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Guidance: Vocational Habilitation Service

This guidance was updated on June 29, 2020. 

As the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) responds to coronavirus (COVID-19), supports for Ohioans with developmental disabilities and their families are evolving to meet identified needs in new ways. Providers of Vocational Habilitation, in collaboration with county boards of developmental disabilities, can deliver these supports in a variety of innovative ways.

Service Description and Expected Outcome

Vocational Habilitation (VH) is a home and community-based services (HCBS) waiver service that provides learning and work experiences where the person develops general skills that lead to competitive integrated employment, such as the ability to communicate effectively with supervisors, coworkers, and customers; generally-accepted community workplace conduct and dress; ability to follow directions; ability to attend to tasks; workplace problem-solving skills and strategies; and workplace safety and mobility training.

The expected outcome of the Vocational Habilitation service is the advancement of a person on his or her path to community employment and the person's achievement of competitive integrated employment in a job well-matched to the person's interests, strengths, priorities, and abilities. 

In response to COVID-19, this service will look different, including supporting people in new ways within their home, with an emphasis on health, safety, wellness, leaving home only for essential reasons. The remote service delivery option for Vocational Habilitation is only available to people who are not in receipt of any other authorized residential support services during the daytime hours when the person is typically at a non-residential service setting site.

What Vocational Habilitation Can Look Like during State of Emergency

  • In-person at a person's residence
    • VH providers can deliver supports in-home. Examples of this kind of delivery of service can include supporting the exploration of career interests via conversation, technology, assessments, and instruction. Training can focus on time management, dressing for success, problem-solving strategies, communication skills, and developing an in-home curriculum to support learning in these areas.
  • In groups of 10 and under (including support staff) in confined spaces
    • VH providers can continue using their facilities to provide supports, tailoring services to smaller numbers, and using the time to investigate new interests via technology, training in general work skill areas, and developing new ways to connect virtually with the business community.
  • On behalf of:
    • VH providers can support people and families through telephone calls to discuss and implement supports, developing activity kits around skill-building and discovering new career interests and delivering them to homes – including all the materials and other items needed to implement.
  • Connecting via technology
    • VH providers can use a variety of social-media platforms to connect with people they serve, matching their programming with the platform that makes the most sense to their needs. Virtual VH can be delivered in a variety of ways, including using an already established in-house curriculum, developing new programming specific to virtual instruction, or establishing new ways to discover opportunities around career assessment and interests. Virtual VH, like all other variations, can support people through their fears and help them stay connected to comforting routines.
  • Review


These services may be authorized via phone call or email before updating individual service plans (ISPs). Formal ISP revisions can be completed as time permits to reflect the needed changes retroactively. The VH provider cannot start offering Virtual VH without authorization from the county board to deliver services in this new way.


VH providers should continue documenting supports in the way they currently have been but will need to alter some of the services and documentation based on what is needed and available during the COVID-19 state of emergency. Documentation should also include how the services was provided: in-person, in groups of 10 or under, or via technology. When VH services are delivered via technology, documentation requirements include verification of the length of time participant was logged into the activity, as well as content of the activity.


Services authorized through electronic means (by telephone, email, etc.) will be reimbursed without being reflected in DODD’s Payment Authorization for Waiver Services (PAWS) system. County boards of developmental disabilities should document the authorization locally through TCM case notes when possible, or by any other means available. 

Please see Guidance: DODD Billing Concessions for additional information.