The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world hard. Life came to a screeching halt, and for almost two years everything we did, like how we work, our interactions, and even getting food and common household staples became challenges.
For the disability community, life became even harder and the world even narrower. Many with sensory conditions found themselves unable to wear masks and shop. People saw their services shuttered and their hard-won skill progression erode.
Even now, when we see glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel, people who are trying to live their best lives, despite a wide variety of disabilities, remain stuck at the back end of the march toward some kind of normalcy. Individuals who are immunocompromised find themselves in a world where restrictions have lifted, but their vulnerability has not.
Program participants and Easterseals New Jersey found an already broken system in collapse. Disability service providers had to close locations, lay off staff, and found themselves unable to be with participants. Still, we persevered. We provided virtual services, food drop offs, and enacted a wide variety of safety measures.
Now it is up to all of us to create a system where access, equity, and inclusion are part of the norm.
Easterseals charitable donations are decreasing, and public funding is drying up.
81% of Easterseals NJ’s revenue comes from some government source. You read that right.
When the government revenues fall short or other priorities take precedence, the disability community suffers.
Unfortunately, without a healthy budget, the disability community’s access to mental health programs, transportation services, employment and education options, and more may dry up completely.
Inflation is up. Gas prices are up. Food costs are rising. Easterseals New Jersey is doing everything possible to keep doors open and access to programs up and running. However, as part of the organization’s efforts to shine a spotlight on much-needed advocacy, a harsh reality has set in.
This year, the disability community won some modest gains, but fell short of the cost-of-living increase in the state budget. We were relying on that increase to make sure expenditures meet these rising costs and our frontline workers are compensated fairly. Without it, this means more cuts to programs.
We can only make sure no one is left behind if you get involved. Elected officials tell us repeatedly that they need to hear from you, the passionate and effected.
Our Action Center’s webpage is your one stop shop for alerts, issues, events, and actions. In just a few clicks, you can contact your representatives and educate yourself on the latest news.
We aim to improve funding, accessibility, and opportunities for people of any ability.
Now It’s Your Turn!
1 in 4 New Jerseyans has a disability. Every one of our lives has been touched by it whether we focus on it or not.
Easterseals New Jersey is asking all citizens to write to their legislators asking them to support additional funding for important programs and assistance needed to empower those with disabilities to continue to be productive members of our communities.
Visit the Action Center’s Webpage and tell your legislators to support and VOTE to fund opportunities for all.
Most importantly, ask your elected officials to realize that while many are feeling inflation most at the gas pumps and supermarket checkout lines, New Jersey’s disability community relies on public health services programs to get by. Access to healthcare, transportation, employment, mental health services, etc., is at serious risk without increased funding.
We mean for this to be a community effort. You can always reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with your disability issues or to ask a question.
Be an advocate! Do your part! For more information about Easterseals New Jersey, its programs, and public policy agenda, as well as how you can get more involved, visit www.eastersealsnj.org/advocacy.