Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”
~ Margaret Mead

For over four years a battle has raged in the state of New Jersey over whether individuals with disabilities in out-of-state placements should remain in their homes or be brought back to New Jersey. The families of the effected individuals decided to take matters into their own hands by challenging this policy in Trenton. It took over a year of intense advocacy and lobbying. In the end, this group of families triumphed when earlier this month their hard work culminated in the passage of S-3117, a law that virtually ended DDD’s ill-conceived Return Home New Jersey Initiative.

We at Hinkle, Fingles, Prior & Fischer want to congratulate the efforts of these families and celebrate their successful advocacy. We represented dozens, if not scores, of these families in their individual advocacy against DDD. We are happy to say most of these families remained in their out-of-state placements even while the future of RHNJ appeared strong. In the limited circumstances where a family did allow the Division to return their child to New Jersey, the move was often to a placement which was as good as, if not better than, the one they were accustomed to. In addition we testified before the legislature and worked with individual members of the senate and assembly on this legislation. We were honored to work with the group of families who organized themselves and for whom we provided legal and policy advice which ultimately helped lead to the death of the Return Home New Jersey Initiative.

Despite the successful termination of RHNJ as well as the positive outcomes from some whose placement changed to a New Jersey setting, there are some for whom the outcome was not so beneficial. We are already beginning to work with some families on ways to return their child to the out-of-state placement they once enjoyed. State law which pre-dates the RHNJ initiative gives parents the ability to advocate for and, if necessary, sue DDD to return their family member to their previously successful placement.

Published on Mar 19th, 2016. © Copyright 2016 Hinkle, Fingles & Prior, P.C., Attorneys at Law. All rights reserved.
For more information, contact us now. You may also use our contact form to schedule a free workshop at your school or organization. Comments and suggestions for future articles are welcome.

The articles provided on the Hinkle, Fingles & Prior website are for your information and may be reprinted in publications, however copyrights cited for each apply. Each reprint must include the author's name and contact information for Hinkle, Fingles & Prior, Attorneys at Law as follows:

Hinkle, Fingles, & Prior, P.C., Attorneys at Law is a multi-state law practice with offices in Lawrenceville, Cherry Hill, Florham Park, and Paramus, New Jersey, and Plymouth Meeting and Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. The firm's partners and associates lecture and write frequently on topics of elder law, estate planning, special needs trusts, guardianship, special education, health care insurance & Medicaid, and accessing adult services, and are available to speak to groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania at no charge. For more information, visit http://www.hinkle1.com/ or call (609) 896-4200, or (215) 860-2100.