Measure Would Help Ensure Developmentally Disabled Are Properly Informed about Available State Services
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Upendra Chivukula and Ruben J. Ramos Jr. to improve the lives of developmentally disabled residents by increasing awareness of and enrollment in the various programs offered by the state was granted final legislative approval 39-0 by the full Senate on Thursday.
The bill (A-2878), which was approved 77-0 by the Assembly in June, now heads to the governor’s desk.
“New Jersey provides some absolutely wonderful support and quality of life improvement services for individuals with developmental disabilities,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Unfortunately, we’re not that wonderful at informing residents about these programs. This bill would change that.”
Under the legislation, the Division of Developmental Disabilities in the state Department of Human Services would be required to collect a database of information on individuals in the state with developmental disabilities who are eligible to partake in services provided by the division.
The bill would require the database to be constructed over a 12 month period, with new qualifying enrollees being added on a continuing basis. Once created, the division would be required to annually notify database members, in writing, of:
· The services currently being received from the division;
· The individual’s status on any waiting lists;
· The best way for an individual to update their vital statistics; and
· Information about where to find services.
Annually, the division would be required to publish a report, available online, containing non-identifying data about New Jerseyans with developmental disabilities.
The bill also would require the division to do a database-wide needs and service reassessment, as needed, to ensure that developmentally disabled residents continue to receive pertinent notifications.
“As a society, we should be judged on how we treat our most vulnerable residents, including those with developmental disabilities,” said Chivukula (D-Somerset/Middlesex). “If we want to be judged well, and make improvements where we aren’t succeeding, we need to know exactly where we stand in caring for people with disabilities.”
“Reliable and current data about the service needs of persons with developmental disabilities who are eligible for services is fundamental to the division’s ability to plan effectively to meet those needs,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “Similarly, in order to make appropriate decisions about state funding for these services, it is important to understand the needs of persons with developmental disabilities served by the division.”