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The Christie Administration Is Expanding Opportunities And Job Prospects For New Jerseyans With Developmental Disabilities
 “Everyone should have the opportunity to be productive, earn a living, and feel a sense of personal fulfillment from employment. …That’s why we’re working cooperatively with the private sector to ensure that people with disabilities are a seamless part of New Jersey’s workforce, with the independence and sense of community that comes from relationships developed inside and outside of the workplace.”
– Governor Chris Christie, April 19, 2012
 
 
CREATING EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR NEW JERSEYANS WITH DISABILITIES
Furthering Governor Christie’s commitment to expand life opportunities and job prospects for New Jerseyans with developmental disabilities, New Jersey will become the 14th state to adopt an Employment First initiative.  The initiative embraces a philosophy – implemented through policies, programs and services – to proactively promote competitive employment in the general workforce for people with any type of disability.

• Three state Departments are involved in the effort to advance Employment First. The Department of Human Services (DHS) supports numerous education and employment programs in its Divisions of Developmental Disabilities, Disability Services, and Mental Health and Addiction Services as well as within its Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

• The Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s (LWD) Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services solicits private non-profit and for-profit companies to facilitate work training, employment counseling, educational advancement, assistive technologies and job placement services. 

o Annually, 27,000 people with disabilities are serviced through LWD’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services through is 34 One-Stop Career Centers.

• Additionally, the Department of Education (DOE) utilizes the Vocational Profile as a framework that provides needed information for the customization of community employment opportunities.

EMPLOYMENT FIRST INITIATIVE BUILDS ON RECORD OF EXPANDING JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DEVELOPMENT DISABILITIES

The Christie Administration Is Making The Resources Available To Enhance Job Opportunities For Individuals With Development Disabilities:

• Protecting funding for Vocational Rehabilitation Services at the enhanced level provided in the fiscal 2012 budget, so that providers will have the resources necessary to offer enhanced work activities for a second year;
• Continuing NJ WorkAbility, a New Jersey Medicaid Buy-In Program which offers full health coverage to people with disabilities who are working, and whose earnings would otherwise make them ineligible for Medicaid. Currently, there are more than 9,200 participants in NJ WorkAbility;
• Contracting with supportive employment agencies through the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Approximately 900 individuals have obtained competitive employment  through this process since January 2010;
• Contracting with supportive employment agencies through the partnership of the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Approximately 900 individuals have obtained competitive employment through this process since January 2010;
• Continuing to provide job training and placement and assistive technology through the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s vocational rehabilitation program to over 2,500 clients since January 2010.
• In addition, building upon a public/private initiative called ‘DiscoverAbility’, the Departments of Human Services and Labor and Workforce Development, together with hundreds of businesses statewide, will intensify efforts to collaboratively provide the services and training necessary for individuals with disabilities to prepare for and find and retain employment. 

RECOGNIZING THE UNIQUE NEEDS OF INDIVIDUALS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

Governor Christie is committed to a fundamental rethinking of how individuals with developmental disabilities receive services. The Governor has long spoken of the state’s moral imperative to recognize the individuality and unique needs of every New Jerseyan with a developmental disability.

Focusing Services On Families, Not Departments:

The creation of the Division of Child Integrated System of Care Services within the Department of Children and Families will finally address the holistic needs and concerns of families with children with developmental disabilities and other complex needs in one place. The reorganization is designed to ensure that families of people with developmental disabilities have access to every possible support that State government provides.

• The new division will become the departmental “home” for children with multiple needs, bringing together programs now scattered throughout State government.  This will allow for a more family-centric approach.

• Underlying this change is the view that children with developmental disabilities and their families should not be “carved out” of generic supports and/or the systems of care that serve other children and families in New Jersey.  Services should be integrated, provided as part of a continuum, and responsive to the whole child and the whole family. 

Ensuring Coordinated Services Through Transitions:

The Department of Human Services and DCF will work together to ensure that the transition to this new integrated system will occur smoothly, as children with developmental disabilities who enter the system, regardless of their needs, are referred to DCF for services.

• At age 16, the Division of Developmental Disabilities will assess each child and begin to provide transitional planning services.  All direct services will continue to be provided by DCF until age 21. 

• Thus, a child will be dually served by both systems between the ages of 16-21, ensuring the opportunity for meaningful and coordinated transition planning so that children and their families can make a seamless transition into adult services.  All services after 21 will be provided by DDD.

THE CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION IS COMMITTED TO HELPING NEW JERSEYANS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES LEAD RICHER LIVES

Governor Christie’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget reflects a commitment to provide critical programs and services for individuals with developmental disabilities or mental illness and their families:

• Increasing Funding for Placement Services Governor Christie’s fiscal year 2013 budget provides $24.7 million of new funding to develop additional community placements and services, allowing for 130 people to move off of the Community Services Waiting List, and individuals and families to receive necessary residential and day services.

o An additional $4.6 million is provided to pay for the 600 placements that occurred during fiscal 2012,

o A total of $9.7 million will support the Department of Human Services’ Olmstead initiatives and transition individuals from the seven developmental centers into the community. In addition to funding the 125 placements created during fiscal year 2012, an additional 175 consumers will transition from the institutions to community residential settings.

• Identifying Children with Autism. More than 6,000 children with autism have been registered and it is expected that approximately 1,200 children will be registered each year. Once registered, families are referred to a county case manager who works with the family and helps them to access available services.

o In Fiscal Year 2013, $500,000 is protected for the Autism Registry, which makes it easier for families to be connected to the appropriate diagnostic treatment and support services in their community.

• Making Autism Outreach a Priority. In August 2010, the Christie Administration established the Office on Autism within the Department of Human Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities, creating a centralized location to coordinate autism-related information. The Office has organized an Interdepartmental Work Group to enhance coordination among agencies charged with providing services to persons with autism spectrum disorders.

• Funding Early Childhood Intervention. The Christie Administration will continue to provide support to families with children with developmental delays and disabilities from birth to age three. The Early Intervention Program services include developmental intervention, speech, physical and occupational therapy and other services necessary to achieve their full potential. $88.4 million is budgeted in Fiscal Year 2013 for the program.

• Providing Transition Services for Adults. The Christie Administration has dedicated funding for young adults with developmental disabilities who age out of the Department of Education’s special education entitlement by ensuring a seamless transition to the Department of Human Services’ adult day-programming.

Protecting the Dignity of Those with Developmental Disabilities. In 2010, Governor Christie signed into law the “Central Registry of Offenders Against Individuals with Developmental Disabilities.” It requires DHS to maintain a central registry - a confidential list of caregivers working in these programs who have been determined to have abused, neglected, or exploited an individual with a developmental disability.

 
 
 
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