N.J. Department of Human Services Issues Updated Re-Opening Requirements for Congregate Day Programs for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

April 22, 2021

(TRENTON) – The Department of Human Services today released updated re-opening requirements for congregate day programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Under the guidance, Division of Developmental Disabilities-funded day programs may now re-open with capacity limits tied to the COVID-19 Activity Level Index (CALI) for the region in which they operate.

Previous requirements prohibited program operation in regions with High and Very High CALI designations. 

Operating capacity under updated requirements are as follows:

  • 25 percent in Very High (Red) - previously not permitted to operate;
  • 50 percent in High (Orange) - previously not permitted to operate;
  • 50 percent in Moderate (Yellow) – same as previous; and
  • Full capacity in Low (Green) – previously permitted to operate at 50 percent capacity.

The full document containing all requirements can be found here.

Program providers who elect to open or re-open in the Very High, High and Moderate regions must inform participants of the region’s designation and that there is increased risk of COVID-19 transmission in the region so that informed decisions on participation can be made by individuals, families and guardians. 

Programs may re-open as early as they are able to come into compliance with the Congregate Day Program Re-Opening Requirements.

Vaccination is not required for attendance, but all individuals are encouraged to be vaccinated.

The guidance notes that day program characteristics such as the use of communal spaces and shared transportation have the potential of increasing the risk of COVID-19 spread.

“It is important to note that, even with prudent steps being taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection, neither the day program provider nor the Division can guarantee that transmission of COVID-19, or one of its variants, will not occur,” the requirements state. “Day programs are congregate facilities serving individuals with varying levels of risk for developing complications following the contraction of COVID-19. An individual’s risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 is higher if they have not been vaccinated, if the individual is not able to adhere to distancing and masking guidelines, and when COVID-19 activity is higher in their region.  It is important for individuals and their guardians to consider these risks against the benefits of participation when making decisions about Day Program attendance.”

The Division of Developmental Disabilities recommends participants consult with a medical provider and others on their care team about attending day programs and what activities are safe depending on the individual’s health status, vaccination status, and the COVID-19 activity level in their region.