Transitioning to Support Coordination

January 19, 2018

DDD replaces Case Managers with agency-based Support Coordinators

As individuals receiving services through DDD transition into the new Fee-for-Service system, they will also experience another transition.  DDD-employed Case Managers will now be replaced by Support Coordinators employed by community-based agencies approved to provide that service. Individuals in the Supports Program or the Community Care Program must formally select one of the many agencies available.  The Support Coordination agency that is selected will assign a Support Coordinator who will be a vital link between the individual and access to the services and supports that they need.

There are many things to consider when selecting a Support Coordination Agency.  For a guide that will help you make your selection and assist you with asking the right questions, refer to Selecting an SC Agency.  This seven-page guide has been prepared by The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities for use by New Jersey residents with developmental disabilities who are making the transition into the Fee-for-Service system.

When selecting an agency the first three questions it is important to ask are:

  1. Do they serve the county in which I live?
  2. Do they have enough Support Coordinators available to serve me?
  3. Are they already providing services to me in some form? (You cannot receive other services besides Support Coordination from the same agency.)

For a list of agencies, the counties they serve, and contact information, refer to DDD’s list of agencies currently serving all areas of the state. To do an agency search specific to your county, DDD provides a searchable database. To search for an agency:

  1. In the “Name, Service” box put ”Support Coordination”
  2. Open the “Filter” box and select “County Served”
  3. In the drop down list, select your county
  4. Click on the search button (little magnifying glass) next to the filter box

Once you’ve selected an agency, you must fill out a Support Coordination Selection Form and mail or email the form as directed.  Within two to four weeks of receiving the form, DDD will assign you to the agency that you’ve selected if they are capable of serving you.  Remember, it is important to contact the agency before submitting this form to verify that they serve your county and have support coordinators available.  Otherwise, DDD will auto-assign you to an agency that is prepared to serve you.  If at any time you want to change your Support Coordination agency, you may select another agency.  Just fill out the Support Coordination Selection Form again and make sure to select “I would like to change my SCA”.

Once a Support Coordinator has been assigned to you by the Support Coordination Agency, the Support Coordinator will contact you to arrange a meeting with you, family members, and/or anyone else that you would like to include on your planning team.   The Support Coordinator will be your primary contact for everything related to accessing your individual budget and managing services and supports.

Each Support Coordinator is required to become aware of the needs of the people they support and become partners with them in achieving goals and their desired quality of life.  In order to do that, the Support Coordinator should understand and be knowledgeable about the resources available in an individual’s community.  They should also be knowledgeable about the Supports Program and the Community Care Program.  It is critical that they be able to assist the individual in adhering to the rules and regulations and successfully navigating these often confusing and complicated programs.

In order to learn about the individual and prepare to assist them in accessing appropriate services and supports, the Support Coordinator will complete a planning tool with the individual and their team.  This tool is helpful in identifying needs as well as goals, hopes, and desired outcomes.  Prepared with that information, the Support Coordinator will develop the Individualized Service Plan (ISP).  For those of you who have been involved in developing service plans since childhood, you will remember a variety of predecessors of the ISP.  During the school years there was the IEP (Individualized Education Plan).  Then there were the other formats such as the IHP (Individual Habilitation Plan) and the ELP (Essential Lifestyle Plan).  The ISP contains details on support and service needs, health-related information, and safety and emergency details.  The ISP can be changed at any time and must be reviewed annually.

Once the ISP is complete, the Support Coordinator is responsible for making all arrangements necessary for the individual to access the identified DDD-related services they wish to utilize.  Although DDD information notes that Support Coordinators will also be responsible for ” Arranging for and coordinating …….. services not available through the Supports/Community Care Program or funded by DDD; and other resources that meet the needs of the individual.”  It is currently uncommon for Support Coordinators to actively assist individuals with accessing or utilizing supports beyond DDD-related services.

After the initial “getting to know you” phase and the completion of required paperwork, the Support Coordinator is required to monitor how well services are meeting the individual’s needs, identify any new or changing needs, and respond to concerns or questions. It is mandatory for Support Coordinators and individuals to have monthly contact in person or by phone.  Emails and texts are not acceptable according to DDD regulations.  Support Coordinators must meet face to face with individuals quarterly with at least one visit a year taking place in the individual’s home.  If you are unhappy with the performance of your Support Coordinator, but wish to remain with the same agency, you can request that they assign a different Support Coordinator to you.

Most DDD Case Managers carried much larger case loads than Support Coordinators will.  It was not uncommon, especially if an individual lived at home, to have never met your Case Manager in person.  This will change under Support Coordination guidelines.  Since there are many Support Coordination agencies, it is important for individuals, as consumers of this service, to monitor the quality of the support that they are receiving and make changes if necessary.  Consider these questions:

  • Does your Support Coordinator respond to your calls or emails in a reasonable amount of time?
  • Do they contact you monthly and visit quarterly as required by DDD?
  • Is your Support Coordinator knowledgeable about your needs, your services, and the resources available to you?
  • Does your Support Coordinator adequately answer your questions and advise you on the most effective and efficient use of your budget?

By partnering with the right agency and Support Coordinator, individuals should be able to navigate through all of the changes and transitions currently occurring in the system of supports and services for adults with developmental disabilities in New Jersey.  In addition, a good Support Coordinator will be a resource of information and guidance for weathering future changes and planning for secure and stable tomorrows.