How to Help Your Loved One Live Independently

120x-scribble-ddThe key to successful independent living is understanding the goals, abilities and support needs of the individual with a developmental disability as he or she navigates various transitions. Is your loved one finishing high school and getting ready to move out? What kind of home will be appropriate? What about employment?

Developmental Disabilities Services - Tools for Independence will help you through the process. We offer nonsectarian programs and services designed to help adults with developmental disabilities enjoy as full and productive lives as possible. We also support the individual’s families and caregivers.

How to Help Your Child Transition from High School

  1. Start your transition planning sooner rather than later.
    Don’t wait until your child is 22, when he or she must leave high school. Do your research, visit support providers and learn about the adult system, including the different services available. Attend transition fairs through your school system. Ask questions until you have a clear understanding of what to expect.

  2. Apply for the Medicaid waiver if you have not already done so.
    Regardless of your current financial situation, the NOW or COMP Medicaid waiver will ensure your child with a developmental disability has funding for necessary services for the rest of his or her life. The waiting list is long (around 7,000 people currently), so you want to get your child on it as early as possible.

  3. Look for a provider that promotes supported employment.
    This means each person gets support to find and maintain a job that fits with his or her skills and interests.

  4. Consider having someone work with your adult child in the home.
    This can be done through the Medicaid waiver using community living support services or through a private pay arrangement. Your child will get used to working with other people on his or her independent living skills. Through a service provider like JF&CS, a direct support professional will coach your child on becoming as independent as possible and assist your child with making community connections and developing friendships.

How to Prepare for Moving Out

  1. Learn about options available in the community.
    There are more options than ever before, based on your loved one’s needs. Your son may live alone with a few hours of support per week, with roommates and continuous staff supervision, or something in between.

  2. Move at a pace that works for your family.
    If your daughter is ready to explore moving out, include her in the process, keeping in mind her needs and the costs. If she has a Medicaid waiver, find out if it will cover any necessary services.

  3. Visit several providers that offer a range of services that fit your family’s needs.
    JF&CS provides support to individuals in their own homes or apartments for as little as a few hours a day or up to seven days per week. We also have a 24/7 emergency telephone number. If your loved one requires supervision, visit providers such as JF&CS that offer this type of service.

  4. Explore how friends live.
    Look at programs like JF&CS’ Moving Out Club, which includes and educates the whole family. If you’re interested in working with a service provider, ask for some references. Visit different home settings.

  5. Ask questions about the policies and environment.
    What is the provider’s policy on family involvement or unannounced visits? What is the process if someone gets hurt? How is a good roommate match ensured? Is the home clean? How does it smell? Does it blend into the neighborhood or have an “institutional feel?” The home should feel warm and welcoming.

  6. Finally, understand it’s your loved one’s time to grow!
    It is normal and expected for all of you to feel anxious. Expect some bumps in the road, but if you have open communication, and the provider listens and follows up on your concerns, he or she will flourish.

How to Help Your Loved One Find the Right Job

  1. Find a job coach to work with your son through the job search and beyond.
    The coach can help him focus on jobs based on his talents and interests. The job coaches in JF&CS’ Supported Employment program provide the support he needs to be successful.

  2. Talk to the job coach about your daughter’s employment options.
    The job coach will work with a potential employer to develop a job in which your daughter will have the biggest likelihood of success based on her strengths and experience. Or, the coach can help her explore customized employment, such as task reassignment, job carving and job sharing.