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Fall 2013

Deborah M. Spitalnik, PhD, Presents at the White House Celebration of the 50th Anniversary
of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act

50th Anniversary of the DD Act panel

Deborah M. Spitalnik, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics and Executive Director of The Boggs Center, was an invited panelist at the White House Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act on November 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Dr. Spitalnik’s presentation was entitled, “Historical Perspective on the DD Act - 50 Years of Progress in Supports and Services.”


Deborah M. Spitalnik, PhD, Presents at The Kennedy Forum Inaugural Conference

Kennedy Forum panel

Deborah M. Spitalnik, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics and Executive Director of The Boggs Center, served as a panelist for a breakout session, “Health Care Integration: Attaining Triple Aim for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Behavioral Health Disorders,” at The Kennedy Forum Inaugural Conference on October 24, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Dan Baker, PhD, Co-Edits Book on Mental Health and Wellness Supports for Youth with IDD

Dan Baker, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of Community Positive Behavior Support, Transition, and Supported Employment, and Richard Blumberg, PhD, co-edited Mental Health and Wellness Supports for Youth with IDD published by NADD Press. Dr. Baker also authored two chapters with Rhonda Black: "Identity Development in Youth with Intellectual Disabilities" and "Sexuality and Youth with the Dual Diagnoses of ID/MI." Philip Smith, PhD, Assistant Professor, authored a chapter with Richard Blumberg, "Diagnosing and Treating Adolescents with Co-occurring Depressive Disorders."


The Boggs Center Celebrates its 30th Anniversary and Elizabeth Boggs’ 100th Birthday Year

Boggs Center faculty and staffThe Boggs Center, New Jersey’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), celebrated its 30th anniversary and namesake Elizabeth Boggs’ 100th birthday year on Friday, September 27th, with an invitational colloquium focusing on “The Power of Listening in Building a Valued Future.”  The theme of listening to those for whom we work was woven throughout the event by featured speakers including state and university officials, colleagues from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), former students and trainees, self-advocates, and family members.

Richard L. Edwards, PhD, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Interim Chancellor for Rutgers-New Brunswick, provided greetings from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and welcomed The Boggs Center to its new home at Rutgers. Patricia Whitley-Williams, MD, FAAP, Chair and Professor of the Department of Pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, spoke of The Boggs Center’s contributions to the Department and brought salutations from Dean Amenta, who was unable to attend the event.  A letter from Governor Christie in honor of The Boggs Center’s 30th anniversary milestone was presented by The Honorable Jennifer Velez, Commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Human Services.

George Jesien, PhD, Executive Director of AUCD, set the tone for the day by highlighting the role of The Boggs Center as a UCEDD and Ansley Bacon, PhD, CEO of the Westchester Institute for Human Development, followed by describing the UCEDD’s function as a bridge from the university to the community.  Will and Eric Swenson, brothers of the late Charlie Swenson, born with severe disabilities, spoke of their devotion to listening and hearing a brother who was unable to speak.  Interspersed amidst the day’s presentations were readings by family caregivers of their selected poems from The Boggs Center’s recently published booklet, Writing Our Journey: Poems and Essays by Family Caregivers and Family Snapshots.

Deborah M. Spitalnik, PhDThe morning culminated with words from Deborah M. Spitalnik, PhD, founding Executive Director of The Boggs Center and Professor of Pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, who drew upon the theme of listening to examine the history and evolution of the disabilities field.  Quoting Maya Angelou, Spitalnik framed the hard decisions parents and family members have historically made for their loved one with a disability in deference to professional judgments of the time, while outlining our moral imperative to listen to people with disabilities and their families in order that we may continually “do better as we know better.” Spitalnik’s talk also highlighted the Center’s Developmental Disabilities Lecture Series, which has for the past 30 years endeavored to advance the work of those in the field through what she described as “an ascending spiral of knowledge and experience” based on the needs expressed by individuals with disabilities and their families.

Additionally, Spitalnik noted that we must prepare the next generation of those in the field to act with information and to support them in acting with love. Former student trainees were in attendance that afternoon to share  their learning experiences with individuals with developmental disabilities and their families and the impact of those experiences on their career trajectories.  Attendees also viewed an episode of Healthbeat with Sara Lee Kessler, a documentary supported by funding from the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities focusing on the health care needs of adults with disabilities, featuring The Boggs Center’s unique training programs for medical students and resident physicians.

The afternoon also featured a presentation by Cathy Ficker Terrill, CEO of The Council on Quality and Leadership, on listening and learning to inform the Person-Centered Plan.  Siblings Andrew McGeady and Jaime McGeady concluded by describing the meaning of support in their lives.

New Jersey’s Direct Support Professionals Honored at Recognition Ceremony

On September 12, 2013, The New Jersey Partnership for Direct Support Professional Workforce Development held a Recognition Ceremony to honor Direct Support Professionals across the state. This event, marked by poignant remarks from Direct Support Professionals, self-advocates family members, and state leaders, left a lasting impression on those in attendance.

Workforce development and recognition are nationally accepted methods aimed at enhancing the quality of supports provided to people with disabilities. This event highlighted the progress New Jersey has made in this area over the past decade, shared stories of dedicated DSPs across NJ, and commended DSPs statewide for their dedication to those they support.

Deborah M. Spitalnik, PhD, Executive Director of The Boggs Center and Chair of The Partnership’s Leadership Council, opened the event with welcoming remarks.  In her presentation, Dr. Spitalnik warmly commended DSPs for their steadfast commitment and dedication.  She also recognized the history New Jersey has with being on the forefront of workforce development, highlighted the progress that made across the state, and identified the work that needs to continue to ensure a quality workforce now and into the future.

DHS Deputy Commissioner Dawn Apgar, PhD presented a proclamation from Governor Chris Christie, designating September 9-13, 2012 as Direct Support Professional Recognition Week in New Jersey. Dr. Apgar applauded New Jersey’s DSPs “for the essential work that they do and for their commitment to this personally rewarding career.”  She elaborated by stating, “Direct Support Professionals make it possible for people with disabilities to achieve full participation both in their home and in their community life." 

New Jersey has long emphasized the importance training and workforce development for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) play in the lives of people with disabilities. This has most recently been demonstrated by entering the third year of statewide implementation of the College of Direct Support (CDS), an online educational program that provides more than 30 courses focused on the field of direct support. At present, more than 100 provider agencies offer CDS coursework to their staff and more than 100,000 lessons have been assigned. The availability of this system helps the Division of Developmental Disabilities meet basic assurances related to training as required by the federal Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver, referred to as the Community Care Waiver (CCW) in NJ. It also provides DSPs with access to a statewide, voluntary Career Path program that utilizes CDS coursework in combination with on-the-job mentoring and competency-based portfolio development aimed at enhancing professional skills and providing certificate and credentialing opportunities.

Direct Support Professionals

The NJ Career Path Class of 2013 were recognized and handed certificates by the Deputy Commissioner. These staff joined the ranks of more than 100 other Career Path DSPs: Beatrice Aboagye, Jennifer Beckles, Joe Brown, Musline Chiwanza, Bridget Cottle, Wyetta Golafaly, Hyacinth Jordan, LonahMaweu, Matthew Sherman, Tracey Young.

Ray Rajkowski and his aunt Kelly Hueman presented along with Colleen Watkins and her DSP Wendy Cooper presented on the important role DSPs play in the lives of people with disabilities, advocates, and their families. 

The event culminated with the passionate words of DSPs Monique St. Clair (Delta Community Supports), Cenie Laude (New Lisbon DC), Emily Slemmer (Devereux New Jersey), Loris Bradley (Center for Family Support), and Adeyemi Ajijedidun (Community Access Unlimited) as they talked of their dedication and enthusiasm for their careers in direct support. DSP Partnership

The NJ Partnership for DSP Workforce Development is a collaboration between the NJ Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities, Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities, The Arc of NJ, the NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development, The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, NJ Association of Community Providers, The NJ Council on Developmental Disabilities, Direct Support Professionals, and People with Disabilities and Families.

Ina White Honored with The Leadership Award by the Cultural Access Network project

Ina White

Ina White, MA, Community Outreach Coordinator, was honored with The Leadership Award by the Cultural Access Network Project. The award was presented at The Fifth Annual Excellence in Cultural Access Awards luncheon on June 21, 2013.





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