Employment and housing can be critical to good health, and the State of Washington has recognized that more supports are needed in these key areas. In January 2018, the state launched a new program to support individuals with complex care needs because of physical or mental impairments by helping them to find and keep jobs and homes.
The pilot project provides housing and employment supports to individuals who qualify to receive them. The program doesn’t pay the rent or subsidize a job but rather offers counseling and resource navigation help so that individuals can maintain relationships and stabilize in their work and home circumstances. The program is available to persons 16 and older, who are Medicaid eligible and meet the criteria for the program. This may include students transitioning from high school into adulthood.
“This program is open to a new population,” says Krystal Baumann, an employment program manager for Region 2 in the northwestern part of the state. Bauman says the new initiative may share referrals with the state’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) but is a separate program that offers unique services for individuals who may not qualify for supports through DDA or DVR. These new services cannot duplicate other state and federal programs, so individuals already receiving supports may need to choose which service or agency best suits their needs.
The pilot program is part of the Healthier Washington Medicaid Transformation led by the Washington Health Care Authority (HCA) in conjunction with the Aging and Long-Term Support Administration (ALTSA) and Behavioral Health Administration (BHA). A multi-tiered effort to transform Medicaid services to address social factors that contribute to lifelong health challenges, Healthier Washington includes multiple phases being introduced over a five-year period in what has been called the Medicaid Transformation Demonstration.
“The purpose of transforming Medicaid is to build an integrated, whole-person health care delivery system,” the HCA states. “The success of this effort will provide Washington State with definitive evidence that better health, better care, and lower costs are possible, now and in the future.”
The new project that targets housing and employment comprises Foundational Community Supports (FCS)—also called Initiative 3. “FCS providers can play a critical role in achieving better health, better care and stronger communities,” organizers conclude in an HCA FAQ sheet released in December.
Supported housing services are designed for people who experience:
- Chronic homelessness
- Frequent or lengthy institutional contacts
- Frequent or lengthy stays in adult residential care
- Frequent turn-over of in-home caregivers
- PRISM (Predictive Risk Information SysteM) score 1.5 or higher
Housing supports are ongoing to help people find and maintain stable, independent living. Services include:
- Housing assessments
- Identifying housing resources
- Support for obtaining a lease
- Independent living skills development
- Crisis management
Supported employment services target:
- People enrolled in the Aged, Blind or Disabled Cash Assistance Program
- People enrolled in the Housing and Essential Needs Program
- People diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness, substance use disorder or both
- Vulnerable youth and young adults with behavioral health needs
- People who receive long-term services and supports from ALTSA
Employment supports can help people find jobs (in competitive, customized or self-employment settings) and gain the skills to succeed. Services include:
- Vocational/job-related discovery or assessment
- Planning for employment
- Job placement, development, coaching
- Skill-building for negotiating with prospective employers
Eligibility is determined using a variety of tools and factors. DSHS recommends that families and individuals reach out with their questions to determine whether they might qualify and benefit from this new program.
Families and individuals can reach out directly to Amerigroup Washington, the Foundational Community Services Third-Party Administrator by calling 844-451-2828 or emailing FCSTPA@amerigroup.com.
If you are a customer of Home and Community Services (HCS) or the Area Agency on Aging (AAA), you may qualify for Supported Employment services under FCS. ALTSA has designated Supported Employment staff positioned throughout the state that are assisting with ALTSA specific referrals.
Region 1 (Eastern Washington) Jim Bischoff: 509-585-8073, BISCHJ@dshs.wa.gov
Region 2 (Northwest) Krystal Baumann: 360-522-2363, SmithKA1@dshs.wa.gov
Region 3: (Southwest) Vicki Gilleg: 360-870-4918, GILLEV@dshs.wa.gov
ALTSA HQ: Mike Corcoran: 360-725-2561, Michael.Corcoran@dshs.wa.gov