June 10, 2020

To:  All WACOSA staff and stakeholders

From:  Steve H., Executive Director

Re:  Initial re-establishment of services

As has been our practice throughout the current pandemic, we are reaching out today to provide our staff and many stakeholders an update regarding WACOSA’s services and efforts underway to re-establish a portion of our services.  As you are aware, we continue to receive guidance from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS).  In our last memo to you dated June 1, 2020, we included a note from DHS Commissioner Jodi Harpstead entitled, “Update on Resuming HCBS Day Services”.  This note outlined some preliminary steps that are being authorized by DHS to re-establish a portion of both our employment and on-site services, though in a significantly reduced capacity.

While we would prefer authorization to serve a larger number of individuals for full days, we are proceeding within the boundaries of what we have been authorized to provide.  At the present time, a number of WACOSA staff, including leadership team members, have been called back into daily service.  V.P. of Programs and Quality Assurance, Nancy Betts, is working with these individuals to organize themselves into small teams to address such things as social distancing (i.e. visual cues/spatial planning), staff training, re-establishing paperwork systems, transportation and constructing client work groups. Much of this preparation has included contacting various clientele (groups that DHS is allowing us to serve), either directly or through family members/guardians to determine who wishes to return to work.  As you can imagine, this is often very different for each person we contact and is a lengthy process. Currently, we are planning some work crews to begin again next week, as employer needs dictate.  We also expect that some work crews may no longer be in operation, should a business have closed during the current shutdown or if the needs of an employer have changed during the current crisis.

Should you have questions, I encourage you to contact our V.P. of Programs and Services, Nancy Betts at 320-257-5187 or email at nbetts@wacosa.org.  You can also contact me at 320-257-5180 or showard@wacosa.org. We will get back to you as soon as possible. Please stay connected with WACOSA’s various sources of information as we move into the summer months in order to get as up-to-the-minute information regarding the eventual re-establishment of all WACOSA services. We will continue to provide updates to all of our staff and stakeholders as we learn more information and develop plans for additional services.

As always, thanks again for your patience during this time.  Stay healthy and safe as we reconvene services over time.