HISTORICALLY AND TODAY
In 1946, a Teaneck, New Jersey woman reached out to all parents with a child who was Intellectually/Developmentally Disabled (I/DD) to come together to “help her own child by doing something to help all children similarly diagnosed.” In a letter which ran in the October 12th edition of the Bergen Evening Record, Mrs. Laura Blossfeld laid the ground work for nationwide organizations.
Initial meetings of parents 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 I/DD persons.
The idea of forming a Parents Group for Children, as the organization was first referenced using the “R word, 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 I/DD Hudson County organization, which was incorporated in 1950 with 42 members. On July 1, 1999, the Hudson ARC 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. In 2016, a few of the programs transitioned from a contract with the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (NJDDD) to what is known as a Medicaid based Fee for Service (FFS) reimbursement system. This change is now the base for all of our programs and Hudson Milestones has been entirely FFS since 2020.
Hudson Milestones administers a variety of programs to serve people from our community who are I/DD at all stages of their life cycle.
In March 2011, Bethany Hall was opened. Bethany Hall turned underutilized space in the Administration Building into a large 1200 square feet multi-purpose area that could be used for program enhancements or meeting space.
Established in 1963, the Child Development Center, located in Jersey City, provided forty-eight children under the age of three with developmental delays services for 54 years before the New Jersey Department of Children and Family Services discontinued funding in September 2017 and reallocated these funds to what they like to refer to as a “different cause”. Petitions were created by concerned citizens and signed by community members. This news was devastating to the families of all the children served.
The Early Intervention Services Program (EIS) New Jersey’s Statewide System of Services for Infants and Toddlers provides support and training to families with children with I/DD or who are intellectually/developmentally delayed and under the age of three. Highly qualified practitioners of various therapeutic disciplines (such as physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, developmental intervention, and social work) provide individualized services focusing on the need of both the child and their family.
In the New Jersey Early Intervention System (NJEIS), the practitioner works as part of a transdisciplinary team, including the family, Special Child Health Services (SCHS) Service Coordinator, interpreters, and other practitioners. The family is the center of EI services. They choose activities that are meaningful for them. The EI services are provided in the child’s natural environments, primarily in their home, but also in community locations such as at their child care center. EI services are never 1:1, so each home session must include both the family and child, occurring as part of the natural routine in the child’s day and environment. The goal of Early Intervention is to provide a service to the family that will help them to learn and be comfortable using the intervention strategies developed for the child, thus enhancing their capacity to meet the developmental needs of their child.
Hudson Milestones has been providing EI services since 1983, working with approximately 200 families throughout Hudson County over the course of a year. In 2004, this program went to a Department of Health Division of Family Health System FFS reimbursement system.
In 1985, Hudson Milestones began providing Respite to children and adults with I/DD through the Department of Children & Family Services and the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). Respite services were developed to provide families with assistance and support with their ongoing responsibilities related to caring for an individual with an I/DD. Referrals can come from Support Coordination Agencies or other support services. Specially trained staff visit the home at times chosen by the family member to care for the individual 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 services is a great relief to the parent(s) who otherwise are alone with the often difficult responsibility of caring for a family member with special needs. If your child or loved one is eligible for respite services through PerformCare or DDD, there is no fee for participation.
The After School Program, also in our Department of Children & Family Services, provided after school care for children who meet DCPP income eligibility standards, have a developmental disability and live in Bayonne. Unfortunately, due to low enrollment, this program closed in September 2014.
Our two Day Habilitation (DH) Programs (formerly known as Adult Training Centers or 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 DH programs offers a variety of learning opportunities and volunteer activities for the program participants. DH guidelines are age appropriate; offer variety and choice; emphasize community experiences; focus on small groups and individual interaction and experiences. Programming is developed based on each person’s interests, goals and needs based on person centered planning tool. Our DH program 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 over the years for the DH individuals to participate in. Trunk Treasures, which began in 2006, was another entrepreneurial venture where the participants sorted, washed, ironed and sold clothing. This venture concluded in 2014. In 2013, a classroom at the Jersey City Day Hab was dedicated to special needs clients with more staff and space. As of July 1, 2016 the department and programs’ names changed to Day Habilitation to fit the new Fee for Service model outlined in the Support Program Manual and Guidelines.
The CFS program was forced to close its doors that were open to the community for over 67 years in September of 2017. New Jersey Department of Children and Family Services decided to designate the funds to a different cause. In December of 2017, the Early Intervention Program and Respite Services Programs merged with Day Habilitation. These three programs are now under one new department which we call Day Support Services.
In the fall of 2017, the After Hour Program began offering our clients the chance to learn something new or fine tune a few skills. Volunteers from the community teach us music and motion which provides physical activity in the form of dance with Spanish and Traditional style lessons. Crafts with friends brought us great art work while serving as therapeutic expressions. The After Hour provides an evening of entertainment with space to explore ones creativity.
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, families, and staff. In 2012, the name was changed to Musical Milestones.
The former ARCworks component of the Day Habilitation programs, began in 1997. These classrooms offer a pre-vocational training curriculum for people who have clearly stated a desire to work in the community. A job-like environment is provided and introduces participants to the world of work through job sampling, video assisted interview techniques, job seeking and application process, and most importantly, through work itself. These clients participate 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 Day Habilitation buildings and administrative offices. In 2013, the Octagon replaced the ARCworks room at the Jersey City Day Hab. 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.
In 2003, the Weekend Respite Program (WRP) (formerly known as the Saturday Recreation Program) was developed through the Department of Day Habilitation. In 2005 a teen component was added but ended in 2013 due to lack of enrollment. The program currently serves 29 adult clients, 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 an extended holiday weekend. The WRP operates out of our Jersey City Day Habilitation building. The 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. The WRP provides the clients with an opportunity to increase their community experiences while giving family members some relief from their direct care responsibilities. The activities the group participate in include but are not limited to museums, Tai Chi, Karate & Yoga classes, zoos, aquariums, environmental centers, country line dancing, plays at the theatre, miniature golf, fairs, bowling, sporting events, movies, cooking classes, pumpkin picking, craft activities, picnics, bocce, and formal dances.
Historically, anyone dropping by the Joseph Connors’ Senior Center in Jersey City would 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, and take dancing lessons. What was quickly obvious was the loose, easy intermingling of folks whose focus is no longer on work and faster paced organized activities. What they probably didn’t notice was a group of Hudson Milestones’ participants integrated into the daily life of the Center. That was a good thing. They shouldn’t. That’s how we knew it was integrated. This was community integration at its best from 1993 until the end of the program in 2011.
The HM Arena opening on September 13th, 2022 kicked off with a ribbon cutting by Bayonne Mayor, Jim M. Davis. The ribbon cutting was followed by a reception featuring light refreshments during which attendees were able to enjoy boardwalk style and virtual games featured at the arena. Since its opening, the HM Arena has been enjoyed by Day Habilitation clients from both programs as a place to socialize and stay active during the week. The Weekend Respite Program, which consists of community clients who live at home with their families, has been able to use the HM Arena as an event location where they are able to enjoy the games and meet up with their Residential Program friends outside of the Day Program. Members of the In-home Respite program have been able to attend several events at the HM Arena such as the Halloween party and we look forward to them attending many more. The HM Arena is more than a high-tech gaming zone, it also hosts activities such as exercise classes, bingo nights, and Zumba dance parties.
Residential Services refers to living arrangements for adults ages 21 or older with I/DD which allow integration into the mainstream of community life. Behavioral Management, Financial Management, Transportation and Environmental Modifications, when applicable, are examples of services provided. 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. The first Group Home opened in 1984. Hudson Milestones currently operates Group Homes in Bayonne, Jersey City, Kearny, North Bergen and Secaucus. Each house affords supervised opportunities for self-direction in all life skill areas consistent with each person’s ability. Hudson Milestones Group Homes strongly focus on “person centered” approaches and community based support, assisting the individuals in becoming integral participants in the community. A group home consists of the individuals who receive services and staff who are onsite 24 hours a day.
Supervised Apartments refers to 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 assistance from staff in all areas of independent living. The supervised home, which serves two individuals, offers 21 hours of support daily. With community integration as a primary focus, each resident living 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 Challenge Grant 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.
Dances. Dances for adult clients date back to 1957 where they were being held at the Moose Lodge in Jersey City. The dances give clients the opportunity to socialize with one another and provide community involvement.
The Department of Quality Assurance 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. The department has processes to monitor quality, performance, and standards set by our grantors. The department is all about measurable results.
Transportation Services is an important part of the Department of Day Habilitation. Each center’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 programs to attend special recreational outings and trips. Many individuals with I/DD need special transportation. A lack of transportation resources would limit access to program and independent living and enjoyment of life.
All programs of Hudson Milestones function because of the Support Staff, the people who work for Hudson Milestones behind the scenes to keep it running and to support the people who are involved in the organization’s Support Programs. Accountants, Bookkeepers, Administrative Assistants and Maintenance Workers, to name a few, all contribute to programs in ways that may not be apparent, but are vital to our operations.