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Leadership Update with Makala Navarro

Portrait of Makala Navarro Portrait of Makala Navarro

Things continue to move here at Heartspring even in this stifling heat. Is anyone else ready for fall?

The “pause” in Heartspring School student enrollments continues as we graduate and transition a number of kiddos to their next adventure. It’s a bittersweet time as we have shared so much with many of these students. Still being fairly new to the organization, I was able to meet many of the students’ families recently at graduations, and it was fascinating to hear their stories of how far their kiddos have come working with our staff here. It was a great reminder of the important work our employees do every day. Noticeable changes can take time, but when they are achieved – wow!

Appointments are filling fast in outpatient. In only a couple of months, we’ve gone from an average of 35 openings per week to 5. We’re also working on new scheduling and compensation models to attract and retain staff. Traditional schedules have worked well for a number of years, but working parents desire more flexibility and so do our employees. Did you know we also provide some in-home and telemedicine services?

Staffing continues to be our #1 concern. With a 3% unemployment rate in Sedgwick County and ample employment opportunities nearly everywhere, recruitment has really become a challenge. Realistic job previews and helping candidates understand the variety of work we do here has driven our interviewing and onboarding processes.

Direct care staff will onboard for a little over three weeks with both classroom-learning and in-work environment observation time built in. While it’s incredibly rewarding work, it takes patience, understanding, a kind heart and gentle actions to be successful here. We recently partnered with Goodwill, Starkey, Child Start, and Rainbows on a pilot program funded thru an ARPA grant with the City to give interested individuals the opportunity to train and rotate thru each of our organizations to gain experience and exposure to direct care work. This program just launched in early August so time will tell if it is successful, but we’re excited for the possibilities. We’re also exploring additional apprenticeship and credentialing options in direct care. For the therapies we’re working on visibility at conferences and with associations.

As always, thank you for your continued support, feedback, and for sharing our mission with your contacts. We wouldn’t be here without you.


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