LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, April 23, 2021

LSA-DN News

Strength & Service Series

April 27: 1-2pm EDT - OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Program — What You Need to Know The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all employers strictly adhere to a respiratory protection program, designed to protect employees from inhaling harmful contaminants in the workplace. Now and throughout the pandemic, OSHA is placing added pressure on skilled nursing, long-term care, and other healthcare facilities and providers to properly document COVID-19 cases, complete necessary N95 mask training with staff, and submit timely reports to maintain compliance. Not doing so can result in citations and financial penalties that are costly and difficult to challenge. During this webinar, leading experts from Johnson, Kendall & Johnson will explain the four main components of an OSHA compliant respiratory protection program as they pertain to COVID-19 protection in healthcare settings, and what organizations can do now to ensure their continued compliance. Register here.

May 12: 1-2pm EDT - Preserving the Not-for-profit Legacy in Senior Living A new wave of complexity is hitting the senior living & care sector. More Americans are entering retirement than ever before, but economic pressures from the pandemic and increasing complexity of the care for seniors are driving many nonprofit senior services providers to either affiliate or undergo acquisition with private sector companies. Many not-for-profits are taking a hard look at their long-term viability as they reconcile their extensive history of caregiving, vast industry knowledge, deep connection to the community, and mission-driven culture with the goals of remaining competitive, relevant and financially sound. During this webinar, Ziegler will talk about trends in the not-for-profit senior living & care sector and will highlight what providers need to consider as they look to preserve their Lutheran heritage and not-for-profit spirit. Register here.

NEW Application Forms and Extended Deadline for Paycheck Protection Program and Further Expanded Eligibility for Second Draw Loans

Thanks in part to advocacy from our network and the broader nonprofit community, President Biden signed into law the PPP Extension Act, which extends the deadline for Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loan applications to May 31.  The program had been set to expire on March 31. 

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has also released the NEW application forms Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrowers must submit to apply for first-time loans or “second draw” loans, as well as indicating expanded eligibility for those second draw loans.

First Draw loan information

  • Loans are now available for nonprofit organizations:
    • with fewer than 500 employees total who have not already received funding
    • with 500 or more employees across multiple locations, but with no more than 500 employees at a single one of those locations. This group of nonprofits only became eligible to apply when the American Rescue Plan became law on March 11, 2021.

Second Draw loan information

  • Loans are now available for nonprofit organizations that:
    • have already received and spent an initial PPP loan AND
    • can demonstrate a 25% reduction in gross receipts AND
    • have one location with fewer than 300 employees, OR more than 300 employees across multiple locations BUT NO MORE THAN 300 IN ANY ONE LOCATION (this is new information per the updated application form for this type of loan).
  • Application form

More information is available on our website and on the SBA website, and from your lender.

Our COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Hub

Lutheran Services in America network in peer guidance & resources on developing COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Communication plans for your organizations.    Lutheran Services in America has created a COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Hub, which we are continuously updating, to assist with vaccine distribution and communications plans of our member organizations. Check out these latest resources including:

If you have any resources or strategies your organization would recommend to increase access and reduce barriers to the COVID-19 Vaccine, please share with with us at awashington@lutheranservices.org.

Honoring Our Frontline Heroes — New Winter Issue Now Available

Lutheran Services in America is proud to honor the incredibly brave frontline workers serving during this historic time in our national network. We proudly offer digital booklets to recognize this extraordinary work with our Frontline Heroes series, and a new Winter issue has just been released, joining Summer and Fall 2020 issues that highlight the courageous efforts of our members dating back to March of last year, 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 (CFindlay@lutheranservices.org) with stories from your organization you would like to see included in our upcoming issues.

Advocacy Update

Congressional negotiations are underway on President Biden's $2 trillion American Jobs Plan.  The package, as outlined by the administration on March 31, would make a major $400 billion investment in home and community-based services for aging adults and persons with disabilities and would extend the Money Follows the Person program.  The plan also proposes to create jobs and raise wages for essential home care workers and invest in high-speed broadband, housing, and workforce development infrastructure.  Over the last few weeks, the president has been inviting bipartisan groups of lawmakers to the White House to forge a bipartisan measure.  Mr. Biden indicated on Monday that he is prepared to compromise on the size and scope of the infrastructure bill, while Senate Republicans have yet to offer a pared-down alternative.  House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has set a goal of House passage by the Congress's July 4th recess, so action on the initiative is likely to move into the summer and fall. Meanwhile, Senator John Cornyn, Republican from Texas, has put a hold on the nomination of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to be the next Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Administrator, over his objection to how the Biden Administration rejected Texas's section 1115 Medicaid waiver last Friday.  His hold will again delay a Senate vote on her confirmation.

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 sdobson@lutheranservices.org or dwalter@lutheranservices.org with any related questions you have.

National

Sanders and Bowman Push Biden to Bolster SSI for People With Disabilities

A bicameral group of dozens of lawmakers led by Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and other prominent progressives sent a letter Monday urging President Joe Biden to include “desperately needed” improvements to the Supplemental Security Income program in his forthcoming American Families Plan, which is expected to focus on child care and other key domestic priorities.

Bolstering SSI — a lifeline for around eight million elderly Americans and people with disabilities — should be among those priorities, the lawmakers argue in their letter (pdf), noting that the program’s beneficiaries “are all too frequently left behind.”

“People with disabilities and older adults receiving SSI represent some of the most marginalized members of our society. History will not forgive us if we fail to address their needs in the recovery effort,” reads the letter, which was also signed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.).

More from Truthout

Groups push for easier student loan relief for the disabled

Advocates for the disabled are pressing the Biden administration to cancel student debt for hundreds of thousands of Americans who have disabilities that make them eligible for federal debt forgiveness but who have not applied for the benefit.

Using a rarely pursued federal petition process, three federal advocacy groups on Monday asked the U.S. Education Department to consider erasing debt for nearly 400,000 people with severe disabilities and to overhaul a debt forgiveness program that critics say is overly burdensome.

The petition argues that huge swaths of eligible Americans are missing out on debt relief through the program because of its bureaucratic barriers, including a “byzantine application that includes false, misleading and legally incorrect information.”

More from AP News

Sent Home Early: Lost Learning In Special Education

Near the end of Delilah McBride’s second month of kindergarten in Taylor, Mich., her family received jarring news from her principal: Delilah would be allowed to come to school only in the morning. Someone would need to pick her up before noon every day, even as the rest of her peers continued learning and playing together.

Delilah’s first several weeks of school in the fall of 2018 had been marked by discipline incidents and suspensions, as she got in trouble for not listening to instructions and hitting staff members. Her parents wanted to get her a special education designation — and all the supports that came with it. But instead, they were told by school administrators that their daughter “couldn’t handle full days,” said Sarah McBride, Delilah’s mother.

“It was a nonnegotiable thing,” McBride recalled. That night, as she and her husband scrambled to figure out who could watch Delilah in the early afternoon, questions swirled in her head: “How long is this going to go on? Were (school officials) able to do it?”

More from Disability Scoop

State

Open day programs for adults with disabilities in NJ 'now,' say families ready to protest

The state remains mum on when it will reopen much-needed programs that offer therapy, socialization and learning to people with disabilities.

The programs, closed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, are causing health and cognitive conditions to deteriorate in the people who need them, families and advocates said.

It has been weeks since the Centers for Disease Control released guidelines for the reopening of the programs, but the New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Developmental Disability has only offered “words of assurance” that it is trying to update its own guidelines, advocates said, with nothing on the actual reopening. More from northjersey.com

Lawmakers seek to eliminate large waitlists for home-based services in Maine

For more than a year, Johnson has been 40th on a waitlist for home-based care services for older Mainers and those with disabilities. Johnson first applied in 2020 to take care of his wife, who had a stroke in 2018. He was approved but was added to the waitlist because of a shortage in qualified staff. Johnson added that he would like to be his wife’s full-time caretaker but cannot be approved because he’s stuck on the waitlist. 

“If we were able to move up on the waiting list, our quality of life would significantly improve because I would be able to be home with my wife full-time, which is important, as I am concerned that her health will continue to deteriorate,” Johnson said.

Johnson relayed his story to the Maine Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday as part of a hearing on a slate of bills introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to eliminate large waitlists for various home or community-based care services, with several thousand Mainers currently on such lists. 

LD 499, sponsored by Rep. Margaret Craven (D-Lewiston), would provide funding to eliminate home-based care waitlists for older Mainers and those with disabilities. LD 962, sponsored by Rep. Rebecca Millett (D-Cape Elizabeth), would provide funds to eliminate MaineCare waitlists for home and community-based care for adults with a brain injury or other related condition, developmental disabilities or autism. Another bill, LD 1360, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Keim (R-Oxford), would provide funding to clear or reduce the waitlists for many of the services included in Millett’s proposal. 

More from The Maine Beacon

W.Va. Gov. signs bill to require training of officers responding to those with autism

Several bills got the approval signature of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice during a virtual ceremony Wednesday. One of them will require training for certain officers who are responding to those with disabilities.

“I just thought it was a step in the right direction with people with disabilities, specifically autism, that can help the communities and families have a little bit of relief as far as what might happen if they get into an emergency situation or they need assistance with their loved one,” Phenia Simmons, who has two sons that are on the autistic spectrum said.

The bill requires law enforcement and correctional officers to be trained on the best ways to interact with those with autism spectrum disorders.

“Some individuals with autism are non-verbal so there will probably be extensive training, I would hope, for those officers that would be visual,” Simmons said. “They use a lot of visual images and things to communicate with people with autism because, some of them never can speak but they certainly have things going on in their brain and receive information but they’re not always (able to) express it.”

More from WSAZ

Maryland organization helps people with disabilities find jobs

According to the National Disability Navigator, over six million people in the United States have an intellectual disability, and of those people, 12.6 percent are unemployed.

However, organizations like The Difference 2-17 strive to build bridges and help those with a disability get employed.

Recently opened in Mount Airy and established by parents of an autistic adult, The Difference 2-17 is a center for teens and adults with intellectual disabilities.

The organization aims to help participants gain independence and find their passion by introducing a career path to each individual and building connections within the community to help the participants network and find a job.

The organization helps with job applications, interview preparations and guidance every step of the way. The goal is to help create equal opportunity and help those with disabilities prosper regardless of limitations.

More from WDVM News

Nevada Gov. Sisolak signs ABLE accounts bill into law

Today (April 22), Governor Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 62.

Assembly Bill 62 authorizes the Nevada state treasurer’s office to create regulations for ABLE accounts to incentivize the opening of new accounts, and regular deposits.

An ABLE account is a tax-advantaged savings account that can fund disability expenses and Nevada is the first state in the nation to pass this type of legislation.

This bill will allow the treasurer’s office to seek out gifts, grants, and donations to carry out the ABLE program.

The bill will also provide seed funding for people with disabilities to open an ABLE Account.

More from KTNV Las Vegas

Research & Reports

Direct Support Workforce and COVID-19 National Report: Six-month Follow-up

The aim of this study was to gather evidence about the experiences of the direct support workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic and to inform efforts to better prepare for future waves of this pandemic. This is a six-month follow-up to the initial report published in fall of 2020.

This survey was conducted by the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota in partnership with the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals. In March 2020, many businesses and schools followed safety protocols, closed their doors, and began working and participating remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the vast majority of direct support professionals (DSPs), this was not an option. Friends and colleagues from across the country shared stories of the mounting challenges in providing supports safely to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) and the University of Minnesota's Institute on Community Integration (ICI) staff knew it was important to hear directly from DSPs about their experiences in supporting people with disabilities during a global pandemic. In response, ICI developed an online survey and collaborated with NADSP to reach DSPs from across the country. The initial survey was launched in April 2020 and surveys were completed by 8,914 participants. Based on the results of the initial survey, some items on the initial questionnaire were slightly modified and a few questions were added to a second, six-month follow-up survey that was launched in November 2020 and completed by 8,846 participants. Both surveys, completed by DSPs, were intended to gather information about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic to inform effective policy and practice decisions about what is needed and to better prepare for potential future waves of this or other pandemics.

More from Institute on Community Integration

Youth with cognitive disabilities have potential to pursue a career in STEM, shows study

A new Portland State study challenges the idea that youth with cognitive disabilities are unable or lack potential to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In a study using national data on more than 15,000 adolescents, the researchers found that undergraduates with medicated ADHD or autism appear to be more likely to major in STEM than youth without cognitive disabilities, and youth with autism have the most positive STEM attitudes.

Dara Shifrer, the lead author and an associate professor of sociology at PSU, says that increasing access to STEM fields for youth with disabilities depends not only on encouraging them to pursue STEM majors but also to enroll in college because STEM occupations often require bachelor's degrees at higher rates.

"We need a diverse STEM workforce so innovation and technologies are meeting the needs of the whole populace," she said.

More from Medical and Life Sciences News

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

The terrible toll of COVID-19 on people with intellectual disabilities

Sara*, 22, was doing well until COVID-19 hit. She was working at a café where most of the employees, like her, have an intellectual disability. She’d gotten good at making lattes and had just created a video resume for a Starbucks job. She enjoyed living with her parents in a suburb of Philadelphia and participating in a local program designed to boost independence. But COVID-19 has created particular obstacles for Sara, who has difficulty communicating, processing information, and adapting to new situations. Some of her therapists have stopped coming to her house, and those who come wear masks that make her feel disconnected from them. She also dislikes how hot her mask feels and how often people remind her to fix it when it slips below her nose. Then matters got worse. Even though she was careful, Sara contracted COVID-19 and spiked a fever of 104 degrees. Once hospitalized, she struggled to explain how sick she felt. Her doctors spoke very quickly, and by the time she sorted out the questions, they had stopped waiting for her answers. She was confused about why she got moved from one room to another, and she desperately missed her parents, who could not visit her because of COVID-19 precautions. More from AAMC

Congress can help Americans living with disabilities by passing the ABLE Age Adjustment Act

The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the importance of financial stability, especially amongst the disability community, where unemployment reached a 7-year high in 2020. For the estimated 8 million eligible Americans, ABLE accounts have provided an opportunity for financial stability during a tumultuous time. Now, Congress has the chance to expand this lifechanging program to help millions of additional Americans with disabilities save – and the opportunity is more urgent than ever.

Before the ABLE Act’s passage in 2014, Americans with disabilities risked losing their federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits anytime they saved over $2,000 in their own name. The ABLE Act created tax-advantaged savings accounts for people with disabilities and their families that does not jeopardize eligibility for federal and state disability benefits. Withdrawals from ABLE accounts are tax-free, so long as the funds are used for qualified disability expenses such as housing, education, transportation, personal support services, assistive technology, and health care.

Now, 43 states and the District of Columbia have launched ABLE programs and more than $642 million has been saved in over 82,000 ABLE accounts nationwide. While this growth and investment is worth celebrating, we must also acknowledge that many Americans with disabilities remain unable to utilize ABLE accounts due to an age cutoff specified in the current legislation. Only individuals who acquire their disability before the age of 26 are eligible to open accounts. This means only about 20 percent of Americans with disabilities are ABLE-eligible.

More from The Hill

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2021 Summer Meeting (virtual)
August 5, 2021
1:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern

Groups

For more information on our topic specific work groups, please email Doug Walter at dwalter@lutheranservices.org.

  • 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