School Program Shut Down Due to COVID-19? You Could Qualify for More IHSS Hours
As a parent of a child with special needs like autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or another disability, it can be difficult to find the best resources, especially if we are in the midst of a difficult time or a new diagnosis. And since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been especially tough with schools transitioning to online education, basically cutting out their special education programs altogether. If you have In-Home Support Services (IHSS), and you haven’t maxed out your hours, this could qualify you for more.
Do You Qualify for More IHSS Hours?
One of the biggest elements that determine how many hours you get as an IHSS provider are the alternative resources your child has. Alternative resources are basically IHSS services provided outside the IHSS program. Alternative resources can reduce IHSS hours. Some people may receive alternative resources through school, or your child may get alternative resources from a person as well. You may be getting services through an alternative resource and may not even know it.
Due to COVID-19, many alternative resources are not currently available because schools and day programs are closed, or people are not available in person.
Your First Step in Getting More IHSS Hours
Contact your social worker if you need additional IHSS hours because alternative resources are not available. If you cannot reach your worker, you should document the request, and adjust your hours.
Follow these steps to find which alternative resources you are no longer receiving and what additional IHSS services you may need:
- Identify the alternative resource (day program, school, person, CBAS, regional center program/services, etc.) you are no longer attending.
- Identify IHSS tasks reduced in your NOA because of alternative resources. This is under the column “SERVICES YOU REFUSED OR YOU GET FROM OTHERS”, because you get services from an alternative resource.
- Identify IHSS tasks you now need help with because of an elimination of an alternative resource. This should include both alternative resources identified in your IHSS NOA and alternative resources the county did not identify.
Some examples of IHSS tasks you may need help with because of the loss of an alternative resource include: assistance with feeding, meal prep/cleanup, diaper changes, assistance with ambulation, help with prosthesis, increased unmet need for those who need protective supervision, assistance with medications, paramedical services (such as range of motion exercises no longer being provided by a physical therapist or IHSS tasks provided as part of the receipt of nursing services which you are no longer getting due to a nursing shortage), time your IHSS provider spends ordering your food online because you can no longer shop for yourself because paratransit is no longer available to you, etc.
Advocate for Yourself and Your Child to Get More IHSS Hours
Remember, counties may not always identify and document alternative resources during an assessment, so it is important that you advocate for yourself and your child.
It is also a good idea to document your request for the additional time and provide an explanation as to why more time is needed. A sample letter of what a request for more time due to the elimination of alternative resources might look like is below.
Sample Letter Requesting More IHSS Hours
County IHSS Program
Address or Email:
Attention: IHSS Social Worker
Name of IHSS Recipient:
Dear IHSS Social Worker:
I am sending you this letter to request approval and to document my child’s need for more IHSS hours because of a loss of alternative resources. I am my child’s parent provider.
Before Covid-19 social distancing requirements, my child had been attending a school program for [XX] hours during the day. My child’s school program is no longer available because of COVID-19.
At my child’s school program, my child received assistance with the following IHSS tasks:
- [XX] hours: Meal preparation, feeding and meal clean up. Lunch which takes approximately 20 minutes to complete all tasks.
- [XX] hours: Paramedical services. Physical therapy (PT) session at school twice per week for a ½ hour each session. I have been training by my child’s PT to provide my child with this service at home. I am in the process of obtaining an SOC 321 form completed by child’s PT.
- [XX] hours: Assistance with diaper changes approximately twice per day. Each diaper change takes approximately 15 minutes to complete.
- [XX] hours: Repositioning in wheelchair. My child needs to be repositioned in their wheelchair once per hour about five times per day. It takes about 3 minutes each time they are repositioned.
Since my child’s school program ended on [XX], 2020, I have been providing my child with the IHSS tasks above. I am asking that IHSS grant my child approval of the [XX] hours of IHSS tasks my child now needs because of COVID-19 related loss of their educational program as required in All County Letter 20-26. This is in addition to the other IHSS services they are currently getting.
Thank you,[Your Name]
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.
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