Mother Begs NJ to Return Autistic Daughter to Out-of-State Facility

NJTV News | May 17, 2017 | Health Care
Jennifer Sullivan flourished at Plowshare Farm in New Hampshire but has deteriorated markedly since being ordered back to New Jersey under a state program

Since Jennifer Sullivan was ordered by New Jersey’s Department of Human Services to leave a residential center in New Hampshire for people with developmental disabilities, her behavior has deteriorated significantly. That’s according to her mother Joan who shortly is set to meet state officials to plead once again for Jennifer to be returned to New Hampshire; she was previously turned down.

Twenty-seven-year-old Jennifer, who has autism, thrived at New Hampshire’s Plowshare Farm when she moved there at 19. She worked in the kitchen, made friends, and helped on the farm. “She was hiking and biking and visiting friends and social…” her mother said. Jennifer’s stay was funded by New Jersey tax dollars.

But, under a program called Return Home New Jersey, the Department of Human Services ordered out-of-state clients to come back to the Garden State. Jennifer, who now lives in a group home in Bridgewater, is among 170 people who were transferred from out-of-state residences to facilities within the Garden State between 2009 through 2015.

Joan Sullivan said that Jennifer now rarely leaves her room. And she is shocked by her daughter’s deterioration. “I didn’t think it would be this bad. She’s eating with her hands, she’s interrupting, she’s not listening to other people. These are things that she never did at Plowshare Farm,” Sullivan said.

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