Despite the challenges during the current COVID-19 pandemic, Lawrence County Developmental Disabilities is using every technological resource available to ensure needs, health and safety of people with developmental disabilities are being met.
In mid-March, Lawrence County DD (LCDD) ordered staff to begin working remotely, including the temporary closure of Open Door School, the service and support offices, and the early intervention offices. However, programs are still being made functional thanks to technology available in today’s world.
The LCDD administration meets at a minimum of three times per week to discuss plans for how to continuously provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Governor DeWine ordered schools to be closed on March 16 and extended the order through May 1 this week. On March 21, the governor ordered adult day services with more than 10 people per location to close.
While orders from the Ohio Department of Health allow for services to be provided at any Human Services Operations, social distancing orders have affected home visits for the early intervention and service and support departments who regularly visit with families to ensure plans are being met, along with other health and human services being offered to children and adults with developmental disabilities.
In order to provide the services offered by LCDD, the agency has set up several remote programs for the DD population across all age ranges.
The Early Intervention (EI) program, which works with families of children birth to three that have been diagnosed with a delay or developmental disability, is using phones, tablets, laptops and desktops to conference call with families via video in order to coach through children’s developments. Early intervention providers encourage families to choose a platform they are most familiar with and EI service coordinators provide additional coaching on how to use technology, if needed. The use of this technology allows the specialists to provide the same services following the same timelines and with the same frequency and duration.
Several of the teachers at Open Door School have created virtual classrooms online and through social media so that students can continue to learn classroom instructions at home. Teachers create live Facebook videos of activities, post educational resources, and interactive learning activities. Related services such as physical education and speech, physical and occupational therapies are also offered remotely through the internet and social media as well from LCDD. In addition, teachers are contacting families to check on education plans, well being and food supplies to offer assistance as well.
The service and support administration (SSA) has divided up into resource teams during this time to better serve individuals and providers. The provider coordination team checks in regularly with providers of services around the county, responds to their needs and shares information from the state department of DD. The provider billing team answers any billing questions in regards to services for people with DD for which need to be paid. The resource team monitors and coordinates resources and supplies for people throughout the county, and the monitoring and support team checks in regularly with individuals to assess health and welfare, ensuring services are being filled as a result of day habilitation programs closing or being limited. The SSA department as a whole meets virtually through video conferencing to ensure all services are being met.
Though facilities remain closed, most DD staff can still be reached at their normal phone numbers and extensions during the stay-at-home order. The main number for LCDD is 740-532-7401; the SSA department and emergency contact is at 740-532-0406; Open Door School is at 740-532-1234; and Early Intervention and childhood services can be reached at 740-377-2356.
LCDD remains on the ballot for a 1.75 mill, 5 year term levy for the primary election, which has now been assigned to be mail-in only with exceptions for people with disabilities. Absentee ballots can be requested by calling the Board of Elections at 740-532-0444 and leaving a detailed message or by emailing contact information and address to [email protected] Requests must be made and the ballots must be returned by April 27, though it is recommended to send in all information as soon as possible as mail delivery may be affected by the COVID-19. The levy will not take effect until 2021.
Registered voters with disabilities may still vote in person for the primary election. Please contact the Lawrence County Board of Elections with more details on this process.