August 20, 2021
The Arc NY Voices Questions & Concerns Regarding Vaccination Mandate
Earlier this week, week Governor Cuomo announced a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for employees working at long-term care facilities and “other congregate care settings.” The same bulletin announced the availability of booster doses for certain immunocompromised persons, in accordance with CDC guidelines.

The Arc New York CEO Erik Geier sent a letter to Dr. Theodore Kastner, Commissioner, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) raising questions about the applicability of the vaccination and testing mandate to the I/DD field. In particular, he cited the need for clarity about associated costs, and that inconsistent policies by local health departments (LHD) affected quarantine protocols and, in turn, our ability to adequately staff residences and programs. In addition, he sought prioritization of I/DD populations for booster vaccinations, as was achieved with the initial doses. Given that people with I/DD were among the first to receive vaccinations, and have a higher susceptibility to infection and death due to comorbidities, advocacy surrounding prioritization is paramount.
August Recess Advocacy Toolkit and Campaign
As Congress remains at home for recess, not everyone may feel comfortable attending town halls or other public events to talk about the importance of Medicaid home and community based services (HCBS). The Arc of the United States has launched the Raise Our Voices for Care campaign to highlight the need for HCBS funding to support people with disabilities, their family caregivers and the direct care workforce. The campaign includes offers a new virtual way to share your story about why HCBS care matters to you.

Last week, The Arc US released its August Congressional Recess digital toolkit. This resource includes links to key webpages, action alerts, graphics, sample social media posts, letters to the editor, and tips on how to engage Congress during the recess. The focus of this advocacy is for a $400 billion investment in Medicaid home and community-based services through the Better Care Better Jobs Act, as well as plans to better support the direct care workforce, improve paid leave programs for workers with disabilities and caregivers, and increase asset limits for people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

These materials compliment The Arc NY toolkit and workforce advocacy campaign, focusing on the Better Care Better Jobs Act. The Arc US also updated its "Covid-19 Recovery” web page with factsheets and a high-level overview of key issues. 

In addition, The Arc US has created a BCBJA impact sheet specific to New York - it provides a great overview of the problems we face and offers tangible solutions to relay to elected officials. The impact sheet will be added to The Arc NY toolkit on the website. 

If you have not done so already, reach out to your legislators and be an advocate for these important causes. Once you have participated, please share on your personal and professional social media pages. The more people participate, the more momentum we have!

August 27 Deadline Approaching for 2022 MLK Day of Service Grants
The Arc US is partnering with AmeriCorps to offer $5,000 to $20,000 grants to chapters of The Arc to develop service projects that include people with and without disabilities. Volunteer activities should help provide food to those suffering from food insecurity within the local community. The deadline for submission is August 27. Learn more here

How Can The Arc US Help You Find Programs to Do at Home?
The Arc US is in the middle of launching an exciting new resource -- a free Virtual Program Library that will serve as a hub for on-demand activities that can be done from home. People with I/DD and their families will be able to find and share activities to do themselves. There will also be resources that service providers can use to facilitate or deliver live remote programming.

The Arc US and The Arc New York want the Virtual Program Library to be the best it can be, and we need your help to make it a robust and valuable resource for people with I/DD who must or prefer to access programs from home. So, what resources would you recommend? Please complete this survey to give us your thoughts!
This and all advocacy updates are archived on The Arc New York website for future reference. Please contact us if you have questions regarding any of this information.
Contact: Philip Aydinian, Director of Governmental Affairs 
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