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August 31, 2012

The average waiting time for acceptance at a state developmental center for the disabled is 12 years, according to an audit released Thursday of the state Division of Developmental Disabilities of the Department of Human Services. About 10,500 clients reside in state-funded group homes -- supervised community-care residences and the seven developmental centers run by the state. There are 8,100 individuals on the division's waiting list, of which 4,900 are considered a priority because the caregiver is 55 years or older or there is a clear risk of abuse.

The state auditor is recommending that New Jersey regulations be changed to require clients to contribute 100 percent of their unearned income for room, board, and maintenance. Currently, New Jersey only requires clients pay 75 percent of unearned income. With a larger contribution, the audit estimated that the state would earn an additional $3.2 million that could be used to provide services to more individuals each year. Typical contributions from clients now total between $6,800 and $7,300 a year, which only provides between 2.5 percent and 6 percent of the cost of care.

The division provides services to more than 43,000 clients with developmental disabilities, which include intellectual disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, spinal bifida, and other neurological impairments.

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