Self-Directed Services/Self-Direction

Self-Directed Services/Self-Direction is an approach to delivering home and community-based services (HCBS) that offers increased choice and authority over how, and from whom, an individual receives their waiver services. The self-directed service delivery model is an alternative to more traditional provider-managed services. Self-direction provides an opportunity for participants to manage the organization of the supports and services they elect to receive, supported by their Support Coordinator through the person-centered planning process.

In New Jersey, many individuals are choosing to self-direct some or all of their HCBS. This means that, within the parameters of your individual budget, you can choose to self-direct by hiring your own caregiver - known as a self-directed employee - to provide needed services. You can also choose to self-direct by participating in a program or taking a class in the community that is available to the general public. 

If you elect to use self-directed employees, you will choose between two Self-Directed Employee (SDE) Service Models.  Depending on the model selected, you may have an employer relationship with your SDE. You will also have the responsibility of recruiting staff, securing coverage when staff call out of work, and approving timesheets.

SDE Service models are made possible through a financial management services agency, known as the fiscal intermediary, which conducts some employer-related tasks such as payroll processing and tax withholding. The fiscal intermediary processes self-directed employee timesheets, vendor invoices, and issues payments.

For additional guidance, individuals, their families, and interested stakeholders can access Deciding to Self-Direct: Making Choices, Becoming Empowered (  This site provides links to resources through the Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities.

Self-Directed Services available through a self-directed employee:

  • Community Based Supports
  • Individual Supports-Hourly
  • Interpreter Services
  • Respite
  • Supports Brokerage
  • Transportation - Self-Directed Employee

Self-Directed Services available through a community vendor:

  • Assistive Technology
  • Environmental Modification
  • Goods and Services
  • Natural Supports Training
  • Transportation – Single Passenger
  • Vehicle Modification

All Medicaid waiver providers—including self-directed employees (SDEs) in any of the Division of Developmental Disabilities’ Self-Directed Employee service models (Vendor Fiscal/Employer Agent model through Public Partnerships, or Fee-for-Service Agency with Choice or e-Record model through Easterseals) are required to keep documentation to support Medicaid reimbursement. Documentation of services provides the evidence that the provider delivered the services, and delivered them in accordance with the individual’s need.

Please see the following documents for guidance and more information:



If you have reviewed available information and have chosen to use a self-directed employee (SDE), you need to select which SDE Service Model is best for you.  There are two available models to choose from:

  • Vendor Fiscal/Employer Agent (VF/EA)
  • Agency with Choice (AWC)

In each model, a financial management services agent referred to as the fiscal intermediary processes payments and handles tax and labor law filings. In the VF/EA model, you are the employer of record and Public Partnerships LLC (PPL) does this on your behalf. In the AWC model, Easterseals is the employer and you are a co-employer.

For more information, talk with your Support Coordinator or email the DDD Fee-for-Service Helpdesk:

Individuals who choose to self-direct their services may feel that they need more assistance for it to work for them.  Supports Brokerage can offer practical skills training to enable families and participants to independently direct and manage program services, or assist more regularly.  Please visit the Supports Brokerage website for more information.


The Division recognizes that understanding Self-Directed Services/Self-Direction is important.  Generally, your assigned Support Coordinator will be able to assist you.  If they are unable to assist you and need help, or you have questions, please feel free to contact our Office of Education on Self-Directed Services.  The Office stands ready to provide education and training on this important topic so that informed choices can be made.