July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Bright Path Consulting Helps Individuals And Families Navigate Special Services

Abbe Greenberg, LSW, owner and director, Bright Path Consulting (Credit: Danielle Richards)

Bright Path Consulting was born in 2010 after Abbe Greenberg, its owner and director, spent 15 years in the community on behalf of clients and as an associate director of a group home agency. Greenberg is a licensed social worker in the State of New Jersey and the sister of an older brother with disabilities.

“I felt there were many individuals and families outside the system needing services for their adult disabled children with no idea how to navigate applications, eligibility, services and care.” So she literally hung out a shingle and called everyone she knew to let them know what she was doing. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing since.

“Bright Path helps people and families to navigate the often bewildering maze of applications, benefits, eligibilities, renewals, services and problem solving. Clients often arrive with no services for their loved one and in need of benefits or increased services.” Sometimes, Greenberg says, they are entrenched in a catastrophic situation, urgently in need of information, services, life management decisions or resources for other essential actions. “We listen, we plan, we educate, we advocate, we quarterback projects and we get things done.” Since the beginning, Greenberg reported, “We have had happy, content, relieved people and families because we took on their needs as though they were our own.”

Bright Path also serves adults with developmental disabilities and their families. Consultations can begin at 17 years of age. They have also served clients and families over 70 years old.

To clarify, “disabilities” can be defined as an intellectual or physical disability or traumatic brain injury. Definitive diagnosis of disabilities can be done by a psychologist, she said, and can provide the documentation required for determining the legal status that paves the way for certain governmental benefits.

Being a recipient of government benefits like SSI (supplemental security income) or Medicaid require strict compliance to rules and guidelines. To assist a person or family with eligibility and successful application, Bright Path assures that compliance with all of the rules and regulations are strictly followed. An important component of their services is educating clients on how to maintain eligibility once they are done with the services at Bright Path. Greenberg noted that frequently this work involves estate planning, so they collaborate with or refer to a number of trust and estate attorneys to address these kinds of eligibility challenges. They also refer clients to set up or create necessary legal documents and directives like wills, trusts, POA (power of attorney for finance and/or health care, as in a health care proxy), and to organize Medicaid eligibility. They frequently refer to Parles Rekem, LLP, who specializes in Special Education Law, and Grodberg Law Firm, which specializes in Trust and Estate Law.

Greenberg also said that numerous government agencies can be helpful, so they sometimes refer families to other sources to get additional benefits or information. For example, the CAPE Center, which operates under the Bergen County Special Services Department, can help with people aged 22 years or younger in attaining special needs educational benefits in an educational setting, like a school. Sometimes they refer a family or student back to their own local special education department within the school.

They also sometimes refer people to Paul Aronsohn who currently serves as New Jersey’s statewide ombudsman for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their families, and to The Arc of New Jersey, also a definitive source of information for intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Bright Path offers a menu of fee plans, including hourly services, case management, urgent situations like hospitalization requiring quick health care decisions, or by project. In families for which finances limit their ability to handle the fees, she emphatically stated, “We always try to help.” Often that translates to helping identify the agencies which can best provide what they need, given limited financial resources.

Greenberg shared this heartwarming story that highlights the benefits, expertise and success of Bright Path:

“Several years ago we were contacted by a woman in a distant state about her 69 year old brother who was living in a boarding home in New Jersey. He had autism, diagnosed via psychological evaluation and was receiving no Medicaid, no services and had no future plan. The sister was concerned about her older brother’s safety and future.” She hired Bright Path and over the course of about two years, the brother became Medicaid and New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities eligible. He moved out of his downtown boarding home. “He now lives in a furnished, affordable, accessible apartment in a beautiful New Jersey town, receives more than 20 hours of care/companionship each week, has rental assistance, SNAP (NJ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, energy assistance, a free cell phone and Meals on Wheels. We are still in touch and his sister still lives in a faraway state.”

Over the winter, Greenberg traveled with him to a family wedding. “His entire team helped get him shopped and hair cut and shined up and ready.” She had the honor of taking this distinguished 71 year old gentleman to a family event in another state that he would otherwise never have been able to attend had he remained in a boarding home with no communication and no help. “A great few years of work and progress, and then the best day ever!”

Bright Path Consulting is available by phone at 201-530-5770 or by visiting their website at https://brightpathconsultants.com/

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