On appeal from the Division of Developmental Disabilities.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Cuff and Waugh.
Petitioner J.P., to whom we refer by the pseudonym Jessica, is the mother of M.P., a developmentally-disabled adult with Down Syndrome to whom we refer by the pseudonym Milton. Jessica appeals from the final administrative action of the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) in the New Jersey Department of Human Services, which denied her request that DDD place Milton at Jespy House, a home for developmentally-disabled adults who can potentially live independently and gain employment. She also appeals DDD's refusal to reimburse her for expenses she incurred in maintaining Milton at Jespy House for approximately ten years. We affirm.
We discern the following facts and procedural history from the record on appeal.
Milton became eligible for services from DDD in February 1999. In 2000, he completed special education services supplied by DDD. Jessica sought a residential placement for Milton because he expressed a desire to live on his own. She placed Milton at Jespy House at her own expense in January 2001. In 2003, DDD placed Milton on its priority waiting list for a residential placement.*fn1
In 2006, the DDD offered Milton an emergency placement at another location. Because she did not consider the location suitable for Milton, Jessica rejected the placement offer. DDD subsequently withdrew the offer as mistakenly made, inasmuch as Milton had housing and was not then eligible for an emergency placement. See N.J.A.C. 10:46B-3.3(a) ("An emergency need for services or placement shall be deemed established when the person is homeless or in imminent peril . . . .").
In November 2007, Jespy House informed Jessica that Milton would have to leave in thirty days because his fees had not been paid for one year. The termination date was later extended to May 4, 2008. Based on his threatened removal from Jespy House, DDD determined that Milton would soon be homeless and, consequently, was eligible for an emergency placement pursuant to N.J.A.C. 10:46B-3.3(a).
As required by N.J.A.C. 10:46B-3.3(c), DDD sought an emergency placement for Milton to meet his basic needs of food, shelter, and personal safety. It found a placement at a group home in Newark and offered it to Jessica on May 2, 2008. DDD also informed Jessica that it would hold an individual habilitation plan (IHP) meeting within thirty days to plan for Milton's transition to a permanent facility or to continue him at the Newark facility as a permanent facility. Because she believed that the emergency placement was inappropriate for her son, Jessica declined it.
DDD subsequently reevaluated Milton's emergency status and determined that he had remained at the Jespy House beyond the May 4 termination date. Consequently, it determined that he no longer needed an emergency placement.
Jessica sought administrative review of the decision to terminate Milton's emergency status, as well as its refusal to place him at Jespy House as his emergency placement. After an informal meeting held in July, one of DDD's administrative practice officers (APO) affirmed the initial DDD decision to withdraw emergency status. Because the APO had failed to provide Jessica with a report of his findings, DDD granted Jessica's request for a second informal conference, which was held in December before another APO. The second APO also confirmed the initial DDD decision, explaining that the offer made by the DDD was sufficient to meet Milton's basic needs of food, shelter, and personal safety. He ...