Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Front Door Questions and Answers


What will people using the Front Door experience that is different from the “old way” of doing things?

The wants and needs of the individual will come first when mapping out a service plan. People with developmental disabilities will be guided in the exploration of options from the array of services offered in the OPWDD service delivery system. The service plan will be tailored to the individual with supports that offer full integration in the community.

Why is this change being made?

A person-centered approach has been found to enrich the lives of people with developmental disabilities. The ability to measure personal outcomes has resulted in individuals enjoying more meaningful relationships with friends and family, better health, personal growth, and more independence and community involvement.

What are the key components of the front door?

Key components include:

  • Initial contact for those who are new or seeking to modify existing services
  • Determining eligibility for services
  • Assessment of strengths
  • Identifying support needs
  • Plan authorization and implementation

What is the definition of self-direction and how is it related to Front Door services?

Self-direction allows an individual with a developmental disability to take charge of and be responsible for services.

Self-direction is the hallmark of the Front Door. It allows people with developmental disabilities to help develop a plan for services and, ultimately, for their lives, that will meet their wants and needs and help them achieve their goals.

The Front Door is being described as part of OPWDD's transformational plan. What does this mean?

New York State and the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have identified a series of shared goals that will improve opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities in the areas of employment, integrated living, and self-direction of services. These goals are captured in a transformation agreement. In it, OPWDD has committed to:

  • Offering opportunities for individuals moving from OPWDD campus-based institutions to live in smaller, more personalized settings.
  • Establishing a strategy for increasing supportive housing options, and a timeline for offering residents of intermediate care facilities opportunities for services that are fully integrated in the community.
  • Increasing the number of individuals in competitive employment by 700 in one year.
  • Educating more than 6,000 stakeholders in order to increase the number of individuals who are self-directing their services in part or whole from 850 to over 2,000 in this fiscal year.

Will the eligibility and assessment tools used by OPWDD be the same as before with the Front Door?

Initially, assessment tools will be the same, while a new tool, the Coordinated Assessment System (CAS) is being tested. The CAS has been developed and tailored specifically to capture the unique health and support needs of individuals with developmental disabilities in New York State. The revamped assessment process is designed to feel like a conversation between the individual, his or her family, the assessor, and others who are most integral to that person’s life.  Full implementation of the CAS is expected in about two years.

Is the Front Door approach more helpful in assisting people to link with the support they need?

The Front Door Offers the opportunity to expand the service options available to individuals by allowing people to receive services in more integrated settings. Individuals and their families will be guided through the process of learning about, choosing and implementing those services.

Where does someone get more information on starting the journey through the Front Door?

Individuals can contact the OPWDD regional office that covers their county for assistance. OPWDD has a Front Door web page along with an email box where questions can be posted.

How will education for stake holders be provided, and what format will the education sessions take?

OPWDD has developed training materials that provide an overview of accessing services through OPWDD’s Front Door as well as training on self direction. Training materials are tailored and modified to meet the needs of a broad range of stakeholder groups. Education sessions are occurring monthly and OPWDD encourages provider agencies to reach out to our regional offices for scheduling education or information sessions for family members and staff.

Where are the education sessions offered?

Multiple group sessions are scheduled monthly at various locations within the region: provider agencies, state-operations day habs, and schools. Sizes of the groups vary. One-to-one sessions with individuals and families are provided when requested at the person’s home or over the phone. Written materials are also available, such as the Resource Guide, copy of a power point presentation, and list of DDRO contacts.

What education is REQUIRED before someone begins receiving services?

Information on OPWDD services through an education session, either through a group session or a one-on-one session is required prior to implementation of services for an individual. The regional office Front Door team is flexible in providing these training sessions to families and individuals. Regional office staff will send out resource material for families to review at a family’s request, however a contact (face-to-face or by phone) is required prior to the authorization of services

How are decisions on authorizations for new services made?

After eligibility for OPWDD services is determined, a Developmental Disabilities Profile (DDP2) is completed through discussions with the individual, family and circle of support, and the needs and preferences of the individual are recorded. Decisions related to service authorizations are based on the information gathered about the individual and their support needs.

How are decisions made on changes in service?

Presently Individuals looking for a change in service are not required to go through the Front Door. Authorization for change in services will be determined based on the individuals needs. The DDP2 will be reviewed and, if necessary, updated by the Regional Office staff.

Is the information session a pre-requisite to the process being started for referral to Care at Home (CAH)?

Everyone new to OPWDD will go through the Front Door regardless of their age or the nature of the services they are seeking. This is for two reasons: (1) eligibility for OPWDD services needs to be determined for all OPWDD services, including the CAH program; and (2) although CAH may be the appropriate service for this individual and family, it is important to be sure that the family understands the full array of available services and that the services authorized are the best to meet the identified needs. Attending an Access to Services Front Door Information Session for Individuals and Families or obtaining this information through 1:1 contact and dialogue with a DDRO Front Door representative is the best way to achieve this, and it is a pre-requisite prior to authorizing Care at Home services.

Do you have a list of appropriate contacts for the Front Door in each DDRO?

There is an updated list of contact numbers for Front Door staff in each DDRO office on the OPWDD website.

If a person has been receiving HCBS waiver services for several years (i.e. MSC and respite) and now needs an additional service (i.e. Community Hab or ESEMP), will that individual need to go through the Front Door?

Currently only individuals who are new to OPWDD services will go through the Front Door. Eventually, everyone who is looking for changes to their service plan will be given the opportunity to learn about support options that best meet their needs through the Front Door process. OPWDD expects to be in full implementation of the Front Door process by early fall.