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Virginia Seeks Federal Approval of Emergency Payments for Caregivers of Individuals with Disabilities

Family in selfie
Linda Baxter's family. (Photo: Linda Baxter)

Providers of support services for adults with disabilities, ranging from full weekday programs to job coaching to community engagement, have had to close their doors due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Advocates have been asking for more action from the state to help sustain these programs. Last Friday, Virginia’s Medicaid agency, DMAS, announced they’re seeking approval from the federal government to provide emergency retainer payments to day programs for individuals with disabilities that have had to close their doors due to the virus.

If approved, the retainer payments would be available for qualified providers through June 30, 2020. DMAS said in a statement they’re “developing a process for implementation and guidelines on how payments would be disbursed.”

According to a spokesperson for the agency, services provided through local Community Services Boards -- like the program in Chesterfield County that Linda Baxter’s 38-year-old daughter Lauren has been attending for years on weekdays -- would be eligible to receive retainer payments. 

“Ever since she graduated from high school, and in Virginia, a child with special needs goes to high school until they're 21, and that was 2004,” Baxter said. “We love the staff there, it’s like family.” 

Baxter said she checked in with a couple staff members via text message a few weeks ago. One was working in a group home. Baxter says her family had also been receiving additional support caring for Lauren a few evenings a week and a few hours on the weekend. Now that the day program is closed and those providers aren’t coming, Linda and her wife Robin are providing full-time caregiving services for Lauren. 

“It's been kind of a reminder -- and eye opening -- as to how much I need help… how much people need help,” Baxter said. 


Megan Pauly reports on early childhood and higher education news in Virginia
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