Preparation for Adulthood

Supported Living

Think about moving away from home and into your very own place for the first time. This might be a college dorm, an apartment or townhouse, etc. Are you likely to live alone or have a roommate (or roommates)? Most people have roommates when they move away from home. Why is this? Why not just live alone? Usually, the reason is because you can’t afford it yet! You need a roommate (like they need you) for that financial support. Or maybe you decide to live with a friend just because it makes the transition from home easier and you both like the idea of having the emotional support that comes with living together. You may also choose to continue to live at home with your parents while you pursue your education, or begin your career.

Well, just like you, people with disabilities sometimes need supports when they want to live in a situation of their choosing. Once a person with disabilities leaves high school, he or she is no longer eligible to receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA (see the Legal Rights & Protections unit to learn more about IDEA). Adult service agencies are now responsible for providing services. There are three such programs in Kentucky that offer residential supports: the Michelle P. Waiver, Supports for Community Living, and Kentucky Supported Living.

Living at Home: One source of support for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who choose to live at home or with a family member is the Michelle P. Waiver. This waiver provides support for ongoing services that are needed in order to allow the person with the disability to continue successfully living in their community. When the waiver is awarded, a case manager is assigned to help the person and their family determine what supports or accommodations may need. Some supports that can be provided under this waiver include supported employment, personal care, respite (additional support to provide relief for caretakers in the family) occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy.

Living Independently: As previously mentioned, some students with significant disabilities choose to live independently of their families after high school. The Kentucky Supported Living is a program that is specifically geared towards providing residential assistance to any Kentuckian with a disability recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Supported Living program provides individuals with disabilities assistance so that they may live in a residence of their choice, whether it be an apartment, a group home, with friends or relatives, or in a home of their own. The grant allows people with disabilities to apply for funding for one-time support to make the transition to supported living (i.e., a security deposit/down payment, or modifications such as building a ramp), as well as ongoing supports (i.e., hiring a companion/assistant). A team of family, friends, and others who can help is formed (of course including the person with the disability!). These people work together to determine a plan for reaching the focus person’s goal of where and how he or she wants to live. A person receiving supported living aid may live alone but may need someone to come into his or her home to assist with bill paying, cleaning, getting ready for work, cooking, etc. The goal of Supported Living is to offer supports that will allow individuals to live as independently as possible.

The Supports for Community Living program is another resource that offers services to young adults with intellectual disabilities after graduation. This program offers a variety of supports including residential. The residential supports offered through this program are designed to allow individuals with more significant disabilities the opportunity to live independently instead of in a residential facility. Because services are not usually available immediately, a person interested in receiving these services should register as soon as possible—even if he or she is still in high school. The supports available through SCL are ongoing in nature and similar to those available through the Michelle P. Waiver.

When you think about making the transition from your parents’ home to your own home, realize that your peers with disabilities are thinking about the same things. They may need to seek support, just as you may need to seek support. These forms of support just may come in different ways!

Pretend you are on the planning team for a person with a significant disability and you are trying to determine a plan of action to reach that person’s goal to live in his or her own apartment. What kind of things do you need to consider? What are your suggestions? Remember to think about that person’s specific strengths and needs. Write down your thoughts. This activity can be based on a fictional person.