The Road to Success
The Rehabilitation Services Bureau
Congratulations to the Waterloo Area Office (WAO) for being awarded the RSB Leader’s Award for the 2005 fiscal year. WAO achieved 248 successful rehabilitations with an average of 21 successful rehabilitations per counselor. The Ottumwa Area Office tied the WAO for the average number per counselor and should also be recognized for their amazing efforts. The WAO was selected because they not only achieved this success rate by the end of September, but they also had an additional 40 cases that could have been closed as achieving stabilized employment had the agency required it. In addition they have done a lot of things to prepare for the future by working on teamwork, viewing their work as a contribution to The Agency rather than individual accomplishments, and improving their communication. They deserved this award for their outstanding efforts and accomplishments. Congratulations to the WAO!
In October the management team was busy studying successful businesses that achieved quality results. The Supervisor’s Retreat was developed based on the book by Jim Collins called “Built to Last.” Perhaps one of the best aspects of the retreat was our discussion about changing our perspectives beyond an either/or philosophy and embracing the concept that highly intelligent people can retain divergent thoughts at the same time. Consequently we spent some time discussing that to achieve what we need to achieve as an organization we must look at things from the perspective that multiple options are viable and can be incorporated together.
Beyond those discussions the management team also considered the undeniable fact that to be competitive in today’s accountability world we must proactively find solutions before one is inflicted upon us. As a result the managers spent time considering how we must reorganize, how we must design our programs, and how we must problem solve by focusing upon our core ideology. Using our foundation to guide our decisions but embracing strategies that promote growth, improvement, and success we can facilitate our bureau to become the best practice model for the future. Our goal is to be a high performing organization that resolves the issues and proactively moves forward rather than reactively play catch up.
Also during the retreat there was special recognition given to various Supervisors for their contributions to the bureau. Janeen Cox was recognized by receiving the Chief’s Award for her work on the Merit Resource Unit. Janeen designed a system that enhanced the clerical support of the field to allow local support staff to embrace the future of our design and work in a manner that better utilizes their skills. In addition she resolved a number of personnel issues with great finesse. She was truly deserving of the award. The recipient last year was Denise Hubert for her work in personnel management and furthering the professionalism of the bureau. (I mention Denise because we didn’t have the newsletter last year and it is important for everyone to know the history behind the award as well.)
In addition to the above awards, four managers were recognized for their contribution in making IRSS better. Glenie Hiatt assumed the point of contact for the Service Record Authorization RSB role. This is not easy in that she was required to participate in all of the meetings and remember what was agreed, changed, revised, and reimplemented so that she could provide a recommendation to the Chief for finalization. Denise Hubert also participated at times with that topic as well as being very involved in the development of the Planning module of IRSS. Denise brought a wonderful practitioner’s perspective with a solid understanding of the computer that enabled IRSS planning to be conducive to our work. Jan Davis brought her energy and creativity to challenge the status quo, and presented ideas that generated alternative opportunities. Ruth Allison assumed the point of contact on the planning module which required her to track all the discussion, changes, etc., and develop a proposal for the planning module. All of these people spent considerable time and effort, and their other job duties remained a priority as well. All of them were recognized for their contribution in multi-tasking.
There were a number of other staff not involved in the retreat that has improved IRSS tremendously and they will be recognized when we complete the project. IRSS continues to be something that requires a great deal of work and is increasingly something that we are monitoring in terms of the budget. So while these teams provide recommendations, should a recommendation result in a change order (which they all do if they weren’t in the statement of work) administration must review those in relationship to the value, the cost, and the impact upon The Agency. It has been a challenge and the staff involved has done a great job!!!
Exciting Progress in the Cedar Rapids Office by David Mitchell
The Cedar Rapids Office continues to progress on their local office goals. A process change has occurred that is exciting to staff and appears to have improved office efficiency. Support staff has been actively involved in identifying names coming off the waiting list and contacting those individuals to determine their current interest in IVRS services and scheduling them directly into the appropriate counselor’s schedule or taking steps to close their file, if they are no longer interested or available for services. Letters are sent to document attempts for outreach with the appropriate steps taken depending upon response. The CR office is now looking at ways to expand this collaboration in the intake process, with eligibility decisions, plan development timelines, case reviews and in general follow-up with clients. Ideas are also being generated to improve the orientation process by identifying expectations for employment, discussion of what employers are looking for and in identifying tools that counselors can use from the notebook process that can be provided to client’s early on to add value and meaning to potential services as well as expedite the information sharing with IVRS staff. Various staff roles are being considered in how to collect and deliver this information with a focus on improving customer service for those individuals seeking vocational rehabilitation programming.
Changes have also been made in the physical location of their job club room, which is now upfront and easily accessible for clients. A story was shared how a motivated individual, who was on the waiting list, arrived on a regular basis to access information from the Job Club room and with minimal guidance, but through a positive and supportive customer service working environment, found employment and voiced great pleasure with the Cedar Rapids Office (CRAO) and staff. They continue to expand ideas for marketing and increasing employment visibility in the community and recently held an open house reception for all clients in status 22 and 26 during the past year. What a great way to create continued contact with “fans” of the IVRS System.
Davenport Area Office News
During the month of October many offices around the state had amazing celebrations
and educational forums. In Davenport one of IVRS’ own was recognized
for her contributions to serving individuals with disabilities in the local
area. As long-time advocates for the employment of people with disabilities,
we all know how important it is to have agency staff willing to go that extra
mile for our customers. On
October 27 th Jennifer Marme’-Lowery, Counselor in the Davenport Area Office, was given special recognition for her “diligent work” and leadership as a member of the Disability Employment Network. Please join me in recognizing Jennifer for her work and congratulate her on receiving this special recognition.
Council Bluffs Area Office Community Education Program
Charlie Levine represented our Administrator who, due to back problems, was unable to travel to Council Bluffs for this extremely well attended event. This event was attended by a number of political officials from the state legislature as well as local politicians and many other community members. The event was a meeting held via ICN, connecting various regions of the area office, where interested individuals could participate in an issues forum discussing the employment of individuals with disabilities. Participants learned about the significant outcomes in the CBAO, the progress IVRS has made in achieving success, and upcoming challenges for The Agency. The event was designed to educate the public on the important factors that contribute to the employment of individuals with disabilities. Success stories were highlighted and the contributions individuals with disabilities make to their communities were celebrated. This unique Disability Awareness Month activity will no doubt make a difference in understanding and employment in the CBAO. Great job folks!