On April 29th the Murphy Administration announced $24 million in state and federal resources for temporary wage increases for the direct support professionals who care for adult individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in group homes and supervised apartments – $10.6 million in state funding and $13.4 million in federal matching resources.
With these funds that began May 1st, the Department of Human Services will implement a temporary $3 per hour wage increase for these professionals for three months, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Jersey Human Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities provides supportive services to about 8,000 adult individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in group homes and supervised apartments across the State. These settings are staffed by direct support professionals (DSPs) who ensure that residents receive daily support with their needs and are able to achieve their personal goals. The wage increase will apply to DSPs in these settings, begin on May 1 and be in place for three months.
“Direct support professionals are essential workers ensuring that there is 24/7 support for some of our most vulnerable residents. Their hard work with residents, who often have underlying health conditions, is making a tremendous difference at this critical time. Today’s action is intended to recognize and value this essential work.” said Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson.
The New Jersey Department of Health also announced new guidance requiring hospitals to allow a designated support person to accompany an individual with a disability during a hospitalization despite other restrictions on visitors at this time. The designated support person may be a family member, personal care assistant or another disability service provider and is subject to screening by the hospital and required to be asymptomatic for COVID-19.
The Administration understands that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities face challenges in this difficult time, including having their regular routines disrupted, being unable to participate in day programs and employment, and not being able to receive visitors in their homes. These are tremendous challenges, and the Administration will continue to take all available steps to best support their needs in this very difficult time.