Rice-Vitale Bill To Provide Information On Adult Disability Services To Parents Of Special Ed Students Advances

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Joseph F. Vitale which would require that parents of Special Education students receive information regarding State services for adults with disabilities was approved by the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 4-0.

“As young people with disabilities grow into adulthood, they and their families must begin to plan for a life beyond school,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “New Jersey makes certain that parents are aware of the special education services that are available for their children, but when the student moves into adult life, there is an information disconnect. The shift from childhood to into adulthood can be difficult for everyone, and this is why it is important that parents are made aware of the State’s available resources regarding the transition.”

The bill, S-2361, would direct the Department of Education (DOE) to include in its annual “Parental Rights in Special Education” booklet that is available to parents of disabled students information regarding State services for adults with disabilities, including contact information for the Division of Development Disabilities, the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and programs provided for the mentally ill and the deaf and hard of hearing. The bill would also require school districts with grades 9 through 12 to designate at least one staff member to serve as a parent liaison to help guide the families of disabled students through the services provided by the State.

“New Jersey provides some of the best programs in the nation when it comes to providing support for students and adults alike living with disability,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “However, if these programs remain the State’s best-kept secret, they’re not really doing anyone any good. We need to make those who can benefit most from our vast network of programs for the disabled and impaired aware of the existence of those programs, to provide seamless support as disabled individuals move into adulthood.”

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.