Special Projects for the VRTAC-QM
The VRTAC-QM was designed to include three special projects. Two of these projects are aimed at increasing the financial resources available to State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (SVRAs) to manage their program and provide services, and one is designed to enhance the collaboration and partnership between VR and other agencies whose goal is to promote competitive integrated employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. A brief description of each of these special projects is available by clicking on the appropriate boxes below or by scrolling down this page. If you would like further information on any of these projects, please contact your TA liaison or Chip Kenney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SARA and SSA Reimbursement
The Semi-Autonomous Rehabilitation Assistant (SARA) is an artificial intelligence program that was piloted under the WINTAC and has demonstrated success in helping VR and other core Workforce Development System partners to effectively communicate with participants and increase the accuracy and timeliness of tracking and reporting. SARA uses text messaging, email, chat and videoconferencing to communicate with VR consumers in real time using an intuitive script. SARA is state-of-the-art technology that can be deployed as a stand-alone application or as a seamless extension to virtually any case management system (CMS) without requiring modification to the existing CMS.
In the VRTAC-QM, we will pilot SARA in four States as a way to gather and report information on VR consumers who are Social Security beneficiaries as a way to increase Social Security Reimbursement (program income) for SVRAs, thereby increasing available resources for service delivery. It is our expectation that the ability of SARA to effectively communicate with consumers regarding their employment status and income will dramatically increase program income. The SARA pilot projects will be established in four SVRAs in the first two years of the project, with concurrent training and program evaluation imbedded in the pilot project design and implementation.
Community Reinvestment Act Cost-Share
A truly unique and potentially transformative project proposed by the VRTAC-QM is the development of four pilot sites that will utilize funds donated by major banks from their Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) commitments as match for the VR program. The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was enacted in 1977 to prevent redlining and to encourage banks to help meet the credit needs of all segments of their communities, including low and moderate income neighborhoods and individuals. For the first time, CRA rules now provide for activities that support people with disabilities including donations to workforce development programs such as State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies designed to improve employment opportunities for low and moderate income individuals with disabilities.
This project will create an opportunity for SVRAs to capture more funds that can be used as their non-Federal share. These funds can be used to develop projects that promote financial empowerment, independence and self-sufficiency for low to moderate income individuals with disabilities. The projects will be under the administrative control of the VR program and funds do not revert to the donating bank. Targeted for VR programs that need to identify other sources of cost share beyond state appropriation, the CRA projects provide an opportunity to develop a national model that could positively impact VR program development for years to come. The first two CRA pilot project sites will be established in Year 2, and the next two sites in Year 3. Program development, implementation and evaluation will occur in Years 2-5.
Employment First Systems Change (EFSC)
The EFSC pilot projects will be established in four states starting in the fourth quarter of Year One and through Year Two. These pilot projects will bring together representatives from VR, Workforce, Education, Medicaid, Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health, Advocacy organizations and Independent Living with the goal of aligning and integrating services, leveraging and maximizing resources and planning to develop a cross-entity system that maximizes employment opportunities for individuals with the most significant disabilities.
The focus is on identifying essential services and supports and resource mapping to identify and address service gaps and provide services in integrated teams. EFSC pilots represent an opportunity for VR programs to engage in proven program and fiscal management strategies that utilize partnerships and collaboration to leverage resources to improve services and outcomes. This project will be closely coordinated with the VRTAC-QE.