SSVF Program Updates March 25, 2016


1.     Reminder: Reporting Critical Incidents
2.     Additional Clarification:  Guidance Regarding SSVF Travel Costs Related to Training
3.     Register for the National SSVF Webinar on April 21, 2016:  CARF and COA Accreditation Standards Overview
4.     INFORMATION:  Blog about Successes in Ending Homelessness Among Veterans

Reminder:  Reporting Critical Incidents

The Program Office would like to thank SVF providers for their continued cooperation in submitting Critical Incident Reports to our office in a timely manner.   We also want to remind grantees that all Veteran deaths resulting from suicide must be reported to the SSVF program office as a Critical Incident and to the local VA Medical Center.  All VA Medical Centers have specially trained Suicide Prevention Coordinators who track Veteran suicide deaths.  Grantees can find their local Suicide Prevention Coordinator using the link provided below:

Additional Clarification:  Guidance Regarding SSVF Travel Costs Related to Training

The SSVF Program Office would like to further clarify the travel costs related to training guidance provided through the SSVF Program Update on March 18, 2016 where Regional Coordinator approval must be received prior to conducting any travel related to training with a combined total of $200 or more. Please note the goal of this guidance is not to discourage employee development or learning. SSVF values learning, and we do want you to continue to share best practices. The concern is the perception when travel seems excessive – how would this impact public perception of your agency and the VA?  We want to make sure everyone is being efficient and strategic with their funds.

It is each grantee's responsibility to ensure that they are using SSVF funds in a fiscally responsible manner. Travel is allowable as a direct program cost when such travel will provide direct benefit to the SSVF program and grant award. Grantees must be able to document how the travel benefits their SSVF program specifically and how the training will be applied to their work, the scope of the travel and why it is necessary, why the number of staff attending are necessary, why the cost is reasonable and a good use of VA dollars, and how their travel will be done in the most cost-effective way possible.

For example, if a grantee was based in Maryland but wanted to go to a Motivational Interviewing training in Florida in January, this cost may be considered questionable. Although Motivational Interviewing is a tool that SSVF supports to assist households, the considerations should include if comparable training could be provided in a more local setting. It is understood that MI training is prevalent, and traveling across states to receive training would not appear to be necessary or an appropriate use of VA funds.

Grantees should note that costs associated with travel and training will be reviewed during monitoring visits. All appropriate documentation will need to be provided. If a cost appears to be unreasonable, it could result in the grantee needing to return funds. For this reason, it is important for grantees to consult with their Regional Coordinators prior to conducting any travel related to training with a combined total of $200 or more except for the exclusions listed below.

Travel that Does Not Require Regional Coordinator Approval

·         SSVF Regional Meetings and Program Launches
o   SSVF Regional Meetings and SSVF Program Launches are required by the VA and are approved travel that does not require pre-authorization by the Regional Coordinator.

·         National Conferences Directly Related to SSVF Work
o   It is understood that there are national conferences that further the practice of SSVF, housing first, rapid re-housing, and prevention services.
o   The following conferences do not require pre-authorization: National Alliance to End Homelessness National Conference (Summer) and Conference to End Family Conference (Winter), National Coalition to End Veteran Homelessness (Spring and Fall). Other conferences can be considered on a case by case basis but should be reviewed by the Regional Coordinator.

·         CARF/COA Accreditation
o   It is understood that certain accreditation requirements may include the need to attend a training or conference. Costs should be clearly justified and should be reasonable and necessary.

·         Standard Travel Expenses for the Day-To-Day Operation of the Grant
o   Expenses for mileage to attend local meetings, conduct outreach, or perform day-to-day operations such as meeting with Veteran households or attending CoC meetings do not require pre-authorization.

Quick Tips
·         Be strategic about what trainings staff are attending:
o   Do these trainings align with the SSVF Program goals?
§  Trainings paid for with SSVF funds should be relevant to your SSVF program operations.
§  Be considerate of the number of staff sent to attend these trainings as well. 
·         If you are traveling for strategic or "mentoring" purposes:
o   Can this be accomplished via teleconferencing/webcam?
§  You will need to justify in-person meetings that are outside state-lines/commutable distances.
o   Please always discuss these trips with your Regional Coordinator prior to booking travel.
·         Always maintain documentation of your rationale for employee travel. 
o   As mentioned below, these are "high audit" costs that will be reviewed by monitors.
o   If any travel is deemed outside the scope of SSVF and/or determined to be unreasonable you may be asked to return funds.

Information to Send Regional Coordinators for Travel Requests
·         Grant name and number
·         Date of proposed travel
·         The proposed cost
·         Number of Staff Participating in travel and why the number attending are necessary and reasonable
·         The scope of the travel and why it is necessary
o   How the proposed travel benefits their SSVF program specifically
o   How the training will be applied to their work
o   Why the cost is reasonable and a good use of VA dollars
o   How their travel will be done in the most cost-effective way possible

Register for the National SSVF Webinar on April 21, 2016 at 2:00 PM Eastern

Please register for the SSVF Webinar Series: CARF and COA Accreditation Overview for SSVF Providers on Apr 21, 2016 2:00 PM Eastern at:

The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and The Council on Accreditation (COA) will present an overview of the accreditation process and standards.  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

INFORMATION:  Blog about Successes in Ending Homelessness Among Veterans

Please take a moment to read and share a newly published blog by Anthony Love, Director of Community Engagement for the VHA  Homeless Programs Office, called "When 'Zero' Is Possible: How One State and Two Cities Ended Veteran Homelessness" on NeighborWorks America's website.

The blog is about community-by-community successes in ending homelessness among Veterans.  Mr. Love notes that more than 20 cities and states across the country have declared an end to Veteran homelessness, including Virginia, New Orleans and Houston. To find out how they did it—and how other communities could replicate these efforts—Mr. Love spoke to officials from each jurisdiction to identify common approaches and best practices.

Visit the link and urge others in your network to do the same to make sure this article is viewed by the widest possible audience

NOTE:  If you are receiving this email in error, please disregard.  We request your patience as the SSVF Program Office continues to address system issues with the grants management database.

Thank you,

SSVF Program Office