As of 10/1/2017, this manual has been retired. For current policies, procedures, and standards for the Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation Division, please refer to the following manuals:

In this manual, references to DARS now refer to TWC. The manual includes both links to public content and links to content available only to staff.

Chapter 1: Basic Standards

1.1 Overview

Introduction

Chapter 1 of the DRS Standards for Providers will focus on business practices, processes, and policy that are necessary for DARS and the contractor to comply with federal, state, and agency laws, rules, and requirements. Section 101(A)(6) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides that any state agency or contract service provider who receives federal funds must take affirmative action to employ, and advance in employment, qualified individuals with disabilities.

Contracted service providers must be in full compliance with the standards in this chapter and with all applicable clauses in each contract.

Depending on the types of services offered, contracted service providers must also be in full compliance with the applicable standards included in other chapters relevant to the services they provide.

DARS vocational rehabilitation programs do not license or certify providers.

Service providers and their staff and sub-contractors, if any, are not employees of DARS.

DARS contracts for the services described in this manual only with providers who are in full compliance with the applicable standards. Each provider is required to undergo a review process and to comply with periodic monitoring activities to ensure continued compliance with these standards.

DARS will post substantive revisions to these standards at least 30 days prior to the effective date of the change. It is the responsibility of contracted service providers to maintain awareness of the standards and changes that affect the services they provide.

Purpose

The DRS Standards for Providers help to ensure that DARS consumers receive quality services to assist them in achieving a successful outcome to their vocational rehabilitation. In addition, the Standards help to ensure taxpayer funds are spent wisely and each purchase paid for with public funds represents full value to the taxpayer. Each contractor is responsible for maintaining compliance with the most recently published DRS Standards for Providers.

1.2 Key Terms

This section of Chapter 1 contains key terms that apply to all sections of Chapter 1.

Abuse
The negligent or willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or cruel punishment with resulting physical or emotional harm or pain; or sexual abuse, including any involuntary or nonconsensual sexual conduct that would constitute the offenses of indecent exposure or assault, committed by the person's caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the person.
Area Manager
Manages all staff in a local office and should be contacted to discuss any issues that cannot be resolved with the counselor.
Bilateral Contract
A legally binding document issued by DARS that includes all terms and conditions and is signed by both DARS and the contractor.
Billing Question Contact
The person authorized to make billing decisions for the contracted service provider.
Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP)
A vendor that directly provides or facilitates the provision of vocational rehabilitation related employment services to consumers with disabilities in order to enable the individual to maximize their opportunities to secure and retain employment.
Confidential Information
Any communication or record (whether oral, written, electronically stored or transmitted, or in any other form) provided to or made available to the contractor or that the contractor may create, receive, maintain, use, disclose, or have access to on behalf of DARS that consists of or includes any or all of the following:

(1) Consumer Information;

(2) Protected Health Information in any form, including, without limitation, Electronic Protected Health Information or Unsecured Protected Health Information;

(3) Sensitive Personal Information defined by Texas Business and Commerce Code Ch. 521;

(4) Federal Tax Information;

(5) Personally Identifiable Information;

(6) Social Security Administration Data, including, without limitation, Medicaid information;

(7) All privileged work product; and

(8) All information designated as confidential under the constitution and laws of the State of Texas and of the United States, including the Texas Health & Safety Code and the Texas Public Information Act, Texas Government Code, Chapter 552.

Conflict of Interest
A situation that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions will be unduly influenced by a personal interest or relationship and creates substantial conflicts with the proper discharge of duties required by this contract and the public interest.
Contractor
An entity or person holding a written agreement with a purchasing entity to provide goods and services; or, a recipient or sub-recipient holding a written agreement with a grantor or sub-recipient to carry out all or part of a program. Sometimes used interchangeably with the term "provider" or "service provider."
Contractor Manager
Manages a provider contract with DARS. Providers should contact their assigned contract manager for any questions about their contract.
Counselor
A qualified vocational rehabilitation counselor employed by DARS to lead the consumer in the process of gaining skills and services necessary for the consumer to prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment consistent with the consumer's unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice. A consumer's counselor should be the contact for any questions regarding a consumer's case.
Director
A person appointed by the legally authorized representative of the entity to be the primary contact for routine DARS communication and be responsible for meeting all DRS Standards for Providers and contract requirements.
Employment Services (ES)
Services provided to DARS consumers seeking competitive employment. These services include evaluation, assessment, teaching, and assistance in development or reestablishment of skills, attitudes, personal characteristics, interpersonal skills, work behaviors, and functional capabilities related to gaining employment; as well as gaining individualized employment placement, including supported employment.
Employment Service Provider (ESP)
A term to represent entities, either agencies or individuals, approved to provide employment services (ES) to individuals with disabilities served by DARS.
Enrollment Contracts
The result of the process in which DARS awards contracts for the same or similar goods or services to all entities that meet qualifications established by DARS.
Entity
The business requesting or that has been granted a bilateral contract with DARS to provide services on behalf of DARS consumers.
Exploitation
The illegal or improper act or process of a caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with a person with a disability; using the resources of the disabled person for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain without the informed consent of the disabled person.
Formal Competitive Procurement
A competitive procurement process for contracts with an estimated value of more than $25,000.
Headquarters
The location where an entity stores consumer records and performs administrative responsibilities as required by a bilateral contract with DARS. Each entity must have a designated headquarters location.
Liaison
A DARS staff person who has been assigned to work with the provider to be the first point of contact when questions arise about the DRS Standards for Providers. Liaisons assigned to the provider will routinely monitor the provider to ensure compliance with standards.
Legally Authorized Representative
A person who is authorized to sign contracts and official documents for the entity and to otherwise bind the entity.
Neglect
The failure of a consumer or their caretaker to provide the goods or services, including medical services, necessary to avoid physical or emotional harm or pain of the consumer.
Noncompetitive Procurement Process
A process in which competitive procurement process solicitation methods are not required; and, a process typically involving a direct application or enrollment process.
Provider
A term used to represent entities, either agencies or individuals, approved to provide services to individuals with disabilities served by DARS. The term "provider" may be used interchangeably with the term "service provider" or "contractor."
Regional Quality Assurance Specialist
A DARS regional contact for a provider who can answer questions that cannot be answered by the liaison.
Rehabilitation Services Technician
A DARS staff member who provides technical support to a counselor; often the point of contact when a provider has questions about issued service authorizations and invoicing.
Service Authorization
The means by which DARS authorizes a contractor to supply goods or services based upon specified terms and conditions. A service authorization is the only valid authorization by which purchases are made. No goods or services can be provided to a consumer without a service authorization for the specific good(s) or service(s) approved to be provided only for the start date and end date of the specific service authorization. Previously known as a "purchase order" or "PO."
Service Provider (SP)
A term used to represent entities, either agencies or individuals, approved to provide services to individuals with disabilities served by DARS. Sometimes interchanged with the term "provider" or "contractor."
Sub-Contractor
An independent contractor performing services that can be controlled by the employer. For more information see: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/independent-contractor-defined. Anyone who is issued an IRS1099 is considered a sub-contractor.

1.3 DARS Professional Standards

1.4 Organizational Structure

The service provider's organizational and administrative structure must contribute effectively to the achievement of its goals.

A provider that is organized as a corporation must have a board of directors that establishes policy on property, funds management, and operations. The corporation must maintain articles of incorporation and a certificate of incorporation (a charter) and must provide copies of all relevant documentation to DARS upon request.

A provider that is organized as a not-for-profit entity must maintain documentation of non-profit status and must provide copies of all relevant documentation to DARS upon request.

A provider that is organized as a sole proprietorship or partnership must provide copies of all relevant documentation to DARS upon request.

A provider may also be a partnership, limited partnership, limited Texas corporation, professional association, out-of-state corporation, limited liability corporation (LLC), state agency or university, or government agency.

The Open Enrollment Posting will contain a description of any additional documents that must be submitted by a provider at application. DARS may request additional documentation when policy and standards are updated to comply with local, state, and federal requirements.

1.5 Open Enrollment Contracts

In an enrollment process, DARS enlists or enrolls contractors under a method that is open to all entities who meet qualifications established by DARS. The enrollment process is conducted in an open and fair manner that reasonably provides interested, qualified entities equal opportunity to obtain a contract with DARS.

The enrollment process helps DARS create a contractor pool large enough to provide consumers a viable choice of service providers. The existence of a contract with DARS does not guarantee that a contractor will receive business from DARS or serve a specific number of consumers.

Typically, enrollment contracts do not have a specific dollar value. Open enrollment contracts are issued for all services and goods described in the DRS Standards for Providers.

DARS may choose not to contract with an entity because of prior history of non-compliance with DARS or another state agency.

DARS will not award a contract to entities that are debarred or excluded by the State of Texas from doing business with the state.

DARS will not award a contract to entities listed on any of the following:

The contractor, contractor's employees, representatives, agents, and any sub-contractors shall serve as independent contractors with respect to DARS in providing services under a contract; and, as such, the contractor's employees are not employees of DARS, are not eligible for DARS employee benefits, and shall not represent themselves as DARS employees. The contractor is responsible for providing all legally required unemployment and workers' compensation insurance for the contractor's employees.

The contractor accepts liability and retains responsibility for the performance of sub-contractors providing services under the terms of the contract. Sub-contractors providing services under the contract shall meet the same requirements and level of experience as required of the contractor. No sub-contract under the contract will relieve the contractor of the responsibility of ensuring the requested services are provided. The contractor accepts responsibility for compensating any party with whom they enter into a sub-contract relationship. If the contractor uses a sub-contractor for any or all of the work required, the following conditions will apply:

  1. DRS assistant commissioner must provide permission in writing for the use of a sub-contractor;
  2. DARS3455, Employment Services Provider Application - Staff Information must indicate the individual is an approved sub-contractor by attaching the written approval granted by the DRS assistant commissioner;
  3. Contractors planning to subcontract all or a portion of the work to be performed shall identify the proposed sub-contractor;
  4. Subcontracting shall be conducted solely at the contractor's expense;
  5. DARS retains the right to check a sub-contractor's background and approve or reject the use of submitted sub-contractor;
  6. The contractor shall be the sole contact for DARS; and
  7. The contractor shall list a designated point of contact for all DARS inquiries.

1.6 Open Enrollment Postings

All state agencies, including DARS, are required to post solicitations for purchases of $25,000 or more on the Electronic State Business Daily (ESBD), which is maintained by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Entire open enrollment packages are posted for a minimum of 21 calendar days. To view state agency procurement opportunities of $25,000 or more, go to http://esbd.cpa.state.tx.us.

1.7 Applicants Eligibility

An Open Enrollment Application Packet is only considered to be acceptable and responsive if the responding entity's application packet:

All applicants must follow all instructions for the specific open enrollment requisition number listed in the Electric State Business Daily posting for which they are applying. Postings may further outline specifications and requirements that must be addressed in the application process.

Submission of an incomplete or inaccurate application packet may prevent the responding entity from being eligible for the potential award of a contract with DARS as described in the Open Enrollment Posting.

Failure to update incomplete or provide missing data from the application packet will prevent the responding entity from being eligible for the potential award of a contract.

1.8 Awarded Contract

Each service provider's contract(s) will include terms and conditions. Many DARS contracts will offer the opportunity for renewals. Awarded contracts will describe the services and counties in which the provider has been approved to provide contracted goods or services. DARS can terminate a contract for cause at any time. To view specific terms and conditions, providers should refer to their contract(s).

DARS Standard Terms and Conditions for Consumer Service Contracts

All contracts resulting from an Open Enrollment Posting will include the applicable Standard Terms and Conditions for Consumer Service Contracts: http://www.dars.state.tx.us/business/DARSConsumerServicesBiLateralContracts.pdf.

Data Use Agreement (DUA)

All contracts resulting from an Open Enrollment Posting solicitation will include a requirement that the contractor and any sub-contractors who access, create, or maintain confidential information must execute a Data Use Agreement (DUA). A copy of the DUA can be found at this link: http://www.dars.state.tx.us/business/index.shtml.

Service Provider Orientation

DARS requires all newly enrolled providers to attend a service provider orientation session as a condition of their contract.

Upon completion of the orientation session, each provider shall be provided with a copy of their contract, signed by both the provider and DARS.

DARS will not initiate contracted services until the provider completes the service provider orientation.

Service providers are responsible for keeping all forms on file with DARS up to date. DARS may require service providers to update forms to ensure current information is on file.

The regional quality assurance specialist for vocational rehabilitation can provide a list of the forms that must be updated.

1.9 Renewals

Options on Existing Contracts

When renewal options exist and DARS has a continued need for goods or services, the DARS contract manager may process a renewal amendment for the contract before the date the contract expires. DARS conducts a renewal assessment prior to renewing any contract. Renewal amendments must be signed by all parties before the current contract expires.

Renewal Assessment

DARS decides whether renewing a contract is in the best interest of the consumer and DARS.

The renewal decision is based on an evaluation of the:

No Renewal Options in an Existing Contract

When an existing contract is expiring and there is no renewal provision, the contractor must respond to an Open Enrollment Posting on the Electronic State Business Daily found at: http://esbd.cpa.state.tx.us. When possible, the existing contractor should submit an application to a posting on the Electronic State Business Daily prior to their contract expiring to prevent a lapse in their ability to serve DARS consumers.

1.10 Amendments

Any changes, deletions, extensions, or amendments to a contract must be made in writing and signed by both parties, except for unilateral amendments issued by DARS. A unilateral amendment may be provided in writing from the DARS assigned contract manager to the contractor under the following circumstances, including, but not limited to:

  1. to correct an obvious clerical error in the contract;
  2. to incorporate new or revised federal or state laws, regulations, rules, or policies;
  3. to change the name of the contractor to reflect the contractor's name, as recorded by the Texas Secretary of State; or
  4. to amend the contact name and address.

Amendments may be made if DARS approves a change to the DRS Standards for Providers that will apply only to providers meeting an identified need for a group of consumers that will not benefit from the services as currently described in the DRS Standards for Providers. When this occurs the amendment will outline the scope, definitions, staff qualifications, deliverables and/or fees, as applicable, to which the contractor must adhere. The authorized representative of each party included in the amendment must sign the amendment.

Adding Services or Counties to an Existing Contract

If the services or counties the contractor wants to add were included in the original Open Enrollment Electronic State Business Daily Posting the contractor applied to, an amendment can be made to an existing contract if DARS determines they have a current need for the goods or services.

If the services or counties the contractor wants to add were not included in the original Open Enrollment Electronic State Business Daily Posting, a new application must be completed that corresponds to an active Electronic State Business Daily Posting.

1.11 Standards for Providers Manual

Adherence to Standards

Contractors must comply with all standards in Chapter 1 as well as to the sections of the DRS Standards for Providers Manual ("Standards") that apply to the services listed in their contract. Each contractor is required to be compliant with the most recent content in the Standards; it is suggested that the contractor visit the Standards website every 30 days to review any changes.

Revisions to the Standards are made periodically. Notice of upcoming changes is published on the website at least 30 days in advance of the effective date of the changes. A revision log of all changes made, dating back to the online publication of the Standards, is available within the manual.

Failure to follow applicable standards and contract requirements may have adverse consequences for the provider, such as denial of payments, recoupment of payments, suspension of service provisions to DARS consumers, or loss of an awarded contract.

Each provider must complete a DARS3443, Standards for Providers Certification.

Exceptions to Contracted Service Descriptions

Infrequently, the description of the service to be provided may be changed to accommodate the needs of an individual consumer. Exceptions to contracted service may be approved only in situations where the exception is:

When the service description as defined in the DRS Standards for Providers is changed or a fee is lowered, a DARS3472, Contracted Service Modification must be completed by DARS staff, and signed by the contractor's legal representative and submitted for DARS approval. DARS staff submits the complete, accurate, and signed DARS3472 to the unit's area manager for approval. After approval, the DARS3472 is submitted to the regional quality assurance specialist, the regional director, and assistant commissioner for approval.

If the contractor identifies a need for a possible exception to contracted service, the contractor should discuss the need with the consumer's counselor. The counselor makes the final decision whether to pursue requesting an exception to contracted service.

A copy of the approved DARS3472 must be retained in the contractor's consumer file.

1.12 Director

The director is the person appointed by the legally authorized representative as the primary contact for routine DARS communication and is responsible for meeting all DRS Standards for Providers and contract requirements. Each provider must have one person designated as the "director" for DARS communication purposes.

In order to ensure that CRP providers in Texas are fully equipped to provide the highest quality services to Texans with disabilities, DARS has partnered with the University of North Texas Workplace Inclusion and Sustainable Employment (UNTWISE) to develop a training and credentialing process for all directors.

As of April 1, 2012, CRP directors must possess director credentials from UNTWISE for contracts with the following service(s): Job Coaching, Job Placement, Supported Employment (including Job Skills Training), or Supported Self-Employment.

Beginning January 1, 2017, directors of any entity providing services defined in Chapters 2, 8, 9, 11, and 12 of the DRS Standards for Providers will be required to maintain the UNTWISE director credential. There is no "grandfathering" for this requirement.

All directors must complete a DARS3455, Employment Services Provider Application - Staff Information form. Directors who are required to hold the UNTWISE director credential must document the credential on the DARS3455, Employment Services Provider Application - Staff Information form. If the director provides a service defined in Chapters 2, 8, 9, 11, and 12, the specific qualifications for that service also must be documented on the DARS3455 form.

DARS may verify the CRP director's qualifications at any time. A director's qualifications are reviewed periodically by DARS staff members and during contract monitoring reviews. Payment for any services provided by staff members and the director not holding the required UNTWISE director credential may be subject to recoupment.

The provider must complete a DARS3490, Temporary Waiver of Employment Services Credentials to be approved by DARS, for any time period in which the director of services defined in Chapters 2, 8, 9, 11, and 12 of the DRS Standards for Providers does not have the required UNTWISE credential.

For additional information about the UNTWISE credentialing process, see the UNTWISE Texas CRP Provider Training page.

1.13 Staff Documentation

Staff Information Form

Each provider must have the following documents on file for all personnel who provide services directly to DARS consumers, including the director:

The DARS3455 must be submitted and/or updated within 30 days for any of the following:

The service provider is responsible for ensuring all staff maintain qualifications, including any required UNTWISE credentials. The director on record with DARS and appointed by the entity's legally authorized representative signs this form verifying the staff member's qualifications as documented in the DRS Standards for Providers. Staff qualifications are listed within the chapter in which the service is defined.

A DARS3455 must be submitted both to the DARS regional quality assurance specialist for vocational rehabilitation services (QASVRS) and contract manager that manages the provider's contract.

The provider must complete a DARS3490, Temporary Waiver of Employment Services Credentials to be approved by DARS, for any time period when the director or an employment services provider does not have the required UNTWISE credentials.

For additional information about the UNTWISE credentialing process, see http://wise.unt.edu/crptraining page.

Temporary Waiver of Director and Employment Services Credential

When a service provider loses a credentialed staff member, an exception to use a non-credentialed staff member to act as director or to provide contracted services may be approved. The waiver is specific to the provider and staff member named in the DARS3490, Temporary Waiver of Employment Services Credentials.

The temporary waiver is allowed only when:

DARS will only approve the DARS3490 for individuals who fail to maintain their credential on rare occasions. DARS3490 was developed to assist with the time needed to gain credentials for new staff.

The waiver applies to the following credentials:

To request an exception, the CRP director must submit a completed DARS3490, Temporary Waiver of Employment Services Credentials form to the DARS regional quality assurance specialist for vocational rehabilitation services (QASVRS).

A copy of the approved DARS3490 must be kept in the:

The DARS3490 must be approved before the non-credentialed staff person provides any direct services to DARS consumers.

A copy of the DARS3490 should accompany any invoice for which a non-credentialed employment service provider's staff member provided services.

1.14 Contractors Standards of Conduct

Contractors must maintain and implement written standards of conduct for the contractor's staff. These standards must incorporate all professional standards of conduct and ethics required by the licensing or credentialing entity for positions held by the contractor's staff.

Professionalism

Contractors are expected to perform contractual services in a professional manner at all times to include:

Conflict of Interest

Contractors and potential contractors may not offer, give, or agree to give DARS staff anything of value. This includes, but is not limited to, prepared foods, gift baskets, promotional items, gift cards, or meals. If a violation occurs, corrective action may be required, up to and including contract termination or disqualification from receiving a future contract.

Real or apparent conflicts of interest may occur when a former employee of DARS Division for Rehabilitation Services or of DARS Division for Blind Services becomes an employee or a contractor of an entity that has a bilateral contract with DARS.

A contractor cannot:

The scenarios above do not comprise a complete list of real or apparent conflicts of interest. Failure to disclose a conflict of interest can result in contract termination and/or recoupment of payments.

Each contract must have a DARS3444, Conflict of Interest Certification on file.

1.15 Insurance Coverage

General or Business Liability

The contractor must have general or business liability insurance coverage that protects consumers, employees, and visitors when the contractor conducts business in a building it owns, leases, or uses in kind while providing services to DARS consumers. The contractor is required to keep a current and accurate insurance ACCORD form or its equivalent on file with DARS. A state agency may be exempt from this requirement.

Professional Liability

It is highly recommended that the contractor have professional liability insurance, also called "professional indemnity insurance" or "errors and omissions insurance". Professional liability insurance protects service-providing individuals and companies from negligence claims made by a client and damages awarded in such a civil lawsuit. The contractor should keep a current and accurate insurance ACCORD form or its equivalent on file with DARS if this type of insurance is in place. A state agency may be exempt from this requirement.

Motor Vehicle Insurance

Contractors are not required to transport consumers. Contractors electing to transport consumers in motorized vehicles must meet the minimum liability requirements set forth by the Texas Department of Insurance. Contractors must maintain records of any staff who have transported or may transport consumers in vehicles. These records must provide evidence of a valid driver's license, personal injury protection (PIP), and auto liability insurance coverage.

Workers' Compensation

The contractor must keep records showing evidence of compliance with current workers' compensation law.

1.16 Safe and Secure Environments

Contractors must support a safe and secure environment for their employees, DARS consumers, and visitors. The contractor must record all incidents in accordance with the entity's policies and procedures.

An "incident" is defined as an unusual or unexpected event that may compromise the health or safety of people or the security of property. The contractor is responsible for reporting any incident that involves a DARS consumer, a contractor's staff person, (including sub-contractors), and/or the public. Examples of incidents include, but are not limited to:

All incidents must be reported within one business day to the following individuals:

DARS has a system in place to ensure employees report incidents as required by the Health and Human Services (HHS) policies.

1.17 Physical Locations

Any service provider that owns, leases, or uses dedicated space in which DARS consumers will be provided services is considered to have a physical location.

The employment service provider must complete the DARS3442, Employment Services Provider Physical Location Information form for each facility.

Occupation Permit or Building Permit

Environmental safety must comply with local building occupancy codes. Providers must provide documentation of compliance to DARS at application and to the quality assurance specialist for vocational rehabilitation whenever the physical location changes. Renters should contact their landlord to obtain such documentation.

Fire Safety

Each provider must:

Providers who rent must contact their landlords for appropriate documentation.

Most fire departments conduct inspections but need advance notice to schedule an inspection. If the contractor's local fire department does not conduct inspections, the contractor may request an inspection from the Texas Department of Insurance, State Fire Marshal's Inspection Services Division, 333 Guadalupe, Austin, Texas 78701, (512) 305-7900.

In each physical location where services are provided, the provider must have:

Each entity must have a policy that requires all fires to be reported to the DARS regional quality assurance specialist for vocational rehabilitation within one working day.

General Building Safety

Aisles and work safety zones must be accessible.

Hazardous or flammable materials must be appropriately identified, used, and stored in a safe manner. These materials should be stored in a secured metal cabinet.

Machinery with moving parts must be equipped with appropriate protective guarding and instructions for safety.

Accessibility

Each facility and the entity headquarters must maintain a paper copy of the completed "ADA Checklist for Existing Facilities" found at ADA Checklist for Existing Facilities. DARS staff members may inspect the physical location for accuracy of responses provided on the "ADA Checklist for Existing Facilities" and for compliance with meeting consumer's individual needs related to accessibility. DARS may also request access to the completed checklist at any time, such as at liaison visits and monitoring reviews.

If an item or location on the checklist is found to not be accessible, describe how the physical location will ensure services will be provided to DARS consumers that will be using the area(s) found to not be accessible.

Safety Plan

Each provider must have a safety plan for each physical location that ensures the safety and health of the staff, the consumers, and the visiting public. The plan must include:

Each provider must have an incident reporting system in place. A form for staff reporting of incidents must be developed.

The minimum information required on the incident report form must include:

Upon request, copies of incident reports pertinent to DARS consumers must be made available to DARS staff members.

The following incidents must be reported to the referring DARS counselor and regional quality assurance specialist for vocational rehabilitation by close of business the next working day:

1.18 Allegations or Incidents of Abuse, Exploitation, or Neglect of Persons with Disabilities

Texas law requires that allegations or incidents of abuse, exploitation, or neglect of persons with disabilities be immediately reported to the appropriate investigatory agency (see the table below); or, if taking place in a location other than a residential setting, the local law enforcement agency. If a licensed professional is involved, report to the appropriate professional licensure agency and the local law enforcement agency.

The provider must develop policies and procedures regarding the recognition and appropriate reporting of such allegations or incidents. These procedures must also require notification to the appropriate DARS counselor and the liaison within one working day if a DARS consumer is involved in an allegation of abuse, exploitation, or neglect. Procedures must also ensure cooperation with investigations conducted by DARS.

The appropriate investigating agency's toll-free number and the DARS liaison's office number must be posted in a location that is readily accessible to consumers and the staff.

If the alleged abuse, exploitation, or neglect occurs in residential situations such as— Report to the DARS counselor, liaison counselor, and—

A Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) licensed assisted living care facility, nursing home, adult day care, private ICF/MR, or adult foster care

Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services
Complaints Management & Investigations
P.O. Box 149030, Mail Code E-340
Austin, Texas 78714-9030
1-800-458-9858

A substance abuse facility or program licensed by Texas Department of State Health Services

Texas Department of State Health Services
Substance Abuse Compliance Group
Investigations
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, Texas 78756
Mail Code 2823
1-800-832-9623

A hospital licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services

Texas Department of State Health Services
Facility Licensing Group
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, TX 78756
Complaint Hotline 1-888- 973-0022

  • State facilities and community centers that provide mental health and mental retardation services
  • The person's own home
  • Adult foster homes (with 3 or fewer consumers; not licensed by DADS)
  • An unlicensed room and board facility
  • A child care residential facility or foster home

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Statewide Intake
P.O. Box 149030
Austin, Texas 78714-9030
Voice 1-800-252-5400
Fax (512) 832-2090

1.19 Confidentially

Consumer and Employee Information

All staff members of the contractor must maintain confidentiality of consumer and employee information. The contractor must have policy and procedures that address access to confidential records. The contractor must provide physical safeguards for confidential records and ensure that confidential records are available only to authorized staff members. Consumer case records must be stored in a secured location where there is maximum protection against fire, water damage, theft, and other hazards.

Data Encryption

DARS policy and federal law mandates all emails containing consumer or agency confidential information must be sent under encryption. Contractors must send DARS consumer confidential information in a secure manner when emailing information to DARS employees or to any other individual.

DARS requires FIPS 140-2 level of encryption. If a contractor does not have this level of data encryption, the provider shall ask a DARS staff to send an encrypted email related to the consumer to the contractor's email address and this email can be used to send encrypted information back to DARS if the directions are followed accurately.

1.20 Records

Upon request, the contractor must make available to DARS any documents, papers, and records that are directly pertinent to the goods or services being provided to DARS consumers.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

Record Storage

All original records must be maintained in a paper format. No records can be stored in an electronic manner, such as cloud services or other services that host on the Internet or that store, manage, or process data. If records are maintained on company or personal server(s) or computer(s), these records must be protected in a secure manner.

Record Retention

All records must be maintained in a paper format for three years from the date of submission of the final bill or until all billing-related questions are resolved, whichever is later. Local servers and personal computers may be used to complete records and to store copies of records. All local servers and/or personal computers are required to maintain a level of security that ensures records are maintained in a safe and confidential manner, as defined in the Information Security and Privacy Initial Inquiry (SPI) found at: http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/about_hhsc/BusOpp/HHS_SPI.pdf.

1.21 Referrals to DARS by a Provider

A provider may refer an individual with a disability to DARS for services. It is important that the provider understand and make clear to the individual being referred that:

Referrals from a provider are not a guarantee that the provider will be selected to work with the referred, eligible consumer.

1.22 Substance Abuse

Any observations or other evidence of use of alcohol or drugs by a DARS consumer with a disability of substance abuse must be reported immediately to the DARS counselor. The provider must maintain documentation that the counselor was informed of any observations or other evidence of use of alcohol or drugs by a consumer.

1.23 Consumer Orientation

Any consumer referred to a provider by DARS must receive orientation and materials, such as handouts or manuals, that address at least the following:

1.24 DARS Service Number

Each facility-based provider must post the DARS toll-free telephone number, specifying that the number is for DARS applicant and consumer use: 1-800-628-5115.

1.25 Client Assistance Program

A written grievance procedure for consumers must be distributed and explained to consumers and staff.

Each consumer also must be advised of the availability and purposes of the Client Assistance Program, including ways of seeking assistance under the program.

1.26 Termination from Program

Providers should address behaviors a consumer exhibits prior to termination from a program. If behaviors are harmful to the consumer or others, appropriate actions should be made so safety is maintained for all parties. Every effort should be made to inform the DARS counselor before termination of a consumer's services. When the counselor cannot be informed before termination, the counselor must be informed within one working day after termination. The provider must maintain documentation that the counselor was informed of termination.

Reasons for termination include:

1.27 Noncompliance and Performance Deficiencies

DARS may temporarily suspend a contract provider from providing services for reasons such as:

The contractor is required to return to compliance before providing further services.

DARS may take further adverse actions in conjunction with or instead of requesting a corrective action plan. In serious noncompliance situations, DARS may terminate a contract or debar a provider from future DARS service contracts without allowing the provider to take corrective action.

1.28 Service Fees

Service providers may not collect money from a Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services consumer or the consumer's family for any service charge in excess of DARS rates.

Consumer participation and third-party participation funds may not be paid directly to any contract service provider.

If DARS and another resource are paying for a consumer service, total payment may not exceed the DARS authorized rate.

Fees for services are located in the chapter associated with the service description, scope, and required outcomes for payment.

1.29 Service Authorizations

A service authorization is a request for a contractor to supply goods or services based upon specified terms and conditions. A service authorization is the only valid authorization by which purchases are made. No goods or services can be provided to a consumer without a service authorization for the specific good(s) or service(s) that is approved to be provided only between the start date and end date for the specific service authorization.

A service authorization may include comments in the comment section about basic terms of the good or service being purchased and/or supplemental information related to the good, service, or consumer that is relevant to the service authorization. Comments that require action by the contractor must be performed prior to any invoice being paid.

If a service authorization is changed by DARS in any manner, a copy of the new signed service authorization must be given to the contractor when the change is made.

The contractor must keep a copy of all service authorizations in the contractor's consumer records.

1.30 Invoices

Use of DARS Generated Invoices

When DARS issues a service authorization, it will include a DARS-generated invoice. It is preferred, but not required, that contractors use the DARS-generated invoice. Any invoice generated by a contractor must contain all required elements.

Required Elements of an Invoice Submitted to DARS

At a minimum, invoices submitted to DARS must include the following:

Disputing an Invoice

DARS may determine an invoice is incorrect because it does not address all of the above required items. In this event, DARS will return the incomplete or incorrect invoice and any associated reports requesting the necessary correction. The provider will then resubmit the correct invoice and required documentation for review and payment.

Delinquent Invoices

Invoices received more than 35 days after the date of service may not be authorized for payment.

Recoupment of Funds Paid

A contractor must respond promptly in settling claims when DARS discovers an overpayment. If a contractor discovers an overpayment from DARS, the contractor should self-report the overpayment to the contract manager immediately and arrange for reimbursement.

Payments Due

DARS is obligated to pay only for goods and services that meet the requirements in the DRS Standards for Providers and on the service authorization.

1.31 Require Contractor Policy and Procedures

To protect consumers and consumer interests, the contractor must develop and adhere to the following policies and procedures concerning:

The contractor must develop a written implementation plan within their organization to educate staff and consumers served by the contractor.

1.32 Provider's Evaluation of Service Provision

Each provider must have an ongoing self-evaluation system designed to assess the consumer's satisfaction and effectiveness of services provided to DARS consumers. The system should measure outcomes against pre-established goals. DARS may ask for proof and the results of the evaluations. Because of the variety of services provided, the method of evaluation is left to the discretion of the provider but must, at a minimum, include the following:

Goals and Service Objectives

Entity goals are desired results of the program, and what the provider plans to accomplish. The service objectives are the entity's measurable objectives that define the entity's plans to accomplish stated goals.

Outcomes and Results

Outcomes refers to the extent to which each service objective is achieved, including the criteria against which actual performance is measured. Measures are stated in general terms and explain how results are to be achieved. Outcomes and results are included in a report format.

Consumer Satisfaction

Consumer satisfaction measures input from consumers about benefits received from provider services.

Each CRP may develop its own survey instrument and procedure. However, at a minimum, the survey instrument must use a Likert scale and include the following statements:

Likert Scale
1 Strongly disagree
2 Disagree
3 Neither agree nor disagree
4 Agree
5 Strongly agree

All consumers, both successful and unsuccessful, must be given the opportunity to respond.

The provider must calculate an average consumer rating on the Likert scale for each of the four required questions.

Quarterly and Annual Reports of Evaluation Data

Entities must tally collected data quarterly (September–November, December–February, March–May, June–August) and summarize a final report. When data indicates improvements are necessary to enhance the entity's performance and consumer satisfaction, an action plan must be created and monitored until improvement is made to a successful level measured by goals in the action plan.

1.33 Monitoring

The contractor agrees to permit on-site monitoring visits and desk reviews, as deemed necessary by DARS to review all financial or other records and management control systems relevant to the provision of goods and services under this contract.

Ongoing Monitoring

DARS staff members including, but not limited to, field, regional, and support staff, continuously monitor services provided to DARS consumers; monitoring may include ongoing dialogue, onsite visits, and reviews of case files.

Compliance Monitoring

All contractors are subject to periodic programmatic and financial compliance monitoring by DARS staff members. Risk assessment tools are used at the state and regional level each fiscal year to identify DARS contractors who will be monitored on site or as a desk review during a 12-month period. As DARS determines the need, contractors not identified on the risk assessment may also be monitored.

Unscheduled Compliance Monitoring

DARS staff members may conduct a special unscheduled compliance monitoring review upon request, if DARS management determines such a review is necessary.

The Monitoring Team

A monitoring team is comprised of representatives from DARS staff. When a contractor is selected for an announced monitoring review, the lead monitor sends a letter announcing the review, providing information about the scope of the review, and providing instructions on how to prepare for the review.

Monitoring Review

The monitoring review typically consists of three parts:

At the entrance conference, the lead monitor:

During the records review, the monitoring team:

The exit conference is held at the conclusion of the review. At the exit conference, the lead monitor verbally provides the contractor with:

Report of the Monitoring Results

For routine monitoring reviews, the lead monitor sends the contractor written notice of the results of the monitoring review through either a monitoring review closeout letter or a findings report, if instances of noncompliance were noted.

The findings report:

Corrective Action Plan

If DARS has requested the contractor submit a corrective action plan, the contractor must, by the date requested in the report of findings:

DARS reviews the corrective action plan and may accept the corrective action plan or recommend changes.

If the contractor does not submit an acceptable corrective action plan or make financial restitution when required, DARS may take adverse action against the contractor, which can include contract termination.

Monitoring Closeout

If there are no findings, or when the monitoring team accepts the corrective action plan, DARS sends the contractor a letter to close the monitoring review.

Contract Non-Compliance and Performance Deficiencies

DARS may temporarily suspend a contractor from providing services for reasons such as:

Depending on the type and severity of the non-compliance, DARS may require the contractor to take corrective action to return to compliance, before the contractor is allowed to resume providing services.

DARS may impose adverse actions in conjunction with, or instead of, requesting a corrective action plan. For example, DARS may recoup overpayments from a contractor as part of a corrective action plan. Some situations may require DARS to impose more serious adverse action, such as contract termination and debarment, without allowing the contractor to take corrective action.