SEPTA Sponsors Workshop on the "Front Door" Process for People with Developmental Disabilities
For anyone seeking services from the state’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the first step in obtaining benefits is what’s called the Front Door. Through the Front Door process, OPWDD determines whether people are eligible for services, identifies their needs and helps develop a plan for obtaining the supports.
“What they’re going to do is verify that the person you are contacting them for does indeed have a developmental disability,” Mary Jane Zukowski, a member of OPWDD in Westchester’s Front Door Access Team, told about 25 people who attended a workshop at the Southern Westchester BOCES Rye Lake Campus.
The April event was sponsored by the SWBOCES Special Education Parent Teacher Association, which periodically holds information sessions to help educate families of children with developmental disabilities and answer their questions.
Because the Front Door process is complex, families have to attend an information session and learn the basics of the before they can start. After they receive eligibility, OPWDD works with the families to create Individualized Service Plans, which comprise personal goals and what supports and services people will need to achieve them.
Families apply for Medicaid services and a Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Waiver for their children. The waiver is a program of services and supports for people with developmental disabilities. They receive assistance in such areas as developing social skills, working and volunteering, and building household management skills.
“Waiver services are funded by Medicaid and the key thing about the waiver is whatever income you make, the individual will not be affected,” Ms. Zukowski said.
Families are also eligible for respite services, such as having someone watch a child with a developmental disability. “You may need time to rest or go grocery shopping or take another child to a soccer game,” she said.
A number of changes are coming that are designed to simplify the system for families, she said. Instead of having one person for waiver services and another who handles medical, behavioral and other long-term services, everything will be under one umbrella as of July 1. It will be a more “person-centered” system than in the past, she said.
“This will be a huge change that should create a lot better coverage and services for people who need it,” she added.
For more information about the Front Door process in Westchester, call 914-332-8960.
SEPTA is looking for new members, said Phyllis Rizzi, principal of SWBOCES’ Tappan Hill School. “We encourage all parents and faculty to join SEPTA so we can continue to grow and learn together,” she said. “A special thank you to our SEPTA officers who organized this wonderful event.”
Visit the SWBOCES Special Services website to download a SEPTA membership form. Annual dues are $10. The forms and dues can be mailed or dropped off in person to SWBOCES SEPTA, care of Phyllis Rizzi, Tappan Hill School, 50 Ichabod Lane, Tarrytown, NY 10591. For more information, contact Ms. Rizzi at 914-366-2560.