TOMS RIVER, N.J.Feb. 28, 2023PRLog — In addition to providing care management services, Ocean Partnership for Children (OPC) has expanded to provide needed resources for youth and families in Ocean County. The agency recently received three important grants, two from the Ocean County Department of Human Services, Office for Individuals with Disabilities, and one from McKinney Vento funding through the Monmouth Ocean Educational Services Commission.

With an estimated combined total of $180,000 in grant funding, Mary Jo Buchanan, LCSW, MPA, Executive Director of OPC, said the organization is elated to have the opportunity to provide additional and continued support. “We are looking forward to working with individuals, families, the schools, and all of our provider agencies as we serve the youth of Ocean County in the best way possible and link them to the services needed,” Buchanan said.

This first program successfully funded through Ocean County helps families apply for Developmental Disabilities (DD) services through the Children’s System of Care and for Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) services in the adult system of care. Without the assistance of OPC’s Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Specialist, Corie Hometchko, MA, many families would struggle to complete the complicated applications, causing delays or resulting in not receiving critical services.

“It is our goal to make sure that the families feel supported and get what they need,” stated Ms. Hometchko. “I take the time to guide them through this very complicated application process and am committed to see them through until their applications are approved.”

The second grant, funded by Ocean County, supports OPC’s Connections Program, an on-going, one-of-a-kind program that helps youth with intellectual or developmental disabilities such as autism, selective mutism, or physical challenges. The Connections Program works to reduce social isolation and stigmatization for those diagnosed with intellectual and developmental disabilities through activities, mindfulness, focus on health, and of course, connecting them to each other.

From one of the Connections youth throwing out the first pitch at a Blue Claws game to participants creating art and holding an exhibition with the help of the Toms River Artist Community, Connections members blossom from start to finish. Liz Menges, LPC, Assistant Director of Clinical Operations, shared several success stories. “We had one youth, who when he initially started was all over the room and needed 1:1 attention. After 8 sessions, he was able to sit and engage with peers and facilitators with his full participation and focus, no longer requiring a 1:1,” Menges said. “One of our youth graduated from the program and is now one of our volunteer facilitators!”

The third grant OPC received directly supports the School Homeless Services Navigator Program. This new program is funded by McKinney Vento Funds through the American Rescue Plan. The School Homeless Services Navigator Program helps any youth facing housing issues or homelessness in Ocean County. Within each school in the County, there is a School Homeless Liaison that works with the Service Navigator to identify and refer students in need. With close to 20 referrals in 2023 so far, Alyssa Brantley, OPC’s Navigator, has already started to work with the schools. “The need for this program is evidenced by the numbers of youth and families coming to me with housing struggles,” Brantley said.

With the funding received, OPC continues to develop innovative services and programs needed in Ocean County. “We are grateful to all of the funders for their incredible support,” Buchanan said.

About Ocean Partnership for Children Inc.
Founded in 2005, Ocean Partnership for Children (OPC) is Ocean County’s Care Management Organization (CMO). Its mission is to enhance the well-being of youth and their families through natural and community supports. OPC provides care coordination services for Ocean County youth up the age of 21 years who have mental health, substance use, intellectual and developmental challenges. OPC strives to keep children and adolescents at home, in school, and in the community by connecting them to resources that meet their unique needs and help them achieve their goals.
Ocean Partnership for Children is a non-profit organization available at no cost to all youth and families in Ocean County who meet the eligibility criteria of the New Jersey Children’s System of care. To learn more, visit or