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(TRENTON) – Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Services Vice Chairman Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex) and Assembly Human Services Chairwoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) released the following statements Friday on their joint hearing on state services provided for individuals living with developmental disabilities:

Sen. Vitale:

“Today’s hearing was a great first step in creating an overdue dialogue on how to improve services for people with developmental disabilities. Whether those individuals live with their families, live in one of the State-administered developmental centers, or live in a State-contracted community care setting, they deserve our respect, and they deserve a level of care and support which is appropriate and meets their personal care needs.

“Ultimately, there is no magic bullet, or one-size-fits-all model of care that meets everybody’s needs. New Jersey needs to continue to provide care options, so that individuals and their families are empowered to choose the best option possible for them. And we need to offer better access to those care options, so that individuals and their families don’t have to languish — most times for years — on waiting lists that never seem to get any shorter.

“As we work to determine the best use of our limited State resources for services for people living with developmental disabilities, we need the advocacy community to work together to arrive at a consensus plan which merges flexibility for individuals with access to needed services. I don’t think we’re at that consensus yet, but I look forward to continuing a productive dialogue so we can craft a plan that works for as many people as possible.”

Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle:

“I’ve visited developmental centers and group homes, and seen first-hand the benefits each facility can offer. I also realize that some individuals are better served in developmental centers, while others can thrive in group homes.

“One thing we all agree on is that options are important and these individuals deserve the best of care, as do the 8,000 people on the community services waiting list and the thousands more who will soon be joining it, especially as the many New Jersey children with autism and other developmental disabilities grow older.

“This hearing is a tremendous starting point for everyone to work together to ensure every developmentally disabled person in New Jersey gets the services they need. This is a difficult issue and one that won’t be easily solved, but it’s also one we must confront until we finally find solutions to make this waiting list a thing of the past. I look forward to this conversation continuing and moving toward a positive outcome that provides options and preserves quality services.”

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