(TRENTON) –This past Friday, the Assembly Democrats, including Assembly Human Services Chairwoman Joann Downey and several other members of the Committee had the incredible opportunity to tour the state-of-the-art Bancroft Campus in Mount Laurel to get a first-hand look at how the organization serves children and adults with disabilities in their residential and school programs.
Chairwoman Downey is committed to ensuring that individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, especially those who struggle with severe and challenging behavior, receive the highest quality of services in this state. The tour ended with a roundtable for the legislators and Bancroft’s leading team to discuss the challenges faced by not just Bancroft, but other providers in the state such as challenges with supporting the Direct Support Professional workforce, safety and transparency in adult group homes, difficulty finding placements for young adults as they transition out of the Children’s System of Care, and the fee-for-service transition in the Division of Developmental Disabilities.
“Going to Bancroft and touring the facility was truly a breath of fresh air,” said Chairwoman Downey (D-Monmouth). “You can see the joy on the students’ and residents’ faces from how kind and benevolent the staff is, and you can really see how much the staff cares about each individual student and resident. The staff is well-trained and understands how to effectively manage a high-risk, high-stress environment.”
Bancroft, established in 1883 by special education pioneer Margaret Bancroft, is a leading regional nonprofit provider of programs and services for individuals with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities and those in need of neurological rehabilitation, serving and supporting the needs of approximately 2,000 people annually, according to their website.
The campus features many programs and amenities, including The Bancroft School and Activity Center and Lindens Neurobehavioral Program, which is one of seven similar facilities in the country serving children from multiple states whose families seek out full-time, residential treatment and expertise. It also includes an activity pool, gymnasium, fitness center and art and music studios, as well as indoor and outdoor recreation.
Work readiness is a major focus at Bancroft, as well as an area of interest for the chairwoman. Bancroft provides job training through an onsite Wawa market, waterless carwash, laundry service, and organic farm on campus. These programs teach job skills training in retail service, environmental services, materials handling, food service and horticulture for the adults at Bancroft.
Bancroft has been incredibly successful in reducing harmful behaviors in their students and residents, and primarily uses behavioral analysis to reduce behaviors by seventy percent prior to discharge.
Prior to their moving to Burlington County following the opening of their state-of-the-art campus almost a year ago, Bancroft was the fifth largest employer in Camden County.
“I am so proud of the work that organizations like Bancroft are doing to help those most vulnerable in our society. I know how incredibly difficult it can be to be readily available around the clock. I was truly impressed by all of the amazing amenities and programs available to the students and residents at Bancroft,” said Assemblywoman Downey.
“Our role as legislators is to learn and understand how to make New Jersey a model for inclusion and disability services, and by addressing some of the struggles that providers like Bancroft face, including recruiting and training employees, identifying services at the appropriate level of care, and struggling to contain costs when providing highly specialized and individualized care, we can better serve the needs of all New Jerseyans.”