ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION No. 83

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

216th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 20, 2014

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE

District 37 (Bergen)

Assemblywoman  CLEOPATRA G. TUCKER

District 28 (Essex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Expresses support for family members' lawsuit concerning closure of North Jersey and Woodbridge Developmental Centers.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


An Assembly Resolution expressing support for the family members' lawsuit challenging the closure of two developmental centers.

 

Whereas, The five-member Task Force on the Closure of State Developmental Centers issued its Final Report on August 1, 2012, in which the Task Force recommended the closure of North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center within five years; and

Whereas, If this recommendation is carried out, in 2017 there will be no developmental centers in the heavily populated northeastern and central regions of the State, as North Jersey Developmental Center is located in Totowa in Passaic county and Woodbridge Developmental Center is located in Woodbridge in Middlesex county; and

Whereas, The Department of Human Services (DHS) has offered family members and guardians of individuals with developmental disabilities residing in North Jersey and Woodbridge Developmental Centers the unacceptable option of having their loved ones with developmental disabilities relocate to, and receive services in, community placements, such as group homes, or in distant developmental centers in the southern counties of the State since there are no openings in the two closer developmental centers in Hunterdon and Middlesex counties, Hunterdon Developmental Center and Green Brook Regional Center; and

Whereas, North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center have provided a safe and happy home for about 700 individuals with developmental disabilities and these developmental centers, unlike group homes, provide a constant level of care for needed medical and rehabilitative services from health care professionals who know and care for them; and

Whereas, A class-action lawsuit, which was filed by families in federal District Court in Newark in June 2013 against the Governor, the Commissioner of Human Services, and others, seeks to keep both North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center open, and alleges that the treating professionals are putting these individuals with severe and profound developmental disabilities, who have lived in these centers for decades, at risk by recommending that they can now receive their care in community placements; and

 Whereas, The lawsuit asserts that the treating professionals recommend that many of the individuals with developmental disabilities residing in these two developmental centers would be better served in community placements, such as group homes; however, these group homes are incapable of providing the constant level of care provided in developmental centers; and

Whereas, It is alleged that DHS has not only mischaracterized the ability of the individuals with developmental disabilities who currently reside in these two centers to relocate to, and reside in, group homes, but DHS has also pressured family members and guardians to choose relocation of their loved ones to group homes; and

Whereas, One of the deleterious consequences of these relocations has been the reduction in the staffing levels and services provided to those remaining in North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center; the lawsuit alleges that these staff and service reductions leave the individuals with developmental disabilities who remain in these centers in danger; and

Whereas, Family members have expressed grave concerns that they are being pressured by DHS to move their loved ones from the two developmental centers, where they have lived happily for many years, to placements in the community that cannot safely meet their loved ones' needs, or to developmental centers that are so distant that elderly parents and other family members would be unable to make the long trip to visit their loved ones; and

Whereas, The class-action lawsuit challenging the closure of North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center sheds light on the plight of the individuals with developmental disabilities, who are being harmed by the impending closure of these two developmental centers; it is anticipated that the lawsuit will result in keeping the two developmental centers open, and allowing individuals with developmental disabilities to live in the developmental centers they have called home for decades and where they are the safest and happiest; now, therefore,

 

     Be It Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    This House expresses support for the class-action lawsuit, which was filed against the Governor, the Commissioner of Human Services, and others by the family members of individuals with developmental disabilities residing in North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center, and which it is anticipated will result in keeping North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center open and allowing the individuals with developmental disabilities residing in these centers to live in the developmental centers they have called home for decades and where they are the safest and happiest.

 

     2.    Duly authenticated copies of this resolution, signed by the Speaker of the General Assembly and attested by the Clerk thereof, shall be transmitted to the Governor of the State of New Jersey, the Commissioner of Human Services, and the acting Assistant Commissioner of Human Services.


STATEMENT

 

     This resolution expresses support for the class-action lawsuit filed against the Governor, the Commissioner of Human Services, and others by the family members of individuals with developmental disabilities residing in North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center, who allege being harmed by the impending closure of North Jersey Developmental Center followed by Woodbridge Developmental Center within five years.