A shortage of residential homes for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities in New Jersey has created long waiting lists -- with more than 5,000 individuals waiting for up to ten years.


A bill proposed in the state's Legislature [S-254] aims at solving this problem.

Many of the individuals waiting for spaces have serious behavior issues that make it very hard for their families to care for them at home. Some live with elderly parents, too frail to continue caring for them.

The bill calls on the state to ease the rules over who provides these services, and who pays for them, to foster new and innovative services for those with these disabilities. The legislation would allow stronger public-private partnerships to create more residential homes, and make it possible for parents to pay for portions of the care -- while the state funds other services needed by the individual.

Such an approach would make it possible for parents to really think ahead, says Bob Titus of Autism New Jersey, an advocacy group.

 "To give families at least the possibility of planning for their kids' future," he says. "It's a process that should begin at a very early age, in the sense of planning for the future estate planning, maintaining eligibility for services."

Bill sponsor state Sen. Bob Gordon, D-Bergen, says tackling this difficult issue will require creative thinking and new partnerships.