Navigating Challenging Times Together

Developmental Disabilities Administration

September 23, 2021

Dear Providers, Families and Stakeholders,

First, I would like to offer a word of appreciation and commend all providers supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities during these challenging times. Thank you for the extraordinary efforts being made to maintain continuity of care and health and safety through one of the most challenging staffing crises our field has faced.  As most of you know, the state’s deadline for all health care and state workers to be fully vaccinated is October 18th. This date is approaching quickly.  What you may not be aware of is the creative staffing assignments, innovative staffing recruitment approaches, and other staff shortage driven solutions and contingency planning efforts occurring in our field today.

Two weeks ago, the Developmental Disabilities Administration hosted a webinar for service providers, largely residential, to share information and field questions regarding Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccination mandate (see governor’s proclamation). The event included representatives from DDA, the Aging and Long-Term Support Administration’s Residential Care Services (RCS) and the state Department of Health.  Nearly 300 were in attendance and 100s more have participated in DDA facilitated discussions in the regions since that time. DDA has drafted a couple of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) documents for providers in response to the Question and Answer segments of these sessions. Certified Community Residential Services FAQ's and Children's Residential Provider FAQ's.

On the regulatory side, our partners with RCS are developing a “crisis standard of care” for extraordinary times such as these, essentially focused on key health and safety related requirements such as critical care, protective supervision, and staffing contingency plans.  This crisis standard of care protocol has not yet been implemented, as of the date of this publication.

So far, we have been very fortunate in that most of our contracted residential providers have successfully maintained continuity of care for clients and have retained effective systems to ensure basic care and protective supervision needs are met. DDA has an amazing provider pool that leaves me in awe with the incredible work they do for the people we support every day.

Very recently the numbers are beginning to show a steady rise in the percentage of staff vaccinated who work for both contracted and state operated programs.  We are hopeful that some of our contingency plans will be shelved for future reference in the coming months.  Meanwhile, thank you all for your patience and for all that you do for people with disabilities.  To our residential providers, thank you for your innovative solutions, helpful ideas, and most of all for your tireless work.  As always, together, I’m confident we will successfully navigate these challenging times. 



Debbie Roberts / Assistant Secretary

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