COVID-19 Case Study: New Jersey Family Resource Network
The Family Resource Network (FRN) provides direct support services to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their family caregivers statewide in New Jersey. Originally known as the Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey, the Family Resource Network is in its 50th year of operation and includes Epilepsy Services of NJ, Autism Family Services of NJ, and Caregivers of NJ.
The FRN roughly serves 1,800 children and adults with disabilities monthly. Services are funded by the Department of Human Services. Children’s services are coordinated through the NJ Department of Children and Families, and adult services are coordinated through the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DD).
The FRN provides respite services through their voucher program, in-home services, and various out-of-home community-based options, such as an afterschool program, summer camp, and community inclusion activities and events.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic all community-based respite services were closed March 12 at the time of the statewide shutdown. For voucher and in-home services, a phased-in approach was used to reopen due to different state agency oversight guidance and requirements for child vs. adult services. Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) were determined to be essential workers by the Governor, which allowed FRN to continue to offer voucher and in-home respite services. During the shutdown, the voucher service for children was able to continue, and in-home respite continued where possible, available, and agreed upon. Though significantly reduced, services were maintained. This occurred within 30 days of the shutdown.
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