Home and Community Support

It has always seemed to me that people trying to follow the rules and figure out what services they need should be issued magical decoder rings.  As a former County Deputy Administrator in Pennsylvania, I would have raised my hand for one, too, but I am here to tell you that in my 30+ years, I never got one.  Luckily repetitious reading and lessons eventually become the decoder.  So, for now, I will share my “Decoder Ring” of knowledge learned.   So the question for today is, what is the difference between Home and Community Supports (formerly known as Habilitation, Hab or some called it Life Skills) and Community Participation Supports or as those who insist on alphabet soup, “CPS”?  A good question!  There is a distinction, even if there is some overlap.   I’ll start with the older, more traditional service, which at this part of our journey is Home and Community Supports.

Home and Community Supports

Home and Community Supports is probably the one service that could be almost anything for anyone.  It is entirely individualized and is based on what you need to work on to enhance or maintain current status, live a healthier lifestyle, or be more independent or achieve what is vital for you in your life.  This includes things that are “Important To” you and “Important For” you.  Yes, the Waiver services are to provide for health and safety, but they are also to provide balance and opportunities to grow.  The key is that those who support you will be there to provide guidance and sometimes help to make the best choices that allow for both.  Life is not intended to be a bubble of guaranteed safety. No one grows emotionally, academically, physically, spiritually (the list goes on) without taking a few risks.   So back to what it is.  Well, it is being supported to learn and try new things that lead to that “Good Life” that you and your family want for you.  It can be provided in your private home or in out an about in your neighborhood or other towns nearby, offering things that have peeked your interests.   It is not a service that is available to individuals who live in group homes because the staff from their homes can offer the same types of supports.  Maybe it is so you can be more independent in your home or community. Perhaps it is just getting out there taking care of life.  You know, things like doing your banking, grocery shopping, enjoying the banter at the local coffee shop.  I could be going to the gym where you can stay fit and meet other people who share your interests or learning how to take the bus or train so you can expand your world.  The list is endless as long as it aligns with the information in your ISP.

Community Participation Supports

Community Participation Supports or CPS does share some qualities of Home and Community Support, but there are critical differences.   It can get a little complicated.  I did not promise that it would not be complicated. I just offered my decoder ring!  So first, you might have already assumed by the name of the service, this one happens in the community.  More specifically, it cannot occur in your home, nor is it provided in places that are segregated.  Here is the exception.  Licensed day support settings that are segregated are now called CPS.  The two settings impacted used to be called Pre-Vocational Programs licensed under the 2390 regulations and Adult Day Programs under the 2380 regulations.  Why is this allowed, you ask?  It is directly tied to the Center for Medicaid Services, “Final Rule.”  If you have read anything about this, you know that the Federal Government expects there to be a plan for programs like those funded by the Office of Developmental Programs to be making serious efforts to help individuals move past or out of these older traditional services.  As part of these licensed services, the provider must offer opportunities for those attending to get out and be known in their community and do all the things that individuals who do not attend these programs are doing.  Coupled with an expectation that all individuals have the opportunity to explore and pursue a job in their community if they choose, CPS activities are to focus on taking steps, big or small, towards having the job you’ve wanted.  So before I get off on another topic, I’m going to bring it back.

Before I get going, I do want to stress that CPS services do not have to be connected to a licensed “day program.”  You might choose to forgo the long bus rides and stay local to the area you know and where you are known or branch out and explore new areas that interest you.  Regardless, you will be out in your community, making connections, exploring different places and practicing skills that you need to be safe and as independent as possible.  It can include trying out different jobs or positions to work through volunteering, certainly with the potential that a job opportunity may open up.  The end game is for you to be out there, meeting people and having them know you.  Being known really is a big step up not only finding out about job opportunities but also building a network of people who will look for you, who you can ask for help or maybe even find a new friend who likes to do the same things as you.  This isn’t doing things away from others.  In fact, it must provide opportunities for you to be out meeting and getting to know people and being known.  It is to give you a chance to learn more about what the world has to offer, learn how to be out there doing life so you can show the world that you have much to offer!