The Hubbard County Developmental Achievement Center (DAC) continues to hang on in spite of its services and revenue being curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
365体育投注The Park Rapids-based non-profit and its stores – the Tin Ceiling, Bearly Used Thrift Store and Salvage Depot, which provide jobs for DAC clients and raise revenue for its services – have been closed since March 20.
“We worry about the impact this will have on the business and the clients we serve,” said Executive Director Laura Johnson. “Our staff is staying in touch with people, but routine is very important for people with developmental disabilities and mental illness. Work is also very important, and we keep hearing, ‘When can we come back to work?’ and that they miss the interaction with staff and friends.”
365体育投注Johnson said the situation has also been stressful for DAC staff and participants.
“Our revenue is tied to attendance and store sales,” she said. “With no revenue coming into the agency, we are using our reserves to cover additional operating costs. Our services will continue, but we may have to make some changes in some of the operations to work within tighter financial constraints.”
She described the DAC as “very lucky” to be approved for a Payroll Protection Program loan, through the guidance of Mark Schik at Citizens National Bank.
365体育投注“We are hoping for guidance soon from (the Minnesota Department of Human Services) to allow us to provide some remote services for some of our participants,” she said. “Many people live in the area group homes, which offer great services, but they are going to have staffing issues because they don’t usually have people there at the home 24 hours, seven days per week.”
Seeking a remedy
365体育投注The Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation (MOHR) is calling on the State Legislature to help organizations like the Hubbard County DAC stay open.
“Many other states have provided assistance to give agencies a percentage of the revenue that had been budgeted” for services to their clients, said Johnson. “The legislation that MOHR is championing is asking for this type of support.”
According to Sherie Wallace, whose Eagan-based public relations firm is working with MOHR to promote the bill, Senate File 3694 and its companion bill, House File 3866, will provide relief for day training programs like those offered by the DAC.
Introduced in February, the bill is currently under review by each chambers’ Human Services Reform Finance and Policy committee.
Relevant to DAC’s situation is Section 6 of the Senate bill, titled “COVID-19-Related Retainer Payments.” This section would pay providers of day programs and employment services for the disabled, adult day services for the elderly, children’s therapeutic programs and some developmental and behavioral programs up to 50 percent of their past revenue for eligible services, unless they find alternative funding sources.
365体育投注According to a MOHR release declaring the DAC’s support a legislative remedy, “Without emergency funding to cover fixed costs during closures, day service providers may not reopen, removing programs that have helped people thrive.”
Julie Johnson, president of MOHR, described day services as an alternative to institutionalizing the disabled that has worked for more than 40 years in Minnesota.
365体育投注“Many of the people we serve need staff (support) to get out in the community,” she said, noting that day programs provide employment training and job support as well as social interaction. “We cannot turn back the clock on our progress. We must ensure day programs remain viable when we get through this pandemic.”