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 Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today by a vote of 6-0.
“Moving out on one’s own is a benchmark in every young adult’s life, and we want to give our developmentally disabled population the same independence and freedom,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “For those residents whose disabilities aren’t so severe that they need the institutionalized setting of our State’s developmental centers, we can transition them into group homes, and give them the space to grow on their own. We can allow them to live their lives while still giving them access to the State’s resources to care for developmentally disabled individuals.”
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.
“Community housing could help many of our State’s developmentally disabled continue their progress to leading independent lives,” said Senator Vitale. “At the same time, we’re not eroding the safety net of treatment for those in need, and we’re providing more intensive treatment to those residents still living in our developmental centers. This is a positive step which will help developmentally disabled citizens stand on their own, and make their own place in the world.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.