RSA Addresses State VR Agencies Concerns During COVID-19

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The Rehabilitation Services Agency (RSA) recently answered concerns expressed by state vocational rehabilitation agencies as they strive to provide continuous services to people with disabilities during the COVID-19 emergency.

Question

State Agency Question 1:
What steps will RSA take to account for a decrease in State performance in Program Year 2019 because of extended program closures during the pandemic? Will States be penalized for performance issues?

RSA Answer 1:
The U.S. Departments of Education and Labor will not make any determinations of performance success or failure based on PY 2019 performance data, submitted by October 1, 2020. RSA did not establish performance levels with VR agencies for PY 2019. Therefore, without this data, we will not have the requisite data to determine whether a State has met its performance levels. The Departments will take the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak into consideration in reviewing PY 2019 data. RSA encourages State VR agencies to remain in contact with RSA related to the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery and performance outcomes.

State Agency Question 2:
Will RSA consider delaying performance negotiations, as State offices may be closed for an unspecified period of time?

RSA Answer 2:
At this time, the U.S. Department of Education anticipates that the negotiations process will proceed, and we will conduct negotiations with States. The Department anticipates negotiated levels of performance will be included in the approved Unified or Combined State Plans for the four-year period covering PYs 2020 through 2023. The Department is aware that some State offices are closed, and some States have implemented remote work. The Department is also aware that State agency leadership and management staff may be involved with COVID-19 response efforts. As a result, the Department will be as flexible as possible in conducting negotiations, including scheduling meetings at times that meet States’ needs.

For more information:

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services’ (RSA) Questions and Answers

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