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Authors Posts by Jim Sharp

Jim Sharp

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Across Pennsylvania, there are qualified therapists prepared to support individuals who have experienced trauma. Likewise, there are therapists dedicated to supporting ID/A populations. However, there are few providers equipped to offer support through both the trauma and neurodiversity lenses.

To meet this need, TRAIN is being launched in early fall 2021. This pilot program, developed by psychologists with diverse backgrounds in both trauma and ID/A populations, will be comprised of live webinars and self-paced learning activities, which will take place over a span of 12 weeks. To provide a fully robust learning experience, there will be access to discussion boards and live supervision for additional communication with and between learners. Continuing Education (CE) credits will be provided through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Please share with any therapists you know who are currently supporting or are interested in supporting individuals with Intellectual Disabilities or Autism. If you are a therapist currently supporting ID/A clients and would like to learn more about TRAIN, or if you would like to be considered as part of our pilot training session, please email AIDinPA.

 

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Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Many early care and education programs stayed open during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide needed care. But for many families, the pandemic meant keeping their children at home. Transitioning back to early childhood programs or school, or starting them for the first time, can be hard for children and families. Transition in a time of physical distancing, masks, and extra stress is extra hard.

Learn what parents and teachers can do to help children make a successful transition to in-person learning and care here.

As part of Governor Tom Wolf’s Trauma-Informed PA Plan, in order to guide the Commonwealth and service providers statewide on what it means to be trauma-informed and healing-centered in PA, the Office of Advocacy and Reform (OAR) and the PA Attorney General’s Office have continued its work on trauma initiatives in launching “HEAL PA.” The Office of Advocacy and Reform recently released a new one page flyer for HEAL PA that gives an overview of the mission and vision for Pennsylvania in its efforts to become a trauma-informed state. If you need any additional information or have questions on getting more involved in the HEAL PA initiative, please contact RCPA Policy Director Jim Sharp.

Many employers are reporting receiving Unemployment Compensation (UC) claim notices and other documents about claims that they believe to be fraudulent. Many RCPA members are reporting that an employee still works there and did not file a claim, or that the alleged claimant never worked there. It is important that employers respond to these notices promptly.

Initially, some believed that it was a case that the new system was compromised, but we have learned that this was not the case. Identifying data was stolen in various data breeches we hear about on the news and then sold to criminals (often organized), who use it to file fraudulent unemployment claims.

The new system was presumably targeted simply because it is new, and the criminals want to see if they can get away with the fraud, although we were hearing about increased levels of fraudulent claims in regular UC before the launch. The department tells us that the new system has the regular fraud prevention measures that were present in the old system (so most of these are not being paid), but they are also going to implement identity verification (through ID.me, which they used in the PUA program). No date has been announced on that yet.

Last year, massive numbers of fraudulent claims were filed in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in Pennsylvania and across the nation. International and domestic criminals (often organized criminal groups) obtained personal information that was stolen through a data breach (from another source — the data was NOT stolen from L&I). These criminals then used this personal information to file fraudulent unemployment claims.

In addition to attempts at defrauding PUA, there has been an uptick in fraud against regular UC. Although this was happening prior to the rollout of the new system, these attempts seem to have accelerated somewhat under the new system. At a June 23 hearing of the Labor and Industry Committee, the Department of Labor and Industry testified that, while the traditional fraud crosschecks were incorporated in the new system, the identity verification procedures incorporated in PUA have not yet been introduced for UC. They did not provide a specific date, but they hope to implement ID.me verification for UC soon.

We have been offered guidance from the legislative panel who heard the aforementioned testimony from the Department of Labor and Industry. What should you do if an employer contacts your office to report possible Unemployment Compensation (UC) Fraud?

  1. Respond promptly to any employer notices about a fraudulent claim, clearly stating the situation (current employee did not file a claim, claimant never worked there, etc.) and that the employer believes the claim to be fraudulent. There are directions in the notice about how to respond. Although this can be done by mail, the fastest way to do this is in the employer’s portal in the new UC system. One of the major reasons for the implementation of the new system is improved business processes, and consequently employers can manage all their UC dealings through the new system. For those employers who need to learn the system, there are resources online that may be helpful:
  1. If a current employee seems to be the victim of identity theft, the employer or employee should fill out an online fraud report through UC’s website. There are several types of fraud, so they should take care to report identity theft fraud, and they should include as much information as possible. The link to UC’s fraud information page is here.
  2. Finally, since the employee is likely the victim of identity theft, the employer may want to share some additional information and identity theft resources with the employee. If the legislator’s office does not stock caucus identity theft publications, the FTC’s identity theft website contains information about what steps the victim should take to recover and protect their identity.

RCPA continues to monitor these activities through our government affairs director and the RCPA Human Resources Committee. Please contact your RCPA Policy Director if you have any further questions.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

OCYF Bulletin Update Appendix A: Title IV-E Prevention Program & Family First Act

The Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF) has released Bulletin 3130-21-03, entitled “Policies and Procedures for Implementation of the Title IV-E Prevention Program under the Family First Prevention Services Act.” Please see Appendix A, which is the only change to the bulletin.

This bulletin provides information and guidance on new prevention services requirements for serving children and families as a result of the Family First Prevention Services Act (Public Law (P.L.) 115-123) (Family First). Specifically, these new requirements must be implemented as part of Pennsylvania’s election to participate in the federal Title IV-E Prevention Program established under Family First. Participating in this program provides Pennsylvania the opportunity to strengthen efforts to prevent out-of-home placement of children by expanding the use of evidence-based services and programs to better support families in their own homes and communities.

The requirements outlined within this bulletin are effective October 1, 2021. Questions regarding this bulletin or requirements may be directed to RCPA Children’s Director Jim Sharp as well as your applicable OCYF Regional Office.

OMHSAS hosted a statewide Intensive Behavioral Health Services (IBHS) webinar on May 11, from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm. The webinar included helpful tips and reminders regarding fee for service prior authorization instructions, licensing and regulatory requirements, and department approved IBHS training.

OMHSAS also reposted the IBHS FAQ back on the website. As you review the documents, please contact RCPA Children’s Director Jim Sharp with any thoughts, questions, or feedback.

Photo by Chewy on Unsplash

The Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF) has released this bulletin to advise County Children and Youth Agencies (CCYAs) and Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) affiliate agencies of adjustments to payment rates for SWAN direct units of service for State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2021–22 and tentative payment rates for SFY 2022–23.

This bulletin rescinds and replaces the payment chart on page 3 of the OCYF Bulletin 3350-20-04, titled “Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network Unit of Service Payment Rates and Programmatic Changes,” and replaces the unit costs on page 80 of OCYF Bulletin 3140-21-03, titled “Fiscal Year 2022–23 Children, Youth and Families Needs-Based Plan and Fiscal Year 2020–21 Implementation Plan Instructions.” The programmatic changes outlined in previous SWAN Unit of Service Payment Rates and Programmatic Changes bulletins remain in effect.

If you have further questions, please contact RCPA Children’s Director Jim Sharp or your OCYF Regional Office.

The Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF) has released Bulletin 3130-21-03, entitled “Policies and Procedures for Implementation of the Title IV-E Prevention Program under the Family First Prevention Services Act.” This bulletin provides information and guidance on new prevention services requirements for serving children and families as a result of the Family First Prevention Services Act (Public Law (P.L.) 115-123) (Family First). Specifically, these new requirements must be implemented as part of Pennsylvania’s election to participate in the federal Title IV-E Prevention Program established under Family First. Participating in this program provides Pennsylvania the opportunity to strengthen efforts to prevent out-of-home placement of children by expanding the use of evidence-based services and programs to better support families in their own homes and communities.

The requirements outlined within this bulletin are effective October 1, 2021. Questions regarding this bulletin or requirements may be directed to RCPA Children’s Director Jim Sharp as well as your applicable OCYF Regional Office.

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) plans to distribute a 3% rate increase for Infant/Toddler Early Intervention services due to funding available as a result of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021. Visit here to see the announcement.

OCDEL plans to use the combined federal funds (ARP Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C & Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) increase) to support a 3% rate increase across all rates for Infant/Toddler Early Intervention services. This will also allow all providers of Early Intervention services, including service coordination, to receive the 3% rate increase for services. OCDEL anticipates that the 3% rate increase will be supported by these two federal increases through March 2024. This 3% increase is time-limited and will end. The rates may return to previous state-set rates.

The 3% rate increase will be effective for dates of service as of July 1, 2021. There is an updated Early Intervention Fee Schedule, and OCDEL will update the rate tables in PROMISe to reflect the increased rates.

Special Instruction Vision and Special Instruction Hearing are included in the 3% rate increase. The 3% will be added to the Special Instruction Vision and Special Instruction Hearing current negotiated rates for fiscal year 2021–22.

Infant/Toddler Early Intervention Programs are responsible for monitoring providers to ensure contracted providers are submitting claims for eligible services that are delivered by qualified professionals. This responsibility includes confirming procedures are in place to ensure the appropriate use of funds that meet federal, state, and local requirements.

NEXT STEPS:

  1. OCDEL will coordinate the rate changes in the Home and Community Services Information System (HCSIS)/PELICAN-EI.
  2. Infant/Toddler Early Intervention leadership shall utilize the enclosed Early Intervention Fee Schedule for services delivered in fiscal year 2021–22.

If you have any questions, you can contact the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, Bureau of Early Intervention Services and Family Supports, or RCPA Director, Children’s Division Jim Sharp.