ADM #2018-02 Distinguishing Agency Volunteers from Natural and Community Supports

The purpose of this ADM is to clarify the difference between agency formal “volunteers” vs. people who provide natural or community support assistance to people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) in the context of community life. These distinctions are important for defining the circumstances under which background checks and/or mandatory training(s) would be required.

The following definitions are used in this document:

a) Natural Supports – family members and friends who have long lasting relationships with a person.

b) Community Supports - people in the community who have developed a supportive relationship with a person based on mutual interests and regular contact over time. Natural and/or community supports are based on personal relationships that are developed over time. People that provide these supports are not required to undergo background checks or participate in the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities’ (OPWDD) mandatory trainings.

c) Agency Volunteers – people who engage in a formal relationship with a provider agency to support a person or persons in various activities under the direction of that agency. Agency volunteers are defined in regulations and work under the supervision of a provider agency, and as such are required to undergo background checks and participate in OPWDD’s mandatory trainings.

This document addresses, in more detail, these support types and any regulatory obligations associated with each.