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RCPA

Group Warns of Escalating Health and Safety Crisis in I/DD Community
Releases Video to Increase Awareness
Calls to End One-Size-Fits-All Policy Solutions

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Together for Choice, a national advocacy organization formed to protect and advance the rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), today announced the ACT NOW for Severe Autism Campaign with a consortium of partners, including the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association (RCPA), concerned parents and other advocates. The campaign seeks to shine light on the growing health and safety crisis involving individuals with severe autism and change policies that deprive them of the services they need.

“For too long, individuals with severe autism have remained in the shadows and all too-often forgotten in policy discussions,” said Ashley Kim Weiss, National Coordinator of Together for Choice. “Most of the attention and resources have been devoted to integrating high functioning members of the I/DD community into society, which we agree is important. Equally important, however, are the most vulnerable individuals with severe disabilities who can never fully integrate and are in desperate need of customized care and support to live healthy and productive lives.

The group promoted a video, which first debuted at the RCPA Conference held in Pennsylvania last week. A parent of a severely autistic child self-financed and produced the video to combat the increasing claims of the highly vocal and publicly visible advocates of the neuro diversity community, that severe autism does not exist. Or worse yet, that the needs of those individuals with severe autism are no different than the needs of any other individual diagnosed with autism.

The video can be found at: https://youtu.be/xwvKYE5C2Ys

“While the video is at times uncomfortable to watch, it is critical that the public see the realities that these individuals and families face on a daily basis,” said Richard S. Edley, President and CEO of RCPA. “We need more resources and more flexible policy solutions to address this growing crisis. One-size-fits-all solutions must end. We must recognize that one-size does not fit everyone. People will always be left out – and sadly, it is often the most vulnerable who are forgotten.”

The group also launched a website at www.ACTNOWFORSEVEREAUTISM.com which houses the video and contains a petition to end these policies as well as more information about how the public can get involved and advocate for change in policies that discriminate against individuals with severe autism and their families.

About Together for Choice
Together for Choice (TFC) is a non-profit organization with a mission to unite to protect and advance the rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to live, work and thrive in a community or setting of their choice. Please visit www.togetherforchoice.org for more information.

About the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association:
With well over 350 members, the majority of who serve over 1 million Pennsylvanians annually, Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association (RCPA) is among the largest and most diverse state health and human services trade associations in the nation. RCPA advocates for those in need, works to advance effective state and federal public policies, serves as a forum for the exchange of information and experience, and provides professional support to members. RCPA provider members offer mental health, drug and alcohol, intellectual and developmental disabilities, children’s, brain injury, medical rehabilitation, and physical disabilities and aging services, through all settings and levels of care. Visit www.paproviders.org for more information.

 

Contact for TFC
Ashley Kim Weiss
National Coordinator
Together for Choice
P: 310-889-8800

Contact for RCPA
Richard S. Edley, PhD
President and CEO
Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association (RCPA)
P: 717-364-3280

We invite and encourage all Human Service Providers in Pennsylvania to participate in the RCPA workforce survey. The statewide survey examines workforce topics for a diverse range of programs, including Mental Health, IDD/Autism, Brain Injury, Drug & Alcohol, Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRF), and others. The survey responses seek to gather data related to hiring, retention, vacancy rates, pay structures, vaccinations, and COVID-19 impacts on programs as well as access to care associated with the pandemic. The workforce survey will close on Wednesday, October 13, 2021.

The survey was developed for Legislative and State Stakeholders that requested RCPA to quantify the impact of the pandemic on our workforce so that we might effectively lobby for the welfare of the agencies that support and serve individuals with disabilities and health issues. RCPA has made the survey available to providers across Pennsylvania, not just RCPA members. Please be assured that response data will be de-identified and aggregated for reporting by an independent research entity, and your individual data will be shared with no one.

We thank you in advance for your time in completing this survey and would ask that you share this information with your colleagues, fellow leaders, and Human Resources teams. The more information collected, the more we will be able to provide to stakeholders, which will affect not only RCPA members, but all providers within the Commonwealth.

Please review the Master List of survey questions, which includes all service line areas, questions on the program operations, and vaccinations, to assist in your survey responses. A copy of the results of this survey will be available to all participants at the conclusion of the study. Please complete the survey here.

If you have any questions, please contact RCPA Director of Children’s Services Jim Sharp.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created existential challenges for agencies that provide supports and services to individuals who have disabilities and/or health issues. Staffing has been an area that has been significantly affected. Legislative and State Stakeholders have requested RCPA to quantify the impact of the pandemic on our workforce so that we might effectively lobby for the welfare of the agencies that support and serve individuals with disabilities and health issues.

We recently distributed a work force survey to our members that did not include a section specifically to address the issues support coordinators in the IDD, MH, and OLTL fields are facing. The SC Workforce survey asks questions specifically directed to the challenges that supports coordinators, or service coordinators, are experiencing.

If you have already completed the survey that was released last week, please do not complete this survey. We will extract the data from your submission to add to the data collected here.

The survey responses seek to gather data related to hiring, retention, vacancy rates, pay structures, vaccinations, and COVID-19 impacts on programs as well as access to care associated with the pandemic.

RCPA is making the survey available to providers across Pennsylvania, not just RCPA members. Please be assured that response data will be de-identified and aggregated for reporting by an independent research entity, and your individual data will be shared with no one. A copy of the results of this survey will be available to all participants at the conclusion of the study.

We thank you in advance for your time in completing this survey and would ask that you share this information with your colleagues, fellow leaders, and Human Resources teams. The more information collected, the more we will be able to provide to stakeholders, which will affect not only RCPA members but all providers within the Commonwealth.

If you have any questions, please contact Director of Intellectual Disability Services Carol Ferenz or your RCPA Policy Director.

As your teams begin working on completing the RCPA Work Force Survey, we received a request to have a master list of questions that can be referenced. The Master List of survey questions includes all service line areas, questions on the program operations, and vaccinations.

Again, we thank you for your efforts to complete the survey. Please contact RCPA Children’s Division Director Jim Sharp if you have any questions or concerns.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created existential challenges for agencies that provide supports and services to individuals who have disabilities and/or health issues. Staffing has been an area that has been significantly affected. Legislative and State Stakeholders have requested RCPA to quantify the impact of the pandemic on our workforce so that we might effectively lobby for the welfare of the agencies that support and serve individuals with disabilities and health issues.

The work force survey will examine work force topics for a diverse range of programs, including Mental Health, IDD/Autism, Brain Injury, Drug & Alcohol, Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRF), and others. The survey responses seek to gather data related to hiring, retention, vacancy rates, pay structures, vaccinations, and COVID-19 impacts on programs as well as access to care associated with the pandemic.

RCPA is making the survey available to providers across Pennsylvania, not just RCPA members. Please be assured that response data will be de-identified and aggregated for reporting by an independent research entity, and your individual data will be shared with no one. A copy of the results of this survey will be available to all participants at the conclusion of the study. Please follow the link to the survey.

We thank you in advance for your time in completing this survey and would ask that you share this information with your colleagues, fellow leaders, and Human Resources teams. The more information collected, the more we will be able to provide to stakeholders, which will affect not only RCPA members but all providers within the Commonwealth.

If you have any questions, please contact Director of Children’s Services Jim Sharp or your RCPA Policy Director.

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At 12:00pm Thursday, Sept. 9, Spotlight PA is hosting a panel on oversight of the drug and alcohol treatment system. The discussion is an extension of Spotlight’s reporting on the Department of Drug and Alcohol Program’s regulation of the system. Jason Snyder, Director of RCPA’s Drug and Alcohol Division, will participate on the panel. Others include:

  • Spotlight PA investigative reporter Ed Mahon;
  • Kaiser Health News correspondent Aneri Pattani;
  • Opioid Crisis Action Network board member Sharon White; and
  • Frank Greenagel, adjunct professor at the Rutgers School of Social Work, instructor at the Center of Alcohol Studies, and recovery supervisor at Prevention Links.

More information is available here.

Register here.

Each day we learn more about COVID and try to better understand the rules and guidelines being promulgated for safety. Just a couple of months ago, RCPA announced that we will continue all events virtually. One month later, we announced the ability to hold hybrid events with the option to attend in person. Clearly, that is what we all want, and what we hear from RCPA members.

So, with the Annual Conference approaching at the end of September, we need to again re-evaluate where we are with our approach to such events. And discussion about COVID was obviously a big part of last week’s virtual RCPA Board meeting.
As of today, here are the RCPA guidelines:

  1. Annual Conference. The plan proceeds with a fully hybrid event. You can attend in-person for part or all of the conference and it will all be available virtually as well. We already have many sponsors and exhibitors — and the program, which is excellent, is near completion. The change, however, is that we are requiring on-site attendees — including speakers, exhibitors, etc. — to be fully vaccinated. It is the most responsible approach at this time, and you will be seeing more about this shortly. If you are not vaccinated, or are just uncomfortable attending in person, the virtual event is available and we hope you actively participate, as many did at our successful virtual conference last year.
  1. Meetings. Similarly, each RCPA division director will be discussing with members whether any upcoming meetings will be in person, hybrid, or virtual. Again, all such meetings will require on-site attendees to be fully vaccinated.
  1. Provider Site Visits. One of the hallmarks of RCPA is that staff historically have spent a great deal of time “on the road” visiting with providers for better understanding programs, services, issues, etc. COVID clearly brought that practice to a halt. Of recent, some of these important visits have been reinstated. Moving forward, this will be based on a case-by-case discussion between the RCPA staff member(s) and the provider organization.

The most current federal and local guidance will be followed regarding mask wearing at all events. Having outlined all of the above, we all know it can change again tomorrow. But given the many questions and comments from members on this issue, we felt it important to document the thinking at this time.

Thank you,

Richard S. Edley, PhD
RCPA President/CEO