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January 20, 2022
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Achieva and The Arc Erie County Announce Affiliation

Southwestern Pennsylvania-based Achieva, a disability advocacy and service organization, is excited to announce the affiliation of The Arc Erie County (PA) with The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh, a member of the Achieva Family of Organizations. The affiliation of the two chapters of The Arc commenced on January 1, 2022. 
 
Nancy Murray, President of The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh and Senior Vice President of Achieva, is delighted with the new partnership. “The board and staff of The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh look forward to building on the history of, and solid foundation provided by The Arc Erie County.  We will assist The Arc Erie County to strengthen and grow resources to benefit children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families in northwestern Pennsylvania.”

Read full press release.

Pennsylvania News


Rollout of Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Residential households in the U.S. can order one set of 4 free at-home tests from USPS.com. Here’s what you need to know about your order:

  • Limit of one order per residential address
  • One order includes 4 individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests
  • Orders will ship free starting in late January


To order tests online, click HERE. 


Office of Developmental Programs Announces Updated ID/A Waiver Fee Rate Schedule Open for Public Comments
January 1, 2022 - January 31, 2022

The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) is seeking feedback and comments on the proposed Fee Schedule Rates for services funded through the Consolidated, Community Living, P/FDS, and Adult Autism Waivers and Base-funded program, residential ineligible services, and the accompanying rate assumption logs.

The proposed Fee Schedule Rates, Department-Established Fees, and assumption logs used to develop the rates for the Consolidated, Community Living, and P/FDS Waivers and Base-funded program are available HERE. 

The proposed Fee Schedule Rates, Department-Established Fees, and assumption logs used to develop the rates for the Adult Autism Waiver are available HERE

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments regarding the proposed rates and waiver amendments. Comments should be addressed to the Department of Human Services, Office of Developmental Programs, Division of Provider Assistance and Rate Setting, 4th Floor, Health and Welfare Building, 625 Forster Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120. Comments may also be submitted to the Department at ra-ratesetting@pa.gov using subject header ''Proposed ID/A Rates.''


DHS Announces Operation Expanded Testing (OpET)

COVID-19 testing is an essential activity that increases safety for congregate care settings as part of a comprehensive mitigation strategy. Operation Expanded Testing (OET) is a federal testing resource that may be a useful to your organization. Please see the attached presentation slides for more detailed information. Providers wishing to use OET as a resource should coordinate directly with Eurofins.
If you wish to enroll or have questions related to Operation Expanded Testing please contact Eurofins:

Questions related to this communication should be directed to RA-PWODPEMRGNCYRSPRQ@pa.gov.


Wolf Administration Announces New Support for Long-Term Care Facilities

"The Wolf Administration today announced a new initiative to help long-term care facilities respond to COVID-19 and improve resiliency.

The Long-Term Care Resiliency, Infrastructure Supports, and Empowerment program (LTC RISE) gives long-term care facilities the support they need to battle COVID-19, recover, and rebuild."

Read more here


House and Senate Announce Appropriation Hearing Dates 

The PA House and Senate Appropriation Committees have announced their schedule of appropriation hearings for the different departments. They will be held in person and available to watch via livestream. 

House of Representatives
-    Dept. of Labor & Industry: March 2nd at 1 pm
-    Dept. of Health: March 3rd at 10 am 
-    Dept. of Ed: March 7th at 10 am
-    Dept. of Human Services: March 9th at 10 am 

Senate
-    Dept. of Human Services: March 8th at 10 am
-    Dept. of Health: March 9th at 10 am
-    Dept. of Education: March 10th at 10 am
-    Dept. of Labor & Industry: March 15th at 10 am


Penn State Harrisburg's Center for Survey Research Conducting Study on Voting

Did you vote in the 2020 or 2021 elections in Pennsylvania? Penn State Researchers are looking for voters with disabilities to take part in Zoom interviews to talk about their voting experiences. Spots are limited so take part today!

If you are interested in participating you can call 1-888-988-2572 or email CSR@PSU.EDU


OVR Announces Public Comment Open on VR Services Portion of the Combined PA State Plan 2 Year Modification
January 5, 2022 - February 4, 2022

The PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) has amended the draft to the 2-year modification of the 2020-2024 VR Services Portion of the Combined State Plan. A new 30-day public comment period will be opened from January 5, 2022 – February 4, 2022.
 
An additional public meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, from 11 a.m. – noon. During this meeting, OVR will review information in the recently amended 2-Year Modification to the VR Services Portion of the Combined State Plan. Following a summary presentation, the public will be invited the opportunity to provide comment on this plan. Anyone unable to attend the public meeting to provide comment can provide comment at  ra-li- ovrfeedback@pa.gov.

To access the State Plan 2-Year Modification Draft, click HERE

To register for the Zoom public meeting, register HERE
 


Applications Being Accepted for Pennsylvania’s Equity in Early Childhood Education Champion Awards
Application deadline: February 7, 2022


The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has announced applications are now being accepted for the Pennsylvania's Equity in Early Childhood Education Champion Awards. The awards bring awareness to and highlight the equity work being done within Pennsylvania’s early childhood education and afterschool settings, and by child care, evidence-based home visiting and early intervention professionals, as it aligns with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Equity and Inclusion Toolkit, and with the position statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education Position Statement.
 
Pennsylvania invites nominations of individual or programs that have demonstrated support to children and their families through: embracing diversity and full inclusion as strengths, upholding fundamental principles of fairness and justice, and/or working to eliminate structural inequities that limit equitable learning opportunities.
 
The following are categories of eligible entities. All must be physically located and operating within Pennsylvania, and providing services to Pennsylvania’s children.

  • Individuals: Individuals, employed at a Pennsylvania certified/licensed child care, afterschool, Early Intervention, or an OCDEL funded Family Support program. Individuals must be employed at the eligible program at the time of submission.
  • Early Childhood Education/Child Care and Afterschool: Programs must be certified/licensed by Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), and in good standing with DHS at time of submission. In addition, a Federal Head Start/Early Head Start grantee that operates a program that is certified/licensed by DHS may submit a nomination for the DHS certified/licensed program. Nomination categories include:
    • Child Care Center
    • Group Child Care Home
    • Family Child Care Home
    • Afterschool Program
  • Early Intervention: Programs providing Early Intervention services and supports are eligible to submit a nomination as it relates to early intervention services and equity.
  • OCDEL funded Family Support programs

 
Submissions can be an application (apply on your own or a program/organization’s behalf), or nomination (submit another individual or program/organization) to be acknowledged for their work around equity in the early childhood education or afterschool setting. Self-applications are accepted.
 
Applications/nominations and any supporting documentation will be submitted via electronic online submission process only. Applications may be submitted in English or in Spanish. All applications must be submitted by 5:00 pm, Feb, 7, 2022.
 
Visit the Pennsylvania Key website for more information.


Request for Applications: Family Support Programs
Application deadline: March 11, 2022

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), Bureau of Early Intervention Services and Family Supports, is seeking to award funds to qualified Applicants for the implementation or continuation of Family Support Programs, which consist of community-based, high-quality Evidence-Based Home Visiting (EBHV) services, as well as three categories of enhancements to these services: Evidence-Informed Programs, EBHV Model Enhancements, and Program Enhancements. 
 
Family Support Programs help families access a broad array of supports and services, including formal supports (such as EBHV and parenting classes), informal supports (such as providing resources and connecting families to services in the communities), and a community system of services that promote the well-being of families and their children. Such services can take many different forms depending on the strengths and needs of the family, but their overarching goal is to help parents or caregivers enhance skills and resolve problems to promote optimal child development.
 
For this Request for Applications, applicants must apply to implement at least one EBHV Model, and may apply to implement one or more Enhancements.
 
Although applications must be received no later than March 11, 2022, there are other dates to be aware of:

  • Jan. 25, 2022: Deadline to submit questions
  • Feb. 8, 2022: Answers to potential applicant questions posted 

 
Visit the eMarketplace website for additional information. 


 


Disability in the News



Disability Rights Advocates to Meet with CDC Director

"On Friday, January 7, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in an interview with Good Morning America, commented on the results of a research study. Director Walensky remarked that a disproportionate number of deaths due to COVID-19 in the study population occurred among those with four or more comorbidities, calling those patients “people who were unwell to begin with” and these results as “encouraging news”. The disability community, who represent those with four or more comorbidities who died in the study, responded in turn. The hashtag #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy, started by writer and activist Imani Barbarin, was a top trend on Twitter over the weekend."

To read the full statement, go here


The Arc US Highlights Virtual Program Library

Our virtual program library is a free hub of on-demand activities that can be done from home by people with disabilities, their families, and service providers.
 
The library is expanding all the time and has activities in a wide variety of areas, such as arts, life skills, health and wellness, virtual clubs, and more.
 
Browse listings to find activities like:
 

  • Participating in dance, yoga, and other movement activities
  • Learning about internet safety
  • Virtually touring places like Disney World and museums
  • Making your own Jeopardy templates
  • Finding self-advocacy support
Find titles here

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Launches the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

On December 31, the FCC launched the ACP. This program, created by Congress in the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, is a longer-term replacement for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program. This investment in broadband affordability will help ensure households can afford the internet connections they need for work, school, health care, and more.

The FCC also launched a toolkit of materials for partners to download and customize to meet their needs. More materials will be added in the coming weeks.

The ACP provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

Enrollment in the ACP is now open for households with at least one member qualifying under any of the following criteria:

  • Has an income that is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
  • Participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, or Lifeline.
  • Participates in tribal-specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
  • Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision.
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income program.

The 9 million households fully enrolled in the EBB program as of December 31, 2021 will continue to receive their current monthly benefit until March 1, 2022. More information about steps current EBB recipients must take to continue receiving the ACP benefit after March 1, 2022 will be available in the coming weeks.

For application questions, email ACPSupport@usac.org or call 877-384-2575.
 


Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) - Supporting Family Caregivers: A Collection of Evidence, Tools, and Case Studies 
 
The Better Care Playbook for People with Complex Needs has come out with a new collection about supporting family caregivers. Family caregivers provide care for individuals with complex health needs, including older adults, people living with dementia, and people with disabilities, and are often responsible for taking on medical tasks such as medication management, wound care, and assisting with mobility. This playbook explain what a supportive family caregiving model looks like and how organizations can implement these approaches in their work.
 
Click here for more information.
 


Doctors Know Little About Their Obligations to People with Disabilities, Study Finds

"Three decades after the Americans with Disabilities Act took effect, new research finds that many physicians remain unaware of their obligations under the law when caring for people with disabilities."

Read the article here


 


ANNOUNCEMENTS/COMMUNICATIONS FROM
 
PA Office of Developmental Programs

 
Legislative Updates from Katie Yost 

 

No new activity. 
 "Learn More"

 

Trainings/Workshops

 

A Pennsylvania Gathering: Critical Topics in Autism
January 20, 2022 from 3:30 - 4:30 PM - Webinar


Interested in hearing the stories from others about communication, advocacy, and maintaining connections? ASERT will continue their Critical Topics in Autism series led by self-advocates. The topic for this gathering will be Advice to My Younger Self: How to Say Yay, Nay, and “All That Stuff”. Be a part of the discussion with parents, siblings, and autistic individuals sharing their experience with relationships, social lives, communication, and more.

Register Here


 

RAISE Family Caregiver and Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (SGRG) Advisory Council 
January 25, 2022 from 12:30 PM - 4:30 PM

ACL is pleased to announce the first joint meeting of the RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council and the Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, as they come together to begin development of the National Family Caregiving Strategy. 

Online Attendance:
All information for this meeting will be posted on both Council’s web pages. For more information, please visit the RAISE or SGRG pages.

The virtual meeting is open to the public. Registration is not required to attend via webinar. The webinar link will be open for access (live) 5 minutes prior to the meeting start time. A copy of the agenda will be posted prior to the meeting.


The Arc of PA's Healthy Relationship Series Part 2 Webinar
January 25, 2022 from 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM


Join The Arc of Pennsylvania for a webinar that will discuss the importance of empowering individuals with IDD to be who they are and understand their body.  This webinar is geared towards parents and adults with IDD.  Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski will give a presentation on her curriculum – Inside Out:  Abuse Prevention for Adults with Different Abilities.

Register Here


The Arc of PA Listening Tour - Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Among People with Disabilities 

January 25, 2022 from 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
January 27, 2022 from 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM


The Arc of Pennsylvania is holding a COVID-19 Listening Tour to hear about the experiences of the disability community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We'd like to know what things made it easy for people with disabilities to stay healthy and what challenges made it hard for people with disabilities to stay healthy during the pandemic. These webinars are an opportunity for the team to connect with you and collect your stories. 

Register Here


Dr. Cherpes and the Impact of COVID-19 on the Disability Community 
January 28, 2022 from 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Join The Arc of PA as we invite The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) Medical Director, Dr. Gregory Cherpes, to share the impact of COVID-19 on the disability community.

Register Here


Creative Direct Supports Using Technology Series: Employment Supports (Session 1 of 3)
January 28, 2022 from 1:00 PM - 1:45 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to provide remote services to some people we support. The good news is that we have learned creative ways to use technology while maintaining quality. This virtual targeted training (VTT) series will share strategies to provide these remote support, when needed. This first session will review strategies, tips, and tools when providing Job Coaching support.

Register Here. 


ACRE Basic Certification Training
February 4, 2022 - February 6, 2022 from 9:00 AM - 3:30 PM each day

The Arc of Pennsylvania’s Making Employment Work course is an ACRE Basic Certification Training. To receive certification, participants must attend a 3-day, live webinar training and then complete a self-paced, online curriculum. Completing this certification course will qualify individuals to provide Supported Employment services with Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and Office of Developmental Programs. Our training combines lessons learned from traditional Supported Employment and Customized Employment techniques.

Register Here. 


Dual Diagnosis Professional Conference Series: Expressive Therapies – Music and Art
February 10, 2022 from 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM


Jointly hosted by the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) and the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) the Dual Diagnosis Professional Conference Series offers presentations focused on supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism (ID/A) and mental health needs. The selected presenters share their expertise on best and promising practices as well as to provide general knowledge. Session topics, which focus on increasing capacity to serve individuals with dual diagnosis in the community, are chosen based on identified needs and with input from the field of professional stakeholders.

Register Here


PA ABLE Informational Webinar - For EMPLOYERS & HR Professionals
February 17, 2022 from 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

A PA ABLE Savings Program account gives individuals with qualified disabilities (Eligible Individuals), and their families and friends a tax-free way to save for a wide range of disability-related expenses while maintaining government benefits. The state and federal tax-free investment options are offered to encourage Eligible Individuals and their families to save private funds to support health, independence, and quality of life.

Employers and HR professionals can participate in an overview webinar about the PA ABLE program, learning:
•   What PA ABLE is
•   Who is eligible
•   How employees use accounts
•   How to set up payroll deduction

Offer PA ABLE Savings Program to Your Employees For FREE:

Register Here


PA ABLE Informational Webinar
March 1, 2022 from 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM 

A PA ABLE Savings Program account gives individuals with qualified disabilities (Eligible Individuals), and their families and friends a tax-free way to save for a wide range of disability-related expenses while maintaining government benefits. The state and federal tax-free investment options are offered to encourage Eligible Individuals and their families to save private funds to support health, independence, and quality of life.

Some of the topics that we will discuss include: eligibility requirements for opening a PA ABLE account, the federal and state tax benefits of PA ABLE, and how PA ABLE account interacts with current benefits.

Register Here


PA Bureau of Special Education Annual Conference - HYBRID FORMAT
March 2 - 4, 2022 

The 2022 PDE Conference will feature sessions on Attracting, Preparing, and Retaining Special Education Personnel. The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education is excited to kick-off the Attract, Prepare, and Retain (APR) initiative at this year’s annual conference to bring forward the BSE’s commitment to increase and diversify qualified special education professionals in the field. The conference will highlight state and national initiatives to address the critical issues facing Local Education Agencies regarding the attraction, preparation, and retainment of special education personnel.

Learn More & Register Here.


 


 


 

 

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The Arc of Pennsylvania
1007 Mumma Road, Suite 100
Lemoyne, PA 17043
717.234.2621 | 1-800-692-7258
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The Arc of Pennsylvania 
Serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
Sherri Landis, Executive Director
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