Advocating and advancing the human, civil and legal rights of persons with disabilities


What's New

Disability.gov Offers Information Guides on Disability Benefits, Programs, and Services

Finding reliable disability-related information and resources can be time consuming. That's why Disability.gov has developed a series of 14 guides about topics such as disability benefits, housing assistance, job training programs, and financial help for families with low incomes. Other guides cover services that promote independence for people with disabilities such as home health care, programs for caregivers, assistive technology, and more.
Each guide begins with a series of “quick links” that answer many frequently asked questions. Disability.gov’s Guides to Information & Resources also connect you to information about local organizations that offer programs and services that promote the inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities in their communities. To learn more, visit http://www.Disability.gov.

New ABLE Account Survey

The ABLE National Resource Center has developed a survey to better understand how many individuals might be eligible for ABLE accounts and how a potential beneficiary may use an ABLE account to save for disability related expenses. The results will be analyzed by the ABLE National Resource Center and distributed to its members and other relevant stakeholders. The Arc encourages advocates to distribute the survey widely through social media, email, and newsletters. It is hoped that all responses will be submitted by August 3rd, though distribution is still encouraged through the end of August. To participate in the survey, please click here. If you have any questions, please contact Chris Rodriguez at crodriguez@ndi-inc.org

Disability Services Company Charged with Discrimination for Refusing to Provide Job Accommodations

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has charged ValleyLife of Phoenix, AZ with disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ValleyLife allegedly fired employees with disabilities instead of providing them with reasonable accommodations when they ran out of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The company also allegedly didn't keep employees' medical records confidential.


New Call Line Dedicated to Help People Coping with Opiate Addiction

The MHANJ's new call line, NJ Connect for Recovery, is dedicated to providing counseling to people who are coping with addiction to heroin or prescription drugs and their family members. Please help us raise awareness of this valuable service by forwarding this message to friends, family members and constituents. For more information, go to http://www.njconnectforrecovery.org/material

CCERI Expands to Increase Scope of Service

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey's Career Connection Employment Resource Institute (CCERI) provides quality employment related training and consultation to the mental health community. Experienced staff consult with agencies that would like assistance with their vocational programs. Services include assessment to help to identify program needs, assistance with program development and linkages to resources. "In addition to maintaining our regular schedule of employment partial care trainings, we are covering new topics, such as stress and the job search, psychiatric medications and their employment implications and creating a trauma informed work place," explained Ruth Kaluski, Director of CCERI.

The program has recently increased its ties with the New Jersey State Department of Labor, Probation Services, and the US Department of Veteran's Affairs. For more information, contact Ms. Kaluski at 973-571-4100, ext. 136 or rkaluski@mhanj.org.

MHANJ Compiled Insurance Resource Table

Getting help with finding behavioral health care may seem daunting. In order to improve access to care, consumers and those seeking treatment must speak up to have their concerns heard. The MHANJ has compiled an Insurance Resource Table to help consumers identify the right service with which to register a complaint if an insurer or managed care plan is unable to meet their behavioral health care needs.


Accessibility of Hotels and Accomodations Survey

Staff from the Department of Kinesiology, Sport Studies, and Physical Education (KSSPE) at the College at Brockport, SUNY are conducting a study to determine the accessibility of hotels and accommodation facilities with the life experiences of people with disabilities. It should take about 10 minutes to complete and results are expected to help improve the accessibility of accommodation facilities.

The link to the survey is: http://www.gumus.com/survey/

The Inclusion Campaign Website Launched

Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ), Education Law Center (ELC), the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education (NJCIE) and other advocates today launched “The Inclusion Campaign” (www.inclusioncampaign.org) website. The website is a resource for families, educators and other advocates regarding the landmark 2013 legal settlement with the New Jersey Department of Education to educate more of the state’s students with disabilities in an inclusive environment.

“New Jersey’s record on inclusive education to date has been dismal,” said Ruth Lowenkron, Senior Attorney at DRNJ. “This settlement will ensure that all students in New Jersey will have an equitable opportunity to achieve their highest potential.”

The Inclusion Campaign is a collaboration of students, teachers, parents and non-profit organizations working to ensure that students with disabilities have their place in the general education classroom. In recent years, advocates have embraced inclusive education for students with disabilities as a recommended practice. “The goal of our campaign is to take full advantage of the opportunity provided by the legal settlement to dramatically improve the education of students with disabilities in New Jersey’s public schools,” said Elizabeth Athos, Senior Attorney at ELC. “We know that all students benefit from inclusive classrooms. We need to promote high achievement for all children, regardless of differences in ability, culture, gender, language, class, race and ethnicity.”

The Inclusion Campaign, funded by a generous grant from the van Ameringen Foundation, features a newly-designed website with information and statistics parents and other advocates can use as a guide as they work to ensure inclusive education in local school districts. In addition, the Inclusion Campaign will communicate via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

A highlight of the new Inclusion Campaign website is a short film on the benefits and challenges of the fight for statewide inclusive education. The film features testimony from parents, teachers and other advocates statewide.
Bryan Lonegan, whose son, Arthur, is educated in an inclusive classroom at the Renaissance School in Montclair, NJ, is one of the parents featured in the film. Mr. Lonegan talks about the enormous impact inclusive education has had on Arthur, by teaching him important academic skills, including reading and math, and how to make friends.

“The three years Arthur has been here [at the Renaissance School] with you have been the most important years of his life. You have showed that the experts were wrong. You made him a member of your community. He went from being a sad, frustrated and lonely boy to a kid who is happy and loves meeting new people. You freed him from the tower,” said Mr. Lonegan in a speech to Arthur’s classmates, teachers and administrators.

In 2015, the Inclusion Campaign will roll out the new website, social media platforms, infographics and short film around the state for parent and teacher organizations, legislators, and local and statewide media. The Inclusion Campaign will also encourage local government officials and school districts to organize screenings of the video in an effort to educate the public about the benefits of inclusive education.

“The Inclusion Campaign’s new website, social media presence and short film are important tools to enhance our advocacy,” said Lowenkron. “The tools are vital for our goal of making sure every child in New Jersey reaps the lifetime benefits of inclusive classrooms and instruction.”

For More Information, please contact: Gregory Joseph, 646-346-4289, gregoryj@amplifyinc.org

MHANJ Launches Opiate Helpline

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey recently launched NJ Connect for Recovery, the only call line in the state dedicated specifically to individuals and families coping with addiction to heroin and prescription painkillers. This service provides a safe, confidential, nonjudgmental place that New Jerseyans may call to connect, grow and transform through a unique combination of supportive counseling services. The toll free phone number is 855-652-3737 (TTY: 877-294-4356).

People calling on behalf of themselves have access to a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Those calling on behalf of a family member or friend are connected to a Peer Specialist who understands the unique and complex effect of addiction on personal relationships.

For more information call the toll free number, visit their web-site www.njconnectforrecovery.org, or email njconnect@mhanj.org.

Christie Administration Releases Emergency Preparedness Videos

The Christie Administration recently released a series of emergency preparedness videos designed primarily for people who are Deaf. The videos provide essential information in American Sign Language, with captioning, on a variety of readiness issues. The project was funded through a Federal Emergency Management Agency Subgrant from the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DDHH).


Section 8 Scam

DRNJ and other agencies are receiving reports that a scam is occurring regarding the Section 8 waiting list in New Jersey. Individuals and families are being directed to a website (http://section8programs.com/newjersey) which is being falsely identified as a State of NJ website.

This is not a State of NJ website. It requests credit card information, and is clearly a fraudulent site. This is a concern for everyone who may be inquiring about Section 8 housing and does not pertain to any particular disability group.

Please share this scam alert as widely as possible with individuals, families and provider staff, and reiterate that there should never be money paid to be put on a Section 8 housing wait list or any Public Housing wait list. (Developers may require an application fee for apartments - to cover background checks).

CMS Publishes New EPSDT Benefits Guide for Children and Youth

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has just published a go-to resource for anyone interested in improving child health: EPSDT - A Guide for State Coverage in the Medicaid Benefit for Children and Adolescents. The Guide was produced by CMS in collaboration with the National Health Law Program, under subcontract to the NORC at the University of Chicago.

The Guide is intended to help states, health care providers and others to understand the scope of services that are covered under EPSDT so that they may realize EPSDT's goals and provide the best possible child and adolescent health benefit through their Medicaid programs.

Click here to download a copy of the guide.

Legal Settlement Aims at Ending Exploitation of Disabled Workers

“The Justice Department has entered into the nation’s first statewide settlement agreement vindicating the civil rights of individuals with disabilities who are unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs. The agreement with the State of Rhode Island will resolve violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for approximately 3,250 Rhode Islanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This first-of-its-kind statewide agreement addresses the rights of people with disabilities to receive state-funded employment and daytime services in integrated settings, such as supported employment and integrated day services, rather than in segregated sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs with only other people with disabilities. The agreement also provides relief to transition-age youth at risk of segregation in facility-based programs. Under the agreement, transition-age youth will have access to a wide array of transition, vocational rehabilitation, and supported employment services intended to lead to integrated employment outcomes after they leave secondary school. The parties have jointly filed the settlement in federal district court and have requested that it be entered as a court-enforceable Consent Decree.”

For more general information about the Justice Department’s ADA Olmstead enforcement efforts, visit the Civil Rights Division’s Olmstead: Community Integration for Everyone website. To find out more about the ADA, visit Division’s ADA.gov website.

Disability and Veterans Community Resources Directory

Recently, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) launched a new database to help contractors find qualified workers with disabilities and veterans, and to assist contractors with establishing relationships with national organizations and local community groups that have access to these workers.

Contractors, as well as others, can visit OFCCP’s Disability and Veterans Community Resources Directory on the OFCCP Web site at http://www.dol-esa.gov/errd/resources.html. For more information and resources, visit http://www.AskEARN.org.

DRNJ's Least Restrictive Environment Cases Settles

After years of litigation, the case of Disability Rights New Jersey v. New Jersey Department of Education, which seeks to ensure that students with disabilities in New Jersey are educated in the "least restrictive environment." has been settled. For a copy of the the press release click here. For a copy of the settlement agreement click here.

Am I Eligible for Medicaid or The Children's Health Insurance Program?

Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide health coverage to nearly 60 million Americans, including children, pregnant women, parents, seniors and individuals with disabilities. Under the health care law, Medicaid eligibility is expanding in many states, and more people than ever will qualify for Medicaid starting in 2014. Find out if you may be eligible for Medicaid by clicking on the link https://www.healthcare.gov/do-i-qualify-for-medicaid/

DRNJ Attorney and NY Law School Professor Publish Article

DRNJ staff attorney, Alison Lynch, and NY Law School professor, Michael Perlin, recently published "Toiling in the Danger and in the Morals of Despair: Risk, Security, Danger, the Constitution, and the Clinician's Dilemma". This article examines the intricacies of risk assessment and dangerousness prediction in the forensic mentally ill population by comparing national and international legal standards. It also discusses the ambiguities in the law that leave clinicians with difficult decisions to make when evaluating dangerousness.

To access the publication, go to http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2363494

Governor Christie Announces Settlement of Olmstead Litigation During Budget Address

Governor Christie used the occasion of his budget address to announce a settlement in litigation brought by Disability Rights New Jersey involving moving individuals who no longer want to live in the state’s developmental centers and providing services to individuals in the community on the Division of Developmental Disabilities’ waiting list.

To read the announcement, click here.

To read the settlement agreement, click here.

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New Jersey's designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities

Disability Rights New Jersey
210 S Broad Street, 3rd Floor
Trenton, New Jersey 08608
1.800.922.7233 (in NJ only) • 1.609.292.9742 (Voice)
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