Ombudsman’s Third Annual Report Highlights Systemic Challenges

May 03, 2021

Established in 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families was designed to offer a central place within State government for individuals and families to turn with questions and concerns about how to obtain the services and supports they need.

Last month, Paul Aronsohn, who has held the role of Ombudsman since the office was created, released his 2020 Annual Report to the Governor, the Legislature, and the Commissioners of the Department of Human Services and the Department of Children and Families. A year like no other, this third annual report focuses on key themes and observations on how the State’s system of care approached the COVID-19 pandemic, families, basic needs, and the disability community.

Within his key themes, Mr. Aronsohn acknowledged a number of Autism New Jersey’s priorities by highlighting the need to increase the quantity and quality of services for individuals with severe challenging behavior, the importance of increasing the number of behavior analysts within the State, and the need to improve the reimbursement rates for the Medicaid (0-21) Applied Behavior Analysis benefit.

Mr. Aronsohn’s access and observations to the full I/DD community offer him a unique vantage to offer broad recommendations. In summarizing his report, he concluded that the complexity of our system is one of the greatest barriers to individuals getting the support and services that they need and makes the following recommendations (see pages 30-31):

  1. Break down silos between state government departments
  2. Break down silos between state and county governments
  3. Break down silos between government officials, providers, and individuals/families
  4. Undertake internal reviews of state departments
  5. Place more emphasis on mental health

Autism New Jersey supports these recommendations and looks forward to continuing to work with Mr. Aronsohn to move towards making them reality.

Visit the Office of the Ombudsman’s website to learn more about their work.

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If you are looking for assistance in navigating these very complex systems Mr. Aronson addresses in his report, call our 800.4.AUTISM Helpline, email, or use the chat/messaging feature at the bottom of your screen.