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d. 2. E. Cooperative Agreements with Private Nonprofit Organizations

(Formerly known as Attachment 4.8(b)(3)). Describe the manner in which the designated State agency establishes cooperative agreements with private non-profit VR service providers.

Current Narrative:

The Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) has a variety of relationships and agreements with private non-profit organizations. These include fee based services purchased through registered vendors, contracts, and other cooperative, non-financial agreements.

All new vendors/ providers, whether through a contractual or vendor relationship, must go through a registration and approval process. VR reviews the qualifications of vendors providing services to its customers in order to ensure the quality of these services, as well as the safety of the public. In addition to approving and registering vendor/ provider services, VR conducts employment verifications on customer placements facilitated by vendors /contract providers.

VR policy ensures that customers have a choice of qualified service providers to select from. Customers are also informed if the provider has employees experienced in working with special disability populations, foreign languages, and other communication skills. Customers have a choice of necessary services, service providers, and settings in which to receive the services included in the written Individualized Plan for Employment.

Currently, VR has approximately 263 registered Employment Services Providers that deliver employment, supported employment, OJT, Pre-ETS, and other related services on a fee-for-service basis. Additionally, VR maintains the following contracts and/or agreements:

  • 16 agreements with the Centers for Independent Living located throughout the state to provide independent living services
  • 25 Third Party Cooperative Arrangements with local school districts
  • Additional contracts with agencies for services such as delegable VR services, outreach for migrant and seasonal farm workers, interpreting services, rehabilitation engineering, and a project involving the use of virtual reality simulators for customers with severe disabilities

VR also has 5 contracts for Innovation and Expansion pilot projects to benefit and complement WIOA-related initiatives. These contracts are for various innovative opportunities that could improve employment services to and successful closures for individuals with “unique abilities,” defined in Florida legislation as including individuals who have intellectual disabilities or Autism Spectrum Disorders.

VR also has collaborative, non-contractual arrangements and agreements with non-profit organizations that provide referrals, other vocational rehabilitation services, and comparable benefits. Through coordinating with Centers for Independent Living, individuals with disabilities receive life skills training, employability skills training, and support such as transportation, clothing, and emergency funds.

Relationships with organizations that serve customers with hearing impairments provide opportunities for support groups, sign language classes, and placement assistance.

Throughout the state, many VR employees serve as liaisons with specific groups and organizations. Individuals are referred to those groups if it is determined that they can benefit from their services. Services are coordinated with numerous non-profit hospitals and clinics for referrals and medical assistance. Foundations and associations such as the Easter Seals Society, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Kidney Foundation, Brain Injury Association of Florida, Epilepsy Foundation, Family Network on Disability of Florida, and others provide individual and family support groups and disability education to mutual customers.

VR intends to continue with the above referenced contractual agreements, cooperative arrangements, and liaison relationships through FFY 2020.