The state of New Jersey, consistent with a growing trend throughout the United States of America, has fully transitioned from a “systems” approach of service delivery to a person-centered approach. The new approach focuses on individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities as whole persons with specific goals, inspiring dreams and worthwhile aspirations. This shift coincided with the state’s transition from a contract model to a fee-for-service model where participants (persons receiving services paid for by Medicaid through the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD)) have full control over the support services they receive as well as how, when and from which independent community providers they receive those services. Simply put, it became more imperative than ever that community agencies provide quality services that consistently met, if not exceeded, expectations of participants and their loving families and dedicated caregivers. The new approach created an ecosystem where Aspire Supports, an agency built on excellence and focused on delivering structured, person-centered, therapeutic and trauma-focused services to all the individuals it serves, became a preferred agency for individuals and their families.
Aspire Support Coordination
At its infancy, Aspire Supports focused exclusively on delivering Support Coordination Services. In succinct terms, we connected searching families and eager participants with needed services. Before “fee-for-service,” this service was the task and responsibility of the State of New Jersey. The state employed Case Managers, whose responsibilities ranged from coordination and monitoring services to advocacy. With the fee-for-service model was introduced the role of Support Coordinators. As explained in further details below, our support coordinators performed four (4) general functions for optimal service delivery:
individual discovery: We managed all support coordination services not just for, but with the participant. Our service delivery model was designed to make coordination of services seamless and effortless for participants, all while keeping them involved consistent with their preferences. Our support coordination staff possessed over 25 years of collective experience in the field of developmental disabilities. They were keen at helping with identifying, securing and maintaining the services participants enjoyed: from obtaining competitive employment and educational opportunities in the community to day and residential services.
plan development: Once we had gotten to know our participants, we made use of the Person Centered Planning Tool (PCPT) and the Individualized Service Plan (ISP) to identify how best to deliver on their desired outcomes, goals, supports and services.
coordination of services: With their needs identified, our tireless work shifted to ensuring that we secure the best agencies to deliver the services our participants want and need. Not once did we stop until they were completely satisfied with their service providers.
monitoring: We kept a close watch on agencies delivering the services. We also kept a close watch on participants and their plans to ensure they were progressing towards their desired outcomes. If they did not believe they were receiving the very best services as outlined in their ISP, we acted immediately to ensure that they did. Every time. Without fail.
While providing this service (Support Coordination), it became more and more apparent that we could not effectively fulfill our mission of helping the people we serve live a full life and grow in their communities without exploring ways to directly support those in our communities who live with intellectual, developmental and mental health services. So mere months after starting out as a support coordination agency (hence the original name Aspire Support Coordination, LLC) we strategically moved to the provision of Community Based Supports, Community Inclusion, Transportation and Individual Support service in counties where the need for those services were greatest.
Direct Support Services (defined here as services and care delivered by Aspire staff members directly to individuals dealing with physical, intellectual and/or developmental challenges for the purpose of increased independence in the community) have historically been delivered by state-run institutions or community organizations contracted with DDD. A preset amount of dollars was awarded to a provider that received referrals from DDD to serve individuals who needed all encompassing “residential” services. Those “residential” services usually meant living in a respectable state-run institution, a group home or supervised apartment, or another community setting (licensed or unlicensed). That was the "old" system. Under the new system, the choice of provider and the many types of services rest with the service recipient (participant) and their loving and caring families. Participants, at last, maintained full control over every aspect of support services.
Inspired by a new system approach that perfectly coincided with Aspire Support Coordination's vision, in late 2018, CEO and founder Karl J Venescar assembled a team of competent, caring and compassionate 'veterans' in the field of Health and Human Services with one goal in mind: to create opportunities for all and independence in life regardless of diagnosed challenges. In a relatively short period, the company established itself as a direct support agency: Aspire Supports; one that consistently goes beyond the "deliverables", one that establishes that it is truly Committed to Community. Committed to You.
With great success in Sussex, Warren and Somerset counties -- as measured by the satisfaction of its participants and their families -- Aspire Supports moved to Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Hunterdon, Monmouth, Mercer, Burlington, and Gloucester counties to deliver community-based direct support services such as Community Inclusion, Individual Supports, Community Based Supports, Respite and Transportation. Our participants’ enjoy a vast array of experiences at home and in their communities, including prominent and competitive local jobs and membership into diverse religious and community organizations. Aspire Supports’ most successful attribute has been its focus on not simply connecting participants with needed services, but more importantly helping them make into reality dreams and aspiration they and their family members once thought unattainable.
Over the years, Aspire Supports has worked jointly with residential provider agencies such as Capital Care, the Arc of New Jersey, Midland Adult Services, Catholic Charities, Abilities Inc., Spectrum Care Management and Counseling and The Sussex County YMCA, just to name a few, to jointly deliver a continuum of care and services that best meet the needs of the participants entrusted to us.
Today, Aspire Supports also delivers its structured, person-centered, therapeutic and trauma-focused services in the counties of Essex, Union, Middlesex and Morris. Services offered have also expended to include Supported Employment, Occupational Therapy and Assistive Technology.
In all ways, through the years and regardless of the service our participants receive, our focus remains the same: Committed to Community; Committed to You.