The Workgroup for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, comprised of local not-for-profit agencies, family members and representatives from State and Local government, meets regularly to identify service needs and to promote the sharing of information in order to ensure an equitable access to services and distribution of resources for people living in Rockland County with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. The Workgroup meets monthly to exchange information and to advocate.

If you require any information please feel free to contact the Community Liaison, Brigid Pigott at or 845-364-2399. We will be happy to set you in the right direction.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is an Intellectual and Developmental Disability?

An Intellectual Disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning (intelligence) and adaptive behavior (everyday social and practical skills).

A Developmental Disability is characterized by significant limitations to a person's adaptive behaviors that can be the result of specific chromosomal or neurological impairments or result from an incident before, during or after birth. The limitation must have occurred before the person turned 22 years of age. Also, the limitation must be expected to continue indefinitely, posing life-long challenges to the person's ability to care for himself or herself in the community. Just a few examples of conditions that could result in a developmental disability are autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, familial dysautonomia and fetal alcohol syndrome. There are many other conditions or syndromes that could result in a Developmental Disability so please contact your local DDRO at 845-947-6390 or go to the OPWDD website. They are here to help.

How do I receive supports and services?
The People First Waiver and the Front Door Process are ways The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) can assist you and help you identify options to choose how your supports and services are received. Through Person-Centered Planning, you will have a voice in designing your service plan, taking into account your own desires and unique needs.

The first step is at what OPWDD calls the Front Door Process. This Statewide, standardized process begins with a call to the local DDRO at 845-947-6390 to introduce yourself and have any general questions answered. You will receive information about the role of Service Coordination, about attending an orientation session and, if necessary, about how to get assistance in times of emergency. To register for a Front Door Orientation session, please call 845-947-6390. Please visit for information about the Front Door Process. You will be brought to the main page. On the left side of that page you will find a tab, Resources for Individuals and Families. This will contain a copy of the Access to Services Resource Booklet, a Power Point Presentation and an online reservation for the Information Session.

Please make note as of January 1, 2015, in order to access most Family Support Services, you will need to have OPWDD eligibility. For more information on eligibility please call the DDRO eligibility office at 845-947-6011 or visit the OPWDD website. In order to complete the process you will have to submit all the required information. You will find all that information on the same page in the list on the left side of the page.

Please be aware that the Front Door Process has many steps, checks and balances including added delays to establish OPWDD eligibility or for HSBC waiver enrollment. Patience and ongoing communication with your service coordinator is vital. Allowances will always be made for emergency and crisis situations.

What are Self-Directed Services?
Self-Direction is not a service but a way in which services are delivered. Self-Direction means that you and your family/circle of support accepts responsibility for helping to manage or co-manage the supports and services authorized by OPWDD. This can be as simple as choosing the person who comes into your home to provide community habilitation services, or it can extend to assuming budget authority over the authorized supports and services.

To learn more about these options, please contact your DDRO office, Michele Altenrath, Individualized Initiatives Liaison at 845-947-6060 or

Will age affect eligibility?
Children age birth to seven years of age will receive what is known as provisional eligibility. Please remember that full eligibility will need to be established once a child is eight years of age or older. A delay in establishing full eligibility could impact your ability to access supports and services. It is always best to establish eligibility as soon as possible.

Guardianship/Trust Accounts
Beginning at age 18, parents are no longer legal guardians for their children. In order for a parent, adult sibling or anyone else to be able to help you with medical or financial matters, the Surrogate's Court must grant guardianship. Guardianship must also be established in order to set up a Special Needs Trust.  This is a means to provide for the long-term financial interests of a loved one. Please contact your local DDRO, a Voluntary Agency or an attorney to learn more.

What if I need to help my loved one move out of the family home?
Sometimes a person wants to live on their own or with others in order to achieve their goals. There are different types of housing supports from supervised group home settings to semi-independent apartment options, to independent options, family care type options and Independent Support Services. There are new statewide OPWDD protocols when requesting Certified Residential Opportunities. Please discuss these with your service coordinator. The OPWDD Eligibility and Placement Coordinator for our area can be reached at 845-947-6011.

What can I do now to prepare my child for the transition from school into adult life?
Navigating the transition from school to adult life is often as confusing for the family as it can be for the student. Luckily in Rockland County we have the Rockland Transition Consortium. This is a voluntary organization of representatives from the Rockland County School Districts, not-for-profit agencies, colleges and local government representatives who are committed to providing Special Education students with a smooth transition from school to work, post-secondary education or adult agency services. This Consortium also holds ongoing free educational Workshops open to all. Workshops cover a wide range of topics such as OPWDD eligibility, the Front Door, guardianship, Medicaid and topics related to school and to life after high school.

You can join the Transition Consortium Email List by contacting either of the co-chairs: Dawn Kitz at or Mary Ellen Doremus at It is best to establish OPWDD eligibility for yourself or your loved one as soon as possible.

What do I do if I or my loved one is experiencing a behavioral health emergency?

Behavioral Health Response Team - BHRT is available to all, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 845-517-0400 or toll free 844-255-BHRT (2478).

NYSTART is an OPWDD Crisis Response & Prevention Project that operates 7 days a week. There is a mobile crisis response from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm and a telephonic response from 11:00 pm to 7:00 am. Please call 844-START80 or 844-782-7880 and press prompt #1.

Jawonio Community Care Response Team provides support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families who live at home and are experiencing a behavioral crisis. This OPWDD Family Support Service operates on the weekends from Friday at 6:00 pm to Monday at 6:00 am.  Please call 877-841-7916 for more information.

Other Helpful Information:

For a complete list of Voluntary Agencies serving the Rockland County area, please scroll down the page.

To contact the Transition Consortium for free workshop dates and times, please email either Co-Chair: Mary Ellen Doremus at or Dawn Kitz at

Access & Functional Needs Registry is a Rockland County project for area residents with limited mobility or special needs that may impact a timely response during an emergency. Please review the Registry on the County web site at

NAMI Family Peer Support Services provide a non-judgmental, structured and strength-based relationship between a Family Peer Advocate and the parent/family member to support and empower those raising a child with special needs. Please call 845-359-8785 for more information.

NETWORK Children and Family Support Services is staffed with parent partners who work with families of children ages 0-21 years experiencing emotional, behavioral and learning challenges that impact the child's level of success at home, school and/or the community; helping the families navigate the various service systems. Please call 845-267-2172 ext. 278 or 279 for more information.

MHA Consumer/Family Outreach Program is designed to help people with mental illness connect with treatment while providing their families and significant others with support and coping skills. Please call 845-267-2172 ext 264 or 266.

OPWDD Consumer Family Council mission is to provide a strong consumer and family voice as partners with the local Developmental Disability Services Office (DDSO) in the planning, developing and monitoring of Family Support Services in Orange, Rockland and Sullivan Counties. This includes oversight for new money and existing programs. This forum also gives parents the opportunity to speak directly to senior agency staff on current matters impacting our families and services. Meetings are held quarterly on Wednesday evenings at the DDRO office in Thiells. It is usually video-conference into the Orange County Office. Meetings begin promptly at 7 pm. Please contact the Family Support Services Coordinator in Region 3 HVDDRO at phone 845-947-6238 or Larry Bate, Chairperson, Consumer Council, Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan counties at

Westchester Institute for Human Development is a regional center serving Rockland County. Please log onto the web site at and review the information for such programs as: Parent-to-Parent, Hudson Valley Special Education Parent Center, Early Intervention - the Family Connection, Early Childhood Direction Center, Regional Center four Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Developmental Disability Provider Agencies & Resources:

State and non-profit agencies provide various services to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. These services can include community supports, respite care, crisis services, day programs, residential services, family care supports, employment opportunities and more. We encourage you to explore each agency through their website or by calling them directly.
Abbott House is a multi-faceted social service agency dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities.
At Ability Beyond , we discover, build and celebrate the ability in all people.
Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) offers access to a full range of employment and independent living services that may be needed by persons with disabilities through their lives.
The mission of Another Step, Inc. is to support people who have developmental disabilities in their quest to live ordinary lives.
All about abilities — ARC provides supports and services to people of all ages with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
The mission of BRiDGES is to provide advocacy and leadership in the creation and development of an accessible and integrated community for people with disabilities, so that they may purse lifestyles of their choice.
Camp Venture, Inc. is a not-for-profit provider of family-like care and services to children and adults with developmental disabilities.
The Mission of Capabilities Partnership Inc. and the Epilepsy Society of Southern NY, is to provide comprehensive services to people with epilepsy and other neurological, physical and developmental disabilities and their families, for the promotion of independence and quality of life.
845-627-0627 or 800-640-0371
CHDFS, Inc. is committed to providing a safe haven and caring community for those in need by assisting families, individuals and children in meeting their emotional, physical and intellectual needs.
Crystal Run Village, Inc. is an independent, non-profit provider of services to more than 700 people with developmental, physical and psychiatric disabilities, spectrum disorders and individuals with a dual diagnosis.
The Mission of the Epilepsy Society of Southern New York, Inc., and Capabilities Partnership Inc., is to provide comprehensive services to people with epilepsy and other neurological, physical and developmental disabilities and their families for the promotion of independence and quality of life.
Hamaspik's Mission is to assist people with disabilities in reaching their utmost potential and engaging life as they would without disabilities.
Hudson Valley Developmental Disability Regional Office - OPWDD Resource Directory. Go to the OPWDD website, click on the heading for “Supports & Services”, click on “Service Providers”, click on “Provider Directory”. The DDRO provides, promotes and assures that needed services are available to people affected by developmental disabilities, so that they may achieve increasing levels of independence, inclusion, individuation and productivity in the community.
The mission of Jawonio, is to advance the independence, well-being and equality of people with disabilities or special needs.
The Mental Health Association of Rockland has programs such as ‘The Friendship Club’ that provide socialization and recreation to adults with developmental disabilities living with Family or independently in the Rockland County community.
The Rockland County Association for Learning Disabilities (RCALD) is a not-for-profit agency that provides a comprehensive range of services in Rockland, Orange, Westchester, Bronx, Putnam, Dutchess, Sullivan and Ulster counties.
An independent, not-for-profit and nonsectarian organization that is dedicated to providing exceptional services to the Rockland community in a warm and caring environment.
Chesed 24/7 provides extensive and innovative services to the sick, the elderly, the developmentally disabled, and any individual or family facing a life challenge.
The Foundling’s diverse network of programs works interactively to provide care for families with multiple social, economic, medical, and psychological needs.
Partners in Care-Yedei Chesed an affiliate of Bikur Cholin- Partners In Health, is a not-for-profit organization that provides an array of services to individuals, both children and adults, with developmental disabilities and their family members.
St. Dominic’s Home is committed to providing caring, respectfully delivered services to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families in a personalized and professional manner.

Family Advocacy, Resources and Information:

Our mission is to be the voice of brain injury. Through advocacy, education and research, we bring help, hope and healing to millions of individuals living with brain injury, and their families and the professionals who serve them.
Cerebral Palsy Guidance was created to provide answers and assistance to parents of a child with cerebral palsy. Our goal is to reach as many members of the cerebral palsy community as possible, building up a network of support, as well as providing necessary assistance. We cover cerebral palsy from all angles–from symptoms, causes, and treatment, to daily living information, such as communication and transitioning to adulthood articles.
Our mission is to promote, support and enhance the healthy development of all children by providing resource and referral services, training and advocacy.
In the new College Guide for Students with Learning Disabilities, students and families will find an overview of the transition into college, a guide to college accommodations and assistive learning technology, and key strategies, resources, scholarships and more for students with learning disabilities. Help those with learning disabilities self-advocate and feel comfortable seeking the services they need and deserve.
Prospective college students with disabilities will find that many campuses are equipped with offices and services that address accessibility, accommodation, and assistive technology for a diverse range of needs.
HACSO Community Center, Inc. is a non-profit grass-root community organization established to create a community where immigrants can achieve self-sufficiency, ultimately enabling them to become active contributors to the economic and cultural and social development of their community. HASCO empowers and provides immigrants with the tools needed to build such self-sufficiency, by reducing the language and cultural barriers that challenge their access to existing community resources and programs.
The Justice Center was created in legislation known as the “Protection of People with Special Needs Act” to establish the strongest standards and practices in the nation for protecting people with special needs. It serves both as a law enforcement agency and as an advocate for people with special needs.
The Access Pass permits residents of New York State with disabilities, as defined in the application, free or discounted use of state parks, historic sites, and recreational facilities operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The pass holder may have free or discounted use of facilities operated by these offices, for which there is normally a charge.
The Hudson Valley Special Education Parent Center, located at Westchester Institute for Human Development, offers information and resources about the special education process to parents of children with disabilities in the Hudson Valley region and is funded by a grant from the New York State Education Department.
The Westchester Institute for Human Development, is a centralized, interactive, statewide clearinghouse of information related to self-directed, individualized support options that is designed to meet the needs of individuals and agency providers.
The Consortium consists of representatives from Rockland County School Districts, non-profit organizations, colleges and The Rockland County Department of Mental Health, who are committed to providing the Special Education student with a smooth transition from school to work and/or post-secondary programs, children's services to adult services, and home to the community at large.
To receive information on their Transition Workshop Series and other events, please contact either Co-Chair Mary Ellen Doremus - or Dawn Kitz -
United Way's 2-1-1 website has added an online database designed to provide easy searches for Hudson Valley residents seeking intellectual and developmental disability resources.
The Westchester Institute for Human Development is a centralized, interactive, statewide clearinghouse of information related to self-directed, individualized support options that is designed to meet the needs of individuals and agency providers.