September 11, 2020: The Capitol Connector View in browser

September 11, 2020


In This Issue:

  • Education Advocacy During COVID-19
  • State & National Housing Protections
  • Empowered to Vote
  • 2020 Census
  • Noteworthy News & Resources
Education Advocacy During COVID-19

Over the past weeks and months, one of our primary focuses has been making sure that children with disabilities have the tools and resources they need to be successful during the 2020-2021 school year, in spite of the pandemic. We know that families statewide are facing major barriers and challenges in accessing special education services and individualized supports for their children at this time, especially in distance learning.

We have been hearing a broad range of concerns. We have been advocating for the development of an interagency work group with the Departments of Education (MDE), Health (MDH), and Human Services (DHS). This work group would help identify innovative solutions to these concerns.

The Departments were receptive to this feedback. They have held 2 work group meetings so far. In the meetings, we have offered feedback to improve guidance that has been issued thus far, pushed for more helpful, specific guidance on the most urgent issues facing students and families, and shared these specific requests/recommendations:

Provide guidance to districts to meet the needs of students with disabilities who will not receive an educational benefit from distance learning, possibly through:

  1. In-person instruction or services at outdoor locations;
  2. In-person instruction for prioritized students with disabilities at school locations;
  3. In-person instruction for prioritized students with disabilities at district-sponsored child care for children of tier-1 workers; and
  4. In-person instruction by school staff at childrens’ homes (potentially with dedicated limited pool of children per teacher).

Enhance PCA support by:

  1. Seeking federal approval to permit parent pay for PCA;
  2. Seeking federal approval to allow more flexibility for education-adjacent activities PCAs can provide support with; and
  3. Providing clear guidance to PCA providers and families about how PCAs can be utilized when distance learning is occurring at home.

Leverage HCBS support by:

  1. Providing guidance to counties about the use of waivers during the time of COVID about how case managers can get needs met with the services they already have available;
  2. Providing guidance to counties to be more proactive in supporting individuals and families with disabilities and allow them to spend the funds for which they have already been found eligible; 
  3. Creating flexibility in waiver programs to support children at home through increased flexibility with CDCS, making sure that consumers are aware of the CDCS option, and directing DHS to mobilize the Family Support Grant (FSG) system as an interim support solution while families are in the process of applying for other supports; and
  4. Considering the use of federal funds to provide additional funding for the FSG program.

Pursue options for schools to pay parents or family members to provide needed supports for children to engage in educational services during the day (acting as a paraprofessional).

Support licensed child care providers to serve school-aged children with disabilities and provide needed supports for children to engage in educational services during the day.

Provide guidance to districts prioritizing in-person options with transportation for children who cannot work from home/a home (no adults, no home, inadequate space, inadequate wifi), and:

  1. use statewide resources to expand broadband;
  2. connect districts with resources around technology; and
  3. facilitate districts sharing/exchanging resources.

Set and communicate standards to districts for students with IEPs to ensure that they have appropriate technology for each student, adequate bandwidth, technical know-how at home to troubleshoot, and quiet space to work.

Provide guidance to districts about developing a clear process for students and families to report that they don't have adequate supports, track/monitor districts’ response(s), and continue to request formal solutions/resolutions over the course of the school year.


We need your help

We will continue advocating for these changes and flexibilities, but we urgently need your help. If you are the parent or family member of a child/youth/young adult with disabilities, please take a few moments to complete this survey about your experience with school thus far: https://bit.ly/2FrURzi

We hope to elevate your stories in a way that can inform policies related to students with disabilities. We hope to get the changes that are so urgently needed in order to make this school year a success. It is critical that we continue advocating for a viable pathway to ensure that children are receiving the supports they not only deserve, but are their right, during the 2020-2021 school year.

With questions or for more information, you can contact me at aliciamunson@arcminnesota.org.

State & National Housing Protections

Late last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19.” Here’s the official Notice. It’s a broad, temporary eviction moratorium for eligible renters. It will provide critical protections for millions of low-income renters. The order went into effect on September 4, 2020 and will run through December 31, 2020. The moratorium applies to all tenants who meet certain eligibility requirements. It applies to all properties.

For more information about the national eviction moratorium, check out these resources:

Our friends at the Minnesota Housing Partnership want to make sure that everyone is aware of the state-level housing protections during the pandemic, too. Their Director of Strategic Initiatives and Policy, Elizabeth Glidden, writes:

It is critical that Minnesota agencies and organizations continue to promote a consistent message of compliance with the Governor's Order suspending evictions. The CDC moratorium has unique requirements for renters, and limits coverage primarily to non-payment of rent, which could cause confusion for renters, owners, and property managers. These unique provisions of the CDC moratorium do not apply in Minnesota.

Neither the CDC moratorium, nor the Governor’s suspension of evictions, relieves renters of any obligation to pay rent. We are desperately in need of Congress to approve a COVID-19 relief bill with at least $100 billion in housing assistance.

In Minnesota, the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program launched August 24, making $100 million available to help prevent eviction, prevent homelessness, and maintain housing stability for eligible renters and homeowners. The program is designed to cover expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities or other housing-related expenses that were incurred after March 1, 2020 and are past due.

Minnesotans can apply for housing assistance and learn more at:

  • Greater Twin Cities United Way’s 211 Resource Helpline at 211unitedway.org
  • 1.800.543.7709 or 651.291.0211
  • Or texting “MNRENT” or “MNHOME” to 898-211

The 211 helpline has dedicated multilingual staff available to answer questions about the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Empowered to Vote

September is an important month for voters in Minnesota!

Next Friday, September 18 is the first day that people can vote early in the 2020 General Election. This is the election where we will choose a president, members of Congress (working in Washington, D.C.), members of the state legislature (working in St. Paul), and more. Minnesotans can vote early in person, or by a ballot that is mailed to their home.

Our team at The Arc made this one-pager to help you understand your voting options: https://bit.ly/35xu0gh.

There is more information about voting early on our Voter Empowerment website, under “How To Vote”: arcminnesota.org/2020-voter-empowerment-toolkit

National Voter Registration Day is September 22. It is another big voting milestone this month. Minnesotans can register online, on paper, or at their polling place on Election Day.

Our Voter Empowerment page has more information in the “Voter Registration” section. This page on the Secretary of State’s website also has answers to common questions about getting registered: sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/register-to-vote/registration-faqs

Our Legislative Advocacy Coordinator, Gene Martinez, was on the Disability Landscape show a couple of weeks ago. He shared a lot of helpful updates about registering to vote, voting early, and much more. Check out his interview here: https://bit.ly/3k949z7. With questions or for more information about voting, you can contact Gene at genemartinez@arcminnesota.org.

Be Counted in the 2020 Census!

Have you taken the 2020 Census yet? The deadline is September 30! 

In the video above, Public Policy Director Alicia Munson shares why it is so important to be counted in the census! You can find more information about the 2020 Census and a link to be counted at arcminnesota.org/census.

Noteworthy News & Resources

The Arc Minnesota Guardianship Reform & Decision-Making Resources

During the 2020 legislative session, our team at The Arc Minnesota worked with other disability and older adult advocates to make changes to the guardianship law. It had been many years since the law was updated. It was important to make changes that promote self-direction and supported decision-making options for people with disabilities. 

Last month, our team hosted a webinar to talk about some of the changes that are most important to our stakeholders. You can review the webinar here: https://bit.ly/2ZnMax1

We also made a fact sheet about the changes, which you can find here: https://bit.ly/3bMqyPG

Our Arc Guide to Decision-Making Options can help you understand many of the different supports that can help people with disabilities make important personal and financial choices: arcminnesota.org/resource/arc-guide-to-guardianship

With questions about the guardianship law changes or for more information about decision-making options, you can contact Allycia Wolff at allyciawolff@arcminnesota.org.

From the Department of Human Services

Waiver Reimagine engagement opportunities in September

From Minnesota Housing

COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program Launches

From MPR News:

How Minnesota's evictions ban is playing out

Minnesota Supreme Court expected to expedite voter-aid case

From Disability Scoop:

How To Adapt Special Education to the Remote-Learning Reality

Ed Department Says Transition Services Must Continue During Pandemic

Supported Decision-Making Eyed As Alternative To Guardianship

From the Statewide Independent Living Council

The Minnesota Statewide Independent Living Council (MNSILC) is looking for people to join the council. They encourage people with disabilities, parent advocates, service providers, and individuals from businesses to apply. Applications are due on Friday, October 30.

You can visit the Secretary of State’s website for information: sos.state.mn.us/boards-commissions/help-how-tos.

With questions about MNSILC, visit the website www.mnsilc.org, call 612-518-1497, or email mnsilc1215@gmail.com.

Thank you to our sponsor Mains'l for their support of our public policy work

www.mainsl.com


Join The Arc’s Disability Policy Networking Group to stay engaged on policy issues by requesting membership here. 


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The Arc Minnesota

2446 University Ave. W. Suite 110, St. Paul
Minnesota 55114-1740 United States

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