Find Out How the MAPs Program Helps Teens, Young Adults Gain Greater Independence

/ March 7, 2023

By Jason Camperlino

Independence is a skill developed over time by finding pathways to tools, tips, and resources that support the life we want to live. That tool may be as simple as a note on your mirror to remind you to do something or an app on your phone or tablet to help you find transportation. In November 2022, the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities launched a new program called MAPs, which stands for Medicaid Alternative Pathways to Independence. MAPs is all about working with young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to build their confidence and find pathways to being more independent. This new program gives people the tools, technology, and help they need to meet the goals they set for themselves when it comes to having a job, where they want to live, and how they want to live their life.

MAPs now has more than 50 participants since its launch in Middle and East Tennessee. Enrollment for West Tennessee will begin in July 2023.  This program uses a new approach to services and supports. (You can read more about the program in an earlier blog post: What is Medicaid Alternative Pathways to Independence?)The progress made so far by MAPs participants themselves best demonstrates how this program is already helping them identify and meet their goals.

If you want to join a webinar to learn more about MAPs, DIDD is hosting one tomorrow, on March 8. This presentation will introduce the program, the Virtual Community Resource Map, services offered within the program, and provide time so we can answer your questions.

When: March 8, 5:30-7 p.m. CST/ 6:30-8:00 EST

Click the link to join: https://bit.ly/3EazwGa

Mapping Out a Plan

Gabby Provvidenza was the very first person to enroll in the MAPs program when it launched in Middle Tennessee on Nov. 1, 2022. Once enrolled, Gabby worked with her MAPs team to figure out what goals are most important to her. The MAPs team generally includes an “innovation coordinator,” the MAPs provider agency, and anyone else the individual wants involved. Together, the team began developing her Virtual Community Resource Map, also called a VCRM. Her Community Resource Map has the people, places, and activities that are important to her and can help her reach her goals.

With the use of the Virtual Community Resource Map and other supports from the program, Gabby can:

  • Learn to travel more independently.
  • Find new hobbies and places to visit in her community that interest her.
  • Make new connections with others in her community who share the same interests.

With the services from MAPs, Gabby is on her way to building her confidence to be more independent within her community.

MAPs at Home and in the Community

Sisters Dailene and Jessica Sanford are both eager to pave a pathway to being more independent at home and in their community. Their goals focus on building a foundation of skills that will support them long term. They have started learning about and touring universities and other career development programs so they can be better equipped for future career opportunities. Soon, they will begin the process of getting their driver’s licenses so they can go to the grocery store, visit friends, and go to church on their own.

Through the program, they will learn about Enabling Technology that can provide additional support and safety while they’re at home. A few examples of Enabling Technology they can use at home are:

  • Motion sensors to help their support team know when they might need help.
  • Ring doorbell to help them know when they have visitors and allow them to see without opening the door first.
  • Live or on-demand audio and/or video calling so they can reach their support team.
  • Automated medication dispensers to help them take their medications correctly.

MAPs at Work

MAPs services can also support people to get a job and advance their career.  These services are designed to help MAPs participants expand their skills so they can become more independent at work. The individual can decide which services would best support them to:

  • Find a job based on their strengths, skills, and interests.
  • Figure out what supports they will need at their job to be successful.
  • Learn how to travel to and from work.

MAPs participants can also learn about and test Enabling Technology options that could help them reach their goals at work. A few examples of Enabling Technology that could be used at work are:

  • A phone or tablet that can teach someone or remind them of their job responsibilities using video, audio, or pictures.
  • A phone or tablet that provides step-by-step directions to help them get to and from work.
  • Online tools that can help them learn their skills, strengths, and interests.
  • Virtual reality to help them learn about different career paths and learn their job.

Challenges and Opportunities

While the MAPs program has made significant progress since its launch in November, one of the challenges the program faces is spreading the word to families. Since enrollment for the program focuses on high school students during the three years leading up to graduation and young adults who have recently left the school system, the department has made significant efforts to partner with school districts across the state. We want educators and families know about MAPs and how it can support students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The application process can be completed by going to the MAPs website at which time you will receive an email back indicating your next steps.  Prior to enrollment, verification of the person’s intellectual or developmental disability will be needed to confirm eligibility.  Eligibility determination does not include income guidelines or other Medicaid considerations.

Additionally, the department is looking to expand its provider network for the program, especially in rural areas. An expansive provider network means individuals in the program have access and options to the services and supports they need to reach their goals. Any interested provider can contact me at Jason.camperlino@tn.gov.

Finally, with many of our new programs, we’ve learned that families and friends are also crucial to spreading the word. If you know someone who might be a good fit for MAPs, we encourage them to apply!  The application is short and can be found here on our MAPs page.

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I appreciate the work Jay is doing in leading this new program for young people with disabilities who may not qualify for or need the longstanding waiver programs in our state. I also appreciate his willingness to share the news that the program is making a difference for a number of Tennesseans. Now, your help is needed in sharing the news about this effort. As Jay said, families and friends are important in letting people with disabilities know about this effort. As always, if you have questions, you can email me at janet.shouse@vumc.org. Thank you for reading!


Jason “Jay” Camperlino is the youth transitions director for the Medicaid Alternative Pathways to Independence program with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  Jay is charged with coordinating the development and implementation of the MAPs program throughout the state of Tennessee. Jay can be reached at Jason.camperlino@tn.gov.

 

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