TRENTON – Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed state budget for the Department of Human Services would increase support for individuals with developmental disabilities by $62 million, including $42 million in new funding for the developmental disabilities’ frontline workforce and $20 million in new resources for day program services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
According to a releasea, the proposed $42 million would increase wages for the workforce that supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in the community, including direct support professionals and group home managers. Together with wage increases included in the previous two budgets signed by Murphy, if adopted, this investment would mark $110 million in additional funding for the developmental disabilities workforce under the governor’s tenure.
The budget also includes $20 million in new funding to support community-based day programs.
“A strong and caring workforce and robust daily programming are essential for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to thrive in our communities,” Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson stated. “Our budget prioritizes these critical services by increasing wages for the professionals who support individuals in the community and by increasing investment in the day programs that provide individuals’ community engagement opportunities. We look forward to working with the Legislature to advance these proposals and to the benefits that these initiatives will bring to individuals and families throughout New Jersey.”
New Jersey Human Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities provides supportive services to about 24,000 adult individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including employment, housing and community engagement.
To thrive in the community, many individuals depend on the support provided by direct support professionals (DSPs) who ensure that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are achieving their personal goals.
“Direct support professionals play a crucial role in helping individuals with disabilities live successfully in our communities,” Human Services Deputy Commissioner Sarah Adelman stated. “Their dedication leads to better lives for so many New Jerseyans, which is why we continue to recognize their commitment and value their work and all that they do for individuals with disabilities.”
The governor’s budget also proposes $20 million in increased investments in day program services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Day programs provide supportive environments, regular daily activities, and community engagement opportunities in communities across the state.
“Day programs are an important service for individuals and families,” stated Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Seifried, who leads Human Services’ Division Developmental Disabilities. “Taken together, these new investments in the workforce and in day programs will make a meaningful difference for the individuals we serve.”
“Direct Support Professionals are the reason that thousands of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can live full lives, but their low wages remain the greatest threat to the service delivery system,” stated Thomas Baffuto, executive director of The Arc of New Jersey. “We are immensely grateful to the Governor and the Department for recognizing the role of this critical workforce and for appropriating funding in the FY21 Budget to increase wages and keep earnings for these staff ahead of minimum wage. Additionally, we applaud the Administration for taking action and increasing the day program rate to better reflect the cost of providing this important service. Thousands of individuals with I/DD rely on both DSPs and day program services, and so we are thankful to the Governor for earmarking additional funding for both items and strengthening the service delivery system for people with I/DD and their families living across the state.”
“On behalf of providers of services to individuals with intellectual and development disabilities and the direct support professionals that serve them, we thank Governor Murphy for recognizing the value of the work they do every day,” stated Valerie Sellers, CEO of the New Jersey Association of Community Providers. “This funding strengthens a system that has struggled to continue to offer critical services such as day programs. Recognizing and addressing this need not only supports DSPs but the individuals and families that rely upon them.”
“The Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities is very grateful to Governor Murphy and Commissioner Johnson for a proposed budget which speaks to the immediate needs of community providers who serve individuals with developmental disabilities,” stated Cathy Chin, executive director of the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities. “Together these proposals will go a long way in helping individuals stay in the community with high quality care and support. Person-centered thinking has transformed New Jersey’s system of care. Honoring the desires of the individual is vastly different from putting them into a facility and then giving them whatever the facility has available. Here is an individual – what do they want to achieve in their life and what can we do to help them achieve this? We thank the Governor for his leadership to properly resource our person-centered system of care, helping individuals with developmental disabilities to achieve their highest level of purpose and dignity.”
The governor’s budget also continues a $9.5 million initiative launched this fiscal year to better support the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and co-occurring mental health conditions.