Recently, The Arc has heard from a number of individuals who have questions about the hiring of Personal Support Workers in the Home-Based Support Services Program related to discussions on the 1115 Waiver.

To clarify, there is information from the Family Support Network (FSN) website at and the FSN Frequently Asked Questions document.  Here is the link to that document:  on these specific issues.

In summary:

Who can be a Personal Support Worker?

  • Family members of adults, including parents, may be workers
  • Parents (biological or adoptive) of children (any individual who is legally responsible for the child) may not be workers
  • Workers for both children and adults must be 18 or older.
  • The individual who serves as the “employer of record” may not be a worker
  • Spouses of adults may not be workers

Why can’t a parent/guardian of a child be a Personal Support Worker?

Payment may not be made to a legally responsible individual for the provision of personal care or similar services that the legally responsible individual would ordinarily perform or be responsible to perform on behalf of a waiver participant.

Can a niece who is 22 years old and a college student in social work be a Personal Support Worker?

Yes, however, she must pass all appropriate background checks. These are handled by the fiscal/employer agency that you have chosen, either ACES$ or PPL.

Do Personal Support Workers need to be enrolled as Medicaid Providers?

Yes. This is part of the process of enrolling your employee with your fiscal/employer agency.

How do I find good Personal Support Workers?

There are many strategies. Some provider agencies keep lists. Your Service Facilitator can help you find one. Also your Independent Service Coordination Agency may be able to help.

Often “Centers for Independent Living” can provide lists. They usually refer to these workers as “personal assistants” or “PA’s”. You can identify your closest Center for Independent Living at

A great reference and support tool is the “Find, Choose, and Keep Direct Support Professionals, A Toolkit for People with Disabilities and their Families” developed in 2006 by University of Illinois “Institute on Disability and Human Development” with funding from Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities. You can view it online at the following link:   You can buy a copy ($30) by contacting Katie Keiling Arnold at 312-996-1002 or mail  The hard copy comes with a CD containing many forms and other materials that you will find very helpful.

Many participants and families have enjoyed great success exploring their connections in their own communities. Working with local colleges and universities has provided many families with great workers, especially by reaching out to students interested in pursuing degrees in the world of DD, such as speech, physical, or occupational therapies, social work, or special education.

How long does it take to get a new Personal Support Worker enrolled with the fiscal/employer agency (ACES$ of PPL)?

For a Personal Support Worker to begin employment they must pass a variety of background checks.*  These are handled by the fiscal/employer agency (either ACES$ or PPL). This can be a challenge as background checks can take up to 2 weeks. Neither ACES$ or PPL can allow any back pay so someone would have to choose to wait up to 2 weeks to hire a PA or pay the PA out of their own pocket (which as we all know is usually not a viable option.) There are also many forms that must be completed and filed with ACES$ or PPL. If the enrollment packet is incomplete, there can be extra delays.

With the new “employer/employee” relationship, what type of additional liability is added to the “employer” when payments are late due to DHS/ACES$/Comptroller issues?

Ultimately the liability does fall on the employer. However, since ACES$ and PPL are under contract as a financial intermediaries they do hold some responsibility. Unless the payroll is extremely late the employer is not required to pay the employee as long as an effort is being made to meet the pay date. This has not been an issue to date.

Can I ask my local DD Service Provider (or other organization) to hire and supervise my Personal Support Worker?

Of course! Many of you are doing that now. For many participants and their families that is a huge boon because the service provider will locate, supervise, and train the worker for you. You don’t have to use a fiscal/employer agency such as ACES$ or PPL. The service provider is responsible for background checks and paying your worker. Remember, however, they cannot provide all of these services for free and that will add to your cost per hour for that worker and use up your monthly allotment more quickly.

If an employee of an agency (respite worker, etc.) provides services, who gets the check; the person or the agency? Who is responsible for taxes on it?

The organization employing the worker is paid by the state for the provided service. That organization is then responsible for paying the employee as well as their taxes, etc.

The following links to information on the Illinois DHS website may also be helpful.

Family Guidelines for Selecting a Personal Support Worker:

Agency-based Personal Support Worker Qualifications and Training:

New Rules on Overtime Wages for HBS Personal Support Workers and Annual Increase in HBS Amounts:

*Please note that in addition to the initial background check, Personal Support Workers must also have yearly clearance from the Children Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS), and Illinois Sex Offender registry.

Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)