Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions

Who determines if I will receive services and supports?

The Office of Developmental Programs is the entity within the Department of Human Services and responsible for the oversight of intellectual and developmental disability services in Pennsylvania. The local County MH/ID Programs’ role is to verify eligibility for intellectual disability services through the Office of Developmental Programs.

Eligibility for intellectual disability services through the Office of Developmental Programs requires a diagnosis of an intellectual disability based on the results of objective standardized testing. An intellectual disability is a permanent condition that affects a person’s ability to learn and function in daily life that occurs during the developmental period. A diagnosis of an intellectual disability requires that both a person’s general intelligence and ability to function in daily life are significantly below average. These two conditions may be present at birth or occur in the developmental period defined as prior to the person’s 22nd birthday.

Persons interested in more information regarding eligibility for intellectual services may contact the Office of Developmental Programs by telephoning the Intellectual Disabilities Services Customer Service Line at 1-888-565-9435 or by contacting their local County Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities (MH/ID) Program Office.

Where Do I Begin?

If you are not registered with the County Office of Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities (MH/ID), you need to call the office and make an appointment to register for supports or services.

Take documents to the appointment that will help establish that you are eligible for services through the intellectual disabilities system. Some examples are medical, psychological and school records. The County Office of Intellectual Disabilities will then determine if you are eligible for services.

If you are found eligible to receive services and are requesting services now or in the future, you will receive supports coordination. You should have a choice of any available Supports Coordinators and you should be able to meet with them before making your choice. If you do not wish to choose your Supports Coordinator, the county can assign one to you.

Where do I find the contact information for my county program office?

Intellectual and developmental disability services are administered through county Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilites (MH/ID) program offices. The county MH/ID offices serve as a referral source and most services are delivered by local agencies under contract with the county office. The county MH/ID office determines a person’s eligibility for service funding and if found eligible a person will receive a supports coordinator.

What is a supports coordinator?

After you are found eligible to receive services and supports the supports coordinator is the person from the county office that will help you:

  • Talk with you about what kinds of supports and services would be helpful to you.
  • Offer you an opportunity to complete an application for the Medicaid Home and Community Based Waiver Program.
  • Enroll you in services which require completing applications.
  • Help you develop your individual plan.
  • Help you talk with individuals or agencies in the community that could support you.
  • Coordinate and monitor supports and services.
  • Offer you the opportunity to complete a Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services (PUNS) form and place you on the waiting list.
  • Help to identify other types of community supports and services that would help you while you are waiting.

What is an individual support plan (ISP)?

The Individual Support Plan (ISP) provides details about what is most important to an individual with mental retardation so that everyone involved in supporting that individual can focus on those areas. Developed through a Person Centered Planning Process (PCP), the ISP collects information concerning personal preferences, dreams and wishes, medical history/current medical concerns, and communication preferences.

  • The team that develops the plan may include, but is not limited to: the individual, family/guardian, providers, advocates, friends, Supports Coordinator and surrogate.
    • The ISP is extremely important because it allows the individual to make choices about their life.
    • ISPs must be based on assed need.
    • ISPs must be unpaid, natural supports as well as funded supports.
    • The ISP must be reviewed annually, but may be changed at any time throughout the year.
    • The ISP is made up of six sections:
      1. Individual Preferences
      2. Medical
      3. Health and Safety
      4. Functional Information
      5. Financial
      6. Service and Supports

The ISP is a standardized format and entered into the State Home and Community Database (HCSIS).
Supports Coordinators monitor the ISP to make sure services are provided.

How long will I wait for services and supports?

The most important things that determine when you receive services are the availability of funding in your county and the urgency of your need. Each county gets an annual allocation of funding from the Office of Developmental Programs. Counties prioritize funding based on urgency of need, availability of services to meet these needs, and availability of funding. People already enrolled in waivers must have all their needs met before the County/Administrative Entity can enroll new people. It is important to remember that the Waiting List is not like a bakery or deli line where each person has a number. The County/Administrative Entity matches available resources with individual needs to determine who gets services and when. People in Emergency will have priority, but may still have to wait.

Office of Developmental Programs (ODP)

Customer Service Hotline: 1-888-565-9435
Customer Service Hotline (Hearing Impaired Only): 
1-866-388-1114
Central Office: 
717-787-3700

ODP Regional Offices:
Western:  412-565-5144

If I am eligible what types of services and supports are available?

Services and Supports Directory – The Services and Supports Directory is a tool for individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families, and the individual’s team to locate services and service providers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The directory can help you locate particular service providers or search for services and supports provided in an individual’s community. This directory does not include information on all providers, only those who have chosen to be listed. You may access the list of providers in the Services and Supports Directory on the Home and Community Services Information System (HCSIS) website.

Available Services – There are a number of services that can be provided to meet the needs of an individual registered with the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) for intellectual disabilities services. This list of services is subject to change as service definitions change and waiver amendments are approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Please contact your Supports Coordinator or the County Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities (MH/ID) Program to find the list of services and the corresponding service definitions.

Some examples of services include but may not be limited to the following:

  • Residential Habilitation
  • Home and Community Habilitation (unlicensed)
  • Companion Services
  • Transitional Work Services
  • Supported Employment
  • Pre-Vocational
  • Respite
  • Transportation
  • Licensed Day Habilitation
  • Nursing Services
  • Behavior Support