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Frequently Asked Questions

The Organization

Q. What is the Matheny Medical and Educational Center?
A. The Matheny Medical and Educational Center serves children and adults with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, Lesch-Nyhan disease and other developmental disabilities. Its mission is to provide people with habilitative services and to assist them in attaining their optimal level of functioning for integration into the community. In addition, the organization engages in professional activities including, but not limited to, research, development and dissemination of information.

Q. When was the Matheny Medical and Educational Center founded?
A. It was founded in 1946 by Walter and Marguerite Matheny in order to provide an education for their son, Chuck, who was born with cerebral palsy.

Q. Has the Matheny Medical and Educational Center always been located in New Jersey?
A. Yes. When the Mathenys started the school, it was located in an old boarding house in Burnt Mills. It moved to nearby Far Hills several years later, and finally to its present location in Peapack in 1954.

Q. What services does the Matheny Medical and Educational Center offer?
A. It offers a wide range of services for people of all ages with developmental disabilities including primary care, medical, nursing, allied health, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, music therapy, recreation therapy, rehabilitation engineering, dietary programs, personal care, a transition program for adults, as well as social and psychological services. Matheny also offers respite care. Medical care includes pediatrics, orthopedics, audiology, optometry, urology, nephrology, neurology and dentistry, among others. All services are available on a residential and outpatient basis.  There are also community based programs and community residences for adults.

Q. Is Matheny licensed?
A. Yes. The Matheny Medical and Educational Center holds licenses in the following areas: adult medical daycare, intermediate care facility, private school, and special hospital.  The community residences are also licensed.

The Students

Q. How many students/patients attend the Matheny Medical and Educational Center?
A. The Matheny Medical and Educational Center serves approximately 102 resident students/patients and 17 day students.  There are 36 adult medical day care participants, and approximately 30 adults are living in community residences.

Q. How old are the students?
A. They range in age from youngsters of three years through adulthood.

Q. Does the Matheny Medical and Educational Center accept students from all over the United States?
A. Yes, but of course a great majority are from New Jersey and the surrounding metropolitan area.

Q. What's the difference between students who attend the Matheny Medical and Educational Center and those who attend special education classes in their own public schools?
A. Matheny's students have moderate to severe physical disabilities, and many of them cannot communicate verbally. The severity of their disabilities combined with their speech problems means that they need extensive specialized programs which often are not available in public schools.

Q. Who pays for the students to attend the Matheny Medical and Educational Center?
A. Each child's local school district is responsible for tuition. Medicaid and/or a family's private insurance pays for residential services and adult medical day care.

Q. How many students are in each class?
A. Each class has an average of eight students.

Q. What are the students taught?
A. An Individual Education Plan (IEP) for children, and an Individual Habilitation Plan (IHP) for adults, is developed with goals in the following areas: academics, activities of daily living/domestic, health and safety, leisure/recreation, community and vocational. Various therapies are integrated into the program. All goals are functional, age appropriate, and taught both in and out of the classroom.

Q. Who teaches the students?
A. Students under the age of 21 are taught by licensed Special Education Teachers, and each teacher has a teaching assistant. In addition, state-licensed therapists work in the classrooms as part of the curriculum.  In the adult programs, all instructors hold 4-year degrees in a related field.

The Hospital

Q. What is a special hospital?
A. It is a facility which provides habilitation and round-the clock care to persons with special needs.

Q. Is the hospital a separate facility from the school?
A. No. They are housed in the same building, and their functions are integrated. For example, the various therapies differentiate between school and hospital roles. They are offered as "related services" in the school, and as "hospital services" elsewhere. The distinction often depends on how each student is funded.

Q. Does the hospital ever serve non-residents?
A. The Matheny Medical and Educational Center serves people of all ages from the community through the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry, the ultimate in medical and therapy outpatient services. The program includes respite care, and adult medical day care.

Q. How is the Matheny Medical and Educational Center funded?
A. The Matheny Medical and Educational Center is a nonprofit organization. It receives state, federal, and local funding as well as grants and private donations.

Q. Are there criteria for admission to the Matheny Medical and Educational Center?
A. Yes. The Matheny Medical and Educational Center has specific criteria for each of its programs.

Q. When are residents discharged from the Matheny Medical and Educational Center?                                                                                                               A.  Discharge planning begins on the day of admission.  Each residential and day student's program is reviewed annually, insuring that their program is addressing their needs and that placement at Matheny School and Hospital continues to be appropriate.

Q. Once the students have graduated from school and/or are over 21, what do they do?
A. There are several options. Students who enter the adult program develop pre-vocational skills and explore vocational opportunities. In addition, they continue to develop residential and leisure skills, expanding their ability to integrate into the community. Some students also take college courses or do volunteer work.

Q. Are there any other programs available to the students?
A. Yes. The Arts Access program gives students the opportunity to express their creativity and individuality. Among the modules of study: performing arts, including wheelchair dance; contemporary art; creative writing and journalism. The works are published or displayed and many have received prestigious awards in art competitions.

Q. Does the Matheny Medical and Educational Center have volunteers?
A. Yes. Members of the community are encouraged to become a part of the Matheny Medical and Educational Center.  Volunteer opportunities are available days, evenings and weekends. Individuals are needed to assist in recreation activities, as classroom aides, and as friendly visitors to students. Individuals may also volunteer in assignments that do not involve direct student contact.  Groups of volunteers are also welcome.