ABCD thanks Governor Murphy and members of the New Jersey Legislature for the expansion of investment and services to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Fiscal Year 2023 State Budget. Noteworthy investments include:
- Annualizing and on January 1, 2023, increasing wages for our front-line workers, supervisors, and managers to ensure that they receive salaries commensurate with the support they provide. Support which produces human potential, dignity, and freedom. $31.3 million more for Direct Support Professionals and $10.4 million more for front line supervisors and managers for a total of $41.7 million in State dollars.
- Preventing the return to the unsustainable and insecure day program rate structure through not only the annualization of the 16.7% FY’22 increase but an additional 3% across the board increase to Day Program and Service rates. Increasing rates by 19.7% in the span of a year which will help cover costs, sustain operations, and enable planning for the future.
- Increasing the DDD Residential Program rates to address the rising cost of doing business and the necessity to retain and recruit staff during the workforce crisis. $7.5 million in State dollars.
- Preventing the erosion of life changing services for infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities through the annualization of the 7.5% FY’22 increase to the Early Intervention Provider rate.
- Increasing the funding for Mental Health Professional Capacity Expansion Initiatives to add 10 new medical residency positions, 4 new child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship positions, and for outreach to underrepresented in medicine students. $5.6 million in State dollars.
- Launching a new, virtual Disability Information Hub, informed by individuals with disabilities, to help them better plan for their future by providing up-to-date, consumer-friendly, accessible information about disability services in a central location. $250,000.
- Raising awareness among the public about the Department’s services and supports through a targeted advertising campaign. $5 million
- Increasing the income limitations of PAAD and Senior Gold prescription drug programs and LIHEAP.
- Funding measures to finance nearly 3,300 new affordable units – many affordable to the lowest income NJ residents and to residents with special needs.
- Increasing funds for the Personal Assistance Services Program (PASP).
- Increasing the reimbursement rate for the following Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Pre-Placement, Supportive Employment Intensive Job Couth, Time Limited Job Coaching and Long-Term Follow Along to no less than $63.73/hour.
- Increasing the reimbursement to NJ Association of Centers for Independent Living. $2.5 million in State dollars.
The additional resources the Murphy Administration and Legislature have bestowed upon us will help us to continue to address the trauma, mental health issues, decreased access to services, regression, isolation, and grief individuals bear in the wake of Covid-19.
As we forge ahead, the formidable problem of adequate staffing must be met with innovation and leadership so that there is no impediment to help heal our community.
Picture provided by Matheny