NEW JERSEY – District 25 lawmakers Senator Anthony M. Bucco and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn are founding members of the New Jersey Legislative Disability Caucus, launched Wednesday during a virtual press conference.
The bipartisan caucus will serve as a forum to consider the impact of public policy decisions on the disabled community, and increase awareness and understanding of the complexities of the disability service system.
“This is a pivotal day for New Jersey’s Disability Community, and the launch of this influential caucus will help improve the living conditions and the daily lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens,” Bucco said, who spoke during the conference on the challenges faced by individuals transitioning to independent living.
The Senator commended Senate President Steve Sweeney for “his vision in bringing this group together with our common goals on behalf of the those who face a gauntlet of obstacles most of us can only imagine.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 25 percent of the population is dealing with a disability that impacts their lives.
“I am thrilled to be a founding member of the caucus and get to work on a system that has grown far too complex, leaving parents and caregivers hopeless and afraid. More options are needed for their loved ones to live with dignity and autonomy,” Dunn said.
“My experience is first-hand as there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t worry about the welfare of my youngest sibling who lives in a congregate home for the intellectually and developmentally disabled. I will never stop advocating for the defenseless. The caucus gives those with this knowledge a legitimate opportunity to have a say when decisions are being made,” Dunn said.
Despite advances, adults with disabilities continue to experience significant differences in health characteristics and behaviors compared to adults without disabilities. Health care is a major concern for young disabled adults and their families.
“These individuals must contend with very specific and unique health care requirements. Simple things many of us take for granted, like a quick trip to the doctor, filling a prescription, or following doctor’s orders can be problematic,” Bucco said. “Together with my colleagues in this caucus, we will work to ensure that the interests and needs of the disabled are considered.”
In addition to more than two dozen lawmakers in the new caucus, 12 supporting agencies are participating. They include The Arc of New Jersey, the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey, New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, and the New Jersey Independent Living Council.
Dunn related a conversation with a constituent who said, “My daughter can’t be an advocate as she doesn’t use words. This caucus is a step in the right direction.”