In Just Minutes, You Can Help a Group Severely Hurt by COVID
Funding is at risk for those with intellectual disabilities & autism. Senior VP Cynthia McCurdy says you can help with a simple letter or call.
What a year it has been for all of us. We worried we were going to get COVID. We changed to remote work and school. Some lost their jobs, their friends and family members.
We balanced working from home with childcare and homeschooling. We wondered if there would be a vaccine, when it would be available and who would be able to get it. When would we be able to return to “normal?” When would returning to work be safe?
Over this past year and through many challenges, we adjusted.
But to people with intellectual disabilities and autism (ID/A), as well as those on the front lines providing direct care to them, the “new normal” has had a significant impact.
People with ID/A are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19. Staff turnover for those helping them almost doubled last year (up to 56 percent from 31 percent in 2019) as providers scrambled to fill shifts while trying to find Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep everyone safe.
The highly contagious nature of this virus and the safety protocols set by the CDC have required that anyone in a direct care position be required to wear and constantly change their PPE, and the facilities in which they work have stringent cleaning and disinfection routines in place.
Reopening services is a new challenge with these safety and sanitation requirements. A study found that ID/A providers in Pennsylvania require approximately $90 million per month to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is a lot of money obviously, money that many organizations do not have in their budgets and haven’t been able to secure or get reimbursed for through the various federal and state loan and grant programs.
A couple of weeks ago I received a request to contact Gov. Wolf to advocate for critical funding to cover these extraordinary expenses. And for the first time in the 10 years I have been with Ceisler Media, I felt compelled to wear my personal advocacy hat and ask my colleagues for their support.
There have always been budget challenges for funding disability services. But this one is a much bigger hit to the future for these individuals and the staff and organizations that provide services to them.
This is not a matter of scaled-down or inadequate services—without this funding there potentially will be no services.
While most of us have adapted to this “new normal,” our friends with ID/A have been far more challenged to do the same and just want to get back to life as it was.
If you would like to show your support so that the organizations providing services to people with intellectual disabilities and autism in Pennsylvania can continue to be operational, you can call the governor by phone at 717-787-2500. Or, copy and paste this link to send your letter.
Cynthia McCurdy is Ceisler Media's Senior Vice President, Finance & Administration based in our Philadelphia Office.