DHHS Awards Second Round of Grants for Innovative Projects Supporting People with Disabilities

June 1, 2023

A Path for ME logoThe Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Aging and Disability Services (OADS) has made six additional awards in its second round of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Innovation Pilot Grants to support projects that promote greater independence and community participation among individuals with disabilities. 

DHHS awarded the grants through a competitive process, using federal HCBS improvement funds provided through the American Rescue Plan Act. DHHS announced the first round of wards in February. The second-round awards cover a broad range of innovations – from telehealth and remote employment supports to enhanced behavioral supports and enhanced training curricula – benefitting people with diverse needs, including individuals who may need significant behavioral health supports. Grant amounts vary, up to a maximum of $500,000.

Second-Round HCBS Innovation Pilot Grant Recipients:

Independence Advocates of Maine  was awarded grants for two projects utilizing technology to support access to health care and employment for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and Autism who are Section 21 and 29 HCBS waiver members.

The grant will be used to evaluate a pilot project to improve health assessment, care, and care coordination. This project will bring comprehensive telemedicine care, services, and support to an estimated 150 waiver members through a partnership with telemedicine vendor Stationed.

A second project will develop, pilot, and report on a framework to expand HCBS waiver members' access to pre-employment and employment opportunities through remote supports. This process will explore the feasibility of adding both monitoring and interactive remote supports to services covered under Sections 21 and Section 29 waivers as well as future HCBS waiver programs.

Skills Inc. was awarded grants for two projects related to improving access to employment and supporting greater independence for adults with IDD and Autism. The first will focus on pre-employment services, providing group and one-on-one support and education for employment readiness to better prepare members for vocational rehab services. It will support people in exploring what employment means and will focus on community and employer awareness of competitive integrated employment.  The project will focus on Somerset, Kennebec, and Penobscot counties.    

Skills Inc.'s second project is a statewide drivers education initiative that seeks to bridge the transportation barrier that  many people with disabilities face in rural areas. The project focuses on providing driving assessments via a partnership with AlphaOne and on developing the availability of driver education programs that are inclusive of students with IDD and autism. 

University of Maine will complete a demonstration pilot for a new category of behavioral support for participants in Maine’s HCBS waiver programs. The new category will be patterned after behavior technician support, a direct-support paraprofessional role that aids in implementing and monitoring treatment plans and supporting waiver program participants in developing skills under the direction of a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. The project will evaluate the outcomes of significant enhancement of the existing services covered under Section 21 waivers with the primary goals of increasing access to the community, supporting individuals with significant behavioral health support needs, reducing frequency and intensity of crisis incidents, and improving respect for the human rights of people with disabilities.

Woodford’s Family Services will expand access to a well-prepared and skilled workforce.  The agency will develop, deliver, and translate curriculum materials for the HCBS Training and Certificate Program, and will incorporate the curriculum into a statewide Social Services Career Prep Program for high school students.

Innovation Grant Webinars

OADS and technical-assistance partner National Disability Institute (NDI) will be offering three webinars to share the goals of the awarded projects with the public. The sessions are organized by type of project: Technology, Employment and Training and Community Inclusion.

We invite the public to attend these sessions to learn about the innovative projects that have begun in Maine and will continue through December 2024. Registration is available at the links below.

We are offering accommodations for American Sign Language (ASL) and Communication Access Real Time Transcription (CART).  If you require additional accommodation, please see information in the Zoom registration form.

  • June 27, 2023: Technology                             


  • July 18, 2023: Employment and Training                  


  • August 14, 2023: Community Inclusion                     


Technical Assistance and Evaluation

The Department is partnering with NDI to support the awardees in the pursuit of quality outcomes that can be replicated in HCBS programs once the concepts have shown effectiveness. NDI is the first national organization committed exclusively to championing economic empowerment, financial education, asset development and financial stability for all persons with disabilities.  NDI is acting as fiscal agent to distribute the funds and monitor grant activity, providing technical assistance to awardees, and supporting project evaluation and reporting.

Innovation is Key to A Path for ME

Program innovation is one of three system improvement prongs that OADS is implementing under A Path for ME, an initiative to improve and transform how services are delivered to people with IDD and Autism. 

Another key prong is implementation of OADS’ HCBS Lifespan Project, which will enroll youth ages 14 and older and adults beginning in January 2025. Lifespan recognizes that individuals with disabilities each have their own paths, and services must be flexible and responsive to support those paths. Successful innovations from the grant initiative will be considered for incorporation into Lifespan, which is planned for a 2025 launch.

The third prong is a robust identification of needs using the Supports Intensity Scale, a nationally validated and reliable tool used in several other states. Individuals enrolling in Lifespan will have an assessment for use by the person-centered planning team to develop individualized service plans that promote independence and community integration. 

Information about the earlier round of grants is available here