$5 Million Set to Begin Addressing Growing Needs of People with Autism
222 South Warren Street
Trenton, NJ 08625
Contact: Pam Ronan, Ed Rogan
RELEASE: November 30, 2007
$5 Million Set to Begin Addressing Growing Needs of People with AutismTRENTON – New Jersey Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez, addressing families of people with autism at Hackensack University Medical Center, yesterday announced the DHS Division of Developmental Disabilities’ (DDD) goals to expand services to the autism community in New Jersey. In order to address the state’s growing number of people with autism, Governor Jon S. Corzine and state legislators included in the state Fiscal Year 2008 budget, $5 million designed to increase services to people with autism.
Commissioner Velez described the department’s goals to family members: “Our first goal is to increase services and supports to adults with autism,” said Commissioner Velez. “This is absolutely critical because statistics show that, in New Jersey, one in 95 children is diagnosed with autism. That means there will be more services needed for children and adults in our communities.”
Additional goals include providing services to children with autism and increasing the ability of the Autism Center at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to provide a comprehensive medical program for people with autism. “All of these goals are valuable and by achieving them, we are taking responsible steps toward addressing the needs of the autistic community here in New Jersey,” said Commissioner Velez.
The $5 million expansion of autism services includes:
- $3 million to increase the amount of services available to adults with autism such as respite care, job coaching, transportation and in-home supports through the DDD “Real Life Choices” at-home service option. Real Life Choices provides a budget, based on an individual’s needs, for a family to utilize to obtain needed services. These funds will serve a total of 62 adults from the DDD waiting list: nine of these adults have begun receiving services and 53 more people on the waiting list will begin receiving services by the end of this fiscal year on June 30.
- $1 million to double the amount of respite care and family support services for families who have children at home with autism. These funds will assist several hundred additional children and their families per year.
- $500,000 will increase the capacity of the Autism Center at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) to provide patients and their families with access to a comprehensive medical program for individuals with autism.
$500,000 has been provided to the state Department of Health and Senior Services for an Autism Registry, for the reporting of diagnoses of autism. These funds will enhance the knowledge and understanding of autism to both better plan for and provide services to children and adults with autism and to analyze contributing factors to the cause of the increase in autism.
DDD quick facts about services to people with autism:
- New Jersey has the highest incidence of autism in the nation at 1 in 95 children, compared to the national average of 1 in 150 children according to the latest federal Centers for Disease Control report.
- DDD serves 6,880 people of all ages with autism or autism spectrum disorders in the community (data through September 2007).
- Between 1999 and late 2007 the number of people with autism who are provided services by DDD in the community has grown by 218 percent, or 4,601 individuals.
- There are 5,544 individuals with autism served by DDD that are under 22 years of age. Most live with their families and receive primarily respite care or other in-home supports. Approximately 126 of these children are graduating from school in June 2008 and will be provided with personal skill training or employment programs.
- Of the total 6,880 people with autism, 703 reside outside the family home, in settings such as group homes, supervised apartments and “community care” homes where an individual lives with a trained caretaker.
- DDD currently spends more than $31 million per year on Medicaid Community Care Waiver eligible services for people with autism, plus $2 million in funding specifically appropriated for respite services for individuals with autism.