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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
State Board of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
Operation of the Individual and Family Support Program [12 VAC 35 ‑ 230]
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1/4/18  10:26 am
Commenter: Lucy Beadnell, The Arc of Northern Virginia/Virginia Ability Alliance

Comments on Needed Changes to IFSP Regulations

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services,

The Virginia Ability Alliance is a coalition of Northern Virginia non-profits focused on ensuring all people with disabilities are living a full life in their home community.  We have a vested interest in ensuring the Individual and Family Support Program (IFSP) is implemented in a way that fulfills the mandates of the Department of Justice settlement, while meeting the critical needs of the 12,000+ individuals with developmental disabilities on the waiting list for Waiver services.

We submit the following suggestions for updates to the regulations for the IFSP program based upon feedback we have heard from our families who have utilized this program in the past.

  1. The annual application period should be, at a minimum, 30 days in duration.  If funding is exhausted before the end of the 30 day application period, that announcement should be made publicly through the IFSP application portal and on the DBHDS website.
  2. The annual application timeline should be announced at least 60 days in advance of the opening of the application period.
  3. Any individual who is added to the Developmental Disability Waivers waiting list prior to the end of the application period should be eligible to apply for the program.
  4. A clear policy should be laid out for receipt submissions, including dates by when receipts must be submitted to DBHDS, how submissions of receipts should be made, and penalties for not submitting receipts. 
  5. Each open application period should have an opportunity for families to verify their eligibility to re-apply during the 60 day advance notice of the annual application.  The verification should include verification of the person’s presence on the waiting list, confirmation of eligibility based on past receipt submission, and opportunities to ask questions about proposed requests.
  6. In keeping with the provisions of the 2012 Settlement Agreement between the Department of Justice and the Commonwealth, the likelihood of institutionalization and urgency of need should be taken into account when processing applications.  Possible solutions include a listing of the individual’s priority status on the waiting list, any history of institutionalization, active crises or crisis services used, and an opportunity for a brief description of urgent or extenuating circumstances.  If the funding is not exhausted before the end of the application period, anyone who applies should be funded.  If funding is exhausted, priority should go to individuals most at risk of institutionalization. 
  7. Every individual on the waiting list should receive some direct notification of the opening of the program each fiscal year.  This could be done through written mail or email, through DBHDS or the Community Services Boards.  The current system of relying on a network of organizations and partners willing to share news of the program and/or families proactively checking for information on the DBHDS website is inadequate and further disenfranchises families already disconnected from services and supports.

We thank DBHDS for the significant improvements made to the program in the last year and hope that our suggestions are incorporated into the program regulations to further increase the accessibility and value of this program.


The Virginia Ability Alliance

Point of Contact:

Lucy Beadnell, Chair

703-208-1119 x116