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May 6, 2020 Meeting - Open Forum - Taking a Breath

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

PALS Meeting Minutes

May 6, 2020 9:30 a.m.

Virtual Meeting using Zoom

Scroll down for the latest COVID-19 Resources & More.

Open Forum

Open Forum is an opportunity for participants to come together and discuss a variety of topics, offer resources, and ask questions related to special education.

Our meeting focused on the reality of where we are seven weeks into the area's stay-at-home order. How children of all ages and abilities are coping with their new learning environment and the possibilities of what might be to come. We have scheduled a number of guests to help us navigate our way through the coming months.

On May 20, 2020, the team at River Pediatric Therapies will join our Zoom meeting to provide insights and recommendations for keeping kids engaged at home this summer.

On May 27, 2020, Tim Mahoney, Director of Special Education and Pupil Services will join our Zoom meeting to share the latest district and updates on the position of education.

We discussed the importance of continuing to share a wide variety of resources with the community as all aspects of life are impacted by the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. One of these is Chatham University's Center for Women's Entrepreneurship (CWE) COVID-19 Small Business Resources page. This page is for everyone. CWE has an enormous selection of resources divided into categories for easy review, from Federal Government Support, National Grant and Loan Programs, State & Local Government, Business Resources, to COVID-19 Health & Essential Services, COVID-19 Webinars, and Technology Resources.




From Open Up Pittsburgh

The Open Up team has been working hard to bring plans for accessible virtual practice to life. Today, we published our first digital book with written content as well as a video collections for all ages.

We look forward to sharing more resources from Open Up as we continue to work in the hopes of bringing a bit of lightness to our spaces.


From Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS), Office of Intellectual Disability (OID)

The Integrated Supports Star, a Charting the LifeCourse tool, is a way to brainstorm and share support strategies throughout the COVID-19 response.  

Find information about a May webinar, Supports Star examples, an Allegheny County COVID-19 star and an Allegheny County blank star for you to complete on the OID Key Communicator Announcement page here

Also from OID

Supplemental Security Income Recipients Will Receive Automatic COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments SSI Recipients with Dependent Children Should Still Go To to Provide Their Information

News release Wednesday, April 15th 2020

“The Social Security Administration announced today that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will receive automatic Economic Impact Payments directly from the Treasury Department. Treasury anticipates these automatic payments no later than early May.

SSI recipients with no qualifying children do not need to take any action in order to receive their $1,200 economic impact payment. The payments will be automatic.

SSI recipients who have qualifying children under age 17, however, should not wait for their automatic $1,200 individual payment. They should now go to the IRS’s webpage at and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info section to provide their information. By taking proactive steps to enter information on the IRS website about them and their qualifying children, they will also receive the $500 per dependent child payment in addition to their $1,200 individual payment. If SSI beneficiaries in this group do not provide their information to the IRS soon, they will have to wait until later to receive their $500 per qualifying child.”

For more information and a print version of the news release visit

Also from OID

Also from OID

Find this latest resource list, Resources especially helpful during the COVID-19 response on the OID webpage here

Please take some time to explore…I hope you find some things you can use… Your feedback would be appreciated!

There are lots of remote activities and ways to stay connected, supported and informed including:

  • Resources related to supporting individuals with intellectual disability and/or autism, their families and the people that support them

  • Resources related to supporting individuals with specific communication needs, their families and the people that support them

  • Basic Needs

  • Find support and connection

  • Ways to keep busy

  • Education  - students learning from home

As always, these lists are also available on our page:

Also from OID




The Statewide Support & Referral Helpline is staffed by skilled and compassionate staff that are available 24/7 to respond to those struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the COVID-19 emergency. Staff at the Helpline refer callers to community-based resources that can further help to meet individual needs.

The toll-free, round-the-clock support line is officially operational.

The number to call is 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.

The Helpline was created by the Department of Human Services DHS and the Center for Community Resources (CCR). Helpline staff are trained to be accessible, culturally competent, and skilled at assisting individuals in the ID/A community as well as anyone else who might have a need – teens, adults, special populations and their supporters. Staff use the principles of trauma-informed care to listen, assess needs, triage calls, and provide appropriate referral to community resources to children, teens, adults and special populations.


Autism Connection of Pennsylvania's Spring Newsletter


Center for Community Resources


From Fox Chapel Area School District:

The Fox Chapel Area School District is continuing weekly food distributions for our families. These distributions, consisting of five breakfasts and five lunches, will continue as long as the school district is closed.

Weekly distribution will be held from noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the back entrance of Kerr Elementary School.

We will continue to keep you informed of upcoming food distribution sessions as they are scheduled.


Great Pittsubrgh Food Bank is holding a number of no contact food distributions in the area. There is a weeky distribution at the their headquarters at 1 N. Linden St.

Duquesne, PA 15110 every Monday. The time is generally 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.. Please tune into local news organizations for updates and other no contact food distribution sites. If you need additional information or further assistance, please visit their Get Help page.


During this time, we will continue to host virtual meetings using Zoom EVERY Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.. We will post the log-in information for these meetings on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. THIS IS A PASSWORD PROTECTED MEETING. THE PASSWORD IS INCLUDED IN OUR E-MAILED NEWSLETTER. YOU MAY SUBSCRIBE TO OUR E-MAIL LIST TO RECEIVE IT.

Reference Material

Need information regarding the rights to special education in Pennsylvania? The Education Law Center’s “A Guide for Parents and Advocates” is a great start.


Next Meeting: May 13, 2020 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. Currently scheduled as Open Forum, a time to share resources and experiences, and ask questions of the group. Meeting lo-in and password information can be found in our latest e-mail newsletter.

Upcoming Meeting: May 20, 2020 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. With the uncertainty surrounding ESY and Summer Camps, we welcome team members from River Pediatric Therapies to share insights and recommendations for keeping kids engaged through the summer season at home.

Upcoming Meeting: May 27, 2020 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. With Tim Mahoney, Director of Special Education and Pupil Services for the Fox Chapel Area School District. Tim will provide us with the latest updates on the COVID-19 school closure including Extended School Year (ESY) services and summer camps.

Upcoming Meeting: June 3, 2020 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. Currently scheduled as Open Forum, a time to share resources and experiences, and ask questions of the group. This will be the last of our special COVID-19 weekly meetings. We will then resume monthly meetings with the addition of four new meetings a year with a schedule that will take us to twelve meetings per year.

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