NJ Human Services Announces Efforts to Improve Access to Traumatic Brain Injury Services for Diverse Communities

$1.7M in Funding Allocated for Initiative to Maximize the Overall Health and Well-Being of Individuals Living with Traumatic Brain Injuries

October 13th, 2021

(TRENTON) The New Jersey Department of Human Services is working with leading community organizations and state agencies to strengthen access and improve cultural competency and language access to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) services. 

The initiative, called Improving Access to Equitable, High Quality, Evidence-based Services and Supports for New Jerseyans with TBI and Their Families, is supported by a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part a financial assistance award totaling $335,578 annually for 5 years, with 60 percent funded by ACL/HHS and $135,400, or 40 percent, by non-government sources.

“We appreciate the support from the U.S. Administration for Community Living for this initiative. Traumatic Brain Injuries impact people from different cultural, racial and linguistic backgrounds and making sure that our services are responsive and accessible to diverse communities is critical,” Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. “Through these efforts, TBI survivors and their families will gain better access to these supports.”

The goal of the initiative is to increase access with a focus on the cultural and linguistic needs of our diverse communities and streamline access to TBI information and resources that can increase participation in TBI-related services among minority and non-English speaking communities, and enhance TBI screening to identify and better serve individuals living with TBI in the state.

“TBI supports are key to improving a survivor’s quality of life and increasing their ability to live independently. And that is why it is so important that these supports are inclusive and responsive to the needs of all New Jerseyans regardless of their cultural/racial background or the language they speak. These efforts, through key partnerships, will create greater access to these services,” Human Services Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira said.

DDS is working with the following partners on the initiative over the next five years:

o   New Jersey Advisory Council on Traumatic Brain Injury

o   Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey (BIANJ)

o   NJ 211

o   New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH)

▪      Center for Health Statistics and Informatics (CHS)

▪      Office of Minority and Multicultural Health (OMMH)

▪      New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research (NJCBIR)

“As the designated lead state government agency for brain injury, we look forward to the advancement of this project as our key partners work simultaneously over the course of this five-year initiative to positively impact New Jerseyans who have survived a traumatic brain injury,” DDS Executive Director Peri L. Nearon said.

Work will include developing a culturally competent TBI state action plan, with an emphasis on racial equity. This action plan, which will be led by The New Jersey Advisory Council on Traumatic Brain Injury, will serve as a baseline that will inform additional initiative activities over the five year period. The NJDOH Office of Multicultural Health and the NJDOH NJ Commission on Brain Injury Research will provide data and subject matter expertise in order to inform and drive the action plan.

BIANJ will increase access to TBI services and supports to individuals who are linguistically and racially diverse. NJ 211 and NJDOH Center for Health Statistics and Informatics will collect surveillance data to estimate the burden of TBI among New Jerseyans.

DDS will work internally to increase membership on the New Jersey Advisory Council on Traumatic Brain Injury to include greater representation of TBI survivors.

The project will be funded through July 31, 2026.

The DDS administers the Traumatic Brain Injury Fund and ensures that New Jersey residents of any age, who have survived a traumatic brain injury, have the opportunity to access the brain injury related services and supports they need to live in the community.

The Division also provides a variety of services to New Jersey residents, including personal care assistance to self-directing individuals living with permanent physical disabilities in order to work, go to school and be active in their communities. The Division offers assistance through its toll-free hotline, 1-888-285-3036. Certified Information and Referral Specialists are available to confidentially discuss issues, provide information, assist with problem solving and refer individuals to appropriate agencies or services.

To verify eligibility and apply for the TBI Fund, go here.