LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, May 7, 2021


Strength & Service Series

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

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 ( with stories from your organization you would like to see included in our upcoming issues.

Advocacy Update

On Tuesday President Biden announced a new goal to administer at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccince to 70% of American adults by the July 4th holiday.  His administration also is aiming to have 160 million adults fully vaccinated toward reaching “herd immunity” by that time.  In addition, up until now vaccines have been distributed to states according to population, but moving forward, unordered doses will be allocated to states according to demand.  This represents a significant shift in federal policy and an action taken in the effort to reach the new July 4th goals.

High level Congressional negotiations are on-going regarding President Biden’s two infrastructure packages, the American Jobs and the American Families Plans, with nearly $4 trillion in new spending aimed at revitalizing the economy.  Both plans have been provided publicly only in outline form.  The American Jobs Plan would make a major $400 billion investment in home and community-based services (HCBS) 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.  The American Families Plan would extend or make permanent key tax credits initially enacted as part of COVID-19 pandemic relief packages last year to help working families through the pandemic. 

Lutheran Services in America has been advocating in support of key provisions of the plans, particularly the $400 billion HCBS investment, a provision for $213 billion for affordable housing and homelessness services and is urging the inclusion of the WORK NOW Act legislation (S. 740) to provide nonprofit health and human services organizations funding to pay wages, salaries, and benefits to retain staff and meet services’ demand.  Lutheran Services in America sent an advocacy alert this week to our members calling for inclusion of these key initiatives in the packages.  Please join us in this effort!

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.


Biden $400 Billion Care Plan Would Have a Caveat: States Opt In

President Joe Biden’s ambitious $400 billion plan to improve in-home care for the elderly and lift wages for millions of workers may be limited by states’ ability to opt out, based on early proposals from Congress.

The leading legislative draft in discussion would channel the funds through the U.S. government health-insurance program Medicaid and tie the money to higher reimbursement rates and training for in-home workers, according to congressional aides familiar with the matter who declined to be identified because the deliberations are private. Funding through Medicaid, which already handles payments for most personal-care services for seniors and people with disabilities, is seen as the fastest and most direct way of getting the money out. But states, which administer Medicaid, would be responsible for ensuring that higher wages get passed down to workers and would have the option to take the federal money or not, according to the people. This would be similar to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which a dozen states haven’t adopted. The proposal hasn’t been finalized and details could change as talks continue. More from Bloomberg

Stimulus Funds Earmarked For Disability Services Remain In Limbo

Nearly two months after federal lawmakers approved billions in extra spending on disability services, advocates say the money is going unspent because states don’t know how it can be used.

The funding was part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package signed by President Joe Biden in March. The law included $12.67 billion for Medicaid home and community-based services in the form of a 10% rise in the federal government’s share of spending on the program between April 2021 and March 2022.

But more than a month after the funds became available, states remain reluctant to tap the money without guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That’s because states must spend Medicaid dollars and then seek reimbursement from the federal government, so advocates say states are worried that they could be on the hook for the extra spending if they misstep and allocate the funds for something outside of what CMS deems an allowable use.

More from Disability Scoop

For Spanish-Speaking Families, An Uphill Battle For Special Needs Services

Rubi Saldaña vividly remembers the moment in 2010 when she realized her then 2-and-a-half-year-old son, Abner, didn’t act like the other toddlers at her Mommy and Me class. Instead of interacting with the other children and participating in activities, Abner spent the entire class climbing on tables and chairs.

The teacher noticed too: “Your child has autism,” she told her.

“What’s that?” Saldaña asked.

That moment launched Saldaña, a resident of Downey near Los Angeles, on an 11-year fight to obtain services for Abner, now 13, as well as his brother, Daniel, 14, who was also diagnosed with autism. So far, Saldaña has attended at least five hearings to argue that the South Central Los Angeles Regional Center provide various supports for her sons, including, most recently, a type of autism therapy called Floortime. Many of her requests get denied, which Saldaña views as a reflection of a system that doesn’t serve all families evenly, especially Spanish-speaking families like her own.

More from Disability Scoop


Pennsylvania: State creates call center for people with disabilities, autism to get vaccine

The state is trying to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to people with intellectual disabilities and autism, officials said Tuesday.

At the center of the plan is a new call center created through a partnership between Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration and Rite Aid that will help deliver the vaccine to disabled people and their caregivers amid a pandemic that has disrupted life for over a year.

“This disruption looks different for everyone, but for our disability community, it may mean loss of routine, and changes to social, educational and employment activities,” said Meg Snead, acting secretary of the state Department of Human Services.

She continued to say that getting vaccinated is “the most important and effective thing that each of us can do to protect ourselves and help us safely return to our normal lives and routines that are so important.”

More from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In Michigan Small COVID-19 vaccination clinics offer hope for those with developmental disabilities

Mitch Allen wants to go to a restaurant. And go to a place with music. And to get together with his family again for the holidays.

One of his two housemates wants to get back to bowling.

"Maybe we can be safe and move on, be back to normal," Allen, 50, said after receiving the second dose of his COVID-19 vaccine during a clinic Wednesday for four Oakland County group homes for residents with developmental disabilities.

Beth Downey, 54, agreed, saying after she is fully vaccinated she is looking forward to being outside and with her friends more.

For Downey, Allen and others with developmental disabilities, the COVID-19 vaccines offer the promise of returning to their pre-pandemic routines of outings, programs and jobs, and less fear of serious injury or death for those who are infected and have underlying chronic health issues.

Sheltering in place began for many people with disabilities starting in March 2020 when the novel coronavirus hit Michigan, including Chamberlain House in Pontiac where Downey and 11 others live and many were sickened by the virus.

More from Detroit Free Press

Advocates: Cuomo has ignored people with disabilities too often

Humor and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have not always gone well together in recent years. One incident of note was the way the governor talked about his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, to a group of state Democratic Party dignitaries in 2018. “It’s actually a funny story,” the governor said. “He was found at our front door in a basket and he was 16 years old. So he has certain development issues.”

The governor has delivered high-profile policy victories for historically disadvantaged groups. His record includes the legalization of same-sex marriage, criminal justice reforms, expansions of the social safety net like paid family leave and a domestic terrorism law aimed at combating antisemitism. But advocates for people with disabilities offer mixed reviews about his record during three terms in office. “The past several years have been tough,” state Senate Disabilities Committee Chair John Mannion of Syracuse said in an interview. “As it relates to people with disabilities, they seem to be the first to get caught and the last to be invested in.”

Cuomo’s record with people with disabilities belies the image he projects as a justice warrior. Their needs have gone missing in gubernatorial pet projects. Legislators and advocates warn state support for key programs has remained relatively flat in recent years despite the growing need. And then there are the times when people with disabilities have faced the governor’s political wrath for seemingly no real reason. More from City and State New York

Ohio: A Lost Year of Friendships and More for Kids With Disabilities

Eight-year-old Lyra Christensen loves to play the harmonica after a long day at school.

She is one of more than 250,000 public school students with disabilities in Ohio -- that’s about 15 percent of the student population. Due to her intellectual disability, Lyra has an individualized education program or IEP at Akron Public Schools.

When the pandemic struck last spring, some Ohio schools continued to offer in-person classes for students with disabilities. Akron did not, which meant that Lyra had to learn remotely. Her mother, Holly Christensen, says, it felt like the IEP went out the window.

“It was impossible to try to teach her through a computer. How are you going to do occupational therapy with manipulatives, unless one of us sat there all day long, and we both work.”

These days, Lyra learns in a general education classroom alongside her peers without disabilities. Her father Max Thomas says returning to in-person learning had a positive effect.

More from WKSU

Research & Reports

Pandemic Exaggerated Pressures On DSPs, Report Finds

Long plagued by high turnover and low pay, new research suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic further amplified the extraordinary pressures on direct support professionals who help people with developmental disabilities in their day-to-day lives.

A survey of more than 8,800 DSPs from across the nation finds that the pandemic squeezed workers in an already difficult profession.

Nearly half of DSPs reported that they had been exposed to COVID-19 at work. And, even though 97% of those surveyed considered themselves essential workers, only about a third received a pay bump or bonus during the pandemic.

The findings are outlined in a new report from the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration and the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals. The study is based on a survey conducted between November 2020 and January 2021 that researchers say is the largest of its kind.

More from Disability ScoopResources, Opinions & Opportunities

COVID-19 front lines need community health workers, yet they're not getting needed support

As a community health worker and executive director of the National Association of Community Health Workers, I’ve spent the past year gathering insights about the mental and emotional challenges for the people on the front lines of pandemic response in neighborhoods across America.

I know well the anxiety and guilt they feel trying to comfort and support families who’ve struggled through loss after loss in isolation and uncertainty.

Yet, on top of pandemic-induced pressures, recent events form a grim reminder of other, enduring American crises that our community responders face: a string of mass shootings and the catastrophic consequences of racism.

The horror of the March 16 Atlanta mass shooting of eight individuals, six of whom were from Asian communities, floored me. After the news broke, I called Theanvy Kuoch, a Cambodian CHW who has been a mentor, elder and friend for 10 years. Long before she had the title of community health worker, Theanvy channeled her lived experience as a survivor of enslavement, hunger, disease and loss from the 1970s Cambodian holocaust to support people living in her refugee camp.

More from USA Today

In protecting Americans with disabilities, Congress has fallen short. We need a permanent solution

Right now, 61 million Americans—roughly one in four adults—live with some form of disability. That number will only rise as the senior population grows from 54 million today to 88 million in 2050. 

Providing these vulnerable Americans with quality support—either at home or in a long-term-care facility—requires immense time, effort, and resources. Most families can't handle that burden on their own. They need professional help. 

And that help is on the way, thanks to President Biden and Congress. The recently passed COVID relief bill included a 10% funding increase for Medicaid's Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) program, so that people with intellectual, physical, or developmental disabilities can receive expert care in their homes. 

More from Fortune

Medicaid is up to you now, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson — and you know the right answer

Since the Republican majority in the Missouri legislature does not give a single tu-whit tu-whoo about what Gov. Mike Parson thinks, we can only hope that he returns the favor and forces Medicaid expansion anyway. For one thing because that’s what voters — remember them? — have said they want.

Why worry about so-called “election integrity” when the election results on ballot questions are routinely ignored in Missouri, you might ask.

Raise the minimum wage, said Missourians in 2018. Yet GOP lawmakers are still trying to hold off on the phased-in plan to do this. Because, you see, legislators know in their hearts that voters only said that because the poor things didn’t know any better.

More from Kansas City Star

Upcoming Events

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


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