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How Can I Get IHSS for My Child with Autism in California?

How Can I Get IHSS for My Child with Autism in California?

In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) is a program in California that provides financial assistance to low-income individuals who are elderly, blind, or disabled, including children with autism, to enable them to live independently in their own homes or communities. To be eligible for IHSS, you must meet certain income and resource limits and be assessed as needing help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and cooking.

To apply for IHSS in California, you will need to complete and submit an application to your local county welfare department. You can find the application and more information about the program, including eligibility requirements and how to apply, on the California Department of Aging website. You may also be able to get help with the application process by contacting your local county welfare department or an advocacy organization for people with disabilities.

While a variety of benefits are available, the most important for families of children with special needs is “Protective Supervision”. An IHSS provider may receive an hourly wage to observe and monitor a disabled child when he or she needs 24-hour supervision and can continue to safely stay at home. This wage is also exempt from federal income taxes.

Is Your Child with Autism Eligible for IHSS?

To be eligible for Protective Supervision, your child must have:

  • A mental impairment or mental illness that causes functional limitations in:
  1. Memory (e.g. forgetting things, people, places, to start or finish a task, etc.)
  2. Orientation (e.g. inability to recognize and adapt to time, people, places, environment, surroundings etc., needed to live and complete tasks.)
  3. Judgment (e.g. making decisions which put the individuals’ health and/or safety at risk),


  • The impairments must cause your child to experience confusion and an inability to self-direct his or her behaviors so as to keep himself or herself safe and free from harm or injury.


  • The county must also determine that your child needs to be observed twenty-four-hours-a-day in order for him or her to safely remain at home. This does not mean that the provider has to be present and watching the individual at all times. It can include observing your child in some alternative way while he or she is left alone for a fixed period of time.

Applying for IHSS Program Benefits

The IHSS application process generally involves a written application, an in-home interview with a social worker, and medical records. Once approved as an IHSS provider, there will be ongoing assessments. You can get assistance at every stage of this process whether you are a first-time applicant, or your application has been denied.

First time applicants can get help to:

  • Determine if you are eligible
  • Create a plan with you to maximize your benefits
  • Perform all necessary research and complete all paperwork
  • Obtain any required medical records
  • Assist you through the interview and all processing

If you applied for IHSS benefits and were rejected, you can get help to:

  • Review your case
  • Check all records and research the reason for your rejection
  • Assist you in appealing your application
  • Represent you at hearings

Every child with special needs deserves full supervised care, and no family should be turned away. If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.

American Advocacy Group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with Autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.


Dial (877) 762-0702 or email us at [email protected].

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