I can’t be fully complete in this space because things are moving so quickly and on so many fronts. I don’t even hear about all of them. But a quick update about what I do know.
DDS has added resources to its website at https://dds.dc.gov/node/1467506, including a new “Message to Our Community” (item #2). DDS is working with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to obtain more flexibility in Medicaid waiver services for the duration of the crisis, although from what I know so far this will not change the IQ-cutoff eligibility, which appears even more intolerable at a time like this.
The DD Council (which I currently chair) is working on several fronts, including developing a list of resources which we hope will be made widely available to caregivers, DSPs and others on the “front line” to help reduce isolation and encourage activity while staying safe. I will share the current version once it’s available, but it will continue being updated so please contact Alison Whyte (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any ideas you have for additions. The DD Council also is working on advocacy, including:
- In the mayor’s regular calls with community leaders on COVID-19, working to promote outreach to people with disabilities and their families, including targeted mailings in light of the fact that, with libraries closed (now through April 27), many do not have access to computers.
- Preparing a message for DC government agencies and the DC council reminding them that people with disabilities are among the DC residents they need to reach and to serve during this crisis – the responsibility for inclusion does not lie solely with DDS.
- Working with DDS to ensure the IDD waiver includes the broadest possible flexibilities with respect to intake criteria, types of services, access to community/neighborhood services, and where and by whom services can be provided during this crisis – more important in light of near-certain staffing shortages to come.
- Underscoring the fact that this crisis exposes the inadequacy of DC service availability for people with developmental disabilities and the need for prompt expansion of eligibility for DDS waiver services, with action by both the administration and the DC council.
The DD Council also is considering funding options and is making plans for the first of a series of coordination calls with community leaders this next week to ensure we are working as creatively and broadly as possible to address our community’s needs.
Heidi Case, whom some of you know as the former coordinator for Project ACTION!, is organizing a number of self-advocates and others to flag looming staff and supply shortages and keep people in touch. I’ll share more information on this, but reach out to Heidi if you are interested. (I avoid putting personal emails in my blog unless I’m asked to do it.) If you are on Twitter, use hashtages #HighRiskCOVID19DC and #StayingAliveDC. Heidi, I welcome a comment from you below if you would like to provide other specifics.
The latest update from the Bowser administration is at https://coronavirus.dc.gov/release/coronavirus-data-update-march-19.