ASSEMBLY, No. 3171

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED SEPTEMBER 16, 2010

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE

District 37 (Bergen)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Provides for establishment of county offices for disability services; appropriates $90,000.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act providing for the establishment of county offices for disability services, supplementing Title 40 of the Revised Statutes and making an appropriation.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    The Legislature finds and declares that:

     a.     There are an estimated 1.7 million people of all ages in the State with disabilities; and these citizens, now numbering approximately 20% of the State's population, are of special concern because these numbers are anticipated to continue to increase as a result of advancements in medical science and technology, and because, like other citizens of the State, citizens with disabilities have an equal right to full participation, independent living, economic self-sufficiency and opportunity;

     b.    Historically, society has tended to isolate and segregate individuals with disabilities, which often results in serious and pervasive social problems affecting citizens with disabilities, their families and communities;

     c.     The impact of disabilities on individuals and their families' economic well-being creates crises for which assistance is not readily available;

     d.    A central place is needed to which individuals with disabilities and their families facing such situations can turn for assistance in identifying available community resources;

     e.     Efforts to avert crises among this expanding segment of the population must have two major goals: the development of an understanding of the nature of disabilities and the rights and needs of people with disabilities so that these individuals may enjoy dignity and independence; and the ready identification and availability of community resources for people with disabilities, to whom they are often inaccessible or non-existent.  These resources need to be identified, expanded, coordinated, and made more immediately available to those who need them;

     f.     While the State has recognized some of its special responsibilities in this area by creating various State divisions to serve people with disabilities, it has become apparent that these State divisions will function more effectively by providing a means by which the divisions can achieve a closer relationship with the people they seek to help, and through which increased access to desirable programs can occur; and

     g.     It is apparent, therefore, that channels for the distribution of information on the resources available to people with disabilities should be established throughout the State so as to be conveniently available to all segments of our citizenry who have disabilities, and that they should be maintained by county governments.


     2.    a.  The governing body of any county, by resolution or ordinance, as appropriate, may establish a county office for disability services.

     b.    Each county office for disability services shall have the power  to:

     (1)   maintain a central source of information on programs and services for people with disabilities;

     (2)   circulate current knowledge relating to disabilities as well as the rights and needs of people with disabilities to the public at large and to individuals and groups to which such knowledge would be of benefit; and

     (3)   stimulate the expansion and coordination of existing services to more adequately meet the needs of people with disabilities and, where desirable, encourage new programs to meet these needs.

     c.       The county governing body may receive and expend moneys from the State and federal governments or private individuals, corporations, or associations to meet the expenses of the county office for disability services.

 

     3.  The Commissioner of Human Services shall establish a grant program to provide funding for county offices for disability services.  A county may apply for a grant of up to $20,000 for its office for disability services if the county office has at least one person on staff dedicated to addressing the provision of disability services.

     In the first year, the commissioner shall give preference to counties that do not have an office for disability services on the effective date of this act.  A county shall not be eligible for a grant in two consecutive years.

     The commissioner shall request county governing bodies to submit an application for funding pursuant to this section, in a form and manner established by the commissioner.

 

     4.    There is appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Human Services $90,000 for the purpose of providing grants to counties as provided in section 3 of this act.

 

     5.    The Commissioner of Human Services, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), shall adopt rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this act, including, but not limited to, those necessary for: the proper control and management of activities of the county offices for disability services; and the administration of grant funds available for the purposes of this act.

 

     6.    This act shall take effect immediately.


STATEMENT

 

     This bill provides statutory authority for any county in the State to establish a county office for disability services.

     The bill provides that each county office for disability services would have the power to:

     --  maintain a central source of information on programs and services for people with disabilities;

     --  circulate current knowledge relating to disabilities as well as the rights and needs of people with disabilities to the public at large and to individuals and groups to which such knowledge would be of benefit; and

     --  stimulate the expansion and coordination of existing services to more adequately meet the needs of people with disabilities and, where desirable, encourage new programs to meet these needs.

     The bill provides that the county may receive and expend moneys from the State or federal governments or private individuals, corporations, or associations to meet the expenses of the county office for disability services.

     The bill directs the Commissioner of Human Services to establish a grant program to provide funding for county offices for disability services.  Under the program, a county may apply for a grant of up to $20,000 for its office for disability services if the county office has at least one person on staff dedicated to addressing the provision of disability services.  In the first year, the commissioner shall give preference to counties that do not have an office for disability services on the effective date of this bill.  Also, a county shall not be eligible for a grant in two consecutive years.

     The bill appropriates $90,000 to the Department of Human Services for the purpose of providing grants to counties.