Petition to New Jersey Department of Children and Family Services
Please Renew Funding for the Child Development Center for Children with Disabilities
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.
Petition to Governor - Rick Scott, President of the United States, Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson, Buddy Dyer, Darren Soto
Stop the segregation of children with disabilities.
Do you remember the first day you took your little girl or boy to Kindergarten? It is a day that you will probably never forget. Do you remember the days leading up and going shopping for clothes, backpacks, and school supplies? You and your child are just so excited! The first day of Kindergarten is here! You take your child to meet his or her teacher with both excitement and a little bit of nervousness too.The teacher comes over to greet you and your child and welcomes you to her classroom. You look around the room and see lots of boys and girls and wonder who your child will become friends with. But, what if your child is met at that door and you are told that your child doesn't belong in this classroom. She belongs in the special classroom where the special kids go. She isn't smart enough to be with these kids. She belongs with the special kids. My daughter, Grace, has Down Syndrome and her school in Orlando, Florida is trying to remove her from the general education classroom. Up until now Grace has always been in the general education classroom over 80% of the time, but now Eagle Creek Elementary wants to cut that down in half. Please sign this petition and support her. Help protect her rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Sincerely, Brenda McCormick
Petition to Michelle Gallo, President of the United States, Illinois Governor, Steve Diveley
Don’t allow School District 41 and Hadley Junior High segregate our daughter AGAIN
Some of you may remember last year when we created this petition to stop School District 41 from segregating our daughter with Down Syndrome from her typical peers. With the help of this petition and the thousands of supporters who signed and shared their own personal stories, we were able to get the district to overturn their decision in April 2015. They agreed to "let" our daughter attend her neighborhood school and be taught with her general education peers. The school year started off well, but we began to see a similar trend. Our daughter was not receiving the support she needed to succeed. She was basically being set up to fail. The curriculum was not being modified as it should be, leading to frustration and behavior issues. We found several experts to assist the school team, but the district refused to enlist anyone's help. At the end of 2015, we were finally able to get the school district to have an outside behavior therapy agency evaluate our daughter and the staff. She offered some great strategies for the staff to aid them in redirecting our daughter. She even offered to help the staff modify the curriculum for the next 4 weeks to see if that would help diminish the negative behaviors. The special education director refused her help. But the real surprise at this meeting occurred when the special education director stated that, despite Hiba making wonderful friends and reaching all her academic goals, the district intends on placing her back in a segregated self-contained classroom next year in middle school. She cited behavior concerns as their reason to separate Hiba from her peers. Needless to say, we are not in agreement with this placement, and will go back to fighting for our daughter's legal rights to be taught in the least restrictive environment alongside her typical peers with proper accommodations and supports. We need your help again to make this a reality for Hiba. If she is placed in a self-contained classroom with 3 other kids with various disabilities, we know she will just regress and all the progress she has made this year, the beautiful friendships she has made, and the academic accomplishments she has achieved will be lost. We cannot let that happen. It is important to note that there is another child with Down Syndrome who has been fully included in this same school district, first in elementary school and now at the same middle school Hiba is going to next year. We don't understand why the district is including this child, but refuses to include our daughter. It just shows that our daughter is being discriminated against. Please sign and share this petition with everyone you know so Hadley Middle School in Glen Ellyn knows it is not OK to discriminate against a child just because of her having Down Syndrome. Below is the original petition we started last year: "The first thing you might notice about our daughter Hiba is that she has Down syndrome. But to those who know her, Hiba is a beautiful, intelligent, and compassionate 9 year old. She loves math and her favorite show is “Doc McStuffins.” If you ask Hiba what she wants to be when she grows up, she will tell you "a doctor." This is not surprising considering how much she loves helping people. As her parents, we see a child with all the potential of any other child. Unfortunately, her school system has kept Hiba segregated from other students and it has taken its toll on her education and spirit. All they seem to see is a child with Down syndrome. Down syndrome does not define our daughter. We are asking Glen Ellyn School District 41 to allow Hiba her legal right to be fully integrated and allowed to learn alongside “typical” students at Churchill Elementary. For the past 5 years, Hiba’s education has been spent in isolated, 1-on-1 settings. It has been painful to watch Hiba not be responsive to this education approach. She has become depressed, withdrawn, and as a result, hasn’t performed well in her studies. Hiba knows she is being treated differently and separated from the “normal” kids. Districts across the US have diversified the classroom to include both children with disabilities and those considered “typical” for the past few decades. Education research and organizations like the National Down Syndrome Society endorse full inclusion in education settings. This approach would allow Hiba to be fully integrated into the general education classroom with her “typical” peers the entire school day. She would be learning the same things, but with a modified lesson plan, technology support, and 1:1 aide in the classroom. This plan would be developed by a well-known inclusion specialist. We know this is the best approach for Hiba. Educational inclusion won’t just benefit Hiba. When children with disabilities are educated alongside their “typical” peers, research shows academic and social benefits for everyone. True acceptance of diversity begins in the school environment. It is then carried out in the home, workplace, and community. Glen Ellyn School District 41 insists this is not the best approach for Hiba. They point to how she has behaved and performed in the isolated classroom. School officials can’t see these are symptoms of being segregated and exactly why Hiba belongs in a classroom with her "typical" peers. This is why we started the petition. We need you to help Hiba get in a classroom setting where she will thrive. Your voice can make all the difference. Our dream is for Hiba to be afforded all the same opportunities as everyone else so she can achieve her full potential and be a kind, active member of society. Please sign and share our petition calling on Glen Ellyn School District 41 to allow Hiba to be fully included and allowed to learn alongside “typical” students at Churchill Elementary."
Petition to president Trump
Extend the International Age of Adoption to 18 for Children with Special Needs.
There are between 143 and 200 Million orphans suffering in institutions throughout the world who have never had the love of a family or a chance for healing or reaching their full potential. Of the orphans in Eastern Europe, only 20% will live to age 20 and many of the ones who do will turn to crime or prostitution for survival. Every year, almost 15 million children turn 16 and "age out" making them impossible to adopt. Many of these have special needs and will live their lives in run down mental asylums, where many die the first year. Children with autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Limb differences..they do not stand much of a chance in their countries, but in America, they could have the love of a family and hope. No child should have to live in an institution without hope, nor face a sub par institution where their lives are endangered. Last year, we found out about a 15 year old girl with cerebral palsy who we wanted to adopt, but our paperwork was received a few of days after her birthday and now, adopting her is hopeless unless this law changes, and this has happened many times. We are not the only ones. The outcomes for these children who are not adopted is often catastrophic and she may face horrible things like rape and assault one she is moved. Her long term survival is statistically unlikely. Factually, Some of these children we are fighting for will never really be adults due to mental disabilities and those with physical disabilities etc. could never pose a threat to National Security. Having a family is a life long blessing. Please allow these children the ability to be adopted up until age 18, just as we can adopt children who are American citizens up to age 18. We hope that you will consider our plea for allowing the adoption age of children with special needs to be extended.