Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Q&A: Can relying on public assistance disqualify you for a rental?

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: Some people who rely on housing vouchers, Social Security, or other forms of benefits or assistance struggled to find landlords who would rent to them. This is called "source of income discrimination." This spring the state legislature and the Metropolitan King County Council passed laws to expand housing opportunities by prohibiting landlords or home sellers from denying people housing based on how they would pay for the unit.

Prospective tenants with verifiable alternative source of income - such as Social Security, Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers, state Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) funds, or rapid rehousing assistance - cannot be discriminated against in the rental process.

The state bill in question is HB 2578. Some details are below. You can read a full summary is here.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Metro Access update: Got complaints? Contact the King County Ombuds

Last year, King  County audited Metro Access, and the the findings were blistering, with half the riders surveyed saying they are dissatisfied with travel times. The audit found that since 2008 the number of rides have gone down, trips have become longer and costs have increased. The audit outlined steps the county could take and flagged a new contract with service providers, starting in 2018, as a unique opportunity to make changes to paratransit service.

What has happened in 10 months?

The contract bidding process was delayed to address concerns and a consumer work group was continued. But beyond that, not much has changed, say some advocates, who remain concerned that the new contract won't address longstanding issues. Last year, Metro posted a blog detailing steps it had already taken to address audit findings and set a timeline to act on others. Now, King County is asking people who still have complaints to contact the King County Ombuds, and not just Metro's customer service.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Q&A: Can schools require pyschotropic medication?

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: In 2017, SB 5448 was introduced in the state legislature; it would have prohibited school staff from denying students access to programs or services because the parent or guardian has refused to place the student on psychotropic medication.

But this is already covered in law, and the bill did not make it through the House - though it did pass the Senate 48-0, with 1 excused.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Now Recruiting: Parent leadership training opportunity!

Have you received early intervention services? Are you interesting in developing your leadership potential?

The Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program is seeking parents/caregivers from a variety of backgrounds to participate in the State Interagency Coordinating Council’s (SICC) Parent Institute for Engagement (PIE): Leadership and Lifelong Learning.

PIE is a 12-month training program for parents/caregivers with children who have received early intervention services and primarily for those not working in the early intervention field. One spot is designated for a parent/caregiver who has worked in the early intervention field for less than 18 months.

Parent/Caregivers will learn about:
  • Robert’s Rules of Order (a framework commonly used in public meetings)
  • The State Interagency Coordinating Council and its role in advising and assisting ESIT
  • The early intervention system
  • Leadership and advocacy
  • Public speaking and presentations
At the end of the program, parents may choose to become a member of a SICC standing committee.

Parent/caregivers will develop skills to be great candidates for school boards, and government bodies. This is a great practice ground for leadership opportunities. 

The majority of meetings will take place via an on-line format, with about five two-day in-person meetings (travel and childcare costs will be reimbursed).

Please complete the Survey Monkey (below) by Wednesday, April 18.  We will notify selected candidates the week of April 23, 2018.
If you, or someone you know, needs the application in a different language, please contact Sue Rose at

Timely: Rules are changing that affect people with DD

  • The Developmental Disability Administration, Health Care Authority, and Aging and Long-term  Supports Administration are asking for feedback on rule changes

When legislation is passed, the agencies charged with carrying out the law set rules that clarify details. Rules can have a tremendous impact on how a law is applied. There are a several rules processes underway now that you may want to comment on.

Developmental Disability Administration

Revised rules are being set for DDA administered home- and community-based waivers. These include:
  • Individual and Family Support
  • Basic Plus
  • Core
  • Children’s Intensive In-Home Behavior Supports (CIIBS) 
  • Community Protection
Changes involve definitions and services covered.
There will be a public hearing on these proposed changes May 22 at DSHS Headquarters in Olympia. For more information, contact Chantelle Diazchantelle, or (360) 407-1589.

Health Care Authority

New rules rules are being set by the HCA for:
  • Hearing aids
  • Inpatient rates
  • Applied behavior analysis
You can find more information about these HCA changes here.
You can find more general information about rule making on the HCA Rulemaking page. That page also provides links to all of the rules they are working on and upcoming hearings.

Aging and Long-Term Supports

Daily Medicaid rates are being updated for clients who have been assessed using the CARE tool and reside at an Adult Family Home or assisted living facility contracted to provide assisted living, adult residential care, or enhanced adult residential care services. Rate changes will be effective July 1, 2018.

To view the proposed changes, please visit WSR 18-08-076. For more information, contact
Elizabeth Pashley, 360-725-2447,

Webinar on Consumer Director Employer

  • A web site and other resources are being developed as the state shifts employer administrative duties to a private entity.


We are sharing the following from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Developmental Disability Administration (DDA):

Consumer Directed Employer: What is happening?

You are invited to participate in an informational  webinar on the Consumer Directed Employer project. 
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Why is this happening?

The IP work force has grown to 35,000 workers and the complexity of managing this workforce has greatly increased.   Time spent by case management, customer service, and other social services staff on the administrative functions of IP management takes away from the amount of time available  to perform assessment, service planning and case management for individuals we serve.

Senate Bill 6199 passed the legislature during the 2018 legislative session; authorizing the Department to contract with a Consumer Directed Employer as the legal employer for IPs. The project will transfer credentialing, payroll and other employer responsibilities from the Aging and Long-Term Support Administration, Developmental Disability Administration and Area Agencies on Aging to the Consumer Directed Employer.  This change is expected to take place no earlier than July 1, 2020.

This change in relationship will allow us to spend more time to support individuals in need of services across our system. Consumers will have more time from our staff while also retaining the right to hire, supervise, and terminate the individual providing their care.

What will the Webinar cover?

•    The functions and expectations of the Consumer Directed Employer
•    What you can expect to happen now and in the future
•    The timeline and steps needed to implement this change
•    How you can stay informed and involved

Where can I find more information?

Webinars will be held regularly to provide more information and progress reports.  In addition, a web page is being created where information will be available.  Focus groups and stakeholder meetings to be scheduled around the state over the next 3 months. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Seattle: Workers with disabilities must get minimum wage

Great news for advocates working on labor issues.

Screen shot from the city's bill signing ceremony.
The City of Seattle made it official and has eliminated the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities. Seattle is the first city to do so, following the states of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland and Alaska. The change means Seattle's minimum wage laws also apply to people with disabilities.

Congratulations go out to the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities; the National Federation of the Blind, Washington chapter; and Disability Rights Washington!

Helping out on earlier efforts for a temporary halt: Self Advocates In Leadership; People First of Washington; and AtWork!

We also happily supported this effort. This issue has been a top priority for the self-advocates we work with and alongside.
Special certificates to pay a subminimum wage for learners, apprentices, and messengers as described in RCW 49.46.060 will still be allowed.

Some people are concerned about the effect ending subminimum wage certificates might have on people with developmental disabilities. Washington, and especially King County, has already shifted away from prevocational services (also known as sheltered workshops) and group supported employment, where most individuals earned less than minimum wage. Most DDA clients locally are enrolled in individual supported employment where they make minimum wage or better. Here are the numbers from July 2017.

Others are concerned about people losing hours. Statewide, the difference in average hours between group supported employment (where you see more subminimum wages) and individual supported employment was about 30 minutes a week, 10.9 hours versus 10.4 hours.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Building resilience to protect and improve Medicaid

For many in the DD world, Medicaid is the door to inclusion. Our listen, learn and mobilize events start in April



Last year, there were multiple attempts in Congress to not only reduce funding for Medicaid, but to end the program as it exists and leave it to states to rebuild using reduced federal funding.

At The Arc of King County, we joined advocates nationwide to ask Congress to hit pause. Nationwide, 10 million people with disabilities rely on Medicaid to live and participate in their communities.

But as we rallied, it became clear few people really understood Medicaid - not the Congress members considering funding cuts, nor the state legislators who would have to consider service cuts. Even families of people with developmental disabilities were often unaware that the services their loved one relied on were paid for by Medicaid.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Advocates: Help keep ADA strong

Three weeks ago, the U.S. House passed a bill that would create additional requirements for filing lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Nationally, advocates are very concerned about how this impacts people with disabilities and the efforts to ensure communities are inclusive and accessible.

Advocates are trying to block the bill in the U.S. Senate, and Senator Maria Cantwell has been identified as being "on the fence."

You can call the Washington hotline at (202) 224-3441 and ask Senator Cantwell to co-sign the ADA Dear Colleague letter that Senator Tammy Duckworth is circulating.

So far, the letter has over 30 co-signers.  If advocates can get to 41 signers, this bill is essentially blocked. 

(Senator Cantwell is also a sponsor of the EMPOWER Care Act, so be sure sure to thank her! That bill would restore funding to the federal Money Follows the Person program that helps people with disabilities move out of institutional settings and back into the community.)

Additional back ground:
  • A statement by  Senators Bob Casey, Chuck Schumer, Tammy Duckworth, Maggie Hassan, Elizabeth Warren and Chris Van Hollen, calling on colleague to defend disability civil rights

Not sure what to say? Here is a sample script:
"It is my understanding that a Dear Colleague letter is circulating by Senator Duckworth in opposition to changes that would harm the ADA  I would love to see Senator Cantwell’s history of leadership for adults and children who have disabilities reflected on this issue. Would she please co-sign the letter?"

You can direct U.S. Senate staff to Rylin Rodgers, Director of Public Policy for the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) for any follow-up questions:

Rylin Rodgers
Director of Public Policy
Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
1100 Wayne Ave., Ste 1000
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Direct: 240-821-9381
Cell: 765-891-0075

Friday, February 16, 2018

Ire over Consumer Directed Employer bill

Advocates: High cost; no accountability; and no help for parent providers

There has been a lot attention this week paid to SB 6199, a bill requested by the Department of Social and Health Services that makes costly administrative changes to in-home care services available to Medicaid eligible older adults and people with developmental disabilities.

It creates a Consumer Directed Employer (CDE) for individual providers. This new entity would act as the legal employer of individual providers, thus clarifying that they are not state employees. The CDE would perform administrative functions related to providing personal care, respite care, and other services to individuals with functional disabilities.

The person receiving services of an individual provider would become the managing employer with the authority to select, hire, schedule, supervise, and dismiss an individual provider.

The bill also establishes a rate-setting board and a process to set labor rates for payments to individual providers and an administrative rate to be paid to the CDE.

SB 6199 is controversial, in part, because of the high cost: Almost $30 million over the next four years. Early supporters were not anticipating such a high fiscal note. It also would allow SEIU to negotiate a contract that requires individual providers to pay union dues.

The bill comes at a time when family members providing care say they are under increasing stress and in some cases are reporting significant reduction in service hours.

The Arc of Washington and the Washington State Developmental Disability Council are concerned that there isn't accountability built into the bill; the administrative changes are vague; and the bill does nothing to address the needs of family providers.

For instance, there are significant problems with IPOne - the payroll system - that would not be fixed. There are privacy concerns about Electronic Visit Verification that would not be addressed. There are no consumers included on the proposed rate setting board. At a fundamental level, the bill fails to recognize the role of parent providers.

SB 6199 is scheduled for a public hearing Feb. 20 in the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness at 8:00 am.

Available video links:

Feb 6, 2018 Ways & Means at 10:00 AM
Feb 5, 2018 Ways & Means at 10:00 AM
Jan 29, 2018 Health & Long Term Care at 10:00 AM
Jan 25, 2018 Health & Long Term Care at 10:00 AM
Feb 20, 2018 Health Care & Wellness at 08:00 AM