(TRENTON) - An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Tim Eustace, Patrick Diegnan and Thomas Giblin sponsored to ensure individuals with developmental disabilities access to the best care in the most appropriate environment.
"I have been to all seven of our state's centers and I have met with the residents and their families," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "In most cases, NJ state developmental centers are providing outstanding service and support in caring for our most profoundly developmentally disabled citizens. The best way to ensure our health centers continue to provide the best care is by speaking to former residents and evaluating their exit or transition process back into the community."
The bill (A-1098) would require follow-up studies of former residents of State developmental centers to assess their well-being. Specifically, the studies would make assessments of all former residents of North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center who have made a transition into the community after August 1, 2012.
"The care provided by these centers support many individuals and families in the state and must continue to do so," said Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic). "The individuals who are able to and wish to move out of the centers must be monitored throughout the transition process to make sure there are no negative changes in care. The study will help us to understand what is going right and what changes need to be made in order to ensure quality care for the residents in these communities."
"In most cases, NJ state developmental centers are providing outstanding service and support in our communities," Diegnan (D-Middlesex). "We want our health centers to continue providing the best care to the people they serve. Implementing a study of New Jersey's developmental centers is a step in the right direction."
"Our development health centers provide vital services and support to many New Jersey families," said Giblin (D-Essex, Passaic). "Ensuring these services are actually helping the individuals who use them is important to planning the future of these centers. It will tell us how we are doing well and what needs to be improved upon."
Under the bill's provisions, the studies are to include all former residents of other State developmental centers, who have made a transition into the community after the effective date of the bill as a result of implementation by the Department of Human Services (DHS) of its "Path to Progress" plan. The plan was developed to ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities who have expressed a desire to live in the community and whose individual habilitation plan so recommends, can do so.
The bill also requires the studies to include assessments of former residents of other State developmental centers, who have made a transition into the community after the effective date as a result of the implementation of a plan to close a developmental center. The studies are to evaluate former residents based on data collected after residents have been in the community for at least six months.
The results would be compiled in a report and submitted one year after the effective date, which is to be made available on the DHS website and submitted to the Governor and the Legislature.
The bill was released by the Assembly Human Services Committee.