February 26, 2021
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
If you haven't already taken this action,

Dear VOR Families and Friends,
We ask that you take action, and reach out to your elected officials asking them to amend the American Rescue Plan to protect all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from COVID-19.The current plan only covers people in Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) settings, leaving out an entire class of vulnerable people who live in Intermediate Care Facilities and other long-term care settings not covered by the HCBS funding stream.

Taking action is easy. Just click on the link below to send our Action Alert to your two Senators and your Representative in the House. 
Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of 
individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities!

We also urge you to follow up and call your representative and senators.
Dial the U.S. Capitol switchboard and asking to be transferred to their offices,
The switchboard number is  (202) 224-3121

You may also go to their web pages and contact them through their online portal.
National News:
Institutions Serving Those With IDD Get New COVID-19 Guidance
By Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop, February 25, 2021
Nearly a year after institutions serving people with developmental disabilities locked down, federal officials are spelling out how and when these facilities should reopen their doors to visitors.
In guidance issued this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says that visitation should not be restricted “without a reasonable clinical or safety cause.”

“While CMS has focused on helping to protect … clients/residents from the risk of contracting COVID-19, we also recognize that physical separation from family, caregivers, friends and others has taken and continues to take a physical, emotional and psychological toll on clients/residents,” reads the 10-page document sent to states regarding visitation at intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities and psychiatric residential treatment facilities.

In-person visits can still be restricted based on the local positivity rate, a facility or individual’s COVID-19 status and other factors, CMS said. But, officials said the guidance details ways that facilities can welcome people again.

Visitors should be screened for COVID-19 symptoms, required to wear masks and expected to adhere to social distancing. They should be limited to certain areas of the facility and there
should be a cap on the number of simultaneous visitors allowed, according to the document.
While outdoor visits are preferred, CMS indicated that institutions can accommodate people indoors if there are no confirmed or suspected virus cases at the facility.

Even if institutions are restricting visitors, outsiders should still be allowed in for “compassionate care situations,” CMS said, and those circumstances are not limited to end of life. This could include situations where a new resident is struggling with their change in environment, a resident needs “cueing and encouragement with daily care needs” from a family member or a resident is experiencing emotional distress as a result of limited social interactions, among other possibilities.

Compassionate care visits can be conducted by family members, caregivers or “any individual that can meet the client/resident’s needs,” according to the guidance.

CDC: No Strong Relationship between COVID-19 Vaccination and Death among LTC Residents
By Danielle Brown, McKnight's Long-term Care News, February 23, 2021

Long-term care providers should be encouraged after new findings showed no strong correlation between COVID-19 vaccinations and death among residents, authorities say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the weekend released vaccine safety data reported by healthcare providers during the first month of vaccinations (Dec. 14, 2020, through Jan. 13, 2021).
Approximately 1 million long-term care residents reported to federal authorities as being vaccinated during that period. There were 150 reports (3 out of every 20,000 participants) suffering adverse events, ranging from serious to non-serious, and 78 deaths (fewer than 1 out of every 12,000 participants) reported.

“These initial findings should provide reassurance to health care providers and to vaccine recipients and promote confidence in the safety of COVID-19 vaccines,” report authors concluded.

About 13.7 million vaccine doses were administered overall during the study period. There were just short of 7,000 reports of adverse events after vaccinations (a little more than 1 out of every 2,000). Fewer than 650 of those were classified as serious, with the most common symptoms reported being headache, fatigue, and dizziness. A total of 113 deaths were reported (about 1 out of every 115,000 participants).

State News:
California - Keiro Board Asked to Prevent Pacifica from Shutting Down ICF
Posted in Rafu Shimpo - LA's Japanese Daily News, February 23, 2021
The following letter was sent to the board of Keiro on Jan. 24 in response to plans by Pacifica, owner of the former Keiro Intermediate Care Facility in Boyle Heights, to convert the ICF into market-rate housing.

Keiro sold its four facilities, three in Los Angeles and one in Gardena, in 2016 with the condition, imposed by the state attorney general, that Pacifica maintain culturally sensitive services for the residents for five years. That period comes to an end this month.

The letter reads as follows:

We respectfully urge the Keiro Board to request that the California Attorney General’s Office amend or extend the Sale Conditions for the following reasons:

1. Prevent Pacifica from shutting down the Sakura Intermediate Care Facility for a reasonable period of time in light of the pandemic. The extension is critically needed until Pacifica is able to demonstrate that there are adequate alternative culturally sensitive and affordable facilities to which the residents of the ICF can be transferred without fear of COVID contagion. The ICF residents have no good alternatives if the facility is shut down at this time. Their need for care is greater than that offered by the Sakura Gardens Assisted Living and given the COVID situation, they are scared to death of the thought of moving into the Nursing Homes, which have become COVID-19 hotbeds.

Pacifica’s Intention to Convert the ICF to Market Rate Housing indicates its intent to shut down the ICF, move out its nearly 90 residents, and convert the building to market-rate housing. Although such an action would be forbidden by the Sale Conditions, Pacifica apparently believes that it will be free of any restrictions on its maintenance of the facilities after Feb. 5, 2021.

Pacifica’s efforts in this regard are opposed by the ICF residents, the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, Little Tokyo Community Council, Congresswomen Judy Chu and Maxine Waters, State Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Leon, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Koreisha Senior Care & Advocacy, and many others.

2. Extension is requested for a two-year period or through the end of the State of Emergency for the Kei-Ai Nursing Homes, whichever is later. The two former Keiro Nursing Homes (Kei-Ai Los Angeles and Kei-Ai South Bay) show shockingly high percentages of COVID-positive residents and staff.
This is due in part to Pacifica’s decision to make Kei-Ai Los Angeles Nursing Home a designated COVID-19 facility for accepting asymptomatic but likely still contagious patients who are discharged from area hospitals. Such patients are supposed to be put into isolation units to protect other nursing home residents but the facilities are not set up to be able to contain the vast majority of patients who have tested positive for the virus.
Based on public records, Kei-Ai Los Angeles has 230 residents (out of fewer than 290 occupancy) and 169 staff who have tested positive, with 90 COVID-related deaths so far. Kei-Ai South Bay has 84 residents (out of 100 occupancy) and 65 staff who have tested positive, with 17 COVID-related deaths. **The Los Angeles Times** reports that Kei-Ai Los Angeles has the highest number of infections and deaths of residents of all skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in the State.

3. Pacifica’s Non-Compliance with the Sale Conditions: As determined by the lack of certified annual reports, Pacifica has not been in full compliance with the Sale Conditions for most of the past five years. Based on evidence of various aspects of Pacifica’s non-compliance, the CAB (Community Advisory Board) has refused to certify the annual reports since 2018.

Keiro can play a crucial role in saving the residents: Because Keiro entered into the original agreement with Pacifica regarding the sale of the facilities and is a party to the imposition of the Sale Conditions, it may be deemed a necessary party to any decision by the AG’s Office to amend or extend them.

New York - Opinion: Another Cuomo Cover-Up?
NY’s governor did to the disabled the same thing he did to the elderly.
By James Freeman, The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2021
At last, Joe Biden, Anthony Fauci and CNN are no longer presenting New York Democrat Andrew Cuomo as the model governor in pandemic response. The question now is how many lives were lost due to his reckless policy of forcing vulnerable populations to accept greater risk of infection—and then hiding the results. Nursing homes were not the only places forced to accept Covid-positive patients.

Maria McFadden Maffucci writes at National Review: “Cuomo’s edicts put another vulnerable population in inexcusable peril: New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) living in group homes.” Ms. Maffucci writes:

"You know that notorious March 25 order, sending contagious nursing-home patients back to their homes from hospitals? Well, it had a twin. An April 10 memo from the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to operators of certified residential facilities had identical language to the nursing-home memo, to wit: “No individual shall be denied re-admission or admission to a Certified Residential Facility based solely on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of Covid-19. . . . Additionally, providers of Certified Residential Facilities are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized individual, who is determined medically stable, to be tested for [Covid-19] prior to admission or readmission.”
The available data told another highly disturbing story. Last year a study in Disability and Health Journal titled “COVID-19 outcomes among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in residential homes in New York state” reported some dismal statistics:

People with IDD living in residential group homes were at greater risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes: case rates – 7,841 per 100,000 for people with IDD compared to 1,910 for New York State; case-fatality – 15.0% for people with IDD compared to 7.9% for New York State; and mortality rate – 1,175 per 100,000 for people with IDD compared to 151 per 100,000 for New York State.

If the Cuomo government ever allows a full accounting, perhaps researchers can estimate the precise impact of the directive to facilities on accepting Covid-positive patients.

Kentucky - Indoor Visitation Resumes at Some Long-Term Care Facilities
By Jessica Costello, 14-News, February 20, 2021
Over in Kentucky, new COVID-19 guidance that could impact thousands of state residents and their loved ones went into effect this weekend.These new guidelines will affect a select number of long-term care facilities across the commonwealth, but not all of them.

Governor Andy Beshear announced earlier this week that some long-term care facilities, specifically non-certified facilities, will resume indoor visitation on Saturday, as long as they went through the full vaccination process. The facilities influenced by these changes include assisted living, personal care homes, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and independent living facilities.

In these specific facilities, there can now be additional outside visitation in place for families to see their loved ones, which is something the governor acknowledges has been highly anticipated.
There are still some requirements that people have to meet for visitation.

“We do ask that all visitors are scheduled with the facility and this is really an effort to avoid mass gatherings,” Adam Mather, inspector general of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services said. “So we’re asking that these visits are limited to one visitor or two individuals from the same household.”

Maryland - They are Prioritized for COVID Vaccines, but Some with Disabilities Still Facing Access Hurdles.
By Hallie Miller and John-John Williams IV, Baltimore Sun, Feb 24, 2021

Frustration consumes Nadina Funk when she turns on the news and sees footage of young, healthy-looking people rolling up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Funk, an Overlea resident, has not yet found an appointment for herself or for her 30-year-old son, James, affectionately known as “Jimmy.” He is intellectually disabled, according to Funk, 63, who is his caregiver. And while James is mobile and sometimes verbal, he is not able to live alone.

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted James’ social life and routine, which is problematic for people with his condition. In the past, James socialized with a group of six people ages 24 to 30 for everything from concerts to a demolition derby. And he has been active in the Special Olympics.

“All the sudden he is stuck home. He’ll say, ‘Virus go away,’” she said. “I don’t think he knows what the virus is, but he knows that the virus has to go away to hang out with his friends.”

The vaccines, and the protection they offer, have inspired hope in Funk and other parents like her. She and James could return soon to a version of pre-pandemic life. He could go back to his peers and engage with the social services that made their lives whole; his protection would give her comfort, while her immunization would help ensure that she could be there to care for him a while longer.

But the process of securing a vaccination has dented that hope.

“I can’t get him an appointment,” Funk said. “I keep trying and trying.”

Marylanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been prioritized to receive COVID-19 immunizations in the current phase of the state’s rollout, a major victory for the community of advocates, caregivers, educators and those they serve.

But with a national vaccine supply shortage and a decentralized, online booking system, many Marylanders — especially older adults, people without computers and those lacking digital skills — have struggled to secure appointments.

South Carolina Dept. of Disabilities and Special Needs Lifts Hiring Freeze for Frontline Workers
By Jared Kofsky, WMBF News, Feb. 24, 2021

A state agency that serves people with disabilities across South Carolina is once again able to hire frontline workers at its facilities.The commission of the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs voted unanimously on Wednesday afternoon to exempt “positions critical to regional center operations and the operation of DDSN community residential settings” from the agency’s temporary hiring freeze.

The exemption covers direct support professionals, food services and housekeeping personnel responsible for meal preparation and campus hygiene, staff development personnel, and other positions at facilities such as the Coastal Regional Center in Dorchester County, which has been the subject of a number of reports by Live 5 Investigates.

The hiring freeze was announced by the commission last Thursday.

“We did not intend to stop services,”

Commissioner Stephanie Rawlinson said during Wednesday’s meeting. “We meant to stop some reckless spending, that kind of thing, until we made sure everything was going right.”

Rawlinson did not specify what “reckless spending” she was referring to and she could not immediately be reached for comment.

Chief Financial Officer of S.C. Disabilities and Special Needs Department to Resign
By Jared Kofsky, Live 5 News, February 25, 2021

Less than a week after the state director of the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs was suddenly fired, another member of the department’s executive staff is leaving the agency.DDSN Chief Financial Officer W. Chris Clark said in a Feb. 21 letter that he is resigning from his position at the department, which operates facilities such as the Coastal Regional Center in Dorchester County.

Clark requested that Feb. 26 be his last day of employment.

“While I would typically consider two weeks to be an appropriate notice, I feel it is mutually beneficial for me to complete my time as CFO prior to the new interim director [beginning] his new job based on the anticipated selection at the called commission meeting on March 1st,” Clark wrote.

The letter, which was addressed to DDSN Deputy Director Pat Maley, did not specify a reason for the resignation or identify who is anticipated to be the new interim director.

A reason for the firing of DDSN State Director Mary Poole by the DDSN Commission on Feb. 18 has also not yet been announced. Poole’s position has been filled in the interim by General Counsel Constance Holloway.

Wisconsin - Green Bay Long-Term Care Facility Closing one of its Buildings in Response to Proposed Medicaid Funding Cuts
By Joshua Peguero, WBAY-2 News,
February 24, 2021
Diane Dugan operates Curo Care LLC, a 16-bed long term care facility that houses frail adults.
“I cannot with the rate cut pay for two staff to care for the members who live in that home properly,” Dugan said.

Late last week she decided to begin closing one of her buildings after finding it’s cheaper to do that than try to absorb proposed cuts by Lakeland Care Inc, a managed care organization.
“We are putting our members at risk, we are not doing the best care that we can due to this cut,” Dugan said.

Dugan said she and several people on her staff also took a pay reduction.
“It’s very difficult to find staff for this line of work,” she said.
As Action 2 News has previously reported, Lakeland is proposing cuts set for April 1 in the payments it sends long-term care facilities. MCO’s distribute funds to these facilities for patients who are part of the state’s Medicaid “family care” program.

Initially Lakeland proposed a nine percent cut, but after a series of our reports highlighting the reduction, the MCO dropped it to between six and seven percent for some facilities, including Dugan’s which still says that won’t help.

Coronavirus Updates:
Covid-19 Tracker:
More Than 231 Million People Have Gotten Vaccines Worldwide;
The U.S. has Administered 70.5 Million Doses

A Quick Guide to Statewide Vaccination Plans

Littler Publications is offering a free guide to vaccine plans for each state.

This chart is not all-inclusive and does not cover municipalities, some of which have issued their own guidance. Nor does the chart include vaccine provider registration procedures or industry-specific guidance. The purpose of the below information is to give employers a general idea of what vaccine-related actions various jurisdictions are taking.

The I/DD Market: How Investors View the I/DD Industry
Residential Intellectual And Development Disability Care Market 2021 Covid-19 Impact Analysis on Global Industry Size, Recent Trends, Demand and Share Estimation by 2027
Data Bridge Market Research, The Courier, February 24, 2021

Global Residential Intellectual And Development Disability Care Market Size, Share, Industry Trends, Growth Analysis, Industry Report from DBMR highlights deep analysis on market characteristics, sizing, estimates and growth by segmentation, regional breakdowns & country along with competitive landscape, player’s market shares, and strategies that are key in the market. The report on the “Residential Intellectual And Development Disability Care Market” covers the current status of the market including Residential Intellectual And Development Disability Care market size, growth rate, prominent players, and current competitive landscape. It also analyzes future opportunities and forecasts the market assessing the strategies of the key players in terms of merger and acquisitions, R&D investments, technological advancements. The report further provides key recent developments, profiling of key players, and market dynamics. The report further investigates and assesses the current landscape of the ever-evolving business sector and the present and future effects of COVID-19 on the Residential Intellectual And Development Disability Care market.

Currently, most of the people are affected with intellectual disability and reside with family caregivers. Owing to the changing demographics, caregivers will also age in the coming years and the scarcity of caregivers will create more demand for the residential intellectual and development disability market. On other hand, increasing age of caregivers is another driving factor for the residential intellectual and development disability market. Also the increased federal funding for these programs and the additionally enrolled or suitable people for either of the federal programs, have led to the growth of the residential intellectual and development disability market. Moreover, rising number of awareness programs related to intellectual disability are also adding to the market growth. While, there is a huge shortage in the demand and the supply of these facilities which is expected to impede the growth of the residential intellectual and development disability care market in the above mentioned forecast period. Another major restraint in the market growth is the complexity in avoiding hospital admission for patients with intellectual disabilities who generally present challenges with their behavior or mental health problems. Additionally, the regular entries of new products in the market are also lifting the growth of the residential intellectual and development disability care market.

The emergence of local and national centers in the emerging economies which offer such facilities will further accelerate the expansion of the residential intellectual and development disability care market and are also are offering significant growth opportunities for the market in the forecast period of 2021 to 2028. Furthermore, the rapidly growing number of facility closures will challenge the growth of the residential intellectual and development disability care market.

The Segments and Sub-Section of Residential Intellectual and Development Disability Care Market are shown below:
By Mode of Operation (State-Run Facilities, Medicaid Funded Services, Private Large Facilities, Privately Run Small Facilities)
By Number of Beds (4 to 9, 10 to 19, 20 to 49, 50 to 99, 100 to 199, and 200 and more Beds)
By End User (Hospitals, Intermediate Care Facilities, Group Homes, Private Home, Intellectual and Developmental Disability Facilities)
List of TOP KEY PLAYERS in Residential Intellectual and Development Disability Care Market Report are –
  • Merakey Allegheny Valley School
  • Texana Center
  • Muskaanthengo,
  • Sandesh
  • Joseph’s Center
  • Metrocare Services
  • Department on Disability Services
  • Vista Care
  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • Alliance Health
  • Durham County Community Living Programs
  • Beacon Health Options

The Campaign For Change

This year, VOR's Annual Meeting will be held virtually, via Zoom. The date and details are yet to be announced. But to support our work, we are have a fundraising event we call the Campaign For Change.

This is easy. Every day, at the end of the day, empty your pockets of all your loose change and put it into a jar. You can dig into your couch cushions, too. On May 1st, gather up all of that change and take it to the bank or a CoinStar machine and cash it in, deposit it into your bank account, and send a check to VOR for the amount of change you've gathered. You are welcome to get family and friends, children and grandchildren involved.

At our virtual Annual Meeting, five winners will be announced. So start saving those pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters today, and we look forward to seeing you all in June!

"Be a part of the change you want to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi
Monthly Donations and
VOR’s “21 in 21” Campaign

Your monthly donation of $21 will allow us to continue communicating face-to-face with members of Congress and fight to stop legislation aimed at closing Intermediate Care Facilities or Facility-Based Work Centers across the country.

Your monthly donation of $21 will ensure a seat at the table for your family member and give you a voice in decisions that affect policies that govern their health, residential care, and daily activities.

Your monthly donation of $21 will insure continued regional conference calls where family members across the country have a voice and share concerns and ideas. It will help pay for the VOR Voice and our Weekly Newsletter.

Your monthly donation of $21 will insure a continued Voice of Reason.

VOR Bill Watch:
Click on blue link to view information about the bill


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.


At this writing, there have been no bills entered in the 117th Congress that support a full continuum of care, or advance the interests of Direct Support Professionals.
Stay tuned.
Direct Support Professionals:
Pandemic Helpline For Caregivers of People With IDD

As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, a new 24-hour support line is working to help individuals with developmental disabilities and those who care for them cope during this tough time.

Known as Project Connect, the telehealth line is free and available anytime for people with disabilities, their families, caregivers and other members of their support teams across the nation.

Project Connect is available by calling 888-847-3209.

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]
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