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Accessing Waivers Through the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs
The Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs (ODP), part of the Commonwealth's Department of Human Services (formerly the Department of Public Welfare), administers two waiver programs that may be appropriate for some individuals on the autism spectrum:
- The Person/Family Directed Waiver
- The Consolidated Waiver
Both of these waivers require that the individual be at least three years old, have a documented diagnosis of intellectual disability before age 22, and be in need of active treatment. There are income and resource limits restricting who is eligible. Services provided include assistive technology, behavioral support, educational support, prevocational services, respite, supportive employment, transportation, and therapies, to name just a few. The services provided by the Person/Family Directed Waiver and the Consolidated Waiver are the same, except that the Consolidated Waiver offers residential supports.
To receive either of these waivers, you must be registered for intellectual/developmental disability services with your county's Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities (MH/ID) office. (In some counties, this office is still referred to as the office of MH/MR — Mental Health/Mental Retardation.) You can do this online, through Pennsylvania's COMPASS system or by going in person to the local office. When you do so, you will need to provide proof that your child has an intellectual disability by providing proof that your child has an IQ of 70 or less and has significant difficulty functioning in daily life activities as shown by standardized tests. After registering, you will receive written notice of eligibility for services. If you are eligible, you will be assigned a service coordinator, who can help you apply for waivers. If you are found ineligible, you may appeal.
If you are found eligible for intellectual/developmental disability services, you may apply for a waiver by completing an application. Many families find that it is easier to apply in person at the county assistance office than online through the COMPASS system. The application will require you to provide information about family income, resources, expenses, health insurance, and demographic information. After receiving your application, your local MH/ID office will meet with you to complete a Priority of Urgency of Need for Services (PUNS) form. Your need for services will be categorized as emergency (immediate need), critical (within one year), and planning (more than a year before services are needed).