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Retention Services Reminders, Success Strategies, and Authorization Periods

Nearly all the providers have been onboarded to the Aware Vendor Portal successfully!  The onboarding began with the Northeast providers on October 1, then the East Central providers on October 15, the Southeast providers on October 29, and the Southwest providers on November 12.  We are looking forward to the Northwest providers being onboarded on November 26. 

In conjunction with the Aware Vendor Portal, we wanted to extend some reminders, as well as provide guidance related to Tier III authorizations.  The intention of the Performance Based Job Development (PBJD) or Supported Employment Job Development (SEJD) tracks is for participants to move through each Tier: from job seeking skills training, to job search, to placement, to retention services, and eventually to 90 days of stable employment.  At the suggestion of our providers, Tier III was broken into 30-, 60-, and 90- day benchmarks in the last VR Fee Schedule update (effective October 1, 2019).  This allows providers to be compensated incrementally for the retention services.

The Tier III retention services are integral for our participants to maintain employment, as it allows for the identification of challenges and opportunities to better support the participant and the accurate verification of continued employment.  Per the VR Fee Schedule, the Tier III retention services require a minimum level of interactive contact with the participant and/or employer (i.e., speak with them on the phone, make a worksite visit, etc., once every two weeks) for the services to be completed and submitted for payment.

A feature of the Aware Vendor Portal ensures services fall within the authorization dates. Because of this, OOD has given VR Staff the guidance to draft each 30-day Tier III authorization with an additional five days added to the end of the authorization window.   While this will not impact the timeline of the Tier III sequence, the additional time is being added to the authorization to account for situations in which the second monthly interactive contact has started (e.g., a call has been placed to the participant or employer), but a response has not yet been received.  These extra days allow for additional time when needed to complete the second contact, though it is generally expected that both interactive contacts are made within the same 30-day period.  By adding these five days to each 30-day service authorization, this eliminates the need to request an amended authorization.

Some success strategies for ensuring these retention contacts can be made include:
•    Have clear expectations with the participant regarding the check-ins;
•    Have an agreed-upon mode of preferred communication (e.g., email, brief phone calls, Teams meetings);
•    Consider having an established check-in schedule (e.g., a brief call every Wednesday at 4pm);
•    Plan to check in with the participant three to four days prior to the end of the two-week window;
•    Arrange for approval to speak with the employer in advance if possible and when agreeable to the participant; and
•    Help the participant understand the intent of the service is a way to check in and ensure they remain successfully employed.

Thank you for providing these important services to individuals with disabilities to ensure they remain successful in their employment.