START Emergency Management Committee

EMC Response to COVID-19

The START Emergency Management Committee’s (EMC) response to the COVID-19 Pandemic:

It is unknown how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have mental health service needs and experiences (IDD-MH) and their families. It is likely that those with IDD-MH will experience both onset and exacerbation of mental health symptoms, secondary to stress and fear associated with COVID-19. Anxiety and trauma will be further compounded by loss of family members or caregivers, social isolation, social distancing, and disruption of face-to-face medical, psychiatric, educational, and psychosocial interventions. Given the diversity of this population, it is also likely these impacts will differentially affect racial/ethnic groups, non-native English speakers, and those in rural or dense urban settings or who have limited household income.  

Inclusive methods must be developed to engage and support people with IDD-MH and their families, an underserved population, during healthcare crises such as COVID-19. To leverage the innovation and expertise across the START network, COVID Task Forces (CTF) were developed with specific focus areas in mind. A taskforce is defined as a collection of people, charged with carrying out a particular goal.

Questions we needed to answer:

  1. What protocols, policies and practices are already in place to support START staff? 
  2. What protocols, policies and practices need to be developed or built upon to support START staff?
  3. Where does expertise lie within the START network to address needs of teams, service users, families, and community providers during this crisis?

To answer these questions, three COVID Task Force (CTF) areas of focus were identified and developed. The three areas of focus are:

  1. Crisis response and follow up
  2. Treatment needs and Interventions
  3. Transition Planning

Members of each group include CSS leadership and members of the START network of providers. Each taskforce is charged with addressing the three questions listed above. This will be accomplished by meeting as frequently as needed and possible between May 1 and August 31, 2020. Each task force is expected to develop an action plan and identify key outcomes or products that will be developed and shared nationally. The EMC will receive regular reports on plans, progress and training needs across the START Network.  The leads of each Task Force must be present at the EMC meetings to report out and receive feedback and recommendations regarding plans and progress.

Guidelines, resources and recommendations developed by the 3 CTFs will be reviewed, vetted, and disseminated to the START Network in the most expedient manner possible. All updated documents will be housed in Moodlerooms’ Online Resource Area.