3/26/20 - Message for Division of Rehabilitation Services Community Providers - Community Provider Letter

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

Dear Community Providers,

Thank you for your continued support and patience as we navigate an unprecedented national situation. Our goal remains to provide a safe service delivery system for our staff, our customers, and our providers. Customer engagement is important. At the Division level, we are working remotely to provide outreach and support to DRS customers. We are asking that our providers share our mission and guiding principles by doing the same.

We have been reaching out to other States to glean an understanding of remote practices being used in addition to considering how our current contractual payment structures could be modified to allow for remote work. The Rehabilitation Services Administration has not offered any leniency to States in the provision and payment of services provided through the Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment programs. As such, the DRS does not have the same flexibility that other state and federally funded programs may have in the Department of Human Services.

Your partnership with DRS in serving individuals with disabilities in Illinois is important. Without you, we could not reach nor serve the number of Illinoisans that we do each year. Over the last several days we have received many questions regarding the provision and payment of services. It is our hope that the Questions and Answers below provide you the guidance needed to continue your work. Please engage your DRS Project Officer should you have additional questions or need further clarification.

  • Question

We have several customers who are not receiving hours as their employers are closed. They are not receiving a salary but on the other hand they will begin working again as soon as the employers can open. They were not laid off or fired. How should we process any milestone or phases that have occurred during the month?

  • Answer

The milestones or phases will continue once the customer returns to the work site and draws a salary. For Example: A customer worked 37 days and then was told to stay home (3/1/20) until receiving permission to return to the work site. Customer returned to work 20 days later (3/21/20). The day the customer returns counts as day 38 (3/22/20). Billing for the 45-day milestone will occur during the month after they return to work plus the seven days required to reach a total of 45 days working and earning a paycheck (3/29/20).

  • Question

Please confirm that customers who are currently not working but are still receiving their salaries can be billed.

  • Answer

Yes, individuals receiving salaries can be billed. Confirmation from customer must be obtained and provided to DRS.

  • Question

We are receiving mixed messages regarding staffings. Some DRS counselors will conduct a staffing by phone while others are saying that they are waiting until they are back in the office. Can we continue to bill for a milestone/phase even if a DRS counselor will not conduct a staffing during this time?

  • Answer

While DRS field staff are working remotely, staffings are not required. However, phone staffings are encouraged. A CRP must provide updates, reports, progress notes, email notifications, etc. to document that follow up services continue. You may utilize technology such as video or online meeting applications for these staffings as well.

  • Question

During this period some IPE and/or NOS have expired. We have requested updated ones, however; signatures may not be attainable, or the DRS counselor may say it needs to wait until they return to the office. If a milestone/phase is accomplished during the expiration period can we still bill for the services provided?

  • Answer

A DRS counselor may provide email confirmation to extend an expired IPE and/or NOS. With written permission, services may continue and may be billed. Without email confirmation, services may not be extended, and billings are not valid.

It is our intent to engage you further during a special Facility Advisory Council Meeting on April 3 at 9:30 a.m. The following call-in information should be used 1-888-494-4032, access code 3380683783#. During this call we will attempt to answer any other questions you may have. You may also email questions now to Kristin.Wagner@Illinois.gov.

Again, thank you for joining us in service as we work to promote employment and independence for individuals with disabilities in Illinois.

With Warmest Regard,

Lou Hamer 

Bureau Chief, Field Services 

John Gordon

Bureau Chief, Blind Services