- Intent of the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS or Department) Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) is issuing a Notice of Funding Opportunity funded by the Balancing Incentive Program with the intent to increase the number of individuals with I/DD working in individualized, competitive integrated employment and to expand the state's capacity and expertise to provide individualized competitive, integrated employment services and supports to individuals with I/DD. The DDD intends to use the results of this NOFO process to award up to $3.0 million in grant funds to successfully place at least 200 individuals with I/DD into individualized competitive integrated employment.
Individualized competitive integrated employment refers to working for a competitive wage in a community-based job (i.e., a job that is not based in a community rehabilitation facility or residential long-term care institution for people with disabilities). The employment must be in a work setting where, to the extent the employment typically involves interaction with others, the interaction is predominantly with co-workers or business associates who do not have disabilities or with the general public. Integrated employment includes employment located in a typical community business, self-employment and ownership of a micro-enterprise. For the purposes of this NOFO, group supported employment (work crews or enclaves) and employment of any type where an individual is not paid at least minimum wage are not considered individualized competitive integrated employment. Employment otherwise meeting the definition of individualized competitive integrated employment, where the employment service provider is the employer of record is also not considered to meet the definition of individualized competitive integrated employment for this NOFO.
Interested applicants will define a strategy and intent to provide an array of individualized competitive integrated employment services, which may include but are not limited to job seeker assessment and/or Discovery, trial or temporary work experiences, assistive technology assessment and acquisition, job development and negotiation, self-employment planning and start-up assistance, work incentives benefits counseling, job coaching, on-the-job training, and supports to maintain self-employment.
The Department intends to capture information from successful applicants' experiences providing individualized competitive integrated employment services through this project in order to further expand individualized competitive integrated employment services throughout the state after the initial project period ends. A separate NOFO is being issued to solicit applications for an organization or entity to design and conduct the project evaluation and develop deliverables, including but not limited to: written individual success stories, a lessons learned report, and a best practices guide which includes details on specific services and supports including key specifications and core competencies. Applicants chosen for the project will be informed of:
- Notification of opportunities to access training opportunities, and
- Opportunities to participate in webcasts, conference calls, and in-person discussions with other participating organizations to learn about best practices for facilitating individualized competitive integrated employment for people with I/DD.
- Objectives/Department's Need for Services (Rationale)
The Department recognizes that participation in individualized competitive integrated employment among the current I/DD Waiver population is lower than DHS desires and that many working-age individuals with I/DD either newly enrolling in the Waiver or continuing participation in the Waiver would enjoy, benefit from, and be capable of individualized competitive integrated employment if supports to obtain and maintain such employment were available. To address this situation, and increase individualized competitive integrated employment rates for the Waiver population, the Department is soliciting applicants that have a strong and explicit organizational commitment to expanding individualized competitive integrated employment opportunities and building organizational policy and culture that recognizes the inherent value of individualized competitive integrated employment as the employment path that offers people with I/DD the greatest access to full community inclusion and employment choices equal to those available to citizens without disabilities.
In order to begin to develop significantly increased statewide capacity to offer the option of individualized competitive integrated employment to everyone receiving DDD Waiver services in Illinois, the Department intends to work with successful applicants to ensure the placement of no less than 200 Adult Waiver participants with I/DD in individualized competitive integrated employment by June 30, 2017.
- Service Area
The Department is interested in funding applications that offer and demonstrate the effective and cost-effective delivery of individualized competitive integrated employment services in urban, suburban and rural parts of the state. In selecting applications for funding, the Department will seek to ensure as broad a statewide impact as feasible given the amount of funding available and quality of the applications received.
- Notice of Funding Opportunity Priorities
Applicants are expected to use the grant funds to efficiently and effectively deploy specific strategies to identify, engage, place, train and stabilize Waiver participants with I/DD in individualized competitive integrated employment and to effectively leverage Waiver supports to provide any needed on-going supports to sustain this employment over time. Funds may be used for activities that contribute to and demonstrate a commitment to providing individualized competitive integrated employment services, including but not limited to direct service not otherwise covered by or available to each individual through the Waivers, staff training and general employer outreach/education.
The goals of this projects are as follows:
- Place 200 individuals with I/DD into individualized competitive integrated employment on at least a substantive part-time basis (at least 12 hours per week for each individual). Individuals placed can include existing DD Waiver participants receiving Developmental Training or Group Supported Employment services, as well as new DD Waiver referrals, including Ligas Class Members. Individuals already working at some level in individualized competitive integrated employment would not be eligible, even if they are also receiving Developmental Training or Group Supported Employment services, or are also new DD Waiver referrals and/or Ligas Class Members.
- Increase successful applicant's capacity to provide individualized competitive integrated employment services, beyond the term of this project.
- Increase the number and expertise of job developers, job coaches, and workplace personal assistants that are available to provide individualized competitive integrated employment services and supports.
- Inform the development of a best practices procedural guide and other materials for use by entities throughout the state of Illinois that are involved in the provision of individualized competitive integrated employment services to people with I/DD.
- Mandatory Requirements and Special Considerations for Applicants
Interested applicants should take note of the following project-specific mandatory requirements and special considerations. Other non-project specific requirements are found in Part 1 of this NOFO.
Applicants are expected to:
- * Define the projected number of individuals with I/DD the applicant will recruit, serve, and successfully place into individualized competitive integrated employment by the end of the project period.
- * Define how qualified individuals with I/DD will be identified and recruited for the project. Qualified individuals with I/DD can include existing DD Waiver participants receiving Developmental Training or Group Supported Employment services, as well as new DD Waiver referrals, including Ligas Class Members. Individuals already working at some level in individualized competitive integrated employment would not be eligible, even if they are also receiving Developmental Training or Group Supported Employment services, or are also new DD Waiver referrals and/or Ligas Class Members.
- * Define how guardians, parents and family members, if involved in the lives of recruited individuals with I/DD, will be engaged and educated about the benefits of individualized competitive integrated employment, and how the support of these key allies will be assessed and ensured so that placement efforts are ultimately successful.
- * Define an action plan or strategy, including key milestones in the placement process, for achieving the targeted number of placements by the end of the grant period.
- * Describe an effective approach to identifying and engaging potential employers that will be used to ensure the targeted number of placements. Define the flexible array of methods that together make up the overall approach to potential employers that will be used.
- * Define clear and measurable goals to obtain at least part-time, individualized competitive integrated employment for the number of job seekers identified in their application.
- * Meet the following performance indicators and milestones in order to demonstrate timely progress toward project outcomes:
- Within 30 days of notice of award, hold an initial call with the provider conducting evaluation to discuss the organization's plan to achieve the targeted number of placements by the end of the grant period.
- Maintain at least monthly phone contact with provider conducting evaluation.
- Submit all data and other information necessary for project evaluation to the designated evaluation team per the deadlines requested.
- Within 14 days of receiving the executed contract, identify and initiate outreach with at least 50% of the targeted number of individuals to be recruited as indicated in the accepted application.
- Within 30 days of receiving the executed contract, identify and initiate outreach with 100% of the targeted number of individuals to be recruited as indicated in the accepted application.
- Within 60 days of receiving the executed contract, begin services with at least 50% of the recruited individuals. Note: The total number of recruited individuals should be sufficient to ensure the targeted number of placements are achieved by the end of the grant period.
- Within 90 days of receiving the executed contract, begin services with at least 100% of the recruited individuals. Note: The total number of recruited individuals should be sufficient to ensure the targeted number of placements are achieved by the end of the grant period.
- By February 28, 2017, successfully place and maintain at least 33% of total target number of individuals with I/DD in individualized competitive integrated employment that is at least 12 hours per week.
- By April 30, 2017, successfully place and maintain at least 66% of total target number of individuals with I/DD in individualized integrated competitive employment for no less than 12 hours per week.
- By June 30, 2017, successfully place and maintain 100% of total target number of individuals with I/DD in individualized integrated competitive employment for no less than 12 hours per week.
- * Meet the following performance indicators and milestones when providing individualized competitive integrated employment supports and services:
- Implement a person-centered, strengths-based assessment or Discovery process leading to grounded identification of individualized competitive integrated employment goal(s) and a Job Development Plan(s) for each job seeker.
- Provide information about the value and availability of Work Incentives and Benefits Counseling to all job seekers identified for job placement and assist job seekers (and guardians, parents or other involved family members, if applicable) to access Work Incentives Benefits Counseling, if requested.
- No later than 5 days after an individual's Job Development Plan(s) is completed, initiate job development while simultaneously ensuring any other services a person may already be receiving (e.g. Developmental Training; Small Group Supported Employment, etc.) are focused on assisting the person to prepare for imminent placement into individualized competitive integrated employment.
- Allocate sufficient and dedicated time for Job Developers to undertake job development activities each week once job development has begun for an individual, thus ensuring the highest likelihood of successful placement through concentrated and consistent effort.
- Develop individualized competitive integrated jobs with community employers that offer at least an average of 12 hours per week and pay at least minimum wage, or person-centered, community/home based microenterprises that demonstrate the potential for profitability.
- Commit to participate in project evaluation activities, project meetings/webinars, technical assistance and training activities coordinated by the Department or the project training and technical assistance provider.
- Submit quarterly project reports, following a prescribed template, describing the status of project activities, measurable outcomes, emerging issues or trends, and priority focus areas for the next quarterly reporting period. The reports shall also include case scenarios depicting the outcomes achieved by/for individual participants. Quarterly project and participant reports shall be due as follows:
- December 31 (for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2016)
- March 31 (for the quarter of January 1 - March 31, 2017)
- July 1 (Final report, including the quarter of April 1 - June 30, 2017)
- * Obtain releases of information, using prescribed forms provided by the project evaluator and submit individual level data, including outcomes, service utilization and cost-of-service data, as specified by the project evaluator. The successful applicant agrees to maintain individual-level data and files to support the project evaluation process.
- * Share lessons learned, success stories, etc. with the Department and/or the project evaluator for the purposes of developing best practice procedural guides and other resources to promote the expansion of individualized competitive integrated employment services and outcomes for individuals with I/DD in Illinois.
- Special considerations for this NOFO include:
- Grant funds may only be used to provide/purchase individualized competitive integrated employment services and support to individuals and to underwrite the time and expenses of personnel working on the project to participate in training and technical assistance, project meetings/webinars, project report writing, and project evaluation activities specifically related to the grant project.
- No more than 15% of the grant funds may be used for project management.
- If existing staff of the applicant's organization are being used to staff and manage the project, the application must clearly state, for those staff, what specific responsibilities and percentage of time being shifted (and to whom) during the project so that the staff whose positions and/or time are being funded through the grant have time available to dedicate to the project.
- Grant funds may be used to hire new staff or contract with independent contractors in order to provide individualized competitive integrated employment services and supports, and achieve the targeted number of placements stated in the application. However, keep in mind that recruiting and hiring may take too much time and therefore interfere with the applicant meeting the project performance indicators and milestones described above.
- If timely and accessible Work Incentives Benefits Counseling services are available at no cost to individuals with disabilities through other sources, such as the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Program, this should be fully taken advantage of before utilizing grant funds for this service.
- If timely and accessible Assistive Technology services are available at no cost to individuals with disabilities through other sources, such as a school district, Independent Living Center, or the Illinois Assistive Technology Program, this should be fully taken advantage of before utilizing grant funds for this service.
- Grant funds may be used to pay job seeker wages for temporary work experiences, if these are arranged and if the employer is not otherwise compensating the job seeker or the successful applicant for the work completed by the job seeker during the work experience. Grant funds may not be used to pay job seeker wages for participation in Group Supported Employment (e.g. work crews or enclaves) where the beneficiary of the work done by the crew or enclave is paying the successful applicant or another entity that employs the crew or enclave for the work performed.
- Grant funds may be used to provide short-term wage reimbursement or financial incentives to employers who extend permanent offers to hire.
- A letter of commitment to the project approved by the applicant's Board of Directors that includes a description of the how the Board will be involved in the project must be submitted with the application.
- AWARD PROCEDURE
Complete proposals will undergo a Merit Based Review Process. The evaluation process will include a committee who will use a scoring process evaluate need, capacity, and quality.
Applications will be reviewed by a panel established by staff from DHS, which may include Department staff familiar with the requirements of the project, academics and experts in relevant field, and community-based social services providers who are not party to applications for funding under this announcement. Panel members will initially read and evaluate applications independently using guidelines furnished by DHS and will subsequently participate in at least one review panel meeting during which applications will be reviewed and scored collectively.
The Department reserves the right to consider factors other than the applicant's final score in determining final grant recommendations. Such factors may include (but are not limited to) geographic service area, applicant's past performance, or degree of need for services.
- CRITERIA FOR SELECTING PROPOSALS
In addition to the Merit Based Review Process, consideration may then be given to past performance, if applicable. Funding decisions will be made based on the quality of the complete proposal as score through the Merit Based Review Process. Final award decisions will be made by the Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities or his designee at the recommendation of the Bureau Chief of Reimbursement and Data Support. The Department reserves the right to negotiate with successful applicants to cover unserved areas that may result from this process of modify the overall budget request to meet the funding availability.
- CLARIFICATIONS, NEGOTIATIONS OR DISCUSSIONS INITIATED BY DHS
The Department may contact any applicant prior to the final award for the following purposes. As part of the Department's review process, the Department may request an applicant clarify its bid or application. An applicant may not be allowed to materially change its bid or application in response to a request for clarification. Discussions may be held to promote understanding of the Department's requirements and the applicant's application and to facilitate arriving at a contract that will be most advantageous to the State considering price and other evaluation factors set forth in the NOFO. When the Department knows or has reason to conclude that a mistake has been made, the Department shall ask the applicant to confirm the information. Situations in which confirmation should be requested include obvious or apparent errors on the face of the document or a price unreasonably lower than the price others submitted, or if the price is considerably higher than what is currently paid for this type of services. If the applicant alleges a mistake, the bid or application may be corrected or withdrawn following the conditions set forth by the State of Illinois.
- LATE APPLICATIONS/RESPONSES
Late applications will not be opened or considered and will be automatically disqualified, but will be retained by the Department. The Department will notify all applicants whose applications will not be considered because of lateness or non-compliance with application submission requirements.
Only the Merit Based Review Process is subject to appeal. An appeal must be submitted in writing and received within 14 calendar days and must include the appealing party, the grant and reasons for the appeal. The Department will provide an acknowledgement within 14 calendar days of receipt and a response within 60 calendar days.
The decision of the Department is final. Protests must be in writing and will be considered filed when physically received by the Department at the following address:
Department of Human Services
Division of Developmental Disabilities
319 East Madison Street, Suite 2K
Springfield, IL 62701
Note new address effective 8/15/16: 600 East Ash Street, Building 400, Springfield, IL 62703.
- PUBLIC INFORMATION
Some information submitted pursuant to this NOFO is subject to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The successful applicant must recognize and accept that any material marked proprietary or confidential that must be made a part of the contract may be considered open for public inspection. Price information submitted by the successful applicants shall be considered public.
For applications that are not selected for funding, only the list of those submitting applications/responses shall be considered public. Any internal documentation used to determine grant selections will not be considered public information.
Applicant scores will NOT be made public. The Department may give applicants feedback about their application upon request and at the discretion of the Department.
- PROJECT EVALUATION AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
In order to assure accountability at all levels of service provision, the Illinois Department of Human Services is implementing the practice of performance-based contracting with its grantee agencies. The articulation and achievement of measurable outcomes assure that we are carrying out the most effective programming possible.
- TRAINING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
If required, successful applicants must agree to receive consultation and technical assistance from authorized representatives of the Department. Successful applicants and collaborating partners will be required to be in attendance at site visits. Successful applicants may be required to attend regular meetings and training as provided by the Department or a sub-contractor of the Department.
- ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The Department reserves the right to request additional information that could assist the Department with its award decision. Applicants are expected to provide the additional information within a reasonable period of time. Failure to provide the information could result in the rejection of the application.
- SECTARIAN ISSUE
Applicant organizations may not expend federal or state funds for sectarian instruction, worship, prayer, or proselytization. If the applicant organization is a faith based or religious organization that offers such activities, these activities shall be voluntary for the individuals receiving services and offered separately from the project.
- BACKGROUND CHECKS
Background checks are required for all project staff and volunteers who have one-on-one contact with children, youth, vulnerable adults or individuals enrolled in the DD Waivers. Funded projects will be required to have a written protocol on file requiring background checks, as well as evidence of their completion.
- CHILD ABUSE/NEGLECT REPORTING MANDATE
Per the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, adults working with children and youth under the age of 18 years old, vulnerable adults or individuals enrolled in the DD Waivers are mandated reporters for suspected child abuse and neglect. Funded projects must have a written protocol for identifying and reporting suspected incidents of child abuse or neglect.
- HIRING AND EMPLOYMENT POLICY
It is the policy of the Department to encourage cultural diversity in the work environment and to promote employment opportunities through its projects. The Department's philosophy is that the projects workforce should appropriately reflect the populations to be served, with special attention given to hiring individuals indigenous to those communities. Consistent with Department policy, whenever a position becomes available, funded projects are encouraged to consider TANF clients for employment, contingent upon their qualifications in the area of education and work experience.
- ANTICIPATED ANNOUNCEMENT
It is anticipated an announcement regarding State awards will occur in October 2016.