Three years ago, our state legislature directed the Developmental Disabilities Administration to convert its state-only Individual & Family Services program into a federal Home and Community Based Services waiver. The move created matching federal funds that allowed DDA to dramatically increase enrollment in services for about 4,000 individuals on its No Paid Services (NPS) caseload.
It’s been a huge undertaking. In what has been a relatively short time, DDA designed a new waiver program, obtained approval from the federal government, transitioned about 1,500 state-only IFS clients to the new program, ramped up new enrollments for more than 2,000 NPS clients and staying on pace to meet the target goal of 4,000 new enrollments by the end of June 2017.
Ed Holen, Executive Director of the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council points the strong, united effort it’s taken to make this happen. Reflecting on the progress made so far, he states, “This hard work reflects a dynamic partnership between the State Legislature (providing the funding), DDA (getting people enrolled), and the Developmental Disabilities Council/Informing Families (getting the word out to people).”
Here’s a snapshot of the numbers for the past year:
What is IFS?
The IFS waiver provides a menu of 17 different services based on a yearly funding allocation determined by the DDA assessment ($1,200; $1,800; $2,400; $3,600). As a Medicaid waiver, IFS gives participants access to Medicaid health care (aka Apple Health), along with several new services, such as peer mentoring, community engagement, and assistive technology. One of the big benefits to being a waiver is that financial eligibility is based on the individual’s income, not the household’s.
Open enrollment in the IFS waiver will last until the end of June, or sooner if DDA meets its targeted goal. To qualify, individuals must be:
- 3 years or older;
- a client of DDA; and,
- living in the family home.
DDA has gotten feedback that some people have not asked about enrollment in IFS because they didn’t think they would be considered family. According to IFS Program Manager, Lonnie Keesee, “Family means one or more of the following relatives: spouse or registered domestic partner; natural, adoptive or step parent; grandparent; child; stepchild; sibling; stepsibling; uncle; aunt; first cousin; niece; or nephew.”
Keesee says it can take up to three months to complete the financial eligibility part of the process, which comes after functional eligibility. Anyone who has put off requesting IFS waiver enrollment should probably do so by spring of this year.
To request IFS enrollment, a DDA eligibility packet, or other questions, fill out DDA’s new online Service and Information Request Line.
Click here for more information about the IFS waiver and list of services.