What is a Service Coordinator?

A Service Coordinator (SC) or case manager assists a person with a developmental disability to develop an individualized plan of service or ISP.

In New York State, a SC is usually employed by a local Developmental Disabilities Services Office and non-profit agencies to work directly with a consumer and their family, particularly when the person is a child.

There are case managers selected to work with consumers who are independent contractors, and licensed by the state in which they serve. An SC who is an independent contractor is likely to have a caseload of very young consumers currently enrolled in the Early Intervention program.

The role of a SC is to access the need for services a person may have, which generally fall into three categories:

  • Advocating,
  • Planning Individualized Service, and
  • Record Keeping.

The SC learns what types of programs, services and funding sources are available within the consumer's community, and then helps the consumer and their family develop a plan for services. The service coordinator presents all the options and choices that are available to help meet the consumer's needs.

A SC does not have permission or the power to change a plan without the knowledge and consent of the person, a child's parents or the legal guardian.

Before choosing a service coordinator, it is recommended that you call and interview more than one provider agency and the actual person who would be assigned to work with you. It is a good idea to meet with them in person.

A good service coordinator will have:

  • good listening skills;
  • good working knowledge of the developmental disabilities system (including services outside their agency);
  • knowledge of basic services; and
  • is someone who makes you feel comfortable enough to work together.

You may choose a service coordinator from one provider agency and receive other needed services or attend programs from another agency or agencies. If you are ever not satisfied with the service coordinator you have chosen, try to work out any issues with their agency. If the situation cannot be resolved, choose another service coordinator or provider.



What types of Service Coordination are available?

Medicaid Service Coordination (MSC) is a service specifically for people that have Medicaid and for those who are eligible to receive it. If a person does not currently have Medicaid but is Medicaid eligible, any provider agency of MSC can help them apply for Medicaid. The agency will be able to back bill for services rendered once Medicaid is approved.

The MSC must complete state approved training and 15 hours professional development each year. The MSC must also meet with the child or adult consumer at home, their day program or school, certified residential facility to review the plan of services at least every six months. Usually a MSC will meet with their consumer at least once a month, or more should the need arise.

Non-Medicaid Service Coordination is a similar service for people that are not Medicaid Eligible or living in a certified residential facility. Non-Medicaid Service Coordination is funded by the state and county of residence; and there are no requirements as with MSC.

Questions to Consider Asking A Potential Service Coordinator:

  • What are your qualifications and experience?
  • What is the name of your supervisor? What is his/her experience?
  • What will you do for me (or my family member)?
  • How can I be certain that the services I (or my family member) need will be provided?
  • How often and how will you communicate with me?
  • Will my opinion count if I disagree with my family about how a situation should be handled?
  • Can you give me examples of plans that were successful?
  • How often will you visit me at home?
  • If I am not happy with a service, what will you recommend?

If the service coordinator does not work for the agency that provides your other services (e.g. housing and day program), ask how she will gather important information, how are they notified of any reportable incidents, and how are they included in the planning process.



Important Issues to Consider:

Does the soon-to-be service coordinator speak your primary language?

Does she behave in a respectful and professional manner?

Does she show knowledge of or interest in your cultural and ethnic traditions?

Is she a good listener…open to change…patient…flexible…reliable…?

Are you comfortable with this person?

Can you share your feelings and beliefs; talk freely and openly with her?

If you can answer 'yes' to most of these questions, you have found the right service coordinator for you!

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