At the time of this writing, the world has come to a standstill because of COVID-19. Over 10,000 Americans have lost their lives to this illness, and hundreds of thousands are sick. People with disabilities who experience health-related issues such as heart, lung or kidney disease need to take extra precautions because they may be at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and subsequently falling ill.
Throughout Georgia and across the country, people with disabilities are unable to get the supports they need and experience discrimination when they try to get a diagnosis or access medical care related to COVID-19. As a community, we mourn the loss of those who have passed away from this dreadful illness. Together with our partners in advocacy, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) penned a letter to Governor Kemp and other state leaders outlining concerns we believe should be addressed, including ensuring direct support professionals (DSPs) are deemed essential workers and receive the necessary protective equipment they need to be safe. The Department of Community Health has also submitted an Appendix K to the NOW/COMP waivers, which would allow some rules to waived in order to support individuals in their
homes during this crisis. We know much of this information can be overwhelming. To help be a resource for our community, GCDD has prepared a dedicated COVID-19 page on our website that outlines information relevant to the disability community in Georgia. Also, the Georgia Developmental Disabilities Network, of which GCDD is a member, is offering a free, public webinar every Tuesday at 3 p.m. to let people know what is happening
in our state and what resources are available. Please join us.
While we continue to work, we also remember one of our champions. In early April, Georgia’s disability community lost one of its legislative heroes in Senator Jack Hill (R-Reidsville), chairperson of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Sen. Hill was always available to us with advice and was responsible for making sure that funds were appropriated for the inclusive post-secondary education (IPSE) programs across the state. He also supported many other efforts impacting the disability community. Sen. Hill will be missed, and our thoughts go out to his family.
Before Georgia shut down because of COVID-19, the legislative session happened, and there were many activities that impacted people with disabilities. Indeed, your advocacy helped to make this a successful legislative session. For more details, a full rundown of what took place during the General Assembly is available in this issue’s Public Policy for the People. Usually in the spring edition Making a Difference we cover education because this is the time when schools and families are preparing for the end of the academic year. However, schools across the state are closed and graduations canceled. We have provided you with resources to help plan for those meetings in the coming year. Other issues we cover in this edition include recommendations for how to improve the conditions and qualityof DSPs. We know there is a crisis in recruiting and retaining staff. Check out Expert Update for potential next steps and solutions.
Visit GCDD’s website, and join our advocacy network so that you can
stay informed. We hope you enjoy reading this magazine, and we want to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts by writing to Managing Editor Hillary Hibben at email@example.com.