Originally Published By ROI-NJ

Op-Ed By Steven Vernikoff, Center for Family Support

When I started at the Center for Family Support over 25 years ago, we were just beginning to understand the possibilities of community-based, person-centered services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Part of that challenge was learning to be open-minded about what could be accomplished, a journey into the now too-familiar term, “uncharted territory.”

The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically impacted these residents of our group homes. They often have other health issues that can heighten vulnerability and cause severe reactions. Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are dying as a result of the virus at a higher rate than the general population.

Although it’s largely temporary, all are now confined to where they live. The resultant challenges, including social distancing, are significant but workable. The residents are dependent on the staff who protect their health and safety. We have also stepped up our staff’s safety through, for example, proper protective gear and assistance with public transportation.

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