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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: 04/19/2021

Program Updates

Congregate Day Programs

Programs may reopen starting March 29, 2021 so long as they meet the congregate day program re-opening requirements and fall within the required categories of the NJ Department of Health's COVID-19 Activity Level Index (CALI).

Each week the Department of Health provides information on COVID-19 transmission at the regional level through CALI, characterizing risk as low (green), moderate (yellow), high (orange), and very high (red).Congregate day programs in green and yellow regions may remain open or re-open at 50% capacity, while programs in orange and red regions must close.

If a region changes from Low (Green) or Moderate (Yellow) to High (Orange) or Very High (Red), programs must close within 48 hours of the region being designated as such. Programs must notify participants/families as soon as possible if this occurs.

In addition, participant group sizes remain limited to 15, and to the extent practical, the same staff should be assigned to care for the same group each day

Face masks and PPE are still required. It is recognized that some participants may not tolerate a face covering. However, providers should still encourage them to be worn.

For more details on re-opening requirements, refer to the Division of Developmental Disabilities congregate day program re-opening requirements.

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.

COVID-19 Vaccination Update

All individuals aged 16 and older who live, work, or study in New Jersey are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

There are multiple ways to get vaccinated:

  1. Use the NJ Vaccine Appointment Finder to find vaccination locations near you with available appointments.
  2. Register with the NJ Vaccine Scheduling System to be notified when an appointment is available to you at vaccine locations that use the State's Vaccine Scheduling System.
  3. Contact your residential provider or employer to make an appointment at one of the Walmarts dedicated to vaccinating I/DD residents or pharmacies vaccinating long-term care facilities.

Click here for more information on where and how to get vaccinated.

Click here to learn more about the dedicated Walmart program for I/DD residents.

As of March 22, 2021, through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care (LTC) Program, over 2,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to residents at the State's five Developmental centers and some I/DD group homes, and over 2,700 doses were administered to staff at these facilities.

In addition, through a supplemental federal partnership with Walmart for residents and staff at I/DD group homes not included in the Federal Pharmacy Partnership, over 5,500 residents and staff have been fully vaccinated.

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.

Indoor Visits

Regardless of vaccination status, indoor visitation can occur in group homes when:

  • There have been no new positive COVID-19 cases of residents and staff assigned to the residence within the past 14 days;
  • The residence is not in the process of performing COVID-19 testing of all residents and staff due to exposure; and no residents or staff of the home are currently symptomatic.
  • If a new positive case is identified, visitation within the residence shall be suspended until the above criteria are met.

Outdoor Visits

Regardless of vaccination status, outdoor visitation is required when the criteria for indoor visits within the residence are not possible.

These visits should occur in an outdoor area agreed upon by the provider with sufficient space and seating to allow individuals who have not been residing together to be at least six feet apart. This could be on the property of the home or in a public setting (such as a park) that is not over-crowded.

Visitation Requirements, regardless of type:

  • All visits must be scheduled in advance.
  • Generally, visits shall be limited to two visitors at any one time.
  • The provider may place reasonable limits on the duration, time of day and days of the week visits may take place. This is to ensure all residents have the opportunity to engage in indoor visitation if they choose, not to limit visitation.
  • Physical distancing (being at least 6 feet apart) is still recommended between the visitor and resident being visited. However, it is acknowledged that there is no substitute for physical contact.
  • Each person participating in a visit (resident and visitor) must wear a face covering. It is understood that the resident may not tolerate wearing a face covering or it may not be medically advisable for them to wear one.

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, 2020 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.

Testing

Beginning the week of April 27, 2020, 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, 2020, 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; Commissioner Persichilli's Remarks 3/22/21