February 11, 2022
VOR Weekly News Update
VOR is a national non-profit organization that advocates for
high quality care and human rights for all people with
intellectual and developmental disabilities.
VOR promises to empower you to make and protect quality of life choices for individuals with developmental disabilities

Via Zoom - February 24th
4:00 pm EST, 3 pm CST, 2 pm MST, 1 pm PST

VOR invites you to join us for our 2nd nationwide Networking Zoom Meeting!
At this meeting we will talk about the shortage of DSPs- Direct Support Professionals- those people who work directly with our loved ones. What is going on in your state or region to address this problem, which has reached crisis levels in some areas? We welcome you to share with us your concerns, advocacy efforts, progress, and ideas concerning alleviating this shortage.
Please RSVP us at [email protected] by February 20, if you would like to attend. We will send the zoom link a few days before the meeting.

VOR's Legislative Initiative, 2022

Sunday, May 15, 2022
On Zoom
To be followed by Zoom meetings with Congressional Offices May 16 - 19

VOR Annual Meeting

Sunday, June 12, 2022
On Zoom

Due to the ongoing Covid pandemic and the continued lockdown of many congressional offices in Washington, D.C., we are holding our annual events online via Zoom again this year. We ask members to please mark the dates in your calendars.
More information on how you may participate in these events will be coming soon.
National & International News:
Australia - Families in crisis after NDIS Funding cuts to Participants with Autism and Intellectual Disabilities
By Bridget Rollason, ABC News, Feb 11, 2022
When Karen McKenzie received an unexpected letter from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) in August, she had to read it three times before it sank in.

Her son Jarrod, who has autism and severe intellectual disabilities, needs help to eat, get dressed and use the bathroom, but the NDIS funding that paid for his carers had been cut by more than half.

The 22-year-old Melbourne man is one of hundreds of people with autism and intellectual disabilities across Australia who have had their funding slashed in recent months after the NDIA determined the payments were not "not value for money".

The letters, seen by the ABC, stated: "The reason I have not funded your request is because I am not satisfied the following criteria are met – value for money".

The single mother has had to quit her job to look after her son around the clock.
Key points:
  • Hundreds of people with autism and intellectual disabilities have lost NDIS funding after the NDIA ruled it wasn't "value for money"
  • Some parents have quit their jobs or sold their homes to become their children's full-time carers
  • The federal government denies it has a "secret plan" to cut funding to people with autism

"We weren't given any reason other than 'it's not value for money', which I think it quite appalling when Jarrod has such high needs," Ms McKenzie said.

"Mentally I'm not coping. The whole thing has been so stressful, I've lost a lot of sleep and I'm just worried about what the future holds."

Higher Pay Not a Cure-all for Nurse Retention, Study Shows
By Danielle Brown, McKnight's Long-Term Care News, February 8, 2022

Paying certified nursing assistants higher hourly wages should mean less turnover, but it shouldn’t be the only solution skilled nursing operators rely on, researchers say.

Non-wage factors are important in keeping turnover lower, the researchers found.

While new study results show a “significant relationship” between CNA retention and wage growth, they don’t show the same effects with licensed practical nurses and registered nurses. And might not have commensurate influence anyway.

“[A] dollar increase in CNA wages (a 7% increase from current mean wages of $14.09) is associated with only 1.8 percentage points reduction in CNA turnover in our facility fixed effects regressions, suggesting that it is difficult to achieve substantial reduction in turnover by small increases in wages,” authors Hari Sharma, Ph.D. and Lili Xu wrote.

The findings have implications for the policies operators may implement to address high turnover among nursing home nurses. But increasing wages to that select group shouldn’t be the sole strategy, they wrote.

“While offering competitive wages paid to direct care workers is a necessary step to strengthen the workforce in crisis, especially for low wage earners like CNAs, our results, together with previous literature on the relationship between wages and turnover, suggest that increasing wages alone will not be sufficient to reduce turnover among all types of nursing home staff,” they concluded.

“Non-wage factors including improving work environment, a culture that empowers staff, as well as fringe benefits such as health insurance should be considered along with higher wages,” they added.

State News:
Minnesota - Families Scramble After Group Homes Shut Down Due To Lack Of Workers
By John Lauritsen, CBS-4 News, February 7, 2022
Staffing issues have impacted hospitals, clinics, senior living facilities and, now, group homes. Because of the specialized care residents need, and a lack of people do to those jobs, a number of Twin Cities group homes have closed their doors over the past, few months, leaving families scrambling to find care for loved ones.

“He’s a very likable guy. You meet him and everybody loves him. Everybody loves him when they meet him,” said Barbara Moon of her son Joseph, who was born 16 weeks premature and with cerebral palsy.

She says he wakes up each day with a zest for life.

Living in ACR Homes allows Joseph to have the life he wants. ACR stands for “acceptance, communication and respect.” They have 56 group homes, each with four residents who need 24/7 care. But there aren’t enough caretakers to make that happen.
“Since COVID, the impact has been ten-fold. Much, much tougher,” ACR Homes’ Emily Schrankler said. Right now, ACR has about 90 open shifts a day.

“Now we are pulling office staff. We are pulling anyone with the availability to go there. And that care is really compromised,” Schrankler said.

And when they can’t fill those shifts consistently, the homes close for good. That’s what’s happening to Joseph’s place in White Bear Lake. It’s one of four ACR group homes that will be closing in March. The closings will impact 17 residents and their families.

Michigan - 'This is a Crisis'
By Amy Lange & Amber Ainsworth, Fox-2 Detroit, February 4, 2022
A mother needs help moving to a more accommodating home for her daughter, whose group home is closing due to staffing shortages.Lisa Brooks' daughter Malicka has been living in the Parkgrove Group Home in Westland for 12 years because she is severely multiply impaired, non-vocal, and in a wheelchair.
However, 30-year-old Malicka now has to move.

"They want her gone yesterday, actually," Brooks said. "I felt like I was drowning, but she has nobody but me, so I had to find a float from somewhere because if I drown she has nothing and nobody, and I'm not going to let that happen."

Eric Doeh, the president and CEO of Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network, said staffing shortages have lead to many group home closures. He said of the more than 200 group homes in his network, 30 have closed in the past year.

"This is no longer an issue – it is a crisis," he said. "Most of these persons are making somewhere between $12-15, and when you think about it, when you can go to a McDonald's or any one of those other places to earn even more."

They're now starting a pilot program to increase pay for direct care workers - the people who care for people like Malicka.

"If a person can walk in a drugstore or a Walmart and get $15 an hour, surely somebody doing work as important as this can get a little bit more because this is important work," Brooks said.

Massachusetts - Opinion: We Need a $25-per-hour Minimum Wage for Direct Care Workers in the DDS system
By Dave Kassel, The COFAR Blog, February 9, 2022

We think it’s time for a meaningful boost in the minimum wage paid to direct-care workers in the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) system, particularly for those caregivers who are employed by corporate providers to DDS.

We’re suggesting a minimum wage rate for direct care workers of $25 per hour. Right now, the average hourly rate for these workers appears to be $16 or possibly even less. The situation is contributing to staffing shortages throughout the system and a resulting decline in the quality of care in group homes.

At least some of the funding needed for a $25 minimum wage could potentially come from the providers themselves.

In 2019, Sate Auditor Suzanne Bump recognized that at least some of the continually increasing state funding to human services providers could be used to boost direct-care wages, but said that was not happening.

In her 2019 audit , Bump found that the average hourly direct-care wage was $11.92 in Fiscal 2010, and that it had risen only to $14.76 as of Fiscal 2017. That was an increase of only 24% over that eight-year period, an amount that only barely exceeded the yearly inflation rate.

According to Bump’s audit, the increased state funding to the providers provided them with a 237% increase in surplus operating revenues (total operating revenues over total operating expenses) during that same eight-year period.

Wisconsin - Governor Evers Signs Bill that Protects People with Disabilities
Press release from Wisconsin Politics, February 4, 2022

The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) thanks Governor Evers for signing a bill today that ensures investigation steps are taken by Adult Protective Services into each report of abuse or neglect for a person with a disability.Incidents of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disabilities are often unseen, unreported, and unaddressed. In 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 52% of abuse or neglect cases involved people with intellectual, developmental or physical disabilities.  Nationally, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are up to 7 times more likely than people without disabilities to be victims of abuse.  

“During the last year, BPDD team learned there was inequity in the statutes that require investigation of claims of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation for people with disabilities age 18-59 compared to people over 60.” said Sally Flaschberger, Project Manager for BPDD’s Living Well federally-funded effort to improve the health and safety of people with disabilities using long-term care. “This law makes a simple change to the statute to treat both vulnerable populations equitably and in turn provide greater protection for people with disabilities in Wisconsin.”

Families and other caregivers in Wisconsin report difficulty accessing the system when reporting abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Sandra Lomeli from Pewaukee, parent to a young woman with a disability who is a victim of abuse, said, “As part of our healing journey, we advocated for this positive change to help survivors with intellectual disabilities. Individuals with disabilities are one of the largest groups of sexual assault victims. However, their claims may be ignored or marginalized. We thank Governor Evers for signing this into law.”
In the last seven years, reports of abuse and neglect for people with disabilities in Wisconsin have increased 38% with no increases in funding for County Adult Protective Service (APS) agencies. While significant investments in the current APS system are greatly needed, the signing of this bill is a first step to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are assured the same response and investigation as older adults. 

Oklahoma - Effort Begins to Make the Disability Services Waiting List Truly Transparent
By Ellyn Novak Hefner, Oklahoma City Sentinel, February 5, 2022

More than 5,400 Oklahomans currently hold a place on a 13-year waiting list to receive developmental disability services (DDS). My son, William, is one of them.
Concerns surrounding Oklahoma’s DDS waiting list have gained more attention lately and now state Senator Julia Kirt and Representative Cyndi Munson (both from Oklahoma City) have filed bills aimed at improving transparency for families like mine, who have waited for years with no updates from the Department of Human Services (DHS), which manages the list and services for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
As the Legislature, we have to make critical financial decisions to serve more people,” Kirt said.
These bills make sure that we have consistent, publicly available information to guide those decisions. This data will help families see when we make progress and when we stall. It will help families hold us accountable.”
Senate Bill 1292 by Kirt would require publishing of a monthly report including the total number of people waiting, new applications, closed cases, and demographic information. The legislation would be a major reassurance to parents like me who completed an application to put my son on the waiting list for services only to find out 11 years later that he had not been added to the list. William is now on year seven of the wait a second time around.
Currently, there is no receipt, confirmation notice or annual follow up sent to families who apply for developmental disability services. Families just have to trust that the system works, but as many of us have found, it does not.
Robert Miller, a constituent of Rep. Cyndi Munson, shared a similar experience when he completed an application to add his daughter Bailey to the waiting list in 2002.
More than a decade later he found out she had been removed from the list in 2003. He says DHS officials told him he should have been more vigilant about monitoring his daughter’s place on the waiting list.
Every member of the Oklahoma Legislature has a constituent waiting for services, so it is vital that those constituents and we, their representatives, receive consistent, accurate data reflecting the work being done to connect services to Oklahomans,” Munson said.
House Bill 4117 by Munson would require DHS to utilize certified mail to send an initial letter to families when their loved one has been placed on the DDS waiting list and an annual status update.

Florida - Dentists, Hospitals Wary of Medicaid Changes
By Jim Saunders, CBS 12 News, February 7, 2022

Florida House members Monday backed a proposal that would revamp the managed-care system that serves about 4 million Medicaid beneficiaries, but key parts of the plan are fueling opposition from dentists and hospitals.

Lawmakers are considering changes as the state Agency for Health Care Administration prepares to move forward with a process to award a new round of contracts worth billions of dollars to HMOs and other managed-care plans.

Perhaps the most-controversial part of the House proposal (HB 7047), which was approved Monday by the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, centers on how dental services would be provided to Medicaid beneficiaries.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Sam Garrison, R-Fleming Island, would bring those dental services under the umbrella of the managed-care plans. That would effectively undo a 2016 decision by the Legislature to create a separate Medicaid managed-care program for dental care — known in Tallahassee as a “carve-out” of the services.

The proposed change has drawn opposition from dentists, with Joe Ann Hart, chief legislative officer for the Florida Dental Association, telling the House panel that it would create administrative barriers that could make dentists less likely to treat Medicaid patients.

“The worst part about this that we don’t want to see is that it will create a disincentive for dentists to participate,” Hart said.

What's Happening in Your State?

Whenever you happen upon an article that we may have missed that pertains to people with I/DD, severe autism, intermediate care facilities, sheltered workshops, or other stories that may be of interest to our families, please send it to us!

We can't promise to use everything that is submitted (we often pare down our list stories each week from 15-30 stories down to a half dozen or so), but we will try to add them to the newsletter or our Facebook page as we see appropriate.

If you do come across any articles of interest, please send a short email with a link to the story to us at [email protected]
VOR Bill Watch:
[Please click on blue link to view information about the bill]


Modifying the Build Back Better Act to include language to provide funding for Intermediate Care Facilities in parity with increased funding for HCBS services, and to remove any provisions that would phase out or eliminate 14(c) wage certificate programs.

H.R. 4779 & S. 1437 - Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act - To require the Office of Management and Budget to revise the Standard Occupational Classification system to establish a separate code for direct support professionals, and for other purposes.
H.R.6075 - The HEADs UP Act - To amend the Public Health Service Act to expand and improve health care services by health centers and the National Health Service Corps for individuals with a developmental disability as a Medically Underserved Population (MUP).

H.R.4761 - A bill to amend the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to ensure workplace choice and opportunity for young adults with disabilities.

H.R.4762 - A Bill to amend the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to clarify the definition of competitive integrated employment.


S. 3417 - The Latonya Reeves Freedom Act of 2021 - This bill may be seen as the offspring of the Disability Integration Act from the 116th Congress. It misrepresents Olmstead, and contains provisions that would be harmful to the existence of ICFs, including a section that would promote lawsuits against larger congregate care facilities.

H.R. 603 & S. 53 - The Raise the Wage Act - These bills are aimed at raising the minimum wage, but they also have provisions to phase out and ultimately eliminate vocational centers and 14 (c) wage certificates over the next six years and to immediately stop the issuing of any new certificates. VOR believes the issue of employment options for individuals with intellectual disabilities should not be buried in a bill for raising the federal minimum wage. Both issues deserve clean, stand-alone bills.

H.R.1880 - To amend the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 to make permanent the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration.

H.R. 2383 & S. 3238 - The Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act - this bill purports to assist employers providing employment under special certificates issued under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 in transforming their business and program models to models that support individuals with disabilities through competitive integrated employment, to phase out the use of these special certificates. We feel that, if enacted, tens of thousands of people with I/DD and autism will still be forced out of opportunities they currently, needlessly, and left without viable alternatives to occupy their time or address their needs and their abilities.

H.R.4131 & S.2210 - The Better Care Better Jobs Act - To be clear, we don't oppose this bill. We object to the fact that it excludes the most vulnerable members of the I/DD population.

While the Better Care Better Jobs Act would greatly increase the amount of federal funding for people with I/DD, it only supports those in waiver programs receiving Home and Community Based Services. It unjustly discriminates against those who have chosen Intermediate Care Facilities as the necessary and proper form of residential treatment. By giving a 10% increase n federal matching funds only to HCBS clients, and providing training and increased pay only to direct support professionals working in HCBS facilities, the act deliberately favors one form of treatment over another, one ideology over another, and one set of people with I/DD over another.
Direct Support Professionals:

Our loved ones' caregivers are essential to their health, safety, and happiness.
In appreciation of their good work and kind hearts, VOR offers free digital memberships to any DSP who would like to join.

We encourage our members to speak with their loved ones' caregivers to extend this offer of our gratitude.

If you are a Direct Support Professional interested in receiving our newsletter and e-content, please write us at

with your name, email address, and the name of the facility at which you work. Please include the name of the VOR member who told you of this offer.

What's Happening In Your Community?

Is there an issue in your loved one's home that you need help with?
Do you have information or a news story you would like to share?
Is there legislation in your state house that needs attention?

Contact us at [email protected]
836 South Arlington Heights Road #351 Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Toll Free: 877-399-4867 Fax: 877-866-8377