Legislation Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney sponsored to create a statewide registry of caregivers for the developmentally disabled who have harmed someone they were supposed to protect was today signed into law by Governor Chris Christie.
The new law establishes a Central Registry of Offenders Against Individuals with Developmental Disabilities to prevent caregivers with histories of abusing the developmentally disabled from harming other individuals.
“We owe it to our most vulnerable residents to ensure they are given every protection from being unknowingly placed in the care of an abuser,” said Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “This registry will give New Jersey families of individuals with developmental disabilities peace of mind that they don’t have to worry about whether the person caring for their loved one truly has their best interests at heart.”
The registry will include caregivers against whom allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation have been substantiated. Anyone listed in the registry will be prohibited from employment in a facility or program run by the state Division of Developmental Disabilities or a licensed affiliate. Employers serving vulnerable populations will have access to the registry to determine whether potential or current employees have a history of abuse.
According to data from the Arc of New Jersey, individuals with a developmental disability have a 90 percent chance of being sexually abused at some point during his or her life – yet only three percent of those cases will ever be reported.
The law takes effect in 180 days.