About the Center

By promoting research, training, technical assistance and dissemination about personal assistance services, the Center's mission is to ensure that people with self-care limitations can find information that will help them live independently.

Funding is provided by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

What are Personal Assistance Services (PAS)?

PAS - also known as personal attendant services, attendant care services, personal care assistance and personal care services (PCS) - include "people or devices that assist a person with a physical, sensory, mental, or cognitive disability with tasks that the person would perform for himself or herself if he or she did not have a disability". In other words, it includes a range of assistance provided to persons with disabilities and chronic conditions, which enables them to accomplish tasks that they would normally do for themselves if they did not have a disability.

PAS are provided to persons of all ages to help with activities of daily living (ADL's), such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, or instrumental activities of daily living (IADL's), such as taking medications and shopping for groceries. PAS are generally classified into two categories:

  • informal (unpaid) services provided by family members, friends and neighbors, and
  • formal services that are paid for either directly out-of-pocket, or by public payers, private insurance, or other sources.

For this project, PAS will be broadly defined to include: formal and informal hands-on help, supervision and queuing, and standby help provided by caregivers or by use of assisted technology. It may include sign language interpreters, reading of visual materials, service animals, transportation, and other support services to ensure that individuals are able to live at home, have jobs, attend school, participate in social and community activities, and are integrated into the community.

What is the Goal of the Center?

The goal of the PAS Center is to improve the access, quality, and costs of PAS for people with I/ADL difficulties to live independently, comfortably and safely in the community and to participate in society, including employment.

Recent federal acts, rulings, and policies such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Olmstead Decision, and the New Freedom Initiative have provided unprecedented opportunities and rights for individuals with disabilities. The provision of paid or unpaid PAS can help individuals with disabilities maintain current levels of functioning, more fully participate in society, and prevent institutionalization.

What's on the Center's website?

  • The Center will be researching into the following five areas:

    • Need for PAS - Focuses on analyzing and describing trends and needs of the population of PAS consumers, including those who are employed or seeking employment. Including:

      • Analyze trends in the need and unmet needs for PAS in the U.S.
      • Describe and analyze the demographics of the PAS population at the national and state levels
      • Calculate the national and state projections of the need for PAS
      • Investigate the rate of ADL/IADL difficulty for working age and older age groups across communities and its relationship with economic conditions
      • Examine the variations in institutionalization rates across states as an indicator of unmet need for PAS
    • Home and Community-Based Services - Improved access to PAS by individuals with disabilities, including:

      • Track and analyze federal and state initiatives related to the Olmstead decision, waiting lists, Olmstead litigation, and other initiatives.
      • Identifying gaps in programs and services
      • Track and analyze federal and state initiatives related to the Olmstead decision, waiting lists, Olmstead litigation, and other initiatives.
      • Tracking and analyzing state PAS policies and barriers to PAS
    • Workers and Caregivers (PAS Workforce) - A larger and better-prepared paid and unpaid PAS workforce to support individuals with disabilities, including those who are employed or seeking employment. Including:

      • Developing tools and supports for unpaid caregivers that reflect the changing needs of caregivers as they age
      • Developing strategies that lead to a PAS workforce that is geographically diverse and that maximizes workforce recruitment, retention, compensation and benefits, professional training, development, and networking
      • Identifying and evaluating interventions and labor resources, such as job training services, that help to improve workforce capacity of PAS providers
    • Economics & Workplace PAS - An understanding of the complexity of the economics of PAS. Including:

      • How PAS varies across communities
      • Understanding the personal costs of PAS
      • Investigating tax reimbursement polices relating to PAS
      • Analyzing the interrelationship among the employment, employment supports, the use of technologies, and PAS
      • Analyzing the role of tax laws that affect reimbursement for PAS
    • Emergency Preparedness - Focuses on strategies to coordinate and secure PAS services during national and regional emergencies. Including:

      • Gather and make available existing strategies on emergency PAS
      • Identify specific strategies for emergency PAS and develop a model approach for emergency PAS
  • The general PAS resources can be found on the left hand side menu of our home page and include:

    • State information, including disability statistics, state program data and contact information for state agencies
    • Publications, presentations and links related to PAS
    • Policies and Legislation concerning PAS
    • Center Newsletter
    • PAS Related Events Calendar
    • Center news items
  • The resources listed on the website for those seeking information on PAS Users, include:

    • "Guide to using PAS" - How to be an employer of a Personal Assistant
    • "Ask Mike" - send our expert your questions about PAS
    • "In your own words" - stories from real PAS users
    • "Help in my State" - how to contact state agencies related to PAS

    These resources can be found on the PAS Users page.

Center Staff and how to contact them

The Center for Personal Assistance Services is based at the University of California, San Francisco, and includes the Burton Blatt Institute, The Center on Disability at the Public Health Institute, PHI (formerly the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute), Research Triangle Institute (RTI) and Topeka Independent Living Resource Center.

A Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee of PAS users, disability advocates, business leaders, independent living center leaders, and academics provide guidance to the project.

Staff biographies and contact information can be found by following the links below.

Do you want to receive our Newsletter?

The Center publishes a quarterly newsletter to keep subscribers informed of our activities as well as events and news in Personal Assistance Services.

You can sign up to have the newsletter emailed to you automatically, or it can be viewed online.

What's happening?

Our events calendar provides information on conferences, workshops and webcasts. Our news items provides up to date information on issues affecting PAS.

Summative Evaluation: Grantee Questionnaire

In 2010 the PAS Center was invited by NIDRR to complete an evaluation questionnaire for the first five year grant period.

View External Evaluation of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) and its Grantees.