Kate McNulty of ANCOR discusses The Case for Inclusion 2021 Special Report. The report examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on community-based disability services and provides a blueprint for a more sustainable disability services system.
The Case for Inclusion outlines the challenges and the opportunities, confronting providers working on the frontlines of community inclusion.
The Case for Inclusion - a partnership of United Cerebral Palsy and the ANCOR Foundation is designed especially for advocates who believe that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities should have options and resources to live life without limits.
The Case For Inclusion
Jason Hare 0:01
Hello, everybody. My name is Jason Hare and welcome to Making An Impact. Again, thank you all for joining us and Making An Impact - a series of conversations hosted by Scioto Properties, that center in and around the disability community. Today, we'll be talking about advocacy, specifically, an amazing partnership between United Cerebral Palsy and the ANCOR Foundation called the Case for Inclusion, which some of you have probably heard of - designed especially for advocates who believe that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities should have options and resources to live life without limits. The Case for inclusion outlines the challenges and the opportunities, confronting providers working on the frontlines of community inclusion. To add to our discussion, we're joined by ANCOR's Director of Business Development and my good friend, the amazing Kate McNulty, Kate, how are you?
Kate McNulty 0:54
Good. Good. Goodness, I'm great. I'm great. It's a... it's a pleasure to be here.
Jason Hare 0:59
You're gonna, I'm glad that you're happy to be here. You're gonna hate this because I'm going to sing your praises for a second. Yep, Kate joined ANCOR in 2018 as their Director of Business Development, but you've worked in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities, should I say how long?
Kate McNulty 1:15
Jason Hare 1:16
Okay, for 30 years, she began her career as a teacher for middle and high school students with significant behavioral and emotional disabilities. And after earning a Master's degree went on to join a national provider organization holding positions of increasing responsibility, including Executive Director. In 2007, Kate joined Scioto Properties, where she served as the Director of Strategic Alliances, and where yours truly had the sincere pleasure of working with her side by side. Kate, you've made an impact wherever you've gone from California to New Jersey, and I'll tell you, there's probably not a lot of people that are listening to this within the intellectual and developmental disability field that don't know who you are. And so for that, I'm really grateful that you can join us again, thank you so much for being here.
Kate McNulty 1:58
It's absolutely My pleasure. And thank you so much for your kind words, I did not even have to pay you for those. So I appreciate that.
Jason Hare 2:05
You can, though, if you'd like to contribute. Well, right. And to quickly tell a personal story to sing your praises a little bit more. When I first started working at Scioto, about five years ago, you led a training class, one of my first days there where we talked about Person-First language. And the reason that we do it, we do talking about institutionalization. And one of the things that we went through was "Christmas in Purgatory". And as you were going through Christmas in Purgatory, you actually teared up, do you remember this?
Kate McNulty 2:38
I did, I did.
Jason Hare 2:39
It was really powerful for me not only kind of to learn about, again, the reasons that there's so many people who do what they do but also to see that emotion sparking inside of you. And when we talked about advocacy, or doing an advocacy episode, you were definitely one of the first people that came to mind, and ANCOR releasing this Case for Inclusion, it was sort of a perfect time. So, if you can give us a quick background on the case for inclusion and why ANCOR got involved.
Kate McNulty 3:09
Sure. And let me just... to be clear, for those of you who may not know ANCOR, it is the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) and ANCOR is the largest advocacy slash trade association whose support providers who support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the nation. We are based in Alexandria, Virginia, and we also have an office on the Hill, which is utilized constantly by a part of our very, very small staff. So our staff is 15. Large. And as the saying goes, we are small but mighty. So we have been involved in the Case for Inclusion since 2006. And I'm... Jason just gonna veer off just a little bit generally, our Case for Inclusion has assessed all 50 states and the District of Columbia, on dozens of measures that indicate how well state programs are enabling people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be included in their community. And so it really has been a lot of statistics state by state. This year, however, with COVID, wreaking chaos upon everyone in everything, we, ... we decided it was time to just look at some of the larger pictures and not look at state by state statistics. So if this is the first time you're taking a look at the Case for Inclusion, it will look quite different than in years past. And probably hopefully, by the next time we publish this, it will go back to comparing apples to apples we just felt like, in this environment, it was impossible to do that.
Jason Hare 5:17
Right. And that's amazing that you guys pivoted, especially when you talk about your small staff. Another quick metric, I think you guys represent about 1600 providers across the country, is that correct? That is correct, which, which translates to approximately 1.5 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,
Which to me is just astonishing. The fact that you can you,...you've been doing this, ...like you said for a while, but you're pivoting to address what's going on in the COVID universe is pretty astonishing. So in what ways have providers been impacted by COVID-19? What did you find in your reports?
Kate McNulty 5:57
Well, I mean, as you can imagine, the primary focus of providers were to keep the folks they support and their staff, they're amazing, direct support workers, safe, alive and well. And in doing so, that brought on a tremendous amount of overtime. It brought on for providers, closures of all or parts or pieces of their strategic business, for instance, vocational centers, or just a vocational place for folks to go every day, those things have essentially shut down, with COVID rearing its ugly head. And because of that, a lot of these providers are underwater or going out of business. And struggling to make ends meet. And again, primary focus to keep folks safe.
Jason Hare 7:08
And when you guys launched the Case for Inclusion, I believe there was a webinar this Monday, there was a statistic that they had given, and you had talked about the unfunded overtime, 52% of providers had unfunded overtime expenses in excess of normal overtime that they experienced. And that number is insane! And, you know, one of the things that I've always been blown away by, you know, by DSPs, all the way up to, you know, executive leadership and providers just all around. I think that is very well encompassed by... you and I have a good friend, Robert Budd. And he says, we're like weeble- wobbles. And Robert, if you listen to this, I'm sorry if I get it wrong, but he says we're like weeble -wobbles, we wobble but we don't fall down. And, you know, I think for the vast majority of providers, that is just, it's a you know, you can't fall down, they keep going. And DSPs is find a way to keep going and you know, on unfunded overtime, they find a way to keep going. But we are seeing to your point, we are seeing some of the ramifications of like, you said providers closing down, but it's just amazing to see how quickly, providers can... address needs and keep ongoing.
Kate McNulty 8:30
Right, I agree with that. And you know, that, although this is an extraordinary time with COVID. It's not extraordinary for providers to have a tremendous amount of overtime and to see cuts in their particular states and funding and things like that. So, you know, while this,...this truly has been extraordinary, providers have always dealt with... some,... some hardships and difficulties to continue to do what they do to support folks with IDD.
Jason Hare 9:07
Right, and so, looking at that, what policy actions are needed immediately to ensure providers continue to stay afloat?
Kate McNulty 9:16
Well, we envision we have, we've broken it down into two different categories. And if you go on, and I think, Jason, you'll share this with folks at the end of this podcast. But if you go on to this Case for Inclusion.org, you'll see that we have a little chart and in the chart, we say, we think the Biden administration should incentivize states to develop and implement a plan for addressing components of the workforce crisis. We think that CMS should include home and community-based services under the equal access rule, we think that we should target DSPs direct support professionals, with the incentives established by the caregivers proposal...which means primarily, paying them a living wage. Because right now, they just aren't, you know, they're they're commensurate workforces are fast food places and things like that. And these folks are responsible for the lives and well-being of...people. And that that's a big deal.
Jason Hare 10:38
And, they're that we've, we've always known that they're vital. I mean, they've been...again, just an incredible workforce forever, but this year, you know, throughout the pandemic, more than anything, they're... the amount that people we've leaned on DSPs has been... incredible.
Kate McNulty 10:59
Oh, and the stories have been incredible. And that's one of the things that this, this is the Case for Inclusion is focusing on in particular this year, our stories, stories you can share with your Congress people, your legislators to say how important it is to set the scale right, and and make sure these DSPs are paid, again, a commensurate wage. We would like to see Congress compel the Bureau of Labor Statistics to establish an SOC. And if you don't know what that is, it's a Standard Occupational Classification for DSPs. Currently, there's not one. So it's very difficult to say, okay, here's what they should be paid across all states, because there's,... there's no baseline. And that's what we've struggled with for quite some time. So that's what we are really pushing the 117th.Congress to do. I'm sorry, go ahead.
Jason Hare 12:11
Oh, I was gonna say, you know, that kind of is part of one of my next questions, I guess, in this might have been cutting you off a little bit. Because, you know, one of the questions that I had, would be, if you had a magic wand and could address one issue immediately, would it be... the issues regarding DSPs? And maybe I led you a little bit too much there into you know, that that question, but...
Kate McNulty 12:40
So, if I had a gigantic magic wand, it would be to do a couple things with one flick of my wrist, it would be to end this pandemic, and bring things back to some sense of normalcy. And in the process, ensure that these DSPs who have worked tirelessly, I mean, worked away from their own families, to make sure folks are safe and well... are, are recognized and have a Standard Occupational Classification, and are paid a living wage. So that's a pretty darn big magic wand, isn't it?
Jason Hare 13:25
Yeah. Yeah. But it's all. I think, to your point, nothing is more important than the other, they are all immediate needs that need to be addressed. And the pandemic ending would be just a dream come true,
Kate McNulty 13:39
wouldn't it? Yes, indeed.
Jason Hare 13:42
Well, you know, Kate, I really appreciate you coming and speaking to us a little bit about the Case for Inclusion, I know that there's just so much time and effort that gets put in by ANCOR and UCP. And all of you again, working together to put this out in a pandemic time to show people what are the immediate needs that need to be addressed currently, and... and to again, pivot the way that you did to address the COVID-19 world versus the way that the traditional case for inclusion looks? You guys just really continued to show why you are a leading organization.
Kate McNulty 14:22
Well, I appreciate again, your kind words, Jason. And, you know, I would encourage folks, and I think Jason is going to say something shortly about how to join ANCOR, if you are a provider and are not a member, but even if you're not we'd love to know your stories. Because those are the most... storytelling is the most powerful tool to invoke change. And...and we certainly welcome all stories that you have. So again, thank you so much. It's been a pleasure and, and we must certainly appreciate the work that the folks that UCP have done along in conjunction with us.
Jason Hare 14:37
Absolutely. Thank you to everyone who's tuned in to listen. We will have a breakdown of this conversation and more information about the Case for Inclusion updated to our blog at scioto.com. Also, check out the ANCOR website to learn more at A-N-C-O-R dot org. If you are a provider, and not a member of ANCOR reach out to Kate to start being a part of the conversation. This is a group that continually represents the needs and interests of private providers before Congress and federal agencies and your support and engagement is crucial to their work. Regardless if you're a member of not visit Case for Inclusion.org or google Case for Inclusion 2021 to view the PDF and remember to tell your story as Kate said, storytelling is so important. And finally, everybody sign up for our email list to ensure you're up to date on our new podcasts. Until our next podcast, remember to make an impact with everything that you do. Again, my name is Jason Hare. Have a great week. So long, everybody!