Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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NYSTART Frequently Asked Questions


September 2016

What is NYSTART?

 NYSTART is an initiative of the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) that provides community-based crisis prevention and response services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who present with behavioral and mental health needs.  START stands for Systemic, Therapeutic Assessment, Resources and Treatment. “Systemic” means that the entire circle, or system, of services and care is addressed.  “Therapeutic Assessment” means that skilled clinicians evaluate and assess individuals to understand their therapeutic needs.  “Resources” means that based on clinical assessment, completed by the NYSTART team, some individuals enrolled in services may need additional resources such as a short-term stay at a Therapeutic NYSTART Resource Center or in home support provided by a NYSTART counselor. “Treatment” refers to the services an individual receives to improve their crisis situation, these can include, but are not limited to counseling, staff/caregiver training, recreational activities, medication review, and skill-building activities.

What services does NYSTART offer?
NYSTART uses a person-centered, positive, evidence-informed approach to help individuals, families, caregivers, agencies, and other providers.  NYSTART offers training, consultation and technical assistance on the use of positive behavioral supports services, and other therapeutic tools.  The program builds on existing resources by providing clinical assessments (including psychiatric, behavioral and medical), consultation, education and training, crisis response and therapeutic recreation. 

Who is eligible for NYSTART?
NYSTART services are available to individuals age 6 or over who have intellectual and developmental disabilities who present with behavioral and mental health concerns. An OPWDD eligibility determination is required in order to receive the full array of NYSTART services. Services are provided based on clinical assessment and individual needs. Further information on OPWDD eligibility can be found on the OPWDD website at the following link: /opwdd_services_supports/eligibility

Who can make a referral and what is the process? 
Referrals can be made by, but are not limited to, individuals, families, service providers, hospitals, psychiatric centers and other crisis services.  Contact information for operational NYSTART teams can be found online at:

Are there other states that provide START services?
START programs have been providing person-centered supports as well as clinical, emergency and respite services since 1989.  START was founded by Joan Beasley, Ph.D., at the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability.  The START program is currently operating in numerous states across the country. Explore for more information on states that are providing START services.