TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Joseph F. Vitale which would begin to move certain residents in New Jersey’s developmental centers to live in community-based settings was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 38-0.
“Moving out on your own is probably the single biggest leap from childhood to adulthood,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “For hundreds of developmentally disabled residents in our State’s institutional settings, they’re ready to take the leap, and their individual treatment plan can accommodate the increased independence that community living can provide. We should do what we can, within the State’s power, to transition them to community-based living arrangements, and allow them the freedom to continue on life’s journey.”
The bill, S-1090, would require the Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities to establish a plan to move residents with less severe disabilities from the State’s developmental centers and into community living. The plan would incrementally shift residents over within an eight-year implementation period, and would be available to residents who express a desire to live in the community setting and for whom community-based living would be beneficial to their treatment. Under the bill, the public would be able to provide input into the State’s plan via public hearings held in the different regions of the State.
“The institutional setting works wonders for some New Jerseyans living with developmental disabilities,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “But we need to recognize that the disability and severity vary on an individual basis, and some residents are ready for increased independence. By encouraging those residents to try community-based living, we can devote resources to the population that needs us most, while giving others living with developmental disability the space to begin shaping their own lives and destinies.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.