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January 7, 2021
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Happy New Year!  
From the Board of Directors, Staff, & Volunteers of
The Arc of Pennsylvania!
The Arc of Pennsylvania mourns the loss of former Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh.   Governor Thornburgh was a long time friend of The Arc and people with disabilities.  He played a leadership role in enacting the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Governor Thornburgh passed away on December 31, 2020.  We are forever grateful for his commitment to the disability community.

Stay Informed


Federal News

Congress Passes Funding for Money Follows the Person Program, but Leaves Disability Community Out of COVID-19 Relief Bill
The Arc's advocates across the country have fought hard, during this difficult this year, to make sure that people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support professional (DSP) workforce are included in pandemic relief legislation. Together we have contacted Congress nearly 150,000 times! Despite these efforts, Congress has just passed the latest relief bill, which left us behind. Read The Arc’s statement on the bill.  Congress has extended funding for the Money Follows the Person program for three years.  This critical funding helps people with disabilities and seniors move back home after time in an institution, nursing home, or other large congregate setting.

Pennsylvania News

COVID-19 Vaccine Federal Pharmacy Partners (FPP)
Vaccinations through the FPP throughout the state began on December 28, 2020, with skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) receiving vaccinations first. Additional facility types may be covered under the FPP and will be receiving vaccinations after skilled nursing facilities, including personal care homes, assisted living facilities, private intermediate care facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities, community group homes, residential treatment facilities for adults, long-term structured residences, state veterans homes, state centers, private psychiatric hospitals, and Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs). 
More information is included below and in the Long Term Care Facility FAQs and
Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Information.

PA Cumulative COVID -19 Data (December 2, 2020)
Statewide Totals ---- Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities/Autism Enrolled in PA's Home and Community Based Services:

  • Total Individuals COVID-19 Confirmed = 2,697 (+660 since 12/02/2020)
  • Total Deaths = 201(+38 since 12/02/2020)
Public Comment Period on Proposed Amendments to Chapter 49 (Regulation #6-346) 
The State Board of Education’s proposed rulemaking #6-346, containing proposed amendments to Chapter 49 (Certification of Professional Personnel), was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Dec. 19, 2020. The Board will accept written comments on the proposed rulemaking for a 30-day period beginning on the date of publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin . Comments should be submitted to or State Board of Education, 333 Market Street, 1 st Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17050.  Access the Dec. 19, 2020, edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Updated ODP EVV Guidance
The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) has updated its guidance pertaining to Electronic Visit Verification (EVV).  Read full article
Legislative Updates (From Katie Yost) 
  • On Tuesday, January 5th the PA House and Senate conducted the swearing in ceremony for the 2021-2022 Legislative Session. Senator Jim Brewster (Senate District 45-Westmoreland & Allegheny) was not sworn in.
  • On Saturday, January 2nd, Representative Mike Reese (House District 59 – Westmoreland and Somerset) passed away. Representative Reese was a member of the House Republican Leadership Team as the Majority Caucus Chair.
  • The Senate has posted their Session days for 2021. You can access it here.
  • Representative Kate Klunk has circulated a co-sponsorship memo indicating her intent to re-introduce last session’s House Bill 2202, which allows individuals with disabilities to increase their earnings under a new category, Workers with Job Success, under the Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD). No legislative language at this time.
  • Representative Gerry Mullery has circulated a co-sponsorship memo indicating his intent to introduce legislation that would halt the planned closure of Polk and White Haven State Centers. No legislative language at this time.
  • Representative Tarah Toohil has circulated a co-sponsorship memo indicating her intent to introduce legislation that would expand Early Intervention services for infants born to mothers who have postpartum depression. This would include postpartum depression as an “at risk category” for early intervention tracking under the Early Intervention Services System Act. No legislative language at this time.
  • Representative Dan Miller has circulated a co-sponsorship memo indicating his intent to re-introduce legislation that would require public buildings to have accessible toilets and public changing stations. No legislative language at this time.


Office of Developmental Programs

Announcements & Communications
Office of Developmental Programs Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates webpage.  

ODP Bulletin 00-20-04 Participant Directed Services Agency With Choice Financial Management Services Model

21-001: ODP Quality Management (QM) Certification Virtual Classes: 2021 Interest Survey

20-114 UPDATE (Obsoletes 20-102): Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)-----Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Modifications to Medication Administration Course Requirements as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic

20-115: Open for Public Comment: Proposed Amendments to the Office of Developmental Programs’ Waivers

20-116: Medication Administration Train-the-Trainer Course – Scheduled Maintenance

Office of Developmental Programs’ (ODP) Reference Manual on Community HealthChoices (CHC) for Administrative Entities (AEs) Webinar

Support to Long-Term Care Facilities after the Conclusion of the Regional Response Health Collaborative Program

Support Broker Certification Training January 2021

ODP Health Risk Screening Tool (HRST) Protocols for Supports Coordinators Webinar

A Message from the Department of Human Services Secretary - COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan  -- Pennsylvania COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan

Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) Guidance: Infection Prevention and Control Considerations for Healthcare Personnel with Signs and Symptoms Following COVID-19 Vaccination

Joint Health Risk Screening/Office of Developmental Programs Protocol for Supports Coordinators Webinar

Reducing Food Insecurity and Nutrition-Related Chronic Diseases During COVID Among Medicaid HCBS Beneficiaries

COVID-19 Vaccine Information from PA DOH

Thresholds for Community Spread Report September 9th 2020 -January 1st 2021 Update

ODP Monthly Trainings - January 2021 Virtual Trainings

PA Family Network (PAFN) 2021 Event Schedule

Please also visit MyODP News Online for new articles related Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Take Action & "Learn More"

NEW! For Families

Announcing PATF's new Mini-Loan Pilot Program for 2021
Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation announces a new one-year pilot program starting mid-January, 2021.  Starting mid-January, Mini-Loans will be available for amounts between $100 and $7,000 with no interest and no fees.  These Mini-Loans can purchase such devices as hearing aids, stair glides, and smart home technology, all while building credit with every on-time repayment.  Applicants must demonstrate the willingness and ability to repay the loan.  HERE for more information.   

Teaming With Amazon to Showcase Helpful Technology - Virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa are becoming more and more prevalent. The Arc US teamed up with the education team at Amazon to explore ways to better communicate how these devices can help with at-home learning for children with special needs – including a new infographic.  LEARN MORE

Autism Collaborative Centers of Excellence - Geisinger ADMI, with support from the Rite Aid Foundation, has developed some Emergency Preparedness Resources that families can use to help children with autism be prepared in the event of an emergency.  To access these resources and others related to safety, click here, then click on the COVID-19 Resources tab.

Are your children learning at home?

Our E-Learning Series provides resources to Parents who find themselves teaching children at home.

Click HERE to find the ELearning Series

Supporting Inclusive Education -
Help for Parents with Children Learning at Home
Strategies for Challenging Behavior
Disability Acceptance Through Literacy Virtual Book Study Group:  Study groups for parents, teachers, and professionals and groups for students.  Book Study Groups begin meeting in February.  They are discussing "Out of My Mind" by Sharon M. Draper. Please email for information and to sign-up.  Visit the Include Me Website for additional information HERE.
Check out our YouTube Channel HERE.  

Making Employment Work, ACRE Basic Certification Training by The Arc of Pennsylvania - The Arc of Pennsylvania’s Making Employment Work course is an ACRE Basic Certification Training.  Live webinar training takes place on January 13-15, 2021 from 9am to 12am and 1pm to 3:30pm each day.  Register HERE for the training.  If an agency is interested in registering extra staff please contact Jen Hipps at 

Money Mapping: A More Flexible Way to Budget - 
Wednesday, January 20 from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.  A Money Map provides greater flexibility without the self-criticism that often comes with traditional budgeting. Join to learn how to create your own money map and how to use it to manage your money and meet future goals.  More information here.

PA Department of Education Conference - Hershey Lodge and Convention Center – March 3 & 4  - 2021  -“Making a Difference: Educational Practices That Work! “.  More information here.  Registration will be opening mid-January. 


PIE Info: Slice of Pie, Volume 21, Issue 4, 2020 - The Policy Information Exchange brings you the Slice of PIE, an ongoing publication keeping our readers informed about important public policy issues.  The Policy Information Exchange is funded in part by the PA Developmental Disabilities Council.  Click here to read A Slice of Pie, which includes a printable version; state news and bills of interest; and national news.  Click here for Slice of Pie Archives.
Research/New Ideas

DSP Survey on Providing Direct Support During COVID-19 - Don't forget to share this anonymous survey with the direct support professionals (DSPs) in your community. The deadline to complete the survey is January 15, 2021. National and state-specific results from the survey will be shared widely in March 2021.  

Sexual Heath Education Study - Boston University is conducting a study on how to make sexual health education fun, comfortable, and helpful for young adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD).  The study can be completed by school personnel, young adults, and family members/guardians of young adults with IDD.

The University of North Carolina Releases Report of Pennsylvania’s Pre-K Counts Program - The University of North Carolina, with support from the William Penn Foundation, has released a report studying Pennsylvania’s publicly funded Pre-K Counts program. This is the first statewide analysis since the program began in 2007.  The report focuses on two parts of the study: program implementation and pre-k impact for kindergarten students – learn more. You can also read the Pre-K for PA campaign’s reaction to the report. 

Seeking Innovations to Transform the Direct Support Professionals Workforce - The direct support professions (DSP) workforce is essential in ensuring individuals with intellectual disabilities have the support they need to live independently in their communities. However, home and community-based service providers are seeing a shortage in the DSP workforce. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) is seeking innovative solutions to address this shortage, with the goal of encouraging the development of inventive business models to help stabilize the DSP labor market.  This prize competition includes three phases, with cash prizes awarded to winners for each phase.  Submissions must be received by Friday, February 12, 2021.  Click here to learn more.  

New Infographic: How Racism Can Affect Child Development - What could society look like if racial disparities in health and learning outcomes didn't exist? According to extensive studies, the U.S. would save billions in health care costs alone.  This infographic from Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University explains in basic terms how racism in particular gets under the skin, and affects learning, behavior, and lifelong health.

LEARN MORE (From the Office of Developmental Programs)

Supporting Someone to Make Informed Choices & Decisions - Visit the MyODP Podcast page to Listen!

The Similarities Between Autism and Lockdown - Read full article

Preserving Disability History - Read full article

Check Yourself!  Read full article
New Year’s Eve Activities - Read full article
COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ - Read full article
PA Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Information - Read full article
Celebrating Winter Holidays - Read full article

Updated CDC Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States - Read full article

Your Voice in Harrisburg

Upcoming Activities from The Arc of PA Staff:  In the next two weeks, The Arc of PA staff will be participating in these meetings and activities of special interest: 

Sherri Landis, Executive Director: PA Disabilities Planning Council, Intellectual Disability/Autism Coalition, Special Education Stakeholder Coalition, Information Sharing & Advisory Committee, Chapter Executive Monthly Meeting, Budget Meeting, PA Schools Work Mobilization, Coalition for Inclusive Community, IM4Q Steering Committee, Intentionally Bridging Early Intervention - School Age and various other meetings with Chapters.

Katie Yost, Manager of Government & Chapter RelationsPA Developmental Disabilities, Intellectual Disability/Autism Coalition, State Right to Education Task Force, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Task Force, Coalition for Inclusive Community, PA Schools Work Mobilization, Promising Practices Training, and various meetings with legislators.
To view archived copies of In Touch:

In Touch Archives


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The Arc of Pennsylvania
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Lemoyne, PA 17043
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The Arc of Pennsylvania 
Serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
Sherri Landis, Executive Director
Shirley Keith Knox, LSW, Communications Director, Editor