HISTORICALLY AND TODAY
In 1946, a Teaneck, New Jersey woman reached out to all parents with a child who was "mentally deficient or mentally handicapped" to come together to "help her own child by doing something to help all children similarly affected." In a letter which ran in the October 12th edition of the Bergen Evening Record, Mrs. Laura Blossfeld laid the ground work for what was to become a nationwide organization.
Initial meetings of parents from Bergen and Passaic Counties resulted in the seeking of assistance from professionals, appointment of an executive committee, initiation of a voluntary one dollar per year dues and the beginning of a resource library on mental deficiency made up of books contributed by group members.
The idea of forming a Parents Group for Retarded Children, as the organization was first called, mushroomed and similar groups sprang up in other New Jersey counties. Progress toward incorporation was realized for the New Jersey group in 1949.
That same year saw the first meeting of the Hudson Unit, which was incorporated in 1950 with 42 members. On July 1, 1999, the Hudson Association for Retarded Citizens officially changed its name and became known as Hudson Milestones, Inc..
Funding for Hudson Milestones to provide free-of-charge services to county residents comes from state, county, and municipal governments as well as fundraising and private contributions.
Hudson Milestones administers a variety of programs to serve people from our community who are disabled at all stages of their life cycle.
Established in 1963, the Child Development Center, located in Jersey City, provides forty-eight children under the age of three with developmental services. Each day includes door to door transportation for those living in the transportation catchment areas and an ever-changing array of sensory and play experiences which are appropriate for toddlers. The Child and Adult Care Food Program sponsors two meals a day and snacks for the children served. There is one staff person for every four children. Volunteers provide extra help. A Coordinator and Head Teacher oversee staff activities and help with parent support. Parent participation days, parent forums and resource materials are mailed monthly to provide added support and information for families. The Center operates out of the Department of Children & Family Services.
The Early Intervention Services Program (EIS) provides support and training to families with children who are developmentally delayed and under the age of three. Highly qualified practitioners including special education teachers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, social workers and paraprofessionals provide individualized, home based services focusing on both the need of the child and their family. A trans-disciplinary team approach and parent training are the cornerstones of the EI philosophy. Translators are available to assist with communicating to families when English is not their first language.
The family is the center of EI services. They choose activities that are meaningful for them. Most services take place in family homes or in other community locations. Hudson Milestones EIS works with approximately 500 families throughout Hudson County over the course of a year. The agency has been providing EI services since 1983.
In 1985, Hudson Milestones began providing In-Home Respite Care to children and adults with developmental disabilities through our Department of Children & Family Services. Specially trained staff visit family homes at times chosen by the parent(s) to care for the family member with the disability. The care provided varies according to the person and family's needs and can consist of tutoring, skill training, recreational activities, and/or attention to personal needs. Having access to respite is a great relief to the parent(s) who otherwise are alone with the often difficult responsibilities of caring for a family member with special needs.
The After School Program, also in our Department of Children & Family Services, provides after school care for children who meet DCPP income eligibility standards, have a developmental disability and live in Bayonne. The Child and Adult Care Food Program sponsors a daily snack for enrolled children. Activities include: arts and crafts; field trips; group games; music; computer use; homework assistance; snacks and special contests. The program began in September of 2000 and replaced the Summer camp program. Unfortunately, due to low enrollment, this program closed in September 2014.
Our two Adult Training Centers (ATCs), located in Bayonne since 1988 and Jersey City since 1964, provide day programming for over 100 residents of the Hudson County community. These centers are places of individual expression, learning and creation. Each person can find ways to build relationships with peers while also developing skills and interests which our consistently innovative staff incorporate into their daily schedule. Each of our ATC programs offers a variety of learning opportunities and volunteer activities for the program participants. Programming is developed based on each person's interests, goals and needs. Our Adult Training Center curriculum emphasizes teaching social skills, personal safety and working appropriately and cooperatively with others. The Holiday Gift Project, Papers for Paws, Ripping Rewards and the Guest Reader Program at Hudson Milestones’ Child Development Center, are examples of volunteer work that were created at the centers. Trunk Treasures, which began in 2006, was another entrepreneurial venture where the participants sorted, washed, ironed and sold clothing. As of July 1, 2016 the department and center’s names changed to Day Habilitation as per the new Fee for Service Support Manual and Guidelines.
Since 1998, the Performing ARCs, in collaboration with various professional artists and actors, have used drama, music, tap dance and art to impress audiences. More importantly, they learn that imagination is fun and that each of us is worthy of esteem from both self and others. This program is funded by a grant from the Hudson County Cultural & Heritage Affairs Office. This program is very popular among clients and staff. In 2012 the name was changed to Musical Milestones.
The ARCworks component of the ATC, began in 1997. This program offers a pre-vocational training curriculum for people who have clearly stated a desire to work in the community. ARCworks provides a job-like environment and introduces participants to the world of work through job sampling, travel training, video assisted interview techniques, job seeking and application process, and, most importantly, through work itself. ARCworks participates in a number of different work opportunities including cleaning for a local attorney’s office, collating, mailings, packaging, small assembly and paper shredding, as well as cleaning our ATC centers, administrative offices and places in the community. In 2013, the Octagon replaced the ARCworks room at JCATC. The Octagon building had formerly housed the now defunct SpARCkling Clean Laundromat, a local business which the agency owned and operated as a training site for interested individuals. The Laundromat went out of business in April 2010.
Also in 2013, a classroom at the JCATC was dedicated to special needs clients with more staff and more space.
Anyone dropping by the Joseph Connors’ Senior Centerin Jersey City will walk into a scene of informal recreation and social interaction involving local seniors who come by to play cards, watch the day's talk shows and daytime dramas, crochet, play bingo, take dancing lessons or talk about the Mayor’s Picnic at Liberty Park. What is quickly obvious is the loose, easy intermingling of folks whose focus is no longer on work and faster paced organized activities. What they probably won't notice is a group of Hudson Milestones’ participants integrated into the daily life of the Center. That is good. You shouldn't. That's how we know it's integrated. This was community integration at its best since it opened in 1993. However, in 2011 our clients stopped attending the Center due to their aging medical needs and safety concerns.
Community Residential Services refers to living arrangements for adults with developmental disabilities which allow integration into the mainstream of community life. Accepting residents from State developmental centers and community families, these services provide an alternative to institutional placement and to living at home when this is no longer possible or advisable. Hudson Milestones operates group homes in Bayonne, Jersey City, Kearny, North Bergen and Secaucus. The first one opened in 1984. Each house affords supervised opportunities for self direction in all life skill areas consistent with each person's ability. Our programs strongly focus on "person centered" approaches and support individuals in becoming integral participants in the community.
Supervised Apartments are a community residential service option which allows more independence than group home living. A building with two client apartments and a separate two person supervised “home” are operated by Hudson Milestones in Bayonne. Each apartment houses four clients who live alone but receive twenty-four hour support services and assistance from staff in all areas of independent living. The supervised home, which serves two ladies, offers 21 hours of support daily. With community integration a primary focus, each resident in these programs is given the opportunity to be independent to the maximum extent of their abilities. The level of service at the single family home, which offered support to four individuals since 2005, was reduced to two individuals in 2013.
The In-Home Program was started in September of 1993 when Hudson Milestones started serving individuals in their own homes, providing them with services targeted at those problems that impede full independence. Participants receive a specified number of weekly hours.
Recreation Program for Adults. Monthly dances, called PLAY dances, for adult clients are currently being held at the Moose Lodge in Jersey City. The dances give clients the opportunity to socialize with one another and provide community involvement. This program was among the first the agency offered and dates back to 1957.
In 2003, the Saturday Recreation Program was developed through the Department of Adult Activities. In 2005 a teen component was added but ended in 2013 due to lack of enrollment. The program serves its 29 adults & youth clients for 40 Saturdays a year from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The program does not operate weeks in which there is an agency closing or any Saturday during an extended holiday weekend. The SRP operates out of our Jersey City Adult Training Center (JCATC). The adult clients are drawn mostly but not exclusively from those we know through serving them in our day program. It is open to people who do not live in a group home, sponsor home, or a residential placement funded by the Division. Youth clients are students enrolled in education programs through their local special education/services departments. The SRP provides the clients with an opportunity for increasing their community experiences and while giving family members some relief from their direct care responsibilities. The trips the group attends include but are not limited to classes at museums, Tai Chi, Karate & Yoga classes, zoos, aquariums, indoor family arcades, environmental centers, country line dancing, plays at the theatre, miniature golf, dinosaur park, swimming at the YMCA, fairs, bowling, sporting events, movies, cooking classes, pumpkin picking, craft activities, picnics, bocce, and formal dances.
In March 2011, Bethany Hall was opened. Bethany Hall turned wasted space in the Administration Building into a large 1200 square feet multi-purpose area that could be used for program enhancements or meeting space.
The Quality Assurance Department was established January 1, 2016. The mission of the department is to improve the management performance level, accountability, data reporting, employee training, risk management, management effectiveness and efficiency of all departments that make up the agency.
Transportation Services is an important part of the developmental day care and adult training center programs. Each program's operation depends on Hudson Milestones' fleet of vans to transport clients from home to the centers and back home at the end of the day. Transportation also makes it possible for children and adults from programs to attend special recreational outings and trips.
All programs of Hudson Milestones function because of the Support Staff who work behind the scenes. Accountants, bookkeepers, secretaries and maintenance people, to name a few, all contribute to programs in ways that may not be apparent, but are vital to our operations.
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