Mental Health During COVID Crisis
Let's be serious - we're all under a tremendous amount of stress. Our jobs, our relationships, our home life - everything has changed and not for the better. Many of the mundane tasks in our lives have become harder. The time we need to allot to daily tasks has become longer. All of this can erode our mental health. How do we find time for ourselves among these challenges?
Many of us are unaware how to get help and others are intimidated or embarrassed to seek help.
Here are five resources that can help any who struggle with mental health issues:
The Mental Health Association in New Jersey is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping New Jersey's residents achieve and maintain mental health through advocacy, education and services. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have created the excellent New Jersey Mental HealthCares web-page which provides information and referrals for those in need of help. They can be reached either by email or phone seven days a week from 8am to 8pm. There is also a free and confidential online screening available. The site can be translated into several languages including Spanish, by choosing from a menu located at the bottom right of the page.
Mental Health First Aid Training
The mission of Mental Health Association in New Jersey includes educating the public on mental health and its related issues. As part of that objective, they have developed excellent Mental Health First Aid training. The training teaches non-professionals to identify a person suffering a mental health crisis, offer initial assistance, and connect the person with professional help. This training could be an asset for anyone working with the public.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, New Jersey
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, New Jersey is a statewide non-profit group that seeks to help those with mental health issues and their families. The organization takes pride in its cultural outreach, public education, and anti-stigma programming. They have created a fairly comprehensive list of phone numbers and hotlines to organizations which provide help for those dealing with a wide range of mental health challenges and related issues.
Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services' Directory of Mental Health Services
The New Jersey Department of Human Services has its own Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services that aids those with serious and persistent mental illnesses. The division has assembled a Directory of Mental Health Services in New Jersey. It includes a wide assortment of providers who have been vetted by the state.
The NJ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services' Agency Listings
The NJ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services also provides a list of Mental Health agencies. Agencies may be a gateway to a deeper level of treatment than hotlines for those who need it. Additionally, this list is organized by state region giving it contrasting access points to the list above.
We hope you will find these resources helpful.
Get Legal Help During COVID Crisis
America prides itself on its standards of equity and justice, and much of our legislation reflects that spirit. However, knowing the laws, one's individual rights, and how "due process" works is as important a factor as the laws themselves. Unfortunately, our students often suffer from inequitable access to that information. Here are some resources that might help.
Five resources to help students understand legal issues that may come up during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Understanding Legal Issues
When a person needs information of a personal or confidential nature, they are frequently reluctant to approach a stranger to ask for help. The Legal Service of New Jersey - a non-profit legal aid organization - has set up a website to help overcome that obstacle. While not a replacement for actual legal advice or representation, the LSNJLAW website is a great place to gain a basic understanding of the legal issues involved in a specific situation. The website is easy to navigate and is divided into clear categories with access to resources, legal forms, manuals, and articles to help answer questions anyone might have. There is even a search function.
Legal Services of New Jersey
Legal Services of New Jersey, to quote their mission statement, "seeks to secure equal substantive and procedural justice for all economically disadvantaged people" and what greater mission is there? The organization manages a statewide effort to provide free legal assistance, information, and referrals to low-income people in civil matters. They can be reached either through the website's online intake form or by phone through their hotline. Just click on "EN ESPAÑOL" in the upper right corner to assess the Spanish version of the website.
ACLU of New Jersey
The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 in reaction to the U.S. government's clampdown of the labor movement. One hundred years later, the ACLU of New Jersey - our local branch of the organization - is still defending our civil rights. The organization not only advocates for equitable legislation, but represents individuals in court as well. If one of your students feels their civil rights are being violated, they can file a complaint with the ACLU of NJ at the link above.
New Jersey Division on Civil Rights
Discrimination is a daily part of many of our lives, ranging from the slight to the severe. The State of New Jersey has a specific department for handling discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation, the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. As part of the state Office of the Attorney General, the Division on Civil Rights employs investigators, attorneys, and professional support staff to review discrimination complaints. The department also participates in educational outreach efforts on anti-discrimination laws.
New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Landlord-Tenant Information
The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has a fairly comprehensive Landlord-Tenant webpage with a slew of information to inform residential landlords and tenants of their rights and responsibilities. The webpage provides links to informational PDFs on the pertinent laws regarding a comprehensive list of landlord-tenant issues ranging from condominium conversion, eviction, lease termination, foreclosures, and more.
We hope you will find these resources helpful.
Census 2020: Count ALL Students
This year has been filled with a multitude of momentous events and promises still more. However, 2020 Is significant for another reason - it is a Census year. Although this may seem less dramatic than many of today's headlines it is no less important. The Census count affects government funding levels for each region. It also determines how Congressional districts are drawn as well as how many members of Congress each state has. The numbers are used to determine needs for educational, housing, healthcare resources, and more.
Unfortunately, many of our students belong to populations that are described as "hard to count". According to the Census Bureau, the 2010 Census under-counted the African-American population by more than 800,000, and roughly one in three Hispanic people lives in a "hard to count" census tract. Poverty, housing insecurity, and language barriers are all factors that make a specific population "hard to count".
Here are five resources to help students understand and participate in Census 2020:
The Census Counts
The Census Counts campaign is a partnership of community-based advocacy organizations that have partnered to help these "hard to count" populations to participate in Census 2020. Their excellent website serves as a great resource for this effort. The site includes a wide collection of informational resources and outreach tools which can help motivate a fuller level of Census participation.
Interview outlining Census Efforts During COVID
The Deputy Chief of Staff at New Jersey's Department of State, Lauren Zyriek Enriques, is interviewed by Univision's WUVP-DT, She outlines the timeline for Census efforts during the COVID crisis, explains safeguards put in place to protect undocumented residents, and gives information on how to avoid Census-related fraud. The interview is entirely in Spanish.
Thankfully, the U.S. Census Bureau has upped their game as well. For those with a connection to the internet, filling out the Census is easier than ever before. A resident can complete the Census form at this site and can choose from a variety of languages.
Video Guides on How to Complete the Census
While completing the form online is convenient, it can be intimidating if one has never done it before and is unsure of what is coming. Again the U.S. Census Bureau has provided an excellent resource by posting video guides on how to complete the Census form. These guides come in a multitude of languages including American Sign Language.
One-on-One Help by Telephone
Not everyone has access to the internet and some are uncomfortable using it. If a person needs one-on-one assistance, the U.S. Census Bureau has provided assistants who can be contacted by phone. Phone assistance can be obtained in a many languages. This document provides the telephone numbers and can easily be posted or handed out by adult education providers. Operators are standing by!
We hope you will find these resources helpful.
Financial Assistance During COVID
New Jersey's COVID-19 crisis has had tremendous, negative economic effects on so many in our community. To compound the situation, these effects heavily reinforce the inequities that already exist in our communities - inequities many of our students are already overly familiar with.
Here are five resources that can help students deal with financial challenges in these difficult times:
NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development Worker Benefits
Not only does this pandemic threaten our health and the health of our loved ones, it also disrupts many of the finely balanced plans that allow our work lives to coexist with our family lives. Fortunately, the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development recognizes this and has created a single-page chart that clearly outlines under what conditions worker benefits are available during the COVID-19 disruption. The chart is also available in Spanish.
NJ Department of Community Affairs Short-Term Rental Assistance Program
New Jersey Department of Community Affairs is launching the COVID-19 Short Term Rental Assistance Program which will provide temporary rental assistance to low- and moderate- income households that have had a substantial reduction in income or have become unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will offer an initial three months of temporary rental assistance, with the option for renewal for an additional three months if needed. Approximately 20 percent of the rental assistance funds will be reserved for homeless families impacted by COVID-19. Further information on how to apply and Frequently Asked Questions, will be available on June 15th.
Worker Benefits, Protections and the Coronavirus
The pandemic has pushed New Jersey's unemployment claims to record highs. In response, the Department of Labor has constructed a web-page devoted to addressing the needs of those whose employment has been negatively affected by COVID-19. The site outlines many of the complicated situations a worker may find him or herself in, and lays out the worker's rights and options. Resources are available in a wide selection of languages.
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey
Hunger is much more common in New Jersey than any of us would like to admit. Almost 900,000 New Jersey residents are challenged by food issues and over 260,000 of them are children. The Community FoodBank of New Jersey is the state's largest anti-hunger organization working with volunteers and partners to assist those in need. Information on how to access the assistance they provide can be found on their website.
NJ Division of Family Development SNAP and WFNJ Updates
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, New Jersey has suspended many of the hurdles that might inhibit residents who participate in the state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Work First New Jersey (WFNJ) from getting all of the assistance they need. The DFD has provided updates to these programs in a clear and conveniently accessed web-page. By using the drop down menu on the page's banner, interested individuals can access the information in their own language.
We hope you will find these resources helpful.
Make the Road NJ staff will give an overview of key developments in immigrant rights and immigration policy at the state (New Jersey) and federal level. Participants will then have a chance to discuss the potential impact of these key policies on their students and programs. The presenter will also review how students, teachers, and others can get involved in efforts to expand and protect immigrants' rights.
Instructor: Make the Road New Jersey staff
Time: May 19, 2020, 3:00-4:00 EDT
Registration: Immigration Policy Update
All webinars in the NJALL Virtual Mini-Conference are free!
This paper from the Open Door Collective urges adult educators to make common cause with other organizations working to reduce income inequality in American life. NJALL is proud to be a member of the New Jersey Anti-Poverty Network.
Basic Skills for Economic Security:
How Adult Educators, Adult Learners, and Anti-Poverty Organizations Can Work Together
Prepared by Paul Jurmo, Ed.D., Nicholas Montalto, Ph.D., and David J. Rosen, Ed.D.
The Open Door Collective
November 5, 2019
This paper describes why and how anti-poverty organizations and adult basic skills programs can collaborate to help individuals who have basic skills-related challenges (e.g., lower levels of literacy, English language, and numeracy skills needed for work, family, and civic roles; lack of a high school credential; learning disabilities) to improve their economic security and that of their families and communities. In so doing, these partnerships can also contribute to the building of a more equitable, efficient, and sustainable economy. The paper identifies steps that these two stakeholder groups might take to understand and build on existing collaborative models to create new partnerships.
ODC’s Mission and Work
The Open Door Collective (ODC) was formed in 2014 by a small group of adult basic skills educators and researchers who (1) were concerned about the problem of poverty in the United States, (2) saw adult basic skills education as a tool for improving economic security, (3) recognized that this was in keeping with adult basic education’s historic role in earlier social justice movements, and (4) understood that, to effectively help reduce poverty, adult basic education needs to partner with other groups whose mission includes reducing poverty and income inequality.
Since then, ODC’s members have issued a series of Make the Case papers and Can-Do Guides and have made conference presentations showing why and how adult educators can work with other stakeholders in a number of ways to reduce poverty. These other stakeholders can include public libraries; community health centers; and organizations involved with workforce development, digital inclusion, criminal justice reform, public health, immigrant and refugee advocacy and integration, safety net services, housing, disability rights advocacy, environmental sustainability, and other issues. (Visit http://www.opendoorcollective.org to see ODC documents and other resources.)
We define “anti-poverty partners” broadly as organizations and individuals that have as a primary or secondary goal the protection and improvement of the economic security of low-income people. These could include public and private bodies that:
Who Are the Adults with Basic Skills Limitations? How Is their Economic Security at Risk?
An estimated 36 million or more adults in the United States have limitations in their basic skills. They represent a diverse mix of:
These adults can face a number of obstacles to employment and financial well-being:
How Basic Skills Programs Have Helped Learners Enhance their Economic Security
The adults who enroll in basic skills programs often do so with the hope that they will be better able to perform their current jobs better, get a better job, manage their finances, or otherwise improve the economic well-being of themselves and their families. In response, local adult basic education providers use a number of strategies, including:
Why and How Anti-Poverty Groups Might Partner with Adult Basic Skills Programs
By working with adult basic education programs, anti-poverty organizations might be better able to serve populations having basic skills challenges. Similarly, adult educators can better help their low-income learners by tapping into the expertise and other resources of anti-poverty organizations. Here are nine ways these two kinds of organizations might collaborate:
Effective partnerships require good planning and continuous communication and improvements to ensure that joint efforts meet relevant needs of participating organizations and the clients they serve. To get started, anti-poverty and adult basic skills programs should do initial background research about how social justice stakeholders have worked with adult basic skills programs. (See the “ODC Papers” and “Resources” sections of the ODC web site for more information about joint efforts.) For example:
Anti-poverty and adult basic skills organizations have much in common in terms of their missions and the populations they serve. Through new, informed, and creative partnerships that build on past and current efforts, these stakeholders can help more individuals who have basic skills challenges -- and their families and communities -- to improve their economic security and contribute to our common good.
Presenter: Sara Cullinane, Make the Road New Jersey
FEBRUARY 15, 2019, 11:00 AM TO 12 NOON EST
This webinar will begin with an overview of key developments with regards to immigrants' rights and immigration policy at the local, state (New Jersey) and federal level. Participants will then have a chance to discuss the potential impact of key policies on their students and their programs. The presenter will also review how students, teachers and others can get involved in efforts to expand and protect immigrants' rights
Click here to register.
Speak Up for Adult Ed in NJ
Thousands of New Jersey adults needing basic reading skills, high school diplomas and English language skills are turned away from programs because of inadequate funding. In addition, businesses in New Jersey cannot find literate and trained individuals for their workplace needs.
It is vital for New Jersey’s economy and for our citizenry that we re-establish state funding for adult education to compensate for reductions in federal subsidies.
In 2007 35,400 students were served through a robust network of adult education programs. By 2017 that number had fallen to 16,702.
Providing the necessary state funds to enroll 18,700 more students at $1,000
per student would require a state appropriation of $18,700,000. This appropriation would provide invaluable and life changing opportunities for adults with limited skills. Equally important, it would open up employment opportunities for these individuals and for NJ businesses.
NJALL has developed several tools which you can use when asking your elected representatives to support adult education. Here are several advocacy briefs you can share:
Here are sample letters that you can customize:
Find your New Jersey State representatives through this interactive map.
For more information about NJALL's advocacy efforts, go to our youtube channel to listen to the March 22 webinar: Potential Changes in Federal
Support for Adult Education: What They Mean for New Jersey, What they Mean for Advocacy
Look for more information soon about how we can advocate for State funding for adult education in New Jersey.
Webinar: Feds & Adult Ed
Learn about potential changes in Federal support for adult education: what they mean for New Jersey, and what they mean for advocacy. March 22, 2018. 11:00 AM to noon.
Art Ellison (New Hampshire's Director of Adult Education and longtime adult education advocate) will review what is happening at the federal level in terms of adult education funding. Although there is currently an effort to increase funding, it is also possible that funding will be significantly reduced. Art will discuss key points of the legislative process/schedule to keep in mind while planning advocacy efforts.
Hal Beder and Barry Semple (of NJALL) will review what these potential changes mean for adult education in New Jersey and the urgent need for coordinated advocacy across the state.
There will be built-in time to share ideas and ask questions.
Statement Against Bigotry
The New Jersey Association for Lifelong Learning wants to make clear that we stand by our brothers and sisters who are facing the brunt of the racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia that has marked the post-election period. As an organization we denounce such behavior as at odds with our standing concern for the health, safety and happiness of our diverse society. Adult education has a long history of fighting for social justice, and this moment calls for a renewed commitment to the field's democratic and egalitarian values. To honor the heritage of the brave learners and teachers that came before us, we must stand up to bigotry and work together to make our communities safe and welcoming.
As you are aware, there have been an alarming number of reports of violence and intimidation targeting selected communities all across the country. We have heard about countless public acts and about more personal forms of aggression carried out by roommates and classmates. It seems that no place has been spared overt and inflammatory acts of bigotry.
For a copy of the complete statement, click here.
African-Americans have been hung in effigy, been called racial slurs to their faces and had their property defaced with racist graffiti. People have been told "get ready to start picking cotton again" and told to move to the back of the bus. Students in one school in Pennsylvania walked down the halls with a Trump sign shouting "White Power." This is not an isolated act, as assertions of white power and white supremacy litter social media. The KKK has already announced a victory parade.
In addition to anger and bigotry aimed at African-Americans, immigrants and US citizens alike have been told to "go back to their country." Children as young as kindergarten have been heard chanting "build the wall!" at their classmates who appear to be immigrants. Muslims, and individuals whom bigots presume to be Muslims, have been physically attacked and threatened with additional violence. Incidents of anti-Semitism have also been reported, with swastikas painted on store fronts and some Nazi flags have been seen flying.
Women have been groped and have been told that now it is legal to sexually harass them. You can even buy hats that repeat Trump's infamous words about grabbing women by their genitalia. In addition, gays, lesbians and transgender people have also been the target of hateful language and threats. Rainbow flags have been set alight while still attached to homes, and cars have been destroyed in order to send the message that the LGBTQ community is not welcome and cannot feel safe.
None of this bigotry is new, but the sheer amount and intensity of the expressions of this hatred has fundamentally changed the country. Almost immediately, millions of our fellow Americans have started to feel increasingly afraid and vulnerable. Now is the time for all of us to stand up to bigotry, intimidation and violence.
Please contact NJALL at email@example.com if you have any information you would like to share, if you have ideas for actions that we can take to move forward, or if you simply need a place to connect with others who share your concerns.