After more than 20 years on the advisory board for the Salem County New Jersey Office for the Disabled I have resigned. Advisory board meetings became too unproductive. There isn’t a budget for services for our disabled population unless they are in a school program or if they are a senior citizen. Well, they can attend programs that are available through the Office of Aging and Disabilities, but these programs are designed for senior citizens.
I have to give some credit to our politicians. They can’t allocate budget dollars to provide programs and services for our less able citizens that are too old for our education system, but they created a department that gives the perception that there are programs and services for this group. There is money for our seniors and the programs that the Office for the Aging and Disabled do a good job in providing programs and services. How many twenty something people do you know that are interested in programs designed for their grandparents?
I am not pointing fingers at the local politicians. Well, not really. The funding programs start at the state and the federal level. How many times have you heard a politician at any level talk about what they want to do for our less able (disabled) citizens. This is a group of citizens that have little or no political or financial clout. They went through our school systems in special education classes with an IEP (Individual Education Plan), but the unemployment rate for this group can be as high as 15% and only slightly lower than their percentage listed in our Bureau of Labor and census statistics. By the way, it is really hard to get clear information about their actual numbers. If someone can find these numbers, I would really appreciate your help in detailing them.
Anyway, why did I choose to write this blog. Well, the Salem County Office for The Disabled Advisory board no longer is involved with the Office of Aging and Disabilities. Most of us now have decided that if there are going to be additional programs and services for this group of citizens, it has to come from people in the community that want to add value to this group through activities that are age appropriate and fun. We had our first meeting on Tuesday evening and we are already developing plans for events and activities. We have also decided to not recreate the wheel. We are interested in working with existing agencies and groups and will be reaching out shortly.
If anyone is interested in joining us or has any suggestions, please leave a comment.