LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, February 26, 2021


Annual Membership Meeting & Award Ceremony

Lutheran Services in America will hold its Annual Membership Meeting and a NEW awards ceremony on March 24 from 3-3:45 p.m. EDT. Member CEOs will cast votes for two member CEOs for the Lutheran Services in America Board of Directors and approve the FY 2022 budget and dues schedule.

Winners of the first Lutheran Services in America annual awards will be announced at the Annual Membership Meeting:

  • The Innovator Award recognizes a member organization that is pioneering new solutions, technology or business practices to solve complex issues. This member is forward-thinking and extending beyond its own mission to strengthen the Lutheran social ministry network across the country. Ultimately, their breakthrough solutions are designed to lift up the nation’s most vulnerable people and help ensure that all Americans can live abundant lives.
  • The Micah Award recognizes a member organization that is leading the way in its work in addressing justice, mercy and equity. This member’s leadership in race equity, inclusion and diversity is truly inspirational and best exemplifies the spirit of Micah 6:8, “Act justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

Register here to attend and to submit your award entries for your own organization or a peer Lutheran social ministry organization by completing a short Nomination Form by March 12, 2021.

Strength & Service Series

March 10: 1-2pm EST - Reading the Tea Leaves — Fortune-telling an Uncertain Future for Senior Services

The senior services landscape is rapidly shifting. Changes to federal and state funding and regulations, priorities for health insurance companies, new clinical care needs, low skilled nursing occupancy rates, and preferences for home care are just some of the forces causing providers to rethink their overall structure and delivery models. Join us as Andy Edeburn, Principal with Premier, Inc. gives an overview of current market trends and offers methods for thinking about the future. Register here.

Mar. 25: 1-2pm EDT – COVID-19 and Poverty in the US The COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to vast income disparities that exist in our country. Health and human service organizations across the U.S. are seeing increased demand for services as they care for vulnerable populations reeling from the spread of the virus and economic crisis. Please join us for this presentation from The University of Notre Dame Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO), who will share results from their groundbreaking study assessing the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in the U.S. and how they can support your programs to address poverty at the local level. Register here.

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

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 we are continuously updating.  Here are recent resources regarding the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines: 

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

Paycheck Protection Program Continues in 2021 with New Application Forms and Revised Eligibility Criteria

On Monday, January 11, the Small Business Administration (SBA) reopened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal for new loans available under the terms of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020.  Loan applications will be accepted until March 31, 2021.

Community financial institutions, which include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), and Microloan Intermediaries, are now processing applications for entities seeking their first PPP loans (“first draw” loans), and second round loans (“second draw” loans) for entities that have already received and used up initial PPP loans.  Other eligible lenders and borrowers will be able to process and apply for loans shortly. 

First draw loans continue to be available only to entities with 500 or fewer employees, while second draw loans are available only to employers with 300 or fewer employees who can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020, among other criteria. 

For more information on this and other funding opportunities, please consult our continually updated webpage on federal relief funding. 

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. We proudly offer digital booklets to recognize this extraordinary work with our Front Line Heroes series. Our Summer and Fall 2020 issues highlight the courageous efforts of our members dating back to March, as part of a continuing campaign to lift up the impact our members are making on their communities across the country. You can find these issues 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

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package later today.  Democrats, who narrowly control both the House and Senate, are engaged in a budgetary process known as "reconciliation" to move the package because it requires a simple majority vote in the Senate, where they have just enough votes to pass the package without Republican help.  The legislation narrowly expands the Paycheck Protection Program to allow organizations with more than 500 employees to be eligible for PPP as long as employees are spread across multiple locations with no single location having more than 500 employees. Self-funded unemployment reimbursement has been increased from 50 to 75 percent.  Home and Community-Based Services will see dedicated funding in the form of an enhanced 7.35% FMAP for states that engage in certain activities to enhance the services.  The Senate parliamentarian ruled last night that a $15 minimum wage phased-in over five years is not in order for inclusion in the bill, so while the House intends to pass the bill with the provision, it will likely be stripped when the legislation reaches the Senate. Other provisions include $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, extension of temporary enhanced unemployment benefits through August 29, 2021, and $1,400 in stimulus checks for individuals earning less than $75,000 annually.  The Senate is expected to take up the package next week, with Congressional leadership seeking to pass the bill by March 14, when many key coronavirus relief provisions are set to expire.  More information on the package as it currently stands can be found here in our detailed summary.

Meanwhile, the two key Senate committees with healthcare jurisdiction held confirmation hearings this week for Xavier Becerra, President Biden's nominee to be HHS Secretary.  A Senate vote on confirmation has yet to be scheduled.

Join us here in urging lawmakers to retain the elements of this package that help nonprofit front line providers and continue to work toward addressing all our remaining needs.

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.


Institutions Serving Those With IDD Get New COVID-19 Guidance

Nearly a year after institutions serving people with developmental disabilities locked down, federal officials are spelling out how and when these facilities should reopen their doors to visitors.

In guidance issued this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says that visitation should not be restricted “without a reasonable clinical or safety cause.”

“While CMS has focused on helping to protect … clients/residents from the risk of contracting COVID-19, we also recognize that physical separation from family, caregivers, friends and others has taken and continues to take a physical, emotional and psychological toll on clients/residents,” reads the 10-page document sent to states regarding visitation at intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities and psychiatric residential treatment facilities.

More from Disability Scoop

Group Homes Left To Fend For Themselves In Quest For Vaccines

Maria Schroeder was worried and increasingly anxious. It was weeks after coronavirus vaccine distribution had started in Missouri, and she still had 11 residents with intellectual disabilities who required 24-hour support — and no vaccine.

She expected someone to tell her how to get it. Finally, in mid-January, the state sent her a list.

But Schroeder, assistant director for L’Arche St. Louis, which runs three group homes in St. Louis County, quickly realized the list was cluttered with every brick-and-mortar CVS, Walgreens and Costco — locations that, while approved to vaccinate, often had no doses of vaccine.

Over the next two work days, Schroeder made 200 calls.

“We’re a very small agency, we don’t have a lot of connections,” said Schroeder. “It was very obvious if I didn’t do this, we weren’t going to get vaccines.”

The leaders of St. Louis-area group homes that serve adults with intellectual disabilities have struggled to secure doses of COVID-19 vaccine for their staff and clients. With little help from the state, some said, the group-home leaders began a dogged and sometimes desperate hunt. They made hundreds of phone calls, sent staff driving across the state, and cut deals with colleagues, health care services, and anybody else they could reach.

More from Disability Scoop

Helping People Find Covid-19 Vaccines Is Aim of C.D.C.-Backed Site

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hoping to make it easier for Americans to find Covid-19 vaccines, is backing the test of a centralized online portal where the public can search for nearby vaccination locations with doses on hand.

The website, called VaccineFinder, is run by Boston Children’s Hospital with the help of several collaborators. It grew out of the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009 and has been used for years to coordinate the distribution of flu and childhood vaccines. It expanded on Wednesday to include the availability of coronavirus vaccines at more than 20,000 locations, concentrated in several states.

If the program goes well, the website’s developers plan to expand it nationwide in coming weeks to include nearly all vaccine providers that agree to be featured. That would make the website far more comprehensive than anything that exists now.

More from The New York Times

House set to approve Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, send bill to the Senate

The House is expected to pass a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus package later Friday and send President Joe Biden’s relief plan to the Senate.

Both chambers aim to approve the bill and send it to Biden’s desk before March 14, when key programs buoying millions of jobless Americans expire. Pitfalls await in the Senate, where a single Democratic vote against the plan would sink it and a decision barring lawmakers from including a $15 per hour minimum wage threw a wrench in the process.

Democrats, wielding narrow control of Congress, opted to pass the legislation through budget reconciliation. The process enables them to approve the bill without Republican votes in the Senate but also restricts what lawmakers can include in it. 

More from CNBC

Biden orders sweeping review of U.S. supply chain weak spots

President Biden on Wednesday formally ordered a 100-day government review of potential vulnerabilities in U.S. supply chains for critical items, including computer chips, medical gear, electric-vehicle batteries and specialized minerals.

The directive comes as U.S. automakers are grappling with a severe shortage of semiconductors, essential ingredients in the high-tech entertainment and navigation systems that fill modern passenger vehicles.

Biden’s executive order also is aimed at avoiding a repeat of the shortages of personal protective gear such as masks and gloves experienced last year during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The American people should never face shortages for the goods they rely on,” the president said at the White House before signing the measure.

More from The Washington Post


Alabama: People with disabilities advocating for vaccine priority

In Alabama, people with disabilities are still not eligible for vaccines until Phase 1C, and national experts say that’s not right.

The director of Alabama’s advocacy group for people with disabilities says that tens of thousands of Alabama citizens are unable to get the vaccine right now. It’s the same story in other states, too.

“It shouldn’t matter if they are over 65 or under 65, if they are high risk of dying from COVID, they should be a priority for vaccine,” said Andy Imparato, the Executive Director of Disability Rights California.

Imparato serves on a national advisory committee for the disabled, and has been advocating for vaccines nationally.

More from 6WBRC

Disability Rights Connecticut files federal civil rights complaint claiming state’s age-based plan for COVID-19 vaccinations is discriminatory

The nonprofit organization Disability Rights Connecticut has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the state of Connecticut, claiming that Gov. Ned Lamont’s new age-based COVID-19 vaccine rollout discriminates against people with underlying conditions, including some people with disabilities.

Lamont on Monday pivoted from his previous rollout plan, which would prioritized residents based on a combination of age and other risk factors. The state will now vaccinate residents based on age, with an exception for school employees who can sign up for vaccinations starting March 1.

Connecticut’s new plan is a rejection of the guidance handed down by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lamont and his top aides have said the CDC guidance was too complex and have emphasized the simplicity of their plan, which could make the rollout move more quickly than it would have under the previous plan. More from Hartford Courant

They are prioritized for COVID vaccines. But some Marylanders with disabilities still facing access hurdles.

Frustration consumes Nadina Funk when she turns on the news and sees footage of young, healthy-looking people rolling up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Funk, an Overlea resident, has not yet found an appointment for herself or for her 30-year-old son, James, affectionately known as “Jimmy.” He is intellectually disabled, according to Funk, 63, who is his caregiver. And while James is mobile and sometimes verbal, he is not able to live alone.

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted James’ social life and routine, which is problematic for people with his condition. In the past, James socialized with a group of six people ages 24 to 30 for everything from concerts to a demolition derby. And he has been active in the Special Olympics.

“All the sudden he is stuck home. He’ll say, ‘Virus go away,’” she said. “I don’t think he knows what the virus is, but he knows that the virus has to go away to hang out with his friends.”

More from The Baltimore Sun

Notable Minority Executives: Héctor Colón

Héctor Colón was named president and chief executive officer of Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin & Upper Michigan in 2017. Coming from the Milwaukee County Health and Human Services Department, he had considerable experience in the social issues facing the community.

As executive director of Health and Human Services, Colón led an effort to turn deficits into surpluses. He led several countywide initiatives, including efforts to reform the juvenile justice system, end chronic homelessness, transform mental health care, and end a 30-year waitlist for disability services.

At LSS, Colón began his role by conducting listening sessions throughout the organization. When he needed a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities LSS was facing, he began to build his team.

More from Milwaukee Business News

Research & Reports

Covid Vaccine Websites Violate Disability Laws, Create Inequity for the Blind

Many covid vaccination registration and information websites at the federal, state and local levels violate disability rights laws, hindering the ability of blind people to sign up for a potentially lifesaving vaccine, a KHN investigation has found.

Across the country, people who use special software to make the web accessible have been unable to sign up for the vaccines or obtain vital information about covid-19 because many government websites lack required accessibility features. At least 7.6 million people in the U.S. over age 16 have a visual disability.

WebAIM, a nonprofit web accessibility organization, checked covid vaccine websites gathered by KHN from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. On Jan. 27, it found accessibility issues on nearly all of 94 webpages, which included general vaccine information, lists of vaccine providers and registration forms.

More from KHN

Adults with Down syndrome 3 times more likely to die of COVID, study finds

Adults older than 40 with Down syndrome are about three times more likely to die of COVID-19 than the rest of the population, pointing to the need to prioritize coronavirus vaccination to this group, a study published yesterday in the Lancet's EClinicalMedicine has found.

A team led by Emory University researchers conducted the international online survey of the clinicians or caregivers of 1,046 patients with Down syndrome diagnosed as having COVID-19 from April to November 2020.

The results were compared with those of a UK survey of 59,025 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 109 of them with Down syndrome, from February to July 2020. One-hundred of the 109 Down syndrome patients had complete age, sex, and ethnicity data and were included in the survey.

More from CIDRAP

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

Opinion: Proposed State Budget Cuts Would Dismantle Care for New Yorkers with Disabilities

I am the proud parent of a 37 year-old-man with autism and intellectual disability (I/DD), and to put it bluntly, the state is leaving our community to fend for ourselves. Time and time again, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has failed to plan, manage or fund proper care for New Yorkers with I/DD, however, now they are gutting care coordination programs by nearly 40 percent in the middle of the worst modern pandemic we have ever seen.  

This is personal for me. As we all struggle to get through each day safely and in isolation, people with I/DD suffer at a disproportionately higher rate of COVID infections and deaths. They also suffer regression of skills and increased anxious behavior, disruption of essential programs, as well as worsened lingering physical effects of illness. How can New York be turning its back on these vulnerable people precisely when they are most in need of support?

More from City Limits

Opinion: Coloradans with intellectual and developmental disabilities should qualify now for COVID-19 vaccination

We all can agree that 2020 was perhaps one of the most difficult years any of us have ever experienced. As we settle into this new year, I am focused on remaining optimistic and positive about the changes I hope to come.

But I am also worried. I am the president and CEO of Arc Thrift Stores, one of the state’s largest employers of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). I am also the father of a 17-year-old young man with Down syndrome. What troubles me and keeps me up at night is that this vulnerable population — my son, my employees and friends, and the thousands of people in Colorado who have IDD and chronic care needs — is not being adequately protected. 

I implore Gov. Jared Polis to make this population a higher priority on Colorado’s vaccination list.

More from The Colorado Sun

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2021 Spring Meeting (virtual)
April date TBA


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