Janine Fitzmaurice

Coordinator of Children with Special Needs Services

Ages birth through 5 years old

(845) 486-3518

jfitzmaurice@dutchessny.gov

Dana Hopkins

Coordinator of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Services

Ages 5 years through adulthood

(845) 486-2766

dhopkins@dutchessny.gov

Deborah Disanza

Coordinator of Children’s Services and Children’s POA Coordinator

(845) 486-2768

ddisanza@dutchessny.gov

Toni-Marie Ciarfella. Ph.D.

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)

Contact Information Contact Information
Need Help?

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:

Deborah DiSanza, LCSWR
CSPOA and Children & Youth Services Coordinator
Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health
230 North Road, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Phone: (845) 486-2768; F: (845) 486-2829
Email: ddisanza@dutchessny.gov

Dana M. Hopkins, LCSW-R
Coordinator of Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services

Dutchess County Department Behavioral and Community Health
230 North Rd.
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Phone: 845-486-2765
Email:
dhopkins@dutchessny.gov