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Rice-Vitale Bill To Set Up Community-Based Living For Developmentally Disabled Receives Final Leg. Approval

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 unanimously approved by the Assembly today, receiving final legislative approval.

“Through this legislation, we can give adults living with disability a little freedom and independence while still giving them the treatment and attention they need,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “Moving out on one’s own is a turning point for many from adolescence to adulthood, and we’re extending that same opportunity to New Jersey’s developmentally disabled community. If their individual treatment plan allows it, developmentally disabled citizens should be allowed to find their own place in the community.”

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.

“In some cases, extending a little independence to developmentally-disabled New Jerseyans can further their treatment, giving them self-confidence in their own abilities,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “At the same time, we’re reserving the more structured institutional environments for those who can really benefit from that kind of disciplined regimen. With this bill, we’re giving some the space to grow, while expanding the treatment resources for those who need it most.”

The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

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