Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean joined with Senate President Stephen Sweeney and a bipartisan group of legislators from both the Senate and General Assembly to launch the New Jersey Legislative Disability Caucus during a virtual event today.
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean joined a bipartisan group of legislators from both the Senate and General Assembly to launch the New Jersey Legislative Disability Caucus during a virtual event. (YouTube)
The Disability Caucus will serve as a bipartisan forum within the New Jersey Legislature for lawmakers and their staff to consider the impact on the disability community when shaping all public policies in the Garden State through increased awareness and a greater understanding of the complexities of the disabilities service system and issues affecting individuals with disabilities and their families.
Approximately 25% of adults in New Jersey identify as having some type of disability. Despite progress after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 30 years ago, people with disabilities in New Jersey continue to seek opportunities to be included and represented in all aspects of life as an integral part of the fabric of our society.
Kean is joined by Senator Anthony M. Bucco (R-25), Senator Kristin Corrado (R-40), and Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) as the Senate Republican founding members of the Disability Caucus.
Included below are Senator Kean’s remarks as prepared for delivery during the launch event:
I’m excited to join with the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, The Arc of New Jersey, Autism New Jersey, the New Jersey Association of Community Providers, all of the other supporting agencies and organizations — and my colleagues in the Senate and General Assembly — for the formation of the New Jersey Legislative Disability Caucus.
I believe this is a great day, not just for the disability community, but for all of New Jersey.
What we’re announcing today demonstrates a clear commitment from the Legislature to work together — in a bipartisan manner — to ensure that all of our state’s policies are more thoughtful, inclusive, and supportive of the needs of individuals with disabilities and their families.
A few years ago, when we worked together to stop Return Home New Jersey, we realized how effective we could be when we joined forces.
Frankly, I think most of us agree that what we’re announcing today is long overdue.
The current public health emergency has really driven home the desperate need for this collaborative effort.
Many individuals and families found themselves suddenly cut off from critical resources, services, and care during COVID lockdowns, with little guidance or support from the State.
Many of our group homes and other residential facilities found themselves lacking sufficient staff and resources — again with little support from the State — while families worried whether their loved ones were safe.
We’ve also heard concerns that triage policies at hospitals during the pandemic could result in people with disabilities being denied access to life-saving treatment or care. That’s sickening and it’s something we shouldn’t tolerate.
I also think it’s clear that we need to expand the role of the Ombudsman to serve people with all types of disabilities.
And those are just a few issues that have arisen over the last few months. We know there are many other long-standing concerns that still need to be addressed.
So, we clearly have important work ahead of us, and I’m glad we finally have this disability caucus to bring Republicans and Democrats — and legislators and advocates — together for this important task.
I look forward to working with all of you. Thank you.
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