Tell Congress to Pass Disability Funding Now!
We need a historic investment in home and community-based services that would improve the quality of life for millions of people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support professional workforce.
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Bipartisan Co-Sponsors Added to SSI Asset Increase Legislation
Current Supplemental Security Income (SSI) rules require that someone receiving SSI can only have $2,000 in countable assets. Married couples can only have $3,000. The SSI Savings Penalty Elimination Act [S.4102] raises the SSI asset limit to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for couples. The legislation also increases those numbers every year based on inflation. In June, Senators Wyden (D-OR), Cassidy (R-LA), Casey (D-PA), Scott (R-SC), Hassan (D-NH), and Collins (R-ME) joined the legislation.
Advocacy for Special Education
Governor Hochul vetoed legislation which would have provided special education schools (4410, 853 & Special Act schools) parity with the yearly public-school increase. She then promised a “COLA of 11% for the 2022-23 school year” which was reiterated in the Executive Budget proposal. However, due to the current tuition rate setting methodology, the final budget language and DOB “side letter” will not allow most schools to get and/or keep this 11% increase.
Urge the Governor and the Division of Budget to find a solution that keeps the promise to our schools and New York’s most vulnerable children for an 11%/$240 million increase effective July 1, 2022. Use this link to share your voice: www.cpstate.org/advocacy!
Impact on COVID-19 for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in NYS
OPWDD Data: December 15, 2021
OPWDD shared their latest statewide COVID-19 data regarding the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths due to COVID-19 within the service system. A link to the data is here: https://opwdd.ny.gov/data.
- 3,457 people supported are confirmed to have had COVID-19
- 8,682 of these people reside in a certified residential facility
- There have been 713 deaths relating to COVID-19
- 20,270 staff are confirmed to have had COVID-19
Vaccination data is also available for the five distinct cohorts of individuals and staff for which OPWDD is collecting information. The following have received at least one vaccine dose as of December 11, 2021:
- 92.9% of individuals living in certified residential settings (99% of programs reporting)
- 55.7% of the total staff working in certified residential settings (99% programs reporting)
- 48.3% of the total staff associated with day and waiver services, excluding residential and family care (with 84.4% programs reporting)
- 61.7% of Care Managers
OPWDD has been publishing statewide data regarding COVID-19, which is regularly updated and can be viewed here. As a reminder, New York state maintains data on cases by county here.
NYDA Releases I/DD Workforce Emergency Report
New York Disability Advocates (NYDA) released a report that highlights the current workforce crisis in the state’s intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) sector. The 2021 NYDA survey results capture data from January 1 through April 30, 2021 and includes data from 118 providers agencies which represent approximately 60% of statewide voluntary program funding for the field. The survey showed that statewide, provider agencies have an average 24.75% vacancy rate for direct care staff.
The NYDA report contains recommendations for implementation by policymakers to increase staff salaries and wages, systemic fixes such as a credential and career ladders and enhancements including tuition reimbursement, subsidies and other innovative solutions.
NADSP 12-Month Survey on Delivering Supports During the Pandemic
The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) and the University of Minnesota announced they are conducting a 12-month follow-up on providing support during the COVID-19 pandemic. This survey is intended to capture information on the DSP experience. Their initial report was released in July 2020, followed by a six-month follow-up report.
This survey differs from the previous ones, most notably in that it touches on vaccination status and vaccine hesitancy. We encourage all Chapters to circulate the survey widely and promote DSP participation.
The survey can be completed here.
CQL Study on COVID-19 Impact on Quality of Life
The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) conducted a study on the impact of COVID-19 on the quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The study relies on data from over 2,000 Personal Outcome Measure (POM) interviews between 2018 and 2020. The study also references the reports published by Syracuse University that relied on The Arc New York COVID-19 data.
The CQL report draws attention to the funding cuts, closure of programs, and the escalating staffing crisis as influencing factors on decreased quality of life. This study offers bit of a different perspective than previous studies, as those have focused almost exclusively on health measures.
Q & A on the Pandemic Status at The Arc Jefferson – St. Lawrence
Q: Will the residences start to use the new,15 minute at-home tests?
A: At this time, we are working with physicians to determine if a person should be tested based on symptoms. If it is recommended, we take the resident to have the testing, so it is not being done at the residential sites. Anyone who has COVID-like symptoms is taken for a test. Additionally, if a person has been potentially exposed, staff will contact the primary care provider and follow their direction.
All residents are given a COVID-19 symptom check twice daily and the staff are checked at the beginning of each shift and after 12 hours, if they are still on site. The accuracy of the new 15 minute tests is not yet known and we look forward to seeing more data in the future.
Q: If a resident or person supported has signs of an illness how will the agency respond? What is your testing and quarantine protocol? How will the agency respond to a positive case?
A: The people we support have their temps checked two times daily, along with COVID-19 checks completed. The results are documented and monitored by nursing. Staff temperatures and COVID-19 checks are completed at the beginning of each shift and every 12 hours thereafter.
If a resident is showing signs or is ill, we will follow the recommendation of the nurse which will, in most cases, prompt for them to be seen by a physician. We will then follow the recommendations of the physician and/or the local Dept. of Health (DOH), if indicated.
At this time we do not have an active isolation unit in either county and would isolate in place at the residence. The resident would have their own room and would be limited in leaving that room until after the quarantine time with the exception of using the bathroom. Cleaning, sanitizing and the use of PPE by staff would be followed, as is standard at this time. We would follow all protocols of our governing entities: DOH, CMS and OPWDD.
If necessary, we presently do have a site in St. Lawrence County we could reopen as an isolation unit. Many other Arc Chapters have isolated in place with success. We still are limiting staff to working one location as much as possible to limit spread.
Q: Given the infection is far more prevalent in the North Country now than when day habs., residences and the workshop were locked down in the spring, is the agency contemplating another closure/lockdown, and if so when?
A: We are keeping a close eye on it. We are utilizing facilities with large areas for people to spread out and everyone is wearing PPE. We also follow strict protocols for cleaning and sanitizing. Visitors are discouraged and are screened if it is necessary for them to enter the building.
We are not allowing anyone who is not feeling well to report to work and staff are monitoring those who work in this environment closely. If the numbers continue to rise in the counties then we will look at ending production by those supported for a time.
We also have State guidance to follow if we are designed one of the counties with the yellow, orange and red designation.
Q: If parents want to remove their children, can they be tested immediately prior to being brought home?
A: People supported can be tested at the Urgent Care facilities. I do not believe they can go to the county testing sites unless recommended by public health or a physician. If they go home for any extended period of time, we would request they be tested before coming back and may be subject to quarantine in the site.
FACTS ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINES WEBINAR
Please take some time to watch The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals’ 15-minute video addressing the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as some common myths. The COVID-19 vaccines are now here and becoming widely available. As this is good news, we also know there is some confusion and worry among people about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine. In this webinar, NADSP in partnership with the American Academy of Developmental Medicine & Dentistry (AADMD) will address vaccine concerns: https://nadsp.org/webinar-covid-19-what-dsps-need-to-know/?mc_cid=170f1faf45&mc_eid=8f07b4a970.