Home and Community-Based Services: Community Living includes Employment

The 2014 NDEAM theme, EXPECT.EMPLOY.EMPOWER. appears in large white letters at the center of the poster on a blue backdrop of a collage of images of people with disabilities in a variety of work settings. On the right side is a large image from the back of a female wheelchair user. On the back of her chair are the words What can YOU do? The words at the bottom on a silver banner include National Disability Employment Awareness Month, DOL’s logo with the words Office of Disability Employment Policy United States Department of Labor and ODEP’s website: www.dol.gov/odep.In January of this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released new rules regarding home and community-based services (HCBS). The new rules and new definition of community living represent a historic change in the Medicaid program and opportunity to improve the system of community supports in every state. Home and community-based services include non-residential services like supported employment. David Mank, Director of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, wrote this guest post about the intersection of community living and employment.

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CMS recently issued new rules defining home and community based services. The language in these regulations emphasize person centered planning and “creates a more outcome-oriented definition of home and community based settings, rather than one solely on, geography or physical characteristics”. CMS indicates its intent is to ensure that people have access to the benefits of community living and full opportunity to be integrated in their communities. CMS has also indicated this applies to all settings, including day program settings and will issue further guidance in the future.

The clear possibility is that this change will result in continued movement toward individualized jobs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. And, is entirely aligned with the “Six by 15 Campaign”. Increasingly, integration is being defined in terms of how people spend their time and what choices people are free to make rather than the location of a building, or the number of people that live there. Community living is about choices and freedom of movement in the typical spaces of community. Translating this to how people spend their day time, can only result in increased opportunities for community jobs for everyone that might want one.

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Learn more at HCBSadvocacy.org.