LETTER: Bill would protect children with autism
November 30, 2016
Autism New Jersey recently submitted a Letter to the Editor to urge our representatives in the House of Representatives and Senate to support the passage of Kevin and Avonte’s Law (H.R. 4919/S. 2614), which would allow Justice Department grants to help protect children with developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and seniors with Alzheimer’s, who are prone to wandering. Read the published letter>>
Open Enrollment for 2017 Individual Insurance Has Begun
November 2, 2016
The open enrollment period for individual insurance plans is now in effect. In New Jersey, individual insurance plans fall under state mandates, including Health Benefits Coverage for Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, which ensures that individuals with autism can access medically necessary treatment, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
The deadline for coverage to begin or to change plans by January 1, 2017 is December 15, 2016. The last day to enroll in or change a plan for 2017 is January 31, 2017. Read more>>
Autism Legislation Increasing Safeguards when Restraint and Seclusion are Used
Bill Number: S1163/A501
May 23, 2016
Autism New Jersey Executive Director Dr. Suzanne Buchanan testified before the Senate Education Committee on May 23, 2016, in support of legislation that would establish requirements for use of restraint and seclusion for students with disabilities in public and private schools. If enacted, this legislation would provide consistent and statewide adoption of safeguards for the use of these restrictive procedures. Currently, there are none. As originally drafted, the bill included requirements for parent notification and annual staff training as well as a prohibition on the use of prone restraints without physician’s approval.
Autism New Jersey substantially contributed to the amendments of this bill to strengthen the safeguards. We very much appreciate Primary Sponsor Senator Kevin O’Toole’s incorporation of some of our recommendations>>
New Housing Guide for the Disability Community
May 1, 2016
“The Journey to Community Housing with Supports: A Road Map for Individuals and Their Families” provides easy-to-understand information, advice and guidance about community housing and supportive services. This housing guide was designed specifically for individuals with disabilities and their families with a concentration on those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Training sessions hosted by partner organizations will be offered for families and others who are interested in how best to use the guide and plan for community housing with support. Download and learn more>>
CDC Releases New Prevalence Rates
Prevalence Rate in New Jersey Rises to 1 in 41; National Rate Remains Unchanged at 1 in 68
March 31, 2016
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report today showing the rate of children identified with an autism spectrum disorder remains at 1 in 68 children nationally. This statistic is based on the CDC's evaluation of health and educational records of 8-year-old children in 2012 in 11 states, including New Jersey.
New Jersey again has the highest rates of those states evaluated, with 1 in 41, 1 in 26 boys. This percentage is higher than the average percentage identified with ASD (1.5%) in all communities in the United States where CDC tracked ASD in 2012. The New Jersey rate marks an increase of 12% from the previous 1 in 45 statistic released two years ago. Learn more>>
Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program to Include Coverage
of Applied Behavior Analysis in 2017
March 2, 2016
Autism New Jersey is pleased to announce that health insurance coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) will soon be available to even more families.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recruits and maintains the Federal workforce of about 8 million civilian employees, and is responsible for providing health insurance benefits to Federal employees. In its annual call for benefit and rate proposals from Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program carriers, OPM issued the following directive:
“Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) – OPM has encouraged FEHB plans to offer ABA benefits for children with autism spectrum disorders since 2013. We have also emphasized the growing number of providers and research linking behavioral interventions with positive outcomes. We are pleased that in the past several years, the provision of ABA within FEHB has expanded significantly, particularly among carriers with state and local service areas." Learn more>>
Governor Christie Announces Increased Spending in his FY2017 Budget Address
February 17, 2016
In his FY 2017 budget address on Tuesday, Governor Chris Christie highlighted spending that will support individuals with developmental disabilities, including “an additional $48.8 million to create community placement and services, continuing our commitment to transition individuals with developmental disabilities out of institutions and into the community.” The Governor also announced an additional “$25.8 million to support children with needs including behavioral health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disabilities” via The Children’s System of Care within the Department of Children and Families.
Spending plans are outlined in the Governor’s Budget in Brief available on the State’s website. In addition to the above spending mentioned during his address, the Budget touts increased revenue of approximately $100 million, anticipated as a result of DDD’s full implementation of its Supports Program reforms, which will enable the State to take full advantage of Medicaid Waiver Federal match and allow for the expansion of services. The budget also includes a one-time community provider increase for a combined State and federal investment of $10 million to allow developmental disability providers to make infrastructure improvements necessary to transition to the new fee-for-service system.
Autism New Jersey’s Public Policy team, along with our sister agencies and partners, will be evaluating the proposed budget. To keep our stakeholders and members informed, we will post relevant updates and announcements on our website as the Budget process continues into the Spring with legislative committee hearings. Read more>>
New Laws will Benefit the Autism Community
January 15, 2016
The end of the 2014-2015 legislative session saw a number of bills signed into law by Governor Christie that have an impact on the autism community. The following bills were signed into law on January 11, 2016
Criminalizes Endangerment: Increasing penalties for those who endanger adults with developmental disabilities (P.L. 2015, c.186) Provides for prison terms up to 10 years for endangering the welfare of individuals with developmental disabilities.
Safety Alert: "MVP Emergency Alert System" Law (P.L. 2015, c.184) Establishes a new public notification system to broadcast information about missing persons with mental, intellectual, or developmental disabilities.
Limits to “Return Home New Jersey” Policy (P.L. 2015, c.192) Limits a controversial policy of requiring individuals with disabilities living in subsidized homes outside the state to be returned to New Jersey.
ABLE Act (P.L. 2015, c.185) Authorizes the establishment of tax-free “Achieving a Better Life Experience” (ABLE) accounts for persons with certain disabilities.
We are grateful to the champions of each bill for their efforts to craft and shepherd the legislation through the Assembly and Senate. These bills have been in the works for some time and represent the culmination of the passionate advocacy efforts of Autism New Jersey and our partners in the developmental disability community. Read more>>
The Ride For Autism is Shifting Gears
Ride for Autism Operations Moving In-House to Autism New Jersey
December 17, 2015
Autism New Jersey and the Ride for Autism have signed an agreement that will bring the operations for the Ride for Autism annual bike tour event under the management and administration of Autism New Jersey. This change went into effect on November 19th. The transfer of the Ride to Autism New Jersey will bring administrative efficiencies to its operations while maintaining the quality of this top notch annual cycling event that has brought together hundreds of participants annually.
The Ride for Autism event was conceived by Andrew Abere, a cycling enthusiast from Monroe Township, NJ, and Autism New Jersey member who is also the parent of a son with autism. He sought to bring together his love of the sport with his desire to raise awareness and money for a cause that was close to his heart. The event was first incubated within Autism New Jersey (then known as COSAC) in 2001 before incorporating as its own 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in 2002. The organization conducted the Ride annually as a way to raise funds for Autism New Jersey, as well as to spread awareness about autism and provide an opportunity for individuals with autism and their families to engage in recreation and socialization. Read more>>