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Because a Microboard is a conceptual approach to providing supports, and an approach that has evolved for more than a decade across multiple countries and states with unique and varying rules, processes, and funding sources applied to persons with disabilities, it comes as no surprise that many definitions of a Microboard has evolved.

A Microboard is a small, non-profit corporation that functions as a provider agency and is formed with the specific intent to support only one individual with a disability.

The Microboard concept was designed on a person-centered planning philosophy with the sole purpose of the Microboard to focus on assisting an individual to plan for, obtain, and manage the supports they need and desire to direct their own services. The following principles of self-determination are inherent in the creation and operation of a Microboard.

  • Freedom to make major (and minor) life decisions.
  • Authority to receive and spend public monies, to hire and fire paid supports personnel, and to collaborate with committed others in the operation of the Microboard.
  • Support from people that are freely chosen by them.
  • Responsibility for their own life including the public money they may receive.

PA Microboard Definition: A small (micro) group of committed family, friends and (sometimes) professionals. They join together to form an informal team or a more formal family directed non-profit organization to address the needs of a physically or intellectually challenged family member. Together, this interested group, provide person centered planning for the support needs of their challenged family member. Beyond planning, Microboard’s provide management of supports in a way that creates the best possible quality of life for the individual receiving the support and their family.

Here is a definition of Microboards as defined by the Tennessee Microboard Association and as trademarked by the Vela Microboard Association in Canada as extracted from a Grant Application to the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities:  A Microboard is formed when a small group of committed family and friends join together with a person with a disability to create a non-profit organization. Together, this small group of people address the person’s planning and support needs in an empowering fashion and the small board supports the person-centered planning philosophy.

The Microboard:

  • Is a non-profit organization and consists of 5-7 family, friends, acquaintances.
  • Manages services such as home supervision, transportation, medical care, job search, etc.
  • Builds bridges between the individual, family, and community.
  • Affords individuals flexibility, self-determination, and carry out the dreams of the individual.


Members develop a deep knowledge of the individual’s needs, desires and wishes.

Members know the finances, file needed reports, maintain permanent records, etc.

May be financed by Medicaid Waiver Program Funds and serve as providers for one individual.

A Microboard gives families peace of mind knowing that a legal circle of support is in place with people that know and care for the individual.

A Microboard that does not choose to apply to be a provider can provide the same support using “natural resources” i.e., finding people willing to help in a systematic way and using generic community resources such as housing program funding and grants from banks.

A Microboard is an option for individuals waiting on Medicaid Waiver Program waiting lists.

John Shea defines a Microboard as a “non-profit society of family and friends, committed to knowing a person, supporting that person, and having a volunteer (unpaid), reciprocal relationship with that person. Some Microboards become the entity through which paid services and supports are provided. Involvement, caring, and standing by the person are valued over technical expertise.”

Why Create a Microboard?

Microboards facilitate a process:

  • For obtaining (Waiver) funding for self directed delivery of services under established policies.
  • For person centered planning based on the needs of the individual.


Microboard embody principles of Self-Determination:

  • Freedom
  • Authority
  • Support
  • Responsibility
  • Confirmation

The Texas Microboard Association suggests these Benefits of a Microboard applying to be a Medicaid Waiver Program provider for one person:

Because a Microboard provider receives dollars for “doing business,” additional money can be used to support the individual in creative ways such as:

  •  The Microboard provider organization can pay rent in the individual’s home for a business office and therefore helping individuals with a sole income of SSI to pay rent in an apartment or home.
  • Determines how much to pay staff (within certain guidelines) therefore attracting better employees and sustaining them.
  • Develop a meaningful relationship with staff, including them in the network of support therefore creating a happier work environment and increasing sustainability in staff.
  • It’s a means to build resources in the Microboard bank account for the benefit of the individual to purchase a car, washer/dryer, etc.