In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) is a Medi-Cal program that provides home-based personal care and related services so that people with disabilities can remain safely in their communities. Part of a broader network of Medi-Cal-funded services and supports designed to keep people with disabilities living in their communities and not in institutions, the IHSS program will help pay for certain services for an eligible child with a disability to remain safely in their own home.

For more in-depth information about IHSS, see our articles on learning the essentials and how to apply. You can also learn more about accessing IHSS with this self-advocacy guide published by Disability Rights California. (It’s available in sixteen languages!)

What Services Are Provided?

Authorized services may include:

  • Personal care services
  • Meal preparation
  • Paramedical services
    • These are services prescribed and supervised by a medical professional, such as the administration of meds, home therapy programs, tube-feeding, blood sugar monitoring, and wound care.
  • Accompaniment to your child’s disability-related medical appointments
  • Protective supervision
    • This is for children whose “severely impaired” (as phrased by IHSS) judgment, orientation and/or memory puts them at risk of self-injury or injuring others.
      • Protective supervision usually isn't provided to monitor for medical emergencies like seizures and blood sugar crashes. But there is an exception, which is when the recipient uses life-sustaining medical equipment (IV, port, trach, g-tube, oxygen, etc.) and is at risk of interfering with the equipment due to their cognitive impairment. Here, Undivided's Public Benefits Specialist, Lisa Concoff Kronbeck, explains this exception:


Who Is Eligible?

Children with disabilities may be eligible for IHSS to the extent that their disability-related care needs exceed those of a typically developing child of the same age.

  • In order to receive IHSS services, your child must be enrolled in Medi-Cal. If your family's income exceeds the Medi-Cal threshold, you may be able to enroll in Medi-Cal using the Institutional Deeming Waiver; learn more about the waiver here. 
  • There is no minimum age to receive IHSS hours, but infants and young toddlers are usually limited to paramedical services and disability-related specialist visits and therapies. (This is because babies require total care from their parents regardless of ability.)
  • As your kiddo gets older, you may need protective supervision, so you might be awarded “personal care hours” from IHSS. 
    • These are services for feeding, dressing, ambulation, toileting, bathing and hygiene, menstrual care, and other age-appropriate self-care tasks that typically developing children usually carry out themselves. 
  • Aspects of eligibility differ if your child is deemed as “severely impaired” (authorized for 20 or more weekly hours of personal services, paramedical services, and meal preparation) or “non-severely impaired” (fewer than 20 weekly hours).
    • An IHSS recipient who is deemed “severely impaired” can be authorized for up to 283 hours of services per month.
    • A recipient who is deemed “non-severely impaired” may be authorized for up to 195 hours of services per month.
    • If a child who is deemed “non-severely impaired” qualifies for protective supervision services, they will be awarded an additional 195 hours to be exclusively used for protective supervision, on top of any hours already awarded.

Can Parents Be IHSS Providers?

If you’re unable to work full-time (40 hours per week) because you’re caring for your child’s extensive disability-related needs, you may be eligible to be paid as an IHSS provider.

  • To be eligible, there cannot be another suitable legal guardian available to care for your child.
    • If your family lives in a two-parent household, the non-provider parent must be unavailable to care for your child due to full-time work, full-time enrollment in college or vocational training, or disability. 
  • Parent providers must be eligible to work in the United States, and you will be required to complete a background check and fingerprinting (there is a LiveScan fee for this requirement) as well as an orientation session.
  • Your parent-provider income is tax exempt and cannot be deemed to your child due to their income-based eligibility assessments for other benefits like SSI or Regional Center co-pay assistance.

In this clip, Lisa Concoff Kronbeck explains who can be your child's IHSS provider:


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