Gov. Christie views developmentally disabled individuals as 'pot of money' | Commentary | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.

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Gov. Christie views developmentally disabled individuals as 'pot of money'

pizzurosal073111_optBY SALVATORE PIZZURO
COMMENTARY

The burning issue regarding the potential closing of developmental centers for people with developmental disabilities has quieted down but not gone away. The controversy of whether the larger institutions should be closed, and the clients returned to their parents or other family members or placed in group homes has yet to be resolved. Governor Christie has proposed closing some of these facilities, with the Vineland Developmental Center receiving the most publicity.

The Governor proposes closing facilities such as Vineland, which he compares to a “pot of money.” He proposes using the “pot of money” for creating community grants, with some of the grants going to the families of the developmentally disabled clients to be used for care in the home. Other dollars would potentially be used by the group homes.

Interestingly, New Jersey is faced with an overwhelming waiting list of clients with developmental disabilities who need housing. Most of the parents have died or are elderly and can no longer care for their adult children with special needs. Yet, the Governor suggests keeping the clients at home where family care no longer exists. It is unfortunate that the current administration views the developmental centers as no more than a “pot of money”.

The waiting list for housing among these disabled individuals continues to grow every day as new applications for housing are submitted. In addition, the Administration has erroneously suggested that the famous “Olmstead” decision mandates closing the facilities.

Among the most pressing issues to be addressed for a special needs student who is approaching young adulthood is the problem of an appropriate living arrangement. Although mandates specify timelines and types of services, in many cases, neither the Congress nor the federal courts truly consider costs to state or local governments when passing or interpreting mandates. Nevertheless, the courts should consider a continuum of settings (moving from the most restrictive to the least restrictive) when determining the most appropriate placement for an individual with a mental disability. Within the schools, as mandated by State and federal law, children must be educated within the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The courts have determined that adults with disabilities who require treatment, must receive services in the Least Restrictive Alternative (LRA) to a residential placement. The settings might best be interpreted when listed along a continuum:

Most Restrictive

  • Institutional Setting (Hospital, Prison, etc.)
  • Fully Supervised Community Setting
  • Group Home
  • Supervised Semi-Independent Living
  • Supervised Apartment
  • Monitored Semi-Independent Setting
  • Monitored Apartment (Supervision periodic, but not daily)
  • Independent Living
  • Periodic Monitoring (Weekly, Monthly)

Least Restrictive

The most restrictive setting would be reserved for the clients with the most severe disabilities. The settings would become less restrictive for individuals whose disabilities are less severe.



 
Comments (2)
As I read this article, I thought it in-sensitive to refer to our developmentally disabled as cash cows. Our loved ones are human beings and how can you put a price on the quality of ife these individuals are receiving at the developmental centers who call the centers their home. Our severely disabled require 24/7 care which they are professionally receiving at the centers. I do agree that our most severely disabled should be cared for in an environment which is the most restricted, e.g. Developmental Centers, because of the delicate nature of their medical needs and for their safety. With regards to providing care in the home, although a good intention, how would they be able to receive the needed services at home where perhaps family care no longer exists or where elderly parents/guardians cannot provide the professional kind of medical support they deserve in which they are receiving at the developmental centers. Ethically and morally, we as citizens have an obligation to protect our most vulnerable. Our developmentally disabled are our most vulnerable, and we have to be their voice and advocate as family members should be given the right to make the final decision as to what environment is best for their developmentally disabled loved one's safety and well-being.

Thank you.
Great summary of issues. We need a continuum of services and options for all for severe to mild forms and for individuals and families to support the most vulnerable citizens. Vineland center is one of those options and we need to support the site to remain an option for all who need it and create more continuum of options for all but not take from most severe to provide for other options. Keep these and create more options for all in need.

Thank you!

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