Monday, July 24, 2017

Megan Wieck: Imagine! Early Intervention Rockstar

Imagine!’s Early Intervention (EI) program has a terrific team working to create a world of opportunity for all abilities. To show how much they’re appreciated, each month this team chooses a “Rockstar” within their program. Team members submit nominations describing what each nominee has contributed, going above and beyond to support those we serve.

We would like to recognize Megan Wieck as this month’s Rockstar.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mike Spreads The Word

This week's write up features Mike from Boulder, Colorado, who accepts services from Imagine! Using his communication device and assistance from his mother, Mike shares his experience being active in public policy. 

I think I need to tell everyone how important it is to be active in advocating for yourself and others. I need to tell you that this year in the Colorado Legislature I gave testimony for two very important bills. One was to prevent the use of prove restraints in the schools. I can’t believe they are still doing it. I helped prevent it now for the future and parents will have to be notified about any restraint use. I had good schools where they knew better ways to help students be safe. Both the classmates and the student who loses self control. I also gave testimony to try to keep schools from suspending and ejecting students ages three to second grade. It passed one body but lobbyists defeated it in the other chamber. In Colorado, the session each year goes from January to early May. Then it goes to recess until the next year. That gives time to focus on national bills. Right now the focus is to prevent cuts and caps to Medicaid. It’s very important that your Legislators hear your stories. Call or write them.

I have been involved in public policy since high school. I have been at the Colorado legislature every year since graduation. I know many legislators personally and I was introduced on the floor of the house. I also have been in rallies supporting issues in Colorado and on Capitol Hill in Washington. Senator Kefalas asked me to come because in its first hearing in committee the chairman told him he planned to table the bill, but since people came to testify he gave us a chance. He told senator Kefalas that my testimony convinced him to ask for a vote. It passed and went on to become a bill.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Imagine! Case Management Unsung Heroes

Imagine!’s Case Management department works with many great people. To show how much they are all appreciated, each month they choose an “Unsung Hero” within the department. Case Managers, support staff, and Case Management supervisors all put in nominations describing what the person has contributed to Case Management to go above and beyond to support those we serve.

For June, we’d like to recognize two outstanding members from our team, Jen McIntyre and Becca Webster, as this month’s Case Management Unsung Heroes.

Case Management Super Hero

Jen is the best boss I have ever had. I have had some good bosses and some crappy bosses…but Jen is definitely the best. Why, you may ask? Because Jen is sincere and goes out of her way to show you how much you mean to her team. In a work environment where turnover is a common reality, Jen makes the folks on her team feel valued. Jen never micromanages, and she trusts the competence of those who she supervises. She is there to listen to any questions and concerns her subordinates have, no matter how many questions she may get or how random those questions may be. She helps her team members grow individually and together, and every criticism comes coupled with praise. This provides a foundation on which growth can occur. Quite possibly the greatest gift Jen brings is how all these things combine to make Jen seem human and vulnerable in her role as supervisor, which empowers her team to trust her and follow her lead in a high stress and high stakes profession.

Becca Webster

As a new Case Manager, Becca has gone above and beyond the usual learning curve and duties of a new Case Manager. Becca covered a caseload of complex and difficult cases for the past three months, including the addition of her own new cases added. Becca has completed these duties with a high quality of service. At the same time Becca has dealt admirably with learning system changes of both the State Benefit Utilization system and Imagine!’s new Health Record Maintenance system. Becca has achieved results through perseverance and continual improvement.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Evan Dittig

Evan Dittig is from Jersey and founded Skate.Now, a skateboard instructional service. He visited Imagine!’s Out & About one morning to offer free skateboard lessons. I sat down with Evan after the lesson and he shared how Skate.Now got started and why.

How was the clinic with Out & About?
It went so well. I didn’t know what to expect at first being 30 kiddos and one of me. It was so well organized and I had a blast. Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces were amazing. Skateboarding is a universal language. We had a couple of kids today who are non-verbal and they were able to ride just like anyone else. You just hop on and cruise. When I assisted the girl who used the stroller up and down the ramps, seeing her smile was so awesome. Some of the kids today weren’t riding it but putting their hands on the board and rolling it back and forth and still getting enjoyment out of it. You can enjoy it without riding.

What are your take home lessons during a class?
Skateboarding is not for a specific person, we’re trying to break the stereotypes of a “skater.” Anyone can go skateboarding and have a blast doing it. That’s why we like to offer the skills and guidance it takes to learn this sport to everybody, not based on any position. It builds resilience. If you fall down and get back up, and you try again, it shows you that failure is temporary. You can’t let it break your spirit because everyone falls. That’s a huge part of life, you can fail at something and it’s all about getting back up and trying again and really making it.

What’s your story and how did this business start?
I’ve been skateboarding for 12 years, teaching for 5-6 years. I used to work with local camps and skateboard shops offering lessons. I gained relationships and bonds with the kids and those turned into private lessons. I ended up with a ton of different clients so I decided to start a little business and let it grow. In my last year of college, I learned a lot about philanthropic work and giving back and I understood a greater concept of what it feels like to help those that are less fortunate. Really hit me in the heart. What’s the point of being an entrepreneur to just make money? Anybody can have money. You really just want to make an impact and better the world because this world needs it. That’s why I was in Colorado for a week and some of us went to Nicaragua last month and gave free lessons at local schools. 

 If I could support myself while giving out free skateboard lessons my entire life, I would. Our business model allows us to generate revenue and then, in turn, use that money to take trips and help out more people.

Visit the Skate.Now website to learn more about the business and follow them on Facebook to see their latest philanthropic missions!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Chad Russell: Recipient of the July 2017 Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award

Congratulations are in order for Chad Russell, part of our CORE/Labor Source team. Chad was selected as the July 2017 recipient of the Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award.

“Chad works very hard every day and mostly when no one is watching. He took it upon himself to organize the art closet and takes on art duties in the absence of the art teacher. Chad has excellent rapport with students and staff alike and treats everyone with respect.” 

“For Chad, going above and beyond is just part of the job. In an environment like CLS where things can be a little chaotic with all its moving parts, it’s the people like Chad who hold everything together. Chad’s person-centered attitude when working with students is inspiring. It’s clear that his focus is the people we serve and how we can help them grow and thrive each day.” 

Great work, Chad, and congratulations on this well-deserved honor!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Kit and Phil - This Isn't Goodbye

At the end June, two longtime Imagine! employees will be retiring from our organization. In addition to being voted “Cutest Couple at Imagine!” for ten years running, Phil and Kit Peiffer leave behind a legacy of more than 37 years of service!

While it is an impossible task to truly capture their impact on Imagine!’s mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities, we did ask a few co-workers to share their thoughts as Kit and Phil ride off into the sunset to enjoy a life of luxurious retirement. Here are just a few of them:

“Kit has been an important part of the Early Intervention (EI) Team. She is taken on lots of different duties over the years and has been hardworking and kind. EI will miss Kit and all that she brought to the department.”

“Phil was a compulsively competent Case Manager and then became my supervisor and was able to guide Case Managers to the point of becoming competent themselves.”

“I will miss my conversations with Kit about bikes and her stories of riding adventures, and the fact that she is one of the few ‘early birds’ like myself in the office. Kit helped me out a lot the last several months with a task in our department and volunteered to take this on. I’m very thankful for that help.”

“Phil had a good mix of seriousness about the important matters and humor for things that could be light-hearted.”

“Kit has been an integral part of Early Intervention. She has so much knowledge to share with the group. Her personality was a great addition to the EI team!”

“I’ve never been so sad to see a supervisor go. Phil has made my transition to Case Management as easy as it could be and it’s been a pleasure working with him the last year.”

“Kit has been such an asset to helping getting services for children. Her knowledge about insurance is awesome and so helpful. She will be missed in so many many many ways!!!!”

“Phil is easily the best supervisor I have ever had. He is approachable, supportive and light hearted. He has made Imagine! a great place to work. We will all miss him, and his candy bucket.”

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Better Care Reconciliation Act Update 6/28/17

While there is a great deal of uncertainty right now, it seems clear that the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) poses great risk to individuals with disabilities who use Medicaid funds for vital services and supports. We encourage all Imagine! stakeholders to do their best to keep up to date on this fast moving process, and to participate in the process as they see fit.

To do our part to keep you up to date, we’ll be sharing updates on this blog as necessary.

As of 6/28/17, here’s what we do know about the AHCA (now called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017) and the bill’s potential impacts on services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

On June 22, the Senate released its version of the American Health Care Act, now called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017, 142 pages of proposed legislation that built off the House passed version from May. On June 26, a slightly revised version was released. Check it out here.

Meanwhile, the Senate has delayed its vote on the BCRA until after the July 4th recess due to lack of support among both moderate and conservative Republican senators.

Analysis of the BCRA in its current incarnation indicates that:

The acute workforce crisis in our field is likely to worsen with the bill as written.
  • According to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), the Medicaid growth rate in the AHCA/BCRA’s per capita caps proposal will continue to be lower than the expected growth rate of costs for services and supports. 
  • There is already a 45 percent national turnover rate among Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), who offer front-line supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Turnover is high because low Medicaid rates make it difficult for providers to be competitive employers, and they cannot negotiate rates. Staff members often leave for other industries with better wages. 
  • Without enough employees, providers cannot meet rapidly increasing demand for supports, leading to large in-state waiting lists and putting quality of care at risk. 
States may be hurt by the AHCA/BCRA as written and programs for individuals with disabilities may not be protected.
So how big of an issue is this?
  • 10 million people with disabilities in the U.S. rely on Medicaid for the services that help them live and work in the community, known as Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). 1.2 million people in Colorado are enrolled in Medicaid, and close to 11,000 receive comprehensive services through HCBS. 
  • Many people with disabilities are unaware that the services they receive are part of Medicaid. Services funded through Medicaid may have different names depending on the state. If a person with a disability receives any community-based support, it’s very likely through Medicaid. 
We’ll continue with the updates as we gather more information, so check back often.

Sources: ANCOR, Center for Public Representation