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Care workers in need of pay increase

2/14/2020

Paraprofessional Amy Neeley has worked full time as a caregiver at the Reed Center in Hays for two years and four months. She works for the nonprofit Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas Inc., helping adults with intellectual disabilities.The money isn’t great, with base pay starting at $9 an hour. But the clients and staff are like a happy family, Neeley said Thursday morning while helping clients get organized to play Monopoly.Neeley teaches four classes this semester at the Reed Center: Health and Safety, Holidays, American Sign Language and Ancient Cultures.“I am blessed enough that my significant other makes a wage that allows me to work here,” said Neeley, of Hays. “I couldn’t do it on my own.”Many of DSNWK’s 350 employees are the caregivers who work in group homes or provide day help throughout 18 counties in northwest Kansas. Kaitlyn Wagle, of Hays, is a program services coordinator and has worked at DSNWK for nearly eight years.“I’ve had two or three jobs up until recently,” Wagle said, noting that others who work there do the same to make ends meet. “If you’re living on your own, it’s just not possible on this wage. No one is a fan of the wage, but the people who work here want to stay, that’s why they get two jobs. They don’t want to leave here.”It shouldn’t be that way, and won’t be, if Allen Schmidt gets his way.The fate of direct support professionals is a concern to Schmidt, explaining that these are the home health workers, nurse aids and personal care workers seen in nursing homes, assisted living centers, at DSNWK and in other places where the elderly and disabled are cared for.It’s critical to up the level of pay, Schmidt said, “so that you can get them out of poverty.”A retired Army and Medical Service Corps colonel, Schmidt moved back to western Kansas a few years ago to find himself first filling an unexpired Kansas senate seat, then named to the Kansas Board of Regents, and now working at DSNWK, 2703 Hall St., to establish an endowment and planned giving program.As a result, revitalizing rural Kansas and the aging population of western Kansas have become two of his concerns, particularly who will care for the aging, namely direct support workers."There’s a shortage of these workers, which is going to directly impact our parents, and eventually you and me as we get older,” said Schmidt on Saturday, who questioned state legislators at the Legislative Update sponsored by the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce in the Ballroom at Fort Hays State University.“The projection right now, and this is a national prediction, is that there’s going to be 74,000 positions short by 2026 in Kansas,” Schmidt said after the update program. “When you look at the nation, the national level, it’s in the millions. It may be the number one or two employed position in Kansas in 2026. That’s why I’m interested.”As a state senator, he saw the problem firsthand.“There are people aging so fast in these communities, that when I represented, for example, Smith County, that was in my senate district, they were 22% over age 65 at that time,” he said. “Now we’re talking about many of these counties going to 35% and 40% over the age of 65.”“We’ve waited too long to deal with this whole aging population,” Schmidt said. “People in western Kansas are going to move someplace where there’s care, eventually, when they can’t care for themselves because their kids aren’t there.”Schmidt’s mission is to see direct support professionals get credit for their work in the form of academic credit leading to higher wages, a professional license, a degree or even a better occupation.Such a program could be modeled after a paraprofessional-to-teacher program developed at Wichita State University, which gives academic credit to paraprofessionals in the classroom, enabling them to work toward a teaching degree.“I’m thinking of that model for direct support professionals, because if I’m going to be a nurse, occupational therapist, doctor, does it not make sense that when I’m starting into the workforce that I’d do work like this?” Schmidt asks. “Why don’t I get academic credit for that? That’s where higher education is going, applied learning, learning in the workplace.”Schmidt is working on building a task force, meeting with WSU and gauging interest from FHSU President Tisa Mason.But the first step, he said, is to get the position included in the Standard Occupational Classification of the U.S. Department of Labor. For that, he asked Rep. Roger Marshall for help at Saturday’s session.“The first thing we need to do is understand why direct support professionals don’t have a category in the Labor Department,” Schmidt said. “We call them direct support professionals, but until they get a labor code, it’s going to be hard to do all the technical things, like develop the curriculum and professionalize them.”Direct support workers don’t make a living wage as it is now, said DSNWK executive director Jerry Michaud, also at the Legislative Update. That’s despite the fact they get training and certification to do their jobs.“They’ve got skills, they are required skills to do that well,” Michaud said. “If it’s professional and it’s trained, then it should be compensated beyond what it is today.”Low pay means people leave for more money, Michaud said. As of Dec. 31, he had 25 open positions at DSNWK throughout the 18 counties. Losing staff affects the clients, he said.“Say I’m the person that needs support, and I’ve got a relationship with you on the staff, and you leave,” Michaud said. “Any transition and turnover as it relates to the individual served is a pretty big deal.”On Thursday at the Reed Center, Wagle handed the Monopoly dice to DSNWK client Michael Karlin, who threw doubles, then high-fived Wagle with a big hoot and holler.Wagle and Neeley helped him count out eight spaces on the board and move his ship token to Chance.“They have a lot of come-and-go in their lives,” said Neeley, nodding to Karlin, David Werth and Jimmy Tucker, sitting at the table around the Monopoly board.“It’s so hard because these guys have so many people come and go out of their lives,” Neeley said.“It can cause trust issues,” Wagle said. “They can develop some anger, aggression, depression.”“It’s like any family,” Neeley added. “You bond, there’s no way around it, and these guys are like anyone else, when they lose someone special.”


Beach Family Foundation Grant benefits DSNWK

1/16/2020

The Beach Family Foundation, Derby, has awarded Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas (DSNWK) a $21,150 grant. This will allow DSNWK to begin the multi-step process of installing access control technology systems within 10 of 16 residential homes in Hays, Russell, Victoria, Atwood, Hill City, and Norton.

The first phase of this project will consist of installing magnetic locks and keypads on the main doors within each home. DSNWK has previously installed these keyless locks in two residential homes where there is a higher risk of elopement. Installing this infrastructure hardware will allow the organization to eventually achieve the overall goal of electronic keyless access control into all homes and office buildings. The organization has made this goal a priority in order to promote safety and ease of access by those persons who receive support in these settings and those staff who help them each day.

DSNWK would like to thank the Beach Family Foundation for their generosity and support which helps DSNWK improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in northwest Kansas.


Community Service Tax Credit program a boost to DSNWK capital campaign effort

1/09/2020

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas (DSNWK) is proud to announce that all awarded Community Service Tax Credits have been claimed.

In 2018, DSNWK was awarded a $250,000 grant in Community Service Tax Credits at the 50-percent rate through the Kansas Department of Commerce. The tax credits were available to donors on a first come, first served basis, raising a total of $500,000.

The ability to offer tax credits to donors was very beneficial to DSNWK’s $5 million Stronger Forever Together capital campaign goal which will help support DSNWK’s programs serving persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

“We are grateful to our many donors who took advantage of these community service tax credits and supported our capital campaign,” said Jerry Michaud, President/CEO of DSNWK. “These donations will allow for much needed facility upgrades and repairs, renovations and accessibility improvements, which are outside of normal funding streams.

For more information about DSNWK’s Stronger Forever Together Capital Campaign, visit www.dsnwk.org and click on the Stronger Forever Together campaign logo.

DSNWK is a 501(c)3 nonprofit serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for over 50 years from the counties of Cheyenne, Decatur, Ellis, Gove, Graham, Logan, Norton, Osborne, Phillips, Rawlins, Rooks, Russell, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Thomas, Trego and Wallace.


Golf Tournament raises money for Hays group homes

12/10/2019

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas is pleased to announce that the Esther McMurtrie Memorial Golf Tournament raised approximately $9,800.00. The 4 person scramble tournament was held on Friday, August 3rd at the Ellis Golf Club. Proceeds are being used to benefit DSNWK group homes Hays. DSNWK would like to thank the many participants, contributors and supporters who made the event a success.


DSNWK benefits from local community foundations

12/06/2019

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas is proud to announce several grant awards from local community foundations.

The Sheridan County Community Foundation awarded DSNWK $2,888.00 for Hoxie Accessibility Improvement. With the funds, DSNWK was able to install a 14 ft x 32 ft concrete pad in the parking lot located at the front entrance of Hoxie Developmental Center. With approaching inclement weather, this pad will allow individuals served, specifically those using wheelchairs and walkers, smoother access to the building.

The Norton County Community Foundation awarded DSNWK $2,558.25 for accessibility improvements at Frontier Developmental Center in Norton. The money from this grant will go to purchase a new shower chair and a portable body lift. Both of these items will provide a safer and more pleasant bathing experience for individuals served, as well as, decrease mobility concerns, improve quality of care, and minimize injuries.

The Russell County Area Community Foundation awarded DSNWK $2,500.00 toward the expansion of a Kid-Link office at Pioneer Developmental Center in Russell. This renovation will result in more offices for staff, a conference room to hold confidential meetings, and increased efficiency in other areas of the building.

The Heartland Community Foundation awarded $3000.00 for the installation of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in two DSNWK group homes in Ellis county. The grant will also allow for the purchasing of AED equipment needed to train staff on how to properly use the machines in case of an emergency.


November 5, 2019

DSNWK Receives grant from Hays Lions Club

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas is proud to announce that they have received a $500.00 grant award from The Hays Lions Club for the vision needs of the people they serve who have developmental disabilities.



Latest News

Golf Tournament raises money for Hays group homes

12/10/2019

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas is pleased to announce that the Esther McMurtrie Memorial Golf Tournament raised approximately $9,800.00. The 4 person scramble tournament was held on Friday, August 3rd at the Ellis Golf Club. Proceeds are being used to benefit DSNWK group homes Hays. DSNWK would like to thank the many participants, contributors and supporters who made the event a success.


DSNWK benefits from local community foundations

12/06/2019

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas is proud to announce several grant awards from local community foundations.

The Sheridan County Community Foundation awarded DSNWK $2,888.00 for Hoxie Accessibility Improvement. With the funds, DSNWK was able to install a 14 ft x 32 ft concrete pad in the parking lot located at the front entrance of Hoxie Developmental Center. With approaching inclement weather, this pad will allow individuals served, specifically those using wheelchairs and walkers, smoother access to the building.

The Norton County Community Foundation awarded DSNWK $2,558.25 for accessibility improvements at Frontier Developmental Center in Norton. The money from this grant will go to purchase a new shower chair and a portable body lift. Both of these items will provide a safer and more pleasant bathing experience for individuals served, as well as, decrease mobility concerns, improve quality of care, and minimize injuries.

The Russell County Area Community Foundation awarded DSNWK $2,500.00 toward the expansion of a Kid-Link office at Pioneer Developmental Center in Russell. This renovation will result in more offices for staff, a conference room to hold confidential meetings, and increased efficiency in other areas of the building.

The Heartland Community Foundation awarded $3000.00 for the installation of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in two DSNWK group homes in Ellis county. The grant will also allow for the purchasing of AED equipment needed to train staff on how to properly use the machines in case of an emergency.


November 5, 2019

DSNWK Receives grant from Hays Lions Club

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas is proud to announce that they have received a $500.00 grant award from The Hays Lions Club for the vision needs of the people they serve who have developmental disabilities.


DSNWK Recognizes Success at Awards Luncheon

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas hosted its annual awards luncheon in Hays on October 22nd. Awards were given throughout the afternoon to staff, persons served, and community members.


November 1, 2019

Dechant Recognized by InterHab

Alyssa Dechant with Styles Dance Centre in Hays, was recognized by InterHab with the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award for 2019. The award was presented at InterHabs’ Annual Power Up Conference in Wichita on October 19th at the Hyatt Regency. Dechant was recognized for her work in creating the Dancing Together for DSNWK event held each April at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

____

September 11, 2019

VISTA Volunteers recognize first responders

A large crowd of First Responders filed into DSNWK’s Schoepner Room at the Administrative Offices on September 11th as DSNWK hosted a luncheon in appreciation for their dedication and service.



Latest News

December 3, 2019

DSNWK Receives grant from Hays Lions Club

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas is proud to announce that they have received a $500.00 grant award from The Hays Lions Club for the vision needs of the people they serve who have developmental disabilities. The grant will go to support DSNWK's Consumer Medical Fund which assists individuals with the cost of medical items and care that are not covered by Medicaid such as eye glasses and other vision needs. DSNWK would like to thank the Hays Lions Club for their continuous support of people with developmental disabilities.



November 5, 2019

DSNWK Recognizes Success at Awards Luncheon

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas hosted its annual awards luncheon in Hays on October 22nd. Awards were given throughout the afternoon to staff, persons served, and community members.


November 1, 2019

Dechant Recognized by InterHab

Alyssa Dechant with Styles Dance Centre in Hays, was recognized by InterHab with the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award for 2019. The award was presented at InterHabs’ Annual Power Up Conference in Wichita on October 19th at the Hyatt Regency. Dechant was recognized for her work in creating the Dancing Together for DSNWK event held each April at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

____

September 11, 2019

VISTA Volunteers recognize first responders

A large crowd of First Responders filed into DSNWK’s Schoepner Room at the Administrative Offices on September 11th as DSNWK hosted a luncheon in appreciation for their dedication and service.



Latest News

November 5, 2019

Dechant Recognized by InterHab

Alyssa Dechant with Styles Dance Centre in Hays, was recognized by InterHab with the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award for 2019. The award was presented at InterHabs’ Annual Power Up Conference in Wichita on October 19th at the Hyatt Regency. Dechant was recognized for her work in creating the Dancing Together for DSNWK event held each April at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

____

September 11, 2019

VISTA Volunteers recognize first responders

A large crowd of First Responders filed into DSNWK’s Schoepner Room at the Administrative Offices on September 11th as DSNWK hosted a luncheon in appreciation for their dedication and service.

____

July 11, 2019

DSNWK receives grants to renovate, expand group home

A $279,000 grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation and a $50,000 grant from the Robert E. and Patricia Schmidt Foundation will help Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas make needed repairs and improvements, the most costly being the renovation and expansion of an Ellis County group home.

____


Latest News

September 11, 2019

VISTA Volunteers recognize first responders

A large crowd of First Responders filed into DSNWK’s Schoepner Room at the Administrative Offices on September 11th as DSNWK hosted a luncheon in appreciation for their dedication and service.

____

July 11, 2019

DSNWK receives grants to renovate, expand group home

A $279,000 grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation and a $50,000 grant from the Robert E. and Patricia Schmidt Foundation will help Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas make needed repairs and improvements, the most costly being the renovation and expansion of an Ellis County group home.

____

July 1, 2019

Making learning fun at Reed Developmental Center

The Reed Center is finding new ways to share the fun of learning! Through a grant awarded by the Beach Family Foundation, DSNWK was able to purchase virtual goggles to be used in the classroom.

Latest News

September 11, 2019

VISTA Volunteers recognize first responders

A large crowd of First Responders filed into DSNWK’s Schoepner Room at the Administrative Offices on September 11th as DSNWK hosted a luncheon in appreciation for their dedication and service.

____

July 11, 2019

DSNWK receives grants to renovate, expand group home

A $279,000 grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation and a $50,000 grant from the Robert E. and Patricia Schmidt Foundation will help Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas make needed repairs and improvements, the most costly being the renovation and expansion of an Ellis County group home.

____

July 1, 2019

Making learning fun at Reed Developmental Center

The Reed Center is finding new ways to share the fun of learning! Through a grant awarded by the Beach Family Foundation, DSNWK was able to purchase virtual goggles to be used in the classroom.

News Archive

Latest News

December 3, 2019

DSNWK Receives grant from Hays Lions Club

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas is proud to announce that they have received a $500.00 grant award from The Hays Lions Club for the vision needs of the people they serve who have developmental disabilities. The grant will go to support DSNWK's Consumer Medical Fund which assists individuals with the cost of medical items and care that are not covered by Medicaid such as eye glasses and other vision needs. DSNWK would like to thank the Hays Lions Club for their continuous support of people with developmental disabilities.

November 5, 2019

DSNWK Recognizes Success at Awards Luncheon

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas hosted its annual awards luncheon in Hays on October 22nd. Awards were given throughout the afternoon to staff, persons served, and community members.


November 1, 2019

Dechant Recognized by InterHab

Alyssa Dechant with Styles Dance Centre in Hays, was recognized by InterHab with the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award for 2019. The award was presented at InterHabs’ Annual Power Up Conference in Wichita on October 19th at the Hyatt Regency. Dechant was recognized for her work in creating the Dancing Together for DSNWK event held each April at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

____

September 11, 2019

VISTA Volunteers recognize first responders

A large crowd of First Responders filed into DSNWK’s Schoepner Room at the Administrative Offices on September 11th as DSNWK hosted a luncheon in appreciation for their dedication and service.