Agency with Choice

Agency with Choice (AWC) allows you and your family to self-direct the services you receive with Autism Connections as your partner.


  • is a Department of Developmental Services (DDS) funded program that requires a referral from DDS
  • provides families the opportunity to have more control and be more creative with day-to-day scheduling and staff supervision
  • means that Autism Connections  provides regular case management, budget review, problem solving and information and referral
  • allows for Autism Support hours to be used for a specific goal (i.e. starting a business) or combination of goals (i.e. household management skill building, community access, vocational and pre-vocational, etc)

Those who are  DDS eligible and have Chapter 688 funding allocation and/or family support allocation are eligible for Agency with Choice.

Individuals and families:

  • work with a DDS Service Coordinator and Autism Connections' Family Support or Autism Specialist to determine how best to meet your needs with funds allocated to you
  • recruit, interview, and select your staff
    • Autism Connections reserves the right not to hire any applicant who does not meet the standards of the job. Note: DDS must approve hiring of members of the family of the individual served.
  • set pay rate for staff (hourly rate must fall within state minimum wage law and DDS maximum standard service rates). In addition to the hourly rate paid to the employee, 22% will be allocated to the budget to cover expenses like  payroll taxes, worker’s compensation insurance and unemployment benefit.
    • For example, if you pay the employee $10 per hour,  and additional $2.20 will bring the total hourly rate to $12.20. This total must not be more than the DDS maximum standard for that position classification.
  • set schedule for staff and determine duties
  • provide staff with training specific to your family member’s care
  • supervise the day-to-day activities of the employee, including Performance Evaluations (completed  in conjunction with Autism Connections Family Support or Autism Specialist)
  • approve and submit required financial management documents
  • review, sign, and submit employee signed time sheet
  • review, approve, and submit bills for AWC program expenses (including staff mileage paid at the organization's mileage reimbursement rate) Note: Your signature verifies the truth and accuracy of each document
  • share responsibility for regular, open, and mutually respectful communication with the Family Support or Autism Specialist
  • agree to participate in a problem solving process when issues arise
  • may inform the Family Support or Autism Specialist that you no longer wish to have this employee working with your family
    • the Family Support or Autism Specialist will ensure legal guidelines are followed
  • check with your insurer for coverage for individuals who work in your home

Autism Connections assigns a Family Support or Autism Specialist as your point of contact while receiving services through the AWC program. That contact will:

  • orient you to the AWC program, policies, and procedure
  • work with you and your DDS Service Coordinator to help identify the services you need
  • help you develop a budget within your allocated amount for these services
  • if needed, assist you in recruiting staff as outlined in your budget
    maintain communication with you and your staff through visits in the initial month to review services and speaking with you as often as needed during that initial period and at least monthly thereafter
  • provide information and guidance on training and supervision of staff, including guidance with your employee’s performance review and any corrective action reviews
  • work with you and your DDS Service Coordinator, as needed, to resolve concerns through the Problem Resolution process

Pathlight, Autism Connections' parent organization :

  • is the official “employer of record” and will fulfill the following administrative tasks
  • will ensure that all state, federal and agency mandates are met in relation the eligibility of the potential employee, to include:
    • interviewing and screening the prospective employees you identify
    • securing work references (two positive references are required)
    • verifying citizenship/ability to work in the United States
    • conducting a driving record check
    • after the offer to hire is extended, performing a Criminal Offender Record Information check (CORI)
  • makes the final hiring decision; Pathlight/Autism Connections will do its best to accommodate the preferences of the family while maintaining the organization standards and meeting all applicable laws and regulations
  • completes new hire paperwork
  • provides orientation to the employee regarding agency policies and procedures
  • provides required staff training (paid from the family’s budget)
  • provides financial management services including processing payroll, withholding taxes, paying unemployment and worker’s compensation insurance, issuing W-2 forms, maintaining all financial records and producing a monthly financial report for you
  • may reassign staff no longer wanted by family or terminate staff
  • meet with the family monthly to review budget and adjusted as needed
  • conduct regular check-ins with staff, family members,  and individuals seeking feedback