“Grad or Age-Out” and The Importance Of The Case Manager: 5-3-11

Hoping for Clarification: In the last several weeks I have had a number of conversations with moms with adult special needs children regarding what qualifies some for a residential priority placement and others not, once they reach the age when their school districts are no longer responsible for them. Keeping in mind that every state is different in how they handle special needs adults, I have been able to put together the following information, as related to the State of Connecticut.

Feedback: To make this post useful to folks outside our state, I would welcome feedback that I can post regarding current age out policies in other states.

Priority: How does one become a priority for residential placement when they age out of their school district?  The first step is to ensure that your child is identified as special needs before the age of eighteen. As our case manager emphasized “Education is an entitlement,” but receiving services from DDS or its equivalent in your state is not. In other words, even a child with clear special needs has to be recognized as such before the age of 18 to get the post academic services provided by their state agency.

Aging Out: In the State of Connecticut, an “age-out” is distinguished from a “grad” by the following criteria: A student who has qualified for services from DDS, and who is placed out of their school district, and I am assuming that implies living outside the parental home, is an “age-out” and therefore becomes a priority for housing when they complete their education. A “grad” is a consumer who has remained at home with Mom and Dad, going to a school within their town, and upon completion of their education is listed as a “priority” for Day funding, not a priority at that time for residential services.

Tis A Puzzlement: My attempt at clarification is a bit clumsy as the topic is complex and each case is decided on an individual basis. However, two things are clear: getting services for adult special needs means making sure that child is identified before the age of  18 to qualify for adult services; and asking for a case manager once that child is identified or as that child approaches the last several years of their education, is a top priority. If we did not have access to this excellent case manager, we would not be as far along as we are in this journey.

©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.

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