Thursday, May 14, 2020

DD support is in COVID-19 relief package, but could be cut

Advocacy still needed to ensure supports get to people with DD

First the good news: The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote by Friday on a COVID-19 relief package that includes essential funding and protections for people with developmental disabilities. Both The Arc of the United States and NAMI have issued action alerts to advocates.

The challenge?

HR 6800 is a very large bill that will be trimmed down. Not everything in it now will stay in.
And then the bill needs to go to the Senate. We're told leaders there don't feel the same urgency to pass it quickly. And it is expected to get trimmed down more in the Senate.
So while your advocacy is working, we aren't there yet. Calls and emails are still needed. No one in the Washington State delegation is sponsoring.

Following are action alerts from The Arc of the United States and NAMI, a national alliance for mental health. We don't normally share NAMI alerts, but we are worried about state capacity to support people with DD who are dually diagnosed with DD and a mental health disorder, and we are concerned about increased demand for mental health support among family and caregivers due to social isolation, stress, and anxiety triggered by the pandemic.

From The Arc of the United States:

Tell Congress #WeAreEssential. Click below for:

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote as soon as Friday morning on the next pandemic relief package - and we can't be left behind!

The proposed bill includes many provisions that will provide critical support to people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support professional (DSP) workforce during this pandemic.

Contact your members of Congress NOW to make sure that these specific needs are included:
  • 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 DSP workforce. Access to HCBS will limit the risk of people with disabilities being put in institutions. (Note: In Washington, we call these "community supports" or "DDA services.")
  • 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. (Note: Washington state does not prioritize access to PPE for people supporting others in home environments. PPE is only offered after COVID-19 has been diagnosed, leaving DSPs vulnerable and potentially unknowingly spreading the virus if the people they are supporting are asymptomatic, are waiting on test results, or cannot access a test.)
  • 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. Tell Congress to make sure that stimulus payments are available to everyone, including adults with disabilities who are claimed as dependents. (Note: You might also want to add access to stimulus payments for all citizens, regardless of whether they are married to a non-citizen.)
 
Thank you for your advocacy!
-

From NAMI

The COVID-19 pandemic is pushing America into a mental health crisis that we aren’t prepared to address. Social isolation, financial distress, fears about health and an uncertain future are worsening symptoms for people with mental health conditions and causing new mental health challenges for many others.

We need your help in ensuring Congress takes action to address this growing crisis.

Yesterday, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800) was released in the House, and it includes many of NAMI’s priorities. The HEROES Act could be voted on as early as Friday. This bill supports mental health by:
  • Protecting state and local capacity to provide mental health services: State and local governments are on the verge of making widespread cuts. This bill provides emergency funds to preserve mental health services and meet growing demand.
  • Enhancing the ability to respond to mental health crises: Helplines are experiencing surges in calls as people struggle. The HEROES Act establishes 9-8-8 as the nation’s three-digit hotline for effective mental health crisis care and suicide prevention.
  • Protecting people with mental illness who are justice-involved: There are alarming gaps in our health care system’s ability to care for people in custody and as they reenter the community. This bill provides Medicaid coverage for eligible people leaving the criminal justice system.
  • Ensuring safe housing for people with mental illness: Many people with mental health conditions do not have safe housing or are at risk of losing housing with the loss of steady income. The HEROES Act includes investments in emergency rental assistance, assistance to homeowners and to people experiencing homelessness.
  • Preserving the mental health treatment infrastructure: While the need for mental health services has never been higher, many mental health providers are reducing services. This bill includes $100 billion in emergency funding for health care providers, including mental health providers.

Raise your voice and ask your members of Congress to act NOW. Urge your representative to support the HEROES Act and ask your senators to prioritize similar mental health provisions in any Senate action.
Take action on NAMI's alert

Thank you for your advocacy.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Questions for DDA? Need tools, insights? Town hall May 14


From The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS):
The Developmental Disabilities Administration is hosting a virtual town hall to talk about home survival while living through a pandemic
Please join DSHS' Dr. Phillip Diaz, Clinical Director from the agency's Developmental Disabilities Administration for a Home Survival training, scheduled for Thursday, May 14, 2020. Dr. Diaz will provide practical tools and insights to help adapt to living together in isolated environments.
Thursday’s presentation will provide ideas for knowing yourself, your housemates, and the things you can do to thrive while learning new ways of being family.
Dr. Phil Diaz is a much sought after speaker who brings over 30 years clinical experience. His background includes Clinical Neuropsychology, School Psychology, Human Development, Counseling, and Measurement with an extensive experience in designing services for populations with special needs.
We hope you are able to attend.

What to Expect:
  • Get to know yourself and others
  • Learn how to deal with changes and disruptions
  • A chance to ask questions and share concerns
Who is Invited:
The meeting is open to the public, including (but not limited to): individuals with developmental disabilities (including those who do not receive DDA services), parents and other family members, and professionals.
Date and Time:
Thursday, May 14, 2020
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
 How to Join:
Meeting ID: 997 5497 0188
Password: 421256
Phone Number:
Dial by your location
        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
       
Meeting ID: 997 5497 0188
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/amWdEIvv
This event will be conducted and recorded in English and Spanish. If are unable to attend, the session will be uploaded onto DDA’s home page under Corona Virus Information at www.dshs.wa.gov/dda/consumers-and-families/dda-coronavirus-information.
To have this content translated and/or transcribed in a language other than Spanish, please contact Justin Chan at Justin.Chan@dshs.wa.gov.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Tell Congress #WeAreEssential

An alert from The Arc of the United States: 

People With Disabilities, Families, and Direct Support Professionals:

We can't be left behind!


Congress must include the needs of people with disabilities, family caregivers, and the direct support professional workforce in the next coronavirus relief legislation - there is so much at stake.
Contact your Members of Congress now!
  • Call  
  • Email  
  • Tweet 
  • Tweet handles: @RepJayapal,  @RepAdamSmith,  @RepDelBene, @RepKimSchrier, @PattyMurray, @SenatorCantwell
The entire country is facing the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, but people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable. People with disabilities are more likely to have underlying health conditions and live in poverty - this means that they will be disproportionately impacted and need ongoing support.

Ask your Member of Congress to pass a bill that addresses the specific and critical needs of people with disabilities during this pandemic, including:
  • Funding for a Medicaid grant program to support access to home and community-based services (to minimize the risk of people with disabilities being forced into institutions) and to support the DSP workforce.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) for direct support professionals is urgently needed to protect their health and safety. DSPs must be designated as essential workforce so that they have access to the PPE and medical supplies they need.
  • Paid leave for 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.

GREAT NEWS! Advocacy from The Arc has already created easier access to Recovery Rebates for people using Supplemental Security Income (SSI). More on that here:



Thank you for your continued advocacy!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

DD Virtual Town Hall on COVID-19


Connect with people who can help

  • Do you have a developmental disability or support someone who does?
  • Do you have questions and concerns about what is happening with COVID-19?
  • Are you looking for resources or just want to connect with others who understand what you are going through?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, and you live in Washington state, please join the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council, TheArc of Washington State, and the Developmental Disabilities Administration for a virtual town hall to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the developmental disabilities community and what is being done to meet the needs of people across the state.

What to expect:

  • Important updates from DDA (central office and regional DDA staff will participate)
  • Resources and ideas.
  • A chance to ask questions and share concerns.

All are invited:

The meetings are open to the public, including (but not limited to): individuals with developmental disabilities (including those who do not receive DDA services), parents and other family members, and professionals.

Dates and times:

There is one meeting scheduled for each DDA region. Choose to attend whichever works best for your schedule. Each meeting with be recorded and shared afterward.

  • Tuesday, April 7, 10:00-11:30 am (DDA Region 1 - east of the Cascades; Spokane office)
  • Thursday, April 9, 10:00-11:30 am (DDA Region 2 - King, Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom and Island counties; Seattle office)
  • Thursday, April 9, 4:00-5:30 pm (DDA Region 3 - Pierce, Thurston, Clark and other counties southwest and on the Peninsula; Tacoma office)
Click here for a map of the DSHS/DDA regions

How to join:

Or, call 669-900-9128 and use Access Code 904 896 834#
 

Questions?

If you have any questions about the town halls, or would like to share your questions or concerns ahead of time, please contact Jeremy Norden-Paul.at jeremy.norden-paul@ddc.wa.gov