RETURN TO STATE OF THE AGENCY CONTENTS
Strategic Priorities for Upcoming Year
Updated Policy and Internal Control Procedures
- The agency has prioritized the updating of agency fiscal policies
- The agency has also prioritized the development and revision of documented systems for internal controls for fiscal, procurement and VR processes in order to review and assess that policies and procedures are being adhered to consistently.
Accessibility Process Improvement
- The agency’s management has prioritized a broad review of internal accessibility policy and processes, specifically for equitable inclusion of peer staff with visual disabilities and to ensure all customer processes are fully accessible.
- While we are a blind agency, a deliberate review of structural and systemic barriers is important to identify inaccessible processes internally, and to address those barriers. We want to ensure staff with disabilities have equal access and opportunity at all levels of the agency.
- A revised accessibility policy and concurrent process improvement activities are in process.
Succession planning and on-boarding and development of DSB staff
- A recent spate of retirements has left the agency with over 30% new staff within the past two years, and statistics indicate that there may be around a 40% changeover in staffing in the next five years.
- This is a challenge for an agency who has previously experienced a long history of staffing stability, with many staff having decades of experience working in the agency and able to grow and deepen the expertise and connection to community necessary in our work over time.
- The agency has committed to a strategic initiative to ensure all staff are better engaged in the unique context of the needs, tools and skills of the population with visual disabilities that we serve, and to ensure belief in the capability of individuals with a visual disability to achieve any outcome that matches the individual’s unique strengths, aptitude, and interests through developing adapted skills and tools.
- BEP model and supports for Blind vendors
- Dropping revenues and business losses due to COVID-19 have placed the future viability of the BEP program in jeopardy. With government building closures since March 2020, most BEP vendors have had to close their businesses indefinitely.
- The traditional BEP business prototype of cafes and cafeterias is no longer viable and more importantly, not sustainable. As devastating the pandemic has been to the BEP program and the entrepreneurs, it has created an opportunity for DSB to reevaluate BEP’s model. To shift our BEP business model, DSB will require an influx of funding to the program that will enable it to adapt and remodel our current operations.
- The old traditional café operation is costly, not profitable, and no longer relevant for today’s workforce. A smaller footprint café will reduce operating costs and create efficiency through high volume production and distribution at multiple serving locations in a building or area. This format can offer multiple hot and cold healthy choices options in grab and go format with espresso service though the day. At the same time, it can produce food for nearby Micro Market vending in the building itself or adjacent buildings. These multiple revenue generators will allow the business owner to grow revenues and sustain during changes in economy or building occupancy.
Post-COVID Service Model Changes
Re-training to meet the technical remote work expectations of the new economy will be essential for blind job seekers, and DSB service provision will need to pivot to meet this new participant need.
Key Performance Goals
Agency Performance Measures include:
- Numbers served in VR, IL and BEP programs
- Number of employment outcomes
- Quality of employment outcomes (wages at second and fourth quarter after exit form agency)
- Extended duration of employment outcomes (measured at second and fourth quarters after exit from agency)
- Number and type of business engagement activities
- Measureable skill gains for credentialed educational activities
- Timelines for VR processes as required by Rehab Act (as amended)
COVID-19 IMPACT | Strategic priorities
All key performance goals will be negatively impacted by the agency’s response to, and participant concerns about, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Numbers served from SFY 2019 to SFY 2020 declined by 8% in the VR program, and 49% in the IL program. For the same time period, employment outcomes decreased by 46%. Referrals slowed almost to a stop for the IL program in 2020, where the agency only received 8% of the IL referrals in 2020 as in 2019.
The expectation is that applications will spike high when it is felt the pandemic is no longer a threat, and the agency will be flooded with people needing services. The challenge will be if there are state fund cuts realized – the agency will need to re-instate a wait list and delay services. For the VR program, a waitlist would be disastrous. Those Washingtonians with visual disabilities who want to enter the economy and to be part of the economic recovery will be sidelined, likely for a year or more, until the agency can forecast it has the resources to provide them with comprehensive and necessary services.