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Waiver Guidance

As the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) responds to coronavirus (COVID-19), please continue to exercise flexibility to ensure the health and safety of Ohioans with developmental disabilities and their families. DODD appreciates the unique role that providers of service and direct support professionals (DSPs) play throughout the developmental disabilities system.

The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) and the Office of System Support and Standards (OSSAS) resumed regulatory work on August 1, 2020 through virtual meeting options. During these meetings, OSSAS will focus on providing assistance and guidance while taking relaxed requirements into account, as they have been in effect during the state of emergency.

The following information gives recommendations and guidance on important issues for waiver-funded service providers and is effective immediately.

Health and Safety

DODD encourages providers to ensure that people with developmental disabilities and DSPs are familiar with and follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).

Following these guidelines for social distancing, providers may limit the delivery of services in community settings when appropriate.

Providers may not discharge a person from services only due to the diagnosis of COVID-19. It is expected that the provider will follow appropriate procedures as recommended by the CDC, ODH, their local health department, or health care professionals.

Providers are encouraged to ensure that a person-centered approach to services is maintained by communicating with people receiving services, their families, guardians, and DSPs to keep them updated on how they can stay safe during this state of emergency.

DSPs should be familiar with their agency’s emergency response plan.

DODD supports a provider’s ability to prioritize medical appointments, follow-ups, and consultations based on the needs of the person and after consultation with the appropriate medical professional. When possible, telehealth options, such as 24/7 nurse phone lines, should be explored.

Independent providers should be aware for each person they serve who is the designated back-up provider. Providers with questions should contact the person’s service and support administrator (SSA) for details.

Electronic Visit Verification

Updated March 30, 2020*

Providers who are employing a high volume of new staff and/or new clients are reminded that Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) visit logging requirements remain in effect. The Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) is monitoring EVV visits as part of a larger strategy to identify people at risk during the state of emergency who may not be receiving the support they require to stay healthy and safe. However, it is understood that no available EVV device and other barriers may exist when logging a visit during service delivery. Please keep in mind that any visit that is not recorded in real-time can be entered manually online at a later point. EVV is not used to deny claims payment at this time.

Please note the certification requirement for EVV training is being waived at this time for new providers and existing providers adding Homemaker/Personal Care (HPC) services during the state of emergency. Providers who have not completed training will not be able to access EVV data and log visits. Because EVV is not used to deny claims payment at this time, this will have no impact on reimbursement for services provided.

Providers who wish to continue delivering HPC services after the state of emergency will be required to take EVV training and begin logging visits at a later date.

Service Delivery

Review DODD’s guidance about Day Support Service Options for new options effective for partnerships between adult day and residential service providers.

DODD encourages providers to explore alternative service delivery methods, such as the use of Remote Support or allowing people to receive services in the homes of direct support professionals. People receiving services, guardians, and teams must be consulted and approve these alternatives.

It is recommended that staffing ratios be maintained whenever possible, but when not possible, the provider should ensure that the SSA is aware and be prepared to discuss ways in which the provider can continue to ensure the health and safety of the person.

Respite in Licensed Residential Facilities

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, DODD issued communication that providers should cancel all non-emergency respite stays. At this time, DODD would like to share that this is no longer the expectation. Respite stays can be approved for non-emergency situations. If a rule waiver for a temporary increase in capacity at a licensed residential facility is required for a respite situation contact OSSAS (ossas@dodd.ohio.gov) to request such a rule waiver.

Independent Providers

Ohioans with developmental disabilities and their families depend on independent providers to deliver personalized care, which they require to remain healthy and safe. Due to the increased need for independent providers in Ohio’s support system for people with developmental disabilities, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) is providing the following assistance to encourage more independent providers to be certified and start providing critical services during the state of emergency. The DODD website offers details about how to become an independent provider. In addition to the information on the website, DODD is providing the assistance detailed below.

Independent Certification Initial Application Fee Waived

Updated November 24* 

To help strengthen the provider community during this challenging time, DODD is waiving the $125 initial application fee for people who apply to be independent providers between November 23, 2020, and January 31, 2021. The application for certification must be submitted between these dates to receive a $0 checkout fee.

Background Check Assistance

Updated November 24* 

In Ohio, Webcheck locations have adjusted their hours and process to accommodate COVID-19 safety measures for applicants to request an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) check under reason code “5123.169 Applicant for a supported living certificate,” and reason code “5126.28 Employment with DODD” for those who will need a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) check because they lived outside of Ohio in the past 5 years. Background checks provided by Webcheck locations are subject to the regular fees associated with that service.

DODD operated Developmental Centers (DC) throughout Ohio will provide free background checks for independent provider applicants on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. Applicants requesting the background check should follow the following procedure:

  1. The applicant will call the DC human resources (HR) manager to make an appointment.
  2. The HR manager will provide DC specific instructions for where the applicant should report.   
  3. Applicant must report within a 10-minute window of appointment time.
  4. Upon entry to the DC, the applicant will be required to be screened and wear full personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by the DC.
  5. Background check results will be mailed from the DC to DODD provider certification to verify as part of your application.

Applicants should use the following contact information for Developmental Centers when scheduling a background check:

Image of Contacts at the department


Positive COVID-19 Diagnosis 

Independent providers are encouraged to maintain a person-centered approach to services. Communication is critical during a state of emergency. Ensure that there is consistent communication among independent providers, the person receiving services, the person’s service and support administrator (SSA), as well as with families or guardians.  

DODD supports independent providers’ abilities to prioritize medical appointments, follow-ups, and consultations based on the needs of the person and any advice from appropriate medical professionals. Independent providers are encouraged to utilize telehealth options when available. 

To maintain the health and safety of people receiving supports, independent providers should be aware of who is the designated back-up provider for each person they support. If there is any question, providers should reach out to the person’s SSA for details.  

Exceeding 60 Hours for Services 

During this state of emergency, independent providers are enabled to exceed the 60-hour ceiling for providing services, if necessary, to maintain the health and safety of people receiving supports. Independent providers will still require authorization from the SSA. Independent providers may be authorized to deliver overtime hours through verbal or electronic authorization from the County Board prior to individual service plan (ISP) updates. Payment authorization for waiver services (PAWS) updates may be needed to reflect additional units for payment.

Training and Service Changes 

Updated November 24* 

Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) training requirements are not being collected as part of the certification application at this time. The applicant may upload a blank page to that part of the independent provider application.

When entering Payee ID (Formerly Supplier ID) on the application, be aware that the Payee ID number and the Registration number from Ohio Shared Services for an account are very similar. Payee ID numbers can be obtained here.

Even with the lenient training requirements described above, medication administration training requirements have not changed. All independent providers who are responsible for administering medication must have medication administration training.

Alternative Service Delivery Methods 

Updated November 24* 

For independent providers who are currently certified but not engaged in the delivery of services, or who may only be providing services on a part-time basis, there are many opportunities available to meet this high demand for service.

  • Notify the local county board of developmental disabilities (CBDD) of the willingness to assist more people
  • Contract with an agency provider for services
  • Be hired as an employee of an agency provider

With the uncertainty that many people with developmental disabilities and their families are facing, some independent providers may not be providing services to every person who they usually do provide services. If you are an independent provider and looking for more work, reach out to your local county board of developmental disabilities or local agency providers. Many people will be requiring more supports during this state of emergency, and agency providers will be looking for additional DSPs. Working for an agency may be a good way to supplement any income that may be lost during this state of emergency. 

Filing for unemployment may be an option for independent providers. The unemployment guidelines have changed due to the state of emergency.  

DODD recognizes that the following situational actions may seem excessive or unattainable due to the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), residential space, the number of direct support professionals (DSP) or residential waiver settings that do not serve elderly or medically compromised people.

However, the following is intended to serve as a guide and is highly recommended to protect the people who the department serves and those caring for them.

All DSPs entering the residential waiver setting should be screened for symptoms using the Entry Screening Process for Prevention of COVID-19 Transmission tool. Staff performing health check screenings should wear facemasks.

DSPs with symptoms or with temperatures greater than 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit should be sent home, and DSPs who develop symptoms or fever while in the residential waiver setting should immediately go home (not to the urgent care or emergency room unless severely ill). 

Advise people who screen positive to contact their primary care physician by phone or telehealth. The HCP will determine whether the person needs to be evaluated in-person and will make a referral for evaluation and treatment, as necessary.  


During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, DODD issued communication that providers should cancel all non-emergency respite stays. At this time, DODD would like to share that this is no longer the expectation. Respite stays can be approved for non-emergency situations. If a rule waiver for a temporary increase in capacity at a licensed residential facility is required for a respite situation contact OSSAS (ossas@dodd.ohio.gov) to request such a rule waiver.

Ohio Public Health Advisory System

LTSS Pre-Surge Planning Toolkit


On April 2, 2020, while the stay-at-home order was in effect, DODD issued guidance on best practices for family visitation. Ohio is responsibly restarting, and Ohioans are making choices to resume activities while continuing efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. DODD is rescinding that guidance and issuing the following guidance on visitation in residential waiver settings.

When people with developmental disabilities express an interest in resuming social visits in their homes, their support teams and roommates should have conversations about the appropriateness of visits at this time. Teams and roommates need to determine when and how to safely and responsibly plan for visits inside and outside of the home.

Teams should assist in making visits as safe as possible by working with the person and other members of the household to follow the public health guidelines, including, but not limited to

  • educating all residents on the risks of the spread of COVID-19 and appropriate/applicable safety precautions to take when interacting with visitors,
  • educating all families/friends of the dangers of the spread of COVID-19 and the potential health impact for not just their loved one, but all residents and staff at the home,
  • educating all residents on the importance of face coverings and maintaining social distancing from people they do not currently live with when out of the home,
  • encouraging DSPs and visitors coming into the person’s home to always wear a face covering,
  • continuing frequent cleaning and sanitation of high touch surfaces and shared bathrooms, at least several times per day,
  • continuing to encourage the utilization of technology to keep in touch with families and friends,
  • and evaluating whether outdoor visitation would be more appropriate for members of the home.

Regional Residential Crisis Support Plan

This guidance includes the Regional Residential Crisis Support Plan and the Cross-Functional Flowchart for Residential Resource Crisis Response and Coordination (attached at right) to assist providers who are experiencing a residential crisis due to a lack of capacity or staffing from coronavirus (COVID-19). The regional teams outlined in these documents are to supplement and support local teams already in place and to assist those teams as needed.   

  • When a provider is experiencing a residential crisis, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) requests the provider look to first exhaust their internal resources. 
  • If the provider needs additional support, they should contact their local county board of developmental disabilities provider liaison to brainstorm solutions. 
  • If the local team requires additional support, they should contact the DODD regional residential support liaison in their region who will work to resolve concerns and, if appropriate, will engage the DODD Strike Team. 


In an effort to ensure service authorization and billing requirements are not undue barriers to service delivery and provider reimbursement throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) state of emergency, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) is making the following changes to its processes for services delivered on or after March 12, 2020: 

  • 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 board of developmental disabilities should document the authorization locally through TCM case notes when possible, or by any other means available.  
  • An approved prior authorization (PA) will not be required for services that exceed the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Profile (ODDP) funding range for people enrolled in the Individual Options (IO) Waiver.
  • DODD’s Medicaid Services System (MSS) will not prevent the submission of claims that exceed the three percent (3%) limitation within the Monthly Rate Calculator (MRC).
  • Homemaker/Personal Care (HPC) services will be permitted to be delivered and reimbursed on the same day as Ohio Shared Living, if needed and authorized by the person’s individual service plan (ISP) team. 
  • Services for Level One Waiver enrollees will be reimbursed up to the total available funding within the waiver, which includes the current amount available for non-adult day array services ($6,750), plus the amounts currently available for adult day array services and Non-Medical Transportation.  
  • The $8,520 Emergency Services Benefit for the Level One Waiver will continue to be available, in addition to the funding reference in the previous bullet. 
  • The individual cost caps for the Self-Empowered Life Funding (SELF) Waiver are not being changed, but if enrollees have a need for services that exceed the established cost caps for children or for adults, county boards are being asked to identify ways to meet the specific needs. 

Please direct any questions regarding reimbursement for services to the DODD Support Hotline at 1-800-617-6733, option 2. 

It is likely that the expanded need for services in smaller groups and in residential settings will increase the cost of waiver services during the state of emergency. DODD acknowledges that the financial commitment to support the required state matching funds obligation for waiver services is shared between the department and county boards. As such, expenditures during this period will be closely monitored, and DODD will fully honor its financial partnership with county boards. As more information becomes available regarding the specific details of the various emergency funds that might be utilized to support services, DODD will collaborate with county boards about how to best access and allocate any available funding.

Regional Residential Crisis Support Plan 

Purpose: To create a regional team structured to triage crisis issues that residential providers experience as a result of the COVID-19 state of emergency. 

The Regional Residential Crisis Support Plan is triggered when:   

A residential provider does not have the staff or residential capacity to service a location regardless of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 transmission within the home. 

The Regional Residential Crisis Support Plan operates as follows: 

  1. Provider
  2. County Board
  3. DODD Regional Residential Support Liaison
  4. DODD Strike Team
  5. State Emergency Management Team

STEP 1: Provider Identifies Crisis Scenario and Attempts to Find Solutions 

  • The provider shall try to use existing resources to address the need as best they can using local means within their control. This could include hiring new staff, incentivizing existing staff to return to duty, reaching out to local independent providers (IP), or signing contracts with other residential providers to loan additional direct support professionals (DSPs) during the crisis. 
  • If that does not address the crisis, proceed to Step 2. 

STEP 2: Provider Contacts County Board Provider Support Liaison for Help 

  • After exhausting existing resources within their control, the provider should contact their county board provider support liaison for assistance. The county board liaison will make every effort to work within that county’s provider community to address the staffing shortage through any available means. 
  • If that does not address the crisis, proceed to Step 3.

STEP 3: County Board Contacts DODD Regional Residential Support Liaison for Help 

  • If a county board is unable to use existing resources within their county’s control, the board should contact the DODD regional residential support liaison assigned to their region to explore possible solutions from other providers outside their county. The DODD regional residential support liaison will report all residential crisis issues to Sara Lawson and will utilize any and all means available within their region to address the need. This may include contacting volunteer regional provider association representatives to identify additional capacity available based on the availability of resources within the time frame the crisis is identified. 
  • DODD Regional Residential Support Liaisons 





Duana Coleman, CRC

Kim Mayne, Policy


Julie Gregg, OSSAS

Heidi Davidson, OSSAS


Ann Weisent, OSSAS

Kelly McGuire, CRC


Matt Bavlnka, Polcy

Lisa Ahlersmeyer, OSSAS


Angel Morgan, OSSAS

Beth Chambers, OSSAS; Kyle Corbin, Policy

  • If that does not address the crisis, proceed to Step 4.

STEP 4: DODD Regional Contacts DODD Strike Team for Help and Final Resolution

  • If DODD regional residential support liaisons cannot solve the problem with resources available to them, and all volunteer provider association representatives have been unable to identify additional capacity within the provider community, DODD regional staff will elevate the crisis to Sara Lawson, who will engage the DODD Strike Team. The Strike Team will consist of an “all hands-on deck” group of senior leaders at DODD who will work to take extraordinary measures using the all available departmental resources to ensure the crisis can be solved.  
  • If that does not address the crisis, proceed to Step 5.

STEP 5: DODD Strike Team Contacts State Emergency Management Team 

  • If DODD exhausts all options available to it, the department will contact the state’s top health officials and emergency management leaders to seek a final resolution outside the DODD’s control.  
  • The state emergency management team must provide final resolution to the crisis. There is no other option to elevate the concern past this step.

Cares Act Provider Relief Fund Application, Guidance

The CARES Act created a Provider Relief Fund to distribute federal funds to providers in response to COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expects to distribute $15 billion to eligible Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers.

All Ohio providers are eligible to apply for relief funds through the provider relief portal. This portal allows providers to attest to relief fund payments made for healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19.

Before applying through the provider relief portal, The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities strongly encourages applicants to read the Medicaid Provider Distribution Instructions and download and complete the Medicaid Provider Distribution Application Form.

Questions? Support is available by contacting HHS at (866) 569-3522.

Certification Spans

With the impact of the COVID-19 state of emergency, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) will be issuing automatic 90-day certification extensions to all providers expiring in March, April, and May 2020.

For example, a provider’s certification set to expire April 5, 2020, will automatically be extended, and the provider will receive a new expiration date of July 5, 2020.

This will allow providers time to focus on providing services to people with developmental disabilities and delay the need for submitting a renewal application. DODD will continue to monitor the situation during this time of emergency.

Direct Support Professional Onboarding & Training

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, DODD has granted certain flexibilities to certified providers and ICFs regarding the hiring and training of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). Effective September 1, 2021, providers will be expected to resume full compliance with all rules applicable to the hiring and training of DSPs, except for flexibilities around initial training and First Aid/CPR described below.

Full compliance includes:

  • HSD/GED/rule waiver
    • DODD will temporarily waive the requirement that DSPs must have a high school diploma or GED. This waiver will be effective from September 17, 2021, through September 30, 2022. Employees without a high school diploma or GED cannot be certified to administer medications. Read more.
  • Background checks
    • Employers will be required to initiate all applicable required Background Checks (BCII, FBI, required database checks, etc.) prior to employment.
      • Rule permits an agency to preliminarily employ a DSP for up to 60 days pending receipt of the results of the BCII check, provided the applicant has signed a Criminal
        Notification/Attestation statement prior to employment. Upon receipt of the completed background check, appropriate action must be taken if any disqualifying offenses are revealed.
    • Agencies must continue to enroll persons in Rapback within 14 days of receipt of the BCII check.
      • Previously identified issues related to Rapback enrollment have been reported as resolved.
  • Initial Training
    • DODD will continue to accept condensed initial training through December 31, 2021
      • The condensed initial training must include:
        • Training to recognize and report major unusual incidents (MUIs) and unusual incidents (UIs). The training must include at a minimum the definitions of MUIs and UIs, as well as the agency's procedures for reporting.
        • Universal precautions.
        • Training provided or arranged by the agency provider specific to the individual service plan (ISP) of each person the DSP will support.
      • Initial training must always be conducted prior to the DSP providing services.
      • Resuming January 1, 2022, initial training conducted after this date will need to comply with the Agency and Independent Certification rules and/or the Administration of Licensed Facilities rule.
  • First Aid/CPR
    • Staring September 1, 2021, all DSPs must have First Aid/CPR training prior to providing services except for those employed at Facilities subject to OAC 5123:2-3-01 (F) (1)(h-i).
    • First Aid/CPR training that does not include an in-person skills assessment will continue to be accepted through December 31, 2021.
    • Training that includes an in-person skills assessment will again be required effective January 1, 2022.
    • For DSPs who obtain CPR/First Aid training that does not include an in-person skills demonstration prior to January 1, 2022, DODD will accept this as valid training through the certificate’s expiration date. Upon renewal, the DSP will be expected to obtain training that includes the required in-person skills assessment.
  • Medication Administration Certification
    • Medication Administration Certificates that were set to expire between March 9, 2020 and April 1, 2021 were extended until July 1, 2021 by House Bill 404.
    • Any certificates set to expire during that time that have not been renewed have lapsed as of July 2, 2021.
    • All DSPs administering medication must have a current Medication Administration Certificate.
  • Agencies that share DSPs:
    • If agencies share DSPs, each agency is required to maintain their own personnel record that demonstrates that agency’s compliance with personnel requirements
  • Compliance with all other applicable hiring and training requirements outlined in Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 5123.

 For additional compliance resources, visit Compliance on DODD’s website.

Behavioral Supports, Including Rights Restrictions

Updated September 25

Any plans with behavioral support strategies must be developed following the behavioral supports rule, 5123-2-2-06.  HRC meetings may be held virtually.

DODD Support Teams

In this critical time, everyone will be required to work collaboratively, operate differently, and be proactive to limit the spread of COVID-19. During this state of emergency, DODD fully realizes there are on-the-ground issues that require flexibility from normal operations and additional assistance from the department.

DODD support teams are available and consist of staff ready to help county boards and providers.

DODD has set up a dedicated web page for department communications and links to helpful resources that will advise people with disabilities, their families, service providers, direct support professionals, county boards of developmental disabilities, and the community at large.

For specific questions about COVID-19 and additional information and resources, DODD urges you to use the Ohio Department of Health’s call center. Call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634), or visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.