Jul 112012

Due to last minute funding made available from SRS the Kansas CAC Board of Directors were able to have two face-to-face meetings in May and June.  Much of the discussion work centered around planning two leadership academies, finishing up the process of the current Trauma Informed Care Grant, outlining a new SAMHSA Grant proposal and looking ahead to the next fiscal year.   Highlights include the following:

  • Board Funding and Budget -As announced earlier a $150,000 line item for the CAC’s work in the coming fiscal year was approved by the legislature.  The oversight for the funding will be sifting from the SRS to the newly formed Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS).  Though this was good news and represented the culmination of almost a year of hard work by board members, staff, consumers and others across the state, it represents a decrease in funding of $110,000 from the $260,000 per year the Board had received  in prior to the elimination of funding  in the past fiscal year.

Through a lot of hard work, creative thinking, and plain old penny pinching the Board approved a budget which would provide for staff salaries and benefits, four one-day face-to -face board meetings, two leadership academies in modified fashion (Leadership for Empowerment and Leadership in Action), Trauma Informed Care Training for CRO’s,  a scaled down version of the Recovery Conference and miscellaneous board expenses . The proposed budget and funding contract are currently undergoing discussions with KDADS’ representatives , but it i8s hoped that a satisfactory agreement can be reached soon.

  •  Proposal for a new SAMHSA Grant –At the May meeting,  Gary Parker led the Board through a planning process to identify possible areas of need, interest  and goals for a new SAMHSA grant proposal.  It was decided that the focus should on improving the overall health of mental health consumers across the state.  In marathon sessions the executive committee shaped it in to a formal proposal for a “Get Healthy, Kansas!” Campaign and submitted it to SAMHSA for consideration.  A decision on the grant is expected in September.  If approved not only would it provide funding for this three year initiative, but it would allow us to shift a percentage of the staff costs from  the general budget to grant funding, thus freeing up a small amount of additional money for other initiatives
  •  Postponed Elections until the 2013 Recovery Conference – Election of Board members typically happens at the Recovery Conference each year with a third of the board being elected to three year terms each year of a three year cycle.  Because there was no 2012 Recovery Conference (the due to funding cuts),  because the same lack of funding made meeting together difficult and at times impossible and because it delayed much of the work and service that board members usually perform, the Board took advantage of language within the Bylaws which allowed them to postpone the elections to a later date and extend the terms of the current board members.
  • Agreed to Phase in a Three Year Plan to Reduce Board Size – The CAC’s Board of Directors is among the largest in the country.  While designed to increase representation from consumers across the state, it also greatly increases meeting and related costs.  Supporting a Board of this size becomes difficult as budgets get tighter and it also becomes a factor when applying for grants and other funding. Therefore at the suggestion of state and national agencies and after much discussion by the Board of Directors, it was decided to phase in a plan to reduce the size of the Board over the next three years.  No one will be ask to leave the Board but beginning with the 2013 elections only one representative from each area or region will be elected instead of two.  Thus over the three year cycle the Board size would be reduced in half.  In related action the Board also decided to eliminate the General Advocacy Position ( which is currently vacant),  thus further reducing the size of the Board.  However the Board was unanimous in keeping the Leader for Tomorrow Representative, even though it has been difficult at times to fill the position, citing the importance of having young adults represented on the board.
  • Elected New Officers and Thanked Those Retiring for their Service  At the June meeting the following officers were elected to one year terms: Denise Baynham, President; Vicky Collins, Vice-President; Brian Lohrenz, Secretary and Sam Schrepel, Treasurer. On behalf of the Board and staff, Gary Parker thanked the outgoing officers,  Rene’ Strunk,  Don Tedford,  Nancy Craddock, and Richard Stitt for their service and presented them with token gifts of appreciation.
  • Trauma Informed Care – The TIC committee is in wrap-up and extend mode as it nears the end of a three year initiative supported by a SAMHSA grant.  A curriculum was finalized and trainings held at four pilot sites across the state this past year.  There are ongoing discussions among the committee members, staff and others as to how best to extend the initiative.  Likewise a roundtable/summit originally slated to take place at the recovery conference will be held in July or August to consolidate what has been learned and to explore how to proceed from here.  Thanks go to Chris White and the committee for a job well done.
  • Leadership Academies – Due to the limited funds available the Leadership Academies, Leadership for Empowerment and Leadership in Action, had to be reformatted and refocused.  None the less, they did take place. Leadership in action was hosted in Great Bend at Bright Horizons CRO, May 22-24, 2012 and involved consumers active at CROs in Great Bend, Hays, Hutchinson and Dodge City. Leadership for Empowerment was reworked into a one week format and held June 18-22, 2012 in Wichita. Participants came from across the state and will work with mentors after the event to complete a community service project.  Thanks, Cherie, Su, mentors and presenters for your dedication, hard work, creativity and flexibility in putting together these events on short notice.
  • Governor’s Mental Health Services Planning Council (GMHSPC) Report –  The Board and Staff put together and Gary presented the annual report of the CAC (with additions by CRO’s ) to the GMHSPC.  The Report included the CAC’s mission and vision statements, a list of board members and staff,  FY 2013 plans, recommendations and goals, a summary of significant accomplishments in 2012 and preceding years, updates by CROs, a summary and contact information for the CAC, staff members and CROs. Gary’s participation on the GMHPSPC is just one example of how he, the rest of  staff and board members are active throughout the state and nation in advocating for consumers and working to provide resources for their continued recovery.
  • CCSR Updates – Scott Wituck, the Director of The Center for Community Support and Research at WSU was on hand at the June Meeting  to update the board on the Centers/WSU’s plans and objectives and to reassure the CAC of it’s continued support.  The CCSR’s budget has been under scrutiny from the state as well and at the time of the June meeting they had not finalized their funding contract with the state, but the following seem likely.  They will continue to provide office space , supplies and miscellaneous  services to the CAC,  maintain a database of self help and support groups, continue to support the CRO’s in Outreach Meetings and explore other ways  to assist CROs, continue to be active in research, evaluation, training and consultation, and possible facilitate discussions on issues of interest to mental health consumers, such as Health Homes and other whole health initiatives.  WSU will also continue to provide basic and advanced training to individuals employed as peer specialists and continue to advocate for opening  their trainings to consumers not currently employed as peer specialists.
  • 2013 Recovery Conference – As stated above the CAC has included in its budget, provisions for a modified version of the recovery conference.  That budget has yet to be approved by the state. Much discussion by the board has already occurred as to what to leave in, what to take out, how to cut costs, how to raise additional funding, and whether consumers can and should bear more of the cost. Likewise Gary solicited input from consumers across the state in an email sent out last week.  This input along with letters of support  for the recovery conference will be presented to KDADS as the funding contract is negotiated. (Thanks to everyone that responded to Gary’s questions or sent letters of support.)  Assuming that all goes well and a recovery conference is included in the final contract with the state, then these are some of the likely realities of the modified recovery conference.  First it will probably be a two day as opposed to a three day conference, it may use facilities other than the Hyatt and Century II, we will possibly seek outside sponsors to help defray some of the costs, professionals and those with display tables may face higher costs and yes, consumers may be asked to bear some additional costs (for example: the cost of T-Shirts, one night’s lodging, and local transportation have all been proposed though not finalized).  So plan ahead, put aside a little each month, get creative, put four(or more) to a room (call it a slumber party), make your own T-Shirts, do a fund raiser, work together, have fun, expect the unexpected, take responsibility for yourself and help a friend if you can, keep a positive attitude, say to yourself, “This is going to be the best recovery conference ever!”  Maybe it will be maybe it won’t, but as some said, “Shoot for the moon and even if you miss you’ll land among the stars!”

That’s really is just the highlights of what the Board and Staff have been up too, but I think you get the idea that they have been a busy bunch both in meetings and behind the scenes.  Much work lies ahead, and we will do our best to keep you updated as things develop.

One final word to all our fellow consumers and supporters across the state, THANKS! Thanks for all you do! Thanks for your kind words, suggestions and encouragement! Thanks for your help on a variety of projects! Thanks for the letters you’ve written to legislators and state officials! Thanks for being shining examples of what recovery is all about!