Heads Up, PSWs: Early Billing Date in July

Please note that in accordance with the State PSW Payroll Calendar, the PSW submission date in July 2015 is Thursday, July 2nd.  That’s really early. Monthly due dates have been pushed earlier and earlier in the past couple of years, and the Fourth of July holiday has historically caused a bit of a squeeze on billing timelines even in the best of times. Those two factors have combined this year to create the first time in brokerage history that providers have been asked to have their timesheets and invoices to us by the second of the month.

We no longer have any control over due dates or pay dates, so we want to do everything we can to publicize this very early due date to ensure that everyone gets paid on time. Please help us spread the word about the July 2nd due date by sharing this information with your PSW friends and colleagues. We rely on our community partners to help us communicate and you always come through for us. We appreciate it!




PSWs: Did You Receive a Notice from the State Regarding Expired PEA or Criminal History Check?

The following mailer was just sent to all Personal Support Workers on file at Independence Northwest. We are posting it on our blog and Facebook page to ensure all PSWs are aware of our practices around expiring qualifications.


Dear PSWs,

DHS sent out a notice this week informing PSWs that one of two documents is set to expire:

  • The Provider Enrollment Agreement (PEA)
  • The criminal history check (CHC)

It appears that the state had some errors in their source data because we’re being inundated with phone calls from providers who got expiration notices  even though none of their credentials are near expiration.

Independence Northwest tracks PEA and CHC expirations and sends out reminders of our own to all PSWs whose CHC or PEAA is near expiration.  If you haven’t heard anything from us, you should be in good shape. DHS may update eXPRS in the future so that PSWs can view their own credentials, but until then feel free to call us if you’re unsure when your documents need to be renewed. Our goal is to give everyone plenty of lead time to do renewals so that no one experiences lapses in service or payment.

– The INW Team



Some Personal Support Workers Should Expect Fair Share Checks in the Mail this Week

This morning, brokerages received the following information from the Oregon Office of Developmental Disabilities Services:

Approximately 400 Home Care Workers and Personal Support Workers checks will be issued tonite and put in the mail tomorrow. These checks are a fairshare correction. Even if a person has direct deposit, a check will be issued for them…

If the HCW or PSW have questions please refer them to contact SEIU at 877-451-0002.

INW Adds Plan of Care Coordinator Position; Contacts for Providers Experiencing eXPRS Problems

Dear various and sundry provider organizations,

I just wanted to drop everyone a line to say thank you all so much for your patience during the transition into eXPRS.  It’s been rocky for everyone involved and though we’re not quite over the hump, I think the worst is behind us. In order to keep up with the exponentially increased workload, we’ve added a full time position whose responsibility it is to create and manage plans in eXPRS. Additionally our Quality Assurance Coordinator will continue to devote the lion’s share of his time to reviewing and processing bills. These two folks are in the eXPRS trenches far more than I am at this point and should be able to clear up issues quicker than I can. My hope is that providing you with clarity on who is responsible for what in our office will help you achieve expeditious resolution to any problems you run into in eXPRS. Our aim as always is to promote quality supports for our customers and to provide timely and consistent payment to our partners.

If you are trying to enter bills into eXPRS and cannot because of issues with Plan of Care, please contact Rachel Kroll:

Rachel Kroll
Plan of Care Coordinator
503.546.2950 ext 72

If you have already entered bills into eXPRS (or have submitted invoices for non-eXPRS items) and have questions or concerns about payment, please contact Finch Raffa:

Finch Raffa, Quality Assurance Coordinator
503.546.2950 ext 25

If you are unable to achieve resolution through these channels please do not hesitate to contact me with your issues and concerns.

Thanks again for your support during this lengthy period of change.

Ron Spence
Operations Director

State Holding Town Hall Wednesday July 30th in Portland – Community Members Asked to Provide Feedback and Input

You are invited to provide input and feedback to the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) on their priorities and strategic direction for 2015-17 and beyond in the following areas:  Child Welfare, Aging and People with Disabilities, Intellectual/Developmental Disability Services, Self Sufficiency Programs (SNAP, TANF, ERDC), Vocational Rehabilitation, DHS agency operations, and other human services issues.

Their community outreach this summer has two goals:  first, to report on progress toward their long-term goals and strategic efforts as an organization; and second, get your thoughts and ideas as they plan for the next two years of work.  Join DHS Director Erinn Kelley-Siel and members of the DHS Executive Team for an informative presentation and lively discussion about where the agency is today and where they are going in the next two years and beyond.

Thursday, August 7, there will be a special online meeting for those unable to attend in person (see the schedule below).  Please forward this message to others who may be interested.

Wednesday, July 30
Portland – Portland Community College (Cascade Campus, Moriarty Arts & Humanities Building)
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
RSVP to: DHS.DirectorsOffice@dhsoha.state.or.us  Portland

Friday, August 1
Bend – Central Oregon Community College (Hitchcock Auditorium)
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
RSVP to: DHS.DirectorsOffice@dhsoha.state.or.us  Bend

Monday, August 4
Eugene – Lane Community College (Center for Meeting & Learning)
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
RSVP to: DHS.DirectorsOffice@dhsoha.state.or.us subject line Eugene

Tuesday, August 5
Medford – Rogue Community College (RCC/SOU Higher Education Center)
10:00 am – 12:00 noon
RSVP to: DHS.DirectorsOffice@dhsoha.state.or.us subject line Medford

Thursday, August 7 (special online meeting for those unable to attend in person)
Statewide — Web-based interactive meeting, sign-up info & other details to come later.
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
RSVP to: DHS.DirectorsOffice@dhsoha.state.or.us subject line Web

NEW!! We are also working on setting up a meeting for folks in eastern Oregon for Mid-August! Let us know if you’d like information.  Send an e-mail to DHS.DirectorsOffice@dhsoha.state.or.us subject line Eastern Oregon Meeting

Questions? Please contact DHS.DirectorsOffice@dhsoha.state.or.us

State Looks to Reduced Rates for Supported Employment and Day Program Providers; Community Responds

From the Oregon Support Services Association: On May 9, 2014, during a monthly meeting with Brokerage directors, ODDS staff shared potential rate decreases to providers of Supported Employment and Day Habilitation (ATE programs). The proposed reduction would occur across the comprehensive and Brokerage systems and go live as early as July 1st, 2014. 

Last week, the Oregon Support Services Association, the Oregon I/DD Coalition, the Oregon Rehabilitation Association and the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities each submitted letters to state leadership asking the state to reconsider any rate reductions. We all await responses and will update you once we have additional information on the direction the state decides to take on this important subject. 

As always, the Brokerage association will continue to advocate for appropriate payment to providers of these essential services – particularly during a time of need for increased provider capacity and better employment outcomes for Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Stay tuned.

– The OSSA Communications Team OSSA Executive Director Kathryn Weit Margaret Theisen Larry Deal Katie Rose


An Interview with Brokerage Association Leader Kathryn Weit

By Larry Deal
Executive Director, Independence Northwest
Communications Director, Oregon Support Services Association

I recently sat down with newly-appointed Oregon Support Services Association Executive Director Kathryn Weit to discuss her history, her thoughts on the brokerage system, the implementation of the K Plan, and where she sees brokerage services headed.

Kathryn has been a hugely influential player in services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities both in the northwest and nationally. She played an integral role in the development of brokerage services in Oregon and brokerages statewide could not be more pleased that she’s signed on to lead us into Oregon’s next phase of services. Sometimes the best way to figure out where you’re going is to remember how you got where you are. Our conversation started there.

Larry: What did services look like in Oregon twenty years ago?

Kathryn: Looking back fifteen years plus, prior to the filing of the Staley lawsuit and the creation of the brokerage system, Oregon was in the process of downsizing an institution and we had very, very long wait lists.

Larry: Wait lists for community-based-services?

Kathryn: For everything. I use the term wait list loosely because it really never was a wait list. It was a crisis list. If you went into crisis, you got services. There were very few services for adults except group homes. Any family of a child under 18 who needed any kind of support had to go through the Child Welfare system. And they had to say they were on the verge of having to place their family member out of home, usually into foster care. It had to be that serious before there was a possibility of getting in-home supports. The stories you’d hear families tell about trying to survive without any support and then having to say this. It was devastating.

Larry: And your son, Colin – you were in this situation with him, right?

Kathryn: When my son was sixteen, we had a major crisis in the family and we had to go the crisis route. We had to go to Child Welfare and we had to tell people why we couldn’t handle our situation any longer by ourselves.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.

Larry: And when you say services – what are we talking about here? What did these services look like?

Kathryn: Early on the services through Child Welfare were designed to support families with respite, in home support, and things like behavior support. Later the Developmental Disabilities Program created some very small, grant funded, family support programs for families with children under 18. It was later expanded to include families of adults. Services were extremely limited. For example in Multnomah County there were only fifty families who had access to supports. (Ed: for comparison, there are thousands in services in Multnomah County today.) It was very limited, but it gave advocates a model to draw from. First, someone needing supports got a “guide” (much like a Personal Agent) to help find and engage with community resources. And second, you got a little bit of funding. But for the first time it was funding that was family-controlled. The satisfaction level in that program was incredibly high. People thought it was amazing. And when the state asked, people told them that their “guide” was the most important thing. These pilot programs helped shape some of the understanding of policymakers.

Larry: The structure sounds very much like the structure and services offered by brokerages today.

Kathryn: Yes. Then later, before the Staley lawsuit was filed, the state applied for and received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant. The idea was to look at what was becoming a national agenda in terms of self-determination and to apply some of those principles to adult services. They set up a small model brokerage (Self-Determination Resources Inc.) and this really pushed systems change.

At the time, over 5,000 people were waiting for services, which led to Staley v. Kitzhaber.

Kathryn: If you consider both adults and children who were eligible but not receiving services, yes. Yes, the lawsuit was based on the fact that there were people who were eligible for services but denied them. The State chose to negotiate a settlement of the lawsuit.

Larry: After the lawsuit was settled, the state set out to develop services for everyone on the wait list. How did the brokerage model emerge?

Kathryn: Oregon chose very specifically to say: “This is Oregon, we have economic ups and downs, we are not a rich state, we cannot afford to provide 24 hour, seven days a week residential services to everybody on our wait list.” Many people don’t need that level of service. We learned that people are good decision makers about what they need in their lives when given support and guidance that’s meaningful to them. A crucial element was that families and individuals with disabilities needed to be in the leadership role. Through much discussion, stakeholders arrived at the conclusion that small, decentralized nonprofit and community-based programs would provide a solid foundation for choice-driven services.

Larry: And then we fast forward thirteen years. Oregon chooses to pursue higher federal funding through the Community First Choice Option (the K Plan.) What are your thoughts on this change?

Kathryn: I think that for years we have argued that we needed more resources in the DD system. We all know that there are people with significant support needs who aren’t receiving the level of supports that they actually require and need. We knew that the existing Support Services funding was not adequate for many people. I think the K is an incredible opportunity for Oregon to bring more resources into the state. The challenge is in the implementation.

Larry: Do you think the state expects us to deliver services differently now as a result of the K Plan’s implementation?

Kathryn: Well, additional resources are wonderful but we need to remain focused on the goals, the vision that people with disabilities, with appropriate supports, can create a full life, rich in friends and meaningful community connections, employment and significant relationships.  It is what we want for all our children. There’s no reason we have to lose those values, though I believe they are significantly endangered. The K has forced change in what I believe are the fundamentals: self-determination, choice and control. We have moved to a system that is deficits-based. That being said, I think there are ways- could have been ways – that didn’t undermine these cardinal values. Brokerages are committed to keeping the conversation about these values alive. It hasn’t been popular because it isn’t easy. I think we all recognize that any kind of system change is difficult and that the implementation process is the hardest part. That being said I am struck by the lack of planning that has ignored the hydraulics of a lifespan service system, the failure to listen to the lessons learned in the past, and the failure to listen to operational wisdom of stakeholders. The result has caused long-held priorities to be turned inside out. We will continue to  push for involvement in these conversations, before decisions are made.  It is important to have our core values drive decision-making instead of being after-thoughts that are an inconvenience to the process.

Larry: You mentioned a deficits-based approach. This brings to mind the Functional Needs Assessment or Adult Needs Assessment, which is a tool we now use when people enter brokerage services. The tool measures a person’s support needs and determines what services they’re eligible for. When you think about having a needs assessment completed – well, that’s something many states require. This isn’t a new idea, it’s not out of left field. But what you’re saying is that it’s not the tool that is the concern, it’s the approach.

Kathryn: It’s the implementation that’s the problem. Most states have some kind of assessment like this – a functional needs assessment. I think the key is in how the process gets framed. I recently went through an assessment with my son. I think the person who did it is wonderful and I understand that time is short. But I would have liked to hear “What would he like to be doing? What would he like his life looking like?” It would help focus on the idea that these supports are being offered for a purpose. There is great power in starting an assessment by talking to someone about who they are and what they hope to be. It’s not just powerful for people with disabilities. It informs the way we all think and behave.

Larry: I think brokerages are focusing on goal development first and finding a way to fit the needs assessment in as naturally as possible. It’s a shift and we’re still learning how to make all the pieces fit. One of the bigger concerns right now is that the tool being used is temporary, just a placeholder. This is an untested experience and, as it stands right now, Oregon plans to change the assessment tool we’re currently using and replace it with a different tool by January of next year.

Kathryn: What we must not lose sight of is that this may be just a pilot project in some people’s eyes, but for the people going through this assessment having their support plans radically changed, there is nothing “pilot” about it. This is about their lives. It’s about getting the resources they need and are being told they’re entitled to under the new funding model. I think it’s a really important message that people making these decisions need to understand. This is not a pilot. These are people’s lives. Clearly, the introduction of any new assessment tool and process must be thoroughly planned and implemented in a way that does not disrupt the lives of customers and families or cause chaos in the system. January 2015 is too soon. The dust will have not settled from this last effort.


The Riot Hosts Teleconference Series on Healthy Intimate Relationships

From The Riot!:

The Riot would like to invite you to join them for another teleconference series titled:  A National Conversation on Healthy Relationships!

There will be a total of three calls with real talk between self-advocates, family members and healthcare providers about intimate relationships, personal safety and advice from peers.  We’ll be tackling the tough questions that are on a lot of people’s minds but many are afraid to talk about.  Let’s break down those barriers and open the lines of communication!

At the end of each call, we will have a Question and Answer session from the audience.  The calls will last 90 minutes each.  This will be one teleconference series you won’t want to miss!

The registration fee will be $25 per teleconference for ONE phone line.  If you use a speaker phone you can gather people around and listen together!  Additional lines will be $25 each.

If you register for all three teleconferences, you will pay only $20 per teleconference or $60 total!  Additional lines will also be $20 each.  So, it pays to register for all three!

To register for these teleconferences you can go to our website at www.theriotrocks.org and click on our ad.

Or, you can download our agenda and registration form directly from this link

Come join us for a National Conversation on Healthy Relationships!  Register Now!!

The topics we will cover during each session are described below.  For more detailed questions during each teleconference, please click on the link above.

Teleconference #1:  Do individuals with developmental disabilities have the right to someone special in their life, such as an intimate relationship?  September 1, 2009 – 90 minutes (3pm ET)

Teleconference #2:  What are the dynamics of a healthy, intimate relationship?  Issues of sexuality, personal safety and safe sex/birth control will be discussed.  October 5, 2009 – 90 minutes (3pm ET)

Teleconference #3:  Self-advocates give their peers advice, “Dear Abby” style.  November 2, 2009 – 90 minutes (3pm ET)

ARTICLE: The Anti-Socialite

On the first day of Autism 2006, the Geneva Centre for Autism International Symposium at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the main event was a presentation by Tony Attwood. As the audience trickled into the 1,330-seat John Bassett Theatre, the image on the giant screen at stage centre was a tranquil expanse of ocean. A man in a suit crossed the stage to organize something on the lectern. Three women in front of me began murmuring. It was Attwood. Another woman went up to the stage and called to him. Smiling, he moved forward to greet her and then folded himself down to the stage floor, his head resting in one upturned palm as they chatted. The murmur intensified, coming from all directions. “He’s even lying down for her,” a woman whispered. Another took out her digital camera. “We’ve got to get our picture with him.” If Asperger’s syndrome has a patron saint, it is Tony Attwood. Born and educated in England, he now heads the Macgregor Specialist Centre in Brisbane, Australia; is an adjunct associate professor at Griffith University in Queensland; and is considered one of the world’s leading experts on AS. To many, Attwood literally wrote the book: The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome encompasses twenty-five-plus years of clinical experience and research. Having worked with more than 2,000 people (of all ages) with AS, he is a mentor to a generation of occupational therapists and a guru for parents. Continue Article

Source: The Walrus Magazine | Thanks to Valerie Morrow