September is Emergency Preparedness Month. While there frequently seems to be a day, week, or month dedicated to recognizing or learning about various topics, this particular topic became a pertinent event this week. The newly renovated central office of a LEAP (Life Enrichment Advancing People), a nonprofit agency in Maine, was leveled in an explosion on Monday. LEAP provides community services to individuals with intellectual disabilities. The explosion occurred on Monday morning shortly after the LEAP Maintenance Director noticed a strong smell of gas in the basement of the building and alerted everyone to evacuate the building before it exploded. Sadly, one of the firefighters who responded to the call was killed in the explosion, and six other people were injured, including the Maintenance Director.
LEAP is a member of ANCOR, as is RCPA, and so we share a connection. There has been much conversation regarding this incident in an online ANCOR Forum. LEAP CEO Darryl Wood responded to the outpouring of support on this forum, stating:
There are heroes among us. Our maintenance director evacuated everyone and was working with the first responders when the explosion occurred. Many lives were saved by an attentive person and a team that evacuated as we practiced. Don’t take those emergency plans for granted folks.
Inspired by Darryl’s message, ANCOR is offering two webinar recordings about emergency preparedness free of charge to their members. Offering these webinars is only a small part — but hopefully a meaningful part — of how ANCOR works to support our friends at LEAP and, more broadly, ANCOR members who experience all manner of disasters.
Both of these webinars, which were broadcast previously, offer information that remains relevant for providers seeking to understand the steps they can take to be more responsive to disasters of all kinds. To access the webinars, please use the following links:
We hope all providers take the time to reflect on disaster preparedness by watching these recordings, as well as to review your Disaster Plans and training for all staff and people supported. Other actions that have been suggested include:
In an upcoming issue of RCPA News, there will be additional information provided, as well as resources available to assist agencies with emergency preparedness. For any questions regarding this info or how to assist LEAP in their recovery from this disaster, contact Carol Ferenz, RCPA IDD Division Director.
Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA-3), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5) introduced the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act of 2019 (HR 873 / S 260). This Act provides states, service providers, subminimum wage certificate holders, and other agencies with the resources to help workers with disabilities transition into competitive, integrated employment. The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act is legislation designed to strengthen and enhance the disability employment service delivery systems throughout states while subminimum wages, which are currently allowed under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, are phased out over a six-year period. Currently, under Section 14(c), employers that obtain a certificate are permitted to hire individuals with disabilities at less than minimum wage. The Act would include some grant money to assist states and certificate holders in transforming their organizations.
Chairman Scott’s press release lists the organizations supporting the bill: “American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), Autism National Committee, Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), Autism Society of America, Center for Public Representation (CPR), Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (CPSD), Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), Disability Rights California, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), Disability Rights Florida, Disability Rights Iowa, Disability Rights New Mexico, Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, Inc., National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS), National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), National Disability Institute (NDI), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC), National Federation of the Blind (NFB), National Rehabilitation Association, TASH, Inc.”
ACCSES, on the other hand, strongly supports a full array of employment options for people with disabilities, including Section 14(c), and will continue to advocate for providers and people who chose this option. Contact Carol Ferenz, RCPA IDD Division Director, with any questions.
Today, RCPA received the following alert from one of our national associations. Please contact your Congressman.
We are re-sending this action alert to remind you to ask your U.S. Representative throughout today to oppose tax reform as written – we have both call and email information below.
Very late on Friday, the Senate passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which seeks to overhaul the tax code but has provisions that could affect IDD services. Today, Monday December 4, the bill is going back to the House for a final vote, since it is a different bill than the tax bill the House voted on, before going to the President for his signature so it becomes law. After the House votes on it there will be no more opportunities to stop the bill. While ANCOR does not have a position on tax reform, we have key positions on how tax reform may impact our services. Given these principles and the passage of the bill out of the Senate, we believe it is important to speak up about the importance of Medicaid to people with I/DD before the House votes on this legislation for the final time.
Please contact your U.S. Representative TODAY to say that you cannot support the legislation in its current form because:
Click here to send an email directly to your U.S. Representative! Please do not put this off – a full House vote is expected by this evening.
Given the short turnaround time before the vote, we also highly encourage you to call your U.S. Representative. The Congressional Switchboard can help you identify your Members of Congress and will connect you directly to their office – dial it at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). A short script you can use is: “I am a constituent who cares deeply about issues affecting people with disabilities. If you do not already oppose the tax reform bill coming for a vote today, please do so because it has provisions that would harm services for people with disabilities. Thank you for your hard work answering the phones.”
This position is in keeping with the Board-approved ANCOR tax reform principles that we adopted at the beginning of this debate.
ANCOR Tax Reform Principles
Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities. Should you have any questions or need more information, please contact Sarah Meek, Director of Legislative Affairs, or Jack Phillips, RCPA’s Director of Government Affairs.
Law Enforcement Trainings
ANCOR, Relias Learning, The Arc, and the National Council on Behavioral Health, have partnered to provide free online trainings to the public safety and law enforcement officers that are usually the first responders in a crisis situation involving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental illness. “Understanding and Serving Together” offers ten courses on topics such as Managing Challenging Behaviors, Introduction to Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, and De-escalating Hostile Clients.
HCSIS Release Timeline and Trainings
The Office of Developmental Programs has released the schedule for the HCSIS trainings and improvements from May to September. Registration may begin at any time using the Learning Management System (LMS).
These will include:
The Office of Developmental Programs has released the following information: