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Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Expands Initiatives to Provide Resources for Community Placements and Programs
Trenton, NJ – Acting on his commitment to expand initiatives for New Jersey residents with developmental disabilities, Governor Chris Christie and Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez today visited Hilltop Group Home in Robbinsville to talk with residents and their families about the importance of increasing community-based residential programs throughout the state. Since Fiscal Year 2011, about 1,000 new units, or 300 new homes, have been developed with new funding from the Christie Administration.“Individuals with disabilities are an important part of the fabric of our state, in the workplace and in every community and neighborhood. My firm commitment has been to move away from our state’s shameful history of institutionalization and to create empowerment and opportunity for our residents with disabilities,” said Governor Christie. “Access to the opportunities afforded by a community-based setting - surrounded by all the things a home and community life include – is a basic right that relegation to an institution simply does not respect. That’s why this Administration will continue to expand initiatives for community housing and programs and my Fiscal Year 2014 Budget provides nearly $42 million of new State and federal funding to develop additional community placements and services.”

Symbolizing that progress, the Christie Administration recently settled an eight year-old lawsuit filed by Disability Rights NJ, in which the advocacy group asserted that New Jersey was not complying with a Supreme Court decision requiring that individuals with developmental disabilities be able to live in the least restrictive environments.

More than $100 million in new funding has been allocated since Fiscal Year 2011 for community-based services and supports to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. The expansion of services has resulted in a marked decrease in census at the state’s seven developmental centers.

Five women residents - with an average age of sixty - live at the Hilltop Group Home, a ranch-style house located on a quiet neighborhood cul-de-sac and operated by the Arc of Mercer. Two of the women are former residents of the North Princeton Developmental Center, which closed in 1998 and New Lisbon Developmental Center.

“Hilltop is a wonderful example of the community-based infrastructure New Jersey has in place and in development to support individuals with developmental disabilities and complex medical needs,” said DHS Commissioner Velez. “Twenty years ago, a developmental center might have been a family’s only option; today, we have a framework in place that includes 126 licensed community providers with skilled, dedicated staff in every corner of the state.”

There are more than 1,000 group homes located throughout New Jersey – operated by community providers that contract with DHS.

“Arc of Mercer is proud to be a part of a growing system of comprehensive, community-based care for residents with developmental disabilities,” said Board President Geoff Morris. “Like many other providers, our business model has evolved to include health care, vocational training, day programs and respite. We’re incredibly pleased with the state’s support for community-based services and we appreciate Governor Christie’s commitment to this population.”

Governor Christie’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget reflects his ongoing commitment to provide critical programs and services for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, including:

• Increasing Resources for Community-Based Care to provide $41.8 million of new State and federal funding to develop additional community placements and services, for a projected 788 individuals. An additional $21.3 million is proposed to pay for placements that occurred during Fiscal Year 2013 and a total of $19.7 million in new State and federal funding will support the Division of Developmental Disabilities’ Olmstead initiatives.

• Increasing Funding for Support Services for Children with Developmental Disabilities through the continued integration of programs under the new Division of Children’s System of Care in the Department of Children and Families. An additional $1.5 million has been provided in the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget for placement services.

• Identifying, Diagnosing and Caring for Children with Autism by providing $86 million for the Early Intervention Program, aimed at identifying, diagnosing and caring for children from birth to age three with autism and other developmental disabilities.

• Providing Transition Services for Adults. The Christie Administration has dedicated funding for young adults with developmental disabilities who age out of the Department of Education’s special education entitlement by ensuring a seamless transition to the Department of Human Services’ adult day-programming.

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