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Poll: Should State Be Allowed to Mandate Moves Into Group Homes?

Should ‘intellectually disabled’ people be allowed to stay in developmental centers or out-of-state facilities, if that’s what their families prefer?

Last week, Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed legislation that would have limited the state’s ability to move people with intellectual disabilities into group homes. The vetoes applied to two separate bills: S-2158/A-3418 and S-2249/A-3475. The first bill would have put a moratorium on residents at out-of-state facilities being transferred back to New Jersey. The second would have required that residents of developmental centers slated for closure remain within 30 miles of those facilities.

Christie administration officials have argued that although it is understandable for families to be worried about their loved ones, the options for community placement in the state have increased substantially and oversight of community residences has become much more stringent in recent years. They note that in most cases, it is beneficial for those with disabilities to live in the community, rather than in institutions. The state, they say, needs maximum flexibility in this process.

But many families fear that community group homes will not provide the support and services necessary – and point to two recent deaths as examples of what could happen. What’s more, they are concerned about their loved ones being ripped from the only homes they’ve known and in many cases, put somewhere where it is difficult for their families to visit them frequently.

What do you think? Are their fears warranted? What should the state do?

  • Everyone agrees that this is a difficult issue. But the state, which is footing the bill after all, must have maximum flexibility when it comes to making these decisions. I support Christie on this one.

  • Although similar, we are blending a lot of issues here. The state needs to bring people home from out of state if we have the ability to care for them, regardless of how long they’ve lived elsewhere. It’s a question of funding reimbursement, responsibility and making our system work. However, if someone needs an institution, they shouldn’t be placed in a group home in opposition to the family – particularly if they will be moved far away.

  • Why can’t the state have a moratorium on moving those existing patients – even if they are out of state or in an institution that will remain open – if the family objects? The disabled have enough issues – they shouldn’t be ripped from the only home they’ve known. Only new patients should be sent to the community group homes, unless the family welcomes it.

  • Both the Christie administration and the state Legislature should have involved families more in this plan from the get-go. At least this legislation would have corrected that original mistake. First they closed two development centers in the most populous part of the state and are giving families the dubious choice between a local group home with fewer services or sending patients too far away. Now, they are talking about forcing patients that we sent out of state because we couldn’t provide for them to a new living situation. It’s disgraceful to veto these bills.

  • This is really a complicated and distressing issue. I don’t know enough about it but I do think families need to be consulted.

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