LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, May 15, 2020


Advocacy Update

House Set to Pass Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act
Later today, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on and is expected to pass H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, a $3 trillion measure building on previously passed legislation and meant to continue to blunt the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on businesses, individuals, and the economy overall. 
We know our nonprofit advocacy voice is being heard, as a number of elements of our key priorities are reflected in specific provisions of the bill. While Senate leaders have indicated they do not plan to take a vote on this exact bill, they are continuing to work on their own version of another coronavirus relief package, which is currently expected to be released in June.
The House bill would:

  • Establish a $200 billion Heroes Fund to provide hazard pay for essential workers (including those at nonprofit organizations), such as health care and custodial workers in both in- and outpatient settings and nursing homes, home and community-based health care workers, behavioral health workers, and childcare providers.
  • Improve and expand loan options for nonprofit organizations, including expanding eligibility for Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans to include nonprofits with more than 500 employees, and expanding the Main Street Lending Program to include nonprofit organizations as eligible borrowers.
  • Provide $10 billion for COVID-19 emergency grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.
  • Appropriate $9.6 billion to the Social Services Block Grant to provide emergency aid and services to disadvantaged children, families, and households.
  • Increase Social Services Block Grants to $12.15 billion in 2020 and appropriates $850 million to SSBG for child care and family care for essential workers, including “health care sector workers.”
  • Increase federal payments to state Medicaid programs for home and community-based services by 10 percentage points through June 2021

Increase Federal Medicaid Assistant Percentage (FMAP) payments to state Medicaid programs from a total of 6 to 14 percentage points

Coronavirus Resources

Across the United States, Lutheran Services in America’s members are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing services to some of the nation’s most vulnerable people including people with disabilities. You well know that given the depth and breadth of the pandemic, it is challenging to find resources, protective equipment, and available staff to respond to all those in need.

To this end, and in efforts to keep you informed on timely, related resources, we have compiled a list of news and resources you may find helpful. In particular, we are tracking philanthropic and federal funding opportunities and requirements for our members and compiling a list of upcoming webinars, meetings, and events. Be sure to check out these pages and feel free to reach out to us with any related questions you have. 


Senator Introduces Bill To End Ventilator Discrimination During Pandemic

A U.S. senator has introduced legislation aimed at bringing an end to ventilator triage protocols that advocates worry could be used to discriminate against coronavirus patients on the basis of disability.

Sen. Bill Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, announced last week that he had introduced the bill, saying in a statement that he drafted it in response to “abhorrent” policies in more than 20 states, including Alabama, that could allow people with disabilities to “be sent to the back of the line for ventilators.”

Sasse said he hopes the bill will be adopted as part of the next phase of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation would make it so states with discriminatory protocols in place would be ineligible to receive ventilators or “any resource” from the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile of medical equipment and supplies.

More from Disability Scoop

DSPs Worry About Protective Equipment, Changed Routines

Edward Monk’s job was tough — even before a global pandemic hit.

Monk is a caregiver for two men with Down syndrome in a residential home.

As a direct support professional, he assists those he cares for with tasks like grooming, preparing meals, administering medications and generally helping the men he cares for live in their Mt. Lebanon group home and be part of the community.

Like everyone else, their routines have been upended by stay-at-home orders and social distancing.

More from Disability Scoop


Remote Learning Continues, But Students With Disabilities Still Falling Behind

Samantha Wagensommer expected to finish her last semester on Stockton University’s campus and walk in her graduation ceremony this month.

Instead, she’s been back home in Manahawkin since March, finishing her degree remotely and taking on the role of helping teach her little brother Dean, an 18-year-old who has autism spectrum disorder.

Dean normally goes to school nearly year-round at Southern Regional High School. He had a teacher and peers, as well as a personal aide and therapists who guided him through occupational therapy exercises, vocational training and speech therapy to learn nonverbal communication skills.

Then the coronavirus pandemic upended life in New Jersey.

More from Disability Scoop

Research & Reports

Pets Ease Stress For Kids With ASD And Their Parents, Study Finds

Parents of children with autism often report higher levels of stress than other moms and dads, but new research suggests that having a furry friend — or two — can make a big difference.

study looking at the experiences of 764 families with children on the spectrum finds that having a dog or cat is associated with lower stress for both kids with autism and their parents.

More from Disability Scoop

Growing Up Alongside a Sibling With a Disability

When children help with the education of a brother or sister with special needs, the outcomes are often good for both.

Not long after my mother learned that my brother, David, was autistic, she began what she called “little school”: sessions in which she taught him to draw faces, cut with scissors, read and cook. He was 4, I was 2. I recently asked her how she balanced David’s needs with mine. “You were the teacher’s assistant,” she said. “I was trying to make you feel important.”

It was the 1970s, and researchers considered siblings of children with disabilities as a sort of disadvantaged population. Since then, a body of research suggests that when children help with the education of a brother or sister with a disability, the outcomes are often good for both — and my mom was way ahead of the curve. She believed she could help David and lift me up, too. There wasn’t a lot of guidance at the time, so Mom hired an education specialist and talked to David’s teachers and school psychologist.

More recently, researchers have viewed families with special-needs children through a more positive, less stigmatizing lens, said Meghan Burke, Ph.D., an associate professor of special education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This modern framework acknowledges the strengths children may gain from having a sibling with a disability, including enhanced adaptability, empathy and tolerance, said Burke.

More from The New York Times

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

Isolation isn't new for those with intellectual disabilities. But covid-19 still poses a threat.

No one needs to tell people with intellectual disabilities about social isolation. Special Olympics, which I chair, began more than 50 years ago as a rebellion against the unjust separation and institutionalization of millions of people around the world. Many of our athletes and their families had been mocked, isolated or locked away — not for weeks but lifetimes.

Novel coronavirus lockdowns touch something deep among our community. “Isolation isn’t new to me,” Loretta Claiborne, a Special Olympics pioneer and chief inspiration officer, said during “the Call to Unite,” a recent live stream unifying leaders around the globe. “I’ve dealt with it my whole life.”

She was speaking about things that people with intellectual disabilities have fought for generations: social marginalization, public ridicule, segregated education, inadequate health care. The covid-19 pandemic hasn’t lessened these struggles. It has, however, clarified that ending the pandemic of disease requires also ending the pandemic of division and inequality. Covid-19 is a viral threat that knows no labels and respects no social norms. Unless everyone is treated, the disease can’t be eradicated. No exceptions.

More from The Washington Post

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2020 Summer Meeting
August 5-7, 2020
Details TBD

LSA-DN 2021 Winter Meeting
February 24-26, 2021
Details TBD


For more information on our topic specific work groups, please email Jen Beltz at

  • Policy & Advocacy Team
  • Culture and Engagement Workgroup
  • Administrative Cost Survey Working Group

Keep in Touch

Lisa Morgan
DN Convener
Chief Operating Officer, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia

Rita Wiersma
DN Treasurer
Chief Executive Officer, Accord

Jen Beltz 
VP, External Affairs, Lutheran Services in America