Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS), a division of the Iowa Department of Education, was awarded more than $13.8 million through a competitive grant from the Rehabilitation Services Administration within the U.S. Department of Education to expand opportunities for Iowans with the most significant disabilities to achieve competitive integrated employment opportunities that lead to economic security.

Iowa is one of 14 states awarded a five-year Disability Innovation Fund – Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment Grant totaling $177 million. The grants support high-quality programs that can serve as a model for identifying services, implementing evidence-based practices and addressing challenges associated with access to competitive integrated employment for youth and other individuals with disabilities.

IVRS Administrator Daniel Tallon said, β€œWe are really excited for the opportunity to bring new resources to the Iowans with disabilities who are currently employed in subminimum wage positions. This grant will allow us to invest in new tools to help these individuals move to competitive integrated employment and be active members of their community."

The IVRS grant application was a joint effort between many of the various state departments and key stakeholders within the state of Iowa. Subminimum wage is allowed in limited circumstances when approved by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. This grant will allow individuals with disabilities working in subminimum wage positions to access new resources and tools as well as provide coordination between the various service providers. The grant will also increase the resources available during early high school to facilitate uninterrupted transition to competitive integrated employment for youth with disabilities.

The vocational rehabilitation program in Iowa is funded by the U.S. Department of Education with 78.7% federal funds in the amount of $29,923,186 for FFY2022 and 21.3% in state funding and other governmental funds in the amount of $8,098,651.