Iowa Advocacy Connection | 2021, Issue 1

Issue 29, 3/17/2021

Print This Newsletter

Articles in This Issue:

Partner Guest Article: Easterseals Iowa


Easterseals Iowa has been providing exceptional services for over 90 years. Our mission is to ensure that all people with disabilities or special needs, and their families, have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities. We provide a wide range of support for children and adults with disabilities to promote independence and opportunities throughout their lives. By offering a large variety of services to support people with disabilities as they address life's challenges and achieve personal goals, we give the gift of hope, create change and find solutions.



We provide hands-on, comprehensive programming to support people in reaching their full potential — regardless of challenges, needs or disabilities. We support individuals in learning basic living skills so they can stay healthy and live independently in community-based settings.

Our Live programs include:

  • Life Club
  • Clients Socially Integrated
  • Achieving Independent Methods
  • Assistive Technology
  • Supported Community Living
  • Case Management

Expanded Assistive Technology (AT) and Training for Social Isolation: This statewide program was created to offer long-term loans of specific assistive technology to support individuals with disabilities who are age 18 and older or persons age 60 or older who are experiencing social isolation. There are limited funds and a limited time frame for this program, so apply now! The technology provided remains the property of Easterseals Iowa but can be used for as long as needed, and staff are available to provide training for the individual receiving the technology. Applications will be reviewed on a one-to-one basis in the order they are received. For more information, contact us by email at or by phone at 1-866-866-8782 or 515-289-4069 (TTY).

*A limit of $750 applies for devices obtained through the IDA grant effective March 1, 2021.

The project is partially funded through the Administration on Community Living Grant 90NWC30017-01-00, in partnership with the Iowa Department on Aging Grant Opportunity for Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC)/No Wrong Door (NWD) Systems Critical Relief Funds for COVID-19 Pandemic Response, Elderbridge Area Agency on Aging, University of Iowa Center for Disability and Development and i4a.



We provide programs designed to help children and adults learn basic functions, master skills needed to develop and thrive, and be sharp and active as they age. We support individuals in their education journey, ensuring they are set up for future success with employment.

Our Learn programs include:

  • Bob and Billie Ray Integrated Child Development Center
  • Supported Education
  • TEAM



We offer a range of training, placement and related services to help people find success in the workforce. Our employment services support individuals with obtaining and maintaining meaningful employment, being contributing members of our community and living with independence.

Our Work programs include:

  • Project SEARCH
  • Supported Employment
  • Rural Solutions



We offer fun, healthy programs for children, adults and caregivers to relax, connect with friends and engage in constructive activities — all necessary to living the best life possible. Our camp and respite programs help our campers gain skills and build confidence while giving caregivers much-needed breaks.

Our Play programs include:

  • Camp Sunnyside
  • Respite Services


Easterseals Iowa is committed to providing hope, independence and support to Iowans. To learn more about Easterseals Iowa, the programming we offer and ways to get involved, visit, give us a call at 515-289-1933 or follow our Facebook Page.

Back to Top

Make Your Mark! Conference 2021: “Be a Game Changer!”

Make Your Mark! Conference 2021


This year will mark the seventh annual Iowans with Disabilities in Action Make Your Mark! Conference. The last six conferences brought together Iowans with disabilities, direct care support professionals, parents and family members and other disability advocates to develop skills and find resources to live their best lives.

This year’s conference will be held at the West Des Moines Marriott in West Des Moines, Iowa, on September 15-16, 2021. We plan to open registration to Make Your Mark! 2021: “Be a Game Changer!” on July 1, 2021. The first 150 people to register will receive a FREE conference T-shirt — so don’t wait! Please look for more details on registration for this virtual event in the coming weeks. This year’s conference will feature sessions focused on how you can be a game changer in your community and in everyday life. We are excited to connect with you all again.

Back to Top

DD Council Member Spotlight: Carol Cross

Carol Cross and her daughter


As a parent of a daughter with physical disabilities, I spend a good amount of time advocating for her. We almost daily meet with challenges for accessibility into public spaces and have a hard time finding activities that are adapted enough to make them available to her. Two examples that illustrate this:

A few years ago, we wanted to volunteer to help women who did not use English as their native language to better their English conversational skills. We signed up for the training but when we got there, the training site was not accessible for my daughter’s power wheelchair. Apologies were given but we returned home and felt bad that, because of my daughter’s wheelchair, we were turned away from volunteering. 

Another example concerns a shop where we take our accessible van for work. The parking lot had a bad location for the handicap parking, causing my daughter to drive out of the van into oncoming traffic. Speaking with the manager, I suggested an alternative space and some other ways to improve the accessibility. A year later we went back for another appointment and found that all my suggestions had been made! That felt great. I know that what we face is not uncommon to others with disabilities in Iowa. Being on the DD Council means a lot to me as I continue to be a voice for not only my daughter but also for other individuals with disabilities.   

My favorite part about being on the Council is networking with others across the state who are working to help make their communities better for individuals with disabilities. Hearing about initiatives and programs inspires me to advocate in my own community even more. I especially like to hear from the self-advocates on the Council. Their hopes and dreams echo my own daughter’s hopes and dreams. Because of my daughter’s physical disabilities, she has some communication limitations. Hearing the thoughts and aspirations of the self-advocates is enlightening and helpful in many ways.

Several years ago, my youngest daughter and I started a 501(c)(3) adapted sports program called the Cedar Rapids Power Soccer Association. We are the only program that I’m aware of in eastern Iowa for individuals using power wheelchairs. What started as an activity for my daughter turned into a wonderful experience for others as well. Without any kind of background or training, I was hesitant to start a 501(c)(3) nonprofit sports program! But going out of my comfort zone and creating something where a need was clearly present has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. If you know someone in eastern Iowa who uses a power wheelchair, let them know about us (we are on Facebook)!

Back to Top

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month - “Moving Towards Change: A Virtual Celebration"

DDAM Moving Towards Change Virtual Event

March is National Developmental Disability Awareness Month. The purpose of National Developmental Disability Awareness Month is to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life and to bring awareness to the barriers that people with disabilities still sometimes face in connecting to the communities in which they live.

The Iowa DD Council and University of Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development hosted a virtual event: “Moving Towards Change: A Virtual Celebration” via Zoom on March 12, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. CST. We were joined by the Community Living Ambassadors for an interactive discussion on their lives, successes and personal journeys in transitioning into community living as individuals with disabilities. Watch the recording here:

Back to Top

Iowa DD Council Releases 5-Year State Plan

IDDC 5-Year State Plan Logo

We believe all Iowans with disabilities, as well as their families, should be included in the communities where they choose to live. To achieve this vision, we have developed a five-year plan that outlines our goals and the ways we aim to create positive change throughout the state. Visit our website to read the plan and share your thoughts:

The opinions of our community members are very important to us, so we are also hosting several events to discuss our plan and get feedback from the public! The dates and registration links are posted on our website:

Additionally, if you would prefer to receive a copy in the mail or set up a time for the DD Council to meet with your organization privately, please contact us at or 800-452-1936. Alternative formats are also available upon request. 

Back to Top

Special COVID-19 Payments and Frequently Asked Questions

Special COVID-19 Payments Information


The federal government approved special payments to spend any way you want to help the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the payment MUST be spent or put into an ABLE savings account within 12 months or it will count as an asset and could reduce your benefits.

People who receive disability payments from Social Security (SSI) will get their payment the same way they get regular SSI payments each month, either by paper check or direct deposit. Many people have already received these payments.

Beware of scams! The IRS will not call or email you. Protect your money by not sharing your personal information on the phone or over email.



The payments are a chance to start saving for things not covered by benefits, including education, adaptive vehicles and transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services and other expenses that help you to live in the community. Starting an ABLE account is the first step to saving for a rainy day or saving up for what you want.

IDDC and IAble Logos



No. ABLE accounts are different from other savings accounts because ABLE can fund disability-related expenses, and the assets in the ABLE account are not counted to determine your eligibility for Social Security benefits. Remember, if you keep the payment for more than 12 months, it may impact your eligibility for government benefits. Contributing the funds to an ABLE account within 12 months gives you the flexibility to save the funds or spend them beyond the 12-month period.

View the whole Special COVID Payments document at

Back to Top

Iowa DD Council Virtual Legislative Town Hall Meetings

Iowa DD Council Virtual Town Halls

The Iowa DD Council is partnering with self-advocates to reach out virtually to legislators, provide an opportunity to connect with local DD Council members and help us identify new or existing areas of advocacy. Reach out to us at to learn more.

Back to Top

Iowa DD Council Hosts Capitol Chats

Capitol Chats

In 2020, we held monthly calls during session to give advocates an extra opportunity to find out what's going on and get advice from lobbyists watching issues of interest to Iowans with disabilities. This year, you can join Iowa DD Council Public Policy Manager Bill Kallestad and multiclient lobbyist Amy Campbell for another round of monthly "Capitol Chats." During these chats, you will have a chance to talk about the issues you care about, get advice from the experts, listen to special guests or just check in to see what is happening at the Capitol. You can join via computer or smart device, or just by phone.

Upcoming Capitol Chats: Friday, March 26, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. and April 30, 2021, at 11:00 a.m.

Register here:

Back to Top