New EI Laws for New Jersey

Melody Arons Center

MEMORANDUM

To:        State Interagency Coordinating Council Members
Regional Early Intervention Collaborative Directors
Service Coordination Unit Coordinators
Early Intervention Program Provider Agency Administrators
Part C Steering Committee Members

From:  Nashon Hornsby, Esq. Procedural Safeguards Coordinator

Date:   October 14, 2008

Re:       New Jersey Early Intervention Rules at N.J.A.C. 8:17

On October 6, 2008, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law published within the New Jersey Register the newly adopted rules for the New Jersey Early Intervention System at N.J.A.C. 8:17. The rules regulate the activities of families, provider agencies (including service coordination units and regional early intervention collaboratives), practitioners, lead agency representatives and the public at large, pertaining to the delivery of services through the New Jersey Early Intervention System. These rules set forth the obligations that are the responsibility of the regulated parties throughout the early intervention process.

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services assumed responsibility as the lead agency for the New Jersey Early Intervention System (NJEIS) in 1993. Prior to the adoption of N.J.A.C. 8:17, the regulated parties were guided by the Department’s letters of agreement, grant agreements, practice guidelines, memoranda and policies and procedures. Through the adoption of N.J.A.C. 8:17, the Department codified many of the binding provisions within those earlier documents. Letters of agreement, grant agreements and policies and procedures still possess authority inherent in such binding documents. The regulated parties should not hereafter disregard technical assistance memoranda and guidelines, but instead should consider these documents to be a guide for practice rather than binding requirements subject to monitoring and compliance.

The rules are the culmination of fifteen years of development and implementation of New Jersey’s Early Intervention System. The guiding legislation for N.J.A.C. 8:17 is the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), at 20 U.S.C. §1431 et seq. and the implementing regulations at 34 CFR Part 303. The rules encompass the Department’s legal requirements as the lead agency for early intervention in the State. In addition, over the years, the lead agency has used input from various stakeholders including families, provider agencies, advocacy groups, and governmental agencies, in combination with federal legislation, to develop an early intervention system that is responsive to the needs of children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families. Periodically, as a result of reauthorization of IDEA or in response to input from regulated parties, the lead agency may propose amendments to N.J.A.C. 8:17. This will be accomplished through a formal process set forth by the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act at N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq. and the related Rules for Agency Rulemaking at N.J.A.C. 1:30.

Interested parties may access N.J.A.C. 8:17 at http://www.nj.gov/health/fhs/eis. Every provider agency, practitioner and lead agency employee is obligated to access, download, read and understand the rules. Agencies must ensure that their practitioners have a clear understanding of their responsibilities under N.J.A.C. 8:17. Additionally, service coordinators must make certain that families understand the relevant portions of the rules that impact on their participation in the NJEIS.

The lead agency appreciates your dedication to the families that access the New Jersey Early Intervention System. Moving forward, we anticipate that N.J.A.C. 8:17 will help to advance our collective commitment to a high quality early intervention system to improve results for children and families. In the near future, the lead agency intends to conduct regional information meetings in conjunction with regional early intervention collaborative staff to summarize the requirements under N.J.A.C. 8:17 and to answer questions. Thank you.

Click here to see NJEIS Regulations (PDF)