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Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities

A message from Kevin Dressler, Bureau Director of the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP):

The CMS Interim Final Rule outlining the Vaccination Requirements for all staff and contractors providing services for Medicare and Medicaid certified providers published on 11-05-21 applies to Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs). Below are several links outlining the Vaccine Requirements and Deadlines associated with the Interim Final Rule.

Please contact your ODP Regional Office liaison if you have concerns meeting the demands of the Vaccination Mandate.

Kevin Dressler | Bureau Director
Department of Human Services
Office of Developmental Programs
Bureau of State Operated Facilities
Room 508 Health & Welfare Bldg | Harrisburg, PA 17120
Office Phone: 717-425-5686
Cell Phone: 570-809-3759
Fax: 717.787.6583

Capitolwire: PA House Panel Holds Hearing on Job Services for Disabled

The delivery of state services and funding to help disabled individuals obtain jobs was the topic Monday at a hearing before a House panel.

The hearing before a subcommittee of the Labor and Industry Committee focused on the state Office of Vocational Rehabilitation’s Combined State Plan and the implementation of the state Employment First Act of 2018, which sets policies to help the disabled achieve economic independence through jobs that pay competitive wages in integrated community settings.

Testifying during the first round were Shannon Austin, executive director of the state Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, which provides vocational rehabilitation services and works with providers to help individuals with disabilities get jobs, the Cambria County Association for the Blind and Handicapped and Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council.

The challenges of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and impact of long-term state funding shortfalls were themes at the hearing.

The pandemic kept many disabled individuals from pursuing jobs or applying for services due to threat of infection, said Austin.

But the increase in vaccinated individuals and nationwide labor shortage has led to work opportunities in recent months for the disabled, she added.

OVR is writing changes to its vocational rehabilitation services plan that will go out for a 30-day public comment period starting next month, said Austin.

She indicated that one priority will be to create more employer apprenticeships for the disabled.

A network of nine state-funded independent living councils is in need of a state aid boost, said Jeffrey Iseman, public policy coordinator for the Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council. He urged passage of House Bill 87 to boost the base level funding for those councils.

“Our 9 state-funded CILS have received one increase in funding (2019-20 state budget) since 2008 (cuts occurred between 2008-12) while having their appropriated funds reduced due to an administrative fee…,” said Iseman.

The goal of the Employment First Act is to make segregated and sub minimum wage jobs for disabled individuals the exception rather than the norm, said Dr. Josie Badger, a member of the Employment First Oversight Commission (EFOC). These jobs should pay at least the state minimum wage and have the disabled working alongside nondisabled workers, she added.

The 2021 report regarding the Employment First Act offers 25 recommendations for the executive and legislative branches to consider, said EFOC chair Steve Suroviec.

Several include a hearing to determine what state agencies are doing to meet a goal of having people with disabilities fill at least seven percent of state government jobs, requiring each school district to have a full-time qualified transition coordinator to support disabled students with employment goals and consider revisions to the Civil Service Reform Act to make it easier for qualified applicants with disabilities to be hired by state agencies.

Rep. Kate Klunk, R-York, the subcommittee chair, said she plans to hold another hearing on state government hiring practices for the disabled.

(Source: Capitolwire, November 23, 2021).

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has released the agenda for the December 2, 2021 Managed Long-Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) Subcommittee meeting. The meeting will be conducted via webinar and remote streaming from 10:00 am–1:00 pm. The links and call-in number to participate in the call are provided in the agenda.

Message from Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF):

Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) is proud to announce the launch of a new website, Smart Homes Made Simple. As part of our Smart Home Technology Project, we recently expanded this website with a new design to make it a more accessible, user-friendly, and informative resource.

We hope this website will serve as a hub of information where members of the disability and aging communities, as well as service providers, housing professionals, and technology consultants, can learn how to integrate smart home technology into the homes of people with disabilities and older adults for greater independence, autonomy, safety, and accessibility.

“We are aware that many people with disabilities and older adults who could benefit from smart home technology are still not acquiring it,” says PATF’s CEO, Susan Tachau. “If there’s one thing we hope people will take away from this website, it’s that you don’t have to do this alone and you don’t have to do it all at once. New technology can be scary and overwhelming. Build your team for support, explore what devices may be able to help with your goals, and start small. There’s always room for growth.”

Visit Smart Homes Made Simple.