BARNEGAT, NJ – It’s been a few years since the state estimated that over 25,000 adults are eligible to receive funding from the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities. For caretakers of adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, locating services often represents a challenge. On October 10th, the New Jersey Regional Family Support Planning Council serves as host to a Public Forum and Providers Fair at the Barnegat Recreation Center.
Walt Fernandez chairs the Barnegat Recreation Disability Advisory Board and played an integral role in setting up the forum and fair. Fernandez is well known throughout the state for championing events for individuals with special needs. Among them is a summer favorite, “Day on the Bay,” offering complimentary boat rides.
Meanwhile, Fernandez knows firsthand that it’s not all fun and games when it comes to locating services. The father of an adult son with a rare neuro-genetic disorder, Fernandez helps others navigate through the maze of available resources. He also sits on the board of the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities (NJCDD.)
The Regional Family Support Planning Councils (RFSPCs) are one of the programs listed by the NJCDD. They provide a venue for parents and family members of people with developmental disabilities to exchange knowledge and information about family support services. Additionally, members advocate for families and individuals with developmental disabilities at the local and state level on issues that directly impact their lives.
There are ten planning councils throughout the state, which are broken down according to counties. Ocean and Monmouth Counties are part of RFSPC #6. The program in Barnegat is intended to provide information regarding “Changes Affecting People with Disabilities.”
“These Public Forum and Providers Fairs are such a great place for parents and family members of people with developmental disabilities,” said Fernandez. “Unfortunately, I think RFSPCs are one of the best kept secrets. Not everyone knows they even exist.”
Remarkably, councils throughout the state also collaborate with numerous state agencies on how to better serve individuals and their families. RFSPC members, through their regional councils, monitor and evaluate the service delivery system, and inform families about current issues. They also inform policymakers, make recommendations, and advocate to local officials and state legislators about the needs of those who support a family member with developmental/intellectual disabilities living at home ,and in the community.
The October 10, 2019 Public Forum starts at 7:00 pm and is scheduled to end at 9:30 pm. Sign ups are accepted by calling 1-800-216-1199, Option 2.