Monday, September 21, 2020

How to contact your legislator (and what to say)


Most people don't write or call their state or federal elected leaders until something urgent happens, such as a critical support is in danger of being cut, or a bill that could help you or a loved one is up for a vote.

Fortunately, the process is straightforward and legislators tell us that writing or calling is impactful. If they don't know about your issue, you are giving them an opportunity to learn. If they do know, and even if they already support you, hearing from constituents bolsters their position with other legislators. Even if they disagree, you can still give them information to consider and let them know how their constituents could be affected.

So ... here are the basics on contacting your elected leaders:

1. FIND THEM

Look up your state or federal voting districts here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/

  • Enter your address. If you want your state leaders, click on LEGISLATIVE. If you want your federal leaders, click on CONGRESSIONAL

  • A window will pop up. If you click on the names, you will find their phone and email address. All state elected leaders also use this email protocol: FirstName.LastName@leg.wa.gov

Look up your King County district here: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/elections/elections/maps/find-my-districts.aspx

You can find school board members by looking up your school board website. You can find city council members by looking up your local city council. TIP: In Washington, city and county officials do not have jurisdiction over schools. The school board is the governing entity for public schools.

2. EMAIL THEM

  • Be sure to email all of the appropriate legislators. At the state level, you have two representatives and one senator. At the federal level, you have two senators (shared by the whole state) and one representative for your congressional district. If it is a state issue, only email your state representatives and senator. Congress has no authority over the state and can't help you if it is a state-level budget or policy concern

  • Same goes if it is a federal matter. Don't email your state legislators if it is a federal matter. They have no jurisdiction and can't help

3. EMAIL THE GOVERNOR. 

Or call. Here is contact information for Gov. Jay Inslee: https://www.governor.wa.gov/contact

 

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

1. Greet them by title and name: Dear Senator XX ... or Dear Representative XX

2. Identify yourself. Say your name and where you live/what legislative district you are in. Be sure to let them know you are a constituent.

3. State the problem/what you are worried about. 

4. State WHY you are worried and share HOW you are connected to the problem. ("I am worried about a proposed cut ... it affects me and my family because ...")

5. State why THEY should be worried. ("This could hurt/will help me and other constituents because ...") 

6. State what you want them to DO. (Vote for something/against something; fund something; commit to improving something, etc). Ask for something specific.

7. THANK THEM! And sign off using your full name, address, and contact information

You can use this same format if you call or if you testify in a public hearing.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

ALTSA budget request for FY 2021-23

 

Reductions: Eligibility cuts, provider rate cuts, rental subsidies, wage savings for state employees, furlough days for state employees

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This letter was shared by email from DSHS ALTSA:

STATE OF WASHINGTON
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES
Aging and Long-Term Support Administration
PO Box 45600, Olympia, Washington 98504-5600

September 16, 2020


Dear Interested Stakeholder, 

Today, Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Secretary, Cheryl Strange, announced the submission of the DSHS proposed budget to the Office of Financial Management (OFM) which included ALTSA’s budget proposal.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the way in which we all support clients in need of long-term services and supports.  It has also significantly impacted state revenues.  This has forced budget prioritization resulting in difficult choices in both investments and reduction options.

In developing our budget priorities, ALTSA followed a few key principles that align with our Mission, Vision and Values:

  1. Ensure that our clients with the greatest need continue to receive services;
  2. Continue our priority of safety and protection of vulnerable adults;
  3. Preserve our services to the greatest extent possible;
  4. Preserve our workforce by proposing furloughs and implementing hiring, travel and purchasing freezes to avoid complete job loss.

Understanding the proposed budget and our priorities:

The agency submits two types of proposals for the next biennium’s budget: budget requests and reductions.  ALTSA budget requests include funding or savings for things like new programs and services or a change in the way existing services are delivered, some of which may require a change in statute. Reduction options are done at the direction of the Office of Financial Management in order to illustrate a 15 percent reduction in General Fund-State expenditures across all state agencies.

ALTSA Budget Requests:

COVID-19 Funding: Includes Infection Control and Client Services, In-home Provider Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and the Transitional Care Center of Seattle, a DSHS-owned nursing home targeted for acute hospital long length of stay transitions. ($119.0M Total Funds: $61.5M GF-State; 105.9 FTE)

Nursing Facility Rate Methodology: adds the temporary rate changes that the 2020 Legislature made to the rate statute, adding an inflation factor to costs reported by nursing homes, and changing the rebasing from every other year to annually. ($22.9M Total Funds; $11.5M GF-State)

Behavioral Health Transitions: Increases Specialized Dementia and Behavior Specialty Program beds to continue client transitions from state hospitals to ALTSA community settings. ($16.9M Total Funds; $8.4M GF-State; 11.1 FTE)

Convert MTD to Medicaid State Plan: The five year Medicaid Transformation Demonstration waiver ends December 2021.  Having demonstrated that the Medicaid Alternative Care and Tailored Supports for Older Adults programs save money by addressing the increased demand for services in a way that provides more options for clients/family caregivers while also managing costs across populations, ALTSA requests funding continued services to support at risk individuals and family caregivers serving loved ones to delay and divert entry into more intensive Medicaid services.    ($81.4M Total Funds; $40.7M GF-State; 36.6 FTE)

Managed Care Organizations Medicaid Personal Care: Request for the cost of personal care for clients whose need for personal care is due to their psychiatric disability. These services are currently approved by the Managed Care Organizations (MCO) contracted by the Health Care Authority (HCA). This will streamline the process of authorizing and paying for personal care. ($14.0 Total Funds; $13.6M GF-State; 3.0 FTE).  It should be noted that the Health Care authority is also seeking funding for MCOs to provide long-term services and supports wrap around services to support individuals with significant behavioral health needs.

Reduction Options:

Furlough Savings: Continuation of the Governor's furloughs for specific job classifications, but assuming two furlough days per month. (-$36.5M Total Funds; -$17.6M GF-State)

General Wage Savings: Continuation of the Governor's modification of the 3% General Wage increase for EMS and WMS Positions. (-$2.0M Total Funds; -$1.0M GF-State)

Rental Subsidies: ALTSA will assist people who want to transition from nursing facilities more quickly by helping to cover the cost of rent for a limited time in their communities. The cost of in-home services, ALTSA staff, and the state-only rental subsidies is less than the GF-State portion of the nursing home Medicaid rate. (-$22.5M Total Funds; -$9.4M GF-State; 5.0 FTE)

Provider Rate Cuts: 2.4 percent rate cuts across the board for Medicaid providers, including in-home providers, nursing homes, adult family homes, adult day health, private duty nursing, enhanced service facilities and assisted living facilities. (-$145.2M Total Funds; -$66.6M GF-State)

Client Eligibility Cuts: This reduction option for temporary program eligibility changes would result in the loss of ALTSA services for over 12,000 people served in their own homes, community settings and nursing homes, and a reduction in the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and Area Agency on Aging (AAA) staff due to a smaller number of clients receiving services. (-$805.3M Total Funds; -$385.6M GF-State; -69.6 FTE)

Please remember that this is just the first step in our budget process.  Using the information sent from DSHS and other agencies, the Governor will develop and submit a budget. Then the House and Senate will provide their budgets and from there a final conference budget will be negotiated and passed. 

Thank you for the work you do to support individuals in Washington who are in need of long-term services and supports.  For additional details on the ALTSA budget request, click here. 

 

Sincerely,

 Bill Moss

Assistant Secretary
Aging and Long-Term Support Administration

DSHS: Transforming Lives

DDA budget request for FY 2021-23

 

Reductions: Eligibility cuts; provider rate cuts; Residential Habilitation Center closure; wage savings for state employees; furlough days for state employees

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This letter was shared by email from DSHS DDA:

Developmental Disabilities Administration; September 16, 2020

Dear Interested Stakeholder,

Today the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Secretary Cheryl Strange announced the submission of the DSHS proposed 2021-23 biennial budget to the Office of Financial Management, which included the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) budget proposal.

The agency submitted two types of proposals for the next biennium’s budget: budget requests and reduction options.  The budget requests include funding for increased services or a change in the way existing services are delivered.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and projected budget shortfalls extraordinary proposed reductions of 15% were required by the Office of Financial Management this year. This painstaking effort included staff furloughs, administrative cuts, and provider rate reductions. Even more difficult were the substantial cuts to client services, including eligibility, which had to be made to reach the goal of a 15% reduction. Please remember that this is just the first step in the biennial budget process.  

Budget Requests:

  • Children’s State-Operated Living Alternative (SOLA): Five new SOLA homes would serve 15 children age 20 and younger on the west side of the state who are not eligible for Residential Habilitation Center admission and are not able to successfully transition to out-of-home residential placement because suitable options do not exist. ($10.7M; $5.7M GF-State; 50.1FTE)

  • High School Transition Students: Adding Basic Plus waiver capacity in anticipation that 878 eligible high school graduates will seek DDA services in the 2021-23 Biennium. ($10.3M; $5.7M GF-State)

  • Increase Children’s Intensive In-Home Behavioral Support (CIIBS) waiver capacity: Expand the CIIBS Medicaid waiver from 100 to 200 slots. ($8.7M; $4.6M GF-State; 13.2 FTE)

  • Financial Eligibility Staff: This funding for additional staff will improve the timeliness and accuracy of eligibility reviews, application processing, and case management updates, resulting in better meeting the 45-day application processing requirement. ($6.0M; $3.5M GF-State; 27.1 FTE)

  • Increase Preadmission Screening and Resident Review (PASRR) Capacity: More clients are entitled to PASRR specialized services for people with developmental disabilities. DDA is required to initiate these services within 120 days of assessment. ($4.3M; $2.1M GF-State)

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Requesting purchase of PPE for both DDA staff and for in-home caregivers. ($10.3M; $5.1M GF-State; 1.9 FTE)

  • COVID-19: New costs are related to dealing with the pandemic, including a state-operated facility (residential cottage) on the grounds of Rainier School and technology for remote supports for staff to maintain client contact without in-person visits. ($7.8M; $5.9M GF-State; 2.0 FTE)

  • Residential Habilitation Centers (RHC) Digital Records Transformation: An electronic health record system for the RHCs is necessary to maintain compliance with federal Medicaid certification standards. ($406,000; $203,000 GF-State)

  • Paper to Electronic Workflows: An electronic document management system to replace paper files is essential for staff to successfully meet client and provider needs while working remotely and to comply with federal requirements in a timely manner. ($2.3M; $1.2M GF-State; 7.0 FTE)

Reduction Options:

  • Furlough Reductions: Continuation of the Governor's  Furlough Days to achieve cost savings with two furlough days per month. (-$38.7M; -$21M)

  • General Wage Savings: Continuation of the Governor's modification of the 3% General Wage increase for EMS and WMS Positions. (-$892,000; -$512,000 GF-State)

  • RHC Cuts and Rainier Closure: Staffing reductions, cottage closures and decreased purchasing at three RHCs, and Rainier School is proposed to be closed by the end of the next biennium, June 30, 2023. (-$36.8M; -$16.6M GF-State; -283.1 FTE)

  • Provider Rate Cuts: A 2.4 percent rate cut would affect in-home caregivers, Adult Family Homes, respite providers, Adult Residential Care, and Employment and Day services providers. (-$34.2M; -$15.7M GF-State)

  • Client Eligibility Cuts: Under this option, approximately 6,500 clients with lighter care needs would temporarily lose paid services in the 21-23 biennium, including in-home personal care, residential services, SOLA and RHC. (-$490M; -$243.8M; -112.3 FTE)

The budget can and will change over time, and we appreciate the Governor’s support. As we move through this process we will be meeting with stakeholders and will keep you apprised of the budget status, particularly in regard to potential reductions. More detail can be found at this link: https://abr.ofm.wa.gov/budget/agency/requests 

Sincerely,

Evelyn Perez

Assistant Secretary, Developmental Disabilities Administration

 Contact us for questions or feedback.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

What’s up with high school transition services?

Woman looking up from filling out a form

Recommendations are due to the state legislature in November. Community Q&A on Sept. 24

Schools in Washington state exclude and segregate students with disabilities at some of the highest rates in the nation, resulting in lack of access to a general education that will prepare them for jobs and post-secondary learning.

The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) agencies, the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Center for Change in Transition Services have been collaborating for a couple of years to address inequities and outcomes for high school students with disabilities, including supports to help them transition into employment. They taped a webinar on their progress and have scheduled two question and answer meetings for September 24.

Registration for Q&As:


Advocacy tip: Review the information, then raise the matter with your school board members. Their contact information should be on your school district’s website.

Ask: What are they doing to address the issues raised? School boards are the governing bodies in charge of your school district’s policies and funding choices. They also hire the superintendent, who, in turn, implements the policies and practices that the board defines for them.

If you have concerns related to your student’s IEP, then you need to work with the IEP team. Advocacy with the school board comes into play when you are advocating for districtwide policies, practices, and funding, or if you have concerns about discrimination or violations of state or federal law.

What is prompting this work?

General education access = improved outcomes

  • Washington ranks 44 out of 50 states for inclusive practices
  • 58% of students with disabilities access general education for 80-100% of the day
  • For students of color, that level of access falls to 49%
  • For students with intellectual disabilities that access falls to 6% (bottom 3 in the nation)
  • 20% of graduates with disabilities completed a diploma pathway at grade-level standard and 70% pursued an alternative option
  • 25% of students with disabilities are not engaged in any post-secondary activities one year after leaving school
  • That rises to 50% for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Washington’s cross-agency transition collaborative includes the OSPI, the DSHS Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), their respective advisory councils, and the Center for Change in Transition Services at Seattle University.

These groups have been working with secondary transition stakeholders statewide to align efforts to improve post-school outcomes for students with disabilities. The webinar video was recorded on August 28, 2020, and provides updates on joint activities and next steps for cross-agency efforts, including the development of a final report due to the state legislature in November 2020.

As a follow up to the recorded webinar, transition collaborative members will host two live question-and-answer sessions on September 24, 2020. Please join them by registering for one of the following sessions:

Thursday, September 24, from 11 am to noon: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUrceyopzwuG9yU8n3XITiyXXINRHZVBH7X

Thursday, September 24, from 3 to 4 pm: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwsdeyrrzsiEtZ5WeQeUYmSqDb0U6cKypN0


 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Challenge? Health, supports, jobs, housing, education

In our survey to the community asking about disability supports, we asked: What Is Your Biggest Challenge?

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Your responses follow. You can still take the surveys, and share your thoughts, here:

  • Survey: DD Long-Term Supports, https://forms.gle/rRiWBMeLxkpDEJc88

  • Survey: Early Learning and K-12 Education, https://forms.gle/7jJ2L18WuCScBv5D9

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We will use your feedback to share with leaders and boost awareness of developmental disability

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What is your biggest challenge? (Responses from community survey on DD long-term supports)

"Making sure my sister is properly taken care of physically and financially!"

"Continuous funding issues are scary. Current administration is slowly dismantling the social safety net."

"Transportation."

"My daughter is a relentless attention seeker. She needs to engage constantly."

"During this pandemic, not having enough knowledge with computer or subject matters to effectively help student with distance learning and trying to maintain some sort of normalcy in the life of I/DD young adult without being overwhelmed. Also, not having enough mental health staff to meet the needs of their clients."

"Isolation because of coronavirus."

"Aging and Limited Supports.Finding a Good Employment Fit. Staying Healthy. Finding Good Medical Team."

"Ensuring behavioral support stabilization, and providing MPC so my son can remain at home safely and participate in the community activities. Without the supports for both, my son could not do either of the above."

"Physical activities and my right to have fun like swimming and other activities."

"Funds."

"Policies that are restrictive ... (advocates') commitment to isolating clients in individual housing when my son would do better in larger groups."

"Getting consistent staff; getting knowledgeable support providers; finding day activities that include transportation and that are long enough to make for a full day."

"Right now all is good for us but the biggest challenge is trying to get the community as a whole to understand the full continuum of support needs and look realistically at costs in order to provide those supports."

"Getting support for my family member to go out into the community for activities and socialization."

"School District staff dismissing mine and my child’s disabilities. Denying accommodations and services."

"Finding caregivers."

"Navigating medical billing and benefits; there is zero transparency on the side of private insurers."

"No respite camps!!!!!!!!!! he needs to socialize with friends. And we need a break."

"Technology for people that need it."

"Making sure employment support is maintained through this budget crisis."

"Transportation and lack of school (and later, adult programs/outings)."

"Isolation."

"Independence, emotional control, anxiety for adult child."

"Setting up out daughter for when we parents are no longer able to care for her.

"Getting help with care so we can work and make what we need to survive and support our son. Long term thinking about what he will need as an adult. Getting what he needs in school."

"Threats of decreased funding to an already underfunded agency (DSHS/DDA)."

"Getting help with care so we can work and make what we need to survive and support our son. Long term thinking about what he will need as an adult. Getting what he needs in school."

"Insufficient day program/funding options. No college or apprenticeship programs suitable for her functioning level (these programs require a high level of functioning and independence and aren’t designed for middle-of-the-road functioning levels). A stretched case manager who rarely finds or recommends anything helpful. Few housing options, especially for those with developmental disability and mental illness."

"Finding care aides, they are underpaid."

"Right now it is the fear of losing eligibility for services and what that would mean for our family ... my son losing his job and home."

"It was his health."

"Health insurance and the time it takes to get approved coverage for necessary medical equipment."

"Health; our son's Type II diabetes is unstable. The residential staff works with him to improve his lifestyle and eating habits, but it is a challenge on both sides."

"Finding personal care providers that are well trained"

"Living independently and connecting to the community."

"The world is not designed for a person in a wheelchair to access; our system leaves out individuals age 10- 18 with disabilities that do not result is severe cognitive deficits and they need support too."

"Delays and red tape in accessing needed services."

(Responses as of August 24, 2020)

 

"Everyone belongs" - Inclusion defined

 

In our survey to the community asking about disability supports, we asked: What does inclusion mean to you?

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Your responses follow. You can still take the surveys, and share your thoughts, here:

  • Survey: DD Long-Term Supports, https://forms.gle/rRiWBMeLxkpDEJc88

  • Survey: Early Learning and K-12 Education, https://forms.gle/7jJ2L18WuCScBv5D9

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We will use your feedback to share with leaders and boost awareness of developmental disability

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Inclusion is ... (Responses from community survey on DD long-term supports)

"The freedom to go out into the community with proper supervision to engage in 'normal' activities."

"Equitable opportunities for *all* to have meaningful lives, as they so choose. It is representation, having a voice, and being seen. It is ease of access, the dismantling of systemic barriers, and a world in which no one is an afterthought."

"Access and privileges that are granted to nondisabled."

"Equity in participation in community life."

"To be included in and given same rights and benefits as those who does not have different abilities."

"Everyone is invited, everyone feels welcome, AND no one experiences a barrier to participation."

"School. Work. Specialized Programs. Health. Mental Supports. Family."

"All individuals are able to participate in all aspects of life they desire."

"That I am treated like everyone else. I’m treated as a person first before my disability."

"Being included into the community, being able to participate like everyone else."

"Ability to go freely in community."

"Support to be included in every aspect of the community; not feeling excluded or unwelcome."

"To me it means the person has individual choices about their lives and the supports and services to ensure that person can participate and live how they choose."

"It means that people with DD can choose where they want to go, where they want to live, who they want to spend social time with, who they want to do activities with and that nobody can restrict their choice."

"Acceptance. Student receiving enough supports to make education accessible to them alongside their non disabled peers."

Everyone gets the same opportunity.

Being a valued member of the community who has opportunity to effectively contribute to the overall wellbeing of self, others and the community as a whole.

The ability for my son to be out in public and engage with people who don't have differences.

Disability exists because we don't recognize and accommodate fellow humans.

Being independent.

A community where all are accepted without regard to ability, or skin color or any other difference.

Support for participation in any activity supported with federal, state, and local dollars (i.e. library, city and county events, access for physical disabilities, shorter queues).

Not being excluded for any reason.

Accepting and allowing differences.

A full life — safe housing, employment, recreation— lived in the community. Acceptance and support.

That my son is included in all areas of the human experience and society. That his needs are centered and not an after thought or not included at all.

Adapt community policies to provide living and employment supports to allow all individuals to fully participate within their communities.

That my son is included in all areas of the human experience and society. That his needs are centered and not an after thought or not included at all.

Ability to participate in daily activities enjoyed by those without disabilities.

Living a life where my son knows he is of equal value and has equal opportunity to live, work, and recreate in his community.

Everyone belongs to our society.

That our communities and the institutions that serve them are set up according to principles of universal design in a way that provides people of all abilities with full access and encourages their full and equitable participation in the community 

The opportunity for individuals with disabilities to participate in community activities that they are reasonably able to and desire, with reasonable accommodation and support provided by public and private organizations and monies. This includes not only activities but medical and mental health support so that individuals with disabilities are able to lives that are physically and mentally healthy.

They shall have high self esteem and recognize and be recognized for who they are and their contributions. Education for the public in general as well as service providers. Public/private partnership to achieve these goals.

Equality and accessibility.

It means I can work, pay taxes, pay rent and learn to live independently.

Inclusion mean having activities that are welcoming for all people and universally designed programs and spaces that remove barriers to participation.

Inclusion means not missing out on the riches of life, in community, because of our disabilities.

(Responses as of August 24, 2020.)


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Apply today! Fall 2020 cohort starts in September

Applications are due September 12:
https://forms.gle/NXv1q6qwdQZgSHSA7

 

Young boy yelling with words: The Inclusion Academy. For parents (and allies) of children 2 to 5.
Add caption


Are you interested in promoting inclusive early learning and disability equity? Join us as we launch our third cohort of The Inclusion Academy. This one will be all online, with a mix of live Zoom video conferencing and independent study through a private, closed website.

Applications are due September 12, 2020, for the fall 2020 cohort. 
 
If you prefer to apply by phone or require interpretation or support, you may also contact Bridget: bnickol@arcofkingcounty.org, 206-829-7016.


 

ABOUT THE INCLUSION ACADEMY

"They aren't ready for us" is something we hear often. This opportunity is about changing that.

OUR GOAL: Give you the information you need to support and advocate for young children AND a structure to practice and pursue disability activism.

OUR PHILOSOPHY: Disability is a type of diversity, and whether children with disabilities or developmental delay reach their potential is linked to how society responds to and nurtures them. So let's change society.

The Inclusion Academy is grounded in the science of early childhood development and the legal and research basis for inclusive learning. It is a Best Starts for Kids Innovation Fund pilot and a portfolio project of Frontiers of Innovation, the research and development arm of Harvard's Center on the Developing Child.

WHO SHOULD APPLY: Parents (and allies!) of young children ages 2 to 5 navigating early child care, preschool, and kindergarten transitions. While we will absolutely cover material that you can apply to your child/situation, the academy is fundamentally about shifting systems to be inclusive.

CLASS TOPICS: The developing brain and what children need to thrive; disability is diversity; the case for inclusion; barriers; your child's rights; access and the local early learning landscape; defining quality; Universal Design for Learning and next gen teaching; how change happens; and more! This time, we're leaving space to let the cohort define areas of interest.

ADVOCACY SKILLS: Listening, analysis, communications; vision planning; policy development; data mining; collaboration; community building, and other skills the cohort identifies as priorities.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Collaborative learning through presentations, small group discussion, independent reflection, and resource sharing, paired with skill building and support to advocate within your community. Once the class lineup concludes, we will support inclusion projects, host continued learning opportunities, and create space for a community of advocates.

TIME COMMITMENT: Six to nine months. The first three to four will be focused on regular classes. Some will occur live (via Zoom), others will involve independent study. You should plan on two hours a week from late September into mid-January, with a break over the winter holidays. After that depends on how you want to apply your learning. We anticipate Saturday classes alternating with some independent study, but will finalize the schedule based on the interest and availability of applicants. All live video conferences will be taped and available via private website

Once classes conclude, we will support you with community projects that promote inclusive early learning or disability equity.

COST: This class is free, thanks to a grant from King County's Best Starts for Kids. Participants will also get a small stipend to help offset costs related to their community projects.

LOCATION: Classes will be held online using Zoom video conferencing as well as a private website where materials will be compiled and where participants can share with each other in a closed setting. Live meetings will be recorded for participants to access later.

CAN I APPLY IF MY CHILDREN AREN'T AGE 2-5? Absolutely. Parents with children slightly younger or older will benefit from classes and advocacy skills development. But the focus will be on early development for children ages 2 to 5.

DO I HAVE TO BE A PARENT? No! Professionals, other family, and other allies are welcome to apply.

QUESTIONS? Please contact Bridget Nickol, early learning initiatives coordinator at The Arc of King County, bnickol@arcofkingcounty.org, 206-829-7016.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

DD funding is NOT in Senate plan

Please take action! Funds for Medicaid Home and Community Based Services are essential ... and did NOT make it into the Senate proposal

Action Alert

BACKGROUND:

The U.S. Senate introduced the HEALS Act Monday, and the news for disability advocates is bad:
  • No additional funds for home and community based services. These types services make up the essence of DD, or community, supports.
  • Civil rights protections, including some under the Americans with Disabilities Act, would be lost
There are small victories. The Senate proposal ensures adults with disabilities who are claimed as dependents have access to stimulus payments; there are some non-profit supports; and it works to fix the Paycheck Protection Program loans. But broadly, the bill ignores the critical needs of people with disabilities, their families, the Direct Support Professional workforce, and service providers.

The Senate proposal has $1 trillion dollars of relief, while the House HEROES Act included $3 trillion in funding, much in the form of relief for states. The House proposal notably included an increase to the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) and new home and community based services funding, also called "HCBS funds."

In the Senate proposal, employees and people with disabilities would lose protections under several labor, employment, and civil rights laws, including:
  • Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act
  • Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
  • The Senate proposal also removes liability under the ADA and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for businesses and employers who cannot offer requested accommodations because doing so will pose serious risk to public health

The National Disability Rights Network Statement: Senate COVID Bill Protects Profits, Not Lives


ABOUT "HCBS" and "FMAP":

Home and community based services (HCBS) are alternatives to institutional care. If you or a loved one access services through the state Developmental Disabilities Administration or Aging and Long-Term Supports Administration, chances are they are funded by an HCBS waiver. The Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentages (FMAP), meanwhile, determine matching federal funds for certain state medical and social service programs. If the federal government increases FMAP rates, then the state's investment in Medicaid goes further. Apple Health and long-term supports are funded through Medicaid.

The Arc's policy staff in Washington, D.C., says negotiations are ongoing and a compromise is expected. They were still reviewing the text of the bills Tuesday afternoon and providing updates. The House is set to recess on Friday, July 31, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated they will stay until a deal is reached. The Senate is set to recess on August 7.

ALERT & TALKING POINTS FROM THE ARC's NATIONAL STAFF:

WE MUST ACT to keep the pressure on the Senate to include the needs of people with disabilities, the direct support workforce, and service providers in the next federal package. Things will move fast, and right now the Senate proposal does NOT address most of the critical needs of people with disabilities!

Your Senators need to hear from you so that these and other important provisions ,are included in the bill that ultimately passes Congress:
  • Dedicated funding for Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS). These funds are necessary to serve people with disabilities in their homes and communities and will provide better wages and support for the direct support workforce. Better wages and support are needed to stabilize and grow the direct support field. Access to HCBS will limit the risk of people with disabilities being put in institutions. Now, especially, people need to avoid congregate care. And all states need robust alternatives to institutions.

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) for direct support professionals. This is urgently needed to protect the health and safety of this critical workforce. DSPs must be designated as essential workers so that they can get access to the PPE and medical supplies they need.

  • Paid leave for all caregivers. As more people with disabilities lose their usual sources of care, family caregivers are scrambling and need access to paid leave and sick days to help their loved ones. Congress should include all family caregivers in the emergency paid leave provisions.

  • Economic impact payments for all people with disabilities, including adults with disabilities who are claimed as dependents.


You can take action here: https://p2a.co/hy2tD8v

All alert messages can be edited.

If you prefer, you can also email Washington's U.S. Senators directly:

Monday, July 13, 2020

Do candidates understand DD issues?

Most candidates vying to represent parts of King County have NOT responded to a questionnaire about developmental disabilities


Earlier this year, The Arc of Washington State sent candidates running in the 2020 races a questionnaire about developmental disabilities. The responses are posted, and can be accessed from this page: https://arcwa.org/advocacy/2020-elections/

The bad news? Hardly any candidates who want to represent King County responded.

What can you do? Contact the candidates and ask them to fill it out. It's easy - their campaign emails and phone numbers are listed next to their names on The Arc of Washington's election page. (If they are incumbents, please use their campaign contact information and not their office email or phone numbers. They aren't allowed to use public resources to campaign.)

Don't know your legislative districts? You can look them up here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/.
  • On this tool, "Congressional" refers to federal positions (U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate) while "Legislative" refers to state positions (Washington's House of Representatives and Senate).
Our advice: Tell candidates you care about issues affecting people with developmental disabilities and you are looking to support candidates who do, as well. Ask them to fill out the questionnaire. We have a sample email (see bottom) that you can use (with information about DD) below. Here is a link to the questionnaire that you can share: https://arcwa.org/content/uploads/sites/35/2020/06/Legislative-questionnaire-2020.pdf

You also might mention that DD issues intersect with most areas they willneed to make decisions about as elected leaders:
  • Health care (including Medicaid and long-term supports)
  • Behavioral health supports and well-being
  • Housing
  • Education (including child care and early learning)
  • Employment
  • Transportation
  • Civil rights and legal protections
  • ... and more!
There are just four questions:
  1. If you have a personal connection or professional experience with someone who has a developmental disability, would you describe its impact on you?
  2. What are your top three legislative priorities and how would you help people with developmental disabilities in them?
  3. With the current economic crisis, how would you protect services that people with I/DD and their families need?
  4. Is there other information you’d like constituents with developmental disabilities and their family and friends to know?
Washington's primary is August 4; ballots will be mailed starting July 17. The top two candidates in each race then advance to the general election on November 3.
From an advocacy perspective, this is an important time to make sure candidates understand issues that people with developmental disabilities and their families face.
There are 10 Congressional districts; four include parts of King County:
  • 1st CD. No candidates responded as of 7/13
  • 7th CD. No candidates responded as of 7/13
  • 9th CD. 1 candidate responded as of 7/13

There are 16 legislative districts in King County. (Some also include parts of other counties):
  • 1st LD. 0 of 7 candidates responded as of 7/13 (North King County)
  • 5th LD. 2 of 6 candidates responded as of 7/13 (East King County)
  • 11th LD. 0 of 6 candidates responded as of 7/13(South King County)
  • 30th LD. 3 of 8 candidates responded as of 7/13 (South King County)
  • 31st LD. 2 of 6 candidates responded as of 7/13 (South King County)
  • 32nd LD. 0 of 6 candidates responded as of 7/13 (North King County)
  • 33rd LD. 0 of 3 candidates responded as of 7/13 (South King County)
  • 34th LD. 0 of 2 candidates responded as of 7/13 (Seattle and SW King County)
  • 36th LD. 2 of 4 candidates responded as of 7/13 (Seattle)
  • 37th LD. 2 of 11 candidates responded as of 7/13 (Seattle and South King County)
  • 39th LD. 1 of 7 candidates responded as of 7/13 (NE King County)
  • 41st LD. 1 of 7 candidates responded as of 7/13 (East King County)
  • 43st LD.  1 of 6 candidates responded as of 7/13 (Seattle)
  • 45th LD. 0 of 4 candidates responded as of 7/13 (East King County)
  • 46th LD. 1 of 4 candidates candidates responded as of 7/13 (Seattle and North King County)
  • 47th LD. 0 of 6 candidates responded as of 7/13 (South King County)
  • 48th LD. 1 of 6 candidates responded as of 7/13 (Seattle)
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SAMPLE EMAIL:


Dear candidate,

Developmental disabilities are a huge part of my life and it is important to me that my elected representatives understand and prioritize issues that affect me and my loved ones.

The Arc of Washington put together this questionnaire, https://arcwa.org/content/uploads/sites/35/2020/06/Legislative-questionnaire-2020.pdf. It would mean a lot if you answered it and returned it to Diana Stadden, policy and advocacy coordinator at The Arc of Washington, at Diana@arcwa.org.

Developmental disabilities intersect with most issues elected leaders need to make decisions about, including:
  • Health care (including Medicaid and long-term supports)
  • Behavioral health supports and well-being
  • Housing
  • Education (early learning, K-12, and post-secondary)
  • Employment
  • Transportation
  • Civil rights and legal protections

If you aren't familiar with developmental disabilities, here is some information:

Developmental disabilities are defined differently depending on the entity. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) uses a broad definition that captures a large group of disorders related to development delay in childhood; this definition represents 15 to 17 percent of the population. Most people captured in this group do not qualify for state support, however.

The federal DD Act uses a much narrower definition that limits the scope of “DD” to people with severe and chronic disabilities that start in childhood, continue indefinitely, and result in substantial functional limitations in 3 or more areas of major life activity; this captures 1.58 percent of the population. Using this definition, there are about 119,000 people with DD in Washington, and about 34,000 in King County. The term includes many diagnoses, but the common ones are Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism, and intellectual disabilities.

Washington state also defines developmental disabilities in its administrative code and uses this definition to determine who gets supports from DSHS Developmental Disabilities Administration. Of the estimated 119,000 individuals in Washington who meet the federal definition, only about 30 percent are able to access services determined by its WAC definition.

You can learn more about policy issues that affect people with developmental disabilities and their families here: https://thearc.org/policy-advocacy/

Sincerely,