United Cerebral Palsy of Hudson County continues to make strides in services offered to youth and adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.
The association serves not only Hudson, but Bergen, Essex, Union, and Passaic counties.
The organization’s services include programs for preschoolers, afterschool programs for kids with autism, and vocational offerings for adults.
All program sites are in Hudson County, including those in Bayonne, Jersey City, North Bergen, and Hoboken. In Bayonne, at 721 Broadway, the UCP has its pediatric medical day care facility. In North Bergen is its adult day habilitation site.
The Bayonne pediatric medical day care facility is a free program for Medicaid-eligible children, from birth through six years old, who are medically compromised, and/or technology dependent or require life-sustaining equipment, according to UCP. Transportation is provided at no cost to families.
That program, currently offering 12 slots, will soon be expanding to 18.
“One of the important things is the city of Bayonne, through the Community Development Block Grant, is paying for it,” said Executive Director Keith Kearney.
Major programs for children include the autism program for children with behavioral issues, which feature three-to-one staffing, and the afterschool programs offered in North Bergen and in Hoboken at the Elks Club, Washington and 10th streets.
“The kids we are serving are very involved.’” – Keith Kearney
One of the busiest sites is also the newest: the Journal Square day habilitation program, just one year old. That site works with those with autism and other developmental disabilities; all are adults.
“The focus in Journal Square is employment,” Kearney said. “A lot of what’s there is prevocational training; specialized skills that can transfer into the workplace.”
Attendees are taught skills ranging from telephone work to things like tag matching for the retail world. Training concentrates on readying participants for part-time positions.
“Realistically, we’re looking to start small,” Kearney said.
A lot of the education at the center is trial and error, since many of the participants have behavioral and medical needs.
Growing Tree centers
UCP offers two day care centers for children.
The Growing Tree Learning Center I, on the west side of Jersey City, houses 120 three year olds. It’s an eight classroom Abbot program (state funded) and has a strong student-to-teacher ratio of 15-1, with a teacher and an aide.
Then there’s the Growing Tree Learning Center II, a privately paid, fee-for-service day care. It takes children six weeks to four years old. Sixty-five children are in the program.
“That’s for those who chose not to go to the free school, but want the day care,” Kearney said.
Although the organization’s name has the words “cerebral palsy” in it, only 10 percent of those served by the group have cerebral palsy, according to Kearney.
“The kids we are serving are very involved” in the programs that are offered, Kearney said.
Parents of children enrolled in the UCP programs are pleased.
Toshiba Fuller’s autistic child, Derrick Moyd Jr., of Jersey City attends the Hoboken afterschool program.
“My son loves and enjoys going to the program,” Fuller said. “It’s a great program for kids with disabilities. They work with him on learning to be independent. I love UCP. Overall, it’s a wonderful program; I would not have my son anywhere else.”
Alida Sanchez of North Bergen had similar comments about the care her autistic child, Angel Sanchez, receives at the North Bergen aftercare and Saturday respite programs.
“I see UCP as my family. I have a lot of trust in all the staff,” Sanchez said. “The UCP staff has always made my son, Angel, feel like family, never like a consumer. They have always worked with me and helped in his emotional and physical development over the years. I am grateful for UCP. There should be more programs like them.”
On the horizon is the group’s annual fundraising event, its 17th Annual Golf Outing on Sept. 16 at the Wild Turkey Golf Course, Crystal Springs Resort, Hamburg. The effort will benefit the Pediatric Medical Day Care unit. The golf entry fee is $225 and includes driving range, golf cart, golf course refreshments, lunch, and evening reception.
For more sponsorship opportunities or participant information, call UCP at (201) 436-2200, ext. 112.
United Cerebral Palsy of Hudson County, Inc. is a member of the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities. The UCP is supported by the United Way of Hudson County.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.