The legislators, who are candidates for re-election this November have made defending services for the disabled a major theme of their joint campaign. This issue came to the forefront when the Governor's Task Force on the Closure of State Developmental Centers in an August 2012 report, North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center closed in July 2014 and January 2015, respectively.
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"It is our duty to ensure that every New Jersey resident with a developmental disability receives the care and support he or she needs to thrive physically, mentally and emotionally," said Karabinchak (D-Middlesex). "We are committed to resources for upgraded technology and existing transportation outlets to safeguard the overall health and happiness of residents with developmental disabilities by giving elderly parents and guardians the access to support their loved ones."
A law sponsored by then Assemblyman Diegnan required the Department of Human Services to conduct follow-up studies to assess the well-being of former residents of North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center. The studies will evaluate all individuals who made a transition from the centers into the community and whether they maintained the same level of services and supports provided prior to his or her leaving a center, behavioral changes, contact with family members and peers and competence in the areas of cognition, self-care and mobility.
Initial reports indicate that a majority of residents transferred to South Jersey developmental centers and that family and guardian members are having difficulty in maintaining contact with their loved ones on a consistent basis; hence the need for advocacy from Senator Diegnan and Assemblyman Karabinchak.
Both legislators cited a quote from former Vice President Hubert Humphrey to highlight their shared advocacy, "It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the elderly; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy, the handicapped."