Advocating for Our WorkforceImage Banner

You are here

Advocating for Our Workforce

by: 
Barbara Merrill, Esq.

Over the past month, your ANCOR Team has delighted in seeing the myriad ways that you have celebrated and recognized the tremendous value of our direct support professionals. Their dedication is foundational to effectively supporting people with I/DD in the community. We are proud to partner with you in leading efforts to shape policy and share solutions that support a quality direct support workforce.

Not surprising, our commitment to the DSP workforce is one of ANCOR’s three strategic areas of focus. Another, and inter-related, strategic area of focus is on shaping the emerging long-term services and supports environment. Within this strategic focus, we have prioritized equipping providers to understand and respond to impacts, opportunities, emerging practices, and trends while achieving the triple aim of better health, better care, and lower cost, as well as shaping the integration of healthcare and long-term services and supports.

On the surface the connection may not seem obvious – however, we believe that equipping you with resources that allow your organization to be responsive and nimble in our changing environment provide pathways to the sustainability and stability you need to effectively recruit, retain, and invest in your DSPs. We were fortunate that soon after your ANCOR Board established this strategic direction, we had the opportunity to join the National Association of States United for Aging and Disability, or NASUAD, in successfully responding to an Administration on Community Living (ACL) funding opportunity focused on building the business acumen of community-based organizations serving people with disabilities.

In January 2017, we embarked with NASUAD and eight other partners on the Business Acumen Grant with a dual-focus to build the capacity of disability community-based organizations (CBOs) like you to contract with integrated care and other health sector entities and to improve the ability of disability networks to act as active stakeholders in the development and implementation of integrated systems within their state, through knowledge building, training, technical assistance, a learning collaborative model, and the distribution of promising practices and resources.

As we approach the last year of the grant, Esme Grewal, our Vice President of Government Relations, Kim Opsahl, our Director of State Partnerships & Special Projects – who leads our grant work, and I had the opportunity to meet with our fellow grant partners and the ACL to reflect on our accomplishments and chart the path ahead. My take-aways from that meeting were that the past two years of work have established an excellent foundation for equipping ANCOR members and other providers, but we’ve just scratched the surface in terms of opportunities and it will be critical to continue our work beyond the initial grant period.

While your ANCOR Team works on sustaining our efforts in this area, I really encourage you to take a moment to visit the grant website at HCBSBusinessAcumen.org and check out the many resources available to you and your team – all without cost. One of my favorite resources is the first installment of the Business Acumen Toolkit – Step 1 Prepare: Understand the Business Environment and Your Place Within It – even for our seasoned organizations this is a helpful resource for taking a fresh at your organization through the lens of integrated care partnerships. Another favorite is the webinar archive that includes fifteen recorded webinars – including PowerPoint presentations and transcripts – a great way to easily share quality content with everyone on your team. You can stay up-to-date on upcoming monthly webinars by signing up here

As we move to Year 3, our focus will be on even greater development and dissemination of tools and resources. In particular, we will be leveraging the information gathered through our learning collaboratives for the benefit of entire provider community. Their work has helped to ensure tools and resources are relevant and meaningful – giving you business acumen tools tailored to the unique needs of disability service providers.

To ensure you are regularly connected to this rich resource, keep an eye out for regular updates in your Weekly Update, as well as teasers for our upcoming webinars via social media. In fact, you might want to take a moment to check out an interview with Dina Casalaspro with Community Options Enterprises teasing her upcoming webinar discussing the research that led their organization to develop the Daily Plan-It – a creative and self-sustaining business model with a hybrid payer structure where customer purchased services and office rentals support the cost of operations and create jobs for people with disabilities. The webinar is scheduled for Friday, September 28th at 12:30 pm (ET) - to learn more, including how to register, visit here.

After checking out these resources, be sure to let us know what you think, as well as what more would be helpful for you, your team, and your organization by e-mailing me our Kim Opsahl at kopsahl@ancor.org. We are particularly proud of this effort and we hope you find it both useful and beneficial in helping you stay ahead of the curve.

Barbara Merrill is CEO of ANCOR. She can be reached at bmerrill@ancor.org.