The Arc Celebrates 30th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act
July 26 marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The Arc is proud of our role in protecting the rights of people with disabilities, including as a significant player in the passage of the ADA. Consistent with our work for decades on policy development and legal efforts on key issues including deinstitutionalization, transforming state service systems, and ensuring that people with I/DD have access to education and life in the community, The Arc was committed to advancing the bill creating a national mandate for the elimination of discrimination on the basis of disability. From educating Congress and the public on the discrimination faced by people with disabilities and their families, helping to organize the grassroots, and supporting Congressional hearings and promotion on the Hill, The Arc was actively engaged in the fight for the ADA. State and local chapters of The Arc were integral to the movement. Through the tenacious advocacy of The Arc with our allies across the disability community, the bill passed with broad bipartisan support.
SSA to Resume Suspended Workload
On July 16, Social Security Administration (SSA) Commissioner Andrew Saul announced that SSA is hoping to resume its suspended workloads in August, including overpayments. The agency resumed continuing disability reviews in late June. See SSA’s coronavirus page for updates regarding suspended workloads. The Arc and allies wrote to Congress urging legislative action to pause workloads until the pandemic is over.
CMS Extends Deadline for HCBS Settings Rule
On July 14, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in a letter to state Medicaid Directors that the deadline for compliance with the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rule will be extended until March 17, 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous deadline was March 17, 2022. The HCBS Settings Rules requires all settings funded by Medicaid HCBS programs to, among other things, provide opportunities for participants to be integrated in and engage in community life, have access to the community, control their personal resources, and seek employment and work in competitive settings.
Federal Poverty Income Guidelines for 2020
The Department of Human Services (DHS) announced the implementation of the 2020 Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. Comments regarding the implementation of Federal Poverty Income Guidelines can be sent to DHS Office of Income Maintenance, Cathy Buhrig, director, Bureau of Policy, Room 427, Health and Welfare Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120. Additional information can be found on the Pennsylvania Bulletin website here.
Cares Rent Relief & Mortgage Assistance Program Guidelines
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency provided notice of the CARES Rent Relief Program and Mortgage Assistance Program (CARES RRP). Additional information can be found on the PHFA website here.
CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Payments Available for Medicaid/CHIP Providers
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced additional distributions from the Provider Relief Fund to eligible Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers that participate in state Medicaid and CHIP programs. HHS expects to distribute approximately $15 billion to eligible providers that participate in state Medicaid and CHIP programs and have not received a payment from the Provider Relief Fund General Allocation. The deadline to submit the application to HRSA for this funding is July 20, 2020. Before applying through the Enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal, applicants should:
HHS has created a listing of CARES Act Provider Relief Funds Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
The complete press release is on the HHS website.
More information about eligibility and the application process is also available on the HHS website.
The New Pennsylvania Medical Assistance ACCESS Card is Here! The familiar yellow Medical Assistance (MA) ACCESS Card has been redesigned, losing its color, but retaining its functionality. Read full article
COVID-19 PA Hazard Pay Grant Program
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development has posted a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the COVID-19 PA Hazard Pay Grant Program. Employers should check the site to find answers to questions regarding eligibility. Visit the FAQ here. Eligible applicants may apply for grants using the online DCED Electronic Single Application for Assistance located at www.esa.dced.state.pa.us from July 16, 2020, to July 31, 2020. Program inquiries may be directed to (717) 787-6245 or email@example.com
Regional Response Health Collaboratives Launch 24/7 COVID-19 Support Call Centers for Long-Term Care Facilities Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here. The Administration announced that the availability of 24/7 call centers to provide clinical and operational support to long-term care facilities as they protect residents and staff from COVID-19. The call centers are run and staffed by health systems participating in the Regional Response Health Collaboration Program (RRHCP), the education and clinical support network launched for long-term care providers earlier this month. More than 45,000 Pennsylvanians live in more than 1,200 personal care homes and assisted living residences, and more than 80,000 residents live in 693 nursing facilities throughout the commonwealth. Regional call centers will be available to provide direct support and assistance 24/7.
1915(c) CHC Waiver Amendment Public Comment Period
Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Office of Long-Term Living’s (OLTL) proposed Community HealthChoices (CHC) Waiver amendment was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Saturday, July 25. The publication of the amendment opens up a 30-day public comment period. The proposed amendment can be viewed by clicking here.
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) Announces New Staff
OVR recently announced the hiring of Jeremiah Underhill as the new Deputy Executive Director for OVR. Jeremiah started on Monday, July 13 and can be reached in at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online Ordering Options for SNAP
Pennsylvanians now have the ability to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funds to purchase groceries online through select retailers. This flexibility allows SNAP recipients to purchase groceries from home, which can help limit trips out of the home. The pilot program currently includes four approved retailers: Amazon, the Fresh Grocer, Shoprite, and Walmart. More information on the online program, including a list of locations of participating retailers, can be found here. Applications for SNAP and other public assistance programs can be submitted online at COMPASS.
Wolf Administration Releases ‘Trauma-Informed PA’ Plan
As a companion to the multi-agency effort and anti-stigma initiative, Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters, the Office of Advocacy and Reform (OAR) is releasing the “Trauma-Informed PA” plan to guide the commonwealth and service providers statewide on what it means to be trauma-informed and healing-centered in PA. The plan focuses on six key areas:
- Ensuring that PA state culture is trauma-informed through universal training
- Ensuring all state agencies’ policies and practices are trauma-informed and more focused on prevention and healing
- Mandating that all licensed and funded entities become trauma-informed
- Building and supporting grass roots / community-based efforts to become trauma-informed in every part of the commonwealth
- Recognizing and healing from the traumas of major crisis like COVID-19
- Preventing and healing racial, communal and historical traumas, whether they be individual or systemic.
Legislative Updates (From Katie Yost)
- House Bill 2740: Representative Mihalek has introduced legislation that would establish the Nonprofit Economic Emergency Delivery System (“NEEDS”) Grants Program. This Grant Program would be for eligible community-based human services nonprofit organizations who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and funded through CARES Act money received by the Commonwealth.
- HR 935: Representative Tom Murt’s resolution marking October 2020 as Lifesharing Awareness Month was voted favorably out of the House Human Services Committee. It can now be brought before the House for a full vote.
- The House Education Committee has announced Informational Hearings on “Safely Re-opening Schools” will be held on August 4th and 5th from 10 am – 1 pm.
- The Senate Democrat Policy Committee has announced an Information Hearing on “Safely Re-opening Schools” will be held on August 3rd at 11 am.
Office of Developmental Programs
Announcements & Communications
Take Action & "Learn More" Opportunities
Tried Something New During COVID-19: Share ideas with Office of Developmental Programs
From ODP Deputy Secretary, Kristen Ahrens: The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly created numerous challenges in service delivery. It has also been a call to creativity in that many of you in a very short period of time initiated new and innovative ways to serve people in a remote environment, by leveraging technology and other solutions. In the coming weeks and months, we will certainly continue to push the status quo aside so we can create new structures that will emphasize new ways of supporting people and safety with return to community for the vulnerable people that we serve. We are interested in hearing from you. If you would like to share, please take 15 or 20 minutes out of your day and summarize example(s) of the service delivery options you have initiated since the pandemic.
That is, please detail any practices that you have designed that go above and beyond to provide necessary proactive and reactive behavioral support despite the current circumstances (e.g., ways to train supporters remotely; engage with the individual; collecting, analyzing, and sharing data). To complete the survey, follow this link: https://odpinnovations2020.questionpro.com.
Responses should be submitted by August 14, 2020.
Our management team will review these and, as time allows, schedule a series of webinars. We believe the innovative models and structures you have been creating will add a new dimension to the work we do together and want to share these broadly with others providing behavioral services in an effort to encourage replication of these innovative practices more broadly. As I think you have heard, we are in this together!
August 7th 3pm-4pm - Appendix K Update for General Audiences: During emergency situations, Appendix K may be utilized to request amendments to any or all of the state-approved Medicaid waivers. The requested amendments are used so that the state may respond to the emergency. Appendix K may also be applied retroactively, if needed. This webinar provides information on the 2nd Appendix K Amendment that was approved on July 23, 2020. REGISTER.
Learn about the PA ABLE Savings Program! 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. To help you learn about the important features and benefits of PA ABLE, the Pennsylvania Treasury Department is hosting free webinars. 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.
August 11, 2020,12:00 - 1:30 PM, "Students with IEPs and the 2020-21 School Year" - with Carol Clancy, Director for Bureau of Special Ed/PA Dept of Education. Due to the overwhelming response to this event, registration has been closed on GoToWebinar, however it will be streamed on Facebook Live from the PEAL Center Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/pealcenter. You can still respond to the Facebook event, and get notifications of any details before the event occurs. Please submit questions that you have by August 3rd at www.surveymonkey.com/r/PDEBSEquestions.
NOTE: We have been overwhelmed at the response to the upcoming webinar for families and we know that this is a reflection of the uncertainty and stress that families who have children with IEPs are feeling. The intent of the webinar is to provide an overview for families of the key Guidance that has been provided by the PA Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education to school districts. It is important that families are aware of the guidance so that they are empowered with the knowledge they need to advocate with their local school district. If you are having challenges with your child’s school and planning for the 2020-21 school year, we suggest the following steps:
- Reach out to your child’s teacher and/or principal to discuss your concerns.
- Contact the special education director and/or someone else from the Central Administration
- Access outside organizations for information or assistance:
- PEAL Center: Call at 866-950-1040 or send email to email@example.com
- Consult Line: 1-800-879-2301 (Toll-Free) or with the Contact Form https://odr-pa.org/consultline-contact/
OVR Business Services Model - Effective Placement and Business Strategies for Business Outreach Professionals:
Part I - August 13th, 1:00pm - Register for Part I. If you assist job seekers with disabilities in getting employment, we invite you to join us on August 13, 2020 at 1:00pm to learn about effective strategies for getting your job seekers job ready. Bridget Frascella and Rob Hodapp from the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) will discuss effective ways to assess customer skills and overcome barriers to employment; Benefits Disincentives, Health and Disability status, Transportation Issues, Criminal Records and Disability Disclosure. Representatives from the PA Office of Long-Term Living, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and Office of Developmental Programs will be available for discussion and abuses.
Part II - August 26th, 2:00pm, Register for Part II. Professionals who assist job seekers with disabilities are invited to learn about effective ways of connecting with businesses to get your consumers employed. On August 26th at 2:00pm, Bridget Frascella and Rob Hodapp from the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) will discuss business engagement strategies that will get you connected and keep you connected. Learn about employer expectations in partnerships, keys things to focus as you’re building a business relationship, learning and leveraging business language and utilizing OVR as a partner to provide workplace solutions for businesses; disability awareness trainings, accessibility analysis, accommodation solutions and more. Representatives from the PA Office of Long-Term Living, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and Office of Developmental Programs will be available for discussion and questions.
August 19, 2020 Webinar - Together at Home: Back2School, 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM. The Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education is pleased to announce the following opportunity: Together at Home: Back2School is a virtual conference designed specifically for families and students as they prepare to return to school. How do we adjust to routines, busier schedules, and a new school year? The 20-minute sessions planned for this evening will address topics on the minds of students and families in an open, conversational format. Come ready to share your ideas and experiences, as well as your questions and concerns as we discuss strategies for preparing our return to school. Registration will be available beginning Monday, August 10. Use the link below, go to August 19 and click on the name of the event on the Training Events Calendar at: https://www.pattan.net/events/
Disability Rights Pennsylvania Updates:
Check Out Disability Rights PA's Newest Publication: Employee Rights in COVID-19. Check it out here.
Read the July Newsletter - Visit July Newsletter.
The BSE Bulletin, Spring 2020 Issued. Read issue here. The BSE Bulletin will continue to be published on a quarterly basis during the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. BSE developed the newsletter to provide updates about key information, featuring news about initiatives, and programs and services supporting education for students with disabilities in Pennsylvania. The newsletter introduces a unique Twitter hashtag (#SpecialEducationInPA) to further highlight the positive, collaborative work happening in special education throughout the commonwealth.
Equity Matters: Is Your Event Accessible? Conference season is upon us, and everyone is going virtual! But is your event accessible to those with disabilities? Here at the national office, we're standardizing closed captioning and American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation for our virtual events. Now is the time to make your event more accessible and inclusive. SEE TIPS FROM ROOTED IN RIGHTS
Comment on Amendment to the Office of Long Term Living's Home and Community-based HealthChoices Waiver: The Department of Human Services made available for public review and comment the Office of LongTerm Living’s proposed amendment to the Community HealthChoices (CHC) waiver. Interested persons are invited to submit written comments regarding the proposed waiver amendment to the Department of Human Services, Office of Long-Term Living, Bureau of Policy Development and Communications Management, Attention: Danielle Cyphert - CHC 2021 Waiver Amendment, PO Box 8025, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8025. Comments may also be submitted to the department at RAfirstname.lastname@example.org.
The latest JAN ENews is now available here. The Jobs Accommodation Network ENews topics include: 1. Accommodations for Educators who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing2. Masks for COVID-19 Management and ADA Accommodations 3. Can’t Stand It? Anti-Fatigue Matting as an Accommodation 4. Managing Headaches in the Workplace 5. Modified Schedules to Attend AA/NA Meetings and more.
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: Testimony: ReOpening Schools, PA Disability Weekly Meeting, Coalition for Inclusive Community, Disability Integration Task Force, Information Sharing & Advisory Committee/Racial Equality Workgroup/Provider Oversight Committee, Stakeholder COVID -19, ReOpening Schools Task Force, PIE Policy Call/PA Disabilities Planning Council, Technology 1st Coalition, Electronic Visit Verification Meeting, and various meetings with local chapters & executives.
Katie Yost, Manager of Government & Chapter Relations: Various virtual meetings with the PA House and Senate, PA Developmental Disabilities/Policy Information Exchange, Coalition for Inclusive Community, Disability Integration Task Force, Technology 1st Coalition, PIE Policy Call, House Education Committee Hearings, Arc Advocate Conference Call, SAGA, National Leadership Conference, State Interagency Coordinating for Early Intervention Services & Town Hall Prep Meetings.
To view archived copies of In Touch: