Advocating and advancing the human, civil and legal rights of persons with disabilities


Archived "What's New"

DRNJ Responds to Widespread Interruption of Delivery of Self-Directed Waiver Services

New Jersey's Department of Human Services (DHS) operates self-directed programs for the delivery of home and community based services. These waivers allow Medicaid beneficiaries to directly hire, fire and manage their own staffing, with funding provided under these waivers. Two of these programs are the Division of Developmental Disabilities' (DDD) Self-Directed option and the Division of Disability Services' (DDS) Personal Preference Program (PPP).

Until the summer of 2017, each program contracted for its own fiscal intermediary services to assist consumers and family members with payroll, tax withholding and budget management. In early 2017, DHS awarded the fiscal intermediary contract to Public Partnerships, LLC (PPL), a subsidiary of Public Consulting Group.

Since PPL assumed the role of fiscal intermediary, beneficiaries and families have reported to DRNJ widespread interruptions to the delivery of waiver services, including problems with incorrect, inconsistent, and missing payments for services, non-responsive customer service, and poor communication about significant changes that affect the implementation of these services.

In November 2017, in response to numerous reports from beneficiaries and family members, DRNJ filed a complaint with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A copy of the complaint may be found here.

In January 2018, DRNJ sent a letter to departing DHS Commissioner Elizabeth Connelly, detailing the complaints and seeking her direct intervention. A copy of the letter may be found here.

During this time, DRNJ staff have worked tirelessly with the Family Support Councils, intervened in dozens of individual cases, and coordinated efforts with the Developmental Disabilities Council and ABCD's coalition of support coordinators.

Most recently, DRNJ met with then Governor-Elect, now Governor Murphy's transition team to apprise them of the ongoing problems. They have committed to addressing this as a priority, with plans to brief the incoming administrations in Human Services, Policy, and Treasury, with follow up expected in February.

For customer service and escalation process information about PPL click here

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Disability Rights New Jersey and New Jersey Human Services Commission Announce Completion of Settlement That Transformed State's Mental Health Service System

The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, a national legal advocacy organization advancing the rights of people with mental disabilities, Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ), the New Jersey protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities, and New Jersey Human Services Commissioner Elizabeth Connolly announced a settlement agreement expanding opportunities for residents of New Jersey's state psychiatric hospitals to live in integrated settings has come to a conclusion after more than six years.

To access the press release click here

SAMHSA's Mobile Resources To Support Behavioral Health

SAMHSA has resources that can help address some of the toughest mental health and substance use challenges, including suicide prevention, bullying prevention, behavioral health following a disaster, and underage drinking prevention.

  • Suicide Safe helps health care providers integrate suicide prevention strategies into their practice and address suicide risk among their patients.
  • KnowBullying provides information and guidance on ways to prevent bullying and build resilience in children. A great tool for parents and educators, KnowBullying is meant for kids ages 3 to 18.
  • SAMHSA Disaster App provides responders with access to critical resources—like Psychological First Aid and Responder Self-Care—and SAMHSA's Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to help responders provide support to survivors after a disaster.
  • Talk. They Hear You is an interactive game that can help parents and caregivers prepare for one of the more important conversations they may ever have with children—underage drinking.


Disability.gov Offers Information Guides on Disability Benefits, Programs, and Services

Finding reliable disability-related information and resources can be time consuming. That's why Disability.gov has developed a series of 14 guides about topics such as disability benefits, housing assistance, job training programs, and financial help for families with low incomes. Other guides cover services that promote independence for people with disabilities such as home health care, programs for caregivers, assistive technology, and more.

Each guide begins with a series of “quick links” that answer many frequently asked questions. Disability.gov’s Guides to Information & Resources also connect you to information about local organizations that offer programs and services that promote the inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities in their communities. To learn more, visit http://www.Disability.gov.

The Inclusion Campaign Website Launched

Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ), Education Law Center (ELC), the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education (NJCIE) and other advocates launched “The Inclusion Campaign” (http://www.inclusioncampaign.org) website. The website is a resource for families, educators and other advocates regarding the landmark 2013 legal settlement with the New Jersey Department of Education to educate more of the state’s students with disabilities in an inclusive environment.

For more information, contact: Gregory Joseph, 646-346-4289, gregoryj@amplifyinc.org

CMS Publishes EPSDT Benefits Guide for Children and Youth

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published a go-to resource for anyone interested in improving child health: EPSDT - A Guide for State Coverage in the Medicaid Benefit for Children and Adolescents. The Guide was produced by CMS in collaboration with the National Health Law Program, under subcontract to the NORC at the University of Chicago.

The Guide is intended to help states, health care providers and others to understand the scope of services that are covered under EPSDT so that they may realize EPSDT's goals and provide the best possible child and adolescent health benefit through their Medicaid programs.

Click here to download a copy of the guide.


New Jersey Supreme Court Upholds Property Tax Exemptions for Supportive Housing - Positive Outcome for State’s Supportive Housing Providers

In a unanimous decision today in Advance Housing v. Teaneck, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld a property tax exemption for nonprofit providers of supportive housing. Supportive housing providers, such as Advance Housing, offer permanent homes for people with mental illness or cognitive disabilities. Residents are also offered – and almost invariably accept – a wide array of services, from crisis intervention to cooking classes, that help them to live in an integrated, community setting. The Court held that supportive housing constitutes a charitable use of property and thus qualifies for a tax exemption. This decision was welcomed by Advance Housing and a coalition of nonprofit supportive-housing providers and national and state organizations, including DRNJ, representing individuals with psychiatric disabilities and their families.

To read the press release, click here.

Saving Under Social Security's Plan to Achieve Self-Support

The Social Security Administration’s Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) is a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provision to help people with disabilities return to work. The PASS program allows disability beneficiaries receiving SSI to save money, as well as things of value that an individual owns, to pay for items or services needed to achieve a specific work goal. PASS allows a person to set aside money (without affecting benefits) for installment payments or a down payment on things like a vehicle, wheelchair or computer if needed to reach a work goal. If the goal is self-employment, a business plan is required.

If you are thinking about PASS, you will need to decide on a work goal and determine the items and services that you would need to achieve it. This can include supplies to start a business, school expenses, equipment and tools and transportation. You can receive help in setting up a plan from the following:

• A Ticket to Work Employment Network
• A Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselor;
• An organization that helps people with disabilities;
• Benefits Specialists or Protection and Advocacy organizations who have contracts with Social Security; and
• Local Social Security offices.

For more information, go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov

New Accessible Playgrounds App

NPR is looking for information about accessible playgrounds for a new app. Go to http://apps.npr.org/playgrounds/

NEADA Center Launches Veterans with Disabilities Online Toolkits

The Northeast ADA Center has added additional "Making Work Happen" online toolkits aimed at improving the employment experience for veterans with disabilities. These three toolkits (one for employers, one for disability service providers and one for veterans themselves) provide strategies and practices for the full inclusion of veterans with disabilities in employment. To learn more and to utilize these toolkits, visit: http://www.makingworkhappen.org/Veterans.cfm

Stakeholders Address Education Transformation Task Force Report

A coalition of stakeholders that work with individuals with disabilities, including DRNJ, have joined voices to address the Education Transformation Task Force Final Report dated September 5, 2012. To access a copy of the coalition report click here and to access a copy of the response click here.

DRNJ Submits Comments Before State Board of Education

DRNJ submitted comments during the State Board of Education's open comment session.Click here to access a copy.

Article About Proposed Regulations for Veterans with TBI


NJ211 Produces Guide

NJ 211 has produced its Hurricane Sandy Response and Recovery Guide available at http://www.nj211.org/images/HurricaneSandy/NJ211HurricaneSandyResourceGuide.pdf

This guide will be updated regularly.

ERC Releases Report of Discriminatory Treatment Against Individuals Who Use Guide Dog

The Equal Rights Center, in collaboration with the American Council for the Blind, has just released a new testing-based report, which documented a 31% rate of discriminatory treatment against blind or visually impaired individuals who use a guide dog while seeking rental housing in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. You can download a the full report at our website: http://www.equalrightscenter.org/disability

DRNJ Signs Letter Supporting Keeping All Students Safe Act

Disability Rights New Jersey and over 150 national, state and local organizations show support for Keeping All Students Safe Act bills, H.R. 1381 and S.2020. These bills will protect schoolchildren from dangerous restraint and seclusion. To access a copy of the letters to the Senate, House Chair and Ranking Members, click here

DHS and DCF Message Regarding Children with Developmental Disabilities

Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Human Services, Dawn Apgar, and the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, Robert Sabreen, recently released a message regarding the changes that become effective July 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012 in the service delivery for youth under age 21, currently served by the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). To access a copy of the message, click here.

Report and Videos Released by DRW and NDRN

Disability Rights Washington (DRW) and the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) released "Devaluing People with Disabilities: Medical Procedures that Violate Civil Rights". The report comes five years after media accounts surfaced of a Seattle girl who, when six years’ old, was kept permanently small through a set of procedures now commonly called the “Ashley Treatment.” The procedure was later found to have violated her legal rights. To access the full report, click this link .

Also, two videos have been released in conjunction with the Ashley Report Ashley’s Rights: Citizens Speak Out and NDRN’s Curt Decker on Ashley’s rights

DRNJ Submits Comments

DRNJ submitted comments opposing proposed changes to eligibility for General Assistance through Work First New Jersey. Click here to access a copy.

DRNJ Testifies on Mental Health Services in NJ

On September 20, 2010, DRNJ's executive director, Joseph Young testified before the Assembly Human Services Committee regarding mental health services and the state psychiatric hospitals in the State of New Jersey. Click here to view the comments.

Comments Submitted on the Early Intervention Family Cost Share Increase

DRNJ submitted comments to the Department of Health and Services regarding the proposed increase to the early intervention family cost share. Click here to view the comments.

Comments Submitted on the Emergency Enactment of DDD Placement Regulations

DRNJ submitted comments to the Division of Developmental Disabilities regarding the emergency adoption of placement regulations. Click here to view the comments.

Comments Submitted on the Proposed DDD Waiting List Regulations

DRNJ submitted comments to the Division of Developmental Disabilities regarding the proposed readoption without amendments waiting list regulations. Click here to view the comments.

Comments Submitted on the Proposed Family Support Services Regulations

DRNJ submitted comments to the Division of Developmental Disabilities regarding the proposed readoption without amendments family support services regulations. Click here to view the comments.

Executive Director Provided Testimony Before the Assembly Human Services Committee

Joseph Young, Executive Director of DRNJ provided testimony before the Assembly Human Services Committee to express concerns about the change in the definition of “traumatic brain injury” in the proposed amendment to N.J.A.C. 10:141-1.2. To access a copy of the testimony, click here.

Mental Health Association in New Jersey’s Peer Recovery WarmLine Receives National Recognition

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey’s Peer Recovery WarmLine has received Mental Health America’s Innovation in Programming Award. The honor was presented at the recent 2012 National Zarrow Mental Health Symposium and Mental Health America Annual Conference at the Delegate Assembly, in Tulsa, OK. According to Carolyn Beauchamp, President and CEO of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey (MHANJ), “This award recognizes the Peer WarmLine’s continuing innovation, creativity and accomplishments including measurable outcomes, reflection of state-of-the-art thinking and research in the mental health field and consumer empowerment. We are proud of the concerted efforts of our Peer Recovery WarmLine team.”

MHANJ’s Peer Recovery WarmLine is a revolutionary consumer (peer) professional program, providing ongoing telephone support to mental health consumers as they work toward their recovery. All calls are answered by peers who are trained, supportive mental health consumers, using best practice models such as Intentional Peer Support and Wellness and Recovery Action planning. In addition, the Peer Recovery WarmLine’s full employment training program, with a spectrum extending from volunteer to manager, exemplifies a best practice as a system of occupational actualization for consumer professionals. In both aspects it is an invaluable lifeline for mental health consumers in the community.

For more information visit www.mhanj.org or call 973-571-4100.

Consumer Voice Offers Grants For Two Citizen Advocacy Groups

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (Consumer Voice) is excited to be offering grants to two citizen advocacy groups (CAGs) in the amount of $4,000 each. The grants are part of phase two of the Consumer Voice's project Quality Care, No Matter Where: Consumer Guides for Self-Advocacy, funded by the Milbank Foundation for Rehabilitation. The goals of this project are as follows: (1) to educate older aduts and individuals with disabilities about the various options for long-term services and supports available across the long-term care continuum; (2) to empower older adults and persons with disabilities to be self-advocates for quality services and supports; (3) to strengthen citizen advocacy groups that work on behalf of long-term care consumers; and (4) to forge new and meaningful partnerships with national and state disability groups.

The due date for proposals is due by October 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm EST. All proposal submitters will receive a notification via email (or postal mail, if an email address is not provided) regarding the acceptance or denial of their proposal by November 12, 2012. If you would like more information or have any questions, please contact Sara Cirba at scirba@theconsumervoice.org or 202-332-2275 x 221.

Voter Booklets Published

DRNJ, in collaboration with The Boggs Center and NJCDD, have published a new resource "Voting: It's Your Right". The publication is available in both English and Spanish. To access a copy, go to publications page.

National Survey on Abuse of People with Disabilities was released

The National Survey on Abuse of People with Disabilities was released on May 1, 2012. The purpose of the survey is to seek input from the public, especially from persons with disabilities or those who interact with them, such as family members, caregivers, service providers, and advocates. The survey, which takes just a few minutes to complete, gathers information about actual incidents of abuse as well as attitudes regarding the adequacy and effectiveness, or not, of official responses to such victimization. To take the survey now, click here.

Words of Wellness Newsletter

The June edition of the Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey Institute for Wellness and Recovery Initiatives "Words of Wellness" newsletter is available by clicking here.

Data Reveal Disparities in Schools' Use of Restraints

New federal data that for the first time attempt to catalog how many times students were isolated or restrained—by a school employee or with a device—show that, in many cases, those techniques are applied disproportionately to students with disabilities, particularly black students with disabilities. To read the entire article, go to http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/03/13/24data.h31.html?tkn=YMCE5GXFBhFa1BYeMycLWVPvH%2FtOkD9h8yoB&cmp=clp-sb-cec

DRNJ Files Complaint Regarding Involuntary Administration of Medication

DRNJ, in collaboration with Kirkland & Ellis, has filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in New Jersey against the Departments of Human Services and Health and Senior Services regarding the involuntary administration of medication to psychiatric patients in New Jersey's public and private hospitals. The lawsuit challenges the currrent implementation of procedures put in place in the state-operated psychiatric hospitals in response to the litigation in Rennie v Klein (1978-1983) and the lack of any formal procedures or oversight in the other hospitals. The lawsuit alleges that the current procedures, which do not provide for an independent review in the event of a challenge to the need for involuntary medication no longer conforms to today's understanding of patient rights and good clinical practice.

Click here to access a copy of the complaint.

Click here to access a copy of the opinion denying protective order.

Click here to access a copy of the opinion regarding motion to dismiss.

to access a copy of the opinion denying Plaintiff’s Motion for a Protective Order that sternly admonishes the State to instruct its staff not to intimidate hospital patients who wish to testify regarding their experiences being involuntarily medicated.

Case Update: Court Opinion denying Plaintiff’s Motion for a Protective Order sternly admonishes State to instruct staff not to intimidate hospital patients who wish to testify regarding their experiences being involuntarily medicated

The court wrote the following; "The Court does not dismiss the possibility that judicial intervention, including a protective order, preliminary injunction, or sanctions may be later required if evidence of harassment or intimidation is found. To be clear, even some of the conduct that Defendants already admit is clearly improper.3 Counsel would be advised to ensure that physicians and staff who may have access to patient files or occasion to discuss this litigation with patients are well informed as to the ethical duties of litigants and the severe penalties associated with witness tampering and/or spoliation. Plaintiff is entitled to a fair hearing, and the Court is obligated to protect the integrity of that process."

Read the full Opinion click here

Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the Case is denied.

In upholding DRNJ’s argument that the current practice of forcibly administering medication to psychiatric patients violates the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act the court wrote the following; "Plaintiff alleges that its constituents have been denied the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the treatment offered by state facilities because of their mental illness. (Complaint ¶¶ 218, 225). Plaintiff further alleges that other medical patients under the care and supervision of the state, such as patients without mental illness, prisoners with mental illness, and individuals with both mental illness and developmental illness are accorded this ability, resulting in superior treatment and greater access to the benefits provided by the state program. Id. at 205. Defendants have offered no argument as to why this differential treatment does not constitute a denial of benefits by reason of disability. Consequently, Plaintiff’s claims under the ADA and RA will be permitted to proceed."

Read the full 38 page Opinion here

Motion To Dismiss State’s Affirmative Defenses Granted in it’s entirety, and DRNJ awarded attorney fees

DRNJ filed a Motion to Dismiss 33 Affirmative Defenses filed by the State. In so doing DRNJ pointed out that many of the defenses were irrelevant to the case, and had already been rejected by the court and were a waste of time. Agreeing with DRNJ the court dismissed all 33 Affirmative Defenses, awarded attorney fees to DRNJ, and wrote the following; "If Defendant wishes to appeal a final judgment of this Court, she has the right to do so. She may raise any legal or procedural challenges that she believes appropriate. Until then however she will not be permitted to waste the time and attention of the parties or the Court by continuing to reassert legally groundless defenses that have already been rejected."

Read the entire Opinion here

Read DRNJ’s Motion to Strike Affirmative Defenses here

Election Protection Smartphone App

In 2008, six million people didn’t vote because they didn’t know how to register to vote or missed their voter registration deadline. For the first time ever Election Protection has developed a smartphone app to help you check your voter registration status and register to vote. You can also access information about absentee voting or early voting in your state. And what’s even more exciting is that you can use this app to help your friends and family on the go. The Election Protection smartphone app truly puts everything you need to know about this year’s election at your fingertips. For more information, go to http://www.866ourvote.org/pages/election-protection-smartphone-app

Social Security Administration Newsletter

The May, 2012 Social Security Administration Newsletter is available at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/newsletter/. Please share this information with your staff, clients and the general public. If you are able to, please publish this newsletter and/or please post it on your website.

Governor Signs Proclamation

In recognition of May as Mental Health Awareness Month, Governor Chris Christie has signed a proclamation and written a letter. Click here to access the proclamation. Click here to access the letter.

U.S. Department of Education Issues Resource Document that Discourages Restraint and Seclusion

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education issued a publication that outlines principles for educators, parents and other stakeholders to consider when developing or refining policies and procedures to support positive behavioral interventions and avoid the use of restraint and seclusion. The goal of this resource document is to help ensure that schools are safe and healthy environments where all students can learn, develop and participate in instructional programs that promote high levels of academic achievement. The 15 principles that frame the document ultimately highlight how schoolwide behavioral interventions can significantly reduce or eliminate the use of restraint or seclusion. These guiding principles offer states, districts and other education leaders a framework for developing appropriate policies related to restraint and seclusion to ensure the safety of adults and children. The document also provides a synopsis of ongoing efforts by federal agencies to address national concerns about using restraint and seclusion in schools, and includes links to state restraint and seclusion policies and procedures.

To access this document, click here.

Report Finds Government Dollars Used to Segregate and Exploit Workers with Disabilities

In a report released, the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) outlined how federal funding is being used to shuttle people with disabilities into sheltered workshops and deprive them of meaningful employment opportunities.

The report, Beyond Segregated and Exploited is a follow up to a report released last year that examined the issue of segregating working people with disabilities in sheltered workshops and the use of the subminimum wage to exploit their disability for the financial gain of employers. The new report is an update on progress to end those practices and move toward a system that encourages integrated employment options that pay competitive wages.

This report also provides additional insight into the complex and confusing system that pumps millions of dollars into sheltered work despite good national public policy meant to encourage integration and competitive employment. The report follows money designated to be spent on integrated employment as it winds its way from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to the states, state agencies, and finally into sheltered workshops.

The report calls for:

• Ending segregated employment and the subminimum wage by restricting all federal and state money that is spent on employers who segregate employees with disabilities from the general workforce.
• Strengthening current and create new tax incentives for employers to hire people with disabilities in integrated workplaces at comparable wages.
• Increasing labor protections and enforcement of existing law.

The report can be found at http://www.ndrn.org/images/Documents/Resources/Publications/Reports/Beyond_Segregated_and_Exploited.pdf

State Conference Focused on Laws Affecting People with Disabilities

Two top officials from the Department of Human Services led a workshop last month on the integration of behavioral services into a managed care system during a statewide conference on the law and disability issues. Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services Assistant Commissioner Lynn Kovich and Deputy Director Raquel Jeffers guided a panel discussion, "Managed Behavioral Healthcare," as part of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and Community Law Project's annual "Law and Disability Issues."

More than 300 lawyers, advocates and providers involved in mental health and substance abuse services participated in the DHS-run workshop, as well as one updating attendees on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). In their workshop, Kovich and Jeffers focused on transitioning behavioral health care into managed care, explaining fee structure changes that will be phased in and assuring participants that access to care will be maintained and that service administrators will not profit from denying care. John Monahan, President and CEO of Greater Trenton Behavioral HealthCare also led the panel, which was moderated by mental health policy consultant Dennis Lafer.

The ADA workshop was led by Community Law Project Managing Attorney Steven Leder and included law project attorney Stuart Weiner and Cherry Hill attorney Richard Yaskin. Keynote speeches about providing an overview of the Affordable Care Act, health reform implantation and Accountable Care Organizations were presented by Rutgers University Center for State Health Policy Director Joel Cantor and Sarah Barth from the Center for Health Care Strategies.

DHS Releases Quick Guide as Part of Disabilities Awareness Month

In recognition of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez released a “Quick Guide” to educate the public and media on appropriate terminology to use when referring to individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The guide reinforces the spirit of legislation signed in 2010 by Governor Chris Christie that removes disrespectful language referring to individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities from New Jersey statutes and regulations.

“Words matter,” said Commissioner Velez. “The use of outdated, derogatory terms is insulting and hurtful to individuals with disabilities and the people who love them. We’re hopeful this guide provides phrase alternatives that become instilled in the vernacular so we can eliminate the stigma of archaic vocabulary.” The Commissioner noted that despite sophisticated, nationwide public relations campaigns by a host of service organizations promoting People First language or denouncing the ‘R’ word, the message has not resonated, as it should. “This is not about being ‘politically correct’,” said the Commissioner. “It’s about respect. Our characteristics do not and should not ever define us.”


NSCLC Launches New Website about Dual Eligible Demonstrations

The National Senior Citizens Law Center has launched a new website to provide aging and disability advocates the information and tools they need to ensure that models for delivering health and long term services and supports to dual eligibles (people with both Medicare and Medicaid) include strong consumer protections.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as part of an initiative authorized by the Affordable Care Act, is currently working with states to design and implement new models for integrating the benefits and financing of both programs. As states build these new models, NSCLC believes that advocates for dual eligibles must be involved in this process.

The site will evolve over time with new postings and updates added weekly. Key features include:
• Advocate tools which provide specific recommendations on important topics like enrollment, appeals, financing and consumer protections.
• State profiles that describe the current status of demonstration proposals.
• A front page map that tells the user at a glance how many dual eligibles there are in each state and what type of care model is under consideration.
• A custom search engine that directs users to the most relevant information on the web.
• Federal guidance related to the dual eligible demonstrations.
• Recommended reading for advocates that are newer to the issue.
In addition, the site allows users to sign up to receive updates and related information from NSCLC about dual eligibles.

The site is part of NSCLC's project to ensure that new models for integrating care for dual eligibles or for converting Medicaid-funded long term services and supports into managed care include strong consumer protections.

The project and site are funded in part by the Commonwealth Fund, the Nathan Cummings Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies. The site address: http://dualsdemoadvocacy.org.

Department of ED Must Do More to Stop Restraint and Seclusion of School Children

In a new report released, the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) called on the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to do more to reduce and prevent the use of restraint and seclusion on school children. This report is the third in a series of reports on restraint and seclusion by NDRN called School Is Not Supposed to Hurt. The first two reports were issued in 2009 and 2010. Many others, including the Government Accountability Office, have reported on deaths and injuries resulting from the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.

In this report, NDRN argues that ED is in the unique position to issue strong national guidance to state education agencies and local school districts about when the use of restraint and seclusion might violate anti-discrimination and education laws, similar to the guidance that the Office of Civil Rights has already issued on bullying and harassment. The guidance must at a minimum address that the use of physical restraint or seclusion is limited to circumstances when necessary to protect a child or others from imminent physical danger.

A copy of the report can be found at www.ndrn.org

Department Announces New Effort to Strengthen Accountability for Students with Disabilities

The Department of Education announced new steps to help close the achievement gap for students with disabilities by moving away from a one-size-fits-all, compliance-focused approach to a more balanced system that looks at how well students are being educated in addition to continued efforts to protect their rights.

For more information about the work of the Department’s Office of Special Education Programs, see http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep/index.html

HUD Charges Bank of America with Discriminating Against Homebuyers

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it is charging Bank of America with discriminating against homebuyers with disabilities. HUD alleges that Bank of America imposed unnecessary and burdensome requirements on borrowers who relied on disability income to qualify for their home loans and required some disabled borrowers to provide physician statements to qualify for home mortgage loans. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in the terms and conditions of a loan to an individual based on a disability, including imposing different application or qualification criteria, and makes it illegal to inquire about the nature or severity of a disability except in limited circumstances not applicable here. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2012/HUDNo.12-036

New Jersey’s Anti-Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Law

Governor Christie signed the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act”, P.L. 2010, Chapter 122, into law on January 5, 2011. It became effective on September 1, 2011. It amends and supplements the 2003 New Jersey Bullying Law, and aims to forge a statewide and systemic approach to harassment and bullying that involves students, parents, teachers, administrators, and the community at large. It applies to all public elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools. The goal of the new amendments is to increase prevention, reporting and responsiveness to incidents by requiring the adoption of policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation and bullying on school property, at a school sponsored function, on a school bus, or off school grounds. It requires that staff report any allegations of bullying, requires that schools provide training and that they comply with strict guidelines for investigations. On January 27, 2012, the Council on Local Mandates held a hearing on the Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying statute to determine whether it constituted an unfunded mandate on school districts. Additional information can be found at: http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/12/0131/0200 or to access the DRNJ bulletin, go to publications page.

Renew NJ's Special Needs Housing Trust Fund Campaign

On February 15, 2012, the Renew NJ's Special Needs Housing Trust Fund Campaign began with a meeting of more than 130 people in Trenton. After being the catalyst for 2,000 units of community housing that made independent living a possibility for 3,000 people with disabilities and creating many NJ jobs for people in housing development, the SNHTF has depleted its resources. Join the "Renew NJ's SNHTF Campaign" and find out how we can work together to renew funding for supportive housing. It is only by working together that we can secure a permanent funding stream for this crucial funding stream for supportive housing.

If you have not already endorsed this campaign, we encourage you to do so today by clicking here http://www.snhtf.org/organizational-endorsement/

Department of Education Issues ADA Amendments Act Dear Colleague Letter to Provide Guidance Under Amended Legal Standards

The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights issued a Dear Colleague letter concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act. The letter and accompanying Frequently Asked Questions document provide additional guidance on the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in elementary and secondary schools, given the changes to those laws made by the Amendments Act.

You can view the press release and letter at http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/department-education-issues-ada-amendments-act-dear-colleague-letter-provide-gui

TSA Helpline for Travelers with Disabilities

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the launch of TSA Cares today, a new helpline number designed to assist travelers with disabilities and medical conditions, prior to getting to the airport. Travelers may call TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787 2227 prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint. Please see the below links regarding this new service

A Comment from Joe Young, Executive Director of DRNJ About the Recent Transplant Issue

Many, many years ago, New Jersey’s P&A received a call from a parent who said that her child with Down Syndrome was being denied a heart transplant by a New Jersey hospital. The initial report to our office was that individuals with cognitive impairments were disqualified from receiving transplants. If my memory is correct, it took just one phone call to get agreement that individuals with cognitive disabilities were not categorically disqualified from receiving transplants.

While not categorically ineligible, the individual would still have to satisfy the clinical criteria for the procedure. It is possible that a person's existing disability may make it more difficult to meet appropriate clinical criteria. For example, guidelines for heart transplants have excluded individuals with some forms of cancer or who are receiving cancer treatments. Active alcohol or (legal) substance abuse usually will preclude a liver transplant.

Most, if not all, transplant guidelines require the individual to be able to comply with immunosuppression protocols. At its simplest, this means the ability to take multiple medications according to fixed schedules, or as needed, and the ability to report changing symptoms to a responsible heath care provider. This was the issue that was raised many years ago, and it appears to be the crux of the current controversy.

It is clearly impermissible to assume that everyone with a cognitive or communications impairment cannot meet the requirements of a post-transplant protocol, especially considering services and supports that may be available from family and other caretakers. It is possible, however, that someone with no capacity to communicate would not meet the clinical criteria. It is also possible that someone with a severe mental illness may be irreparably resistant to a medication regime despite the best efforts of family and other supports.

It is my belief that the NJ Law Against Discrimination and the Americans with Disabilities Act already preclude categorical discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all medical care, including access to transplants. I do not believe that special legislation is needed. In fact, special legislation covering only transplants may give the incorrect impression that discrimination in other aspects of health care is permitted.

Even if an individual is denied a transplant based on the failure to meet the clinical criteria, I believe an aggrieved individual would be able to challenge criteria that are not clinically necessary and have a discriminatory impact. The individual would also be able to challenge what they believe is an incorrect determination that they do not meet a clinical criteria for the transplant.

Both preventing discrimination and access to health care are priorities of DRNJ, which would allow DRNJ staff to assist individuals who believe that they have experienced disability-based discrimination in accessing and receiving health care.

NJ COST Published Report

Recently the New Jersey Council on Special Transportation (NJCOST) published a report "Stranded in New Jersey: Community Transportation...A Service in Financial Crisis". This report describes alternative community transportation funding in a time of declining revenue.

To access the report, go to http://www.njcost.com/2012%20info/2012%20NJ%20White%20Paper%202nd.pdf

The Arc Launches Sibling Project with New Partnership

The Arc announced a new partnership with the national Sibling Leadership Network (SLN) and formed The Arc’s National Sibling Council to foster the active involvement of siblings of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The sibling relationship is unique and siblings are critical to ensuring the full inclusion and participation of their loved ones in all aspects of life. The partnership with SLN and the National Sibling Council will connect siblings with each other and offer them opportunities to impact policy, service delivery and the quality of life for millions of Americans with I/DD through specialized programming, events and opportunities to connect.

For more information, go to http://www.siblingleadership.org/join-sln/

Internet Parenting Education and Support Group for Mothers With Psychiatric Disabilities Research Study

The Temple University (TU) Collaborative on Community Inclusion has launched a new research study examining the effectiveness of an Internet parenting education and social support program for mothers with a psychiatric disability. The TU Collaborative is looking for women who are interested in participating in an online parental education course designed to enhance parental knowledge and skills in the following areas: illness management, child development, stress reduction, parent-child communication, and promoting resiliency in your child.

This program also involves Internet social support through a Listserv, which will be co-moderated by a parent with a psychiatric disability and a mental health professional. This group can connect you 24-hours a day, 7-days a week to a community of supportive peers, in your own home or anywhere you can access the Internet. Participants will be compensated up to $100 for their participation in this study.

If you want to participate or would like more information, please send an email to the following address: momsupport@temple.edu.

Life-Changing Apps for People with Brain Injury

Almost everyday we hear of new smartphone applications ("apps") developed for just about everything - from staying organized to hearing better in noisy environments. The BrainLine team sifted through many resources to collect this list of Android apps that could be useful to people with a brain injury - and their families and caregivers. To access the list, click here.

Brain Injury Resource Website

Stephanie Reid-Arndt, chair and assistant professor of health psychology in the University of Missouri School of Health Professions, has launched a resource for people to understand traumatic brain injuries. Developed through a collaboration with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the website is designed specifically for people who, in their professional lives, may come in contact with people who have suffered brain trauma (e.g. police officers, social workers, military professionals).

The Brain Injury Guide and Resources are available at http://braininjuryeducation.com. If you have questions, please contact Lori Brenneke at Lori.Brenneke@health.mo.gov or 573-751-6246

ABA Adopts Policy Encouraging Expansion of Home and Community Based Services as a Viable Long Term Care Option

At the August ABA Annual Meeting the ABA House of Delegates approved the following as official ABA policy:

Policy Proposal 106A August 2011

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges Congress, and all federal, state and territorial administrative bodies to continue efforts to expand the availability of home and community based services (HCBS) as a viable long term option by:

1. Making HCBS a mandatory service under Medicaid available to anyone who would otherwise qualify for institutional long-term care.
2. Providing comparable financial eligibility standards and procedures for nursing home care and HCBS.
3. Permanently mandating Medicaid spousal impoverishment protections for spouses of HCBS enrollees, as already exist for spouses of institutional long-term care.
4. Allowing Medicaid enrollees to retain sufficient income to pay their reasonable living expenses in the community.
5. Initiating and expanding other HCBS efforts to help people with disabilities of all ages to live with dignity in the community.

DRNJ's Comments Regarding the Comprehensive Medicaid Waiver Concept Paper

DRNJ submitted comments to the Department of Human Services regarding the Comprehensive Medicaid Waiver Concept Paper. To access a copy of the comments in pdf format, click here.

Autism Fact Sheet Translated into Multiple Languages

A collection of faculty, staff and trainees of the USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (USC UCEDD) at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles have translated the CDC “Learn the Signs. Act Early” Autism Fact Sheet into multiple languages to reach underserved populations in CA. The Autism Fact Sheet provides a one-page tool for clinicians to share with families, to raise awareness about developmental delay, which may be related to autism or other developmental disabilities. The Autism Fact Sheet is available in Arabic, Armenian, Farsi, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese from http://uscucedd.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=455&Itemid=426. You can also contact Cary Kreutzer, MPH, RD at ckreutzer@chla.usc.edu to obtain copies or if you have any questions. English and Spanish versions of the fact sheet are available from the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/downloads.html.

Vineland Developmental Center Closure Information and Testimony

Governor Christie's proposed budget includes the closure of Vineland Developmental Center. The Department of Human Services released information regarding the planned closure. Click here to see the Department's information.

On May 17, 2011, Joseph B. Young, DRNJ's Executive Director, provided written testimony to the joint legislative committee of the New Jersey Legislature regarding the closure of Vineland Developmental Center. To access a copy of the testimony, click here.

Justice Department's New ADA Rules

Revised regulations implementing the ADA will take effect on March 15, 2011, the Department of Justice announced. The revised rules are the department’s first major revision of its guidance on accessibility in 20 years. The department is also releasing a new document, “ADA Update: A Primer for Small Business,” to help small businesses understand the new and updated accessibility requirements. In addition, the department is announcing the release of a new publication explaining when the various provisions of its amended regulations will take effect. Both documents are available on the department’s ADA website, www.ada.gov.

Justice Department Settles ADA Lawsuit

The Justice Department has reached a settlement with Inova Health System to ensure effective communication with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing in the provision of medical services. The agreement, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, resolves a complaint that Inova failed to provide sign language interpreters to an expectant mother and others who are deaf and need interpreters to communicate effectively with health care providers.

Those interested in finding out more about this settlement or hospitals’ effective communication obligations under the ADA may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov.

Special Education Lawsuit Seeks to Redress Systematic Discriminatory Practices Involving More than 95 Children

On February 2, 2011, Disability Rights New Jersey announced that it intends to join a lawsuit filed against the Dumont, New Jersey Public School District for systematic discrimination against children with special education needs.

To view the press release, click here.

Letter to DOE from NJ Immigration Policy Network

DRNJ joined a long list of education and children’s advocates encouraging the acting Commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Education to take steps to ensure that the state’s local school districts are not denying enrollment to immigrant and undocumented students. Despite federal and state law guaranteeing access to the classroom for undocumented students, a previous survey found that more than a third of New Jersey’s local school districts continued to require proof of citizenship before registering a child.

To view the letter, click here.


Traumatic Brain Injury Resources

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Disability Rights New Jersey
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