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October 10, 2008

222 South Warren Street
Trenton, NJ 08625
Contact: Pam Ronan
(609) 292-3703

DHS Dual Diagnosis Task Force presents its Report and Recommendations Regarding Specialized Services
The New Jersey Department of Human Services Dual Diagnosis Task ForcePresents its Report and Recommendations Regarding Specialized Services

Dual Diagnosis Task Force Report: FINAL

 TRENTON The New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) Dual Diagnosis Task Force today presented its report to DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez regarding the special needs of adults and children who are dually diagnosed with a developmental disability and a mental health or behavioral health disorder. This is the first state task force dedicated to developing recommendations designed to meet the complex needs of people with this dual diagnosis. The task force presented its recommendations to Commissioner Velez in Iselin, at the Hilton-Woodbridge.

“The parents, advocates and professionals serving on the DHS Dual Diagnosis Task Force have produced a landmark state effort to guide us in developing a service system that is more responsive to the needs of children and adults with dual diagnoses,” said Commissioner Velez. “Our mutual goal is to enable individuals to fully participate in community life through the support of a service system that delivers appropriate treatment and prevents unnecessary hospitalizations and institutionalizations.”

The task force was convened in January 2008 by DHS Commissioner Velez and charged with considering the needs of both adults and children who have this dual diagnosis and the ways in which services may be able to prevent the need for hospitalizations or institutionalizations. It has focused on collaborative services between the DHS’ Divisions of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) and private agencies; best practices in service provision; and crisis care and prevention efforts. The task force is co-chaired by a parent of an adult son with a dual diagnosis, Donna Icovino and DHS’ Assistant Commissioner of Operations, T. Missy Balmir. It is comprised of self-advocates, family members of people who have a dual diagnosis, representatives of private service-provider agencies and state agency personnel. State agency representatives include DHS and its Divisions of Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health Services and DCF and its Division of Child Behavioral Health Services (DCBHS).

Highlights from the task force recommendations include developing collaborative county-based planning for individuals who have a dual diagnosis; training direct-care and professional staff working with people with dual diagnoses; and developing a continuum of crisis-response services to both prevent the need for crisis intervention and gain access to crisis-response services when needed.

The task force also recommends increasing family and other caregiver education and support through professional, as well as family and peer organizations, to teach individuals with dual diagnoses, families and caregivers effective behavioral management techniques. -more-

NJ DHS Dual Diagnosis Task Force Release

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A future recommendation of the task force is to develop Outpatient Service Centers with the capacity to providecomprehensiveassessment and evaluation, medical and dental care, integrated mental health treatment and behavior management, guidance on providing behavioral support at-home and training for the workforce.

Commissioner Velez will convene an executive oversight board, which will include representatives from DHS and DCF, to manage the implementation of these recommendations and focus on identifying opportunities to maximize existing resources to make incremental change.

The task force presentation was held following the morning session of the Developmental Disabilities Lecture Series, sponsored by The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Department of Pediatrics. In the morning lecture, Jarrett Barnhill, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discussed “ From Diagnosis to Treatment Planning: Where Does the Diagnostic Manual - Intellectual Disability Fit In?” The Boggs Center's Developmental Disabilities Lecture Series presents national experts on best practices in developmental disabilities with support from the DHS’ Division of Developmental Disabilities. Audience members included people with disabilities, family members of people with disabilities, state agency personnel and representatives of private service provider agencies. Contact Robyn Carroll for information about The Boggs Center’s Developmental Disabilities Lecture Series at or 732-235-9310.

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