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For the Aging and Disability Networks


The links and resources in this section are available to anyone, but they are specifically intended for organizations that serve older adults and people with disabilities, particularly those who receive funding from ACL.

The Public Health Emergency "Unwinding"

The federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) and Major Disaster Declaration (MDD) for COVID-19 ended on May 11, 2023, and federally funded programs returned to normal operations. This transition ended the temporary, but significant, changes made to Medicaid enrollment and eligibility rules, as well as additional pandemic-specific flexibilities extended to State Units on Aging for programs funded through the Older Americans Act.

As trusted community partners and effective messengers, the aging and disability networks have a critical role to play in ensuring millions of low-income older adults, people with disabilities, their families and caregivers retain health coverage.

This HHS fact sheet, released on May 9, 2023, describes flexibilities enabled by the COVID-19 emergency declaration during the PHE and they are impacted by the end of the COVID-19 PHE. on May 11. Please see ACL's PHE "Unwinding" page for additional information about federal and state policy changes.

Resources for Reopening

Reopening timelines and progress will be different from state to state, and one size won’t fit all, but in this section, we'll share guidelines and information to help as your state establishes its “new normal."

From ACL: Resources for Senior Nutrition Programs

As states move toward resuming some in-person activities to support the nutritional, social, and wellness needs of older adults, programs will face new experiences and challenges. To support the network, ACL's National Senior Nutrition Program created these resources that offer ideas and considerations.

From CDC

For convenience, CDC has a "What's New" page.

CDC has issued information on the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccination.

CDC has issued guidance about Considerations for Preventing Spread of COVID-19 in Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes.

CDC announced endorsement of safety and effectiveness of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine for people 18 and older. Read FDA letter of emergency use authorization HERE.

The CDC has partnered with a number of non-profit organizations to help with mental health issues.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are often asked, “How are you feeling?” It has been a difficult year dealing with this pandemic and emotions can be overwhelming. Whatever you’re feeling right now, starting a conversation with friends, neighbors, and loved ones about your concerns can relieve stress and promote resilience.  It starts with the question, “How Are You Feeling Right Now?”  Learn more at about how to start a conversation, find tools, obtain resources, and stay inspired. 


FEMA released the Exercise Starter Kit for Workshop on Reconstituting Operations. FEMA states that the kit contains sample documents your organization can use to conduct your own planning workshop to navigate the complexities of returning to full operations during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Included in the kit are three items available for download: FEMA Fact Sheet Reconstituting Operations, Reconstituting Operations Facilitator Guide, and a set of slides.

FEMA also issued a set of FAQs titled Reconstitution: Reopening After Coronavirus and an updated checklist document titled Civil Rights Considerations During COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Efforts that includes discussion of older adults and people with disabilities.

From CMS

Visitation is a crucial issue for people in a range of congregate settings and one on which ACL has been heavily engaged. On Feb. 10,  CMS issued new guidance on visitation in Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and psychiatric residential treatment facilities. This guidance makes clear the rights to access for Protection and Advocacy systems and Long-Term Care Ombudsmen, reinforces requirements to allow visitors or in-person support as required by federal law, includes a broad definition of compassionate care, and provides best practices for allowing visitation safely. This guidance complements the guidance CMS issued in September for visitation in nursing homes. See the ACL blog by Vicki Gottlich, which discusses this topic. CMS updated this guidance on June 3 to incorporate the latest on vaccines.

CMS released guidance for states and local officials to ensure safe reopening of nursing homes across the country. The guidance details critical steps nursing homes and communities should take prior to relaxing restrictions implemented to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including rigorous infection prevention and control, adequate testing, and surveillance. The vulnerable nature of the nursing home population requires aggressive efforts to limit COVID-19 exposure and to prevent the spread within facilities. The recommendations issued today would allow states to make sure nursing homes are continuing to take the appropriate and necessary steps to ensure resident safety and are opening their doors when the time is right. This also serves to help states and nursing homes reunite families with their loved ones in a safe, phased manner. CMS is recommending that nursing homes do not advance through any phases of reopening or relax any restrictions until all residents and staff have received results from a baseline test.  In addition, CMS recommends that state survey agencies inspect nursing homes that experienced a significant COVID-19 outbreak prior to reopening. Finally, CMS recommends that nursing homes remain in the current state of highest restriction even when a community begins to relax restrictions for other businesses, and should be among the last to reopen within the community, to ensure safety of the residents.  

CMS also released the List of Members for the independent Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes. The Commission issued a final report on 16 September, 2020.

Adapting to a "New Normal"

Many Americans are adjusting to a "new normal” as a result of the COVID-19 – one that balances the critical need to prevent the spread of coronavirus with the other factors that also affect health and well-being. The pandemic has also brought about both positive and negative long-term changes that will outlast the virus itself.

Rethinking Services for People with I/DD Webinar Series

ACL and the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) are hosting a webinar series on rethinking home and community-based services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Promising Practices - Highlights from the network

There isn't enough space to list all of the outstanding examples of how the aging and disability networks are adapting and innovating to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities, but this is a small sampling of some of them.

Supporting Vaccination

ACL has developed two documents with examples and promising practices for states, municipalities, community-based organizations and others working to increase vaccine access for older adults and people with disabilities:

ACL has an FAQ document on the use of Older Americans Act funding for Incentives such as gift cards, vouchers, giveaways, or prize items.

The HHS Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced the availability of approximately $250 million to develop and support a community-based workforce who will serve as trusted voices sharing information about vaccines, increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence, and address any barriers to vaccination for individuals living in vulnerable and medically underserved communities. To apply for the Community-Based Workforce for COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach Program Notice of Funding Opportunity, visit Applications are due May 18, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. ET.  Applicants should contact with any questions.

The National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS) created a document  titled, "Ensuring Vaccine Access for Individuals with I/DD & Direct Support Professionals." The document describes state successes related to vaccination efforts for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Denver Regional Council of Government (DRCOG) AAA has been using COVID relief funding to pay for scheduling and transportation to vaccination sites. In a modification to their traditional transportation services, drivers wait while clients get their shots to take them back home, helping to minimize the time spent exposed to others.  DRCOG (AAA) also has supported large vaccination event. For example, they arranged transportation for more than 350 people to get their first shot at an event on Feb. 6 and have schedules rides for those clients to get their second shot in March.  

As the state gets more vaccines, and the number of vaccine sites grows, it is becoming more complicated to coordinate individual appointments and shot events, while also providing non-COVID transportation services, such as trips to dialysis, cancer treatment and doctor’s appointments. The AAA is partnering with the Rotary Club, faith based organizations and other volunteer groups who want to help provide rides to vaccines. 

Addressing social isolation - from ADvancing States 
  • ADvancing States published this resource to assist states and others with creative and thoughtful approaches to social isolation and loneliness in older adults, and to also facilitate sharing and learning across states. It includes a collection of ideas and actions from across the country. 
Examples from Area Agencies on Aging and OAA Title VI programs - from n4a 

n4a has compiled a wide range of examples of how area agencies on aging Older Americans Act Title VI programs are adjusting existing programs and services--and launching new ones--to continue to safely serve older adults, people with disabilities and families and caregivers throughout the COVID-19 crisis.  

Examples from DD Councils

The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) has released “State Councils on Developmental Disabilities COVID-19 Report: Council Activities, Initiatives, and Impact.” This report highlights how ACL-funded DD Councils have used resources and connections to help people with developmental disabilities and their families stay safe, healthy, and connected to community during this ongoing pandemic.

Food insecurity and hunger
  • Central Florida's Meals of Love program had its 100,000th meal delivered by Governor Ron DeSantis. This public-private pilot program was established by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) in partnership with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). As of June 6, the DOEA Restaurant Meal Initiative has delivered over 600,000 meals to seniors throughout the state. The Meals of Love Program, serving Central Florida, was one of the first areas to begin delivery. Meal number 100,000 was delivered with food prepared from el Leoncito restaurant.  Meals of Love is the restaurant initiative serving homebound seniors in Brevard, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties through the Senior Resource Alliance (SRA) located in Orlando. The SRA has provided up to 2,500 restaurant prepared meals in one day. 

    • “This program saved my kitchen staff,” said one restaurant owner. “Without Meals of Love we had 3 staff and now we have 12 full-time staff in the kitchen alone. We’re able to keep operations going and our former unemployed servers are now delivering.”

    • “Governor DeSantis has helped to facilitate this process and allowed restaurants and food establishments to become emergency meal vendors for Florida’s seniors who are homebound or self- isolating for protection,” said Richard Prudom, Secretary for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. “We’ve ensured that any older adult who received a meal from a congregate site that is now closed for safety, continues to receive a home-delivered meal and food reassurance through this program.”

    • “Drivers deliver more than a meal,” said Senior Resource Alliance CEO Karla Radka. “They deliver hope and human contact to vulnerable seniors and in many cases the meals include a small note, a puzzle, or a letter to keep seniors engaged and aware that they are not alone.”

  • Every Tuesday, the ONEgeneration COVID-19 Relief Drive Thru Food Pantry in Reseda, California, now provides food to hundreds of seniors and families.  Staff and volunteers provide no-contact, shelf stable foods as well as dairy and meat when available.
  • A partnership between locally-owned restaurants, private corporations, and leading non-profit agencies, Nevada’s Delivering with Dignity is bringing meals, snacks, and coffee directly to the doorsteps of some of vulnerable and isolated families and individuals. Launched in March in Las Vegas as an emergency response to coronavirus pandemic, Delivering with Dignity has recently expanded to Reno. In fewer than seven weeks, more than 50,000 meals have been delivered directly to residents. The program has also allowed two dozen food service workers to stay employed.
  • One of the centers for independent living that receives funding from ACL, Disability Network Wayne County Detroit, has partnered with other local community service organizations to deliver boxes of food to people with disabilities to help them safely stay at home. They also have partnered with local hospitals to provide free COVID-19 testing and follow-up services.
  • Michigan launched a statewide public-private initiative to provide “Quarantine Boxes,” or “Q-boxes” to older adults across the states. Each Q-box contains enough food to create 22 healthy meals for adults. The state unit on aging partnered with the Food Bank Council of Michigan and Gleaners Community Food Bank to purchase 10,000 Q-boxes and launched a virtual food drive so the public could contribute to provide more. The Q-boxes are distributed to older adults through the state’s 16 Area Agencies on Aging (often in partnership with other local community organizations, such as United Way).
  • The Midland Area Agency on Aging, located in Hastings, Nebraska, serves eight rural counties to the west of Lincoln. In the span of a few weeks they partnered with five local businesses and nonprofit organizations to provide seniors with 500 fruit/vegetable/bread baskets, 275 potato-themed food baskets, 350 grab-and-go baskets, and numerous meals from a local restaurant chain.
Checking in on older adults
  • With the closure of congregate meal sites in Vermont, the Thompson Senior Center decided to start making daily calls to their most isolated community members and weekly calls to many others. The calls revealed needs that seniors had, such as running out of groceries, prescriptions, and postage stamps, financial concerns, and help avoiding becoming the victims of scams. The Thompson Center volunteers took care of most issues, while the local police department stepped in to pick up and deliver prescriptions.
  • Maryland offers a free, opt-in, telephonic service to check on Maryland’s older residents, all across the state.​Every day, a telephone call will be placed to a participant at a regularly scheduled time. These calls will take place between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. as close as possible to the one-hour time block pre-selected by the participant. If the participant does not answer their first call, they will be tried two more times. If those calls go unanswered, additional calls will be made to notify an alternative person who is selected by the participant during program enrollment. This could be an adult child, a neighbor, or another loved one. The alternate will then be encouraged to check on the older adult program participant. The failure of the participant and alternate to answer will result in a call to your local non-emergency service. 

  • The Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) yesterday announced a free, daily check-in by phone service for Ohio’s older residents to ensure their well-being amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency and beyond. The program was announced during Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s daily news conference.The “Staying Connected” service is open to Ohio residents age 60 or older who have a valid phone number. Those living alone in the community are encouraged to consider enrolling. The automated service, which is available 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, contacts participants each day within a one-hour window selected by them during sign-up. After confirming the caller is OK, it offers to connect the caller with the local Area Agency on Aging for information about services or assistance. If a participant does not answer after three attempts, a call is placed to an alternate contact, if one is on file. After multiple failed attempts to reach the participant and the alternate contact, a call is placed to the non-emergency services line of the local sheriff’s office.

  • The Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging has developed Project HELLO, a volunteer effort to connect older adults who may be alone, and in need of socialization more than ever before. If you are an older adult who would like to receive calls from a Project HELLO volunteer, please contact the POINT, Rhode Island's Healthy Aging help desk, at 401-462-4444. Volunteers are equipped to provide you with information about Project HELLO and other resources that can help you meet your needs.

Exploring the Use of Robotic Pets to Combat Loneliness

Both New York State and Alabama have received local and national media attention for their use of robotic pets to combat loneliness due to visitation restrictions at long-term care facilities as a result of COVID-19.

Employment Examples

The Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, is collecting examples and best practices around employment during COVID-19 for people with I/DD. The effort is part of the Institute's ThinkWork! project. Here are two items they have collected: Christina: Mastering a Job with Remote Supports During COVID-19 and Turn Community Services: Strategies for Remaining Employed or Returning to Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) March 2021 Report

The report, titled "The COVID-19 Pandemic and People with Disabilities: Primary Concerns, the AUCD Network Response, and Needs for the Future" is authored by Patricia Ramos, M.P.H., RD, Wayne State University, Michigan Developmental Disabilities Institute, and eight contributing authors. The report discusses AUCD’s main focus during the COVID-19 pandemic, as identified by the needs expressed by the disability community and AUCD network members.

Study on Centers for Independent Living and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The NIDILRR-funded Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living has published a study, "Responding to the Needs of People with Disabilities in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Community Perspectives from Centers for Independent Living," in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. 

Guidance for ACL Programs

Public Health Workforce grants (FAQs)

ACL announcement: expanding aging and disability networks' public health workforce (Jan. 13)

For recipients of discretionary grants 

This FAQ covers the COVID-19-related questions we are hearing most often from recipients of discretionary grants. 

Independent Living programs 
Older Americans Act programs 

For all programs 

Senior Nutrition Program

State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

Title III Programs

Title VI Programs

Aging and Disability Resource Centers

Other Older Americans Act Programs

Developmental Disabilities Act programs

ACL has created a list of FAQs for Administration on Disabilities grantees that answers questions related to the use of incentives. The purpose of the FAQ document is to provide AoD grantees that received funding to address the COVID-19 pandemic  with a basic understanding of the most common types of incentives and how to use them effectively. To access the Administration on Disabilities document, click HERE

ACL-CDC partnership to increase vaccine access: Funding FAQs for Developmental Disabilities Act programs (Posted April 14):

Assistive technology programs

FAQ: State Assistive Technology Programs

Adult Protective Services/Elder Justice Act programs

Coronavirus Response & Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021: Grants to Enhance APS to Respond to COVID-19

NIDILRR programs (Updated March 30)

Application of OMB Memo M-20-17 to NIDILRR Grants (March 30, 2020)

ACL Guidance on Reporting Requirements (Updated January 2021 to include Supplemental 5 funds)
ACL Fact Sheet: Preparing for Medicaid Changes When the Public Health Emergency Expires

When the federal declaration of a public health emergency (PHE) expires, many of the flexibilities initiated during the PHE will need to be rolled back. This return to pre-pandemic operations will have far-reaching impacts for older adults and people with disabilities. An ACL fact sheet (available as a PDF or Word document) explains what the aging and disability networks should know and how they can prepare.

Additional Resources

Vaccine Resources
Tribe and Tribal Elder Resources

COVID-19 is a serious concern for tribal communities. The resources located HERE, from the National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative, will help to inform your communities on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, protect your elders and loved ones, and prevent falling for scams.

The CDC has issued two sets of resources for tribes. One is titled COVID-19 Resources for Tribes and the other is Tribal Communities.

Pandemic-Related Payments and SSI Eligibility/Benefits 

In August 2021, the Social Security Administration (SSA) changed their rules about how pandemic-related financial assistance (including economic impact payments) can affect an individual’s eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or their monthly SSI benefit amount. View a full list of COVID-19 financial assistance that no longer counts against SSI eligibility or SSI payment amount.

ACL’s National Center on Law and Elder Rights (NCLER) has developed a “Practice Tip” with additional information on this change and its legal implications.

Additional NCLER Resources:

CDC Foundation Funding Opportunity for CBOs: Vaccine outreach to marginalized racial communities

The CDC Foundation will award over $6.7 million to community-based organizations to support efforts to increase influenza and COVID-19 vaccine confidence and uptake for adults in racial and/or ethnic populations experiencing disparities in the United States. The CDC Foundation will provide $50,000 - $100,000 awards to an estimated 100 CBOs to: (1) Equip influential messengers by providing trainings and materials; (2) Increase vaccination opportunities and enhance provider partnerships; and (3) Establish partnerships with state and local health departments. Applications are due Monday, April 26 and selected CBOs will be notified of their selection by May 7. 2021.

Emergency Broadband Benefit

Beginning on May 12, households can apply in three ways: 

  1. Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process.  
  2. Go to to apply online and to find participating providers near you.
  3. Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with proof of eligibility to: Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742.  

On April 13, the FCC hosted a webinar that provided an overview of the benefit, eligibility criteria, how to apply, and the FCC’s partner toolkit materials.

Housing and Protecting Rights Webinar Materials

Are you serving people at risk of eviction or who have been evicted? Are you working with landlords or tenants to prevent evictions? Do you want to work collectively to design and implement eviction prevention and/or diversion programs to reduce evictions and improve housing stability? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then this webinar is for you. 

On November 10, 2021, ACL hosted a webinar, "Preventing and Addressing Eviction Through Community Partnerships," which featured ACL-funded programs for protecting rights and preventing abuse and described the state and local partnerships that help them to address the needs of people dealing with eviction

ASPE Brief on Virtual Service Delivery

Understanding which services can be effective when virtual, how, and for whom is important—especially for those trying to reach underserved communities. HHS' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation have published a policy brief offering preliminary lessons learned and considerations for tailoring virtual services. Topics include choosing a platform, the trade-offs of remote services, and personalized service planning.

Last modified on 06/08/2023

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