||How long does it take to become a sponsor? How long after I am certified as a
sponsor does it take before an individual may choose to live in my home?
From the time your Application for Employment is received, expect the development
process to begin within 6-8 weeks. Once development begins, it usually takes a candidate
2 months to complete (candidates in the Tidewater region of Virginia require 2-4
months to complete development). These standard timeframes assume that you don't
run into complications which will further extend your development process, e.g.
failing tests during training and having to schedule re- takes, background check
result considerations, etc. It is the "matching" process, where we work to find
the most compatible sponsor/sponsored-individual relationship before initiating
services at your home, which takes the longest period of time (anywhere from 2-12
months, so the sponsor candidate must be financially able to complete development
and wait for service initiation; also see FAQ#2).
||I work full time at present but want to become a sponsor. May I keep my full time job and
be considered as a sponsor? If not, is there transition time before bringing someone into my home
and working out a notice with my current employer?
Becoming a Sponsor is a full time job. As a general rule, this
becomes your only job. Depending on the needs and preferences of the individual choosing
your home, we will work out those details with you before a final decision is made for the
individual to move--one that is mutually acceptable to all parties.
||Is there training involved? How much? What kind of training?
Blue Ridge Associates
(the term "Associate" applies to both Residential Sponsors and Residential Specialists/staff) must
be trained and regularly recertified in CPR, First Aid, Medication Management, TOVA
(Therapeutic Options of Virginia, a behavior-management skillset), Human Rights, MR-Waiver,
and our own General Orientation. Initial training requires a commitment of 7 days by the
prospective Associate. Blue Ridge provides the training. Please see the
for more information about the training requirement.
||If I currently work in the field of health or human services, does any of my training "cross
over" or do I have to take your entire training program?
Unexpired training certificates in
CPR, First Aid, Medication Management and TOVA all "cross over" (documentation must be
provided to verify validity of certification). All Blue Ridge Associate candidates must take
General Orientation (which includes the MR-Waiver and Human Rights training). The term
"Associate" applies to both Residential Sponsors and Residential Specialists/staff.
||Do you provide sponsored residential services for people of all ages?
No. Blue Ridge
provides certified sponsored residential services only to individuals who are age 18 or older.
Only one DMHMRSAS-licensed agency in Virginia is allowed to provide sponsored residential
services to children under 18 years of age.
||May I choose who comes to live in my home?
Once you are certified as a Sponsor,
it is the "matching" process, where we work to find the most compatible sponsor/sponsored-
individual relationship before initiating services at your location, which takes the longest period
of time (anywhere from 2-12 months). That process weighs your input along with the preferences
of the individual to receive support services, so that when a "match" is made, it is mutually
||How do individuals who are looking for services find Blue Ridge? Where do referrals
Individuals seeking residential sponsored services as an alternative to congregate
residential services may be referred to us by friends or family, current sponsors or other mutual
contacts, but ultimately, the case manager at the local Community Services Board or the DD-
waiver Support Coordinator (case manager) must offer choice of all available vendors of
requested service. Blue Ridge does not conduct regular marketing-type activities. Residential
Sponsorship is growing on its own, mostly by word-of-mouth information sharing, because
individuals who explore their options often conclude (as we do!) that residential sponsorship is
the preferred method for receiving support services.
||Do an individual's family members come to visit once the individual is living in my home?
Are family members involved in the sponsored situation on a regular basis?
are very involved and some are not, but individuals have the right to invite friends or family to
visit as often as they wish, and we at Blue Ridge encourage continued involvement with natural
supports for the individual choosing services.
||If the Individual receiving sponsored services from me has a job or goes to school or
other day programs, will they continue that once I become their sponsor? Do I provide their
transportation to that?
An individual may wish to continue their job or school or day support
program once they begin receiving sponsored residential services. Or they may not! It is up to
the individual's choice, with assistance from their case manager. Some individuals have a pre-
arranged contract for transportation, particularly if there are special needs related to
transportation, but some will require their sponsor to provide transportation. This consideration
would be part of the "matching" process, looking at your compatibility with an individual seeking
||How much does sponsorship pay?
The rate of pay for residential sponsorship depends on
the complexity and intensity of services needed for the individual being sponsored. Lease
agreements for monthly rent are also signed between Blue Ridge contractors (sponsors) and the
individual receiving services (see FAQ#11). In general, if you are seeking a position where you
will help others and make a fair income doing it, residential sponsorship may be a good match.
If money is your primary motivator, the money you make will never be "enough".
||Besides the start-up costs listed in the
link of the on-line Employment Application, what other expenses will I incur? Are expenses related to the
For most individuals receiving sponsored residential services, all
medical issues are paid for by Medicaid (e.g. doctor appointments, medicines, wheelchairs,
medical beds or accessories). While the sponsor is to provide a fully-furnished room for the
individual (bed, chests of drawers, dressers, closet, chair), if there are special medical or health
equipment needs, the sponsor is not required to pay these costs. The reimbursement to Blue
Ridge for payment of our contractors (sponsors) is for provision of specialized services. In
Virginia, "room, board and general supervision" is not covered. However, each individual signs a
lease agreement for rent that is specified in Blue Ridge policy and procedures.
||Do we have to wait a month in order to receive payment for services that we have
provided, or do we receive payment prior?
Payment for services is made to you once Blue
Ridge receives reimbursement for claims submitted on your behalf to third party payors after
you have provided documentation to verify billing. Here's how it works: you send us the
month's services billing, we invoice the Individual's funding source for those services, and when
we receive payment of that invoice, you will be paid. The interval between billing and payment
depends on when you enter the monthly cycle as a new sponsor.
||Will a criminal conviction in my background prevent me from becoming a Sponsor or
Possibly. Please see the
to determine whether your conviction is a barrier crime per
Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services regulations
which would disqualify you as a candidate. Most barrier crimes have no statute of limitations. In
other words, no matter how old the conviction, and no matter what rehabilitation you have
undergone, barrier convictions in your record (or members of your household's records, if you
are applying to be a Sponsor) still prohibit you from certification as a Blue Ridge Associate.
There are no exceptions to this requirement. The term "Associate" applies to both Residential
Sponsors and Residential Specialists/staff.
||Must each Blue Ridge Associate have a driver's license?
Yes. Candidates without a
current driver's license and automobile insurance are ineligible to provide direct care services
because the ability to drive is especially critical in responding to an emergency. All Associates
must provide a DMV transcript of driving history at every license renewal, too, to ensure a safe
driving record is maintained. The term "Associate" applies to both Residential Sponsors and
||Do I have to be married to be a sponsor? Can a single person be a sponsor? If I am
married, do both of us have to be sponsors, or can one person be "primary" and the other
person be "back-up"?
Sponsors may be single or married, as both are required to meet
minimum weekly respite requirements. All sponsors must recruit their own Staff (who are also
trained and certified by Blue Ridge) to employ in meeting those requirements. If you are married,
both spouses can be co-sponsors, or one spouse can be full-time and the other spouse can be
part-time. Your definition of your roles needs to be finalized during your initial interviews. Also,
a spouse may choose not to participate in providing direct care services at all, while the other
spouse works as the Sponsor. All occupants of sponsored residential locations must meet the
Background and PPD/TB requirements listed in "Minimum Requirements" on the on-line
Employment Application Wizard.
||Once I become a sponsor, if I have a baby or other change to the number of members in
my household (e.g. exchange student, or family member moves back home temporarily), do
you need to know?
Yes. Blue Ridge should be contacted immediately upon births, deaths,
move-outs, move-in's, etc. Changes to occupancy of Locations certified to provide direct care
services may require a new property study, and may also affect compliance with DMHMRSAS
Office of Licensing requirements for living, bathroom and bed space available.
||Do I have to be a certain age to be a sponsor? (Is any age too old? Is any age too
The minimum age for Blue Ridge Associates is 18. There is no maximum age limit. The term
"Associate" applies to both Residential Sponsors and Residential Specialists/staff.
||If I have physical limitations, am I still eligible?
Candidates are asked to disclose (on the
Employment Application and during the Property Study) any physical or mental health issues
which may affect quality of services being provided. If you have a condition which would limit
the range of services you could provide, or your ability to complete training, Blue Ridge needs
to know before you enter training and development.
||I haven't graduated from high school. Am I eligible to work as a Sponsor or Residential
Specialist? What if the individual to receive services is a family member, and I have a
lifetime of experience in providing their services? Doesn't that "count" as education?
Blue Ridge Associates (the term "Associate" applies to both Residential Sponsors and Residential
Specialists/staff) must have obtained either a high school diploma or GED. While it seems
illogical to reject the life experience of a family member as a substitute for the diploma or GED,
we are not free to do otherwise, as per policy. This doesn't mean that the family member can't
continue to assist in caring for the individual. It just means that the family member may not do
so under the auspices of Blue Ridge. If your home becomes a sponsored Location, it will also
mean that there are some tasks which must only be completed by a certified Associate. Be sure
to discuss these questions at your initial interviews, if applicable.
||I have kids. Can I still be a sponsor?
Finding a compatible match between an individual
to receive sponsored residential services and the right sponsor must include considerations
about minor residents at the sponsored location. We consider whether the individual wants to
live in a home with kids, and we also consider whether there are safety concerns (for the children
or for the individual to receive services). At Blue Ridge we support a number of individuals for
whom living with children would not work well for them or family. We discuss with you whether
your role as a parent would hinder your ability to provide certain kinds of services. We are
required to explore whether your children understand the circumstances of sponsorship, and are
open to the idea. Generally, because it involves special considerations like these, expect that
having children will delay service initiation at your sponsored location (often by many months).
||Once I become a sponsor, how does it work if I have to move?
Blue Ridge must be
notified of your plans to move or to begin major construction on a Location certified for
residential sponsorship. This notification should be made no later than 3 months prior to the
move date (or to the date when construction is to begin).
||My family is busy. Can the individual who comes to live in my home keep up with our
schedule and go everywhere with us?
An individual chooses your certified Location over
another according to their preference, and according to a "matching" process administered by
Blue Ridge to ensure the Location and Sponsor(s) are a good match with the Individual's needs.
We can then proceed with the service initiation process at that Location. The "matching" process
involves much discussion about how the schedule of your family and the schedule of the
individual receiving services will be blended. It helps to remember the arrangement in its purest
business terms: residential sponsorship is a career, your home becomes a certified business
location, and the individual receiving services is the "customer", all of which must be considered
in the blending of the sponsorship requirements and your family's schedule.
||I like to travel a lot. Could a sponsored individual go with me? (is that 'allowed'?)
[Also see FAQ#24] If you invite the sponsored individual to join your family on trips or
vacations, and the individual is physically able to do so, the individual may choose to accept
your invitation but you, as the sponsor, must guarantee continuity of services during the trip. If
the sponsored individual chooses not to join you on vacation (if invited), the individual may
receive continued services at your home from certified Staff while you are absent. Consider that
the individual receiving services in your home may have had limited opportunity for travel prior to
living with you, and the exposure to new places and experiences will likely be an enrichment to
||Is this a 24-7 arrangement? (Can I take breaks or vacations? How does that work?)
An individual receiving direct care services at a sponsored residential location basically becomes
like part of the sponsor's family. The sponsored location is the individual's home, and while
direct care services are not necessarily provided around the clock (unless the individual's plan
specifically requires it), the sponsor and the sponsored individual live together in community full-
time. If you invite the sponsored individual to join your family on trips or vacations, and the
individual is physically able to do so, the individual may choose to accept your invitation but
you, as the sponsor, must guarantee continuity of services during the trip. Sponsors are
required to meet minimum weekly respite requirements (see FAQ #15), and to recruit their own
Staff (who are also trained and certified by Blue Ridge) to employ in meeting those
requirements. If the sponsored individual chooses not to join you on vacation, the individual
may receive continued services at your location from certified Staff while you are absent.
||Do you operate Group Homes? Can I get licensed through Blue Ridge to operate a
group home? How many people can I take care of?
No. Please read the information on our
website home page for a better understanding of our philosophy, but in general, we believe that
residential sponsorship provides a higher quality alternative to those adults who choose it over
other congregate models. The question "how many people can I take care of" also would
indicate to us that your motivation for applying may be less focused on serving the needs of
individuals who use Blue Ridge for services and more focused on maximizing income, which
may mean that residential sponsorship is not for you. We'd definitely want to discuss this topic
with you, to determine if you are a good "match" with Blue Ridge. By the way, our Associates
don't "take care of" individuals. They "provide direct care services" to those individuals with
intellectual and developmental disabilities who select the residential sponsor model as their
preferred living arrangement in which to receive supports.
||Can I do this if I live in another state?
Blue Ridge is licensed to certify sponsored
residential locations with the Commonwealth of Virginia. Some other states do offer programs
that look similar to sponsored residential. The answers to these FAQs may or may not apply to
services offered outside Virginia.
||How is sponsorship monitored? Will I receive visits from the government agencies
involved, or from Blue Ridge? Will they be announced or unannounced, and how frequent
Locations certified to provide sponsored residential services are regularly monitored
by Blue Ridge and by the Virginia Office of Licensing, which is part of the Department of Mental
Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services (DMHMRSAS), and also by the
funding-source agencies. Blue Ridge monitors our Locations to ensure compliance with
regulations so that these audits by licensing & funding agencies are successful. Visits are both
announced and unannounced. Blue Ridge visits sponsored locations multiple times a month.
Visits by licensing & funding agencies do not have a predetermined frequency.
||Is there a 24-7 emergency contact # if I have problems once I become a sponsor?
Yes. Blue Ridge always has someone "on-call" as your emergency resource (either your Regional
Coordinator, or if someone else is assigned for a particular day, that information is available on
our voicemail system).
||How long will I be a sponsor? Is it "for life"?
That depends on you, and on the desires of
the individual receiving your sponsored residential services! The individual has the option to
select another services provider, and you have the option to end your sponsorship tenure. Many
individuals who come to Blue Ridge seeking sponsored residential services have moved often
and are looking for a more stable arrangement. We hope that those we certify as sponsors are
also looking for something long-term, to provide that kind of stability.
||If an individual moves in with me and it doesn't work out, am I obligated to 'stick it
Your Regional Coordinator is your best resource once you become a sponsor. The RC
needs to know of any problems right away, so we can work with you and with the individual
receiving services to come up with a solution to the problem. We work hard to make a
compatible match between individuals and their sponsors, but we will work just as hard once the
match is made to help both of you transition smoothly into your new situation. Nevertheless if,
after time and an investment of such efforts, the individual chooses to select another service
provider, or you determine that the match is not right for you, arrangements can be made to
terminate the sponsorship. If an individual is having any challenges in a particular location, we
look first to make changes in the environment, training of the sponsor and staff and adding more
supports from various sources as needed. We are not in the business of moving people to "fix"
||As the sponsor, do I provide beds and other furnishings for the individual receiving
services, or do they provide their own?
Sponsored residential locations are governed by
similar regulations to larger DMHMRSAS-licensed agencies in issues such as this one, i.e. the
individual's fully-furnished room would be provided by the Location management (i.e. the
residential sponsor). However, the individual will bring their personal belongings to their new
home at the sponsored location which, in a few cases, may include furnishings. While the
sponsor is to provide a fully-furnished room for the individual (bed, chests of drawers, dressers,
closet, chair), if there are special medical or health equipment needs, the sponsor is not required
to pay these costs.
||Is it a problem that we only have one bathroom?
This is one of the topics that will be
covered during your initial interview. There are minimum requirements about bathrooms at
licensed sponsored residential locations: there must be no more than a 4:1 ratio of
people:bathrooms (i.e. if you already have 4 people in your house with 1 bathroom, accepting an
Individual into your home for services would put your ratio at a non-compliant level of 5:1,
requiring the installation of an additional bathroom). Also, the Individual must be able to access
the bathroom without having to go through someone else's room.