Disabled Consumers to Gain New Voice in Delivery of Nassau County’s Social Services


Disabled Consumers to Gain New Voice in Delivery of Nassau County’s Social Services

Local foundation funds intensified collaboration that joins a nonprofit agency, disabled residents, and the county

Hicksville, NY (May 1, 2015) – As thousands of local residents with disabilities face obstacles in obtaining needed social services, the generosity of a local foundation, the vision of a local nonprofit, and the commissioner-level leadership of the Nassau County Department of Social Services are uniting to create a pathway for more inclusion of disabled persons in both design and delivery of local social services.

This month, the Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund—part of the Long Island Community Foundation— awarded a dedicated $25,000 grant to the nonprofit CN Guidance & Counseling Services, in support of a pioneering proposal by the nonprofit to work closely with the commissioner and committees of the County’s DSS to improve access and services to residents with disabilities.

“This is a breakthrough for residents across Nassau County facing any kind of disability,” said Jeffrey Friedman, CEO of CN Guidance & Counseling Services, a nonprofit that since 1972 has helped residents and families facing mental health and addiction-related conditions. “What we’re seeing here is the community coming together—from government, nonprofit, and the foundation worlds, as well as from everyday households across the county—to address and improve a system that is very ready to be enhanced for equal access.”

The new program will bring change via a three-part program. First, it introduces a new model of representation, by which some Nassau County residents who live with disabilities and who use (or have tried to use) DSS services will have seats on a committee that meets monthly to design and improve services and that reports to the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services. Second, it creates new avenues for feedback between disabled residents and the leadership and staff of DSS about positive and negative consumer experiences. And third, it undertakes a new initiative to identify and enhance policies within the Department of Social Services that need to be improved and documented clearly in order to assure better access and service delivery to individuals with disabilities. All aspects of the new program aim to increase social justice while helping nurture and support long-term self-reliance of the county’s residents.

“This grant will create institutional change and include the voices of people with disabilities in the process,” said Mary Beth Guyther, Program Officer at the Long Island Community Foundation. “We are happy to partner with Central Nassau Guidance & Counseling Services on this project which embodies one of the fundamental Unitarian Universalist principles, the worth and dignity of every person.

In a letter supporting the program prior to the award’s announcement, the Commissioner of the Nassau County Department of Social Services, John Imhof, indicated that the program will “…promote and support the needed higher levels of involvement of people with disabilities in the design, creation, delivery, and maintenance of services to the people of Nassau County. This higher level of involvement will help to assure more uniform access to, and enhanced quality of, the many services we provide to residents.”

Jaclyn Skoblicki, a leading program director of CN Guidance, who was recently appointed as the Co-Chair of the county’s Adult Services Committee, will play a leadership and liaison role in helping to launch the new program.

About CN Guidance and Counseling Services, Inc. : Central Nassau Guidance & Counseling Services is one of the region’s leading mental health, behavioral, and addiction-related service providers. Established in 1972, the mission of this nonprofit organization is to provide clinical treatment, housing opportunities, social and support services, counseling, and guidance to individuals, families and the community affected by mental illness, developmental disabilities, psychological difficulties, addiction and/or dependency problems. In recent years, CN Guidance has been a leader in providing outreach, supports, and counseling to community members during tragic and traumatic events, including 9/11 and the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

About the Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund: The Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund is a field-of-interest fund in the Long Island Community Foundation (LICF) that promotes progressive social change. The fund was established by the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock. Grants are made in response to competitive proposals received from Long Island nonprofit organizations. The proposals are reviewed by LICF staff and presented to an advisory committee, composed of members drawn from UU congregations across Long Island.


Contact: Jeffrey Friedman

(516) 822-6111 ext. 434