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In January 2008, DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez convened New Jersey’s first ever task force charged with creating a plan for developing services and supports for individuals with co-occurring developmental disabilities and mental health needs. Task Force members represented all areas of the dual diagnosis community including individuals and family members, advocates, professionals and state officials.

In October 2008, the task force issued its report, Collaborating to Provide Supports and Services for Adults and Children with Co-Occurring Developmental Disorders and Mental Health/Behavioral Disorders.

The report’s recommendations included:

  • developing collaborative, county-based planning for individuals who have a dual diagnosis
  • training direct-care and professional staff working with people with dual diagnoses
  • developing a continuum of crisis-response services to both prevent the need for crisis intervention and allow individuals to gain access to crisis-response services when needed
  • increasing family and other caregiver education and support through professional, as well as family and peer organizations, in order to teach individuals with dual diagnoses, families and caregivers effective behavioral management
  • developing Outpatient Service Centers with the capacity to provide comprehensive assessment 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. 

Implementation Plan

Dual Diagnosis Task Force Implementation Plan (Approved June 2009)

Family Crisis Handbook

Task force members Donna Icovino and Lucille Esralew, PhD, co-authored the Family Crisis Handbook: How to cope when an adult loved one with a developmental disability experiences mental health or behavioral issues.

Crisis Response System

The Crisis Assessment Response and Enhanced Services (CARES) program, administered through Trinitas Regional Medical Center Behavioral Health, provides crisis response and stabilization services for a period up to 120 days for adults ages 21+ with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Call CARES toll free at 888-393-3007, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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