In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)

IHSS is the largest publicly funded home care program in the United States. The In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Program provides assistance to those eligible aged, blind and disabled individuals who are unable to remain safely in their own homes without this assistance. IHSS is an alternative to out-of-home-care.

What kind of help is available?

IHSS covers the most common activities of daily living needed by those with disabilities. The different chores are assessed according to the needs of the individual. They may include but are not limited to:
  • Housekeeping 
  • Grocery shopping
  • Meal preparation and clean up
  • Spoon feeding
  • Help with breathing equipment
  • Toileting or diaper-related needs
  • Bathing
  • Tooth and nail care
  • Hair care
Who is entitled?
To receive IHSS a person must be a legal California resident who is living in their own home, or other place in which they choose to reside. (Residents of acute care hospitals, skill nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities are not eligible).

An IHSS Recipient must be 65 or older, blind, or long-term disabled. They must also meet one of the following conditions:
  • Currently receiving Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payments (SSI/SSP), which is a special kind of Social Security
  • Meeting all SSI/SSP standards except for income in excess of SSI/SSP standards 
  • Meeting all SSI/SSP standards except for being a non-citizen
  • Was once eligible for SSIP/SSP but became ineligible because of substantial gainful work and meetings all other SSIP/SSP standards
How does it work?
The IHSS Program pays the wages of a caregiver (called an IHSS provider) to work in the client's home. The provider may be a relative or friend if desired. The provider's wages are paid twice per month after the work has been performed. The pay rate varies among California counties; in Contra Costa it is $11.50 per hour starting March 1, 2008. Providers are covered by government-paid Workers' Compensation insurance, by FICA and SDI.

If a person is not on SSI/SSP an eligibility determination is made by an eligibility worker. Once eligibility is determined a social worker visits the client's home to make an assessment of the client's needs. Each case is reviewed annually and includes a yearly visit by a social worker to the client's home.

How to apply?
To apply for IHSS, in Contra Costa County, contact the Information & Assistance unit of the Employment & Human Services department. It is best to telephone. There is no need to come to the office as staff will come to your home.

Central County East County
West County
(925) 363-3677  (925) 522-7673 (510) 231-8299

These numbers are staffed during business hours, but all have message machines for night or weekend calls. Please be sure to leave a message with your phone number so we can respond to you.

Where to find a caregiver?
The Contra Costa County Public Authority is a public agency whose purpose is to provide consumer input to the IHSS program. The Public Authority operates a Registry that recruits, checks references for home care workers, enters names and information into a computer, and then supplies a list of names to consumers.

The Registry computer will search for potential workers to match your needs, hours and location. The Registry staff will send you a list of three to six names of potential workers. You call the names on the list to discuss the job and set up interviews.

You may call the Registry at (800) 333-1081 to let them know what services you need and which hours you need a worker.