Bringing the Marketplace to Our Most Vulnerable Populations: Caregivers and Those with Disabilities

This post was written by Laura Kay Hurley, Project Director at the Family Resource Network Navigator Program. 

Those with disabilities and their caregivers are likely to have higher rates of under insurance than the general population.  This is due to a variety of reasons including: higher rates of unemployment, lower rates of exposure to community, greater difficulties accessing and navigating systems that offer benefits. 

Strategy: FRN will help all those seeking benefits in the community with a concentrated focus on assisting those with disabilities and their caregivers. 

Where and When it was Used: 

FRN’s outreach has been to primarily focus on places that people with disabilities and their caregivers are frequent visitors of.  This has included: Caregiver Coalitions, Family Support Organizations, Family Success Centers, established community events and conferences like:  the Arc Medical Conference, the  Annual NAMI Conference, the upcoming Annual Developmental Disability Awareness Day, and Regional Family Support Planning Council Events. 

FRN staff is accustomed to working with caregivers and know how to access additional benefits and services for this population. Many FRN staff already assist this population with navigating entitlement benefits with the Social Security Administration, others are working with Super Storm Sandy Survivors to complete complex federal aid forms, and others help scores of caregivers monthly as they access NJ service delivery systems.  All FRN staff work in the community, educating people and helping to access all the programs for which they are eligible.  FRN has existing staff that completed the Navigator Training and utilize the training in their everyday roles.

Best Practices to Replicate:

  • We encourage all Navigator agencies to become involved in a Caregiver Coalition if there is one in the counties they are serving.
  • All counties are assigned a Regional Family Support Planning Council and most of these councils have yearly provider events.  Here is the link to the RFSPC: https://njcdd.org/projects/family-support/planning-councils
  • Remember that many times caregivers are overwhelmed and balancing a lot.  When you have an appointment, make sure you provide them with all the information they will need post-appointment.  FRN utilizes a template that was provided by Enroll America.  Remind the caregiver to keep this information in a safe spot because you do not keep any of their private information.  

The Family Resource Network Health Insurance Navigator Program provides trained navigators to assist individuals in obtaining health insurance in the following counties: Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer and Middlesex Counties.  FRN’s trained navigators can help you understand your healthcare options and assist in completing the application.