Community Access Unlimited – COVID-19 Community Resources
To Families and Guardians
Dear CAU Friends and Families,
As the coronavirus situation continues in our area, Community Access Unlimited (CAU) would like to share some updates with you regarding our agency’s response. CAU is following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and regularly communicates with experts and officials to follow best practices for the health and safety of our members and staff. All Staff complete a coronavirus screening questionnaire and temperature checks at the start of every shift, and we maintain communications with them about what to do if you are sick, where to get tested for the virus, and what habits to practice to help keep everyone safe.
Each week, CAU provides materials and encourages programs to participate in a creative and enriching challenge at home. We have tried so many fun ideas thus far, including a Zoom scavenger hunt, homemade pizza, and making thank you cards for first responders. Our winners receive a gift card to order food from a local restaurant. Members are also busy with remote learning classes through our Academy of Continuing Education. Everyone in our residential programs is invited to brush up on their learning in math, reading, media, science, art, self help and history.
If necessary, staff will coordinate testing for coronavirus for members. Please click here if you would like to search for testing centers in your area.
Our staff are essential employees and we continue to encourage and recognize them for doing an excellent job of making the most out of this challenging time. Many of you said thank you to them in this video with personal tributes that truly mean so much to our staff.
We are working together every day to solve problems, offer remote services where possible, and help our members reach their goals during this time. Together we are navigating a difficult time and sharing strength, and we thank you for working with us to make it as positive as possible.
Thank you and stay safe,
Community Access Unlimited
To CAU Staff
CAU is taking every measure we can to ensure the safety of our members and staff. Although there is a shortage throughout the country and delivery delays, CAU has obtained N95 masks and is distributing one mask to all staff providing direct care services to our members. These masks are for prevention only. If there is a positive member in our programs, CAU will take protective measures outlined by the CDC guidelines.
The agency is also working diligently to obtain thermometers and once they are received, CAU will distribute. Because we are in competition with hospitals, it is difficult to obtain these supplies. CAU will continue to look to purchase more Personal Protective Equipment for our members and staff.
CAU has been educating ourselves regarding social distancing.
Social distancing can easily be forgotten about as it is not something we are used to doing, especially in our day to day activities. In our research, one place that social distancing is not happening is in elevators. Please be mindful if you are getting into an elevator when there is a group, think about taking the next one. It is ok to politely decline to enter the elevator and take the next one, this is for your protection.
To Members We Serve
Community Access Unlimited is committed to the safety, health and well-being of our members. As we continue to monitor the increasing impact of COVID-19, we want to assure you that the administrative team at CAU is keeping up to date on the situation, listening to recommendations coming from appropriate authorities, and taking proactive steps to minimize disease transmission.
These steps include distributing N95 masks to all staff providing direct support for members, stepping up cleaning protocols, and sending staff regular reminders of proper handwashing technique and prevention methods.
The actions we have taken are consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health departments.
Our Director of Behavioral Services, Tracy LeBaron, recently shared tips for helping individuals with autism while social distancing due to COVID-19. We encourage you to read her suggestions, which may be helpful for speaking with loved ones with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities
As a service to CAU families and guardians who might not be on the NJ DDD Distribution List, please find reproduced below, unedited, recent updates from the Division. CAU is not the author of this information. To Subscribe to Division Update, send your name and email address to DDD.Communications@dhs.nj.gov with Division Update Subscribe in the subject line.
Important Information Update Regarding Walmart Vaccine Program, DDD announcement 1/22/21
!! IMPORTANT UPDATE !!
The Division of Developmental Disabilities is pleased to share updated information related to the Walmart closed-POD (point-of-dispensing) program that launched the week of January 18, 2021.
The update relates to efficiencies in circumstances where (a) a guardian consents to vaccination but cannot return the physical signed consent form in time for the individual’s vaccination appointment, or (b) an individual’s court-appointed guardian has passed away, is incapacitated, or is not yet appointed, which is preventing COVID-19 vaccination.
Residential providers, residents and families should review the UPDATED Walmart COVID-19 Closed-POD Program for Residents with IDD in Congregate Residential Settings Licensed by the Department of Human Services overview document for more information.
New Jersey Department of Human Services
Division of Developmental Disabilities
Important Information Regarding Walmart Vaccine Program, DDD announcement 1/15/21
The Division of Developmental Disabilities is pleased to share a new option for vaccination of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who reside in group homes and supervised apartments licensed by the Department of Human Services.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have partnered with Walmart Pharmacy to provide a targeted vaccine allocation through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership.
This closed-POD (point-of-dispending) program will launch late in the week of January 18, 2021, and will consist of 12 Walmart Pharmacy sites, each setting aside up to 12 hours per week for vaccinations of I/DD residents only. The directors at each Walmart site will work directly with residential providers to schedule vaccine appointments for their residents.
The Walmart COVID-19 Vaccine Closed-POD Program will be supplied a dedicated allocation from New Jersey’s vaccine supply. Agencies that were included in the Quest COVID-19 Testing Program are eligible and Walmart will contact agencies directly to begin the process. Agencies that are enrolled in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program are not part of this program and should continue working with their designated pharmacy provider.
Residential providers, residents and families should review the Walmart COVID-19 Closed-POD Program for Residents with IDD in Congregate Residential Settings Licensed by the Department of Human Services overview document for more details on logistics and pharmacy assignment.
Please note the closed-POD option is not the only way for an individual with IDD residing in a congregate setting to be vaccinated. Vaccine supply in New Jersey remains limited, so agencies are advised to exercise multiple methods to receive a vaccine. Residential staff and residents are also able to register for and receive the COVID-19 vaccine at any of the COVID-19 Vaccine Locations for Eligible Recipients. For a complete list of vaccine-eligible categories of individuals, please review the information on Who is eligible for vaccination in New Jersey?
New Jersey Department of Human Services
Division of Developmental Disabilities
Important Information Regarding Day Programs, DDD announcement 1/14/21
Day Program Re-Opening
- At this time, due to the current surge in New Jersey of COVID-19 cases, DDD-funded congregate day service settings will not re-open on January 19, 2021.
- A re-opening date is not available at this time
- The Division will provide at least two weeks’ notice once a re-opening date is identified.
- At such time that a re-opening is identified and two weeks’ notice is provided, the previously-released Day Program Re-Opening Requirements will be in effect.
Important Information Regarding COVID-19 Vaccines, DDD announcement 1/14/21
Hello Division Constituents and Community Partners,
We are pleased to share that effective immediately the New Jersey Department of Health has expanded its list of individuals who are eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, as follows:
- Residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and staff in congregate residential settings (group homes and supervised apartments) are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of Phase 1A. Please review the information on Who is eligible for vaccination in New Jersey?
- Both (a) individuals aged 65 and older, and (b) individuals ages 16-64 with medical conditions, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Residential providers may begin scheduling vaccine appointments for residents. Individuals who fall into other eligible groups described above, or their caregivers, can also begin scheduling their appointments. Please review Where, how, and when can I get vaccinated? for registration and scheduling information.
Information about vaccine options for healthcare workers, including IDD direct support professionals and self-directed employees, was distributed previously by the Division and is available on the NJ Department of Human Services COVID-19 Information Hub.
It is important to remember that, at this time, the national and state vaccine supplies remain limited. As with other vaccinations, providers must obtain informed consent from residents or their guardian(s). To assist in this, individuals or their guardian(s) should be encouraged to review the Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheets for the currently available vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Please see COVID-19 Vaccine Locations for Eligible Recipients for a frequently-updated list of available vaccine sites.
We also want to call your attention to new COVID-19 Vaccine Educational Resources developed by The Boggs Center to assist people with IDD to better understand the COVID-19 vaccine and what to expect during the vaccine appointment.
We appreciate your support, patience and advocacy during this unprecedented vaccine campaign. If you have other questions about COVID-19 vaccines in New Jersey, please visit COVID-19 Vaccine.
New Jersey Department of Human Services
Division of Developmental Disabilities
Important Information Regarding Holiday Visitation Guidance, DDD announcement 11/20/20:
Thank you for your continued support as we work together to navigate this most challenging and unprecedented public health emergency during this holiday season.
New Jersey Department of Human Services
Division of Developmental Disabilities
Important Information Regarding Temporary Closure of Congregate Day Services, DDD announcement 11/18/20:
Due to the increased positivity rates and community spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey, the Division has made the difficult decision to again close Division-funded in-person congregate day service facilities.
Effective close of business Wednesday, November 25, 2020 through at least January 19, 2021, all Division-funded in-person congregate day service facilities are directed to close.
Please see Temporary Closure of Congregate Day Services for FAQs and information.
More DDD Resources:
- Frequently Asked Questions on DDD Closures Related to COVID-19 for Individuals, Families and Providers
- DDD COVID-19 Response Help Desk Email: DDD.COVIDemail@example.com.
- DDD-Mandated Day Program closures and DDD-funded community outings advisories
- Subscribe Directly to DDD for Email Updates: DDD.Communications@dhs.nj.gov
NJ Department of Human Services
- DHS COVID-19 Information
- List of DHS Resources – English
- List of DHS Resources – Spanish
- Division of Children and Families (DCF) COVID-19 Information and Resources
New Jersey COVID-19 Information and Testing Centers
- Information Hub
- Find a COVID-19 testing center
- Have general questions about COVID-19? The NJ Poison Control Center and 211 have partnered with the State to provide information to the public on COVID-19
- Call: 2-1-1
- Call (24/7): 1-800-962-1253
- Text: NJCOVID to 898-211
- NJ Department of Health COVID-19
- DOH 24-Hour Hotline: 1-800-222-1222 or via email at NCOV@doh.nj.gov
Trained healthcare professionals are standing by to answer questions about COVID-19. Calling the hotline is the best way to get answers to your questions about COVID-19. By email, please allow up to 48 hours for a response. *The hotline is for general questions and is not able to assist with locating testing, getting test results, or providing medical advice.
- Contact Information for all local health departments in NJ
Children’s Programs Updates for New Jersey
From the NJ COVID-19 Information Hub:
Child care centers are open for all clients.
If you need help finding child care, contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Agency.
Locations providing remote-learning supervision services for children during the school day must be licensed as child-care centers. To continue operating, existing facilities were required to submit an application for licensure to the Department of Children and Families by October 23, 2020. For more information, refer to DCF’s FAQ or contact DCF’s Office of Licensing at 1-877-667-9845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Child care centers must follow all safety guidelines detailed by the Department of Children and Families
Early Intervention Services:
Green Mountain Self-Advocates
Brochure by and for people with disabilities
FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will begin to implement COVID-19 funeral assistance in April. FEMA will provide financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.
Additional guidance is being finalized and will be released to potential applicants and community partners as soon as possible. In the meantime, people who have COVID-19 funeral expenses are encouraged to keep and gather documentation.
More information and link to apply in April: https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance
Jewish Family Service Food Pantry
The food pantry is for anyone struggling to purchase food in Union County. Call 908-352-8375.
Child Mind Institute
Tips for Supporting Kids:
Economic Impact Payments and the American Rescue Plan
On March 11, President Biden signed the landmark $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” into law.
Click here to read a PDF document from HUD’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that describes highlights of this new law and how it helps Americans in communities nationwide in housing, healthcare, unemployment assistance, education, small-business assistance, and other areas.
Many tax filers will receive another “Economic Impact Payment” of $1,400. Individuals who have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will receive the full $1,400. People making more than $80,000 are not eligible for checks, and those making in between $75,000 – $80,000 will receive less than the full $1,400. For more information on these tax provisions, check with the Internal Revenue Service.
** Online Services Remain Available **
All local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020. This decision protects the population we serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and our employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, we are still able to provide critical services.
Our secure and convenient online services remain available at www.socialsecurity.gov. Local offices will also continue to provide critical services over the phone. We are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local governments, and other experts to monitor COVID-19 and will let you know as soon as we can resume in-person service.
If you need help from Social Security:
- First, please use our secure and convenient online services available at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online, check the status of an application or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card (in most areas), print a benefit verification letter, and much more – from anywhere and from any of your devices. We also have a wealth of information to answer most of your Social Security questions online, without having to speak with a Social Security representative in person or by phone. Please visit our online Frequently Asked Questions at www.socialsecurity.gov/ask.
- If you cannot conduct your Social Security business online, please check our online field office locator for specific information about how to directly contact your local office. Your local office still will be able to provide critical services to help you apply for benefits, answer your questions, and provide other services over the phone.
- If you already have an in-office appointment scheduled, we will call you to handle your appointment over the phone instead. If you have a hearing scheduled, we will call you to discuss alternatives for continuing with your hearing, including offering a telephonic hearing. Our call may come from a PRIVATE number and not from a U.S. Government phone. Please remember that our employees will not threaten you or ask for any form of payment.
- If you cannot complete your Social Security business online, please call our National 800 Number at 1-800- 772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Our National 800 Number has many automated service options you can use without waiting to speak with a telephone representative. A list of automated telephone services is available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/contact/phone.html.
Fraud Advisory from SSA
The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, is warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19-related office closures. We will not suspend or discontinue benefits because our offices are closed to the public for in-person service. Read the fraud advisory.
Coronavirus Relief Legislation – A Call to Action
People with disabilities are more likely to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic due to chronic health conditions that can make it harder to cope with and recover from illness. They are also more likely to live in poverty. Around the country, people are facing the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and people with disabilities are particularly in need of support.
Take Action- Reach out to your members of Congress and ask them to pass a new bill to address the needs of Americans with disabilities during the crisis. These needs include:
- Funding to create a Medicaid grant program to support access to at-home and community-based services and to support Direct Support Professionals.
- A permanent reauthorization of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. MFP funds states to move people with disabilities and seniors back into the community, after time in a nursing home or hospital.
- Economic stimulus and raising asset limits. Congress may pass legislation to make direct payments to low-income Americans. People with disabilities receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Medicaid are subject to strict asset limits. Those asset limits must be raised to ensure that people are not at risk of losing vital benefits.
United Way COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund
The United Way has established a COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund to support communities affected by the virus. The fund will help the most vulnerable populations receive critical financial and social service support during this global crisis. Dial 211 to speak to someone about local assistance at any time.
World Institute on Disability
- Read Recommendations for Immediate Action
Regarding: The Rights & Needs of People with Disabilities Who Use Personal Assistance Services & Supports Throughout COVID-19 Planning & Response.
- Sign the Call to Action
Information from the CDC:
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.
- Coronavirus information
- CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Page
- People at Higher Risk and Special Populations
- Vaccine Considerations for People with Disabilities
- Information for Travelers
- Preventing Spread
- Subscribe to the CDC’s COVID-19 newsletter
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
World Health Organization
COVID-19 Facts and Prevention
Definition: A respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often.
Transmission: The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Symptoms: Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Some patients have pneumonia in both lungs, multi-organ failure, and in some cases death.
Prevention: People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should: Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Proper Hand Washing: