May 7, 2020
View this email in your browser

Stay Informed

ODP Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

A Message to Direct Support Professionals from Secretary Teresa Miller: Pennsylvania Secretary of Human Services, Teresa Miller, would like to thank all direct support professionals for their dedication during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Watch the personal address here

COVID-19 Resources

  Check out The Arc of Pennsylvania's Website here for additional resources. 
Updated resources are added as they become available.

National News

The Count Continues!  Are you Counted?
The Census Bureau has identified people with disabilities as a hard-to-count population, which means they are at a greater risk of being under-counted in the census. The reasons for this include accessibility challenges and wider systemic inequalities. A fair and accurate census is vital for people with disabilities—and, indeed, for every person in the United States.  The Self Response phase of the 2020 census continues through October 31st.  For folks who have not already completed the census, follow up will begin on August 11st.  As of 5/4/2020, 59.1% Pennsylvanians have responded to the Census, as compared to 58.8% for all states combined.  More information here.

Report Shows Data Quality Issues in Restraint and Seclusion Data
he Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report showing major issues with the quality of data from school districts regarding restraint and seclusion. Interviews revealed that state and school district officials do not have a consistent understanding of reporting rules.  Read the report here.

US Education Secretary Declines to Recommend Waivers of Core IDEA Provisions
On April 27, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos submitted a report to Congress required by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act with recommendations on waivers for various education laws. Secretary DeVos did not recommend waivers of core provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. She did, however, recommend waiving technical provisions to allow extending Part B transition evaluation timelines and allowing children to continue receiving Part C services until Part B determinations are complete.  See the report to CongressSee The Arc U.S. statement.

Pennsylvania News

Office of Developmental Program Updates  
  1. Commonwealth's Budget:  Pennsylvania must brace for a very tough budget year, having a reported $3-5 billion shortfall.  It is unknown whether the legislature will pass a budget in June or pass a short term budget then and a final budget in the fall.
  2. More Dollars for Home and Community Based Services:  No decisions have been made about increased rates for Medicaid providers or additional financial relief to the Intellectual Disability System through retainers or enhanced rates.
  3. Most recent COVID-19 Stats:  400 (out of the 55,000 people receiving Home and Community Based Services) have been diagnosed with COVID-19; sadly 62 people have died.  628 staff, including Support Coordinators have contracted the virus.  NOTE:  These numbers include people with disabilities currently living in large ICFs.  No COVID-19 virus reported among the residents at Pennsyvlania's four remaining state centers, as of yet.
  4. Appendix K:  Additional amendments will soon be submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medcaid Services for approval.  Approval time has been relatively quick.
Voters Encouraged to Apply for a Mail-in Ballot
As Pennsylvania continues mitigation efforts to fight COVID-19, voters are encouraged apply for a mail-in ballot for the June 2, primary election.  Apply for a mail-in ballot here.  Visit website at to conveniently update your registration or apply for a mail-in ballot.  For more information on the new mail-in ballots and all things related to voting in Pennsylvania, call the Department of State’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772) or visit  The deadline for mail-in voting registration is May 26th.

Medical Assistance Eligibility During COVID-19 Emergency Disaster Declaration
County Assistance Offices are instructed not to close or decrease Medical Assistance (MA) benefits during the disaster declaration. The Office of Medical Assistance Programs (OMAP) is aware of individuals whose MA eligibility was incorrectly closed. Members whose MA benefits have terminated on or after March 18, 2020 will have them reinstated.  Read more here.

Economic Impact Payments as part of CARES Act
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is in the process of distributing economic impact payments (or recovery rebates) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  People receiving services from ODP:
• May continue to check the IRS website for updates on the status of economic impact payments.
• Receive key information about economic impact payments posted at


HB 2408 – Introduced to address the impact of COVID-19. The legislation would exempt the Recovery Rebate Payments under the CARES Act from State and Local Taxes. The bill has passed unanimously in the House and gone to the Senate for a vote.

HB 1776 – introduced to address COVID-19 impact. This legislation would place a temporary prohibition on raising property taxes. It has passed out of House State Government Committee and has been laid on the table.


Office of Developmental Programs Announcements & Communications

20-052: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Home and Community Based Services  (HCBS) in Counties Designated by the Governor as Yellow Phase.

Take Action & "Learn More" Opportunities


#WeAreEssential: Tell Congress to Include the Disability Community in COVID-19 Relief Bills!


People With Disabilities, Families, and Direct

Support Professionals: #WeAreEssential

 We are fighting every day to make sure the critical needs of people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support professional (DSP) workforce are included in the next coronavirus relief bill. 

And we need your help!

From home and community based services, minimize the risk of people with disabilities being forced into institutions, paid leave for all caregivers, personal protective equipment for the vital Direct Support Professionals workforce, and stimulus payments for all - our essential needs must be included.

What matters most to you and why? Share YOUR story with The Arc and send a personalized message to your Members of Congress by answering 3 short questions! 

Then, help spread the word: send this email to three friends and ask them to share their story too.  For the latest information about the disability community and the coronavirus pandemic, visit

Thank you for your advocacy!

May 12, 2020:  11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.  Upcoming Webinar: Alternative Communication (AC) and Alternative Technology (AT) in the Time of COVID-19-TechOWL will provide an informative webinar about Assistive Technology and AAC and support services during the time of COVID.


Self Advocates United as 1Antivirus Power Connect Calendar - Join as many calls as you can to connect while we can’t meet in person. Share the info with your friends, family and coworkers.

State Interagency Coordinating Council for Early Intervention Meeting Dates for 2020-2021: Information can also be found on the State ICC padlet at on the Early Intervention Technical Assistance Portal.  

August 6, 2020 - Meeting from 12:30-3:00 at PaTTAN Harrisburg with downlink sites
October 8, 2020 - Meeting from 12:30-3:00 at PaTTAN Harrisburg with downlink sites
December 3, 2020 - Meeting from 12:30-300 at PaTTAN Harrisburg and downlink sites
February 11, 2021 - Meeting from 12:30-3:00 at PaTTAN Harrisburg and downlink sites
April 1, 2021 - Meeting from 12:30-3:00 at PaTTAN Harrisburg and downlink sites
June 3, 2021 - Meeting from 12:30-3:00 at PaTTAN Harrisburg and downlink sites

Provide Public Comment to Disability Rights of Pennsylvania (DRP): DRP has started its 45-day public comment period for fiscal year 2021 annual program goals and objectives. DRP invites public feedback on the issues that matter most to individuals with disabilities, along with their families and organizations supporting them.  Provide public comment here.

Share Your Story!  Temple University Institute on Disabilities: Share Your Stories About Person Directed Services - Do you direct your own services? Do you support someone who directs their services? How have person directed services changed your life? You are invited to share your story.  If you have any questions, please contact Jamie: or PDS Information Email:

Learn More...

AT and ACC Resources:  Communication is an essential part of all of our lives. Read full article

Using Assistive Technology Service to Access Remote Supports:  Providing services remotely continues to be a critical approach to support during this time.  Read full article

Being Prepared:  As much as we are all trying our very best to mitigate risk and to maintain social/physical distancing, it is important that we have a plan for the worst-case scenario.  Read full article

Got Research? If you needed more endorsement for the importance of tending to people's mental health during this time, you should check out SAGE Open's latest collection of highlighted articles.  Read full article

The Best Source for COVID-19 News is the Experts: The volume of news and information related to the COVID-19 Pandemic is overwhelming and not every source offers valuable news or insight. Trusted health sources provide the most accurate information, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and PA's Department of Health.  Read full article

Humor as a Tool During COVID-19:  While many of the important messages regarding the COVID-19 crisis are delivered in a necessarily serious tone, sometimes you just need a little humor to get the point across to some of the people you support (and to maintain some of your sanity).  Read full  article

What are You Doing for Fun?  It is sobering to think about how things have changed over the past six weeks, and how much we may have taken for granted, in the past.  Read full article

Self-Care for Direct Support Professionals:  As this pandemic continues, there are some sentiments that bear repeating like taking time for self-care.  Read full article

TQEP Together at Home:  Looking for some at-home activities? The Transition Quality Empowerment Project will be hosting zoom hangout sessions focused on connecting young people with disabilities.  Read full article

The Role of DSPs During COVID-19:  During the COVID19 pandemic, the role of the Direct Support Professional (DSP) remains the same: to support individuals to maintain their health and safety while building skills that are meaningful to the individual.  Read full article

Using Social Stories:  Social Stories can be a valuable tool to help explain important information and teach skills related to COVID-19 to individuals you support.  Read full article

Support and Resources for Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault Available:  Resources and assistance are available to victims and survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence during COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Read full article

Ideas for Skill Building Today: Now that people are starting to grow somewhat accustomed to the shelter-in-place orders and social isolation, there might be some stagnation that is setting in as you try to work with the individual’s you support.  Read full article 

Hiring DSPs:  With so many people displaced from their careers and a continuing Direct Support Professional (DSP) shortage, there may new opportunities to recruit to fill vital positions in your agency.  Read full article

Experiencing Media Overload?  It is easy to become overwhelmed with all of the information that is flooding through news and social media outlets.  Read full article

Communicating Important Information:  Some supporters are struggling to communicate the necessary information to the individuals they support right now who may have communication or cognitive differences.  Read full article

Priority Skills Right Now:  As we struggle to maintain the balance between health and safety and maintaining skills, supporters and individuals may be struggling to determine priorities.  Read full article

Your Voice in Harrisburg 

The Arc of Pennsylvania is OPEN and staff are working remotely.  If you need to reach us, contact our phone number at 717.234-2621 or send us an email.

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: Meetings with Legislators, Stakeholder COVID-19 Meeting, PA Developmental Disabilities/Policy Information Exchange, Coalition for Inclusive Community, Disability Integration Task Force, PA Disability Weekly Conference Call, PA Schools Work Mobilization Committee, State Chapter Executives Call, and various meetings with local chapters & executives.   

Katie Yost, Director of Government & Chapter Relations:  Various meetings with the PA House and Senate, PA Developmental Disabilities/Policy Information Exchange, Coalition for Inclusive Community, Disability Integration Task Force, State Right to Education Task Force, Arc Advocacy Day & PA Schools Work Mobilization Committee.
To view archived copies of In Touch:
Copyright © 2020 The Arc of Pennsylvania, All rights reserved.
The Arc of Pennsylvania
1007 Mumma Drive, Suite 100
Lemoyne, PA 17043
717.234.2621 | 1-800-692-7258
unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp
The Arc of Pennsylvania 
Serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
Sherri Landis, Executive Director
Shirley Keith Knox, LSW, Communications Director, Editor