Change Initiative Abstracts

The change initiative is an important LeadUP action-based learning component that allows participants to put leadership and learning into action. This learning component will help accomplish the following goals:

  • Immediate transfer of leadership skills to the work environment, thereby improving the leadership practices of the individual leader and of DHS as a whole.
  • Provide cross-divisional sharing of leadership perspectives and create peer leadership learning networks.
  • Immediately begin building future leadership capacity as participants look for new approaches to current issues.

Throughout the LeadUP program, you will have opportunities to discuss how to enhance leadership skills through the change initiatives. In Session One, we discussed how to be a trustworthy leader and build trust among team members and other stakeholders. Session Two included insights on how to engage employees in the process of change. Last week in Session Three, you discussed the importance of a customer-centered approach and how your change initiative goals should be aligned with the customer experience.

Additional learning and support is provided through peer learning groups. This will allow participants to discuss their projects, share learning and experiences, and provide peer support to one another.

Please select from the links below to view the change initiative abstracts.

Learning Group 1: Jimmy Arias, Veronica Franks-Taylor, Stacy Gholson, Linda Hall, Cindy Rudich

Family Centered Services Brochure
Jimmy Arias, CWS

We currently lack a well-defined process and tool to comprehensively identify, target, and address broad based issues within congregate care facilities that result in child maltreatment. This initiative will create comprehensive protocols and definitions related to congregate care Immediate Protective Action Plans, Corrective Action Plans, and Written Plans of Compliance. This will include the development of an electronic monitoring tool which captures not only steps and actions to be taken related to correct individual behaviors and conditions effecting child safety, but also steps and actions to be taken related to facility wide culture, services, and practices which impact child safety. The goal is to improve the quality of service to children placed in congregate care by providing an improved placement related to safety.

Live Scan Fingerprint
Veronica Franks-Taylor, CCS

In 2014, Fingerprinting for Child Care Services in the state of Oklahoma totaled 26,195 requests. Rejection rates were 17% at mid-year and 3% at year end. Although services improved, there is still room for additional improvement. Walk in services are not yet offered and mobile sites are limited. DHS employees are still being fingerprinted using hard cards through law enforcement. The goal of this project is to provide in house walk in fingerprint capture services to potential employees of licensed child care programs and to DHS employees while saving money for the state.

Cleveland County Case Documentation
Linda Hall, AFS

Empowering support staff with more information and proper training regarding codes, basics of eligibility determination, and verification will make them an integral part of the team. Often callers need information that could easily be provided by the switchboard if they know what to pass along. There are also situations where a client may be talking to a different worker who may be absent. Support staff makes every attempt to answer questions based on the information they can see, but are often not able to answer all questions because they don’t have sufficient information. Consistent case notes from workers with specifics will assist in passing information along. This will provide immediate customer service to clients.

Lincoln County SNAP/Child Care Same Day Service
Cindy Rudich, AFS

Lincoln County has historically set appointments as clients apply for services, with the exception of expedited (or emergency) SNAP benefits and Child Care. At times, even the expedited SNAP benefits are not issued for several days. In order to provide “same-day” services, the comprehensive workers (SNAP and Child Care) will begin managing the workload by specified tasks instead of managing an entire comprehensive caseload. This will include “intake” workers who will see the majority of clients as they come into the office. They will conduct the interview and assist the client in obtaining all needed verification so that their benefits can be issued the same day. This will significantly improve customer service and provide a positive outcome for those in need. Also, by focusing on specific tasks, “ongoing” workers will be able to become proficient at their task, thereby providing efficient and speedy services and/ or changes for clients with ongoing cases.

Aging Services Quality Service Initiative
Stacy Gholson, Aging Services

The Operations Unit will lead Aging Services in living out the Quality Service Standards. To accomplish this goal, we will request feedback from the division staff on current perspectives of the Operations Unit in demonstrating the Quality Service Standards. We will review feedback with the unit and develop a plan to strengthen areas of weakness and sustain areas of strength. We will send a post-assessment to gather feedback in three months to evaluate progress towards achieving quality services goals.

Learning Group 2: Margot Barnes, Lisa Cary, Kelli Heath, Amy Roberts, Beth Scrutchins

Closure of Child Welfare Shelters
Margot Barnes, HRM

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) plans to close the Laura Dester and Pauline Mayer Shelters. Based on this decision, employees at the shelters would either be separated from DHS through a Voluntary Buy Out (VOBO) or a Reduction-In-Force (RIF) or other alternatives needed to be found. Director Lake indicated that he would like any staff member wanting to stay with DHS to be given the opportunity to do so. This initiative will identify existing jobs these employees are qualified for, when transfers would occur, and if a VOBO or RIF would be required. The final component of this project is the communication to staff at the facility and the various units of Child Welfare Services.

Recruitment and Retention of Child Welfare Workforce
Lisa Cary, CWS

Today we have difficulties recruiting and retaining employees in Child Welfare. If we ignore the impact that recruitment of the right employee and retention of the current employees it will impact the quality of services provided to the children and families in need. Recruitment and retention of employees is a priority in child welfare in order to complete the important work of keeping children safe and to strengthen families. Our Child Welfare staff is our biggest asset. My change initiative is to implement strategies that will enhance the recruitment and retention of Child Welfare staff. My change initiative will include partnering with Human Resources to develop and maintain good strategies that focus on the engagement of employees. It will also include specific responsibilities of the leadership team to insure that we are being intentional in our interactions with staff on a daily basis.

Child Welfare Staff Recruitment and Retention
Kelli Heath, CWS

I propose to engage and lead the Tulsa County supervisory team in exploring and implementing research based recruitment and retention practices and activities to determine if this will improve our turnover rate for employees with less than two years in Child Welfare Services. The approach will be to implement strategies based on best practices research. Strategies will include 8-month employee reviews for probationary employees, supervisor self-assessments and worker assessments of their supervisors to help solidify a baseline in this area, regular focus groups with staff (both new and tenured in separate groups), and additional training for staff and supervisors.

Craig County OKDHS Live
Amy Roberts, AFS

Craig County AFS staff consists of 1 Supervisor, 7 Social Services Specialists, 2 Program Support Specialists and 1 Administrative Assistant. This office is very small and the entire case count is less than 2,500 cases for the county. Caseload adjustments have been completed but staff still report being overwhelmed with the workload. The goal is to bring new AFS systems, initiatives, and processes (utilization of OKDHSLive, same day processing of expedited applications, utilization of phone interviews) to full use in Craig County to create consistent process across the district and allow staff to minimize efforts and maximize time while eliminating non-value added activities. An additional goal is to add an electronic tracking system to get an accurate account of number of clients applying for services daily instead of relying on anecdotal information which can be incorrect.

Summer Feeding Program in Paoli
Beth Scrutchins, AFS

Over 130 children in the Paoli school district grades K-8 qualify for the free summer lunch program, but the closest summer feeding program is in Pauls Valley. While only approximately 15 minutes away by car, transportation and finances can make travelling to Pauls Valley on a daily basis impossible for families and children. Many of these children likely go without food for lunch in the summer. Our goal is to develop a summer feeding program for children to access in the Paoli community.

Learning Group 3: Lesli Blazer, Victoria Harrison, Chris Lambert, Jeff Wagner, Elizabeth Wilson

CCDBG Reauthorization State Plan Preprint
Lesli Blazer, CCS

The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) was signed into law by the President on November 19, 2014. This Act reauthorized the child care program for the first time since 1996. Program requirements must be implemented by September 30, 2016 or an implementation plan provided for approval. The CCDF State Plan preprint must be completed by March 2016 in order to reach this goal. Cross division work and input from the public, stakeholders, and partners will be obtained through a variety of methods.

Worker’s Compensation
Chris Lambert, HRM

We want to make injured employees and their offices feel they are valued by our workers’ compensation program. Employees must receive prompt and appropriate treatment in coordination with their supervisors to help injured employees return to work as soon as possible. This project will evaluate our current processes to find areas for improvement. We will determine the vital behaviors that achieve improved outcomes. We will meet with our workers’ compensation vendor(s) regarding data requirements, and increase the contact local offices have with injured employees. We are coordinating changes with the Division of Capital Assets Management of OMES as we move to a new type of workers’ compensation policy. These activities will also provide increased value and cost efficiencies to DHS. Our success will be measured by a decrease in the time for injured employees to receive treatment and to return to work, by reducing program costs, and by surveying customers to determine their satisfaction.

CSS Integrated Manager/Leadership Training
Victoria Harrison, Jeff Wagner, Elizabeth Wilson – CSS

Child Support Services lacks an integrated effort for implementing complementary Strategic Plan Action Strategies and the Quality Service model. Independent Action Strategies are currently led through combinations of the Center for Operations (CO), the Center for Planning & Development (CPD), and the Center for Communications & Community Relations (CCCR) without a mechanism for creating common threads to instill and reinforce desired leadership behaviors in CSS office managers and managing attorneys. In other words, while we have several mechanisms for providing leadership development training, we repeatedly revert back to providing “management updates” and viewing “core work” as child support case work with little to no attention paid to the development of our leadership abilities.

Learning Group 4: Jerry Hines, David Lincoln, Rebekah McGowan, Marie Moore, Beverly Murray

APS Policy Revisions
Rebekah McGowan and Jerry Hines, APS

We are leading a select group to change APS policy to reflect the current structure, chain of command and incorporating any personnel actions which may need to be included in the revisions. As a newly formed division, many details had to be developed, workload assigned and organizational structure developed. A year prior to that, the program became vertically integrated from the dissolved Field Operations and became part Adult and Family Services. This change will impact Operations as changes will also need to occur in training, quality assurance, and APS electronic documentation to mirror changes implemented by field staff in Adult Protective Services.

Personal Possession Inventory
David Lincoln, Marie Moore, Beverly Murray – DDS

Our change initiative is leading an initiative to better track the items that are in the personal possession inventory of children and adults who receive DDS specialized foster care services. We will work with state office staff who have the responsibility for accounting for the funds and field staff who have the responsibility of monitoring in the home to ensure the items are present, being used, and in good working order. We will consider options to track the purchased items, such as a database to be created and maintained by state office staff, and ways to report that information to the field staff. Once completed, current reports will be available on demand and a two-way communication will exist between state office staff and field staff regarding the inventory information.

Learning Group 5: Daniel Comer, Angie Ivey, Lara Phillips, Shana Ritchie, Phyllis Slayter

OCA Employee Retention
Daniel Comer, OCA

Increase employee retention at OCA by creating a work environment built on trust, respect, and effective communication. Efforts will include conducting exit interviews with employees who voluntarily leave OCA to gain insight into any concerns with the work environment and make improvements, exploring alternative work plans such as telework to better meet business needs and increase employee satisfaction, and developing a statewide employee recognition program at OCA.
We will also evaluate our organizational structure to ensure our employees have sufficient opportunities for career progression and ensure supervisors use the performance management process employees have the skills, resources, and support to succeed and employees receive regular feedback regarding their performance.

Go Ahead, Make Someone Else’s Day
Angie Ivey, Lara Phillips – CWS

We plan to come along- side the roll out of the Quality Services Initiative that Shannon Rios is leading for Child Welfare. We plan to be an extension of this process and to only enhance it from all work group levels in Child Welfare. This change initiative will be introduced to all levels of leadership within Child Welfare, such as at quarterly leadership meetings and quarterly supervisor meetings. We will work hand in hand with CQI teams as this is fully developed within focus groups and work groups to create this implementation plan.

Increasing Employee Enjoyment
Shana Ritchie, AFS

The ultimate goal for the supervisors and county director is to become effective leaders where we do the right things for the desired outcomes. The ultimate goal for staff is a combination of providing quality services and increasing employment enjoyment. With this particular project we look for staff to become more aware of their own role in the “big picture” of client services and employment enjoyment, to contribute in a helpful manner to the continual process improvements, and to develop greater trust in leadership.

Recharge and Rejuvenate Project
Phyllis Slayter, Financial Services

My initiative is designed to recharge and rejuvenate my unit. We are a small group and have had much turnover the last few years. As our level of knowledge and experience decreased, our level of stress and frustration increased. My overall goal is to create a less stressful and more joyful atmosphere. The initiative addresses two major needs of our unit: 1) revising and documenting procedures, and 2) providing opportunities for fun and fellowship. The 1st need is being addressed by reviewing, revising and documenting processes for every position. Written procedures are a good tool for training and reference. Since March we have been successful in documenting 2 critical positions. The 2nd need is to promote joy. This still needs work. We have been going to lunch monthly, which is fun and provides time away from the office. I have also made a point to spend more time with my staff. Meeting both of these needs will be tough but critical in FY16.