Transitioning to Adult Services in New York State Can Be Challenging but Rewarding
A major milestone in one’s life is the moment you move from your teenage years to adulthood and all that entails from increased independence, more choices, greater responsibilities. When a family has a son or daughter with intellectual or developmental disabilities there can be added challenges.
Families now have more options than ever before for their child. An early start on figuring out the best plan and setting it in motion will benefit the entire family in the long run. It is recommended that a family start exploring options with their School District Transition Coordinator 4-5 years prior to graduation, as it takes time to apply for the supports and services and to develop a plan.
The first step for people in New York is:
- Apply for eligibility which requires a documented disability that occurred prior to age 22. The following forms need to be submitted to OPWDD (Office for People with Developmental Disabilties): Transmittal Form and Current Medical (within 1 year) which can be found on the OPWDD website (http://opwdd.ny.gov/) and a Psychological evaluation and Psychosocial/Social History that is no more than 3 years old (some schools will complete these). This needs to be submitted to your region OPWDD office.
For Long Island, that is:
415A Oser Avenue
Hauppauge, NY 11788
- Obtain Medicaid. An application can be found at http://health.ny.gov/forms/doh-4220.pdf or your local Dept of Social Services. This can be completed while you await OPWDD eligibility and is needed in order to obtain Care Management.
- Call OPWDD Front Door (631-434-6000) once eligibility is approved to schedule an assessment and information session.
- Select a Care Coordination Organization (CCO) and Care Manager. Contact information will be provided by OPWDD.
The School District Transition Coordinator will help a family navigate the enrollment process and is a great resource to introduce the options for Day Habilitation, both site-based and programs without walls; Community Habilitation, both agency-run and self-directed; Supported Employment, and competitive employment without supports. The School District Coordinator and Care Manager will be integral in introducing families to the many options.
Community Mainstreaming Associates (CMA) is a Long Island based non-profit which works in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties. CMA has a person-focused mission to support each participant in achieving the goals they want for their life. CMA provides Residential and Day services, Community Habilitation, Respite, and Fiscal Intermediary Services for Self-Direction.
CMA has seasoned senior staff who work together on developing vocational skills, social-emotional skills, daily living skills and recreation. They have long-standing relationships with program participants, their families, and many different connections in local communities. The staff is adept at identifying opportunities across programs to further develop skills where an individual shows an aptitude. Recently, a member of the Day Habilitation Program Without Walls program moved out of the program after developing the skills necessary for securing full-time employment.
Most often, we find creating a plan with a combination of options for the individual to be the best plan. For example, someone may work part-time and receive supported employment, they may attend Day Habilitation 2 days per week where they have social and recreation activities with peers, and then have several hours of Community Habilitation where a staff member assists the person in learning skills to live independently and make connections in their community. But planning takes time so as we celebrate lots of graduations in June, it’s a good reminder to take a moment and think about what is ahead and how best to be ready for a successful next step.