over in accordance with section 19 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Under the Rehabilitation Act and the ARRA, the Department may not waive the matching requirements for the ARRA funds awarded to states under the State IL Grants program or the OIB program. States must provide the requisite non-federal share for all funds received for these two programs in FY 2009, which includes the FY 2009 appropriation and the IL ARRA funds, by September 30, 2010.
A state may not count State Fiscal Stabilization or IL ARRA funds as non-federal funds for purposes of meeting the matching requirements for the State IL Grants and OIB programs.
As with all federal funds, states are responsible for ensuring that the ARRA State IL Grants and OIB funds are used prudently and in accordance with the law.
ARRA requires that recipients of funds made available under that Act separately account for, and report on how those funds are spent. Further information on reporting instructions will be provided shortly online at www.FederalReporting.gov.
The President and the Secretary are committed to ensuring that ARRA funds are spent with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability. ARRA State IL Grants and OIB program expenditures will be reported on the Recovery.gov Web site.
The Department will provide updates as additional information becomes available regarding the details of the ARRA State IL Grants and OIB program funds.
The Department will also provide further information on the government-wide data collection and reporting requirements as this information becomes available.
If you have any questions or concerns, please email them to RSARecoveryActComments@ed.gov.