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Introduction

This section describes policies and procedures that apply to services that:

  • support Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services that are included in the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) or the current IPE amendment; or
  • may be necessary for a customer to participate in assessments to determine eligibility for VR services and identify VR needs.

These services may include:

  • maintenance;
  • customer transportation;
  • personal attendant services;
  • services to family members;
  • child care services;
  • occupational licenses; or
  • tools and equipment.

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C-1401: Maintenance

Maintenance is a type of financial support that can be paid directly to an individual who has applied for and/or is receiving VR services.

VR uses three categories of maintenance:

  • Recurring maintenance
  • Nonrecurring maintenance
  • Short-term housing maintenance

To be approved, all maintenance expenditures must be clearly documented in the case file as necessary and reasonable under the circumstances prevailing at the time a decision is made.

Decision-making factors to consider include, but are not limited to:

  • individual rehabilitation needs consistent with the individual's informed choice;
  • market rates or limitations specified by Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) policy;
  • availability of cost-effective alternatives; and
  • all other established policies and procedures, including policies and procedures for customer participation in cost of services, also known as basic living requirements (BLR).

Maintenance cannot be used for costs directly associated with transportation, such as mileage or driver services. For more information about transportation as a supplemental service, refer to C-1402: Transportation Services.

C-1401-1: Legal Authorization

VR may authorize and pay maintenance to a customer in accordance with the definition of "maintenance" found in federal regulations at 34 CFR §361.5(c) (34).

34 CFR §361.5(c) (34)

"Maintenance means monetary support provided to an individual for expenses, such as food, shelter, and clothing, that are in excess of the normal expenses of the individual and that are necessitated by the individual's participation in an assessment for determining eligibility and vocational rehabilitation needs or the individual's receipt of vocational rehabilitation services under an individualized plan for employment."

VR may authorize and pay maintenance only for expenses that are in excess of the normal expenses of the individual and that are necessary for participation in:

  • assessments for determining eligibility and vocational rehabilitation needs; or
  • services under an IPE.

Normal Living Expenses Policy

As approved by TWC's three-member Commission, "normal living expenses include such items as housing, food, clothing, and transportation, and whatever additional expenses would be considered necessary to those broad categories (not directly associated with the receipt of VR services), such as utility costs and vehicle insurance."

2005 Texas Government Code Chapter 2252

State law prohibits the state comptroller from issuing a maintenance warrant directly to an individual who owes the state or federal government delinquent taxes or a defaulted debt (for example, a Texas Guaranteed Student Loan).

C-1401-2: Recurring Maintenance

Recurring maintenance (also referred to as "weekly maintenance" in ReHabWorks (RHW) is used for expenses that are incurred on a recurring basis as a direct result of participation in VR services.

Recurring maintenance payments may:

  • not exceed $55 per week;
  • be paid during VR academic or vocational training, as determined necessary, but:
    • must not exceed 104 weeks for a customer who is pursuing vocational training;
    • must not exceed 156 weeks for a customer who is pursuing academic college-level training; and
  • be paid to a customer in self-employment, as determined necessary, but must not exceed 16 weeks.

VR Manager review and approval are required for recurring maintenance service authorizations that exceed four consecutive weeks or a total of six cumulative weeks; approvals can be for no more than 12 weeks per approval.

Documentation of Recurring Maintenance

Customers must be informed that they are required to maintain the DARS2180, Maintenance Expense Log, to verify that the maintenance funds are being used for their intended purpose. The DARS2180 must be turned in and reviewed by the VR counselor monthly. Customers must maintain copies of receipts to verify the content of the DARS2180, Maintenance Expense Log, for audit purposes, but these receipts do not need to be turned in to VR with the DARS2180 form.

If the DARS2180, Maintenance Expense Log for recurring maintenance is not turned in in a timely manner or if it is determined that the funds were not used for their intended purpose, no additional maintenance payments can be authorized. VR Manager review and approval is required before recurring maintenance is reinstated.

VR Manager review and approval must be completed and documented in RHW before a service authorization is issued.

C-1401-3: Nonrecurring Maintenance

Nonrecurring maintenance (also referred to as "one-time maintenance" in RHW) is used for onetime expenses that are incurred as a direct result of participation in VR services.

Nonrecurring maintenance may also be used to purchase the following:

  • Maximum Affordable Payment Schedule (MAPS) goods and services (only when the vendor will not accept a VR service authorization) as follows:
    • Applicable MAPS rate must still be applied to determine the amount of maintenance to be paid
    • The process may not be used to exceed established MAPS fees.
    • VR Manager approval is required
  • Business start-up costs for self-employment. Refer to C-1100: Self-Employment for details.
  • Escort or attendant supports (when required) for a customer (use current state per diem rate).

Documentation of Nonrecurring Maintenance

The customer must provide a receipt that shows proof of purchase from the vendor to verify that funds were used for their intended purpose before any additional maintenance funds are released to the customer for any purpose.

If a receipt for nonrecurring maintenance is not turned in or if it is determined that the funds were not used for their intended purpose, authorization of any additional maintenance funds for any purpose requires VR Manager review and approval.

VR Manager review and approval are required for all nonrecurring maintenance that is equal to or greater than $200.

VR Manager review and approval are required before maintenance can be paid to the customer to purchase goods or services that have more specific purchasing processes and/or specifications available in RHW.

VR Manager review and approval must be completed and documented in RHW before the service authorization is issued.

C-1401-4: Short-Term Housing Maintenance

Short-term housing maintenance is used only for short-term housing expenses that are incurred as a direct result of participation in VR assessments or services. It may not be used to pay a customer's mortgage payment or the customer's usual and customary rent for housing, which are considered normal living expenses.

When it is expected that short-term housing maintenance (in excess of normal living expenses) will exceed a total of three months (cumulatively or consecutively), the VR team must initiate the process to establish the landlord and/or lessor as a provider for "room and board" during the first month for which short-term housing maintenance is authorized. See D-200: Purchasing Goods and Services for more information on this process.

If the landlord or lessor refuses to be established as a provider for any reason, alternate housing must be explored. If no other acceptable options are available, justification for paying the customer directly for ongoing room and board must be clearly documented in a case note and reviewed by management for approval. See "Documentation of Short-Term Housing" for more information on documentation requirements when the customer is receiving the funds to be paid to the landlord or lessor.

Once the landlord or lessor is established as a VR provider, short-term housing expenses are paid as "room and board." See C-400: Training Services and D-200: Purchasing Goods and Services for more information about paying room and board.

Documentation of Short-Term Housing

The customer must provide a receipt that shows proof of payment to the provider to verify that funds were used for their intended purpose before any additional maintenance funds are released to the customer for any purpose. If a receipt is not turned in or if it is determined that the funds were not used for their intended purpose, authorization of any additional maintenance funds for any purpose requires VR Manager review and approval.

VR Manager review and approval are required for all short-term housing maintenance and is limited to three-month increments (cumulatively or consecutively). For example, a VR Manager may approve the initial three months of short-term housing maintenance; if additional short-term housing maintenance is needed beyond the initial three months for any reason, then additional VR Manager review and approval is required for each three-month period.

VR Manager review and approval must be completed and documented in RHW before the service authorization is issued.

C-1401-5: When VR Does Not Authorize the Use of Maintenance

It is prohibited to use any form of maintenance for:

  • tuition or fees for any training course that does not meet the requirements of C-400: Training Services;
  • compensation for an on-the-job training program;
  • goods and services that are under contract;
  • mortgage payments, usual and customary rent for housing, and any associated fees or expenses;
  • reimbursement for any expenses that were not authorized by the VR counselor before the expense (including, but not limited to, balances for previous medical services, past due housing, utilities, loans, or related fees and penalties); or
  • any items listed in D-200: Purchasing Goods and Services.

Short-term housing maintenance must not be used to support training, activities, or assessments that occur in the same town as the customer's residence or within a 50-mile radius of the customer's residence.

Exceptions require review and approval through the chain of management from the Deputy Division Director of Field Services Delivery.

C-1401-6: Processing Maintenance Payments

Maintenance may be authorized and paid in advance.

Maintenance checks, or warrants, are mailed:

  • directly to the customer or third-party payee; or
  • to the VR field office in exceptional circumstances and only with the VR Manager's approval.

See D-200: Purchasing Goods and Services for more information about processing payments.

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C-1402: Transportation Services

Transportation of a customer for any purpose must be by the most economical and effective carrier.

C-1402-1: Legal Authorization

34 CFR §361.5 (c) (56)

"(56) Transportation means travel and related expenses that are necessary to enable an applicant or eligible individual to participate in a vocational rehabilitation service, including expenses for training in the use of public transportation vehicles and systems."

2005 Texas Government Code Chapter 2252

State law prohibits the state comptroller from issuing a transportation warrant directly to an individual who owes the state or federal government delinquent taxes or a defaulted debt (for example, a Texas Guaranteed Student Loan).

C-1402-2: Transportation Providers

Public Carrier

A public carrier is a vehicle or set of vehicles in the business of transporting the public, for example:

  • city transit service;
  • airline;
  • bus company; and
  • taxi company.

Private or Third-Party Carrier

A private carrier is a vehicle owned by an individual or private organization other than the customer, and not customarily for hire. For example, the VR counselor may pay the customer's family member, neighbor, or residential service provider to transport the customer if the customer:

  • does not have a car or is otherwise unable to drive because of his or her disability; and
  • does not have access to other, less-expensive transportation.

Customer as the Carrier

VR reimburses the customer for the use of the customer's vehicle for transportation when this is the most economical and effective method.

C-1402-3: Types of Transportation

There are two types of transportation:

  • Recurring transportation
  • Nonrecurring transportation

Recurring transportation

Recurring transportation includes payments to the customer or a third party to offset the customer's ongoing expenses that are necessary for the customer to participate in VR assessments or IPE services. Recurring transportation is limited to 104 weeks.

Nonrecurring transportation

Nonrecurring transportation is a onetime payment to the customer or a third party for transportation that is necessary for the customer to participate in a single VR assessment or IPE service.

C-1402-4: Processing Transportation Payments

Staff may authorize the payment of transportation in advance to the customer.

Transportation payments (recurring or nonrecurring) are limited to one of the following:

  • Actual cost to customer for public transportation
  • Actual mileage times a maximum of $.55* per mile when paid directly to a private or third party
  • Actual mileage times a maximum of $.21* per mile, not to exceed $50 per week, when paid directly to the customer.

*VR staff must check rates, as they are adjusted quarterly.

Transportation costs that are over $400 require:

  • VR Manager approval;
  • contacting RHW Provider Services by emailing rhw.providerservices@twc.state.tx.us to have the customer established as a provider;
  • a service justification case note that includes calculations and source used to define "actual mileage"; and
  • verification of customer participation in the VR service that required transportation.

Note: Do not use a pseudo number to create a service record for nonrecurring transportation that is over $400.

Documentation for recurring and nonrecurring transportation must include:

  • a service justification case note that includes calculations and source used to define "actual mileage"; and
  • verification of customer participation in the VR service that required transportation.

Transportation warrants are mailed:

  • directly to the customer or third-party payee; or
  • to the VR office in exceptional circumstances and only with VR Supervisor or VR Manager approval.

C-1402-5: Airfare

Airfare can be purchased to meet a customer's transportation needs only if:

  • airfare is the most cost-effective method (flying versus driving);
  • airfare is an appropriate means of transportation for the customer based on potential disability-related factors; or
  • no reasonable alternative exists.

When considering the cost of airfare as a transportation alternative, the VR counselor considers all related costs, such as the cost of transportation to and from the airport, parking, vehicle rental, fuel, or taxi. The VR counselor documents the cost comparison clearly in a case note.

Customer airfare purchases are completed using the Customer Central Billed Account (CBA).

Using the CBA for customer airfare purchases allows caseload-carrying staff members to purchase customer airfare at state-contracted rates.

In addition to reducing airfare costs for customer travel, using the CBA has the following benefits:

  • Advance purchase is not necessary
  • No minimum or maximum length of stay
  • 100 percent refundable tickets if cancelled or unused

When using the CBA, reservations must be made at least 14 days in advance and ticketed at least seven days in advance to allow for review and to ensure that the itinerary is acceptable to the customer. For travel being requested during holiday periods (October through January), reservations must be made at least 30 days in advance.

Requesting Customer Air Travel

The VR staff member:

On DARS1762, VR staff notes any special needs or requirements that the customer or passenger may have. For example, VR staff documents whether the customer:

  • needs to be on a specific flight to travel with a group;
  • requires accommodations; or
  • requires special seating (describe the circumstances).

Reserve and Verify Customer Airfare

The following procedures must be used to book and verify the travel:

  1. Accounting–Consumer Airfare Team authorizes the charge to the Customer CBA.
  2. Travel agency books the airfare and emails the reservation and ticket confirmation itinerary to the Accounting--Consumer Airfare Team.
  3. Accounting–Consumer Airfare Team maintains a printed copy of the itinerary in the Customer CBA and forwards the confirmation by email to the VR staff member who requested the travel.
  4. The VR staff member must respond by email to the Consumer Airfare mailbox to confirm that the forwarded itinerary is acceptable.
  5. The VR staff member, upon confirming the itinerary as acceptable, completes a service record and service authorization using the date, purchase price, and fees information provided. (Note: The VR staff does not create the service authorization for payment now; this will be done in step 8.)
  6. The customer or passenger must provide the itinerary or confirmation number and a valid driver's license, photo ID, or other acceptable proof of identification. (Acceptable forms of identification are found at Transportation Security Administration Identification.)
  7. The VR staff member receives a mass email from the Accounting–Consumer Airfare Team paying the bank statement once the customer's travel is shown on the bank statement. (Note: The email names all customers that traveled within that bank statement period. The VR staff copies and redacts names of all other customers from the document before filing with the customer's purchasing records.) See ReHabWorks Users Guide, Chapter 16: Case Service Record, 16.2.10 Customer Airfare for details.
  8. The VR staff member adds the service authorization number in the appropriate column for the customer.
  9. Accounting verifies and audits the service authorization and lets the VR staff member know when he or she can receive and authorize payment for the customer's travel.

Processing the Payment

For the Accounting–Consumer Airfare Team to process the payment for customer travel, the VR team must have created the service record and service authorization in RHW.

If discrepancies are noted between the service record, service authorization, or invoice received by the Accounting–Consumer Airfare Team, a team member emails the VR team to resolve the differences.

Cancelled Flights

The ticket is paid for using a VR CBA credit card. If the customer's ticket requires cancellation, the VR team must notify the Accounting–Customer Airfare Team immediately by email at ConsumerAirfare@twc.state.tx.us or by phone at 512-463-1671, option 4, for immediate assistance. The following responsibilities and conditions apply:

  • The customer is not authorized at any time for any reason to make any changes or cancel his or her flight itinerary. Additional costs incurred will be the responsibility of the customer. The customer must go through the VR team to make any changes or cancel flight itinerary.
  • The VR team is responsible for closing the service authorization in RHW. For all state-purchased Short's Travel itineraries, a cancellation fee is assessed.

Airfare Limits

Air transportation for customers who are attending out-of-state training is limited to no more than two round-trip economy tickets per year. Exceptions require review and approval by Regional Director .

If there are questions regarding customer airfare procedures, contact the Accounting–Consumer Airfare Team in one of the following ways:

C-1402-6: Bulk Purchases of Local Bus Tickets for Customers

With the VR Manager's approval (or, in the absence of the VR Manager, the Regional Director) ,the management support team purchases local bus tickets, passes, tokens, and transfers in bulk for customers.

C-1402-7: Relocation

If the customer cannot participate in IPE services or employment because transportation is not available, the VR counselor discusses with the customer the option of relocating to a community that meets the customer's transportation needs.

If the customer decides to move, then the VR counselor determines the extent of help necessary to achieve the move. Some customers require minimal help (for example, helping to pay for moving van rental, mileage, and boxes) while others, because of disability-related limitations, may require full assistance (such as packers, movers, and unpackers).

If the VR counselor plans to purchase services from a moving company, he or she contacts TWC Consumer Procurement at consumer.procurement@twc.state.tx.us for help in determining if using a state term contract results in best value.

Payment of deposits, for example refundable rental or utility deposits, on behalf of customers is not allowed by the Comptroller's State of Texas Purchase Policies and Procedures Guide, and VR Managers may not approve these purchases.

C-1402-8: Vehicle Repair

As with other transportation services, VR provides payment for the repair of the customer's vehicle only when necessary for the customer to participate in other planned services, such as vocational training and job-related services.

Payment for Vehicle Repair

Payment for vehicle repair, including parts and labor, is authorized only when:

  • no comparable services or benefits are available to meet this customer's transportation needs; and
  • repair is the most cost-effective means to meet those needs.

Authorization covers only repairs that are required to make the vehicle safe and operable.

The VR Manager must approve vehicle repairs exceeding $250. Repair costs that exceed the vehicle's value     require Regional Director approval. Before authorizing payment, the VR counselor considers and documents in a case note that:

  • the vehicle is:
    • owned by the customer or a family member (if not, VR Manager approval is required); and
    • the customer's primary means of transportation;
  • vehicle repair is a best-value decision to meet the customer's transportation needs, and:
    • based on the vehicle's overall condition, ongoing repairs are not expected; and
    • repair costs do not exceed the vehicle's value as estimated from Kelly Blue Book using the "sell to private party" value (After the VR counselor reviews and makes the decision to authorize the service, he or she prints and files a copy of the computer-generated estimate in the paper case file.);
  • there are no comparable services and benefits available to meet the customer's transportation needs, such as public bus service; and
  • the customer has a plan for how to meet transportation expenses after case closure.

Vehicle repairs are authorized in Post-Closure Services only when in support of other planned services.

For additional information about repairs to vehicle modifications, see C-204: Vehicle Modification Services.

C-1402-9: Vehicle Rental

Vehicle rental can be purchased if:

  • it is economically justified; and
  • no reasonable alternative exists.

Process

VR Supervisor review and approval is required for vehicle rentals lasting 1-30 calendar days . A VR Manager approval is required for rentals needed 31-60 calendar days; and Regional Director approval is required for 61+ days of vehicle rental.

VR staff obtains two quotes for an economy class vehicle from a reputable auto rental agency or vehicle modification provider. If the customer requires a higher class of vehicle, document the justification for management review. (Note: Do not request state rates, because only state employees may use them.)

VR staff obtains copies of documents for the customer's case file that confirm that the customer or the customer's driver is:

  • over 21 years old;
  • has a valid driver's license; and
  • has proof of insurance.

If the customer or his or her driver does not have collision insurance, VR may pay the rental agency's additional daily rate for required insurance. VR does not pay for personal accident insurance.

The customer is responsible for:

  • returning the rental vehicle in the condition in which it was received; and
  • paying any costs above and beyond the original rental agreement.

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C-1403: Personal Assistant Services

Personal assistance services (PAS) involve a range of services provided by one or more individuals. The service is designed to help a customer with a disability with on-the-job activities or job-related daily living activities that the customer would perform if he or she did not have a disability.

C-1403-1: Legal Authorization

34 CFR §361.5 (38) (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)

"(38) Personal assistance services means a range of services, including, among other things, training in managing, supervising, and directing personal assistance services, provided by one or more persons, that are—

(i) Designed to assist an individual with a disability to perform daily living activities on or off the job that the individual would typically perform without assistance if the individual did not have a disability;

(ii) Designed to increase the individual's control in life and ability to perform everyday activities on or off the job;

(iii) Necessary to the achievement of an employment outcome; and

(iv) Provided only while the individual is receiving other vocational rehabilitation services. The services may include training in managing, supervising, and directing personal assistance services."

34 CFR §361.42 (d)(i)(iv)

"(iv) The designated State unit must provide appropriate supports, including, but not limited to, assistive technology devices and services and personal assistance services, to accommodate the rehabilitation needs of the individual during the trial work experiences."

C-1403-2: Planning and Fees

The VR counselor and the customer must try to identify assistive devices and alternative methods to enable the customer to perform tasks independently without a personal assistant.

PAS may not be provided as a stand-alone service; they may only be provided to support other VR services that are included on the IPE, such as vocational training, academic training, attending the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center (CCRC), employment services, supported employment, or job placement.

PAS must be included in the customer's IPE or IPE amendment.

The VR Supervisor reviews the customer's use of PAS every 90 days.

Comparable Benefits

Comparable benefits must be used before case service funds are encumbered when these benefits are readily available and appropriate for the customer's needs. The VR counselor may supplement these comparable services, as necessary, with case service funds.

Fees

Fees for PAS are negotiated by the customer, personal assistant, and VR counselor, with the final determination made by the VR counselor. Fees vary depending on the needs of the customer, the availability of personal assistants, local prevailing rates for PAS, and other factors. (Note: To find the local prevailing rates for PAS, check with WorkInTexas.com labor market review information for the area of services.)

Any fee previously negotiated between VR and an organization when PAS are provided by that organization must be used.

Payments

The personal assistant or his or her company must be set up as a provider for VR and paid directly for services. VR Managers may not make an exception to this requirement.

For more information on setting the personal assistant as a provider, see D-200: Purchasing Goods and Services.

C-1403-3: Responsibilities

The customer is responsible for deciding if a personal assistant is qualified to meet the customer's personal attendant needs. The prospective personal assistant must have orientation and training in providing PAS. Due to the individualized nature of the services that the attendant provides, the customer is primarily responsible for instructing the personal assistant regarding specific needs and informing the VR counselor of issues related to the on-the-job performance of the personal assistant.

A plan must be in place for the customer to assume financial responsibility for the PAS if this service is needed after he or she is employed. See C-1403-5: Providing Assistant Services while Providing Employment Assistance for related service limitations.

The VR counselor and the customer share the responsibility for locating a suitable personal assistant. However, because of the individualized nature of PAS, the customer must assume primary responsibility for instructing the personal assistant regarding his or her specific needs. The customer must inform the VR counselor of the assistant's job performance.

Centers for Independent Living Services (CILS) and student service offices on college campuses are often sources for locating and training personal assistants.

The information and referral (I&R) coordinator at local CILS may be a source for locating PAS for assisting the customer with independent living. The local Department of State Health Services (DSHS) office and home health agencies are sources for PAS when the customer's needs also include health maintenance services delegated by a registered nurse.

In searching for PAS, the customer must be involved to the greatest degree possible in determining:

  • the type and range of services needed;
  • the number of PAS hours needed; and
  • the location of PAS—home, community, or workplace.

The VR counselor and the customer may find information on local personal assistant resources from the following:

  • CILS
  • CILS I&R coordinators
  • Other CILS customers who use PAS
  • Home health agencies
  • RNs who coordinate PAS
  • Local DSHS offices

Note: When possible, the customer must:

  • contact the PAS resource to get information on services;
  • interview several PAS providers;
  • talk to references; and
  • hire the personal assistant.

C-1403-4: Customers Hiring Their Own Personal Assistants

VR may not be the employer of record for a customer's personal assistant. A customer who hires a personal assistant is the employer under applicable employer tax laws and is responsible for:

  • hiring and dismissing the assistant;
  • training the assistant in the delivery of services; and
  • supervising the assistant in the delivery of services or arranging for a friend or relative to provide direct supervision of the assistant.

C-1403-5: Providing Assistant Services while Providing Employment Assistance

When employment assistance and counseling and guidance are the primary services being provided, PAS are limited to a maximum of six months.

The case file must clearly document ongoing employment assistance activities while VR is paying for PAS.

The VR counselor may continue ensuring that PAS are available for:

  • 60 days after the customer enters employment; or
  • up to a maximum of 120 days with documented rationale.

C-1403-6: Supporting Relocation from a Nursing Home or Institution

PAS may be provided for up to 12 months, if a customer is relocating to a private residence from a:

  • nursing home;
  • community residential or group home; or
  • mental health facility.

Payment for Personal Assistance Services

To receive payment for PAS, the customer or service provider must submit a monthly written statement to VR that contains:

  • the services rendered by the personal assistant during the customer's VR activity;
  • the number of hours worked by the personal assistant; and
  • any additional information specified by the customer's VR counselor that is needed to process reimbursement.

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C-1404: Services to the Customer's Family Members

VR may arrange, purchase, or provide services to the customer's family members only if without such services, the customer would be unable to begin or continue his or her IPE, and the program would be jeopardized or interfered with to the extent that the employment goal would be unnecessarily delayed or could not be achieved.

When required, services are furnished only for family members meeting the definition of family as defined in 34 CFR §361.5(c)(22). The services are not available through existing community resources, agencies, or comparable services or benefits.

C-1404-1: Legal Authorization

34 CFR §361.48(b)(9)

"(b) Services for individuals who have applied for or been determined eligible for vocational rehabilitation services. As appropriate to the vocational rehabilitation needs of each individual and consistent with each individual's individualized plan for employment, the designated State unit must ensure that the following vocational rehabilitation services are available to assist the individual with a disability in preparing for, securing, retaining, advancing in or regaining an employment outcome that is consistent with the individual's unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice:

(9) Vocational rehabilitation services to family members, as defined in §361.5(c) (23), of an applicant or eligible individual if necessary to enable the applicant or eligible individual to achieve an employment outcome."

34 CFR §361.5(c)(22)

"(22) Family member, for purposes of receiving vocational rehabilitation services in accordance with §361.48(b)(9), means an individual—

(i) Who either—

(A) Is a relative or guardian of an applicant or eligible individual; or

(B) Lives in the same household as an applicant or eligible individual;

(ii) Who has a substantial interest in the well-being of that individual; and

(iii) Whose receipt of vocational rehabilitation services is necessary to enable the applicant or eligible individual to achieve an employment outcome."

C-1404-2: Documentation of Services for Family Members

Documentation of services to family members must meet all documentation requirements for that service as outlined throughout this manual. Additionally, the VR counselor must clearly describe in case notes:

  • the name of the family member or members who need the services;
  • the family member's relationship to the customer;
  • what services are needed; and
  • how the services are expected to make a substantial contribution to the customer's ability to participate in and complete planned VR services and goals.

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C-1405: Child Care Services

If a customer has children under the age of 13 and the customer cannot complete planned vocational activities without child care, the VR counselor may assist the customer in exploring the availability of child care services. Children 13 and older who require supervision because of a disability also qualify for this service. Examples of activities related to the vocational goal include diagnostic services, physical restoration, training, and employment.

C-1405-1: Child Care Resources

Child care services can be purchased with VR funds only when they are required for participation in VR services and when they are not available through existing community resources, agencies, or comparable services or benefits.

The VR team can also explore resources such as the customer's family members, neighbors, or community day-care programs to see if they can meet the customer's child care needs.

Texas Workforce Commission Workforce Solutions Child Care program offers child care for low-income individuals who are working or participating in training or educational activities leading to employment. Customers must apply for this resource to meet their child care needs before VR funds are authorized.

If the customer is not eligible for the TWC Child Care program or if the TWC Child Care program has a waiting list, or if the customer has no comparable benefits, VR may purchase child care services. The customer must select a provider who is licensed, registered, or listed on the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) website.

The selection of a provider is the customer's responsibility as a parent. VR staff may help the customer access information about how to select appropriate, safe child care through the DFPS website.

C-1405-2: Acceptable Child Care Providers

DFPS licenses, registers, or lists the following categories of providers (see definitions at Childcare Providers Licensed, Registered or Listed through the Department of Family Protective Services):

  • Licensed Child Care Center
  • Licensed Child Care Home
  • Registered Child Care Home
  • Listed Family Home

VR does not pay for services provided by an individual who is not identified on the DFPS website as a provider in one of these categories. Exceptions may not be made to this policy.

If a customer wants to use someone to provide child care who is not currently recognized by DFPS, he or she must contact his or her local DFPS licensing office to learn how to become licensed, registered, or listed. The procedure for becoming a Listed Family Home requires limited documentation and may be appropriate for a family member or friend who wants to provide child care. See the Procedure for Becoming Listed as a Child-Care Provider on the TWC-VR intranet.

C-1405-3: Establishing a Child Care Provider as a Vendor

If the customer selects an acceptable child care provider who is not already a VR provider, VR staff emails RHW Data Maintenance to begin the process.

The child care provider must be set up as a provider for VR and paid directly for services. VR Managers may not make an exception to this requirement. For more information on setting the child care provider as a provider, see D-200: Purchasing Goods and Services.

C-1405-4: Child Care Payment Guidelines

If no comparable benefits are available for child care, VR may pay up to 100 percent of the customer's child care costs during training, not to exceed the maximum rates listed on the Maximum Daily Rates table (PDF). Child care payments during training are limited to the duration of training.

VR adopts and implements the rates used and monitored by TWC for child care rates.

Payments may not exceed the maximum allowed rates listed on the Maximum Daily Rates table.

Maximum Full Day Rates for Child Care

Each Local Workforce Development Board (Board) sets the maximum rates for child care services. Those rates are outlined in the state's Child Care and Development Fund State Plan.

The rates are set for (1) Licensed Child Care Centers, (2) Licensed Child Care Homes, and (3) Registered Child Care Homes. Each of these categories has additional rates for each of these provider types that are Texas Rising Star providers (2-, 3-, or 4-star providers). This information is found on pages 1 through 14 of the Board Child Care Maximum Reimbursement Rates table (PDF).

Age groups in each provider type are as follows:

  • Infants age 0 to 17 months
  • Toddlers age 18 to 35 months
  • Preschool age children from 36 to 71 months
  • School age children 72 months to 13 years

Procedures

The following procedures are used to find the amount in fees that VR pays for child care. If the fees exceed the maximum rate listed on the Maximum Daily Rates table (PDF), VR pays the amount that is listed as the maximum rate.

Table for Calculating Daily Rates

Calculating Daily Rates

To obtain the daily rate:

Providers with monthly rates

Divide the rate by 4.33, then divide the result by 5.

Providers with biweekly rates

Divide the rate by 2.165, then divide the result by 5.

Providers with weekly rates

Divide the weekly amount by 5.

Providers with hourly rates

Multiply the hourly rate by 12 to calculate the full-day rate and by 6 to calculate the part-day rate.

Providers with multiple rates within an age category average all applicable rates to obtain the published rate for the age category, then determine the daily rate using the appropriate method.

Some providers may charge a registration fee in addition to ordinary child care costs. VR may pay up to a $100 registration fee to the facility once per calendar year for each child who will be participating in child care. If the provider's fee exceeds $100, VR Managers may grant an exception to exceed the $100 rate on a case-by-case basis.

When identifying applicable fees, VR staff must be aware that activity fees include only the fees that all parents are required to pay and do not include fees for optional activities such as field trips or optional classes.

VR may pay for child care after a customer has achieved employment for a total of no more than two months at the following percentages:

  • 100 percent for the first four weeks
  • 80 percent for the fifth week
  • 60 percent for the sixth week
  • 40 percent for the seventh week
  • 20 percent for the eighth week

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C-1406: Occupational Licenses

An occupational license is any license, permit, or fee for the examination of a license, or other written authorization required by the state, city, or other government unit that must be obtained to work or to run a small business. Occupational licenses are one of the tools used in the rehabilitation process.

C-1406-1: Legal Authorization

34 CFR §361.48(b)(16)

"(b) Services for individuals who have applied for or been determined eligible for vocational rehabilitation services. As appropriate to the vocational rehabilitation needs of each individual and consistent with each individual's individualized plan for employment, the designated State unit must ensure that the following vocational rehabilitation services are available to assist the individual with a disability in preparing for, securing, retaining, advancing in or regaining an employment outcome that is consistent with the individual's unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice:

(16) Occupational licenses, tools, equipment, initial stocks, and supplies."

C-1406-2: Occupational License Fees

VR pays fees only for:

  • licenses; and
  • necessary examinations or registrations.

VR does not pay state or municipal tax assessments on occupations. Management must not make any exceptions.

VR does not pay for dues to a professional association or trade union unless paying the dues meets best-value purchasing criteria or unless the VR counselor can justify the purchase as critical to the success of the customer's employment. The VR counselor enters a case note in the customer's file to justify the purchase.

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C-1407: Tools and Equipment

VR purchases only tools and/or equipment required to support a customer's planned employment outcome. "Required tools and equipment" must be included as a service on the IPE before authorizing purchase or transfer of items to the customer.

Customer Responsibility

The customer is required to take reasonable care of the tools, equipment, and supplies provided and is liable for loss and damage resulting from wrongful act or neglect.

VR Counselor Responsibility

The VR counselor must assure that the proper tools are purchased and that they are not ordinarily provided by the employer. It is also the responsibility of the VR counselor to exercise reasonable diligence in recovering items and document in the case record the circumstances relating to any loss or damage to equipment.

C-1407-1: Tools

A tool is defined as an instrument (such as a saw, file, knife, or wrench) used or worked by hand or machine to perform a task.

Tools required for employment must be used by the customer:

  • to participate in a training program; or
  • for entry into an employment situation.

Tools that are purchased or provided for customers include only those tools that are normally required for workers in the same or similar trade or profession.

In many instances, tools that are required for training or employment are provided by the training facility or owner of the business rather than by the employee. If tools are provided without cost to other students or employees, VR does not purchase or provide tools for a customer.

C-1407-2: Equipment

Equipment is defined as fixtures, apparatuses, machinery, or appliances that are normally found in a place of business, the function of which is to carry out the requirements of the business in an efficient manner. This includes motorized equipment such as:

  • power accessories;
  • garden tractors;
  • portable vending stands;
  • special motor scooters;
  • stationary equipment; and
  • special lighting fixtures.

Examples of items not considered equipment are:

  • automobiles;
  • operating capital;
  • buildings;
  • operating cost; and
  • land.

Equipment required for employment must be used by the customer:

  • to participate in a training program; or
  • for entry into an employment situation.

Equipment that is purchased or provided for customers includes only those items that are normally required for workers in the same or similar trade or profession.

In many instances, equipment that is required for training or employment is provided by the training facility or owner of the business rather than by the employee. If equipment is already provided without cost to other students or employees, VR does not purchase or provide the equipment for a customer.

C-1407-3: Purchasing and Documenting Tools or Equipment

VR may purchase required tools and equipment for the customer when the following conditions are met:

  • The IPE shows that the customer is entering a training program or employment
  • Purchased tools and equipment are of good quality and are regularly required for the chosen occupation, trade, or profession
  • The cost of tools and equipment does not exceed:
    • $1,500 for any single item; or
    • a total of $2,000 for all tools and equipment.

Tools and equipment may be repaired if replacement is more expensive.

Remind the customer of the agreement in the IPE to:

  • safeguard and maintain proper custody of tools and equipment;
  • not dispose of tools and equipment unless they are unserviceable or obsolete; and
  • return usable tools and equipment not used as planned to VR.

VR must recover usable tools and equipment that the customer no longer needs.

VR retains residual title to all tools, equipment, and unused supplies issued to a customer during the rehabilitation process.

Paying for Goods

VR staff must obtain the customer's signature on an itemized receipt or cash register receipt that describes each good purchased, or DARS2014, Rehabilitation Equipment Receipt and Agreement, and place the signed receipt in the case file.

Receipt of Items

DARS2014, Rehabilitation Equipment Receipt and Agreement, provides VR with a list of rehabilitation equipment items issued to the customer and familiarizes the customer with the terms of the transaction. It also provides evidence of the return of the equipment.

DARS2014 is used for rehabilitation equipment issued by:

  • VR field staff; and
  • Employment Assistance Services (Customer Technical Support).

Note: Do not use DARS2014 when purchasing items associated with physical restoration, such as low-vision aids and glucometers.

When Initiated in the Field

When initiated in the field, the VR counselor:

  • lists all customer-tagged and/or nontagged equipment, as outlined on the customer's IPE, which are issued to the customer;
  • verifies that the customer is aware of the responsibility to properly care for the equipment and understands the other terms of the agreement;
  • has the customer sign and date the form acknowledging receipt of the equipment;
  • places the signed original DARS2014 in the customer's case file; and
  • gives a copy of DARS2014 to the customer.

When Initiated by the Customer Technical Support Technician

When initiated by the Customer Technical Support Technician:

  • Customer Technology Services lists all customer-tagged and/or nontagged equipment that is being sent on DARS2014;
  • the VR counselor reviews DARS2014 and the contents of all boxes sent, and documents in RHW with a case note;
  • the VR counselor meets with the customer and verifies that the customer is aware of the responsibility to properly care for the equipment and understands the other terms of the agreement;
  • VR staff has the customer sign and date the form acknowledging receipt of the equipment;
  • the VR counselor places the signed original DARS2014 in the customer's case file; and
  • the VR counselor gives a copy of DARS2014 to the customer.

C-1407-4: Returning, Recovering, and Transferring Tools and Equipment

Returning Tools or Equipment

Upon return of the tools or equipment, the VR staff member completes and signs the bottom portion of the original DARS2014, signifying return of the equipment and releasing the customer from responsibility.

Recovering Tools or Equipment

When VR becomes aware that the customer is no longer using the VR-issued tools or equipment for the intended purpose or the customer no longer needs the tools and equipment for any reason, then VR works with the customer and/or his or her family to recover VR property that is still usable.

The VR counselor documents recovery efforts and the outcome of recovery efforts in a case note in the customer's electronic case file. Recovered tools and equipment that are still usable can then be issued to another customer to meet his or her needs in the VR process.

Note: VR staff must exercise good judgment and keep in mind the degree to which normal wear and tear has affected the property's usability. If it is believed that the tools or equipment are no longer usable by other VR customers, VR staff must document this decision and the facts that led to the decision in a case note.

Transferring Tools or Equipment

Occupational tools, equipment, and supplies originally purchased for a customer and later recovered may be transferred to another customer if the equipment is still serviceable or under warranty.

The administrative supervisor transfers customer equipment from one customer location to another and:

  • assesses the condition of the equipment; or
  • hires a local consultant to assess it, when necessary; and
  • reports the equipment condition to the receiving administrative supervisor.

The VR counselor documents transfers and reissues in case notes of both customers involved. The VR counselor does not enter the name of one customer in another customer's case file.

C-1407-5: Reporting Lost or Stolen Tools and Equipment

Reporting the misappropriation of tools and equipment

If a customer sells, pawns, loans, uses as loan collateral, transfers to an unauthorized known third party, or otherwise uses tools or equipment unlawfully, then VR staff:

  • notifies the third party immediately that the state has title to the property;
  • requests that the property be returned; and
  • contacts TWC's Office of General Counsel through appropriate management channels before VR files theft charges against the customer.

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