I've blogged before about the autism legislation that Governor Corzine has signed in this state, all of which is important in providing access to care for families with children with autism.
But there is legislation closer to home that is about to be signed, the Ruiz/Vitale bill. The personal care assistant program (PASP), a state program in NJ which provides in home care to those living with a disability by providing help through agencies who send aides, is now offering the option of a Cash Model, providing even more flexibility. Instead of being limited to hiring an aide through a traditional home health care agency, the consumer can now, among other things, use the funds to hire other people - perhaps neighbors or friends. This empowers the person with a disability, allowing him or her to manage the details of the care received. Trust me, there isn't a more important determinant of quality of life than this when you have a disability. The legislation for this is on Governor Corzine's desk, after a time period of trying the program out in different counties. I'm extremely grateful that I'll soon be able to use it.
This change will make an enormous difference. It will empower those of us who need at home care to manage our own funds and hire people in our community who are right at hand, such as neighbors and friends, to manage our daily tasks. For someone like myself, who lives alone, it will mean that I will have the ability to go outside an agency to make flexible arrangements with people that won't require I wait two or three days for a backup or -worse yet-go without help. Due to the shortage of home health care aides, this can - and does - happen. I'm extremely grateful that people have listened to these concerns.
I appreciate the years of work that implementing this change has taken. First, the Cash Model was tried in various counties and tweaked. Thanks go to the many offices for disability services in the state and the pioneers who tried it. I'm also grateful to the governor and his staff for listening to the needs of the disability community and the legislators who have pushed for the legislation.
Without this program, many of us could not work or live in the community. It is my fervent wish that more states look to models like PASP and its Cash Model to empower people with disabilities in their communities. In the meantime, I will continue to push for those changes and remain grateful for the hard work of everyone involved.