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From the Editor

My son, Nick, Self-Directs his services and as a family, we have been generally happy with his staffing, schedule, and budget.

Whether just a beginner or a seasoned traveler, we all encounter bumps along the road. I have found it most helpful to first look to Nick for the ultimate guide in his Self-Direction journey. What sparks his interest? What or who would help him with a particular challenge?

What about your family? What are the unique opportunities and challenges you have found in your child’s Self-Direction journey? This issue features just a few of the many resources to help guide you. 

Best to you and yours,

Maria Schaertel


What is Self-Direction?

Self-Direction gives you the chance to choose your own services so you can live the life you want. When you Self-Direct your services, you have increased flexibility to choose the right supports for you, the staff you want to work with, budget authority, and a schedule that works best for you. This gives you more control over how you want to structure your life.

Things you can Self-Direct:

  • where you live
  • how you spend your days
  • what you do in your spare time
  • how you stay healthy and active
  • your relationships with family and friends
  • who you hire to assist you

Your Care Manager can help you learn more about Self-Direction and guide you through the steps you need to take.

Adapted from OPWDD


What is a Fiscal Intermediary?

A Fiscal Intermediary (FI) assists individuals in exercising budget authority. Individuals can perform some or all of the FI functions themselves. Typically, however, individuals prefer that the FI entity performs these functions for them. FI helps individuals:

1.   Understand billing and documentation responsibilities;

2.   Perform payroll and employer-related duties (e.g., withholding and filing federal, state, local and unemployment taxes; purchasing workers’ compensation or other forms of insurance; collecting and processing worker timesheets; calculating and processing employee benefits; and issuing payroll checks);

3.   Purchase approved goods and services;

4.   Track and monitor individual budget expenditures; and

5.   Identify expenditures that are over or under the budget.

Excerpt from In the Driver’s Seat


Megan Storm, Starbridge FI Director, offers staffing and budget tips


Do you have a friend, neighbor, or relative who knows you or your child well and might enjoy doing a side gig or full-time work?

Self-Direction allows competitive pay for DSPs (Direct Support Professionals) and can help attract top candidates as well as provide the ability to work with people you’re comfortable with.

Staffing can be goal-oriented (community hab) or just caregiver relief (respite). Talking with your broker can help outline different staffing scenarios and best leveraging your budget (ie. More hours with lower rate or less hours with higher rate, for example.)


YMCA, gym memberships (can have more than 1), museum memberships, zoo memberships, or interest-related memberships, such as computer club or art club. 


Related to valued outcomes, habilitative in nature and not just recreation. Examples are art, soccer lessons, music lessons, dance class, non-matriculated college classes (auditing classes), gardening classes, karate lessons.

Housing for those over 18; can pursue housing for themselves or with roommates.

Internet, clothing for adults (up to $250 a year)

Mileage to travel and see friends and family, mileage to access community, plane tickets to travel and see friends and family or vacation if goal is to travel.

Items for health and safety or independence that aren’t funded by other items: sensory needs, etc. 


What are your child's interests? Explore the possibilities!

Accident and Fire Prevention



Bird watching



Career development


College planning


Drivers Ed




Jewelry making



Person-centered planning

Resume writing



Adapted from In the Driver’s Seat, Resource Directory


Self-Direction Support Broker offers important reminders

“I think the best resources to know how to spend your self-direction dollars is to contact your Support Broker or Fiscal Intermediary. 

The challenge for most parents and family members is submitting the expenses (life gets busy). The Circle of Support should be able to assist the family with how to use the budget to maximize the wants and needs of the person. But often times that happens, and then expenses are not submitted in a timely manner, and the person is not reimbursed. Often times with classes and memberships, the invoices can be sent to the FI directly. 

Facebook has a regional page, Region 1 Self-Direction. This is a good way to connect with other parents who may be able to answer your questions if your Broker or FI is unavailable.”


Creating a Life after High School coming this spring! A great way to use your Self-Directed budget

JOIN US for Starbridge’s signature series to help your child plan for life after high school. We offer a safe and encouraging environment where your student can both dream and plan.

For students with a Self-Directed budget, OPWDD requires your budget to cover the cost of participation. Please check with your Support Broker if you have questions about utilizing your budget for this program.

Wednesdays, 5:00 m, April 26, May 3, 10, 17, and 24. Pieters Family Life Center, 1025 Commons Way, Rochester, NY 14623. Dinner provided.

A family member/guardian or family friend must accompany the student to each session.

Registration is required. To register, contact Maritza Cubi by phone at

585-435-5481 or email [email protected] . Space is limited and is available on a first-come basis.

Look for further information on our website calendar in the coming weeks!


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