Issue 1 | Summer 2023

By Jamie Ray-Leonetti, Associate Director of Policy and Certified Pennsylvania Supports Broker, Institute on Disabilities at Temple University; Raquel Mangual, Support Services Coordinator and Certified Pennsylvania Supports Broker, Institute on Disabilities at Temple University

Welcome to the first edition of Pennsylvania Supports Broker News (PSBN). PSBN is a quarterly publication brought to you through a collaboration between the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University and the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs. PSBN replaces our weekly email updates. However, the supports broker listserv remains available to all certified supports brokers, and we will continue to post there periodically. We want to hear from you! If you have a suggestion for our newsletter, please email Jamie.ray-leonetti@temple.edu.

Favorite Person-Centered Planning Tool

Whether self-directing one’s services, using the traditional agency model, or using a combination or “hybrid” model, being aware of what natural supports are available can be very helpful to people with disabilities and their families. An incredibly helpful tool in supporting the people that you broker for is the Circle of Support. The Circle of Support can help the person that you are brokering for and yourself identify natural supports that exist in their respective community. There are many templates for the Circle of Support that can be found online. This is also helpful in the person exercising their right to self-determination and being in control of the services and supports they receive.  

The Circle of Support helps the person identify what resources they hold within themselves, and what supports exist within their family, friends, and their community. The following are some helpful questions to ask when using the Circle of Support. Who can you rely on for support?​​ How can these people help you?​​ How can they help you meet your goals?​​ What can they do to support you in leading the life you want to live?​ These questions can help the person identify who they can call on whether it’s during an emergency, for extra support in between paid staff or maybe if there’s a specific interest or desire they want to explore more.

The Circle of Support can also help the person identify activities they might be interested in and find people in their community who are involved in that activity. For example, their neighbor could know of an art class that meets biweekly that teaches ceramics. Knowing that the person you broker for enjoys painting and drawing already and has expressed a desire to explore other creative outlets, this could be an opportunity to connect with that neighbor to try it out. The Circle of Support can create a great opportunity for collaboration between yourself, the person you are brokering for and any existing supports they would like to participate in the process.

Circles of Support links 

College of Direct Support (CDS) and College of Employment Supports (CES)

MEs have to locate and coordinate training opportunities for their SSPs in order to meet the Title 55 Ch. 6100 training requirements. This can sometimes feel like a heavy lift. One great resource for training opportunities is the College of Direct Support (CDS) and the College of Employment Services (CES).  

The College of Direct Support (CDS) is a DirectCourse online curriculum for Professionals and People with disabilities that is based on National Standards that provides access to high quality training. This allows others to increase learning and development of skills and knowledge. CDS is available to access 24/7. It utilizes a mixture of videos, vignettes, and stories to support various methods of learning. CDS is an excellent resource and management tool. CDS content is developed by the Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota. There are 227 lessons across 37 Courses with approximately 146 hours of training. The content is delivered through Elsevier Performance Manager.

Who CDS is for you may be asking yourself? CDS is for direct support professionals primarily supporting individuals with Intellectual and Developmental disabilities in the community. CDS is ALSO for People with Disabilities, Family Members, Supports Coordinators, Administrative Entities/County Staff, Supports Brokers, IM4Q Programs, ODP Staff, and State Center Staff. Numerous groups across the commonwealth can use it for free. The following groups can use CDS for FREE: Individuals with Disabilities, Families Members, Individuals and Families who self-direct, Supports Coordinators, Administrative Entities/County Staff, IM4Q Programs, ODP staff, State Center Staff and Support Brokers.

The College of Employment Services (CES) is an online curriculum for professionals and people with disabilities, guiding people toward rewarding jobs with the power of education. CES is a DirectCourse online curriculum designed for the professionals who guide people with disabilities toward fulfilling jobs. Each lesson in the CES is focused on a specific facet of employment where staff will learn what they need for the Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators (ACRE) Certificate. CES is available online 24/7 through the Elsevier Performance Manager, the courses have been proven to increase retention and provide effective assessment and tracking tools. The courses are built on the same core competencies covered in the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) National Certification Exam – CESP™. CDS and CES can be a great resource to place in your Supports Broker toolkit that can be utilized at any time.

More About CDS and CES

Reminders for Supports Broker Initial Certification and Recertification

Do you know anyone who wants to become certified for Supports Brokering? Are you due to be recertified? Good news, registration for both Supports Broker Initial Certification and Supports Broker Recertification are open now!  

Supports Broker Initial Certification, which is a two-day virtual class, will be held on the following dates:

  • September 7th – 8th, 2023
  • October 25th – 26th, 2023
  • November 6th – 7th, 2023
  • January 18th – 19th, 2024

Supports Broker Recertification, which is a one day virtual class, will be held on the following dates:

  • October 11th, 2023
  • November 10th, 2023
  • December 11th, 2023
  • January 31st, 2023

To be able to provide the best learning experience for all participants, there are some things to consider before entering the virtual classroom. Please remember that you need to be a Pennsylvanian resident or live in a neighboring state to become certified and already be certified in Pennsylvania to be recertified as a Supports Broker. You must have a computer or tablet and internet connection to participate. We will not admit users connecting via cell phone or landline only.  

You must have your video on for the full duration of the training in order to be able to access the final exam. Latecomers will only be admitted at the discretion of the facilitators. If you are unable to enter on time or keep your video on for the duration of the training, at the discretion of ODP, you may be asked to leave and register for a future class. Registrants should block out time to attend class just as you would if class were being held in person. Please plan to be in a quiet location with minimal distractions.

It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with Zoom before the start of class. You will be sent a Zoom link and classroom documents upon completion of registration OR no later than 24 hours prior to class. If you do not receive your materials or link, it is your responsibility to contactdbeckett@temple.edu or iod@temple.edu before class begins. If you experience any technical difficulties during class, you should contact dbeckett@temple.edu promptly. If the issue cannot be resolved quickly, you may be asked to attend a future re-certification class.

Participant-Directed Services (PDS) Related News and Events

Staying up to date with current PDS related events can provide you with extra resources in your Supports Broker toolkit. The PA Family Network is holding some upcoming Zoom webinars relating the self-direction that could be very helpful to attend and inform the people that you broker for and their families so they can attend as well.

  • On August 2nd, 2023, two Zoom webinar sessions will be held. The first session will be from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. and the second session will be from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m., titled “What is the Hybrid Model in Participant Direction? How can it help?”
  • On September 6th, 2023, two Zoom webinar sessions will be held. The first session will be from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. and the second session will be from 6:20 p.m. – 8:20 p.m., titled “Connecting the Dots: From Person-Centered Planning to Participant Direction.”
  • On September 20th, 2023, two Zoom webinars will be held. The first session will be from 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m., and the second session will be from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., titled “Participant Direction: Finding Answers and Support.”

Link: PA Family Network Webinars

Vision for Equality Events Calendar