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Vainieri Huttle & Johnson Bill to Cease Closure of State Developmental Centers Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Gordon Johnson to stop the closing of two developmental health centers in the state was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

? The bill (A-3951) would require the Governor to rescind the recommendations of the Task Force on the Closure of State Developmental Centers, which, in 2012 instructed the Department of Human Services (DHS) to close North Jersey Developmental Center followed by Woodbridge Developmental Center within the next five years.

? “We cannot afford to shut down developmental facilities in the state,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Doing so would compromise the care of those who require the services these centers provide. Our focus must be to work together to and provide them with the support needed to ensure their success for the sake of the residents who rely on them.”

? The bill also would establish a new task force, the “Task Force on State Developmental Centers,” which is to perform a comprehensive evaluation of all of the State developmental centers and prepare recommendations that address compliance with the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C. The decision requires that a person with a developmental disability receive services and supports in the least restrictive setting appropriate tot the person’s needs.

? “Closing even one of these facilities’ would jeopardize service to the residents who truly need it and place a burden on the families who support them,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “We must avoid displacing patients or possibly interrupting important medical services by forcing them to live or travel for the medical attention they need. There is a better solution to addressing the growing need and improving quality of service at our state developmental centers.”

? Under the bill’s provisions, the task force would be comprised of six members, the Commissioner of Human Services, or the commissioner’s designee, and five public members appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The bill would take effect immediately and expire upon the submission of the task force recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature.

? The bill cleared the Assembly Human Services Committee. It will now go to the Assembly Speaker who will decide when to post it for a floor vote.