To ensure people with disabilities are able to conveniently access vital vocational services and assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, legislation to establish a phone hotline to provide employment information and referrals to disabled residents was approved Monday by the Assembly Labor Committee.
Under the measure (A-4202), sponsored by Assembly Democrats Eric Houghtaling, Joann Downey and Daniel Benson, the New Jersey Department of Human Services would be required to create a phone hotline available weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. at a minimum during emergencies and disasters. Residents with physical, mental, cognitive or other disabilities that may impede their employment opportunities would be able to call the hotline for resources on job searching, counseling, employment referrals, placement services and more.
Similar resources are usually available in-person through State Centers for Independent Living, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for many to access these services.
Assemblyman Houghtaling, Assemblywoman Downey and Assemblyman Benson released the following joint statement:
“Centers for Independent Living provide life-changing vocational resources for people with disabilities across New Jersey. From resume writing to on-the-job training, these resources help disabled residents build long-lasting careers.
“In normal times, people could visit independent living centers in person to get assistance. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, these are not normal times. However, that shouldn’t mean our disabled community loses access to these important services.
“A vocational services hotline will help people access resources remotely through the Department of Human Services from the comfort of their homes during the pandemic.”