Bill Establishes Voluntary Certification Program for Recovery Residences
(TRENTON) – To ensure sober living homes for those struggling with substance abuse in New Jersey meet certain standards, legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo, John Armato and Nicholas Chiaravalloti was approved Monday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-3607) requires the state Department of Health (DOH) to approve a credentialing entity to develop and administer a voluntary certification program for recovery residences and their administrators in the state.
“In our district, we have a growing number of sober living homes that have been looking for the state to offer a certification program,” said Armato (D-Atlantic). “Sober living homes are vital to a large number of people in recovery and they must be regulated as such; not as boarding houses, which many of these types of homes are currently experiencing.”
“Recovery residences,” as outlined in the bill, provide home-like atmospheres available in a professionally-managed or peer-managed facility. Such homes offer drug and alcohol-free living accommodations for individuals with substance abuse disorders and co-occurring mental health issues. Sober living homes do not provide clinical treatment services.
The bill would require DOH to use a portion of the money annually appropriated to the department to provide annual funds to a credentialing entity for it to carry out its responsibilities under the bill’s provisions.
“A sober living home is significantly different from a boarding house as they offer supervision and support, not just a bed to sleep in,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “The goal of this bill is to make it easier for sober living houses to operate in the state and continue the great work they have been doing thus far.”
“The importance of sober living homes cannot be understated, especially in light of the nationwide opioid epidemic,” said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). “This bill will not only ensure these homes measure up to certain standards, but make it easier for those in recovery to find the sober living environment that works best for them.”
In developing the recovery residence certification program, an entity would be required to:
· establish requirements for the voluntary and annual certification of recovery residences and administrators;
· establish criminal background check requirements for the administrators and employees of professionally-managed facilities;
· administer all aspects of the certification program, and establish procedures to facilitate the application, certification, and annual recertification processes;
· engage in the on-site pre-certification inspection of recovery residences applying for certification;
· establish procedures and protocols for the regular monitoring and inspection of certified recovery residences, which must require at least one unannounced on-site inspection of each residence; and
· establish an internet website to provide information to the public about the program.
This bill, which cleared the Assembly Human Services Committee in October, was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee and now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.