In New Jersey and in places around the world in 2020, people with disabilities faced increased risks related to COVID-19, extensive job losses, and mandated closures of critical in-person programs and services that support their well-being, goals and independence.
According to new research from the National Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Family Support at the University of Pittsburgh, caregivers of those with developmental disabilities were more likely to report having less support for their child’s educational goals, trouble accessing child care, loss of employment or reduced work hours and increased financial strain.
Disability inclusion is essential as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, CAU is reflecting on our commitment to creating a more inclusive world and the triumphs of our members through the challenges of this year.
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was proclaimed by the United Nations in 1992 with the aim to promote the rights of people with disabilities and awareness of their situations in political, social, economic and cultural life around the world.
CAU and other agencies serving people with disabilities have adapted and continue to adapt to best meet the needs of members through this time. From offering virtual services for life skills, employment, education, behavioral health and more, to creating daily and weekly challenges to enrich time spent at home in CAU residential programs, our members and staff continue to work together to reach their goals.
“It’s been helpful to have my staff to get through everything,” said member Genevieve Smith. “I look forward to going back to reading, math and art at day program.”
For member Jessica Gaeta, virtual educational services have been a good fit to continue to study music and theater, self-help, math, history, and visual and digital art.
“It was hard to get used to at first but it’s really good for me right now,” Gaeta said. “I love to be doing art a lot and I like studying it too…the teachers do a good job of making it exciting.”
People with disabilities are also among the essential workers keeping business moving through the pandemic. Member Reginald Payne braved the rush on supermarkets early this year as an employee at ShopRite and Target.
“If I didn’t have a job it would be hard to take care of myself,” Payne said. “I pay my bills like rent, internet and my phone bill.”
CAU members are also speaking up about advocating for safety and helping each other through the pandemic.
“I’m doing something important- we have to keep the members safe,” said Tabitha Floyd, a member and employee who ensures CAU residential programs are sanitized as part of the mobile cleaning crew. “I tell them to wear their masks to be safe.”