Self Direction

Information about Self-Directed Services

Self-Directed Services is a service option that allows individuals with a developmental disability, along with their parents or advocates, to exercise choices around the types of supports and services they receive and from whom they receive them.  This is done through an assessment of the individual’s needs and resources by a service provider known as a Broker, and the subsequent development of an annual budget (also known as a Personal Needs Allocation or PNA).

With the support of their parent/advocate, Broker, Care Manager and Circle of Support, the individual will have the freedom to exercise budget and employer authority over their PNA.  Any individual with a disability enrolled on the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Waiver, from the age of 3 years and up can exercise the option of using Self-Directed Services.

Referral and Access to Self-Directed Services

  • In order to access Self-Directed Services, the individual has to be referred to the Front Door by their Care Manager.
  • The individual and their parent or advocate must attend a Front Door Informational Meeting in order to begin the process of becoming eligible for Self-Directed Services.
  • The Front Door is the gateway for determining if an individual with a developmental disability is eligible for services through the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).  This is also the beginning of the process for determining eligibility and enrollment in Self-Directed Services.

Mechanisms for Utilizing Self-Directed Services

  • Once the individual and parent/advocate attends a Front Door Informational Meeting, then they will be asked to select a Start-Up Broker.  The Start-Up Broker is responsible for assisting the individual, their parent/advocate, Care Manager and other Circle of Support members to develop a service plan and budget to pay for supports and services.
  • Once the plan and budget is completed, it is sent to the Self-Directed Services liaison at the local Developmental Disabilities Regional Office (DDRO) for review and approval.  The regional OPWDD Self-Direction Coordinator is Laura Greenfield (
  • After the plan is approved at the local level, the plan and budget is sent to OPWDD for final approval.  NOTE:  These approvals can take several months to complete.
  • In the process of developing their self-directed plan and budget, the individual will then work with a Support Broker (often the same as the Start-Up Broker) who helps them manage their plan and coordinate quarterly Circle of Support meetings.
  • Supports and services can be provided by either staff that are hired directly by the individual.  These are called self-hired staff.  Individuals can also elect to use an agency that provides community habilitation, respite or supported employment programs.  This is called agency-supported staffing.
  • In addition to a Broker, the individual and their parent/guardian will need to choose a Fiscal Intermediary (FI) agency that will provide the financial and compliance oversight of their service plan budget.  In addition to paying for community habilitation and respite staffing, the individual’s personal assistance budget can include other services related to their valued outcomes, such as health club or organizational memberships, community classes and skills training.

Preparing Individuals for Using Self-Direction

  • Self-Directed Services is based on increasing the options and choices that people have for full inclusion and access to the community, greater independence in their lives and the ability to exercise freedom in the types of services and supports they receive.
  • Integration and access to the community means that the individual has chances to find competitive employment working alongside people without disabilities, having access to housing options in the neighborhoods where they want to live, and participating in local activities and accessing services for people with or without disabilities.
  • Greater independence in their lives means that the individual has every opportunity to make decisions and choices for themselves.  These decisions include, but are not limited to, their daily activities, the places where they live and work as well as to the people they interact with on a daily basis.
  • Exercising freedom means selecting the services and supports that the individual needs as well as who provides them and where they receive them.  Individuals should be able to live and access services in places that are for people with or without disabilities.
  • Preparing individuals to take full advantage of the self-direction process means individuals with disabilities should be given a variety of opportunities to make decisions and learn about the relationship between their decisions and consequences, as much as possible, prior to and during the self-direction process.

Liberty Resources Contact Information

  • Broker:  Amanda Traynor ( 1065 James Street, Syracuse, NY 13203.  Phone:  (315) 425-1004 ext. 1126.
  • Community Services Director:  Marget Rhode ( 1065 James Street, Syracuse, NY  13203.  Phone: (315) 425-1004 ext. 1202.