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Community Health

Advisory Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Weekly Message from the Executive Director

By the Numbers

This week we had a slight increase in the reports of positive COVID-19 cases to four cases, which is up from the two cases reported last week and two the week before. The good news is that everyone is currently isolating at home, and none have had to be hospitalized. This week our two largest counties San Joaquin County (news) and Stanislaus County (news) were still unable to move out of the Red "Substantial" Tier, and it could reportedly take at least two more weeks to advance. In the meantime, we are all doing our best to maintain safe practices as we transition parts of our system back.


This Weeks' Progress

Day programs are continuing along their path to reopen the site by getting their mitigation plans approved by licensing, sharing the approved plans with VMRC, and checking in with consumers and their teams to confirm their readiness to return and to what capacity. Also, our Service Coordinators at VMRC have started scheduling face to face visits with many of the people with developmental disabilities that they serve. Last month DDS issued a Directive reinstating the face-to-face visits.


“…the Department is directing regional centers to resume conducting, at least quarterly, face-to-face monitoring visits for consumers living in licensed residential facilities, Family Home Agency settings, and Supported Living/Independent Living arrangements as required by Article IX, Section 1(b) of the Department’s contracts with regional centers.”


In response, VMRC Service Coordinators will be following strict guidelines that we have established in our Face to Face Meetings policy that are meant for the safety of our community and for all our staff. In summary, they will complete as much pre-meeting activities as possible, connect with consumers and the team by Zoom, follow this up with a meeting at your house, and after checking in on you in your home they can hopefully have a face-to-face check-in conversation with you outside if that works (not every situation is the same). Our guidance for the length of time of the meeting is 15 minutes face-to-face since the CDC has noted that this is the duration where risk increases. We will make sure our staff are fully equipped with personal protective equipment (masks, shields, etc.) for everyone's safety, we will continue our vaccination and clinics (see Claire's section below), we will continue our testing clinics for all our staff, and of course no staff with a fever, temperature, or any illness symptoms will visit you for a face to face meeting and if you or others in your house are ill will just reschedule. Also, currently our offices are not open to the public, so we are not having meetings in our buildings yet.


Farewell Cindy Mix

Throughout the week this week we dedicated different times to stop and express our appreciation for one of our beloved leaders who is retiring after decades of service to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Valley Mountain Regional Center has been so fortunate to have had one of the most sincere and dedicated professionals the regional centers have ever had. She not only aimed to provide quality service to consumers and families, she also genuinely cared about the well-being of our staff and Program Managers, and she often said they were the reason we met the needs of our consumers day in and day out. I am personally going to miss Cindy because she's been an amazing partner for me at VMRC, but I am happy for her, and her family (especially the grand kids) as they spend more of life's precious moments together. Be sure to check the introduction messages from Tara Sisemore-Hester, Director of Consumer Services for Children and Christine Couch, Director of Consumer Services for Adults in this week’s 61st Health Advisory.

Tony Anderson

Executive Director

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Case Management Update - Children

My name is Tara Sisemore-Hester and I was just promoted to Director of Consumer Services- Children. I oversee Self Determination, Early Start, Intake, Children’s Services, Education and Autism services. I’ve been with VMRC for over 30 years. I started at VMRC as a Children’s Client Program Coordinator in our Modesto office. After a few years I was promoted to Team Leader for a Children’s team in our Stockton office. I served as Team Leader for approximately 3 years and was promoted to Education Program Consultant where I provided consultation to VMRC staff and parents regarding education issues. Half of my job at that time included participation in our Early Autism Diagnostic Clinic and program development of our Early Intensive Behavioral Treatment program and Early Start ABA services. In 2006 DDS replicated this position across all regional centers so that families, regional center staff and consumers would have access to support and consultation regarding autism diagnostic and intervention services including evidenced based intervention. My position then changed to Coordinator of Autism Services where my focus was entirely autism diagnostic and intervention services. I held this position for approximately 11 years until I was promoted to Program Manager at our San Andreas office. In that position I managed a team that consisted of children’s, transition and adult Service Coordinators. Two years later my journey took me back to our Clinical Department as Assistant Director overseeing Early Start, intake, autism services, education services and clinical coordination. I am excited to work with our staff, families, and community partners in my new position as Director of Consumer Services- Children!

Other Updates

  • Self Determination - The next Self Determination training will be held on June 29th from 9:00AM - 12:00 PM Register Here.       

  • Save the date for the following trainings:

  • June 17th from 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • August 9th from 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM and
  • September 30th from 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM Registration links will come out soon!


Providing Culturally Responsive and Individualized Infant and Toddler Care Conversation Series. Attention Early Learning and Care Providers, Directors, Trainers, and Coaches, WestEd and the Program for Infant and Toddler Care (PITC) is hosting a conversations series, Providing Culturally Responsive and Individualized Infant and Toddler Care. You are invited to join for one or all of the sessions that will occur from May 13 through June 3, 2021. Sessions will occur on Thursdays at 12:30 p.m. PT and will last 60 minutes. All session will be recorded. Please contact Danny Torres at with any registration or other inquiries about the series. Learn More and Register at


  • Check out these resources for Early Start professionals and families such as a video on “5 things you can do to make your Family Strong” posted by Ross Adams.

Additionally there are courses available thru this site related to Early Start.


  • CalABLE: Save and invest while protecting benefits with CalABLE Did you know that you can save money and even invest, without jeopardizing federal and state benefits like SSI and Medi-Cal? With a CalABLE online savings and investment account, individuals with a disability can save up to $15,000 per year, and up to $100,000 in total without effecting means-tested benefit programs at all. Thanks to the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, a federal law that allows people whose disabilities began before the age of 26 can save money in a CalABLE account, and use that money anytime. After-tax account contributions allow earnings to grow tax[1]deferred, and without penalty when withdrawals are used to pay for the everyday costs of living a life with a disability. Contributions from family and friends aren’t counted as income. Since opening at the end of 2018, California residents have chosen to save more than $50 million in their CalABLE accounts. To learn more about how you can start saving today while protecting your benefits with a CalABLE account, visit us at


  • Come and plant your own fruits and veggies! Lessons will be provided by San Joaquin County Public Health Services and will focus on various topics, such as understanding MyPlate, how to be more physically active, how to read food labels, and how to prepare healthful snacks. As part of the lessons, the students will participate in fun games and gardening activities. COVID-19 protocols will be followed.

Tara Sisemore-Hester

Director of Consumer Services - Children

Case Management Update - Adults

My name is Christine Couch and many of you know me as the Compliance Manager for VMRC. I was recently promoted to the new position of Director of Consumer Services – Adults. I come to this position with over 25 years of experience serving in this community. I’ve worked at the Stockton Developmental Center, day programs, supported living, foster care and transition services, mental health services and the regional center. My commitment to serving people with developmental disabilities and their families is strong.


In this new position, I have the responsibility to oversee adult and transition case management. I will serve as the liaison to state departments, county services, and local programs. I will support case management as they engage with the people they serve and their families to identify services and supports to meet each person’s unique needs.


I’m excited to meet you and work with you to serve the community. Together we can leverage our collective strengths to overcome barriers and meet goals. Collaborative, connecting relationships with staff, the board of directors and community stakeholders will move us forward. I welcome opportunities to support each of you!!



Christine Couch (she, her, hers)

Director of Consumer Services - Adults

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Clinical Update

Onwards to heard immunity!! 😊


In our effort to continue supporting our community in going back to some sense of normalcy, we have another vaccination clinic to address the need of the 12 – 15 year old individuals. To clarify, this vaccine clinic is not just for them, it is open to anyone 12 y/o and over. And because we cover all 5 counties, anyone from these counties can come to any of our vaccine clinics. Please feel free to register. Below are the details and the link.

VMRC Stockton Office Drive-Thru COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Pfizer Vaccine

First dose: May 25, 20201                                            

Second dose: June 15, 2021

Registration link:

VMRC Modesto Office In-door COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Pfizer Vaccine

First dose: June 4, 2021                                                 

Second dose: June 25, 2021

Registration link:

For age 12+: During non-school hours, we will need the company of parent, guardian, or non-custodial adult in addition to signing the consent form for all 12-15 years old to vaccinate. During school hours, signed consent form from parents and guardian is sufficient.

For 16-18 years old, we will need just the signature of parents or guardian on the consent form.

**IMPORTANT REMINDERS for all Participants** 

·        Complete and bring printed copy of consent form (attached in English and Spanish) 

·        Bring completed CDC Vaccination Card for Dose 2 Patients 

·        Bring picture ID e.g. Drivers License or Passport (parent’s ID OK)

·        Bring a copy of medical and prescription insurance information 

·        Wear a mask 

·        Be in good health on day of vaccination 


Safeway Billing: COVID-19 Vaccines will be offered to all eligible individuals regardless of insurance and/or citizenship status. However, we do ask all insured participants to bring their medical and prescription health card to their appointment. Safeway will bill individual health plan for the COVID-19 Vaccine administration fee.  

Successful Vaccine Clinics


Second dose COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Stockton office went well. This is made possible because of the tireless efforts of our volunteers who show up on each of these vaccine clinics. Enormous “THANKS!!!” to our volunteers: VMRC staff, Board of Directors, and community partners: DRAIL, B.E.S.T., UCP, SCDD, FRN, SAC6, DRC, ICC, CLASP, Therapeutic Pathways, who helped make it possible. As always, VMRC is grateful to Safeway Pharmacy (Albertson’s Companies) and their staff who served as our vaccine provider and partnered with us during these 3-day COVID-19 Vaccine Drive-thru Clinics at our Stockton Office! We vaccinated a total of 784 individuals 16-year-old and over for their second dose. On Friday, we administered 246 vaccines, 276 on Saturday, and 262 vaccines administered on Sunday.

Below are photos of our second dose Drive-thru COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at the Stockton Office:

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We are continually tracking the vaccination status of our consumers. Here is the latest data based on our SANDIS database.

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Autism Podcast – a Mother’s Perspective

A few months ago, I was interviewed as a parent about my experiences on having two children, boy and girl, with autism. This is a glimpse of my journey as a parent and what I remember of its beginning more than 12 years ago. Here is the link to that podcast:

Hope you enjoy it!

Claire B. Lazaro, MSN, RN, NP, PHN, FNP-C

Director of Clinical Services

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Tips for Caregivers for Vaccination Day

Age 12+ Consumers- VMRC Drive-Thru Vaccination Clinic

What to Expect at the VMRC Vaccination Clinic:

·        Upon arrival the driver of the vehicle will be asked to check-in and if those getting the vaccine have pre-registered.

·        You will be asked to provide the first and last name of those in the vehicle who will be getting the vaccine, identification, proof of age, and possibly insurance or Medi-Cal information.

·        If you have not completed a consent form you will be asked to pull your vehicle to the side and complete before being directed back into the vehicle line.

·        You will be provided with a CDC Vaccination Card, for the first dose. For the second, dose, you will be asked to show the CDC Vaccination Card. This will be given back to you for your records.

·        Once check-in is complete, including providing/completing the consent form, you will wait in your vehicle before being directed to a tent with an available Pharmacist to administer the vaccine. The wait may take 5-10 minutes depending on your appointment time. 

·        When it is your turn, you will drive to the vaccination tent and a Pharmacist will take your vaccination consent form and CDC Vaccination Card through the window of your vehicle.

·        The Pharmacist will retain your vaccination consent form and give back the CDC Vaccination Card for your records.

·        If there are multiple individuals in the vehicle getting the vaccine, you will be asked who wants to be first.

·        If there are multiple consumers in the vehicle getting the vaccine, we ask that you identify any consumer that has had history of behavioral issues during medical procedures, or may be less receptive to vaccine administration, so the vaccine can be administered to them first.

o  Note: It may be beneficial to schedule separate appointments for these consumers with a reduced number of individuals in the vehicle.

·        The Pharmacist will have you roll down the window where the consumer is seated and will then approach the vehicle with the vaccination needle, bandage, and cotton swab with alcohol for sterilizing the injection site. 

·        The Pharmacist will ask in which arm the consumer would like the vaccine and ask them to roll their sleeve up, if necessary.

·        Through the rolled down window, the Pharmacist will sterilize the area with the swab, place a bandage, and administer the vaccine.

·        Once the vaccine is administered, the driver will be directed to an empty parking spot and asked to wait 15 minutes to confirm there are no adverse reactions to the vaccine.

o  Note: The Pharmacist may ask you to wait up to 30 minutes, depending on medical history.

·        During this time VMRC Staff and Community Volunteers will provide you with free masks and hand sanitizer as a thank you for attending our vaccine clinic (while supplies last).

o  For First Dose administration on May 25th a VMRC Staff or Community Volunteer will also assist you with scheduling your second dose (June 15th) during this time.

How to prepare for Vaccination Day:

·        Preregister for the vaccine clinic and complete a vaccination consent form

·        Plan to have the consumer dressed in clothing that makes vaccine administration quicker and easier.

o  Examples: Tank top where sleeve doesn’t have to be rolled up or t-shirt that can be quickly rolled up prior to administration.

o  Note: Sweaters, zip up hoodies, and long sleeves make administration more difficult and could lengthen the process.

·        If the consumer benefits from social stories, please create and use a social story the days leading up to Vaccination Day.

·        Bring preferred items in the vehicle to aide in distracting/redirecting attention away from needle during vaccine administration.

o  Examples: Favorite videos/movies on tablet device, headphones, toys, or manipulative items that can be held in hands (ex: play-doh, fidget spinners, sticker books), favorite snack or treat that can be opened and consumed during vaccine administration.

·        Bring activities to occupy time during waiting periods.

·        If the consumer is known to have issues with compliance during medical appointments, or you suspect potential non-compliance during administration, try to have an additional family member or familiar individual sit in the back seat next to the consumer to assist with prompting and redirecting.

·        If the consumer can tolerate outings of longer durations, plan a preferred destination for after successful vaccine administration.

o  Examples: Favorite drive-thru restaurant, ice cream parlor, park, store, etc.


Vaccination Day Considerations:

·        Have completed vaccination consent form with you and easily accessible in your vehicle (THIS WILL REDUCE YOUR WAIT TIME ONCE YOU ARRIVE TO THE VACCINE CLINIC).

·        Have consumer’s preferred items loaded in vehicle prior to leaving for appointment.

·        Have activities available to engage with during wait times while at the clinic.

·        Have all necessary documents easily accessible upon arrival (e.g., Identification Cards, Insurance Cards, Social Security Numbers, completed vaccination consent form, CDC Vaccination Card if second dose).

·        If you are planning a special/preferred outing after successful vaccine administration, and the consumer can tolerate delays, let them know where you will be going after the vaccine clinic.

·        If possible, have the consumer seated in the backseat behind the driver.

·        Have consumer dressed in tank top or t-shirt. If wearing a sweater or long sleeve, have consumer’s shoulder easily accessible prior to check-in.

·        If possible, have a preferred family member, staff, or other preferred individuals seated next to the consumer.

·        Because you will remain in a running vehicle, please utilize all safety features including safety locks, seatbelts, or any additional safety devices typically used for transport.

·        Have preferred items/activities easily accessible to use as a distraction during vaccine administration.

o  As the Pharmacist approaches to administer the vaccine, prompt, and direct attention away from the needle and toward the preferred item or activity.

·        Provide verbal praise, attention, and reassurance before, during, and after the vaccination process.

¨     Reminder: VMRC Staff, Community Volunteers, and Pharmacists administering the vaccine cannot physically redirect, physically prompt, or physically restrain the consumer during the vaccine administration. VMRC Staff, Community Volunteers, and Pharmacists can distract and redirect attention from the needle during that time, but any physical touch or guidance must be provided by family member and/or familiar individual who arrived in vehicle with the consumer.

¨     If you have additional concerns that the consumer you are bringing to the Vaccination Clinic may engage in problem behavior during vaccine administration, or you need further guidance on how to prepare for Vaccination Day at the VMRC Vaccination Clinic, please contact VMRC Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Liz Herrera Knapp, at (209) 955-3652.

Additional Resources to Prepare for Vaccination Day:

Liz Herrera Knapp, M.A.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

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It’s smart to have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Now it’s time for answers.

June 2nd, 2021 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM


You’ve still got questions about COVID-19 vaccines? We get it. It’s smart to ask questions - especially when it comes to your health.


That’s why we’re inviting you to this unique virtual event where you can ask questions directly to an international infectious disease expert.


Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis (biography attached) is a respected television medical contributor with a passion for connecting to marginalized communities. She will join us Wednesday, June 2, to break down the basics behind COVID vaccinations and take your questions.


It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come along often. Dr. Davis is a brilliant physician who delivers her advice with a quick sense of humor you won’t soon forget. This special online session will educate, enlighten and entertain!


If you are ready to get real answers to real questions, this is your chance.


Sponsored by: CCLN

Co-Sponsored by: DDS, ARCA, CDSA, ARC/UCP


June 2nd, 2021 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Register here:

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Community Services Update

Weekly Residential Informational Zoom Session hosted by VMRC’s Community Services Department EVERY FRIDAY at 9:00 A.M.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 921 3684 6701

Day Program Providers please submit your CCL approved COVID Mitigation Plan or

Community Based Day Program COVID Mitigation Plan to your Community Services Liaison (CSL) or Robert Fernandez at This is required to begin having ID Team Meetings in preparation for Day Program re-opening. 

Brian L. Bennett

Director Of Community Services

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North Valley Hills Update

Dena Hernandez, Regional Manager (209) 473-6930

Stress and anxiety have inevitably escalated during this global pandemic. The initiative, Disability Thrive Initiative invites you to join us on Wednesday, May 26 at 3:00 p.m. to a webinar where we will learn to recognize mental health-related symptoms and provide support without being a professional. Members of @United Cerebral Palsy, @Desert Community Mental Health, Arc California, Easterseals SoCal and Empower Hour and Peer-2-Peer self-advocate will be sharing personal tools and stories.

Register early at:

Together, we can PROSPER!

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Update from Family Resource Network

Lisa Culley, Executive Director

Family Resource Network will open the Toy Lending Library at the Office in Stockton for limited use by families who have children in the Early Start program, and live in VMRC’s service area. The FRN Toy Lending Library offers developmental toys appropriate for children 0-3 years old. The Toy Lending Library is open Tuesday-Friday, from 9am-3pm. 

COVID-19 Protocols:

*Appointments must be made to check out toys. Walk-ins will not be allowed. One family will be allowed in at a time, and library will be cleaned between visits. 

*Masks must be worn at all times while in the office. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided. Temperature checks, screening, and contact log will be completed before entry to the office. 

*All toys are stored in plastic bags once cleaned and sanitized. Borrowers will be unable to open bags before checking out toys. 


Please call the FRN office at 209-472-3574 to schedule an appointment to check out the Toy Lending Library. You can also email to The FRN office is located in Stockton, at 5250 Claremont Ave, suite 148, Stockton, CA 95207. 

Tikes & Tunes, FRN’s music play group, is currently taking place on Zoom, the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays each month, from 9:30-10:30am. June sessions are June 1st & 15th. Tikes & Tunes is open to children who receive services through Early Start (0-3 years old) and their families, and live in VMRC’s service area. Sessions are led by a certified Music Therapist, who shows how music can enhance development in children. Sessions are very interactive, and fun for children and their grown up! Registration is required, please call FRN at 209-472-3674 or email at

Self-Advocacy Council 6 (SAC6)


Weekly Virtual Chat


Let’s Check In with each other!

WHEN: Friday May 21, 2021

TIME: 11:00 AM -12:15 PM

WHERE: ZOOM - computer, tablet, cell phone


Join Zoom Meeting

Join SAC6 for a discussion with VMRC about Inclusion of All – where everyone belongs!

Let’s hear what VMRC has been working

on from

Gabriela Lopez– VMRC Cultural Specialist

Tony Anderson– VMRC Executive Director

Meeting ID: 827 6041 0788


Passcode: 750337 (MUST ENTER PASSCODE) OR you can call in:

TOLL FREE NUMBER TO CALL IN 877 853 5257 US Toll-free

PDF Version of the SAC6 Flyer Here

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Update from the Self Determination Advisory Committee

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PDF Version of Flyer Here

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May is National Drowning Prevention Month

Water safety is important at any age. Steps to avoid drowning accidents include close supervision of children near water and multiple layers of protection, including pool fencing, gates, automatic sliding door closers, and pool alarms.

Click Here to Read More About Drowning Prevention

Five County Data Update

as of May 20, 2021


San Joaquin County

·    6.2 new cases per 100,000 people and 2.5% positivity rate (Substantial/Red....2nd Most Restrictive)


Stanislaus County

·    8.7 new cases per 100,000 people and 3.6% positivity rate (Substantial/Red....2nd Most Restrictive)


Tuolumne County

·    3.3 new cases per 100,000 people and 1.7% positivity rate (Moderate/Orange....2nd Least Restrictive)


Calaveras County

·   4.5 new cases per 100,000 people and 3.2% positivity rate (Moderate/Orange....2nd Least Restrictive)


Amador County

·    2.6 new cases per 100,000 people and 0.5% positivity rate (Minimal/Yellow....Least Restrictive)


State of California

·    3.2 new cases per 100,000 people and 1.1% positivity rate



Valley Mountain Regional Center

·    740 positive consumer cases and 27 deaths

·    34 positive VMRC staff cases

·    4 positive volunteer cases

·    297 positive provider cases and 1 death

Local County, State and National Public Health Resources

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