Bipartisan Disability Caucus, Advocates Start Discussion On Needs of People With Disabilities
Trenton – In what will no doubt be the first of many discussions pertaining to the concerns and obstacles facing people with disabilities in the state, members of the bipartisan New Jersey Legislative Disability Caucus met today with the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities (NJCDD), a leading advocacy group, to start the conversation as to how to better understand and engage on the unique challenges facing those with disabilities in this critical time of COVID-19, and the continuing spread of the coronavirus.
“About 25 percent of New Jersey adults have some type of disability, but there remains a disconnect in our state, and a discrepancy, on how those individuals are cared for, whether they have access to public transportation, and how and where they can gain employment,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney, Chair of the Disability Caucus. “The plague of the coronavirus is no exception to what amounts too often to a double-standard in our state. We need to work on how to better assist those in the disability community, particularly in this scary time.”
Though the state has many laws and initiatives in place to assist those with disabilities, members of the Disability Caucus are acutely aware that more can and must be done. A bill sponsored by Senator Fred Madden and Senator Sweeney would establish a Task Force to Promote Employment by State Agencies of People with Disabilities, which would begin to address the lingering problem of unemployment and underemployment among individuals with disabilities in the state.
“I appreciate Senate President Steve Sweeney and legislators of the Caucus for providing this opportunity to share my perspective on issues surrounding COVID-19, including access to vaccines and the need for continuation of hazard pay for direct support professionals,” said Steve Gruzlovic, self-advocate and board president of the Progressive Center for Independent Living.
Senators Patrick J. Diegnan, Vin Gopal, Fred Madden, M. Teresa Ruiz, Troy Singleton, Joseph Vitale, Thomas Kean, Declan O’Scanlon, Kristin Corrado, and Anthony Bucco are also members of the caucus.