I hope this note finds you and your loved ones healthy and warm, and I hope your new year is off to a great start. At AWARE, we are off to the races and motivated to reach challenging goals in 2022.
January 31 marked the first official day of service with our Family Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) model of care. I am extremely proud of our team for working together to identify the needs of families in Montana, developing a model of care that creates access to preventative mental health services in Montana communities, and assembling a team of impressive caregivers to carry out the mission. Like all AWARE’s services, our FACT program assists clients to be engaged members of Montana communities living as independently as possible. I am delighted that AWARE is leading the charge to make FACT available.
To that end, we have seven FACT teams up and running. Each team is made up of a psychiatric provider, licensed therapist, case manager and two family support specialists. Our new FACT teams are part of AWARE’s mental health services; these teams can request support from any AWARE programs and help link people to other community resources.
Currently, we have FACT teams established in Anaconda, Billings, Butte, Great Falls, Helena and Missoula, with plans to expand to additional communities during the next year. We anticipate being ready to accept external referrals soon. If you would like to learn more about the FACT model of care or how to make a referral, please visit www.AWARE-inc.org/FACT.
We are set to launch our Employee Engagement Survey on February 7. This anonymous survey allows all AWARE employees the opportunity to provide feedback in the areas of job satisfaction, leadership, company and career, and training and resources. This survey is essential – we use it to help guide decisions within our strategic plan. It helps identify areas that need attention and celebrate areas that are thriving. In 2021, we had record participation. Because of that survey, we implemented leadership training with William Henry, enhanced benefits including wellness opportunities, and are actively working to strengthen communication and human connection. It is important to AWARE’s leadership that all AWARE team members have a voice. I hope that the 2022 survey again has record participation.
In other rousing news, AWARE’s annual UCC Principles Awards Banquet will be held in Billings on June 9, 2022, at the Big Horn Resort. This banquet has been a tradition since the 1990s where we celebrate AWARE team members and community partners who go above and beyond to help us bring our mission to life. My favorite part about these awards is that the winners are nominated by their peers. Each year, the nominations are truly inspiring and remind me why we do the work we do. I look forward to a great celebration in Billings later this year.
AWARE has projects occurring across the state and across all programs, too many to summarize in this letter. There are a couple of important topics worthy of mention in this update. First, Comprehensive School and Community Treatment (CSCT) is an important service available to kids, families and schools to help kids meaningfully engage with academics. The CSCT program has recently encountered several operational and funding changes due to evolving government regulations. CSCT remains a work in progress as we continue to work with the Office of Public Instruction, our Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, and local school districts. While we flexibly respond to these changes, our commitment to serving children in schools remains steadfast.
The demand for early childhood services, quality childcare, mental health and developmental disabilities services in Montana is at an all-time high. AWARE stands ready to meet these needs of our communities; however, we need dedicated employees to do so. We continue to adjust our workplace to attract and retain exceptional employees and are trying our best to overcome the workforce crisis. A significant factor affecting our success in this endeavor is adequate funding.
As we navigate our way through 2022 and look ahead to the next legislative session, I ask you to start considering ways you can help us help people live independent lives. The harsh reality is that we have no mission without margin. Ironically, although our services reduce the burden on taxpayer dollars, we are grossly underfunded and need adequate governmental funding to support our work. We hope that leaders in Montana understand and recognize the importance of behavioral health. As a friend, supporter, team member or partner, you can make a difference. You can be an advocate. You can speak up and tell your story to your legislator, to our governor and executive branch. Throughout the year, I will share educational information and ways you can help. Your advocacy – your voice – your support – matters.
Finally, if you missed it in the last issue of INK, please be sure to check out our Annual Report here. This report includes useful information that will help inform your advocacy during the upcoming year.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update. I hope you enjoy the rest of this issue of INK – as always, there is some great content! If you haven’t subscribed yet, please do so here – and be sure to share with your family and friends.
With much gratitude,