Governor Christie Signs Official Proclamation Recognizing April as Autism Awareness Month in New Jersey
In April 2012, the Christie Administration officially recognized National Autism Awareness Month to highlight and increase participation in the many programs, services and support offered by the State to individuals with autism and their families, according to a press release issued by the Governor's office.
New Jersey has one of the best systems in the nation for identifying, diagnosing and caring for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), the release states.
Autism, a biologically-based disorder that affects the development and functioning of a person's verbal and non-verbal communication skills, social interactions and patterns of behavior, touches about 1 in 50 children in New Jersey, impacting many families across the Garden State.
“As government leaders, we have a moral obligation to recognize the individual and unique needs of every New Jerseyan with a developmental disability,” said Governor Chris Christie. “With this year's 2013 budget, my Administration is reaffirming its commitment to help residents with autism and their families with the tools they need to lead fuller, more productive lives.”
To read more about how the Christie Administration has acted on a commitment to support individuals with autism and their families, view the full press release at http://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/552012/approved/20120411b.html.
Governor Christie Announces Employment Plan For People with Disabilities
Governor Christie recently announced that New Jersey will become the 14th state to adopt an Employment First initiative.
The initiative advances a philosophy – implemented through policies, programs and services – to proactively promote competitive employment in the general workforce for people with any type of disability.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to be productive, earn a living, and feel a sense of personal fulfillment from employment,” says Governor Christie. “By adopting an Employment First policy, this Administration is firmly committed to creating opportunities for individuals with disabilities. That’s why we’re working cooperatively with the private sector to ensure that people with disabilities are a seamless part of New Jersey’s workforce, with the independence and sense of community that comes from relationships developed inside and outside of the workplace.”
The Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) will coordinate to deliver services that advance the goals of this initiative. That means assessing policies to ensure that the infrastructure of education, social services, transportation and workforce expectations support getting individuals with disabilities to work. The initiative will also require all of state government to examine their respective policies and regulations to prevent barriers to employment for individuals with disabilities.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of March 2012, only 20.1% of people with disabilities participated in the labor force as compared to 69.3% of their peers without disabilities. In addition, the nationwide unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 15.2% compared to an 8.1% unemployment rate for people without disabilities.
For more information about how Easter Seals New Jersey provides meaningful employment to approximately 600 people with disabilities and special needs, visit our Employment Services page.
Urgent Action Alert!
New Jersey is considering a policy change that would eliminate employment opportunities for some people with very significant disabilities.
Under current law, people who do not have the capacity to work a regular job in the community can be paid a special wage for work they can do. The change proposed in New Jersey would bar the use of the special wage. Rather than working and receiving a very modest income, these individuals could participate in unpaid work activities. Now is NOT the time to reduce the incomes of people with very significant disabilities.