Vitale Bill To Provide Support Services For Developmentally-Disabled Individuals Living At Home Approved In Committee

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, which would direct the State to develop support services for developmentally-disabled individuals living on their own or with a parent or guardian was unanimously approved by the Health Committee today.

“New Jersey has an obligation to provide assistance to families or individuals who are coping with developmental disabilities while treating the individuals with dignity and respect,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “This measure allows for a Statewide effort to expand self-directed support services for developmentally-disabled New Jerseyans who are living outside of the community residential setting. Living at home shouldn’t preclude an individual from receiving the services they’re entitled to that would maximize their developmental potential.”

The bill, S-1650, would direct the Commissioner of Human Services to provide rights and services under the “Developmentally Disabled Rights Act” to all persons receiving self-directed support at the home of a parent or guardian, or living on their own. Specifically, the bill would direct the Commissioner to ensure that a written habilitation plan is developed for individuals receiving self-directed support services. The bill would also require the Commissioner to ensure that the requirement, under the “Developmentally Disabled Rights Act,” that all developmentally disabled individuals receive the services they need to maximize their developmental potential, be fulfilled for persons receiving support services at home.

“Ideally, developmentally-disabled individuals would be able to receive the support and care they need to grow while surrounded by family and friends,” said Senator Vitale. “Through this legislation, we’re making sure that these individuals have access to the support programs they need while maintaining their strong family bonds at home.”

The bill would also require the Commissioner to guarantee that all self-directed support services administered by the State are provided Statewide, and would clarify the rights of individuals when being transferred from receiving self-directed home services into a community residential facility or State developmental center. The bill would also specify that all rights recognized under current law which prohibits discrimination or deprivation of rights, would apply to individuals receiving self-directed support services.

“Individuals with developmental disabilities deserve to be treated with the utmost dignity, and their rights aren’t forfeit when they accept help from programs designed to cater to their needs,” said Senator Vitale. “New Jersey needs to balance supporting the developmental needs of people with protecting their rights as defined under our existing laws. This bill would create such a balance, and protect the developmentally-disabled from discrimination and abuse while they get the help to which they’re entitled.”

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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