YAI LINK is YAI’s Information and Referral Department. We explain the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) service system and refer people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), family members and service providers to necessary services.
Call LINK at: 212.273.6182
Email: link [at] yai.org
Languages: English and Spanish available
Please keep in mind that each case is unique, so specific information is often best shared over the phone.
Linking Individuals to Necessary Knowledge
There are a lot of terms that are shortened to their initials into an acronym (e.g. I/DD stands for Intellectual and/or Developmental Disability).
If you want to find out more about different acronyms you will find at YAI and around the I/DD field, please check out our acronym guide to learn more.
A knowledgeable and courteous Information Specialist will ask you for information about yourself or the person you are calling about. You may be asked to give us the date of birth, county of residence, insurance information, and more. It is good to have any paperwork, diagnostic and insurance information with you when calling so we can best assist you.
The LINK Department maintains a vacancy database with information on recent openings for services at other agencies. LINK also maintains a large resource library which can be useful in providing additional information about programs outside of the YAI Network.
Yes. LINK does community outreach and presentations. If you are interested in setting up a presentation on OPWDD eligibility and services, or would like LINK to attend your event, please call LINK at 212.273.6182 or email link [at] yai.org
YAI is a network of agencies offering a range of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including recreation and socialization, employment and job readiness, residential, school, healthcare services, and more.
For more information, visit YAI's service page.
Because LINK’s Information Specialists are also attending community events and meetings, running programs, and providing presentations, it may take up to two business days for us to respond to your call and up to five business days to respond to your email or webform. If it has been more than that, please contact us again. Voicemail and email systems are not foolproof and sometimes because of poor call quality and other IT issues we are unable to understand a message or do not receive the email.
Please be sure to state your name and number at least two times along with a brief description of why you are calling. Your call will be returned within two business days.
OPWDD stands for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. It is the New York State office that provides funding for services for people with developmental disabilities.
According to OPWDD: developmental disabilities include intellectual disability, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders, epilepsy, familial dysautonomia, and other neurologically based impairments that occur before someone turns 22 years old.
In order to be eligible for OPWDD services, the person must have applied for and received a letter of eligibility from OPWDD.
You must have all the required documentation (see below) for eligibility determination. Additional documentation may be required for specific situations. Once you have the paperwork together, you will need to submit this to the Developmental Disability Regional Office (DDRO) in your borough. You will also need to attend a Front Door information session.
- A psychological evaluation including an IQ score and an adaptive behavior assessment dated within the last 3 years
- A psychosocial evaluation documenting the person's developmental history dated within the last year
- An autism evaluation or other medical specialty report if there’s a diagnosis other than an intellectual disability
- An annual physical dated within the last year
- The OPWDD Transmittal Form
- Other documentation as needed. If the person is over the age of 22, they will need to provide proof that the disability was present prior to the age of 22. This is often referred to as “age of onset documentation.”
If you have questions about applying for eligibility, want someone to look over your application packet, or want to know what comes after you submit, call YAI LINK at 212.273.6182 or email link [at] yai.org.
The Front Door is OPWDD’s person-centered process for establishing access to services for people who are new to OPWDD or those seeking to change existing services.
OPWDD requires families to attend their Front Door Information Session before services can begin. This workshop provides information on the services available to families. To find a session, please visit OPWDD’s website.
Age of onset documentation can be obtained by requesting old school records, evaluations or other clinical documentation from doctors or professionals involved with the person. For people who attended NYC schools, you may submit a documentation request to the NYC Department of Education using this sample document request letter.
Be sure to document all efforts to obtain this documentation. If you are unable to get previous records, get records, letters from people who have known the person since childhood can be used as supporting documentation.
The YAI Network can provide the required psychological, psychosocial, and (if needed) Autism evaluations through our Center for Specialty Therapy. Availability may vary depending on the location. Call our Patient Services Department at 212.273.6272 to make an appointment. For people who do not qualify for Medicaid, please contact the LINK Department at 212.272.6182 for information on our free evaluation grants and private pay evaluations through the Autism Center. We may also be able to complete an annual physical through Premier HealthCare, depending on the person's insurance.
Call LINK at 212.273.6182 to discuss the recommended services. Please keep in mind that most services in New York require OPWDD eligibility. LINK will explain how you can access the recommended services and/or how to get eligibility.
It depends on a number of factors, including if the person already has evaluations and or pre-22 documentation, or if they need to get them; whether the person is found eligible for OPWDD services, the response time to requests for additional information, and what services are being requested and resources are available.
Contact LINK to speak to an Information Specialist who will be glad to answer your inquiries. We’ll be glad to take your call and listen to your questions and concerns.
Email: link [at] yai.org