What Is A Support Coordinator?
For those of you that do not know, a Support Coordinator is someone with expertise in assisting individuals with special needs and their families in their planning process and with coordination of services. Focusing on an individual’s needs, hopes, and dreams, Support Coordinators use their expertise to guide them in the development of their support plan, used to coordinate and monitor appropriate services and supports for the individual.
A few specific ways Support Coordinators provide assistance according to the New Jersey Department of Human Services include:
- Assisting individuals and their families in the person-centered planning process
- Working with individuals, their families, and mentors to identify outcomes and utilize their budgets to achieve those outcomes
- Assisting in identifying services and supports that will achieve the individual’s stated outcomes and can be accessed from a provider who is appropriately qualified by the Divison of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) to provide those services
- Becoming and remaining familiar with all applicable service
How Does It Work and Who Do You Contact?
To begin, an individual who is looking for support coordinating services must be Medicaid eligible and approved by DDD. In order to receive services offered by the DDD, you must apply to become eligible. That can be done on the DDD website here. Once you are DDD eligible, you have two options when choosing a support coordinating agency:
- Contact the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (NJDDD) and they will assign one for you.
- Find your own Support Coordinator
Finding your own Support Coordinator is not a difficult task. There are many resources available for you to gather your own research of which agency may be best for you. If you are an individual with special needs looking for a support coordinating agency, it is highly recommended that you download Selecting A Support Coordination Agency: A Guide for People With Disabilities. This guide is a very helpful tool to help guide you through the process. On the other hand, if you are a family member looking for a support coordinator for a loved one, you can download Selecting A Support Coordination Agency: A Guide for Families. Both of these guides are free to access.
New Jersey’s Division of Developmental Disabilities also provides the public with a list that is updated monthly of all Support Coordination Agencies in New Jersey that are Medicaid/DDD approved. The list contains details of the counties that each agency serves and can help you find the closest agency to you. To view the most updated list, click here.
Choosing the Right Support Coordinator
Once you find a Support Coordinating Agency or individual that is located near you and serves your area, you may set up an interview with them. Whether you go to their office, or they come to you, it is recommended that you meet with them to make sure they will be a good fit for you or your loved one. Prepare questions that are important to you and be ready to discuss your desired outcomes.
Some important sample questions that you may ask during the meeting are:
- – How long have you been a Support Coordinator?
- – How often do you make visits to the individuals on your caseload?
- – What are the hours that you usually work?
- – How well do you know the area that you serve?
- – What is your current caseload? (This will give you a good idea of how much time they will be able to designate to you or your loved one)
- – What is your availability in terms of preferred days/times to be contacted?
- – What is the preferred way to communicate with you?
- – How long should I expect to wait for a response?
- – What is your policy for contact during emergencies?
- – Who covers for you when you are unavailable? How do I contact them?
- – What is your education and background related to working with individuals with disabilities and why did you choose this field of work?
- – Can you tell me about a time when you successfully helped an individual with disabilities improve his or her quality of life and how you were able to do it?
- – Can you give me examples of successful experiences you have had working as a support coordinator and other agencies and organizations?
- – Can you give me examples of your experience working successfully with providers?
- – Describe what you do when you make a visit to the individual. What things do you monitor during a visit? How much time do you spend with the individual? Where do you prefer to meet with the individual?
- – What do you see as your role in the individual’s life?
Supports Program Policies & Procedures Manual
The New Jersey Department of Human Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities has recently released a revised draft of their Supports Program Policies & Procedures Manual. This manual helps provide additional clarity on practices governing the Supports Program within the approved Comprehensive Medicaid Waiver. It contains all aspects of the supports Program including eligibility, care management, service delivery and standards, quality assurance and much more. To view/download this manual click here.
Finding a Support Coordinator for you or a loved one does not have to be a difficult task. The State provides plenty of valuable resources which are always at your disposal to help make the task less stressful. If you have any suggestions or have an experience you would like to share, please comment below and share your story.