Alpha School Transition Services Lunch and Learn Workshop –Blanche Stetler and Ms. Melissa Wong - Alpha School

Alpha School Transition Services Lunch and Learn Workshop –Blanche Stetler and Ms. Melissa Wong

Skylands Support Services


On February 12, 2020 the Alpha School of Jackson, NJ was presented with a Lunch and Learn Workshop presented by both Blanche Stetler from PrimeTime Center and Melissa Wong from Skylands Family Support of New Jersey.

Below are key highlights that are important for new and current parents and caregivers understanding their child’s Personal Preference Budget (PPP), Social Security, Medicaid, Guardianships, Special Needs Trust, Able Accounts, and Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD).

Personal Preference Budget (PPP)

  • Medicaid benefit available to anyone with Medicaid in NJ. There is no age restriction
  • Gives the family of a person with disabilities a budget to provide care for the individual. The family can choose to take this budget in place of Medicaid providing in home nursing services. The family may provide the services themselves or name other people to be paid with this budget
  • The budget is not associated with Social Security benefits or DDD budget so does not affect the benefits of the person that is disabled. It would be income for the person providing the supports so if they are receiving any benefits such as SSI or SSDI, it would effect that.
  • There are no federal taxes paid for these benefits but state taxes will have to be paid.
  • To initiate this budget the guardian should contact their Medicaid HMO and say they are interested in a Personal Preference Program budget. A prescription from a doctor indicating the disability will probably need to accompany the application.
  • A nurse from the Medicaid HMO will be sent to the home to do an evaluation to determine the amount of the budget. The budget is based upon level of need so budgets can vary widely.
  • Once the determination is made the family will be assigned a case manager who will then come to the home to set up the enrollment and instruct the family in how to submit timesheets.
  • It takes approximately 6 months from applying until the first check is received.

Social Security and Medicaid

  • At the age of 18 a young person with a disability should be registered with Social Security. Once approved for Social Security they will automatically have Medicaid. The only way to access Adult Services in New Jersey is to have Medicaid so it is imperative to have Medicaid.

Guardianship, Special Needs Trust and ABLE Accounts

  • At the age of 18 parents should make sure to named legal guardians of their child if that child will not be able to make legal or medical decisions for themselves. Depending on the county you reside in it could take several months to complete that guardianship. You can have a lawyer do this for you or it is possible to do it yourself if you are very detail oriented. Reach out to your county court to get the application if you want to do it yourself.
  • It is important to also have an attorney set up a Special Needs Trust to protect any money or property you plan to leave to your disabled child.
  • An ABLE account is another option to protect those monies and can be set up through the website in New Jersey. You can save up to $25,000 in an ABLE account.

DDD Services

  • At the age of 19 a family should reach out to DDD to enroll their child. Even if they were previously enrolled as a young child they must still need to reapply. The application can be found on the DDD website. If they are currently receiving services from Performcare, there is a short form version to complete and if not then the full application must be submitted. 
  • Once a person is accepted for DDD an NJCAT assessment will be scheduled in the family home. A team from DDD will come to do the assessment. After the assessment is complete a Tier assignment will be made and that will provide a budget for programming and supports. Tier assignments are based upon level of need identified.
  • Families will be asked to select a support coordinator to manage that budget and assist the family to identify services.
  • Every person should have enough money in their budget to pay for at least 5 days a week of a six-hour day program.
  • The Tier is good for 5 years and will be reassessed every five years after.
john gonzalez supervisor of instruction Alpha School

Alpha School an private special education school in New Jersey

Our Mission at The Alpha School is to help all of our special needs students with the learning, social, language, and behavioral support they deserve. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student to becoming the best they can while providing a safe and nurturing educational environment.

We would be more than happy to discuss your child’s specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.370.1150, or request a tour of Alpha School of Jackson, NJ located just minutes off of Route 9 and Route 195 in Ocean County.

— John Gonzalez, Principal-Alpha School, Jackson, NJ

About RKS Associates

At all the RKS Schools we pride ourselves in discovery the hidden treasures of all of our students. Our academic and support services are appropriately customized for a student unique and diverse needs so that they can reach their full potential.

Alpha School is part of special needs network of schools located in Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean County New Jersey. Since 1980 the RKS Associates schools have been leaders in helping special needs helping students with various disabilities including autism, Down's syndrome, communication, learning, social, behavioral and emotional disabilities. The range of services RKS schools provide is academic instruction and speech, occupational and physical therapies. In addition to Life Skills, Technology, and a full complement of Support Services.

network of special ed schools in NJ