All posts by Rose Tolentino

Oaks Integrated Care and Preferred Behavioral Health Group


Oaks Integrated Care and Preferred Behavioral Health Group
Announce Plans to Affiliate in October 2016
Changes in Healthcare Landscape Lead to New Partnership Opportunities


Mt. Holly, NJ-  On July 5, 2016 Oaks Integrated Care and Preferred Behavioral Health Group announced their plan to affiliate in October of 2016. The affiliation unifies two private, nonprofit health and social service agencies dedicated to serving children, adults and families living with a mental illness, addiction or developmental disability. Oaks provides programs in 9 New Jersey counties and Preferred Behavioral Health Group covers 8 counties with a primary focus in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

The new partnership brings together two clinically strong, financially healthy organizations with a shared mission of improving the quality of life for individuals and families. Affiliating will allow the organizations to expand geographically, strengthen service delivery and maximize efficiencies. Most importantly, the affiliation brings the opportunity for growth, giving more people access to compassionate, quality care.

Bob Pekar, Oaks Integrated Care CEO, shares, “We’re extremely excited that Preferred Behavioral Health, under the leadership of Mary Pat Angelini, has decided to join the Oaks Integrated Care family. Together we have the potential to grow and embark on new service areas while continuing to improve the health and well-being of our communities.”

As an affiliate of Oaks Integrated Care, Preferred Behavioral Health Group will keep their name and remain an independent company while becoming a member of the Oaks family of services. The affiliation is dependent on the final approval from the State of New Jersey and the organizations’ Boards of Trustees.

“This strategic alliance with Oaks Integrated Care will enhance our mission, create positive change in the communities we serve and increase our continuum of care across the state,” says Mary Pat Angelini, CEO of Preferred Behavioral Health Group.

Oaks Integrated Care Board Chair, Joe Aristone of Pennsylvania Real Estate Trust Company adds, “In the changing healthcare landscape, our future success relies on strategic planning and the strength of state-wide partnerships. While we cannot predict all that lies ahead, we must consider innovative approaches to ensure we will be here to help those who desperately need our services.”

With a combined budget of 124 million dollars, nearly 200 programs serving 42,000 people and over 2,200 employees, Oaks Integrated Care will emerge as one of New Jersey’s most comprehensive human service providers. The wide-ranging variety of programs will include group homes, in-home services, substance abuse services, prevention and education, case management, outpatient counseling, supportive housing, partial care, crisis stabilization services and food pantries.

About Oaks Integrated Care

Oaks Integrated Care offers over 150 health and social service programs for vulnerable adults, children and families in nine counties throughout New Jersey. By focusing on integrated care, the organization strives to treat the whole person to achieve both mental and physical wellness. Oaks Integrated Care formed in 2015 when Twin Oaks Community Services merged with Greater Trenton Behavioral HealthCare.

For more information, visit or call the Development Office at 609-267-5928.

About Preferred Behavioral Health Group (PBHG)

PBGH, headquartered in Brick, NJ, provides a comprehensive range of services needed to improve and maintain mental health and healthy lifestyles for children and adults in eight New Jersey counties with a primary focus in Ocean and Monmouth counties. Their continuum of care includes three 501c3 organizations: Prevention First, Preferred Behavioral Health and Preferred Children’s Services.

For more information, visit or call 732-458-1700.

oaks Photo Caption: Bob Pekar, CEO of Oaks Integrated Care with Mary Pat Angelini, CEO of Preferred Behavioral Health Group



Message from the CEO

ValIn a July 19 Editorial in the STAR LEDGER, there was yet another call to keep people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in state institutions.  This perspective, unfortunately, is driven by an assumption that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are only safe in a congregate setting accompanied by a presumption that individuals with I/DD are not capable of functioning in the community. But those of us in the advocacy and provider community, who work or live with people living with I/DD, know that there is ability in disability. Individuals’ desire to have lives filled with social interaction, learning, recreation, and work – among their ‘able’ peers.

A recent OLS audit, which reviewed the care of people with I/DD who moved from the developmental centers into the community included findings that have some suggesting that the state reconsider its policies on community living. This would be unwise on so many levels. A settlement with Disability Rights New Jersey requires people with disabilities to be served and supported in the least restrictive, integrated setting. While New Jersey has made great strides in integrating people in the community, we remain one of the states with the lowest percentage of transitioning individuals from developmental centers to the community.

That said, poor quality of care for people who depend upon caregivers is not acceptable in any setting. It’s not okay in a home, in a daycare or a school, in a nursing home or hospital, in a developmental center or a group home. This is not disputable. However, we don’t tell people they can’t go to the hospital because someone else there had a difficult surgery. We retrain staff. We learn new strategies to protect people in care from injuries. We develop improved protocols and oversight.

The state has several checks and balances to monitor and cite agencies that do not maintain a high standard of care such as licensing, ongoing inspections and audits, among other safeguards. The above referenced audit report noted that “DDD completed the required procedures for relocating residents…and monitored these clients in accordance with its policies.” I will note that in the last three years, 600 individuals have moved successfully from the state’s institutions, and they are thriving, with parents and family members throughout New Jersey that will attest to the positive outcomes and improved quality of life.

Patricia Watson’s son, Larry, spent 39 years in institutional settings including Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, ANCORA and ultimately the North Princeton Developmental Center. Her son now resides in a group home operated by Eden Autism. Patricia shared that her son “now has a routine, activities, a job and self-worth” “… It’s not just a job to the staff at Eden; we’re all family and he’s now in an atmosphere where he can learn and be independent.” Pat Gilmer from Massachusetts recently moved to be closer to her brother, Robby, who just celebrated his sixth year with Quality Management Associates (QMA). She shared that Robby was weaned off the many medications he took to address his disruptive behavior while residing in multiple developmental centers and he is now calm and happy. She noted, “I cried when I realized six years ago that Robby would smell turkey cooking on Thanksgiving for the very first time as staff cooked for all the residents of the group home.” Pat noted that “…what’s most important is that Robby can now make his own decisions.”

There are stories upon stories about individuals, even those with fragile medical conditions, who have transitioned successfully to a community setting and, yes, they deserve the best possible care that can be provided.  This is the very reason that providers throughout the state ensure there is ongoing training to develop and retain a workforce that understands and provides quality care, while at the same time providing opportunities for people to live active, dynamic lives and reach their potential.




2016 Workshops

Conducting Serious Incident Investigations

Attending this course will learn the fundamental principles of conducting investigations including:

The role of speed, thoroughness and objectivity in the conduct of a real investigation.
Fundamental definitions, such as relevance, types of evidence and forms in which evidence is collected.
Techniques for conducting successful interviews.
Proper methodologies in developing written statements and other documentary records associated with the interview process.
The collection and preservation of physical evidence.
Reconciling conflicting evidence.

Participants who successfully complete the Conducting Serious Incident Investigations course and score 80 percent or higher on the exam will receive Level I Certification.

Location: St. Clare’s Hospital, 400 West Blackwell Street, Dover, NJ 07801
Contact if you have questions: 609-406-1400

Speaker: Paul Davis, Labor Relations Alternatives


September 28 & 39
9 am – 4:30 pm
Lunch on your own

September 30
9 am – 11:00 am
Exam day

Bill Updates

Please check Bill updates under the Government tab/State Bill Update for the latest information.

CMS Issues Additional Guidance on HCBS Rule

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) posted a “Transition Plan Toolkit” (scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Settings Requirements Toolkit) with technical guidance for state’s transition plans under the new Home and Community Based Settings (HCBS) rule, including Exploratory Questions to Assist States in Assessment of Residential Settings and summary of the regulations. CMS did not issue guidance regarding non-residential settings, however, CMS did indicate guidance will be forthcoming but not when it will be issued. For more information, please review ANCOR’s summary of the toolkit.

NJACP Shares Budget Priorities with Legislators

NJACP met with Assemblyman Louis Greenwald’s (D-6) Legislative Director, Jade Mostyn, and Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-7), who serves on the Assembly Budget Committee, to discuss the State Fiscal Year 2015 budget . Assemblyman Greenwald worked with NJACP to move deinstitutionalization forward and NJACP advocated for his continued leadership to maintain the $102.1 million in funding in Governor Christie’s proposed budget for expansion of community services and a 3% cost of care increase targeted to the workforce. Both Assemblyman Singleton and Jade were very supportive, however, it was discussed adding additional monies in the budget will be challenging this year. Last year, Assemblyman Greenwald submitted a budget resolution for a 3% cost of care increase and will consider doing so again this year for the workforce. While the Assemblyman also supports closure of developmental centers he is concerned about the process the Governor is using for closure but understands the need for funding for people in the community.

Another concern discussed is how affordable housing will be funded, which was also discussed at the first Assembly Budget Committee hearing and will be a top agenda item for the Legislature this budget season. Assemblyman Singleton also discussed housing and capacity issues related to community expansion and cautioned other groups are advocating to move funding around in the budget to finance their priorities, therefore, NJACP must continue to advocate to keep the $102.1 million in the community services system for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. NJACP continues to meet with members of the Legislature and Governor’s Office to advocate for budget priorities.

DDD Posts Developmental Center Closure Information on Website

The Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) posted information on the DDD website about the closures of North Jersey Developmental Center, scheduled to close in July 2014, and Woodbridge Developmental Center, scheduled to close January 2015 as per the binding recommendations of the Task Force on Developmental Center Closure in August 2012. The information includes a blueprint for closure plan, fact sheets about each of the institutions that are closing and a sample placement preference survey. The Blueprint for Closure of North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center contains information about the characteristics of people moving, how many people have moved to date and are anticipated to move, the closure process, housing plan, how residents are evaluated, monitoring processes and other topics related to closure. Since the Task Force made its recommendations, 400 people have moved out of institutions, the two closing and others across the State. DDD anticipates 600 community placements from Fiscal Year 2013-Fiscal Year 2017.  Please visit the DDD website for additional information and to view the blueprint and fact sheets.

Obama Releases Fact Sheet on Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Among the fact sheets issued with the fiscal year 2015 budget that the Obama administration released earlier this month was one titled, “Opportunity for All: Expanding Opportunities for People with Disabilities.” The fact sheet highlights provisions in the budget plan which will provide funding to help workers with disabilities remain in the workforce, support the executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors, improve customer service at the Social Security Administration, support innovation that will lead to improved outcomes for people with disabilities, improve services for people with disabilities by extending and improving the Money Follows the Person rebalancing demonstration, maintain Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grant spending levels, support disability research by the National Institution on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), support housing for low-income people with disabilities, and invest in transit infrastructure. As reported by ANCOR.

DDD Provides Additional Information on Budget Numbers

The Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) released the following information about the State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2015 budget numbers.  Representatives from the DDD announced they would be releasing a plan for the closures of North Jersey by July 2014 and Woodbridge by the end of calendar year. The accelerated closure plan has resulted in additional funds dedicated to expansion of community services. Over $102.1 million is dedicated to community growth and expansion which represents gross spending, both federal and state dollars combined. This amount includes funding for new SFY 2015 and annualized SFY 2014 placements. The $102.1 million is dedicated to the following:

  • $31.4 million to Olmstead to fund 150 new placements, including the annualization of over 200 placements from SFY 2014.
  • $3.3 million to reduce the Community Services Waiting List (CSWL), including, 100 new placements from the CSWL and to help fund the annualized amount for 100 placements from SFY 2014.
  • $10.1 million for people who are aging out of their educational entitlement. This amount will fund over 200 new graduates and will assist with annualized funding for services for 200 people in SFY 2014.
  • $15.2 million for expansion of self-directed services.  A projected number of recipients is not available because of different variables in the program.
  • $42.1 million for emergency placements, which will include 700 emergency placements in SFY 2015 and help fund 700 placements for SFY 2014.

Funding dedicated to developmental centers is dropping from $337 million to $300 million. Funding for the Community Care Waiver (CCW) is increasing by $35 million from $422 million to $457 million.  While surrounding states such as New York and Pennsylvania are experiencing cuts to funding, New Jersey is fortunate to see increases to funding.  We are grateful to Governor Christie and Commissioner Velez.  Despite increases in funding for community living, a cost of care increase for providers was not included. NJACP will continue to advocate to keep the increased dollars in the final budget and to add a cost of care increase for providers.

CMS Holds Medicare Part D Rule

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) responded to a joint advocacy effort to oppose a recent proposal that would have restricted access to some medications under Medicare Part D that are needed by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who receive both Medicaid and Medicare. CMS will not include the provision in their rule at this time and will work with stakeholders for any future guidance. Members of Congress also sent letters calling on CMS to withdraw its proposal. As NJACP urged members to call and oppose the proposal in a recent newsletter, thank you to everyone who made the call.