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OPWDD Announces Federal Approval of New Changes to Appendix K

Essential Investments In Direct Support Workforce Coming Soon

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) is pleased to announce federal approval of new changes to the OPWDD Appendix K which will allow for essential investments in the direct support workforce of our service providers. OPWDD is making these needed investments to help immediately address the workforce shortage our service system currently faces.

The new investments include:

  • COVID-19 Workforce Performance Incentives
  • Workforce Longevity and Retention Bonuses
  • COVID-19 Vaccination Incentive Payments

The Appendix K is a set of changes applied to the OPWDD Comprehensive Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waiver to address COVID-19. Federal approval is an important step in providing the workforce investments included in the NYS American Rescue Plan Act Spending Plan and will allow OPWDD to begin distribution of financial resources to provide relief to Direct Support Professionals and Family Care providers.

OPWDD will begin implementing these provisions immediately by providing additional information to provider agencies and fiscal intermediaries (for the incentives and bonuses to be distributed to self-directed staff).  OPWDD will ask providers to complete a survey about their DSP workforce so that appropriate Workforce Performance and Vaccination incentives can be calculated. We will also ask providers to complete an attestation that the funds will be used as intended for DSPs and Family Care providers. Longevity Bonus payments will begin to be paid out following the return of a completed attestation; the Retention Bonus payment will be paid later this state fiscal year. Providers are being asked to work quickly to return the necessary information to OPWDD. We expect to be able to release the Incentive Payments in early 2022 provided that we have all the necessary information to do so.

An informational webinar will be held following the Thanksgiving holiday to help inform people further about the payment process. Details will follow next week.

Thank you for your continued advocacy.  We look forward to making these and other important investments in Direct Support Professionals to help resolve the current workforce shortage.

Sincerely,

Kerri E. Neifeld Acting Commissioner

 

At this time, these disbursements are only available to family care providers and direct support workers who are employed by voluntary service providers, including staff who deliver services under the self-direction program. Discussions are ongoing regarding state-employed direct support workers.