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May 13, 2021
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The Arc of Pennsylvania’s
2021 Advocacy Policy Conference
June 7th and June 8th, 2021

Check out the website for the most up to date agenda.
This is a NO COST event, however, donations are greatly appreciated!
Vaccine Partnership With Rite Aid/Call Center

The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) has partnered with Rite Aid to provide COVID-19 vaccines to individuals with an intellectual disability or autism and their caregivers at Rite Aid stores across the Commonwealth.  There is also a call center to support scheduling efforts.   
Supports Coordinators will be contacting individuals and their caregivers who may have been unable to take advantage of prior clinic opportunities, who were still evaluating whether they wanted to get vaccinated, or previously said they did not want to be vaccinated to check if they may have changed their mind.
Registration for vaccination appointments is easy. 
Call the call center at 1-800-424-4345 and answer some brief intake questions. The hours of operation are 7 AM to 7 PM, Monday through Friday. The call center will provide representatives from Rite Aid with the individual’s information and Rite Aid will call them directly to schedule vaccination appointments.
If you have any questions about this process, please reach out to your Supports Coordinator.

More information HERE.  
Stay Informed


Pennsylvania News

Message from New DHS Secretary
My name is Meg Snead, and I am excited and honored to now serve as Acting Secretary for the Department of Human Services. I come to DHS after serving as Governor Wolf’s Secretary of Policy and Planning, but I am not new to the human services world or DHS specifically. Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, I started my commonwealth service in DHS’ policy office working on Medicaid, mental health, and substance use policy. Prior to moving home to Pennsylvania, I spent 12 years working in the nonprofit industry in Colorado on affordable housing, homelessness services, and health care policy.  
I’m very excited to be back in the agency environment, and it’s an incredible privilege to be back and leading an agency for which I care so deeply. I consider myself an advocate at heart, and the work done at DHS allows me to advocate for Pennsylvanians every day, be it through direct aid and assistance or through the quality of services and care we expect in programs and facilities we oversee. Millions of people across Pennsylvania turn to DHS through difficult times or rely on our programs or services. 
I’m coming into this role at an important time for Pennsylvania and for the goals DHS has worked towards since Governor Wolf took office. This is a time to fortify the work and accomplishments of the last six years so this work can continue well beyond the Governor’s tenure. Pennsylvania’s recovery from this pandemic is something that DHS will play an active role in, and I am to use this time to help the people we serve in a way that can put them on a long-term path to better health, economic stability, and an overall improved quality of life.
Additional funding from the American Rescue Plan Act presents a number of opportunities to help continue  collective recovery from this pandemic. Over the coming months DHS will provide hundreds of millions of dollars directly for people who are struggling to pay rent or utilities as a result of the pandemic. The Rescue Act also gives us the incredible opportunity to extend the Medicaid coverage period for new moms – something that can help us fight maternal mortality rates that disproportionately affect lower income women and women of color. And DHS will be able to continue support for essential industries that have been so challenged by this pandemic. 
As our state and country begins to overcome this pandemic and help Pennsylvania emerge from the economic hardships, DHS will play a critical role in helping steer a recovery that prioritizes vulnerable individuals and families and affords the affiliated providers with the ability to emerge stronger. I know that I am assuming this role through a difficult period, but this has done incredible work in the last year to respond to the everchanging needs of this pandemic. 
Joining me at DHS will be Andrew Barnes, who assumes the role of Executive Deputy Secretary. Andrew has been serving as the Executive Deputy Secretary in the Governor’s Policy Office since I assumed the role in 2019. Andrew comes to the position with more than 15 years of experience in the commonwealth. He previously worked in the Office of the Victim Advocate overseeing victim services and working to ensure victims’ rights are upheld and recognized through the justice process. Andrew also led policy and legislative affairs work in the Department of Corrections, working internally and in collaboration with other agencies and governing bodies to advance Pennsylvania’s justice system. 
I’d like to thank Teresa Miller and Clarke Madden for their service to DHS and the commonwealth. They’ve done amazing work leading this agency over the last few years, and I’m excited to build on their success and continue working to help Pennsylvanians lead healthier, more enriching lives. 

2021-2022 State Right to Education Task Force Meeting Dates Announced
Zoomlink for all meetings: --- Time for all meetings 10 AM to 12 PM

  • Wednesday, September 22, 2021
  • Wednesday, November 3, 2021
  • Wednesday, January 12, 2022 
  • Wednesday, March 16, 2022
  • Wednesday, May 11, 2021
The Arc of Indiana County's Spirit of Food Program Coming Soon!
The Arc of Indiana County is excited to announce the upcoming launch of their Spirit of Food program, which seeks to promote community inclusion and combat social isolation and food disparity for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Indiana and Armstrong Counties! Stay tuned for more details and an interview with Michelle Jordan, The Arc of Indiana County’s Executive Director to be posted on The Arc of PA’s social media in June!

Legislative Updates (From Katie Yost) 
  • Representative Patrick Harkin’s House Bill 365, which would remove derogatory language from the PA School Code, passed out of the Senate Education Committee. It is now eligible to be brought before the Senate for a vote.
  • Representatives Brian Sims and Jessica Benham have introduced House Bill 1335, which would require schools teach age-appropriate, medically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education. This legislation does require the curriculum to be made available to individuals at all comprehension levels to ensure students with intellectual and developmental disabilities are able to participate in the curriculum. It has been referred to the House Education committee.
  • Senator Bob Mensch’s Senate Bill 156, which would expand the Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities program, passed out of the Senate unanimously on May 11th. It will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
  • Senator Jake Corman has introduced Senate Bill 664, which would allow students with IDD set to graduate at the end of the 2020-2021 school year the option to access an additional year of school during the 2021-2022 and would give parents of students K-12 the ability to request their child repeat a grade level due to education regression during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration.

PA Office of Developmental Programs


20-101 UPDATE: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Temporary Closure of Adult Daily Living Centers, Structured Day Habilitation, and Licensed Facilities Where CPS is Provided Due to Community Spread or When Staff or Individuals are Diagnosed with COVID-19

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

21-038: Incident Management Bulletin Training Now Posted on MyODP

21-037: 2019-2020 Independent Monitoring for Quality (IM4Q) Provider Reports and Profiles Update

Ready for the Everyday Lives 2021 Virtual Conference? 

Thresholds for Community Spread Report Ending May 7, 2021

Wolf Administration and Rite Aid Partner to Ease COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling for People with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism

Autism & The Courts: Western Regional Panel

Rite Aid Store Clinics ID/DD/Autism

New MyODP Podcast: More Choice Equals More Happiness, Right? 
Take Action & "Learn More"


Take Action Now

Our Moment, Our Mission: It’s Time to Create a Groundswell of Action in Support of Community Living - For years, the service system that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families rely on, Medicaid, has needed an update. People are stuck on waiting lists for home and community-based services (HCBS), the direct care workforce is underpaid, and too often, unpaid family caregivers are filling in the gaps in service. The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the cracks and gaps in our nation's care infrastructure. It's time to face this long-standing problem head-on and act to create lasting, meaningful change.  Learn more about HCBS, and then tell Congress to support the Administration's historic proposed investment in disability services as part of our COVID-19 economic recovery.  
Still Miles to Go Before We Rest  - May 17th, a virtual rally at noon celebrating the anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education. Please invite fellow advocates and friends to support equity in education!  Register here via zoom now: 

PASW Work Summit: Seeking A New Normal - May 22, 2021 at 10 AM. Join this interactive virtual event to hear from education experts about equity in education, how we are working together to get underfunded districts more funding and why we need state education funding to offset education costs. Stay to meet new and seasoned advocates from across the region and learn effective advocacy techniques to push lawmakers for change.  Please register for the event here.
For Families
Family Newsletters:  Family-friendly early learning newsletters with info and resources for families and early childhood education partners.
Apply for Free Access to Special Education Advocacy Curriculum - In partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal, The Arc is providing scholarships for eligible families of color and low-income households who reside in Comcast regions to receive free online access to The Arc@School's Special Education Advocacy Curriculum (normally a $99 value). The scholarship application process is easy and only takes a few minutes to complete. Apply now to start learning how to navigate the special education system!
New Information/Research

State of Babies Yearbook: 2021 The state in which a child is born and lives during their first three years makes a big difference in their chance for a strong start in life. The State of Babies Yearbook bridges the gap between science and policy with national and state-by-state data on the well-being of America’s babies. The 2021 edition of the Yearbook provides an in-depth look into the experience of our nation’s babies and their families and, importantly, substantial disparities and inequities in their experience when examined by race/ethnicity, income, and geographic setting. See how your state stacks here.

JAN ENews:  The latest JAN ENews is now available HERE.   ENews topics include:  1. ADA and Accommodation Lessons Learned: COVID-19 Edition  2. Get A Grip! DIY & Practical Solutions for Gripping and Grasping  3. Sighted Assistance in the Age of Social Distancing  4. Supporting Employees with Mental Health and Cognitive Conditions while Teleworking  5. Announcements  6. From the JAN Blog  7. E-vents.    

LEARN MORE (From the Office of Developmental Programs)

The new edition of Communications Corner for May 2021 is now available! This month's edition focuses on Communication Temptations.  Read full article

Employment Track Schedule Released - The full schedule, including the previously unannounced Employment Track, for the Everyday Lives 2021 Virtual Conference is now available. Read full article

Wolf Administration and Rite Aid Partner to Ease COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling for People with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism - Governor Tom Wolf today announced a partnership with Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid Pharmacy to ease access to COVID-19 vaccinations for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Read full article

DHS We Can Work Campaign - Earlier this month, the Department of Human Services launched the We Can Work campaign – an effort to educate the public about employment support and opportunities for people with disabilities and how DHS’ programs can help facilitate job connections and training programs.
Read full article

More Choice Equals More Happiness, Right? - Autonomy and self-determination are important for anyone to feel in control of their life. As supporters, we tend to think about ways we can help create a "choice rich" life for someone. But does having more choice and making all your decisions make you happier?  MyODP Podcast page to Listen!

Updated CDC Guidance: Choosing Safer Activities - As more and more people are getting vaccinated the CDC has recently updated their guidance for Choosing Safer Activities.  Read full article

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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