State Grants Funds To Families To Reduce Waiting List
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 16, 2003
TRENTON, NEW JERSEY--Under a pilot program called Real Life Choices, New Jersey will next month begin offering up to $65,000 a year to families to help people with developmental disabilities live in their family homes, officials announced at a press conference Monday.
The state Division of Developmental Disabilities will take 100 families in selected counties from the group home waiting list, which currently has about 7,000 people. Another 200 will begin the program before June, said Kathy Palsho, the division's director for new development.
State officials say the waiting list is so large because most of the families signed up simply because the state offered no other alternatives.
The Real Life Choices program will allow the families to obtain whatever services their relatives need to live at home, including respite workers. Officials said the project should save the state money because group homes cost about $90,000 a year per person.
Approximately 21,000 of the 33,500 people with developmental disabilities that the state currently serves live with their families.
"Now we can listen to Matthew and give him the kind of program that he wants," Ellie Byra said about her 27-year-old son.
"He needs a companion -- someone closer to his age to take him bowling," Byra said. "I could hire someone I know and pay them through an intermediary, instead of asking a relative to do me a favor all the time."