Assemblywoman Mosquera “Jake’s Law” Bill to Create Inclusive Playgrounds to Better Serve NJ Families with Disabilities Clears Senate Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Gabriela Mosquera to make playgrounds in New Jersey inclusive and capable of catering to children and parents with different types of disabilities was approved Thursday by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee.

These parks provide a fun and safe place for children with special needs to play and engage socially. Building more of these parks not only provides these children with this wonderful opportunity, but can also help educate other children about acceptance and inclusion.

The bill would also clarify that the DCA commissioner would have to invite and receive recommendations for the adoption of rules and regulations from nonprofit organizations with a demonstrated expertise in the design and construction of inclusive playgrounds. At a minimum, the rules and regulations would require fully accessible playground surfacing, access ramps leading up to and within play structures, and play structures designed to facilitate access for adults and children with disabilities.

The bill would require DCA to propose rules and regulations within 180 days of the effective date of the bill and adopt rules and regulations within one year of the effective date of the bill. The rules and regulations would address various issues related to inclusive playgrounds, including, but not limited to, parking, adaptive restroom facilities, shade areas, fencing, and quiet play areas.

The bill would also require that the DEP prioritize any application submitted by a county seeking to acquire or develop lands for recreational and conservation purposes using Green Acres funds, provided that the Green Acres funds requested by the county are to be used for the design and construction of an inclusive playground. Under the bill, additional prioritization would be given to applications submitted by counties that do not currently operate and maintain an inclusive playground, to ensure at least one such playground is operated and maintained by each county.

The bill would take effect immediately and now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.