By Jeff Edelstein The Trentonian
Susan Henoch said she was “shocked.”
She was sitting in a closed door meeting last week with Gov. Chris Christie, Senate President Steve Sweeney and assorted other bigwigs. She was there, along with other parents and caretakers, to discuss the disastrous Return Home New Jersey program, which I’ve written about plenty in this space. A very quick recap: About 470 severely disabled adults were placed at out-of-state facilities by the state, some as long as 50 years ago, all because the state couldn’t care for them. They went to places that could do the job. Now, in a obvious money grab, Christie and his administration decided to implement a program that would force these people back into the state and into group homes. At best, this would cause tremendous upset to the disabled individuals and their families. At worst, it would kill the disabled people. That’s not hyperbole; the families were very concerned about moving their loved ones from places with round-the-clock medical care to places where there was zero by way of doctors.Read more
BY STEPHANIE AKIN AND DUSTIN RACIOPPI The Record
More than 300 people with developmental disabilities will no longer be forced to leave out-of-state residential programs under a deal announced Monday between the Christie administration and Senate leaders.
The deal, ending the controversial Return Home New Jersey program, caps months of protests from families, rising pressure from lawmakers and a cascade of publicity that had threatened to seep into national media coverage of Governor Christie’s bid for his party’s presidential nomination.
“Families will be able to sleep a hell of a lot better,” said Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, in a Monday afternoon news conference announcing an accord reached between legislators and the Christie administration.
Sweeney and a handful of other senators, including Fair Lawn’s Bob Gordon, spent the past month working with Christie and his office to find a compromise on the issue. The program, started in 2009 under Gov. Jon Corzine, required disabled adults living in out-of-state specialized care facilities to be brought back to New Jersey whether they wanted to or not. Many have been living out of state for decades because there weren’t facilities in New Jersey that could handle their particular needs.Read more
By MICHAEL CATALINI - Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey residents with developmental disabilities living in out-of-state facilities and facing the prospect of a forced return to the state could remain where they are under a compromise unveiled Monday by lawmakers and supported by Gov. Chris Christie.
The deal, announced Monday by a bipartisan group of state senators, including Senate President Steve Sweeney, Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. and senators Bob Gordon and Christopher “Kip” Bateman, comes after behind-the-scenes talks with Christie and almost a month since the Senate came within one vote of overriding the Republican governor’s veto of legislation aimed at ending the requirement that residents in out-of-state facilities return to New Jersey.Read more
By Susan Livio NJ Advance Media
The state will not transfer people with developmental disabilities to New Jersey from outside facilities if their families oppose the move, state senators said Monday in announcing the compromise to the unpopular "Return Home New Jersey" policy reached with Gov. Chris Christie.
The state Department of Human Services has relocated about 170 people since 2009, and was slated to transfer another 370 more. The policy was developed to save money and move disabled clients closer to their families. The implementation of the policy has accelerated on Christie's watch.
Some of the residents have been out of state for decades, or in specialized care relative to their disability that they could never find in New Jersey before, and according to their families, is still not available here. Families fought back, enlisting the media and legislators to stop Return Home New Jersey, and threatening to sue.
"Today we are announcing a return to sanity, and a return to compassion," Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Bergen) said at a press conference at the Statehouse. "We're grateful the administration listened to our concerns."Read more
By Susan Livio NJ Advance Media
The Christie administration has said saving money is the central reason why it is moving ahead with the controversial Return Home New Jersey policy that involves transferring hundreds of people with disabilities from out-of-state facilities into group homes licensed by the state.
But when members of the Assembly Budget Committee Monday asked how much money New Jersey has saved so far, they did not get an answer.
"We have not budgeted any money as a savings," acting Human Services Commissioner Elizabeth Connolly told the committee, promising she would get back to them with the information.
"If there is no economic benefit, what is the purpose of the program?" asked Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic). "This is a major initiative affecting hundreds of families. It would seem you would have that available."Read more