The Department of Human Services (DHS) develops community homes for people with disabilities and for a small number of children and youth who need supervision. Most community homes are for persons with developmental disabilities, such as mental retardation and cerebral palsy or people with mental illnesses, such as severe or manic depression or schizophrenia.
Until the 1970s, people with disabilities either lived at home with their families or were sent to institutions and remained there for their entire lives. But as we learned more about developmental disabilities and mental illnesses, we also learned that most people with these disabilities do not have to live in large institutions, segregated from the rest of society. They can lead happy, productive lives and become contributing members of society, if given the chance and the proper support services.
Today, approximately 4,600 people with developmental disabilities, about 2,000 people with mental illness and about 350 children in the child protective services system live in DHS homes throughout New Jersey’s communities.
Before a person moves into one of these homes, he or she is carefully evaluated by a team of doctors and professionals who have experience and expertise with people with disabilities. In addition, services that are tailored to fit each individual's needs must be in place. These services include daily activity programs, job training, transportation and physical therapy.
During the day, residents either go to work or attend job training, educational programs, or therapy. Usually, one to three people live in a supervised apartment, while, normally four to six people live in a group home. Twenty-four-hour supervision depends on the residents’ needs and level of independence.
If you have questions about people with disabilities or about community residential programs, please call 1-877-DHS-LINE (347-5463).