What services are covered in Employment and Community First CHOICES?
Employment and Community First CHOICES is for people of all ages who have an intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD). This includes people who have significant disabilities.
Services help people with I/DD gain as much independence as possible. People are supported to live with their family or in the community, not in an institution. Residential services are available for adults with I/DD who do not live with family but need supports where they live.
Employment and Community First CHOICES can help the person with I/DD explore the possibility of working. Services can also help people learn skills for work, find a job, and keep a job. This could be a part-time job, a full-time job or self-employment. Working helps people earn money, learn new skills, meet new people, and play an important role in their communities. Work can also help people stay healthy and build self-confidence.
Other services help people learn and do things at home and in the community that help people achieve their goals. If a person lives at home with their family, the services help the family support the person to become as independent as possible. Services also help people get actively involved in their communities and include peer supports for the person and for their family.
Employment and Community First CHOICES offers many different kinds of services to help people with I/DD get and keep a job. They will help the person
- Decide if they want to work and identify the kinds of jobs they might like and be really good at.
- Try out certain jobs to see what they are like and what they need to do to get ready for those jobs.
- Write a plan to get a job (or start their own business) and carry out that plan.
- Have a job coach to support them when they start their job until they can do the job by themselves or with help from co-workers.
- Get a better job, earning more money.
- Understand how the money they earn from working will impact other benefits they receive, including Social Security and TennCare.
These services create a “pathway” to employment, even for people with significant disabilities. All services are offered in the home or community, not in a facility-based setting. Employment services are available to individuals of working age in all five benefit groups. In Tennessee, the working age starts at 16.
Other kinds of services are only available in certain benefit groups. Some of these services have limits. This means that TennCare will only pay for a certain amount of these services.
Here is see a complete list of services. It tells you how each service can help, what benefit groups cover it, and the limits on that service.
What if the person with I/DD (or their family) thinks they can’t work because of their disability? We can help explore lots of options. We can help find a good fit for things the person likes and is good at. If they have greater support needs, we can even help find or make a job just for them (called “customized” employment). We can also help people with I/DD get ready to work. They can learn new skills to help them be more independent.
What if the person with I/DD is not old enough to work yet? We can help them get ready to work when they are old enough. We can help their family support them in planning for and reaching their employment and community living goals.
What if they explore employment and decide it’s not for them? OR, what if the person with I/DD is old enough to retire? Other services can help them live in and be part of their community, including:
- Community Integration Support Services
- Independent Living Skills Training
- Personal Assistance
- Enabling Technology
- And other supportive services that people with disabilities and their families have said they need most, including residential services for people who need them.
What if the person (or their family) is afraid of losing other benefits they receive, like SSI (Supplemental Security Income)? Just signing up for the program won’t hurt their benefits. One of the services in the program is called Benefits Counseling . If a person is planning for employment, someone will help them understand how the money they earn from working will impact other benefits they receive. This includes SSI or Social Security and TennCare. It can help them understand how much income they can earn from working without losing their benefits.