State Budget Includes Autism Community’s Priorities

Autism New Jersey Continues to Lead Advocacy Efforts in Trenton, Deliver Tangible Results for Families

NJ Statehouse DomeJuly 18, 2018

After weeks of intense negotiations, the State Legislature has passed and the Governor has signed into law the Budget for the Fiscal Year beginning on July 1st. With the passage of the $37.4 billion State Budget came a number of appropriations that will directly and tangibly benefit the autism community in the coming fiscal year. Autism New Jersey has, in recent months, been a regular presence in the State House, advocating for policies that improve the lives of families of children and adults with autism.

Children’s Services

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) budget includes a new appropriation of $8.5 million in state funds to enhance services for Medicaid-eligible youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). When incorporating a federal match, this $17 million of funding is allocated to help more than 10,000 New Jersey families. Autism New Jersey is participating in a stakeholder group convened by the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (Medicaid) and the Children’s System of Care (CSOC) to provide recommendations on the development of a State Plan Amendment (SPA), a document that will describe covered services, provider qualifications, and more. We will inform the community when the SPA is available for public comment and the benefit can be accessed.

Adult Services

The Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) budget includes a $19.8 million dollar increase in funding to assist adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities access home and community-based services. The state has increased funding in this area over previous years, and we are pleased to see Governor Murphy and the Legislature continue this commitment.

DSP Wages

For the second year in a row, the budget includes an additional $20 million to increase the wages of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who provide essential care to children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. The increase will come in the form of higher rates for eight identified services in the Supports Program and Community Care Program of DDD and contract or fee-for-service adjustments for service providers with the Department of Children and Families and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services.

School Funding

The new budget also includes $340 million more for schools along with a major overhaul of the state’s public school funding formula. This change to the funding formula brings fairness to the system by weighing the needs of a district, providing extra help to districts as enrollment grows, and taking into consideration the needs of special education students. These changes should significantly help districts that have been experiencing escalating special education costs.

Helpline and Research Funding 

Proposed in March, the Governor’s Budget appropriated $4 million from the Autism Medical Research and Treatment Fund to the Early Childhood Intervention Program. This re-appropriation potentially threatened the funding of the Autism New Jersey helpline and a number of grants awarded after June 1, 2018, by the Governor’s Council for the Medical Research and Treatment of Autism. The Helpline funding pathway was created via budget language, at the direct request several years ago by Autism New Jersey, our legislative partners, and Governor Christie. This year, with the threat of funding loss looming, Autism New Jersey informed legislative leaders, worked with the administration, and collaborated with key stakeholders to secure an amendment to the Budget Law to preserve the funding for these vitally important services.

The Legislature and Governor’s support of this amendment and the allocations above will provide tangible benefit and hope for individuals with autism and their families throughout the state.

For any questions, comments, or additional clarification on state budget, please contact us at publicpolicy@autismnj.org.


AUTISM NEW JERSEY
500 Horizon Drive, Suite 530 Robbinsville, NJ 08691
Phone: 609.588.8200; 800.4.AUTISM | Fax: 609.588.8858
Email: information@autismnj.org

Instagram