Iowa Advocacy Connection | 2020, Issue 2

Issue 26, 5/15/2020

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Articles in This Issue:

Partner Guest Article: Iowa Compass

Iowa Compass provides information and referral services to all Iowans with disabilities and complex health conditions. We are based at the University of Iowa Healthcare's Center for Disabilities and Development, Iowa's University Center for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities. People can connect with Iowa Compass by phone, chat, text and email.

Visit our Contact Us page or call 800-779-2001. Our team of highly trained specialists can help you find a large array of resources across the life span. We work with service organizations throughout the state so we're able to point folks in the right direction. Even if we might not have all the answers, we can certainly connect you with those that do.

Visit our Community Resource Database at to find a wide array of local, state-wide, regional and national resources for Iowans with disabilities. Enter your zip code and use the category search to drill down. We use 11 different categories. You can also search by services designed for a specific health condition or population, by service keyword or by program name. 

The search is great when you're looking for resources for a specific individual, but if you're looking for resources in general or a list of contacts throughout the state use the Directory of All Services. That directory will generate hundreds of different types of services for Iowans with disabilities. You can get a full list without consideration of zip code or age.

We owe a lot to the organizations we list. They ensure that information on their services and support is up to date and accurately explained. Our trained team of database curators ensures these programs and services are continually updated and new ones are found. We also have a scholarship section. This list identifies postsecondary education scholarships for a wide variety of disabilities and complex health conditions.

We host numerous tip sheets covering a range of topics. Our most popular tip sheets are tax credits for people with disabilities, filing a discrimination complaint, finding accessible housing and crowdfunding tips.

Want to know what other people are searching for on our website?  Check out our Top Service Requests page. If you are interested in usage and searching data, check out our Web Reports page that digs into where people are searching, who they're connecting with and what search results are coming up as an unmet need.

Iowa Compass provides these services with Iowa Medicaid Enterprise funding that supports community integration for people with disabilities. Help us help others! Connect with our Facebook page, sign up for our newsletters, hand out stacks of our brochures or give us a call!


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Make Your Mark! Conference 2020: “Your Vision for the Future!”


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

The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council and Iowans with Disabilities in Action recognize the work you are doing to keep up with the news, CDC recommendations and your local leadership to make difficult decisions about what is best for you and your family. Since there is still so much we don’t know about what the coronavirus activity will be in the fall, we have made the difficult decision to move the Make Your Mark! Conference to a virtual event. We take the safety and health of our attendees, staff and community very seriously.

We are working to create a robust virtual conference using the theme of “Your Vision for the Future,” We are very excited to announce our keynote speaker will be Kayla McKeon, manager of grassroots advocacy at National Down Syndrome Society on Advocacy.

Registration for Make Your Mark! 2020: Your Vision for the Future, a Virtual Experience, will open on July 1, 2020. 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. Thank you for your cooperation, understanding and faithful support during this time. We are excited to (virtually) connect with you all again!

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DD Council Member Spotlight: Hugh Kelly



I have been a member of the DD Council since 2016. I found out about the DD Council from Rik Shannon, the Council's public policy manager at the time, and it sounded interesting to me. I really didn't know much about how to seek out and speak up about issues surrounding me and others with developmental disabilities. The DD Council has helped me learn how to be a better self-advocate. My favorite part about being on the Council is learning about all the events, activities and causes they take part in.   

I also like participating in and volunteering at the annual Make Your Mark! Conference that DD Council helps put on in conjunction with Iowans with Disabilities in Action. It is always filled with a wide variety of speakers and activities. One thing I am looking forward to most is continuing to help with the Council's upcoming five-year plan to assist with the various activities and resources they conduct to help people with developmental disabilities learn to be self-advocates. I want to help them promote, speak up and learn about resources to address issues they may face. I am looking forward to this year's Make Your Mark! Conference in September. It is always an interesting and fun event.

I like to spend time outdoors when I can. I like gardening, grilling and going on occasional walks. I also enjoy fishing, camping and watching sports on television. I am an avid Iowa Hawkeyes football and men's basketball fan. I was a little disappointed when all major spring basketball tournaments were cancelled, but I enjoyed seeing all of the former Iowa Hawkeyes that were selected in the recent NFL draft. I also like to play video games. I enjoy my pets. I currently have a ginger cat named Jerry and a black cat named Ginger (pun intended). I enjoy their company, and they enjoy my company and each other’s as well. I am an easygoing person who enjoys life to its fullest.

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NAMI Resources on Social Isolation: What You Can Do



It’s common to feel stressed or anxious during this time. It may be especially hard for people who already manage feelings of anxiety or emotional distress. Recognizing how you’re feeling can help you care for yourself, manage your stress and cope with difficult situations. Even when you don’t have full control of a situation, there are things you can do. Below we describe how to stay informed, take action, maintain healthy social connections and find resources for support.


Manage how you consume information.

Equip yourself with information from credible, reputable sources such as the Centers for

Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Be selective about how you consume news. It’s generally a good idea to stay engaged and informed. Having some limits on your news consumption can help:

  • Watching or listening to the same news constantly can increase stress. Reading can be an easier medium to control how much and what kind of information you’re absorbing.
  • Set limits on when and for how long you consume news and information, including through social media. It may help you to choose a couple of 15-minute blocks each day when you will check news or social media and limit your news consumption to that time.
  • False information spreads very easily on social media and can have serious consequences for individual and public health. Always verify sources and make sure they are reputable, especially before sharing anything.


Follow healthy daily routines as much as possible.

Your daily habits and routines can help you feel more in control of your own well-being. Even simple actions can make a difference:

  • Make your bed
  • Get dressed
  • Connect with loved ones
  • Move your body
  • Make time for breaks
    • If possible, take regular short breaks during work or between shifts. During these breaks, go outside and engage in physical activity if you can.
  • Practice good hygiene, especially by cleaning your hands
  • Prioritize sleep and practice good sleeping habits.
    • Getting enough regular sleep is critical for your immune system
  • Eat nutritious food as much as possible, especially fruits and vegetables


Do meaningful things with your free time.

When you can, do things that you enjoy and that help you relax.

  • Read a book or listen to an audiobook. Many public libraries’ websites offer free audiobooks.
  • Learn a new skill
  • Create art — draw, build something, etc.
  • Journal or write
  • Play puzzles or games
  • Take an online course — various free online courses available
  • Do tasks around your home. Organize, do crafts, garden, rearrange your living space.
  • Cook something new with ingredients you have at home


View the full NAMI COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide at

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Special COVID Payments



The federal government approved a special payment to people 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.

Each individual will receive $1200, and those with qualifying children will receive an additional $500 per child. 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.



No. These are NOT payments from Social Security – they are a payment from the government to use any way you choose. While some people will use their payment now, or within 12 months, others may contribute all or part to an ABLE account.



The payment is 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.



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 it beyond the 12 month period.


Frequently Asked Questions:


Making big financial decisions is hard for many people. There are people who can support your decision-making including family members and caregivers. They can also help you set up an ABLE account. But it is your decision on how to spend the payment.



People who help individuals with their finances need to be sure they do not have a conflict of interest when they help individuals with supported financial decision making. They should use supported financial decision-making practices for spending down the payment before the 12-month deadline.

While some individuals may spend the payment now, it is important to discuss the long-term benefits of ABLE accounts as well and help them work with their state’s ABLE administrator if they decide to save.





Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Your Money, Your Goals: Focus on People with Disabilities.” (March 2019)

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