11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting

Recent events have raised a national conversation about “gaslighting”, and I don’t know about you, but much of what is being said resonated with me, not just as a woman, but as a woman with a disability. I found this article by Stephanie Sarkis, an author with a book that addressed Gaslighting and some of the signs it is happening. First, her definition. She defines gaslighting as “a manipulation tactic used to gain power.” and goes on to say, “And it works too well.” Here is her article:

Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.

In my book Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – and Break Free I detail how gaslighters typically use the following techniques:

1. They tell blatant lies.

You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.

2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.

You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.

3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.

They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being.

4. They wear you down over time.

This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.

5. Their actions do not match their words.

When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.

6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.

This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.

7. They know confusion weakens people.

Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.

8. They project.

They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.

9. They try to align people against you.

Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.

10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.

This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.

11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.

The more you are aware of these techniques, the quicker you can identify them and avoid falling into the gaslighter’s trap.

Book: Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – and Break Free
Copyright 2017 Sarkis Media: www.stephaniesarkis.com

About the Author

Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, Ph.D., N.C.C., D.C.M.H.S., L.M.H.C., is the author of Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People—and Break Free.

Take time to listen to each other!

Is it just me, or does there seem to be more bickering in the world than there used to be? You can see it in almost every relationship — between countries, between races, between political parties and candidates, between other community members. A speech in the Madam Secretary TV show this past week caught my attention. The Secretary of State in the series said in part, “…we must never lose sight of our common humanity, our common values and our common decency. I was reminded recently of our nation’s founding motto, E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. Thirteen disparate colonies became one country. … governments can’t legislate tolerance or eradicate hate. That’s why each one of us has to find the beauty in our differences instead of the fear. Listen instead of reacting. Reach out instead of recoiling. It’s up to us. All of us.”

There is a disturbing reality that is reducing our effectiveness as the Independent Living Network. It isn’t new, but I am discouraged that it never seems to end. Because I am a neutral third party, sometimes I hear two sides of an issue that is plaguing our movement in a specific state or between specific centers or other partners. And sometimes it seems we are so quick to judge the “rightness” or “wrongness” of an idea don’t we don’t wait to hear each other out. Sometimes partners even develop intentional barriers so they can avoid listening to each other.

I used to shrug and say that we are all advocates and sometimes in our fervent advocacy we forget who our friends are. In the last couple of years I have looked at our political system, and thought maybe these very fixed opinions are part of our current culture. I hope we will see a shift back to being kinder to each other — the alternative is so very painful. And sometimes the divisions between members of our network are so long and wide that I am not sure they can be crossed. The philosophical interpretations are so important, but each party sees them dramatically differently.

I don’t have any easy answers. In a few cases the animosity runs so deep and has so much history that I don’t have a lot of hope. Still, I feel a need to offer a few thoughts.

  • Make a connection person to person, not agency to agency. Take time to know your partners as individuals who, like you, are a part of the Independent Living Network, even if you question their commitment to Independent Living Philosophy.
  • Be respectful and kind every time you can be. Our world needs a lot more kindness, and each of us can do a part in reacting in kindness, especially to others in our network.
  • Listen to what they have to say. Now if you are in one of those longer feuds, I am willing to guess that you are sure you already know their opinions and you disagree with them, so you don’t have to listen. I would challenge you, though — you can find a spark of what drew that person to IL in there somewhere. Listen, and then listen some more. They already know your protests, too, so if you discuss you will just keep cutting each other off. Listen without discussing and you may hear something new.
  • In every advocacy situation there are specific points that are of concern. When you can, focus on those points and not on specific personalities. Even if that individual moves on tomorrow, the issues and policies and practices will probably still be of concern. Work on those specifically.

I don’t need to give you lessons on advocacy — you know the many ways to effect change in your communities — but you usually start with education. Make sure the other party knows your concerns and why they are an issue. Educate the others first, giving them a chance to do the right thing.  Then, of course, you do what you must to bring about change.

And one last thought. If you are in one of these difficult situations, if you and a network partner are at odds, has the advocacy you are doing now worked to improve the situation? If not, I urge you to step back and try another way.

And to “… find the beauty in our differences instead of the fear. Listen instead of reacting. Reach out instead of recoiling. It’s up to us. All of us.”


Changes in purchasing thresholds in Uniform Guidance

As a recipient of federal funds, your center or SILC is required to have purchasing policies in place which meet the Uniform Guidance/Uniform Administrative Requirements. Your limits for each category can be less, but cannot exceed, these limits.  These changes are hot off the press and will be in our updated financial policies and procedures at http://www.ilru.org/il-net-sample-fiscal-policies-and-procedures-handbook

Micro purchases of supplies or services are those that do not exceed $10,000 (these limits will be updated periodically).
Small purchase requirements apply when purchases are between $10,000 and $25,000 (the current level of the Simplified Acquisition Threshold). These amounts will be indexed for inflation.
Micro purchases shall be distributed among qualified suppliers but don’t generally require competitive quotations.
Small purchases will be made only after price or rate quotations are obtained from an adequate number of qualified sources. Prices can be obtained from published or online price lists.
Purchases in excess of the Simplified Acquisition Threshold, including services, equipment or supplies, purchases, leased or contracted for require a cost or price analysis (costs analysis evaluates cost components, price analysis evaluates the total price). These purchases shall be made only after receiving, whenever possible, quotations from at least three vendors. Selections shall be recommended to the (finance director, CFO CEO) for approval with quotations attached. Recommendation and selection shall be based on the following criteria:
● A clear and accurate description of the product or service to be purchased
● Skill and experience of key personnel
● Experience providing products or services to THE ORGANIZATION
● Any specific requirements we have included in our solicitation of bids
● Demonstrated commitment to the nonprofit sector
● Information received from vendor references
● Commitment to our time deadlines
● Cost
● Woman- or minority-owned business or qualified small business
● Preference for products and services that conserve natural resources and protect the environment, to the extent possible

Construction services shall be procured by sealed bids following formal advertising. Contracts shall be awarded to the responsible bidder whose bid conforms with all the material terms and conditions of the request for bids and is the lowest in price. Vendor contracts shall include a written statement that they have not been suspended or debarred from doing business with any federal agency. Alternatively, the Organization shall check the SAM (System for Award Management) vendor database.

Have you checked your listing?

ILRU maintains directories for CIL partners — for the Centers and state associations of centers at http://www.ilru.org/projects/cil-net/cil-center-and-association-directory   and for SILCs at http://www.ilru.org/projects/silc-net/silc-directory

I am always a little surprised when I get a question from our ranks about where a center is and what the contact information is — until I look for myself. Then I sometimes find that the information in our directories is out of date.

So today I have a request for you. Please look at your state’s information in the directory, and let us know if anything needs to be changed. You can do this through the “Contact Us” tab on the website.

Our directory is well-used — by other centers, by funders, by consumers. Please help us keep it up do date. Your vattention to these details will help all of us.

Indirect Cost Questions and Answers

From https://www.doi.gov/ibc/services/finance/indirect-cost-services/faqs

Indirect Cost Services General Questions

Click here to view new Rate Options available in 2CFR Part 200

1. What is an indirect cost rate?

An indirect cost rate is a tool for determining the proportion of indirect costs each program should bear. It is the ratio (expressed as a percentage) of the indirect costs to a direct cost base.

2. What is an indirect cost pool?

The indirect cost pool is the accumulated costs that jointly benefit two or more programs or other cost objectives. Indirect cost pool expenditures typically include:

Administrative salaries and fringe benefits associated with overall financial and organizational administration;
Operation and maintenance costs for facilities and equipment; and,
Payroll and procurement services.

3. What is an indirect cost rate proposal?

An indirect cost rate proposal is the documentation prepared by an organization requesting an indirect cost rate. This package normally includes the proposal, related audited financial statements, and other detail supports such as general ledger, trial balance, etc.

4. What is a “Base” or “direct cost base”?

The term “Base” refers to the accumulated direct costs (usually (a) total direct salaries and wages with or without fringe benefits or (b) total direct costs exclusive of any extraordinary or distorting expenditures) used to distribute indirect costs to individual federal awards. The direct cost base selected should result in each award bearing a fair share of the indirect costs in reasonable relation to the benefits received from those costs.

5. What is an indirect cost negotiation agreement?

An indirect cost negotiation agreement is a document that formalizes the indirect cost rate negotiation process. This document typically contains:
The type of rate(s) negotiated;
The effective period(s) of the rate(s);
The location(s) to which the rate(s) is/are applicable; and,
The program(s) to which the rate(s) is/are applicable.
It also provides information on the base(s) used to distribute indirect costs, and the treatment of fringe benefits and paid absences.
The indirect cost negotiation agreement must be signed by both the organization‘s authorized representative and the DOI Indirect Cost Coordinator or authorized representative.

6. Is there a standard format that should be followed to compile an indirect cost proposal?

Indirect Cost Services has created sample proposal formats, checklists, and templates to assist you in completing the proposal package. Please scroll down and select the appropriate sample proposal for your type of organization (i.e., Nonprofit, tribal government, etc). Following our proposal format is not required; however, it will expedite the review process because our format contains the information needed.

7. In order to initiate the negotiation process, may we send in our Financial Statement Audit Report without the indirect cost proposal and follow-up with the proposal at a later date?

Indirect Cost Services will not initiate the negotiation process without the indirect cost proposal and supporting documentation (including the Financial Statement Audit Report). Please do not submit the audit report by itself, as we have limited storage space and cannot keep the document on file unless accompanied by an indirect cost proposal.

8. What are the different types of rates that can be negotiated?

There are four types of rates that can be requested in your proposal:
Predetermined; and,
Fixed (Fixed Carry-forward).

9. What is a Provisional Rate?

A Provisional rate is a temporary indirect cost rate that is applied to a limited time period that is used until a “final” rate is established for that same period. Provisional rates can be used for funding, interim reimbursement, and reporting of indirect costs on federal awards. They must be finalized by submitting an “Indirect Cost Rate Proposal for a Final Rate” once the actual costs for the specified time period are known and can be verified through audited financial statements.

10. What is a Final Rate?

A final rate is an indirect cost rate applicable to a specific time period that is based on the actual, allowable costs of that period. Once established, a final, audited rate cannot be adjusted.

11. What is a Predetermined Rate?

A predetermined rate is an indirect cost rate that applies to a specific current or future time period (usually the organization‘s fiscal year). Except under very unusual circumstances, a predetermined rate cannot be adjusted. Predetermined rates may be used with cooperative agreements and grants only. They may not be used for federal contracts due to legal constraints. Predetermined indirect cost rates may be negotiated for periods of up to 2 to 4 years.

12. What is a Fixed (Fixed Carry Forward) Rate?

A fixed rate (also known as a fixed carry forward rate) is an indirect cost rate that applies to a specific current or future time period (usually the organization‘s fiscal year). It differs from the predetermined rate in that it is subject to later adjustment. Initially, the fixed rate is based on estimated costs for a set, future time period. When the actual costs for that period become available, a carry forward adjustment is used. A carry forward adjustment is the amount required to reconcile the difference between the estimated costs and the actual costs incurred for the agreed-upon time period.

13. What typical types of distribution bases are available to calculate the indirect cost rate?

These are types of distribution bases:

  1. Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC)
  2. Total Direct Salaries and Wages excluding Fringe Benefits (S&W)
  3. Total Direct Salaries and Wages, including Fringe Benefits (SWF)

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC) excludes capital expenditures and distorting items such as passthrough funds, major Subcontractors, etc. For nonprofit entities, MTDC includes the first $25,000 of sub grants/Subcontracts, while the remaining portion of Subgrants/Subcontracts over $25,000 is excluded.

14. What type of direct cost (distribution) base should my organization select?

The distribution base chosen should result in each award bearing a proportionate share of the indirect costs relative to the benefits received from those costs. For example, if several of your programs and grants do not pay salaries, then it might not be a good idea to use total salaries and wages as the direct cost base. If you do, those programs paying most of the salaries and wages would bear a larger, disproportionate share of the indirect costs. In this situation, it might be more appropriate to use modified total direct costs (exclusive of unusual or distorting expenditures). Please consult the Indirect Cost Services office if you need additional guidance.

15. What is considered adequate documentation to support the salaries and wages of personnel included in the indirect cost pool?

Federal regulations (2 CFR 225 & 230, A-87 & A-122) require that employee salaries and wages be properly documented and approved. The required documentation includes:

  1. Salary and Wage Certifications: Used when employees are expected to work on a single federal award or cost objective during the period being certified. The certifications should be:
    1. Prepared at least semi-annually and
    2. Signed by the employee or supervisory official with first-hand knowledge of the employees’ work.
  2. Personnel Activity Reports or equivalent documentation is required for employees who work on multiple activities, that is:
    1. More than one federal award or
    2. A federal and a non-federal award or
    3. An indirect and a direct cost activity or
    4. Two or more indirect activities with different cost allocation bases or
    5. An unallowable activity and a direct or indirect cost activity.
  3. Personnel Activity Reports or equivalent documentation must meet the following criteria:
    • Prepared at least monthly;
    • Signed by the employee;
    • Account for the total activity for which each employee is being compensated; and,
    • Reflect an after-the-fact distribution of the work that has actually been completed by each employee.

As the cognizant agency, we have the right to approve substitute systems for allocating salaries and wages in place of activity reports. Substitute systems may include random sampling that meets acceptable statistical sampling standards, case counts, or other quantifiable measures of employee effort. We may accept sampling that does not fully comply with sampling standards provided that the amounts involved are minimal or would result in a lower cost.

16. Should fringe benefits be allocated between direct and indirect costs?

Fringe benefits are allowable, “provided such costs are absorbed by all organization activities in proportion to the relative amount of time or effort actually devoted to each” (2 CFR 230 (A-122), Appendix B, Section 8.g. (1)).
“Whether treated as indirect or direct costs, [fringe benefits] shall be distributed to particular awards and other activities in a manner consistent with the pattern of benefits accruing to the individual or group of employees whose salaries and wages are chargeable to such awards and other activities” (Section 8.g. (2)).
Indirect Cost Services interprets the above to mean that if the position is classified as a direct position, then the salary – along with applicable fringe benefits – should also be treated as direct costs. If the position is classified as an indirect position, then the related fringe benefits are to be treated as indirect costs.

17. Are fundraising and lobbying costs allowable?

No – Federal regulations (2 CFR 225 & 230) specifically list fundraising and lobbying costs as unallowable. However, 2 CFR 230 (A-122), Appendix A, Section B.3 states, “Even though these costs are unallowable for purposes of computing charges to federal awards, they nonetheless must be treated as direct costs for purposes of determining indirect cost rates and be allocated their share of the organization‘s indirect costs if they represent activities which include the salaries of personnel, occupy space, and benefit from the organization‘s indirect costs.”
In addition, “All activities which benefit from the governmental unit‘s indirect costs, including unallowable activities and services donated to the government unit by third parties, will receive an appropriate allocation of indirect costs.” (2 CFR 225 (A-87), Appendix A, Section C.3.b)

18. Can we include all depreciation expenses in the indirect cost pool?

Yes – but only if these depreciation expenses are related to assets used by indirect-related personnel (i.e., accounting, human resources, etc.) and are purchased with non-federal dollars. Depreciation related to assets used by direct personnel should be direct-charged.

19. We submitted the proposal to Indirect Cost Services and the funding agency wants a confirmation, what should we do?

Please have the awarding official contact:

Indirect Cost Services
Phone: 916-930-3803

Interior Business Center’s Indirect Cost Services will confirm receipt of the proposal.

20. Can we use the negotiated indirect cost rate for all of our federal programs?

Yes – the agreed upon rate(s) shall be accepted and made available to all federal agencies for their use unless prohibited or limited by statute. It is our understanding that state and local agencies will also accept the federally approved rate(s).

21. We have misplaced a copy of the signed negotiation agreement. How should we go about obtaining another copy?

Please fax a written request for a duplicate/replacement copy of your signed agreement to the fax number below. The request must be on your organization‘s letterhead and signed by an individual who is authorized to negotiate indirect cost rates. The Indirect Cost Services fax line number is 916-930-3803.

22. Who do we contact to obtain clarification or interpretation on the cost principles (2 CFR 225 and 2 CFR 230, formerly OMB Circulars)?

For assistance with interpretation and clarification on cost principles, please contact:
Indirect Cost Services
Phone: 916-930-3803

For further clarification, you may also contact the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directly. Please address your request to:

Mr. Gilbert Tran
Office of Federal Financial Management
Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
725 17th Street NW, Room 6026
Washington, DC 20503
Phone: 202-395-3052 (direct) / Phone: 202-395-3993 (main office)

23. Do you accept electronic submission (e-file) of indirect cost rate proposals and audited financial statements?

Yes, indirect cost rate proposals and audit financial statements can be sent by email. Please limit the number of files to no more than 3 files. These files maybe arranged like this:

File #1: Part 1 of the proposal (narrative portion) in Word or PDF format
File #2: Part 2 of the proposal (data portion) preferably in Excel format
File #3: Audited financial statements (for tribal entities, nonprofits, & local governments) in PDF format. For state entities, a copy of the general ledger in PDF format.

Hard copy of the proposal and audit report is NOT required. Submitting both the electronic copy and the hard copy will delay the processing of your proposal. The only item we required in the mail is the signed Certificate of Indirect Costs in original signature, everything else can be electronic. Our mailing address is 650 Capitol Mall, Suite 7-400, Sacramento, CA 95814.

24. What format shall I use for the electronic submission?

We accept proposals submitted in either the PDF, Word, or Excel format. Please note that if certain spreadsheets are very large and the font is very small, the PDF version may not show the figures clearly. In this case, we would ask the information to be submitted in Excel format.

25. The negotiated rate is already expired, what rate should I use?

The negotiated rate is only good for the 12-month period listed on the negotiation agreement. Whether you can continue using the expired rate is a decision that needs to be made by the awarding agency. Therefore, please contact your awarding official.

26. I am a consultant hired to prepare the entity’s indirect cost rate proposal and need a copy of the previous years’ negotiation agreement. Can you send the information to me?

Before we can release any information, we need the entity to send us a fax on letterhead authorizing our office to release the information to you. This fax needs to be signed by a representative of the entity that is either the CFO or someone in higher position.

27. I have submitted the proposal but have not heard anything yet? How do I check the status of the proposal?

You can check the status using one of the following ways:
By email
By phone: 916-930-3803

28. We are a small entity and receive less than $500,000 in federal funding thus not required to file for an A-133 single audit, what do I need to provide as support since there is no audit report?

For nonprofit entities: We need a copy of IRS Form 990. If Form 990 has not been file yet, then a copy of the profit & loss statement.
For all other entities: We need a copy of the general ledger, trial balance, or profit & loss statement that shows summarized expenditures by cost elements such as salaries, fringes, supplies, travel, etc.

29. Does Indirect Cost Services provide indirect cost training?

Depending on our workload, our office may provide formal training to a federal agency for a fee.  If you have general questions, we are available to assist you but we cannot prepare the proposal for you.  If you have general questions about our sample proposals, templates, allowability of costs, etc., you are welcome to contact our office by email or phone 916-930-3803.

So are CILs and the SILC required to get along?

In the State Plan for Independent Living section of the Act – 704 (i) — clearly requires the SPIL to include in the SPIL a plan for the cooperation between the SILC and CILs as well as others:

Sec. 704. State Plan.

(i) Cooperation, Coordination, and Working Relationships Among Various Entities. The plan shall set forth the steps that will be taken to maximize the cooperation, coordination, and working relationships among –

(1)  the Statewide Independent Living Council

(2)  centers for independent living

(3)  the designated State entity; and

(4) other State agencies or entities represented on the Council, other councils that address the needs and issues of specific disability populations, and other public and private entities determined to be appropriate by the Council.

Another pertinent reference from the law and regulations is implied every time the word “network” (which is not defined) is used; and since more than 50% of the CIL directors must sign the SPIL, is also necessary there. The SILC’s work with the CILs is found in authorities (which are optional and must be listed in the SPIL)

45 CFR §1329.16   Authorities of the SILC.

(a) The SILC may conduct the following discretionary activities, as authorized and described in the approved State Plan:

(1) Work with Centers for Independent Living to coordinate services with public and private entities to improve services provided to individuals with disabilities;

(2) Conduct resource development activities to support the activities described in the approved SPIL and/or to support the provision of independent living services by Centers for Independent Living;

Another aspect is that both the SILC and the CIL are addressed in Title VII, so they share the purpose statement that opens Title VII related to IL philosophy:

“The purpose of this chapter is to promote a philosophy of independent living, including a philosophy of consumer control, peer support, self-help, self-determination, equal access, and individual and system advocacy, in order to maximize the leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity of individuals with disabilities, and the integration and full inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the mainstream of American society…”

Section 701 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended

Are Electronic Signatures Allowed?

Note: Updated after initial post with additional information.

Question: Do the feds provide any instruction on keeping paper files versus digital records? I am asking this question because we are currently working on organizing files across our locations. I believe the feds require that we have paper copies of documents that require signatures but am not positive they forbid us from keeping them in digital format instead. And, what about other documents that end up in consumer files? Can we scan and store them in digital format or must they be on paper and in the consumer file.

Answer: This requirement is actually part of Uniform Administration Requirements, and now does allow electronic signatures or scanned documents for files. However, ILA/ACL hasn’t actually done any reviews under these regulations, so we are not certain they will agree. On the other hand, the review protocol being developed starts with a paper review, so we should know shortly. I have interpreted the regulation to mean that you can either scan and store actual signatures in digital format, and that you can use one of the electronic signature processes as well. Here is the reference:

§75.363   Methods for collection, transmission and storage of information.

In accordance with the May 2013 Executive Order on Making Open and Machine readable the New Default for Government Information, the HHS awarding agency and the non-Federal entity should, whenever practicable, collect, transmit, and store Federal award-related information in open and machine readable formats rather than in closed formats or on paper.

The context for this is financial records, but it references all Federal award-related information.

To be on the safe side, though, you may want to keep original documents signed by the consumer in a paper file, and scan the others into an electronic file. Make sure that your own policies and procedures match the practice you decide on.

Affirmative Action — a twist on Consumer Control

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You already know that your center is required to be consumer controlled. This means that a majority of staff AND management staff must be persons with disabilities, and that a majority of board members must be persons with significant disabilities to represent the persons served. Sometimes when I offer these requirements in a training setting I get some pushback about whether this is reverse discrimination. It is NOT because the regulations themselves require this as a condition of receiving Title VII funds through the Rehabilitation Act.  It is grant criteria, and you must follow it if you want the money.
There is more to this, though. As a grantee receiving federal money, you have other requirements you must meet. For example, the purchasing regulations include this:

Title 45 Subtitle A Subchapter A Part 75.330   Contracting with small and minority businesses, women’s business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms.

(a) The non-Federal entity must take all necessary affirmative steps to assure that minority businesses, women’s business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms are used when possible.

(b) Affirmative steps must include:

(1) Placing qualified small and minority businesses and women’s business enterprises on solicitation lists;

(2) Assuring that small and minority businesses, and women’s business enterprises are solicited whenever they are potential sources;

(3) Dividing total requirements, when economically feasible, into smaller tasks or quantities to permit maximum participation by small and minority businesses, and women’s business enterprises;

(4) Establishing delivery schedules, where the requirement permits, which encourage participation by small and minority businesses, and women’s business enterprises;

(5) Using the services and assistance, as appropriate, of such organizations as the Small Business Administration and the Minority Business Development Agency of the Department of Commerce; and

(6) Requiring the prime contractor, if subcontracts are to be let, to take the affirmative steps listed in paragraphs (b)(1) through (5) of this section.

Are you surprised this applies to you at your center? Sometimes we forget that, as contractors of federal funds, there are requirements that apply to us besides our basic regulations. These take consumer control a step further, and urge affirmative action to hire minorities, women and people with disabilities. Some of those references are below, but here is what I want you to think about.  A staff photo from a Center for Independent Living should look diverse. Not only should there be people with visible disabilities, but also women and people of color and people of all ages. Can you say that is true of your center? These same requirements apply to SILC staff, and the council is urged to be representative of the state’s demographics.
29 U.S.C. 793 – EMPLOYMENT UNDER FEDERAL CONTRACTS includes affirmative action around who you hire, and 29 U.S.C. 794 addresses non-discrimination in employment. Both apply to our Centers and SILCs as recipients of federal dollars. There are references to the ADA that make it clear this also applies to people with disabilities, as well as others who have traditionally been underemployed. Here are some excerpts:
The plan shall provide satisfactory assurances that all recipients of financial assistance under this part will— (1) notify all individuals seeking or receiving services under this part about the availability of the client assistance program under section 732 of this title, the purposes of the services provided under such program, and how to contact such program; (2) take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities on the same terms and conditions required with respect to the employment of such individuals under the provisions of section 793 of this title; …
(a) Amount of contracts or subcontracts; provision for employment and advancement of qualified individuals with disabilities; regulations
Any contract in excess of $10,000 entered into by any Federal department or agency for the procurement of personal property and nonpersonal services (including construction) for the United States shall contain a provision requiring that the party contracting with the United States shall take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities. The provisions of this section shall apply to any subcontract in excess of $10,000 entered into by a prime contractor in carrying out any contract for the procurement of personal property and nonpersonal services (including construction) for the United States. The President shall implement the provisions of this section by promulgating regulations within ninety days after September 26, 1973.
(d) Standards used in determining violation of section
The standards used to determine whether this section has been violated in a complaint alleging nonaffirmative action employment discrimination under this section shall be the standards applied under title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12111 et seq.) and the provisions of sections 501 through 504, and 510,1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12201–12204 and 12210), as such sections relate to employment.
(a) GENERAL RULE- No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
(b) CONSTRUCTION- As used in subsection (a), the term `discriminate’ includes–
… (6) using qualification standards, employment tests or other selection criteria that screen out or tend to screen out an individual with a disability or a class of individuals with disabilities unless the standard, test or other selection criteria, as used by the covered entity, is shown to be job-related for the position in question and is consistent with business necessity; and…

Help! A board member wants my job!

I have been assisting centers and SILCs and executive directors in trouble for some time now. I have noticed a disturbing trend — one that happens often enough for me to address it here.

Sometimes one of those sharp board members you’ve recruited decides s/he wants your job.  They don’t say so out loud, usually, but they often start the same way — the board holds frequent executive sessions without you, and begin to criticize your performance. And nothing you do seems to satisfy them. They give you huge (and sometimes somewhat meaningless) tasks and then warn you when they aren’t satisfied, then warn you again, then you are dismissed…

And the board appoints one of its own as the interim.

There are some policies and practices that may assist in avoiding or managing this kind of crisis.

  • Adopt a policy that no current board member can apply for a position at the center. If a board member wishes to apply they should first resign from the board.  It is too difficult for the executive director or the board to say no to a current board member, even if they aren’t qualified.
  • Develop two succession plans — one for an emergency, as a stop gap, and another for the long term as the board appoints an interim and seeks your successor.  Thinking this process through now will help your organization have a thoughtful plan instead of panicking in the moment.
  • Have a process for the board’s annual review of your performance. Help them remember and complete this review.
  • If they are dragging their feet, provide them with your own assessment of your performance based on your job description or strategic plan or both.  Then provide them with a few questions to answer and discuss with you. This can be simple or complex, but getting it down in a timely basis will keep you aware of any troubles brewing with the board.
  • Developing a strong relationship with your board will also serve you well when a single member is criticizing you. Be responsive to any requests for information, and follow up to be sure questions are answered.
  • Review what you provide the board at your monthly meetings. Do you add notes to the financial statements to make sure that the board understands the numbers? Do you have some measures of program progress that you can sure with the board so they know what is happening in the community?

If you do these things, and keep your eyes and ears open, you may be able to see this coming. One strategy that I have used successfully is to ask the board member outright if they are angling for the position.  Often they have to say no because it is too early — and then it becomes more difficult for them to pursue the goal.

The growing role of Centers with Youth

Mix of youth around a picnic table in a park, most in blue including the young man with the flashy blue wheelchair.

All of our on-site training, with the IL-Net team, is amazing. As we get set for the new school year, I want to show you some of the ideas from one on youth. I was totally impressed at the energy and fun of the presenters — some youth, some who “grew up” in the Youth Leadership Forum, and some who are providing dynamic outreach with and for youth. You can find the the captioned video and PowerPoint presentations and other materials on our website. But to give you just a small taste, here are some program examples from Seth Hoderewski and Joe Michener from Lehigh Valley CIL(Allentown, PA). These are just a few slides from the excellent video available. Whether your center is large or small, you will find ideas for funding youth programs that will work for you.

Most (or all) of LVCIL’s young-adult population uses Core Services – IL skills (group and individual), peer support group, social clubs (e.g. CommUnity Club), etc.
• LVCIL’s addition of transition-focused programming for young adults started from inquiries (I&R) from parents and young adults seeking services.
• Core Services are integrated and integral to all supplemental services.
• For the School 2 Life portion of the program, young adults meet one to two times a month to participate in various activities, at LVCIL or in the community, to develop independent living and other skills.
• For the Real World program, young adults attend programming three days a week for six weeks to work more intensively on transition -related skills.
• One -on-one case management and support for parents is also provided.
• The need for more services (done in the “CIL” way) for young adults in our area, motivated LVCIL and Voc Rehab to partner and create the Career  Path program.
• Initial funding through an Innovation and Expansion grant from Voc Rehab to start the program in 2011.
• In the first year, LVCIL worked with 50 young adults (ages 18 -25, who are out of school) to provide supported employment services, including a
unique element called Skills Training (eight -week intensive program to develop work- essential skills).
• Success, Engagement, Education and Determination (SEED) is a program for 20 college students (any age) to receive support for IL and vocational skills on campus at a local community college.
• Partnered with the Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC), and supported initially (2014) by a grant from the PA Developmental Disabilities
Council (DDC), but now moving to fee-for-service.
• Through WIOA funding, LVCIL has partnered with Voc Rehab (fee -for -service) this past year to provide pre-employment services to students (ages 16-21, in school):
  1. • Group presentations to students at their schools.
  2. Development of and support on paid work experiences.
  3. Development of and support on job shadowing experiences.
As you can see, this center is one of several represented in the training that have an active, vital youth program before discussing transition — so transition comes naturally as they leave secondary school.