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Codey Bill Would Facilitate Respite Care For Children

Senator Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, Morris, speaks at a news conference at the Statehouse regarding the passage of S-1, legislation that would establish marriage equality in New Jersey. The bill is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union and Senate President Stephen P. Sweeney, D-Salem, Cumberland, Gloucester. The bill passed the full Senate of 24-16. It now heads to the Assembly for further consideration. Also pictured is Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.

Legislation sponsored by Senator Richard J. Codey that would facilitate pediatric care facilities for children with terminal or complex illnesses was approved by a Senate committee on Thursday. The bill, S-2606, gained passage by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and was sent to the full Senate for consideration.

“New Jersey needs more facilities equipped to care for children with terminal illnesses and to provide their families with the support services they need during difficult times,” said Senator Codey. “Respite care can make a dramatic difference in the quality of life of the children and their family members.”

The bill would allow for the licensure of pediatric respite care facilities in the state.

“Providing the high level of care required to meet their needs can be demanding,” said Senator Codey. “Parents and other family members can become overwhelmed in these circumstances. They often are in need of support and guidance, which can be provided by these facilities.”

Pediatric respite care centers provide short breaks for both children with complex health care needs and their parents. Typically, a child will stay at a pediatric respite care facility for between two days and two weeks, depending on family need. The facilities are staffed by medical professionals but they are not intended to substitute for hospitalization or placement in a long-term care facility.

This bill would grant the Department of Health the authority to tailor a license and regulations to the specific services provided by pediatric respite care facilities. The legislation defines “pediatric respite care facility” to mean a facility licensed by the department to provide home-like care in a facility for two weeks or less of respite care for children up to age 21 with limited life expectancies or complex, life-limiting illnesses as well as support for their families.

The bill authorizes the Commissioner of Health to establish by regulation the standards for operation of these facilities and the requirements of applicants seeking licensure to operate them. The requirements are to include, but are not limited to, criminal history record background checks of each staff member and facility administrator, reasonable fees for the issuance or renewal of licenses, and standards and policies regarding the core services to be provided, professional personnel requirements, standards of patient care, and administration of the facility.