Sweeney Recognized as ASAH Legislator of the Year for Work on Behalf of Persons with Disabilities 

Sweeney Recognized as ASAH Legislator of the Year for Work on Behalf of Persons with Disabilities 


Trenton – Senate President Steve Sweeney, who has been a tireless advocate for infants, children and young adults with disabilities, received the 2021 Legislator of the Year Award from the Association of Schools and Agencies for the Handicapped (ASAH) at the group’s 43rd Annual Conference in Long Branch.


“First, let me say I am deeply honored to be with you today, and I want to thank ASAH for its continued support of and commitment to people and students with disabilities. I especially want to thank you for this award in connection with an issue that has been at the very center of my entire career in public service,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland).


“As many of you know, I got involved in government in the first place because my daughter, Lauren, was born premature, weighing just two pounds, and with developmental disabilities. Part of my reason for being, and my public service, has been about trying to make life a little better, more affordable and a little easier to navigate for those with disabilities.


The Legislator of the Year Award was presented to Senator Sweeney because of his lawmaking achievements and relentless advocacy on behalf of those with disabilities. Senator Sweeney’s work has greatly improved the lives of both adults and young people by expanding pathways to educational opportunity, working to ensure those with disabilities have access to public transportation, and spreading awareness about the many positive contributions those with disabilities have made and continue to make in society.


“Senator Steve Sweeney has consistently advocated for students with complex disabilities and their families,” said Gerard M. Thiers, Executive Director of the ASAH. “His leadership was instrumental in securing an increase in extraordinary cost funding. This year’s $125 million increase enhances the ability of school districts to provide an appropriate education for students with unique learning challenges.”


In in his role as Senate President, Senator Sweeney led the way for funding to $400 million for Extraordinary Special Education and guided passage of Senate Bill 3434, which requires boards of education to provide an additional year of special education and related services to students turning age 21 to make up for learning loss due to the cancellation of programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.


“While we have accomplished much in recent years to open doors and make life more affordable and more accessible for people with disabilities in New Jersey, we must continue to do more,” added Senator Sweeney. “Too often, there remains a disconnect in our state and a discrepancy in how those individuals with disabilities are cared for, whether they have access to public transportation, and how and where they can gain employment. I can promise you that my commitment to these issues, to people with disabilities and their families, will not fade, and my voice will continue to be heard loud and clear.”


Since 1974, ASAH has served private special education schools and agencies in New Jersey, ensuring the highest standards of service excellence for students and youth with disabilities. With a focus on the needs of students, ASAH works to foster partnerships between its members, local school districts and local communities. ASAH also promotes programs and policies that protect and enhance the well-being of individuals with disabilities and their families, especially those that impact or interface with education.


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