Committee Approves Downey Measures to Protect Those with Developmental Disabilities

(TRENTON) – Abuse, neglect, and exploitation of individuals with developmental disabilities was a major concern for parents who attended the Assembly Human Services Committee hearing on October 22, 2020.  After hearing the details of neglect and abuse in some congregate care facilities, Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) introduced measures approved Monday in the Assembly Human Services Committee to make it easier for legal guardians and family members of people in these facilities to receive detailed information related to investigations.

“One of the main complaints by family members of people with disabilities living in group homes is the lack of transparency.  Many parents shared disturbing stories of the abuse their children endured and how they were denied access to the investigation reports.  Parents and legal guardians deserve to be fully informed regarding the treatment of their children and loved ones.”

One bill (A-5247) would ensure that family members and legal guardians of individuals with developmental disabilities have complete access to investigation reports of alleged incidents involving abuse, neglect, and exploitation.  The Office of Investigations is to provide a written summary of any allegation to the legal guardians or approved family members within ten days of the reported incident.

Assemblywoman Downey also sponsors legislation that would establish the Advisory Committee on Family Services and Communications in the Division of Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Human Services.  The measure (A-5248) would establish a nine-person Advisory Committee that would identify any inefficiencies or problems the family members or legal guardians may face, and would serve as the main point of contact in helping families navigate the care system.

“Families with children who have special needs can become overwhelmed with the many difficulties they face within the service system,” Downey said.  “The Advisory Committee will serve as support that families can rely on to navigate the care system and make the process less stressful.”