MI Children's Waiver Program

Published on
August 3, 2023
Last updated
February 29, 2024
Written by
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Katie Wilkinson
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The Children's Waiver Program (CWP) in Michigan is a Medicaid initiative providing home and community-based services to children under 18 with developmental disabilities, empowering families and advocating for potential caregiver compensation.
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The Children's Waiver Program (CWP) in Michigan is a vital healthcare initiative that enables Medicaid to fund home and community-based services for children under 18 with documented developmental disabilities. Designed to meet these children's medical and behavioral needs, the CWP offers a lifeline of support to families who are the primary caregivers. 

Overview of the Children's Waiver Program

The Children's Waiver Program (CWP) primarily aims to support children and their families by offering medical and behavioral services, enabling them to lead fulfilling lives while remaining in their homes and communities. By targeting children with substantial functional limitations in various areas, the CWP aims to improve their overall quality of life and promote independence.

The program prioritizes children with identified needs for consistent, aggressive in-home services and support to develop their skills to function as independently as possible and prevent the loss of current abilities. It also emphasizes the importance of having children live with their birth or adoptive parents or court-appointed legal guardians, as it fosters a nurturing environment conducive to their well-being. The CWP does not consider parent income for Medicaid eligibility determination, making it accessible to families regardless of financial status.


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Eligibility Requirements for the Children's Waiver Program 

Children must meet specific requirements to qualify for the CWP, ensuring the program is directed at those who most need it. These requirements include:

  1. Age: The child must be under 18 years old.
  2. Developmental Disability: The child must have substantial functional limitations in at least three areas: self-care, expressive and receptive language, learning, mobility, and self-direction.
  3. Identified Needs: The child must require consistent and aggressive in-home services and supports to enhance independence or prevent the loss of current abilities.
  4. Family Arrangement: The child must live with a birth or legally adoptive parent or a relative who has court-appointed legal guardianship (and is not paid for foster care).

Services and Supports under the Children's Waiver Program 

The Children's Waiver Program (CWP) in Michigan offers comprehensive services and supports to eligible children with developmental disabilities and their families. These services enhance the child's well-being, foster independence, and promote inclusion within their home and community. Some of the services and supports provided by the CWP include:

  1. Personal Care Services: Assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting, and eating.
  2. Behavioral Support Services: Specialized interventions to manage challenging behaviors and improve social skills.
  3. Respite Care: Temporary relief for family caregivers, allowing them to take breaks from their caregiving responsibilities.
  4. Therapies: Access to various therapies, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language therapy.
  5. Assistive Technology: Provision of devices and equipment to enhance communication, mobility, and independence.
  6. Home Modifications: Adaptations to the home environment to improve accessibility and safety.
  7. Community Living Supports: Assistance with community integration, socialization, and participation in recreational activities.
  8. Specialized Medical Equipment and Supplies: Coverage for essential medical equipment and supplies.
  9. Skilled Nursing Services: Professional nursing care for children with complex medical needs.
  10. Crisis Intervention Services: Immediate support and intervention during challenging situations.
  11. Family Training and Counseling: Education and counseling for families to manage the child's needs effectively.

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Application Process for the Children's Waiver Program

The journey to accessing the CWP begins by contacting the Access Center in the family's county of residence. (Search for the contact information of the Access Center in your county on the CMHSP listings directory.) The Center will conduct a comprehensive assessment to understand the child's needs, functional limitations, and desired in-home services. Information about the family's income and resources, including private insurance and Medicaid eligibility, will also be gathered.

The Community Mental Health Services Program evaluates the assessment and, if eligible, submits a prescreen for the CWP. Prescreens are scored based on the Priority Weighing Criteria. Once an opening becomes available on the CWP, invitations to apply are issued to the highest-scoring children who meet all requirements at that time. Families are contacted to ensure their continued interest in participating in the program.

Compensation for Family Caregivers

The CWP recognizes the invaluable role of family caregivers and offers compensation for their services. Unlike many traditional Medicaid programs, the CWP provides a self-directed option, allowing families to take control of their child's care and select their preferred caregivers, often including family members. Through the self-directed option, eligible families can hire and pay their chosen caregivers, including parents or legal guardians, for the care provided to their child with developmental disabilities. This compensation addresses the financial burden often associated with caregiving and recognizes the significant contributions of family caregivers, who play a vital role in supporting their loved one's well-being and independence within their homes and communities.

A note from Givers

Caregivers are unsung heroes of our healthcare system and deserve recognition and support. If you care for a child with developmental disabilities, find out if you're eligible for caregiver compensation. Fill out this form and let us help you access the support you deserve. 

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