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Are programs funded by the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities open? What support is there for residents of Developmental Centers?

Last Updated: 10/28/2020

Program Updates

Congregate Day Programs
As of September 21, congregate day programs are permitted to reopen at limited capacity so long as they meet the required reopening criteria outlined by the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities.

Health and safety requirements for reopening include, but are not limited to:

  • The total number of individuals served at one time at a Division funded congregate day program will be 25% of the established Certificate of Occupancy for a location or the number of individuals who can be served while maintaining social distancing (six feet apart) at all times, whichever is less.
  • All individuals,staff, contracted professionals, and visitors must be cleared for admittance to the facility through screening, including temperature checks, as outlined in the Residential and Day Program Screening Policy.
  • All staff shall be required to wear a face covering that covers the nose and mouth and appropriate PPE while working.
  • Individual program participants shall be encouraged to wear face coverings. This guidance recognizes that some individual program participants may not tolerate wearing face coverings or it may not be medically advisable for them to wear one.
  • Facilities shall teach and reinforce proper hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes among individuals and staff.
  • Visitation in the center shall be strictly limited during operating hours with the exception of emergency medical services or law enforcement personnel acting in their official capacity, personnel from the Department of Human Services, and/or Division of Developmental Disabilities.
  • Activities that are likely to bring individuals into close contact shall not occur.
  • If an individual or staff member develops symptoms of COVID-19 at the facility immediately separate them from the others in an isolation area until they are picked up by their caregiver.

For more information, refer to the Division's reopening requirements document.

Sheltered Workshops
All sheltered workshops, which provide employment, job, and skills training to people with disabilities, are currently closed. However, each program has provided a reopening plan, which is being reviewed by the Department of Labor.

In August, Governor Murphy announced the State will provide CARES Act funding for the reopening of all 26 Sheltered Workshop programs throughout the state.

Each provider will be able to apply for up to $25,000 for the initial reopening with funds allocated toward eligible reopening costs like social distancing, intensified cleaning, personal protective equipment, and providing remote opportunities.

Visitation Policies at Group Homes

Visitors can meet with loved ones in both indoor and outdoor settings at group homes so long as individuals and facilities adhere to the required social distancing and safety protocols issued by the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities.

Safety guidelines for visits with family and friends for residential providers include:

  • All visits must be scheduled in advance with the residential provider.
  • No more than two visitors shall be permitted at any one time.
  • Indoor visits within a residence may only occur when there have been no residents or staff of the home who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 28 consecutive days or are currently displaying symptoms.
  • Outdoor visits may only occur when it has been at least 14 days since a resident or staff of the home tested positive for COVID-19 and no residents or staff of the home are currently displaying symptoms.
  • All visitors must be screened, including temperature checks.
  • All participants must remain at least six feet apart
  • All participants must wear a face covering
  • After a visit in space controlled by the provider concludes, the provider shall clean and disinfect all areas and surfaces following CDC guidelines
  • No resident, current staff of the home or person(s) planning to visit have tested positive, been symptomatic for COVID-19 within the last 14 days, or been in close contact (within six feet for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) within the last 14 days with someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19

For a full list of safety requirements, refer to the Division's Guidance for Residential Providers on Visits with Family and Friends, and for specific visitation protocols and hours contact the residential provider directly.

Note: Beginning November 5, employers must adhere to new employee protection guidelines, summarized here. Detailed requirements, as well as exemptions for certain employers, can be found in Executive Order No. 192.

Support 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.

Testing

Beginning the week of April 27, the State started testing all residents and staff at all five State Residential Developmental Centers for COVID-19 using the new saliva-based testing developed by Rutgers University. As of May 20, Developmental Centers have completed testing in their facilities, and the Department of Health is now working together to improve access to testing in group homes.

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.

Source: https://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/news/press/2020/approved/20200318b.html| https://nj.gov/humanservices/ddd/resources/coronavirus.html; Governor Murphy's Remarks 4/23/20; NJ Health Commissioner Persichilli's Remarks 5/7/20; NJ Health Commissioner Persichilli's Remarks 5/20/20; https://nj.gov/humanservices/ddd/documents/COVID19-residential-screening-policy.pdf; https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200902a.shtml