To:  All WACOSA stakeholders

From:  Steve Howard, Executive Director

Re:  Update on WACOSA’s services

I want to pass along a quick update regarding WACOSA’s services as the current pandemic and its effects continue.  We continue to provide services under the guidelines authorized by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, with strict adherence to WACOSA’s Pandemic Response Action and Prevention Plan (See WACOSA’s Pandemic Response Plan here).  While our service numbers have grown to slightly over 100, this continues to represent a two-thirds reduction in the number of persons served prior to the onset of the pandemic.  Given the current DHS restrictions, we are beginning to approach the maximum number of individuals we are legally able to serve until current state restrictions are lifted.

You will recall recently we asked many of you to reach out to your respective legislators in an effort to gain the support needed by the Minnesota Legislature to provide emergency COVID1-19 relief funding.  We greatly appreciate the efforts of those who took the time to intervene on behalf of individuals with disabilities and WACOSA’s services.  Unfortunately, in spite of strong bi-partisan support, Minnesota’s 2nd Special Session ended with no emergency relief funding for day and employment services providers like WACOSA.  With a much-anticipated, possibly final, special legislative session set for August, we are yet hopeful our legislators will hear the funding concerns of our programs and respond with the emergency aid programs/services like WACOSA’s need across Minnesota.  In anticipation of this coming special session, please continue reaching out to your legislative representatives to share your story and impress upon them the critical need for COVID-19 relief funding.

Reducing our capacity to serve individuals has created loss of income requiring critical legislative funding relief.  Presently, given our limitations in generating revenues, we are required to cut expenses to the bare minimum in order to keep WACOSA as economically sound as possible.  This has required a policy of very minimal spending, along with additional staff layoffs and unpaid furloughs.

While challenges persist, we appreciate that legislative processes take time. WACOSA’s staff, leadership and Board of Directors remain optimistic our organization will weather this difficult time and eventually be able to provide services to all clients who wish to receive them. Should you have questions, please reach out to any of WACOSA’s leadership team or access one of our media sources for up-to-date information (i.e. Facebook,www.wacosa.org, etc.) We will continue to keep you updated as changes develop.

From everyone at WACOSA, thank you for your continued support, advocacy and action.

Actions you can take?

Watch Wednesday’s Senate Human Services Reform Committee Hearing: Senator Abeler and this committee will be addressing multiple issues that impact WACOSA’s services. Listen in at 10:00 am on 7/29/2020 via Senate YouTube Channel or Senate Media Link

Contact the Governor: Governor Walz and his administration need to continue to hear the impact on what it would mean if day and employment services were not available. Continue to reach out to the Governor at 651-201-3400 or by using the Governor email tool

Contact your State Legislator/s:  Let your MN Senators and Representatives know the critical need for COVID-19 relief funding as they go into the August Special Session. You can use this link to find who you should contact in your area:  https://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/

Contact your Federal Legislators: Let Federal Senators and Representatives know the importance of including our services in the fourth COVID relief bill by using ANCOR’s email tool: ANCOR email tool 

If you receive a personal reply from one of your elected officials, feel free to forward it to info@wacosa.org.

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