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Real Life Choices Program

Through the Real Life Choices program, individuals with developmental disabilities, and their families, can through care service providers like Easter Seals New Jersey -- access personalized and self-directed services that are funded out of the New Jersey State Department of Human Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD).

New Jersey’s DDD developed its Real Life Choices program in 2002 out of the desire to give a person and their family members a strong voice and the power to make their own choices, to offer flexibility to meet unique needs, and to enable accommodation to individual lifestyles through this family centered, individualized system by which they gain the supports needed by making empowered choices about required services.

DDD incorporates into Real Life Choices an Essential Lifestyle Plan (ELP), which begins with identifying how a person wants to live, and balances that with any health and safety issues. The Easter Seals’ Real Life Choices program supports participants who work with support coordinators from other agencies to create a Plan of Care. A Plan of Care is then developed which makes the individual and their mental, physical and spiritual strengths, etc. the focus instead of the service or program itself.

The vision of Real Life Choices shifts the power from the professionals to the individual and family members, and recognizes that the individual should be able to direct the delivery of their own services. A support coordinator works one-on-one with individuals and their families to develop and implement a Plan of Care.

These support coordinators then become the primary contact with these individuals and families, and are part of a team that is ultimately responsible for assisting families in the development and implementation of the Plan of Care.


Current priority is granted to those with developmental disabilities on the priority waiting list, while second priority is given to those transitioning from special education.

Counties: All of New Jersey’s 21 Counties

Funding: New Jersey State Department of Human Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) and Fee for Service.

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