LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, March 5, 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. Senate is on track to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package later today. The House of Representatives approved by a narrow margin the package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act, on February 27, moving it to the Senate for consideration.  Democrats, who control Congress, have opted to move the legislation under a process known as “budget reconciliation” given their very slim majorities in both chambers, as passage of bills in the Senate under budget reconciliation is not subject to the filibuster and thus requires only a simple majority, rather than 60 votes.  Congressional leaders currently aim to pass a final bill by March 14.

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.  In addition, the bill includes an extension of temporary unemployment benefits and enhanced weekly benefits.  The House version includes a phased increase of the minimum wage, but this provision has been deemed by the Senate Parliamentarian to violate the specific rules governing bills considered under budget reconciliation and will not be taken up in the Senate bill.  More information on the package as it currently stands can be found here in our detailed summary.

Meanwhile, the Senate health committees this week completed their consideration of President Biden's choice of Xavier Becerra to be the next Health and Human Services Secretary, but his Senate confirmation vote 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.


In Group Homes, Pandemic Has Canceled Plans, Ushered In A ‘New Normal’

Missy Wierson didn’t get to do anything for her 48th birthday in December because she was sick with COVID-19.

“I had to stay in my room, basically bored in my room,” Wierson said.

Her roommate Amber Kirk also contracted the virus and was unable to see her family over the holidays, stuck with a “very bad cough and no appetite,” she said.

Spending Christmas in quarantine was one of many setbacks Wierson and Kirk, who live in a group home through Mainstream Living in Ames, have had to face during nearly a year of canceled plans, social distancing and Zoom hangouts.

“That was really sad, but they handled it really well,” said Judy Schieffer, the women’s direct support professional at Mainstream Living, a program that serves people with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses in Ames and Des Moines.

More from Disability Scoop

CDC: States should prioritize people with disabilities as they broaden vaccine access

With the nationwide demand for coronavirus shots continuing to far outstrip supply, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday states should consider prioritizing people with disabilities or cognitive decline as officials broaden access to vaccines.

The guidance is part of the agency’s latest recommendations for administering doses now that three vaccines are authorized and recommended for use to combat covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Any of the three can be used during these initial phases when supply is sharply limited, officials say.

The newest addition to the pandemic arsenal — the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine that does not need to be kept frozen — might be best for people who want to be immunized quickly or would have difficulty returning for a second shot. The other two authorized vaccines — one from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech company BioNTech, and the other from U.S. biotech firm Moderna — require two doses.

More from The Washington Post

CDC delays guidelines for vaccinated people

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not be releasing its guidance for vaccinated Americans on Thursday as originally planned, according to two senior administration officials with knowledge of the situation.

After a series of meetings and calls with senior officials on the White House’s Covid-19 task force and the Department of Health and Human Services over the last two days, the CDC was told to “hold off on releasing” the recommendations, one of those sources said. The reason is still unclear but one senior administration official said the guidelines were still being finalized.

Another official said the CDC had put together the guidelines over the last several weeks and was preparing to go through the final clearance process before the stop was put in place. A new draft of the guidelines was circulated last Friday and then again early this week. Top health officials originally were supposed to sign off on the language Wednesday.

More from Politico

Minimum wage hike all but dead in big COVID relief bill

Democrats’ hopes of including a minimum wage increase in their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill seemed all but dead Monday as the Senate prepared to debate its own version of the House-passed aid package.

Four days after the chamber’s parliamentarian said Senate rules forbid inclusion of a straight-out minimum wage increase in the relief measure, Democrats seemed to have exhausted their most realistic options for quickly salvaging the pay hike. In one decision, they abandoned a potential amendment threatening tax increases on big companies that don’t boost workers’ pay to certain levels.

“At this moment, we may not have a path but I hope we can find one” for pushing the federal pay floor to $15 an hour, said No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin of Illinois.

Senate Democrats hope to unveil their version of the broad relief package and begin debate as early as Wednesday. Congressional leaders want to send President Joe Biden the legislation combating the pandemic and bolstering the economy by March 14, the date emergency jobless benefits that lawmakers approved in December expire.

More from AP News


In California, Caregivers of People With Disabilities Are Being Turned Away at COVID Vaccine Sites

In California, confusion and botched communication has caused some eligible parents and family caregivers of people with disabilities to be turned away at covid vaccination sites.

Oscar Madrigal is one of those caregivers. His two sons are on the autism spectrum and his youngest requires almost constant care.

As the vaccination effort began, Madrigal hoped he and others like him would be prioritized, and he didn’t have long to wait. In January, the California Department of Developmental Services issued a general letter stating that family members like him are considered health workers and immediately qualify for the vaccine.

Through Facebook groups, parents of kids with disabilities excitedly shared the news.

Madrigal was relieved. As his youngest son’s primary caregiver, he didn’t know how his family would cope if he came down with the coronavirus.

But he soon noticed the tone of the messages on social media changed. Parents reported they’d been turned away at the vaccine sites. Only families who receive services from one of California’s regional centers — nonprofits that help people with disabilities — are eligible.

More from KHN

North Carolina: Disability People with disabilities moved to vaccine list

Linda Guzman has been lying awake nights, worried about her son JJ, a young man in his twenties who has autism.

“It could be catastrophic for JJ if he contracted the virus with all his other health issues,” Guzman wrote in an email to John Nash, head of The Arc of North Carolina, an organization that provides services and advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“I have done my best to protect him, but the stress and anxiety of doing so have been overwhelming at times,” the Chapel Hill mother wrote. She gave Nash permission to share her email with NC Health News. Nash received the email around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, after Mandy Cohen, the secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, announced that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities would be given higher priority for receiving COVID vaccines. With the addition of the new Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine to the arsenal of weapons to fight COVID-19 this week, North Carolina is opening up vaccination opportunities to more people. More from North Carolina Health News

In Minnesota, People with disabilities get more clarity with state vaccine plan but gaps remain

Ryan Roepke seldom leaves his home nowadays. He participates in Zoom calls through MRCI and watches church services online.

He is mentally and physically handicapped, and he and his family have been very careful about where Ryan goes during the pandemic.

"Ryan is vulnerable so we've been really cautious," said his father Bob Roepke. Bob is on the board for MRCI, which provides employment programs to help rehabilitate adults.

While many living in group settings have been able to get vaccinated, there are concerns from advocates that some people with disabilities have been left out, despite their heightened risk of complications due to COVID-19. Advocates say the updated state vaccine rollout plan, which was announced last week, is a step in the right direction for providing clarity for when some people with disabilities may be able to get vaccinated, but gaps remain. More from The Free Press

Advocates call on Arizona to prioritize people with disabilities in COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Advocates for those with disabilities expressed their concern and frustration Thursday about the vaccine distribution phases. 

They say their attempts to get the Governor’s Office to recognize the disabled community as a high-need group, have gone unanswered.

For many of those with disabilities, who do not live in nursing or care homes, the wait to get a vaccine is a matter of life and death. 

Louis Hopkins suffers from Myotonic Dystrophy, a genetic disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness, including in respiratory muscles. Hopkins relies on a constant stream of oxygen to survive.

“You know, if he lived in a group home or if he lived in a nursing facility, he would have already been vaccinated," said Catherine Hopkins, Louis’ mother.

More from 12 NBC News

Research & Reports

COVID-19 Vaccine Access for People with Disabilities

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on people in nursing homes, with those in long-term care facilities accounting for a disproportionate share of all deaths attributable to COVID-19 to date. However, less attention has been paid to nonelderly people with disabilities who use long-term services and supports (LTSS) but live outside of nursing homes. This population includes people with a range of disabilities, such as people with autism or Down’s syndrome who live in group homes, people with physical disabilities who receive personal care services at home, and people who are receiving behavioral health treatment in residential facilities. Some nonelderly people with disabilities receive LTSS in a variety of community-based settings such as group homes, adult day health programs, and/or their own homes. Other nonelderly people with disabilities receive LTSS in institutional settings such as intermediate care facilities for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (ICF/IDDs) or behavioral health treatment centers for people with mental illness or substance use disorder. Many nonelderly people with disabilities, both in the community and in institutions, rely on Medicaid as the primary payer for the LTSS on which they depend for meeting daily self-care needs. 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.

More from KFF

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

An Untapped Talent Resource: People With Disabilities

One of the key factors in running a successful business is attracting and retaining talent.  Whether hired from the outside or mentored from within, skilled and loyal employees are the backbone of any business.  But when businesses strategize to expand their pool of skilled workers, they might be overlooking a key demographic: people with disabilities. “Disability” can include physical impairments such as reduced mobility, hearing loss or vision loss; and intellectual impairment.

Myths about people with disabilities in the workplace

Why are people with disabilities overlooked?  Many employers fear people with disabilities present more costs than benefits and are reluctant to invest in them. Employers are also likely to believe at least some of the common myths about people with disabilities in the workplace, including: 

  • They can’t work;
  • They have a higher absentee rate;
  • They can only do basic, unskilled work;
  • They’re not as productive as their co-workers;
  • They cost more to recruit, train and employ; 
  • They reduce their co-workers’ productivity;
  • They’re not eligible for government financial incentives (such as funds to hire apprentices); and
  • They don’t fit in.

More from Forbes

With Disabilities ‘Rarely’ Seen, Netflix Commits $100 Million Toward Inclusion

Netflix is pledging to do more after a report finds that representation of people with disabilities and other groups is lacking in its original films and television shows.

The report released late last week was conducted by Stacy Smith at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism who regularly analyzes diversity on screen and was asked by Netflix to assess its work. Smith and her team reviewed 126 films and 180 series released in 2018 and 2019 to measure representation by gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+ and disability.

While the study gave Netflix good marks on gender equality and for making progress in inclusion of those from some underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, it found that the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities “rarely” see themselves in content on the streaming service.

More from Disability Scoop

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