D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s
Third Quarter 2017
In our continuing efforts to increase communication and information sharing, this is the third of four quarterly reports from the CEO for fiscal year 2017. The narrative includes clickable links to supporting documents.
ORGANIZATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND ACTION PLAN
Unlike the funny but too often true cartoon, the DABSJ 2017-2020 Strategic Plan is alive and well. As you may recall from previous reports and communications, a thorough review of our organizational structure (in order to increase the quality, capacity, and sustainability of our programs and agency) was identified as a top strategic priority for 2017. On August 23, all staff received an update on this important work, including an overview and FAQ style report .
On September 18, the Board of Directors was given a presentation of progress to date for feedback and support. As a result, the initial phase of implementation began with the posting, vetting , and hiring of the Chief Operations Officer and Chief Programs Officer. On October 9, we announced and congratulated Donna Tefft as our new COO and Susan Conrad as our new CPO. A subsequent communication was sent to the community.
Next steps: the second part of this first phase of infrastructural change is to hire two more positions, (1) Quality and Risk Manager and (2) Facilities and Maintenance Manager, expected to conclude by the end of November. In the remaining weeks of 2017, program managers and coordinators will be brought into the organizational assessment and action planning discussions for their review and input. Moving forward in 2018, the resulting quality-capacity-sustainability “map” in the form of an evolutionary org chart will guide and support decisions on staffing and programming as opportunities and needs occur. After the org chart has gone through the full process of managerial review and feedback, it will be shared with all.
It can be said, and has, that our strategic plan and organizational analysis is heavy on the “business” end of our operations and services, as if to suggest this is pejorative and distracts from mission. To best understand the leadership mindset and vision driving our trajectory, two excellent sources of enlightenment are highly recommended: Hey, You Want Nonprofits to Act More Like Businesses? Then Treat Us Like Businesses is a hard hitting call to action and Dan Pallotta’s TED Talk The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong is a refreshing paradigm shift.
As last reported, the Dean Lake Road land purchase was the lynchpin for a capital campaign feasibility study. Since that time, much effort has been dedicated towards “making the case” and describing in documents and presentations to key stakeholders how the client community would benefit from new space. With the acquisition of the Dean Lake Road land, our board has approved the design “concept” of consolidating all agency programs onto the Knapp Campus, colloquially named One-Child-One-Campus. There are a number of pending caveats implicit in the board’s approval including funding, viability of scaled back options if full funding is not achieved, zoning approvals, impact on multi-year operational expense, preserving the sanctuary-like setting of residential services, and resolving public transportation barriers. The concept of a combined campus strongly supports our strategic plan goals and takes our unifying and collaborative vision to fruition. The finalized fundraising feasibility study is expected to be completed by the end of January.
West Michigan Partnership for Children: On October 1, and after about five years of visioning and planning (with the last two years intense with activity), the WMPC went live. As last reported, this is a high-stakes and innovative pilot project that impacts a number of our programs, directly, indirectly, or potentially (in a good and opportunistic way). By design, key elements of our strategic plan and organizational assessment activities are in synch with and support the goals of WMPC.
On October 12, the Kent County Board of Commissioners received a formal post-go-live presentation by the WMPC CEO, and the official ribbon cutting and launch celebration with invited dignitaries was held on October 25 at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. The project (and DABSJ) has received widespread and positive media coverage in response to statewide press releases and broad distribution of promotional flyers. Communications strategy also included FAQs to the direct service staff and frontline supervisors.
Big Brother Big Sisters of Greater Grand Rapids: By now the publicity surrounding our decision to disaffiliate with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America is dated but it is worth mentioning how well it was handled and conveyed by our BBBS leadership in close collaboration with PR/Marketing Manager Katy Buck. Starting with transparent and visionary internal communication to all staff, BBBS Advisory Council, mentors, and other stakeholders – and ending with a fully engaged and informed media. An article published by MLive Media Group is a good example of the fair and positive news coverage we received. In reference to Dan Pallotta’s TED Talk presentation, the change in our mentoring services is both social innovation and social entrepreneurship in action.
AGENCY FINANCIAL POSITION - YEAR TO DATE
Our overall operational financial position (with 2016 comparison) is presented in this graph . Chief Financial Officer Denise Spaulding gives the following variance analysis and commentary: (1) revenue dropped further than anticipated in August and September; (2) it is taking longer to come up to budgeted revenue targets and census numbers than forecasted; (3) we still expect to end the year with a surplus, but not as large as initially projected; (4) the 2018 budget numbers are looking positive due to state rate increases, our new WMPC funding model, and organizational assessment with subsequent restructuring efforts; it will be the end of January before we have our December fiscal year-end result, and; (5) like last year and now the standard, the Board of Directors will review the year-end financials along with our 2018 budget to determine compensation increases for staff (lump sum distribution and/or increase on base salary/wage).
All in all, our financial position is good albeit some key numbers trailing behind initial projections. Staff are commended for their hard work and adaptability this year, especially given the changes in organizational structure, and are encouraged to keep working with Directors, Managers, and Supervisors to meet program goals.
OTHER ITEMS OF STRATEGIC IMPORT
Accreditation: We are in formal reaccreditation preparation mode with the Council on Accreditation (COA). What that looks like is a coordinated number of teams and meetings reviewing the COA standards as they apply to each agency program and operational area, generating evidence of accreditation compliance, and submitting their evidence to our accreditation leadership for examination – all leading to a grand submission of evidence to COA on March 26, 2018. Following that, a group of COA reviewers will conduct an on-site review from June 3-7, 2018.
Electronic Clinical Record: Implementation of our new electronic health record system is in the early stages and proceeding on schedule. The product is eCR and the company is TenEleven Group. All of our behavioral health programs and medical clinic will be on this platform with an expected roll out in fall 2018.
The most recent community recognition of our outstanding people is as follows:
Residential Program Manager Tashuna Hunt was nominated for the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s prestigious 40 Under 40 award. Nominees were reviewed based on career goals and achievements, professional expertise and managerial skills, and community leadership. Although Tashuna was not selected for the award, her nomination was well deserved and underscores what we already know about Tashuna and her great service to our agency.
Foster Care Social Worker Audrey Dodgson received the Alliance Award from Network 180’s Community Family Partnership (CFP) for exceptional commitment to the values and philosophy of Kent County’s System of Care. A sample of recognition comments included, “Audrey is an absolutely AMAZING advocate for the children and families on her caseload, and I am truly honored that I have been able to bear witness to her passion and drive for the work we do…truly gifted and unique in such a way that others, equally passionate and driven advocates for social justice, stand back and wonder at the series of events that must have occurred to create such a force for change in this field.”
Foster Care Social Worker Karra VanderWiere has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 John P. Steketee Child Welfare Advocate of the Year Award. In the nomination narrative, Kent County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Feeney states, “To watch Karra testify about her “kids”—the children in her cases—you see her face light up when describing how they’re doing. It makes you smile to see how much she cares and how well she knows her kids, their quirks, their strengths, and their needs.” DABSJ Foster Care Program Manager Mary Jo Sabaitis says, “Karra’s passion, positivity, and enthusiasm shine through all of her interactions and are contagious to those around her.” As is tradition, Karra will receive the award at the KidsFirst Annual Holiday Open House on December 7 with Judge Feeney as the keynote speaker.
Congratulations Tashuna, Audrey, and Karra!
As we enter this holiday season, best wishes to you and your family – and may the days fill your life with joy and peace.