Disability/Chronic Illness FAQ

Have any questions about services in New Jersey? This section addresses the most common queries about accessing the information most useful for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses.


What is guardianship, and how can I learn more about it?

Guardianship is a legal process sometimes used when a person cannot manage him/herself or his/her affairs. It is an involuntary legal arrangement that may considerably diminish an individual’s rights, so it is generally used only when a less restrictive alternative is not feasible.

If you wish to learn more about guardianship in New Jersey, it may be helpful to speak with an attorney.

In addition, the following resources are available:

What are some things I can do to plan for an emergency or natural disaster?

The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM) has compiled a list of things to do now to plan for an emergency. The basic actions consist of making a kit of emergency supplies (including nonperishable food, water, and a first aid kit, among others), developing a plan of action for you and your family (including establishing a predetermined meeting place and choosing an out-of-state contact), and staying informed of possible threats (by keeping track of weather alerts through trusted information sources and contacting your local Office of Emergency Management). A more complete checklist can be found in Chapter 25 of the New Jersey Resource Guide.

For people with disabilities, New Jersey has created a registry, NJ Register Ready, that allows New Jersey residents with disabilities and their families, friends, caregivers and associates to provide information to emergency response agencies for the purpose of helping emergency responders better plan to serve them in a disaster or other emergency. The secure and confidential tool can allow personnel to plan, send public messaging, assist with evacuation, and support sheltering and post-disaster recovery.

If you'd like more information on how to prepare for an emergency, contact your local NJOEM county coordinator or visit the websites for both NJOEM and FEMA.

What phone numbers can I call to talk about any mental or behavioral health issues I may be having?

If you are having thoughts of suicide, if you need mental health-related crisis support, or if you are worried about someone else, please call or text 9-8-8 or visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to chat to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

The Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services also offers a variety of hotlines that may meet your specific needs:

  • NJ 211 (2-1-1): Statewide information and referral service for programs that help people in need. 2-1-1 also serves as the State Homeless Hotline and Utility Assistance Hotline.
  • Crisis Assessment Response and Enhanced Services (CARES) (1-888-393-3007): Provides crisis response and stabilization services for a period up to 120 days to adults (age 21 and older) with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This service is administered through Trinitas Regional Medical Center Behavioral Health.
  • COVID CONNECT (1-833-223-0011): Provides phone support, referrals for ongoing treatment, and resources to help individuals struggling with a change in mood, poor concentration, increased substance use, or difficulty sleeping related to the pandemic.
  • IME Addictions Access Center (1-844-276-2777): Clinically trained and supervised telephone specialists assist callers seeking treatment for a substance abuse disorder to find the right provider for their needs and help them navigate the substance abuse treatment network.
  • MOM2MOM (1-877-914-MOM2):The Mom2Mom 24/7 peer support hotline is staffed by mothers of children with special needs who have been trained as counselors with the support of mental health clinicians. Caregivers of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities can also call 833-NJ-ADULT (833-652-3858) daily from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • NJ ConnectForRecovery (1-855-652-3737; TTY 1-877-294-4356): A free, confidential call line focused on helping family members and friends coping with a loved one’s substance use disorder.
  • NJ MentalHealthCares Help Line (1-866-202-4357; TTY 1-877-294-4356): Offers telephone counseling, information and referral and assistance in helping to get the behavioral health services needed by you or a loved one.
  • NJ Quitline (1-866-657-8677): A free telephone program dedicated to help New Jerseyans stop using tobacco products.
  • NJ Vet2Vet (1-866-838-7654): Provides peer support and resource help to New Jersey National Guard members, active military personnel, veterans, their families, and caregivers.
  • Peer Recovery Warmline (1-877-292-5588): A peer-run service providing ongoing telephone support to people in recovery from mental illness.
  • ReachNJ (1-844-732-2465): A central call-in line for New Jersey residents who are looking for help with a substance use disorder.
  • Rutgers Health Telephone Recovery Support (TRS) (1-833-825-5877): Provides confidential peer-based telephone support, encouragement, and information about substance use disorder, opioid and stimulant addiction, and recovery resources to New Jersey residents age 18 and older.
  • 800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537): Gives disordered gamblers and their loved ones confidential assistance.

What are the legal and advocacy services available to people with disabilities in New Jersey?

The following offices and organizations advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.

What are some of the services available to people with disabilities who are under the age of 21?

The structure of services for children with disabilities or chronic illnesses differs from the services for adults. Below is an outline of a few of the major services specifically for New Jerseyans under the age of 21. For a more comprehensive and personalized list, call the Department of Disability Services hotline at 1-888-285-3036 to speak to a professionally certified specialist.

  • Early Intervention System: Designed to address a problem or delay in a child's development as early as possible and is available from children ages 0 to 3. Children who are enrolled in the system receive child-focused care in natural environments such as the home or a community center, with the goal of achieving the outcomes described in a personalized service plan. If you suspect that a child may need the supports provided by the system, call the toll-free hotline at 888-653-4463.
  • PerformCare (NJ Children's System of Care): Provides youths in need of behavioral health, developmental and intellectual disability, or substance-use-treatment services with the services they need to optimally participate in treatment within their homes, schools, and community settings. Services include assessments, referrals, and care management services. For more information, call 1-877-652-7624 (TTY 1-866-896-6975) or visit their website.
  • Managed long-term care supports and services: Offers private-duty nursing services in the community for children who required a skilled level of care but who are ineligible for NJ FamilyCare and for adults with disabilities. For more information about available services and application details, visit the DDS website or call a DDS Information and Referral Specialist at 1-888-285-3036.
  • Office of Special Education: Implements state and federal laws and regulations governing special education to ensure that students with disabilities in New Jersey receive a free and appropriate public education. For information about how to develop an individualized education program, the rights of parents in special education, and lists of approved providers, visit the office's website.
  • Special Child Health Services Case Management Unit: Works with the child's parents, physician, and/or specialists to evaluate the strengths and needs of the affected child and develop and individual service plan for the child and family. For more information about this program and other Family Health Services programs, visit the Department of Health website.
  • Educational services for children:
  • The transition from childhood to adulthood includes a change in the responsibility of care. Fortunately, there are initiatives that minimize the disruption that could otherwise occur.

The Office of the Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families has also compiled a list of programs and resources on its website.