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State of HDI: Quality Improvement and Data with Laura Butler


[Patti] Hello, and welcome to the State of HDI, a podcast of the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute. I’m Patti Singleton, and in the studio with me today is Laura Butler, director of the Kentucky Core Indicators Project. Laura, it’s so good to have you here.

[Laura] Thanks, Patti. I’m happy to be here.

[Patti] Laura, today’s topic is on quality improvement and data. So, tell me about this project.

[Laura] So, the National Core Indicators is a project where we survey adults who are receiving services from the state. So, in Kentucky’s case, it’s two Medicaid waiver services, the Michelle P waiver and the supports for Community Living waiver. 48 other states also participate in the survey. And there are other surveys within the project as well.

[Patti] So, 48 states, that’s a lot of data. So, based on the data you’ve collected, and you’ve seen, how is Kentucky performing as compared to some of the other states?

[Laura] So, it depends on the items that we look at. And that is one of the things that our quality improvement committee does look at is to see how Kentucky does rank in terms of some different areas. They call them indicators for this survey and to see how Kentucky is performing nationally, and compared to some other states that might be benchmark states for us.

[Patti] And you mentioned a committee, can you tell me who is represented on that committee? 

[Laura] Yeah, so the committee is made up of some other HDI’ers, as well as some folks from different state agencies, including the division of developmental and intellectual disability, and also most importantly, family members of people who are receiving the services and people who are actually receiving the services.

[Patti] So, I assume this dataset can really help people with advocacy and policy efforts.

We’re seeing that happen more and more on a local and state level, which is really exciting. And then the data are also being used for federal quality management and assessment measures.

[Patti] So having such a large data set likely also gives a great picture of progress of people with disabilities over time. And so, what are some of those trends? 

[Laura] As with everything else, we saw changes during COVID. We did stop surveying in March 2020, when everything else stopped. But we did have about three fourths of our surveys completed at that point. So, we did look at that data as an immediate pre pandemic snapshot. And so, we – like the rest of the country – saw people, fewer people working, fewer people spending time in the community, things like that. But we’ve seen a really significant rebound in that in the last year. The survey has changed somewhat, it does change in response to different things that are going on in the community. So, there are survey questions that have been added to measure what is called often the final rule or the settings rule that Medicaid has. And that’s about how people live as you would think with the settings rule. Those are newer questions. So, we’re seeing some changes there. As people, as agencies and providers try to get in line with that role. We see other changes as well in terms of employment, it goes up and down. Other items in terms of people who have meaningful relationships, or people who feel lonely, those go up and down. But generally, we see positive trends for Kentuckians in those items.

[Patti] I certainly think a lot of people have probably a stress response when we think about data. And so, tell me how this project is making data into information we can all use.

[Laura] Yeah, so it’s really important for us that people use the data, the big survey that we use is collected directly from people who are receiving the services. So, it is a really important perspective. So, we want to see it used. So, what we do is present the data in a number of different ways. We have just the data tables for people who are really into just raw data and looking at that. We have those out there. Then we also work to create some easy-read documents. The National – National Core Indicators folks do that as well with a larger data, but we do it with the data that we see here in Kentucky and specifically with the items that the quality improvement committee looks at. So, we work with people with disabilities to help us develop those and make sure that they work for a different variety of people. So, we probably have some that are meant for provider agencies, some that are meant for people who are receiving services, others that can be used for policymakers.

[Patti] And we’ll make sure that we have links to those in the show notes today. So finally, what changes do you see in the future?

[Laura] So, it’s really hard to tell. I think the national folks that design the survey are really responsive to what is happening in the community and what’s happening with policy and politics, honestly. And so, as things change, we’ll see that change as well. One of the issues that’s really big right now is getting enough people to provide services. So, the workforce of people who are providing services is really challenging right now. And that really impacts the quality of life for people who are receiving these services. So, we’re seeing right now the emphasis on that workforce, the direct support professionals, and we’re seeing a lot of emphasis on making sure that those people are retained and paid well and treated well, and we do have a survey. It’s called the State of the Workforce survey that’s specific to measuring that in terms of compensation and retention of the direct support professionals.

[Patti] Well, Laura, it was so great to sit down with you today and learn more about your project.

[Laura] Thanks for having me, Patti.

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Exploring the Intersectionality of Ability, Race, & Religion

Dr. Nicholas Wright and Maria Kemplin, staff at the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute, received a University of Kentucky Office for Institutional Diversity Award to support programs that are student-centric and foster collaboration through partnerships that address the important of diverse views and cultures. In partnership with the Martin Luther King Center and the Disability Resource Center, staff will explore the intersectionality of ability, and race.

Intersectionality is a framework for understanding how various social categories interact to create unique experiences of discrimination and privilege. Most people understand race is a concept of diversity, but ability has been historically omitted from this conversation and religion is another concept that is absent from conversations surrounding DEI.

This award will be used to host an educational event for all students, staff, and faculty members to gain a better understanding of this multifaceted experience in diversity. By gaining exposure and learning about intersectionality, we can address and dismantle systems of oppression to better support all students holistically.

Watch for more information about this exciting event at hdi.uky.edu.

Maurice Dawson staff photo

2023 Jacki Shouse Service Award Dedicated to the Memory of Maurice Dawson, Jr

Jacki Shouse began working at the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute in March of 1990. She accepted her first position with the Human Development Institute in February of 1998, where she spent the next 19 years until her retirement. Although we miss her greatly, giving the annual Shouse Service Award gives us an opportunity to reflect on what she meant to HDI.

This award is given to an HDI staff member who demonstrates excellent job performance through their contributions to increase efficiency, provision of high-quality customer service, increased cost savings, or enhanced daily operations. The candidate must be responsive, respectful, and work collaboratively with others.

This year’s award is dedicated to the memory of Maurice Dawson, Jr., Computer Support Specialist. Nominations were received from multiple staff members who shared special memories of Maurice and his impact on HDI.

“Maurice took time to get to know each colleague in such a unique and personal way. He brightened everyone’s day with his dry sense of humor, incredible wit, and silly memes at what always seemed to be sent at the perfect time.”

“He juggled so many tasks at Coldstream and made it look effortless”.

“Maurice always made folks feel like they were his top priority, even though there were hundreds of us.”

We are grateful for another opportunity to remember our colleague and friend.

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Johnny Collett joins a special episode of the State of HDI Podcast

The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) is pleased to announce a special episode of the State of HDI podcast series. Listeners have the opportunity to join Johnny Collett, Deputy Director at HDI, for Advancing Ideas for Improvement or Innovation in a System Where You are Not the Boss. Learn about five principles that apply in any setting that can be used regardless of where you are organizationally situated, that could increase your ability to lead.

Listen to this episode and download a summary document of the State of HDI podcast here.

Before joining HDI, Collett served as Assistant United States Education Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Prior to that, Collett served as program director for special education outcomes at the Council of Chief State School Officers. He has also served in senior leadership roles at the Kentucky Department of Education, and as a high school special education teacher.

From his role as a classroom teacher, to state special education director, to the United States’ highest-ranking official for special education and rehabilitative services, Collett has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to raising expectations and improving outcomes for people with disabilities. Added to that is his career-long commitment to meaningful and effective collaboration with diverse stakeholders – whether students, parents, educators, business leaders, disability advocates, governors, state legislators, or members of Congress.

Collett’s extensive portfolio of leadership experience, including implementation of state and Federal laws and policies and numerous systems change efforts, provide him with a unique perspective on matters related to improving educational, employment, and other life outcomes of people with disabilities.

Follow Johnny on Twitter @JohnnyWCollett or contact him at Johnny.Collett@uky.edu.

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Fund for Excellence Projects Awarded

The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute Fund for Excellence was created to support the development of innovative programs, services, or products to address the needs of individuals with disabilities and their families, for which funding is not currently available. Below is a list of the most recent awards.

Expanding the Social Networks of Adults with Autism

Project Lead: Patti Logsdon

This project supports autistic adults in expanding their friendships, social networks, and community participation in valued community roles and activities. This will be achieved through a blended approach that builds upon person-centered planning, circle of friends/support, peer networks and valued social roles. This project will support HDI’s mission of building inclusive communities by developing social networks.

Mind in the Making: Seven Essential Executive Skills for Families

Project Leads: Dr. Joanne Rojas and Sally Dannenberg 

Mind in the Making (MITM) is a research framework that summarizes decades of developmental research into the seven essential life skills. The MITM training consists of eight modules geared to early childhood professionals and family educators to engage them in an experiential and reflective process of self-discovery of their own competence in these life skills, connect their experience to the research, and learn to promote these capacities in themselves as well as in the children in their care. The goal of this project is to provide this training to communities throughout the state that serve families that are at risk because of a variety of circumstances. This project supports HDI’s mission of addressing the inequity of access to resources and support networks. 

Working Alternatives to Guardianship (WAG)

Project Lead: Laura Butler 

The goal of this project is to form a workgroup of stakeholders that will work together to inform workable decisional support options for people who have not traditionally had viable options beyond legal guardianship. The initial objective of the group will be to create a Continuing Legal Education course that will focus on providing people with legal documents that will be accepted by a wide variety of other professionals. This project will further HDI’s mission of building inclusive communities by helping identify ways for more people to experience full personal and civil rights.