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June 23, 2022
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Pennsylvania News



Wolf Administration Welcomes 30 Students with Disabilities for Summer Internship Program

In support of the Employment First Initiative, the Wolf Administration has announced that they are welcoming 30 Pennsylvania college students with disabilities who will participate in summer internships with state agencies.

Read article here

 

Wolf Administration Urges Pennsylvanians to Review Transit Options and Apply for Transportation Assistance Programs, Highlights Importance of Access to Health Care and Jobs

Officials from the Pennsylvania departments of Transportation (PennDOT) and Human Services (DHS) today urged Pennsylvanians to use Find My Ride (FMR) to learn about public transit options and apply for transportation assistance programs. The participants underscored transit’s critical role in getting people to work and medical appointments while connecting them to their communities.

 
Public transportation services are available in every county in Pennsylvania, including:
  • Shared ride service in all 67 counties;
  • Fixed route bus service in 49 counties; and
  • Fixed route rail service in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

 
“Transit provides a vital connection to jobs, to medical appointments, and to our communities,” said PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation Jennie Louwerse. “We urge Pennsylvanians to try transit, and we’re excited that it’s now easier to access these services.”
 
Citizens are encouraged to use FMR Apply, an online tool which was developed collaboratively with transit agencies and streamlines the application process for the five largest transportation assistance programs in the state, including the Senior Shared Ride program, the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP), ADA complementary paratransit, the Persons with Disabilities program and the Free Transit Program. Additionally, FMR Apply allows third-parties, such as a family member or healthcare provider, to apply for services on behalf of a rider.
 
Collectively, 24.4 million trips supported by these programs were provided to Pennsylvanians in the 2020-21 fiscal year. An additional 141 million trips – including 17.7 million free senior trips – were provided through fixed route service in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
 
Since the rollout of FMR Apply in May 2021 via transit agencies, assistance-program applications have been processed for nearly 8,000 Pennsylvanians and benefits to transit agencies, PennDOT, DHS, and customers have been considerable. Customers do not need to determine what programs they are eligible for, and this, coupled with the user-friendly application has resulted in an increase in applications submitted. Automatic data validation within the application has resulted in improved data accuracy, saving transit agencies time and money in processing applications. Transit agencies can process applications more efficiently, which allows transit users to access benefits more quickly. 
 
"The Wolf Administration is always working to make the services we provide easier to access for the people we serve, and the Find My Ride tool is an excellent example of collaboration between state agencies in making this happen," said Andrew Barnes, Deputy Executive Secretary for DHS. "Nobody should let a lack of transportation keep you from getting to a doctor’s appointment or filling your prescription. I encourage anyone who needs transportation to their physician, pharmacy, dentist, or other necessary medical services to apply today."
 
DHS' MATP program provides non-emergency medical transportation for Medicaid-eligible consumers who do not have access to transportation. MATP funds more than 9 million trips annually, and each county provides the type of transportation that is the least expensive while still meeting an individual's needs. Contact information specific to each county MATP provider can be found at matp.pa.gov.
 
Accessibility was a key focus when developing FMR Apply, with emphasis on validating color contrast, use of captions, use of assistive reader devices, sentence length, and reading level to evaluate the forms accessibility. User feedback has been extremely positive and has been demonstrated by the continuous increase in online applications.
 
FMR Apply leverages Keystone Login, a single, secure user credential that can be used to log into multiple Commonwealth online services. The team that developed FMR Apply was recently recognized with a Governor’s Award for Excellence.
 
Find My Ride’s education and application modules were developed over two years, made possible by $1 million from the Federal Transit Administration and $1 million in state transit funding.
 
More information on public transit and alternative transportation options like ridesharing, biking, and walking, is available on PennDOT’s website.
 


2022 Keystone STARS Program Manual Now Available

The new 2022 Keystone STARS Program Manual is now available on the Pennsylvania Key website. The Program Manual provides information on the updates and edits made to the 2022 Keystone STARS Performance Standards and includes:

  • Information on the updated Internal Assessment Process (IAP)
  • Expanded information on Professional Development (PD) including PD Registry requirements in Keystone STARS
  • Updated Keystone STARS Bonus Point Tip Sheets
  • Hyperlinks to the updated forms and templates for use in Keystone STARS

 
The 2022 Keystone STARS Standards take effect on July 1, 2022. Access the 2022 Keystone STARS Standards and accompanying resource documents at the Pennsylvania Key website
 



We’re in the Budget Home Stretch; Do the Right Thing for Disability Workers 
 

"As leaders of intellectual disability and autism (ID/A) services, we have been raising our voices about the unsustainable staffing/direct support professional (DSP) crisis in our community.

The General Assembly will complete its budget work soon. Dozens of legislative leaders have met with us and have told us they hear the voices of people with ID/A, their families, advocates, provider organizations, and DSPs. All of these Pennsylvanians have been articulate and focused on the danger to the community ID/A system."

Read article here

 

 




Disability in the News


Biden Administration Gives States More Time To Spend Disability Services Funds

"States will get extra time to spend billions of federal dollars aimed at bolstering the beleaguered Medicaid home and community-based services system after it took longer than expected for the money to make it their way.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is giving states an additional year to use funds that were made available for home and community-based services as part of the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package signed in 2021. The cash infusion was intended to address pressures on the nation’s disability services system that were exacerbated by the pandemic, chiefly a long-simmering workforce crisis."

Read article here

 

Labor Department Issues Guidance on Subminimum Wages for Workers with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division has issued new supplementary guidance to ensure eligible employers comply with requirements when paying subminimum wages to individuals with disabilities under Section 511 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The new guidance was spurred in part by investigations into certified employer practices and recent litigation against Special K Ranch in Columbus, Montana where DOL found Special K had paid employees with disabilities as little as $1.17 per hour. With regard to the violations found, DOL Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda said, “The U.S. Department of Labor will not tolerate wage theft or an employer’s failure to provide the important services and information required under Section 511 to workers with disabilities.” DOL intends for the guidance to clarify employer requirements under the law, including the requirement that workers receive resources and information throughout their employment that help them maximize opportunities to obtain competitive integrated employment.
 

Decades After Special Education Law and Key Ruling, Updates still Languish

"It has been 40 years since the U.S. Supreme Court first took up a case about special education in public schools, Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley. In that case, the court ruled that a deaf student didn’t qualify for a sign-language interpreter because the student was doing well enough, even though an interpreter could have helped the student learn more and do better."

Read article here
 

The American Constitution Society Awards 2022 David Carliner Public Interest Award to Shira Wakschlag, The Arc US’ Senior Director of Legal Advocacy


"The Arc and the American Constitution Society (ACS) are proud to announce that The Arc’s Senior Director of Legal Advocacy and General Counsel, Shira Wakschlag, is the recipient of the 2022 David Carliner Public Interest Award. This prestigious award honors a mid-career public interest attorney whose work best exemplifies David Carliner’s legacy of fearless, uncompromising, and creative advocacy on behalf of marginalized people."

Read announcement here
 
 

PA ADAPT Protests 'Predatory' Guardianship Practices in Pennsylvania
 

"PA ADAPT, an activist group for disabled people’s rights, is demanding that Governor Tom Wolf make reforms and stop what they call “predatory” guardianship practices. PA Adapt held a protest at the state capitol on June 8 to push for their demands.

Pennsylvania currently has ten Area Agencies on Aging that oversee the guardianship of individuals ordered by the court. These guardianship agencies then have control over an individual’s assets and can place them inside of an institution."

Read article here



The Best Picture Books for Autistic Children

"According to the study, Children with autism and picture books: extending the reading experiences of autistic learners of primary age, which examines the effect that picture books have on autistic children,” picture books help children with autism develop social and communication skills as well as foster imagination. Their written outcomes clearly showed children’s need to tell stories”.'

Read article here
 

A Mother's Memoir of Autism and Finding Joy

"In "Forever Boy," she shares her inspiring journey through autism with honesty and compassion, offering solace and hope to others on this path and illuminating the strength and unconditional love of mothers."

Read article here
 

Finding Ways for Those who Want to Work

"A quick, proactive reaction to troubling state data could lead to dozens of Valley residents with intellectual or developmental disabilities finding places to work.

In response to a recent survey noting that while 70 percent of Pennsylvanians with intellectual or developmental disabilities want to work, only 13 percent are employed, CareerLink hosted a Special Needs Job Fair last week at the Susquehanna Valley Mall. It was a first for the local career center, but one that clearly filled a void."

Read article here



House Approves Ban On Electric Shock Devices For Those With Developmental Disabilities

"Congress is moving to ban devices used to administer electric shocks on people with developmental disabilities in an effort to modify their behavior, a practice that advocates have long decried as torturous."

Read article here

 



ANNOUNCEMENTS/COMMUNICATIONS FROM
 
PA Office of Developmental Programs

 

Providing COVID-19 Therapeutics: Your Questions, Answered 

ODPANN 22-069 Gross Adjustments for Paid Promise Claims for Adult Autism Waiver

New "A Supporter's Toolbox" -- Finding the Spark


ODP Announcement 22-067: Gross Adjustments for Paid Promise Update

ODP Announcement 22-068: Transition to Independent Living Payments

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

ODPANN Announcement 22-064:  Online Learning Opportunity About Alternative and Augmentative Communication

ODPANN 22-063 Rate Increases for Supported Employment and Pre-Employment Transition Services

New Times Available: Scheduled One-on-One Incident Management (IM) Virtual Office Hours (VOH)

Medically Complex Conditions Training Series

Quality Assessment and Improvement (QA&I) Cycle 2 Year 1 Training Webinars
Legislative Updates from Katie Yost 

 

  • Representative Clint Owletts, HB 2169, which would create a voucher system that allows parents with school age children (1st through 12th grade) who reside within the attendance area of a district school in the bottom 15% of performance metrics based on state testing would be eligible to receive a scholarship to offset costs associated with choosing an alternative academic setting that meets their child’s individual learning needs. The legislation was voted as amended out of the Senate Education Committee in a party-line vote of 7-4. 
 
  • Representative Frank Farry's has introduced House Resolution 212, which would direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study on the supports and services people with IDD or autism utilize under the Office of Developmental Programs. The legislation passed out of committee unanimously and is now eligible to be brought forward for a vote by the full House. 
 
  • Representative Jason Ortitay has introduced House Bill 2674, which would expand Act 66 of 2021 to allow for students with disabilities who reach the age of 21 during the 2021-2022 school year the ability to stay for the 2022-2023 school year. The legislation has been referred to the House Education Committee. 
 
  • Senator Ryan Aument has introduced Senate Bill 1276, which would expand Act 66 of 2021 to allow students with disabilities who are between the ages of 18-21 during the 2021-2022 school year the ability to stay till they are 22. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. 
 "Learn More"

 

Trainings/Workshops

 

Micro-Aggressions in the Workplace - Webinar
June 28, 2022 at 2:00 PM 


This webinar will discuss the need to move beyond our own personal biases, beliefs, values, and perception by realigning the way we think about and engage with each other.
 
The negative consequences of unconscious biases, intentional or unintentional, can be detrimental to the workplace, effect morale and the overall experience of the individuals we serve. Diversity is needed more than ever to create solutions to business, economic, and social challenges of the 21st century and beyond. One step is understanding the different types of micro-aggressions and their effect on the individuals we serve.

Register Here. 
 

Disability Vote Summit
June 29, 2022 from 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
June 30, 2022 from 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Join disability and voting advocates across the country for a 2-day virtual summit focused on getting out the disability vote in 2022. Summit speakers will come from the disability, voting, and civil rights communities across the country. This summit will include sessions on:

  • Why We Vote: Centering the Issues
  • Making Elections More Accessible
  • Partnering for Success
  • Protecting Voting Rights and Access
  • Making Voting Outreach More Accessible
  • Motivating Disabled Voters in 2022
Register Here. 
 

OMHSAS and ODP's Statewide Quarterly Positive Approaches & Practices Meeting
July 14, 2022 from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM


This meeting aims to provide the most recent research and resources for people with mental health and behavioral challenges, intellectual disabilities, autism, and other developmental disabilities to live an everyday life.

Register Here. 
 

PA ABLE Savings Program Webinar - Webinar
July 21, 2022 from 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM


The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL), is offering a webinar on the topic of the PA Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Savings Program. A PA ABLE account gives individuals with qualifying disabilities (eligible individuals) and their families and friends, a tax-free way to save for disability-related expenses while maintaining government benefits. Federal and state law authorized the creation of PA ABLE accounts. The Presentation will be given by a Representative of the PA Treasury Department.
 
OLTL Service Coordinators, Direct Service Providers, CHC-MCO staff and any individuals that work on employment are strongly encouraged to participate in this webinar that will help you understand the PA ABLE Program and how it can benefit the OLTL participants you serve.

Register Here. 
 

ACRE Basic Certification Training - via Zoom
July 27 - 29 2022 from 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM


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
 

ACRE Basic Certification Training - via Zoom
August 17 - 19, 2022 from 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM


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

 
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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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