What is Medicaid Alternative Pathways to Independence? And Who Does the Program Help?

/ April 5, 2022

By Jeremy Norden-Paul

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities recently announced a new program called MAPs, which stands for Medicaid Alternative Pathways to Independence.  If you missed the MAPs presentation on March 22, you can watch a recording by clicking here and view the slides by clicking here. So, what is MAPs, who is MAPs for, and how will MAPs help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities create pathways to increased independence in their lives?

What is MAPs?

MAPs is a new program that will support Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities to create a vision for their lives and increase their independence at home, at work, and in the community. It is a diversion program, which means it will primarily target people who may not be eligible for Medicaid/TennCare or long-term supports and services, but who need additional support and resources to be successful. Additionally, MAPs will be an option for people who are waiting for services from—or may apply in the future for—the Employment and Community First CHOICES program. The state of Tennessee invested federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act for DIDD to provide help for up to 1,250 people in the MAPs program over the next three years.

Who is MAPs for?

MAPs is for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who want to increase their independence at home, at work, and in the community. In particular, MAPs participants will focus on:

  • Developing independent living skills
  • Creating networks with people, places, and activities in their community
  • Creating travel routes and getting around the community more independently, getting a job and growing professionally
  • Using Enabling Technology to increase independence in all areas of life

Enrollment for the MAPs program will focus on:

  • High school students during the three years leading up to their graduation, whether they are planning to graduate at 18 or 22
  • Young adults who have recently left the school system
  • People who are waiting for Employment and Community First CHOICES waiver services

How will MAPs work?

 The foundation of the MAPs program is a person-centered Virtual Community Resource Map. Participants will work with a specially trained MAPs case manager and MAPs provider to create a map of their community and identify the people, places, and activities that are important to them. This map will be created and accessed on someone’s mobile device, either a phone or a tablet. They will then create goals for each area of their life and decide which of the six MAPs services will help them accomplish those goals. Someone can participate in the MAPs program for up to three years with a budget of up to $20,000 each year.

 What are the six MAPs services?

 Community Navigator

The Community Navigator service is foundational to the MAPs program. People will use this service to create their Virtual Community Resource Map, learn how to get around more independently, and use mobile technology to support their goals. The Community Navigator service will also help people expand their connections with people, places, and activities in their community.

Independence Coaching

This service helps people strengthen their independent living skills by focusing on areas like home safety, personal health and hygiene, and budgeting. There is also a strong focus on using smart home technologies to support people’s independence goals at home.

Check out how Enabling Technology helps Brad Presnell live independently at home: https://fb.watch/bZEIXvGusW/

Employment Innovation

The focus of the Employment Innovation service is helping people get jobs in the community and advance in their career. People can use this service to explore their strengths and skills, identify possible career paths, interview for jobs, and figure out what supports they need in order to be as independent and successful as possible in the workplace. For those who want to be entrepreneurs, this service can also be used to plan and start a business.

Learn about how Shirley Casson used pre-employment tools to find a new job she loves: https://fb.watch/8XQZaVO-gk/

Peer Mentoring

People often learn best by connecting with others who have similar life experiences, interests, and goals. The MAPs program will employ people with IDD as “peer mentors,” who can serve as experienced and trusted advisers. MAPs participants will then have the opportunity to form relationships with a peer mentor over the course of the program. They will get to know each other, and the mentor will help the MAPs participant as they create their pathway, learn new skills, overcome challenges, and meet their goals.

Enabling Technology

There is a strong focus on Enabling Technology in each of the MAPs areas: home, work, and community. Participants will explore different technologies and how these technologies can help them increase independence and achieve their goals in each area. MAPs participants and other people in their circle of support (roommates, friends, family, etc.) will receive training and coaching on using the technology. (Editor’s note: This is huge!) People will also have the option of receiving remote support technology through the MAPs program. Remote supports means someone uses Enabling Technology to receive real-time support from someone who is not physically with them to solve a problem or provide extra assistance when it is needed or requested by the person. This can include support staff, coaches, friends, family members, and other people in their network.

Learn about how Enabling Technology assists Kenny Pittman get to and from work: https://fb.watch/bZEFWIYLeT/

 Semi-Independent Living

Semi-Independent Living is a service that helps people live safely and more independently in their own home in the community. For some people this means living alone, and for others it means living with a roommate or partner. However and wherever someone chooses to live, the Semi-Independent Living service will help a person learn and practice the skills they need to take care of their home or apartment, manage their money, prepare their meals, go grocery shopping, and take care of their personal hygiene and appearance.

See how Kristie Brooks and Mindy Rodgers use two-way communication to live more independently: https://fb.watch/bZEKOl3m-U/

When does MAPs start?

DIDD is planning to begin enrollment and launch the MAPs program in fall of 2022. Please check out the MAPs webpage and stay tuned for more information.

I am delighted that Jeremy is back working with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and I’m grateful to him for providing information about this program. I’m sure readers will have questions, and I will, as always, do my best to answer them. Email me at janet.shouse@vumc.org, and thank you for reading!

Jeremy Norden-Paul headshot

Jeremy Norden-Paul is DIDD’s director of the Division of Program Innovation. He previously worked for DIDD as the state director of employment and day services, and most recently served as executive director of the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council. He also has experience as an elementary special education teacher, job coach, and job developer.

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