Please Renew Funding for the Child Development Center for Children with Disabilities
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I am writing this petition on behalf of the 48 families that are currently being served by the Child Development Center (CDC) at Hudson Milestones and for the rest of the NJ families that will also be affected by the state's latest move in de-funding programs like these. On May 16, 2017 Hudson Milestones received a non-renewal notification by the Department of Children and Family Services stating that their contract will not be renewed at the end of the term on June 30, 2017. Why would the state not want to renew their contract you may ask? Also, you may be thinking why would the state only give them 45 days to terminate a program, discontinue services and lay off some of the most dedicated and compassionate employees you will ever meet?
We were simply told that the state is no longer interested in funding "these types of programs". After several emails and phone conversations of trying to explain the impact this will have on the children and families, the state granted them an additional few months and extended the contract to September 30.
Let me introduce you to what "these types of programs" are and their impact on the lives of those being served.
At Hudson Milestones, the CDC is in Jersey City, NJ. It operates Monday-Friday and serves forty-eight children, under the age of three, with a developmental delay. These children are babies. Babies who were born with down syndrome, babies who are non-verbal, with low muscle tone, lacking sensory and motor functions that a healthy baby has. Babies who require a different level of monitoring then you would get at your local daycare and the only one that exists in Hudson County.
Hudson Milestones is not an ordinary daycare, despite what the state of NJ may think. It is a Child Development Center. Each day you see speech therapist, physical therapist and developmental intervention therapist coming in working with the children to ensure the maximum growth during this fragile stage. In addition, they provide free door-to-door transportation for those living in their limited catchment area, free meals and snacks, and an ever-changing array of developmentally appropriate sensory and play experiences in a 1:4 teacher/child ratio with highly trained staff. Parent support activities and parent participation days are offered to provide added enrichment and information for families. These families are still coming to terms that their loved one is suffering with an Intellectual Developmental Disability and this type of support is critical in the early stages. The type of stimulation that Hudson Milestones offers is invaluable to these children and their families as it is their first opportunity at learning how to deal with their disability and to have the necessary resources in the beginning of their lifelong uphill battle. Removing these services will leave these children without the necessary care and stimulation they require to get a head start on managing their disability. Hudson Milestones has been a pillar of the community for over 50 years developing children’s abilities year after year serving millions of children. Your neighbor’s’, friend, family, a co-worker, someone you went to school, maybe even your own child. Think where would you have been at the early stages of parenthood without these essential support systems.
I would just like to end with sharing the Hudson Milestone's mission statement which is:
"Hudson Milestones seeks to build and maintain a Hudson County based organization dedicated to the care, support and advancement of people with developmental disabilities and their families towards achieving, to the maximum extent possible, the individual's life goals and establishing self-sufficiency in the community."
Hudson Milestones cannot carry out their mission statement without the appropriate funding from our state.
Please use your power as representative of the people of New Jersey to reconsider the importance of programs such as these and to renew the funding necessary for this very critical program.
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