Section 2: BEP Application, Training, and Licensure
2.0 BEP Application Process
Persons who are interested in participating in the BEP must first apply for DBS services. Those interested can apply online at https://dbs.fldoe.org/information/apply/index.html. An individual licensed from another state or a licensed vendor from Florida who has not actively held a contract within the past five years must go through this same process.
Clients interested in the BEP often have misconceptions about what it is like working in a food service or vending machine operation. It is important to assess what the client knows and provide a realistic view of what the client should know before expending time and resources unnecessarily. The application process involves the following nine (9) steps:
- Client expresses interest in the BEP program and meets with the DBS Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselor.
- Client completes a Vocational Assessment.
- Counselor reviews results of Vocational Assessment as well as results from any other pertinent training received by the client within the last calendar year to determine if the client meets minimum qualifications. Counselor may recommend further assessments and training as needed.
- If client meets minimum qualifications, counselor schedules meeting for client with the Regional BEP Business Consultant.
- Client completes and submits application with all necessary paperwork to the VR counselor who forwards to the State Office.
- Applicant completes and passes background screening.
- Applicant completes the Assessment Interview and receives recommendation from the interview panel.
- Applicant successfully completes Work Experience (10 days)
- Administrative Services Consultant (ASC) schedules applicant for the next available training class.
2.1 Work Experience
If the Interview Panel recommends the applicant for the BEP training program, the Administrative Services Consultant (ASC) will set up the next step of the assessment, a ten-day Work Experience for the applicant with a local BEP program vendor. The purpose of this exercise is to give the applicant on-the-job experience which will help them determine:
- If this is the vocation they want to commit to and do for a living, and
- Provide an environment where an experienced operator can assess them.
2.2 Training Classes
The Division of Blind Services operates a residential Rehabilitation Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. An individual lives at the Center for the duration of the BEP training offered there.
When an individual attends the Center for training, he/she will undergo eighteen (18) weeks of modules covering the required course work. A score of eighty percent (80%) or above is required to pass each module. If the trainee does not receive a passing grade after two attempts, they will need to request permission from the BEP Bureau Chief in order to take the exam a third time.
The training modules are as follows:
- Vending Module (4 weeks)
- Business Start up Module (2 weeks)
- Record Keeping Module (3 weeks)
- Food Safety Module (2 weeks)
- Food Service Module (4 weeks)
- Business Management Module (3 weeks)
2.3 On-The-Job Training (OJT)
OJT builds on skills already achieved in the basic modular training and gives the opportunity for hands on training in an actual BEP facility. The State Office notifies the counselor and client of the location and start date of OJT. The training takes four (4) to ten (10) weeks.
Emphasis is placed on proper food handling, inventory control, menu planning, vending machine maintenance, customer satisfaction and basic business management including completion of the Monthly Business Report (MBR) and the Request for Reimbursement forms.
After successfully completing all of the training competencies, the BEP State Office schedules the client for a Licensure Examination. Questions are developed from important duties and responsibilities included in Chapter 6A-18 (FAC); the Licensed Operator Facility Agreement (LOFA); the BEP Manual; ServSafe Study Guide; and Vending Machine Programming Guides. A score of eighty percent (80%) or above is required to earn a recommendation for licensure. If this threshold is met and all training reports and eligibility documents are in order, the BEP State Office issues a numbered license to the client, who then becomes a Licensee and eligible to compete for BEP facility vacancies. The license shall be perpetual, but subject to suspension, revocation or surrender as specified in other sections of this Manual.
2.5 Background Screening Requirements
Individuals seeking to be licensed or to continue to be licensed under the Division's Business Enterprise Program shall submit to background screening as set forth in Chapter 6A-18.042, FAC background screening shall be carried out consistent with screening standards set forth in the Division of Blind Services' Affidavit of Good Moral Character (DBS-BEP Form #002). To be considered for licensing, an individual must successfully pass the background screening either by the absence of a disqualifying offense in the individual's history or by a grant of an exemption from disqualification in the event of a disqualifying offense in the individual's history.
Employees of vendors subject to Level 1 background screenings required by Department of Management Services (DMS) must also successfully pass the background screenings either by absence of a disqualifying offense in the individual's history or by being granted an exemption according to the provisions in this policy.
Procedure for Notification of Applicants and Licensees: Individuals who consented in writing to a background screening and have no disqualifying events shall receive notice of that from the Division. Notification for disqualifying offenses will be made to individuals by certified mail.
Those who subsequently were disqualified from participation in the Business Enterprise Program by findings of the background screening may request an exemption from disqualification.
Procedure for an Exemption of Disqualified Applicants and Licensees: All requests for exemptions from disqualification shall be in writing, prepared by the requestor, and addressed directly to:
Director, Division of Blind Services
Turlington Building, Room 1114
325 West Gaines Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Written requests for exemptions must be made within 21 calendar days of the requestor's receipt of written notification of the Division's intent to disqualify due to findings in the background screening report. Requests may be sent via the postal system or email.
All such requests must address the following 4 elements:
1. The passage of time since commission of the crime(s). A minimum of 3 years since the requestor has been released from all requirements by the legal jurisdiction imposing the sanctions. Examples may include but not be limited to.
- Certified Court of Record Ending Probation sent directly to the Division.
- Proof by receipt that court costs, restitution or any other financial obligation have been paid in full;
- Proof on letterhead from any agency where community service was performed disclosing the requestor's
- Number of hours spent,
- Nature of work performed,
- Punctuality and attendance,
- Cooperation with oversight of work performed, and
- Benefit to the host agency of the work performed.
2. The circumstances surrounding the crime(s);
- Written self-disclosure by the requestor, and
- Written statements by individuals willing to corroborate the requestor's self-disclosure including name, address, phone number and nature of relationship with the requestor. Corroboration shall carry more weight than self-disclosure.
3. The nature of the harm caused any victim of the crime(s); and written self-disclosure by the requestor.
4. Other evidence provided by the requestor demonstrating clear and convincing proof of rehabilitation and that the applicant should not be disqualified from eligibility or participation in the Business Enterprise Program.
- Letters from individuals willing to express witnessing changes in the requestor's demeanor, attitude and/or behavior with specific examples as to how these changes are now observable. Such letters must include the name, address, phone number, nature of relationship with the requestor and sent directly by its author to the Division.
- Written statements of support from current employers, spiritual guidance officials, counselors or community service recipients. Such statements of support must include the name, address, phone number, nature of relationship with the requestor and sent directly by its author to the Division.
- If available, copies of transcripts or certificates of completion from any self-improvement courses or enhancing educational experiences since the end of sanctions for the crimes committed.
Requests for an exemption from disqualification will be reviewed by the following individuals:
- Bureau Chief, Business Enterprise Program
- Director, Division of Blind Services
- Commissioner, Department of Education
The review may include consideration of the following:
- Whether a full criminal history was disclosed in the Affidavit of Good Moral Character;
- Overall history of criminal activity; and
- Degree of consequence to the Division, if recidivism occurs in direct relation to the Business Enterprise Program.
All documents and other information pertaining to the request for an exemption, including the background screening report, are exempt from Chapter 119, Florida Statutes (FS). The Division shall retain all such documents and information in a separate and secure area.
In the event, the Division grants a request for an exemption from disqualification, such exemption may be considered by subsequent agencies or property owners, but it is not binding on the subsequent agency or property owner.
Procedure to Appeal a Denial of an Exemption: If the Division denies a request for an exemption from disqualification, the requestor may appeal that decision in writing to the Division Director. Due to confidentiality restrictions, the Business Enterprise Grievance procedures are not an appropriate venue to hear the appeal. Such appeals shall only be handled in compliance with the appeal procedures provided by the Florida Administrative Procedures Act, Chapter 120, FS.