Our History

Our Beginnings

 

Rutgers University School of Social Work (1991-1998) - Since 1991, CLEP has been helping families in New Jersey make an informed decision about whether or not to pursue community living as an option for their loved one. CLEP began as a Family Support Project based in the Rutgers University School of Social Work. It was created in collaboration with the NJ Council on Developmental Disabilities to assist family members of people living in developmental centers to become more active in decision making during the individual habilitation planning (IHP) process. The Rutgers Family Support Project produced a family members’ workbook on the IHP process and met with developmental center family associations to discuss the importance of the IHP and family roles. When DDD began the closure of Johnstone Training and Research Center in 1991, the project worked with family members to be a part of decision making about the move of their family members. Based on this experience, the Family Support Project became a part of the DDD team, which planned for and carried out the closure of North Princeton Developmental Center from 1994 -1998.The Family Support Project was also home for the first statewide coordinator of family support in NJ, and in turn, supported the development of the Family Support Act of NJ (1993). It also aided in the creation of the first statewide advisory committee on family support.

 

Over the Years

Rutgers School of Public Health (2013 - present)
UMDNJ School of Public Health (1998 - 2013)

In 1998, with the retirement of the founding director, Professor Patricia C. Dunn, the project relocated to the UMDNJ Graduate Program in Public Health, which subsequently became the UMDNJ School of Public Health. Additionaly, our name was changed from the Family Support Project to the Community Living Eduction Project. Presently, CLEP is a part of the Rutgers School of Public Health under the umbrella organization Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS), which occurred as a result of the Rutgers/UMDNJ merger on July 1, 2013.

In 1998, the project extended its experience in supporting families during a residential transition to families of people with developmental disabilities who were living at home. Families who were taking part in the DDD community services waiting list (CSWL) initiatives were served. The project revised and divided its Family Members Workbook on Transitioning to Community Living into two separate workbooks: one for developmental center family members and one for community wait list families. The primary emphasis of the project was on outreach to waiting list families. From 1999 to 2002, the project held family information workshops for CSWL family members. Its newsletter, Family Link, was distributed quarterly to approximately 6500 family members.

Focus on self-directed supports coordination. In 1998, the project extended its experience in supporting families during a residential transition to families of people with developmental disabilities who were living at home. Families who were taking part in the DDD community services waiting list (CSWL) initiatives were served. The project revised and divided its Family Members Workbook on Transitioning to Community Living into two separate workbooks: one for developmental center family members and one for community wait list families. The primary emphasis of the project was on outreach to waiting list families. From 1999 to 2002, the project held family information workshops for CSWL family members. Its newsletter, Family Link, was distributed quarterly to approximately 6500 family members.

Focus on community services waiting list family members. In 2000, with the inclusion of 144 residents from four developmental centers in the residential transition initiative for FY 2001, the project continued its focus on supports for developmental center family members. This focus expanded with the extension of the DC transition initiative for FY 2002 to six developmental centers and 200 additional residents. In FY 2005, the project began activities for developmental center family education focusing initially on families of individuals living in Woodbridge and New Lisbon Developmental Centers. In FY 2007, project outreach was extended to families of individuals living in any developmental center in NJ in accordance with the NJ Olmstead Plan. This outreach is ongoing.

Focus on the self-directed person centered supports coordination transition process.  In 2008, the Community Living Education Project began to revamp its informational materials and activities to focus on and incorporate the self-directed person centered supports coordination process available for the first time for individuals and their families in the transition from DC to community living. This new process involves the creation of a Core Team for each person, development of an Essential Lifestyle Plan for the transition, in place of the traditional IHP, development of an Individual Budget to support that plan, and supports coordination services provided throughout the transition.

Creation of a new array of Family Education activities. Since 2008, CLEP has refined a new array of Family Education information materials and learning events to show the possibilities of the new options in transition to community living being supported by DDD. Two types of events are held: Pictures of Community Living Events (POCLEs) held in partnership with community provider agencies and Family Network meetings. Mini-provider expos for provider organizations to display information material and talk with staff and families about their services are held in association with some of the DC based POCLEs. The Community Living Guide Series provides families with information about what housing options and supports are available in the community. The New Beginnings in Community Living bi-annual newsletter is distributed to more than 2600 family members of individuals living in seven developmental centers and the Ancora unit. The newsletter features Spotlight Stories about current events, news and information about the community transition process, and other information and an inspirational column entitled, Living in the Moment. My Life Now, an annual magazine, features the lives of people who have made a successful transition to community living. The Mini-Updates e- Newsletter is sent monthly to interested families and individuals via email.

Development of developmental center staff POCLEs. The purpose of the Staff POCLE is to provide a picture of how people with developmental disabilites are currently being supported in community settings in New Jersey. CLEP has also developed a series of training modules to give the DDD community and DC staff an Overview on Support Coordination Community Transition. This training is for staff members at all levels who may be involved in a person's transition. A follow-up Core Team Overview Training on Support Coordination Community Transition is for DC staff who are members of an individual's transition team.

Direct care, administrative and professional staff members in all seven developmental centers as well as the Ancora Unit have taken part in CLEP trainings. Staff of community provider agencies have also taken part. The total number of DDD staff who have attended CLEP training events since 2006 now exceeds 2600.

Family Education on self-directed supports coordination for CSWL Regional Transition Initiatives. In 2009, DDD invited CLEP to join in introducing families to the self-directed supports available for life in the community by sharing the stories of families using individual budgets and community supports. CLEP is continuing to partner with DDD in family orientations on CSWL transition at CSWL meetings.

Today and Tommorow

As each day passes, CLEP will continue to support individuals, families and developmental center staff by providing education and information about the full range of supports and services available in the community for individuals with developmental disabilities. As new opportunities arise in community living, CLEP will continue to share the experiences of those who have made the successful transition from home or a developmental center into a community setting through all forms of channels.