What is a supports broker?

A supports broker is a paid professional or agency that performs a variety of duties to support a person in self-directing services and supports. A support broker can assist a person to exercise budget and employer authority to get the services and supports they need and be as integrally involved in their community as they choose.

The primary areas where a supports broker can assist a person are: employer-related functions, enhancing natural supports, and service and support continuity and maintenance.

Support broker services are optional services and are based on an individual’s need for the service. Here are some specific areas where Brokers can assist:

Support with employer-related duties

  • Understanding and completing employer or managing employer related paperwork
  • Participation in Financial Management Services (FMS) orientation
  • Effective hiring techniques including creating job descriptions, ads for hiring, strategies for evaluating candidates. and informing candidates on selection or non-selection
  • Determining pay rates for workers
  • Providing or arranging for worker training
  • Developing worker schedules
  • Effective management and supervision techniques such as conflict resolution
  • Proper procedures for termination of workers
  • Review of workplace safety issues and strategies for effective management of workplace injury prevention
  • Developing, implementing, and modifying a back-up plan for staffing in events of emergencies and worker absenses
  • Understanding and fulfilling the responsibilities of being an employer

Support with enhancing natural supports

  • Facilitation of a support group that helps to meet the participant’s self-direction needs
  • Expanding and coordinating informal, unpaid resources and networks within the community to support success with individual direction
  • Identifying areas of support that will promote success with self-direction and independence and share the information with the team and the supports coordinator for inclusion in the Individual Support Plans (ISP)
  • Scheduling paid and unpaid supports

Support with service and support continuity and maintenance

  • Compliance with the regulations, policies and the waiver requirements related to self-direction
  • Advising and assisting individuals or the surrogate with the development of procedures to monitor expenditures and utilization of services
  • Advising in problem-solving, decision-making, and achieving desired outcomes
  • Communicating and negotiating any necessary modifications to the participant’s Individual Support Plan (ISP)
  • Developing, modifying and negotiating an individualized budget

For general information on support brokering, please visit this page.

                                 Our Terrapin House Inc. Support Brokerage Team

David Gates, Esq.

Mr. David Gates has been representing families and adult consumers in efforts to access services and supports under Medical Assistance and other forms of health insurance and public funding since 1976.  He previously worked for the Bucks County Welfare Rights Organization, Bucks County Legal Aid, the late State Sen. Roxanne Jones from Philadelphia, and the National Health Law Program in Washington DC.  He is a Senior Attorney with the Pennsylvania Health Law Project where he has worked since 1991.  He is currently working on three projects funded by the PA Developmental Disabilities Council (housing demonstration, managed care and participant directed services & supports).He has represented children and adults with disabilities in appeals before the Department of Public Welfare/Department of Human Services, the PA Insurance Department, Common Pleas Court, Commonwealth Court, Superior Court, the Federal District Courts for the Eastern & Middle Districts, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the PA Supreme Court.  He participated in the drafting of HB 20 of 1991 that created the Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) and in the drafting of regulations implementing the Managed Care Act (Act 68 of 1998).  

He was a member of the Dept. of Public Welfare’s Autism Task Force, DPW’s Bureau of Autism Services’ Advisory Board, the Autism Waiver External Advisory Committee as well as the DPW’s Children’s Behavioral Health Task Force, DPW’s Home and Community Based Services Stakeholder Planning Team (“SPT”), DPW’s Advisory Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities and the Housing Alternatives Workgroup of the Intergovernmental Council on Long Term Care. He is currently a member of the Office of Developmental Programs Services Information Sharing and Advisory Committee.   

He testified before the PA Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on HB 1150 (D. O’Brien sponsor) which became the Autism Insurance Law and twice before the PA House Human Services Committee in 2013.  After the enactment of the Autism Insurance Law, he served as a consultant to DPW on the implementation of the Act as well as serving on the DPW External Workgroup.   Since 2009, he has done over 100 trainings throughout the state, training 4500 persons, and many more before 2009. 

 He is on the Board of the PA Assistive Technology Foundation, the Center for Independent Living of Central PA and Philadelphia Family Voices, a Family Legacy Organization..  

He won the Rose Rosa Advocacy Award from the Montgomery Co. ARC in 1996; the Striving for Excellence Award from PA Legal Services in 1999; the PA Initiative on Assistive Technology’s annual Advocacy Award in 1999 and the Philadelphia Alliance of MH/MR Provider’s annual award, also in 1999.  In 2009, he received an Excellence Award from PA Legal Aid Network for his work with HomeWorks, an independent living homeownership project for three individuals with disabilities.  In 2016 he won an advocacy award from the ABA in PA Initiative and Champion for Social Justice award from PEAL.  In 2017 he won the Attorney of the Year award from Autism Speaks. In 2018 he received the Villanova Law Alumni Association Award for Public Service and the annual Dennis O’Brien Autism Advocate award from the Office of Specialized Services, Philadelphia School District. In 2019 he received an advocacy award from the Policy and Analytics Center of Drexel University (home of the SE PA ASERT).


Susan Rzucidlo, CESP

Susan, mom, and advocate who founded a nonprofit, SPEAK Unlimited Inc., in 2004, which has a national reputation for innovative, solution-focused services. She has created groundbreaking projects like the PA Premise Alert System and Emergency Response Communication Tools. Susan has an adult son Ben, who is diagnosed with a severe form of Autism. She has assisted Ben in self-directing his services throughout his life, and continues till this day. She fought to create the first inclusive educational program for Ben and other children with Autism in her school district. For more than 20 years, Susan has been a passionate advocate; working to develop solutions, create opportunities, and educate First Responders. 

She listens to her clients and their teams to assist them in identifying goals and realizing their hopes and dreams. 

In August of 2019, Susan enthusiastically joined the Terrapin House family as a Certified Supports Broker.


Lisa Sportelli, Terrapin House, Board Secretary

Lisa is a single mother of a 20-year-old Autistic young man with Intellectual Disabilities and complex medical issues and assisted him in directing his own services throughout his life.  She has true life experience of working through multiple systems to advocate for her son: (Early Intervention (EI), Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSTD), Mental Health (MH), Intellectual Disabilities (ID), Education with inclusion. Lisa has been an advocate for the past 20 years as a member of the Pennsylvania Autism Task Force, Past Co-President of the Lehigh County Chapter of the Autism Society of America, Lehigh Valley Chapter (LVASA), Co-Chair of the Lehigh County Autism Task Force (LCATF), and is also a governor appointed council member of the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council (PADDC) where she is the co-lead on several grants including 2 housing demonstration grants and the new Person Directed Services and Supports (PDSS) grant. 

When the traditional service delivery system was unable to meet her sons needs her family formed Terrapin House Inc., a licensed Self-Directed Housing Corporation. Her passion is helping other families as a Supports Broker to assist in alleviating stress and overcoming barriers we all so frequently encounter. Her goal is to help bridge the "gaps in the system" to help all people live an everyday life. Lisa shares the PADDC values and Vision Statement: “We envision a Commonwealth comprised of inclusive communities where all people with disabilities are valued and thrive”.

For more information on Support Broker Services within Terrapin House, please contact:

Lisa Sportelli lisa@terrapinhouse.org (484) 506-5146

David Gates david@terrapinhouse.org (717) 602-4562

Susan F. Rzucidlosusan@terrapinhouse.org (610) 659-3145

Supports Brokering

Terrapin House, Inc.