Policy Areas

The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) has revised the Residential Habilitation Vacancy management process in order to streamline the referral process for any vacancies that become available in a home where a Harry M class member resides. The Harry M settlement agreement was approved by a federal court judge in 2013 and was created in order to ensure Pennsylvanians are provided with necessary communication assistance services based upon their assessed needs. The agreement also establishes that the participants who are deaf have the opportunity to live with other deaf participants if they so choose.

It is not uncommon for people who are deaf to regularly interact and reside with other deaf individuals. ODP promotes individual choice and no individual will be required to move involuntarily. ODP Announcement 19-003 directs providers to notify the ODP deaf services mailbox for all vacancies that occur in a home where a Harry M class member resides in lieu of the usual process. This will allow ODP to review the opening and possibly identify a Harry M class member that communicates in a similar manner and is interested in residing in the home.

If an individual is identified, they will be offered the opportunity to live with another deaf person. If an individual is not identified within five business days, the administrative entity (AE) will have the opportunity to identify an individual who might utilize the vacancy. In that case, the AE would follow the usual process detailed in ODP Communication Packet 098-12.

For further information regarding this communication contact the ODP deaf services mailbox.

The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) is pleased to announce the schedule of virtual trainings and virtual office hours during the months of January, February, and March 2019. This represents an alignment of the training schedule for both the Bureau of Community Services (BCS) and Bureau of Autism Services, and the trainings are designed for both, with specific content for administrative entities (AEs), supports coordination organizations (SCOs) and agencies, other service providers, and other professionals supporting individuals with autism, intellectual disabilities, and other developmental disabilities.

Please note that beginning in February, ODP will offer one targeted session for BCS AEs and SCOs, but those entities may also benefit from attending other non-targeted topic sessions, and are encouraged to review the scheduled options.

Pre-registration is required for each session you want to attend. ODP uses GoToWebinar for Virtual Targeted Trainings (VTTs). Each scheduled VTT offered will have its own unique registration link. The links are available in the ODP Announcement 19-002. To register for trainings and virtual office hours that you plan to attend, click on the linked title of the training or virtual office hours. Once you preregister, you will receive an email with instructions to participate, including a new link to join the meeting.

It is recommended that you register in advance to ensure you receive the meeting reminder.

Please note: Attendees will have the option to call into the webinar by phone, in addition to participating online and using the chat feature.

Virtual Office Hours (VOH)

  • Interactive dialogue opportunity to field questions related to a specific topic
  • Not recorded or posted
  • One-time opportunity to participate live

Virtual Targeted Training (VTT)

  • Traditional virtual training presented using a PowerPoint (lecture format)
  • Will be recorded and posted
  • Little to no opportunity to answer questions unless time permits at the end

For questions about this announcement, email: MyODP Training.


ODP Announcement 19-001 serves as a reminder that ODP Quality Management (QM) Certificate Holders who achieved certification during Calendar Year 2017 are due for recertification by December 31, 2019.

ODP created a QM Certification Program as part of its QM Strategy to support four objectives:

  1. Offer the highest quality services that promote choice and control in individuals’ everyday lives;
  2. Safeguard the health and safety of individuals receiving services;
  3. Implement positive practices; and
  4. Ensure program compliance with regulations.

A pilot of the certification curriculum was started at the end of 2015 and certified the first group of staff in early 2016. Since that time, ODP has continuously improved the content and format, based on feedback from attendees, and offered QM Certification Classes in the spring and fall of each year. Included in the ODP QM Certification program is the requirement for staff to recertify every two years. For those who are not already certified, ODP QM Certification classes are scheduled to occur across the Commonwealth during the Spring of 2019 and will be announced soon.

Recertification is highly recommended, as it supports the continued advancement of QM skills, knowledge, and expertise. All staff who became certified during Calendar Year 2017 and wish to remain certified must obtain recertification, no later than the December 31, 2019 deadline.

Recertification modules and the accompanying test are available on MyODP. Recertification applicants will have 2 attempts – 24 hours apart – to achieve a score of at least 84%. If a recertification applicant waits until December 31, 2019 to take the test, they will have only one attempt, as the exam will close at midnight on that day.

To recertify, staff must complete a review of four ODP QM Recertification Modules:

  • Part 1: QM Strategy Updates
    • Learn about changes to ODP’s QM Strategy that are included within updated QM Modules 101-105 made available in January 2018
  • Part 2: QM Tools Overview
    • Discuss tools used in QM
  • Part 3: Organizing Data and Creating Graphs
    • Learn how to organize data and create graphs for QM monitoring and analysis
  • Part 4: RCA – the Root Cause Analysis (RCA) Process
    • Learn when and how to use this excellent but under-utilized tool. Once staff review this information, they are encouraged to begin using the RCA Process.

Materials from the Recertification Modules should be added to the ODP QM Certification Manual for future reference.

Questions about ODP’s QM Strategy, the ODP QM Certification program, or other questions related to quality management, can be sent to the ODP QM Mailbox.

The Dennis Marion Impact Award recognizes local and state government employees whose initiatives, processes, and projects have led to significant improvements in Pennsylvania’s behavioral health service delivery system.


The Dennis Marion Impact Award was established in 2017 in honor of Dennis Marion’s commitment to public service throughout his distinguished career, which spanned over three decades.  Dennis served as Deputy Secretary for Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services’ Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services from 2013 to 2017. Prior to his state employment, Dennis served Cumberland County, Pennsylvania for 31 years in various positions, such as County Administrator, Director of the Drug and Alcohol Commission, and Director of the Office of Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities.

Just like Dennis Marion, whose strong leadership, passion for public service, and commitment to the people he served did not stop at the boundaries of his work in any single county or agency, the Dennis Marion Impact Award recognizes strong performers who bridge disparate missions and drive towards a single goal of excellence in public service.


The purpose of the Dennis Marion Impact Award is to recognize outstanding and meritorious achievement in working for state or local government, encourage the highest standards of performance in Pennsylvania’s public sector, attract outstanding individuals to a career in public service, and highlight public awareness of the value of public service and its impact on the behavioral health and quality of life of individuals and communities.

Eligibility Criteria:

Any current state and/or local government employee in Pennsylvania that has made an outstanding contribution in the area of behavioral health (mental health and/or substance use disorders) in Pennsylvania is eligible for nomination for the Dennis Marion Impact Award.  Individuals that have built effective, collaborative partnerships across different organizations, agencies, and/or other stakeholders to define and solve problems, or reach agreements on a course of action, will be given priority consideration for this award.  Nominees’ contributions may be on a sustained basis or through a single, exceptional accomplishment. Nominations will be judged on three measurements: innovation, implementation, and outcomes.


The nomination form is available hereThe nomination period is from January 1, 2019 to January 31, 2019. Completed nominations must be submitted electronically to lkitner@pacounties.org by 5:00 pm EST on January 31, 2019. No nominations will be accepted before or after the nomination period. Note, individuals may not self-nominate.

The award will be presented at Pennsylvania’s May 2019 Mental Health Awareness Month event in Harrisburg, PA.  Questions regarding this award may be directed to sklucar@pa.gov.

Sponsoring Organizations:

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services – Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Association of County MH/DS Administrators
Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association
Pennsylvania Association of County Drug and Alcohol Administrators
Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association

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The Community Relations Manager for the Pennsylvania Independent Enrollment Broker (IEB) program (aka Maximus) has provided a map of Outreach Coordinators on the team and their coverage areas. This information was requested during the December 19, 2018 RCPA Physical Disabilities and Aging Division meeting.

Please Note: Jennifer Borgess in the North Central Region (shown in green on the map) is leaving the PA IEB (her last day will be January 4, 2019). Until a replacement is found for this region, if someone in that region reaches out to the PA IEB, please copy Joan Landis (Community Relations Manager) and Jahd Burns (her team supervisor) to ensure the issue is addressed by someone. Once a new coordinator in that area is hired and trained to take over this region, an updated map will be issued.

Contact Melissa Dehoff, RCPA Rehabilitation Services Director, with questions.

ODP Announcement 108-18 provides Update 5 regarding HCBS Settings Provider Self-Assessments. As of December 6, 2018, all residential providers were emailed their self-assessment reports and guidance for any needed corrective actions. Providers are encouraged to email here if a report has not been received for a residential service location for which a self-assessment was submitted.

ODP is now working on developing the self-assessment reports and guidance that will be sent to non-residential providers (Community Participation Support and/or Day Habilitation). ODP will start emailing this information to providers on December 31, 2018. It should take about a month for all reports and guidance to be sent for every service location. Non-Residential providers should email this address if a report has not been received by January 31, 2019, for a service location for which a self-assessment was submitted.

On October 1, 2018, ODP contacted residential and non-residential providers for which a self-assessment for an active service location was not submitted and informed them that an onsite assessment would be scheduled. Their current analysis shows four residential service locations and 19 non-residential service locations that meet this criterion. Staff from ODP will be completing the onsite assessments for residential service locations and Administrative Entity staff will be completing the onsite assessments for non-residential service locations. Providers who will receive an onsite assessment should be contacted by staff from ODP or an Administrative Entity soon to discuss and schedule the assessment. It is their goal to complete all onsite assessments by March 31, 2019.

Through the HCBS Settings Provider Self-Assessment process, there have been some frequently asked questions and concerns regarding corrective actions and documentation that ODP wanted to clarify to all providers involved that are addressed in this announcement.

Please be advised that ODP has received a large quantity of emails and phone calls from providers. As a result, it has been taking longer than expected to respond to each provider individually. ODP wants to thank you for your ongoing patience throughout this HCBS Settings Provider Self-Assessment process. For any questions related to this communication, please submit them via email.

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During the November Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) National Provider call with inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs), CMS responded to a question related to the counting of minutes of therapy provided by a therapy student that these minutes would not count, regardless of the level of supervision.

This triggered much confusion and led to the therapy professional associations requesting a meeting with CMS to discuss and address this and their concerns surrounding this response. After this collaborative effort between these associations and CMS, CMS issued a clarification of its position on therapy students in IRFs.

CMS has noted that student therapists may participate in therapy provided in an IRF if the student is appropriately supervised, and that the time spent with the student may count towards satisfying intensity of therapy requirements for IRFs. Cited directly from the clarification:

“Regarding the IRF intensive rehabilitation therapy program requirement in 42 CFR 412.622(a)(3)(ii), CMS’s current policy does not prohibit the therapy services furnished by a therapy student under the appropriate supervision of a qualified therapist or therapy assistant from counting toward the intensive rehabilitation therapy program. However, IRFs provide a very intensive hospital level of rehabilitation therapy to some of the most vulnerable patients. To ensure the health and safety of this vulnerable population, CMS expects that all student therapy services will be provided by students under the supervision of a licensed therapist allowed by the hospital to provide such services.”

Contact Melissa Dehoff, RCPA Rehabilitation Services Director, with questions.

ODP Announcement 109-18 announces that the Fair Hearing Request Form (DP 458) has been updated. The form is used by individuals and families to object to the following actions taken by the Administrative Entity (AE), County Program, Supports Coordination Organization (through the auto authorization process), or ODP and to request a fair hearing before the Department of Human Services, Bureau of Hearings and Appeals:

  • An individual is determined likely to meet an Intermediate Care Facility for persons with an Intellectual Disability (ICF/ID) or Other Related Conditions (ICF/ORC) level of care and is enrolled to receive Medical Assistance but is not given the opportunity to express a service delivery preference for either Waiver or ICF/ID services.
  • An individual is denied preference of Waiver, Targeted Support Management, or ICF/ID services.
  • Based on a referral from the AE or County Program, a Qualified Developmental Disability Professional (QDDP) determines that an individual does not require an ICF/ID or ICF/ORC level of care and eligibility for services denied or terminated.
  • An individual is denied Waiver service(s) of their choice, including the amount, duration, and scope of service(s).
  • An individual is denied the choice of willing and qualified Waiver or Targeted Support Management provider(s).
  • A decision or an action is taken to deny, suspend, reduce, or terminate a Waiver service authorized on the individual’s Individual Support Plan (ISP).

If an individual or family needs assistance completing the form, the AE, County Program, Supports Coordinator, or Targeted Support Manager may help.

The Fair Hearing Request Form should not be completed for actions taken by the County

Program regarding base-funded services. Base-funded services are services that are not paid for through a waiver and do not include Targeted Support Management. Denial of eligibility for base-funded services and individuals who have had base-funded services denied, reduced, or terminated have the right to appeal under the Local Agency Law.

The Fair Hearing Request Form should not be completed for actions taken regarding services in the Adult Autism Waiver or Adult Community Autism Program at this time. Individuals who would like information about how to request a fair hearing for an action regarding the Adult Autism Waiver or Adult Community Autism Program should talk to their Supports Coordinator. The updated Fair Hearing Request Form and accompanying instructions are here.

Questions about this communication should be directed to the appropriate Office of Developmental Programs Regional Office.