LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, June 26, 2020


The Lutheran Services in America "Strength & Service Series"

Lutheran Services in America is taking full and active advantage of the virtual space to help our member organizations nationwide stay in the know on new and evolving practices and resources — curating a broad lineup of topics and subject matter expertise. This month we are pleased to launch our continuing virtual program, the Strength & Service Series. Strength & Service is an ongoing, interactive, virtual gathering of the best minds in our space, laser-focused on examining and tackling the unintended consequences and uncertainties in today’s climate — all with the goal of helping move your organization forward.

By drawing on the expertise of external influencers and our member organizations’ own vital lessons learned, we’re able to share tailored content and facilitate deeper connections to help meet your unique needs during this historic moment. The combination of our broad array of providers and central thought leaders in our space will make for truly symbiotic, interactive dialogue in a safe and trusting space — exactly when we all need it the most. We view these timely virtual convenings as critical to your organizations, to the many people you serve and to the future of Lutheran social ministry in America as a whole.

Upcoming Series Webinars

Advocacy Update

Lutheran Services in America Asks Federal Reserve to Help Nonprofits Through Forgivable “Main Street Lending Program” Loans

Lutheran Services in America submitted comments on June 19 to the Federal Reserve Board, thanking them for their much-needed proposal to include nonprofits as eligible participants in the Main Street Lending Program, but urging them to support additional crucial changes to the program, including making these loans forgivable for nonprofit health and human service organizations, including larger nonprofits. Expanding the Main Street Lending Program to include nonprofits of all sizes is especially important given that the separate Paycheck Protection Program currently does not provide funding for nonprofits with more than 500 employees.

Lutheran Services in America Urges CMS to Deny Oklahoma’s Medicaid Waiver Request

Lutheran Services in America yesterday submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services opposing Oklahoma’s Medicaid waiver proposal currently pending approval. Oklahoma’s proposed project includes work requirements, premiums, a per capita cap, and other harmful provisions that would reduce coverage and access to care, particularly for people with disabilities. The per capita cap specifically relates to the “Healthy Adult Opportunity” proposal announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in January to allow such new waiver requests, which we strongly opposed given the potential to remove coverage from vulnerable people.

Child Care is Essential Act

Representatives and Senators have introduced companion legislation, the Child Care is Essential Act (H.R.7027/S.3874), calling for providing $50B in appropriations for the Child Care Stabilization Fund to be awarded via grants to child care providers during and after the COVID-19 public health emergency. Child care providers that are temporarily closed or currently open would be eligible for the grants, which would be based on providers’ operating costs pre-COVID-19 and adjusted to reflect increased costs due to the pandemic.

Coronavirus Resources

Lutheran Services in America has compiled a list of COVID-19 news and resources that is regularly updated. In particular, we are tracking philanthropic and federal funding opportunities and requirements for our members and compiling a list of upcoming webinars, meetings, and events. Be sure to check out these pages and feel free to reach out to or with any related questions you have.


Ed Department Issues New Guidance On Special Education During Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Education is offering up details about how states and schools can address special education disputes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal agency issued two question-and-answer documents Monday — one outlining considerations for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act dispute resolution procedures for services for kids ages 3 to 21 and another for younger children.

The guidance comes in response to inquiries about how procedures should be handled in the COVID-19 environment, the Education Department said.

More from Disability Scoop

Workers With Disabilities Disproportionately Impacted by Covid-19 Pandemic

As Covid-19 began spreading throughout the United States in early March, Christopher Brennan found himself out of not one, but two jobs. 

Brennan, 25, has intellectual disabilities, and had been working both part-time as a landscaper and as an employee at a rock climbing gym in Richmond, Virginia. Once the pandemic began, the gym closed, and continuing to landscape among numerous other people seemed too risky - his mother, who he lives with, is immunocompromised with multiple sclerosis. For many, working two jobs can be challenging. For Brennan, finding himself unemployed has proven far more difficult. 

More from Forbes

A young black autistic man was sentenced to 50 years for a car crash. Tens of thousands of people are now calling for his freedom.

On the day he received a 50-year prison sentence, Matthew Rushin called his mom and asked for a favor more fitting of a teenager away at college than a condemned man.

“Can you please order Thanksgiving dinner for all of us? There are 12 of us in here,” Lavern Rushin recalls him requesting on behalf of his cellblock. At the time, Thanksgiving was a few weeks away. “After I got off the phone with him, I just said, ‘Oh my God, he doesn’t realize what just happened.’ ”

What had just happened was a judge decided that the young black autistic man wasn’t only going to miss one holiday with his family. He was going to miss a decade of them.

More from The Washington Post


Lyft Settles Disability Discrimination Claims in California

Lyft Inc. has agreed to settle allegations that it violated federal law when some of its drivers refused to give rides to people using folding walkers or collapsible wheelchairs in the Los Angeles area, the U.S. attorney's office announced Monday.

The investigation was launched after a man who uses a collapsible wheelchair filed at least 12 complaints that he was rudely treated or denied lifts, and a veteran who lost both legs in combat alleged that he was denied a ride because he had a collapsible wheelchair, according to a U.S. attorney's office statement.

More from The New York Times

Some special needs students were left out of N.J. high school's yearbook. School cites legal reasons.

Glenda DeFabio did what all students do when they get their yearbooks: She flipped through the pages to find her picture.

But it wasn’t there.

DeFabio’s mother then began to look for some of the other students in the school’s LLD program, a special education program for students with learning and language disabilities, but couldn’t find them.

More from

Research & Reports

Autism Severity Can Evolve Markedly During Childhood

It’s long been thought that autism severity remained largely static over a person’s lifetime, but new research suggests otherwise.

study looking at 125 kids on the spectrum finds that nearly half displayed a significant change in the level of their symptoms between the ages of 3 and 6.

“We found that nearly 30 percent of young children have less severe autism symptoms at age 6 than they did at age 3. In some cases, children lost their autism diagnoses entirely,” said David Amaral, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of California, Davis and senior author of the study published recently in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. “It is also true that some children appear to get worse.”

More from Disability Scoop

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

'I only like mom school': Why my autistic son thrived during the pandemic school closures

I feel almost guilty saying this out loud.

My autistic second grader thrived during remote learning. In the past three months at home, he’s moved up several reading levels, improved his writing stamina and conquered fractions. In a virtual session in April, his doctor couldn’t believe he was the same child she’d been seeing in her office. “Do you have to send him back to school?” she asked. More from The Washington Post

Lutheran Services in America's Front Line Heroes

Each day, Lutheran Services in America posts a story about heroes working on the front lines. Those posts are meant to celebrate the extraordinary work of Lutheran social ministries, and elevate the commitment to serving communities throughout crises. Read front line hero stories here.

To submit stories front line hero stories, email Caitlyn Gudmudsen at

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2020 Summer Meeting
August 5-6, 2020
Agenda for what will be our virtual summer meeting due to COVID-19 concerns to be shared shortly

LSA-DN 2021 Winter Meeting
February 24-26, 2021
Details TBD


For more information on our topic specific work groups, please email Jen Beltz at

  • Policy & Advocacy Team
  • Culture and Engagement Workgroup
  • Administrative Cost Survey Working Group

Keep in Touch

Lisa Morgan
DN Convener
Chief Operating Officer, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia

Rita Wiersma
DN Treasurer
Chief Executive Officer, Accord

Jen Beltz 
VP, External Affairs, Lutheran Services in America