New Jersey’s Return Home policy brings back to New Jersey adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities – many of whom were placed out of state as students with special needs and who transitioned into costly, congregate residential facilities upon graduation. At the time, there was no ‘trigger’ to return them to New Jersey when their educational entitlement ended, so they have been living in another state, in an institutional setting, paid for with New Jersey tax dollars for years, even decades.
Over the past several years, New Jersey’s system of care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities has steadily evolved. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested into community-based homes and services to give people with intellectual and developmental disabilities opportunities to live, work and enjoy their lives in smaller residential settings, with appropriate staff and services to support them. This absolutely includes people with very complex medical needs and behavioral conditions.
It makes sense that with a growing infrastructure in place to serve them, we should return this group of people – closer to family, into community-based residential settings that are licensed and inspected according to New Jersey standards.
The goal of Return Home New Jersey is twofold: to ensure that individuals who have been placed out of state can return to a comparable or better setting in New Jersey that meets their needs and to better manage the state resources that serve the community of nearly 29,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in New Jersey – which includes the waiting list and others who are transitioning from developmental centers into the community.
The facts are:
- Since 2010, New Jersey has successfully transitioned over 100 people from out-of-state back to New Jersey.
- For decades, families and professionals have recognized the value of caring for people with developmental disabilities in community settings. Care systems are being transformed across this nation in recognition of the benefit of living a community life.
- About 280 state-contracted provider agencies in New Jersey meet the wide variety of needs of adults with developmental disabilities, even the most medically complex.
- Residential programs in New Jersey often provide a higher level of supervision than institutions, with 4 individuals and two staff during daytime hours, while most out-of-state agencies offer a ratio of one staff to 4-6 residents.
- New Jersey residential programs include day services and activities for residents to attend. Additionally, there is a comprehensive system of care that surrounds an individual and his or her needs when, for example, a psychiatric or other crisis emerges.
- New Jersey’s residential programs are monitored and must meet rigorous licensing standards. The programs are inspected annually, with unannounced visits if concerns are raised. Any serious incidents are investigated by the provider, DHS and if appropriate, local or state police.
- The New Jersey Central Registry of Offenders also protects from the potential rehiring of any offender in the service system.
- Most existing out-of-state placements are not Medicaid reimbursable, which means they are paid with state-only funds. At least half of the annual cost of in-state community programs is paid by federal matching funds, which frees up state dollars to provide services to others who are eligible.
- There are individuals who were years ago placed out of state, whose family has long left New Jersey – and New Jersey, to date, has continued to pay for this out of state care.