Van Drew – ‘Closing Developmental Centers Would Be Devastating To South Jersey Economy’

Senator Says Assembly Budget Chair’s Suggestion Would Lead to Increase in Unemployment, Deepen Recession in New Jersey

TRENTON – Senator Jeff Van Drew, D-Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic, issued the following statement today after Assembly Budget Committee Chairman, Louis Greenwald, suggested that the State ought to look at closing all but 2 of the institutions for people with developmental disabilities in New Jersey:

“While I appreciate Assemblyman Greenwald’s previous and ongoing passionate advocacy on behalf of New Jerseyans with developmental disabilities, the plan to phase out five of the seven active institutions serving people with developmental disabilities is wrong on so many levels.

“The Woodbine Developmental Center is one of the top 3 employers in Cape May County. The Vineland Developmental Center is among the top employers in Cumberland County. I am very concerned that, should these facilities be phased out, unemployment numbers in South Jersey would spike, and the effects of the national recession would deepen as the State is forced to provide more safety net resources to out-of-work care providers.

“Assemblyman Greenwald has stated that the resources expended on institutions for the developmentally disabled would be better spent on community housing. However, New Jersey has a massive backlog of people living in institutions or with their families, who have not been able to secure community housing. Flooding the backlogs will only make things worse, particularly when the State faces a shortage of skilled providers of community-based care.

“And finally, Assemblyman Greenwald’s plan fails to recognize that there are many patients in institutional settings who benefit from those settings. Drastically cutting the level of support New Jersey provides to developmentally-disabled residents and their families, through the State’s developmental institutions would be doing a disservice to those who make more progress in institutional care.

“I strongly believe the State needs to do more to place individuals in community-based settings if it makes sense. However, this should not be done at the cost of our well-regarded and highly successful developmental centers. Before New Jersey begins dismantling the developmental center model, we need to make sure that we’re adequately addressing the needs of the developmentally-disabled population, and can afford the sort of wholesale change that Assemblyman Greenwald has outlined. In this economy, we simply can’t.”