As I write this, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management has posted coastal flood watches and warnings due to the impact of Hurricane Joaquin on our area. All up and down the Jersey Shore, residences and businesses are busy boarding up windows, lying sandbags and restocking emergency supplies in the event of possible flooding and power outages. Television news stations have set up live trucks in flood-prone towns and everyone is monitoring the forecast on their mobile devices. It’s an all too familiar scene. With memories of Superstorm Sandy still fresh in our minds, we know the potential damage a hurricane can wreak on our homes, our livelihoods and our communities. Even as we hope for the best, we prepare for the worst.
Here at Family & Children’s Service that preparation includes assuring the safety of the most vulnerable in our care. We are contacting every single one of our home-bound Home Care Services clients to ensure they have adequate water, food and medicine to get them through the week. If they do not have what they need, we are working with our Certified Home Health Aides (CHHAs), neighbors and family members to get them what they need. We are processing weekly checks for our Representative Payee clients as quickly as possible to make sure they have the financial resources to purchase groceries and other supplies to keep them safe and secure at home. We are also reviewing our emergency procedures and updating emergency contact information for our aides, Registered Nurses, social workers and other professional staff in the event that our Long Branch office is impacted by the storm.
Over the course of our 106 year history, Family & Children’s Service has consistently addressed the emergency needs of the community, but we also keep a vigilant eye toward other, less visible, approaching storms, the ones that threaten to impact the well-being of individuals and families over the long term. With 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day and the National Institute on Aging reporting that the oldest of the old – people age 85 or older – constitute the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, FCS has introduced three new programs to respond to these trends.
- Our Medicaid Application Assistance Program (MAAP), launched in February, assists people with the complex application that is required to obtain Long Term Care Support from Medicaid. Currently a fee-for-service program, we hope to grow MAAP to the point where we can offer the service on a sliding scale.
- In April, the State of NJ assigned us the Jersey Assistance for Community Caregiving Program (JACC). This program, offered in every NJ county, funds services like home health aides and adult day care as well as special equipment to enable people to remain at home instead of moving into an assisted living or nursing home facility.
- Just last month, FCS assumed the Telephone Reassurance Program for Middlesex County where we already provide Adult Protective Services. Our social workers call home-bound frail elderly clients to whom meals are delivered during the week but who have no one checking on them over the weekend. Already the service, working cooperatively with local police, was able to come to the aid of a person who fell and had been on the floor for 24 hours.
All of these programs support our Mission and Vision and are intended to help people with chronic physical or mental disabilities to continue living with dignity and independence in their home of choice for as long as possible.
I am reminded of this simple but appropriate quote attributed to 17th century physician, historian and preacher Thomas Fuller: “In fair weather prepare for foul.” You can be assured, that no matter what the “weather”, be it a Hurricane or a personal crisis, FCS is constantly working to preserve the health and safety of the most vulnerable among us.
CEO Family & Children’s Service