August 28, 2020
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Pennsylvania News

Governor Announces Fall Agenda
Governor Wolf announced his comprehensive fall agenda for worker and family protections as well as reforms that he will be pushing to enact throughout the summer and fall. The package will be the governor’s relief and reform agenda.  For more information read here

New COVID-19 Guidance from PDE 
The Pennsylvania Department of Education and Department of Health recently released new guidance for schools for determining instruction models in development of their health and safety reopening plans. 

$20 Million to Help Schools Provide Services to Students with Special Needs
Approximately $20 million made available to help 678 local education agencies, including school districts, to provide education services for students with disabilities who may have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 mitigation efforts and may face additional challenges through the new academic year.  See here for Grant recipients.  

Taskforce to Eliminate Health Disparities Issues Report
The COVID-19 Response Task Force for Health Disparity unveiled a report that offers over 50 policy recommendations to reduce disparities and improve social determinants of health.  Read the report here.

2020 PHARE Funding to Support Affordable Housing Across Pennsylvania  
214 housing and community development initiatives in 67 counties will share a portion of the total $45.79 million in PHARE funding. The PHARE fund, which is sometimes referred to as the state Housing Trust Fund, is managed by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.   A list of the proposals receiving PHARE funding is available at See the sixth bullet for “Funding Announcements.”

DHS Licensed Facilities COVID-19 Data​
The Department of  Human Services (DHS)is sharing data on cases of COVID-19 among staff and individuals in care at DHS-licensed residential programs and child care facilities.  Here for more information.

Legislative Updates (From Katie Yost) 
  • SB 10: President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati has introduced legislation that would amend voting regulations in Pennsylvania due to the impact of COVID-19 and the upcoming 2020 General Election. This legislation would:
    • codify the ability for counties to have drop boxes for mail-in and absentee ballots;
    • move the deadline for a mail-in/absentee ballot from 7 days prior to election to 15 days;
    • allow election officials to contact voters whose signature on mail-in ballots does not match their election records to ensure the vote is accurate;
    • allow county election officials to begin opening and processing mail-in/absentee ballots the Saturday prior to election; and
    • require counties start sending out mail-in ballots at least 28 days before Election Day.                                                                    
      • This bill has been referred to the Senate State Government committee.  
  • HB 2788: Representative Topper has introduced legislation that would allow parents to decide for their child to repeat a grade due to educational regression from the outbreak of COVID-19. It was amended in committee to also allow students with special education services, who aged out during COVID-19, to receive a year of compensatory education. It has been voted out of the House Education Committee favorably.
  • HB  2798: Representatives Dan Miller & Brandon Markosek have introduced legislation that would require the Department of Human Services to set rates for Direct Support Professionals who serve the Intellectual Disability and Autism community annually based on the national market consumer index. This would alter the current law which requires a three-year refresh of market-based data in order to adopt a fee schedule, but there is no requirement that the rates be changed. This bill has been referred to the House Human Services Committee.
  • SB 1254: Senator Judy Ward 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. It has companion legislation sponsored by Representative Mihalek, HB 2740. This bill has been referred to the Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee.

Office of Developmental Programs

Announcements  & Communications


Take Action & "Learn More" Opportunities

Action Alert
Tell Your Senators to Come Back to Washington and Pass a COVID-19 Relief Bill!

Money Talks a free webinar series on financial empowerment for people with disabilities

New Topic Covered in Each Webinar!
One Wednesday Every Month
1:00 – 1:45 p.m.
30 minutes of interactive learning, 15 minutes for questions

Learn More and Register

DHS/OCDEL Release Penn State Child Care Study The Department of Human Services (DHS) released a Penn State University study about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s child care industry. 

Black children’s autism diagnosis typically delayed 3 years:  Read the American Academy of Pediatrics study here.

Disability Rights PennsylvaniaVisit August Newsletter

Learn More...

100 Things to do While Stuck Inside Due to a Pandemic -  Read full article
#ASDNext Blogs - Read full article

PA Self-Advocate Bill Krebs Featured on PBS NewsHour - Read full article

More Mindfulness Resources for COVID-19 - 
Read full article
DHS Announces MMIS Platform Project Website is now Live - 
Read full article
CDC Guidance for Going Out - 
Read full article
COVID-19 Impact on the Neurodiverse Community - 
Read full article
COVID-19 Etiquette: Six Common Conundrums - 
Read full article
Maximizing Resources - 
Read full article

DSP Stories During COVID-19 - 
Read full article
Believe in Me: Insights of a Nonspeaking College-Bound Autistic StudentToday - 
Read full article

Job Accommodations During COVID-19 - Read full article

Mindfulness at Work - Read full article

Psychological PPE to Support DSPs - Read full article

Tips to Address Mask Use of Others in Public - 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 Disability Weekly Meeting, Coalition for Inclusive Community, Disability Integration Task Force, Information Sharing & Advisory Committee,  PIE Policy Call/PA Disabilities Planning Council, Technology 1st Coalition, PA Chapter Executives Meeting, Community Response Project, Secretary Boockvar Interview, SAGA Committee, 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, PIE Policy Call.
To view archived copies of In Touch:
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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