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For Immediate Release:
August 15, 2008

For Information, Contact:
Pam Ronan, (609) 292-3703

TRENTON New Jersey Department of Human Services' (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez yesterday announced that the DHS Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) exceeded its goal to transition 100 people from developmental centers and other institutions and into community homes during fiscal year 2008; and transitioned a total of 121 people during the fiscal year, ending June 30, 2008. The announcement was made at a celebration to thank the individuals and organizations that were instrumental in DDD exceeding its goal, held at DDD's central office, Commerce Way, Hamilton.The event included approximately 80 people who contributed to the efforts to arrange these community homes, including DDD staff members, representatives from human services organizations and agencies, and some of the people who have recently moved into these homes.

Commissioner Velez addressed those in attendance, “whether you are a DDD staff member, a representative of a trade organization, a community service provider, a support coordinator or a consumer of services, each of you has contributed in some important way to giving a former developmental center resident a new life!”

“Through your hard work, tenacity and sensitivity, 121 men and women, some of whom had lived in a developmental center for decades, moved to new homes, homes like the rest of us have, with neighbors, and the corner store and flowers out front,” said Commissioner Velez.

These men and women, who moved this past fiscal year from institutions into local communities, range in age from 20 to 72. Most had lived in developmental centers for many years, with a few living there since their childhood. The type of community residences chosen by individuals varied from group homes to apartments; and some moved home with family members along with the necessary support services; and a few moved into nursing homes.

“These individuals, with the support of their family and staff members, advocates and community agencies, have set the course for others who will choose the option of community life in the future,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez .

DDD operates seven developmental centers and contracts with private agencies to provide services and supports in community settings. DHS Assistant Commissioner Kenneth Ritchey oversees DDD. “Staff members from all seven developmental centers as well as the DDD regional offices worked together to successfully transition residents into community homes,” said DHS Assistant Commissioner Kenneth Ritchey . “The work of staff, community support coordination agencies and the support of family members, has been extraordinary.”

For all individuals who are planning to move out of a developmental center, a “support coordination” process is used, to assist individuals with making the transition to community life. Two independent agencies, under contract with DDD, assist individuals in planning and obtaining the type of home, supports and services that will be needed.

These efforts to arrange for community homes for more than 100 individuals over this past fiscal year, are part of the May 2007 plan that DDD submitted to Governor Jon S. Corzine and the New Jersey Legislature, to expand community support and housing for people with developmental disabilities. The plan, “Path to Progress,” describes, over an eight-year period, what will be needed to assist individuals who want to move into community homes.

Governor Corzine signed a law in August 2006 requiring DDD to submit an “Olmstead” plan that included public input, criteria for candidates interested in moving, and the needed resources . Olmstead is a 1999 U. S. Supreme Court decision affirming an individual's right to live outside an institution.

Governor Corzine provided $50 million over three years for DDD to use in Fiscal Years 2007 - 2009 to begin Olmstead related efforts. With these funds, in Fiscal Year 2007, a total of 86 people moved from institutions into community homes.

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