Stepping aside from the money issues for a short while during Tuesday's budget address, Governor Chris Christie announced a plan to improve the quality and coordination of certain government services.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

He proposed a new division within the Department of Children and Families, which would solely focus on children with developmental abilities and their families. The division would avoid the burden on current families who are "shuttled from agency to agency."

"The concept is to treat the whole child and the whole family - in one place," Christie said before a joint session of the legislature. "The division will develop an integrated set of services - and for these families, make government work smarter and better."

Debra L. Wentz, CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, said having a single place for support and treatment services would be a tremendous benefit for children with developmental disabilities and their families.

She continued, "The challenges that are inherent in managing disabilities can be daunting for any family, and any step taken to simplify access to these vital services is a very important and valuable step to take."

Over the years, families have often acted as case managers themselves, piecing together different types of services from several departments and buildings.

Christie also said the proposed division would provide a transition process for those being shifted from the child to adult systems. The mentally-disabled between the ages of 18 to 21 have fallen through the cracks between the systems.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) said she wanted to review the details of Christie's proposal, but if it's a better way of delivering services, "I'll be 100% for it."


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