Questions and Answers: Employment First NOFO 17-444-24-0836-04

Question: I am working on an application to IDHS' Employment First Balancing project and have not been able to determine what the total page limit is for applications. Do you have this information?

Answer: There are no page limit restrictions.

Question:  One part of the NOFO mentions a program narrative page limit, but does not give an actual limit. I can't find a page limit mentioned anywhere else. Is there a page limit? If so, what is it?

Answer: There are no page limit restrictions.

Question: Is there a page limit on the Narrative Response? Executive Summary? (reference language under "Application Procedure, #2 - "specific page limits outlined in this NOFO")

Answer: There are no page limit restrictions.

Question: I noted in the Summary Information that the narrative proposal would have a page limit but I did not find that in the project summary. Are there page number restrictions?

Answer: There are no page limit restrictions.

Question: I don't see a page limit for the narrative though it is referred to. Is there a page limit?

Answer: There are no page limit restrictions.

Question: I did not see any specific page limit in this NOFO, but did read that the narrative must not exceed the specific page limits outlined. I want to verify that there is no specific limit for this.

Answer:  There are no page limit restrictions.

Question:  It states that the entire application, including appendices, must be sequentially page numbered. Should we be altering page numbers on current documents to fit in this sequential order? For instance, the Uniform State Grant Application is the first requirement and ends on page 3. Should the proposal narrative then start as page 4 or can I start that as page 1 (as in page 1 of that section)? Another example: our Audit will be attached, but is already sequentially numbered starting on page 1 - is this numbering sufficient, or should we alter to fit in with the rest of the package?

Answer:  I would handwrite in at bottom right hand of the page what sequential number it is.

Question:  Under this same section, I want to clarify that parts c through f are part of the proposal narrative, i.e.Part C "Need - the applicant should provide details on the following…target audiences, underserved populations, etc." Is this part of the "extent of need for the project" under "Proposal Narrative" or is this in addition to the outline of the narrative?

Answer:  This is part of the proposal.

Question:  Is the Uniform Grant Agreement (under "Application Submission") the same document as the Uniform Grant Application?

Answer:  No, The Universal Grant Agreement is the document the applicant will receive if awarded funds. The Uniform Grant Application is the complete packet to submit for review.

Question:  Our agency was very excited to hear about the DHS Employment First balancing Incentive Program Project. We have reviewed the documents. We would like to apply for the project. We are wondering if you were considering consolidating some smaller southern agencies to help reach your goal of 200 Adult Waiver Participants with integrated employment by June 30, 2017. Our agency would welcome the opportunity to assist in your success. Our question to you is would you consider smaller agencies or are you concentrating on larger agencies who would have more resources?

Answer:  The Division anticipates contracting with about 8 to 10 vendors to provide services to the 200 individuals. Therefore, we anticipate that a vendor might serve around 20 individuals. The size of the potential vendor is not a factor in the selection process.

Question: Regarding the Employment First Balancing Incentive Program Project, can we apply jointly with two other agencies that are similar to ours? How would that work? One agency applies with the others listed as collaborating partners? Do we need a fiscal agent?

Answer: The initial thought is that one entity would apply as the prime grantee and that grantee would have the others as sub awardees. The only other method that comes to mind is splitting a grant into multiple awards using the NOFO process.

Question: I imagine that we will have participants in the pipeline (still in the process but not yet placed in competitive employment) when the grant timeframe ends in June 2017. What happens with those folks if we are unable to sustain the program on our own?

Answer: This grant opportunity is based on Balancing Incentive Funds which must be expended by June 30, 2017. There will not be an opportunity for renewal or extension of these grants. Successful vendors must plan accordingly.

Question: Our agency intends to apply for funding under the Employment First BIP Project. I have a question regarding the eligibility requirement for individuals we would like to support in the project. If an individual is funded under the waiver but is also opened to DRS for employment services, are they eligible to be funded under this grant? We also have an individual who has been employed for several years, but has expressed an interest in starting his own business. Would he be eligible under this grant?

Answer: The NOFO states that applicants are expected to: 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. Based on this language, the individual enrolled in Vocational Rehabilitation could possibly be included if he or she is not currently employed. The applicant would need to identify how these funds would be used in addition to the VR services and not duplicate them. The second individual referenced would not be eligible since he is currently employed.

Question: Does this funding replace/negate Supported Employment funding for individuals currently receiving those funds? In other words, will clients enrolled in this program who also have SEP funding lose it?

Answer:  If a person is employed now under the SEP Program, they are not eligible to participate in this grant opportunity. A successful vendor may combine this funding with SEP or VR while working with someone who is not yet employed but is seeking employment.

Question: We believe we could help 15 clients find competitive employment by the end of June 2017 but we noticed that the funding range begins at $300,000 which would be 20 clients. Is the minimum proposed 20 individuals?

Answer:  These are anticipated ranges, but they do not reflect a required minimum. The number of awards ultimately issued will be based on the quality and geographic disbursement of the proposals received.

Question: I have another question about eligibility for the project. The NOFO states that qualified individuals include "new DD referrals". Can you clarify what that is? My initial thought would be individuals on the PUNS list, but I'm not sure.

Answer: New DDD referrals include people who are not yet receiving services under the Adult Waiver but have been authorized for funding for the Adult Waiver, i.e., Ligas Class Members residing in ICFs/DD who are moving to community-based services, Ligas Class Members who have been selected from PUNS and are choosing services now, individuals transitioning from SODCs, and individuals transitioning from DCFS settings. It does not include everyone on the PUNS waiting list-only those from the PUNS waiting list who have been selected to receive services.

Question:  I want to be clear regarding outline lettering for the Proposal Narrative and other sections. Does only b refer to the Proposal Narrative and c-f sections are in addition to the Narrative section or should sections c through f be considered part of the narrative with b referring only to the Executive Summary which would include summaries of Extent of Need, Plan of Operation, and Service Comprehensiveness but with detail provided in the later sections.

Answer: The packet should contain: (1) Uniform application; (2) project proposal with all attachments; (3) budget and (4) budget narrative.

Question: In the Attachment section, what does "Physical Space Information" refer to?

Answer: Physical Space is where you will provide the program you are applying. Is it on site? Is it at another location? Can you provide a floor plan?

Question: We are in the process of reviewing this NOFO (Employment First) and wanted to inquire if we are required to complete the long budget form or if, as several other opportunities have permitted recently, the short budget form is acceptable?

Answer: All applicants need to submit the long form (about 24 -27 pages), along with a budget narrative that will be written free hand to explain that the budget costs are allowable, necessary, allocable.

Question: Can you define what is meant by "No more than 15% of the funds can be used for project management". Is this meant to limit staff Supervision to 15% and allocate grant funding to 85% direct client services - or something entirely different? Do administrative expenses need to fall within this same 15%?

Answer: "project management" in #6B refers back to the items listed in #6A, specifically, "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"?15% is reasonable for those activities.

Question:  The NOFO states that eligible individuals include persons currently or persons newly enrolled in the I/DD Waiver. Persons enrolled in the Medicaid Waiver are required to apply for DRS services prior to claiming SEP under the Waiver. These are BIP dollars. Does this NOFO require that targeted persons need to be referred to DRS for determination of VR eligibility prior to receiving competitive employment services under this NOFO?

Answer: No, a referral to DRS is not required to participate in this project; however, this funding for this project ends on 6/30/17. If part of the transition plan for the individual as this project ends is to enroll him or her in Vocational Rehabilitation services or the DDD's Medicaid Waiver Supported Employment Program, a referral at the appropriate time is necessary in order for those services to begin.

Question: Can a person targeted and successfully placed by a provider under this NOFO also be claimed as a Competitive Placement Outcome under a DRS Competitive Placement contract?

Answer: The Division of DD would not have an issue with that, but you would need to contact DRS for any issues with their contracts.

Question: Under B. 2. Project Milestones there are payments provided for achieving various levels towards a job placement. Since individual circumstances can vary due to the occurrence of significant events in the life of persons served will partial payments still be made if a person served does not get a competitive integrated job placement prior to the end of the project period?

Answer: Yes, partial payments will be made after each benchmark is achieved.

Question: The NOFO references (under B. 2. Project Payment Milestones) an "enrollment form", a "job seeker assessment/Discovery report" a "plan for job development report" and a "job hire report". Are these standard forms/formats that will be provided by the Division or will the successful applicant be developing these? If the applicant is to develop them what guidelines for content will be provided?

Answer: We are still considering this issue. These are not standard forms at this time. The successful vendor may develop their own forms as the project begins. It is the hope of the Division that as the related evaluator/technical assistance NOFO is awarded, that vendor, the successful vendors selected via this NOFO, and the Division staff will work together to develop any needed standard forms that can be tested through this project and used in employment activities after the project ends.

Question: Is there an existing template for the "quarterly project report" referenced under A. 5. H. vii.?

Answer:  Not at this time; however, the Division will require certain items be included. These will be identified through the contracting process.

Question: Has money been allocated for this that will guarantee payment to successful applicants even though the State of Illinois FY 17 budget remains unsettled?

Answer: Funds have been allocated for FY17.

Question: Can you clarify if the Employment First Balancing Incentive Program Project (CSFA: 444-24-0836) is for adults with DD or can we apply for funds for older youth with DD? It says "individuals" throughout the NOFO but I did read a line where it says "adult waivers", but wanted to double check with you just in case there was an opportunity to apply for our DD youth. What is the age range to be served with this NOFO?

Answer: The age range would start at 18, but the target population is people in our adult Waiver. So, although the beginning age could be 18, the services are targeted for people in adult services.