1. What can children do if they are experiencing abuse at home?

In collaboration with Puppets in Education, the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital has put together this 9-minute video for children to learn what to do if they are experiencing abuse at home. Dr. Lewis First, chief of the Children’s Hospital offers advice to children. Here is a Summary and Resources and a Letter to Educators. For additional mental health resources, visit our website.

2. Are there any financial assistance programs for families of children with disabilities/special health needs who have been impacted by Covid-19?

The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a new program to provide financial assistance to eligible patients, covering up to $1,000 annually. The program provides funds for essential expenses including, but not limited to, unexpected utility expenses; cellular or internet service; emergency repairs to car, home or major appliances; and rent or mortgage payment assistance. Interested rare disease patients and families can contact NORD to find out if they meet eligibility requirements. Call (203) 242-0497 or email COVID19assistance@rarediseases.org. NORD also has a rare caregiver respite program offering $500 annually for those who qualify.

The HealthWell Foundation is offering grants up to $250 to assist qualifying applicants with costs associated with delivered food, medication, diagnostics, transportation and telehealth as a result of COVID-19 risk or incidence. Applications are only accepted by phone by calling 1-(800) 675-8416.

The Covid-19 Resource Relief program through Laughing at my Nightmare is to provide financial assistance to individuals living with any disability, diagnosis, or chronic illness to help alleviate the burden of the coronavirus-related quarantines and social distancing practices. This assistance is provided in the form of one $100 Visa Gift Card to be used for food, hygiene products, and other living expenses associated with self-isolation and quarantine.

3. What can I expect in a Telehealth visit for my child who has a genetic condition?

Telehealth is using technology to connect with a health care provider who is at a different location than you. A Telehealth visit with a genetics provider is called “Telegenetics.” This short video provides information on what to expect from a Telegenetics visit from your home.

A Telegenetics visit is similar to an in-person genetics clinic visit. The genetics provider will ask you questions about medical history and family history. The specific things that happen during a Telegenetics visit depend on why you or your family member were referred for genetic services, and whether this is your first time seeing a genetics provider or a follow-up appointment. Sometimes a physical exam might be needed, in which case a local healthcare provider may help. Your genetics provider may also suggest some genetic testing. This one-page infographic “Telewhat? An Introduction to Telegenetics” provides information on how it works.

The New England Regional Genetics Network has many helpful resources for families including some specifically about Covid-19.

4. What resources are available to siblings (age 13+) of a child with special health needs?

Siblings of a child with special health needs who are age 13+ can connect with other teenaged sibs on SibTeen, a closed Facebook group co-hosted by the Sibling Support Project. There are also many books available for siblings of children with a range of special health conditions; check your local library’s ebook offerings. For any other questions about supports for siblings, please contact Molly.Lawney@vtfn.org.

5. Can I be with my child who has a special health need/disability if they are in the hospital emergency room and/or are admitted to the hospital? 

Yes, under some circumstances and depending on the specific hospital’s policies. Read the University of Vermont Medical Center’s Welcoming Policy – COVID-19: Effective Friday, September 3.

6. My child has an upcoming appointment through telemedicine. What is telemedicine and what are some helpful tips to prepare for the visit?  
 
Telemedicine is using technology to connect with a health care provider who is at a different location from you. It’s also called telehealth. For helpful tips to prepare for your child’s telehealth appointment, review the short Introduction to Health Care through Telemedicine from the Midwest Genetics Network. It’s also helpful to call your child’s provider or visit their website for more telemedicine information specific to that medical practice. 
 
Your child’s provider can guide you to the best options for telemedicine. Most telemedicine visits will require that you have access to the internet, as the healthcare provider will want to hear and see your child. A computer or cellphone will both work as long as you have a good connection to the internet. If you don’t have access to the internet, visit the Vermont Department of Public Service to find the closest hotspot in order to access WiFi. 
 
7. Will my health insurance pay for telemedicine?
 
A Covid-19 Emergency Response bill was passed last year in response to the pandemic. One section on page 16 of the bill relates to telemedicine: “All health insurance plans in this State shall provide coverage for health care services and dental services delivered through telemedicine by a health care provider at a distant site to a patient at an originating site to the same extent that the plan would cover the services if they were provided through in-person consultation.” Talk with your health care provider or insurance company if you have questions or would like to know more about your coverage. For more information about telemedicine and Medicaid coverage, you may contact the Department of Vermont Health Access.
 
8. How can I help my child who has anxiety because of this whole situation?
 
Our Puppet Team has made a “home-edition” (thanks to the Vogelsang-Card family) of the PK-Grade 4 Anxiety Puppet program that you can watch here. It provides some tips and tools for you and your child to use when worry is feeling big. Watch the clip together, talk about worry and what tools you can use when it feels big. Use our Guide to Getting the Conversation Going. For additional mental health resources, visit our website.
 
9.  If my child is having a mental health emergency, should I take them to the hospital emergency room?
 
Yes, emergency departments are still open but have put new protocols in place because of the Covid-19 pandemic. These may include pre-screening before heading to or entering the ER, limits on the number of visitors, and the way care is delivered (e.g. telehealth versus in-person). The VT Department of Mental Health designates one Designated Agency (DA) in each geographic region of the state to provide the Department’s mental health programs for adults and children. For information on DAs and Specialized Services Agencies throughout Vermont that may be helpful in a mental health emergency, click here.  
 
10. What changes have been made to Vermont Medicaid as a result of the Covid-19 emergency?
 

The Department of Vermont Health Access website states: During the COVID-19 federal public health emergency (different from the State of Emergency), Vermont is facilitating initial and continuous health care enrollment by:

  • Temporarily waiving financial verifications required for those seeking to enroll in Medicaid;
  • Extending Medicaid coverage periods (meaning the Department is not processing the annual “reviews” that could result in loss of Medicaid);
  • Not ending Medicaid coverage unless the customer requests it or moves out of state (Note that, as of January 2021, Vermont is processing transitions between Medicaid coverage groups as required by the federal government);
  • Temporarily waiving Dr. Dynasaur premiums;
  • Offering a Special Enrollment Period for those who do not currently have health insurance to enroll in a qualified health plan and receive premium and cost-sharing assistance, if eligible. (Eligible Vermonters can continue to apply for, and enroll in, Medicaid at any time). This Special Enrollment Period is open through October 1, 2021.

(updated 6/14/2021)

11. I’m concerned about not being prepared in case of an emergency for my child with special health care needs. How can I feel better prepared?

We are the Vermont chapter of Family Voices, a national organization that has many helpful emergency preparedness resources on their website. Other emergency preparedness resources are on our website.

12. As part of emergency preparedness, I’d like to have a larger supply of my child’s medication on hand. Will Medicaid allow that?

Yes. “In response to COVID-19 concerns and to ensure that Medicaid members have access to the medications they need, the Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) is implementing the following changes to its prescription drug benefits programs, effective 3/18/2020: 1. Members may request early refills of medication up to a 90-day supply as needed.” 

13. Are there any COVID-19 resources specifically for parents of children with autism?

Yes. One resource is the National Autism Association. If you learn of other good resources that we could share with parents, please send an email to info@vtfn.org.

14. If my family loses health insurance due to a job loss, who should I call?

Your children may qualify for Medicaid, also referred to in Vermont as Dr. Dynasaur. Check this eligibility chart. Children with disabilities might also be eligible for the Disabled Children’s Home Care, also known as Katie Beckett Medicaid. Katie Beckett Medicaid will retroactively cover up to 3 months if there is a lapse in coverage. Contact us or Green Mountain Care for assistance. We can help you with a Katie Beckett application or renewal. You can also take a look at our Health Frequently Asked Questions.

15. Is there any financial help for my child’s medically-necessary expenses?

Yes, income-eligible families of children with special health needs (birth to 21) may apply for up to $1,000 per 12 month period for their child’s unmet medically necessary needs such as equipment, medications, travel, and therapies. More information here.

1, What is the Vermont Agency of Education’s guidance on school opening?

Because Vermont is not in a state of emergency at this point, the Agency of Education will issue a series of advisory memos instead of formal guidance statements. Read the COVID-19 Advisory Memorandum.

2. What are Vermont’s priorities for the re opening of schools?

Vermont’s Education Recovery Plan details resources and activities at the state and local school district levels regarding three outcome areas: 1. Social emotional functioning, mental health and well-being; 2. Student engagement; and 3. Academic achievement and success.

3. Will virtual learning be an option? 

Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative FAQs clarifies online and blended learning opportunities for students.

4. What happens to my child’s IEP should I choose to home school?

If your child is receiving special education and you are considering home schooling, please review VFN’s  Home Schooling and Special Education webinar

5. Is there guidance from the Vermont Department of Health for schools?

Yes. The Health Department and Agency of Education have made recommendations to school districts on how to safely return to class this fall. They recommend that school districts require masks indoors for all students, of all ages, at the start of the school year. They also ask that districts require masks indoors for children under 12 years who are not able to be vaccinated at this time. Read the Department of Health’s Pre-12 Schools guidance.

1. What resources are available to help me feed my family?

Visit the Hunger Free Vermont website section “Covid-19 and Food Access” for the latest updates on school meals, WIC (nutrition program for Women, Infants, & Children), 3SquaresVT, meal programs for older Vermonters, and food assistance through the Vermont Foodbank network.

Vermont Legal Aid has a good list of resources on topics including: food, housing, benefits, etc. 

2. What help is available from cable companies, mobile carriers and telephone companies during the Covid-19 pandemic?
 
The Vermont Department of Public Service is collecting information and resources on the availability of Internet and telecommunications services during the Covid-19 emergency. Their website includes information about what cabletelephone, and mobile carriers are doing to assist consumers and places where consumers can find internet access. They will be updating it as new information becomes available. The Vermont Department of Public Service has released an interactive Public Wi-Fi Hot Spot Map to help Vermonters connect to publicly available internet service during the Covid-19 pandemic.

What should I expect from my child’s CIS-EI service providers?

There are no longer any COVID-19 restrictions or requirements for Vermont’s residents or businesses. With Vermont’s high rate of vaccination and low number of COVID-19 cases, it is safe for most Vermonters to return to work and activities they did before the pandemic. Because a COVID-19 vaccine is not currently available for children under 12 years old, there are still many unvaccinated people. The Vermont Department of Health recommends that unvaccinated people (two years and older) wear masks when inside, throughout the summer. Service providers have been provided guidance to keep all community members – children, families, and CIS providers – safe and healthy. Providers and agencies may have additional expectations, protocols, and requirements.

What Covid-19 resources are available to share with English Language Learners? What resources are available for people who use American Sign Language?

Vermont

 
Vermont Department of Health “What to do if you are diagnosed with Covid-19” Arabic Burmese Chinese English French Kirundi Nepali Somali Spanish Swahili Vietnamese
 
 
Vermont website with many translated Covid-19 materials: Vermont 411 – Resources for Everyone in our Community
 
Short videos created in Vermont about Covid-19 in these languages: ArabicBosnianDinka, FrenchKirundiLingala,  Nepali, SomaliSpanish, and Swahili. More detailed videos in these languages: Nepali and Vietnamese. Other Covid-19 videos, including how to properly wear a mask is available in different languages on the Vermont Multilingual Coronavirus Task Force YouTube channel
 
Vermont Department of Health has a general information document “Tips to Help Keep Illness from Spreading:” ArabicBurmeseChineseEnglishFrenchKirundiNepali,  SomaliSpanishSwahili, Vietnamese 
 
 

National 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention series of videos about Covid-19 in American Sign Language