Family Support & Advocacy

Family Support & Advocacy

The array of services for children with developmental challenges and ways to access them can be complicated, leaving many parents and family members wondering who to turn to for help. At times, families also find the need for someone to advocate on their behalf and/or teach parents how to advocate for themselves to get their needs met. To address this variety of issues, Abilities First offers Family Support & Advocacy.

LifePlan CCO logo.

Care Coordination Liaison

Beginning in July of 2018, coordination of services under Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) such as Community Habilitation and Respite is completed within state-authorized Care Coordination Organizations (CCOs). These CCOs are owned and operated by corporations formed by groups of non-profit service providers like Abilities First.

This Care Coordination system replaced what was known as Medicaid Service Coordination (MSC) where service coordinators were employed by individual non-profits like Abilities First. While the goal of Care Coordination is to enhance the quality of services people receive, at times families still do need someone to act as liaison between the family, service providers like Abilities First and the CCO. Abilities First has a dedicated Director of Family Support & Advocacy to perform this role when it is needed.

Abilities First has partnered with LIFEPlan CCO NY to provide enhanced Health Home Care Management Services. LIFEPlan CCO NY will coordinate medical behavioral health, long-term services and support needs for our individuals.

A woman helps a girl draw with a green marker.

Educational Advocacy

When parents need help getting their child’s needs met in an educational setting, Abilities First offers Educational Advocacy. Advocacy can be in numerous forms such as providing information about Special Education Regulations and Laws, Guidance on Communication with Teachers, School Districts and Private Schools, and/or linkage to other advocacy resources.

A woman teaching a lesson with a whiteboard.

Family Education & Training

Each year, Abilities First arranges a variety of educational seminars designed to provide information to parents and other family members. These seminars range in size and scope from small personal training opportunities to large community conferences.

Common topics include:

  • First Aid Basics
  • Self-Directed Services
  • Guardianship
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Helping Your Loved One Get Through the Holiday Season

The Family Education & Training Workshops are free and open to families of Abilities First.

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Self-Directed Services

Services received under the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) such as Community Habilitation and Respite can be Self-Directed. This means that the child’s parents or other family members can control various aspects of the services that would otherwise be coordinated by a provider organization such as Abilities First.

Under this model, families can select staff members to provide services, set schedules for services and activities, oversee budgets and compensation for staff. Self-Direction is a desirable model for services that gives families and people receiving services maximum control.

For additional information about Abilities First Family Support & Advocacy Services see our Frequently Asked Questions or contact Mark Nace, M.S., Chief Program Officer at 845-485-9813 ext. 1247.