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Big State Transition for Developmentally Disabled Children [AUDIO]

Eileen Coyne, Caregivers of NJ by Rosetta Key Townsquare Media

Thousands of New Jersey Families who have children with developmental disabilities are either filled with fear or anticipation as a result of big changes on the state level when it comes to the department now providing their services.

During Governor Chris Christie’s FY 2013 Budget Address, he announced that the Department of Human Services wouldl be transferring its child services provided by Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) to the State Department of Children and Families (DCF). Under the plan, starting on July 1st, the DCF is now providing services to children until they reach age 21. In addition, $20-million of state-only money for Family Support Services that was going to the DDD will be moving to the DCF starting in January 1st, 2013.

A new division has been created under DCF called the Division of Child Integrated System of Care Services (formerly Child Behavioral Health Services). Under this new division, Children who were once under DDD and children once under the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services will receive all their programs.

In an Interview with Eileen Coyne, Director of Support Coordination for Caregivers of New Jersey, an Affiliate of The Family Resource Network, the nonprofit is hoping to act a a middle-man for families to get questions answered about the big changes for special children going from one state department to another.

Coyne says the transition is still being formed on the state level so no one is really sure what to expect. She says families can expect “probably more comprehensive services around children where the Division of Developmental Disabilities wasn’t really meant for children.”

Now even though the transition start date was the 1st of this month, Coyne fully believes the transition to take place in stages. “They’re talking, children who are residentially placed in group homes will be the first to go over to DCF. We’re thinking timeline maybe sometime in January 2013, they might start working on the children that are under 16?”

They’re also learning that the way families will be reimbursed for respite care and other services will also be changed. Coyne says “we’ll help them figure out what their next steps are once we’re instructed. We can at least explain it to families. We’ll hold their hands through the process.”

The Family Resource Network has been holding open houses to inform parents about the pending changes and to gather questions and concerns to bring to the state. Coyne says “so we thought the open houses would bring the families in, you know, meet people face-to-face, ask their questions, so that we can learn the answers and really express what families are feeling.”

Caregivers of New Jersey, Based in Brick Township, provides Epilepsy support, respite care, recreational programs, medical-based programs, one-on-one learning like life skills support, employment training and more. Coyne says they’re probably the largest family support provider in the State of New Jersey for the Division of Developmental Disabilities.

Find out about more Open Houses and get more details at www.familyresourcenetwork.org

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