A Message From JOHN C. BRAUER, M.A. President and CEO – Feb 2021

Thoughts on the COVID-19 vaccine and what we can look forward to.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

As the months roll by, Covid and vaccinations continue to be front and center of all that we do. While I’m happy to report that all Members of Group Homes, and most of our folks in Community Living received their first-round of shots—with the second scheduled for this week—there are still so many who still need the vaccination, and our promise to remain ever vigilant towards the safety of those we serve remains high and true.

During our monthly Java with John sessions, and from personal calls and emails I have received, there are many great questions that are worth repeating, so I thought I’d use the newsletter this time to provide highlights from those interactions so that you’ll be informed as well.

Q: Are family members and caregivers of Regional Center clients/Members eligible for the vaccine under the category of healthcare providers for Phase 1A?

A: Yes, family member caregivers with direct risk of COVID-19 exposure who care for Regional Center (RC) consumers at high risk of COVID-19 complications and related fatalities including the following conditions: cerebral palsy, down syndrome, epilepsy, and individuals who have specialized health care needs, including dependence upon ventilators, oxygen, and other technology are eligible.  This does not include other family members within the same household who do not provide direct care to the regional center consumer. Eligible family members must obtain documentation from their RCs verifying the qualifying condition of the family member cared for and caregiver status.

Q: When can I or my loved one return to campus?

A: Truly, that’s the million dollar question. We don’t expect our Members to return to campus for some time still. With the infection rates here in Southern California still high, and the rollout of the vaccine unpredictable, we are reviewing the return date for Members on a week-by-week basis. When the safety guidelines have been lifted, and we feel that we can safely resume services both here and in the community, we will shout it from the rooftops! In the meantime, we’ll continue to provide services remotely and keep you posted.

Q: I’ve heard a rumor that New Horizons is closing or scaling back services. Is that true?

A: Absolutely not! While many our programs and services look different, and our parking lots are all but empty these days, we are in fact preparing to grow our footprint and service delivery options. New initiatives such as our Youth Navigation Center, which focuses on young adults with special needs as they ready themselves for life after graduation from high school, and GoGrocery, our training program designed to assist Members find work in the grocery/retail field, are rapidly expanding. In fact, there is interest in replicating the GoGrocery model in two other states! Other services, such as our Independent Living Services (including Supported Living) continue to flourish, as does our Employment Services division, group homes, and day programs.

Q: Will things go back to “normal” when the pandemic is over?

A: The pandemic, along with key mandates, will likely continue to alter our programs to a greater or lesser degree depending on the service. With the HCBS Final Rule, as overseen by CMS, now slated for implementation by March 17, 2023, there are a lot of moving parts as to what services might look like, but the bottom line is that we will continue to evolve to meet the needs of our Members and stakeholders while recognizing the changing landscape. We are humbled by the opportunity to effectively serve our Members, and their needs will always be at the forefront of our program designs.

Thank you for hanging in there with us. We look forward to a time when we can go back to the “new normal” and engage with our Members and caregivers in person. Until then, please stay safe and know that we will get through this together.