LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, December 18, 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

Announcing Our COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Hub

We have heard interest from the Lutheran Services in America network in peer guidance & resources on developing COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Communication plans for your organizations.    In response, Lutheran Services in America has created a COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Hub which will be updated daily with the latest resources including: 

 Please email if your leadership would be interested in a peer forum to discuss current strategies or recommend additional resources.

Provider Relief Fund: HHS Begins Distributing Over $24 Billion Phase 3 Funding

On December 16th the Health Resources and Services Administration announced that it has completed review of Phase 3 applications from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) program and will distribute $24.5 billion to over 70,000 providers. Up from the $20 billion originally planned, the addition of another $4.5 billion in funding is being used to satisfy close to 90 percent of each applicant’s reported lost revenues and net change in expenses caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the first half of 2020. Payment distribution begins immediately and continue through January, 2021.   According the its press release: “HHS is providing more than $24 billion in new relief to more than 70,000 healthcare providers, meeting close to 90 percent of the losses they’ve reported from the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of the year,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “With the Provider Relief Fund, we’ve been able to support providers hardest hit by COVID-19, including safety net hospitals, rural providers, and nursing homes, helping ensure they can continue serving their communities during and beyond the pandemic.”

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.

Advocacy Update

Congress reportedly is on the brink of enacting COVID-19 relief provisions

Congressional leadership say that they are very close to reaching agreement on a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package.  While bill language has yet to be released, the package reportedly contains $600 stimulus checks, $300-per-week supplemental unemployment, and vaccination allocation funding.  The bill will not include state and local funding or coronavirus related liability protection.  Leadership intends to include these provisions in the must-pass $1.4 trillion omnibus bill to fund the federal government through September 2021, which Congress must pass to avoid a government shut-down at the end of today.  Congress may keep working into the weekend and early next week with a short term funding extension to get the legislation done before adjournment for the year.  In the bill as outlined, $300 billion is being added to the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses and nonprofits with 300 or fewer employees and which have sustained a 30% revenue loss in any 2020 quarter for a second draw of funds.  $35 billion is being added for the Provider Relief Fund with an additional $2 billion for providers of home and community based services and other long term care services. We at Lutheran Services in America will continue our aggressive call for additional Congressional legislation to support our members’ business and continuity now and into next year when the new Congress convenes, and will update you on our advocacy and how you can take action.

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.


First coronavirus vaccines roll out as officials share months-long timeline for immunization effort

The first vials of the coronavirus vaccine were shipped Sunday, paving the way for inoculations to begin across the country this week.

Nearly 3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are being shipped out over several days, with the first wave of shipments set to arrive at 145 facilities Monday, marking the beginning of a massive logistical effort to stop the rampant spread of the virus, which has so far killed more than 298,000 Americans. The vaccine will arrive at nearly 500 additional sites on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But even as state officials scrambled to distribute the first doses, they criticized the federal government for a lack of transparency and limited financial help, warning that both could hamper efforts to quickly vaccinate the most vulnerable populations, including health-care workers and the elderly.

More from The Washington Post

‘It’s peace of mind’: Covid-19 vaccines can’t arrive soon enough for many frontline health workers

Now that the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been cleared for emergency use, frontline health care workers across the U.S. are days away from being offered the shots. They couldn’t be arriving at a more crucial moment, with Covid-19 cases at their highest level since the pandemic began a year ago and many hospitals overwhelmed.

With a second vaccine, Moderna’s, expected to be approved shortly, government officials have projected that 20 million people will be inoculated by the end of December, with health care workers and residents of long term care facilities first in line.

STAT spoke to health care workers — nurses, doctors, and a paramedic, in Covid hot spots around the nation — who will be among those first to be offered the new vaccines.

More from STAT

‘How The Pandemic Has Altered The Lives Of Children With Disabilities

Over the summer, Sherri Brady sent out messages to fellow parents of children with disabilities asking for help getting the word out about a virtual picnic she was organizing.

The answers she received back made it clear the families needed more than an online get-together.

Pandemic life had become overwhelming stressful, they told Brady, the Southern California representative for the Rett Syndrome Foundation. The parents were having a hard time keeping it together — supervising their kids’ online school and therapies, dealing with meltdowns, struggling with financial problems from lost employment, worrying about their medically fragile kids falling ill, and mourning the loss of social activities and the outlet they provided.

More from Disability Scoop

Congress scrambles to finalize Covid relief, avoid shutdown as deadline draws near

Congress tried to put the finishing touches on a coronavirus relief deal Thursday as Washington drew closer to letting the government shut down and allowing millions to lose unemployment benefits.

Leaders on Capitol Hill say they have come close to an agreement on sending $900 billion in aid to Americans. Lawmakers have run short on time to pass a government funding and pandemic rescue package before federal funding lapses at 12:01 a.m. ET on Saturday.

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said a “bipartisan, bicameral agreement appears to be close at hand.” He noted it was “highly likely” Congress would work through the weekend, and said lawmakers may have to pass a short-term funding measure to buy enough time to approve legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also said Democrats were moving closer to a consensus Thursday. She told reporters that “we made some progress this morning” and “are waiting to hear back.”

More from CNBC News


Idahoans with disabilities raise legal concerns about plans for upcoming legislative session

An array of groups representing Idahoans with disabilities has sent an 11-page letter to the governor, legislative leadership, the Idaho State Police and more raising legal and safety concerns about plans for the upcoming Jan. 11 legislative session.

The Idaho Council on Development Disabilities and 30 other organizations signed on to the letter, which says people with disabilities want to participate in the legislative session, but can’t do so safely without proper COVID-19 protocols and measures to deal with armed “uncontrolled angry mobs.”

“Anti-mask and anti-social distancing activism in the Capitol building, including the kind we saw in Idaho during the August 2020 special legislative session, is not a simple political statement or contest for political influence. It is a life-threatening activity for those people with developmental disabilities who need a COVID-19 safe atmosphere to have their voice heard during the public policy decision making process,” said Christine Pisani, executive director of the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities.

More from Idaho Press-Tribune

Governor DeWine appoints new members to statewide disabilities council

Governor DeWine appointed five new members to the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (Ohio DD Council).

The Ohio DD Council is the state’s disability advocacy agency, and it works to create change that improves independence, productivity, and inclusion in community life for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

The new appointees from across Ohio fill open self-advocate and family members positions on Council. They include:

  • William Ackman of Upper Arlington (Franklin County)
  • Courtney Hineman of Hamilton (Butler County)
  • Debbie Lozano of Mentor (Lake County)
  • Amanda Via of Pleasant Hill (Miami County)
  • Brian Vieth of Cincinnati (Hamilton County)

More from Dayton 24/7 Now

Agreement reached in North Dakota giving adults with disabilities more options to stay in their homes

The U.S. Attorney’s Office here has revealed a “first of its kind” settlement agreement with the state of North Dakota that it said will give adults with disabilities more support to allow them to remain in their homes.

The agreement, announced Monday, Dec. 14, in conjunction with the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., resolves complaints alleging that North Dakota violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by unnecessarily institutionalizing people with disabilities in nursing facilities instead of providing them the services they need to live in the community.

U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley for the District of North Dakota called it “the most important civil rights action in North Dakota in the last three or four decades.” More from Grand Forks Herald

Arizona made a revolutionary system to protect people with developmental disabilities. Now it’s falling apart.

More than 40 years ago, Arizona set up a revolutionary system to protect the safety of residents with developmental disabilities like Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy.

The state created panels of volunteers — family members, nurses, disability advocates — in different regions to oversee the agency charged with the care of those with developmental disabilities.

The volunteers visited group homes, advocated for new programs and reviewed reports of possible abuse. They helped Arizona earn its reputation as one of the best states in the country for the care of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

But today, the Independent Oversight Committees are falling apart, with members accusing the state Division of Developmental Disabilities, or DDD, of neglecting to provide the information and resources they need to do their job, according to interviews, official documents and a review of confidential incident reports by the Arizona Daily Star and ProPublica.

More from Arizona Daily Sun

In New Jersey: State May Require Cameras In Group Homes

William Cray was found dead on the floor of his bedroom closet in a group home in Somers Point three years ago.

His mother said she’ll never know what happened to her son, a 33-year-old man with developmental disabilities. The autopsy said he died of natural causes. The operators of the state-licensed group home, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, didn’t say much, although she had been at odds with them in recent months over Billy’s unexplained bruises and other injuries.

Martha Cray asked a New Jersey Assembly panel last week to spare other families this fear and uncertainty by supporting legislation that would require the installation of security cameras if residents or their guardians give consent. She noted her son had suffered abuse in other licensed facilities, and when she complained and demanded an investigation, the claims were always “unsubstantiated.”

More from Disability Scoop

Research & Reports

COVID-19 Risk Varies Among Those With IDD, Study Finds

People with developmental disabilities face a greater chance of dying from COVID-19 as compared to others, but new research suggests that the risk is not shared equally among this population.

The virus is impacting people with developmental disabilities differently, largely depending on where they live, according to a study out this month in the Disability and Health Journal.

Researchers analyzed data on COVID-19 outcomes for people receiving developmental disabilities services in California between May and early October and compared their experiences to others in the state, which is the nation’s most populous.

More from Disability Scoop

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

As Hospitals Fear Being Overwhelmed By COVID-19, Do The Disabled Get The Same Access?

On the morning of April 21, Sarah McSweeney woke up with a temperature of 103 degrees — and it kept rising. Staff at her group home worried that the woman with multiple disabilities — she couldn't walk or speak words — had contracted COVID-19. They got her into her bright pink wheelchair and hurried to the hospital, just a block down the street from the group home in Oregon City, Ore.

That afternoon, Heidi Barnett got a phone call from the doctor in the emergency room.

He was puzzled, she says, by a one-page document that McSweeney's caregivers brought with her. It was a legal document that explained what medical care this disabled woman — who couldn't speak for herself — wanted.

"We had her at full code. So all treatment. Because she was young and vibrant and had a great life," says Barnett. "And that was her wishes, that's what we gathered from her. She wanted to be alive."

More from NPR

3 Reasons To Hire More Individuals With Disabilities In 2021

This year, challenging as it has been, has afforded individuals with disabilities the opportunity to celebrate several major milestones: July marked 30 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law and October was the 75th anniversary of Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Unfortunately, against this backdrop of historical success, data from the National Organization on Disability indicates that nearly 1 million people with disabilities lost their jobs between the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and July 2020. Historically, individuals with disabilities are one of the first groups to be laid off or have their hours cut, and this year many were compelled to stop working due to the various health risks posed by the virus. 

The pandemic has touched the lives of all Americans, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 in 5 workers with disabilities lost employment, compared with 1 in 7 workers in the general population. 

More from Forbes

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2021 Winter Meeting (virtual)
1-5 p.m. EST each day
February 3 and 4, 2021


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

Myra Griffie
Interim DN Treasurer
Chief Operating Officer, Lutheran Services Carolinas

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