• Devereux New Jersey

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Real Life Choices

Overview

The New Jersey Commissioner of Human Services, Gwendolyn Harris, issued a document on September 19, 2002 calling for broad and sweeping changes pursuant to the delivery of services to the developmentally disabled titled New and Expanded Options for People with Developmental Disabilities and Their Families. The innovative and courageous plan was predicated on a series of crises, fiscal and ethical: deteriorating conditions and understaffing at state-run developmental centers that resulted in a number of unnecessary deaths of residents, and a federal government response threatening to decertify and defund these institutions. Two-thirds or 18,000 individuals residing at home with their families who were receiving only 7 percent of resource allocations, and New Jersey’s national rankings of 30th on total expenditures on people with developmental disabilities and 41st in community support services were also critical considerations. Although New Jersey operates the third largest institutional system in the country, over one-third of its budget is spent on only 3,300 of the individuals residing there.

The plan proposed by Commissioner Harris shifted service emphasis from residential placement to supports for families caring for members with developmental disabilities at home. This held promise for improved access to treatment interventions and support services for all New Jersey residents with developmental disabilities, and their families, provides for an individualized, community-based, and responsive treatment programming, and provides for consumer control of services provided. Disabled individuals and their families are able to choose and access the services they receive, decide from whom they receive such services, and are able to change service providers if not satisfied with treatment quality and outcomes.

In community-based apartments and homes located in all four regions of the state, Devereux New Jersey Treatment Network (NJTN) delivers quality services to more than 300 developmentally disabled individuals. A part of the Devereux Foundation, the largest, nonprofit provider of behavioral health services nationwide, Devereux NJTN was one of few providers selected by the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) to sit on a panel of experts in the development and implementation of the pilot project for this new approach. While all providers in the state will be required to develop adaptive systems to address foregoing changes, Devereux NJTN is positioned to create a portal of access and responsiveness to meet the needs of this population and their families.

Goals and Objectives

Goal:

To provide responsive and responsible access to quality community and home-based services to New Jersey developmentally disabled individuals and their families.

Objectives:

1) To increase program support and access to services for people with disabilities living with their families.

(2) To collect information from individuals and families requesting services, as well as those on a waiting list, in order to plan for their needs and expand services.

(3) To measure the efficacy and treatment outcomes of the program and make recommendations for provision of future service initiatives.

(4) To expand core services provided to consumers while increasing utilization of existing programs.

Intervention

The Devereux NJTN is positioned to provide responsive, quality support and services to New Jersey residents in all four regions of the state. The NJTN has no residential campus, but has conducted all programming within a community/home-based milieu. Historically, all referrals to the providers have flowed through the offices of DDD. The new system provides control and access to consumers and their families. Family members may call Devereux NJTN (856.384.9680 x11) or email RealLifeChoices@devereux.org to request services or to consult with staff in formation of a service plan.

Impact

This Real Life Choices project positively impacts the developmentally disabled and their families, statewide, by providing responsive access to quality services, education, and a continuum of community-based supports. In addition, this model provides measurable quantitative and qualitative data with which to consider future NJ service delivery systems and subsequent initiatives.

Critical to program efficacy and consumer satisfaction is ongoing data collection and analysis, both quantitative and qualitative. Consumer and family feedback resulting from formal, evaluative instruments as well as anecdotal exchanges will be integrated to a database and appropriately weighted utilizing content analysis protocols. Results are integrated to program planning and service delivery constructs.

Please forward any questions to RealLifeChoices@devereux.org.