MONMOUTH COUNTY, N.J.— Jersey 1st President Rosemary Becchi has been working with families of adult children with disabilities from around the state to help shine light on the fact that state-funded Division of Developmental Disabilities programs for adults with disabilities have been closed since March of 2020- with no immediate plans for reopening.
“When a mother of an adult child with Autism reached out to our office to share that her daughter’s day program has been closed for more than a year, our office started to look into the issue” shared Becchi. “These families feel unheard and don’t understand how children without disabilities are back in school and playing sports, while their adult children – who live very sheltered lives- are not able to get back to their programs that provide opportunities for socialization, coping techniques and life skills.”
As of Monday afternoon, almost 6,000 people signed a petition to reopen day programs for adults with disabilities. Link to petition: https://www.change.org/p/governor-phil-murphy-open-day-programs-for-adults-with-disabilities-in-new-jersey?recruiter=369096924&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_petition&recruited_by_id=2693c4e0-4cb8-11e5-9a79-8f8b3ddf7043&utm_content=fht-28210473-en-us%3A2
Jola Osborne from Colts Neck, whose son Daniel has Autism has been frustrated by the lack of answers from the Department of Developmental Disabilities. “Every week we get on a zoom call and hope that the Governor will make a move toward getting our adult children back into their programs. Instead – every week we hear that the programs can’t open due to the CALI report. The CALI report should not be determining if children are back in their programs- parents should!”
“Our children are regressing, and our families are exhausted and we just need help” agreed Pamela DeSciscio-Kowitski from Edison New Jersey whose adult son Steven also has Autism. “We are just asking for our children to have the same access as children without disabilities. We want our children back in their programs- we want equal treatment.”
Both mothers are appreciative that Jersey 1st has been working directly with the offices of Senator Anthony M. Bucco (LD 25) as well as Senator Stephen V. Oroho (LD 24) and Senator Kristin Corrado (LD 40). All three Senators have made themselves available to the families of adults with disabilities to hear their stories and work to help further their cause.
"It's absolutely infuriating that Governor Murphy still isn't getting the message that adult children with disabilities need access to congregate at day programs that are critical to their well-being. It’s also very frustrating that he has not responded to the pleas of the parents and guardians seeking his help with this issue,” said Senator Bucco. "Families, legislators, and organizations like Jersey 1st need to work together to amplify our voices to demand that the Murphy administration reopen these important state-funded DDD programs. It's sad that it's taking this long to convince the governor to do the right thing for some of the most vulnerable New Jerseyans."
The Rally is set for Saturday, April 24th from 11am-12:30pm at the Monmouth County Hall of Records, 1 E. Main Street, Freehold NJ. Organizers are reminding participants to bring masks and practice social distancing.