(TRENTON) — Assembly Human Services Committee Chairwoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) issued a multimedia package Monday discussing the activities of a special bicameral legislative panel, which she co-chairs, tasked with reviewing the operations of state psychiatric hospitals and developmental centers.
The review committee was formed in response to a move by the Christie administration to close the Vineland Developmental Center and the Senator Garrett W. Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital.
The multimedia package consists of a video of Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle’s comments and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of comments by Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle is appended below:
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Joint Legislative Review Panel on State Psychiatric Hospitals and Developmental Centers Co-Chair:
“Developmental centers — there are seven in the State of New Jersey — and they care for people that are severely challenged — developmentally challenged — physically as well as mentally. These people need 24-hour care and these centers, quite frankly, are not the typical institutions we may think of as a center. These centers provide work training, job training; so they [residents] are very well taken care of.
“The issue that we’re talking about today: if Vineland closes in 2013, there are 300 residents there right now.
“Where are these 300 women — primarily women — going to be placed? If they’re going to be placed into a community setting, like a group home, they need those services.
“Is there going to be enough money for services in the community? What we’re hearing today is, sometimes, community services are not cheaper than the services that are being provided in our state institutional developmental centers.
“So we have to really be able to have a plan and a criteria of, if they are closed, where are these people going to be placed? Are they going to be cared for in the same way they’re being cared for right now in these developmental centers?
“That’s what we’re trying to understand and develop a plan. We’re trying to separate the budgetary issues from the human services side as well. But there needs to be a balance.
“And if one center is closed and they [the Christie administration] are going to use that to plug the budget, I don’t believe that is the right, moral thing to do. We want to make sure that, if a center is closed, those dollars are going into the community to still care and provide care — specialized, skilled care — for the members that are coming out of the centers today.”