Frequently Asked Questions


What is Community Habilitation ?

Community Habilitation is a service designed to assist individuals with developmental disabilities in fostering skills that promote independence in the home and in the community. Supports include adaptive skill development, assistance with activities of daily living, community inclusion, and relationship building, training and support for independence in travel, adult educational supports, development of social skills, leisure skills, self-advocacy and informed choice skills, and appropriate behavior development to help the individual access their community. Individuals participating in this service will work one-on-one with a Community Habilitation Specialist either at home or in the community on developing skills needed to achieve individualized goalso to app settings and press "Manage Questions" button.

Who qualifies to receive Community Habilitation?

The following criteria must be met by the applicant in order to qualify for Community Habilitation services:

  • Must be age 3 or up; not enrolled in Early Intervention services
  • Must reside in New York City (Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens)
  • Must be diagnosed with a developmental disability

How long will I have to wait before I/my child begins to receive service?

After the application has been completed and submitted by your Care Manager, the Community Habilitation Supervisor will contact the family and the Care Manager and inform them on whether or not the services were approved by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). This takes about 4 weeks after the application has been submitted through the Choices System.

Can I choose the gender/ethnicity/language of my Community Habilitation Specialist?

Yes. The Community Habilitation Supervisor will do his/her best to match the consumer and their family with a Specialist who they feel comfortable with.

Where will the service be provided?

Individuals participating in this service will work one-on-one with a Community Habilitation Specialist either at home or in the community on developing skills needed to achieve individualized goals.


How do I apply for a Waiver Service?

Do you have a Care Manager? If yes, your Care Manager will have to contact the Program Supervisor, and submit the following documents on your behalf:

  • Approval Letter (Your Care Manager will need to request the approval letter from the borough DDRO by submitting the original justification letter and an Addendum for Service form)
  • Initial Level of Care
  • Annual Life Plan (needs to be up-to-date)
  • Copy of the Addendum for Service form
  • Waiver Packet
If you do not have an Care Manager, you will have to apply and begin receiving Care Coordination services from an agency or organization. Child & Family Support Services is affiliated with the Care Coordination agency CareDesign NY. If you would like to receive your care coordination services from CareDesign NY, please contact: (646) 491-6497 ext 202018

What are HCBS Waiver Services?

OPWDD administers this HCBS Waiver. It is OPWDD's primary funding mechanism for supporting individuals in the community by providing a variety of services and supports that are uniquely tailored and individualized to meet each person's needs. These services can include habilitation services, respite care, service coordination, and adaptive technologies. Services are provided either by OPWDD's Developmental Disabilities Services Office (DDSO) staff or through voluntary not-for-profit agencies who have been authorized to provide HCBS waiver services by OPWDD or the NYS Department of Health (DOH).

What Waiver Services Does CFSS provide?

- Community Habilitation - Day Habilitation Without Wall - In-Home Respite - Supported Employment


What is Day Habilitation Without Walls

OPWDD defines Day Habilitation Without Walls (W.O.W.) as “habilitation services that may be provided to an individual regardless of his or her living environment, and regularly takes place in a non-residential setting, separate from the individual’s private residence or other home. Day Habilitation services can assist individuals to acquire, retain or improve their self-help, socialization and adaptive skills, including communication, travel and other areas in adult education. Activities and environments are designed to foster the development of skills and appropriate behavior, greater independence, community inclusion, relationship building, self-advocacy and informed choice. Additionally, individuals accessing day habilitation often contribute to their communities through volunteer work”.

Who qualifies to receive DayHabilitation?

The following criteria must be met by the applicant in order to qualify for Community Habilitation services:

  • Must be age 21+ and have graduated from the Department of Education;
  • Must reside in New York City (Bronx or Manhattan)
  • Must be diagnosed with a developmental disability


What is Respite

Respite services provide temporary relief from the demands of care giving, which helps reduce overall family stress. This often enables families to better meet the needs of their loved one with a developmental disability. Respite can be provided in the home or out of the home, during the day, evenings or overnight. Respite is an “indirect” service that provides relief to individuals who are responsible for the primary care and support of an individual with a developmental disability. When a family member, Family Care provider, or live-in/house-parent staff person has to deal with such things as illness, emergency, and care giver or staff vacation, respite services can ensure that their loved one’s needs are met.

What is the difference between In-Home & Recreational Respites?


  • Takes place in Family Home.
  • May include staff accompanying the individual into the community.
  • Can occurs any day of the week.
Recreational Respite
  • At this time, only occurs on Saturday - from 10am to 2:30pm.
  • The program is offered to 5 to 17 year old individuals.
  • Advocates drop-off and pick-up the participants at the Melrose campus.
  • Participants are placed in small age appropriate groups and participate in a variety of structured activities such as relaxation, art, music, sports/games and community outings.


Can my loved one receive speech therapy at CFSS?

CFSS provides speech therapy for students ages 3-21. Your family member or student must have an initial speech-language evaluation and an IEP in order to qualify for speech therapy at CFSS. School aged children (ages 5-21), must have an RSA letter to initiate services.