Services through the State of New Jersey

Individualized Education Programs and 504 Plans help get your child what they need to thrive at school, but what about at home? Caring for a child with behavioral, mental health and emotional challenges, or intellectual and developmental disabilities, can be overwhelming. The Children’s System of Care (part of New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families) can help eligible families access the right services and support for their child. At our community meeting on January 13, 2022, SEPAC SOMA was pleased to welcome representatives from several state and county agencies that support New Jersey children and families to share more about the types of services that are available and how to access them through PerformCare.

PerformCare Fact Sheet

PerformCare is the contracted system administrator for New Jersey Children’s System of Care. It’s an umbrella over various agencies that help families with the following:

  • Behavioral Health
  • Intellectual/Developmental Disability Services
  • Substance Use Treatment

Once you call PerformCare, you will have access to services via the following New Jersey Children’s System of Care agencies (more on these agencies below): 

  1. Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS)
  2. Partnership for Children of Essex (PCE) 
  3. Family Support Organization (FSO) 

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS (written by SEPAC, based on the meeting)

What kind of services? It’s like an IEP (Individualized Education Plan); it depends on your child. Your Care Manager will determine what services you are eligible for. Examples of services available include after-school programming, tutoring, mentoring, or any service that is going to help the child be successful. The IICs (Intensive In-Home Clinicians) specialize in a variety of areas, including ABA, OCD and the use of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Many therapists will also provide parent training and executive functioning assistance. Additionally, families can access support groups through the Family Support Organization and even set up a meeting with a special education expert to discuss their individual IEP. 

What about Speech, OT or PT? In most cases, these services can be accessed through your child’s IEP. However, in some cases, these services can be provided at home as well, depending on the level of need. 

Where do these services take place? In your home! These services are designed to meet your child where they are, and that means no office visits. You work out a meeting location with your individual service provider, whether it’s at your dining room table or in a backyard. In some cases, the service provider will also meet you at a local park to observe social situations. If you would prefer virtual meetings, that is available as well. 

What other services are offered? For families who submit the DD (Developmental Disabilities) application, there are additional services available, such as ABA Therapy, respite care (someone trained who can watch your child so you can go shopping or take a mental health break), and summer camp. 

How much does it cost? The services are NOT income-based and there is no cost to families. You will need to apply for a Medicaid Waiver to cover the services, which means providing personal details like your Social Security Number, however the Care Manager will walk you through that. You may also be asked to provide your private health insurance information. However, most in-home services are covered in full. 

How long can I access services? Again, it depends on the child. The Mobile Response services do tap out at 2 months (8 weeks), but services through the Partnership for Children of Essex can continue until your child is 21. 

Are these services for everyone? Yes and No. These services are for children and families who are in crisis. But as Nicole Alvarez, Program Coordinator for the Children’s Mobile Response Stabilization Services (CMRSS) of Esse County told SEPAC, the definition of “crisis” can be different for different families. It could be a situation currently unfolding, such as a child having a violent behavioral outburst, eloping, having substance abuse problems or suicidal thoughts. But it could also be repeated school refusal, frequent meltdowns that disrupt the family home, a child with severe anxiety that impacts their day-to-day living or causes them to self-harm, or a child suffering from chronic depression. Life threatening emergencies should always be directed to 911; for other crises, call Mobile Response via PerformCare at 1-877-652-7624.

How can I find out more information? If you want to discuss your case and get tips before calling PerformCare, you can call the Partnership for Children in Essex. They can provide information to you, but they can’t start services or start your application. Erica Rowe from PCE spoke at our SEPAC meeting; her number is 201-407-1586.

What kinds of tips? One tip shared during the SEPAC meeting from PCE Community Resource Liaison Erika Rowe is to describe your child on their worst day. Many parents discount their experiences and gloss over outbursts. Don’t sugarcoat the problem. 

How do I apply for services? You must contact PerformCare FIRST to access any services through the New Jersey Children’s System of Care: 1-877-652-7624.

  1. Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS) 

Mobile Response is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help children and youth who are experiencing emotional or behavioral crises. The services are designed to defuse an immediate crisis, keep children and their families safe, and maintain the children in their own homes or current living situation.

If you call PerformCare in the midst of a crisis, then MRSS will send someone to your home immediately (10-15 minutes) or within an hour to help de-escalate a situation. They don’t show up in an ambulance or in swat gear. This is just a person who is trained to help in a behavioral crisis. If you don’t need them to respond immediately, you can follow-up through an in-person or virtual appointment at a later time, but no more than a few days after your initial call. These services are only available for 2 months (8 weeks) to stabilize. If it is determined that you need long-term services, then you would be transferred to the Care Management Organization (CMO) where you would be assigned a Care Manager.

  1. Partnership for Children of Essex (PCE) 

Partnership for Children of Essex (PCE) is the Care Management Organization (CMO) for Essex County. Every county has a CMO. Your first meeting is a lengthy one in which they take all of your information and develop a plan of care. They will also have you fill out a Medicaid application for services and discuss with you whether or not to submit a DD (Developmental Disabilities) application. You can still get services without being DD-eligible, but the DD eligibility opens up additional services. These services are for children between the ages of 3-21 with behavioral, emotional, developmental/intellectual and/or substance use needs & their families.

  1. Family Support Organization (FSO) 

Many families who are referred to the Partnership for ChIldren of Essex (PCE) will also be matched up with a mentor via the Family Support Organization. The FSO of Essex County is a family-centered, family-driven nonprofit organization that provides peer support, education and advocacy for parents of children who have emotional, behavioral, mental health, substance use, intellectual and developmental challenges. There are virtual events and support groups available to parents via the FSO that aren’t connected to any application. Meaning, you don’t have to go through Performcare to access FSO meetings. Visit their website and check it out! 


Erika Rowe | Community Resource Liaison, Partnership for Children of Essex (PCE) | | 201-407-1586

Nicole Alvarez, LCSW | Program Coordinator, Children’s Mobile Response Stabilization Services (CMRSS) | | 973-972-7467

Laura Mattia | Essex County CIACC (Children’s Interagency Coordinating Council) Coordinator | | 973-571-2822

Tourae Freeman | County Service Specialist, Division of Child Protection and Permanency, Essex County | | 973-670-2145