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Minnesota families, individuals with disabilities and older adults with care needs can find support with self-directed care

When a family member has a disability or an older adult has high care needs, it can stretch resources and the juggling can create stress that can feel relentless.


For some of these families, self-directed care is a welcome solution.


That’s been true for Jessica Girard. When her son graduated high school and became an adult, she knew he would need support in order to fulfill his desire to live independently.


Cody, who has autism, made his preference clear: he did not want to live in a group home.


“If he continued living with us, what happens later in life, when we’re gone? I wanted to

know that he could live independently and be okay and have the support he needs,”

Girard said. “Home and Community-based Services has done exactly that.”


Advocating for her son, Girard researched what support services were available for him. Girard has turned her knowledge and lived expertise navigating these programs into a career that supports Minnesota families like hers.


She’s the family advocacy and outreach manager for Partners in Community Supports, (PICS), a subsidiary of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. PICS provides support for self-directed services like Consumer Directed Community Support (CDCS) and Consumer Support Grant (CSG), in addition to Individualized Home Supports (IHS),  the licensed service that Girard’s son uses.


Girard spends her days working with caregivers of people with disabilities and older adults. She helps them understand if they are eligible for programs called Home and Community-Based Services, which gives them more options to ensure care for a loved one who needs ongoing support.


“A lot of people don’t know what services they qualify for. They don’t know they can

choose what services are best for their families and that they can be paid caregivers,”

Girard said.


With a critical statewide shortage of direct care professionals and personal care

attendants (PCAs), the value of Home and Community-Based Services has

become essential for many families who struggle to find caregiving help.


Through programs like those offered at PICS, parents and some adults with

disabilities or older adults can choose their own care providers.


“We know we are a lifeline for families we work with,” said PICS program manager

Ashley Giguere. “PICS is what’s known as a financial management services provider or

FMS. We assist individuals with disabilities and older adults that are approved for

waiver/grant services through the state and federal government.”


Choosing the self-directed option allows parents, spouses of disabled or older adults and other trusted caregivers to be paid for their caregiving work. This can make a difference for caregivers who are trying to manage the demands of an outside job with the needs of a loved one.


“Families can hire family and friends who are already doing the caregiving work, and they can be paid for it,” Giguere added. “Families are very grateful there are these programs. If they can be paid for their caregiving work they don’t have to potentially choose between providing care and putting food on the table.”


The first step for families and individuals who want to find out if they qualify for Home and Community-Based Services is to call their county and request a MnCHOICES assessment. If they meet eligibility requirements, they can learn what services they qualify for and can choose which are best for their families.


They can then enroll with a non-profit organization like PICS for financial management.


“There are a lot of steps involved in getting started; the bureaucracy at times can feel

like a lot,” noted Giguere. “We have a fantastic enrollment team who will meet

with you to start services with us. We walk you through it. We want to make it as smooth as possible.”


As for Jessica Girard’s son, Home and Community-Based Services have allowed him to live a full life in the community with the support he needs as an adult.


“He is able to live in an apartment; he has caregivers to come in and be that support he needs to build independent living skills. He can be out in the community with his peers, work on social skills, have transportation,” she said.


“It’s made all the difference for him to have the opportunity to live his best life, the life he wants to live.”


To find out more about PICS, go to their website at


Or you can reach out by phone to PICS. The enrollment team is at 651-967-5063 or

the main number 651-967-5060.


PICS has team members who speak English, Hmong, Somali and Spanish.

Services are offered in all languages via LanguageLine; their interpreters are fluent in

240 languages.Self-directed care “a lifeline” for families, individuals with disabilities and older adults with care needs



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