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AWARE January-March 2014 Volume 8, No. 1

INK

“The Right Services...To the Right People...At the Right Time!”

AWARE CEO Larry Noonan addresses delegates on the final day of Corporate Congress 2013 at Fairmont Hot Springs.

Photo by Jim Tracy

Corporate Congress delegates pass 22 bills

T

wenty-one AWARE Inc. employees have returned to work after participating as delegates at a unique corporate gathering that allowed representatives to sponsor and vote on “bills” to improve the way the company serves customers. Corporate Congress concluded its three-day session Dec. 6 at Fairmont Hot Springs. This was the 13th Corporate Congress AWARE has convened since 1999.

Delegates were nominated by their peers in October and elected to the Congress in November. Delegates, from AWARE offices across the state, were all non-supervisory and non-management staff or people who receive services. Delegates represented every AWARE service and region across Montana. The Congress, which operates in much the same way as the state legislature, adopted 22 measures, See Corporate Congress on page 6

Switch to electronic health records accelerates

AWARE has taken giant steps forward in the past month on its way to adopting electronic health records, or EHR. From February 4 through 6, a core group of staff completed

Inside...

Note to staff and friends

— Page 2

several milestones with the help of Afia and Netsmart, the two companies AWARE has contracted with to complete the transition to EHR. Using myEvolv software developed by Netsmart, the group

Recycling operation expanding in Butte — Page 4

AWARE University offers more choices — Page 13

linked all programs, facilities and services and entered a hypothetical client into the system to make sure all links worked. The group also refined navigation schemes,

See EHR on page 17 Health insurance roll-out on track — Page 20

KANA Radio on a mission — Page 22


Careful planning the key to AWARE’s success Dear staff and friends,

Our training department continues to evolve and adapt to the needs of employees, offering more in-house learning opportunities.

As we begin a New Year, folks are working harder than ever to deliver quality services for the

people we serve. There are many projects in the

works, and several of them are beginning to take shape. Our efforts with Electronic Health Records have really

brought us into the 21st century, particularly for our psychiatry and treatment

Our training department continues to evolve

programs. For these, and

and adapt to the needs of employees, offering

all of our programs, this

more in-house learning opportunities focused

transition will mean greater Larry Noonan

on caregiving than any other agency in Montana.

connectivity, better efficiency

As an organization, we are committed to the

and faster service. Be sure to

development of our employees, and, as a result,

stay current with the coming changes in our new,

we offer 50 hours of continuing education

bi-weekly e-newsletter called EHR Watch that will

annually.

provide news and helpful tips along the way.

Soon, we will unveil a newly designed website The ongoing work with Balanced Scorecard

that will be more user friendly for everyone.

expert Bob Paladino is in full swing, and

Content can be updated at a moment’s notice

individual goals and standards are being

and customers can browse our diverse array of

implemented for every employee and service in

services. Overall, the final product will be leaps

our organization. We are using our experiences from this process to train additional staff

Lawrence P. Noonan, CEO Geri L. Wyant, CFO Jeffrey Folsom, COO Mike Schulte, CHO

members in the use of scorecards, and in the

Board of Directors

near future everyone will begin to see the

John Haffey, President Al Smith Cheryl Zobenica Ed Amberg Marlene Holayter Russell Carstens Stephen Addington Barbara Andreozzi Jesse Laslovich

effects of our work with corporate performance management. We believe this system will allow us to focus our efforts in areas that need the most attention so we can continue to grow as an

Editor: Jim Tracy Staff writers: Jacquie Peterson Bryon Higgins

organization. 2

AWARE Ink is published bimonthly by AWARE, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization at 205 E. Park Ave., Anaconda, MT 59711. Copyright ©2014, AWARE Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this newsletter may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the publisher. Please send correspondence to: jtracy@aware-inc.org


and bounds ahead of other

would not be where it is today

providers in the state.

without the careful thought and

AWARE Recycling services

consideration of each and every

in Butte are gearing up for a

one of our delegates. So thank

much needed expansion that

you for all of your hard work.

will allow increased capacity and the opportunity to

On a slightly different note, I

provide additional jobs in the

would also like to take a brief

community for people with and

moment to thank an employee

without disabilities.

of ours for all the work he has

It is another example of our commitment to the AWARE Business Network and the communities we serve. All of the things I just described are results generated from a significant planning process we follow at AWARE Inc. You know

done organizing Corporate Congress over the last seven years. As many of you may have already heard, Tim Pray has recently left our organization. His dedication throughout the years has been greatly appreciated, and he will be missed.

that process in many different

All of these things are evidence

parts, and the activities have

of the ongoing development

really provided us with an

of our organization and the

outstanding organization that

addition of things that most

can provide significant results

non-profits in Montana only

based on the important work

talk about. This along with our

we do every day.

performance in the recent CARF

Speaking of which, during this year’s strategic planning session, we passed 22 Corporate Congress Bills that you can read about in this issue. Our Leadership Committee is already hard at work discussing

review, the addition of Early Childhood Accreditation, and other processes like that really are helping us meet the needs of all the people who come to us for assistance.. Wishing all of you the very best,

how we can put these bills into action, and our organization 3

EHR Watch coming to you AWARE has now published two issues of EHR Watch, a bi-weekly electronic newsletter devoted to the company’s transition to digital medial records. EHR stands for electronic health records, which are built to go beyond standard clinical data collected in a provider’s office and include a broader view of a patient’s care. EHRs contain information from all clinicians involved in a patient’s care. All authorized clinicians involved in a patient’s care can access the information to provide care to that patient. EHRs also share information with other health care providers, such as laboratories and specialists. EHRs follow patients – to the specialist, the hospital, the nursing home, or even across the country.


AWARE expanding Butte recycling operation

A

by Jim Tracy WARE plans to improve its recycling operations in Butte with the purchase of a multi-product baler and expansion of its plant at 640 S. Arizona St. The plant, which has been in operation since August 2004, handles about 1.5 million pounds of recyclables — paper, plastic, cardboard and aluminum — each year. Bob Whitaker, who has been working at the recycling center for six years and has been with AWARE for more than 20 Expansion would years, moves a pallet filled with bags of aluminum cans. He said that since A & S Metals in Butte has closed, that the allow AWARE to center has been overwhelmed with additional recycling. Photo by Jacquie Peterson handle more than plant to handle that material and up material from those sites. 2 million pounds meet the demands for local recy“We try to get to them every day of recyclables a year, add drop-off cling at the same time, said Larry during the week. They are our top sites throughout the community, inpriority,” said Terry Harrington, crease pick-ups at Butte businesses Noonan, chief executive officer of AWARE. who has managed recycling operaand save landfill space. “Increased automation and other tion in Butte for nine years. Tons of cardboard improvements would help insure More drop-off sites The new horizontal baler and ex- that Butte has a quality recycling Harrington said the company is facility to accommodate the people pansion would also save the comstudying the feasibility of adding who want to recycle,” Noonan pany from delivering recyclables secure bins for aluminum recycling said. “It would also help us in our to its plant in Anaconda, which already has a large baler. Butte Recy- collaboration with the local govern- and expanding the number of sites — at some point — to at least 10 ment to provide a recycling sercling has a small vertical baler for throughout the community. cardboard. The Butte plant collects vice.” In addition, AWARE picks up reBesides its walk-in business on and bales about 50,000 pounds of cyclables at Butte’s seven elemensouth Arizona Street, AWARE sercardboard each month and ships it vices pick-up sites at Platinum and tary schools at least once a month to mills in Oregon. and provides recycling — all as a Plastic, paper and aluminum are Excelsior streets, the Civic Center trucked to the Anaconda facility — and the National Center for Appro- public service — at special events, including the Montana Folk Festisometimes as often as three times a priate Technology on Continental Drive. Each site has four large bins val, Evel Knievel Days, An Ri Ra, week — for processing and shipButte-Silver Bow County Fair and where people can drop off cardment. board, plastic and paper 24 hours a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Expansion and the purchase of “AWARE has been a great partday. AWARE recycling crews pick a new baler would allow the Butte ner in providing recycling opportu4


nities for our commuHere are the housenity,” said Butte-Silver hold recyclables Bow Chief Executive AWARE take and the Matt Vincent. “Obviplan sorts them: ously, this new investƒƒ cardboard ment by AWARE will ƒƒ newspaper increase its capabilities ƒƒ office paper and capacity to serve ƒƒ shredded paper Butte’s citizen and ƒƒ aluminum (cans business recyclers. only) “We look forward to ƒƒ steel cans continuing our relaƒƒ plastics* tionship with AWARE #1 clear PETE as we strive to improve (water, juice and ways to meet our com soda bottles) munity’s recycling #2 clear milk needs now and into the jugs future.” #2 solid Harrington believes there is a large unmet AWARE Recycling demand among Butte does not accept: businesses for recyglass, metals, napcling. AWARE now kins, kleenex, toilet provides recycling paper, wrapping paper, pickup to some 50 diapers, food, wax businesses in town, (boxes, cartons and but Harrington figures paper), construction there are many other paper, styrofoam, food businesses that would wrappers, appliances, use the service. rocks, pots, pans, tin, “We don’t have the electronics, etc. Butte Recycling employees from left, Steve Holdorf, Kylie LaCombe, Darrell equipment or capacLongee, Bob Whitaker, stand on the scale used to weigh aluminum cans. ity right now, but once Together the men weigh 705 pounds. Recycling Services we get our horizontal AWARE Recycling baler we’ll be able to service more five part-time workers who receive provides these services: customers,” he said. “Having the ƒƒ Business recycling service services from the non-profit corpoequipment here will also free up ƒƒ Special event recycling ration. time for our trucks and drivers. We ƒƒ Walk-in recycling The company provides living spend as much as six hours a week support services for people with ƒƒ Afte-hour bins delivering material to Anaconda. ƒƒ School recycling program developmental and mental disabiliWe could be using that time to pick ties, and AWARE Recycling proup recycling at Butte locations.” vides work for these individuals. If all goes as planned, expansion could be completed and new equip- About AWARE Recycling In one year, AWARE Recycling ment could be installed as early as in Butte ships 1.5 million pounds mid-April. of product — enough to save 4,000 Expanding services could also barrels of oil, more than 6,000 trees potentially add jobs to the local and 4,000 cubic yards of landfill economy. The Butte plant now employs four full-time workers and space. 5


...Corporate Congress continued from Page 1 including a bill that would create a social media site for families of children with developmental disabilities and a measure that would expand training opportunities for staff and families served by AWARE in the 26 communities where it has offices. The creation of AWARE CEO Larry Noonan, Corporate Congress allows front-line staff in all services to represent fellow employees and people who receive services in a democratic fashion and participate directly in changing the way the organization does business and serves customers. “When we gather staff and the people we serve together and let them tell us what works and what doesn’t work – and what we should do differently – it helps the company and benefits the people who use our services,” Noonan said. Said Chief Operations Officer Jeff Folsom, who helped facilitate the event: “Other companies hire consultants to get the sort of feedback we get from Corporate Congress. At Corporate Congress our employees and the people we serve are the consultants. Over the years we have adopted nearly all of their suggestions.” Here’s the roster of 2013 Corpo-

rate Congress delegates (* denotes a newly elected delegate): ƒƒ Jessica Cole*, representing the Missoula District ƒƒ Lindsey Graham*, representing Youth Case Management ƒƒ Josh Kaplan*, representing the Kalispell District ƒƒ Paul Montey*, representing Children’s DD Services ƒƒ Ashley Paris*, representing Employed Clients ƒƒ Sharati Pia*, representing Administrative Services ƒƒ Haley Rowland*, representing Support Services ƒƒ Amanda Voytoski*, representing the Great Falls District These newly elected delegates joined your service and/or community’s returning delegates. They are: ƒƒ Julia Allison, representing Youth Residential Services ƒƒ Molly Basta, representing the Bozeman District ƒƒ Trista Burke, representing Successful Starts ƒƒ Katelyn Crummett, representing the Butte/Dillon District ƒƒ Sharon Dallolio, representing Adult Mental Health Services ƒƒ Amanda Davis, representing the Billings District 6

ƒƒ Karen Dyal, representing Adult DD Residential Services ƒƒ Molly Gardiner, representing the Helena District ƒƒ Maria Hansen, representing Early Head Start Services ƒƒ Robert Kimbell, representing Targeted Case Management ƒƒ Melanie Maki, representing the Anaconda District ƒƒ Keriann Orrino, representing Adult DD Work Services ƒƒ Aimee Roberson, representing Employed Clients ƒƒ Tabitha Williams, representing the Eastern Montana District ƒƒ Carol Wind, representing AWARE’s Transportation Services The three days of discussion, cooperation and debate set the organizational agenda for the new year. The interim between the 2012 and 2013 sessions was the first that was guided by an interim committee of Corporate Congress leadership that included Molly Basta, chair of the community delegates, Robert Kimbell, chair of the service delegates, and Molly Gardiner, Trista Burke and Danielle Myers, chairs of the bi-partisan committees that review the bills during the course of the congress. Continued on page 12


CorporateCongress Congress2013 2013Delegates Delegates Corporate

Julia Allison

Trista Burke

Jessica Cole

Katelyn Crummett

Sharon Dallolio

Karen Dyal

Molly Gardiner

Lindsey Graham

Maria Hansen

Josh Kaplan

Bob Kimbell

Melanie Maki

Paul Montey

Aimee Roberson

Aimee Nichols

Hayley Rowland

James Nolan

Keriann Orrino

Amanda Travis

Amanda Voytoski 7

Ashley Paris

Tabitha Williams

Sharati Pia

Carol Wind


Continued from page 6 The group was formed to develop ideas to improve the process of each delegate, and their first priority was to allow significantly more time between the election of delegates and the Corporate Congress event itself at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. The committee presented that idea, along with the idea to extend the term of a delegate to three years, to AWARE’s Development Team (AWARE core leadership group made up of CEO Larry Noonan, CFO Geri Wyant, CHO Mike Schulte, and COO Jeff Folsom) where their suggestions were approved. Almost immediately following the presentation to the Development Team, work began on the 2013 election. The delegates wrapped up the session by presenting their polished measures to AWARE’s Board of Directors on Friday morning. Here are the final bills, listed by sponsor and title:

Sharati Pia Administrative Services

Julia Allison Youth Residential Services

Training on Demand Act

Staff Identification

Preamble: Providing support to the frontline caregiver is part of the Corporate Office mission. At a recent Supervisor Orientation Training, it was requested that training for administrative requirements be available to new employees within 30 days of accepting the position. Therefore be it enacted that AWARE provides a way for all staff to put in a request for one-on-one training in any area they feel it is needed. This training could take the shape of one of the following:

Preamble: Schools and teachers have had questions about identifying AWARE staff. Staff are not on pick-up lists for schools. In the past, staff from certain houses have been asked to pick up residents they haven’t worked with. The residents have been uncomfortable about this and can be insecure. Additionally, in group homes, people are often job training (shadowing). This is sometimes not communicated to staff and can make it uncomfortable to let them into the house. Some children are in dangerous situations, or there is fear of parental abduction. Staff should have identification cards that identify them as caregivers. Because of the need for confidentiality, staff would not wear them openly but could show them when asked. This would help to make everyone more assured and make things more professional

1) Online video tutorials 2) One-on-one training in the office or the employee’s location. 3) Over the internet via screen shares and GoToMeeting. Outcomes of this bill It might: ƒƒ help in retention of employees in supervisory positions. ƒƒ create a communication bridge between administrative and field staff. ƒƒ build employee confidence in doing their job correctly and efficiently. ƒƒ give all employees a greater chance of success on the new CorVu/Balanced Score Card initiative. ƒƒ help with reporting accuracy for audits, grants, development team decisions, etc.

Julia Allison Youth Residential Services Medication Trainings Preamble: Medication has been a very important aspect of many treatment plans. At this time, there is no person-to-person medication training. There is an online manual to read, and then people are to watch a coworker or manager do the medication process and learn from them.

Delegate James Nolan of Butte defends his bill on the last day of Corporate Congress 2013.

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The medication test has some questions that are outdated or the wording does not make sense for different positions inAWARE. In addition, staff are to research side effects or complications on their own if there is a lack of communication about the medication. Section 1: I propose that face-to-face trainings should be made available according to specific needs of the residential services. It should be mandatory for medications to be discussed during staff meetings. I also propose that it should be mandatory for a monthly medication review that must be signed by staff to take place during the staff meeting. Section 2: I propose that the AWARE medication training manual and test be updated and be specific for each location. Molly Gardiner Helena Community Health and Safety Committee Preamble: When CARF came through earlier this year, one of their recommendations was to ensure the presence of a Health and Safety Committee in each community. In order to best make use of these Committees, I propose AWARE: ƒƒ Identify the communities in which Health and Safety Committees exist. ƒƒ Identify where the Health and Safety Committee should exist from this list and work towards implementing one in that community. ƒƒ Identify ways that clients may be able to get involved in the Health and Safety Committee. ƒƒ Further develop AWARE University Health and Safety materials that would include items such as:

• Guidelines for tracking/identifying appropriate members • Guidelines for when to meet and hold drills (monthly, quarterly, etc.) • Proper/uniform supply of forms for tracking meetings, drills, monthly framings, fliers • Assistance in developing a FAQ page specific to each community regarding health and safety • Collaboration between community Health and Safety Committees that will allow for sharing new/helpful fliers, presentation points, and other assistance.

Molly Gardiner Helena Community

Aimee Roberson Anaconda Adult DD Work Services

Concerns to Address Relating to EHR/EMR System

Increase the Number of Job Coaches for Work Services

Preamble: AWARE employees are anxiously awaiting the implementation of our new EHR system. Though most staff know this change will occur sometime around October 2014 and will greatly change the way we track and maintain client records, there are many questions surrounding how this will affect our day-to-day work. A communication plan is being developed that will help staff understand the changes. I propose, the communicaiton plan should: 1) Identify a point person or persons for recommendations from staff and to field questions and concerns. 2) Identify the most effective methods for reaching staff and utilize as many of these as possible when providing updates. This potentially includes filtering the information so it only goes to the staff affected by the information. 3) Develop a detailed communication plan that allows staff to explain to clients how this may affect/change their services Amanda Davis Billings District Representative Consumer Job Fair After reviewing surveys and discussing services with co-workers in the Billings area, it’s been observed that consumers are not well informed of what is offered in the community regarding consumer employment opportunities. I recommend that AWARE Inc. investigate and potentially organize a job fair for the people we serve. This could be coordinated with potential employers. This would allow the people we serve to display and advertise what they do within different areas of the company, for example, Bloom, Growth thru Art, Cold Mountain Pottery, recycling and personal business. Further, any individuals or companies who regularly hire people with disabilities could post their job openings. Also allowing for AWARE and other companies to notify the public of openings available to new customers.

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AWARE Work Services has several employment and employment training opportunities available to our clients. These opportunities require multiple and varying skills. Providing clients with a higher ratio of job coaches to clients would vastly improve the possibility of their success and their potential for employment outside of the sheltered workshop scenario. Section 1. I propose that AWARE provide more job coaches for clients in Work Services to maximize the opportunity for clients to take advantage of more on-thejob training. Section 2: I propose that each job coach has no more than four clients that they are responsible for and that the job coach works with each client until they are self sufficient in meaningful employment. Section 3: I purpose that a program be set up that will train selected clients to be job coaches. Katelyn Crummett Butte/Dillon Representative Transitional Living Home Proposal Although AWARE strives to recognize strengths of the families in its services and encourages youth to build relationships with their own families and natural supports, many teens and young adults in our services are unable to form healthy bonds with their families. Many of these youth leave their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Teens in this situation are unable to manage their emotional, social and academic needs because they are focused on where they are going to sleep that night or when they are going to get their next meal. Transitional Living Homes are designed to work with kids ages 16-22 who are deemed homeless, runaway, system or throwaway youth. These homes provide a stable environment for teens where they can live while they finish school. TLHs also teach young adults coping skills for their emotional needs and soft skills to prepare them for adult life. Continued on next page


Section 1: I propose that AWARE conduct a survey of the number of teens in its services who do not consistently reside in their homes due to family conflict. Section 2: Should the survey reveal there is a significant number of homeless, runaway, system or throwaway youth, I propose that AWARE research and apply for a government grant to open a transitional living home in Butte. Tabitha Williams Eastern Montana Linking Transitions Preamble: It has been found in research that the quality of transitions for a child can be correlated to the child’s success in school and or services. AWARE is involved in many transitions across a variety of services and demographics that could influence success and independence. As we strive for the highest quality of care, it is essential we as an organization continue to increase our processes and procedures around transitions within our own agency. This can be done through using an assessment tool that identifies protective factors and areas of concern much like the DECAtC or the DES A created by the Devereux Institute. We propose that leadership consider using the Devereux, or researching other evidence-based tools or assessments, which will allow AWARE service providers to measure protective factors and treatment needs that are collective throughout all appropriate youth services within our agency. This tool should be valid and useful, as the child grows and moves throughout services, making the needs of the child clear and consistent for the new treatment team. If each service could operate under a single measurement tool, it would allow for transitioning treatment to be more effective and supportive of previous intervention. With this tool, and other efforts from each service branch within our agency, transitions can happen smoothly and efficiently, which is what each individual receiving services needs to be as successful as possible. Amanda Voytoski Great Falls District Social Skills Integration Program Preamble: It has been brought to my attention by numerous staff both in the

support cervices and case management that the youth we serve are needing assistance with self-regulation skills (receiving redirection, responding to visual prompts, ability to discipline themselves to persevere, etc.), focusing skills, peer relationship skills, and confidence to go forth in school and feel set up for success. Many youth that we work with are not getting the support they need from their local schools and are struggling to maintain their grades. These youth seem to not have the selfregulation skills to focus on their studies and see that they are an important part of their future. Section 1: YCM kids are not meeting criteria through the Home Support Services program but continue to still need assistance in building self-regulation skills and peer relationships. We propose that youth case management and home support services staff collaborate to provide this service one time a week, or as needed. We propose that HSS staff can provide the materials needed to implement this program, like the summer program curriculum. Section 2: We propose that a committee be assembled to create a curriculum that can be used throughout the state to meet the needs of the people we serve. We propose that our agency pick a community to pilot this program and create a program the rest of the state can adopt. Jessica Cole Missoula Community Cell Phones in All AWARE Vehicles Preamble: I recommend that each AWARE vehicle be equipped with a cell phone for used by AWARE staff in case of emergencies. Emergencies should be defined as: An escalation in which client and/or staff safety is at risk; a car accident; an accident in which a client or staff is injured. Cell phone use will continue to be regulated by AWARE policy as well as local and state laws (such as no use during driving). The AWARE cell phone is not to be used for personal calls. Section I: The cell phone should be preprogrammed with essential numbers needed by staff in their area: service administrators, service directors, behavior and support coordinators. The phone should also be programmed with emergency numbers

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James Nolan Butte AWARE Special Olympics games Preamble: I saw commercials for Special Olympics games on TV. I used to be in Special Olympics when I was a kid. I talked to other guys at my group home and one of them was in Special Olympics too. We talked about doing Special Olympics again, but we think it would be fun if AWARE had its own games. It would be good for us, and we could meet other people from AWARE. Section 1. I would like to have AWARE look into having its own Special Olympics games in each community that offers AWARE services. Section 2: I would like to see people get medals if they win a game. Section 3: If AWARE can have the games, I would like to see it done each year. I propose it be piloted in Butte and eventually statewide. Molly Basta Bozeman Representative Respite Preamble: When discussing the needs of the Bozeman community with fellow employees it came to my attention that our families statewide are lacking a resource for families that are in a crisis situation where they need a few hours or a day apart from each other. Youth Dynamics previously provided a shelter where teens could go for short term stays, however, this shelter was recently closed. AWARE provided respite in the past through Medicaid; however, due to changes in Medicaid rule, AWARE was no longer able to provide respite. Respite continues to be a service that is needed by the families we serve. Often, a few hours of respite for a caregiver or for a client could be the difference between staying in the home and the family seeking out-of-home placement Through my research and communication with supervisors and Dr. Lantz, I was unable to find a solution that would allow AWARE to provide respite under the new Medicaid rule. Section 1: I am proposing that AWARE’s leadership team look back at the new Medicaid rules on respite and determine a solution so that AWARE can provide respite services for families. w Section 2: We are proposing that


AWARE will continue to research and obtain funding for a home to provide respite for those families, as other organizations have done. Ashley Paris Billings Representative Money Skills Preamble: I have worked in the community for five months at JC Penney. I think I could be better at the job if I had more skills with money. Section 1: I propose AWARE provides classes on money management and how Medicaid works. Section 2: I propose that AWARE survey clients to determine what classes are offered. Maria Hansen and Paul Montey Early Head Start Improving Internet Access Preamble: With the hectic pace of society, families are often at a loss as to when events for their children are taking place. Families with limited incomes often learn of events too late for them to adequately prepare financially. A Facebook page devoted to all upcoming statewide activities would enable families the ability to plan months in advance for activities for their children. Section 1: In order to increase awareness of all AWARE programs, we propose to establish and maintain a fan page on a social media site, e.g. Facebook. The AWARE Facebook site would promote the vision and principles of all AWARE services. Furthermore, the site would provide current information about child development resources, program activities and events, support groups and other information relevant to families. Current contact information about enrollment would be included. Security settings would be set to require the Facebook Page manager to approve postings Section 2: For the general public, we propose updating a link on the AWARE website. This would include the information on how to access our Facebook page. There would be expanded information about all programs, the accreditation standards, and our accomplishments in earning recognition for excellence in all AWARE services

Bob Kimbell Targeted Case Management UCC Award Nominations Act Preamble: The time frame for the solicitation, formulation, submission and selection of UCC award nominations is currently very short. My constituents have expressed the difficulty they have in citing a specific instance exemplifying a nominee’s worthiness when they feel their nominee demonstrates their worthiness on a day-in, day-out basis in many different ways. They have also expressed frustration in composing a nomination eloquent enough to form the basis of a banquet presentation, thereby giving their nominee the best chance of winning an award. Section 1: I recommend that UCC award nominations be solicited and submitted on a year-round basis and that the final deadline be made earlier in the year to allow the selection committee more time to consider the nominations, select winners and compose award presentation narratives. Section 2: I recommend that the solicitation of nominations be expanded to include the individuals we serve and their families so that their voices are heard and counted in the award selection process. Section 3: I propose that this issue and the selection process be addressed by the interim committee and recommendations will be made by them. Haley Rowland Support Services HSS Initial Strength-Based Service Plan Preamble: AWARE’s Strength Based Service Plans (SBSP) are the start of both the client’s and family’s success. They are a way of tracking progress, determining strengths, outcomes and discharge plans. As well as very important individualized crisis plan, for when plans don’t go as planned. Through discussions with team members, including CFSs, lead clinicians, and service administrators, it has come to our attention that often it is challenge to get a quality plan completed by the rule requirements of five contacts or 21 days, and it often leads to goals that bear little resemblance to the family’s needs or the outcomes they desire. Having the adequate time to engage the families using Mary Grealish’s functional assessment and

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lesson plans have become vital in Home Support Services. It means we get better engagement from families and produce strength-based service plans that reflect the outcomes they desire. Section 1: I propose that AWARE implement a strength-based service plan goal that will allow engagement and assessment in the first 30 days in HSS. This extra time would allow the CFS to complete the child’s functional assessment, along with all relevant team members’ functional assessments. The assessment will help determine the services, strategies or persons that need to be involved to help bring about those changes. In this strengthbased service plan, the CFS would complete all identifying information, including team members, crisis plan and discharge plan, per ARM and AWARE policies. Section 2: Proposed language for engagement goal: The person served will complete a functional assessment with CFS in order to identifying specific outcomes and goals that need to met to improv their lives. The client and family will work with the CFS to determine their strengths, values, preferences and cultural beliefs one to two times out of seven times per week, over the next 30 days. Lindsey Graham Youth Case Management A Collaborative Effort Preamble: After reviewing surveys and discussing youth case management services with co-workers, it’s been most noticeable that the transition between services greatly affects our customers and community. It is suggested that as a company we create collaboration between different services. This would eliminate the confusion and our customers having to tell their story over and over to new people. Section 1: We propose that each service provide their own policy on transitions to enhance the quality of transitions for each consumer. Sharon Dallolio ACM mental health services representative. Proposal for Acute Crisis Stabilization Facility Preamble: In speaking with some ACMs, it appears that more than one case-manager has had times where there has been a crisis situation in a client’s life Continued on next page


that merits at least a short stay somewhere safe to remove them from the crisis until a resolution can be found. These clients are clients who do not qualify for a CRT evaluation, a commitment to Montana State Hospital, and/or crisis stabilization at Hays Morris, but, are in a situation that their crisis has the potential to escalate to a level that could result in harm to themselves or someone else; these are clients who would have nowhere else to go as family or friends are not an option. There would need to be staff on duty to assist clients with de-escalation. Length of stay would be determined by the situation, but, would be designed for short-term use. Section 1: I propose that AWARE appoint a committee to research the feasibility and cost of having a crisis home to provide short-term crisis stabilization for clients requiring that kind of service. This committee will research comparable facilities (e.g., Hope House in Bozeman). Section 2: If AWARE determines the need for such a home exists, the committee will explore appropriate locations for the homes, as well as operating needs, and that plans be made for using this resource. Trista Burke Successful Starts Early Assessment Preamble: Successful Starts has been working diligently to provide the highest quality of care to our early childhood demographic. Early childhood social emotional and mental health looks very different than in children of school age or adolescents; however, our comprehensive clinical assessment is formatted the same for adults, preschoolers, and those in between. Assessments and screenings are used in early childhood to help provide qualifiers for mental health services, school readiness, transition planning, and individual education planning, which is why it is imperative that the assessment and other tools being used are targeting skills needed for early childhood school readiness, increased protective factors and a direction for treatment needs. Our team proposes that AWARE and the Successful Starts team re-evaluate the use of a medical model assessment for our early childhood programs and possibly implement a more targeted and specific approach related to early intervention and the assessment process. This new approach

Assessments and screenings are used in early childhood to help provide qualifiers for mental health services, school readiness, transition planning and individual education planning, which is why it is imperative that the assessment and other tools being used are targeting needed skills for early childhood school readiness, increased protective factors and a direction for treatment needs. will take the place of the comprehensive clinical assessment template/requirement but continue to meet Administrative Rules of Montana. This new model should provide assessment tools that are researched and evidenced base and provide a link between early social emotional development and mental health much like the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment Clinical kitthat Successful Starts is using while also including some necessary componentsfrom the traditional assessment. May it then be an act of leadership and Successful Starts to develop a new early childhood clinical assessment that will enhance the quality, efficiency and measurability of care for the children in our early intervention programs. Keriann Orrino Anaconda Adult DD Work Customer Job Skills Training Preamble: The AWARE Work Services/Day Center serves a large number of clients who have the potential to seek employment within their local communities. Providing clients with the opportunity to take job skills training through AWARE would increase understanding of personal

12

development and employability. These skills would allow our customers to understand a balance between work and life, job searching and interviewing and maintaining job security. Section 1: I propose that AWARE provide materials and programs to develop personal skills and life skills through computer programs that would allow customers to create résumés and explore career possibilities. Section 2: I propose that AWARE job coaches evaluate the customer’s eligibility to complete this training based on the customer’s abilities (per rubric analysis assessment) with assistance if required in order to determine what job skills or personal skills may be beneficial to the customer’s goals. Section 3: I propose AWARE provide an incentive for customers after they have completed these trainings. Incentives may include customer training completion certificates, a graduation lunch or a graduation party. Section 4: I propose that AWARE’s leadership focus on this training goal to better assist our customers with moving forward to better life goals and independence. Karen Dyai Adult DD Residential Wheelchair Racks Preamble: Safety of customers is the highest priority for AWARE. It is something that is ongoing for our customers as needs are always changing due to illness and age. Transporting customers is done by car, van and bus. Safety checks are done on vehicles before each trip, and customers are carefully buckled in. Customers in non-transport wheelchairs are buckled in their wheelchair, which is then held securely in place to the floor of the vehicle. In case of emergency, braking or an accident, an otherwise harmless object can become a missile-like projectile and cause injury or even death. Nothing consistent is in place for the storage of transport wheelchairs when not in use in vehicles. They are held in place by makeshift measures or not held in place at all. I propose that safety racks be installed in all AWARE customer transport vehicles. I propose that the racks be installed first in the AWARE buses, since many of our customers are transported to and from the buses in transport wheelchairs, and it is a danger for all who ride them.


AWARE U offers continuing education opportunities By Chad Bushman AWARE Training Coordinator

E

very year, clinicians diligently participate in supplemental training to earn the state-mandated continuing education units required to maintain their professional license. Beginning this year, AWARE offers employee’s the option to earn up to 48.5 hours in continuing education credit. Spurred by AWARE’s commitment to employee professional development, a collaborative effort from subject Chad Bushman matter experts resulted in a compilation of a variety of classroom and online additional training opportunities. These programs can be accessed via AWARE University and have been approved by the State of Montana for continuing education credit. Online courses In the past, AWARE’s continuing education was limited to classroom instruction, such as AWARE Behavior Competencies and Professional Caregiver or by attending monthly sessions discussing a topic of clinical interest, commonly referred to as Brown Bags, utilizing the video teleconferencing system. This year, AWARE has added multiple online options. A breakdown of the online courses and available credit include: Bed Bugs

– 2.0 hours; How to Properly Write an Incident Report – 2.0 hours; Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) – 2.0 hours; Time Management – 2.0 hours and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – 6.0 hours. This allows AWARE employees the option of earning up to 14.0 hours of continuing education credit solely from online opportunities. A benefit of the online offerings is the availability. They can be accessed at all times to accommodate an employee’s varied schedule. To earn continuing education credit from any of the online courses, an employee must successfully pass the test at the end of the unit. Brown bag option Another change includes the availability of AWARE’s monthly assembly focused on a topic of clinical interest, as determined by the medical services director. Generally referred to as Brown Bags, employees can still earn continuing education credit by attending the monthly meetings using the video teleconferencing system However, in an effort to archive the sessions, as well as provide flexibility to earn credit, the clinical training topic will also be available and recorded using GoToMeeting. The benefit of this change is two-fold. First, clinician attendance is no longer limited to the video teleconferencing system. Incorporating GoToMeeting allows for wider audience participation, such as those in the Comprehensive School and Community Treatment (CSCT) program. Now, they will be able to observe, participate and exchange information in this expanded 13

format. The second benefit is the ability to record and archive the clinical training sessions. This, in turn, allows clinicians the opportunity to earn continuing education units by viewing the archived series. To earn credit, an employee must simply watch the archived clinical training topic. Their name and the date it was viewed will be automatically recorded. This information will be used to determine whether or not to award continuing education units. Each Brown Bag is approved for 1.5 hours of continuing education credit, which equates to 18.0 hours available this year. In addition to monthly clinical training and online options, employees can also earn continuing education units by attending an AWARE Behavior Competencies or Professional Caregiver course. Clinicians can earn 11.0 and 5.5 hours respectively, for a total of 16.5 hours of available classroom credit. Meeting CU requirements By taking advantage of online, clinical training and classroom opportunities, AWARE clinicians are able to earn up to 48.5 hours to meet the state-mandated annual continuing education requirements. Clinicians can also access their continuing education documentation through AWARE University. Questions should be directed to Human Resources or the Training Department. “It's up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.” – Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience


Unconditional Care Award winners, kneeling (left to right): Jamie Knott and Ashley Paris. Standing: John Drynan, Scott Carter, Teslyn Anderson, Donna Kelly, AWARE CEO Larry Noonan, Siera Romero, Brianna Zipperian, Chief Financial Officer Geri Wyant and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Folsom. Photo by Jim Tracy

Unconditional Care

AWARE honors 2013 UCC Award winners Here are the 2013 AWARE Unconditional Care Award winners. They were honored at AWARE’s annual banquet in December. The text under their names was the announcement of the award made by Chief Financial Officer Geri Wyant at the 2013 AWARE banquet. Siera Romero We Are Agents of Change This person has been an AWARE team member for almost four years and continues to take her roles and responsibilities seriously each and every day. She radiates positivity and enthusiasm during every shift and takes adverse circumstances in stride while maintaining focus on the big picture. She is outstanding in her dedication to the people she works with and in guiding each of them to a better life. She has always been of the most reliable staff

and volunteers for additional shifts when asked. There is no question that the lives she has touched have changed for the better, and as such, I am honored to recognize Siera Romero as the We Are Agents of Change Employee of the Year. Ashley Paris Celebrating Success

This young woman has wrapped her arms around all the unpleasant little things you’ve got to do to carve a life of your own. But as she knows very well, those little things add up. We are endlessly impressed by this person’s gift of attention to all those little details, and her hard work has shown. After years of living in group homes, she recently applied for and secured her own apartment. She has had great success working in the customer service department of her local JC 14

Penney. It is unquestionable that this young woman is a bold example to all individuals AWARE serves; she continues to show that the stuff we are always talking about is absolutely real. Regardless of such rampant success, this person will be the first to explain the challenges that lie ahead and even that she might screw up sometimes. But what she knows more than anything is that the true importance is she keeps trying. It is a true honor to recognize Ashley Paris with the Celebrating Success Award. Right on, Ashley. Lianna Waller Our Connection with Communities Is Vital This woman’s expertise quickly established her as a firm team player and a strong advocate for individual’s rights. She may be soft


spoken around the office, but there is no challenge too great for her to tackle when it comes to bringing benefit to the people she works with. Her passion for advocacy is unbounded, constantly reaching out to find services that perfectly match the needs of the people she serves. Whether it is a peer group or a day program, this staff member will find a way to meet her client’s needs and extends out to any and all resources available to make that happen. I am honored to recognize Lianna Waller as the Our Connection with Communities Is Vital Employee of The Year. Danielle Eldridge Employee of the Year This employee has always been committed to finding strengths in any situation — whether that be with a staff person, system, family or youth. She is able to maintain a calm and attentive outlook even in times where she may be the recipient of biting, kicking or spitting. It seems to help her stay clear in the belief that everyone has strengths and that it is our job to help people realize those that exist within themselves. She is continuously looking for ways to make the services we provide the best around; but she also makes time for fun. She’s quick to bring

a laugh to weekly staff meetings and always reaches out to welcome new staff warmly. This individual’s compassion is clear in her interactions with clients, colleagues and in her every day attitude to make the world a better place, one kid at a time. I am honored to bring forward the 2013 Employee of the Year, Danielle Eldridge. Andrew Largess Everything Is Normal Until Proven Otherwise This employee has displayed incredible dedication to the UCC Principle, “Everything Is Normal Until Proven Otherwise.” While working one-on-one with a certain

resident, he helped him complete daily tasks and other treatment plan goals in order to become so successful that the resident was able to graduate from this particular service and join others his same age. During this time, this employee established an excellent rapport with this client and helped him discover his personal values that make him unique. In the end, this employee helped this client become more independent, gain respect, become accepted and experience some normalization in his life. Andrew Largess is an AWARE employee who embraces the principle that Everything Is Normal Until Proven Otherwise.   Brianna Zipperian Families Are Our Most Important Resource Trustworthy. Flexible. Competent. A leader. These are all words used to describe this woman. These are all clearly important assets in offering quality care to clients and building quality relationships with families. She sets a phenomenal example in building working relationships with the families we serve and using those relationships to help bring about the change the family is seeking. Many

AWARE CEO Larry Noonan and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Folsom flank Ashley Paris of Billings, who won the Celebrating Success Award at the annual banquet in December at Fairmont Hot Springs. Photo by Jim Tracy

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Continued on next page


of her colleagues hesitantly admit to eavesdropping on this persons conversations with clients and doing their best to emulate their own contacts with clients. She has continued to set a great example of how to honor the families we work with at AWARE and thrives in finding the strengths in her clients. I am honored to recognize Brianna Zipperian as the Families Are Our Most Important Resource Employee of the Year. Teslyn Anderson I’m OK, You’re OK This woman brings professionalism to the families she works with and has been able to use this as well as her many other skills in having success with some of AWARE’s most challenging cases. Regardless of facing hardship this staff member refuses to back down and consistently encourages her clients that everything will be okay… just keep working. The support she provides has brought individuals back from the breaking point and has kept families together when conflict seems to be headed toward the point of no return. She has meaningful and insightful interactions every day and always forwards her level head to the individuals she works with. It is my honor to recognize Teslyn Anderson as the I’m OK, You’re OK Employee of the Year.   Jamie Knott It Takes A Team For nearly 10 years, this person has worked for AWARE serving various clients in different capacities. During this time, this employee has continually inspired staff, the children from the Head Start

Program and their families to challenge themselves in all things and ultimately become more successful in life. This person embraces and practices the UCC Principle, “It Takes a Team” by collaborating with clients, team members and various community agencies. As this employee encourages teamwork and advocates for clients, they learn new skills, they become more confident and are able to celebrate their successes. In one case, this employee collaborated with another agency in ensuring that a child was able to stay in school longer each day and eventually become a model student in that setting. Jamie Knott is an AWARE employee who excels at promoting and practicing, “It Takes A Team.”   Scott Carter Lighten Up And Laugh This person embodies more than one UCC Principle! But it is his contagious laughter and positive spirit by which he has always stood out. It is not a rare occasion to find this person pointing to the UCC Principles listed on the wall when a fellow staff member needs to step back, lighten up and laugh. Sometimes it takes him only minutes to turn a troubled client to smiling, if not laughing, in the face of a bad day. His personality and warmth helps the individuals we serve grow, laugh and find the most joy possible in the hands they are dealt. I am honored to recognize Scott Carter as the Lighten Up And Laugh Employee of the Year.   John Drynan Building On Strengths Is Key To Success In his two and a half years on the AWARE team, this person has 16

become the staff that managers, directors and coworkers consistently go to for help with struggling clients. He is incredibly effective in his response to crisis situations and is even sometimes asked to switch group homes in the middle of a shift if his expertise is needed elsewhere in the community. He arrives calm and with a smile on his face and helps bring challenging situations to learning opportunities. Residents in our group home often say they feel better when he is around, that he brings out the best in them and that they all around just like this guy. He makes the people we serve feel safe, cared about and strong. I am honored to recognize John Drynan as the Building on Strengths Is Key to Success Employee of the Year.   Trudy Gallery We Take On And Stick With The Hardest Challenges Over the past 10 years, this person has excelled as a treatment service technician at the youth mental health group homes. This employee thrives at working with residents who present extremely difficult behaviors as she patiently guides them through their treatment plan goals and objectives. She exhibits a common sense approach and has the ability to make kids laugh and feel important. Over the years, she has developed the trust and respect of the residents, their families and numerous people throughout the community. Her dedication to taking and sticking with the hardest challenges has also inspired other staff members to excel. In addition, she has done this while completing extra duties that are required in the day-to-day operations of the home. Trudy Gallery is an amazing


AWARE employee who embraces the principle, We Take On And Stick with The Hardest Challenges. Donna Kelly We Strive For The Highest Quality Of Care During the time this person has worked for AWARE, she has con-

EHR

Continued from Page 1 developed worker roles and created workgroups. Electronic health records will be implemented over the next 10 months. The system is expected to “go live” in the fall of 2014. The EHR system is expected to improve efficiency, quality of care and cut costs. But AWARE CEO Larry Noonan sees a bigger purpose for the move. “We are adopting electronic health records for all those reasons — to improve quality of care and to memorialize all the work we do — but it really causes us to reach a whole new standard that the highest quality services, hospitals and providers in the country have reached,” Noonan said. “The thing we are most excited about is that this helps us hit a level of quality and service that does not exist in Montana in the human service industry at our level.” After meeting with consultants from Afia and Netsmart in February, AWARE staff have a clearer picture of how the transition will occur and how it will look when it’s finally complete. “Netsmart’s plan was to set up the basic foundation of the system in preparation for the other implementation pieces that are coming in the future,” said Anne Carpenter, one of four consultants who spent three days with staff hunkered down in front of a projector screen in Anaconda building

tinually embodied the principle of, “We Strive for The Highest Quality of Care.” It is common for this staff member to spend time with consumers talking them through difficult times, offering encouragement and advice and ensuring them that AWARE will never give up on them. Many times this person will

work late into the evening or on weekends helping her clients. It is quite apparent that this staff member is persistent, determined, committed and has sticktoitiveness when it comes to striving for the highest quality of care. Donna Kelly has done an amazing job as one who always, “Strives for the Highest Quality of Care.”

the structure for AWARE’s electronic health system. “Basically we wanted to make sure that the system is set up to document all your programs, facilities and billable service events, along with other events such as paperwork that needs to be tracked,” Carpenter said. “Although we didn’t completely finish within the three days onsite, we were able to obtain the needed information and completed the database configuration the following week.” AWARE is using Netsmart’s myEvolv, a web-based “meaningful use certified” EHR system that will integrate and manage client data from intake to discharge. The program was chosen for its ability to support AWARE’s needs and processes. System implementation and adoption should provide AWARE with many opportunities to improve its internal processes. Carpenter is confident the new system will “go live” in the fall, given the commitment of staff at AWARE who are working on the transition. “The AWARE team was truly wonderful to work with,” she said. “They were all very knowledgeable in their areas of expertise, and people were very enthusiastic about the implementation! That was great to see and will make the implementation go much more smoothly.” Carpenter, who is familiar with the kinds of services AWARE offers, believes the transition makes sense on a many levels.

“Having been a supervisor in a human service agency in my previous career, I think one of the biggest values an EHR can provide is oversight capability,” she said. “It gives an agency the ability to see — with the touch of a few buttons — what has been done, what is overdue and what is coming up as needing to be done. It helps an agency meet their contractual obligations and be able to document their good quality of work.” Carpenter, who has worked with numerous agencies, noted that the key to making the transition to an EHR is the dedication of management and staff. “One of the biggest challenges is for the agency to get ‘buy in from the leadership teams within the agency,” she said. “An EHR is only as good as the data entered into it, so in order to be successful, it’s important that the agency leadership teams are supportive of the project. “From what I saw during my visit to Anaconda and working with AWARE’s project team, I think AWARE definitely has the needed buy in from leadership which will definitely help with the success of the project.” “There are many implementation pieces and each piece has its own training and consultation phases,” she added. “It can seem like a daunting task, but taking each piece as it comes, along with completing the client tasks assigned after each one helps to break the implementation down into manageable pieces.”

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NEWS BRIEFS

Compiled by Jacquie Peterson

Author, actor, student interns with Vatican

first big vacation where we don’t have a doctor’s appointment,” Jenny Montgomery told KAJ18. The Montana Hope Project grants wishes to chronically ill children. It is sponsored by the Association of Montana Troopers and has granted 365 wishes. KAJ18 says Heath and his family will leave Saturday with their tickets, a new camera and $1,000 spending money. Find more at KAJ18.com.

CAITLYN SCHMID [USAcatholic.org]

Michael Gannon, a third-year university student from Dublin, Ireland, was hired to take part in a twoweek internship for the Vatican Radio. During his internship, Gannon did technical work for the audio production and researched and wrote stories for English language section, according to a Jan. 23 article by Caitlyn Schmid of USAcatholic.org. Gannon has a background in acting and media studies, and he’s published his own autobiography, Straight Up-No Sugar. What you may not know, however, is that Gannon is a person with Down syndrome. He says that his condition has not stopped him from pursuing his goals. The Vatican Radio English language chief, Sean Patrick Lovett, who hired Gannon, told LifeSiteNews that “his presence and his contribution provided an extraordinarily positive experience, which left us all enriched.” Gannon’s internship and his work as an ambassador for Down Syndrome Ireland is a reminder of the positive impact people with Down syndrome make in the world. “I focus on me and not on my disability,” Gannon told LifeStyleNews. Read more about Gannon and his story at usacatholic.org or at lifesitenews.com.

Woman with Down syndrome retires after fulfilling career SCOTT HEWITT [The Columbian]

Within days of Shelli Fanning’s birth, she was labeled “nothing but a vegetable,” recalls her mom, Kate Fanning, in an interview by Scott Hewitt of The Columbian. The diagnosis was Down syndrome, and she was advised to put Shelli in an institution. Already the gutsy mother of four, she couldn’t have cared less. “I said you’re crazy,” she remembered. “I told them what they could do with that piece of paper.” Forty-six years later, Shelli Fanning has hung up her apron and rubber gloves after a 23-year housekeeping career at the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay. According to The Columbian, Jan. 3 was her last day. She made her usual rounds — emptying the trash, sorting the laundry, cleaning the carpets, dusting the furniture — in her usual, wonderful way. That means big grins and laughs, and hugs for all her colleagues. Read the complete story about Shelli at Columbian. com.

Montana Hope Project grants wish for boy

Law proposes to finance GPS for children with autism

[KAJ18.com]

It’s a week of ‘smooth sailing’ for a Missoula boy with a little help from the Montana Hope Project, according to KAJ18.com. The website says that Heath Montgomery, 4, has a form of cerebral palsy, and the Montana Highway Patrol troopers made a dream come true for him — sending Heath and his parents on an all-expense paid Disney cruise. Heath’s mother says it’s a welcome opportunity for a little bit of fun because they get to have a week with no appointments and nothing to worry about. “We usually combine our vacations with trips to see specialists around the country. This is going to be our

[TimesFreePress.com]

Timesfreepress.com reports that the federal government would pay for GPS tracking devices for autistic children under legislation proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer and named for a New York City boy who wandered away from his school and was found dead in a city river. “Avonte’s Law,” named for 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo, would provide $10 million to pay for the high-tech device that could be worn on the wrist, kept in a wallet or sewn into clothing, according the Jan. 26 article. 18


Avonte walked away from his Queens school in October 2013, and his body was found in the East River early January. “We can’t change the past, but we can take necessary steps to ensure we learn from this and put in place programs that will ensure that no parent and no child has to go through a similar nightmare in the future,” Schumer said at a news conference in his Manhattan office, joined by Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, and grandmother Doris McCoy. Groups that advocate for families have made it a priority to increase awareness of wandering. A study found that half the parents with autistic children never received advice or guidance from a professional on how to cope with wandering. Find out more at timesfreepress.com.

reers. The program’s secret weapon: man’s best friend. The class teaches students what they need to know to land and hold down jobs, most of them working with dogs. “These students, they don’t have a whole lot of job opportunities available to them, or a lot of training, or people who even understand how to work with them,” said Carolyn Honish, who teaches the Student + Canines equals Opportunities for Rewarding Employment class. Read the complete story at statesman.com.

Temple Grandin attends Havre conference BRIANA WIPF [Great Falls Tribune]

Temple Grandin, renowned researcher, author and professor visited Havre, Mont. She spoke at the Montana State University-Hill County Extension’s Cabin Fever conference about her studies on humane livestock handling and autism advocacy, according to Jan. 7 Great Falls Tribune article. Grandin, who was diagnosed with autism at age 3, has written extensively about her animal research and neurological disorder in terms of diagnoses and awareness. Conference organizers, Nicole Gray and Lea Ann Larson of Hill County Extension, said Grandin’s expertise in autism and livestock handling lent itself well to their audience. “I really focus on building strengths,” Grandin said in an interview with the Tribune. “Kids get a lot of labels — dyslexic, ADHD, autism — and people get hung up on the label. Well, these labels are not precise diagnoses.” Forget the label for a minute and focus on what the child is good at. Foster that strength, Grandin said. For Grandin, that strength was art growing up. She has often spoken and written about the fact that she thinks in images and that picking up on visual details helped her design more humane facilities for cattle. Better handling for cattle means a safer environment for both people and livestock, Grandin insists. The Great Falls Tribune has more on this article written by Briana Wipf. Check in out at greatfallstribune.com.

Workers with disabilities left out of Obama wage plan MICHELLE DIAMENT [DisabilityScoop.com] Advocates are crying foul after learning that many individuals with disabilities will likely be left out of President Barack Obama’s plan to hike the minimum wage for federal contractors, Michelle Diament of disabilityscoop.com reports. Obama said in his State of the Union address, “in the coming weeks, I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour — because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.” But now advocates say they are being told that the plan excludes people with disabilities who currently earn less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour, according to the Jan. 31 article. Read the complete story at DisabilityScoop.com.

Adults ease into transition with dogs BENJAMIN WERMUND [Statesman]

When Kayla Gage has an anxiety attack at her job, she pets her German shepherd, Hacker, according to Jan. 8 article by Benjamin Wermend of The Statesman. In an interview Gage, 23, told Wermend, “if I just pet a dog, it pulls me out of it. Normally, it takes my mom saying my name 50 times to pull me out.” Gage, a person with autism who struggles with anxiety, is part of a new Austin Dog Alliance program aimed at preparing young adults with autism for ca19


AWARE health insurance roll-out back on track

A

nyone who has read the newspaper or watched television news over the last six months knows about the disruption in health insurance brought on by the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. Employees covered under AWARE’s health insurance plan have been spared the kinds of changes that other companies have faced. There have been no Affordable Care Act surprises for them — at least for now. “We were one of the lucky ones,” said AWARE Chief Financial Officer Geri Wyant. “Because our wellness plan already meets the requirements of the ACA, we were able to offer health insurance as we have been at least for another year.” That doesn’t mean AWARE’s health insurance plan for 2014, under a new administrator, hasn’t rolled out without a few glitches. AWARE employees are still covered under Blue Cross-Blue Shield. But the firm handling the company’s health insurance has changed. Mountain West Benefits/Leavitt Group, began working with AWARE in December. The company manages the health benefits of more than 60,000 Montanans and offers a benefit package that includes health savings accounts and dental and vision plans. “There were exciting changes to your benefits effective in January,” said Mary Kay Puckett, vice president of client services for Mountain West. “However this did not come without confusion and frustration throughout the process and for that we sincerely apologize and thank you for your patience.” She provided this summary of AWARE’s insurance plans : ƒƒ AWARE premiums remained stable at a time when most groups have seen rate increases of over 20 percent. ƒƒ Introduced in January was a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). This allows employees to contribute money into a Health Savings Account, along with a match from AWARE. If you chose this benefit option and contribute the minimum to receive the AWARE match your will have at least $540 in your account by the end of the year. These funds can be used to offset any copayments (including prescrip-

Coverage Questions? Direct questions about your health insurance plan to: Geri Wyant or HR Director Leighanne Fogerty at AWARE. Or to: Customer Service Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana 560 N. Park Avenue PO Box 4309 Helena, MT 59604-4309 1.406.437.5000, or 1.800.447.7828 TTY 1.406.444.4212 (Available through State of Montana Public Service Commission) www.bcbsmt.com Mountain West Benefits Mary Kay Puckett or Sue Garrison 3390 Colton Dr, Ste A Helena, MT 59602

877-343-1060 www.mountainwestbenefits.com

tions), deductibles, or other out-of-pocket cost. To view a list of allowed services go to http://www.irs. gov/publications/p502/. ƒƒ Added to both the Value Plan and the HDHP plan were a 100 percent paid dental exam and cleaning up to $150, along with a 100 percent paid vision exam through Vision Service Plan (VSP). The dental benefit is included in the medical plan so employees only have to present a BCBS ID card to the dentist. Those who chose to purchase voluntary dental for additional services through Delta Dental should have a Delta ID card by now. ƒƒ For the vision benefit, the VSP provider will ask for your Social Security number. “Make sure you let them know you have a group paid vision exam and if you purchased the voluntary vision plan (which pays for contacts and glasses) let your VSP provider know you have both,” Puckett said. ƒƒ The life insurance benefit has been enhanced. AWARE pays for base life of $25,000 for employees and $5,000 for dependents and spouse. An additional benefit of up to two times your salary capped at $150,000 was available for employees without proof of insurability. If you purchased at least $10,000 now you are guaranteed up to $150,000 in the fu20


ture. Through your life benefit you have access to the Employee Assistance Program with four free face-toface visits and 24/7 telephonic counseling – unlimited, worklife benefits, financial and legal services. These benefits are through unum. AWARE has been offering health insurance to employees since 1998. Wyant noted that it has been company policy to provide substantial wellness benefits at an affordable

cost to employees. For example, under the High Deductible Health Plan, a married employee with a family plan covering five people pays $225 per pay period. AWARE contributes an additional $525.47 per pay period for that employee. That adds up to an annual contribution of $5,400 by the employee and $12,611 by AWARE. “Our health insurance plans have always been generous,” Wyant said.

When planning for retirement, remember the 10-10-30 rule

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ere’s one more great reason to be a proud AWARE employee: the AWARE 401(k) plan. Check out the AWARE 401(k) and see what the AWARE match and deferred, compounded earnings can do for you, says Chief Financial Officer Geri Wyant. Here’s why: ƒƒ You may save painlessly through payroll deductions. ƒƒ You will get a 25 percent match on every dollar you put in up to 16 percent of your gross pay (e.g., you put in 16 percent, AWARE puts in 4 percent). ƒƒ You may save taxes on every dollar you contribute now and pay the taxes later, or Contribute the ROTH way, paying the taxes now (while your tax rate may be low) and have all of your retirement contributions PLUS earnings come out tax free at retirement! Whether you contribute the pre-tax way or the ROTH after-tax way or some of both, ALL of your money grows tax-deferred until retirement. (See the chart below.)

AWARE has some of the best investment choices available anywhere. It’s always a good time to save and invest. Over long periods of time the stock and bond markets have always “delivered” to investors. Remember the basic rule: “10-10-30.” It’s the “Sipping pina coladas in the Bahamas FOREVER” formula: ƒƒ Save (at least) 10 percent of your gross earnings (your contribution + the AWARE match) ƒƒ Earn 10 percent on your savings. ƒƒ Do this for 30 years and you will retire at full pay and never run out of money. If you can’t save 8 percent of your gross earnings right now (to get the AWARE 2 percent match and meet your 10-10-30), don’t worry, says Elizabeth Harris and Anton Brog, owners of Intermountain Financial Group Montana, the Bozeman-based firm that has managed AWARE’s retirement plan for the past 15 years. Harris’ and Brog’s advice to employees is to “save as much as you can and send a small part of each raise or bonus to your 401(k).” Try saving 3 percent, because for hourly employees, your check will vary so much from one pay period to the next that you’ll never know the money is missing. “Anything you save is better than not saving anything.” If you’ve been with AWARE for at least six months and want to begin saving and investing, call or e-mail Jennifer Pitman (Jennifer.pitman@lpl. com) for enrollment forms. If you have questions about saving and investing, call or e-mail Elizabeth or Anton. They may be reached at 1-800-888-4068 or Elizabeth.harris@lpl.com; Anton.brog@lpl.com. More than 130 employees currently take advantage of the AWARE 401(k) plan match and deferred, compounded earnings for their retirement. 21


KANA Radio: Jobs for people with disabilities By Blake Hempstead KANA Operations Manager

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hen the news was first released that AWARE Inc. was acquiring a radio station in August of 2012, many questions were cast from people close to the situation, not to mention the Anaconda community in general. What does radio have to do with offering guidance to those with special needs? How will it benefit those involved? Well, as Larry Noonan, CEO of AWARE, often stated, the returns were not going to be immediate, however the long range vision of the company would begin to take shape sooner rather than later. Popular local radio AWARE acquired KANA 580 AM in Anaconda through the generosity of Butte Broadcasting’s Ron and Sheila Davis. The Davises were operating the business at or near a loss for several years and had an idea to give the popular local radio station to a local non-profit in order to keep it going rather than trying to sell, or as Ron says, lose it all together. “We felt that Anaconda deserved a local community station — they deserved a voice, and when I originally approached the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) about getting involved with AWARE, they loved the idea,” he said. “AWARE became a natural fit for several reasons. One, because they are stewards for the rights of people with mental and physical

disabilities and two, they have been an integral part and major supporter of Anaconda for some time.” Since the transition, AWARE has made a concerted effort to return KANA to the community radio station it has always been known for. Reconnect with listeners General Manager Pat Noonan has been on board for the whole transition, overseeing the reconstruction of the office and studio space including the addition of a powerful new transmitter bringing the strongest and cleanest signal ever, cleaning up programming snafus and working hard at reconnecting with the public and business community. His vision has been simple: create a platform where the public enjoys the content, where local groups and clubs can spread their word via public service announcements and accentuate and extend their flagship programming — live coverage of Copperhead athletics — to levels never reached before. “We took over the radio station with a vision, and the only way we were going to accomplish those goals was going to take a substantial investment by AWARE,” he said. “And from the beginning, AWARE has been willing to do everything necessary to succeed.” Not coincidentally, it’s all been done by keeping AWARE’s core principles intact by offering people job opportunities never before made possible to those with mental and physical disabilities. “We wanted to create a self sustaining-business while at the same time expand non-traditional job opportunities to folks with develop22

mental disabilities,” Pat said. “Over the past year, we’ve made serious leaps and bounds in our production and content, while at the same time teaching several of our clients a job they would’ve never had the opportunity to work in before.” Three employees — Brandi Wilson, Craig Keller and David Caldwell — have excelled in various roles at the station, including clerical work, day-to-day operational duties, and, most important, being directly involved in on-air production of live events. As production technicians, all three make sure commercial breaks are clean in and out of time-outs while also being tasked to run preand post-game shows and sponsor breaks accordingly. Outstanding performance Pat agrees wholeheartedly the outstanding performance of the clients couldn’t have come at a better time for KANA, especially since the station launched kana580.com in September — which offers live original streaming broadcasts and general reporting on relevant community and sporting events. KANA is still planning several changes to enhance the listening experience, and Pat believes it’s important to the brand to continue spreading the word of how unique and special Anaconda is — from community and political activism, to news on our schools, both academically and athletically. The mission of KANA is only as strong as the feedback it receives. So if you have any ideas on how to make it better in any way, send an email to pnoonan@aware-inc.org or bhempstead@aware-inc.org.


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NONPROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PAID ANACONDA, MT PERMIT NO. 14

AWARE, Incorporated

205 East Park Avenue Anaconda, Montana 59711 1-800-432-6145 www.aware-inc.org

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Final session Their work nearly complete, delegates to AWARE’s 2013 Corporate Congress listen on the final morning of the session as the sponsor of a bill makes a case for adoption of a measure they passed earlier. Photo by Jim Tracy

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AWARE Ink January-March 2014  
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