Alaska Association on Developmental Disabilities

August 2022 Newsletter

From the President:

Beyond the Week of DSP Recognition

   Every September, the human services field devotes one week to express gratitude for the commitment and contributions of direct support professionals (DSPs). In 2022, National DSP Recognition Week takes place from September 11-17. The Alaska Association for Direct Support Professionals (AADSP) is challenging Alaska to look beyond the “week” and infuse recognition throughout the year (see request below). 

   The complexities of the job have been minimized and unseen for decades. COVID-19 amplified the fragility of a system that includes inadequate resources, dangerously low staffing ratios, and a revolving door of co-workers who are unprepared to support people with complex needs in their most intimate of personal, medical, and emotional supports.

   Alaska has the unique opportunity to use federal funding to permanently professionalize our valued work force through rate increases, nationally recognized training, and specific recruitment and retention incentives for DSPs. It is our collective responsibility to continue our advocacy efforts by reminding legislators that there is no ONE magic wand that can be waved to make these issues disappear.

   Joe MacBeth with NADSP stated in a September 2021 newsletter that “money alone will not fix the systemic issues confronting our direct support workforce. It will require a myriad of strategies that begin with a living wage for all workers and career ladder opportunities so those who commit to this as a long-term career can earn even higher wages as they objectively demonstrate advanced skills and ethics.”

   With complete gratitude I want to express my thanks daily, weekly, monthly, and annually! AADD will continue to partner with AADSP to ensure that the Shared Vision’s value of “professional staff” is a recognized reality in Alaska.

A Request from

DSP Leaders

   The Alaska Alliance of DSPs is asking AADD to consider and encourage a yearlong recognition of DSPs in your local communities.

   National DSP Recognition Week launches September 11. In order to professionalize the workforce, we (as shared vision advocates) need to elevate the DSP. Many people outside of the Shared Vision do not understand or know what DSPs do or why we do it. By recognizing DSPs monthly, we can begin to build the narrative around who, what and why a DSP? We can highlight stories year round and build a foundation of knowledge for the public.

   By promising to recognize DSPs monthly it will get you in the habit of thinking about how to recognize DSPs. Test, Measure, Evaluate, Repeat. Through a continuous conversation you will find and learn what your DSPs want and need. This promise is a tool for you to use to challenge your agency to live up to the Shared Vision. We cannot achieve the Shared Vision without strong and resilient DSPs.

   By treating people as professionals it shows you believe they are professional. If you consider yourself a professional, consider how you want people to treat you. Do you treat DSPs as you want to be treated?

   Positive reinforcement works! Create a positive feedback loop by recognizing excellent work right away and the excellent work will continue and spread. Cookies, cards and pizza parties while calling us “Heroes” does not befit our profession. Year-round recognition is about a continuous conversation rather than once a year “here’s your pizza, see you next year”.

   Recognize DSPs outside of our Shared Vision circle! Shout it from the mountain tops! Let people in the community with no connection to Shared Vision know who the person is and why what they did deserves recognition. Invite your city council to meet your amazing DSPs. Invite your local fire department, local clinic or hospital staff, that group of ladies who crochet at the library, a running or sports club, Lions, Elks, VFW, any group of community minded citizens.

   Want to really show recognition? Put DSPs in leadership teams/positions that have teeth and respect and are heard and listened to and responded to by saying “yes, we will,” or “no, we cannot and this is why.” Please remember the cycle of communication.

   It’s not all about the money, it’s about scheduling the time. We like pizza, don't get me wrong, what about also writing a letter to the editor or asking a local reporter to come and interview the DSP to help them tell their story? Do this and you will learn more about your DSPs as a bonus.

   It’s also about the money. Let’s be real. Recognizing DSPs is also about recognizing where we fall short. It’s a lack of wages, autonomy and recognition. This is also a part of the story.

   We need your support in order to keep the Shared Vision momentum going. To professionalize the workforce also means to spread the word about your DSPs. With more community engagement we get closer to our Shared Vision. Please recognize your DSPs year round with your local community.

 

Thanks for your time,

 

AADSP

SDS Updates

Team update

  • Tony Newman is acting SDS director, Lynne Keilman-Cruz is acting deputy director. Due to upcoming elections, these positions will stay acting for the next few months.
  • SDS team members will continue to work a hybrid/part-time remote model

Provider certification

  • Certification is behind on approving certifications because of backlog which occurred due to the cyber attack as well as unfilled staff positions.
  • Here’s the current process: All providers are expected to submit their certification packet by the due date. SDS runs a report at the end of the month; any application that is in process but not complete will receive a one-month extension. Any submitted packet that has not yet started the review process will receive a two-month extension. SDS thanks providers for their patience as they work to catch up.

Update on Rates

  • $32 million legislative allocation: SDS met with CMS in July. CMS requested an Appendix K amendment to expedite the $32 million allocation. SDS anticipates submitting this within the week. Once CMS approves this request, rates will be increased retroactive to July 1. Providers should look for remittance advice which will direct providers how to submit the claims. SDS plans to post this amendment on the SDS webpage once approved. 3.9% inflationary increase was implemented immediately as part of the 10% increase approved by the legislature. 
  • Rate rebasing: This is separate from the legislative appropriation. Internal work on the rates is in the final stages. Rates are calculated using FY22 information, but impacted by the anticipated 10% increased rates. Rate charts will be updated and released for public comment along with revised regulations. Goal is to have rebase package effective by January 2023. Note: Providers can count on a 10% increase in rates July 1-December 31 but rebasing could result in a reduction in the 10% increase depending on the outcome of the rate methodology work by ORR.

Care coordination rate determination

  • Differs from other service types - see 7AAC 145.520(b)2. Does not use a cost-based methodology like other rates. These rates are included in the rate chart with other HCBS rates and will be up for public comment.

Group home/family hab definitions

  • SDS is working with technical assistance provided by CMS. Goal is to establish an Organized Health Care Delivery System (OHCDS) which will support providers of new family hab homes. Planning on more stakeholder engagement.

NCI Staff Stability Survey

  • 112 providers completed surveys which is 73% of eligible providers. Alaska achieved validity and will be including in the national report.

ARPA DSP Incentive Funding

  • SDS is submitting information to Health Care Services to be coded and anticipates all payments will be sent before end of September. Providers should receive further details very soon.


AADD August Monthly Membership Meeting Recording Link

The Numbers

Individuals on the Registry: 442 individuals, 264 of whom are active on the ISW

Current IDD recipients: 2,088

Current ISW recipients: 580

FY23 draws: 20 for IDD waiver, 50 for ISW

DSP Certification Pilot Project

The DSP Certification Pilot Project is moving forward - thank you to all the provider organizations that have stepped up to participate.

   A total of 25 agencies submitted applications. For Cohort 1 which are DSPs employed for less than 36 months: 87 potential participants have been identified. For Cohort 2 which are DSPs employed for longer than 36 months: 81 DSPs are signed up. Training is scheduled to begin on Sept. 6.

   The Alaska Training Cooperative, who is managing the project through a contract with SDS, created a Frequently Asked Questions document available here.

   Stay tuned for updates on this important workforce development effort.

Partnership Updates


Stone Soup Group

Executive Director Mary Middleton provided an overview at this month's AADD meeting. Highlights: Stone Soup provides 1-on-1 parent navigation, support and education to families statewide. Referrals can be made online or by phone.

A few of the ongoing activities for families:

  • Talk About It Tuesdays is an opportunity for parents to talk with a Disability Law Center attorney and receive advice on school-related issues.
  • Building Strong Families monthly parent support group
  • FASD monthly support group

Upcoming Special Events:

  • FASD in Action Workshops Sept. 24 and Oct. 1
  • Fairbanks Friendship and Dating Class starts Sept. 12

Check out Stone Soup's website for resources and information.


Statewide Independent Living Council

Executive Director Michael Christian provided details on the upcoming Independent Living Conference - "Working, Living and Playing Towards Independence" scheduled for Sept. 21-23 at the Egan Center in  Anchorage.

Agenda highlights:

  • A presentation on an exciting Arizona-based youth leadership program
  • Rollout of the Alaska Work Matters Final Report and outcomes
  • Multiple employment-related sessions
  • Multiple presentations on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Breakout sessions focused on information-sharing from around Alaska
  • Exciting keynote speakers

Register at this link.

AADD's Fall Face2Face Meeting

October 26-27, 2022

BP Energy Center, Anchorage

Registration and Details coming September 1

AADD Board seeks nominations

AADD is seeking nominations for one open board position. Expected duties as a board member include:

  1. Define and oversee the mission of the organization    
  2. Actively participate in development and approval of strategic plan
  3. Provide strategic guidance to the Executive Director
  4. Monitor and ensure financial solvency
  5. Select, support and evaluate the Executive Director



In the interest of diverse regional representation, preference will be given to candidates from under-represented regions. 

 

Please send the name and contact information of interested candidates to AADD Past President Michael Bailey at mbailey@hopealaska.org by Friday September 30. Candidates will be asked to prepare a brief written statement which will be shared with AADD members. Elections will be held at AADD’s Fall face-to-face meeting. 

Thank you Rick!


AADD would like to thank Rick Driscoll for the past four years of service as a board member. Rick's years of experience and commitment to the Shared Vision will be missed. He has moved on from his role with REACH in Juneau in search of his next calling.


Thank you to Rick for your commitment and contributions.

Upcoming Meetings/Events

August 30: I Have Rights Webinar, 11 a.m.

September 6: AADD Care Coordination Monthly Meeting, 10:30 a.m.

September 11-18: NATIONAL DSP RECOGNITION WEEK

September 14: I Have Dreams Webinar, 10 a.m.

September 15: AADD CFO Workgroup Meeting, 10 a.m.

September 21: AADD Compliance Workgroup, 10:30 a.m.

September 21-23: Working, Living and Playing Towards Independence Conference

September 27-28 - Improving Lives Conference

October 4-5: Aging & Disability Summit

October 26-27: AADD Face-to-Face Meeting in Anchorage


Questions on these meetings? Contact Kim at director@aaddalaska.org

Provider Resources

The Alaska Training Cooperative has a new registration system. Information is available here. The August-October Training Calendar is available at this link.

The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities awards grants to eligible applicants to provide transportation services to address gaps experienced by Alaska Mental Health Trust beneficiaries. Intent to Apply deadline is September 9. Information available here.

Three organizations recently produced an excellent white paper on workforce: Community Services in Crisis: No Staff No Services. This information may be of interest to board members, community leaders and legislators - please share. 

Our Mission

To facilitate a united provider voice for best practices, advocacy, partnerships and networking.


Our Vision

Alaskans with disabilities statewide are living the life they choose with support from a robust, flexible person-directed service system.

Learn More

[Alaska Association on Developmental Disabilities] | [907.957.1970] | [director@aaddalaska.org] | [www.aaddalaska.org]

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