Is Your Child Eligible for “Medicaid Waiver” Benefits? By Jean Marie Brescia

New York State's Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) provides funding for supports and services for children with developmental disabilities under the age of 18, without regard to families' income, through a "Medicaid Waiver" program. It is characterized as a "waiver" program because parental income is not part of the eligibility determination. Medicaid waiver funding can cover a wide-range of services such as summer and other special needs recreational programs, music and arts programs, parent training and consultation, behavioral services, support groups for parents and siblings, respite services, and community programs. The application process starts with a telephone call to OPWDD's intake number at (631) 434-6000 and a follow-up telephone call from intake personnel to commence the eligibility and enrollment process. Medicaid waiver applications require an evaluation to be submitted. OPWDD makes free evaluations available through specified agencies. Parents must attend an introductory presentation about OPWDD. These free presentations are held monthly in each county. Once OPWDD makes an eligibility determination for a child, then parents secure a care coordinator from an approved care coordination agency. The overall application process can be lengthy. Read more at

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