The Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) has been providing and funding services for state residents with developmental disabilities since 1959.
The division was created in response to the need for better and more effective services for state residents with developmental disabilities. Advocates for those services included many parents and other family members who wanted community-based alternatives to the institutional care that had been their only option for many decades.
Indeed, for almost 75 years before the division was created, New Jersey operated institutions where many people with developmental disabilities (usually referred to in the lexicon of the times as “feeble minded” or “mentally deficient”) were sent to live out their lives. These had been created following the release in 1873 of a Report of the Commissioners of the Deaf, Dumb, Blind and Feeble Minded, which recommended a system of training institutions. The Vineland (1888), New Lisbon (1916), Woodbine (1921) and North Jersey (1928) developmental centers were all created in that model.
Since its inception, the system that serves individuals with developmental disabilities has changed and grown significantly. In 1959, the division administered ten developmental centers that were home to 5,700 individuals, while only 516 individuals were recorded as receiving services in the community.
Today, nearly 28,000 adults are eligible to receive services funded by the division. Most DDD-eligible individuals live in the community, either with family or in a community residence such as a group home or supervised apartment or in a Community Care Residence with a family caregiver.
Approximately 1,835 individuals reside in one of six developmental centers now administered by DDD.Some of the most basic aspects of the Division's mission are protecting the health and safety of the individuals it serves, promoting equity and fairness and spending state dollars responsibly.
The division also continues to strive to expand the type and number of services available in the community. In this way, it is not only able to help individuals avoid unnecessary institutional placements, and also help make it possible for them to remain at home with their families for as long as possible.