7 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Quarantine

Mental Health during Covid-19

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has issued a stay-at-home order and many New Jerseyans are struggling to deal with the isolation. There is a toll “social distancing” takes on our mental health. When you have a mental illness, that toll is multiplied. Luckily, there are steps you can take to manage your mental health until this pandemic ends and we can return to normal life. 

Here are 7 tips for keeping “mental-healthy” during a quarantine:

1. Technology to Keep in Touch

There is no replacing face-to-face interactions with your family and friends. Still, a close second is using video call apps that can show you a friendly face when you’re feeling down. Keep in touch with iPhone’s built-in Facetime function or try some of the free apps listed here for Android or here for desktop.

Read more7 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Quarantine

Special Needs Considerations for Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 Update Coronavirus

Pandemic Protection for Our Most Vulnerable

Within a few short weeks, the Coronavirus (Covid-19) went from being a dangerous disease to being classified as a global pandemic. Countries have begun to take extreme measures to control the outbreak, but we must also take responsibility for the protection of ourselves and our loved ones. This virus can be lethal to anyone with a compromised immune system, heart disease, or respiratory complications, which means we must take extra precautions for people with disabilities, special needs, and seniors. We should also be considerate of the unique challenges we will face as a result of the special measures being put in place by our local, state, and federal governments. You can find many online resources detailing how to generally protect yourself and others, but this article will focus on those unique considerations for the individuals and families we serve.

Read moreSpecial Needs Considerations for Coronavirus (Covid-19)

It’s Time for a Direct Service Professional Wage Increase in NJ

A call to support DSP wage increases

Senator Stephen Sweeney (primary sponsor) and Senator Troy Singleton have put forward a bill in the New Jersey legislature that would increase direct support professional (DSP) wages in the state.

As the bill’s “statement” makes clear, DSP wages are becoming unsustainable at their current levels as the cost of living rises. See below:

 “At an average starting salary of $12 per hour, DSP wages are not competitive, with an increasing number of retailers paying $15 to $18 per hour and New Jersey’s minimum wage on a path to $15 per hour for entry-level jobs that are far less demanding.  To compound the issue, there is a growing DSP shortage that is threatening the safety and health of individuals with I/DD living in community settings.”

Read moreIt’s Time for a Direct Service Professional Wage Increase in NJ

Megan Tells Us What Camp Means to Her

Photo of Mary and TEXT: What does camp mean to you?

Megan came to Camp Merry Heart as a camper and had a fantastic time. So much so, that she couldn’t stay away. She came back as a volunteer because she wanted to help make sure other campers were able to experience camp the way she did. We ask her what makes her feel so strongly about the camp experience.

Read moreMegan Tells Us What Camp Means to Her

Specialized Education Programs: How to Challenge AND Accommodate

Caregiver and Person receiving services

A Special Relationship with Special Education

When raising a child with an intellectual or developmental disability, it is essential to find the most suitable environment for them to receive the best education possible. Sometimes, a traditional approach to education can be the perfect option, but it’s important to know that it is not your ONLY option. There are many avenues to accomplish this: mainstreaming, specialized curriculums, and even schools tailored to meet the needs of particular disabilities. We spoke with Jacky Wilensky, a teacher at The Shore Center, a public school placement for students with autism, to learn more about what kinds of accommodations parents should consider to ensure a student’s educational success.

Read moreSpecialized Education Programs: How to Challenge AND Accommodate

The Business Side of Disability – Part 3

hiring people with disabilities

Making YOUR Workplace Accessible

Welcome to PART 3 of our Business Side of Disability blog series. If you’ve missed PART 1 and PART 2, please give them a read, but it’s not necessary to understand this article. In those blogs, we discussed recruitment strategies and the benefits employees with disabilities bring to an organization. Now, we will be discussing how you can make your workplace more accessible by exploring technology and workplace accommodations.

Read moreThe Business Side of Disability – Part 3

The Business Side of Disability – PART 2

As part of our continued celebration of October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), this is PART 2 of our blog series showcasing the untapped workforce of job seekers with disabilities. In PART 1, we explored the overall value workers with disabilities can bring to your organization, but here we will be exploring how you can attract those employees to apply for open positions at your company.

Read moreThe Business Side of Disability – PART 2

The Business Side of Disability – PART I

The Business Side of Disability

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and in the spirit of the occasion, we decided to do something a little different with our blog…

Many times, we have written about employment and disability from the perspective of the job seeker. For this article we will be taking a different approach. Easterseals job coaches often go above and beyond providing individual job supports to our program participants. They visit businesses to speak with owners/managers to discuss how hiring an employee with a disability can help meet their staffing needs. Often hiring managers are unaware of the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, let alone that so many people are actively seeking work. That’s why we’re going to discuss why looking to the untapped workforce of people with disabilities to fill your next open position, makes good business sense.

Workers With Disabilities by the Numbers

Purely decorative graph

Unemployment has dropped to record levels, which has made it difficult for employers to find the right people for the open positions they desperately hope to fill. A perfect opportunity to look toward the 7.7% of New Jersey working-age (21-64) persons who identify as has having a disability. That’s approximately 700,000 people. 10.7% of those individuals were unemployed and actively seeking work. That’s 70,000+ individuals in New Jersey only who are looking to work for New Jersey businesses. Still, there is hesitancy for hiring managers to employee people with disabilities, evidenced by the 35.8% point employment gap between people with disabilities and those without.

There may be many reasons for this disparity, but the number one issue our job coaches have encountered is the stigma that still surrounds workers with disabilities. This stigma often stems from some commonly held misconceptions on the topic. So let’s address take a look at these issues here and now and learn more about why you should start hiring people with disabilities.

The More You Know

  1. Employees with disabilities are reliable, dedicated, and consistently are recorded as having impressive job performance, attendance records, and retention rates.
  2. It’s actually cost-effective to hire people with disabilities because benefits and insurance are sometimes covered by government programs, reducing your company’s overhead. You can also receive a tax credits for working with people with disabilities, helping to off-set any accommodation costs for providing accommodations for an employee.
  3. Employees with disabilities often qualify for training and support programs like those Easterseals provides. This means often the individual you are hiring is either already trained in their job task, or the training you would normally pay for, instead is provided by Easterseals rather than coming out of your budget.
  4. There is plenty of accessible technology available today which allows integration into the workplace possible. Everything from screen readers to accessible phone applications allow for many employees with disabilities to accomplish job tasks you may not have initially thought was possible for them.

These points may have dispelled some of the reservations you may have about hiring a person with a disability, but if you still have questions, let us know! Our workforce development team is always open to meeting with business leaders to discuss how we can work together to help solve your staffing issues.

Also, keep an eye out for our upcoming National Disability Employment Awareness Month highlights, coming this October. Don’t forget to check out Part 2 and Part 3 of this post for more information!

Success Story – Andrew Earns His STAR!

Recently, Easterseals day program participant, Andrew, was honored at the annual NJACP 20th Annual Stars! Award Presentation. He was treated to dinner and dancing with his peers at The Stone Terrace in Hamilton, NJ. Most important though, his commitment to achieving his goals was recognized and celebrated. Take a look at what his day program manager had to say him:
“Andrew, has attended an Easterseals New Jersey’s day program for over 8 years. He was born with an intellectual disability and faces challenges relating with his peers in social situations. However, these challenges have not kept him from developing meaningful friendships with his fellow program participants. And Andrew’s successes don’t stop there.

Read moreSuccess Story – Andrew Earns His STAR!

The Americans with Disabilities Act: 29 Years of Progress (UPDATED 2019)

Americans With Disabilities Act ADA

Access is a RIGHT

If you were a person with a disability living in the U.S. before the 1990’s, you know our society was NOT built with you in mind. This was best reflected in very architecture of our streets and buildings, which were structured in such a way that, unless you were walking, were impossible to navigate. Ramp access was a luxury, braille was barely used, closed captioning was not a requirement, and something as simple as using a public restroom was often a daunting (and dangerous) task. Today, it’s evident that the times have changed for the better. Though things are far from perfect, it’s undeniable that our country is more accessible than it ever was in the past. Many of these changes can be directly attributed to the establishment of a key law known as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Read moreThe Americans with Disabilities Act: 29 Years of Progress (UPDATED 2019)