The Messenger
May 19, 2020
It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts.
~ Robert H. Schuller

On May 15 the House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act (H.R.6800). From The Arc's pr ess release, CEO Peter Berns stated “This is an acute crisis for people with disabilities, their families, and support staff across the country. And this response legislation finally addresses many of our critical problems and dangers due to the pandemic. Now, we need the Senate to act quickly. Until they do, the lives of people with disabilities, their families, and support staff will continue to be precariously on the edge of disaster."

Main provisions contained in this bill include:
  • Critical new dedicated funds for Medicaid home and community-based services, personal protective equipment (PPE) and workforce
  • Stability of benefits for low-income adults and kids with disabilities despite employment changes.
  • Funds for essential personnel, including direct support professionals, to cover childcare expenses and care for adult loved ones with disabilities at home.
  • Expanded access to health care for the uninsured
What is NOT in the Bill:
  • No dedicated funding for special education.
  • No additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • Still needed re: housing: ensuring people with disabilities in congregate settings, who are currently subject high COVID-19 infection and mortality rates, are eligible for any emergency rental assistance, housing, and homelessness resources allocated to address the crisis.

What can you do? Tell the Senate to act!
*Let Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson know the importance of including the disability community in C OVID-19 relief bills by keeping these important provisions in the bill:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

*Post to your social media using the hashtag #WeAreEssential and share with others the importance of this vote for the I/DD community.
Re-opening the state. What you can do to make sure re-opening Wisconsin is safe for people with disabilities and older adults.

With the overturning of the Safer at Home Order extension by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Wisconsin and Dane County will begin the process of opening up the state. It is necessary that the needs of vulnerable populations be considered in this process. Survival Coaltion has developed action steps you can take to make the state safer for those with disabilities:
  1. Contact your state Representative and state Senator. Ask them your questions about how your community and the state will ensure that vulnerable people are protected from COVID-19. See list of suggested questions below. Find your representative’s contact information here.
  2. Contact your County Health Department. Many local health departments are already planning for re-opening. Ask them about local places that may have an increased difficulty controlling the spread of COVID-19 and what steps local planners are taking to protect people from COVID-19. Make sure local planning teams have representation from the disability and older adult communities. Find that contact information here.
 
Questions for local communities and legislators
  • How many locations in the community are there where high-risk people will be gathering in close proximity (e.g. group homes and other residences, day service and prevocational facilities, programs that offer center-based services etc.)?
  • What requirements will be placed on congregate settings to reduce the risk of infection and transmission of COVID-19?
  • What happens to participants if workers or people who live or rely on congregate settings for services get sick?
  • What happens if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in a congregate setting?
  • What happens if disability or aging service providers go out of business or must operate at limited capacity? How do I get the help I need?
  • If COVID-19 infections increase in the community, what will the community do to respond?
  • When additional PPE, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations become available, will Home and Community-Based workers who provide in-home health, personal care or long-term care services be prioritized to receive them?
  • In situations where there are at risk children or adults in a household, will family caregivers be prioritized for PPE, access to testing, and eventual vaccination?
Congratulations to the Class of 2020!
We are so proud of all of our Arc-Dane County learners and educators for the hard and innovative work that went into finishing out the academic year. We give an extra special shout out to all of our graduates. If you are one of those graduates and would like to share your pictures and stories with us, we would love to hear from you. Send them to our email or post them to your social media site and tag us.
Spring Appeal

In the wake of the unprecedented global onset of the Coronavirus, we sincerely hope for the safety, well-being, and good health of you and your loved ones. We at The Arc-Dane County have made a number of changes including transitioning our staff to working remotely as much as possible. We cancelled our Spring Ball. We have postponed our Awards Banquet. We have cancelled or put on hold all outreach, educational opportunities, and fundraising while looking for ways to rethink and present these events. While we have suspended or reformatted many of our activities, we continue to serve the Dane County community of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  

It is more important than ever that people with I/DD have advocates connecting them to important financial and community resources in this uncertain and scary time.

Please consider contributing to The Arc-Dane County so we can continue to support and engage people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Thank you for supporting The Arc-Dane County here .
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The National Disability Institute is an organization exclusively focused on the financial health and wellness of people with disabilities. They have a website to provides resources to help those with disabilities and chronic health conditions navigate financially through the COVID-19 crisis, including information on the CARES Act and SSI. More information is available here .
Updates from the Department of Health Services
Are you getting home visits for a care-provider?
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has created a fact sheet to help individuals, their families, and care providers protect themselves from Covid-19.
Have questions about CLTS and COVID-19?
DHS has published the new  All in For Kids Newsletter filled with important information for children and families about COVID-19 and the CLTS Waiver Program


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You Count! Be Counted!
The 2020 Census has started. Many people with disabilities are left out which impacts funding, services, and supports.