Janine Fitzmaurice

Coordinator of Children with Special Needs Services

Ages birth through 5 years old

(845) 486-3518

jfitzmaurice@dutchessny.gov

Linda Monkman

Coordinator of Children’s and Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Services

Ages 5 years through adulthood

(845) 486-2766

lmonkman@dutchessny.gov

Toni-Marie Ciarfella

Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs

(845) 486-3434

tciarfella@dutchessny.gov

If this is an emergency and you need immediate assistance please contact 911

Crisis Counseling, Support, Information & Referrals

Dutchess County HELPLINE 

Toll free: (877) 485-9700

Stabilization Center

(845) 485-9700

NY State Central Register for Child Abuse 

(800-342-3720)

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Learn About Child Development & Future Planning

Although every individual is unique, all children go through distinct periods of development as they grow from birth to young adulthood. During each of these stages (or milestone ages) multiple changes in development of their brain and body will take place. What occurs and approximately when these developments take place are genetically and environmentally influenced. It is important to monitor a child’s progress. Not every child meets every milestone on time, however, if you have questions or concerns, be sure to discuss them with your pediatrician, or primary physician.


Planning Age 0-5
Planning Ages 6-15
Planning Ages 16-21
Planning Age 22-Adulthood

Planning Age 0-5

What to Look For

From the time of birth to five years of age, it is important to notice if everything is working appropriately with a child’s  hearing, walking, and sight.  It is important to maintain eligibility once made eligible and to keep a good file of all the documents that you used and received as you go through any eligibility process.

What to Do

If your child does not appear to be developing like other children their age they may need support services.


Birth to Age 3

Contacts for Support Services:

The first step is to contact your pediatrician to make an appointment. If needed, he or she can refer you to Early Intervention Services.

Early Intervention(EI) Services:

Early intervention can make all the difference in maximizing a child’s potential- between birth and age 3 to prepare them for their entry into school. If you are concerned at any point that your child is not getting the help you believe that they need, contact your pediatrician. If you are still concerned, contact Janine Fitzmaurice, Coordinator of Special Needs Children’s Services (see her contact information below) and she will help guide you each step of the way.

The Early Intervention Program which will help with the development of an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP)


Children With Special Health Care Needs

These programs can be of assistance in meeting the care needs of children who have medically complex health, with locating day care services, and getting ready for entry into preschool and elementary school. For more information, please visit the Early Intervention page  on Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health.

The CDC offers more information on milestones and child development – ages birth through 5 years.


Ages 3-5 Years

Contacts for Pre-School Programs:

Services are provided for children with special needs, ages 3-5, in conjunction with the family’s school district. Call your local school district’s Office of Special Education for referrals.

The Dutchess County Helping our Families Guide is another helpful resource to explore to help families with accessing services.


For further information, please feel welcome to contact:

Janine Fitzmaurice, LCSW
Coordinator of Special Needs Children’s Services
Phone: (845) 486-2759
Email: JFitzmaurice@dutchessny.gov

Early Intervention Program
85 Civic Center Plaza – Suite 106
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Information & Referrals: (845) 486-3518
Fax: (845) 486-3982

Planning Ages 6-15

When planning for children from age six years (6) to fifteen (15), it is important to be alert to and monitor your child’s developmental stages, including any changes in their sight or hearing and any behavioral concerns. It is important to maintain eligibility once made eligible and to keep a good file on all the documents that you used and received as you go through any eligibility process.

Next Steps

Up until age 6 years a child may have had Early Intervention (EI) services and will be entering Kindergarten or first grade. If this is true, the change in planning may move from an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) to the child’s teacher who will help evaluate a child’s needs for further services and supports.

Sometimes, children do not qualify or have not accessed Early Intervention services, and there is concern that they are not making the progress they should or are struggling in school. If you have concerns about how your child is doing in school, the first step is to talk with your child’s teacher and/or the school social worker. They can guide you, if a referral to your school’s Committee on Special Education (CSE) is needed.


Talking to the Teacher

If the teacher and/or the school social worker recommend it, a referral may result to the school’s Committee on Special Education where a meeting to discuss further evaluations will happen that could assist your child in their learning and classroom experience. There are two plans that can result, these are called an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) and/or with a 504 Plan that is developed to provide the appropriate services to meet this child’s individual needs in the classroom. The Committee for Special Education can be a part of a child’s life from K-12th grade, to provide guidance and support to children.


Next Steps – Eligibility Ages 6-8 Years

Eligibility is key for when we are seeking services which can be quite the journey. Whether it be for NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD)or Behavioral Health services.  Staying informed on NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities  (OPWDD) eligibility timeline is important.

Often families apply for NYS OPWDD eligibility once Early Intervention services have stopped, and often if needs persist, these children may be granted ‘Provisional Eligibility’   until age of 8 years. This is done, to ensure that services can continue to help children reach their full potential. By age 8 years, provisional eligibility needs to be re-evaluated. If the child is found to continue to meet OPWDD eligibility requirements the child’s provisional eligibility can become ‘permanent eligibility’.

This process can be complicated and if you need assistance to understand it or to navigate it, there is help. OPWDD’s Front Door is one place to begin. There are other community agencies that offer assistance through their Family Support Services programs. Assistance can also be found at Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health with Linda Monkman, LCSW (see contact information below). She is the Coordinator of Children and Individuals with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Services in Dutchess County. Her office is at the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health and she is ready to help you explore any questions or concerns regarding services in Dutchess County for children and for people of all ages who have special needs.


What to Do if Eligibility is Denied

If you or your family member is denied eligibility by OPWDD, you should have received a Notification of Denial (NOD) letter from OPWDD, but if you believe you or your family member is eligible please be sure to follow the directions in this letter to request a fair hearing. If you need assistance please contact a Family Support Services provider that you have been working with or Linda Monkman at DCBH for assistance.

If you or your family member is denied eligibility by OPWDD through the fair hearing process, but you believe you or your family member continues to need behavioral health assistance, please contact Linda Monkman (see her contact information below) for further assistance. She can help guide you to evaluate what programs or services you may be eligible for through New York State or Dutchess County.


Information to Assist You


Break in OPWDD Services

If you or someone you know did or currently does qualify for NYS OPWDD services, and they do not receive any services for a one year period, this may be determined to be a ‘break in OPWDD services”. This break in service, may mean that if a service is needed after that one year time period that eligibility may need to be re-established through the OPWDD Front Door. It is important to maintain eligibility once made eligible, as the re-determination period can be time consuming. If you are concerned about this and need further information please contact OPWDD Taconic District Regional Office.

Planning Information:

If your child is placed by the Committee for Special Education into a residential school, it is important to ensure that the local district office of OPWDD is informed and to stay involved in their planning for return home or when the ‘Aging Out’ of the school at age 21 years to community living:  NYS OPWDD

Information from NYS OPWDD regarding Residential Schools

Article 17 Guardianship

If you are considering 17-A guardianship for your son or daughter, this must be achieved through the Family Court System prior to age 18.


Obtaining Photo ID

A person any age can get a non-driver ID card. You must apply at a DMV office.  They will give you a temporary non-photo document at the DMV office. Allow 2 weeks to receive your photo ID card in the mail.

Get a Non-Driver ID Card (New York State DMV) Includes information about “who” can get an ID card, what you need to bring to the DMV and fees.

Poughkeepsie DMV (Location/Hours/Contact Information)


Other Resources

Dutchess County HELPLINEis staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and ready to help you.

Dutchess County Stabilization Center

New York State START program is a community-based program that provides crisis prevention and response services to individuals who are OPWDD eligible, with intellectual and developmental disabilities who present with complex behavioral and mental health needs, and to their families and others in the community who provide support.


For further information, please feel welcome to contact:

Linda Monkman, LCSW
Coordinator for Children’s and for Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities
Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health
230 North Road, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Phone: (845) 486-2766; F: (845) 486-2829
Email: lmonkman@dutchessny.gov

Planning Ages 16-21

When planning for people ages sixteen years (16) to twenty-one years (21) of age, it is important to begin thinking about preparing for adult services. It is also important to maintain eligibility once made eligible and to keep a good file on all the documents that you used and received as you go through any eligibility process.

Next Steps

First it is important to know what services you may be eligible for. In determining the appropriate type and provider of services for an individual, services can come from the NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and/or Behavioral Health Services through  NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH). An individual may have begun this eligibility process if or when they received Early Intervention Services, or may have been found provisionally eligible for services until age 8 years old through OPWDD. Or they have received Early Intervention Services through Behavioral Health Services.


Points About Services to Consider

By age 16 years, a person’s eligibility needs to be confirmed by OPWDD to access the services of many of the providers in the ThinkDIFFERENTLY  this website, OPWDD eligibility.

By age 16 years, if you believe your are is eligible for NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the eligibility process is not complete, be sure to contact Family Support Service programs for assistance or contact Linda Monkman, D.C. Coordinator for Intellectual & Developmental Services (see contact information below) for Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH).

See below for additional planning resources.


If you are Denied Services

If you or your family member is denied eligibility by OPWDD, you should have received a Notification of Denial letter from OPWDD. If you believe you or your family member is eligible, please be sure to follow the directions in this letter to request a fair hearing. If you need assistance please contact a Family Support Services provider that you have been working with or Linda Monkman at DCBH for assistance.

If you or your family member is denied eligibility by OPWDD through the fair hearing process, but you believe you or your family member continues to need assistance, please contact Linda Monkman (see her contact information below) for further assistance for behavioral health services. She can help guide you to evaluate what programs or services your are eligible for through New York State or Dutchess County.


Planning for Adult Life

Once eligibility has been confirmed, planning for the graduation from high school or residential treatment schools to adult living in the community should occur early on (during middle school or upon admission to a residential school). It is important to be in touch with your Committee on Special Education chairperson (CSE) and your family member’s teacher/or your school contact monitoring, informing and shaping the plan for your family member’s next step. The Dutchess County Transition Council is another important source of information and support in planning for a child’s graduation from high school into adult services.


Article 17 Guardianship

If you are considering 17-A guardianship for your son or daughter, this must be achieved through the Family Court System prior to age 18 years. There are alternatives to guardianship, through the use of a durable power of attorney.  Parents considering these options, should do so in consultation with an attorney familiar with special needs law.


Obtaining Photo

A person any age can get a non-driver ID card. You must apply at a DMV office. They can provide you a temporary non-driver ID card (photo) at their office. Allow 2 weeks to receive your photo ID card in the mail.


Aging Out of Residential Services

If your child is placed in a Residential Treatment Facility through your school’s Committee for Special Education, it is important to be sure that OPWDD’s District Regional Office is aware of the placement. In doing so, your child will be placed on an Aging Out Planning list and will be eligible for residential funding at Age 21. If you are told that your child is graduating or is ready to be returned home prior to the age of 21, it is equally important that you contact the OPWDD’s District Regional Office Aging Out Coordinator to discuss the consequences of this plan and your child’s rights in Aging Out.

Aging Out Services from residential schools to community living: NYS OPWDD


High School Certificates and Diplomas

These diplomas are all different, and only the NYS Regents Diploma is a high school diploma. The first two are certificates that capture achievement during a student’s time in the education system. Some students are able to continue their education with these certificates by working toward a High School Equivalency diploma (formally known as General Equivalency Diploma – GED). Working with NYS Adult Career & Continuing Education Service – Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES -VR ) through their local district office can be helpful as you plan for vocational opportunities and if you are considering pursuing a High School Equivalency diploma.

Career Development & Occupational Studies (CDOS)

Skills & Achievement Commencement Certificate

New York State Regents Diploma


Additional Planning Information


Break in OPWDD Services

If you or someone you know did or currently does qualify for NYS OPWDD services, and they do not receive any services for a one year period, this may be determined to be a ‘break in OPWDD services”. This break in service, may mean that if a service is needed after that one year time period that eligibility may need to be re-established through the OPWDD Front Door. It is important to maintain eligibility once made eligible, as the re-determination period can be time consuming. If you are concerned about this and need further information please contact OPWDD Taconic District Regional Office.


For further information, please feel welcome to contact:

Linda Monkman, LCSW
Coordinator for Children’s and for Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities
Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health
230 North Road, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Phone: (845) 486-2766; F: (845) 486-2829
Email: lmonkman@dutchessny.gov

Planning Age 22-Adulthood

Planning for adult services should begin while the individual is still in high school or their residential school. This often is called ‘transition’ planning and it typically happens by age 22 years old. This planning can be done or adjusted, and eligibility can be applied for at any time in and throughout a person’s life. It is important to maintain eligibility once made eligible and to keep a good file on all the documents that you used and received as you go through any eligibility process.

Next Steps

Permanent eligibility for services from NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities(OPWDD)  requires that the developmental disabilities were diagnosed prior to age 22 years. Eligibility for Behavioral Health Services through NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) can also be established at any point in a person’s life. Verifying your diagnosis and eligibility plays a key role in planning the path for supports and  services throughout adulthood.


Key Adult Service Contacts and Planning Points

NYS Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (NYS OPWDD) requires that an individual’s qualifying diagnosis for eligibility be established prior to the age of 22 years. Sometimes families, do not seek services from OPWDD until after their child has entered into adulthood. Be assured, you can apply at any time for OPWDD eligibility and services as long as the  individual’s developmental disability was diagnosed prior to age 22.

If you need further assistance, consider contacting OPWDD Front Door or a Family Support Services agency for assistance in adult planning. They can assist you in understanding how the Individual Education Plan (IEP) from high school becomes the basis for the Individual Service Plan (ISP). The ISP is the document that drives services for someone who is NYS OPWDD-eligible through the Home & Community Based Services (HBCS) waiver.  Another avenue for planning is called Self-Direction  to consider  for adult services.


What if You are Not Eligible for NYS OPWDD Services but Have a disability?

Taconic Resources for Independence (TRI)  or Linda Monkman, Coordinator for Intellectual & Developmental Services (IDD) for Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) can be a good places to start in finding assistance.


Break In Services

If you or someone you know did or currently does qualify for NYS OPWDD services, and they do not receive any services for a one year period, OPWDD may determine this to be a “break in OPWDD services”. This break in service, may mean that if a service is needed after that one year time period has expired, a new referral/application for eligibility may need to be done. This is re-established through the OPWDD Front Door. It is important to maintain eligibility once made eligible, and to keep a good file on all the documents that you used and received from OPWDD when eligibility was established in the past. The re-determination period can be time consuming. If you are concerned about this and need further information please contact OPWDD Taconic District Regional Office.


Article 17 Guardianship

If you are considering 17-A guardianship for your son or daughter, it must be achieved through the Family Court System and should be done prior to age 18 years. If legal guardianship is needed after the age of 18 years, it can be done but it may involve a longer process.  There are alternatives to guardianship, through the use of a durable power of attorney. Parents considering these options, should do so in consultation with an attorney familiar with special needs law.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Additional Resources

New York State START program is a community-based program that provides crisis prevention and response services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who present with complex behavioral and mental health needs, and to their families and others in the community who provide support.

The Dutchess County Helping our Families Guide is another helpful resource to explore to help families with accessing services.

Important Supports Available 24/7

Dutchess County HELPLINE provides crisis counseling, support information & referrals  24 hours a day, 365 days a year and ready to help you.

Dutchess County Stabilization Center is a walk-in facility located at 230 North Road in Poughkeepsie for people feeling overwhelmed by mental health, substance use, or other life issues, such as:

  • Emotional distress
  • Anxiety and/or Depression
  • Psychiatric symptoms
  • Addiction
  • Intoxication
  • Family issues

If you need further information or assistance, please feel welcome to contact:

Linda Monkman, LCSW
Coordinator for Children’s and for Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities
Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health
230 North Road, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Phone: (845) 486-2766; Fax: (845) 486-2829
Email: lmonkman@dutchessny.gov