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 Then I sometimes find that the information in our directories is out of date.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:
Provisional;
Final;
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
Email

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
Email

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 actual 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. This was the last guidance we had from RSA. 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.
SEC. 102. DISCRIMINATION.
 
(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.

Do you recommend specific orientation/training for Executive Directors?

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Yes, we have a wide menu of training options for your new Executive Director on our website. I would probably customize the  ideas below, based on what your new E.D. already knows. If they have worked for a center in the past, for example, they may not need history and philosophy but might need board and finance training. We have training on our website for almost every item in the E.D.’s job description. I like everything to be in the context of philosophy so I have included that as the first priority.
The Rapid Course on history and philosophy is three parts and found at http://www.ilru.org/training/foundations-independent-living-series
or if they don’t love that read and test format, the short films at http://www.ilru.org/il-history-and-philosophy-orientation-for-il-staff are great.
The financial management workshop (15 hours) at http://www.ilru.org/training/financial-management-workshop-for-cils-regulations-and-beyond is great for financial regulations. The topics are broken down so the person can watch what is the most useful, in any order, but at the end of a few days should have quite a comprehensive knowledge of the regulations in this area.
I also suggest searching Board Cafe and Non-profit Management for board related training as well. There is a lot out there in the mainstream that is useful for all non-profit boards.
How is that for starters? They can request anything specific from me any time so make sure they have my name and number. And they will want to be on the New ED Call.  Drop me an email at paulamcelwee.ilru@gmail.com to be added to the list for notifications about the monthly peer call with new executive directors.

How are the expenses of the CIL rep on the SILC handled?

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Question: Our SILC is considering how to treat the CIL rep on the council related to who pays their expenses. I think at our next meeting the Council really needs to discuss and flesh these out along with the CIL rep’s input, and update the policies providing more clarity related to this topic. We need policies that will work for both our SILC and the CIL Director Rep so CIL Director Reps can continue to be engaged and active in SILC-related business and neither entity will be solely saddled with all the costs for this participation.  I think where I’m getting tripped up is with the fact that currently her CIL pays for her time to travel/attend/participate in SILC meetings, so should her CIL then cover the cost of her travel/mileage to do this, too? Currently, this is how it works with our other Council Members who’s time is being compensated by a State Agency or other type of employer to travel/attend/participate in SILC meetings. 

Each SILC is responsible for its own policy, so there is flexibility here. Your policy should detail how travel is approved in advance, how it is paid (required documentation) and what is considered “reasonable and necessary”. Most treat in state travel as routine up to a budgeted amount, for all the voting members, and treat out of state travel as needing prior approval. The travel costs to and from the meeting are certainly routine, and typically these are paid upon submission to the voting members of the SILC.

SILC’s typically pay all travel expenses for the CIL rep, as they do for all other voting members.  Most SILCs do not pay an honorarium (to compensate for time) to any member who is paid by their employer for their time (even if they are taking vacation time, which is compensated time) to attend meetings.  They don’t pay anything for ex-officio, non-voting members – neither for time or expenses — because their agencies have to cover their time and travel.

If other CILs attend the meeting, they pay all their own expenses.  But the CIL Director chosen by the other CIL directors and appointed by the Governor is a voting member, and shouldn’t be treated any differently than all other voting members.

Are we required to do criminal background checks for staff?

Question: I’ve previously worked in long term care and with the department of health, and had some experience in group home services governed by the department over developmental disabilities.  Those fields had very strict guidelines on processing a new hire.  Here, there is some grant funding for our center with developmental disabilities funding, but with very different circumstances (there’s no residential component and we aren’t billing for services).  As such, do you know if there are any specific guidelines for processing a new hire? Do we need fingerprinting or to conduct a criminal background check?
As you have observed, what is required can vary by funding source. The federal Title VII funds do not require a criminal background check for hiring, although the board is urged to assure that the new executive director is clear to oversee a federally funded program, and centers are allowed to develop their own policies if they choose.
Each grant is different, though. You may want to check your grant assurances and local regulations to see what you MUST do for other funding sources before you decide what your policy will be. The program you describe sounds like a Medicaid waiver program. While there are federal requirements around such programs, some of what is required is spelled out in the state’s waiver or waivers. The state is required to follow both the federal regs and its own waiver, and requires certain actions of its vendors, based on what those things. Those will be factors as you determine your organization’s policies.
The questions and variables around this are many. To name a few:
  • Do you check all finalists or only check people who receive a conditional offer from you?
  • Is the person allowed to begin employment while waiting for results? (I once knew an organization whose process was so slow that the person had been employed for more than six months when her results came back.)
  • What kind of check do you use? Fingerprints? Checking background by name or state-issued ID?
  • Where do you process the check? On line? Local law enforcement? State law enforcement?
  • Who knows the results? What are your requirements around confidentiality?
  • Do you treat every new hire the same? Or everyone in a certain employment class?
Another thing that has a bearing on the kind of background checks you do is your state’s employment laws. These vary greatly from state to state.There are some questions you can’t ask in an interview, and some criminal background checks that may not be allowed in all circumstances.
Once you determine whether you will do checks and what they look like, you also need to decide what to do when the check comes back saying the individual has a record. Did your application ask that question? If they lied on the application, do you allow them to work for you?
Will you make exceptions, depending on the seriousness of the crime, how long ago it was, etc.? Will you hire people with a record of a misdemeanor but not a felony? I once decided to okay a hire of a young man who had a robbery record, one from more than five years in his past. I decided to make an exception. He didn’t have keys to get to anything important. He wouldn’t have access to money in his position. He would always be working with others. Two weeks in, he broke the glass to get into our conference room and stole the TV and other audio visual equipment. (He didn’t come back to work and was caught trying to sell our TV.) So did I make a good decision when I decided to make an exception?
As I said, many variables, but the federal Title VII Parts B and C funds do not in themselves have such a requirement.