Updated: Oct 11
By Peter Rafael Ferrer
There is still some mystery surrounding Financial Management Services (FMS). Many participants of Self Determination often wonder and ask about the origin and purpose of these financial management services. What were they doing prior to the start of SDP? What do they do in addition to serving as a FMS? There are currently eleven FMS agencies in California. This article focuses on an interview with Robert Bacsik, Treasurer of ARCC Center, with questions that attempt to shed light on some of the less understood aspects of FMS.
While the information in this post provides valuable general guidelines, ARCC Center will no longer be providing FMS services as of November 30th.
What is your broad business and focus?
ARCC Center, prior to being an FMS agency, was an in-home respite agency since 2008. As an FMS agency, our broad business is to provide financial management services for self determination, the paid internship program, as well as emergency services related to COVID-19. Our in-home respite serves around 2000 clients throughout San Diego County as well as some clients within the San Gabriel Pomona Regional Centers and Inland Regional Centers. When we first learned of SDP, we felt that FMS was a good fit for us because I come from an accounting background. My wife started the respite agency, and when we learned of the pilot program, FMS was quite a good fit, and we realized that some of our clients would go on to the SDP model. It would allow them to continue having our help as well as reaching out to other families with needs.
What did most FMS agencies do prior to Self-Determination?
Prior to Self-Determination, we were involved with the traditional model. For a lot of FMS agencies with that as their focus, most were involved with providing FMS services to other marketplaces in other states. ARCC Center only serves the California market.
What is your process from beginning to end when it comes to working with clients in Self Determination?
Initially, we will obtain a referral. This referral will come from either the regional center, an independent facilitator, or possibly another client. Once we have received the referral, we will typically schedule a call with the guardian, if they are a minor or conserved, or the client. Once we have scheduled that call and are in contact with the individual, we will review their spending plan. If it is required or helpful, we will make modifications to the client’s spending plan. Typically, there might be a series of calls because not everything is complete the first time we speak. However, we are happy to walk everyone through the process with however many calls it takes. During the call, we are also going to obtain information on the type of FMS model they are looking for. We will then obtain information regarding who their employees are and the vendors they would like to use. At the end of the call, we will obtain an FMS agreement form outlining the services which indicates that they can cancel at any time and their rights. Once this form is obtained, we will onboard all of their vendors and employees, conduct background checks if required, set up their chart of accounts within our system, and notify the regional center so that all the proper documents can be sent over to us. We will send reminders along the way, and once the proper documentation is received, we will begin services. We will pay out invoices once we receive them and employees once time sheets have been submitted to us. This entire process can vary in terms of length. If everything is perfect, we can get people onboarded within a day. However, it typically takes anywhere from one day to a week or two.
What makes your job easier when working with the regional center?
For us, working with the regional center, we understand that sometimes the systems might not be up to date and can affect the timeliness of the documents. For example, when a service coordinator inputs a spending plan or a purchase of service, it has to go through a series of steps before an authorization is generated. Sometimes this will cause delays across the board. Therefore, reaching out to us and letting us know if anything changes along the way is helpful.
How can independent facilitators and self advocates make your job easier?
The classification of different service codes with the spending plan or budget sheet makes it easier for us as an FMS agency. This way, once the forms are submitted to the regional center, it reduces any chance of delays. In addition, when it comes to the types of services that an employee is going to be providing and LiveScanning them, it is a huge help for worker’s comp classifications. Making sure the employee is classified properly will prevent us from running into problems down the road. Lastly, sometimes there are one time purchases within a spending plan. It is helpful to know if they want it right away or six months from now, where they want us to purchase it from, and similar information related to that.
What are some things that delay the process?
Information regarding the type of services. For example, if they are providing personal care services and it is not indicated to us until the start, it can put a hold on that specific service. That is because now we have to provide the documents for LiveScanning, document processing, and things of that sort.
What questions do you often get from clients?
The biggest thing is the classification on whether someone qualifies as an employee or independent contractor/business. Because of legislation, if someone runs their own business and doesn’t have their own business license, it might come up as being an issue down the road. Therefore, we always try to talk about this during the onboarding process. That way, we don’t run into a problem where we have to backfund the worker’s comp, which can cause a hit to a client’s budget.
It is our hope that this interview touches on some of the questions that participants of SDP might have had on FMS agencies and helps out people nearing this step in their journey to SDP. For more information on FMS agencies, browse our other articles on the NeuroNav website where you will be able to find a guide to choosing FMS agencies as well as previous interviews with FMS agencies.