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April 24, 2024 | Issue 127 (View newsletter as webpage) Para leer este boletín en Español, haga clic aquí

Important News

NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities logo

Students with Disabilities and the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities Policy Change

The Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) recently instituted a policy change that would allow a small number of eligible young adults with developmental disabilities to enroll in DDD services as early as age 18. This policy change only impacts individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 who have met both graduation requirements and the goals in their Individualized Education Program (IEP) and are not eligible to remain in high school until age 21. Individuals, if eligible for DDD services, may only enroll in DDD as early as the age of 18 if they have graduated and are seeking DDD services to support immediate enrollment at a college or trade school not funded by the Division; and/or to support competitive employment and if the services being sought from DDD would not otherwise be the responsibility of their local school district to provide. This flexibility does not allow individuals to enroll in DDD services before the age of 21 for other reasons such as enrolling in a DDD adult day care program.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students with disabilities, ages 3 through 21 are entitled to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE). Students are entitled to receive the special education and related services identified through their Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP contains goals related to academic achievement, and behavioral and functional performance, as well as post-secondary goals related to training, education, employment and, if appropriate, independent living. The local school district is responsible for ensuring all services are provided at no cost to the student or parents.

Unlike services determined under an IEP, services provided by the DDD are not an entitlement and may not meet the level of services provided under a student's IEP. The IEP team should therefore discuss the benefits and risks of pursuing DDD services for individuals between the ages of 18 and 21.

If you feel the above circumstance applies to you, we strongly suggest you contact a Division Representative

for Options Counseling at least six months prior to your graduation date. This is to ensure that you would be eligible to access Division Services before electing to graduate prior to the age of 21. Please email for more information.

To read the complete announcement from the DDD on this policy change, click here.

If you have questions about the IEP process for yourself or a family member, or about eligibility for DDD services, you can always call SPAN at 1-800-654-SPAN (7726).

Group photo of the new SRP graduates

(Pictured, from left to right: Karen Blumenthal-SPAN, Tammi Kaminski-SPAN, Shana Wright, Laura Canfield, Victoria Alizo, Kim Desmond, Harshavardhan Raju, Michelle De La Torre Andrade-SPAN, Alissa Stroker, Ismaly Ovalles, Ileana Neagu Fritschie, Jeannette Mejias-SPAN)

Parent Leaders Rising!

Our SPAN Family has expanded!

Congratulations to our recent SPAN Resource Parent (SRP) graduates who completed their training on April 17, 2024. We couldn't be more proud of these outstanding servant leaders and the positive ways they will impact their communities.

The SRP Program is an intensive training program designed to educate volunteers to assist families of children with disabilities and special health care needs.

To learn more about the SPAN SRP program, click here.

Photo of 4 SPAN NJICCP members at the CITE Conference

(Pictured from left to right: Amanda Villamar, Dr. Emajonite Etienne, Paulina Vargas, and Mita Bhattacharya)

SPAN NJICCP Team Attends CITE Conference

On April 13, four members of SPAN's New Jersey Inclusive Child Care Project (NJICCP) attended the annual Coalition of Infant/Toddler Educators (CITE) conference at St. Elizabeth University in Morristown. The team staffed an information table for SPAN and SPAN's Mita Bhattacharya participated as a panelists during the "Shining Light On Inclusion" panel presentation.

The CITE Conference presents learning sessions and a keynote presentation, all with the goal of Connecting child care educators to accessible professional formation on social and emotional development. This year, they explored what it takes to create safe spaces for all infants, toddlers and young children.

To learn more about CITE

click here.

To learn more about the SPAN NJICCP, click here.


NJ Department of Health logo

Opportunity to Share Your Comments to the NJ Department of Health Regarding the Early Intervention System (for Children Birth to Age 3) 

  • Early intervention is services provided to infants and toddlers with disabilities and/or developmental delays and their families under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • Annually, each state Part C Lead Agency must submit an application for federal funds, guaranteeing full, statewide implementation of Part C of IDEA in their state.
  • Prior to submitting the application, the state Lead Agency must provide opportunity for public comment.

The NJ Early Intervention System (NJEIS) is the Part C Lead Agency at the NJ Department of Health. The mission of NJEIS to enhance the capacity of families to meet the developmental and health-related needs of children birth to age three who have developmental delays or disabilities by providing quality services and support to families and their children. Families from diverse racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds will be involved in decision-making at every level of the design, implementation and evaluation of the early intervention system.

NJEIS is applying to the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) for continued participation in the Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Program (Part C of IDEA) and are accepting public comments. The proposed grant application can be viewed during the public comment period online at

TELLING YOUR STORY IS A POWERFUL ADVOCACY TOOL! Early Intervention Services are key to ensure positive future outcomes for young children. Therefore, it is critical that parents and caregivers as well as professionals share their written comments about the successes and any barriers they have experienced with NJEIS so they can continue to make improvements to support children and families effectively.

Comments can be sent via email/mail to:

Josephine Shenouda, Part C Director

New Jersey Early Intervention System

P.O. Box 364

55 North Willow Street

Trenton, NJ 08625-0364


PLEASE NOTE: Deadline to submit comments is Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

Still have questions or need support to write your comments?

Reach out to the SPAN Early Childhood Team at: 

Upcoming Events

SPAN offers a variety of learning opportunities for families and the professionals who work with them.

Highlighted Event This Week

Early Childhood Conference flyer

SPAN'S Early Childhood Conference!

Thursday, May 9, 2024

8:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Department of Children & Families

Professional Center

30 Van Dyke Ave.

New Brunswick, NJ 08901


SPAN Parent Advocacy Network is proud to present an Early Childhood Conference at the Department for Children and Families Training Center in New Brunswick on Thursday, May 9, 2024, from 8:00 AM to 3:00PM.


Register today and join us for a free day of information and networking. You'll be among other parents and caregivers who share your interest and professionals who strive for meaningful inclusion in all Early Childhood settings!


To learn more and register, click here.

See all of SPAN's upcoming events with details and registration links here 

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Staying Focused

Read our latest youth blog post, "Staying Focused." In a world full of distractions, it can be hard to control ourselves and stay focused on current tasks. Training your brain to develop a focused mindset allows you to complete goals faster, giving you more time yourself on other things in life.

To access the post, click here.

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