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More Group Homes; The Right Direction

Press of Atlantic City

January 12, 2009

Editorial

Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, D-Camden, wants to close five of the state's seven institutions for people with developmental disabilities and use the savings to vastly increase the number of group homes and other community-based housing options for the disabled.

Community-based residences are not the answer for every disabled individual. That's why Greenwald's five-year plan would leave two of the state's developmental centers open, one in the northern part of the state and one in the south.

But at least 10 other states have moved far more aggressively than New Jersey in replacing institutional care with community-based care, Greenwald says. For most of the developmentally disabled, a group home or something similar is considered more nurturing than institutionalized care.

It is also cheaper. Greenwald says housing a person in one of the seven developmental centers costs $641 a day, while community-based care costs approximately $300 a day. Furthermore, the state's developmental centers, including facilities in Vineland and Woodbine, house approximately 2,400 individuals, which represents only 8 percent of the people the state Division of Developmental Disabilities serves. However, Greenwald noted, the division spends 30 percent of its $1.4 billion budget to operate the developmental centers.

The idea of moving these people out of institutions is certainly not new. The state has moved 176 people out of institutions over the last two years.

Assemblyman Greenwald unveils a bill to improve care for New Jersey’s developmentally disabled

Assemblyman Greenwald unveils a bill to improve care for New Jersey’s developmentally disabled

A Proposal to Promote Moving Out

Philadelphia Inquirer
January 9, 2009
By Jonathan Tamari

Ever since Reggie Davis left the New Lisbon Developmental Center in Burlington County and moved to a group home in Voorhees, his personality has blossomed, according to his mother.

In the smaller, non-institutionalized setting, Davis, who was born with mental disabilities, bonds with friends, works a job, and can go get coffee nearly as often as he likes, said his mother, Pat Davis-Johnson. He even adopted a new look, a mohawk.

"He now exudes his individualism," said Davis-Johnson, of Newark, N.J. "I'm having a little trouble with his choice of hairstyle, but he's my Reggie and I love him dearly."

Citing Davis' case as an example of the benefits of community living, an influential South Jersey lawmaker introduced a plan yesterday that he said would move thousands of people with developmental disabilities out of institutions and into settings such as group homes or shared apartments that are more integrated into everyday life.

Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D., Camden) said his proposal would follow the lead of 10 other states that have largely done away with institutional care for people with developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation and spina bifida.

His proposal calls for closing five of New Jersey's seven developmental centers and moving 80 percent of the population, more than 2,000 people, into community settings within five years.

Greenwald Unveils Bill To Overhaul Care For Developmentally Disabled

For Release: January 8, 2009

Contact: Brian McGinnis, 856-435-1247

GREENWALD UNVEILS BILL TO OVERHAUL CARE FOR DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED

Measure Would Save Money, Enhance Services by Ending Institutionalization

(TRENTON)—  Standing alongside advocates for the developmentally disabled, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald today unveiled legislation that would radically restructure the way the state cares for individuals with developmental disabilities by refocusing funds from costly institutional care toward community-based services.

The bill (A-3625) aims to reduce the population of New Jersey’s seven developmental centers by 80 percent within five years.

“We need to bring the way we care for the developmentally disabled into the 21st century,” said Greenwald (D-Camden). “By investing in community-based programs rather than traditional institutionalized models, we can both save taxpayers money and provide higher-quality care.”

Approximately 2,500 individuals currently reside in one of New Jersey’s seven developmental centers. While this population represents 8 percent of the population served by the state Division of Developmental Disabilities, the centers consume over 30 percent of its $1.4 billion budget. Greenwald's legislation would provide funding for community programs to transfer individuals out of institutions.

Corzine Proposes $2.1 Billion in Cuts

Bergen Record
January 2, 2009
By John Reitmeyer

Governor Corzine now faces a recession-fueled budget hole of $2.1 billion and plans to cut more spending, use surplus funds and hope for help from Washington.

The governor laid out the latest news on the state's fiscal outlook in the context of the faltering economy today. He said the total fallout for New Jersey from the ongoing recession is now pegged at $2.1 billion, up from the last estimate of $1.2 billion. All state revenue sources except for the lottery are down at least 5 percent, he said.

"The pace of fall off in revenues is picking up steam each month," he said.

To dig out of the hole, the state will cut $812 million in spending this fiscal year, with employee salary raises and pension contributions among the items in the crosshairs.

Some aid programs for schools and municipalities will also be curtailed as part of the broader spending cut.
Other programs, such as cancer grants and a new voting system, will also be casualties of the economy, he said.
Corzine, a former Wall Street executive, said he and staff went "literally, line-by-line" in the budget to find places to cut.  More details about cuts will be made public Monday, he said.