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How Do I Apply for In-Home Support Services (IHSS)?

How do I apply for IHSSIf you raising a child with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or another disability, you may qualify for financial help with In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS). IHSS is a California program provided by the government that offers financial support for people who take care of children with special needs. While a variety of benefits are available, the most important for families of children with special needs is “Protective Supervision.” The biggest question about getting these benefits is: How do I apply for IHSS?

What is IHSS and Protective Supervision?

Protective Supervision is part of the IHSS program in California. It is for children who need to be supervised twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to minimize injury to themselves. When you are approved for Protective Supervision, you receive an hourly wage to stay home and care for your child. This wage is exempt from federal income taxes.

How do I apply for IHSS?

However, Protective Supervision and IHSS can be hard to get approved for if you do not apply correctly and have all the necessary documentation.
In order to show that your child is eligible for Protective Supervision and IHSS, you need extensive paperwork proving that your child is at risk of injury if left unsupervised at any time during a twenty-four-hour day. This documentation must give clear examples of things your child will do things to hurt him or herself or that he or she is in harm’s way if left alone.

Documentation needed when you apply for IHSS

  1. A list of injuries

The best way to show that you need Protective Supervision and IHSS is by creating a list that details every accident or injury your child has had. You should also describe every action your child has taken that might cause injury, or has put your child at risk of injury or harm, and how often it happens.

  1. Letters from third parties

Acquire a letter from your regional center, a day program or a school program regarding your child’s need for care. The letter should contain the following information:

  • Your child’s age
    • Information about your child’s mental disabilities
    • Information about the severity of the functional limitations caused by impairments in the area of memory, orientation, and judgment
    • A description of how limitations in the in area of memory, orientation and judgment cause confusion and non-self-directing behaviors (the inability to identify places, time, people, etc.),
    • Information about whether or not your child needs to be observed and monitored to keep him or her safe and why (such as when your child does things which are unsafe, he or she is verbally redirected and the behavior is stopped)
    • Provide examples about unsafe behaviors your child has and how often they occur
  1. Medical documentation

Get an “Assessment of Need for Protective Supervision for In-Home Supportive Services Program” (SOC 821) form completed by your child’s doctor. Keep a copy of the form for your records. The county will use this form to collect information and make a determination about the need for Protective Supervision.

  1. Additional doctor’s letter

Get a doctor’s letter documenting your child’s disability, functioning level, age, and describe how the disability causes poor judgment, confusion, poor memory, or disorientation.

  1. Other forms
  • A “PROTECTIVE SUPERVISION 24-HOURS-A-DAY COVERAGE PLAN” (SOC 825) form and fill it out entirely

If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.
American Advocacy Group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with Autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.
Dial (877) 762-0702 or email us at

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