ASSEMBLY, No. 5123
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED DECEMBER 10, 2020
Assemblywoman VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE
District 37 (Bergen)
Assemblywoman JOANN DOWNEY
District 11 (Monmouth)
Assemblyman DANIEL R. BENSON
District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)
Requires group homes and other community-based residential programs, as condition of licensure, to implement policies to prevent social isolation of residents.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
As reported by the Assembly Human Services Committee on January 25, 2021, with amendments.
An Act concerning the implementation, by group homes and other community-based residential programs, of policies, protocols, and procedures to prevent the social isolation of residents and supplementing Title 30 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. As used in this act:
“Community-based residential program” or “community-based residence” means a developmental center, group home, supervised apartment, community care residence, 1[nursing home,]1 or other residential setting for individuals with developmental disabilities, which is licensed and regulated by the Department of Human Services.
“Department” means the Department of Human Services.
“Developmental disability” means the same as that term is defined by section 3 of P.L.1977, c.82 (C.30:6D-3).
“Group home” means a living arrangement that is operated in a residence or residences leased or owned by an individual who is licensed by the Department of Human Services; which provides the opportunity for multiple individuals with developmental disabilities to live together in a home, sharing in chores and the overall management of the residence; and in which on-site staff provides supervision, training, or assistance, in a variety of forms and intensity, as required to assist the individuals as they move toward independence.
“Licensee” means an individual, partnership, or corporation that is licensed by the Division of Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Human Services and is responsible for providing services associated with the operation of a group home or other community-based residential program.
“Religious and recreational activities” includes any religious, social, or recreational activity that is consistent with the resident’s preferences and choosing, regardless of whether the activity is coordinated, offered, provided, or sponsored by program staff or by an outside activities provider.
“Resident” means a child or adult with developmental disabilities who resides in a group home or other community-based residence.
“Social isolation” means a state of isolation wherein a resident in a community-based residential program is unable to engage in social interactions and religious and recreational activities with other program residents or with family members, friends, and external support systems.
2. a. The Division of Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Human Services shall require the licensed operator of a group home or other community-based residential program in the State, as a condition of licensure, to adopt and implement written policies, provide for the practical availability of technology to residents, and ensure that appropriate staff and other capabilities are in place, to prevent the social isolation of residents.
b. The social isolation prevention policies adopted by a licensee shall:
(1) authorize, and include specific protocols and procedures to encourage and enable, residents in the community-based residential program to engage in in-person contact, communications, and religious and recreational activities with other residents of the community-based residence and with family members, friends, and other external support systems, except when such in-person contact, communication, or activities are prohibited, restricted, or limited, as permitted by federal and State statute, rule, or regulation;
(2) authorize, and include specific protocols and procedures to encourage and enable, residents to engage in face-to-face or verbal/auditory-based contact, communication, and religious and recreational activities with other residents of the community-based residence and with family members, friends, and other external support systems, through the use of electronic or virtual means and methods, including, but not limited to, computer technology, the Internet, social media, videoconferencing, and other innovative technological means or methods, whenever such residents are subject to restrictions that limit their ability to engage in in-person contact, communications, or religious and recreational activities as authorized by paragraph (1) of this subsection;
(3) provide for residents to be given access to assistive and supportive technology as may be necessary to facilitate the residents’ engagement in face-to-face or verbal/auditory-based contact, communications, and religious and recreational activities with other residents, family members, friends, and other external support systems, through electronic means, as provided by paragraph (2) of this subsection;
(4) include specific administrative policies, procedures, and protocols governing: (a) the acquisition, maintenance, and replacement of computers, videoconferencing equipment, distance-based communications technology, assistive and supportive technology and devices, and other technological equipment, accessories, and electronic licenses, as may be necessary to ensure that residents are able to engage in face-to-face or verbal/auditory-based contact, communications, and religious and recreational activities with other program residents and with family members, friends, and external support systems, through electronic means, in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection; (b) the use of environmental barriers and other controls when the equipment and devices acquired pursuant to this act are in use, especially in cases where the equipment or devices are likely to become contaminated with bodily substances, are touched frequently with gloved or ungloved hands, or are difficult to clean; and (c) the regular cleaning of the equipment and devices acquired pursuant to this act and of any environmental barriers or other physical controls used in association therewith;
(5) require appropriate program staff to assess and regularly reassess the individual needs and preferences of residents with respect to the residents’ participation in social interactions and religious and recreational activities, and include specific protocols and procedures to ensure that the quantity of devices and equipment maintained on-site at the residence remains sufficient, at all times, to meet the assessed social and activities needs and preferences of each individual resident;
(6) require appropriate program staff, upon the request of a resident or the resident’s family members or guardian, to develop an individualized visitation plan for the resident, which plan shall: (a) identify the assessed needs and preferences of the resident and any preferences specified by the resident’s family members; (b) address the need for a visitation schedule, and establish a visitation schedule if deemed to be appropriate; (c) describe the location and modalities to be used in visitation; and (d) describe the respective responsibilities of staff, visitors, and the resident when engaging in visitation pursuant to the individualized visitation plan;
(7) include specific policies, protocols, and procedures governing a resident’s requisition, use, and return of devices and equipment maintained pursuant to this act, and require appropriate program staff to communicate those policies, protocols, and procedures to residents; and
(8) designate at least one program staff member to train other appropriate on-site staff, including, but not limited to, activities professionals and volunteers, social workers, occupational therapists, and therapy assistants, to provide direct assistance to residents, upon request and on an as-needed basis, as necessary to ensure that each resident is able to successfully access and use, for the purposes specified in paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection, the technology, devices, and equipment acquired pursuant to this act.
c. The department shall distribute available federal and State funds, upon request, to assist community-based residential programs in acquiring the communicative technologies and accessories needed for the purposes of this act.
3. a. Whenever the department conducts an inspection of a community-based residence, the department’s inspector shall determine whether the community-based residence is in compliance with the provisions of this act and the policies, protocols, and procedures adopted pursuant thereto.
b. In addition to any other applicable penalties provided by law, whenever a community-based residential program fails to comply with the provisions of this act or to properly implement the policies, protocols, and procedures adopted pursuant thereto, the licensee:
(1) shall be liable to pay an administrative penalty, the amount of which shall be determined in accordance with a schedule established by department regulation, which schedule shall provide for an enhanced administrative penalty in the case of a repeat or ongoing violation; and
(2) may be subject to adverse licensure action, as deemed by the department to be appropriate.
c. Whenever a complaint received or an investigation conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families1, or by Disability Rights New Jersey,1 discloses evidence indicating that a community-based residential program has failed to comply with the provisions of this act or 1to1 properly implement the policies, protocols, and procedures adopted pursuant thereto, the ombudsman 1or the executive director, as the case may be,1 shall refer the matter to the department for disciplinary action and, notwithstanding such referral, may take any other appropriate investigatory or enforcement action, with respect to the matter, as may be authorized by law.
4. a. Within 60 days after the enactment of this act, and notwithstanding the provisions of the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) to the contrary, the Commissioner of Human Services, in consultation with the Department of Health, shall adopt rules and regulations immediately upon the filing of proper notice with the Office of Administrative Law, as may be necessary to implement the provisions of this act. The rules and regulations shall include, but need not be limited to, minimum standards for the social isolation prevention policies to be adopted pursuant to section 2 of this act and a penalty schedule to be used pursuant to section 3 of this act.
b. The rules and regulations adopted pursuant to this section shall remain in effect for a period of not more than one year after the date of filing and, thereafter, shall be adopted, amended, or readopted by the commissioner in accordance with the requirements of the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.).
5. This act shall take effect immediately.