Westchester County is offering tracking bracelets for children with autism and other developmental disabilities whose parents are looking for an extra layer of security.

The Project Lifesaver service began in January 2009 and is geared to children and adults with autism who are living with their families and who have a history or are at risk of wandering from their caregivers. The program is being run by the county Department of Community Mental Health and the Department of Public Safety, in partnership with Westchester Jewish Community Services. Families with an autistic child (or another developmental disability) can purchase electronic monitoring bracelets for their child so they can be located quickly and easily by the county police through the tracking device located in the bracelet.

Referring to Project Lifesaver, Alan Trager, executive director of WJCS, said, “ We are delighted to partner with the county in providing an important resource and peace of mind for families of Westchester."

In addition to the electronic monitoring, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety has included autism awareness training for law enforcement recruits in its curriculum at the Police Training Academy. This portion of the training is conducted by a police officer who is also a parent of a young man with autism.

Families interested should call WJCS at (914) 761-0600, ext. 228, prior to registration to determine if they meet the eligibility criteria. The child who will be wearing the bracelet must accompany caregivers to the registration so the child’s photograph can be taken in the event he or she does get lost. Also, the bracelet will be put on by WJCS staff.

You maydownload the application to complete it at home.

The program requires monthly battery changes by WJCS staff and daily checks of the battery by the parents. The total cost for the first year is $300 per child. That includes bracelets and all batteries. After that, the cost is approximately $85 a year.

Developmental disabilities are a diverse group of conditions that are life-long and are often a result of neurological and/or physical impairments. People with developmental disabilities have a variety of strengths as well as challenges and often need some assistance in learning, developing language, mobility, social, independent living and/or functional adaptive skills. People can be diagnosed with a developmental disability anytime during childhood up to 22 years of age.

These conditions include:

Whether families are first learning of their child’s developmental disability or they are working to establish a meaningful life for their adult children, families of children with developmental disabilities are faced with many challenges throughout their lifespan. Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health is in the forefront of assisting individuals with the developmental disabilities and their families in accessing the services available to them.

In addition to being a Medicaid Service Coordination provider, Westchester County is the only county in the New York State that provides a seamless transition from school to adult services through transition planning services. Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health also serves as the single point of entry (SPOE) for those adults with developmental disabilities seeking residential opportunities. The department has also established such unique forums as the Autism Advisory Committee and Autism Web site to assist the citizens of Westchester County with developmental disabilities and their families in having access to information about Westchester based resources. For both children and adults, supports and services are available which can help the individual with developmental disabilities and their families successfully manage the issues their child might face and navigate the service system.  Our Web site will assist you in:

  • Registering with Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health
  • Finding supports and services for your young or adult child with a developmental disability living at home
  • Pursuing residential placement for your adult developmentally disabled family member
  • Navigating the transition period between school and adult services
  • Accessing Medicaid Service Coordination from DCMH 

Residential Services
The Department of Community Mental Health serves as the Single Point of Entry for referrals for residential opportunities. The residential opportunities are settings licensed by OPWDD that provide housing and other related services. To inquire about residential services please call (914) 995-5276.

Transition Services
The Department of Community Mental Health works closely with Westchester school districts and day service providers to ensure the availability of appropriate adult services for students who are graduating. Our office will assist families in planning for adult day services for their child during the transition period of high school as well as provide education, training and referral regarding advocacy, accessing services, navigating through the process, and person-centered planning. For information regarding transitional services, call (914) 995-5253.

Medicaid Service Coordination (MSC)
Funded primarily through Medicaid, MSC is available for adults and children with developmental disabilities. For more information regarding Service Coordination please call (914) 995-5944.

Family Support
Family Support offers home and community-based services to assist parents, siblings, and other relatives to continue caring for a family member with a developmental disability living at home. For more information regarding family support services, call (914) 995-5244 or call the Hudson Valley Developmental Disabilities Services Office directly at (914) 332-8958.

Project Life Saver
A new initiative allows families to purchase wristband transmitters to locate wandering or lost children and adults with autism spectrum disorders or other developmental disabilities. The individual must have a diagnosis of autism or other developmental disorder, have a history of wandering and live in the community with a primary caregiver. For information about Project LifeSaver please call Westchester Jewish Community Services at (914) 761-0600 or Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health at (914) 995-5944.

For additional information on Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health Developmental Disabilities Services please call (914) 995-5225.


Many families experience stress when their child is diagnosed with a developmental disability. Parents often consider family support a vital part of their family’s adjustment to learning their child has a developmental disability. Parents often state that the support form other parents is the most meaningful and in fact, studies show that parents with more support from other parents, family, friends and community organizations have less stress.

Family Support Services (FSS) programs have been funded through the New York State Office For People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and the local decisions of the Westchester Family Supports Services Consumer Council. They provide support to families and ease the difficulties and demands involved in caring for an individual with developmental disabilities and include:

  • Parent training
  • Reimbursement
  • Respite services
  • Crisis intervention
  • In-home care
  • Recreation
  • Social supports
  • Substance abuse services

There are additional types of family support organizations that are available:

  • National organizations with local chapters
  • Parent-run organizations
  • Local organizations such as schools
  • Special interest support groups
  • Online support groups

For more information regarding family support services, call (914) 995-5276.

Service Coordination, funded primarily through Medicaid, is available for adults and children with developmental disabilities.

Service coordinators are professionals who help consumers and their families determine which services would best meet the recipient’s and family’s need and to access these services. Service coordination is provided by the Department of Community Mental Health as well as a number of not-for-profit providers.

For information regarding service coordination please call (914) 995-5944.