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Community Health


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Weekly Message from the Executive Director

Tony Anderson

By the Numbers

This week we reported 32 consumers tested positive and 13 direct support professionals tested positive for COVID. Fortunately, there were no reported hospitalizations or deaths related to COVID this week. Currently the public health officials are closely monitoring what is being referred to as the tripledemic (COVID, Flu, and RSV -respiratory syncytial virus). Dr. Walensky of the CDC is asking “Americans to get their flu shots and updated coronavirus vaccine boosters, which are tailored to omicron subvariants. She said that early data suggests this year’s flu shot formula appears to be well matched against the circulating strains, and that shots drive down hospitalizations even when they do not stop infections.” Also this week the CDC started to urge the public to wear masks in public transportation settings and when around people with vulnerable health conditions. (Washington Post December 5, 2022)

VMRC Takes Another Important Step In Our Journey to Create a Region of Belonging and Inclusion


Valley Mountain Regional Center is excited to announce that Mark Crear, Ph.D., has joined us as our first ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Manager


Mark brings over 15 years of experience in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, multicultural competency, leadership development and employee psychological safety. Mark is known for his exceptional integrity, work ethics, bottom-up management style and ability to lead, encourage and produce results. Mark is a two-time Olympic medalist (110-meter-high hurdles), graduate of the University of Southern California (USC) and served 13 years as the Executive Director for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and 13 years as Chief DEI consultant for The Zone ccc. 


As Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Manager, Mark will lead the DE&I initiatives internally and externally. Internally Mark will work with the VMRC DEI committee and the leadership to create a culture of belonging throughout our organization enhancing equitable hiring practices reflective of our community, accelerating employee training in this space for continuous development, and strengthen affinity groups to enhance cultural humility and acceptance. Externally, Mark will work closely with our board of directors to support its committee on Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion (DEBI) in their leadership role to create a vision for our inclusive community throughout our region. He’ll be engaged in outreach to identified community groups, and he’ll manage contracts with several community connectors in an effort of sincere discovery of how to best meet their needs for services and supports in a culturally competent way.


Mark’s addition affirms VMRC’s strong commitment to not only our primary purpose of inclusion of people with diverse developmental disabilities but also equity for all their intersections of society in our unique region, honoring the rural, suburban, and urban cultural way of life, the ethnic and racial and other cultural needs and preferences, as well as the cultures of communities around aging, gender, farming, ranching, LBGTQ+, and the many other dozens of lifestyles and communities our regional center serves. 


For decades, VMRC has championed inclusion, self-empowerment, and choice for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the community. Today, we recognize diversity, equity, and inclusion is an indivisible part of creating a diverse and equitable future. We’re excited to welcome Mark into his new role and look forward to his stewardship as we focus on centering inclusivity within this agency and its work, and we will use his insight and experience to find innovative solutions to support people with developmental disabilities as they enrich their lives through choices and inclusion.

This wonderful opportunity was made possible because of a grant on Language Access and Cultural Competence provided by the California Department of Developmental Services led by Director Nancy Bargmann.

Next week December 14, 2022 the Performance Contract and the National Core Indicators will be presented during the Board of Directors meeting: details.

Clinical Update

Dr. Claire Lazaro

Clinical Director

Are We In a Tripledemic?

Public health experts are saying we are in a “tripledemic” which means we are experiencing the surge of cases of the flu, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).[1],[2],[3] Hospitals around the country are getting overwhelmed with cases of these viruses, especially in children. Public health experts remind everyone that vaccinations work and it is the first line to preventing these illnesses. Get vaccinated! Get you flu vaccine now, and COVID-19 vaccine/booster as applicable to you. There is no vaccine yet against the RSV.

[1] Johns Hopkins University Hub. October 31, 2022.

[2] The BMJ. November 7, 2022.

[3] AMA. November 8, 2022.

4 CDC Influenza (Flu). October 24, 2022.

5 CDC COVID-19. October 26, 2022.

6 CDC Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV). October 24, 2022.

Symptoms Comparison Chart:

How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones?

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Case Management Update - Children

Tara Sisemore-Hester

Director of Consumer Services - Children

Vocabulary Learning in Typical and Late Talkers

with Lynn K. Perry, PhD, and

Katrina Nicholas, PhD, CCC-SLP

Friday January 13, 2023

12:00pm-1:30pm (PT)

Virtual Event


Can't attend the event live? 

Register to receive access to the recording!

Variability is important for learning new skills, and especially important for vocabulary learning by young children. Drs. Perry and Nicholas will give an overview of input variability, delving into different models for how children learn new vocabulary and how they generalize that knowledge. They will review research on input variability's importance for word learning by toddlers with typical and delayed language development. Suggested strategies for how to use input variability will be provided for teachers, therapists, and parents.

Learning Objectives:

·    Define input variability within the context of statistical learning, that is learning that happens when children are not explicitly trying to learn but are able to recognize patterns in how we present vocabulary models

·    Describe how input variability enhances word learning in typically developing children

·    Describe how input variability enhances word learning in children with language delay

·    Apply input variability in teaching vocabulary to toddlers

Lynn K. Perry, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Miami. Her research focuses on real-time and developmental interactions between language and cognition in typically developing children and adults and children with

communication disorders including hearing loss and autism spectrum disorder.

Katrina Nicholas, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a licensed and certified pediatric speech-language pathologist and an Assistant Professor in the Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences Department at California State University, East Bay. Her research focuses on applying principles of learning and memory to improve treatment techniques for children with late language emergence and developmental language disorders.

Non-Member: $55


Agency/Individual Member: $40



New Clinician Member: $30




IDA CE Hours: Nursing, PT, Speech and Language* $15 (1.5 hour)


(you will be invoiced and only if attending live)

*CEUs for SLPs can be used to fulfill California’s licensing board. They are not sent to the ASHA registry. Participants should retain their IDA certificates and submit a Certification Maintenance Compliance form with ASHA.


ADA Requests: Contact IDA @

with ADA request by December 31, 2022


Limited number of scholarships available



Case Management Update - Adults

Christine Couch

Director of Consumer Services - Adults

Happy December!  from SAMHSA: The days may be shorter and colder – but it’s okay not to be okay. Help is always available if you or someone you know is struggling with Mental Health. Help yourself and share to help others: find help!

Community Services Update

Brian Bennett

Director of Community Services

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 VMRC Has Released a Request for Proposal for Social Recreation in Partnership with DDS

Community Integration (Social Recreation) Grant Opportunity

VMRC will host its second Informational Session for interested providers in Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus Counites on December 9th from 3-4 via Microsoft Teams

Click here to join the meeting

Meeting ID: 219 139 813 29

Passcode: xkMsmS 

Emergency Services Update

Aaron McDonald

Emergency Response Coordinator

Utility Scam Awareness

Scammers are targeting utility customers at twice the rate over previous years, Particularly those that are most vulnerable. To date of 30,000 customers have reported scams to utility providers within the state of California. Here are some helpful tips for everyone to recognize potential scams.


Signs of potential scams:

  • Threat to disconnect services.
  • Requests for immediate payment.
  • Request for pre-paid cards for payments.
  • Refund or rebate offers.


How customers can protect themselves:

  • Never purchase a pre-paid card to avoid service disconnection.
  • If you have doubts about a call you receive, disconnect the call and contact your utility provider directly.
  • Signing up for online account information is an additional safety precaution if available.

Enjoying a Safe Holiday Season

From late November to mid-January, when families gather, parties are scheduled and travel spikes, safety should be top priority. Following is tried-and-true advice to ensure your friends, family & loved ones remain safe and injury-free throughout the season.


Traveling for the Holidays? Be Prepared

If you're traveling this year, be sure your vehicle is in good running condition, get plenty of rest and be prepared for any emergency. Traveling by car during the holidays has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation based on fatalities per passenger mile. Hundreds of people die every year in crashes on New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, according to Injury Facts, for more information visit: . Alcohol impairment is involved in about a third of these fatalities.


Stay safe on the roads over the holidays — and every day:

● Prepare your car for winter and keep an emergency kit with you.

● Get a good night’s sleep before departing and avoid drowsy driving.

● Leave early & plan for heavy traffic.

● Make sure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled up no matter how long or short the distance traveled.

● Put the cell phone away; many distractions occur while driving, cell phones provide the largest distraction.

● Practice defensive driving.

● Designate a sober driver to ensure guests make it home safely after a holiday party; alcohol or over-the-counter medications, prescriptions can cause impairment.


Decorate Safely

Decorating is one of the best ways to get in a holiday spirit, but emergency rooms & veterinarians see thousands of injuries involving holiday decorations every season.


When decorating follow these tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

● Keep potentially poisonous plants – mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis – away from children & pets.

● If using an artificial tree, check that it is labeled “fire resistant”.

● If using a live tree, cut off about 2 inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption, remember to water the tree regularly and remove it from your home when it is dry.

● Place your tree at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources, making certain not to block doorways.

● Avoid placing breakable ornaments or ones with small, detachable parts on lower tree branches where small children & pets can reach them.

● Only use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors and choose the right ladder for the task when hanging lights.

● Replace light sets that have broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.

● Follow the package directions on the number of light sets that can be plugged into one socket.

● Never nail, tack or stress wiring when hanging lights and keep plugs off the ground away from puddles and/or snow.

● Turn off all lights and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house.


Watch Out for Fire-Starters

Candles and Fireplaces

Use of candles and fireplaces, combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations in many homes during the holidays, means more risk for fire. The National Fire Protection Association reports that one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles and that two of every five decoration fires happen because the decorations are placed too close to a heat source.

● Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over and out of reach of children.

● Keep matches and lighters up high and out of reach of children in a locked cabinet.

● Use flameless, rather than lighted, candles near flammable objects.

● Don't burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace.

● Use a screen on the fireplace at all times when a fire is burning.

● Never leave candles or fireplaces burning unattended or when you are asleep or away from home.

● Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year.


Turkey Fryers

Be alert to the dangers if you're thinking of celebrating the holidays by frying a turkey. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there have been hundreds turkey-fryer related fires, burns or other injuries, and millions of dollars in property damage losses from these incidents.

The National Safety Council discourages the use of turkey fryers at home and urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments or consider using an oil-less turkey fryer.


If you must fry your own turkey, follow all U.S. Fire Administration turkey fryer guidelines: 

CHOICES Institute

Conference Update- questions (209) 473-6950

November 17, 2022

Save the Date!  


CHOICES Institute will be holding its 35th ANNUAL Conference on FRIDAY, April 14, 2023


 Roller Coaster of CHOICES 2023

The Ups & Downs of your CHOICES!


COST (start saving your $$$ NOW):

The conference will be hybrid:

This means it will be in person in Stockton AND also on Zoom


·      In person for all: $30- this includes continental breakfast, lunch & conference t-shirt

·      On Zoom for all: $10- this includes Zoom link and conference t-shirt

  Are YOU interested in being a Speaker at our April 14, 2023 Conference?

Do you have a story (about 20 minutes) to share and talk about the “Ups & Downs of your CHOICES”?



If so, email

with your name, number & story idea/topic to be added to the list of potential speakers by December 16, 2022!

The CHOICES Conference Planning Team will decide on speakers on the list at the December CHOICES Conference Planning meeting.           

Call the CHOICES line 209-473-6950 for any questions.

Above CHOICES Form in PDF Here

Above Template in PDF Here

Above SCDD Statewide Trainings 2023 Flyer in PDF

Above SCDD Statewide Trainings 2023 Flyer Here


Family Resource Network (FRN) Update

Lisa Culley, Executive Director

Do you have a child 0-3 years old receiving services through Early Start? Family Resource Network hosts a virtual music play group two times a month on Zoom. Join us for Tikes & Tunes the first and third Tuesday of each month from 9:30am-10:30am. Registration is required, please contact the FRN office to register. See flyer for more information.

SAC6 Amazon Smile Flyer in PDF Here

Local County, State and National Public Health Resources

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