ROSELLE PARK, NJ- Individuals with developmental disabilities are most vulnerable in our society. Families struggle to provide the best care to address their needs. When left under the care of privately operated institutions, the common worry is “Are they ok?” When it is discovered that a loved one has been abused, lives are turned upside down.
Advocates are pushing a measure, which if passed into state law, will provide better protections for the most vulnerable.
Assembly Bill 1109 (Huttle) and Senate Bill S898 (Beck), known as “Stephen Komninos’ Law would improve protections for individuals with developmental disabilities by increasing transparency of investigations when allegations of abuse and neglect are made. It also provides a central registry of offenders who have abused the developmentally disabled and prevents them from working as caregivers in the future.
The bill is named in honor of Stephen Komninos who died at the age of 22 while under the care of Bancroft Neurohealth, in Haddonfield New Jersey. Bancroft is a privately licensed facility funded by the state for persons with disabilities.
Roselle Park resident Martha Cray, a member of the Family Alliance to Stop Abuse and Neglect, whose son Billy is developmentally disabled, approached Councilman Kelly to offer a resolution of endorsement for the passage of the state legislation. Martha pointed out, “We need to create an environment that does not tolerate abuse, neglect or exploitation of individuals with developmental disabilities. When passed, Stephen Komninos’ Law will do just that.”
During Thursday’s meeting of the Governing Body the council unanimously approved the measure. Mayor Hokanson held an official signing and presented the Cray family with the adopted resolution.
Martha Cray and Ilene Rivera, a resident of Wayne, whose son is also developmentally disabled, created a grassroots effort to encourage towns across the state to adopt similar resolutions of support.