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Guidance: What Ohio's Stay-at-Home Order Means for Ohio's Developmental Disabilities System

March 22, Governor Mike DeWine announced that Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), issued a stay-at-home order. The order is effective March 23, 2020, at 11:59 PM.

The order states that services in Ohio’s developmental disabilities system are essential activities that should continue to be provided, and that travel is allowed in order to provide and receive those services. Direct support professionals (DSPs), including both independent and agency providers, and county board service and support administrators (SSAs) are essential workers and should continue providing supports while following other orders from ODH, DODD guidance, and best practices found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

ODH has developed a frequently asked questions document about the stay-at-home order. The order for adult day services is still in effect, and people should continue to use DODD's guidance.

The order issued today defines “stay at home,” and what essential work and activities can continue, furthermore:

Page 3 of the March 22 order states

“Individuals may leave their residence to work for or obtain services at any Human Services Operations, including any provider funded by the Ohio Department of Aging, Department of Developmental Disabilities, Department of Health, Department of Job and Family Services, Department of Medicaid, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, Department of Veterans Services, and Department of Youth Services that is providing services to the public and including state-operated, institutional, or community-based settings providing human services to the public.

Human Services Operations includes, but is not limited to: long-term care facilities, day care centers, day care homes, group day care homes; residential settings and shelters for adults, seniors, children, and/or people with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities….”

Page 7 of the March 22 order states

"Home-based care for adults, seniors, children, and/or people with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, and/or mental illness, including caregivers such as nannies who may travel to the child’s home to provide care, and other in-home services including meal delivery;

Residential facilities and shelters for adults, seniors, children, pets, and/or people with developmental disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, and/or mental illness."

DSP Guidance

Updated March 23, 2020*

According to the terms of Dr. Acton’s stay-at-home order, DSPs, both agency and independent providers, are considered employees who deliver essential services. The order specifically permits DSPs to continue to travel to deliver these essential services. The order does not require DSPs to carry any letter or documentation designating them as essential employees. If a DSP is traveling to or from work and is questioned why he or she is on the road, the DSP should explain that he or she is delivering essential services, which is permissible under the order. 

While it is not required, DSPs could choose to carry a copy of the order, a letter from their employer, and/or DODD guidance with them while they travel if they have any concerns that their travel may be questioned.

DODD Support Teams 

Please continue to exercise flexibility to ensure the health and safety of Ohioans with developmental disabilities and their families. DODD support teams are available and consist of staff ready to help county boards and providers. 

DODD has set up a dedicated web page for department communications and links to helpful resources that will advise people with disabilities, their families, service providers, direct support professionals, county boards of developmental disabilities, and the community at large. 

For specific questions about COVID-19 and additional information and resources, DODD urges you to use the Ohio Department of Health’s call center. Call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634), or visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.