Nutley Family Service Bureau (NFSB) was recently awarded an Inclusive Healthy Communities grant for $60,000 from the New Jersey Division of Disability Services. This funding will support a Blueprint for Building an Inclusive & Healthier Nutley Township. NFSB was one of just 12 new recipients of this grant in the State of New Jersey. Through a collaborative effort with the Township of Nutley, Nutley Public Schools, and Nutley Senior Manor, which offers affordable housing, NFSB will conduct an inclusive community assessment (ICA) for Nutley Township to identify disparities, barriers, and resistance that prevent full community participation by residents living with disabilities. The findings will be disseminated to inform what in the community or broader system, if strengthened or changed, could make meaningful, sustainable change for residents with disabilities.
According to the CDC, one in four people in New Jersey are living with a physical or mental disability over the course of their lives. This could be any condition that makes it more difficult for a person to perform certain activities and interact with the world. By promoting inclusive practices, we can better support people with disabilities in our communities.
“Some people don’t realize NFSB serves people with disabilities,” said Katherine Carmichael, Executive Director of NFSB. “We have a number of clients living with disabilities in all our programs through Mental Health Counseling, Case Management, The Shop, and The Pantry. Part of our strategic planning process is to determine how NFSB can best serve the community, so we’re excited to lead this assessment.”
Participating organizations and groups are in the process of forming an advisory committee that will include a number of constituents in the community. Individuals with disabilities and their families and guardians, social service providers, community and faith-based organizations, local government, medical organizations, and the school system are expected to be represented in this community action coalition.
The assessment is no small undertaking. A tested, evidence-based community assessment tool developed by the University of Kansas will be used to gather and organize information over the course of a year. Our community action coalition will also partner with a consultant to develop community surveys and focus groups to gain insights from our residents.
We will then share our findings with policymakers, the business community, and Health and Human Services agencies that serve Nutley, making recommendations about what can be done to improve access to conditions and systems for people with disabilities. The findings will inform what policies, practices, systems, and environmental change (PSE) must be developed, strengthened, or improved to have a meaningful impact on community members with disabilities.
“This assessment is a long process, but it’s only one step,” Katherine said. “The next step will be to advocate for change and seek funding for improvements that make a real difference in people’s lives.” The Inclusive Community Action Team will seek funding to amplify the ICA data further. The new funds will develop an implementation plan involving educating and advocating policymakers and key stakeholders on the PSE changes needed to make measurable, sustainable changes that enhance the health and well-being of Nutley Township residents with disabilities.
NFSB will be sharing information on a regular basis about the progress of this coalition and how you can help. Check our website and social media pages for updates on this important initiative to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities!