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Community Access Unlimited (CAU) Redefines Social Services For People With Disabilities

Three Decades Strong And Still Going

Submitted by Community Access Unlimited  


Community Access Unlimited (CAU), a non-profit human services agency that provides support services for youth and adults with disabilities, celebrated its 35th year of business on May 7. Sidney Blanchard, Executive Director, had the opportunity to speak with WCTC-AM radio about the milestones the organization has accomplished.  Two members of the CAU Board of Trustees also had the opportunity to discuss with The Home News Tribunetheir personal experiences throughout the years.

The interview which aired on WCTC-AM "Jersey Central" can be heard here. To read " Community Access Unlimited, based in Union County, celebrates 35 years of helping people with disabilities," click here.

CAU’s mission is to provide community access through effective and comprehensive support services for at-risk youth and individuals with disabilities, giving them the opportunity to live independently and to lead normal and productive lives as citizens integrated into the community. CAU also takes on the challenge of developing affordable housing. 

CAU provides supports and gives a voice to adults and youth who traditionally have had little support and no voice in society. It helps people with housing, life skills training, vocational skills, employment, health maintenance, money management, socialization, education, crisis intervention, civic activities, behavioral support, transportation assistance and community support. CAU also supports opportunities for advocacy through training in assertiveness, decision making, and civil rights.


What Sets CAU Apart 

Financial Strength – After using its initial grant as collateral for a loan to make payroll in 1979, CAU now has a $7.9 million line of credit backed by $45 million in assets with only $2 million in debt. Few social services agencies have this depth of financial strength while many are closing their doors.

Social Entrepreneurship – CAU employs social entrepreneurship business techniques to reinvest into and strengthen the services it provides its members, identifying needs and filling those in ways that generate revenue. (e.g. Building mixed-use properties that generate commercial rents)

Advocacy – CAU is a social movement rather than simply an agency, with advocacy for and by its members at its core. Members operate several advocacy arms with the mission of changing societal perceptions about people with disabilities and at-risk youth and changing the community. 

Adaptation – Unlike other social services nonprofits, CAU continually adapts to change, adopting new business models as opportunities arise and new missions as needs develop. Once again this flexibility makes CAU a leader as New Jersey’s landscape for people with disabilities is redefining. 

Staffing – CAU has unique staffing stability. Eighteen percent of the agency’s staff has been with CAU for more than five years and 40 percent of its supervisory personnel have been promoted into their positions. Seven percent are people with disabilities. CAU holds a hiring fair twice monthly and did so throughout the recession.

Added Value – CAU provides benefits to its members no other agency offers, including computer and car donations; funds and scholarships; and recreation and social life enhancement, such as a Couples Night.

 

Mileposts

 

1979

Opens with a staff of three. Today the agency has a staff of more than 1,000.

1984

Responds to the needs of youth in New Jersey’s child welfare system and parents with developmental disabilities through a provision to provide supportive transitional living programs and educational training.

1987

Purchases its first housing units for adults with developmental disabilities and youth members. Today, in addition to 64,000 square feet of commercial space, CAU owns more than 245 units of housing throughout Union County.

1999

Begins providing respite care to individuals with developmental disabilities throughout Union and Somerset counties.

2006

Becomes certified by CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) in the areas of aging services, behavioral health, Opioid treatment programs, business and services management networks, child and youth services, employment and community services, vision rehabilitation and medical rehabilitation.

2013

Is named the support coordination agency for in-home services provided by the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) for all counties in the state except its home county of Union.

2014

Celebrated 35 years of service on May 7.

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