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What resources and assistance are available for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities?
In response to COVID-19, the Department of Human Services and the Division of Developmental Disabilities have:
- Temporarily allowing for in-home support or remote delivery of services including cognitive rehabilitation, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and prevocational training. For a full list of services and safety requirements, refer to DDD's temporary service modification memo.
- Created a resource guide to assist families in accessing programs and supports.
- Suspended in-person visits by Support Coordinators -- however if a family requests an in-person visit from a Support Coordinator and the Support Coordination Agency is in agreement, visits are allowed if PPE is worn and social distancing observed.
- Provided flexibility to families to quickly hire workers and worked closely with program providers and direct support professionals during the closure (see this webinar and slide deck for more information).
- Released guidance on COVID-19 preparedness for individuals and families of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
- Released guidance for community providers of services to the developmentally disabled on COVID-19 preparedness including screening guidelines for visitors and staff in residential settings to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
The Division of Developmental Disabilities regularly publishes information about COVID-19 cases including deaths and numbers of cases by county. That information along with the latest updates from the Division can be found on the Department of Human Services' COVID-19 Updates page.
COVID-19 Vaccine Accessibility
Note: Everyone 12 or older who lives, works, or studies in New Jersey is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Both COVID-19 vaccine mega sites and community-based sites have been designed to meet the needs of all residents in the state. All of these sites are ADA-compliant, and special arrangements are made for those with mobility issues.
In addition, because of the volume of individuals and size of the mega sites, many accommodations have been made to make them easier to navigate for individuals with disabilities. All six vaccine megasites have quiet rooms to make the process less overwhelming for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who may be more sensitive to noise, light, and crowds.
Revised Guidance During Hospitalization
To better support individuals with disabilities during this public health crisis, in circumstances where support is essential, the Department of Health has made some accommodations during hospitalization.
- A designated healthy support person is permitted to be with an individual with a disability during hospitalization. The designated support person may be a family member, personal care assistant or another disability service provider.
- Healthy is defined as individuals with no signs of respiratory illness such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. They should not have had contact with anyone with or suspected of having COVID-19 or any respiratory illness and individuals should be wearing the appropriate protective equipment.
Special Education Extension
To ensure high-quality education for all New Jersey students, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (S3434/A5366) to offer an additional year of public education and related services to students with disabilities. This bill will provide a temporary one-year extension of special education and related services to students with disabilities who exceed, or will exceed, the current age of eligibility for special education and related services in the 2020-2021, 2021-2022, or 2022-2023 school year following a determination by the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) team that such education and/or services are necessary.
Additional information and help can be obtained through the following channels:
- For general questions, residents can call 211
- For clinical questions, residents should call 1-800-962-1253 (This hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week)
- For live text assistance, residents can text their zip code to 898-211
- To receive alerts on their phone, residents should text "NJCOVID" to 898-211
Additional resources can be found through local non-profits and advocacy organizations including:
- The N.J. Council on Developmental Disabilities
- Disability Rights New Jersey
- The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities
- The ARC of New Jersey
- Autism New Jersey
- Mental Health Association in New Jersey