Parents of children with disabilities should never feel alone

Parents of children with disabilities should never feel alone

…because I am a mom of a child with an intellectual disability — I feel great pressure to put into place everything my 15-year-old son will need after my husband and I are no longer here,” wrote Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer in her Exit Ramp (“My birthday is wrapped up with my son’s future,” July 12).

She writes about how there is so much to arrange, such as setting up a special needs trust, registering at the county’s department of behavioral health, and looking into housing options and day programs for when her son ages out of the school system at 21, and she laments not having “the luxury of indulging in a midlife or late-life crisis when we have this work to do.”

Kaplan-Mayer requested more “support and encouragement while parents are going through this stressful process” and more opportunities through Jewish organizations. 

“The more we feel supported, the more that I will welcome each birthday, knowing my son’s future is valued and held with care,” she wrote.

At Jewish Family Service of MetroWest NJ (JFS), we understand that putting together the benefits, services, and care for a child is an overwhelming and scary responsibility. Parents need assurance that everything will always be taken care of according to their wishes.

Fortunately, JFS offers services for individuals with disabilities of all ages living in Essex, Morris, Sussex, southern Hudson, and northern Union counties. We offer services for children with learning differences and autism. We also provide services for young adults when they age out of the school system.

Support Coordination is a complimentary case management service for eligible individuals through the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities. Our compassionate support coordinators meet with individuals and their support teams to understand their needs, learn about their ambitions, and create tailored plans that will lead to a meaningful life. Support coordinators assist in accessing day programs, medical supports, employment services, and social and educational

JFS also offers a program called Coordinated Care Management (CCM), which supports individuals, families, and caregivers living in Greater MetroWest who are overseeing lifetime care of adults with developmental, acquired, and/or psychiatric disabilities. CCM will ensure ongoing individualized and personal concern for such individuals with disabilities who may survive their caregivers or whose caregivers are not available to support them. We don’t just identify services, we educate about resources, entitlements, and providers in the community. Your personal case manager guides you throughout the entire process. CCM offers individualized plans tailored to unique situations and needs.

As one JFS client stated, “I have been very fortunate to work with JFS MetroWest. The level of professionalism is, by far, the best I have ever experienced. My case manager is very detail oriented, quick in her follow up, and responses to my questions and concerns. She brings information to me on all matters and, as a result, I feel more knowledgeable and make better decisions. She is kind and compassionate and spends time to get to know my daughters’ needs and her life goals. I know I have a great partner on this journey thanks to JFS MetroWest.” — A.J.

Jewish Family Service of MetroWest NJ, with offices in Florham Park and Livingston, serves residents of Essex, Morris, Sussex, southern Hudson, and northern Union counties. Call 973-765-9050 or visit 

Maggie Drew, coordinator of services for individuals with disabilities, oversees both Coordinated Care Management and Support Coordination at Jewish Family Service of
MetroWest NJ.

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