Caring for adults with disabilities has long been a challenge for municipalities, as most participants leave programs at age 21.
Middlesex County, using US bailout money, came up with a solution.
Last week, county officials awarded a $250,000 grant to the New Jersey Educational Services Commission to help fund its Adult Community Services Program – a unique program that provides people 21 and older with an intellectual or developmental disability the opportunity to strive for independence by helping participants develop their social, emotional and life skills.
Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ron Rios said the funding will have a big impact.
“Along with the State of New Jersey, the county helps fund the Adult Community Services program at little or no cost,” he said. “This Middlesex County grant helps ensure participants and their families are tuition-free.
“The funding will also help support the expansion of the program so it can include more students and families.”
The program currently has 35 participants, the majority of whom are from Middlesex County. Officials said the program had openings. (Call 732-777-9860 for more information.)
Commissioner Chanelle Scott-McCullum said the program is one of the most impactful in the county.
“The Adult Community Services program is making a huge difference in our community,” she said. “Not only does this program create opportunities for participants to learn a variety of life skills and job readiness; practicing self-advocacy; and socializing with peers, it provides hands-on learning experiences that help bridge the gap between school and adulthood.
“And, unlike other programs, there is no age limit for the Adult Community Services program, which helps ensure that everyone has access to options, support and opportunities, regardless of age. I am proud to support such a valuable program.
ESCNJ Schools Superintendent Mark Finkelstein said the funding was appreciated.
“We greatly appreciate the Middlesex County Board of Commissioners for supporting our mission to change the lives of many young people in our community,” he said.
“Our Adult Community Services program serves as an essential bridge for young people with disabilities as they transition from public school supports to ‘real life’. ACS is dedicated to creating meaningful, long-term, and competitive employment opportunities.
“We are delighted that Commissioner-Director Ronald Rios and Commissioner Chanelle Scott-McCullum took the time this week to tour the program at our Piscataway campus, speak with instructors and students, and develop an even firmer understanding. successes that are unfolding. at the ESCNJ every day.
Rios said the county is grateful for ESCNJ’s efforts.
“On behalf of myself and my colleagues on the Board of County Commissioners, I just want to say how grateful we are to the ESCNJ for creating and running the Adult Community Services program – and to the participants and their families for being part of the program. ,” he said.