Assembly Democrat Legislation Concerning State Developmental Centers Clears Committee

Assembly Democrat sponsored legislation focusing on ensuring individuals with developmental disabilities have access to care in the most appropriate setting.

Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Connie Wagner are primary sponsors of both measures.

“I have been to all seven of our state’s centers and I have met with the residents and their families. The centers are not the institutions of the past. They care for our most profoundly developmentally disabled citizens,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “For those who do transition to a community setting, we must make sure that the move is right for them and that it implemented as smoothly as possible.”

“The care provided by these centers support many individuals and families in the state and must continue to do so,” said Wagner (D-Bergen, Passaic). “The individuals who are able to and wish to move out of the centers must be monitored throughout the transition process to make sure there are no negative changes in care.”

One measure (A-3782) would require follow-up studies of former residents of State developmental centers to assess their well-being. Specifically, the studies would make assessments of all former residents of North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center who have made a transition into the community after August 1, 2012. This bill is also sponsored by Assemblyman Timothy Eustace.

“In most cases, NJ state developmental centers are providing outstanding service and support in our communities,” Eustace. “We want our health centers to continue providing the best care to the people they serve.”

The second measure would require the Commissioner of Human Services to ensure that at least one State developmental center is retained in each of the western, northern, central and southern regions of the State. The bill would further require that in the case of a transfer of a resident from one developmental center to another, the commissioner is to equally consider: the resident’s medical needs; the resident’s social needs; and the distance between the resident’s family or guardian, and the proposed developmental center. This bill is also sponsored by Shavonda E. Sumter, Connie Wagner, Patrick Diegnan, Jr., Craig J. Coughlin and Reed Gusciora.

“State developmental centers must be accessible in all regions,” Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic). “The center provides a valuable service to our communities. One less center in the state could put the quality of this service at risk.”

“Having at least one center based in every region is important,” Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Families with loved ones participating in the programs should be reasonably close to the center. Access to family and their community is an integral part of the residential program.”

“The state developmental centers play a vital role in the health and development of individuals who participate in the program,” Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Access is key for families with friends and family in these programs.”

“At least one state center located in every region is essential to better serving the greater NJ community,” Gusciora (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “The New Jersey families served by the state developmental centers deserve quality, accessible care. This bill would help to ensure that.”

Both measures were approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee. It now goes to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.