Father fights for new law to protect disabled

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UPPER SADDLE RIVER -

Thousands of disabled New Jersey residents could get more protection if Gov. Chris Christie signs a new bill into law.

The law would provide greater oversight for group homes in the state that care for the developmentally disabled. It would impact tens of thousands of people who are currently in managed care facilities in New Jersey.

The bill is named for Stephen Komninos, who died at the facility Bancroft Care in 2007. Stephen’s father Tom has been fighting for the law since his son died.

“What this bill does, in very simple terms, is it brings the standard of protection to the developmentally disabled population up to equality with everybody else in the state of New Jersey,” Tom Komninos says.

The law would mandate drug testing for employees and would require facilities to inform families within an hour if their loved one is injured.

“This legislation won’t do anything to help Stephen because he didn’t survived the system,” Tom says. “But there are thousands of other people who are in the system who will benefit from this.”

The New Jersey Association of Community Providers opposed the bill. They argue group homes need more money and better pay.

New Jersey's Department of Human Services says there are 25,000 adults who receive services at facilities like Bancroft and other centers.

Toms is urging New Jersey residents to contact the governor to voice their support for the bill.

The bill passed the House and the Senate unanimously.

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