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Welcome to People Inc.!

Our knowledgeable Admissions Department staff are available at:

To help us better serve you, we have created an online form for you to provide specific information on the type of program and/or supports you are seeking for when a member of our Admissions team reaches out to you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the top questions we receive, along with brief answers. If your question is not listed, contact us by the above email or phone numbers - our staff can provide more information.

How do I become eligible for OPWDD services?

What is OPWDD?

This acronym stands for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, which is responsible to assist people with developmental disabilities in New York State. This office provides funding, oversight and services. The local office in each region is called the Developmental Disabilities Regional Office (DDRO).

What is considered a developmental disability?

For the purposes of eligibility, OPWDD’s list of developmental disabilities include intellectual disability; autism spectrum disorders; cerebral palsy; familial epilepsy and neurological disorders from injury, malformation or disease involving the central nervous system. A person must be diagnosed with at least one of these to be found eligible for services. The disability must occur prior to age 22 and expected to continue indefinitely with significant deficits in a person’s adaptive functioning. Mental illness is not considered a developmental disability.

What is eligibility?

In order to receive most OPWDD services, a person with a developmental disability must provide documentation to OPWDD for an eligibility review (Eligibility Determination Process), establishing the disability diagnosis based on requirements by New York State law.

This eligibility for OPWDD services provides a person access to most People Inc. services.

What is provisional eligibility?

Between the ages of birth to 8 years of age, eligibility will probably be deemed provisional, providing the child those OPWDD services for a limited time frame (corresponding to their age). After this period, their eligibility will be reviewed to determine if the child remains eligible for OPWDD services. This is done as young children continue to change and develop as they grow and may no longer qualify for services.

Where do I start?

The Front Door at your respective DDRO is the place to start. This is OPWDD’s approach to accessing supports and services that are needed. Eligibility will be part of this determination. The contact number is:

What will I need for eligibility?

You will need the following to establish eligibility from OPWDD:

  1. A current psychological testing including an IQ score and a standardized adaptive behavior assessment.
  2. A psychosocial evaluation for developmental history
  3. A Physical with medical documentation of diagnosis.
  4. Documentation that the developmental disability onset prior to age 22
  5. There may be additional information requested, such as the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and other testing.

People Inc. can provide psychological evaluations if needed.

Can someone help me with eligibility?

If you have questions about eligibility, feel free to contact People Inc. Admission specialists. They would be happy to guide you and help you link with the front door, as well as a Care Coordinator Organization that can help. You can also directly link with the front door and connect with one of the two Care Coordinator Organizations listed below:

What is Care Coordination?

Care Coordination is comprehensive and inclusive of all the supports, services and resources a person might need, with an additional emphasis on holistic medical services, to support health and wellness. Care managers coordinate medical and dental appointments, will provide referrals to community resources and agencies to support the person’s goals, interests and needs, as well as oversee safety needs.

What is a Health Home?

Health Home is a network of care management providers that work together to provide integrated care for people with Medicaid and complex healthcare needs coordinated by a Health Home Care manager. It cannot be found in a physical structure. People Inc. provides Care Coordination for children who qualify.

Does People Inc. provide Care Coordination?

People Inc. provides Children Health Home Care Management. For people who are over 18 or have a primary diagnosis of a developmental disability, it will be necessary to connect with a Care Coordination Organization.

What services do you offer or what programs do you provide?

To learn about our agency supports, refer to the "Programs & Services" menu in our website header or browse our brochures.

Our Admissions staff are here to provide you with assistance to navigate People Inc. services and assist you with linking with appropriate programs if we cannot provide the requested services. Contact our Admissions office:

How do I access Family Support Services?

Family Support Services (FSS) Program are a variety of services and aid that provide assistance to enhance families’ capabilities of caring for a relative at home. People Inc. provides numerous programs through family support funding. Contact the Admissions Department for any FSS services that you may be interested in exploring and our Admissions staff will assist you to connect with that program. To participate in FSS, you only need to be eligible for OPWDD services and enrollment is not required in the Home and Community Based Waiver (OPWDD waiver services).

What supports can I get if I live on my own?

There are many supports for those people who choose to live in their own home. These include Community Habilitation to provide skill development, whether provided as a traditional support through People Inc. staff or through Self-Directed Services, if you choose to manage your services. People Inc. can also provide assistance with personal care or rental subsidies. Contact our Admissions Department to help you navigate the services available.

Does People Inc. offer affordable housing?

Yes, People Inc. offers numerous options, including: 

People Inc. Senior Living Apartments are available throughout Western New York for independent older adults age 62 and up, who are income-eligible. There are 20 locations across Erie, Niagara and Cattaraugus Counties.
Information: Email housing@people-inc.org or call 716.880.3890

People Inc. Affordable Apartments provide reasonably-priced, safe apartments for those who are income-eligible in Erie and Niagara Counties. Some of these communities are for people 18 and over, while others have an age requirement of 55 and over.
Information: Email housing@people-inc.org or call 716.880.3890

For people who qualify for OPWDD services, transition funds and a rental subsidy may be available. For more information, contact People Inc. Admissions.

I am graduating from high school soon. What should I do?

You will need to go through the Front Door, even if you are already receiving OPWDD waiver services. Contact numbers are:

  • Western New York: 800.487.6310 (Counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans)
  • Finger Lakes: 855-OPWDDFL (855.679.3335) (Counties: Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming, Yates)

More information is available on the front door at the OPWDD website:
https://opwdd.ny.gov/get-started/front-door.

Next, explore many of the options available through People Inc. from Supported Employment to Day Services. Tours are available through the Admissions staff.

Can I tour a People Inc. program?

Yes! Tours of our programs are always available. Contact People Inc. Admissions Department.

What is the difference between Day Habilitation, Day Habilitation without Walls and Pre-Vocational?

  • Day Habilitation services take place in a certified setting and therefore can provide medical/behavioral supports. Day Habilitation allows people to work on life skills, pursue their interests and work on increasing their independence through various activities, such as volunteering/community engagement.
  • Day Habilitation without walls (DHWOW/DHWW) is a non-certified program, therefore it does not offer medical supports. This program typically takes place in community settings or non-certified space and to work with small groups of people at a time. DHWOW can also support those in our residential settings with activities. DHWOW service recipients may not need as much support as someone receiving services in the Day Hab setting.
  • Learn more about Day Programs.
  • Community Pre-VOC (CPV) is for those who are seeking to be employed in the future and therefore the focus is on honing job skills through trainings, internships and volunteerism.
  • Pathways is a one time, year-long program (extensions can be made depending on circumstance) through Supported Employment.  Someone in Pathways works with an employment specialist one on one to determine vocational goals, interests and then gain work experience in the community through interning/volunteering. Someone in Pathways can pursue this support while enrolled in other services to develop their vocational goals.
  • Learn more about Vocational opportunities.

How can I get to my Day Program?

There are several options on transportation which include ParaTransit/Metro, Day Hab staff providing transportation, family receiving a stipend for providing the transportation or a contracted transportation company. Each case is different based on where someone resides and which option can best support that person.

If I want help with finding and keeping a job, what is the process?

People Inc. utilizes an individual placement model, which provides assessment of employment interest and choice, job development, job training, stabilization and long term follow along. Services include ACCESS-VR and OPWDD Waiver Supported Employment, as well as Pathway to Employment the provides greater assistance with identifying, obtaining, and maintaining competitive employment. Learn more about our variety of Vocational options. Then, the best way to determine your next step to finding and keeping a job is talking with the People Inc. Admissions Department.

What is Community Habilitation and what should I expect from the service?

Community Habilitation is a support focused on assisting people to lead independent lives. Valued outcomes are skill-based and should include, but not be limited to activities that enrich lives and promote independence. Community Habilitation is based upon the idea of skill-building. Some of the more common goals people focus on are: money management, cooking, home and community safety, personal organization, household responsibilities and building community independence. Hours are flexible and staffing is based around the needs of the person receiving this service. Day, evening and weekend staffing is available.

What is the difference between Direct Provider (traditional) Community Habilitation or Respite, Agency-Supported Community Habilitation or Respite and Self-Directed Community Habilitation or Respite?

Direct Provider means that we as the agency manage all aspects of providing these services. People Inc. would provide the staff, complete all the paperwork and manage the staff. Agency Supported is a combination of the person and the agency working together to manage the service. Self-Directed is when the person and their Circle of Support manages the service and the budget with the assistance of a Fiscal Intermediary and Support Broker.

What is a Personal Development Mentor (PDM)?

A PDM or Personal Development Mentor guides a person towards identifying their strengths, uncovering authentic talents and applying their unique abilities in pursuit of their goals. The PDM helps to bridge the gap between where a person is and where they want to be by assisting with problem solving, decisions making and goal attainment in daily life. This can be achieved by improving a physical skill, overcoming self-limiting beliefs and behavior, learning new behavior for personal growth and helping to move forward from a person’s present situation towards their overall goals. This is a transitional (3-6 month) program and is skill-building in nature, with an emphasis on community integration.

Will you explain the various Self-Directed Services?

  • What is Self-Directed Services? A self-directed plan provides people with disabilities the opportunity to manage the supports and services they receive, determine who provides the supports and how and where they are provided. A full plan has many different components that can include a variety of goods and services offered to the person.
  • What type of services can we self-direct? A person can self-direct their Community Hab, Respite and Supported Employment services, including control over hiring and what the person will get paid.
  • Where do the funds come from that get approved in a SD budget? The PRA (Personal Resource Account) is the annualized budget assigned to the person that pays for all their self-directed services. The total PRA is based on an individualized assessment of needs, preferences, wants, and abilities (DDP2). A DDP2 (Developmental Disability Profile) is typically completed by the person’s Care Coordinator or other service providers. It is essential to have an up-to-date DDP-2 to ensure an accurate PRA.
  • What is a Support Broker? A support broker provides ongoing support in relation to the budget and its services. A start up broker will initially help to establish the person’s budget by identifying the services and supports needed and help them form a Circle of Support. A start up broker can become the person’s support broker for ongoing support to the budget and plan. A broker can be either supported by an agency or work as an independent.
  • What is Fiscal Intermediary (FI)? Works with the person enrolled in self-direction to complete billing and payments for goods and services that are defined in their budget.
  • What is the difference between Consumer-Directed and Self-Direction services? Consumer Directed (CDPAP) is a Medicaid program provides an alternative way to receive personal care or home care services in which the person receiving services (or their family/advocate) manage their own home health care services, including hiring, training, scheduling and supervising their staff. Unlike self-directed services, there is no budget to manage and the services are primarily personal care. A person can have both a self-directed plan and CDPAP services simultaneously.
  • How do I enroll? The process begins with a Fiscal Intermediary (FI) intake form completed by your care coordinator. This form is available by contacting either Emily Burgio for Western DDSO cases or Matthew Graves for Finger Lakes DDSO cases. A care coordinator or the family/ individual can always email the Self Direction Mailbox for general inquires as well: selfdirection@people-inc.org. For Consumer-Directed Services (CDPAP), contact 716.874.5600.

How do I pay for these programs?

Medicaid is the primary payer for OPWDD Home and Community Based (HCBS) waiver services, although there are services that are provided through New York State, such as Family Support Services.

How do I get Medicaid?

There are a number of ways to apply:

What other health services are offered?

People Inc. offers a comprehensive range of healthcare services for people with disabilities, children, older adults and the community. Our Rehabilitative Health and Counseling Services are open to the public and our Home Health Care Services is available for people with and without disabilities. People Certified Home Health is the only agency in Western New York that provides specialized home health care to people with developmental disabilities. We offer other health care programs that can also assist with behavioral needs, environmental modifications and Life Transitions at the end of life.