Hannah Carlock, Director of Public Policy at Arc of Indiana, discusses Indiana Legislative Updates.

– All right, hello everyone, my name is Jessica Tremble, and I am the Director of Communication and Outreach here at Indiana Disability Rights And with me today is one of our good friends from the ARC of Indiana, it’s Hannah Carlock Hi, Hannah – Hi, thanks for having me – So, Hannah, I’ll let you introduce yourself What is your title and your role at the ARC of Indiana? – Yes, I am Hannah Carlock with the ARC of Indiana And I am the Director of Public Policy So in a nutshell what I do is I lobby for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, along with their families at the state house during legislative session each year And try to get new laws passed to help better the lives of those living with disabilities – And how long have you been doing this kind of work? – So I have been working for the ARC going on a year and a half right now So I just got done with my second legislative session with the ARC of Indiana But I’ve been working in government for about the past five years – So what is something that you enjoy about your job? – Well I am a major people person so right now this whole COVID-19 pandemic has been putting a damper on my social connections But I get to travel the state, see a lot of people around the state that I can help And then I use whatever they’re telling me that they’re needing, I take that back to legislators, which I have great relationships with And I get to build upon those relationships and use those to help people with disabilities So all about relationships and helping people – And I think that’s something that’s really important to talk about, is the decisions that the ARC of Indiana is making on policies they want to support or questions they have about policies are based on input from people with suitabilities, right? – Yeah, so we make our legislative agenda for the next year We start talking about it around October, and then the ARC of Indiana board approves it like in November, and then we start rolling up legislators who can really help us carry pieces of legislation from November to the beginning of the year when legislative session starts So from right now, so we ended session in March, so right now I already have things that I’m planning on having on our legislative agenda just from hearing from people when we tell them what we had happen during this past legislative session, they’ll be like hey, what about this? And they give me ideas for the next session So right now I’m working on crafting that legislative agenda for this next year – So speaking of the legislative session ending in March, March was a little different this year As the legislative session was winding down, preparations for sheltering in place and things like that during COVID-19 really started exploding here in Indiana, so I feel like we might have not been paying attention as closely when the legislative session closed So could you highlight a few things that you think is really important for people with disabilities to know has changed or is going to become law in Indiana? – Yeah, so literally legislative session the wee hours of Wednesday morning, and then that next Monday we got told that we’re going to start working remotely And that’s when the stay-at-home and wear a mask and all of those kind of things started being put in place So it was a quick turnaround there But at least while Governor Holcomb was putting all of those efforts into place for COVID-19 he was still signing legislation into law so it wasn’t put at a stand still So that next week I had three major bills that the ARC of Indiana was working on this past session signed into law so that is a great win for us And one of those is House Enrolled Act 1176 So Representative Clere carried this bill for us, and it deals with First Steps So First Steps is a program that helps babies,

newborn to age three that have a developmental delay get to where they need to be to be successful down the road And so they have four different therapies, that’s physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and developmental therapy that help get them to where their peers are at just in case they have that delay So right now you would think whether you have Anthem or Humana, whatever different health insurance provider you have coverage under, you would think that if it specifies that they cover physical therapy within your family’s plan, you would think that First Steps therapy’s if your child needs, you know, physical therapy, that would be covered in the plan That’s not the case And so this was just making sure that if your family’s plan has physical therapy or speech therapy covered within your insurance plan, then it needs to cover those First Step therapies But if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t need to cover it So it’s not an insurance mandate, it’s just a clarification that your insurance needs to cover those different therapies if it’s already within the plan So that’s a major step just because this is a major developmental part in a person’s life And so we want to make sure they are successful and get those therapies just like any other kid would be getting therapy under an insurance plan – All right Yeah, what else do you have? – So then there’s two others, they’re educational bills So we have House Enrolled Act 1341, which Representative Pfaff put forth for us And it was a workforce bill within education So right now we have the capability of having the alternate diploma So back when I was in school you didn’t have that opportunity So a lot of kids would go on, either graduating with a certificate of completion, certificate of attendance, or they would just leave school with an IEP and they wouldn’t receive anything So now we are seeing a lot of employers wanting you to mark that you have a diploma when you’re applying to a job And so we have the alternate diploma now and a lot of that is really you’re taking all the regular classes you would be taking, but that Algebra course is the little hiccup that we’re seeing with a lot of students I don’t get why they put letters with numbers in an equation, but that’s one of the requirements within a general diploma But that alternate diploma takes out that little piece, allows you to take a different math class instead of Algebra So we’re making sure that those students that didn’t have that opportunity when they were in school to get that alternate diploma all the way back to 2003 know that they can have different options and resources, whether it be vocational training or other resources to skill up their job skills Or even if they want to go back and get their diploma they have those resources So that bill is just making sure how to get those students, contact them, as well as having a list of those resources available So we’re seeing the state advisory council on the education of students with disabilities really take action on that this summer Another– – Can I clarify real quick Okay so if I graduated in 2005, and I did not get the general education diploma, and that’s been limiting me in applying for jobs, so you’re saying I can now go back and still get my diploma? – Yes So it really just depends on what, what you actually passed in your transcript And so we’ll take a look at that and really work with vocational rehabilitation and those counselors, as well as adult learning centers to see what you need to take in order to get that diploma, that alternate diploma now – Wow, that seems like that could really impact a lot of people, and a lot of people’s lives And a lot of people’s ability to get and retain employment and be independent and make their own choices – Yeah We foresee this opening a lot more doors of employment Right before this pandemic hit we saw so many job openings in Indiana and we didn’t have enough Hoosiers to fill those jobs But we weren’t looking at the disability population,

and they really want to work And they want to get a paycheck just like anybody else And so we saw this as a way to do that And hopefully once all of this pandemic dies down and it’s safe for us to go back out we will see all those jobs still available for Hoosiers with disabilities – That’s really exciting because that’s a really large pool of potential employees who are extremely capable of doing great work that unfortunately weren’t considered because of missing a few classes here or there So that sounds like a really great opportunity to revisit that diploma, get those classes you need, and be able to check that really important box on those applications – Yeah and another thing that was a hiccup when you are in school is a statewide assessments that you have to take So when I was in school it was Istat, now it’s Ilearn And so the third piece of legislation that we passed with Senate Enrolled Act 346 And Senator Houchin was a key player in this And she has a son with Autism so it really impacted something close to her heart And this piece of legislation we’ve been working on for years now, and you would think it would be something that we’re already doing, but it’s something that we weren’t doing So when you take the statewide assessment, if you have a specific accommodation within your individualized education plan, which is also known as an IEP, sometimes you weren’t allowed those accommodations on the statewide assessment because it made the assessment invalid So let’s just say you needed help when it comes to reading And so on reading comprehension you had to have a screen reader on the reading comprehension part of the test because they were saying that that’s listening comprehension and not reading comprehension So we worked with Senator Houchin, and there is now going to be a task force getting together within the state board of education this year to look at how we can split up the reading portions of the test so that they’re actually testing reading Then you can have that screen reader accommodation But if you’re screening reading comprehension there are other accommodations available on that portion of the test So that everybody is able to use their accommodations that they’re used to using every day And those aren’t taken away from them So we’re looking forward to working on getting the statewide assessment updated, but then right now, at least there’s no testing happening, but next school year we don’t know what that’s going to look like during the pandemic If there is testing parents will be noticed by the school saying hey, right now your accommodation for your child isn’t available, but here are your options of taking your student away from that portion of the test so that they’re not set up for failure because they don’t have that accommodation So until we get those accommodations allowed a lot of parents will be receiving notification from the school – Wow And I feel like that, you know, as a non-educator, I feel like that’s got to be really beneficial, (mumbles) beneficial just to the self esteem of some students who they’re smart kids and they’re capable of doing it, but if they can’t see to read it that doesn’t mean that they aren’t comprehending, aren’t doing great things So that’s, like you said, setting someone up to fail And, you know, not feel good about themselves And, you know, we want our students to achieve the highest thing they can achieve and feel good about what they can do So hopefully that’ll help some of those basic things that those students can’t control – Well and when the tests go back to being a part of the teacher’s evaluation, when you’re teaching an individual every day with those accommodations and you take them away, they can’t show that you’ve actually taught them how to do this And so it’ll be helping students with their self esteem, it’ll be helping teachers know where they need to be working with a student on certain levels And it’ll also show the parent if the student’s actually achieving what they’re supposed to be achieving So I think it helps on all different angles of it And I really think that this will be a great tool that they can use every day no matter what test it is – That’s great And as we’re going through, I’ll make sure in the description of our video I will link all of these House Enrolled acts

and Senate Enrolled acts I’ll do links so it’ll be easier for people to find them later, ’cause we know we’re saying lots of letters and numbers, and it’s hard to keep track of everything So we’ll make those links available to everybody to make it a little bit easier to find the information Also, I do want to do a plug The ARC and Hannah do policy and legislative update emails, so if you want to sign up for that we can make sure we get a link as well, put in the description What’s the frequency? Is it once a week? – So yeah, during legislative session it’s every Friday so you know what happened during that week, and what’s coming up the next week And right now I’ve been sending them out pretty much every other week just to update everybody on what’s going on at the state and federal levels during the pandemic But then it’s mainly once a month when we’re not in this whole weird phase of life So, but you’ll still hear from me throughout the year – Speaking of what’s going on at the state and federal level during COVID-19, what things are you seeing, and what things are you keeping track of? And what are things that we should know about? – Yeah so that’s a really good question There’s a lot happening at the state and federal levels I’m sure that a lot of you are wondering if you’re going to receive a stimulus check or not And so it really just depended on social security and how you’re receiving social security And that does not hurt your benefits and your income for social security So that’s really good to know And you should be receiving, receiving that funding if you haven’t already So there was a lot of discussion over that And then a lot of providers across the state were worried about providing services to people with disabilities because we’re coming up on summer, and there’s usually a lot of day services, especially for kids But just when you’re depending on that for work and just for fun activities, that’s been kind of put to a halt So you need to be contacting your provider if you haven’t reached out to them already to see when they’re going to be reopening, what’s that going to look like because they’ve been receiving the small business loans from the federal level And they’re really trying to get the PPE, that’s the personal protective equipment like mask and gloves and hand sanitizers so they can continue providing services to you safely so that they’re not effecting you and you’re not effecting them So there’s been a lot going on at that level And then at the state level, we’ve been working with FSSA and the office of Medicaid So that’s Family Social Services Agency, and they are the ones that deal with all the Medicaid waivers So if you’re on a Medicaid waiver they’re your go to people We’ve also been working with the governor’s office and the state budget agency to get funding and appendix K So that’s like a waiver to the Medicaid waiver in a very, very simplistic format It goes very complicated down in the weeds But we’re trying to get funding for that just because right now we’re in a pandemic and we’re, we’re not sure if all of our providers across the state will be able to open their doors because they haven’t been able to provide services during this pandemic because that’s all about physical contact And we haven’t been able to do that So we’re working with them to receive that kind of funding We’re also seeing some things happen across the state that we might foresee legislation next year at the state level like access to WiFi So there’s not access to Wifi across the state, so just making sure that we have that kind of infrastructure so that everybody can do e-learning And what does e-learning look like for people with disabilities How do they receive those accommodations So really seeing how you can do your doctor’s visits or talk to your special education teacher We’re probably going to be seeing a lot more telehealth legislation and a lot more e-learning legislation And how special education students, since they learn differently, a lot of them are hands on, which I’m more of a hands on learner, and that’s hard to do when you’re e-learning So we’re seeing a lot of issues come up, but we’re trying to solve those issues

But right now we’re looking at possible legislation for next year to help out the entire state with with all of that – Yeah so it sounds like COVID-19 has already impacted your 2021 legislative agenda a lot – Yes, yes, it’s like Pandora’s box of all the problems And it’s good to see people being creative And so we’re going to be using that as solutions next year too We’re not just bringing problems to our elected officials, we’re trying to also bring solutions and creativity to it – So it’s very easy to talk about the challenges and frustrations of COVID-19, but can you share some of the really good things that you’ve seen, and the positive things you’ve seen happening in the past couple of months? – Yeah, so I’m sure that you guys have all heard on the news different parades happening as teachers are going by their students’ homes since they’re not able to see them in class We’re seeing that with our direct support professionals You know they’re still able to provide some services to individuals But we’re seeing a lot of individuals trying to put a smile on their direct support professionals’ faces So we’ve even seen signs posted out in different yards and different art work just to show their appreciation for direct support professionals We’re also having the self Advocates of Indiana have a weekly dance party So it’s a Zoom call like we’re on right now, and they get to have some social interaction, and get to have a dance party So we’re seeing a lot of people making sure they have that social interaction, just we don’t want anybody to feel like they’re alone because they are not So those are some fun things that we’re seeing right now when it doesn’t seem like it’s too fun out – Yeah, I will say the Self Advocates know how to throw a good party That is definitely something I always look forward to at their conferences and meetings and get togethers is I always know there’s going to be a dance floor I always know there’s going to be a DJ, and there’s always going to be people out there like throwing their best moves So I always enjoy being on the dance floor with the Self Advocates They’re very supportive of the very few dance moves I have (laughing) – Yeah, Jessica, if you want to put the Self Advocates’ information down there so that if anyone who wants to join Anybody can join They have weekly chats, weekly dance parties There’s a lot going on that they’re doing to be creative to make sure that everybody has some sort of fun activity to do during the week – Yeah, thank you I will definitely put that in the description as well We want people to take advantage of those things, ’cause you’re right, we’re all having to get really creative of how we connect with our friends and family and check on them And do different things So that’s so, I mean self advocates are always so creative about making sure they’re supporting their members and taking care of each other It’s such a fun group to be with, but also an amazing group of people who are advocating for themselves and others I mean it’s a great group – Yes – Is there anything else that you’d like to share? – Well this past session, right before COVID-19 happened, was the session of health So we probably will see a lot more legislation next year of what worked from this past session, what didn’t because of the pandemic So one thing that we were very supportive was healthcare transparency cost So if I go to like McDonald’s or Walmart, I know what I’m going to be paying at the end of the day for what I’m receiving When you go to a doctor, you usually don’t know what you’re paying until that bill comes, and you don’t know whether your insurance is going to cover it or not I myself have no idea what my insurance says It’s very complicated And so surprise billing was a major issue that came about this pas session So if you’re going to receive like a procedure, let’s just say you’re going to have surgery They would take you through it before your operation would happen Your doctor would go step by step of this is what’s going to happen, this is what’s covered under your insurance This is not covered under your insurance So you don’t have that surprise bill And then you can talk through with them whether you want to go through the procedure at this time or other ways of maybe setting up a payment plan, or other alternatives to that non-coverage part of that procedure

So it’s nice to, we’re starting to see a little bit more transparency there But there’s definitely more steps to getting where we need to be But I really think that COVID-19 has definitely brought to light some issues that we’re seeing within our healthcare industry because as we all know that’s very essential to have during this pandemic So I foresee a lot more happening with health next session too, even though this was technically the year, the session of health – That is really interesting, ’cause if you think about healthcare costs, we all know things cost a lot But you’re right, we don’t get to budget it the way we do for other large expenses like your electric bill, your rent, your groceries We set a budget and we try to live within that budget in order to be financially responsible But you’re right, how do you budget if you hae no idea how much something costs until after it’s done? You’re not really able to make an educated decision about all the factors happening – Yeah, and the other thing you brought up about budget, so this past session is technically a short session So we went from January to March And this next year will be a budget year So we’re making the state’s budget for the next two years So it’s a long session, so we’ll go until about the end of April next year And right now, since a lot of things are closed down, not a lot of revenue is coming into the state, and so that will really impact on how much money we’ll be able to spend next year because Indiana lives on a balanced budget We don’t spend more than what we need to, and we don’t like to be in debt And right now we do have savings with the state, but we’re already tapping into that with as many people are unemployed and are needing some assistance So it’ll be interesting to see, you know, what gets funded next year, what doesn’t get funded just because we don’t have that extra funding coming into the state right now – So that’s another good reason to probably sign up for your weekly legislative updates as a way to pay attention to what’s being funded and what’s being discussed Again, we’ll put a link to that information in the description so you can all sign up for that I know I read them every week because I get very confused when I read proposed legislation It takes a lot of my mental energy to read it, and I think you do such a good job of really making, taking some very legal lawyer written language and making it accessible And I know after I read your email I feel a lot more confident in how, in my understanding of it, and how I feel about it, and how it’s going to impact my life – Yeah, they do use a lot of big words at the state level, the legislature, and also at the federal level And so I try to put it more into laymen terms because it is so complex and it’s not easy or fun to read It’s not like reading a novel or a picture book But definitely stay informed Stay up to date with my legislative update Thanks, Jessica, for putting the link in this video for that But I also need your help So sometimes I’ll be asking you to contact your legislatures or other ways that you can get involved with legislation We do have the Self Advocates, as Jessica said they’re a lot of fun We have an annual day at the state house So if you want to get involved with a local Self Advocate chapter and come to the state house and get to see us in action, it’s a whole lot easier for me to lobby on everybody’s behalf if a legislator can put a face to an issue, and you guys need to be that face So it’s kind of like help me, help you So it’s not just reading I sometimes have little action items that I need help with – Well awesome so thank you so much, Hannah, for being on this interview and getting us up to date on what’s going on Thank you to Diane and Christina, our great interpreters, we’re so happy to have you here So with that we’ll say thank you to everybody, and we look forward to hopefully seeing everybody in person really soon – Thanks – Bye