MONTCLAIR – On the other side of the debate regarding care for developmentally disabled residents, various community care providers said they will be ready to take in residents, even though there’s thousands of residents currently on a waiting list.
Tom Baffuto, executive director of ARC of New Jersey, said he supports the closure of the two developmental disabilities centers – North Jersey and Woodbridge – identified by a task force.
“We have the ability to develop the homes,” Baffuto said today at a joint legislative hearing into the future of the centers. “We really applaud this rapid development. We’re very, very excited.”
The closures of the two state DD centers, recommended over a five-year period, would effect 661 residents.
Debra Goode, executive director of the New Jersey Association of Community Providers, said it’s unfortunate that the discussions seem to always disintegrate to “tugs of war.”
“We really need to work together, not be at opposite sides of the pole,” she said.
But Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, D-38, said it defies logic the provider could take on more residents when they have yet to place the ones on long waiting lists.
She wondered why they would take on the responsibility of placing residents who don’t want to be placed in community homes, “before going to people who are asking for help.”
That comment generated applause.
Sen. Joe Vitale (D-19) of Woodbridge, whose district includes the Woodbridge Developmental Disabilities Center, said that while the decision ultimately rests with the governor’s office, and the Legislature can’t overrule his decision, lawmakers can try to convince the administration to change its mind on the decison.
“The decision ultimately lies with him,” Vitale said.
But atleast one lawmaker, Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37) of Englewood, is planning to introduce legislation related to this matter, although details weren’t immediately available.