Participant-Directed Services (PDS)

We continue to strive to make "participant-directed services" a common household phrase.


Overview, Objectives, and Resources

What is New for 2019?

  1. We continue to strive to make "participant-directed services" a common household phrase;
  2. Over the next two years, we hope to provide ways for people with disabilities, families and the generic community to learn from one and other through community conversations;
  3. We continue to expand resources for individuals who want to learn more about participant-directed services. One way we continue this work will be the development of PDS "Regional Expert Councils," and;
  4. We will provide ways for individuals using PDS to share their stories of both success and challenges.

Participant-Directed Services Project Summary

In December 2018, The Institute on Disabilities, Pennsylvania's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (IOD) in collaboration with Values into Action (Values), Self-Advocates United as One (SAU1) and the Pennsylvania Health Law Project (PHLP) was awarded a new Developmental Disabilities Council funded grant to continue work on Participant-Directed Services (PDS). This new project aims "to support statewide education, advocacy, improvement and expansion of Participant-Directed Services in PA."

We will take the learnings of the project we completed in December, 2017, apply them to the current project and with new activities, initiatives and partners, expand the work of the previous project so that Participant-Directed Services will become a household word for those using services and supports in PA. Individuals with disabilities, families and other stakeholders will not only choose PDS as their preferred means of service delivery, but will understand the intricacies of self-direction and will be provided with multiple opportunities to tell their stories of the successes and challenges of PDS.

Participant-Directed Services Info Sheet (PDF)



The Institute on Disabilities will take a two-fold approach to building an evidence-base for the expansion of participant-directed services in PA. First, the Institute will conduct a review of studies of Cash and Counseling models and brokering practices. Second, the demonstration project will be evaluated, looking at quality of life, met/unmet needs, satisfaction and cost effectiveness. This research will inform the demonstration project and be used in systems advocacy efforts as we work toward participant-directed services.


Sustainable Self-Directed Care in Pennsylvania's Behavioral Health System
Sustainable Self-Directed Care, accessible text version
Sustainable Self-Directed Care, PDF version



We will engage in advocacy efforts at multiple levels. The primary policy targeted in these efforts will be the expansion of Cash and Counseling models which offer the greatest amount of authority and control. The project will work on the grassroots level, local community, administrative and legislative levels. We will also be working toward raising awareness and support for participant-directed services.

Regional Resource Councils

Interested in joining a Regional Resource Council?


2019 Grant Objectives

  1. Continue PDS systemic improvements statewide and connect with other initiatives and projects in Pennsylvania.
  2. Identify strategies for engaging generic businesses in the work of PDS.
  3. Provide various ways for people with disabilities and families, and others in the community to learn from each other about the benefits and challenges of PDS.
  4. Provide multiple opportunities for people to tell their own PDS stories.
  5. Ensure that the work of the PDS project is sustainable beyond the life of the grant.


New PDS Resources

Through a grant funded by the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council from 2013 - 2017, Temple University Institute on Disabilities and Values Into Action have collaborated to publish three new resources to support the provision of participant-directed services through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Developmental Programs:

A Supports Brokerage Start-Up Guide

Download Supports Brokerage Start-Up Guide (PDF)
Download Supports Brokerage Start-Up Guide (Word)

This guide instructs interested organizations on how to start up and qualify to become a Supports Brokerage (that is, a service provider that offers the supports broker service) in Pennsylvania. It provides steps, suggestions and examples to be used to develop and qualify as a Supports Brokerage, and steps to sustain a successful and well-trained staff of Supports Brokers.

Trainer Guide: Supports Brokering in Pennsylvania

Download Supports Brokering Training Guide (PDF)
Download Supports Brokering Training Guide (Word - contact us to request this document)

This Trainer Guide represents the culmination of four years of learning, teaching, and reflecting on best practices in supporting people to lead their own services and supports through the Pennsylvania Participant-Directed Services system. This Trainer Guide can be used by organizations as they orient and mentor Supports Brokers, either pre- or post-certification by the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP).

Supports Brokering in Pennsylvania, Lessons 1 - 14

Download Supports Brokering in PA (PDF)
Download Supports Brokering in PA (PowerPoint - contact us to request the PowerPoint)

These PowerPoint slides accompany the Trainer Guide: Supports Brokering in Pennsylvania. The two resources are to be used together to provide education on Pennsylvania's Participant-Directed Services system, and to initiate or refresh training of Supports Brokers.

Please email with questions and/or to obtain hard copies of these documents.

PDS Project History


This project is supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council; in part by grant number 2001PASCDD-02, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.


For more information about PDS

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