LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, December 4, 2020


CEO Summit Series to Tackle Workforce Challenges in Two-part Seminar January 19 & 26

CEO Summit Series: 2020–2021 continues January 19 and 26 with an examination of one of our field’s most pressing concerns: the state of our workforce. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Carolyn Cawley will provide insights during our two-part “Workforce: Reimagining Your Most Trusted Assets” seminar about exploring the critical steps CEOs should take now to meet current and future workforce needs, the workforce patterns that are emerging and lessons learned for CEOs in times of extreme global stress, and innovative ways to invest resources based on changing workforce trends. Ms. Cawley will be joined by half a dozen of your peers with first-hand knowledge and experience on how to transform your workforce. Then on February 23, we conclude this year’s series with a thought-provoking look ahead at the post-pandemic landscape and the realities and opportunities that await. Renowned corporate strategist David Morey returns alongside Advocate Aurora Health president and CEO Jim Skogsbergh for “Looking Forward: Post-pandemic Realities and Opportunities” to review which market forces are here to stay, which innovations we need to adopt, and how adaptations made during disruption can be sustained. Register here for this timely series today!

Free Online Consumer CV19 CheckUp

CV19 CheckUp is an online system developed to help Americans be safer, healthier, and ensure their individual needs are met during the pandemic. CV19 CheckUp asks users to complete an easy, quick, confidential questionnaire. A personalized report is immediately provided, outlining the user’s level of risk and offering recommendations and resources to reduce those risks. CV19 CheckUp employs artificial intelligence and data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Share it with your consumers and residents at

Honoring Our Front Line Heroes

Lutheran Services in America is proud to honor the incredibly brave front line workers serving during this historic time in our national network. This week we are launching a new digital booklet that offers every inspiring entry to date in our Front Line Heroes series. Our Summer 2020 issue highlights the courageous efforts of our members dating back to March, and is just the first collection in what will be a continuing campaign to lift up the impact our members are making on their communities across the country. You can find the summer issue and an overview video on our new Front Line Heroes page. Please feel free to share these resources on your own social media pages, and to email Chris Findlay ( with stories from your organization you would like to see included in our upcoming issues.

CMS Announces $165 million in New Funding for Money Follows the Person Demonstration Programs

On September 23rd the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the availability of up to $165 million in supplemental funding to states currently operating Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration programs. This funding is being provided to help state Medicaid programs jump-start efforts to transition individuals with disabilities and older adults from institutions and nursing facilities to home and community-based settings of their choosing.

According to CMS, this action delivers on the Administration’s commitment to transform Medicaid by fostering increased state flexibility and innovation and to ensure safety and quality for beneficiaries.

Advocacy Update

Growing momentum in Congress for passage of COVID-19 relief

A number of important members of Congress are pushing for a COVID-19 relief package in the wake of a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths, signs of a weakening economy, and President-elect Joe Biden calling for action now.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged that House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer offered a new relief proposal on Monday night but details of the package have not been released.  McConnell and Pelosi resumed talks on Thursday on how to reach a compromise.  Earlier in the week a bipartisan group of senators introduced a $908 billion relief package with spending that falls between the $2.2 trillion House and $500-600 billion Senate bills passed in the weeks leading up to the November 3rd election.  Mr. Biden is urging its passage, and Pelosi and Schumer are signaling that the measure could be a starting point for negotiations.  The legislation contains more modest unemployment benefits and state and local, school and other funding than the House has supported but more generous than the Senate would likely pass.  It is unclear how the package would address further relief under the Paycheck Protection Program.   Meanwhile, the December 11th deadline looms for Congress to fund the federal government or face a shutdown.  While unlikely, since it would complicate the must-pass spending measure, McConnell suggested on Tuesday that COVID-19 relief provisions could be part of the measure to keep the government open.

Today, we ask you to join us in an URGENT FINAL PUSH to send a message to your lawmakers: don't adjourn without passing legislation that includes significant, urgently needed financial relief for nonprofits. Click here for our NEW call to action to tell your members of Congress that you need relief now.

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.


CDC panel says health workers, long-term care residents should get COVID-19 vaccine first

Health workers and residents of long-term care facilities should be at the front of the line to receive the first limited doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, a federal advisory panel formally recommended Tuesday. The specific recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) were expected, as the committee has been broadly supportive of giving this demographic access to the vaccine first during recent meetings. 

The recommendations passed by a vote of 13-1.

The recommendations for "phase 1a" will be sent to CDC Director Robert Redfield. If he approves, they will become official CDC guidance.

States don't necessarily have to follow the recommendations, but it gives them some guidance ahead of a Friday deadline to submit vaccination distribution plans to the federal government.

States also have significant leeway to come up with their own definitions, and even create separate sub-prioritization groups.

More from The Hill

Pandemic Helpline Launches For People With IDD, Caregivers

As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, a new 24-hour support line is working to help individuals with developmental disabilities and those who care for them cope during this tough time.

Known as Project Connect, the telehealth line is free and available anytime for people with disabilities, their families, caregivers and other members of their support teams across the nation.

Developed by The Arc of California and the Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare, the helpline launched just before Thanksgiving and is staffed by graduate students at the school who are supervised by licensed social workers. Callers can expect to receive support, guidance and referrals.

More from Disability Scoop

The PPE crisis didn’t go away: Across the U.S., grassroots supply networks are trying to fill the void

Christine Garcia was scrambling.

As the San Francisco regional director at an agency for children with mental health and behavioral issues, Garcia and her colleagues had seen the latest guidelines from local health agencies mandating the use of masks at facilities like theirs. It seemed like common sense, except for one thing.

“There were no masks to be had,” Garcia recalled.

The guidelines said that facilities like Garcia’s could request supplies from the city. Garcia was able to receive an initial batch of masks from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, but she knew her agency needed more, and the department said it had already provided what it could.

It took a stroke of luck to find more masks: A friend’s brother worked as a beauty product e-commerce entrepreneur, and used a manufacturer in China for some of his own supplies. In the spring, that manufacturer was abruptly contracted by the Chinese government to produce masks. So the entrepreneur brokered a deal between the  manufacturer and Garcia, and within a week, Garcia received 500 masks for her workplace.

More from STAT

Pelosi, Schumer say $908 billion economic relief package should be starting point for talks

The top Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday embraced a $908 billion coronavirus relief framework — a massive concession meant to prod President Trump and Senate Republicans into accepting a compromise as cases spike and the economic recovery shows signs of faltering ahead of the holiday.

And potentially building even more momentum behind the plan, at least one new Republican senator offered measured support for the idea.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that “we believe the bipartisan framework introduced by Senators yesterday should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations.”

Before Wednesday, Democratic and Republican leaders had squared off for months, insisting on bills that the other side wouldn’t accept. Wednesday’s announcement by Pelosi and Schumer appeared to be the first time that leaders from one party agreed to back a proposal that had substantial support of members of the other party.

More from The Washington Post


Minnesota disability services increasingly concerned about fate of organizations after pandemic due to lack of emergency relief from state

Nonprofit organizations supporting families with disabilities in Minnesota are growing increasingly concerned about whether they will be able to survive the pandemic, due to a lack of emergency relief from the state.

"I feel like our industry has been very much, I don't want to say ignored, but very much not considered as important and I'm not sure why," said Brenda Geldert, executive director of Options, Inc. in Big Lake.

Options, Inc. is a day training and habilitation program that serves 250 adults with disabilities in the greater Sherburne County area. The nonprofit provides employment support, social opportunities and community engagement.

"Our mission of helping people be a part of their greater community I feel is highly important," Geldert said. "But our revenue compared to last year is down 62% and we're predicting a deficit of $66,000 a month starting in January."


South Carolina: Disability advocates urge Gov. McMaster to take action during pandemic

Six disability advocacy groups have reached out to Gov. Henry McMaster urging him to enact protective measures as COVID-19 affects long-term care facilities across South Carolina.

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities Inc., the South Carolina Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network, Able South Carolina, AARP South Carolina and the YWCA Greater Charleston penned a letter outlining their requests for COVID-19 precautions.

“We urge the Governor’s Office to swiftly enact policies to safeguard the health and safety of residents within institutional settings,” the letter reads.

More from The Index-Journal

Senate President Steve Sweeney, Legislative Leaders and Advocates from the Disability Community Join Together to Launch Historic Bipartisan Disability Caucus in New Jersey Legislature

The New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities (NJCDD), the lead advocacy organization supporting the foundation of the New Jersey Legislative Disability Caucus, was proud to join Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, and other legislative leaders, as well as self-advocates from the state’s leading disability groups, to launch the historic bipartisan legislative caucus. The event took place on Livestream today and can be viewed in its entirety at

Approximately 25 percent of adults in New Jersey identify as having some type of disability. Despite progress after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 30 years ago, people with disabilities in New Jersey continue to seek opportunities to be included and represented in all aspects of life as an integral part of the fabric of our society.

More from Insider NJ

Research & Reports

Autism study suggests connection between repetitive behaviors, gut problems

In children with autism, repetitive behaviors and gastrointestinal problems may be connected, new research has found.

The study found that increased severity of other autism symptoms was also associated with more severe constipation, stomach pain and other gut difficulties.

The research, which appears in the journal Autism, found no association between social and communication difficulties and gastrointestinal symptoms.

The study doesn’t explain the biological mechanism for the relationship between repetitive behaviors, such as rocking back and forth and hand flapping, and gut problems. But it helps establish that gastrointestinal symptoms may exacerbate repetitive behaviors, or vice versa, a finding that could one day help lead to helpful interventions, said Payal Chakraborty, a graduate student in The Ohio State University College of Public Health who led the study.

More from Ohio State News

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

This Company Reinvented The Computer Mouse For Kids With Special Needs

Navigating on a computer with a traditional mouse never came easy for 8-year-old Isabelle Dapkus, who has developmental disabilities.

Isabelle struggles with fine motor skills, which affects her ability to use online materials for virtual learning, said her mother, Julia Dapkus.

However, after countless moments of frustration, Isabelle is now able to access her schoolwork and scroll through YouTube on her own, all thanks to a fidget mouse — a tactile, multi-sensory device that resembles a toy.

More from Disability Scoop

How People With Disabilities Help The Economy Grow And Thrive

People with disabilities have been underestimated repeatedly in school and in the workforce. We should never assume that someone might see his or her disability as a tragedy. Many people with great challenges have created, built, and found tremendous success in their lives.

When I became a certified teacher, three of the most important lessons I learned from my mentors were the following:

  • Labels limit
  • The importance of getting to know, see, and listen to all students
  • How to take content and connect it to every student’s life outside the classroom—this helps to drive emotion, and creates an opportunity for real learning

The three areas mentioned above must be addressed to help persons with disabilities thrive. 

More from Forbes

Leveraging The Power Of AI In Telehealth

As providers move toward increasing virtual care options across the care continuum, the use of AI in telehealth to enable physicians to make real-time, rich, data-driven decisions is a major factor in creating a better patient journey and better health outcomes. According to a study by MIT, 75% of healthcare institutions that implemented AI acknowledged an augmented ability to treat illnesses, and 4 in 5 said it proactively helped avert workplace burnout. With Covid-19 putting an increasing strain on both areas (volume of clinical information and associated patients and the increased workload for clinicians), AI in telehealth is a powerful approach for the future of care delivery.

I advise hospital executives on healthcare and health IT strategies, and the top two concerns I hear around AI are the perception that AI can replace physicians (it can't) and the complexity of utilizing consumer-generated data in preparation of either virtual or in-person visits (for example, data from smartwatches that gather blood pressure and heart rate information). One of the primary goals for effective patient care is preventing hospitalization and the associated healthcare costs, so proactive implementation of treatment options is top of mind.

More from Forbes

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2021 Winter Meeting (virtual)
Dates TBD


For more information on our topic specific work groups, please email Doug Walter at

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

Keep in Touch

Lisa Morgan
DN Convener
Chief Operating Officer, enCircle

Mary Mulliet
DN Treasurer
Vice President of Community Services, Samaritas

Doug Walter
Director of Policy and Advocacy, Disability Network, Lutheran Services in America