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AWARE Ink Newsletter

  • jpeterson

Corporate Congress Update from Session President Kennar Ward

March 2022

We continue making progress on the Corporate Congress Bills that were passed during the June 2021 session. The Strategic Planning Workgroup meets monthly to work on implementing each of the bills in conjunction with AWARE’s Strategic Plan. The group largely consists of supervisors, managers and Corporate Congress leadership.

Completed Bills


So far, 13 of the 24 bills have been completed. These bills include the following:


Access and Quality Committee – Shari Mattice, Chair


ACC-02 Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) training for CFE: A bill to develop, implement and sustain a behavior-based program to support the students at the Center for Excellence.


Training is scheduled to take place at the center in February with further training possible in March.


ACC-04 Increase Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BSBA) and Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) services in Montana: A bill to expand our outreach and presence of BCBA and RBT services in the communities we serve.


ABA has become its own dedicated service line allowing growth of BCBAs and RBTs across Montana. We have began increasing the rosters in each community through local referral sources.


ACC-05 Group home intake process: A bill to help AWARE better prepare for clients and their needs prior to admission in a group home.


An intake case manager was hired to help in this regard along with a formal written process. There is also coordination with the psychiatry team as needed.


ACC-06 Help me have a voice act: A bill to give our residents more of a voice regarding decisions in their homes.


A form was drafted for residents to fill out regarding suggestions or complaints within the home. It will be incorporated with the consumer handbook and reviewed annually. Assistance can be provided to residents who are not able to fill out their own form.


ACC-31 Provision of cell phones to community service providers: AWARE is to provide cell phones to employees that can be preinstalled with security software and other measures to ensure HIPAA compliance while maintaining staff community connections to support AWARE clients.


A policy has been completed allowing for a mix of cell phone stipends and company-provided cell phones based on individual need.

Engagement Committee – Adam Pehl, Chair


ACC-08 AWARE Day: AWARE should adopt the first Friday in August as Aware Day and use this as a day of celebration for all the hard-working employees and leadership team do on a consistent basis.


The first official AWARE Day has been scheduled for April 27, 2022. Events for the day are still in progress but center around community celebrations and digital media for this initial year.


ACC-09 Best Day Ever: Program managers and staff of youth group homes shall work toward making events like holidays and birthdays the “best day ever” for clients.


Kicked off the first “Best Day Ever” over the Christmas 2021 holiday season in the form of an official fundraising effort. Met the goal of raising $9,000 to provide $50 in gifts for each residential client. This campaign will be continued in perpetuity.

People Committee – Janae Larson, Chair


ACC-18 Therapy services for employees: A bill where all staff will have access to clinical consultation therapy services as requested to support self-care and employee retention.


This bill has been incorporated into the new Employee Assistance Program available for staff January 2022.


ACC-20 Stress management courses to help staff maintain work-related stress: A bill to implement reoccurring stress management options to help with retention.


A program through AWARE’s benefit plan called Healthy is Wellness, which will bolster existing stress management training.

Sustainability Committee – Amanda Wallace, Chair


ACC-23 Time off exchange program: AWARE should adopt and incorporate a program where employees are able to “cash out” accrued vacation time when not used in a timely manner.


This bill was dissolved due to AWARE’s current policy of paying out unused leave time.


ACC-25 AWARE to allow employees to share vacation, personal and sick time with human resources and supervisor approval: AWARE will allow employees to donate their own vacation, sick and personal time to a donated "time pot."


A policy has been completed and implemented allowing employees to donate leave time to a “time pot.”


ACC-26 Annual performance raises to retain dedicated employees: AWARE will adhere to annual performance reviews done by supervisors through Paylocity, which will then determine an annual performance raise for non-union employees.


This bill is moving forward as a means of conducting timely performance evaluations through Paylocity and tracking them as a key metric within each service line. The evaluations themselves will not dictate pay raise levels.


ACC-30 A bill to compensate on-call participants: A bill where each on-call PACT staff will receive a flat $100 for their on-call week.


A policy has been completed and is being implemented.

In-Progress Bills


The remaining 11 bills that are still in progress include:


Engagement Committee – Adam Pehl, Chair


ACC-11 Longevity Appreciation Program (LAP): A bill to recognize those who have invested significant time with the company.


This bill is similar to ACC-19 and ACC-21, which are in the process of being combined. AWARE just launched an online branded merchandise store that could meet some of this bill’s intent.


ACC-12 AWARE is to provide a presentation to the schools about Comprehensive School and Community Treatment (CSCT): A bill to develop a training delivered to school professionals educating them on the scope of services provided by CSCT.


All CSCT bills are on hold until more is known regarding the new program and the funding mechanism between the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and Office of Public Instruction (OPI).

People Committee – Janae Larson, Chair


ACC-15 New-hire mentorship program: Each home or office should identify individuals that are able and willing to mentor new hires.


We are in the process of identifying solutions for this bill.


ACC-16 A bill to improve training for remote positions: A bill to designate two weeks of shadowing peers in similar positions.


We are in the process of identifying solutions for this bill.


ACC-17 A bill to restructure and increase effectiveness of training for CSCT staff: A bill to improve communication and cohesiveness for CSCT staff.


All CSCT bills are on hold until we know more about the new program and the funding mechanism between DPHHS and OPI.


ACC-19 Incentive for employees with great performance: A bill to reward and show appreciation for staff.


This bill is in the process of being combined with ACC-21 and is similar to ACC-11. AWARE just launched an online branded merchandise store that could meet some of this bill’s intent.


ACC-21 A bill to pilot and support an employee retention program: A bill to recognize staff who go above and beyond. This could possibly happen through AWARE “bucks” that can be exchanged for AWARE branded merchandise.


This bill is in the process of being combined with ACC-19 and is similar to ACC-11. AWARE just launched an online branded merchandise store that could meet some of this bill’s intent.


ACC-22 Adequate training for group home staff: A bill for adequate training and proper shadow shifts for staff in group homes.


We are in the process of identifying solutions for this bill.


Sustainability Committee – Amanda Wallace, Chair


ACC-24 AWARE to provide laptops for CSCT: A bill to provide each CSCT worker with an AWARE laptop rather than equipment being provided by the school.


All CSCT bills are on hold until we know more about the new program and the funding mechanism between DPHHS and OPI.


ACC-27 A bill to pilot a foster advocate position: A bill to pilot a foster care advocate position to meet urgent needs of foster care families.


We are in the process of identifying solutions for this bill.


ACC-29 A bill to fund and provide respite/transition shelter for the Developmental Disabilities Program population: To support the health and safety of clients during times of housing transition or family crisis.


We are in the process of identifying solutions for this bill.

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